Thursday, February 26, 2009

Book giveaway - SASSY CINDERELLA AND THE VALIANT VIGILANTE by Sharon Dunn

Camy here, giving away another book! (No, not mine)

The winner of
Lost in Las Vegas
by
Melody Carlson
is
weaver_writer
Congratulations!

To enter to win today’s book, leave a comment on this blog post, giving your name and saying you want to enter. International readers are welcome to enter!

Please leave an email address or website where I can contact you (please use this format--you [at] yourmail.com--or something like that to prevent spammers from trolling for your email address). It is the winner’s responsibility to check to see if you won and to email me if you haven’t yet heard from me.

I always email the winner and give them a week to reply, but if I don’t receive an answer, I will pull another person to win the book. I am not responsible for a lost opportunity if you leave an email address you don’t check frequently.

Only one entry per person. The winner can expect their free book in 4-6 weeks.

You have a week to comment--I'll pick a name out of a hat on March 14th. (BTW, you can post a comment and NOT enter, too.)

Today I’m giving away:

Sassy Cinderella and the Valiant Vigilante
by
Sharon Dunn


When a professor at the local university dies, Ruby Taylor is hired to fill his shoes. Along with a frozen corpse and midnight intruders, this sassy Cinderella has to deal with lost love and family that defines the word dysfunctional. Deadly university politics turn personal as Ruby works to straighten out a mystery that has more twists than a silly straw.

Read my review of this book

Camy Tang writes romance with a kick of wasabi. Her novel Single Sashimi is out now, and she runs the Story Sensei critique service. In her spare time, she is a staff worker for her church youth group, and she leads one of the worship teams for Sunday service. On her blog, she gives away Christian novels every Monday and Thursday, and she ponders frivolous things. Sign up for her newsletter YahooGroup for monthly giveways!

Monday, February 23, 2009

A new mag for girls!


I'm sure some of you are well-aware of the demise of Brio. Well, put away your tissues. Brio's former editor is starting a brand new magazine for teen girls! Here's the nitty-gritty:

Nationally renowned speaker and author Susie Shellenberger is launching Susie, a new publication for teen girls. 

As the creator of acclaimed teen girl publication Brio, Shellenberger served as the magazine’s editor for 19 years before publisher Focus on the Family discontinued its teen ministry and ceased publication last month. She quickly made the decision to publish her own magazine after receiving countless letters and emails of support from Brio fans who also suggested the new publication be named after its editor. 

Susie will debut its premier print issue this May and Shellenberger is determined to make it more appealing and relevant than current and past magazines ministering to Christian teen girls. With a main focus to help readers grow spiritually, the publication will additionally cover girl-significant topics including fashion, modesty, family, self-injury, eating disorders, relationships and more. 

“I have had the incredible opportunity to help motivate and shape an entire generation of girls and I’m now even more excited about ministering to girls on a new level through Susie magazine,” says Shellenberger.” 

Check out subscription info at Susie's website

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The heroine in all of us

Today I'm giving a talk at a local library on the Hero's Journey, which is a writing theory about story structure. So I was going over what Chris Vogler has to say in his book, The Writer's Journey, starting with the first two phases of the journey, the Ordinary World and the Call to Adventure.

You know what I noticed? This stuff isn't just for heroes. 

All of us have an ordinary world. Work, school, chores, fun, friends. But do we all have a call to adventure? Define adventure, exactly. And how does the call come? Would a person know a call if she heard it? 

The deal with the ordinary world is that there, the hero has some kind of a lack within herself. And the adventure's purpose is to fill that lack, so that by the time she gets through all the stages of the journey, she's a different person than when she began and can handle what she's called on to do. But the call, you say. What's the call?

When I'm cooking up a new story, the call is that shivery feeling on the back of my neck that says, "Oooooh. This one. This is the one you need to write about." My brain may not know it yet, but my heart does. In Be Strong and Curvaceous, book 3 of the All About Us series, Carly's call is the call to friendship . . . to a person she doesn't even like and has nothing in common with! But God has plans for her, and Carly's response to that call creates the story--and her adventure.

I firmly believe that when God's still, small voice whispers to us, it's a call to adventure. We may not be outfitted to set out on the journey (in our opinion), but He'll take care of us every step of the way. 

Bring on that shivery feeling!

Love ya,
Shelley
http://www.shelleyadina.com

Friday, February 20, 2009

Behind the Curve

So I'm new-ish around this blog...though I have to admit I've been lurking for a few weeks. But my lurking days are over. And so you can get to know me I'm going to...tell you 25 random things about me! (Hey, I know it's a little behind the curve since most of you probably did this like two weeks ago. You have to admit, though, it's the easiest way for you to learn useless info about me in the least amount of time.) And since Sarah mentioned the famous 25 Random Things note a couple of days ago, I figured it was only fitting. So hi, my name is Ashley. And here are my 25 things. ;-)



1) The only reason my brother remembers my birthday is because it's on a minor holiday.

2) I told my kindergarten teacher I wanted to be a dentist when I grew up. That was a big lie. I had no clue what I wanted to be, so I just copied the kid next to me.

3) When repair people come to my apartment to fix things they frequently ask if my parents are home because they think I'm 16.

4) I didn't get my ears pierced until I was 20 years old. And I got four holes at the same time.

5) I was a counselor at a Bible camp for three summers in a row. Coolest. Job. Ever.

6) By the time I marry my fiance we will have been together for 17 months...11 of those as an engaged couple.

7) I love to climb things.

8) I sponsor a little girl named Daniela through Compassion International. She's five and lives in Guatemala. She writes the best letters!

9) I don't like pizza. Or chocolate. People say this makes me un-American, but I assure you, I'm 100% American citizen.

10) My first ever job was to deliver flower arrangements for a florist over Christmas break. Because of this job I got into my first car accident (not my fault).

11) I minored in Spanish in college. Because of this I can write a very nice, grammatically correct paragraph in Spanish, but that's about it.

12) My favorite movie is The Emperor's New Groove because there's nothing better than a sarcastic llama.

13) I once had blue streaks in my hair. That lasted about 24 hours.

14) When we were little my brother and I discovered an old pile of bricks in the woods near our house. We convinced ourselves that they were some ancient ruins and we were going to be rich and famous after getting Guiness to come out and verify the age of the bricks. I look back on that and realize they were probably just bricks from when our house was being constructed.

15) My least favorite chores growing up were washing dishes/loading the dishwasher and vacuuming. When I worked at camp as a junior counselor these two jobs were all I did.

16) I love leading music for children's church.

17) I lack a little on the self-discipline side of things. Usually this means that exercise, quiet time with God and waking up when the alarm goes off slip by the wayside. It's something I'd really like to get better about.

18) I have an intense fear of going to doctors. It makes life a little (okay, a lot) difficult sometimes.

19) I thrive on real conversation and real friendships. I don't have a problem with talking about the hard things in life and often find that this makes for deeper, more vibrant relationships.

20) I moved 1600 miles away from home the day after I graduated college. I don't regret this, but I do miss my family every day.

21) I was never asked to go to prom. So I never went. I don't regret this, either.

22) I used to like skiing. Until my best friend/roommate "accidentally" took me down a Blue/Black hill in Colorado. I haven't been skiing since.

23) I've contracted a virus on nearly every major trip I've ever taken. For instance: on the Brio Cruise 2008 I got some sort of flu and spent the whole time in the Bahamas feeling like ick.

24) One day I'd really like to do aerial gymnastics.

25) I had my wisdom teeth taken out on Good Friday during my senior year of high school. It wasn't a very good Friday.



So tell me about you! Cause I totally want to get to know you. Shoot me an email: anmblogs@gmail.com.



Love,



Ashley

Thursday, February 19, 2009

BFF

Today my friend Jennifer and I went to lunch and saw a movie together (Confessions of a Shopaholic—a very fun and very girlie movie). It had been ages since we hung out. We tried over the summer but couldn’t seem to work it in between trips to the hospital. At Christmas, my appendix came between us. But this time we were determined!

Jennifer and I have been friends since we were three years old so we have quite a history to look back on. Some of it is pretty embarrassing, like the when we became so obsessed with Little House on the Prairie that we renamed ourselves Mary and Laura. We had a moment of rebellion together (going to an R-rated movie when we weren’t 17 yet. We aren't proud of this and I'm not suggesting that you see rated-R films. But it didn't feel like a rebel moment to us at the time. If I name the movie I’ll risk dating myself). We went through the awful junior high years, collected lip gloss, and have plenty of bad hairstyles to hold over one another’s heads. As adults we were in one another’s weddings and Jennifer became an honorary aunt to my boys. All this and we didn’t even live in the same town! My family moved when I was eight so from that point on we had a long-distance relationship.

I’m sure it helped that our parents kept in touch. But as adults it has been up to us. So how did (or do) we make it work?

· We aren’t possessive: we couldn’t afford to be, considering that we went to different schools and only saw each other a couple of times a year. This forced us to let each other have other friends and trust that we would always have a special place in the other’s life.
· We have thing in common but enjoy our differences: Jennifer is a dietitian and doesn’t have kids (Her baby is a beautiful German shepherd named Lars). I’m a writer, have kids, and am more of a cat person. She’s more serious and I’m . . . well . . . not. But we both sing, love to read, and have similar taste in movies. I see us as balancing each other out.
· We both make an effort: We e-mail, call, and make a point of celebrating birthdays and Christmas together, even if our “Christmas” happens in February. If we let too much time go by between phone calls or e-mails, the first one to notice checks on the other. The funny thing is that we are often on the same page. Just when I think, I better e-mail Jennifer; I get a call from her.

It takes work to make a friendship last, but Jennifer and I are proof that it can last a
lifetime.
Who is your best friend? How do you make your friendship last? I’d love to hear your stories!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Randomness & God

I hang out on Facebook a lot. Probably way more than I should. It's fun to find old friends and keep up with others that I wouldn't naturally just call up.

Well, on Facebook there's been a meme going around called "25 Random Facts". It's one of those that you fill out and then tag others to fill out as well. I've been tagged a few times, but I haven't gotten to 25 on my list yet. Seriously - coming up with 25 interesting things is hard!

But that got me thinking about how God might fill out that meme about me. What does he notice about me? Surely, we'd have some overlap. He's very aware that I like flavored coffee and that there are only two mugs that I use. He knows how much I've moved around and how much I hated it. But He also likely notices things about me that I would rather, well, overlook. Like driving. I'm easily frustrated with other drivers. I'm not sure exactly why this is an ongoing problem, except that perhaps I think everyone should obey the rules of the road and so when they don't, I get mad. Probably not the best use of my energy. I'm sure He notices that my time management has been thrown off kilter lately, and that it bothers me.


 Then again, He also notices when I choose to forgive someone who has wronged me. I bet He smiles when I offer grace instead of condemnation. I also think He rejoices even more than I do when I get the chance to offer encouragement and love to those around me.

So yeah, He notices when I mess up, but He's also very aware of each little step I take towards becoming more like Him. That's pretty cool, too. 

So tag, you're it! So what would God notice about you?

Sarah Anne Sumpolec





Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Guys are SO different



I have daughters in their twenties so I know a little bit about teenage girls. But now I have this seventeen-year-old son. He likes to fish, ride four-wheelers, hunt, play baseball, and he's just started riding horses. I don't do any of these activities. But one thing he for sure doesn't like to do is chat with his mom.

He's so different than his sisters.

My daughters talked a lot. They still do. They call me during the day. We talk about big things and we talk about teensy things like what color t-shirt to buy. When my girls were/are upset sometimes they'll cry. Or rant and rave. Even when they were 14 15, 16, if I'd said, "Do you want to go to Starbucks? We can talk," they'd have beat me to the car.

But guys aren't like that---at least my son isn't. That would be the LAST thing he'd want to do is spill his guts over coffee time with me. And if something is bothering him, he doesn't tell me.

The other day I had this idea. I'd heard that to connect with your teenage son you have to do something fun together. So, I tried it. We played pool in the basement. No, he didn't tell me his deep thoughts and ponderings, but yes, he smiled and we joked with each other.

Anybody know anything about relating to teenage guys? The differences in communication with guys and girls?

Julie
www.juliegarmon.com

Monday, February 16, 2009

Knitting


I have a friend over today. She's learning to knit. Well, actually, I've already taught her to knit. Now she is learning to purl. She's 14, soon to be 15. 
Now knitting is a disappearing art, but it shouldn't be. True, you can buy a sweater, a scarf, a beanie for very little these days, but knitting isn't so much about the product as the process.
One of the benefits for me is that when I knit, my hands are busy and I don't nibble. Believe me, that is important.

Another benefit is that people are so impressed when they get a scarf from me that I knit. They don't realize that it is in buying fancy yarn that the scarf gets its glitz, not from my prowess as a knitter.

Another benefit is that I ruminate while knitting.

One of my very profound conclusions come to while knitting is that one single strand is twisted and turned on the needles to produce an intricate pattern of beauty and probably utilitarian purpose. God takes my life and twists and turns it to produce something of worth and even pretty attractive. People have said to me, "I want to have what you have," and all that I have that they don't is a God willing to work with me.

Another profound revelation is that when you knit an entire scarf it looks exactly like a scarf that was entirely purled. Two entirely different methods to produce the same end. Sometimes I get locked into "My Way" of living. And truthfully, another's interpretation of the means to an end can produce the same result. So if I choose to knit and you choose to purl, neither one of us is "righter" as long as both methods honor God. (ie. follow the rules of knitting.)

And one last observation from ruminating while knitting. It is material and skill combined that makes a beautiful product. I have to use the fancy stuff that God has given me through His Word. Pearls of wisdom found in books like Proverbs and James that give a lustrous look to my live. And the skill of creating the masterpiece out of the material give comes through practice.

LOL! See, knitting is more than the clicking of needles.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Book giveaway - LOST IN LAS VEGAS by Melody Carlson

Camy here, giving away another book! (No, not mine)

The winner of
Gatekeepers
by
Robert Liparulo
is
Kristy
Congratulations!

To enter to win today’s book, leave a comment on this blog post, giving your name and saying you want to enter. International readers are welcome to enter!

Please leave an email address or website where I can contact you (please use this format--you [at] yourmail.com--or something like that to prevent spammers from trolling for your email address). It is the winner’s responsibility to check to see if you won and to email me if you haven’t yet heard from me.

I always email the winner and give them a week to reply, but if I don’t receive an answer, I will pull another person to win the book. I am not responsible for a lost opportunity if you leave an email address you don’t check frequently.

Only one entry per person. The winner can expect their free book in 4-6 weeks.

You have a week to comment--I'll pick a name out of a hat on February 27th. (BTW, you can post a comment and NOT enter, too.)

Today I’m giving away:


Lost in Las Vegas
by
Melody Carlson


Mix six teenaged girls and one ’60s fashion icon (retired, of course) in an old Victorian-era boarding home. Add boys and dating, a little high-school angst, and throw in a Kate Spade bag or two … and you’ve got The Carter House Girls, Melody Carlson’s new chick lit series for young adults!

It's Christmas Break in the Carter House, and it's just DJ left alone with her grandmother. When Taylor offers an invitation to come to Las Vegas to see her mom perform DJ accepts. But when they get to Vegas DJ notices that all Taylor wants to do is party, and that she had invited Eliza along for the fun. When things spin out of control DJ calls on Casey who's visiting her parents in California to help. Will they be able to stop Taylors excessive partying and get her the real help she truly needs? What will Mrs. Carter think of all this when Fashion Week in NYC is just around the corner?

Camy Tang writes romance with a kick of wasabi. Her novel Single Sashimi is out now, and she runs the Story Sensei critique service. In her spare time, she is a staff worker for her church youth group, and she leads one of the worship teams for Sunday service. On her blog, she gives away Christian novels every Monday and Thursday, and she ponders frivolous things. Sign up for her newsletter YahooGroup for monthly giveways!

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Do You Want to Know the Truth?


Over the weekend my son and I watched the movie The Prestige, a murder mystery involving two rival magicians. Besides having some twists and turns that left us wondering who was who, and what exactly had happened, it also included a great line.

The movie begins and ends with an older illusionist performing a disappearance trick for a little girl. As he does, his voice narrates in the background, the 3 stages of a magic trick. At the end of his closing monologue he explains that, once a trick is over, you (the audience) begin looking for the secret, but won’t find it because you were never looking for it in the first place. You don’t really want to know the truth. As the old man says in the chilling final frame, “You want to be fooled.”

Later I thought; how often do we want to be fool? As twisted as it sounds, sometimes it’s more fun to be deceived. As long as we maintain the illusion we can pretend that everything is okay when it’s not, that we’re living the Christian life when we’re actually rebelling, that we’re dating a great guy when we know deep down that he’s all wrong for us, that what we are doing to our bodies or filling our minds with isn’t harmful.

I couldn’t help reflecting on times when I chose to enjoy the illusion. When I struggled with an eating disorder and self-injury, my tricks involved lies, excuses and baggy clothes. While dating a guy who treated me badly I bragged about his good points to cover up the bad. Now I'm recognizing that, when things get too painful or hard, I hide behind an illusion of humor to avoid exposing my fears, doubts and tears. Sure, it keeps me sane when life is anything but, and makes me more fun to talk to, but it's still a cover-up. At least some of the time.
In each case I was (or am) usually only deceiving myself. I think I’m putting one over on those who care about me. Later I learn that they were just being a polite audience, waiting for my mask to fall off.

So what are your illusions? What truth would you rather not see? Jesus promised that the truth (meaning His truth) would set us free. Think back on times when the truth has freed you and ask Him to do it one more time. Believe me; the truth only takes the fun out of magic tricks. In life, it brings benefits, including a new level of enjoyment

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Pre-Valentine's Day Thoughts



I'm wondering how everybody feels about Valentine's Day. Remember back in elementary school what the big day meant? I did this and so did my children. We decorated Valentine boxes, really cute ones, and came home from school with 25 or so Valentines--some with candy attached. Those miniature boxes of Nerds were my children's favorites. I can remember dumping all my Valentines out, and studying each one. I'd probably sit there for an hour or so. I analyzed them. Was there a special meaning? Were the messages chosen just for me from the sender? Did this mean he really likes me???? Was I really the teacher's favorite?

And those Valentine conversation candies?

Do You Love Me?
You Send Me.
Be Mine.
KISS ME.

Even today, I wouldn't dare eat one without reading the message.

Moving onto the dating years--high school--boyfriends and Valentine's Day. It can be a not-so-great day. What about when your boyfriend breaks up right before? Or some years it seems everybody has a special somebody.

Looking ahead, how can we plan for a special Valentine's Day REGARDLESS of our situation? How can we bless somebody on February 14th even if our world isn't going so hot? Think, think, think. How can we get the message of love to those around us? To our friends? To someone having a rough time?

Love means, "I'm thinking about you. I care. You matter. I see you."

Any ideas? Love doesn't have to be expensive. Sometimes, the simpler, the better.

Love,
Julie

Girls, God, and the Good Life

 
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