Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Serials and Scenarios - Austin Boyd - Down to Earth

I'm mixing it up a bit this week. Four book blog tours. Oh my. But based on the two I've read and already posted, you shouldn't have any trouble finding a good book to read should you be looking for one.

Austin Boyd - i.e. techie-genius sci-fi guy, dropped in with some answers to some of the standard Scrambled Dreg questionis. (that's Latin, I think : ) or maybe Italian. )

If you were assured of writing a best-seller, what genre would it be? Give us a sliver of information, a characteristic or glimpse of a scene.

Fiction, literary novel. A boy and his dog:

Troy found Scooter fifteen years ago, the puppy’s leg broken by an impact with a passing car. The little guy was a mutt, his mother and father connecting just long enough to make him, and neither around when he needed nurturing. That is, until Troy showed up, a curious boy, age 8.

Scooter learned the neighborhood chasing Troy’s bike, learned about girls when Troy missed filling the feed bowl, learned about college when Troy left for months, and Scooter learned about age as his best friend discovered marriage. Best friends for life, Scooter had little life left in him as Troy ascended the last mile of the trail up Maine’s Mount Khatadin.

2000 miles and fourteen years ago, they began this trail together in Georgia, a boy and his young dog, and a wild cub scout troop, climbing a bug-infested Springer Mountain in the sweltering heat of July. Every year they conquered hills together, found water, ran off snakes in summer, or curled together against the freezing rain of a spring weekend storm. This last summit, their last mile, was all that remained in this life of adventures as Scooter rode to the top on the back of his lifelong buddy. A cold October wind whipping against his face, Scooter buried his nose against the warmth of the nape of Troy’s neck… one last time. The great adventure was at a close. This was as far as he would go.

Fiction character you would most like to be or most identify with and why?

Most identify with: The Scarecrow in Wizard of Oz. He wants a brain, and I find myself asking for wisdom and creativity often. He gets the stuffin’s knocked out of him and pastes on a smile, then comes back slugging. You can’t get the guy down. He’s the ingenious one, a 1950’s McGyver, who always figures a way out of a jam. I love the guy.

Most like to be: Tarzan or Spider-Man. They were my childhood heroes and still are. Larger than life, making a difference, conquering foes and both with great loves in their lives who are confident women conquering their own challenges.

If you could ask any person, living or dead, a random question -- what question would you ask of whom?

Easy question. I ask it all the time. Jesus, what’s your will for my life? OK… that’s pretty heavy… but it’s the truth. I might also ask Him where the woman came from that Cain married. God doesn’t always give us all the answers… and that’s part of what makes faith so invigorating.

Some out there in writing land have strange rituals. Share yours.

I get up at 4 or 4:30 AM to write, stopping around 6:30 to take my daughter to school. I write in the AM so that I can be a Dad in the PM. I do an extensive outline before every novel so that I can refer to it each morning when I get up to write… in a sleepy fog, I can go right to the scene that I’m supposed to do next, and off we go!

What crayon in the box describes you on a good day? Bad day? Which one do you aspire to be?

Ever sniff a box of new Crayolas? I love that smell. Good day, blue or green. Bad day, one of those stupid colors in the middle between blue and green that aren’t one or the other. I aspire to be the green. Good solid bright green. Verdant.

What makes you feel alive?

Exercising and praying at the same time. I’m the old guy in spandex on a blue bike talking out loud as I zip down the road. Neighbors think I’m nuts, but God knows I’m communing with Him.

Where would you most like to travel ----- moon, north pole, deep seas, deserted island, the holy land or back to a place from your childhood, somewhere else? – and why.

The Holy Land, right now. So much of history, and current events, seems to be wrapped up in that area. I want to see it before I pass on.

Favorite season and why?

Fall. The colors, the smells of the forest behind our house, the hunting season (bow) and the cold air. Pumpkins, corn stalks, leafy trails on the mountain, deer moving and squirrels burying nuts. Cross country season and Thanksgiving. School starts. Birthday in October.

Which compliment related to your writing has meant the most and why?

“I couldn’t put it down and got no sleep last night.” I write suspense and techno-thrillers. If she can’t put the book down, then the reader has invested herself in the storyline and is living it. That’s the best compliment for a writer. The worst is, “I couldn’t get into it. I put it down after 2 or 3 chapters.”

What would you do today if you knew you had only a week to live?

No changes, except I probably wouldn’t be in the office. I’d be in the woods walking with my daughter, riding the bike, and working in the yard with Cindy. No focus on the end, but enjoying every bit of living. No special trips. I’m very happy where I am.

Favorite chore

Gardening with my wife. We love to work in the yard together, whether it’s cutting the grass, pulling weeds, or planting a new garden. Outside work is fun. I also love to clean a kitchen. Cannot stand to cook… won’t even boil water… but give me the ugliest yuckiest kitchen after a big dinner party, a rag, a bottle of dish soap, and turn me loose. Love it.

Grammatical pet peeve…sound off.

Use of the word ‘which’ . Somehow people stick it into sentences in the most egregious ways when they are talking.

Societal pet peeve…sound off.

Not washing hands in the bathroom. Why is it that most of the architects in the world are clueless and design bathrooms so that you have to pull the door open from the inside?

Thanks, Austin. Okay, people come back tomorrow for Boo Humbug. A frightfully/lovely twisted Christmas Carol.

Serials and Scenarios - Demon: A Memoir

Click on the cover to read more about Demon.

Go here to read the first chapter.

Tosca Lee's site and an article written by her for Halloween 2007

My Review:

A couple of months ago I read the first chapter of Demon. It intrigued me and I put the book on my must read list. Then I had the opportunity to join a blog tour. The book arrived in the mail and I had to squeeze it into an already stretched reading schedule.

Upon opening it, I was pulled in and not let go until the last page, and now, I still mull over the details of this story.

There are so many wows that I can’t even begin to go into them, but I’ll try.

First, this story is fascinating. We all have spiritual awareness and curiosity. Look at what we read and watch. Even if we don’t or won’t admit that there is more to this life than birth, taxes and death, we know, deep within while wrestling with haunted thoughts at two a.m. that life is bigger than us. The premise of Demon is an angel who slipped up during worship, took his eyes off God and is forever damned. Only to witness the creation of pathetic creatures of clay who are given mercy and forgiveness and dare they accept God fully, a seed of God Himself, and his struggle with these mud creature and the God who created them.

Secondly, Tosca Lee is a talented writer. I’m amazed that Demon is a debut novel. Her descriptions, dialogue, characterization and level of tension are top notch. I will reread Demon when I have time to read at a pace where I can slow down and savor the rich sensory details.

Thirdly, Demon is haunting. I will ponder the spiritual implications of this story for a long time. If there is even a hint of truth within this story, a chance that some of what is shared about the clay beings importance to God, then maybe I need to live my life differently. Maybe I should be a person whose prayers and walk of faith make the demons uneasy.

Demon does not carry horrific or gory images, but it’s unsettling. Easily ruffled feathers might want to use caution. Otherwise, I can’t imagine someone who shouldn’t read this fascinating account of God’s story through the eyes of one of His enemies.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Scribbles and Scrambles - Taking My Checkerboard and Leaving

Does anything get any more heart-rending than parenting? I suppose marriage comes in a close second.

But right now I’m a parent who’d like to take my checkerboard and go home.

Unfortunately, I can’t afford the tiny apartment; so I’ll be staying put.

I feel like I owe a public apology to God.

God, I’m sorry for all the times I’ve clenched my fists and raged at You. I’m sorry I’ve accused You of not loving me because You say no. I’m sorry for not trusting that You say no because yes will gut me and leave me squirming in spiritual, emotional or physical agony or a nice mix of all of the above.

Do you ever find it amazing that God only flooded the earth once? If it were up to me, I’d probably start over with a literal clean slate every generation. Why would God, who can even see our yucky thoughts not only LET us populate His earth, but send His Son into it to offer salvation?

And our response is a lot like a snotty, selfish teenager or a defiant three-year-old…You haven’t done enough God! I want my way. NOW!

Please forgive us. Thank You for Your great mercy which keeps lightning bolts and floods restrained.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Serials and Scenarios -The Return

This will be a review intensive week at the Dregs. For those of you who aren't so into the book reviews/interviews, hang in there. I'll think of something off-the-wall that will hopefully entertain you. So stay in touch. Besides, you might find something that will interest you.

My first review of the week is The Return. You can click on the book cover to be directed to Amazon for more information. Or visit Austin Boyd's website by clicking here.

Austin will be dropping in (ha, ha, his book is about space, hee, hee) later with an interview. You won't want to miss that.

My Review:

I need to go on record here...I'm not a sci-fi lover. So when I picked up The Return, the next book on my stack not knowing what to expect and turned to the first scene set on Mars, date 2020, I nearly choked.

This novel is 460 pages long, give or take a few.

But, I had committed to reading the book and writing a review. And since I try to find good things to say in my reviews, I was a little concerned that I could find something good at all to praise.

Then I started reading.

Well done, Mr. Boyd.

Boyd nails character, story and believability. I'll admit that there were a few techie spots that I skimmed. Seriously, details on titanium from Russia and DNA strands and windows for rocket launch do nothing for me. But I was seriously impressed with Boyd's skill with characterization, plotting and his solid and sometimes beautiful writing style. He takes the reader to Mars through the mind of a grieving astronaut and into the thoughts and heart of a confused fifteen year old girl, as well as another dozen or so characters throughout this novel.

After a few paragraphs I turned the book over and read all about Austin. Talk about a techie genius...Yikes. But a techie genius who writes poetry.

Not only has he mastered the basics, he has a great touch with realistic spirituality. Though Christian conversions happen within this novel, they are thoughtful and believable and lack the platitudes that have bothered those who complain about unrealistic pie-in-the-sky Christian fiction.

I'm not going to suggest that those who detest sci-fi run out and grab a copy. But I will suggest that anyone who likes a great story check further into Austin Boyd.

Very, very impressed, Austin Boyd.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Sunday Dinner

Martha Stewart, I'm not. I'm not even her backwoods third-cousin fifth-removed.

Therefore, no chance of fancy at my place.

No fall-flaired decor, unless you count the leaves that sneak in on various forms of footwear that may or may not find themselves hastily swept up.

Does this stop me from inviting people to my home?


It may stop people from accepting my invitations...but that's beside the point.

Today I decided to make chili dogs and invite a few people for Sunday dinner. Of course, lunch wasn't ready til two because I had to throw everything together. And clear a few spots. Oh, and decide about the menu (you can't just serve chili dogs) and work around the family members who wanted to be helpful with great ideas of their own.

Finally, after a last minute attempt to make Rice Krispie treats, without recipe or measuring, which resulted in a small fire...
You think I'm kidding. I have witnesses.
After managing to decorate my entire chest and abdomen with chili sauce... We sat down to eat.
We had the best conversation and a relaxed time. Go figure. So, try to stuff that in a gourd, Martha.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Serials and Scenarios - Matt Bronleewe in the Spotlight

Illuminated's Matt Bronleewe dropped in for a visit.

Fiction character you would most like to be or most identify with and why?

I feel like I’m slowly becoming more and more like my main character in Illuminated – August Adams. He may be smarter and handsomer, but I’m trying to give him a run for his money in the adventure department! He has a love for rare and mysterious books, and that’s certainly something I’ve caught the bug for too.

Some out there in writing land have strange rituals. Share yours.

During the last week of finishing a book I lock myself away in a hotel room and live on nothing but Red Barron frozen pizzas and Mountain Dew Amp Tallboys. What a rush!!!

What crayon in the box describes you on a good day? Bad day? Which one do you aspire to be?

Crayon? I’m more like the sharpener on the back of the box!

Pick one…..Pink iguana, purple cow, periwinkle giraffe. Which one and why? Can be negative or positive.

Ummmmmm. I pick plaid wildcat. Or speckled muskrat. Or…sorry…what were the choices?

If you were assured of writing a best-seller, what genre would it be? Give us a sliver of information, a characteristic or glimpse of a scene.

I’d take THRILLER (luckily, the genre I’m already in!) because there are so many different approaches. Historical thriller. Serial killer thriller. Wild mutant forest creature thriller. (Ok…I made that one up…but why not??)

What period of history intrigues you the most?

The Middle Ages. Secret societies, massive religious wars, political zaniness… Huh. I guess some things never change.

What would you write if there were no rules or barriers? (epic novels about characters in the Bible, poetry, greeting cards, plays, movies, instruction manuals, etc.)

Rules? Barriers? What are those?

What makes you feel alive?

Spending time with friends and family. Writing is fun, but in the end I have to remind myself that IT’S ALL JUST MADE UP! NONE OF IT REALLY EXISTS! I feel alive when I see my little girl smile, or my wife laugh, or my boys playing in the backyard.

Book, music, person, food you would take with you on a very long trip.

War and Peace. (You said LONG trip, right?) My wife Karin. And as for the food…well, we’d just have to hit every non-chain joint along the way!

Where would you most like to travel ----- moon, north pole, deep seas, deserted island, the holy land or back to a place from your childhood,somewhere else? – and why.

I would love to go to Antarctica. I just completed my second book – HOUSE OF WOLVES – and Antarctica acts as one of the settings. (I can’t tell you why! It’s a secret!!) Getting to Antarctica was impossible for me…so I had to read as much as I could to get it right… But maybe someday!! (Anyone willing to let me hitch a ride??)

Favorite season and why?

I know I’m supposed to say SUMMER or FALL or whatever, but I choose THE HOLIDAY SEASON!! Thanksgiving, then my birthday, then Christmas, then New Year’s…it’s madness!

Favorite book setting and why?

For whatever reason, I love any stark, cold environment. Maybe it’s because it puts an immediate edge on the story – it’s intrinsically hostile. I like it so much that I decided to place a portion of my second book – House of Wolves – in Antarctica. But I can’t reveal why!!

Which compliment related to your writing has meant the most and why?

A friend told me that my first book – Illuminated – didn’t sound like me. “Why is that?” I asked. “It was funny and intelligent,” came the reply. Huh. Thinking about it, maybe that wasn’t a compliment.

Superhero you most admire and why?

Batman is pretty great because all the other heroes have lasers shooting out of their eyes and knives ejecting from their forearms and all kinds of cool stuff and all Batman has is a lousy utility belt. He must feel cheated at times, but it doesn’t keep him from kicking butt. Good on you, Batman!!

Super power you'd love to borrow for awhile?

The ability to detect the thoughts of barnyard animals.

Favorite chore

I’m sorry, did you say favorite CHORE? Does watching dvds of the tv show 24 count? What about eating pizza? Does that count?

Societal pet peeve…sound off.

Yeah. How about that person behind the counter at the movie theater who moves at a snail’s pace while my movie starts and I’m missing the trailers and it shouldn’t matter because it’s just the trailers but then again sometimes they take SO LONG TO GET MY POPCORN “DID YOU WANT BUTTER WITH THAT?” HE ASKS FOR THE 2 MILLIONTH TIME and then the movie actually does start and now I’ve missed the first all-important ten minutes where the whole plot is set up and “I’M SORRY SIR, DID YOU SAY BUTTER OR NO BUTTER?” oh my word I’ve told this guy NO BUTTER so many times I think maybe now he’s just trying to sell me on the idea of adding butter JUST GIVE ME THE POPCORN!! NOW!! WITHOUT BUTTER!!

Just hand over the popcorn and have a great weekend!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Serials and Scenarios - Illuminated

Action, adventure, history lovers...this one's for you.

Click on the book cover to visit the Amazon page for more information. Click here for Matt Bronleewe's website. Come back Friday for an interview with Matt.

My Review:

If you threw National Treasure, The DaVinci Code, Red Eye and the Indian Jones movies into a blender, you'd end up with something very similar to Illuminated, but in book format. Bronleewe has crafted a novel full of mystery, intrigue and fascinating puzzles. If Illuminated is not made into a movie, I'll be disappointed. This story screams for the big screen.

Respectful-of-Christians fiction without heavy Christianese so Illuminated should have great crossover appeal. Normally I'm all over character driven fiction and Illuminated is plot, action, plot. But I ended up bonding with the characters. Sometimes a plot heavy novel ends up with stereotypical characters that are as appealing as cardboard cut-outs. Bronleewe has developed heroes with a stereotypical brush, but he has given them a charm of their own, individually. He isn't afraid to slow down and show a positive characteristic within the baddies, and the good guys are not polished to the point of nausea.

I was thoroughly charmed with the humor and personality of this first novel. History is so easily grasped when sandwiched inside a great multi-faceted story. Historical fiction lovers, fans of the above mentioned movies, and story lovers should consider looking into Illuminated. I'm anxious to see Bronleewe grow as a writer. He's one to watch.

One note to Big Honken Chicken Club members...there are some ewwww elements.

Normally I don't add the author's bio, but Matt's is a story in itself so I thought I'd share it with you.

Matt Bronleewe is a recognized producer, songwriter and author. The former member of the band Jars of Clay, has earned numerous awards producing and co-writing albums that have sold a combined total of over 20 million copies. His songs have recently been recorded by Disney pop sensations Aly & AJ, American Idol finalist Kimberley Locke, and more. Bronleewe has worked with Grammy Award-winning artists such as Michael W. Smith, International pop singer Natalie Imbruglia and Heroes star Hayden Panettiere.

Born in Dallas, Texas, Bronleewe was raised on a farm in Kansas, where he lived until he left for college in 1992. At Greenville College in Illinois, Bronleewe formed the band Jars of Clay with his dorm roommate and two neighbors, and the group soon found success. Though Bronleewe opted to leave Jars of Clay early on to pursue an academic career, he soon found himself in Nashville, co-writing, producing, and playing music professionally.

To add to his list of accomplishments, Bronleewe has expanded his love of story telling beyond music into authorship. He is currently penning a 5 book series for Thomas Nelson Fiction. Illuminated, in stores now, begins the adventurous series about rare manuscripts and the mysteries within.Bronleewe currently resides in Brentwood, Tenn., with his wife and three children. He continues to write and produce music, and he also volunteers through his church to help disadvantaged youth in the community. Bronleewe enjoys reading, taste-testing good food and watching sports, as well as indulging his interests in art, architecture, design and science.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Scribbles and Scrambles - Constructive Thoughts

A good wife would be stretched out over the steps hanging onto one side of the chunk of drywall as her husband attached it to the wall.

Even if he said he didn't need help, she'd stand by and get in his way while he worked just in case he might need her.

She might hold an iced beverage or a steamy mug depending on the temperature...just in case he grew thirsty.

She'd definitely keep him from being stalked, annoyed or otherwise molested by the indoor livestock.

If she was really good, she'd have a soft towel to blot any wayward drops of sweat.

If she was really, really good, she'd hang the drywall herself while he was at work.

This wife is blogging.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Scribble and Scrambles - How Does God Do That?

God multiplied time for me.

As odd as that sounds, it is true. I invested hours of prep time into the speaking gig over the weekend. What's the rule? For every half an hour of talk time you should invest three hours of prep? Something crazy like that.

For weeks I've been sweating what I'd say. I had the verse right away -- Galatians 6:9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not faint. The reason I was sweating? Because I've been struggling with fainting myself. I've been a little spiritually light-headed of late.

Beyond the pivotal verse, "it" wasn't there, I couldn't get my hands around it, nor my mind, nor my heart for that matter. Eww. So aided with the adrenaline burst that comes with procrastination -- something I avoid at all costs -- the procrastination, not the adrenaline -- and a pathetic prayer, I forced myself to sit down and begin to gather my swirling thoughts.

And things just began to flow. As I typed, I grew more convinced that the jumble of words and ideas began to make sense.

Then came Friday with the sunshine and life-charged breeze. I ended with hours on my hands to relax and soak up peace before driving to deliver my words, His words, to a group of women who needed them as much as I did.

I began my Saturday morning with peace, and again Sunday, a jam-packed day with a family wedding shower that required games, devotional and food from me.

This should have been a stress-pumped weekend, but it was not. Instead it was a fresh breath from the God Who does not grow weary or sleep, the God Who is mindful of sparrows and aware of the number of hairs on my head.

Wow. Thanks, God. You are so faithful to this foolish, stubborn sheep. And thanks to those of you who prayed.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Scribble and Scrambles - A Peek From My Window

I've finished my two part "speech." Okay, not finished, but the writing part is done, solid and I'm sticking with it. Who knows what will happen when I stand in front of them and open my mouth. The improv bug sometimes bites and...well...I'll let you imagine.

So I mentioned I'd blog if all my speaking issues were resolved. They are. And if I keep busy I won't nervously chew all my fingernails off.

I didn't have a single x-ray this morning, so I took the day off. I love benefits, especially vacation days. And what a bee-yo-ti-ful day it is. This entire week has been drizzly and gray.

But today. Sigh.

Today the sky is brilliant blue. The shade of faded, prewashed denim. Not a cloud in sight. And the sun has spilled across my arm and onto the arrow keys.

October is an iffy weather month in Iowa. We've had ice storms in October and Halloween has been "cancelled" more than once in my lifetime.

Usually by now, the trees have turned into red, gold and orange tissue paper art. But with a long and warmer than usual summer, the trees still proudly wave green.

Outside my writing window the leaves, tickled by the fresh, crisp breeze, undulate and glow in the bright sunlight.

I find it a mystery how a season of dying can smell so alive. Nothing energizes me like a day like today.

Thanks, God.

Now, I'm going to go read my "speech" to the puppies. We'll see how that goes.

Have an excellent weekend and I hope your view from your window is as beautiful as mine.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Serials and Scenarios - Crimson Eve

Brandilyn Collins fans need to get this book now! By far her best, she hits the ground running and doesn't let up until the bittersweet end. Crimson Eve contains a powerfully human bad guy, so much so, that I found myself almost pulling for him to get away, disappear and start over.

The heroine, full of secrets and sorrows, takes us on a journey into her past while she literally runs for her life.

Big honken chickens, you might be able to read this one. The gore is amped down a notch on the gag-o-meter, and the tension, though humming throughout, played a background score to the characters struggles.
Click on the book cover to visit Amazon with more reviews etc. And Brandilyn's website .
If I'm not too stressed out over my speaking gig tomorrow, I'll post something clever. : ). Or not. And I've only given one copy of Mosaic away. You can still leave a comment. I have two left.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Serials and Scenarios - Kathy Herman's Never Look Back

This is a big week for book releases and reviews.

Read below to see my review of Kathy Herman's Never Look Back. Click on the book cover to get more details.

Never Look Back ably and tensely handles some very delicate subjects, a "rehabilitated" drug user who valued getting high over her child, an alcoholic barely on the road to recovery, a town full of people who watch and wait for the town bad girl to mess up and a violent psychopath looking for kicks.

This is a great cold winter read unless you are very squeamish or sensitive to addictions. Several twists and secrets are revealed along the storyline, most of which I guessed early on, which I don't always do, but figuring things out didn't ruin the story for me at all.

If you are a Kathy Herman fan or want to continue reading about Ivy Griffith's road to recovery and healing, you are going to want to get a copy of Never Look Back. If you know someone who dabbled in a past that now haunts them as they see shameful junk in the new light of day, this could be a series that helps them begin to stop looking behind and start moving forward.

Serials and Scenarios - Amy Grant's Mosaic

I was offered the opportunity to read and review Amy Grant's new biography, Mosaic. Had it been in the bookstore, I might have picked it up, glanced through it and come away with a very different impression than I've developed from reading it cover to cover.

I haven't been a rabid Amy fan. As a matter of fact, I've seen her in concert once and that was because I went to see Mercy Me and Amy opened for them. I purchased her Christmas CD at a garage sale. This information is not a slam in any way. I'm just sharing where I am coming from where Amy is concerned.

Driven to curiosity by the talk before, during and after her divorce from Gary Chapman I purchased Amy's Behind the Eyes CD. The lyrics from several songs haunted me. As a survivor of a rotten marriage gone good, I felt compelled to write to Amy. Crazy as that sounds...who does that? But I did. I don't remember what I wrote, other than to tell her it didn't have to end in divorce. I wondered like much of the rest of the world why she thought God wanted her to be happy at the expense of her children's pain.

I almost turned down Mosaic because of my thoughts and feelings. What if she showed no remorse, no awareness of the sanctity of marriage? What if she lightly dismissed the damage done to her children? How could I recommend this book? Then my daughter reminded me that I don't like to sit in judgment of others and I love people who screw up daily, and that I have to look into the mirror and see behind my own eyes. I needed to give Amy's book a fair reading.

I'm sorry, Amy.

Amy's divorce is as much a symptom of America's brand of diluted Christianity as it is a picture of our pathetic human weaknesses. Why should she, though in the public eye and ministering to thousands through her music, be held to a higher standard of holiness? A standard that a full half of professing Christian married couples can't meet? I, myself, am still married only because God held me in place. Everything in me wanted to be divorced and free of the pain that my husband and I inflicted on each other.

Mosaic starts like a feel-good anecdotal "Chicken Soup" style of book full of sweet stories inspiring song lyrics which end each chapter. A section of names and events details Amy's relationships with celebrities and treasured encounters with them.

Had the book been just this feel good celebrity stuff, I wouldn't recommend it. But as the book progresses Amy begins to dig deep. The promotional quotes from Mosaic have been light and chatty, friendly and homey. What dug under my skin and into my heart was the poetic poignancy with which Amy described the events and people that have shaped her through much pain and loss. Those are the entries that contain the lyrics from some of the songs that haunted me from Behind the Eyes. Amy shares her thoughts on depression, faithquakes and the death of innocence. She left me feeling like I hadn't been reading the words of a spoiled celebrity, but instead, hearing the confessions of a hurting friend.

Fame doesn't save us. A good spouse, wonderful children, great friends, history, and money can't save us. If we could each grasp how much we are loved by the Creator of the universe, maybe we wouldn't be so quick to run away from Him to find our own way. We all grab for worthless bandages. Most of us don't have the burden of the spotlight of fame to complicate our paths.

After finishing Mosaic, I read a feature article in Parade Magazine on Brad Pitt. My cousin lives in the Springfield area and is acquainted with Brad's parents. It's always made me sad that Brad stepped away from his parent's beliefs. After reading the article, I'm even more burdened for Brad and thousands of other people who are living lives without "knowing" Jesus. If you are too, look up Hollywood Prayer Network.

Waterbrook has given me three copies of Mosaic to give away to my readers. If you want a copy, leave a comment. I'll pick names from a hat on Friday and get a book sent out to three of you. In your comment, leave a name of someone you know who needs a touch from Jesus, an unnamed burden or a celebrity you pray for and I'll pray for that person.
Click on the bookcover photo to visit the Amazon page to see more reviews and information regarding Mosaic.

Scribble and Scrambles - Are You in Your Right Mind? Plus Giveaway Announcement.

Okay, this is cool.

Are you right or left brained? Click to find out. Hopefully, you are one or the other.

Yes. Yes, I am procrastinating...

And thanks, Kim, for the promise to pray for my weekend angst.

Note: Think of a celebrity that you should be or are praying for. Beginning at 2:30 today (central time) you'll have a chance to share that person's name in the comment section of my post for the day. And if you are one of the three names I draw out of a hat (okay, not a hat, actually a clean coffee mug if I can find one) you'll get a copy of Amy Grant's new biography, Mosaic. I'll give you til 2:30 central tomorrow and I'll announce the winners on Thursday.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Scribble and Scrambles - Monday Mime Meltdown

I just received a threat from a friend. The good-natured kind implying bodily harm if I do not update my blog.

Fine then, don’t let me bask in the cozy gray Iowa afternoon. Don’t let me continue to procrastinate as I am so wont to do.

What shall I write? Methinks my brain is squeezed and stretched from a too short weekend and the thoughts of the upcoming weekend that promises stress, churning stomach acid, angst and …did I say stress.

A double dose of stress? Yes. You may wonder what could possibly fill my weekend with extreme stress. Here it is. This is what I’ve done. I’ve accepted a speaking gig. “Why?” you might ask. Because I am prone to be a puppy when something sounds fun. And I felt honored to be asked. Lastly, it’s a topic God and I have worked on a bit in my own life. Guess what my topic is? Pressing On.

That sounds all good and lovely, but I’ve been doing a really great job of that lately (dripping with sarcasm). Oh, I can talk about stubborn. I have a wide streak of that, but pressing on sounds so Biblical and so above where I am currently at in my anemic walk with God.

Help! (the sound of hyperventilating) Did I mention that I do okay in public speaking? Once I get over the moment when I wrestle down the dry heaves. And my voice comes back to normal after the wibbly-wobbly “out of the gates” beginning.

People laugh at me when I talk but when they expect me to be funny…when they pay me to be funny it’s no laughing matter. What if I can’t do funny? What if a moment of melancholy wraps around me and smothers all the humor right out of me?

I gave them two pieces I’d written to promote the event. One was a deeply spiritual poem about falling into God, the other a piece on why I struggle with mimes. They chose the mimes. I do not feel funny today. Will I tomorrow? Will I Friday?

If any of you suggest I dress like a mime and do my segments without words we will not be amused.

There X-ta – or should I say Stress-ta…the blog is updated. Maybe I should start working on some speeches now.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Serials and Scenarios - Creston Somebody

Nobody's author, Creston Mapes dropped by dregs to share a bit about life and writing.

Fiction character you would most like to be or most identify with and why?

The guy from Randall Arthur's books (Wisdom Hunter, Brotherhood of Betrayal, and Jordan's Crossing)...because I have struggled with legalis, fought it in the church, and can't stand it. Jesus hated it when the scribes and pharisees added man-made traditions on to His Word. Have you guys read these books? They're old, but great. Go get em! (Thank me later, Randall).

If you could ask any person, living or dead, a random question -- what question would you ask of whom?

"What's it like in the after-life, Dad?"

Some out there in writing land have strange rituals. Share yours.

Not so strange, but I add 2-5 loose sentences at the end of the day which tell where the story will go the next day. That way, I get busy right off the bat the next morning, and don't just sit there and stare at a blank screen.

If you could change something in any novel, what would you change about it and why?

All of the above! Plus, flying..... Also,
In my new book, in the author letter at the back, there is a typo. I would change it from "blook" to "book!" I would also include people I forgot to mention in the acknowledgments.

What crayon in the box describes you on a good day? Bad day? Which one do you aspire to be?

Good day=yellow...............Bad day=gray...............Aspire to be=rainbow

Favorite turn of phrase or word picture, in literature or movie.

"Coffee, coffee, coffee!" Jack Lemon said this in the movie, The Apartment. My Dad used to say it all the time. Now my wife and I do the same!

If you were assured of writing a best-seller, what genre would it be?

Contemporary. Not necessarily suspense, but possibly suspense. It takes an ordinary circumstance and turns it upside down with intrigue. You "MUST" know what happens next!

What period of history intrigues you the most?

The fifties. It seemed innocent and fun.

What would you write if there were no rules or barriers? (epic novels about characters in the Bible, poetry, greeting cards, plays, movies, instruction manuals, etc.)

Fiction with a strong Christian message, but fiction that is completely true and real and genuine, even if that means being graphic in nature, including with language. Although, if I could do this, I don't know if I would want to, because I care a lot about what my children think of my stories.

What makes you feel alive?

Driving down the road with the windows down and the music up......Rough housing with my kids.....Holding hands with my wife on a date.....worshipping in spirit and truth.

How does something worm its way into your heart? Through tears, truth, humor or other?

Over time, God, keeps bringing it up periodically until it is undeniable and unavoidable.

Book, music, person, food you would take with you on a very long trip.

An Elizabeth Musser book I haven't read yet (I've read and enjoyed The Swan House and Searching for Eternity).......My wife.......Trail mix.

Where would you most like to travel ----- moon, north pole, deep seas, deserted island, the holy land or back to a place from your childhood, somewhere else? – and why.

The Pacific Northwest....Portland, Seattle.....I've always had a yearning to get out there, but never have. I love the rain and changing weather. I love the looks of the lush greenery in and around those cities, the surrounding landscape, nearby mountains and water....Very romantic appeal.

Favorite season and why?

Here in Atlanta I love fall, winter, and spring. Just not summer. Anything but summer. ...Way too humid.

Favorite book setting and why?

My own books, Dark Star and Full Tilt, because they were set "on the road" with a rock superstar, which I felt was completely intriguing.

Which compliment related to your writing has meant the most and why?

I received this note today. It's letters like these that mean the world to me, because I got into fiction writing to touch lives and draw people closer to Christ. So, when it's working, it's glorious:

"Well I just finished reading Dark Star and I have to say this is probably my favorite book besides the Bible of course. You did a great job sir. Thank you for having such a sensitive heart towards the Lord. This book has truly inspired me to live a better life for the Lord and has made me understand the importance of prayer."---from an 18-year-old in Little Rock who is joining the Navy.

What criticism has cut the deepest and why?

One amazon reviewer said the main character in DARK STAR--rocker Everett Lester--was unrealistic. It wasn't signed by Mic Jagger or Steven Tyler, but apparently the guy knows more than I do about living the rock lifestyle!
Hey, when we get a bad review, at least we can say we're in the arena playing the game, rather than sitting on the sidelines critiquing it!

What would you do today if you knew you had only a week to live?

Take my family to the beach. Spend time with my mom and brother and sister.

What is your favorite word?


What word annoys you more than any other?

When someone says, "It's 'awfully' nice outside."

Superhero you most admire and why?

I loved the old Batman , because he gave me something to look forward to when I got home from school when I was a kid.

Super power you'd love to borrow for awhile?

To fly, of course. But I don't do this because....well, see my answer next question.

Anything you'd do but don't because of fear of pain? What is it? Ex. Bungee jumping, sky diving, running with scissors.

...uh, see above answer.

Favorite chore

Cooking dinner.

Societal pet peeve…sound off.

Some criminals get off the hook too easy. Others get too stiff a penalty.

Thanks for dropping by, Creston, and Dregites. Have a great weekend.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Scribble and Scrambles - Open Letter to Julianna

21 years ago I entered into an early labor. Life had recently become a challenge, and my marriage was on the rocks. A preemie baby choosing to come at midnight made me weak in the knees and my teeth chattered as I called my husband and then my parents to tell them that our plans had been changed without our consent.
Shivering, I waited as fluid dripped down my legs and my teeth rat-tatted together from fear of the unknown.
A quick rush to surgery for a C-section complete with moments of terror when I realized the anesthesiologist paid more attention to his Stephen King novel than his panicked patient who struggled to breathe and instead of calming down hyperventilated.
And then she was born. A baby girl, whisked to the warming lights and a medical team who called out foreign words and numbers. "She's having a little trouble. Say hello real quick, we need to get to work." Strapped down, I couldn't touch her - you. Your dusky skin confirmed my fears. And since I'd had a spinal I wouldn't be able to visit you for 12 hours. So I laid flat, helplessly waiting for news of you.
Several hours later, the nurse brought you in for a short visit. As I gazed into your eyes, I saw a wise little soul. You stared at me, and I could only imagine you as a 5-year-old in braids and little wire-rimmed eyeglasses. Of all the names we'd considered, Julianna Elizabeth, seemed to fit you best.
After the initial scare, the rocky beginning of being born into a family that was unraveling at the seams, we all began to grow and heal and knit together.
My smiling baby turned into a toddler who loved babies, into a little girl who played with snakes and bugs, into a teen with a mind of her own, into a young woman who began to listen to God and made Him her own, all overnight.
Can I offer you 21 reasons for why I love you? It's just the beginning.
21 - You wear your emotions on your sleeve...this is both crazy making and wonderful and never boring.
20 - You carry sunshine.
19 - You've never lost your childlike wonder.
18 - You have great taste in friends.
17 - Little old ladies, burly men, kids love you.
16 - Just about any situation is fun when you are around.
15 - You love Jesus.
14 - You are generous with what you have and who you are.
13 - Laughter is an art form in your hands.
12 - You are the Pied Piper of pets. : )
11 - You're heart is 20 times the size of the Grinch's after his grew.
10 - You collect beauty.
9 - You reflect beauty.
8 - You attract beauty.
7 - Even when you are crabby, you make me laugh.
6 - I have a million of memories of you that make me smile.
5 - Quirk becomes you.
4 - You have become one of my best friends.
3 - Your heart is a beautiful thing to behold.
2 - I know you've always thought I was kidding...but I seriously do want to be just like you when I grow up.
1 - You bring joy, zest, fun and Jesus into my life and the lives of everyone you touch.
Thank you...I love you...and I look forward to millions more memories with you.
Happy 21st Birthday!
Your Mom/Buddy/Secret Admirer.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Serials and Scenarios - Nobody

Nobody (Click on book cover to visit Amazon page)

Visit Creston Mapes

My Review:

Humanity deals with several major questions often wrestling with them at two a.m. or during crisis. The big one is “Does God exist?” But the more troubling, “Does my life matter?” steals more sleep.

Nobody is a book that explores the second question through compelling storytelling. Creston Mapes has grown as a writer and the tightness of his prose makes Nobody a tense read as Chester, a millionaire “nobody” manages to change lives as a homeless man on the streets of Las Vegas. More amazing is the effect of his murder on the people left behind.

Told as a multiple first person narrative the plot moves smoothly from the first minutes after Chester’s murder to the beginning of justice for his murderer.

Nobody works well as a modern retelling of the parable of talents. It's worth digging into and scratching the “Does my life make a difference?” itch.

Come back Friday for an interview with Creston.

Scribble and Scrambles - Perilous Shopping Part 2

I almost feel hypocritical. I went shopping yesterday in several stores and I even browsed at one. Does it count that I had Christmas in mind? I hope so. And a wedding shower to buy for, one where I'm in charge of the games and the gifts for the winners and a gift made up of many gifts as one of the games. So I'm vindicated right? If any of the locals who read my blog saw me, I shopped willingly only because of agenda provocation.

Now, since the crushing burden of my shopping trip has been lifted through publicly restating and justifying my reasons for disliking the activity...I return to my story. (and thanks, Janet, for your thoughtful and extremely convicting comment on part 1. )

Several of you won't believe this. Most of you will, especially if you remember the post regarding my grand entrance into the Dallas hotel...the one stopped dead by the glass revolving door.

Grace is not my middle name.

Two of my tricky female housemates (the older two who drive and have a bit of expendable income) talked me into a visit to Target and J C Penneys. Okay. Two do I forget their sneakiness between the bad experiences?

Of course I went. At least they are entertaining.

Penneys and Target are a mall apart. Both anchor stores with many, many, many stores between. After the seventh "just a quick look around," I told them I'd meet up with them in Target and headed out.

This is where it gets a bit indelicate. I apologize for airing dirty laundry or describing a women's restroom to my more gentle readers. A simple click will save you further reading. Ready? Click.

Now for the rest of goes. I had to use the facility. This is really common. My mother once told me my bladder must be the size of a pea. Maybe, maybe not, but Rob claims that I know every bathroom along every piece of interstate ever traveled.

Methinks he exaggerates. Except for the one time in Kansas City. That was unfortunate and a story for another day.

Back to Target, specifically Target's restroom. I'm uncertain about the details involved. I'm pretty sure I did not lose consciousness, but somehow in the point between entering the stall with bags and baggage and the refilling of the toilet bowl with clean water, I realized that a chunk of toilet seat bobbed on the water like a lonely chunk of ice during the spring thaw.

I think I broke the toilet.

What would you do?

I knew it wouldn't go down the hole and clog the toilet since it rode the white water like a well used kayak. I wondered what I'd do with the piece if I scooped it out. Throw it in the trash? Had I actually been the one who broke it? Were there hidden cameras? Did I really want to stick my hand in a public toilet?

So, I decided to blog about it. If you're from Target...sorry. Next time I'll have an action plan.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Scribble and Scrambles - The Perils of Shopping

I may have mentioned this before. Forgive me if it's old news.

I stink at being a girlie-girl, at least in one area anyway. The area of shopping.

I used to have a purse obsession. I needed one, a new one, at least twice a month. As you can imagine, this adds up and involved much shopping. I was younger then, but it began to chafe so it became a short-lived obsession.

Then I moved on to the gray sweater stage. Not just any sweater, but a gray sweater. I still don't understand this particular desire. I'm not sure anyone looks fabulous in gray. "Hey, Marge your coloring just screams for gray."

Shopping for children took over from there. Really, babies need to have a hundred outfits in each size because you never know when they'll blow out a diaper. Fortunately, children develop likes and dislikes and soon enough they began to wear the same three things over and over again, so eventually I gave up on this one.

So I moved onto decorating my not-quite-completed house. Do I have to go into details, here? Not pretty. Let's just say if I liked it five years ago, it's pretty unlikely that I'll love it today.

Now in the waning season of life with girls who LOVE back to school shopping, Christmas shopping, post-Christmas sale shopping, Easter dress shopping (...I think you get the idea, right?) has soured me on the whole idea of piling into the car and driving to the mall. Shopping with my girls turns into more than I signed on for. LOOKING at EVERYTHING, DEBATING it, PUTTING it down, WAFFLING, returning to pick said item up and then TRYING it on make the shopping experience as pleasant as a trip to the dentist, without anesthesia. I don't know...maybe that's too overdone, how about as much fun as a kidney stone.

i hate shopping.

Oh, give me a list or a gift card to a specific store and I'll give er a rip. But...please...whimper...don't ask me to troll the mall with you.

My girls have gotten creative. "Mom. I need a pair of pants. Just need to go to Old Navy or Target." Do you know how many stores there are between Old Navy and Target in my mall? An educated guess...three hours worth. Dressing rooms number fifteen. Two coffee shops. That's right, only two. Two coffees over three hours and countless minutes waiting for the squealing, whimpering girl to come out of the dressing room to show herself...and then ponder whether or not she really wants the item. If I am expected to undergo this torture I should have an IV with painkillers or at least one of those hats with the sippy straws that hold two cans. I'd fill it with tall dark roasts and cream. Then I think I could do it.

So I'll have to tell you about my latest shopping encounter...but I'm running out of space. To be continued...

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Serials and Scenarios - Tricia Goyer's My Life Unscripted

Click on the book cover to dig deeper.

Youth workers and teens from Sherwood Community Church and volunteers from a pregnancy counseling agency, Gabriel's Corner, and a group home for girls were given a copy of Tricia Goyer's new book, My Life Unscripted.

These are some of the questions we decided to ask Tricia.

What is the biggest mistake a teen can make in life?

Tricia: The biggest mistake a teen girl can make is trying to handle everything herself. God created us to NEED Him. He wants to guide us. I know when I was a teen I tried to do thing my own way ... oh the drama, the pain, the heartache, the mess!

What helpful, simple steps/advice can you give a girl who wants to act on her feelings in the worst way?

Tricia: Emotions can change. It helps to remember that. Sometime I very badly want to do something I KNOW I shouldn't do. My emotions tell me it's what I WANT ... even though my heart tells me it's a bad idea. During times like those I pray that God will change my emotions. He does.

What is the biggest danger of living the unscripted, highly dramatic lifestyle?

Tricia: The biggest danger is getting swept away. We get caught up in the drama and emotion around us and we lose our foothold--and our foundation. High drama leads to highs and lows. The highs only last for so long, and the lows .... well, they are hard to overcome and many young women give up trying. I know more than one young woman who has felt that suicide is the only way out. Either that they find ways to numb the pain, which never work.

What is the one thing you want teens to take away from your book?

That they CAN have a good future, starting today. We can make different decisions and better choices, and with each choice we take toward God, we're taking a step away from destructive habits.

What is your biggest regret? We know God did some amazing things and has blessed you way beyond your expectations. But what is the one thing you'd like to rewind and do over? Or if you could make one change in your own teen years, what change would that be?

My biggest regret is having an abortion at age 15. A life was lost because of my decision, and I can never take that back. I've given the pain, shame, and regret to God and He's healed my heart, but until the day I die I'll carry the knowledge that I chose to end my child's life without given him a chance. It's very sad.

My review of My Life Unscripted:

Tricia Goyer has used her many writing strengths to pull together possible life saving information for a whole new generation of teenagers. Tricia, like a lot of us, carries around a past, one she'd like others to avoid. Armed with that desire, she is an outspoken advocate of thinking before you act and learning from the mistakes of others.

Wise instruction is delivered by Tricia who shares parts of her own teen life in screenplay format. Included in the book are areas for teens to journal and honest instruction and help from clusters of Bible verses throughout. In addition, Tricia has interviewed teens around the country asking them about struggles and issues. Organized in sound or information bites that is My Space/Facebook/Blog reader easy to read.

If you have a young woman in your life, I'd suggest that the purchase of My Life Unscripted instead of a cute T-shirt, or a new bottle of perfume might be a very helpful, welcome and wise choice.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Serials and Scenarios - Kristin Billerbeck - Give the Girl a Trophy

Kristin Billerbeck is just plain sweet. I'm awarding her the first Dregs Perseverance Trophy. Not only did Kristin, best-selling, uber-busy author agree to an interview...she answered the questions more than once since a file got lost during her final look-see. She came out of her deadline induced stupor, answered them again, took a break to hang some curtains and finally sent off the tres amusant answers to the dregs questions. Bravo, Kristin. And thanks.
Fiction character you would most like to be or most identify with and why?

Bathsheba Everdene in “Far from the Madding Crowd” by Thomas Hardy because she’s hard-headed, does everything wrong and finally gets it by trial and error. That’s sort of my modus operandi.

If you could ask any person, living or dead, a random question -- what question would you ask of whom?

I would ask Leo Tolstoy if he regretted his version of Christianity towards the end of his life. He was very legalistic and heartless and though Anna Karenina remains an incredible book on one man’s journey to Christ, I find his own interesting, to say the least.

Some out there in writing land have strange rituals. Share yours.

It’s not that weird. I have to have espresso to sit down at my desk, oh and I really have to work on a desktop, I’m not a laptop kind of girl and I don’t read generally read fiction when I’m writing. I use that time for study.

If you could change something in any novel, what would you change about it and why?

Okay, I realize this would significantly alter the conflict and destroy the book, but I’d give Scarlet O’Hara to Ashley. He married too boring (like himself) and she married to volatile (like herself). Not enough passion. Too much passion.

What crayon in the box describes you on a good day? Bad day? Which one do you aspire to be?

Pink because I’m fresh and happy. Midnight blue because when my brain is out of it, it’s gone, there’s not enough light getting in. I have bad mental days with my MS and it’s blurry – like hiking in the dark.

Pick one…..Pink iguana, purple cow, periwinkle giraffe. Which one and why? Can be negative or positive.

Periwinkle giraffe because I love giraffes, and periwinkle is a peaceful color.

Favorite turn of phrase or word picture, in literature or movie.

“Go sell crazy someplace else, we’re all full-up here.” Jack Nicholson in As Good As It Gets

If you were assured of writing a best-seller, what genre would it be? Give us a sliver of information, a characteristic or glimpse of a scene.

It would definitely be chick lit. I’m a girly-girl through and through and it would be about something that interested me. I’m fascinated by the human genome project locally and when I pass their buildings on the way to work, I think that would be an interesting world to enter into. I thought the same thing about physicists – did you know there’s really only four places in the world a physicist can work? Don’t know why, that kind of thing fascinates me.

What period of history intrigues you the most?

Victorian era.

What would you write if there were no rules or barriers? (epic novels about characters in the Bible, poetry, greeting cards, plays, movies, instruction manuals, etc.)

I would write a sitcom – but that’s a team effort and based in LA, so chances I will ever do that are very slim. I don’t really have an interest in screenplay writing, but I would also like to write a family-friendly humorous movie.

What makes you feel alive?

Driving in a convertible on a perfect California day.

How does something worm its way into your heart? Through tears, truth, humor or other?

Humor. I’m not really a tearful type person, it’s pretty hard to make me cry. My best friend wouldn’t go to movies with me for years after I rolled my eyes in the middle of “Titanic” and said, “Yeah right, he’s gonna chase them with a gun when the boat’s going down.” She looked at me open-mouthed and said, “Something is severely wrong with you.” LOL

Book, music, person, food you would take with you on a very long trip.

I would take the Bible and my book of Thomas Hardy poetry given to me by a fan. It’s a book I’d love to spend more time with (he was my favorite author) but I don’t really have the time necessary to discern what he’s trying to say through poetry.

I’d take my son Seth because he is the happiest little bugger and just a light to be around. We’d have fun on the island and we’d eat hamburgers, because that’s his favorite.

Where would you most like to travel ----- moon, north pole, deep seas, deserted island, the holy land or back to a place from your childhood, somewhere else? – and why.

I would like to go to Italy to the Amalfi Coast and Greece just because I think I’d do well in a slower pace with beautiful surroundings with good food. Italians and Greeks know how to live.

Favorite season and why?

Spring – the darkness changes. I love the sun! Which is why I’m stuck in California or better for where I live.

Favorite book setting and why?

England. Just fascinated with English literature and did a great tour by myself of Bath and the wonderful settings of Jane Austen before I lost my mom’s camera and couldn’t prove a thing.

Which compliment related to your writing has meant the most and why?
Frank Weimann of the Literary Group told me he could sell my “What a Girl Wants” in two weeks. He said he roared, and he was an older Jewish man – his 40 year old, never-married assistant said the same. That made my life because it told me that I could be funny to people who weren’t necessarily my target market. Plus to have a NY agent say he can definitely sell your book, you don’t get that too often.

What criticism has cut the deepest and why?

There were two. One was that I was a racist – because I live in a place where I’m practically the only white person, so if I were a racist, it would sure make my life hard. That said, I think it’s racist not to notice how Koreans differ from the Chinese/Vietnamese/Taiwanese in culture. It’s rude not to notice, but if you’re white and you notice (and by the way, I notice because my different cultured friends TELL me), you’re called a racist, and there’s no way to defend that.

Some website reviewed “What a Girl Wants” and said that Ashley, who is soothing a friend who has just lost a baby was heartless because she was trying to talk her friend out of adopting that week. She was trying to keep her friend from making an abrupt decision. But in the review, she said, “I wonder if Billerbeck has ever lost a pregnancy.” Okay, what does THAT have to do with what my 31 year old single character would do? It just seemed so stinkin’ judgmental and out of place.

What would you do today if you knew you had only a week to live?

Go on vacation with my family and spend whatever I could to make our time issue free. : )

What is your favorite word?

Narcissist. I just love the way it sounds. It’s so beautiful, which I guess is what Narcissus thought, as well. LOL It’s a pretty ugly word, but it’s powerful, don’t you think? It’s like subtexting within a single word.

What word annoys you more than any other?

Irregardless because it isn’t a word though people use it constantly.

Favorite chore

Doing the dishes. As close to taking a bath as a chore can get.

Anything you’d do but don’t because of fear of pain? What is it? Ex. Bungee jumping, sky diving, running with scissors.

White Water rafting. Did it once, and it hurt.

Societal pet peeve…sound off.

People who judge others’ motives vs. actions. It drives me nuts when someone assumes you’re trying to tick them off, just because they have “issues”. In other words, Christians who go out of their way to be offended at everything. Sheesh, go work, and stop looking at everyone else.

Pick a Genre - Describe a kiss….


I’m not sure how I ended up in this situation. I’m a brighter girl than this, much more careful with my emotions. “I should go,” I tell him, but the way he stares down at me, I know I’m not going anywhere. I’m waiting to see if what I feel has entered his mind.

“Where will you go?” his voice is low and riddled with intent.

I point back to the dorm, “I just thought I might do some homework. Big test on Tuesday.” He keeps his blue-eyed gaze steady. “Big test,” I repeat.

“So I heard.”

I start to back up, pointing again behind me, “So I’ll just be going.”

Like a cat, he doesn’t follow my finger, nor does he take his gaze off me.

“You’re making me nervous.”

“I’m trying to,” he says.

“You admit it?”

“Why shouldn’t I?”

I cover my face with my hands, “I can’t take this kind of pressure. Are you going to kiss me or what?”

He steps forward and takes my face in his hands, “Definitely going to kiss you. Definitely.”

I close my eyes and wait until I feel the warmth of his firm lips on my own. “Big test,” I murmur. He silences my weak protests with another kiss.

Lauren stared at the clock. Eleven forty-five, if only it read ten forty-five. Everyone should be allowed one do-over hour in life. And why shouldn’t it start right now? She dropped her head to her desk and dreamed about the way the day should have gone. He would have arrived on time. With flowers and his telltale smirk.

“I’m not fooled by your outward charm, you know, you’ll have to work harder than that.”

Then, he’d grin and pull out the velvet box. “Was this what you had in mind?”

She’d feign surprise, as though she never saw it coming and when he dropped to one knee, her eyes would sparkle with tears of joy.

One do-over, is that too much to ask? She stared at her roommate’s empty desk and wondered if the humiliation would ever leave her. Wasn’t the fact that she’d been dumped enough for one day? Couldn’t he have waited a mere hour to ask Elise to brunch? One hour changed everything. And not in a good way.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Serials and Scenarios - A Hideous Beauty

Jack Cavanaugh, a very talented storyteller has stretched out from his normal historical fiction into fantasy.

Those of you who love wild stories are going to want to check this out.

Click on the book cover to visit the Amazon page.

Here's my review of this really entertaining read.

If you are a Jack Cavanaugh fan, you are in for a treat. A different kind of a treat, though. Jack's new series is a Spiritual Warfare/Fantasy. Proving that a good, respected-in-his-genre storyteller can cross into another genre and do it right, too.

My husband and I read Hideous Beauty over the weekend while we drove to Minnesota and back home. We both loved it. I struggled with the first several pages, trying to figure out exactly what was going on, but my hubby didn't. We both loved the main character, Grant Austin, who narrates with sarcastic humor and experiences a wild adventure full of intriguing friends and enemies. Several times, we found ourselves laughing out loud as Grant encountered one issue after another with witty thoughts, comments and actions. The feel is very lad lit, complete with some serious relationship mess-ups.

Another small issue was a bit of tweaking with our theology. Both of us wondered a time or two if we agreed with the possibility of this or that event playing out quite like it did in the book. But this is fantasy fiction. I hope no one bases their theology on something they read in fiction. If you don't struggle with differing opinions of the faith, then you shouldn't get hung up on…well…on speculative differing opinions.

Hideous Beauty is going to appeal to Hines, Liparulo and Wells fans and Cavanaugh's faithful readers. If you love spiritual warfare, fantasy, and great stories, you might want to get your hands on a copy.