Monday, March 29, 2010

LOST - The Bobbleheads are Here!

I ran across this today and thought it was hysterical. The ABC TV Store carries LOST bobbleheads. The Richard bobbledude is my favorite, but you can also purchase Daniel Faraday and Dr. Edgar Halliwax. The three of them can sit on the shelf and nod at you while you try to unravel the mysteries of LOST!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Get A PASSION MOST PURE by Julie Lessman FREE on Kindle!

My friend Julie Lessman is one of the most talented writers of historical Christian fiction in the business. She's also one of the sweetest, most giving people you'll ever meet. Now, Julie needs a favor. She needs us to download her FREE book! I think that's the kind of thing we can all get behind. I'll let Julie give you all the details...



I have a HUGE favor to ask.

Until April 3, A Passion Most Pure (and LOTS of other free books) are being offered on Amazon for FREE DOWNLOAD for Kindle, PC, Mac, i-phone and Blackberry!!! I need to get as many people to download A Passion Most Pure as possible, so I am running the following contest.

Your name will be thrown into a hat to win A Hope Undaunted EARLY (or your choice of any of my books) every time you do any of the following, so you have lots of chances to win by doing as many of these things as possible:

1.) Download A Passion Most Pure yourself (for Kindle, PC, Mac, i-phone or Blackberry) on Amazon Kindle here.

2.) Send an e-mail to at least 10 people, asking them to download A Passion Most Pure FREE on Amazon Kindle for their Kindle, PC, Mac, i-phone or Blackberry. For every 10 people you send this to, you get another chance to win.

3.) Ask people on your FaceBook, Twitter, Goodreads, Shelfari or any other social network to download APMP FREE.

4.) Sign up for my FaceBook Fan Page.

5.) Sign up for my newsletter on the "Newsletter" page of my website.

Let me know via e-mail or through my website when you do any or all of the above things and if possible, copy me in on any e-mails you send out to your friends/family. For every 10 people you send this to, you will get another chance to win. There will be THREE winners in all, so I hope you will consider helping me out.



Julie Lessman

Friday, March 26, 2010

LOST: Ab Aeterno - Just give Nestor Carbonell an Emmy now, okay?

I don't like to post about LOST to early and give away any spoilers. But I'm guessing you've probably watched it by now. If you haven't, stop here because there are spoilers ahead.

I'll give you a minute to leave if you have to...

Okay, here we go...

Out of all the characters on the island, Richard Alpert is probably the most mysterious and enigmatic of the bunch. We know he's been around for a long time and that he never ages. But when did he get to the island? How did he get there? Is he wearing eyeliner or not? By far, this was my most anticipated episode of the season, and it did not disappoint!

First off, what does Ab Aeterno mean? It's Latin and basically means "from the beginning of time." Very appropriate since we go back to the beginning of Richard's time on the island. And hats off to Nestor Carbonell. His performance tonight was passionate, heart breaking, and thoroughly believable. Bravo!

Within the first five minutes, the now disillusioned and tormented Richard offers this bombshell. "I'm dead. We're all dead. And this is Hell." Whoa! LOST fans have hypothesized since season one that the castaways are actually dead and in hell or purgatory. So this was a great way to address that. As shocking as the statement was, it soon became clear that it's not accurate. It's based on all Richard's fears and trauma from his past. But when he says it, Richard truly believes it.

Richard's story begins on Tenerife in the Canary Islands in 1867. At that point, he's Ricardo, a wild-haired, hunky Spaniard who wants nothing more than to save the life of his beloved wife, Isabella (who is coughing up blood into a hanky... you can already see how this will end). But in his quest to gain life saving medicine from the I'm-just-in-it-for-the-money doctor, Ricardo accidentally kills the man. Anguished over what he's done, he takes the medicine home only to find that Isabella is already dead.

Ricardo is taken to prison. He is in his cell, on his knees, reading a Bible, when he is visited by a priest. Richardo begs for the priest to forgive his sins and absolve him, but the priest says no. He tells Ricardo that he's being hung in the morning, so there's no time to pay penance. He is destined to burn in Hell. (At this point, I was pretty ticked off at the priest. Not only did he leave Richard feeling like there was no hope for redemption, but he took his Bible! What a creep!)

But Ricardo receives a stay of execution when he's bought by a man making a trip to the New World. Which is how Richard ended up on The Black Rock, the ship that crashes on the island.

That's the back story of the back story. Rather than make this a recap of the entire show, I just want to hit on some of the highpoints:

1) In his cell, Ricardo's Bible was open to the Gospel of Luke. He appeared to be reading the account of when Jesus was in the desert for 40 days and the devil came to tempt him. This lines right up with what happened to Ricardo. After the crash, while he was chained in the hold of the ship, he was essentially in a desert. Water was just beyond his reach. Freedom was just beyond his reach. Then the Man in Black (MIB) broke him further by coming to him in the form of his beloved Isabella, giving Ricardo hope, then making him think she'd been killed. Finally, when Ricardo was as low as he could get, MIB came to him, promising to give Ricardo the thing he wants the most in exchange for his help.

2) MIB claimed that Jacob is the devil. I believe he's lying. There's been a lot of talk about which one of these two is good and which is evil. Considering the mish-mash of different religions the LOST writers have drawn from, I'm sure this isn't going to end up with "MIB is the devil and Jacob is Jesus." However, I do think that MIB is the inherently evil one and Jacob is the one who stands for good.

3) Jacob was much angrier in this episode than we've ever seen him before. First, he beat up Ricardo. Then, in what might be called the roughest baptism ever, he dunked him in the ocean three times until Ricardo finally cried out "I want to live!" After that, the fairly calm, even keeled Jacob we're used to was back.

4) Why do bad things happen to good people? Essentially, that's what Ricardo asked Jacob. "Why don't you tell them what to do? Why don't you help them?" Jacob's answer: Because it doesn't mean anything if I do it for them. It's LOSTs way of examining free will.

5) Jacob offers Ricardo a job - to be his voice to the people on the island. (In keeping with the Catholic theme running through the episode, it's kind of like Peter being made the first Pope). But when Ricardo says he wants Isabella back, Jacob says he can't do that. Ricardo asks to be absolved from his sins, but Jacob can't do that, either (which removes him from the "maybe he's Jesus" category). Fine then, Ricardo says. I want to live forever so I never have to go to hell. Jacob smiles, puts his hand on Ricardo's shoulder (the touch) and says, "That I can do." Now Richard has been baptized, drunk wine with Jacob, and been given eternal life. Interesting.

6) Jacob keeps bringing people to the island to prove that people are good at heart. Which means The Others were made up of the people who made the right choices and lived. When Ben joined The Others, he started infecting the group, leading them to commit evil in the name of good (killing all the Dharma people). At one point, Charles Widmore was the leader of The Others, until Ben banished him from the island. Now Widmore is coming back. It may be that Widmore actually IS one of the good guys and means to make war with MIB.

7) So what is the island? As Jacob explains it, it's like the cork in a wine bottle, keeping the wine from spilling out. The island is keeping evil from spilling out into the world. This was interesting, because we already know that the world outside the island goes on as always and isn't a beautiful, sin-free place. I suppose, if MIB manages to leave the island, things will really go to pot!

8) Now we know what happened to that big statue... The Black Rock crashed into it.

9) Considering where and when Richard's story started, I can now put to rest the idea that he's Egyptian. So no, folks, he's not wearing eyeliner. Nestor just has bee-YU-tiful eyes.

10) By the end of the episode, a line was clearly drawn: MIB intends to kill all the candidates and Richard needs to kill MIB or, as dead Isabella told Hurley to tell Richard, "you'll all go to hell." Whether that's true or it's just something that Isabella knew Richard would respond to is unclear, but there's a battle coming on. And I can't wait!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Miley Cyrus... Who'da Thunk It?

The top eleven will perform on American Idol tomorrow night. The theme of the show was supposed to be Teen Idols, but it's been changed to the safer (and broader) Billboard #1 Hits. You'd think the wide open range of song choices would help everyone pick just the right song, but it always seems to have the opposite effect. It's like going to a restaurant with WAY too many items on the menu... you end up choosing something that sounds good, but isn't all that appetizing once it hits your tongue. Will be interesting who picks what, and how many times we hear the words, "I had fun. I had a good time. That's all that matters."

What's really going to be interesting tomorrow will be watching the contestants interact with their guest mentor... Miley Cyrus. (Can you imagine the reaction from Crystal Bowersox when she got the news? "Miley who?")

Now, I've got nothing against Cyrus personally. She seems like a sweet kid. But when it comes to giving singing advice, I can think of lots of other artists much better suited to the task. But Miley's got a movie to plug, which is obviously very important criteria when it comes to choosing a mentor. (Oh, and the musical guests for Wednesday will be Cyrus, Joe Jonas and Demi Lovato. Get ready for some ear-piercing screams from the audience.)

The good news is that last week, the AI gang finally seemed to pull it all together. The judges were much better behaved now that they're out of that dark corner of the studio and back front and center. And the contestants (for the most part) sang with gusto and a spark of life in their eyes. My favorite of the evening was probably Siobhan Magnus. Her rendition of Paint it Black was all kinds of fun. She and Bowersox are probably the two quirkiest from a personality perspective, but I also think they're the tops vocally. It would be cool if this thing came down to a two girl race.

But for now, we must get through the teen invasion. Bring it on, Miley...

Sunday, March 21, 2010

How My LOST Fan Promo Went Wrong

I hate it when things don't turn out like I want them to. You could say I'm a perfectionist, although that doesn't translate into all areas of my life. (One look in my bathroom will prove that... which is why no one else is allowed in there!) But when it comes to creative things, I want to get everything perfect. It's frustrating enough when I get in my own way, but when my "masterpiece" is messed up by something I have no control over... well, that goes beyond frustration into a realm that has no name.

Here's a silly example... I love the TV series LOST. Imagine my delight to find out that ABC was holding "The Ultimate LOST Fan Promo Contest." So I went to the site and began using their editing tools to create my own 35 second LOST promo. I was having all kinds of problems on my laptop, so I switched over to my son's PC. All was going well. I found the music I wanted. I put my clips in order and edited several of them for maximum impact. Finally, after a dozen or more play throughs, it was exactly how I wanted it.

I submitted my video.

My video was accepted.

I watched my video on and then I nearly cried, because somehow, the editing tool did NOT work right. Now remember, I watched the final cut several times before submitting it, and it was PERFECT. What you can watch now is close, but the final bit of the montage is what makes me want to weep. Somehow, an extra second was added to the front of it and cut a second off at the end, so Kate (who wasn't there before) says "ack" (because the "J" didn't make it in) and the last words that Jack says - "What happened?" - actually sound like "What happe-".

Yep, I know it's a silly thing to be upset over. In the grand scheme of things, it's at the bottom of the "Stuff I Should be Concerned About" list. It's not even like I had a chance of winning the contest. My entry is one of about 6000, after all. Still, my heart dropped when I watched it. Because I did everything right on my end, checked and double checked it before submitting, and now there's no way to fix it.

Oh well... I'm actually feeling better now that I shared my tale of woe. If you want to take a gander at my promo, you should be able to see it here. It's titled "What Happened?" under the user name jallee725. At least if you watch it, you'll know what it was SUPPOSED to look like!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

CFBA Presents DEAD RECKONING by Ronie Kendig

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Dead Reckoning
(Abingdon Press - March 1, 2010)
Ronie Kendig


Ronie has been married since 1990 to a man who can easily be defined in classic terms as a hero. She has four beautiful children. Her eldest daughter is 16 this year, her second daughter will be 13, and her twin boys are 10. After having four children, she finally finished her degree in December 2006. She now has a B.S. in Psychology through Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA. Getting her degree is a huge triumph for both her and her family--they survived!

This degree has also given her a fabulous perspective on her characters and how to not only make them deeper, stronger, but to make them realistic and know how they'll respond to each situation. Her debut novel, Dead Reckoning released March 2010 from Abingdon Press. And her Discarded Heroes series begins in July from Barbour with the first book entitled Nightshade.


Underwater archeologist Shiloh Blake is consumed with passion for the water and inflamed at the injustices of life. When her first large-scale dig traps her in the middle of an international nuclear arms clash, she flees for her life.
When she spots a man trailing her, the questions are, Who is he? And how is he always one step ahead? Is the man trailing her an enemy or a protector sent by her CIA father?
Reece Jaxon is a former Navy SEAL and now serves his country as a spy. His life is entangled by the beguiling Shiloh Blake as he hunts down the sources to a nuclear dead drop in the Arabian Sea near Mumbai, India. The only way to end this nightmare and prevent a nuclear meltdown is to join forces with Reece. Will Shiloh violate her vow to never become involved in her father's web of intrigue and mystery? Will she reconcile with her past and with him? Will she allow God to help her throught this ordeal of danger, mistrust and uncertainty?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Dead Reckoning, go HERE.


In her debut novel, Ronie Kendig delivers a thrilling ride. In the first chapter, Shiloh Blake is swimming for her life. Throughout the book, Shiloh is constantly on the run, improvising as she goes. Her character reminded me of Sydney Bristow from TV's Alias: a young woman who's reluctantly drawn into a web of intrigue which she seems to handle almost by instinct. Reece Jaxon is full of his own brand of intrigue. When these two headstrong individuals get together, sparks fly and the body count rises, as does the level of danger. If you like your fiction fast-paced and high risk with a strong spiritual core, you'll love Dead Reckoning.

Monday, March 15, 2010

TV 2010: The Good, The Bad, and the Surprising

The dawn of 2010 brought with it a slew of new TV shows, returning series (some who've been gone for far too long) and the promise of favorites who have yet to return. Won't you join me on a walk down the TV landscape...


LOST - Since the extreme close up of Jack's eyelid popping open in the first episode, LOST has been one of the most captivating, thought provoking, twisty shows on television. The powers that be wisely decided to choose when the story would end, so this season is the last season. Not only are we learning bits and pieces of what makes the island go round, we're getting to see showcases of some incredible actors. Tomorrow's episode should be particularly good... Sawyer's back!

Flash Forward - This is another mind bending, sci-fi-ish series. Everybody in the world (except for one dude) blacked out at exactly the same time and they all saw flashes of one specific day and time in the future. By trying to piece it together, are they making the future happen, or would it have happened anyway? Those kind of questions along with some great actors make this one of my must-watch shows. Ooo, and James Callis (Battlestar Galactica) joins the cast when it returns on March 18th!

V - I still don't understand the reasoning behind showing four episodes - back in, what was it... October? - and then putting it on hold until the end of this month. But I'm a fan and I can't wait for it to come back. We may have lost Elizabeth Mitchell on LOST, but she's about ready to kick some Visitor butt!

Glee - Why is it taking so long to bring this show back? I've played my Glee soundtracks to death. I need new songs! April 13th can't come soon enough.


24 - I explained why I stopped watching 24 in a previous post, but it boils down to this: the writers screwed up by starting the season off with Happy Grandpa Jack. I don't want to watch anyone hurt Grandpa Jack. Period.

American Idol - It might be the loss of Paula. It might be the addition of Ellen. It might be that Simon doesn't care as much since this is his last season. It might be that the judging panel often acts like overly hormonal pre-teens. It might be because half the contestants sing off tune and the other half seem unattractively smug of their deservedness to be on the stage. For whatever reason, AI is surprisingly boring this season.

The Academy Awards - Some of this year's telecast was great: the opening number by Neil Patrick Harris, UP winning best animated picture, Sandra Bullock's acceptance speech, Kathryn Bigelow holding both her Oscars like a pair of golden dumbbells... But there were also some huge gaffs. Like the costumer who started out her speech, "Well, I've got two of these now.") Gee, I know some folks who would be happy to take one off your hands.) There were some awful camera shots: a wide shot of James Taylor at the beginning of the tribute section rather than a close up of who was on the screen, making us nearly miss Patrick Swayze; during the John Hughes tribute, there was a wide shot of the audience rather than the actors coming on stage to talk about John; and for some reason, the camera did NOT capture the moment when Kathryn Bigelow beat out ex-hubby James Cameron as best director. Didn't you want to see THAT reaction? I know I did. And I would like to request that interpretive dance numbers be banned from the show. Please bring back the performance of best song nominees and dance during those. It makes so much more sense.


Survivor - This season is another "best of" round up. Called Heroes Vs. Villains, it brings back folks who have all played the game before, some of them multiple times. That being the case, I was ready for it to be a little bit boring, with a been-there-done-that feel. I'm delighted to say I was wrong. The dynamic between these contestants is really interesting. I'm particularly enjoying watching Russell Hantz scramble to retain his self-given title as best Survivor ever. He is SO going to be voted out before long... if the Heroes ever win immunity, that is.

The Marriage Ref - I thought this was going to be another overwrought reality show, but it's more comedy than anything else. Yes, real couples are on the show, but only in brief clips sharing the issue they need a call on. They're usually silly things, like should hubby be allowed to keep his dead-and-now-stuffed dog in the house? Is it right that wifey declares the formal dining room off limits to everyone except at Thanksgiving? The majority of the show is a panel of three celebs (who change each week) and host Tom Papa discussing the issue in a lively, often hilarious, debate.

Undercover Boss - I realize that the very act of putting a camera in the room is going to change things. As a rule, people will be more careful about what they say and be on their best behavior. Still, I find this show - where CEOs of major corporations go undercover and enter their own work force - to be enlightening, interesting, and touching.

How about you? What's caught your attention this season?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

CFBA Presents ONCE IN A BLUE MOON by Leanna Ellis

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Once in a Blue Moon
(B&H Books - March 1, 2010)
Leanna Ellis


Leanna's sister recommended that she write, since she ‘wrote in her journal all the time.’ The idea took root and began to grow. So after five years of teaching, she quit and started writing, with no clue about the book business. Ignorance is bliss. If she’d known the odds against her, she might not have ever started writing.

For about three years, she wrote with a collaborator, but because she had so many ideas she began to write more stories on her own. She suffered numerous rejections. Deservedly so. But she was growing as a writer and learning. She went to as many conferences as she could manage. During that time, she met her future husband, fell in love and became engaged. She also began to final in contests and then actually began to win! The contests helped her get noticed by editors and agents. In March, the year Braveheart won the Best Picture Oscar, Victor/Victoria opened on Broadway, she sold her first book. It was her Cinderella year. She sold her book, got married and won RWA’s Golden Heart Award in Hawaii.

She wrote six books between her first baby’s birth and when the second baby turned one. Then she hit a wall. Not literally. But creatively. It’s not that she didn’t have any ideas, but her ideas didn’t fit the romance market. These new characters, random and weird as they were, began to take over the part of her brain that wasn’t domesticated. These stories were about all types of women, and so she began to let her writing grow in new and different ways.

Leanna Ellis sold more than 1.3 million romantic novels writing as Leanna Wilson, winning a Readers’ Choice award and the Romance Writers of America Golden Heart award for her work. Elvis Takes a Back Seat is the first book published under her married name, marking a new creative direction in her writing. Like Francine Rivers before her, Leanna has left behind a successful career as an author of secular romances to write novels of faith that glorify God. A former schoolteacher, Leanna is now a homeschool mom and lives with her husband and children in Keller, Texas.


Bryn Seymour was nine years old when her mother died under mysterious circumstances on the same day Apollo 11 made its historic lunar landing. Forty years later—divorced, working as an obituary writer, and duly cynical—she meets Howard, a conspiracy theorist who knew her mom and believes a small Texas town may hold clues to what really fueled her demise. Seeking closure, Bryn goes along for this men-in-black ride. But upon meeting Howard’s son Sam, an outspoken Christian, she can’t decide whose beliefs are more pie-in-the-sky.

The gravity of life has pulled Bryn down for decades. But a perfect love could be her first step to soaring. It only happens once in a blue moon.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Once in a Blue Moon, go HERE

Watch the book trailer:


I just got Once in a Blue Moon a few days ago, so I haven't finished reading it yet. But what I have read, I love! There are some books you pick up simply because of the author, and for me, Leanna Ellis is one of those authors. Her stories of quirky characters in unusual circumstances never fail to entertain and move me. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some reading to do...

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

CFBA Presents THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD by Debbie Viguié

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Lord Is My Shepherd
(Abingdon Press - March 2010)
Debbie Viguie


Debbie Viguié has been writing for most of her life. She has experimented with poetry and nonfiction, but her true passion lies in writing novels. She obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree in Creative Writing from UC Davis. While at Davis she met her husband, Scott, at auditions for a play.

Debbie's love for writing brought her from working as a church secretary to a successful career writing supernatural fiction. She is the author of Midnight Pearls, Scarlet Moon, and Charmed: Pied Piper, and the young adult Sweet Seasons series. She also is coauthor of the New York Times bestselling Wicked book series.

Debbie and Scott now live on the island of Kauai, Hawaii. When Debbie is not writing and Scott has time off they love to indulge their passion for theme parks.


Cindy’s church is getting ready to celebrate Easter, and Jeremiah’s Temple is preparing for Passover when Cindy literally stumbles over the body of an unknown man lying dead in the sanctuary. The church was locked, and a bloody cross necklace on the floor seems to be the only clue. The killer is likely a member of the congregation, but there are hints that similar deaths have happened in the past. Are Cindy and Jeremiah dealing with a serial killer? They have to unravel the clues before Easter Sunday arrives and more people die.

Cindy and Jeremiah come from two different worlds, even though they work right next door to each other. Cindy is a strong Christian who lives a normal but somewhat dull life, working as a church secretary. Jeremiah is a Reformed rabbi with a mysterious past full of danger and excitement. But one eventful Easter/Passover week, the two find themselves working together to solve a murder and stop a serial killer from striking again. Solving the mystery should put an end to their alliance, but the church secretary and the rabbi quickly find themselves enmeshed in another mystery. Soon the two form a friendly alliance and friendship, exploring personal history and faith and growing closer with each passing adventure. Despite their differences Cindy and Jeremiah find a lot of common ground.
If you would like to read the first chapter of The Lord Is My Shepherd, go HERE.


For years, the trend in Christian fiction has been to make books as ecumenical as possible. So when a church is mentioned, it's usually given a generic name that could fit almost any denomination. Debbie Viguié makes a bold move in The Lord is My Shepherd. Not only does she make her mystery-solving church secretary a Presbyterian, but then she pairs her up with the Rabbi from the temple next door. Together, Cindy and Jeremiah must unravel the clues leading them to a serial killer. As they are constantly thrown together, they forge a bond of trust and friendship that transcends their religious beliefs.

Viguié's book packs a double whammy. First, it's a great mystery. As the clues unfolded and the tension increased, I found it harder and harder to put the book down to deal with real-life issues. Second, it's a wonderful story of two people from two very different backgrounds who discover that, at heart, they're not so different after all. The friendship that grows between Cindy and Jeremiah is very sweet, and what they learn about each other's faiths is illuminating.

The Lord is My Shepherd is the first of The Psalm 23 Mysteries, so fans of this book will get to meet Cindy and Jeremiah again when I Shall Not Want comes out in Fall 2010. It will be interesting to see how Viguié handles the friendship between her Presbyterian secretary and the intriguing Rabbi. If it blooms into something more tinged with romance (which many readers will expect it to) there will be some controversial faith issues to deal with. But I'm confident this series will deliver in stellar fashion. Kudos to Viguié and to Abingon Press!