Friday, May 27, 2011

Book Review: Too Close to Home

It's Friday morning and Memorial Day weekend is here.

Do you have anything good to read?


Well, you do now. For free!

Too Close to Home is Book 1 in the Women of Justice series by Lynette Eason. As of this writing, it's available as a FREE Nook download or a FREE Kindle download. Don't have a Nook or a Kindle? Just download the free app to your PC or smartphone. You'll be glad you did.

I downloaded Too Close to Home to my iTouch a few days ago after seeing it on the list of free Christian books my friend Keiki Hendrix compiles each week over at The Vessel Project. It looked interesting, and it was free, so what did I have to lose?

Plus, it turned out the author, Lynette Eason, was raised in Greenville, graduated from USC (I'm trying not to hold that against her), then Converse College and currently resides in Spartanburg, which is where the action in Too Close to Home takes place. I'm all for supporting a local author, so I dove in.

Now, I used to be one of those people who would read a book to the end no matter what. But my reading time is precious these days and if a book doesn't grab me fast, I'm not likely to stick with it.

Believe me when I say, that was not a problem with Too Close to Home. The problem was putting it down long enough to sleep. And then the problem was trying to stop thinking about the predicament Samantha and Connor were in and were they going to get out of it alive.

Too Close to Home is heavy on mystery and intrigue, the characters are flawed but likeable, and the message that God is worth trusting even when life is turned upside down runs throughout the story without turning it into a sermon. Oh, and there's a sweet little romance brewing, too!

There was enough foreshadowing in the early chapters to have me worried about several characters, but the author didn't fall into the trap of picking the most obvious course of action. In fact, one character that I expected to wind up in serious trouble came through the whole thing unscathed . . . until I read the last page. Turns out I wasn't imagining it. That poor girl is in serious danger. And I'm going to have to read book two, Don't Look Back, to find out what happens next.

Which I intend to do . . . as soon as I can get to a bookstore!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Get Droopy

I am an assassin.

I don’t mean to be. It’s not like I set out to be a cold-hearted killer.

But time and time again, it happens.

I wonder if all the vibrant plants at the garden center try to shrivel up as I pass by.

“Oh, no. It’s her.” The whispers travel from root to leaf, from pansy to snapdragon.
“Not her!”
“Yep. She’s the one who can kill anything…even ivy…do you know how hard it is to kill ivy?”
“Look puny, everyone.”

I browse the aisles with the best of intentions. Of course I’ll water those geraniums…every day. And I’d never think to plant the vinca in the shade, or the impatiens in full sun.

But my good intentions last until it’s 99 degrees at 5AM. I fail to water. And the flowers…die.

So it might surprise you to know that I’ve kept one Peace lily alive for over three years. I’ll admit that it’s not as large or lush as it once was, but it is still alive.

And I think I know why.

It gets droopy.

Have you seen this? If a Peace lily needs water, it flops all over the pot. It practically screams “Help me!” to the point that even someone as inattentive as me can’t help but notice that the poor thing is dying and needs a drink.

So I take two whole minutes, douse it, and then the next time I pass by, there it stands. All perky again.

I’ve been thinking about this over the past few days. Ever since my Peace lily once again made a miraculous recovery.

Because I have another plant (don’t ask me what it is) that’s not so lucky. This plant is tough. It’s a survivor. But it doesn’t make it easy on itself. Poor thing usually only gets watered when I realize the Peace lily is on life support and I water them both at the same time.

That plant stands there, refusing to bend to the pressure. It’s leaves maintain their upright position until they’re crispy. Even then, it’s only clue that there might be a problem is that the leaves fade from green to brown.

I have actually killed one of these already, so I know. That plant will die before it shows weakness.

All this got me thinking.

I think my life would be better if I would get droopy.

If instead of always toughing it out, I would admit that I need some help. If I’d let people in on the fact that I’m drying up and need some water—before I’m crispy and dead inside.

Our culture has ingrained in us that showing weakness is equal to being weak. We value toughness. We’re impressed with strength. We live by the mantra “never let ‘em see you sweat”.

But I don’t think God’s impressed with our tough guy personas.

Take King David as an example. He wrote multiple psalms that basically say “Would you help me out, I’m dying here.”

David knew how to get droopy.

And despite that—or maybe because of it—the Bible says that David was a man after God’s own heart.

You may have been recently watered. Your perkiness may be genuine. But if it isn’t, can I make a suggestion?

Get droopy.

Take your limp limbs to the source of living water. Beg Him to help you out. And then—this is key—accept the help He sends—an offer of babysitting, an invitation to dinner, help with the dishes, a phone call from a friend—take a long drink. And another. And another.

And live.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Blue Ridge from Home - Thursday


This is the day I had scheduled to submit something. After all, if I had gone to Blue Ridge, I would have gotten several things ready to pitch. I would have had some articles and devotions ready to go.

But guess what?

It's not gonna happen.

I'm planning to begin the rewrite on a couple of blog posts so I can submit them to a devotional that is accepting multiple entries from unpublished authors.

But, mostly, I'll be using today to catch up.

How about you? Share with us about your WIPs . . . devotions, books, proposals, articles . . . what's in your pipeline?

Blue Ridge from Home - Focus on Nonfiction Wednesday


At Blue Ridge, everyone is settling in. The newbies are learning their way around campus. The veterans have reconnected with old friends and made new ones. Everything is in full swing. They'll be challenged this morning with a devotion and some time in worship.

So before we dive in, let's take a few moments to worship.

Put on your favorite worship CD, flip on the radio, crank up your iPod or . . . if you want to get in the full Blue Ridge spirit, check out Janet Roller's site. Janet Roller lead worship last year and is leading it again this year. She's got an amazing voice and a very sweet spirit. There are three songs on this link you could listen to as you . . .

Focus on Nonfiction.

Here's a list of of faculty members who teach/critique/represent nonfiction as well as those who focus on public speaking. As in yesterday's post, I've tried to provide links to all the websites associated with each person. If there's a link associated with both the name and the description, those are two different links - click on both! If you click on a link and it takes you to the Blue Ridge website, then you'll need to click on the 2011 faculty page and scroll down to their info because they included A LOT of links!

There are many nonfiction options that are very accessible, even to the brand new writer without experience or platform. (Remember, tomorrow we're talking about submitting and nonfiction may be just the place for that...)

Michelle Adams - Freelance Writer
Shelly Ballestero - Editor/Author/Professional Speaker
Linda Canup - Editor, In Touch
Michelle Cox - Writer
Eva Marie Everson - Writer
David Fessenden - Editor/Writer
Andrea Gutierrez - Editor, Thriving Family
Eddie Jones - Publisher
Terri Kalfas - Bible Studies, Hensley Publishing
Susan King - Editor, The Upper Room
Dr. Samuel Lowry and Timothy Lowry - Publishers, Ambassador International
Edie Melson - Assistant Director/Writer
Karen Moore - Editor/Agent
Vonda Skelton - Writer/Public Speaker
Rick Steele - Editor, AMG Publishers
Cecil Stokes - Film Maker/Director
Craig von Buseck - Editor/Writer, Ministry Director for
James Watkins - Writer/Editor
Terry Whalin - Publisher
Carla and Josiah Williams - Publishing/ Marketing

As we did yesterday, let's leave some comments. Find anything that caught your attention? Share it with the group.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Blue Ridge from Home - Focus on Fiction Tuesday


At Blue Ridge, the conferees are heading to continuing classes and workshops. The paid critiques and meetings with agents and editors begin today.

Let's take a moment to pray for everyone who is about to lose their breakfast or lunch over the prospect of having their "baby" shredded to confetti and for those who didn't eat anything and now have the shakes just before they sit down for their first agent meeting.

And let's not forget to pray for those faculty members who are giving the critiques and meeting with prospective clients. They are people too! And they aren't in this to be mean. Their goal is to help aspiring writers succeed.


So what are we going to do today? Let's focus on fiction.

I've split the faculty up in a way that makes sense to me. Some could go in the nonfiction list as well but I'm not doubling up.

Here's a list of of faculty members who teach/critique/represent fiction.

If you look at the faculty listing on the Blue Ridge website, not everyone has a website listed. So, in this list, I've tried to provide links to all the websites associated with each person.

If there's a link associated with both the name and the description, those are two different links - click on both! If you click on a link and it takes you to the Blue Ridge website, then you'll need to click on the 2011 faculty page and scroll down to their info because they included A LOT of links!

Clear as mud? Great!

Many of these websites have fabulous writing tips. Have fun!

Sandra Bishop - Agent, MacGregor Literary
Caleb Jennings Breakey - Writer
Jonathan Clements - Agent, Wheelhouse Literary Group
Mike Delosso - Writer
Adrienne Gaines - Editor, Charisma House
Aaron Gansky - Writer
Alton Gansky - Writer/Conference Director
Julie Gwinn - Editor, Pure Enjoyment
Gina Holmes - Writer
Dr. Angela Hunt - Writer
Yvonne Lehman - Writer
Nancy Lohr - Editor, JourneyForth; Focuses on writing for children
Sarah Sper McClellan - Agent; Folio
DiAnn Mills - Writer
Deborah Raney - Writer
Romona Richards - Editor/Writer
Nancy Rue - Writer; Focuses on children/youth
Dr. Linda Seger - Screenwriter
Dina Sleiman - Editor, WhiteFire Publishing
Les Stobbe - Agent, Writer, Editor
Christy Lee Taylor - Film Producer, Abba Productions
Dr. Donn Taylor - Writer/Poet
David Van Diest - Agent, D.C. Jacobson and Assoc.

I'll be honest. Typing up this list made me rather gloomy for a while. What a list! The agents. The editors. The phenomenal authors. The collective creative talent at Blue Ridge is astonishing.


But this brings us to....
Tuesday Night!

Let's have some fun. Watch a comedy...a movie, a sitcom, a YouTube clip...whatever you've got time for.

Then leave a comment about anything particularly intriguing you found on the websites and tell us what made you laugh tonight. We aren't sitting together in the cafeteria or main meeting room at Blue Ridge, so we'll have to use the comments section to share our experiences.

Have a great first day everyone!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Blue Ridge from Home - Monday

I've been thrilled with the positive response to the Blue Ridge from Home Conference.

I wish this blogpost could be full of all the things I've done in the past week to prepare...sadly, I've got nothing.

The pedicure? Didn't happen.

The new outfit? Fat chance.

But, I'm not giving up. Nasty stomach viruses and mountains of laundry notwithstanding, I'm determined to proceed. One advantage to feeling too crummy to do anything except lay around means that I have more time than usual to hang out with my laptop.

So, for all you Home Conference attendees...remember that Monday is go for a drive day...grab that mocha, tea, or milkshake...the point is to take a few mintues to enjoy something that makes you smile. If you have a Starbucks nearby, you can get a half price frappuccino from you have no excuse!

There's no moping allowed this week. We aren't at Blue Ridge, but that doesn't mean we aren't exactly where God wants us.

So celebrate that fact!

Leave me a comment and let me know where your drive took you!

Friday, May 6, 2011