Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Love Inspired Suspense week at Harlequin.com!

Camy here! Sorry I'm a little late today, but I wanted to tell you about Love Inspired Suspense week over at Harlequin.com! If you're a reader and you love romantic suspense, head over for the party! We're giving away copies of Formula for Danger!

http://community.harlequin.com/showthread.php/411-June-Love-Inspired-Suspense-Spotlight

There's also a June Love Inspired Suspense reading challenge!

http://community.harlequin.com/showthread.php/412-JUNE-Spotlight-Reading-Challenge-Love-Inspired-Suspense

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Yep, I'm going there...

Fifty Shades of Gray - to read or not to read...

There's a lot of talk about this book, and a lot of that talk is being generated by teenagers who were big fans of the Twilight Saga.

If you haven't heard of this novel yet, I beg you - go about your business. You're missing nothing. But if you have heard and are considering reading this series, I beg you  - don't.

There's a lot I could say here, and a lot I won't, for the same reason other authors are struggling with - we don't want to bring any more awareness to the issue than there already is. Still, ignoring it doesn't make it go away, and as several authors have pointed out - the devil is having a blast with this one. So if you have an opinion about this novel (or any other controversy issue as a Christian) don't be afraid to speak up. Stand up for your beliefs. Be heard.

So here I am standing up! ;)

Don't read it.

Here's why.

1. Girls, if you're in a relationship (dating or married) and don't want your significant other looking at porn, then you shouldn't be reading Fifty Shades of Gray (or the entire trilogy). It's porn in book form (known officially as erotica) So that's not fair, and is just as wrong.

2. If you read this, you will be putting images in your mind as a reader that can't go away. As someone on Amazon said "You can't un-read this book." Very true. And you'll probably want to un-read it afterward.

3. This novel, once devoured, will leave you hungry for more like it. Just like pornography - it addicts. Some are arguing that if they're married or active with their significant other, the book will just spice up that area of their lives. NO. That is a lie from Satan. First of all, you know what the Bible says about keeping sex within marriage alone. And secondly, even if you're married, this is not the type of thing God annointed. This type of content will tear apart your marriage, not bring you closer together. Especially not in the long run. There are hundreds if not thousands of broken hearted women out there and stats that confirm this truth. Pornography (in any form - movie or book or whatever) will destroy. PERIOD.

Confession time - I read a page. I had heard the hype a while back, didn't understand it, was at B&N, and saw it on the endcap. I thought, "ok, I want to see what this is about." I had no idea. So I read the back cover, and thought "wow, how stupid. And wrong." I should have put it back on the shelf then and walked away. But just as there was hype about Stephanie Meyer's less than quality writing style with Twilight, there's been hype about this author's writing style. I wanted to see how badly it was written. So I flipped to a random page, and skim-read. It was a "scene".  (and yes the writing style isn't great. Believe me, don't look for yourself now) As I heard later there were "scenes" practically every other page, so I'm glad I didn't read further.

But I couldn't "un-read" that page and its still in my head. Trash. Garbage. Lies.

Please don't fall prey. If you've already read it and think it's not that big a deal, then fine. That's your opinion, and I'm not judging you. I'm simply stepping up for my convictions and trying to prevent innocence from being destroyed, especially in teenagers who are already forced to grow up way too fast. This is an adult book that even adults (Christian adults) don't need to be reading.

This series is NOT Twilight or the Hunger Games, guys. Skip it. Wait for the next fad. Or better yet, pick up some Christian Fiction YA like Judy Christie's "Wreath" or anything by Nicole O'Dell or Stephanie Morrill. Or my own "Addison Blakely, Confessions of a PK". There's quality reading out there, guys. Avoid this pothole! And spread the word.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Daddy's Girl


Hey—it’s Bekah.

Yesterday was a hard day for some of you. You didn’t grow up with warm Fathers’ Day memories. Maybe your dad wasn’t there emotionally; maybe he wasn’t there at all.

Whatever your struggle is, I hope these words from Heather Riggleman will encourage you today. You are not alone.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Character cameo--Josh Cathcart

Camy here! In Protection for Hire, there’s the character of Josh Cathcart who appears twice--once when Tessa is picking up her new friend Karissa, and again at a very dangerous and romantic ball.

Those of you who read my Sushi series may also remember Josh from a particularly memorable scene in Single Sashimi that involved massive amounts of red peppers and a slice of pizza--which really happened to a youth group member at my church. :)

In case you haven’t read it or need a refresher, here’s Josh’s first appearance in Single Sashimi. I think it completely explains his behavior in Protection for Hire. :)

In this scene, Venus is helping with the church youth group and the scene opens with a youth group game that we really did at my church several years ago.

Josh, a tall high school boy, clutched his stomach with one hand while the other still held the half-eaten slice of pizza. Except it was no ordinary pizza—this one had gobs of dried red pepper flakes piled on top of it. Sweat streamed down his face, and he grimaced as he chewed.

Herman sat next to him, the instigator of this agonizing “game,” wincing as he gathered the courage to take a bite of his own pizza, also loaded with red pepper flakes.

First one to finish won.

The high school kids gathered around, cheering and laughing. They loved challenging Herman because he was up for anything. Including excruciating bites of food that would probably melt his intestines tomorrow.

Leaning against the wall next to Venus, Rachel huffed. “He’s supposed to be my date for the Monster’s Ball, and now he’s going to be too sick to go! I’ll kill him!”

Naomi tittered. “If the pizza doesn’t kill him first.”

“You actually have a Monster’s Ball?” Venus studied Rachel’s face to see if she was just pulling her chain.

“Well, it’s just a ball where the girls dress up and the guys dress grungy.” Naomi sighed, echoed by a couple of the other teens.

“And it’s in a couple weeks?”

“The weekend before Halloween.”

“Do you guys dress as something?”

“We try.” Sarah gave a sigh that came up from her gut and emptied her lungs.

“Oh, ignore her.” Rachel flapped a hand in her direction. “She’s still peeved her mom wouldn’t let her go as a belly dancer last year.”

Venus’s mouth dropped open. “Belly dancer? I don’t blame her.”

“It was only three inches. Three little inches of midriff.”

“Tcha! It was more like seven or eight.”

“Besides, at least you can go.” Mika looked down, not meeting anyone’s eyes. There was a thread of hurt in her voice that silenced the other girls, as well.

“Your parents won’t let you go?” Venus didn’t know what to say. She wasn’t used to dealing with drama like this. Her mother’s drama didn’t count—most of the time, that was like spaghetti thrown at a wall. Her mother would hurl all kinds of things at Venus to see what would stick, what would provoke a reaction.

“My mom won’t let me go to any dances.”

“Her mom hates men,” Naomi piped up. “Ow!”

Sarah had smacked her in the arm. “Dummy. You don’t know if Mika wants somebody else to know that.”

“Oh.”

“No, it’s okay.” Mika had that distant look and tone that Venus recognized, trying to pretend the issue wasn’t that important when in reality, it ate at her heart like battery acid. “She’s been like that since Dad left.”

Silence descended among them, surrounded by the cheering of the other kids as Josh and Herman ate themselves to death. The girls fiddled with their earrings, their bracelets, their rings, with stray threads on their fashionable tops, with strands of their hair. What should she say now? Venus’s panic was like a silent scream in the midst of their non-chatter. She didn’t have a clue on how to be warm and fuzzy.

Jenn. Her cousin was always encouraging and sweet and everything Venus was not. She’d pretend to be Jenn. “It’s okay—” She put her hand on Mika’s shoulder.

She shrugged it off. “No, actually, it’s not okay.”

The girls seemed to be all holding their breaths.

“It totally sucks.” Mika spoke in a throbbing whisper. “Sometimes I just hate her for being so unreasonable. And she’s so bitter and selfish and she just doesn’t listen to me.”

Hmm, that sounded familiar.

“And Pastor Lester always says for us to do our best to honor our parents, because that’s the only commandment with a promise attached.”

There it was again. The commandment had popped into her head the past few weeks at random times. “How do you honor a parent you can’t even respect?”

“Exactly!” Mika’s breast heaved.

Venus didn’t want to encourage a griping session, but she also knew she was supposed to have some kind of answer, wasn’t she? After all, she was a youth leader, and she’d read through her Bible twelve times. Shouldn’t she know how to answer her, rather than asking an angst-filled question?

“It’s so hard.” Mika sighed. “And I’ve been trying so hard. But I keep getting into fights with her.”

Venus couldn’t even say she was trying. This fifteen-year-old girl embarrassed her with her passionate heart. Venus’s faith was simply stagnant—she treated her mother the way she’d always treated her.

“Do you still want to go shopping with us tomorrow?” Naomi asked.

“Naomi!” Rachel hissed.

“It’s okay.” Mika sniffled. “I can at least go shopping. It’s one of the few things she’ll let me do.”

Venus doubted Mika’s mom was that restrictive, but she had realized in the past few weeks that these girls liked to exaggerate. Practically everything.

“Venus, you want to come with?” Naomi asked.

“Me?” She looked around at their fresh, young faces. “I don’t know a thing about ball dresses.” She hadn’t gone to her own prom, much less any other dance in high school.

“But you’re always dressed nice.” Rachel fingered her Banana Republic blouse.

After that first night at youth group, she’d dressed both for potential mess and with a little more style. Problem was, her closet consisted of suits, workout clothes, and loungewear she’d never walk out of her house with. Her designer jeans had cost several hundred dollars, her tops were mostly separates to go with her suits.

But they must have thought she looked nice. Maybe it was the fact the price tag on her back probably topped these girls’ allowances for an entire year. “I guess … if you guys really want me to.”

“Yes!” Naomi clapped her hands. “You can help us pick out something really sophisticated.”

Maybe all those fashion and gossip mags she loved weren’t just mind candy—she could use the style guides to help these girls look their best.

The one person who really knew fashion was her mother.

No. No no no no no. She wasn’t even going to consider that. She hadn’t spoken to Mom—or rather, her mom hadn’t spoken to her—since that day at work weeks ago. Mom wouldn’t even want to see her.

No, that wasn’t true. Usually her mother’s moodiness ensured she didn’t hold grudges for very long. If Venus proffered an olive branch, Mom would probably leap at it.

Honor your father and mother.

She’d stopped telling herself to shut up by now because it hadn’t been working. It had also occurred to her that the voice might be God and not just some secret place in her head.

“Can my mom come, too?” The words flew out of her mouth before she could change her mind.

The girls looked thoughtful.

“She’s really good at fashion. Better than me. She’d love helping you guys.” And she realized that it was true. Her mother would delight in helping each girl look stunning in just the right dress for her.

“Okay.” Naomi’s eyes were as luminous as Mikimotos. “I could use help because I have such big hips.” She sighed and looked down at her teeny weeny torso.

Venus had never been that small, and never could be, with her bone structure. She wisely looked away before she did something dumb. Like smack her.

“I’d like to meet your mom,” Mika said.

Oh, Lord, I hope this isn’t a mistake.

Meanwhile, at the table, Josh shoved his last bite into his mouth and collapsed onto the floor.

Excerpted from the novel Single Sashimi © 2009 Camy Tang

Sunday, June 10, 2012

What kind of toothpaste are you anyway?

If you've ever been to a youth retreat or youth camp or even a youth service on Wednesday night, there's a good chance you've heard the Toothpaste Example.

If you think I'm crazy, let me explain :)

The toothpaste example one can be summed in one sentence, really.

Ahem.

"What's inside of you will come out when squeezed".

Get it yet? Basically, our bodies/hearts/lives are like a tube of toothpaste. When we're squeezed - when the storms of life arise, when we are faced with hardship or loss or frustration or anger (whether that be a broken heart from a dissolved relationship or something as simple as a papercut) what's inside of us will be revealed.

That's going to be either:

1. A pretty, blue-and-white-striped glob of healthy toothpaste that makes our teeth stronger and our breath smell great (i.e. an attractive attitude with a pure heart and best intentions)

or...

2. A dried, slightly gooey and disgusting string of used up, nasty toothpaste that should have been thrown away months ago. (i.e. curse words, slanderous talk, lies, defensiveness, and accusations)

What are you when squeezed?

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Does Love Mean I Should Treat Everyone the Same Way?


We'd dated for a few months before I decided it was time to call it quits after it became clear to me our relationship wasn't what I wanted. Friendship sounded like the right thing to do when we broke up. After all, we had several friends in common and even took some of the same classes. Surely we were mature enough to be able to keep our friendship. 


Over the weeks after our breakup, it became increasingly difficult to be "friends" with my ex-boyfriend. He wanted to hang out one-on-one. He wanted a shoulder to cry on, and a friend to road trip with, and someone to study with. All of those things were definitely things I would do with any of my other friends. But I felt like there needed to be a line with him. No one-on-one time or road trips or crying shoulders. When I told him that, he frowned. 


"But...we're friends. And I want you to treat me just like you treat all our other friends. I deserve to be treated the same ways as everyone else." His eyes teared up. 


The undercurrent of his words struck me in the heart. Did he really deserve equal treatment? Was it unloving of me to draw parameters around our friendship? Was treating him differently than my other friends wrong?


I decided to stick to my decision. Unfortunately, he didn't feel like my boundaries were important, and I felt completely disrespected so I made the decision to end our friendship altogether. For months afterwards, I battled feelings of uncertainty. I didn't want to look like I hated him. I didn't want to be that girl who didn't love others. 


Craig Groeschel, author and pastor, said this in his book Soul Detox"Our boundaries will help us to enjoy the good people without inhaling the bad. If you think that sounds unnecessary, realize that even Jesus regularly set boundaries. Our Savior loved everyone equally, but He didn’t treat everyone equally. There’s a big difference."


That person wasn't a good person for me to spend time with. The damage I'd allowed him to do to my self-esteem and my friendships with others wasn't worth any extra time. During one tear-filled journaling session, I realized he was a toxic person to me, and if I wanted to grow and thrive as a healthy young woman, we needed to stay away from each other. That boundary was hard for me. 


Pastor Steven Furtick said, "God’s command for you to love everyone is not permission for you to mismanage the investment that he’s put inside of you."


In drawing the line and saying that we couldn't continue our "friendship", what I was really telling myself was, "I'm guarding the investment God's put inside of me by choosing healthy relationships."


How do you build boundaries to promote healthy relationships in your own life? 



Ashley Mays is the former Editorial Assistant for Brio and Brio & Beyond magazines and currently writes her own fiction for teens. She enjoys rock climbing, people watching in airports, and hanging out with her mom, who is her best friend. Ashley lives with her husband in Colorado. No, they don't ski. Learn more about Ashley on facebooktwitter, or on her website.

Monday, June 04, 2012

Are Peeps Safe?

[Microsoft Clip Art]
No—I’m not talking about those marshmallows covered in sugar—although the soft, gooey, delicious things are pretty safe...

I’m actually talking about the peeps in your life—the friends you can trust. 

You know—the ones you can tell anything, including the fact that you haven’t shaved your legs in three days, and they won’t judge you.

(Scratch that. That’s something I should only write in my journal.)

If you have a friend who listens and cares, you’re lucky. But if you find yourself investing in relationships again and again only to be used or betrayed, you might have a problem: the lack of experience to know when someone’s a “safe person”.

(I first learned of this concept when I read the book “Safe People” by Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend several years ago. I highly recommend the book! Truly eye-opening.)

The book prompted me to make a personal list of what a safe person looks like:

-Knows how to give and receive—the conversation is neither all about you or all about them. There is mutual caring.
-Talks kindly about other people. (If they’re constantly critical of others, they’re going to be critical of you too.)
-Has grace. Understands when you have a bad day and doesn’t berate you for it.
- Doesn’t see you as a project. Loves you where you are.

You might think it’s impossible to find a friend like this… but I’m glad to tell you God has brought several people into my life who are like this. They are out there!

Just remember that no one person is going to be “safe” all the time. Everyone has bad days, but if your friends are exhibiting unsafe symptoms all the time, that might be a sign you should reconsider spending the bulk of your time with them.

So what about you? What qualities are on your "Safe Peeps" list? What qualities aren't?

***
Thanks for checking out my mom's blog post. She's learning to be a "safe" person as she grows up... and I'm helping her grow up FAST (lack of sleep does that).

You can learn more about me at mom's blog, where she strives to tell the Bare Naked Truth always.

Girls, God, and the Good Life

 
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