Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Auralia's Colors by Jeffery Overstreet

Jeffrey Overstreet lives in two worlds. By day, he writes about movies at and in notable publications like Christianity Today, Paste, and Image.

His adventures in cinema are chronicled in his book Through a Screen Darkly. By night, he composes new stories found in fictional worlds of his own. Living in Shoreline, Washington, with his wife, Anne, a poet, he is a senior staff writer for Response Magazine at Seattle Pacific University.

Auralia’s Colors is his first novel. He is now hard at work on many new stories, including three more strands of The Auralia Thread.

As a baby, she was found in a footprint.

As a girl, she was raised by thieves in a wilderness where savages lurk.

As a young woman, she will risk her life to save the world with the only secret she knows.

When thieves find an abandoned child lying in a monster’s footprint, they have no idea that their wilderness discovery will change the course of history.

Cloaked in mystery, Auralia grows up among criminals outside the walls of House Abascar, where vicious beastmen lurk in shadow. There, she discovers an unsettling–and forbidden–talent for crafting colors that enchant all who behold them, including Abascar’s hard-hearted king, an exiled wizard, and a prince who keeps dangerous secrets.

Auralia’s gift opens doors from the palace to the dungeons, setting the stage for violent and miraculous change in the great houses of the Expanse.

Auralia’s Colors weaves literary fantasy together with poetic prose, a suspenseful plot, adrenaline-rush action, and unpredictable characters sure to enthrall ambitious imaginations.

Visit the Website especially created for the book, Auralia's Colors. On the site, you can read the first chapter and listen to jeffrey's introduction of the book, plus a lit more!


"Film critic and author Overstreet (Through a Screen Darkly) offers a powerful myth for his first foray into fiction. Overstreet’s writing is precise and beautiful, and the story is masterfully told. Readers will be hungry for the next installment."
--Publishers Weekly

“Through word, image, and color Jeffrey Overstreet has crafted a work of art. From first to final page this original fantasy is sure to draw readers in. Auralia's Colors sparkles.”
-–Janet Lee Carey, award-winning author of The Beast of
Noor and Dragon's Keep

“Jeffrey Overstreet’s first fantasy, Auralia’s Colors, and its heroine’s cloak of wonders take their power from a vision of art that is auroral, looking to the return of beauty, and that intends to restore spirit and and mystery to the world. The book achieves its ends by the creation of a rich, complex universe and a series of dramatic, explosive events.”
-–Marly Youmans, author of Ingledove and The
Curse of the Raven Mocker

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Decked Out by Neta Jackson

I have to admit that the covers of these books really rub me the wrong way (yes, I'm a cover snob) and I never would have read one if it weren't for the fact that they seem to sell like cold Coke on a hot day. So I tried one out one time and, whaddya know, they're really good!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Neta Jackson's award-winning Yada books have sold more than 350,000 copies and are spawning prayer groups across the country. She and her husband, Dave, are also an award-winning husband/wife writing team, best known for the Trailblazer Books--a 40-volume series of historical fiction about great Christian heroes with 1.8 million in sales--and Hero Tales: A Family Treasury of True Stories from the Lives of Christian Heroes (vols 1-4).

Dave and Neta live in Evanston, Illinois, where for twenty-seven years they were part of Reba Place Church, a Christian church community. They are now members of the Chicago Tabernacle, a multi-racial congregation that is a daughter church of the well-known Brooklyn Tabernacle.

Turkey dinners, tree trimming, and decking the halls--it's that time of year again! And I Jodi Baxter, can't wait to celebrate. My kids are coming home for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and then all of us Yadas are getting decked out for a big New Year's party.

But God's idea of "decked out" might just change the nature of our party plans. A perplexing encounter with a former student, a crime that literally knocks me off my feet, a hurry-up wedding, and a child who will forever change our's times like these that I really need my prayer sisters.

This holiday season, we Yada Yadas are learning that no one can out celebrate God. So let's get this party started!

THE YADA YADA PRAYER GROUP GETS DECKED OUT is a festive novella featuring America's favorite prayer group, the Yada Yadas!

Sometimes dubbed "chick-lit" for their bright covers and catchy titles, this series provides far more depth than witty banter and wacky situations. Inspired by a prayer group of real women, each book will have you laughing, crying, and perhaps praying anew.

In this highly anticipated installment, the Yada Yada sisters-a group of multi-cultural friends-and their families prepare for the event of the season.

But yes, eager readers, this novella—which picks up a year and a half after the end of book #6 The Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Rolling concludes the series with some twists and turns that will amaze and encourage you. Plus, it sets the stage for Neta’s new series with new characters and new situations but also occasional roles for the beloved Yada Yada sisters in familiar Chicago neighborhoods with all their cultural richness.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Try Dying by James Scott Bell

James Scott Bell is a former trial lawyer who now writes full time. He is also the fiction columnist for Writers Digest magazine and adjunct professor of writing at Pepperdine University.

His book on writing, Plot and Structure is one of the most popular writing books available today. The national bestselling author of several novels of suspense, he grew up and still lives in Los Angeles, where he is at work on his next Buchanan thriller.

On a wet Tuesday morning in December, Ernesto Bonilla, twenty-eight, shot his twenty-three-year-old wife, Alejandra, in the backyard of their West 45th Street home in South Los Angeles. As Alejandra lay bleeding to death, Ernesto drove their Ford Explorer to the westbound Century Freeway connector where it crossed over the Harbor Freeway and pulled to a stop on the shoulder.

Bonilla stepped around the back of the SUV, ignoring the rain and the afternoon drivers on their way to LAX and the west side, placed the barrel of his .38 caliber pistol into his mouth, and fired.

His body fell over the shoulder and plunged one hundred feet, hitting the roof of a Toyota Camry heading northbound on the harbor Freeway. The impact crushed the roof of the Camry. The driver, Jacqueline Dwyer, twenty-seven, an elementary schoolteacher from Reseda, died at the scene.

This would have been simply another dark and strange coincidence, the sort of thing that shows up for a two-minute report on the local news--with live remote from the scene--and maybe gets a follow-up the next day. Eventually the story would go away, fading from the city's collective memory.

But this story did not go away. Not for me. Because Jacqueline Dwyer was the woman I was going to marry.

In Try Dying, this fast-paced thriller, lawyer Ty Buchanan must enter a world of evil to uncover the cause of his fiancee's death--even if hie has to kill for the truth.

"Bell is one of the best writers out there...he creates characters readers care about...a story worth telling."
~Library Review~

Your #1 fear?

I know that, at some point in time, public speaking ranked as the #1 fear among the general public. If that describes you and you're faced with having to speak in public (or if you *want* to speak in public but don't have much experience or confidence), then check out the Butterworth Communicators Institute. I spent Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday at the Hyatt in Irvine along with 9 other BCI students, and it was incredible. SUCH a great experience. Bill Butterworth not only taught public speaking at the university level for a number of years, he's made his living as a speaker at corporate functions, sport teams, churches, retreats, you name it, for over 20 years. And besides being very knowledgeable and a fantastic instructor, he's beyond hilarious. We spent a LOT of time laughing. And the critique from him and the other BCI students was invaluable, as well as very encouraging. Anyway, definitely check it out, it's worth every penny.

In Abby news...she counts! All the way to 14! Though she starts at 7. Sometimes 5. Occasionally from 1, but she skips 2-4 if she does. I don't know what he problem is with those three numbers (especially since she says, "1, 2, 1, 2, 1, 2, 1!" all the time, so she at least knows the 1-2 combo), but whatever. I was way more impressed with the fact that she knew anything past 10 when that's all we normally count to.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Hail to the Orange, Hail to the Blue...

I'm not a huge sports fan, but I do love my Illini. Usually being an Illini fan is similar to being a Cubbies fan, at least where football is concerned: you're a diehard who knows you will pretty much never win.

But WOW. We are having a total kick-butt season, and mere seconds ago we kicked #1-ranked Ohio State U into next week. This was, if I remember correctly, the second or third time Illinois has won in a total upset. (Well, whenever we win it's an upset, we're usually THAT bad.) We've won more games this year than we have in the last three seasons combined.

I'm reveling in the victory, my friends. Looking online for some cute Illini wear for my little girl and Mystery Baby. I may even break down and buy one of those flags to hang off the garage. Flaunt it while I can, y'know? We'll be in a bowl for sure--I can't wait to see that game.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Crap. And lots of it.

I went up to the county offices today to pick up a birth certificate for Abby. I was dreading it because I didn't know how long the wait would be, if Abby would be bored, if we'd run out of snacks if the wait was long, all that kind of thing. Turns out getting the certificate was the easiest part of the morning.

When I took Abby out of her carseat, I felt that her pants were wet. Oh great,I thought. I don't think we have any extra clothes in the car. Well, I'll change her and she won't feel the wet pants through the new diaper. I set her down to pick up the diaper changer off the floor, then glanced to her carseat.

Poop. In the seat. All over the seat, in fact.

I glance down at Abby, who is dancing next to the car.

Poop. Up her back. Oozing out of her pants.

Oh dear.

It took half a pack of wipes to clean her up. By the time I got her stripped down, it was all over her--arms, legs, feet, hair. And where am I changing her, you ask? In the trunk, which is actually pretty easy because the back row folds flat. But the surface is far too low, so I ended up retriggering my screwed up sciatic nerve issue in my back from bending over for so long. And of course it's windy today, so her poor little naked body is covered with goosebumps and she's shivering and crying.

There's a 12 month jacket--the only piece of Abby clothing in the car--so I zip that on her, line her carseat with a towel, and buckle her back in. Now she's crying because she wants to play--apparently the Civic Center looks like a park to her, despite the lack of grass and equipment. I called my dad and had him look up Target to find the nearest store, which turns out to be less than 2 miles away. I pull out and pay the only dollar I have on me to the parking attendant--2 more minutes and I would have owed two dollars, and I literally did not have another dollar, even in change. Thank you Lord!

Once we're at Target I swaddled Abby's naked legs in my jacket and carted her through the store, my back screaming the whole way, to find some clothes. Forgot to bring her shoes in, though, so even after I have her dressed in the bathroom I have to keep carrying her, which she doesn't like because she wants to walk, so she's squirming and fussing about walking and I'm explaining for the zillionth time that no shoes means no walking. Back into the car--she's mad again that she can't play--and back to the Civic Center. I park right in front of the building, all excited with the space I'd found, only to find that the Clerk-Recorder's office is in the other wing of the building, a five minute walk away when you're waiting on Abby, who keeps stopping and asking you for "Uppies" which you can't do because your back is threatening to go on strike just from the walking and heaven only knows what might happen if you tried carrying her.

Once we got in there things were completely uneventful, thankfully, other than the clerk's computer being totally laggy and taking 10 minutes to process our request. The clerk was nice though, and didn't seem to notice the disgusting scent of poop that was clinging to me and the kid. We got our stuff, got out, and got home without incident.

We capped off the morning with Abby chucking handfuls of peas onto the floor during lunch and burning my finger with burning squirting hot dog juice.

Good times.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Answering the call

Today was my first day officially back in the writing saddle. I wrote for nearly three hours. Turns out I had about 2 pages of my old chapter 6, so I worked on those and then jumped into writing from scratch, which I've been really avoiding and just plain fearing for a few weeks now. I kept feeling like I'd been away from the story for so long that I wouldn't be able to get back into it, or that I just wouldn't be excited about it anymore. But God sent me in a new direction and gave me some new material that I really liked, and I ended up finishing the chapter right at 4 PM, which is what I'd told Dan I'd write to.

When I went downstairs at 4, I felt like a new woman. It was unbelievable. I had so much more patience with Abby, I was in a great mood, I had all this energy--and I realized that I always feel like that when I've gotten in a good block of writing time. I was trying to pin it down and explain it to Dan--was it because I felt like my time had been productive? Or because I was being creative? Or because I had three hour all to myself? And in the end I realized that it was because I was doing what God has called me to do. God made me a writer. He gave me this passion and gives me these stories and characters, and regardless of how frustrating or difficult or slow-going the writing may be on any given day, I always feel renewed when I'm done.

And that's not to say God didn't call me to motherhood. I think parenting is a whole 'nuther kind of call, though. Plus, the results are a LONG time in coming; at least at the end of the day I can see how much I've written. It will be years before I'm able to see all the ways I invested in my kids and how they benefited from their time with me.

Anyway, I feel like I'm "back", you know? Good thing, seeing as I have that contract. :)

Friday, November 02, 2007

Surrender Bay by Denise Hunter

Denise lives in Indiana with her husband Kevin and their three sons. In 1996, Denise began her first book, a Christian romance novel, writing while her children napped.

Two years later it was published, and she's been writing ever since. Her books often contain a strong romantic element, and her husband Kevin says he provides all her romantic material, but Denise insists a good imagination helps too!

In addition to Surrender Bay, the second Nantucket book releases in April 2008. The title is The Convenient Groom and features Kate Lawrence, a relationship advice columnist, whose groom dumps her on her wedding day. Denise is currently at work on the third Nantucket book (Oct 2008) which is untitled so far.

When Sam's estranged step-father dies, she inherits his ocean-front cottage in Nantucket--not because he kindly bequeathed it to her, but because he neglected to ever create a will. Sam returns to the island she left 11 years ago with her daughter Caden to fix up the house and sell it, but she isn't counting on is the fact that Landon Reed still lives two doors down from her childhood home.

As their long-dormant romance begins to bud again, Sam must face the fact that Landon still doesn't know why she really left the island. Will the secrets she's hidden all these years tear them apart? Or is Landon's love really as unconditional as he claims?

"I've always thought Denise Hunter was an amazing writer but this wonderful story sets her firmly at the forefront of compelling love stories. How Landon breaks down Samantha's determination that she is unworthy of love kept me glued to the pages. An amazing story!"

--Colleen Coble, author of Fire Dancer (Smoke Jumper Series)

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Sort of an angel

Well, we couldn't manage to talk her into wearing the halo or the wings. Still, most
people could tell what she was supposed to be--perhaps it's her angelic face. :)

Her favorite part of the outfit was the shoes, which were half a size too small. Actually, the only way I could get her to even keep the dress on was to promise she could wear the shoes. I swear, the kid is Emelda Marcos (sp?) all over again. When we went to my parents' place, she walked in pointing to her feet so no one would miss them!