Friday, July 31, 2009

Some Silly Signs for a Friday Afternoon

On a recent trip to Disneyland (during which we celebrated my birthday by getting one ticket for free - YAY!) my son and I indulged in one of our favorite pastimes: finding stuff that's meant to be serious but is just downright silly. You'd be surprised how much of that there is at the big D. (Or maybe you wouldn't, seeing as you're a smart bunch.) Here is photographic evidence of two of our favorite things:

No Dancing on Dumbo!
This sign was actually on every ride, but we first noticed it when we were up in the air on Dumbo, which made it even funnier.

Grab Your AstPass!
A faulty printer turned this simple little ticket into something that provided hours of fun and repetition. Go ahead, say it a few times and try not to smile. I dare you.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

CFBA presents OFFWORLD by Robin Parrish

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
(Bethany House - July 1, 2009)
Robin Parrish


Robin Parrish had two great ambitions in his life: to have a family, and to be a published novelist. In March of 2005, he proposed to his future wife the same week he signed his first book contract with Bethany House Publishers. They contracted him for the rights to not only that first book, Relentless -- but two sequels including Fearless and Merciless. A trilogy that unfolded in the consecutive summers of 2006, 2007, and 2008.

Robin Parrish is a journalist who's written about pop culture for more than a decade. Currently he serves as Senior Editor at, a community portal that fuses social networking with magazine-style features about entertainment and culture. He and his wife, Karen and son live in North Carolina.


"Every Person on This Planet Has Disappeared."

Commander Christopher Burke and his crew are humanity's greatest explorers. They've finished their mission on the red dirt of Mars and now they just want to get back to Earth. To see friends, family, and loved ones. To be home. But even with communication to ground control cut and a perilous landing, nothing could prepare the crew for what they discover when they step foot back on planet Earth. gone.

It's not a dream. It's not a trick. Now Burke and his team have one mission:find out who or what is behind the disappearance of all mankind.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Offworld, go HERE

Watch the book trailer:

Friday, July 24, 2009

CFBA presents THE ENCLAVE by Karen Hancock

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Enclave
(Bethany House - August 1, 2009)
Karen Hancock


Karen Hancock has won Christy Awards for each of her first four novels--Arena and the first three books in the Legends of the Guardian-King series, The Light of Eidon, The Shadow Within, and Shadow over Kiriath. She graduated from the University of Arizona with bachelor's degrees in biology and wildlife biology. Along with writing, she is a semi-professional watercolorist and has exhibited her work in a number of national juried shows. She and her family reside in Arizona.


When Lacey McHenry accepts a prestigious research fellowship at the world-renowned Kendell-Jakes Longevity Institute, she sees it as a new start on life. But a disturbing late-night encounter with an intruder leads to an unexpected cover-up by Institute authorities, and she soon realizes there's more going on than she ever imagined.

She finds a supporter in genetics researcher Cameron Reinhardt. However, Reinhardt is a favorite of the Institute's director, and she can't help wondering if he, too, is in on the cover-up. The brilliant but absentminded researcher turns out to have his own secrets, some of them dark and deadly.

The Enclave is characterized by adventure, intrigue, spiritual analogy, and romance, all set in an unusual but fully realized world--one that may have its foundations on earth but which, the more one learns of it, doesn't seem much like the earth we know at all.

If you'd like to read the first chapter of The Enclave, go HERE


The Enclave is a big book. Coming in at just under 500 pages (492, to be exact) it might seem daunting at first glance. But it's a journey well worth taking.

The Kendall-Jakes Longevity Institute is state of the art. Full of cutting-edge technology and the best scientific minds in the world, the Institute is dedicated to exploring the mysteries of DNA and human genetics. But something's gone wrong.

And then there's the titular Enclave. Since it's not mentioned in the book blurb, I don't want to spoil any surprises. Suffice it to say, the folks who live in the Enclave are sequestered, knowing nothing of the Institute. But that's about to change.

In The Enclave, Karen Hancock has created not one, but two futuristic environments. It's only a matter of time before these worlds collide. When they do, will it be the end of mankind as we know it, or the start of a bright new future?

This is one of those books that's most fun when you don't know anything more than the back cover blurb. For that reason, I don't want to say a lot and ruin any surprises. I can say that Hancock has just gone on my "authors to watch" list. If you like suspenseful stories that make you think, take a trip to The Enclave. It's definitely worth your time.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Dreaming with Betsy St. Amant - WIN HER BOOK!

It's my pleasure to welcome today's guest blogger, author Betsy St. Amant!

Does Dream-Come-True

This is such a timely topic for me, as I've had several people over the last few weeks tell me "wow, it looks like all your dreams are coming true!"

It certainly seems that way, as two of my deepest dreams have indeed come to pass in the last year or so. I've received multiple contracts with Steeple Hill Love Inspired, a long-time dream of mine, but even more exciting than that, as of July 2nd, I officially became a stay at home mother!

My daughter is one year old now, and I was able to quit my day job as a receptionist just weeks before her first birthday. My husband, a fireman, graciously took on a second job so this could happen. It took lots of planning and prayer, but here I am! Blessed beyond belief and eternally grateful to my hero-hubby! =) Now I get to mother full time and write more often.

My dreams have indeed come true. But many people fall into the trap of believing that with dreams come perfection. And that is NOT true! Being a multi-published author still has its problems and stresses. Yes, it's what I've always wanted, and wouldn't trade it - but now I have deadlines to meet, the pressure is higher, there are new worries about bad reviews, etc. My problems didn't go away with publication, they just changed.

And that's life. Many unpubbed authors think their lives will be perfect when they get published, but it’s just not the case. Fears of rejections will just change to fears of low sales or never getting a second contract. Fears of never getting an agent will change, once agented, to fears of the agent not liking your next project.

The same goes with motherhood. We have our good days and bad days, like any other mother/daughter. But I wouldn't trade this time or opportunity for anything in the world. My dreams have come true, and that doesn't mean life is perfect, but it sure is sweet!

The only true perfection we can have is through Jesus Christ. Without God in our lives, we have no hope of true joy or happiness. Only with Jesus at our side can we be good mothers, good authors, good employees, etc. Without Him, its a futile search.

Jesus puts dreams in our hearts. I'm so blessed that He brought two of mine to pass recently. If you are pursuing a dream, don't give up. It took a year to reach mine of staying at home to write and mother full time. And it took MANY years of waiting before reaching publication. Keep trying, keep praying, and never release that dream in your heart. God has a way of providing at the most unusual - and perfect - timing. =)

Dream on, friends!


Betsy St. Amant lives in Louisiana and is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers group. Betsy is multi-published through Steeple Hill and has been published in Christian Communicator magazine and Praise Reports: Inspiring Real Life Stories of How God Answers Prayer. One of her short stories, Kickboxing or Chocolate, appears in a Tyndale compilation book, and she is also multi-published through The Wild Rose Press. Betsy has a BA in Christian Communications and regularly contributes articles to She is a wife, author, new mother and an avid reader who enjoys sharing the wonders of God’s grace through her stories.

To find out more about Betsy and her books, visit her website:

ABOUT THE BOOK - Return to Love

“I’m Not The Man I Used To Be!” If only Gracie Broussard could believe that! Years ago, Carter Alexander broke her heart and betrayed her. Now, just when she needs him most, he’s back—asking her to believe he’s changed. But this time, it’s not just Gracie who’ll be hurt if he disappears. A penguin keeper, Gracie urgently needs to find a new home for her beloved birds. Carter is the only one who can help. He promises that she can trust him, that he’s not the rebel he once was. And that he needs Gracie as much as her birds do.

If you’d like to be entered to win a copy of Return to Love , just leave a reply to this blog. I’ll pick a winner at random on July 30th. 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!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Reverse-Sampson

I've been in bondage for a long time. I've been ruled by something that controlled my moods, determined my self-worth, and even dictated whether or not I was fit to go out in public. I'd be willing to bet some of you ladies out there know what I'm talking about, don't you?

That's right. I've been a slave... to my hair.

For years, I saw long, flowing hair as the pinnacle of feminine success. In high school, I struggled to achieve a mane worthy of Farrah Fawcett. On the rare occasions when I got it just right, the sides winging back, the back big and bouncy, it would be destroyed about two seconds after I walked out the door. Wind, rain, oxygen... all the elements conspired against my do.

When I got married, my hairdresser did a bit of styling magic by pushing all my highly-permed hair to the front. Of course, this left a big, gaping hole of nothingness behind my head, but that was covered with my veil so you couldn't tell. And if anybody did, they were kind enough not to mention it.

I could tell the story of my life through hair styles. There was the accidental bob I got right before a speech competition (I told the lady only to cut off an inch!). And the unflattering-but-popular-at-the-time bi-level (which today we would call a mullet). About a thousand different perms. Oh, and lets not forget the time I used semi-permanent hair color just for fun one Halloween. The box said it would come out in 5-6 washings. Liars. The Sydney-Bristow-red merely faded to traffic-cone-orange and could only be conquered by coloring over it with my natural shade. Try going to work looking like that!

For the last few months, I've been angry at my hair. I was tired of it ruling me. Tired of getting ready for church only to have a bad hair day make me feel like I should just dive back under my pillow. What I really wanted to do was cut it all off, but I was convinced that my full-cheeked face couldn't carry off short hair. After all, I'd tried short hair before (remember the bob?) and I'd never been happy with it. So what was I to do?

One day, I had an epiphany... I've never had REALLY short hair. You know, Twiggy short, Jaimie Lee Curtis short. But did I dare? What if I hated it? It would take forever to grow out.

Then, about a month later, I woke up ready to do it. It was time. Time to shake off the shackles of follicular oppression. The hair was goin' down.

I marched into a salon, armed with a picture I'd found on the Internet, and announced that I was ready to take the plunge. With steely determination, I said, "Cut it all off."

I thought I would be nervous. I thought I would experience hair-style remorse, but I didn't. With each cut, I felt lighter. With each chunk of hair that fell to the floor I felt stronger. I was like Sampson, only in reverse.

I was free.

It's been about three weeks since I got my short, sassy cut, and I haven't regretted it once. As it turns out, my face does just fine with less hair hanging around it. I no longer spend twenty to thirty minutes each morning armed with a blow drier and round brush, fussing, primping, and occasionally cursing at my hair. Now, I'm done in five minutes, tops.

I'm sure there's a spiritual lesson in here. Something about how we hold on to things we think we need, but in the end, they're the very things that weigh us down. How when we finally turn them over to God and let them go, He will strengthen us in ways we never dreamed.

Yep, there's a lesson here. And I'll explore it further one day. For now, I'm just enjoying the freedom of the reverse-Sampson!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

CFBA presents THROUGH THE FIRE by Shawn Grady

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Through The Fire
(Bethany House - July 1, 2009)
Shawn Grady


Shawn Grady signed with Bethany House Publishers in 2008. He was named “Most Promising New Writer” at the 39th Annual Mount Hermon Writers Conference. Through the Fire is his debut novel.

Shawn has served for over a decade as a firefighter and paramedic in northern Nevada. From fire engines and ambulances to tillered ladder trucks and helicopters, Shawn’s work environment has always been dynamic. The line of duty has carried him to a variety of locale, from high-rise fires in the city to the burning heavy timber of the eastern Sierras.

Shawn attended Point Loma Nazarene University as a Theology undergrad before shifting direction to acquire an Associate of Science degree in Fire Science Technology as well as Paramedic licensure through Truckee Meadows Community College.

Shawn currently lives in Reno, Nevada, just outside of Lake Tahoe. He enjoys spending time in the outdoors with his wife, three children and yellow Labrador.


Firefighting burns in Aidan O'Neill's blood. The son of a fireman, O'Neill has a sixth sense about fire and often takes dangerous risks. When one act of disobedience nearly gets a rookie killed, O'Neill is suspended. His weeks off are supposed to be a time to reflect but instead he escapes to Mexico, where another rash act of bravery actually kills him. But only for a few minutes.

Called back to Reno, he's now haunted by visions of hell and paralyzed in the face of fire. And at the worst time, because an arsonist is targeting Reno. With a growing love interest with one of the investigators complicating everything, Aidan must discover where his trust rests as the fires creep ever closer.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Through The Fire, go HERE

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

It's a cruel summer... Seriously

It gets hot here in Vegas. In fact, we've been hovering around 108 since last Friday. Which makes this the worst time of the year for the AC to go out. Which mine did last Saturday.

I'm happy to report it's working again, but that's after spending two days living in my own personal jerky maker. Yesterday I threw my hands up in defeat and checked into a hotel where I kept finding myself saying, "Man, it's cold in here!"

Anyway, I'm a bit behind on a lot of stuff. So today, I'd just like to share a bit of Weird Al joy with you. It's Skipper Dan, his new single from the "Internet Leaks" collection. Having grown up less than an hour from Disneyland, this send up of the Jungle Cruise tour guides is especially close to my heart. He even grabbed my favorite joke: It's the backside of water! Check out the video directed by Divya Srinivasan.

Friday, July 10, 2009

I don't think this song means what you think it means...

I was standing in line at Target today when a family got behind me. The little girl had some kind of portable music player, and not the kind with headphones. This player shared music with everyone around her. And she was singing along at the top of her lungs. It might have been cute if it wasn't for the song she was singing: Barbie Girl.

This bubbly little ditty was released by the alt-group Aqua in 1997. But just because it has Barbie's name in it doesn't mean they're singing the praises of the doll. For a sample, here's the chorus:

I'm a Barbie girl, in a Barbie world
Life in plastic, it's fantastic.
You can brush my hair, undress me everywhere.
Imagination, life is your creation.
I ask you, is this something you'd want your eight-year-old daughter belting out in Target? Thank God I have an almost-grown-boy-child. He's more apt to break into a Weird Al tune or selections from Spamalot. Now that's something I can sing along to!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Importance of Placement on Your Product

Around Christmas time, my son and I were kicking around in Borders, checking out all the new books. I was looking at a table of trade paperbacks when he hurried up to me.

"Mom, you've got to see this."

He pulled me up to a New Release table in front of the store and showed me this. It's Clapton: The Autobiography. Unfortunately, poor sticker placement had obliterated part of the letters, turning the title into - I'm sorry to say - Crapton.

I was laughing so hard I could hardly hold the camera still. It's a miracle the picture turned out as clear as it did.

Obviously, the harried stock clerk who slapped the sticker on this puppy didn't notice what he'd done.

Or did he... ?

Monday, July 6, 2009

Dreaming with Deborah Vogts - WIN HER BOOK!

It's my great pleasure to welcome today's guest poster, author Deborah Vogts, to the blog!


A little over a year ago, I received “the phone call” from my agent, Rachelle Gardner at WordServe Literary, that Zondervan had made an offer on Seasons of the Tallgrass, a contemporary romance series set in the Flint Hills of Kansas—a place I dearly love. My dream had arrived, my prayers had been answered. But it didn't happen overnight, and now a year later, I'm still amazed at how God answers prayer.

I began writing my first novel in high school, but it wasn’t until 2002 that I became serious about my writing, inspired that God had given me a gift and that I needed to use it or have it taken away. So, I jumped in with both feet. I became a member of two writing groups (one of them ACFW), joined a critique group, attended writer’s conferences and read whatever I could on the craft in books, magazines and the internet.

By the summer of 2005, I’d filed a good share of rejection letters in my desk drawer and although my writing had garnered some attention in a few contests, a publishing contract remained ever elusive.

That September, I received a scholarship to attend the Nashville ACFW Conference where I piqued the interest of an agent who took me on as a client. However, after a year of unsuccessfully shopping my series to publishers, she let me go, which was a real heart-breaker. My hopes sank, and I felt I'd been put back at the starting line.

I asked myself: What was I doing wrong? Why had God given me these stories and this hope if He didn't want it to happen? What lesson was I to learn, or what had I missed? God tells us that His grace is sufficient for us, for His strength is made perfect in our weakness. Believe me, I felt weak and insignificant, but that was a time of growing for me. I took comfort in the Psalms, reading the verses day and night. I knew that God had not abandoned me, but I had to learn to trust completely in Him, putting my life and my writing in his hands.

As mere humans, we don’t always see the big picture—and God does have a sense of humor. Just when I had accepted the fact that I might never be published and was indeed learning to “love and appreciate” writing again (something I had almost forgotten), I received interest from another agent. I signed with Rachelle Gardner in February 2008, and we had a contract with Zondervan a few months after that.

What did I learn? That God is in control, that His timing is perfect—and that I needed to be still and know that HE is God. Now my book has released and I am seeing the fruits of my laborious journey--a dream come true!


Deborah Vogts and her husband have three daughters and make their home in Southeast Kansas. In writing the Seasons of the Tallgrass series, Deborah hopes to share her passion for one of the last tallgrass prairie regions in the world, showing that God’s great beauty rests on the prairie and in the hearts of those who live there. Snow Melts in Spring released from Zondervan in June 2009, and is available online and in bookstores near you.

ABOUT THE BOOK - Snow Melts in Spring

When an aged horse is severely injured on a gravel road in the Flint Hills of Kansas, country veterinarian Mattie Evans accepts the challenge to save him. But she finds herself in the middle of a longstanding feud between the horse’s owner, pro quarterback Gil McCray, and his ailing father—who is also her dear friend.

As the snow melts in spring, Gil’s return to his estranged father’s ranch brings a chance for new beginnings and reconciliation, but when he falls in love with Mattie, he must face the truths that haunt him or run from his past. Meanwhile, Mattie encourages Gil to return permanently to Kansas rather than retire in California. Their love collides when Mattie’s sister arrives on Gil’s doorstep, causing Gil to come to terms with the jealous acts leading up to his brother’s death and seek forgiveness from those he loves most. Can he accept God’s forgiveness, and will that be enough to make him stop running from his memories of home? In turn, if Mattie forgives, she’ll be forced to choose between the man of her dreams and the land she dearly loves


If you’d like to be entered to win a copy of Snow Melts in Spring, just leave a reply to this blog. (PLEASE NOTE: This time around it's USA residents only. Thanks.) I’ll pick a winner at random on July 13th. 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!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

CFBA presents EXPOSURE by Brandilyn Collins

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
(Zondervan - June 1, 2009)
Brandilyn Collins


Brandilyn Collins is an award-winning and best-selling novelist known for her trademark Seatbelt Suspense®. These harrowing crime thrillers have earned her the tagline "Don't forget to b r e a t h e . . ."® Brandilyn's first book, A Question of Innocence, was a true crime published by Avon in 1995. Its promotion landed her on local and national TV and radio, including the Phil Donahue and Leeza talk shows. Brandilyn is also known for her distinctive book on fiction-writing techniques, Getting Into Character: Seven Secrets a Novelist Can Learn From Actors (John Wiley & Sons). She is now working on her 20th book.

In addition to Exposure, Brandilyn’s other latest release is Always Watching, first in The Rayne Tour series—young adult suspense co-written with her daughter, Amberly. The Rayne Tour series features Shaley O’Connor, daughter of a rock star, who just may have it all—until murder crashes her world.


When your worst fear comes true.

Someone is watching Kaycee Raye. But who will believe her?Everyone knows she’s a little crazy. Kaycee’s popular syndicated newspaper column pokes fun at her own paranoia and multiple fears. The police in her small town are well aware she makes money writing of her experiences. Worse yet, she has no proof of the threats. Pictures of a dead man mysteriously appear in her home—then vanish before police arrive. Multisensory images flood Kaycee’s mind. Where is all this coming from?

Maybe she is going over the edge.

High action and psychological suspense collide in this story of terror, twists, and desperate faith. The startling questions surrounding Kaycee pile high. Her descent to answers may prove more than she can survive.

To read the first chapter, go HERE.

“More twists and turns than a Coney Island roller coaster! Highly recommended.” ~CBA Retailers
“Mesmerizing mystery…authentic characters…a fast-paced, twisting tale of desperate choices.” ~TitleTrakk
“Brandilyn Collins is a master of suspense, and Exposure is her best book yet!” ~Dianne Burnett,