Thursday, February 25, 2010

Review: SECRETS by Robin Jones Gunn

Jessica Morgan is a woman with secrets. She moves to the small community of Glenbrooke in the hopes of starting fresh. But before she can put her plan into motion, a car accident throws everything off course. When the handsome, compassionate paramedic who comes to her aid becomes attracted to her, it's just one more complication to deal with. How long can Jessica keep up her ruse, and will her deceit cost her a chance at real love?

In Secrets, the first book of the Glenbrooke series, Robin Jones Gunn creates a charming Oregon community that most people would love to spend time in. She's populated it with interesting characters, the most interesting being Kyle Buchanan. The noble paramedic is the perfect story-book hero, the kind that makes you almost long to be a damsel in distress just so he can save you.

But Jessica Morgan presents Kyle with a problem... she resists being rescued. While she's a sympathetic character, it's a bit hard to believe her motivation or her methods. The secret she harbors doesn't seem to support the necessity of changing her identity. And while moving to a new town with no ID whatsoever and managing to get a job, a driver's license, and a bank account may have been feasible in 1995 (when the book was originally published) but I doubt it would be as easy today. Still, Gunn has a very easy-to-read style, making this the perfect book for when you want to kick back and relax.

For more information on this and other Spring Value Releases, visit the WaterBrook/Mulnomah website

Note: I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

CFBA Presents THE BIG 5-OH! by Sandra D. Bricker

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Big 5-Oh!
(Abingdon Press - February 2010)
Sandra D. Bricker


For more than a decade, Author Sandra D. Bricker lived in Los Angeles. While writing in every spare moment, she worked as a personal assistant

and publicist to some of daytime television's hottest stars. When her mother became ill in Florida, she walked away from that segment of her life and moved across the country to take on a new role: Caregiver.

One of Sandie's passions revolves around the rights of animals. She's been involved in fundraising for Lost Angels Animal Rescue for several years now; in fact, a portion of the proceeds of Love Finds You in Holiday, Florida will go to help the non-profit group with their expenses. And Lost Angels paid her back in a big way: They brought a free-spirited Collie named Sophie into her life after the loss of her 15-year companion Caleb.

It was her 8th novel that opened the door to finding her way as a writer.

In Sandie's words: "I guess most people would see my career as a publicist as a sort of dream job. But giving it up turned out to be the best thing that could have happened to me!" she declares. "Not only was I given the gift of getting to know my mother as an adult woman before she passed away, but I was also afforded the blessing of being able to focus completely on my dream of a writing career. I'm a Christian woman, first and foremost, so it was a bit of a dream-come-true when Summerside Press chose me as one of two authors to launch their new Love Finds You line."


Olivia Wallace has a birthday curse . . . or so she thinks. It was a broken heart on her 16th, a car accident on her 21st, pneumonia on her 30th, and a fall down a flight of stairs on her 35th. There were Ohio blizzards on her 38th, 39th, and 40th; and six days before her 45th, she lost the love of her life to a heart attack. Numbing grief stole that birthday and a couple more to follow and, on the morning of her 48th birthday, she received the call she’d dreaded ever since losing her mom so many years ago…she was diagnosed with stage-3 ovarian cancer. The doctors didn’t hold out a lot of hope, but Liv survived and maintained her faith. Months of surgeries and chemotherapy and radiation treatments followed.

But now, as her 50th birthday creeps up the icy Ohio path toward her, her hair has grown back, her energy level is up, and she is officially cancer free. It makes her nervous. After everything she’s gone through, Liv hates the idea of driving on icy roads and returning to work as an O.R. nurse in a local Cincinnati hospital.

Her best friend Hallie knows just the thing to break Liv out of the winter doldrums, while providing a safe haven of warmth, sunshine, and a time to regroup: a holiday in the Florida sunshine!


Sandra D. Bricker has made a name for herself as a comedic writer with heart. Her latest offering, The Big 5-Oh! from Abingdon Press, is a great example of why.

Olivia Wallace is a survivor. She's survived Ohio winters, cervical cancer, and a string of cursed birthdays. Now, as the big five-oh draws near, she could use a little sunshine in her life. When her best friend presents her with the opportunity to spend a few weeks house-sitting in sunny Florida, it seems her luck might be turning around, especially after she makes the acquaintance of Jared Hunt, a very hunky and very single doctor. But even the sunniest of days can have some clouds. Unique neighbors, a wandering alligator, a flatulent dog and a hurricane may make this Liv's most interesting birthday ever.

Bricker has a knack for finding the humor in any situation. With snappy dialogue and realistic characters, she draws us into the story of a woman who's lived through more challenges than most of us will ever experience. Liv is on a journey of personal and spiritual discovery, and Bricker makes us excited go along with her. If you want a satisfying read with lots of laughs along with way, pick up The Big 5-Oh!

If you'd like to read the first chapter of The Big 5-Oh!, go HERE

Watch the trailer:

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Why Wasn't THIS a Super Bowl Commercial?

This is probably the funniest commercial I've seen in a long time. Whoever came up with it should get a bonus. Not only do I stop to watch whenever it's on, but I can tell you exactly what product they're selling... Old Spice body wash!


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Why I Stopped Watching "24"

I've always enjoyed 24. Even when it got uber-extreme. In Jack Bauer we had a tortured hero, a man who put country first even when it meant doing things that were abhorrent to him (like threatening to kill a man's family in order to get information). After the loss of his wife at the end of season one, Jack became a man who gave up his personal life. Jack detached himself from a normal life as we know it, and that's why I could watch him endure twenty-four hours of pain, intensity, torture, sleeplessness and probably some nasty-smelling clothes.

So maybe you can figure out what put me off the current season of 24. That's right... Happy Jack.

The first episode opened with Jack and his granddaughter. And Jack is happy. Jack plans to move back to California to be with his family. Jack loves the new life he's ready to embark on.

Then that dude had to go and knock on Jack's door, dragging him back to CTU and the spy game. And I just cannot watch it. I could handle watching stoic, push-through-the-pain-Jack be abused in the name of keeping America free. But now, he's grandpa-Jack, the man who only wants to live a quiet, happy life where he takes his granddaughter to the zoo and buys her ice cream.

I hope, by the time this long, eighth day is over, Jack will be happy once again. I just can't go on the journey with him this time.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Fat Fun for Fat Tuesday

A classic Weird Al video... Enjoy some Fat fun for Fat Tuesday.

Monday, February 15, 2010

What I Did Last Tuesday - A Lovely Tea at Our Savior Lutheran

I had the great honor of speaking at a Valentine's Tea last Tuesday. What made it really special wasn't just the 160-or-so fabulous, God-loving ladies.

Here are some of them... don't they look happy?

It wasn't just the beautifully decorated tables, each uniquely done by a table hostess.

Here's Annette Wilson, awaiting her guests

It wasn't just the amazing deserts we were served.

Check out those tarts!

No, what made this really special is that Our Savior Lutheran is my old home church. This is where I was a church secretary, sang in the choir, served in the drama ministry, and was a founding committee member of LoveFest (an awesome annual event that examines sexuality from God's point of view). I have great memories of countless potlucks, rummage sales, youth events, Christmas programs, and Easter Sunrise services. Going to Our Savior is a little like going to a family reunion... only better.

A big THANK YOU to the LWML board for inviting me to speak and taking such good care of me. I had a fabulous time. All you ladies are in my prayers. May God continue to bless you as you minister for Him!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

CFBA Presents WALKING ON BROKEN GLASS by Christa Allan

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Walking on Broken Glass
(Abingdon Press - February 2010)
Christa Allan


Christa Allan, a true Southern woman who knows any cook worth her gumbo always starts with a roux and who never wears white after Labor Day, weaves stories of unscripted grace with threads of hope, humor, and heart.

The mother of five and grandmother of three, Christa teaches high school English. She and her husband, Ken live in Abita Springs, Louisiana where they play golf, dodge hurricanes, and anticipate retirement.


Leah Thornton's life, like her Southern Living home, has great curb appeal. But already sloshed from one-too-many drinks at a faculty party, Leah cruises the supermarket aisles in search of something tasty to enhance her Starbucks—Kahlua and a paralyzing encounter with a can of frozen apple juice shatters the facade, forcing her to admit that all is not as it appears.

When her best friend Molly gets in Leah's face about her refusal to deal with her life, Leah is forced to make a decision. Can this brand-conscious socialite walk away from the country club into 28 days of rehab? Leah is sitting in the office of the local rehab center facing an admissions counselor who fails to understand the most basic things, like the fact that apple juice is not a suitable cocktail mixer.

Rehab is no picnic, and being forced to experience and deal with the reality of her life isn’t Leah’s idea of fun. Can she leave what she has now to gain back what she needs? Joy, sadness, pain and a new srength converge, testing her marriage, her friendships and her faith.

But through the battle she finds a reservoir of courage she never knew she had, and the loving arms of a God she never quite believed existed.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Walking on Broken Glass, go HERE


Leah Thornton drinks to numb herself against a life that's too painful to feel. She doesn't acknowledge how serious her problem is until her best friend has the guts to confront her with it. Leah's husband, Carl, is living in an alternate reality of his own. He thinks she's overreacting when she says she's checking herself into rehab. But Leah's determined to follow through, and Carl reluctantly goes along with it.

If this sound like a heavy, mirthless book, it's not. Yes, it's a serious subject. And as Leah travels closer to sobriety and further from her alcohol induced fog, her emotions become raw and exposed. You're going to feel her pain. But you're also going to enjoy her sassy sense of humor, even as she's struggling with the creation of her new, addiction-free life. You may even laugh out loud.

Walking on Broken Glass is a stunning debut novel you won't want to miss. Author Christa Allan takes an honest look at life in rehab and the aftermath. Kudos to her for showing us not only the challenges of Leah, but of the family surrounding her. There is no easy ending in this story. In fact, it ends with a new question that's left unanswered. This is the only part of the book that bothered me, because I'm the type that likes experience how the story ends. The more I thought about it, though, the more I realized it was probably the most realistic ending. Because life rarely ties up all the questions in a neat little bow. Here's hoping a sequel is in the works so we can journey a bit further with Leah and Carl.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Interview and Giveaway with Award-Winning Author Sandra D. Bricker

It's my great pleasure to welcome award winning author Sandie Bricker to the blog!


Sandra D. Bricker has been publishing in both the Christian and general market for years with novels for women and teens, magazine articles and short stories. With 11 novels in print and 4 more slated for publication through 2011, Sandie has carved out a niche for herself as an author of laugh-out-loud comedy for the inspirational market. Last year’s Love Finds You in Snowball, Arkansas garnered three readers’ choice award nods. Sandie was an entertainment publicist in Hollywood for 15+ years and now lives in Tampa, Florida. To keep up with her blog, readers can visit


Q:  What inspired you to write this book?
A:  It’s a pretty UNfunny reason for writing a comedy, actually. I was diagnosed with stage 3 ovarian cancer some years ago and, if you know much about this disease (called “the silent killer”), it’s quite a battle without a lot of encouraging statistics about beating it. Well, by the grace of God alone, I did, and I’ve been cancer-free for six years now. I was recounting that feeling, after three surgeries and 5 weeks of daily radiation treatments, when they told me I’d won the battle. It was a strange, disoriented haze where you wonder, “Hmm. What now?” I wanted to write about that, but with humor. The Big 5-OH! provided the perfect opportunity to do that.

Q:  How does your faith impact your writing?
A:  My faith impacts everything I do. It’s so much a part of me that I’m not sure I have the ability to tell a story without that thread running through it. Every decision I make, every relationship I have, even what I do for fun … it’s all motivated by my belief in God and my kinship to the rest of the world through the blood of Jesus Christ. I think that sounds corny in some circles, but I’m guessing I’m among friends here who totally “get it.”

Q:  How long does it take to complete a novel? How many drafts do you go through?
A:  I’m one of those writers that also works a “day job,” so 40+ hours a week belong to someone else. When we’re especially busy at work … which we always seem to be when I’m on deadline! What’s up with that? … my weekends are all I have. There are good and bad sides to that, but the good part is I can grab big chunks of writing time rather than an hour here and an hour there. Working that way, it usually takes me about 3-4 months to complete my first draft. I’m an editor on the “day job,” so I edit as I go along, chapter by chapter. Then I do a significant final edit on the completed manuscript.

Q:  Do you plot out your story ahead of time, or do you dream it up as you go?
A:  I’m a seat-of-my-pantser. I normally start out with several key scenes in my head, but I don’t write them until I get to that spot in the novel. So I sit down at my computer and start from the very beginning without an outline. The only structure I really need is a timeline for those stories that require one. For instance, with Love Finds You in Snowball, Arkansas, the story was wrapped around a singles retreat for a set amount of days, so I had to track my timeline as I went along to make sure they weren’t on the site for weeks instead of days!

Q:  Do you treat yourself to something special when a project is completed?A:  Working all week and writing all weekend can be pretty grueling over time. So after I complete a book, I always allow myself about a month of weekends to do whatever I want to do. And since my dog Sophie is a bit of a muse for me when I’m in creative mode, at the end of each book, she gets a new toy. After Love Finds You in Holiday, Florida, which starred two neon pink flamingos, I found a really fun flamingo dog toy. When The Big 5-OH! was complete, she got an alligator toy (which she has already completely destroyed).

Q:  What do you think about writing contests? Have you participated in any? What’s the benefit to an unpublished writer?A:  For unpublished authors, I think contests are important for getting input from professionals and for getting your name out there. Unfortunately, I didn’t really figure that out while I was coming up, and I never entered them. Now, I find the various readers’ choice contests really helpful because it gives a writer a sort of gauge on reader response, and that’s ultimately why we’re writing to begin with.

Q:  If you weren’t a writer, what would you be doing?A:  I would probably still be a publicist. I operated my own business as a publicist to actors for about 15 years when I was in Los Angeles, and I really loved the work. Even though God had a different road for me, my background in promotions and PR has been a great skill set to support my career as an author.

Q:  What event, writer, or book has most impacted your writing life?A:  When my mom became ill in Florida, and I had to give up my life in Southern California to move here and provide care for her, I pretty much thought my life was over. I remember the afternoon I crossed the state line out of California in my U-Haul truck and looking back, thinking, “Well. My life is over.” The Lord brings that moment to mind so often as a reminder that it was actually the moment that things began for me. I put my old life behind me, and started a new one. Not just as an author either. A new relationship with my mom unfolded in Florida; there was healing and restoration in a very profound way, and I wouldn’t trade those three years with her for anything in the world.

Q:  Have you ever had a horrendously embarrassing moment that you ended up using later in a novel?A:  Countless embarrassing moments!! I’m a bit of a klutz, and really one of the biggest dorks you’ll meet. So writing romantic comedy is just an extension of me. There’s a scene with a bat, and another with a moose, from Love Finds You in Snowball, Arkansas that were real-life occurrences. And in The Big 5-OH!, when Olivia is on a date with the spectacular Jared Hunt, she glances down at her legs to find that the bronzer she used earlier has now turned to bright orange streaks of permanent color that she can’t hide … True story! And her experience on a bike ride with Jared … Well, you get the idea. Destiny is an interesting thing. I really was born to write comedy.

Q:  What’s the one far out sci-fi technology you’d most like to see become a household item?A:  Oh, that’s easy! I want The Starship Enterprise’s teleporter thingie. I HATE TO FLY, so if I could just step into the closet at my house and come out a few minutes later in a pantry somewhere else across the country, my life would be very, very different. But since experience teaches that I would be the one world traveler with the highest chance of my molecules coming back together with my elbow sticking out of my nose … I don’t know. Maybe not so much.

I completely agree with you Sandie! I want the teleporter, too. Thanks so much for sharing your musings with us today.

© 2010 Abingdon Press
Olivia Wallace can’t remember a birthday that wasn’t marked by illness, tragedy or both. And now, as she emerges victorious over cancer and approaches The Big Five-Oh, she is determined to change her course. Better late than never, right? That’s what Liv believes when she leaves a snowy Ohio winter behind and runs away to Florida to regroup. Amidst a crazy cast of characters that include a dog with a lampshade collar, a rogue alligator and a flirtatious octogenarian, Liv finds the biggest birthday surprise of all … A second chance at love.

Read the first three chapters of The Big 5-OH!

View the video trailer on YouTube


If you’d like to be entered to win a copy of The Big 5-OH!, just leave a reply to this blog. I’ll pick a winner at random on February 5th. 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!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Four Books & A Website Take Off Today!

It's a big day today! Here's just a sampling of what's new in Christian entertainment...


The Pastor's Wife - Yes sir, it's my baby! And in my quest for world domination, I'll be popping up all over the web. This week I'm the featured author over at the ACFW website. And I've got a blog tour running. I'd love it if you'd stop in and say "Hi."

Walking on Broken Glass - Author Christa Allan's debut novel is a honest look into the live of a woman searching for sobriety.

The Big Five-OH! - Sandie Bricker offers up a laugh-out-loud story about a woman who survived cancer... but can she survive her 50th birthday?

Deliver Us From Evil - Robin Caroll's latest novel is full of fast-paced suspense and takes a hard look at human trafficking.


Clash Entertainment - Ken Raney (husband of award-winning author Deborah Raney) presents an awesome new site for teens. It's full of contests, games, free stuff, news about books, movies, TV, sports, and lots more. You've got to check it out and tell the young people in your life about it.


I can't forget the pop-culture highlights of the week.. tomorrow the Academy Award nominations will be announced. (It will be interesting to see who the 10 best picture nominees are.) But bigger than that, the event we've all (and by "all" I mean "me") been waiting for... LOST returns! I'm ready to jump into the last season. Did the bomb work? What year are we in? Will Juliet and Sawyer ever find each other again? What the heck is that smoke monster? Where does Richard get his eyeliner? OOOO, I can't wait!