Monday, November 30, 2009

Guest Blog ~ Soup and Wells

So the picture has nothing to do with the recipe...but I didn't have one of chicken or lemons. Must fix that. This sounds good and I just bought some curry and was looking for somewhere to use it.


This warm, mellow soup from Senegal, West Africa, can easily incorporate any extra turkey you have on hand. Just substitute it for the chicken.

You will need:

1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon curry powder
2 teaspoons flour
2 cups chicken broth
½ cup diced chicken (or turkey)
1 cup yogurt
juice of 1/2 fresh lemon
fresh chives, washed and snipped

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the curry powder and flour and cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Gradually blend in the chicken broth and bring to a boil, continuing to stir constantly. Add diced chicken (or turkey).
Remove the kettle from the heat and cool the soup slightly. Gradually stir in the yogurt, a small amount at a time. Squeeze the juice from the lemon half and add the juice to the soup.
Garnish each bowl of soup with a dash of fresh chives.

The Women at the Well
Kay Marshall Strom

In Senegal, West Africa, I sat beside the community well, because that’s where the village women gathered. Out of the dusty wasteland they came, from every direction, their babies tied to their backs and their water containers balanced on their heads. They were glad to rest beside the well, for they had to walk many miles to get there. The average woman in the world, we are told, walks seven miles a day in her quest for water. When you factor in those of us who only walk to the kitchen to turn on the faucet, you can see that some must trek much farther than seven miles!

At the well, the women have a chance to catch up with the goings-on in neighboring villages, to air their complaints with one another, and to share their own news. And so I sat by the well with Obei and Helene, two Christian women in a country 98 percent Muslim, and waited to meet the women as they came for water.

And come they did.

A young woman came, sobbing over her baby son who was burning with fever. We prayed together in Jesus’ name that her baby would be healed.

A girl came and whispered her wish to learn to read, but said she could not because the walk to the well and back took her all day. Obei offered to teach her a little every day when she came for water. She started with: “For God so loved the world….”

A woman came with terror in her eyes and confided that her daughter must surely be a witch. Helene prayed for the girl, but also for the mother. “Do not believe what others tell you,” she warned the distraught mother. “Believe in the power of God.”

And Songa came. Obei and Helene had prayed with her before in Jesus’ name, and Songa had seen a miracle as her seriously ill son was healed. Now she too, was a follower of Christ. “My husband ordered me to renounce Jesus,” Songa told us. “When I would not, he threw me out of the house, but he kept my children. Please, please… pray for my little ones. Pray that they too will know the God of mercy and love.”

This holiday season, I am thankful for the women at the well in Senegal—all three of them, for Songa has joined the other two. I’m thankful for the lives they are touching in the name of Jesus. Most of all, I am thankful for the Living Water that flows freely for every one of us.

Author Kay Marshall Strom has two great loves: writing and helping others achieve their own writing potential. Kay has written thirty-six published books, numerous magazine articles, and two screenplays. While mostly a nonfiction writer, the first book of her historical novel trilogy Grace in Africa has met with acclaim.

Kay speaks at seminars, retreats, writers’ conferences, and special events throughout the country and around the world. She is in wide demand as an instructor and keynote speaker at major writing conferences. She also enjoys speaking aboard cruise ships in exchange for exotic cruise destinations. Learn more about Kay at her website.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Scribble and Scrambles ~ Grateful Indeed.

Hope you all had a fabulous Thanksgiving.

I did.

I kind of slept in.

Went for a quick walk with the hounds.

Peeled and mashed many potatoes.

Drank delicious coffee.

Cleaned my closet. (Yep. Got a good start on the crazy Kelly Klepfer cleaning method.)

Watched Rob formulate kitchen plans and put them on paper. Then he pounded, sawed and completed a small "foundational" job that he'd been putting off and which is keeping him from completing the fun stuff.

Rode to a lovely home which I did not have to clean. To eat delicious food that I did not have to prepare. Enjoyed conversation with people I'm pretty darn fond of.

A very, very lovely day.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Athol Dickson's The Lost Mission

What haunting legacy awaits deep beneath the barrios and wealthy enclaves of Southern California?

An idyllic Spanish mission collapses in the eighteenth century atop the supernatural evidence of a shocking crime. Twelve generations later the ground is opened up, the forgotten ruins are disturbed, and rich and poor alike confront the onslaught of resurging hell on earth. Caught up in the catastrophe are...

· A humble shopkeeper compelled to leave her tiny village deep in Mexico to preach in America
· A minister wracked with guilt for loving the wrong woman
· An unimaginably wealthy man, blinded to the consequences of his grand plans
· A devoted father and husband driven to a horrible discovery that changes everything

Will the evil that destroyed the Misión de Santa Dolores rise to overwhelm them? Or will they beat back the terrible desires that led to the mission's good Franciscan founder's standing in the midst of flames ignited by his enemies and friends alike more than two centuries ago?

From the high Sierra Madre mountains to the harsh Sonoran desert, from the privileged world of millionaire moguls to the impoverished immigrants who serve them, Athol Dickson once again weaves a gripping story of suspense that spans centuries and cultures to explore the abiding possibility of miracles.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Howard Books, Simon & Schuster (September 15, 2009)
ISBN-10: 1416583475
ISBN-13: 978-1416583479

About Athol Dickson:

Athol Dickson is an award-winning author of several novels. His Christy Award-winning novel River Rising was name one of the "Top Ten Christian Novel of 2006" by Booklist magazine. He lives in California with his wife.

Dickson's They Shall See God was a Christy Award finalist. River Rising was selected as one of the Booklist Top Ten Christian Novels of 2006 and was a Christianity Today's Best Novel of 2006 finalist. Both River Rising and The Cure won Christy Awards for best suspense novel.

His latest novel, Winter Haven was a finalist for the 2009 Christy Award in the suspense category, making four novels in a row to receive
that honor.

And now Athol is back with a gripping tale with an epic sense of the passage of time and the way events and choices impact people across generations.

Visit his website for more information. Dickson also participated in the Dregs Q & here to read it.

What people are saying...

Athol Dickson is a breath of fresh air in a market that is often saturated by manufactured plots, spurious characters, and inauthentic spiritual conversions. Lost Mission is redemptive storytelling at its highest level and once again Dickson proves that he is a true master of the craft.
-Jake Chism, Fiction Addict

The story is filled with compassion and truly reaches to the heart of human kind and it's frailities and reminds us that we are not alone and that God will direct us if we choose to follow his ways and not our own selfish desires. And when we sin we can ask for and recieve His forgivness. This is such a beautiful story that you simply MUST read.
-Kim C., Book Reviews Today

Seattle, WA - Critically acclaimed author, Athol Dickson's writing has been favorably compared to the work of Octavia Butler (Publisher's Weekly), Daphne du Maurier (Cindy Crosby, Christianity Today fiction critic) and Flannery O'Connor (The New York Times).

"In his new release, the ultimate storyteller invites us to join him as he spins a tale of grand visions and dismal failures. Four people, sensing a compulsion to do something great for God, learn greatness is not something God calls any of us to; transparency and faithfulness are."
t.e. george, reviewer

My thoughts:

I really wanted to read this novel. I've not read Athol Dickson before but had heard great things about him. When a review copy was offered to me, I jumped on it. But then the book came and I read the back cover. "Hmmm." I thought. "Well, I'll get to it eventually." And then I set the book down. The subject did not appeal. But then came the blog tour and I needed to be able to say something about the book. So I opened it.

Two strikes right away. One is the omniscient tone of the story. For some reason that's my least favorite point of view. Second was the abundance of names within the first few pages. I have trouble keeping track of too many characters and too soon into a book and I'm annoyed.

Then I got into the story and wow, this man can write. The praise and awards are well-deserved.

The story is two distinct yet similar stories unfolding in the same location, two centuries apart. Two characters choose to love the lost at the cost of their own moral compass, two characters choose love of laws and rules over loving people, and two characters struggle with caring deeply about the events unfolding and feeling helpless to do anything about those events.

Changing centuries threw me the first chapter but then it became more clever and clearer and the omniscient point of view added greatly to the seamless weaving of events. The characters were all important and as I read Dickson made sure that I knew enough about them that they became easy to remember and know. So much for my complaints. From there it's just a great, thought-provoking read. And challenging. I saw myself in each of the characters. Not necessarily a positive thing and it required me to face some of the issues in my life and how I might need to tweak my thinking a bit. Did I mention it's fascinating as well? An outbreak of some horrific disease/plague (assuming it was small pox) decimates as does fire. Dickson is an artist with words and characters. I've not read such fresh prose in quite awhile.

I'm recommending it to anyone. However, don't expect to be untouched by the story. It's not an easy one to read or digest. And it's not a mindless beach read either. Action lovers could struggle with the slower pace. Literary lovers should put it on their Christmas list.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Scribble and Scrambles ~ Scenes from my NOT SO QUIET Quiet Time

So. When I read my daily Bible passages I always have company.

Here are their thoughts from top photo down.

"SIGH!!!! Snork. Pout."

"Put that book down and get me some food, or else!"

"Pay attention to me, Grandma?"

Monday, November 23, 2009

Scribbles and Scrambles - Picture Perfect Adventure

The Saturday adventure was a photo shoot for dogs.


Twenty-three wanted some professional pictures of her double-troubles.

We hauled a bag full of props and helps to a local park and met our photographer friends.

The pictures are ones I snapped while attempting to keep peace. Many other photos, most that displayed various scenarios of "what were we thinking poses."

In order to photograph in shady spots to avoid the annoying shadow issues, terrain challenges cropped up.

Big ones.

Pictured is the photographer slowing while falling down the hill. Twenty-three saved her. Probably because she wanted the whole roll of her babies.

Yes, adventure it was, with many blurred photos as a subject decided to lurch for the dangling treat reward for sitting and staying. One-at-a-time close-ups required many face cleanings because the treats caused faucet drooling behavior and the lurching, lunging and pacing ended up pasting slime trails on a dog sibling face.

Double shots were even more of a challenge. When one looked obediently at the camera, the other would pull out a psycho-squirrel face or would lunge the opposite direction.

But, we should have some keepers.

And we definitely have some stories.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Peace Out or Actually In - Part 3

I think Kim's comment on yesterday's post concisely sums up my thoughts. But since I'm currently in ramble mode...I will continue to do so.

I blog because I can connect with others on a different level than in my day-to-day, face-to-face connections. I've discovered that I have had some pretty honest heart-to-heart conversations with folks I've never met and maybe never will on this earth.
Deeper conversations, at times, than with those friends I could drop in on right now if I felt like it. I met one of my best friends through an online critique group. And as we shredded each others' work, we discovered that what we had in common was greater than writing fiction. Others have become intimate strangers. I've had strangers contact me and ask me to pray for them. That is kind of an awesome and humbling blessing. Still others have lashed out at me. One man wrote a hate-filled e-mail that horrified me and then made me stop and remember that words have power. He was reacting to what my words stirred up in him.

I blog because I have peace and I want others to find it, too. (See, that's how the topic of peace turned into three days of rambling with barely a mention of peace.) I have peace because I have God's mercy, grace and love. And frankly, life can STINK like an outdoor garbage can full of plastic bags full of dog poo on a freakishly hot August afternoon. If I can post something that makes anybody laugh through the stink, or rethink the stink, or move beyond the stink, then that's what I want to do. Sometimes we just need to know we aren't alone on this hurtling orb. Sometimes we need to see the truth through a different lens. Sometimes we need to escape from the stink and recharge. That is what blogging has become to me. A chance to share something, anything that may make a little bit of a difference in someone's life.

Maybe that's not so far from where I started. And that takes the pressure off. I'm not pretending to be what I'm not in an attempt to impress someone who might send me a contract.

Okay. I feel better.

Serenity now. Have a wonderful weekend. The weather in Iowa is amazing. Blue skies, sunshine and in the 60's. The dogs and I walked already. I've posted my blog post for the day. I have my Bible sitting next to me waiting for me to spend a little time with it. I'm selling some jewelry tonight. Dinner is done. And the things that are sad and twisted in my little world are things I can give to my Jesus. And that is something I'm planning to do right now.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Peace Out or Actually In - Part 2

But somewhere along the way. This drive to be published has dwindled into a vague sense of acceptance of the fact that I probably won't be birthing a book. Right now, though I have the starts of a dozen books and stories on my hard drive, a few of which are a mere 20K words from being finished first drafts, I have no desire to write those stories.

Maybe it's because my personal journey isn't where I thought it was. I have the title and an outline for an awesome book on step-parenting but that story has taken a road I hoped didn't exist. My story would not be the encouragement that I'd hoped it might be. Not at this point. At this point I'm just surviving and am hoping that the road that I hoped didn't exist is a short road.

So why did a suggested blog post about peace open a vein here? About blogging? Good question. Maybe if I circle around a bit and ramble, the thoughts will jell into something tangible.

Why do I review books? And movies?

I get free books. Offers come daily and sometimes people just send them to me. But here's the deal. Most of them don't change my life or complete me. Most of them are okay or even good. Some have valuable information for me to take and ponder. But it is a rare book that takes my breath away. I'm not in love with just the ability to write beautiful phrases or an exquisite scene that I can smell, taste and feel. Characters don't usually jump off the pages and grab me by the throat or heart. Most of what I read leaves me as it found me. Maybe with a tear in my eye or a chuckle still vibrating in my throat but the written thoughts and words don't pierce my heart. The same with a movie except that I don't get many free movies. Speaking of free. After I invest hours of my time into a free book, reading it, then write a review, well, lets just say this is not about the perks.

So why do I blog? Is it narcissistic? I love to see my words in "print?" Or am in love with my own opinions? Hmmm. I don't think it's narcissism. I can go weeks without updating my status on Twitter or Facebook. My life just isn't that interesting and I don't think others are waiting for something rich and fulfilling from my fingertips.

Not done yet....

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Peace Out or Actually In - Part 1

A blog I subscribe to throws out challenges every once in awhile. They come up with a seasonal or creative topic to write about and we are invited to post our thoughts on their blog and then they pick a handful to highlight the following week.

I guess the benefit is that if I write something really terrific and people subjectively love it, I might get more readers or receive some sort of kudo. (Probably not the chocolate covered kind.)

So this concept got me thinking. I know you love it when I do that. Why do I blog?

If I decided to be brutally honest I'd tell you that I don't really know.

At all.

I did when I started. When I started blogging I was a wannabe writer with book ideas dancing in my head and some hope that if I worked really hard and put in loads of spit and polish and elbow grease and old-fashioned nitty gritty I'd eventually be published in hardcover. And when I was published I'd have an awesome platform from which to promote my book. After all, I'd have blogged about fascinating things and given out teasers and whetted appetites with witty, juicy and deep comments that left readers begging for more.

That's one of the reasons I began to do book reviews, too. To make my name recognizable in the tiny Christian publishing industry. My secondary reason was because all the authors I admired mentioned that a writer reads and learns from what she/he reads. And how better to learn than to sort information into some sort of logical format that spells out what makes a story good, believable and moving and what makes a character come to life? So there you go, writing a review does that.

That idealistic chick described in the preceding paragraphs has grown up a bit. I've attended writer's conferences, poured over articles, how-to books and had my stuff shredded and rewritten by the best critiquers around. I've entered far more contests than I'd like to admit. And I've stared at blank computer screens hoping for inspiration and the words with which to describe it.

To be continued.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Scribble and Scrambles ~ Words of Wisdom

I have nothing profound, amusing, droll, random or clever to post. So, therefore, I will leave you with this quote.

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.

Helen Keller

Monday, November 16, 2009

Scribbles and Scrambles - Leash Lessons ~ Entanglements

A few weeks ago I shared a spiritual and/or common sense life lesson I learned while walking Lily and Lola.

Guess what, there's more.

As you can see by the enclosed picture, Lily and Lola don't just have problems with distractions and wandering. They also have issues with entanglements.

Most of the time they are simultaneously doing their own things which is why my arms have grown longer over their lifetime.

Lola is obsessed with birds and bugs but will ignore most of them however she occasionally encounters a magical flying/hopping object that requires her immediate and enthusiastic attention which ends up looking like a sudden leap to the right. Lily favors the left where her nose is to the pavement and she is living life vicariously through other dogs, humans, wildlife and litterers.

But when they get together in double single-minded focus they are capable of moving me, and I mean literally. Just try to pull 140 pounds of unbridled yet focused enthusiasm aware from a truly odoriferous object on the path or carelessly tossed waffles or biscuits. (Yes, we've encountered both.)

So that brings me to my thoughts about entangling myself with others. I do it entirely too much. Especially when drama whispers in a loud offstage one-liner. If I had a dollar for every time my emotions whirled out of control over someone else's issues or problems I'd be a rich woman. Oh, I can ignore some drama...most of it actually. But every once in awhile a situation so needy of my time crops up and I stop, turn, tangle myself in it and leap right. Or I spend sometimes too much time with my senses focused on others' stuff that I miss the whole point of a walk on a perfect sunshiney day and get caught up in garbage that wasn't my mess to clean up.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Scribble and Scrambles ~ So Random You Might Not Even Want to Go There.

In keeping with the non-traditional random dictionary game EER has inspired at the Dregs I introduce the word...

drum roll (This is a low-budget site, kids, you expected the real deal?)

Pictact - noun/adjective - origin old norse. definition a) Viking tool resembling the modern pick axe. The difference in modern and predecessor tools was the two tusk-like appendages on either side of the axe head that were used to carve decorative "tattoos" on the side of the long boats and to easily disembowel those who got in their way during raids. b) enthusiastic slang used to encourage Viking boat hewers during the annual boat building/village destruction/ looting seminars know as the Pic and Kicks.

Okay. Lame? Blame it on the totally deteriorated condition of my gray matter.

If the definition is not enough to entertain you. Let me share a few random and bizarre sights around Iowa this week.

#1 Horrific sight. A semi turning left in one of two parallel left turning lanes. This is not in itself a concern. The fact that the driver was on his cell phone during the turn is though. SERIOUSLY. Put the stupid phone down. Could any conversation be THAT important?
#2 Strangest sight. In the bathroom stall next to me a bare foot. Completely bare. The other foot was fully clothed. In the public restroom. In November. ?
#3 Most annoying drama. All of it. Me no like drama.
#4 Most annoying behavior in someone close to me. Mine. This Martha Stewart thing is out of control. After making/baking ten items for 16 women for a 24 hour retreat I wonder why I am compelled to tweak, change and remake a recipe until it is all mine. And this is while I'm reading self-help and spiritual maturity books for review ("Oh, was I supposed to actually absorb the truth in that chapter?"). On the bright side of the little Martha ordeal is that everything tastes fabulous. Really. And the recipes that have been stretched, tweaked and rewritten are usable. I think I can leave those particular ones alone now. YAY.

That's all. If I don't stop now I'm going to fall asleep on my keyboard and either accidentally type something offensive with my bobbing and weaving face or I'm going to drool on the keyboard and electrocute myself.

Happy weekend. I'm going to enjoy it and relax if it kills me. And it might.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Serials and Scenarios ~ The Rest of Health

Seven Skills to Achieve the Life You Desire

New wellness book explores the rest of health

Dallas/ Ft. Worth, TX—Mike staggers into the emergency room, presenting what he believes are the classic signs of a heart attack. Soon his condition stabilizes, and the E. R. doctor sweeps into the room to assess Mike’s problem. Mike is not having a heart attack, but the symptoms that brought him to the hospital have been caused by something…

Mike is the main character in The Rest of Health, a new work of creative non-fiction by authors David and Sonya Cameron. As readers follow Mike’s story, it soon becomes clear that there is more to his E.R. visit than meets the eye. The Rest of Health brings readers along as Mike confronts both the areas of conflict and the neglected facets of his life. Along the way, he discovers that true health is not something that can be achieved by simply producing the right numbers (i.e., blood pressure, weight, cholesterol). Mike’s journey to total health and wellness incorporates seven steps:

1. Looking to learn

2. Transforming your thinking

3. Establishing healthy boundaries

4. Caring for your body

5. Raising your emotional I.Q.

6. Cultivating your spiritual life

7. Fine-tuning relationships

The Camerons have been working in the healthcare/mental health field for over a decade, and both have chosen career paths that involve a cross-section of the general public. David has served as a family practice physician in a community health clinic for 10 years. Sonya has over 12 years of experience in community mental health and private practice doing marriage and family counseling.

“In both of our practices, we constantly see people who view health too narrowly. Many people think of health as dropping pounds, lowering blood pressure, etc. These are all good, healthy things, but when the underlying motive is simply to look better physically, that is evidence that a patient doesn’t really understand the meaning of ‘health.’ After working with so many patients, we have seen that before a patient can make lasting changes in any area of life—and this includes physical health—they must take a step back and look at the bigger picture of their life.”

My Review:

Part story, part self-help, part therapy, The Rest of Health, is a complete prescription for rethinking your life.

Written by a married couple, a medical doctor and a licensed therapist, the book is a compilation of their experience, wisdom and faith.

The fictional account of a marriage made up of individuals with issues that collide teaches coping techniques and stress killing better choices. The integrated recipe or prescription would be enough to help the average struggler to get beyond some of the pitfalls that make for an unfulfilled life. Though those with serious issues probably won't find enough help within the pages to fix major life trauma this book can offer the answers to questions that unhappy folks may not even know to ask.

The fiction gets a bit preachy at times, and the point of view is omniscient, so as fiction goes the story is not compelling escapism. But the idea to put dry facts within a story to get points and examples across to an audience is a great idea. This book would be a great small group study.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Scribble and Scrambles ~Fresh Sight from Fresh Air

Our friends at Fresh Air shared another avenue of meeting needs.

Click on the picture and read about it.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Science and Martha Collide

We've spent the last few days enjoying sunshine and warmth. And when we aren't doing that we are chopping, slicing and dicing. (Okay, the picture implies that the dogs are involved in this as well. They are, but since they lack opposable thumbs they mostly stand and drool waiting for the next tidbit to fall.)

I'm doing my Martha Stewart thing again. Not the cleaning the closets (which need that in the worst way) but the food Martha.

I'm trying recipes like crazy and I can't leave them alone and just try them. I have to tweak them. I'm compelled to tweak them.

And I stunk at science. Which means we are eating some seriously interesting specimens of failed natural laws. But, then one will work and I then have to look at my scribbled chicken scratchy notes and decipher what I did right.

My current madness will end soon as I have a deadline. However, the closet/cupboard compulsion looms. After all, we are entering the holiday season and we will have guests.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Serials and Scenarios ~ Holy Awesome Idea ~ Batman!

Tom's Shoes fans...check this out.

Released October 1, the new Waterproof Bible is available in the NIV and KJV translation and is 100% waterproof and dirt resistant - inside and out. The pages, made from thin sheets of plastic, make the Waterproof Bible ultra-durable and tear-resistant, allowing it to outlast most any competitor. The text can even be underlined with a ballpoint pen, or marked with a dry highlighter, and not smear after being submerged in water.

“We believe every consumer benefits from the increased lifespan and durability of the Waterproof Bible. However, we are especially passionate about getting this better designed Bible into the hands of those in developing countries, where the people often face harsh environments and living conditions. Through our
BOGO program, these third-world citizens will receive the same long-lasting product that our customers get, but for free,” said Bobby Bardin, co-developer of the Waterproof Bible.

For more details on the BOGO program and the Waterproof Bible, visit The first distribution partner will be The 410 Bridge, who will utilize the free Bibles in their Christmas in Kenya project. “It is interesting to think about giving Waterproof Bibles to churches in Kenya because Kenya could use so much more water. However we believe its long-lasting durability, and ability to wipe dirt and grime away, make the Waterproof Bible the best choice for the situation,” said Bardin.

Bardin & Marsee Publishing was founded in 2004 in response to the founders’ frustrations with the limitations of paper Bibles. Since that day, the company has been committed to developing high-quality, long-lasting Waterproof Bibles.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Scribbles and Scrambles - Fun With The Web

Got an e-mail forward with a bazillion pictures of celebrity look-a-likes.

This was my favorite.

The website: Totally Looks Like
. Warning: I did not dig deep enough to tell if it's family friendly or don't turn kids loose on it...

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Serials and Scenarios ~ A Slow Burn ~ Mary DeMuth Reviewed

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

A Slow Burn

Zondervan (October 1, 2009)


Mary DeMuth


Mary E. DeMuth is an expert in Pioneer Parenting. She enables Christian parents to navigate our changing culture when their families left no good faith examples to follow.

Her parenting books include Authentic Parenting in a Postmodern Culture (Harvest House, 2007), Building the Christian Family You Never Had (WaterBrook, 2006), and Ordinary Mom, Extraordinary God (Harvest House, 2005).

Mary also inspires people to face their trials through her real-to-life novels, Watching The Tree Limbs
(nominated for a Christy Award) and Wishing On Dandelions (NavPress, 2006).

Mary has spoken at Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, the ACFW Conference, the Colorado Christian Writers Conference, and at various churches and church planting ministries. She's also taught in Germany, Austria, Monaco, Italy, France, and the United States. Mary and her husband, Patrick, reside in Texas with their three children. They recently returned from breaking new spiritual ground in Southern France, and planting a church.


She touched Daisy’s shoulder. So cold. So hard. So unlike Daisy.

Yet so much like herself it made Emory shudder.

Burying her grief, Emory Chance is determined to find her daughter Daisy’s murderer—a man she saw in a flicker of a vision. But when the investigation hits every dead end, her despair escalates. As questions surrounding Daisy’s death continue to mount, Emory’s safety is shattered by the pursuit of a stranger, and she can’t shake the sickening fear that her own choices contributed to Daisy’s disappearance. Will she ever experience the peace her heart longs for?

The second book in the Defiance, Texas Trilogy, this suspenseful novel is about courageous love, the burden of regret, and bonds that never break. It is about the beauty and the pain of telling the truth. Most of all, it is about the power of forgiveness and what remains when shame no longer holds us captive.

Watch the video:

If you would like to read the first chapter of A Slow Burn, go HERE

My Review:

Emory Chance was a tragic character in last year's Daisy Chain. In Slow Burn, the story of Emory's loss and failures, she becomes even more tragic. Though Jed Pepper was a character who made my heart ache, Emory was one who frustrated and challenged me.
Mary DeMuth creates characters who behave in awful and ugly ways yet as she reveals the deepest, ugliest parts and pieces of them, she manages to do so with grace so that I found myself filled with pity for Emory and hoping that she'd escape from her emotional prisons.

The subject matter covered includes abuse, negligence, drug abuse, immorality and sensitive readers should consider that this is not your traditional Christian fiction.

At the end of A Slow Burn there is still the mystery of what happened to Daisy and who did it? I am compelled to finish this trilogy as I feel the need for closure and I want to read Ousie's story. I'm hoping that the Pepper family finds much grace and healing and that Emory finds complete and total peace.

DeMuth writes in a literary voice that sometimes crackles with intensity and sometimes oozes molasses-slow emotion into the storyline. Folks who don't care for introspective and deep fiction and the slowness that results may not find the series to their liking. I think people struggling with issues of faith and failures might find some hope and healing within the story of these very broken people and the God who loves them.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Serials and Scenarios ~ A Book Giveaway


Check out Nora St.Laurent's Interview with ACE COLLINS for your opportunity to win one of TEN copies of this authors NEW Fiction Books. CLICK HERE for your chance to win and check out these action adventure, murder mysteries!

BIO: Ace Collins is the writer of more than sixty books, including several bestsellers: Stories behind the Best-Loved Songs of Christmas, Stories behind the Great Traditions of Christmas, The Cathedrals, and Lassie: A Dog’s Life. Based in Texas, he continues to publish several new titles each year. He has appeared on scores of television shows, including CBS This Morning, NBC Nightly News, CNN, Good Morning America, MSNBC, and Entertainment Tonight.


Monday, November 02, 2009

Serials and Scenarios ~ Grab a Frappe...

Leave a have a chance to win something sweet!!!!! I'll randomly pick a comment. You've got til 11:59 p.m. on the 8th of November to leave your comment or multiple comments....

AMG Publishers
July 27, 2009
ISBN-10: 0899573967
ISBN-13: 978-0899573960
Retail: $12.99

AMG Publishers
July 27, 2009
ISBN-10: 0899573959
ISBN-13: 978-0899573953
Retail: $12.99

One fortunate blog reader from each participating blog will be entered into a grand prize drawing for a coffee themed tote bag, twelve oz of Starbucks Sumatra and signed copies for Kona with Jonah and Frappe' with Philippians.

About the Books:

(Dallas, Texas)- There's nothing better than curling up with a good book and a cup of coffee--and there's no better book than the Bible. Sandra Glahn continues her series of Coffee Cup Bible Studies, presenting Kona with Jonah and Frappe with Philippians. Using creative teaching resources, including the Internet, art, online study groups and more, Glahn provides a special blend of bold and flavorful experiences that will bring participants back for a second cup of God's Word.

Kona with Jonah begins with a brief history of Jonah and Ninevah. Merging historical event with current modern day practicality, Glahn invites readers to take a walk in Jonah's sandals. Coffee sippers will find it hard to escape the similarities as these two worlds collide. Prayer, mercy, city revival and other strong themes will perk the interest and heart of diligent students.

Frappé with Philippians brews for five weeks of strong, powerful conversation about Paul and the heroes of the Philippian church. With detailed study time spent examining the letters of Paul to the Church, readers will come away feeling like they have met with the man himself. With sections entitled "That God Will Get me Out of Here, and Other Prayer Requests Paul Doesn't Make," Glahn keeps the tone of the study light, without disrespecting the seriousness of the study of God's Word.

(Note from Kelly: I picked Frappe to look over for review. I haven't cracked the cover yet but I love what Sandra says below....I'll get it read and reviewed soonish!)

A Chat Over Coffee w/ Sandra

Women who typically feel they don't have the time to do Bible Study find your studies relevant and easy to use. What's the secret to making the study inviting?

I don't know if there's one secret. Different things appeal to different people. But I do know that with my own personal Bible study time, I've been able to stay fairly consistent Monday through Friday when my daughter is at school. But on the weekends everything changes in our household. Sometimes we travel. Or we sleep later on Saturday. And we rise and go to church on Sunday. Result: my routine gets disrupted. For this reason I often have a more difficult time doing Bible study on the weekends. So I designed the series for Monday-through-Friday study with only short devotional readings on the weekends. The weekday time can require twenty minutes or more; the weekend readings take less than five minutes.

I think the studies also appeal to the right-brained person. As an artsy type, I sometimes engage more with the Bible if I can write out a prayer, draw, view a related video, compose a story, sing a song... And I wrote this series with that person in mind. The devotionals are also full of stories, which most of us love to hear.

In addition (and this is probably the main reason), when I was working full-time, I wanted a study I could stash in my purse without having to lug a Bible and a commentary. I wanted to use my lunch break for a quiet time without parading my resources in front of people. And I think it helps that the Coffee Cup series books don't look like typical Bible studies; they're all-inclusive (text, commentary, questions included); they're small enough to throw in a briefcase or diaper bag; and they're both spiral and bound--making it easier to use on a treadmill or fold in the lap and write on while sitting. In short they're designed for the multi-tasker. I heard from an ob-gyn who uses them as she's sitting in the doctors' lounge waiting for babies to arrive.

And one more thing--I also include a prayer at the end. I heard from an eighty-something man who told me how much those prayers meant. All his life he had struggled with prayer, and that guidance helped him respond to God. I'm glad that a series directed to women didn't scare him off!

In Jonah with Kona, what do you hope participants will take away and apply to their own lives?

We tend to like our own causes best; we like our own country best; we like our denomination best; we like our own families best; we prefer the schools we attended, the neighborhoods where we grew up, our own political party or cause, our gender--even our brand of peanut butter. And somewhere along the way we cross the line from preference to prejudice. We pray for our loved ones but rarely, if ever, our enemies. Mention atheists, opposing politicians, humanists, materialists, homosexuals, and radical feminists in most churches today, and the response you'll evoke will sound nothing like, "Let's pray right now for God to pour out his love."

Genesis tells us that humans are fellow creations of one maker. The qualities of God that so angered Jonah are the very qualities we most need: grace, compassion, patience, mercy, abundant love, and truth. And not just for those we love--but for those we hate. For those who have wronged us. For those who want us dead. For those with whom we strongly disagree. The only possible way we can demonstrate such remarkable goodness is through the power of the Holy Spirit.

The focus of Frappé with Philippians is the life of Paul and the early church. What kind of historical research did you do and did you learn any surprising facts as you compiled your information?

I think it's enormously important to understand the world in which Paul was writing. Let's take the view of women, for example. The Jews were the most conservative. The Greeks were better, though greatly influenced by Aristotle's low view of women. And the Roman women had the most freedom--even owning property and supervising gymnasiums. Knowing a city's predominant citizenship helps us understand Paul's letters on such issues.

My PhD work relates a lot to the Greek pantheon and Greek and Roman history. The historical backgrounds for the Bible books are essential, and fortunately they interest me.

I also love getting a sense of the geography, if I can. I had the advantage this summer of taking a clipper to follow the journeys of Paul. Some of our stops included Corinth, Troas, Neapolis, Philippi, and Athens.

One sentence out of the mouth of a guide in Corinth really stuck with me, as she provided a key to understanding the cities we visited. She mentioned that while American visitors seem generally uninterested in talk of gods and goddesses, knowing which member of the Greek pantheon a city worshiped is essential to understanding that city's mentality. The more I thought about this, the more sense it made:

ATHENS. Athena was the goddess of wisdom, so citizens of Athens wanted their city to reflect culture, religion, and philosophy. And sure enough, in Acts 17 we find Stoic and Epicurean philosophers hanging out at the Areopagus (Mars Hill). Paul affirms them for being religious, and rather than dissing their many false gods, he zeroes in on their altar to the unknown God and tells them about this Almighty one who was not made with hands--One who is never far from any of us.

CORINTH. Corinth was the home of Aphrodite, goddess of love (and not the agape version). Behind the city ruins stands a towering hill at the top of which sat Aphrodite's temple. One could not walk down the street without being conscious of its prominence. Might that explain why the Corinthians had so many issues with sexual immorality, and why Paul tells them that it's good for a man not to touch a woman (1 Cor. 7:1)? For the sake of the kingdom, he encourages them to consider embracing sexual abstinence rather than marrying. How fitting that in a city that prides itself on being a center of love, Paul pens the beautiful definition of true love--known to us as the love chapter (1 Cor. 13).

EPHESUS. Ephesus was home to the virgin Artemis who loved her virgin status and was immune to Aphrodite's love arrows. Among other things, Artemis was the goddess of the hunt. If you take a close look at the Artemis statues from the first and second centuries, you find her legs covered with numerous animals and flanked by a couple of deer. Now, usually we think of women as gatherers and men as hunters. And the fact that Artemis was a hunter suggests she had a less-than-feminine persona. In Ephesus we find stone work with the Amazon story (these women were way independent!), and guides tell visitors that the city was founded by an Amazon queen. The Book of Ephesians was probably intended for more than one city (like Laodicea), so we don't find much that points to a specific city's mentality in that book. But we do find 1 Timothy directed to Paul's protégé in Ephesus, and in it we find an emphasis on widows, women teaching false doctrines, and the need to marry and have children.

When reading the New Testament, I think it's important to find out something of its geography and certainly what member of the Greek pantheon each book's readers were up against. How its authors approached the cities' demons can provide insight for us into engaging a culture that's in love with worldly wisdom, immorality, and a low view of family.

Sandra Glahn, Th.M., is adjunct professor, Christian Education and Pastoral Ministries, at Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS), her alma mater. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Aesthetic Studies (Arts and Humanities) at the University of Texas at Dallas. In addition she serves on the board of the Evangelical Press Association, the advisory board of Hannah's Prayer, and the women's executive committee for Sandra is editor in chief of Dallas Seminary's award-winning quarterly magazine, Kindred Spirit.

Her books include The Coffee Cup Bible Study series and the medical suspense thriller, Informed Consent (Cook). Ms. Glahn has also coauthored seven books and she has contributed to several additional works, including Genetic Engineering: A Christian Response (Kregel); and The Making of a Mentor (Authentic). Sandra has appeared on the 700 Club, Ivanhoe Productions' "Smart Woman" television broadcasts, Family Life Today, At Home Live television, Janet Parshall's America, and in other national media. She and her husband, Gary, have been married twenty-nine years and have a daughter who joined their family through adoption.

Creative Ways to Have Girlfriend Bible Studies

·Get ripped with Ruth. Meet at the health club and walk side-by-side on the treadmill with your BFF. The study’s spiral binding and modest size lends itself to being stashed in a gym bag. You won’t even have to pack your Bible. The text is included.

·Inhale the aroma of java as you enter your favorite coffee shop. Order yourself a cappuccino, and then hang out around the table with friends discussing Colossians.

·For your friend’s birthday, give her chocolate-covered coffee beans and a Coffee Cup Bible study. Promise her an hour every week of your time for building your friendship on what lasts.

·Invite the person who does your nails to consider the words of Jesus. Provide a copy of Mocha on the Mount, and every time you’re together discuss what you’re both learning as you go through it.

·Schedule an extended “Spiritual Spa Day” together by watching and discussing a movie about Esther as you kick off bi-weekly meetings around your kitchen table. Contemplate what the Hadassah spa—Esther’s year of beauty treatments—must have been like. Then consider the part of her beauty that was deeper than skin.

·You don’t have to sip your cuppa joe in a shop that starts with an “S.” Grab some colleagues and organize a small group study. You can nurse your favorite beverage in the company cafeteria, the hospital coffee shop—even your local McDonald’s.

·Brew a pot of coffee in your church kitchen and meet one evening per week with members of your congregation. Engage in a lively discussion about Deborah, Jael, and Samson’s mother as you go through Java with the Judges.