Tuesday, October 31, 2006
In the ever continuing saga of my house, the Wild Kingdom of Independence, last night my friends and I were joined by the largest grasshopper I've ever seen. This thing was the 'Ahnald' of the insect world. No one else would touch him as he mega-vaulted around the room, so I got a paper towel, snuck up behind him and grabbed him. I wadded the towel up good and was pretty sure he was dead, so I just tossed him in the trash can. I must have missed his little grasshopper cry of, "I'll be back." About an hour later, Lindz opened the lid to throw something away and there he was perched on the side ready to break free. I had to go get him out of the trash and put him out the back door because she was afraid he'd get loose again. I couldn't bring myself to laugh at her fear though, I keep having visions of mice running up my leg or some other equally unrealistic circumstance of 'attack of the killer mouse'.
I thought I'd take the time today to introduce you all to a new member of Projecting A. Flo joined my office on Monday and she's just completely enthralled with the idea of blogging.
Now she may look like a bird brain, but she's much more than feathers. She actually gives some pretty great advice. She's agreed to come on board as my advice columnist. Since we haven't had any fan letters yet, I thought I'd take today and interview her for your benefit.
April: "Hi, Flo. Welcome to the blogosphere. Tell everyone a little about yourself."
Flo: "Oh, honey, I've done it all. As a young bird I baby sat for Chicken Little. That was my first job ever. He was such a cute little fluff ball, but he had the worst imagination. Always claiming strange catastrophes were about to happen. I put up with it as long as possible, but when he claimed the sky was falling, well, I just couldn't take anymore. He needed more professional help than I could give.
Since then I've worked as a waitress for the Early Bird Diner, was a Shortage Flyer for the Stork Express. I've even worked in a cosmetics company as a make-up tester."
April: "Wow, you've really had a lot of life experience. Tell me what a shortage flyer is, that's a term I'm not familiar with."
Flo: "Storks aren't the only ones that deliver babies you know. They're certainly the ones that get all the face time in advertising, but really anyone can apply with the company. It's all part of EOE. As a Shortage Flyer I filled in for other birds out with the flu or on vacation. It was a very fulfilling job. There's nothing like seeing the excitement on a parents face when they receive their bundle of joy."
April: "I can imagine. What an exciting job. Sounds to me like you could give advice on a lot of topics. Mind if I ask you to dole out a little sample for our readers?"
Flo: "Sure thing, Darlin'. One thing I always tell people (and birds) is, Don't put all your eggs in one basket."
April: "Oookay. Care to elaborate a little?"
Flo: "Sugar, eggs are heavy. You put them all in one basket and what do you do but just weigh yourself down. Now, you take that metaphor and apply it to life. If you count too much on ONE thing, you wind up carrying a big old load of worry. What if the basket breaks? You'll lose everything. How can you live your life with joy if you're always worried that the bottom is gonna drop out? Give some of those eggs over to others who can help you carry them. Better yet, let Jesus carry 'em. He's the only one strong enough to carry 'em all and gentle enough to not crack a one."
April: "Thanks, Flo. That is good advice. Thanks for sharing and I know we'll be hearing from you again soon."
Flo: "Sure thing, Darlin'. Always glad to chat a little."
For those of you interested in hearing more from Flo, she'll be taking emails through my box. Ask her about her life or ask her advice. Just put "Ask Flo" in the comment line and email her here. There's a link on the side bar too.
Thanks for stopping by,
Monday, October 30, 2006
Everyone has something that freaks them out beyond all reason.
My grandmother is so terrified of snakes, she nearly faints at photographs. My brother had a toy snake that didn't look remotely realistic and she about had a heart attack.
Now, I'm not fond of snakes any more than the average girl, they're pretty creepy. I don't like spiders either, although now that I'm on my own I've learned to kill some pretty dang big ones.
But what creeps me out more than almost anything, is mice. I hate the cute little buggers. Animated ones are fine, caged ones are fine, but loose? Forget it.
They must die.
Because I'm so opposed to sharing my living space with the tiny little fur balls, I'm extremely careful about how I store food and avoid anything I think might attract them. Unfortunately, my house is apparently God's gift to the Wild Kingdom because not only have I had raccoons and giant spiders this year, I now have a mouse.
Well, at least one mouse. I've only seen one, but for every one you see there are more you don't.
I tried to convince myself I was seeing things at first. I was in the bathroom in a most inconvenient position the first time. It's early a.m., I'm not wearing glasses and out of the corner of my eye I see a dark blur streak from the doorway to under the bathroom cabinet.
I think I said something like, "HOLY CRAP!!! WHAT THE HECK WAS THAT?!?" as I calmly levitated six inches into the air. (Luckily that was straight up, or I would have had a real mess.)
I finished rather quickly then went to get a flashlight so I could look under the cabinet. Was it a spider? A mouse? My imagination? I couldn't find anything. No holes for it to have disapeared into either. I convinced myself I was seeing things and finished getting ready for work with only a slightly higher than normal heart rate.
The next day I found an empty box in my basement that was left over from moving. There were strange little black specks inside. Nah, couldn't be mouse doo.
Then, Friday morning, I was standing in the bathroom putting my makeup on when it happened. A dark brown mouse darted out from under the bathroom cabinet, ran along the bottom until he reached open floor, then streaked toward the back of the toilett.
I don't remember my exact words, it all happened so quick, but I know there was screaming, flailing and jumping involved.
He rounded the corner to the back of the toilett so fast, I think his little feet left skid marks as his hind end fishtailed behind him. Then he was gone. I looked, no sign of a hole. Did he climb a pipe behind the toilett? Did he manage to get into the tub and down the pipe somehow?
I called my trusty guard dog, Jack, to come investigate.
"Get it, Jack! Get it! Get the mouse!" I point him in the right direction and he sniffs a few times. Nothing.
"Get it, Jack. It's down there."
He gave me a very condescending look before turning tail and leaving me alone to face my fears in the bathroom.
I faced my fears by taking the rest of my makeup into the bedroom to finish getting ready. Then, because I was so disgusted at being kicked out of my own bathroom, I bawled the mouse out.
"You're not allowed in my house! Do you hear me? Get out!!! Go live somewhere else! Don't you dare come back!"
I don't know if it heard me or not, but I sure felt a lot better. Jack gave me the 'you're nuts' look, then went back to sleep.
Needless to say, I bought poison and traps the same day, and wouldn't you know it? I haven't seen him since that fateful morning. I still tend to be a little cautious going into the bathroom, but so far no sign.
I'm not sure that 'no gnus is good gnus'. I'd almost rather have him trapped so I'd know he's gone. I'm jumping at every shadow, wondering if I just saw a mouse run under the couch, or down the hall. Chances are 99.9 % of that is my overactive imagination, but the .1% is what has me nervous.
Ah well, such is life. (shudder)
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
(Everyone repeats what the leader says)
Flea fly flo
Kumala, kumala, kumala vista
Oh no no no not the vista
Ene mene esta mene oowah oowah a meenie
Dese mene soo la mene oowah oowah a meenie
Beet billy oat n dote n bo bo ba deet n dat n
I haven't sung this song in years. My office mate was being silly and comented that there was a flea fly buzzing his head. That's all it took, I was off kumala-ing and dote n deetn. Of all the songs I could have gotten stuck...
This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is reviewing Jerome Teel's latest book, The Election.
The book: THE ELECTION
They seek ultimate power.
Ed Burke has waited a lifetime to become president of the United States. He's not about to let his nemesis, Mac Foster, stop him now...especially when he's sold his soul for the Oval Office.
Claudia Duval has lived a rough life. And finally, things have turned around for her after meeting the wealthy Hudson Kinney. But is all what is seems?
When a prominent citizen is murdered in Jackson, Tennessee, attorney Jake Reed doesn't want to know the truth. He just wants to get his client off. But as he investigates, he uncovers a sinister scheme. A scheme that would undermine the very democracy of America...and the freedom of the entire world.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR :
Jerome Teel is a graduate of Union University, where he received his JD, cum laude, from the Ole Miss School of Law. He is actively involved in his church, local charities, and youth sports.
He has always loved legal-suspense novels and is a political junkie. Jerome and his wife, Jennifer, have three children-Brittney, Trey, and Matthew-and reside in Tennessee, where he practices law and is at work on a new novel.
"The Election, by Jerome Teel, is a fast-paced, highly readable mystery filled with suspense, intrigue, and political conspiracy. Teel skillfully weaves together themes of faith, family, suffering, and providence in a way that not only compels, but enlightens."
CSFFB: Don't forget to check out the website of the month, http://www.dkamagazine.com/. It boasts some great speculative fiction and is supported by reader and fan donations.
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
I heard it on the radio and it stuck. Only, it's a really sad song and to top it off, they used it a friends funeral several years back. Now every time I hear it I think of the funeral.
Mom called me last night while I was driving home.
"We have kind of an emergency... what are you doing tonight?"
Hmmm, depends on what kind of emergency. "What's your emergency?"
"Aaron has a guitar performance tonight at school and no one knew about it until just now. His mom's working late and I've got all the other kids. He's worked really hard practicing and he doesn't want to miss out."
Ah, way to lay on the guilt, Mom. :) I'd do pretty much anything for my kiddos, so no guilt trip needed. "Yeah, I'll take him. What time does he need to be there?"
"6:15. He has to be there early to practice."
"Umm, it's 5:2o now. I still have to go home and let Jack out." Guess Jack will have to pee fast. "Okay, I'll be by in about 20 minutes."
Jack cried when I left the house. He really didn't think it was fair that I was only home for 10 minutes.
I picked up Aaron, went halfway across town and then waited 45 minutes for his concert to start. I was kind of excited for him. And I felt really bad that he didn't have anyone else there to hear him play. He's only been taking lessons for a couple of months, but he's so proud of his achievment. He's wanted to take guitar lessons since he was five.
They were all so cute, lined up in their chairs with their guitars. The school group name is Blazin' Guitars. I had my digital with me so I shot some video. They started playing and I had to fight not to chuckle. They played all of about three notes. But the concentration on their faces was priceless. When he finished his first song with the group, Aaron looked up, and beamed at the camera.
I don't care how simple those songs were, I was so darn proud of him.
Watching them reminded me of all the little recitals we did when I was in school. Was I ever really that young? I don't remember feeling that young, and I remember the sixth grade like it was yesterday.
To make me feel even older, I ran into some people I went to highschool with and they had kids in the recital too. So weird. I know Aaron's not mine, but he feels like mine since he's been with us so long.
I don't think I weirded him out or embarassed him this time, but I figure in a few more years he's not going to be so cool with his aunt hanging around taking video and pictures.
*sniff* My babies are growing up.
CSFFB: Don't forget to check out the website of the month, www.dkaMagazine.com. It boasts some great speculative fiction and is supported by reader and fan donations.
Monday, October 23, 2006
I think that's one of the funniest movies that I didn't really laugh about until after I watched it. I mean, there were some chuckle moments during, but it wasn't until after it was over and I found myself thinking about it, that I realized it was REALLY funny. Mostly because I KNOW people like those in the movie. Great character study.
I'm still stuck in my Discovery/Science channel kick. Last night I stayed up late to watch a couple of specials on Stephen Hawking and other father's of modern physics, like Einstein, Gallileo and Newton. It was really fascinating. I think my biggest hang up is that so many scientists leave out the God factor and to me that just leaves big holes in their theories, but still what they have learned is just fascinating.
I really wish I could experience some of this stuff first hand. I made a list of phenomenon/mysteries I want to experience myself.
1. The Bermuda Triangle. Getting lost in it might not be such a bad thing. I mean can we really say for sure? No one's been found dead, so maybe it's a portal into a really cool alternate universe... or maybe they landed on Wonder Woman's island. Either way, not too shabby.
2. Visit the Hollow Earth. If Admiral Byrd and others can accidentally fall in, why can't I?
3. Black Holes. Okay, so I don't want to fall into one, but I would love to see one 'up close' so to speak. I want to understand them better and I want to know what really happens once you pass the event horizon.
4. Multiverse or Alternate Universe. Don't you want to meet yourself from another world? How cool would that be? I mean surley I got the skinny/hot body in one of my alternate realities.
5. Edinburgh's underworld. Did you know that there is a complete city built under the South bridge? They believe those that lived there may never have seen the light of day. Can you imagine? I thought working in a cave was bad. I'd love to see what that city was like.
CSFFB: Don't forget to check out the website of the month, www.dkaMagazine.com. It boasts some great speculative fiction and is supported by reader and fan donations.
Thursday, October 19, 2006
It still has all the same goodies, sound clips of our songs, behind the scenes info, and now a page for my sisters Jewelry. New and Behind the music will be added soon.
Come look - you can even shop if you want. I'd love to hear what you think about the new look, so be sure to sign our guestbook.
It doesn't help that I've got a coffee buzz. One of my co-workers brought in Millstone Chocolate Velvette coffee. It's THE BEST COFFEE EVER. I drank it on an empty stomach, so the caffiene had absolutely no hindrance on it's way into my blood stream.
CFBA: Like Dandelion Dust by Karen Kingsbury is the book of the moment. The Book Shelf Reviews posted a great write up you might find helpful. Be sure to check it out.
Christian Science Fiction & Fantasy Blog Tour: This is my first time posting for the CSFF. Usually it would be a book on tour, but this month it's a website.
www.dkaMagazine.com boasts some great speculative fiction and is supported by reader and fan donations. Be sure to check out their site.
My Thoughts for the Day: Speaking of Science Fiction... I watched this really interesting special on the Discovery HD chanel called Unfolding the Universe. It was really interesting. Putting aside the fact that I don't buy the whole Big Bang Theory or Evolution, just seeing the photos from Hubble and other telescopes was phenomenal. Nothing puts you in your place like seeing how truly insignificant you are in comparison to the universe.
Deep survey image of spiral and elliptical galaxies.
They used some computer generated images too, to give a better example of the scope of things. One image looked like a field of stars, but the closer they zoomed in, the more you realized that each point of light was a galaxy of it's own. Then, when you realize that the Milky Way has over a billion stars alone, you really begin to grasp the idea of how vast and massive The universe is.
We're quibbling over whether our little solar system has 8 or 9 planets. Big deal.
They also talked about black holes, the creation of stars, super novas and galaxies destined to collide... like ours is destined to collide with Andromeda. Of course they don't expect that to happen for billions of years. Hmm.
I thought it was interesting though that after watching that last night, I found this article on Yahoo! this morning.
New image gives insight into colliding galaxies Tue Oct 17, 4:49 PM ET
This photo, supplied by NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA), shows the Antennae galaxies in the sharpest image yet of this merging pair of galaxies taken by the Hubble Space Telescope and released Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2006. As the two galaxies smash together, billions of stars are born, mostly in groups and clusters of stars. The brightest and most compact of these are called super star clusters. The two spiral galaxies started to fuse together about 500 million years ago making the Antenna galaxies the nearest and youngest example of a pair of colliding galaxies. Nearly half of the faint objects in the Antennae are young clusters containing tens of thousands of stars. (AP Photo/NASA-ESA)
AP - Oct 17 7:50 AM
How amazing would it be to see these images for yourself? I so want to spend a day in Hawaii's telescope observatory.
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is posting about Karen Kingsbury's latest book, Like Dandelion Dust.
About the Book:
Jack and Molly Campbell enjoyed an idyllic life (great house in a fancy neighborhood, high-paying job, and a beautiful little boy) in their small hometown outside Atlanta with their adopted 4-year-old, Joey. Then they receive the phone call that shatters their world: a social worker delivers the news that Joey's biological father has been released from prison and is ready to start lifeover with his son. (It's discovered that Joey's birth mother forged the signature of Joey's birth father, making it a fraudulent adoption.) When a judge rules that Joey must be returned to his father (a man who cannot separatee love and violence), the Campbells, in a silent haze of grief and utter disbelief, watch their son pick a dandelion and blow the feathery seeds into the wind.
Struggling with the dilemma of following the law, their hearts, and what they know to be morally right, the Campbells find that desperation leads to dangerous thoughts. What if they can devise a plan? Take Joey and simply disappear....LIKE DANDELION DUST.
About the Author: USA Today and New York Times bestselling author Karen Kingsbury is America's #1 inspirational novelist. There are nearly 5 million copies of her award-winning books in print, including more than two million copies sold in the past year. Karen has written more than 30 novels, nine of which have hit #1 on national lists, including award-winning Oceans Apart, One Tuesday Morning, Beyond Tuesday Morning, the Redemption Series and Firstborn Series, and several other bestsellers, one of which was the basis for a CBS Movie-of-the-Week and Gideon's Gift, which is currently in production as a major theatrical release for Christmas 2007.
Karen lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, Don, and their six children, three of whom are adopted from Haiti.
I haven't had a chance to read this one yet, but I plan to. It looks really great and Karen is always a good read. Anyone else read it? Let me know what you thought of the book.
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
I had a great weekend. Saturday, I joined my BFF on a jaunt to Olathe and Overland Park, KS. Eh, so it wasn't super exciting and it was a long drive, but the point is I got to spend time with my BFF and THAT is always fun.
Saturday night my three nieces spent the night with me. They're 9, 7 and 4. Actually, the four year old chickened out. She had come with me as a last minute addition. No one thought she'd want to sleep over, since she's never been without mama overnight before. But she wanted to come. My sister said she'd bring her an overnight bag later.
The 4 yr old did great until mama showed up at bedtime with her bag. Then she cried to go home. Poor kid. She was really hysterical at the thought of mama leaving without her. I think she would have been okay if mama hadn't shown up, so next time we'll have to plan better. The other two girls were fine. In the morning I stopped and picked up the 4 yr old and we all went to church.
We were early, so we sat on the benches in the hall to wait for morning worship time. An older gentleman walked past, smiled and said good-morning. Being friendly, I returned his greeting. He took about five steps past us, turned back and said, "Are you April Erwin?"
He caught me off guard. I didn't know this guy from Adam. I told him, "Yes".
He introduced himself and said, "I'm reading your book right now and I just love it!"
You could have knocked me over with a feather. I mean the book has been well received by those who've read it, but the readership is a rather small circle.
He proceeded to spend the next five minutes telling me why he loved it and how much it had touched him. He told me how excited he was to meet me.
I thanked him profusely. After he was gone, the 7 year old turned to me, practically bouncing in her seat, and said, "You have a fan!"
I guess I do. :) It was a pretty awesome experience. I've received postive feedback before, but this was the first time I've been recognized solely by the picture on the back of my book. It was so positive to hear that the story is touching readers and it's not just a paperweight (albeit a light one.)
It gave me that little extra encouragement in the 'Maybe I don't suck as a writer after all' department.
Here's hoping you have a fan too,
P.S. If you would like to know more about Missing Pieces, the book my fan was reading, click the link on the side bar.
Thursday, October 12, 2006
CFBA: Day two of Violette Between by Alison Strobel. Scrambled Dregs: Serials and Scenarios hosted an interview with Alison. Read it here.
Yay, it's Thursday, just one more day until Sweet Freedom. (That would be my weekend.) This week has seemed abnormally long. I felt like I was in some kind of a horrible time loop where I was the only one aware that time was stuck. Kind of like the Stargate episode where Jack and T'ealc repeat the same day hundreds of times.
Most of the time I think it would be great to find a way to repeat time or turn it back so I have more time in the day. But if you're forced to do the same stuff each loop without any variance, then it's no longer a benefit. It becomes a vicious cycle of life draining, mind numbing, sanity stealing boredom.
And that, folks, is my current job in a nut shell.
I follow Shanna Swendson's blog regularly and on Tuesday's post she had me greener than Wicked's Elphaba with jealousy. It was raining here that day too. Whereas she got to enjoy it from home, while living her dream as a writer, I hauled my butt to my dank cave of an office and literally worked where the sun don't shine. Really, I'm actually very happy for her. She's worked hard and deserves what she's achieved. But somehow she's living my dream right now and it's really hard not to feel just a little envious. Maybe someday... .
Speaking of wonderful rainy days, we've had a bunch lately. I love rain, so I'm totally in my element. Fall is my favorite season, so I look forward to the cool, crisp, damp air. However, being Missouri weather, I just went from my air conditioner to my heater in a matter of a week. Last weekend we were boasting 90 degree weather. Last night I came home from work and my thermostat read 52 degrees. I tried to tough it out. I made hot taco soup and hot apple cider for dinner. Lit candles to give off a little heat in the living room, and curled up under to fleece throws on the couch.
I was still shivering, so I gave in and turned the heat on. Set it for 62. Hopefully it won't run too much and my bill will stay at a decent amount. I'm just disappointed that I have to smell the furnace rather than the fresh air. Maybe in a few days I can go back to open windows.
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
It's that time of the week! Time to do a blog tour! This week's tour is Violette Between.
Between Here and the PAST, THERE LIES A PLACE...a place of longing for what has been rather than hoping for what could be!
Violette Between is a poinant story of a true artist. When the love of Violette's life, Saul suddenly died, she died too. Then she meets Christian, who also is morning the loss of a loved one.
As Violette and Christian begin to feel something that they both thought was impossible. Tragedy strikes again. Christian finds Violette on the floor of his waiting room, that she had been painting to look like a New York rooftop restaurant.
As Christian holds a vigil at her bedside, begging her to come back to him, Violette is in a coma, traveling to a place where she meets her beloved Saul. And she finds that she may not want to come back!
What would it be like to choose a place between the past and the present?
Violette Between is a powerful character study of a woman finally relinquishing the past to move on, only to be thrust into the quandry of reliving that life and needing to make a choice.
For Christians, this will definitely make you think about heaven and the consequences of eternal life.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Alison Strobel graduated with a degree in elementary education, and in the summer of 2000 she moved from Chicago to southern California where she taught elementary school for three years. It was in Orange County that she met her husband, Daniel Morrow, and the story developed for her first novel, Worlds Collide.
"Delving into the underside of complicated relationships, Alison Strobel takes readers to unexpected places, but doesn't hesitate to deliver redemptiom when needed."---Melody Carlson, author of Finding Alice
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Donita K . Paul
What the Covers Say:
One Dragon Egg Holds the Key to the Future.Once a slave, Kale is given the unexpected opportunity to become a servant to Paladin. Yet this young girl has much to learn about the difference between slavery and service.
A Desperate Search Begins...A small band of Paladin's servants rescue Kale from danger but turn her from her destination: The Hall, where she was to be trained. Feeling afraid and unprepared, Kale embarks on a perilous quest to find the meech dragon egg stolen by the foul wizard Risto. First, she and her comrades must find Wizard Fenworth. But their journey is threatened when a key member of the party is captured, leaving the remaining companions to find Fenworth, attempt an impossible rescue, and recover the egg whose true value they have not begun to suspect...
A New Quest Begins.A dragonkeeper of Paladin, Kale is summoned from The Hall to The Bogs by the Wizard Fenworth to serve as his apprentice and tend his newly hatched meech dragon, Regidor. But Kale isn't going alone. The Hall is sending a student to monitor her performance and report back to the scholars. Worst of all, it's Bardon -- an older boy Kale finds irritating but who at least can hold his own in a sword fight.
New Friendships are Forged. Meanwhile, Wizard Risto has seized another meech dragon, bringing him dangerously close to gaining the power he seeks. So with only a motley band of companions, Kale sets out on a desperate quest to rescue the second meech, to free those dragons already enslaved, and to thwart Risto's devious plans. It's up to Kale to lead the search and to embrace the role that's rightfully hers. But will her efforts be enough to save the land of Amara from the dark future that awaits at Risto's hands?
Before vowing his allegiance to Wulder as a knight, Bardon heads to the mountains for solitude. His life is suddenly complicated by a woman and her granddaughter, N’Rae, on a mission to rescue the woman’s son trapped in a chamber of sleep. Bardon learns that more of Paladin’s knights are imprisoned–and suspects one of them is Dragon Keeper Kale’s missing father.
The secret is in their hands–and hearts.
The band travels north, uncertain of their destination and encountering numerous perils. When they unlock the chamber, they discover a dozen knights–who cannot be awakened. The journal holding the secret to rousing them is in an unknown language. How can they find the help they need, and overcome even graver obstacles, to rescue the knights?
Coming June 2007
If you've never read fantasy, this is a good series to start with. There are great allegorical lines woven through the story, but they don't overshadow the plot. If you like allegory, love to really dig for the bigger picture, then there is plenty here for you. If you find that allegory usually flies right over your head no matter how much hairspray you use, then you can still enjoy this series. I think what makes it so readable for so many age groups and tastes, is its flawless story telling. You really care about Kale, Bardon and the rest of their questing friends. Even the dragons have great characters. I want my own minor dragon so bad I can hardly stand it. Choosing which one, though, would be hard. :)
Although some readers are comparing her works to Narnia and Lord of the Rings, I 'd have to say that I actually think Donita's work is more accessible. Tolkien and Lewis are legendary writers and I love their work, but their writing style is not as easily read or understood by many. Donita doesn't talk down to her readers, she doesn't spoon feed you like a baby. She just shares an amazing adventure and invites you along for the ride.
I promise you won't be disapointed.
Monday, October 09, 2006
Book Contest: We have a winner!!! Amy over at Trollville won the free copy of Dark Hour by Ginger Garrett. Congratulations, Amy! I hope you enjoy the book. Be sure to watch for the next book contest coming soon.
I've never liked baseball. I know, it's the American sport and I probably sound downright communist for saying it, but I can't stand the game. It's the most boring game ever created. I can handle the occasional movie about baseball and I don't discriminate against those that choose to love the game.
However, network TV has crossed a line with their airing of the World Series this year. Scheduling for Prison Break, Vanished, Bones and who knows what else has been interrupted because they don't want to compete with the World Series broadcast on another station.
I'm sorry, but haven't they heard of VCR's DVR's and Tivo? Play your regularly scheduled programing. Those that want to watch the World Series in addition to regular programing can chose to tape one to watch later. It's really not all that complicated. I mean this is the age of electronic advancement and Digital prowess. Why must those of us who have brains enough to not care about a stick and ball be punished? Bring back my regularly scheduled shows!
Network scheduling is kind of a sore spot for me, if you can't tell.
So tonight, rather than finding out whether Linc rescues LJ or why Agent Kelton was killed, I'm going to be doing dishes and laundry with no other reward for my hard work then clean dishes and clothes.
At least Heroes is still on.
Thursday, October 05, 2006
CFBA: Day Two of Dark Hour by Ginger Garrett. Read Kevin Lucia's Review Here. The contest is still open to win a free copy of Dark Hour. It's easy to enter, just leave a comment here.
I have to say, seeing all these great authors and books being promoted through blog tours has got me all stirred up - in a good way of course. It makes me want to see MY book on a blog tour.
A lot of these writers and bloggers are connected through the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) of which I'm a member. Every year the ACFW sponsers this fabulous conference for writers. I've been a member for two years and haven't been able to attend either year.
But 2007 is going to be different. I've got a Goal and a Plan (thank you Randy Ingermanson for your fantastic tips in the Advanced Fiction Writing e-zine.) and come September 2007, no matter where the conference is held, I'm going to be there with proposals in tow.
That means I have a year to achieve my Goal - to have the first two books in my proposed Suspense series finished, a synopsis/outline for book three and a complete book series proposal packet to take with me. A lot of work, but do-able, I have to keep up with the rest of my life too.
Burning Justice, the first in my Justice Chronicles, is nearly complete. I'm just adding some touch ups. Serving Justice, the sequel is still in the synopsis/outline stage. It's a strong outline, but still not a manuscript. Since an average goal for Suspense novels in the CBA market is 80,000 to 100,000 words, I've got a lot of typing ahead of me.
I've broken the Goal down into a step by step Plan with daily writing goals and if I stick to the Plan, I'll be finished just in time for the conference.
Something just tells me that 2007 is going to be a turning point for my writing career. I don't know if that means a contract or just a big step forward in the ever winding path to GET a contract. I'm just determined that I'm not going to stand in my own way and now that I've got a Goal and a Plan, I'm really excited. I can't wait to hear where the next conference is going to be held. I'm crossing all my toes (got to keep the fingers free for typing) that they choose someplace close to home so I can save a little money. It's not the most expensive conference to attend, and it's definitely worth the cost, but it's a chunk of money just the same.
I'll try to keep my Word Count meter on the side bar updated so you can see where I'm at. It's kind of nice to see that little box fill up. Makes me feel like I've accomplished something.
Someday I will have a real book contract, and when I do you can say, "I read her when..."
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
The CFBA's blog tour of Dark Hour by Ginger Garrett starts today. You can see the review on the CFBA's Blog site by following the link. I posted the interview with Ginger Garrett as well as the first chapter on October 1st, so you can read the information there too. The contest to win a free copy of Dark Hour is still open, so leave a comment here to enter.
I was remiss in my posting once again. Last night was book club and I completely forgot to post after we were done.
I love our little bookclub. There are four of us ladies and we call ourselves the Fairweather Bookies. The name came about initially, because when we first started we were constantly rescheduling our meetings due to bad weather. Hence, we only met when the weather was fair. We do a little better about meeting now, although with everyone's busy schedules a lot of times we meet every other month rather than our scheduled monthly meetings. Last night was one of those double up times. We discussed 'Til We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis and Wicked by Gregory Maguire.
Next month's selection is my pick. I chose Shepherd of the Hills by Harold Bell Wright. It's one of my favorites. I've read it six times. I've also seen the play in Branson, MO at least four times. Awesome show. Anyway, I decided I wanted someone else to read the book so I could actually talk about it with someone. I can't wait to hear everyone else's thoughts.
I would love to hear yours as well. Has anyone reading this blog read the Shepherd of the Hills?
Sunday, October 01, 2006
Guess what? The publicists for Ginger have agreed to a book contest for Dark Hour! Read this first chapter and leave a comment. Your name will be added to a drawing to win a free book!
About the author:
Ginger Garrett is an acclaimed novelist and expert in ancient women's history.
Her first novel, Chosen, was recognized as one of the best five novels of the year by the Christian publishing industry. Ginger enjoys a diverse reader base and creates conversation between cultures.
In addition to her 2006 and 2007 novels about the most evil women in biblical history, she will release Beauty Secrets of the Bible (published by Thomas Nelson) in Summer 2007.
Ginger Garrett's Dark Hour delves into the biblical account of Jezebel's daughter and her attempt to end the line of David.
And now, a special Q&A with Ginger Garrett:
1.) First, tell us a bit about Dark Hour.
I was praying about what book to write after Chosen, and accidentally left my open Bible on the kitchen table. (A dangerous thing, since in my house, small children and large dogs routinely scavenge with dirty hands and noses for snacks!) As I walked past it, I saw a caption about someone named Athaliah and a mass murder. I stopped cold. I knew it was my story.
One woman, her step-daughter, Jehoshebeth, defied her. She stole a baby during the massacre and hid him. Between them, the two women literally fought for the fate of the world.
2.) What drew you to write biblical fiction?
The similarities between the lives of ancient women and our lives. We get distracted by their "packaging," the way they dressed and lived, but at heart, our stories are parallel.
3.) How much time is spent researching the novel versus writing the novel?
Equal amounts, and I don't stop researching while I write. I have a historical expert, probably the best in the world in his field, review the manuscript and point out errors. The tough part is deciding when to ignore his advice. He pointed out that most everyone rode donkeys if they weren't in the military, but a key scene in the novel involves riding a horse to the rescue. It would have been anti-climatic to charge in on a donkey! :) So I ignored his advice on that one.
4.) Dark Hour takes its reader deep into the heart of palace intrigue and betrayals. Were parts of this book difficult to write?
I left out much of the darkest material I uncovered in research. It was important to show how violent and treacherous these times and this woman (Athaliah) could be, but I tried to be cautious about how to do it. The story was so powerful and hopeful--how one woman's courage in the face of evil saved the world--but the evil was depressing. I tried to move quickly past it. I wanted balance. Our heroine suffers and some wounds are not completely healed in her lifetime. That's true for us, too.
5.) What would modern readers find surprising about ancient women?
They had a powerful sense of the community of women. They also wore make-up: blush, glitter eyeshadow, lipstick, powder, and perfume! They drank beer with straws, and enjoyed "Fritos": ground grains, fried and salted. Many of our foods are the same today, but they loved to serve pate made from dried locusts, finely ground. Ugh! Without further ado...here is the FIRST chapter of Dark Hour by Ginger Garrett. Judge for yourself if you'd like to read more!
(There is a prologue before chapter one regarding the birth of Jehoshebeth... Athaliah is not Jehoshebeth's biological mother.)
c h a p t e r O n e
Fifteen Years Later
HER BARU, the priest of divination, opened the goatskin bag and spread the wet liver along the floor, leaving a path of blood as he worked. Retrieving a wooden board and pegs from his other satchel, the satchel that held the knives and charms, he placed pegs in the board according to where the liver was marked by fat and disease. He turned the black liver over, revealing a ragged abscess.
Athaliah covered her mouth and nose with her hands to ward off the smell but would not turn way.
“Worms,” her sorcerer said, not looking up. He placed more pegs in the board before he stopped, and his breath caught.
A freezing wind touched them, though they were in the heart of the palace in the heat of the afternoon. Athaliah cursed this cold thing that had found her again and watched the sorcerer search for the source of the chill before he returned to the divination. There was no source of wind here; in her chamber there was a bed, the table where her servants applied her cosmetics from ornate and lovely jars shaped like animals, a limestone toilet, and in the farthest corner so that no one at the chamber door would see it, her shrine. Statues of Baal, the storm god, and the great goddess Asherah, who called all life into being, stood among the panting lions carved from ivory and the oil lamps that burned at all hours. Here she placed her offerings of incense and oil, and here she whispered to the icy thing as it worshiped alongside her.
The baru watched as the flames in the shrine swayed, the chill moving among the gods. The flames stayed at an angle until one began to burn the face of Asherah. Her painted face began to melt, first her eyes running black and then her mouth flowing red. He gasped and stood.
“I must return to the city.”
Athaliah stood, blocking him from his satchel.
“What does the liver say?”
“It is not good that I have come. We will work another day.”
She did not move. He glanced at the door. Guards with sharp swords were posted outside.
“A dead king still rules here. You set yourself against him
and are damned.”
Athaliah sighed. “You speak of David.”
The baru nodded and bent closer so no other thing would hear his whisper. “There is a prophecy about him, that one from the house of David will always reign in Judah. His light will never die.”
“I fear no man, dead or living.”
The baru continued to whisper, fear pushing into his eyes, making them wide. “It is not the man you must fear. It is his God.”
Athaliah bit her lip and considered his words. She wished he didn’t tremble. It was such a burden to comfort a man.
“Yes, this God. It is this God who troubles us. Perhaps I can make an offering to Him. You must instruct me. Stay, my friend, stay.” She patted him on the arm, detesting his clammy flesh. “I have dreamed,” she confessed. “I have a message from this God, and I must know how to answer Him.”
The baru took a step back, shaking his head. “What is this dream?”
“A man,” Athaliah said.
“At night, when I sleep and the moon blankets my chamber, I see a man. He is not as we are: he is coarse and wild. He wears skins hewn from savage beasts, run round his waist with careless thought, and in his mind he is always running, ax in hand, running. I feel his thoughts, his mind churning with unrest, and he knows mine completely. I hear a burning whisper from heaven and shut up my ears, but he turns to the sound. A great hand touches him, sealing him for what lies ahead, and speaks a name I cannot hear, a calling to one yet to be. I try to strike this man, but all goes red, blankets of red washing down.”
She licked her lips and waited, breathing hard. The baru nodded.
“You see the prophet of Yahweh, Elijah, who plagues your mother.”
The baru began to reach for his goatskin sack. He picked up the liver and put it in the sack, keeping an eye on the door as he wiped his bloody hand on his robes. She knew he was measuring his steps in his mind, thinking only of freedom from here, and from her.
Athaliah grabbed his arm. “I let those who worship Yahweh
live in peace. They mean nothing to me; what is one God in a
land of so many? Why would this God send a man to make war
on my mother and then claim me also?”
The baru narrowed his eyes. “This God is not like the others.”
“How can we be free of Him?”
The baru thought for a moment then reached into his satchel. He pulled out a handful of teeth and tossed them on the ground at her feet. She did not move.
He squatted and read them, probing them with a shaking finger. She watched as the hair along his neck rose, and goose bumps popped all along his skin. The cold thing had wrapped itself tightly around him. She could see his breath.
“There is a child,” he said. “The eye of Yahweh is upon this child, always. I must counsel you to find this child and kill it, for when it is gone, Yahweh would trouble you no more.”
Athaliah murmured and ran her teeth over her lips, biting and dragging the skin as her thoughts worked back in time. “It is my daughter you speak of. Only a girl. But even so, I cannot kill her yet. I would lose my rights as the most favored wife. I will not risk my crown for so small a prize. No, I will find another way to get rid of her, and I will deal with this threat from Yahweh as I must.”
Athaliah walked to her shrine and cleaned the face of Asherah. She could hear the baru scooping the teeth back into the bag. She turned with a sly smile, pleased that her mind worked so quickly even with the cold thing so near.
“My mother has already angered this God. We will let her have our problem. She has a talent for these things.”
He had finished putting everything back into his two sacks and edged toward the door. She wondered if he would return. He was the best she had at divining dreams and saw in the liver so many answers. She sighed and tried to think of a word to reassure him.
“A farmer may own the field,” she began, “but much work is done before a harvest is even planted. Stones are removed, weeds are torn free. We must break loose the soil and uproot our enemies so the field will be ready. On that day I will sow richly.”
He managed a weak smile.
“Let your appetite grow, my friend,” she coaxed. “The harvest is coming.”
He fled so quickly she knew her words had been wasted, as all words were on frightened men. He would never return.
He dined in a dim, private room with his advisers. The room was adjacent to the throne room, where he would one day rule, and was bare, save for an oil lamp on a low table. Cedar beams topped the limestone walls, giving the palace a sweet, smoky scent under the afternoon sun. The men sat around the table, scattered with maps, sharing a lunch of grapes, bread, wine, and cheese. Normally they would eat more, and in the dining hall, but the kitchen servants were busy preparing for the great send-off feast and it was easier to be served here.
Tomorrow, his father, King Jehoshaphat, would lead Judah’s army north toward Israel and King Ahab. Together, the two kingdoms would fight their inconstant friend Ben-Hadad to end his trade monopolies. Ben-Hadad fought alongside them against the cruel Assyrians but turned often and claimed the richest of trade cities for himself.
“There are implications, my prince,” Ethan said. Ethan was the tallest, and his skin turned red when he was angry, which was often. His temper had plagued him since he and the prince were boys, but now Jehoram no longer found pleasure in goading his friend. “If the kings succeed at Ramoth-Gilead against Ben-Hadad,” Ethan continued, “and the proposed alliance is
accepted, your father will have obligations both to the north and south. In this way, Ahab’s kingdom will be strengthened by this victory, and your own kingdom will be compromised. Judah may weaken and fall at last to a king of Israel.”
“I have married the daughter of Ahab,” Jehoram replied. “I have given their daughter an heir and promised her the crown. I have curried the favor of the north well enough. They will not turn on me, for their own daughter is at my side.” He tried to entertain himself with the food and wine while his advisers prattled on. He wondered what would be served at the feast tonight. If the servants’ exhausted expressions were any indication, the spread would be remarkable.
“That is true, my friend,” Ethan said. “But you are wrong to think this is Ahab’s war. It is a woman who is shaping this new world. Think on this: What does the powerful Jezebel desire more than to bring glory to her own name? She wants the north and south reunited so that she may one day rule them both, a queen equal in power to Solomon.”
Ethan smirked as he continued. “Everyone knows Ahab wears the crown but Jezebel rules. With Ahab and Jehoshaphat together in battle, their voices silenced for a time, Jezebel will be listening for yours. Let her know a lion roars in Judah. We will never be ruled by a woman, especially one who hides behind her husband’s crown.”
Jehoram listened, running his tongue across his lips, catching a spot of wine resting just above his lip. Ethan was his truest friend, if a man about to wear the crown had one, but he was always ready for a fight. Jehoram preferred to suffer a blow and stay with his women and wine. He sighed. “Ethan, you look into darkness and see monsters, but I see only shadows. It has always been this way.”
Ethan frowned. “We are no longer children hunting with our fathers at night. Listen to me, for I am the voice of God in your ear.”
Jehoram turned his face away and crossed his arms. Then he sighed and reached for a bowl of grapes and began to eat. He did not like an empty stomach.
Another adviser bit into some cheese and leaned in. “Mighty Ethan is right. Jezebel wants to see you on the throne because of your union with her daughter Athaliah, but she is no ally. Listen to what I tell you: Something evil here stirs the water and watches.”
“These voices of doom!” Jehoram yelled, slapping his bowl down on the table so that it spilled. “These voices and whispers, will they not cease?” He gripped his head and glared at the men. Each had but one wife and thought to advise him on his many? “You warn me against women, even my own wife, but they are women and nothing more!”
Ethan scooted closer to him. “Do not play the fool. Athaliah practices her strange magic and you slip under her spell little by little. There is still time to save yourself, and the kingdom, if you are indeed a man and king.”
Jehoram rose and adjusted his robe around his shoulders, staring down at Ethan.
“Do even my friends turn against me now?” he asked.
“I have always been like a brother to you. I desire nothing but your good,” Ethan said, rising. Jehoram held his temper and the two men glared at each other, breathing hard.
The adviser Ornat spoke. “May I address the future king of Judah?”
Jehoram nodded and sat, returning to his grapes. He glanced at Ethan and shook his head.
Ornat was new to his inner circle, an adviser Athaliah had recommended for his influence among the people who did not worship the God of Judah. She promised his voice would balance the harsh messages the others always gave. He had long, straight gray hair that always hung as if he had just come in from the rain. A magnificent bump crowned his nose, but it was the only remarkable feature about the man, a man who looked as if he were melting before their eyes.
“Good Jehoram,” Ornat began, “the king knows you are a son who is not like the father. King Jehoshaphat has conspired with your brothers to ensure you never take the throne. They plot behind closed doors, taking their meals without you. I have heard the plans from my spies among the servants.”
Jehoram felt his stomach churn at the accusation. He would not allow such ridiculous talk and raised his hand to dismiss the man at once.
The arrival of Athaliah interrupted them, and all bowed as she entered.
“Jehoram, I seek your face with a burden on my heart. Hear me and help me, my lord and husband,” she said.
Jehoram looked at her a moment, his eyes having trouble adjusting to the light that streamed in when the door had opened. She stirred something in him, as she had from her first night in the palace, rain-soaked and announced by thunder, her sheer robes clinging to her tiny frame. She came bearing boxes of shrines and gods, like the dolls of a child, and she clung to them even in their bedchamber. She was the only wife who did not submit to his will, and he had found her exotic. Now she had grown, but his exotic pet was still wild, shaking off the customs and manners he tried to teach her. He knew she hungered, but not for him. His face burned with shame.
“Speak, Athaliah,” he said.
“Your daughter has grown quite pale of late. I have seen this sickness before.”
Jehoram sat up straight. Sickness in the palace would spread
rapidly, a threat as swift and fierce as any Assyrian.
“What sickness?” he demanded.
Athaliah smiled at him, then at the men reclining.
“Of course you do not understand,” she said. “You are men. You have tended your kingdom well but neglected to see that your daughter has come of age.”
Jehoram exhaled and sat back, an indulgent smile on his lips.
“And what remedy does this sickness crave?” he asked.
Athaliah bowed before Jehoram. “She must marry, my lord.”
Jehoram waved his hand, a broad gesture. Here he could be master.
“I command, then, that she be married. If there is a commander well thought of, it would be an honor to give a daughter in marriage just before a battle.”
Athaliah nodded, just once. He felt his victory slipping away.
“I have sent word to the north,” Athaliah said, “to my mother’s house, that a nobleman from my own home who serves in the ivory palace of my mother be given her. King Ahab has sent you his favorite daughter.” She smiled. “Now let us send ours to him. It will be good for Jehoshebeth to hold your name ever before my father, Ahab. And Jezebel would relish a granddaughter so near.”
Jehoram stopped and frowned. “It is Jehoshebeth you speak of? She is a special child to me. I would not have her sent north.”
“But you have given the order that she be married. There is no one else worthy of her,” Athaliah said.
Jehoram rubbed his chin and pretended to study a map. Finally, he shook his head. “I must think on this.”
Athaliah bowed low, her eyes closed. “May the God you serve bless all your decisions, good Jehoram,” she said. She straightened and looked at the advisers. Jehoram could not bear to see their eyes upon his bride, the only territory he owned and could not rule. He detected secrets moving between her and Ornat like a sudden spring bubbling up from a dark source. Only a few found it distasteful and turned away. Ethan was the first to scowl and return his glance to the prince.
“I will see you all at the feast tonight,” Athaliah said as she left.
She wagged a finger at Ornat. “Take care of my good husband.”
Jehoram slouched in his seat and returned to his grapes.