Friday, November 30, 2007
Right now I am praying for so many Christian friends who are fighting terrible illnesses/health problems. They've been through surgery, chemo, years of treatment--you name it. Some need a miracle to pull through. Some will take months and months of healing. I pray the psalms over these folks. Any psalm intreating God's help can be used to pray against illness. You might have to change a few words to fit the situation, but I don't think God minds. I encourage you to pray the psalms aloud for those who are battling sickness. Nothing is more powerful in prayer than God's own Word.
Here's the BPV (Brandilyn's Prayer Version) for Psalm 31, as I might pray for a friend who is a Christian. (Based on the New American Standard Version.) Just fill in the name(s) of your own friends and family members, and pray along.
In You, O Lord, ____ has taken refuge;
May she (or he) not be ashamed.
In Your righteousness deliver her.
Incline your ear to me--rescue her quickly.
Be to her a rock of strength, a stronghold to save,
For You are her rock and her fortress.
For Your name's sake, lead and guide her.
Pull her out of the net this illness has laid for her,
For You are her strength
Into Your hand I commit her, Lord.
Ransom her, O God of truth.
I hate the regarding of vain idols,
But I trust in You, Lord.
I will rejoice and be glad in Your lovingkindness,
Because You have see ____'s affliction.
You know the troubles of her soul.
Don't give her over to the hand of this enemy.
Set her feet in a large place.
Be gracious to ____, Lord, for she is in distress.
Her eye is wasted away from grief, her soul and body also.
Her life is now spent with sorrow and sighing.
Strength fails her, and her body is wasting away.
Because of her illness she may feel like she's a reproach to her neighbors,
An object of dread to her acquaintances.
Some may not want to see her.
She may feel forgotten, our of mind, like a broken vessel.
She may have heard the words of many that terror is on every side.
Illness takes counsel against her, scheming for her life.
But she trusts in you, Lord, and I trust in You.
For You are our God.
Her times are in Your hand.
Deliver her from the hand of this illness and from its persecution.
Make Your face shine upon her.
Save her in Your lovingkindness.
Let her not be put to shame, O Lord,
For she calls upon You.
Let this illness be put to shame, let it be silent.
Let lying lips be dumb that speak arrogantly against ___
With pride and contempt.
How great is Your goodness,
Which You have stored up for ____.
Which You have wrought for ____,
Because she takes refuge in You before the sons of men.
Hide ___ in the secret place of Your presence from this illness.
Keep her secretly in Your shelter from the strife of this disease.
Blessed be Your name, Lord,
For You have made marvelous Your lovingkindness to ____
During this besieged time.
If she says in alarm, "I am cut off from God's eyes!"--
Even then You hear her prayers and supplications when she cries to You.
I love You, Lord, I and all Your godly ones.
I know You preserve the faithful and fully recompense the proud doer.
Help ____ be strong. Help her heart take courage
For she hopes in You, Lord.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Coeur d'Alene was front and center this morning on Good Morning America's "Flip the Switch" promotion, highlighting the best Christmas holiday lighting celebrations across the country. Made me right proud.
To see the video of Cd'A's lights and fireworks, go to this page on GMA's web site and look in the top right corner. It's a beautiful sight even on the small video, but it can't begin to compare to being at the real annual event. These lights will be up through the rest of the year.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
The December bestseller lists are up, posted last week. This list reflects sales in the month of October.
This month's list for fiction only goes up to 18. It's typically gone to 20. Don't know why they've cut it. The other lists I checked don't seem to be shortened.
Of note on this month's list--Cindy Woodsmall's second novel, When the Morning Comes, is back, this time tied with Jan Karon for #4. Cindy's first novel, When the Heart Cries, is at #15. What great placement for a new author! And Kim Sawyer's Beginnings is at #13. Ted Dekker's latest, Blink of an Eye, is at #18. It's sure to move up on the next list, as it was released October 7. Crimson Eve is at #17. And Francine River's Redeeming Love continues its staying power, hitting at #11.
The top 8 books on the fiction list made the Top 50 list (which includes all books published within CBA, fiction and nonfiction), ranging from placing at 2 to 47.
See the entire fiction list here.
Monday, November 26, 2007
The live airing, shot from 4-6 a.m. Pacific time to be run from 7-9 a.m. Eastern, will be a recreation of the Christmas lighting ceremony held every year in Cd'A on the Friday after Thanksgiving. On that night there's a parade down Sherman, the main tourist street one block from the Coeur d'Alene Resort. (I don’t think the parade will be redone for the GMA show.) After the parade everyone crosses the street to the huge resort lawn for the lighting ceremony. First there are Christmas songs performed from a stage with huge speakers. Then there's the countdown to the fireworks. At "0" the rocky beat Christmas music blasts on--and the fireworks begin. They're terrific! Sent off from barges just off the beach. This is my favorite part. I just go nuts, dancing around and clapping at the show. (My daughter, now 18, usually chooses to distance herself from me at this point.)
After the fireworks, hosted by the Hagadone family, co-owners of the Cd'A Resort, all the lights of the resort come on at once. Now this is no small sight. The resort buildings and hundreds of trees light up, including the world's tallest Christmas tree. Beyond that the resort runs an animated light show that includes over 250 displays and 1.5 million lights. The show starts at the resort and runs in the water across the top of the lake, ending at the world's only floating golf green. Through December folks can take cruises on the large resort boats to see the animated show.
Good Morning America will pop back and forth between regular programming and its live airing of the various towns' celebrations. The show's grand finale at 9 a.m. reportedly will be 90 seconds of the Coeur d'Alene fireworks and music.
For more about the GMA show—go here.
Friday, November 23, 2007
This week's CFBA blour: The Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Deck Out
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 family...it'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. This novella picks up a year and a half after the end of book #6, The Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Rolling, and concludes the series with some twists and turns that will amaze and encourage you. It also 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.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Monday, November 19, 2007
I recently watched the movie The Straight Story for the first time, based on the real life story of a seventy-something-year-old man who crossed the state of Iowa in his 1966 John Deere tractor. It’s a David Lynch film.
Very slow movie to get started (especially for a suspense author). You just have to sit back and get in the groove. But I loved it. Just a feel-good type movie. Not until after the movie did I learn it was based on a real story. So I went googling for the guy’s name—Alvin Straight. Neither was I familiar with David Lynch films, which apparently are quite dark. I ran across this very long review of TSS. It totally changed the story for me. Based on the premise of what kind of films David Lynch usually does, it talks about the dark side of TSS, how the surface, sweet story masks something totally different. I think the review is quite plausible. In fact it answered logic questions I had about the movie, which cannot be explained if you see The Straight Story as merely a feel-good, sweet story.
I’m no dummy when it comes to picking up symbolism in a story, but I never saw any of this dark underside of the movie. I'm not alone. Most of the reviewers didn't either, which was exactly the point of the reviewer linked above--i.e., the other guys missed the whole point of the story entirely. (Since the movie's based on a true event, Lynch would have perhaps taken lots of license in creating the dark underside to the film.)
All of which leaves me to wonder: what good is symbolism or allegory running beneath the obvious, surface story if hardly anyone gets it?
I'm struggling with this question in writing my current manuscript, Vain Empires. (The title is taken from a line in Milton's Paradise Lost.) On the surface the story is my trademark "Seatbelt Suspense." But it contains quite a bit of symbolism about the fall of man--and how Satan, through his temptation of Adam and Eve, taught man to pursue "vain empires" instead of believing in God.
I keep wondering how many readers are going to see all the symbolism in my novel. I'm thinking--particularly because of the genre in which I write--perhaps not many. In a large way I foment "surface reading." I try to write suspenses that are fast-paced with twists and chapter hooks. My readers get into the groove of trying to figure out the twists before I spring 'em. With all the action going on, even smart readers may miss underlying symbolism. And the majority of my readers are Christians. How much less, then, would a non-Christian reader see the symbolism? And these are the folks who'd need to see it most. Now if I relied on that symbolism as the only Christian content in the novel--in other words, wrote in a "Christian worldview," as it's often labeled, but saying nothing about God in the surface story--would the story "work" if most people never see the underlying message--the point of the book?
I'm apt to think the book "works" if a reader finds it good suspense. That's what it's supposed to be. If the surface story rocks--hey, I've done my job as an entertainer. But the deeper side of me--the side that wants my stories to mean more than only what's on the surface--would be disappointed.
Some in the Christian writing world are apt to hold up Jesus and his parables as examples of how our storytelling should be. In Jesus' day those who got it got it, and those who didn’t, well, too bad for them. In fact nobody got it until he explained the parables to a select few. But is that really an example to take for my own writing? Do I want my novels to be that hard to “unpack?”
I asked some other writers about this, and here's how one responded (used with permission):
I am not of the camp that believes that we can write allegory with religious themes to our modern audience and expect them to see that other layer below the story. Blind eyes have enough trouble discerning John 3:16, let alone something I turn into an allegory. Unless allegory is explained to the reader. . . I just don't see the point.
Bottom line for me is this: Why would someone use allegory which essentially obscures the message they want to impart to a great part of their audience? I don't see the point. ESPECIALLY in a society that is becoming increasingly unimaginative and illiterate. IMHO allegory does NOT "reach more.. It "confuses more." And the fact that the only people who "got" the parables were the few who were there later when Jesus EXPLAINED them is my defense. Jesus told PERFECT stories. . . . and still the majority of the people remained clueless. Now He had an eternal purpose in doing that and He was God. That was a specific time in history meant for a specific people. I don't think it was an example for me to follow in my writing life.
What are your thoughts on this--for my writing, for your own, for CBA fiction in general?
Friday, November 16, 2007
Man, my blogging's been lousy lately. (Yeah, you're saying. Tell us about it.) Especially this week. I'm too busy writing. I've had too many outside appointments, which always messes me up. I've had some kinda stomach thing all week. And I'm fresh out of post ideas.
Actually not totally out. Just stalling. There's something I really want to blog about--in fact, for about five days--but it'll take getting permission.
I suppose I could just go days without blogging. But I feel guilty. Worse, I'm afraid you won't love me anymore. (You know us writers--so full of self-confidence.) So here I am, exhausted, wanting to go off to bed (yes, I actually post these things the night before), and instead of doing that, I find myself blogging about not having anything to blog about.
I wonder if this is the most blogged about topic on earth.
What have you blogged about lately? Anything exciting? Perhaps you should just direct all the BGs to come to your site. It's bound to be more entertaining.
Maybe this mood of mine is also due to the fact that I'm four weeks from deadline and just sure this time--as I am every time--that I'm writing a total bomb. That the book's so bad even this post will look great in comparison.
Somebody tell us a joke. Somebody write a limerick. It's Friday. Somebody save me.
This week's CFBA blour: Try Dying, by James Scott Bell. Read the Forensics and Faith interview with Jim about this book.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Yes, I've been quiet on the ol' blog lately. One, I've been very busy. Not that this is going to stop anytime soon. Next deadline is next month. Two, I'm empathizing with my writing bros and sisters who are on strike.
Well, you have to admit the second one sounds good anyway.
Have you see the video on how different our world would be without screen writers? Watch it first, then read on.
Methinks we can surely come up with a few sorely changed lines on our own. In fact, lines that could send the whole movie on a new tangent. Here's a few from me:
1. End of Casablanca: "We'll always have Paris. In fact, here are the tickets. Alls we gotta do is bump this guy off."
2. Woman in When Harry Met Sally's infamous restaurant scene: "Don't give me what she ordered. I think she's choking on it."
3. Ahnold in The Terminator: "I'm outta here--for good."
4. Darth Vader in the aha moment: "R2D2's your father."
5. Apollo 13: "Houston, you've done an impeccable job."
Friday, November 09, 2007
Happy Friday. I'm happy to feature fellow Sta Akra member Robert Liparulo and his novel, Deadfall, for this week's CFBA blour.
Robert is an award-winning author of over a thousand published articles and short stories. He is currently a contributing editor for New Man magazine. His work has appeared in Reader's Digest, Travel & Leisure, Modern Bride, Consumers Digest, Chief Executive, and The Arizona Daily Star, among other publications. In addition, he previously worked as a celebrity journalist, interviewing Stephen King, Tom Clancy, Charlton Heston, and others for magazines such as Rocky Road, Preview, and L.A. Weekly.
Robert is an avid scuba diver, swimmer, reader, traveler, and a law enforcement and military enthusiast. He lives in Colorado with his wife and four children.
Robert's first novel painted a scenario so frighteningly real that six Hollywood producers were bidding on movie rights before the novel was completed. His acclaimed debut novel, Comes A Horseman, is being made into a major motion picture by producer Mace Neufeld and his short story "Kill Zone" was featured in the anthology Thriller, edited by James Patterson.
Bob has sold the film rights to his second book, GERM. And he is writing the screenplay for a yet-to-be-written political thriller, which sold to Phoenix Pictures, for Andrew Davis (The Fugitive, The Guardian) to direct. He is currently working on his fourth novel.
About the book:
Deep in the isolated Northwest Territories, four friends are on the trip of a lifetime. Dropped by helicopter into the Canadian wilderness, Hutch, Terry, Phil, and David are looking to escape the events of a tumultuous year for two weeks of hunting, fishing, and camping.
Armed with only a bow and arrow and the basics for survival, they've chosen a place far from civilization, a retreat from their turbulent lives. But they quickly discover that another group has targeted the remote region and the secluded hamlet of Fiddler Falls for a more menacing purpose: to field test the ultimate weapon.
With more than a week before the helicopter rendezvous and no satellite phone, Hutch, a skilled bow-hunter and outdoor-survivalist must help his friend elude their seemingly inescapable foes, as well as decide whether to run for their lives...or risk everything to help the townspeople who are being held hostage and terrorized.
An intense novel of character forged in the midst of struggle, survival, and sacrifice. Deadfall is highly-aclaimed author Robert Liparulo's latest rivetingly smart thriller.
Notes from Bob:
I’d like to give away five signed copies of Deadfall to readers of CFBA blogs during my tour. All they have to do is sign up for my e-mailing list (they won’t be inundated!) by visiting my website and going to the “Mailing List” page. Or email me with “CFBA giveaway” in the subject line.
I'm also holding a contest on my site:
**one winner a week till the end of the year for a signed Deadfall
**one winner a week till the end of the year for an unabridged audio MP3-CD of Deadfall
***and on Dec. 31, I’m giving away an iPod Nano, pre-loaded with an unabridged audio recording of Deadfall
Winners are selected from my e-mailing list—sign up at my site. If a winner has already purchased what he/she wins, I will reimburse them for the purchase price (or give them another—whichever they choose), so they don’t need to wait to see if they win before buying Deadfall.
Thursday, November 08, 2007
When you don't have time to keep up with your own news, search the Internet.
A few days ago I ended up on my author page at amazon.com--now I can't even remember why. Lo and behold I saw an unrecognized book cover with my name on it. What the heck?
I vote for all three.
Now with an easier-to-read version, the books may disappear all the faster.
Next time I can spare a few minutes, I plan to google myself. Maybe I'll discover a house I didn't know I owned. Or a long lost brother or sister. Better yet, a rich and generous uncle.
Best of all--I book I didn't know I'd written. I could turn it in for my next deadline.
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
Kuyper believes the early success is due to ECPA members taking ownership of this event – from signing up for exhibit space to marketing and promoting to local attendees.
The Christian Book Expo, a new consumer-oriented book event announced early in 2007, will bring together publishers, authors and consumers. “We are astounded at the advance exhibitor response,” says ECPA President Mark Kuyper. “We anticipated strong support, but the level of enthusiasm and commitment we’re experiencing—especially this far in advance—far exceeds our expectations.”
The Premier registration ended on October 22, 2007. The next deadline for discounted registration is March 20, 2008.
ECPA has secured more than 389,000 square feet (100,000 is designated for exhibit floor space) for the Christian Book Expo at the Dallas Convention Center. Adds ECPA’s Kuyper, “If the trend continues we will have to go back and book more space. We urge exhibitors to confirm booth space early so they don’t miss out.”
ECPA created the Christian Book Expo to directly connect with their core market—anybody making or influencing book buying decisions. As a result, publishers, ministries, authors and booksellers are invited to exhibit at this open-to-the-public event. Activities at the three-day Expo will include workshops, seminars, mini-events and evening programming—all lead by authors.
For more on the event, go to www.ChristianBookExpo.com. Launched in September, the website serves as the “go to” source for consumers, authors, librarians, religious leaders, pastors, counselors, book retailers, international rights, media and exhibitors.
Visit this page on the Expo website for more information about authors' involvement at Book Expo.
Friday, November 02, 2007
I'm in Idaho this week and next, slaving away to get a bunch of pages written for Vain Empires, my stand-alone novel that will release in the fall of '08. Yesterday I went for a hair cut. A very well-timed hair cut.
Not only because my bangs were in my eyes and driving me crazy. But because my female protagonist happens to be a hair stylist. And coming up next week I have to write a scene of her at work.
Up until now she hasn't been at work. Because she's been ... a little busy. You know, a dead body and all that. Well, don't feel sorry for her. After all, she did try out for my suspense novel and got the part, so what should she expect?
So yesterday I asked my unsuspecting stylist if I could interview her while she worked. I needed to understand hair cutting. What do you do first, second? That funny way you cut with the scissors angled--is there a name for that? How much do your shears cost? Yada, yada. She said sure.
She had no idea what she was getting into.
As luck would have it (if you believe in such a thing), she was training someone. So as she cut she was explaining to him what she was doing. Perfect. I listened and took copious notes. All while trying to hold my head just where she placed it. ("Control the head--that's your responsibility," she told the trainee. Fascinating stuff.)
As she lectured, I kept playing the annoying novelist and interrupting. "Wait, what did you say?" "Point cut, what's that?" "Whadya mean a blow line versus a weight line?"
Plus all my added questions: How many hours did you train? What did it cost? Can I hold your shears? What do different people's hair textures feel like? Do you always look at hair when you see people on the street? (Answer--yes. On TV too. Everywhere.) When you mix color for a highlight, how does that work? What does it smell like? What kind of shoes do you wear? What's the best thing about your job? (I didn't dare ask her the worst thing. She'd probably say annoying novelists.) How do your hands feel after being in water so much? (Surprising answer--not dry, not wrinkly, due to all the conditioners they massage into the hair.) "When do you pump the chair higher? When do you pump it lower?"
I learned how to find the natural part when the hair's wet. How to section. How to shape. Why stylists turn away from you often and check you in the mirror. I could have asked questions all day.
She took it all in stride. Didn't even ask me about my book. I found this comforting. She's a new stylist to me, see, and I didn't really want to explain that I kill people for a living. I mean, what if she wouldn't want to do my hair anymore?
I did have one very disconcerting moment. My stylist's colleague came in, looking bored. I told her as much. "Yeah," she said, "I am."
Uh-oh. I knew it then. I just knew. "You get stood up?"
Oh. My. That's how it all starts in my book. Protagonist stylist gets stood up. Goes home early. And the trouble begins.
I couldn't help thinking of my S-Man story.
When we were done I thanked my stylist profusely. Got her last name's spelling right so I can put her in the acknowledgments. She still didn't ask about the book.
Paying the checkout girl behind the spa counter, I opened my wallet--and found a fat black spider. She gasped. I flicked it out and killed it. Then sighed. "Five or six books ago I wrote about spiders. They're still trying to get me back."
She gave me a slow, round-eyed nod.
Amazingly, I left with another appointment on the books for December.
Bet they can't wait.
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.
About the book:
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)