Tuesday, June 30, 2009

One writer's unique response to the book critics

Brad Meltzer's latest novel, The Book of Lies, is getting a lot of buzz. Unfortunately, not all of it has been good. But rather than rail against the critics, Meltzer did something truly unique: He used the bad press in a book trailer. Check it out:

Now doesn't that make you just a little bit curious?

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Billy Mays joins the list of deceased celebrities

This has been quite a month in celebrity news. Five well-known celebrities have died in June, four of them in the last six days. Many other entertainment industry folks have also passed away, but these five fall into the household name category.

David Carradine - June 3, 2009
Ed McMahon - June 23, 2009
Farrah Fawcett - June 25, 2009
Michael Jackson - June 25, 2009
Billy Mays - June 28, 2009

You may wonder why I include Billy Mays in this group. After all, he was a pitchman, not an entertainer. I beg to differ. My son and I got quite a kick out of watching Mr. Mays effervesce over everything from Orange Glo, to Oxi Clean, to Mighty Mendit. He made infomercials an event. He was also the co-host a new series on the Discovery Channel called Pitchmen. For fun, check out this Hulu clip of Billy Mays and Anthony Sullivan on The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien. It's about eight minutes long, but make sure to watch to the end when Billy takes on the Sham Wow. Funny stuff.

Billy Mays was found unconscious in his Florida home by his wife this morning. He was pronounced dead at 7:45 AM. That's all we know. The family asks that the public respect their privacy. It's a simple request and one that I hope is honored.

Being the pop culture person that I am, I've got a lot of thoughts on Farrah, Michael, and the way we as a nation treat celebrities. For now, though, I'm staying mostly mum. I'm one who likes to know, and share, the facts. I'll give my opinions, too. But for now, I think I'll keep quiet.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

New Moon Gets a New Look with Movie Tie-In Cover

It happens every time a book is made into a movie: the movie tie-in cover.

So here's the original version of the New Moon cover, followed by the new cover for the September rerelease (it's easy to tell which is which).

If you want to know more about the covers... how involved was Stephenie Meyer with the design? What the heck does that tulip mean?... check out my article on Examiner.com.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

CFBA presents A BRIDE IN THE BARGAIN by Deeanne Gist

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
A Bride In The Bargain
Bethany House (June 1, 2009)
Deeanne Gist


Deeanne Gist, the bestselling author of A Bride Most Begrudging and The Measure of a Lady, has a background in education and journalism. Her credits include People magazine, Parents, and Parenting. With a line of parenting products called "I Did It!® Productions" and a degree from Texas A&M, she continues her writing and speaking. She and her family live in Houston, Texas.

Since the debut of those novels, her very original, very fun romances have rocketed up the bestseller lists and captured readers everywhere. Add to this two consecutive Christy Awards, two RITA nominations, rave reviews, and a growing loyal fan base, and you’ve got one recipe for success.


The Wedding Is All Planned...
Someone Just Needs to Tell the Bride

In 1860s Seattle, redwoods were plentiful but women scarce. Yet a man with a wife could secure 640 acres of timberland for free.

Joe Denton doesn't have a wife, though. His died before she could follow him to Seattle and now the local judge is threatening to take away his claim. In desperation, he buys himself a Mercer bride--one of the eastern widows and orphans brought to the Territory by entrepreneur Asa Mercer.

Anna Ivey's journey west with Mercer is an escape from the aftermath of the Civil War. She signed on to become a cook--not a bride. When she's handed over to Denton, her stubborn refusal to wed jeopardizes his land. With only a few months before he loses all he holds dear, can he convince this provoking, but beguiling, easterner to become his lawfully wedded wife?

If you would like to read the first chapter of A Bride In The Bargain, go HERE


Before I start reading a new book by Deeanne Gist, I make sure my schedule is clear - no deadlines looming, no appointments to get to - because I know once I start, I'm not going to want to stop.

In A Bride in the Bargain we meet Joe and Anna, two people who fall hard for each other, even though they're not looking for love. Despite their feelings, they're a stubborn pair, and the road to a happy ending is fraught with missteps, some comical, some nearly tragic. But the journey is a great one.

One of the complaints I hear most often about Christian romances is that they are no real emotion, no sparks. That everything is so squeaky clean and chaste that it's not real. Well, if you're looking for a wonderful book with a heap load of sexual tension, here you go. Gist does a skillful job at this in all her books. She shows us the honest emotions of her characters, including their passion and desire for each other, but never crosses the line into gratuitous sexual conduct. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a gripping historical romance.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Weird Al's New Parody - Craigslist

I proudly admit to being a Weird Al fan. And I've brought my son over to the "Al" side. We can often be found cruising around town with White & Nerdy or Amish Paradise blasting from the car speakers (but we're polite and keep the windows rolled up).

According to his website, Al's new album won't be out until (maybe) next year, but over the summer, he's leaking five new songs on the Internet. The first, Whatever You Like, a T.I. parody, came out a month or so ago. The latest released today.

Craigslist is in the in the style of The Doors (original Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek plays). If I were to rank this with Al's other songs, I'd put it somewhere in the middle. Fun, but not as unique and catchy as the above mentioned ditties. And I much prefer his earlier Ebay parody. But this song did make me smile because both my sisters are on a Craigslist roll right now, selling everything from toddler beds to empty packing boxes. For me, it's relevant.

If you want to keep up with the latest Weird Al news, you can follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

Have fun, and parody on!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Resurrected Dream by Jill Elizabeth Nelson - WIN HER BOOK!

It's my great pleasure to welcome back suspense author Jill Elizabeth Nelson!

Resurrected Dream

“If God can bring an awesome dream to pass for this nobody-in-particular from nowhere special, He can and will do the same for you.” This is what I tell people at my speaking engagements. In fact, I autograph my debut novel, Reluctant Burglar, with the following words: Let your dreams soar! Mark 10:27.

That scripture promises that nothing is impossible with God. Many times my dream to become a published novelist looked unattainable, and I gave up on it. But the dream kept resurrecting, and then one fine day I got that first contract!

Obviously, the journey wasn’t without struggle, nor did it happen overnight. Far from it. My dream was born when I was eleven years old, but my first book wasn’t published until I was 46. That’s quite a time lag. But the Lord used those years to hone me as a person and build my skills as a writer. As I also tell my audience at speaking engagements, I completed my first mystery novel in the 6th grade, but not a shred of the manuscript yet exists . . . and the world is grateful.

In high school, I had my own column in the school newspaper, and I even placed in a poetry contest. However, those few pieces I sent out to publications in the wider world came back rejected.

My parents encouraged and believed in me, especially my dad, so off I went to college, seeking a degree in literature and creative writing. Then my dad passed away suddenly in my freshman year, and with him, a hefty chunk of my support base.

Even so, I wrote for the college newspaper and managed to get a few pieces published in local periodicals. You’d think I’d be flying high, but instead I continually compared myself with other writers who I felt were more gifted and skilled than I. Perhaps they were, or maybe they were just farther along on the writing road.

I received my degree then decided to take some time to look for what I could do with my training that would bring in a regular paycheck. Freelancing or novel-writing just didn’t seem possible. During that period, I met and married my husband. We soon had four children, and there was no time to write.

I’m so thankful for my husband and children. Those years were often hard, but something great was happening inside as I drew closer to the Lord through my constant need for wisdom to raise and care for my family. My confidence in what He could do through me was growing. I was no longer my own source. How foolish we can be that way when we’re young!

At last, around the turn of the century, the children were becoming more independent of me, and the embers of my dream to write books whooshed to life as if the Holy Spirit Himself had blown upon them. (I think He did.) I churned out one manuscript then another and another. Then in 2005, the contract came. Dream fulfilled! An ending, but also a beginning of a new phase of my life.

When Reluctant Burglar released, this is the dedication I wrote for the flyleaf: To my dad, who always thought I could make it as a writer. He is no longer on earth to see this day, but I trust he knows in heaven.


Jill Elizabeth Nelson is an award-winning author of mystery and suspense. She writes what she likes to read—tales of adventure seasoned with romance, humor, and faith, earning her the tagline: Endless Adventure, Timeless Truth. Jill speaks at conferences, writer’s groups, library associations, and civic and church groups. She and her husband live in rural Minnesota where they raised four children and are currently enjoying their first grandchild.

Visit Jill Elizabeth Nelson’s website at http://www.jillelizabethnelson.com/ for excerpts, book giveaways, and contests.

ABOUT THE BOOK - Witness to Murder

Poised for an interview, TV reporter Hallie Berglund walks into a murder scene instead. The victim’s boyfriend stands over the body, murder weapon in hand. Hallie couldn’t stop the crime, but as the star witness, she’ll see the man brought to justice . . . right? Not according to her colleague Brody Jordan, who is convinced the police—and Hallie—are targeting the wrong man. To prove it, he’ll need Hallie’s help. The victim was wearing a bracelet handcrafted by Hallie’s long-dead mother. Now Hallie is the only one who can unearth the secrets of the past—and bring the sinister truth to light.

You can order this book directly from your local bookstore, retail stores such as Walmart, or online at Amazon.com.


If you’d like to be entered to win a copy of Witness to Murder, just leave a reply to this blog. I’ll pick a winner at random on June 22nd. Please leave an email address so I can contact you if you're the winner. (To prevent spammers from trolling for your email, please use this format with the brackets--you [at] yourmail [dot] com--or something similar.) Good luck!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Yes, I've been gone... Now let's talk about Hulu

In case you missed me - and I certainly hope you did - I thought I'd let you know why the blog's been quiet. I spent a week in North Carolina with family and decided not to do any work while I was there. I'll blog about my trip later, but for now, here's some miscellaneous stuff to ponder...

Remember when Nsync started out? Of all those guys, who would have expected Justin Timberlake to be the breakout? Check out the Immigrant Tale sketch from a recent episode of Saturday Night Live.

I got that link from Hulu.com. And speaking of Hulu... it's free now, but it's a fair bet they'll start charging eventually. So while you can, here's some cool stuff to check out:

Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog - Remember the writer's strike? Remember how it killed some of your favorite shows? Well this is the one good thing that came out of it. With nothing else to do, Joss Whedon got together a bunch of his friends and put together a fantastic musical. Then he posted it to the Internet in three parts. Starring Neil Patrick Harris, Nathan Fillion and Alicia Day, it's full of stick-in-your-head songs, clever bits, and a very Whedon-esque ending.

Stargate SG-1: 1969 - The first three seasons are on Hulu, so start from the beginning if you haven't seen any of it. But for SG-1 fans, this is a great episode to revisit. When our four heroes get thrown back in time to 1969, they have to find their way back. Lots of fun.

New Moon Trailer - And for all you Twilight fans, here's the trailer for the next movie, New Moon. Okay, I gotta know... has anyone out there actually ever dripped blood from a paper cut? What did they wrap that present with, industrial strength tin foil?

That's it for now. Have fun!

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Trouble with 3D

Have you noticed the influx of 3D movies, lately? 3D is the new toy that film makers are playing with. Of course, it's really not new. 3D has been around since the 1920s, but it never caught on as the a widespread film making standard. Why? In my opinion, because 3D is a gimmick.

True, the technology is better today, but the idea remains the same. If you're telling me a good story, then I don't need to see things flying in my face. If I wanted 3D, I'd go see live theater.

My son and I recently watched Journey to the Center of the Earth on DVD. This was a non-3D viewing of a movie that was so obviously made for the sheer 3D-joy of throwing things at the audience. Every time something would come at us, like a yo yo being shot at the screen, we would shout out, "Here it comes in 3D!" It was like one of those drinking games, minus the drinks.

Part of the reason I don't like 3D is very personal: my eyes don't work right. At least, not the way they need to to view a 3D movie. Because I have less visual acuity in one eye than the other, I can't focus properly through those darned glasses. And speaking of the glasses, have you tried wearing those over a pair of prescription lenses? Not comfortable, no siree.

It seems like every twenty years or so, movie makers try to resurrect this form of film making. Remember Jaws 3D? Spy Kids 3D Game Over? And each time, the 3D fanfare fades away. So I hope this round of 3D madness will go the way of all the others.

Actually, I don't mind 3D as long as I have a choice and it's done well. Case in point: I saw Pixar's Up over the weekend. My theater showed both versions, and I chose blessed 2D. The movie was wonderful, and not once did I think, "Oh, there's something they put in to take advantage of the 3D effect." Nope, the story overrode the effect du jour, which is how it should be.

Still, there's a whole crop of 3D movies coming out. Disney seems to be one of the most excited about jumping on the 3D bandwagon (I think it's because they're in love with the alliteration of Disney Digital 3D). Not do they have a slate of new movies coming out in 3D, but they're remaking some of the old ones, including the original Toy Story and Beauty and the Beast. Okay, Toy Story I get, but Beauty and the Beast? Way to ruin a classic, guys.

But to end on a hopefully high note, here's the trailer for Toy Story 3, coming June 18, 2010 in... you guessed it... Disney Digital 3D! From what I've heard of the story, Buzz, Woody and the gang get dumped in a daycare center when Andy goes off to college. Since we know Woody and Jessie are collector's items, I'm already a little worried about the plot. (Really, value aside, they're probably covered in lead paint and are a choking hazard!) In my opinion, Toy Story 2 was a great wrap-up and anything else is unnecessary. But I'm hoping the peeps at Pixar come through with a great story, as usual.

Friday, June 5, 2009

A Promise for Spring by Kim Vogel Sawyer

Jen's review
A Promise for Spring
Kim Vogel Sawyer

When an English rose is transplanted to the Kansas prairie, can anything be easy? Of course not! Even though they were betrothed five long years earlier, Emmaline Bradford no longer knows the man she meets when she steps off the train in Moreland, Kansas. For his part, Geoffrey Garrett has practically been counting the minutes till the arrival of his bride. But the nervous, sullen woman clad in black is a far cry from his dream girl.

Kim Vogel Sawyer has a gift for writing characters who struggle through adversity and come out stronger for it. In Emmaline and Geoffrey, she presents two stubborn people, each working through a pain of their own. It's not until they put their own needs aside and truly see each other that reconciliation comes.

A Promise for Spring is a lovely tale of the men and woman who worked so hard to create a new life in the sometimes harsh, sometimes beautiful prairie. I thoroughly enjoyed the time I spent with Emmaline and Geoffrey, and look forward to Ms. Sawyer's next offering.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Summer at the Movies: Action, Laughs, and a Box of Kleenex

Ah, summer. When most people are running outside, lounging by the pool, I'm running inside... to the movie theater. I've seen two great movies in the last few days. Even though they're both very different, they had one thing in common: both had me crying within the first ten minutes. This was not the reaction I expected, I assure you.

So what were these excellent, though surprisingly emotional flicks? I'll tell you...

But first, if you're the type (like me) who doesn't want to know anything about a movie ahead of time, stop now. I don't share any major spoilers, but you might find out more than you want to know.


I've been jazzed since I found out J.J. Abrams was taking the helm, and that was about a year ago. With the exception of the ill-conceived Cloverfield, I'm a fan of Abrams' work (Lost anyone? Alias?) But messing with the Star Trek franchise can be sticky, especially when you're going back to the early days of the federation. Remember the poorly received TV series Star Trek: Enterprise? Not even sci-fi vet Scott Bakula could save it. So even though my expectations were high, I went into the new Star Trek movie with my fingers crossed.

I should never have worried. From the action-packed and extremely emotional first ten minutes to the satisfying conclusion, the movie is darn near pitch perfect. Abrams respects the characters we know and love, and he stays true to them. Yet at the same time, he tweaks things just enough so that the franchise is completely open to him. He's seen to it that any future films (and oh boy, I hope there will be a few) won't be limited by the Star Trek universe as we knew it.

Zachary Quinto (Heroes) and Chris Pine (The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement) were great as a young Spock and Kirk, respectively. But the best bit of casting goes to Karl Urban (TLOTR: The Return of the King) as Leonard "Bones" McCoy. From his look to his delivery and posture, the New Zealand native nailed the role. I hope to see him, and the rest of the fine cast, on another bold trek soon.


Those sneaky, sneaker Pixar people! I knew I'd enjoy this movie. I always do when the Pixar name is attached. But Lassiter and his crew were keeping something a secret here: this movie has a huge heart and a lot of action. You'd never know it from the trailer, which had me expecting just a funny movie about a boy, an old man, and a floating house. Oh yeah, and a talking dog.

Here's what you need to know if you plan on taking little kids to the film. There's some scary stuff in it. Some really mean dogs. Even a tiny bit of blood. Probably nothing that would concern anyone over the age of eight, but something for you parents to be aware of.

And there are some very serious scenes. In fact, the young scout you see in the trailer doesn't show up until fifteen minutes or so into the movie. So if you have a child who gets fidgety when the action stops, take that into account.

I saw it with my almost-sixteen-year-old son. We both loved it. We laughed and we cried (okay, I cried... if he did, he will not admit to it). And THANK GOD we did not have to watch it in 3-D. I was so happy to find that the theater had two different showings... one 3-D and the other normal. Can you tell I'm not a 3-D fan? But that's something for another post.

So, if you're looking for a fun time at the movies, I highly recommend both these movies. If you go, let me know what you think.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Supporting the Dreams of Others by Cheryl Wyatt - WIN HER BOOK!

It's my great pleasure to welcome back today's guest, author Cheryl Wyatt!

Supporting the
of Others

When we got married over ten years ago, my husband was a business owner by profession and a music guy by hobby. I was a Registered Nurse and Crisis Intervention Counselor by profession and a writer by hobby. Both of our hobbies were something we each dreamed of being able to pursue full-time. Fast forward to my first pregnancy. I was put on bed rest for preterm labor. I had two choices, either succumb to death by boredom while fear of losing the baby ruled my life...or distract myself. So, resting there day after day staring at the same four walls, I decided to start writing down all the stories that had been rushing through my imagination for decades. I wrote undercover for a couple of years before word got out. Actually my husband figured it out and told EVERYONE at church. I'd finished the world's worst manuscript...yet the wonderful man told everyone at church that I'd be on the New York Times Bestselling list soon. LOL! Now THAT's belief.

Because he was so supportive and encouraging of my writing dream, I started praying that he would be able to pursue sound gigs and music more. Over the next several years as we championed one another's dreams, I saw God open door after door after door. It took sacrifice on my part. Sacrificing time mostly. I couldn't always go with him on his sound gigs. He runs audio for a great many Christian and some nationally known Country and Rock artists at festivals, concerts, benefits, Etc. But there are times when I'm buried away for days trying to finish a book and meet deadlines. So we champion each other's dreams by trading time. We do spend quite a bit of time together since we both work out of the home. This is a HUGE fulfillment of a dream of mine to be able to pursue our dreams without sacrificing family time.

We've been involved in NASCAR ministry so there are frequent getaways where we enjoy each other. We have lots of great moments of reaching out in a low key way with our friends, but we also have lots of laughter. One of the funniest moments in my entire life was one day when our car was being given a police escort from the race along with the band, the tour bus, the campers, Etc and a large group of people mistook my husband for Ted Nugent and rushed our SUV. Very funny incident. But times our dreams take us apart for a few hours or days, I try to remember that his music ministry is as important to him as my writing is to me. This past year God has started doing this neat thing where, on occasion, He's started to combine our dreams. One way God has done this was to open the opportunity for my husband to run audio at the American Christian Fiction Writers conference. (www.acfw.com) I hope to see many of you there! If you happen to see a cute audio guy who looks like a rocker dude, be sure to come up to him and say, "Ted Nugent! Can I have your autograph dude?" LOL! Seriously, he really looks more like Steven Tyler than Ted. And my rocker dude's name is Billy. If you're ever lucky enough to meet this man who has championed my dreams and taught me how to champion his back by trading time, prayers and mutual respect, be sure to tell him thank you for being part of the reason I am able to write. And if you ever meet this man, you will see the number one inspiration outside of the characteristics of Jesus for how I can write such great heroes in my books.


Cheryl Wyatt's closest friends would never dream the mayhem she plots during announcements at church. An RN-turned-SAHM, joyful chaos rules her home, and she delights in the stealth moments God gives her to write. She's convinced that having been born on a Naval base on Valentine's Day destined her to write military romance. She stays active in her church and in her laundry room. Her debut novels (Books 1 and 2-Wings of Refuge Series-Steeple Hill) received Romantic Times Top Picks. In addition, her debut books received the honor of coming in at #1 and #4 on eHarlequins's Top Ten Most-Blogged-About-Books, lists which included several NYT Bestselling authors.

To receive her quarterly newsletter for updates on new releases and contests with GREAT prizes visit her Web site at www.cherylwyatt.com and sign up in the space provided. Cheryl respects your privacy and will not share your e-mail address with a third party.

ABOUT THE BOOK – A Soldier’s Reunion

Despite a decade apart, this isn’t the reunion Mandy Manchester expected! She thought she’d put high school sweetheart Nolan Briggs behind her. Now he’s back…and the pararescue jumper literally sweeps her off her feet. He’s ready and willing to rekindle what they once shared.

Mandy, though, isn’t prepared to put her heart at risk. He left her before—she won’t trust him again. Can Nolan teach this grounded girl to take a leap of faith?


If you’d like to be entered to win a copy of A Soldier’s Reunion, just leave a reply to this blog. Because of my crazy schedule you get extra time on this one... I’ll pick a winner at random on June 12th. Please leave an email address so I can contact you if you're the winner. (To prevent spammers from trolling for your email, please use this format with the brackets--you [at] yourmail [dot] com--or something similar.) Good luck!