Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Interview with Anthony Del Col & Conor McCreery

Kill Shakespeare Volume 1Anthony and Conor are the co-creators of the graphic novel "Kill Shakespeare".  These two are VERY cool and I enjoyed getting to know them over the course of our interview.  They are funny and charming!  I was unable to review their book officially due to my current commitments but I was able to view it online and they are very talented individuals!  Over the course of this interview it will become clear to you that they are a great team!  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.  As always my questions are in color... red being the choice this time around!

Will you tell us a little about yourselves? How did you become an author or take up an interest in writing?

A: I have a lot of experience in the media business, ranging from producing a couple independent films and then serving as one of Nelly Furtado’s managers. I’ve always been involved in the creative process and love the creative process. In this case this was a story that would keep me up at night with the knowledge that we loved this story and knew that we had to tell it however we could.

C: I wrote when I was younger, and then worked for the university paper, and eventually fell into print and T.V. journalism. At the same time I worked with Anthony and others to create a kid’s T.V. series that was optioned, and an animated film that was funded to final draft status. So I guess I have always had the bug.

What is Kill Shakespeare about?

A: Kill Shakespeare is a graphic novel adventure story that pits the Bard’s greatest heroes (including Hamlet, Juliet, Falstaff, Othello, Puck) against his most menacing villains (including Richard III, Lady Macbeth, Iago) in a quest to track down and kill – or save – a reclusive wizard by the name of William Shakespeare.

C: It’s also about forgiveness, belief, and how to deal with yourself (and the world) when it seems like every action you take is wrong.

Did you have any specific inspiration that contributed to writing "Kill Shakespeare"?

A: David Carradine.

C: Which sort of tells you all you need to know about Anthony… Really, those two words are enough.
For me, seeing The Tempest at the Stratford Festival (North America’s largest Shakespearean festival) made me understand the Bard in a whole new way. I suddenly saw that the stories were really cool and that experience hid away in my belly until the idea for Kill Shakespeare hit us.

A: To justify my reference to Mr. Carradine, Conor and I originally were thinking about creating a video game for the Kill Bill film series and then we decided that rather than trying to hunt down and kill David Carradine, it might be cool to find another Bill… and that turned out to be Billy Shakespeare!

Who was your main support system when writing this book? Did you have anyone who specifically gave you strength, courage or advice while writing "Kill Shakespeare"?

C: I’d say Anthony, but he was actually covertly working to break me down psychologically so that I was driven mad, sent to an asylum, and he could own all the copyright himself….

A: We’ve received a lot of mentorship while working on this, from other comic book creators like Arvid Nelson and Ty Templeton to Shakespeare experts like Martha Cornog and Ted McGee (University of Waterloo).

What do you hope readers will take away from this book?

A: Our goal is to – in addition to entertaining the reader – have people put down the book and realize how great Shakespeare’s characters are. There are so many people that are scared of the Bard because they have memories of bad high school English teachers but when you boil Shakespeare down to his basic elements, they are great characters in fantastic stories.

C: Hmmm. That’s a good question. I don’t know if I hope readers take anything specific away from this book. For me Kill Shakespeare is not clearly about ONE BIG IDEA so I guess I hope that readers take something away. If we make people think about Kill Shakespeare after the cover is closed I’ll be pretty happy. I think there’s a lot in there to muse on, and hopefully readers will agree.

Do you ever see yourself writing a sequel or series?

A: This is currently a twelve-issue comic book series (the first graphic novel collects the first six issues) but we have a rough outline of what could happen in a second or third series

C: I have all sorts of weird and wonderful ideas in my head for those - we’ll see if Anthony lets me write them. But The Tempest definitely figures in quite heavily. We also have some neat prequel stories brewing in our brains…

What is your favourite memory in regards to writing "Kill Shakespeare"?

A: I remember writing a scene in an early treatment (outline) of the story and when the main character made a particular choice to sacrifice something important to them, I shed a tear. Yes, I’m happy to admit that. And I knew then that the scene worked!

C: He’s such a wuss.

Is Kill Shakespeare your first novel? If so, what is it like to see your debut novel, a dream for most, in print and on the book store shelves?
A: Yes, this is my first novel. The first time I was the completed, printed book I shed a tear. It looked so good – glossy, fantastic colours, great weight. It’s amazing that something that one day was just an idea that Conor and I shared is now a physical product that people can read and be entertained by.
C: Like I said, such a wuss…

Do you have any other novels in the works? Should be expect to see more from you?

A: We have a number of other projects (film, television) that we’ve developed in the past but have put on the backburner while working on Kill Shakespeare. In the future, when we have the time, we’re re-explore them.

C: I’ve got a children’s book I have been (slowly) working on and a bunch of essays, although I am not sure where those are going to go. As Anthony said, it’s hard to find time, so I have a whack of first drafts of these things on my computer.

What is your favorite book?

A: Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes.

C: One Day in the life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (I actually haven’t read Don Quixote as Anthony won’t lend it to me).
A: Now who’s being the wuss?
C: Touche.
 Have you read a book whose hype ruined your reading experience? If so, which one?

A: I actually wasn’t impressed by A Tale for Two Cities. I had heard so many good things about it but found that it wasn’t focused and I couldn’t get into it.
C: Not really, I had a similar experience with Les Miserables. But I figure I just may need to try that again when I’ve grown as a person a little. Or maybe I will still think it is over-rated. We’ll see.

What is your preferred writing atmosphere?

C: I’ll either write upstairs with the door open to get some air in the place, or I’ll write downstairs on the couch with a mindless movie playing in the background.

A: I like to listen to classic film scores while writing in my home office.
 Are you a night owl or early bird?
A: I am a night owl trying to learn how to wake up earlier every morning…
C: Neither, really.

 Do you have a favorite reading/writing snack?

C: I like tart fruits.
A: Peanut butter!

Who is your favorite Author?
A: Other than the Bard himself? I’ve read all of Malcolm Gladwell’s books – he is an incredibly talented storyteller.
C: I’m sorry to say that I don’t really have one. I have quite a few authors I like, but nobody that I think “I have to buy (this person’s) latest book”.
 What is your favorite sport?
C: To watch? Basketball. To listen to on the radio? Baseball. To play? I really liked playing Lacrosse and Rugby. But I’m pretty happy playing any sport – although I’m not good at racket sports.
A: Other than rock-paper-scissors? Basketball.
 Favorite cartoon?

A: Anything that Pixar puts out.
C: I’d agree there. But for the old-school amongst us, I really love Scooby-Doo and all the original Warner Brothers.
 How do you react to a bad review?

C: I take the points I think are fair and try to remember them to help make me a better writer. And the stuff I don’t agree with I think on for a bit. Sometimes I realize the reviewer may have hit on to something I didn’t realize at first, and other times I just chalk it up to personal opinion. It’s sort of the same with a good review. “They ain’t right when they damn you, but they ain’t right when they praise you either.”
A: The first bad review we read put me into a bad mood for a couple hours but I’ve eventually learned that not everyone will like your work and that’s a part of it. It’s great working in the comic format because we can slightly adapt our story to the reader’s feedback as it goes on.
 What do you do with your time when you’re not writing?
A: Promotions, promotions, promotions. Every writer these days has to learn to promote themselves – it’s an absolute essential element to the industry these days.
C: Anthony hit the nail on the head with that one. I also am incredibly fortunate to live with the love of my life, Crystal, so I get to spend time with her as well which always makes me smile (love ya, honey!).
Name something on your Christmas list?

C: Well I am happy to say I received a drill set, a vest, toilet cleaner, a copy of Inception (which I have yet to see), and this rocking book about the elements. So I was sufficiently satisfied by Santa (woah, sling those syllables, Sam!).
A: Time off!

Photo by Jordan Sparks
Thank you very much Anthony and Conor!  I enjoyed having you both as my guests today!  Make sure to stop by their website for more information about "Kill Shakespeare". 

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Remember Why You Play

Remember Why You Play: Faith, Football, and a Season to BelieveAuthor: David Thomas
ISBN: 978-1414337272
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Source:  Tyndale House Publishers

Remember Why You Play documents the lives of the coaches and players of the Faith Christian School football team in Grapevine, Texas. The book follows the players and coaches through their season, struggles and triumphs. The author, David Thomas, followed the team for a full season, resulting in this story and its inspirational message of what sportsmanship is all about. The novel puts a focus on the importance relationships over winning. The highlight of the novel takes place as the Faith Christian team plays the Gainesville State Tornadoes, a team of convicted juvenile offenders. The outcome is one that will stick with the reader and inspire you to be better.

Remember Why You Play was pretty much what I expected it to be. It is a novel of faith, football and a team’s season with a focus on the one huge game that is a life changing memorable event regardless of outcome. While I don’t normally enjoy sports related novels, I did enjoy this one. It reminds me of other football related books & movies such as Remember the Titans, The Blind Side and Friday Night Lights. The novel takes a look at a team, a player, a coach and those around them as the events that could make or break them unfold. As in other inspirational stories, this true story has heartache and trials along with triumph and victory as it proves how one person’s choices can affect another, sending small ripples that make a larger wake when people band together to make a difference.

The novel was easy to read. It grabs your attention. I was curious to read on and see what the outcome of the final game would be. I enjoyed learning more about the key “players” in this story and their lives during the season. It was an inspirational story of compassion, understanding and sportsmanship as the players and coaches struggled with their own insecurities, doubts, and fears. Coach Hogan and his team have not only made a difference in each other’s lives, they have set an example for others and given many people a story to be inspired by. I thought this book was wonderful for its genre. Though personally most of the football as far as plays and such was lost on me, the story around it was heartwarming.

If I could give any one piece of advice I would suggest you go into this book reminding yourself it’s a quality story, based on true events that focus on faith, football and making a difference. I read reviews prior to reading this novel that discredited the book because it had too much football or too much God. This is a true story published by a Christian publisher about a Christian Schools football team; don’t discredit the book based on God and football. It is evident these aspects are a major part of the book. Personally it was great to read about quality values and choices. The author does a wonderful job of retelling the story he deemed important enough to write about.

**I received this book in exchange for an honest review from Tyndale House Publishers.**


Are Books Still Relevant?

[Guest Post and Giveaway]

by Frances Lefkowitz, author of  TO HAVE NOT: A MEMOIR
We hear a lot these days about the end of reading, the death of the book, the triumph of all things virtual and wireless. As a reader, as well as a writer, these pronouncements scare me, because I believe the slow and delicious escape that comes from reading books is crucial to our sanity—especially as wirelessness makes this world increasingly fast and overwhelming. So when I was invited to speak at an English class at the local junior college, I was astounded, and oh-so-encouraged, by the reception these students gave to a visiting author. Clearly reading is alive and well, and even the young and texting still feel a reverence for the book.

The class had just spent a month studying my new book, a coming-of-age memoir about a rough-and-tumble childhood in 1970’s San Francisco. Their instructor had chosen to teach my book because she thought the subject matter—growing up poor, then trying to change my life with a scholarship to an Ivy League college, and discovering the complications of success and ambition—would speak to these students, who were at similar crossroads in their own lives. She also thought the direct, honest, and accessible voice seemed just right for engaging readers. Finally—and most satisfying for me to hear—she felt the book had rich literary merit, so she could use it to teach lessons on language, theme, extended metaphor, and other elements of English composition. So the class of 30 or so mostly 20-somethings had taken tests and written papers on my book, and even tried their hand at writing their own brief memoirs. Then, one afternoon, I joined them, to discuss the book and answer any questions they might have.

They had plenty of questions! But first, they had to text their friends and family to tell them that “the author” had arrived. And to take pictures with me on their cell phones. And to ask me to sign their books. And for those who had forgotten their books (these are college students, after all), to ask me to sign their notebooks. But when the excitement finally wore down and we got to their questions and comments, what impressed me most was how closely they had read the book, how well they understood it, and how much they appreciated it. They pointed out metaphors and images that they loved. They asked me about foreshadowing that I had not noticed before. They commented on the bittersweet themes and how they related to their own lives. In short, they demonstrated that even in this speedy, screen-focused day and age, books and authors still matter. And they restored my faith in the future of reading.

Frances Lefkowitz is an award-winning writer and author of the new memoir TO HAVE NOT.

To Have NotTime for a giveaway!  I have one copy of "To Have Not" available for giveaway.

To Enter fill out this FORMThe requirements for valid entry are below:
  • Comment on this post - comment on the article's content or leave a comment or question for the author or myself.
  • Be a follower of this blog by GFC or Subscription.
  • Giveaway is for US/Canada only.  Ends 1/28/11. 

Bonus Entry:  Follow my blog by any of these: twitter, facebook fan page, networked blogs, goodreads and spread the word!

Good luck to all who enter and thank you very much to Frances Lefkowitz for being with us today!  "To Have Not" is available for purchase on Amazon as well as other book retailers.  Click on the cover image to price or buy from Amazon.

Monday, December 27, 2010

In the Spotlight...

The promise of a new life and a chance to start over…

Hannah Anderson had the life she always wanted, married to the man of her dreams. When her husband’s brother gets in trouble with the law, the town turns against them, shattering her perfect life. Now they are left with only one choice—to head west to the Arizona Territory in the hopes of creating a new life. Will the journey be worth the cost?

Will Colter, after burying his father, is forced to leave the ranch he has called home for nearly thirty years. The journey is dangerous, challenging him and his men. Will he find the new life he was hoping for?

Or, is there a new dream quietly unfolding before their eyes?

Book Description...

This Christian Historical Romance Fiction novel follows the journey of a couple, Drew and Hannah Anderson, as they travel from Cincinnati, Ohio to the newly created Arizona Territory in 1863. In their search for a new life, they encounter many dangers and joys along the way. They meet the governor of the territory and travel with his party, witnessing several historical events.

The story also follows Will Colter’s journey from Texas to the Arizona Territory when he is forced to leave his home. As this rancher drives his cattle across the wilderness, he and his men run into life-threatening situations. Throughout the move his dreams for his new ranch solidify.

Once the main characters arrive in the Arizona Territory, they must learn to adapt to wilderness living. Things are not exactly what they thought. Each character is challenged to rely on God to face dangers in a new, wild territory.

Where to Buy...

"A Dream Unfolding" is available on via the following link:

I will be reviewing this title so check back to see what I thought!
[For those of you who love series, this is book 1!  Book two should be available in Spring of 2011!  Now is the perfect time to read book one in preparation for book two!]

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Free E-Book!!

Graham Parke, author of "No Hope for Gomez" has graciously given me the opportunity to offer all of my followers a copy of his e-book, "Random Acts of Senseless Kindness".  The book will only be available from the 26th of December 2010 until the 16th of January 2011.  Get your copy while you can!  Please click the title below to access the link.

A note from the author...

Clinical studies have recently shown that reading this e-book is not only likely to make you more attractive to the opposite sex, it will also elevate your random luck by about 9.5%**

(**These statements have not been evaluated by any person of consequence!)

Make sure to also check out Graham's book "No Hope for Gomez" 

No Hope for Gomez!

Thank you Graham!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!!

I hope everyone is having a marvelous holiday with family, friends, or whoever you are spending the day with!  Take time to read a book if your day is low key!!  Sitting back an relaxing with a cup of hot chocolate and a book would be a great way to spend this holiday!  If you have a ton of family that you're spending the day with I hope you treasure the moments!  Take the time to tell them how much you love them and enjoy the time you are spending with them!  I wish everyone a happy, stress free holiday!  Travel Safe!!
Merry Christmas from...

Friday, December 24, 2010

An Unforgettable Gift

Welcome to the 12 Pearls of Christmas! Enjoy these Christmas "Pearls of Wisdom"! Please follow along through Christmas day as each post shares heartfelt stories of how God has touched a life during this most wonderful time of the year. AND BEST OF ALL ... there's also a giveaway!!!! Fill out the quick form at the link located at the bottom of this post to be entered to win a PEARL NECKLACE, BRACELET AND EARRINGS!  Pearls - a tangible reminder of God's grace to us all.


An Unforgettable Gift

On Christmas morning, 1912, in Paducah, Kentucky, fourteen-year-old Charlie Flowers and his three brothers and two sisters huddled in their beds, fully dressed, trying to keep warm as the wind howled outside their small frame house.
It was a desperate time for the family. Earlier that year the children's father had died. And their mother had not found work. The coal had run out and there was little money––none for gifts. Their scrawny tree with decorations made from scraps of colored paper had been given to them the night before by a local merchant.
"Can't sell this one," the man said with a nod of his head before handing it over to the eager children.

To pass the time, the siblings joked and shouted stories from their bedrooms across the hallway from one another. Then suddenly a racket from the alley at the rear of the house broke into their games.
"Charlie," his mother called, "would you see what's going on out there?"
Charlie pulled on his shoes, grabbed a thick overcoat from the hook by the door, and ran out back.
There stood a man in a wagon bent over a load of coal, shoveling it into the shed as fast as he could.
"Hey Mister, we didn't order any coal," Charlie shouted. "You're delivering it to the wrong house."
"Your name's Flowers, isn't it?" the man asked, still shoveling. 

Charlie nodded yes.
"Well then, there's no mistake.  I've been asked to deliver this to your family on Christmas morning." He looked the awe-struck boy square in the eye. "And I'm under strict orders not to tell who sent it," he teased.

Charlie ran into the house, his coattail flapping in the cold morning wind.  He could hardly wait to tell his mother and brothers and sisters. God had provided––just as he had on that first Christmas morning so long ago when He sent his only son to a needy world.

Charlie Flowers died in 1994 at age 96. And right up to the last year of his life, not a Christmas went by that he didn't tell the story of that sub-zero Christmas morning of his boyhood when two men gave his family an unforgettable gift.

It wasn't the coal that was remembered or cherished, Charlie often said––welcome as it was––but rather what two men brought to his desperate family. One, for his gift of recognizing their great need and taking the time to do something about it. And the other, for being willing to give up part of his own Christmas morning to deliver it.

That gift of so long ago has continued to warm the Flowers family from one generation to another, as Charlie's son––my husband, Charles––calls to mind these two unknown men each Christmas morning and whispers a prayer of thanks.


About Karen: Karen O'Connor is an award-winning author and writing mentor living in Watsonville, California with her husband, Charles Flowers. Karen’s latest book is 365 Reasons Why Gettin’ Old Ain’t So Bad (Harvest House 2010).

For more information, please visit Karen on the web at


A PEARL NECKLACE, BRACELET AND EARRINGS will be given away on New Year's Day. All you need to do to have a chance of winning is {FILL OUT THIS QUICK ENTRY FORM}. The winner will be announced on the Pearl Girls Blog ( on New Years Day!

12 Pearls of Christmas Series and contest sponsored by Pearl Girls®. For more information, please visit

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Just give me Christmas this year!

Welcome to the 12 Pearls of Christmas! Enjoy these Christmas "Pearls of Wisdom"! Please follow along through Christmas day as each post shares heartfelt stories of how God has touched a life during this most wonderful time of the year. AND BEST OF ALL ... there's also a giveaway!!!! Fill out the quick form at the link located at the bottom of this post to be entered to win a PEARL NECKLACE, BRACELET AND EARRINGS!  Pearls - a tangible reminder of God's grace to us all.


All I Want for Christmas… Melissa Mashburn
Is to be able to have Christmas this Year

This is a simple request, isn’t it? In the previous years, we had great big bountiful Christmases with our family. Gifts, goodies and general Christmas cheer but this year it was different. The year before has been chock full of disappointments, failing businesses and severe cutbacks for our family. 

Sitting with my husband one night we hammered out the bare minimum that we could spend that year for Christmas and even still the total was four hundred dollars. It does not sound like a whole lot compared to what we’ve spent on Christmas before, but this year it could have been four thousand dollars because we just did not have it.

We prayed, I cried, we prayed some more and decided that we would cut back anything else that we could that year so we could have Christmas for our kids. We did not know how we would make this happen, but we knew that we needed to step forward in faith that it would happen.

Answer this question: Does the God who lavishly provides you with his own presence, his Holy Spirit, working things in your lives you could never do for yourselves, does he do these things because of your strenuous moral striving or because you trust him to do them in you? Don't these things happen among you just as they happened with Abraham? He believed God, and that act of belief was turned into a life that was right with God. Galatians 3:5 the Message

Not even two days later, we hear a knock on our front door. We open the door to see some friends of ours from church. With tears in their eyes, they handed us an envelope and said that the felt they needed to give us this. We opened the envelope and inside there was four hundred dollars cash.

Shocked, stunned and with tears flowing down our face we just sat there in a state of crying and laughing at what God had done. We never shared with anyone that year what we needed, how bad it was, what was going on or what that number was for us to have Christmas for the kids, but God knew.

“And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.”  2 Corinthians 9:8 NLT

He took a willing servant, led them to our front door and changed Christmas for us that year. After many years of being in full time ministry we knew that God would provide, but when He shows up just at the right moment, you know that it was all a part of His plan to show how much He loves, provides and cares for His people.

Father God, thank you that after all the years of serving and loving you in ministry that you continue to teach, guide, love, shepherd and care for us.  You, Father, are abundantly gracious and kind, thank you for showing up for us at just the right moment every time, forgive us when we forget that.  In Jesus name, Amen.


About Melissa: Melissa is the founder of the blog Mel’s World Ministry, co-founder of the Praise and Coffee Nights Ministry with Sue Cramer, Kids Ministry Director at her church.  Just last year she launched a new weekly series called Godly Gals ~ Real Women, Real Life, Real Faith where we meet new women each week who are “Taking their everyday, ordinary lives and placing it as their offering to God.” Romans 12:1 the Message. You can find her on twitter and at her blog. She loves encouraging women to live with an authentic faith by being transparent, renewed and transformed. ~ Romans 12:2.


A PEARL NECKLACE, BRACELET AND EARRINGS will be given away on New Year's Day. All you need to do to have a chance of winning is {FILL OUT THIS QUICK ENTRY FORM}. The winner will be announced on the Pearl Girls Blog ( on New Years Day!

12 Pearls of Christmas Series and contest sponsored by Pearl Girls®. For more information, please visit

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

All is Bright

Sarah Pekkanen
E-Book : Short Story
Buy it Here: Amazon

Synopsis from Sarah:

Thirty-year-old Elise Andrews couldn't bring herself to marry Griffin, her childhood friend-turned-sweetheart, so she let him walk away. Eight months after their break-up, she arrives in her hometown of Chicago on Christmas Eve and hears a voice from the past calling her name in the grocery store. It's Griffin's mother Janice, who invites Elise over for a neighborhood gathering of eggnog and carols.

Walking into Janice's house sends Elise tumbling headlong into memories of her relationship with Griffin -- and with Janice, who exudes the kind of warmth Elise ached for after her own mom passed away when she was six. But Griffin has moved on, and suddenly Elise doubts her decision to give him up, and lose her chance at being folded into his wonderful family. Confused and reeling, she goes in search of an answer to a universal question: How do we say good-bye to people we've loved without losing everything they've meant to us?

Heartwarming and witty, All is Bright is a charming story about coming home for the holidays -- and finding gifts in the most unexpected of places.

My Review:

All is Bright is a short story by Sarah Pekkanen, author of “The Opposite of Me” and soon to be released “Skipping a Beat.” The story takes a look at the love and heartache of a woman named Elise who deals with her feelings regarding a love let go. Elise discovers that sometimes letting go is the best thing you can do for someone you truly love as well as yourself. She learns a wonderful lesson about love an acceptance in the process. This short story was sweet, emotional, engaging and comical. I laughed out loud at many parts of this story. Sarah has a wonderful ability to connect with the should of her reader. Every woman will be able to connect to this story on some level.

As I was reading I felt the thoughts and feelings Elise was going through, even those left unsaid. I appreciated the wisdom and humor of the Seven Widows of Windham. Ms. Pekkanen truly is a talented author and has definitely chosen the right genre! All is Bright is the perfect short story to read this Christmas! If your looking for that little something extra to give to a sister, girlfriend, mom, daughter or maybe even your grandma, All is Bright is the perfect stocking stuffer! Personally I suggest it as a gift to yourself for all the holiday shopping, wrapping, traveling, cooking or anything else you have been doing for others this season. The story would make a great bedtime read for Christmas Eve, or a relaxing read by the fire with some hot cocoa or wine! Best of all the book ends with bonus material!! If your dying to read “Skipping a Beat” you can preview it by buying All is Bright!

In short, it is TOTALLY worth the .99 cents! Go ahead, Indulge!  (oh and if you don't have an e-reader you can read it on your computer!  Amazon has a free kindle app for the PC.  You can also get a kindle app for your phone, I-pad, I-touch etc.)

 Sarah is having a contest.  Please see her website for full rules.  Here is the information:
Order All Is Bright for 99 cents, email me your receipt and you're entered into my Five Days of Christmas giveaway. And, by the way, you can order the estory for a computer if you don't have an ereader.

Sarah's Five Days of Christmas Giveaway!
On Day 1:One winner will receive an advance signed copy of Skipping a Beat
On Day 2: One winner will receive Jennifer Weiner's latest blockbuster, Fly Away Home, and an advance signed copy of Skipping a Beat
On Day 3: One winner will receive a box of Godivas, Fly Away Home, and a signed copy of Skipping a Beat
On Day 4: One winner will receive a box of Godivas, Fly Away Home, signed copies of Skipping a Beat and my debut novel The Opposite of Me, plus I will donate $50 to the homeless or animal shelter of the winner's choice
On Day 5: One lucky winner will receive all the above PLUS a brand-new ereader!

Don't forget to email the receipt to to be entered into my 5 Days of Christmas Giveaway!


What’s the best thing about Christmas?

Welcome to the 12 Pearls of Christmas! Enjoy these Christmas "Pearls of Wisdom"! Please follow along through Christmas day as each post shares heartfelt stories of how God has touched a life during this most wonderful time of the year. AND BEST OF ALL ... there's also a giveaway!!!! Fill out the quick form at the link located at the bottom of this post to be entered to win a PEARL NECKLACE, BRACELET AND EARRINGS!  Pearls - a tangible reminder of God's grace to us all.


What’s the best thing about Christmas?

The answer to that question will undoubtedly be different depending on the age and the faith of the person being asked. Most children will say it’s all about the gifts. Adults, even if they secretly still enjoy the gifts, will probably strive to sound more mature and say the holiday is all about friends and family. Still others might say it’s about tradition, or memories or the music or even the special food we connect to this time of year. The scrooges among us might say this season is just another marketing gimmick, or materialism gone awry. The faithful will say it’s all about Jesus, a reminder of why He shed the glory of Heaven to step into human skin and frailty.

I’m not here to defend or attack any answer to this question, but rather to ponder those possible answers.

Gifts: They touch us in personal ways, as tangible evidence of someone else’s thought and affection. Even if we don’t get exactly what we hoped, there’s something to be said about the thought behind a gift being the important part. Why wouldn’t gifts be an important and valid part of this holiday in which we celebrate God’s gift of salvation?

Holiday Gatherings: Parties might be a lot of work, forcing some out of their comfort zone, but at the core they’re all about human connection. Isn’t that what most people want?

Traditions and memories: They remind us of the past, of who we are, with the hope that even as we look forward to an unknown future we still hold some things worthy enough to repeat every year. We might find ourselves letting go of some traditions, or we might want to start some new ones.

The music: This is the only time of the year when even secular radio stations welcome songs about a baby born in Bethlehem. As a nation we may be getting stringent about separation of church as state, but the lines blur just a bit with old favorites that reflect this season.

Scrooges: The holiday season is probably a time to endure rather than enjoy, but even the scroogiest-scrooge might admit the lights of the season are pretty to behold. They’re free to look at, after all.

As for the food, the busyness, the expense and all the other things that make up this season: keep in mind that it’s all temporary. This, too, shall pass. Until next year, of course.

I’ll leave you with this thought: we are all made in God’s image, whether we believe that or not. Part of that image is the ability to give—and to receive. So here’s my thought for the day: stop a moment and dwell on all the gifts of the season. From the little mementos that say we haven’t forgotten someone or been forgotten by others, to the costliest gift of all: what God did for us in the form of Christ. As you enjoy the sounds, the sights, the scents and the tastes of this season, may your only trouble be in choosing just one thing among so many best things about Christmas.


About Maureen: Maureen Lang is the author of ten books, her most recent from Tyndale House is The Great War Series which are full of romance, adventure and spiritual journeys. She lives in the Midwest with her husband, two sons and their lovable Labrador Retriever.

For more information please visit Maureen at her website,


A PEARL NECKLACE, BRACELET AND EARRINGS will be given away on New Year's Day. All you need to do to have a chance of winning is {FILL OUT THIS QUICK ENTRY FORM}. The winner will be announced on the Pearl Girls Blog ( on New Years Day!

12 Pearls of Christmas Series and contest sponsored by Pearl Girls®. For more information, please visit

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Good News

Welcome to the 12 Pearls of Christmas! Enjoy these Christmas "Pearls of Wisdom"! Please follow along through Christmas day as each post shares heartfelt stories of how God has touched a life during this most wonderful time of the year. AND BEST OF ALL ... there's also a giveaway!!!! Fill out the quick form at the link located at the bottom of this post to be entered to win a PEARL NECKLACE, BRACELET AND EARRINGS!  Pearls - a tangible reminder of God's grace to us all.


Good News!

The first Christmas card of the season arrived in my mailbox way back in August. How could anyone be that organized? Then I noticed my friend, Nita, had sent me a card I had written to her more than 20 years ago!

Memories rushed back as I read the words penned in my familiar handwriting. It was Christmas, 1991, and my world had unraveled. I could almost pretend everything was all right at this most wonderful time of the year—but not that year.

My husband Randy’s drinking problem had escalated to the point where his job and career were on the line. He had already been through two alcohol treatment programs and managed to stay sober for short periods of time. Then he slipped back into old, familiar patterns. His ongoing relapses were a crushing disappointment for our family.

I had looked forward to Christmas Eve and our family traditions; making homemade lasagna, singing carols around the piano, attending the candlelight service at church, and then coming home to open one token Christmas Eve present.     

“Randy, are you ready to crank out the pasta?” I called to him over the Christmas music I was playing to lift my spirits.

I peered into the living room to see what was keeping him. My heart froze. Randy sat on the couch, trance-like, watching a basketball game while sipping a drink.

No, not on Christmas Eve, I screamed inwardly. I felt like I was suffocating. Usually Randy pulled himself together but it didn’t happen that night. He drank vodka all evening while I finished holiday preparations on autopilot. None of us felt like eating lasagna or celebrating.

Only a few days earlier, I had written these words on the Christmas card to my friend, Nita. I don’t know God’s plans, his timing or his ways in accomplishing his purposes, but I am learning to trust him. He is faithful!

I suspect Nita kept my card all those years because she saw a small seed of faith and it encouraged her heart. I didn’t know it at the time, but it would be eight more Christmas seasons before Randy experienced the miraculous breakthrough of finding freedom from alcoholism.

As I read the card I had written so long ago, I felt awed by God’s faithfulness to us—even when our situation looked completely hopeless.

You may be facing great difficulty as the holidays approach. The last thing you feel like is celebrating. And that’s O.K. The Good News of Christmas isn’t about picture perfect holidays where our homes are decorated a la Martha Stewart and tables are laden with holiday delicacies. Your days may not be merry and bright. You may be grieving the loss of a loved one or the loss of a relationship through divorce or estrangement. Your world has unraveled.

That’s exactly why the message of Christmas is Good News. The Savior is born! The One who came to set you free, to give you peace and hope and help beyond anything you could ever imagine is as near as your next breath. Today you might not be able to see how God’s purposes are unfolding for your future, but you can be assured that He is working all things for good in your life. A twenty year-old Christmas card came on a summer day as an unexpected gift and gentle reminder of God’s presence—especially in the worst of times.


About Deb: Deb Kalmbach is the coauthor of Because I Said Forever: Embracing Hope in a Not-So- Perfect Marriage and the author of a book for children, Corey’s Dad Drinks Too Much. She has contributed to The New Women’s Devotional Bible, Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace, and other anthologies. She is a vibrant and engaging speaker who gives hope and practical solutions to those who struggle with difficult relationships. Deb and her husband, Randy, live in a tiny town in Eastern Washington. Visit Deb at:, or on Facebook and Twitter.


A PEARL NECKLACE, BRACELET AND EARRINGS will be given away on New Year's Day. All you need to do to have a chance of winning is {FILL OUT THIS QUICK ENTRY FORM}. The winner will be announced on the Pearl Girls Blog ( on New Years Day!

12 Pearls of Christmas Series and contest sponsored by Pearl Girls®. For more information, please visit

What I Thought I Knew

Alice Eve Cohen
ISBN: 978-0-14-311765-0
Publisher: Penguin
Source: BookSparks PR

“A personal and medical odyssey beyond anything most women would believe possible”
 [taken from]

At age forty-four, after a difficult divorce, Alice Eve Cohen is engaged to an inspiring man whom she loves, happily raising her adopted daughter, and enjoying her growing career opportunities. Alice admits she’s never been happier and that’s when the stomach pains begin and her mother’s Jewish superstitions flood to her memory. The story is the journey of a woman who has come to terms with her infertility to one who struggles to love a heartbeat found in her womb - six months into a high-risk pregnancy.

This memoir was deeply moving. Alice’s story is one of deep inner struggle and turmoil as she battles her will and guilt over her shocking surprise pregnancy. It is quite easily tagged as a gripping and dark novel. While I agree with that, Alice’s memoir brings a whole other level to the plate. Her story is filled with humor that relieves the “tension”. I quickly identified with this method of coping. There is a point where everyone will hit their max, a breaking point, and it is then that you laugh or cry. Personally my emotions usually the uncomfortable or deeply sad emotions will come out in some form of laughter mixed with tears. I felt this same sort of coping in the novel. While Alice’s story is not funny and is quite shocking and tragic in ways, it delivers comic relief for her reader which lets them know, I’m okay, it will be okay.

As a mother I felt for Alice, as a patient I was enraged with the incompetence of the doctors who treated her, as an anti-abortion advocate I had a hard time with the sections of this book that dealt with this topic. I really enjoyed the adoption aspects of this book as I feel many choose to abort when adoption is a very valid option and can give a family with no hope of having children, a child. Overall, this book was a wonderful read! It is an amazing and unbelievable story of triumph in so much adversity. It is motherhood at many stages and levels. It is a story of imperfection and beauty. I am amazed that Alice is strong enough to share her story. Just as she did, I don’t think I could have stopped writing for fear I would never finish, never get my story out. I recommend this memoir. It is a though provoking, poignant, humorous and life affirming book. It proves that what we think we know can change in an instant, our lives never being the same again.

Alice Eve Cohen is a solo theatre artist, playwright, and memoirist. Her memoir, What I Thought I Knew (Viking, 2009) won the Elle's Lettres 2009 Grand Prix for Nonfiction. She has written for Nickelodeon, PBS, and CBS. Her plays have been presented at theatres throughout the country, and she has toured her solo theatre works internationally. Her writing about arts in education has been published in nine languages. The recipient of fellowships and grants from the New York State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts, she holds a BA from Princeton University and an MFA from The New School. She teaches at The New School in New York City.

Connect with Alice on Facebook

Alice's book can be purchased at Barnes and Nobles as well as Amazon.


Monday, December 20, 2010

Winner of Sunday's at Tiffany's!

Congratulations to Linda H! 
Sundays at Tiffany's
She was entry #4 of 74!  (random # picked by
Thank you to all who entered this giveaway! 
 More giveaways planned for after Christmas!
Thank you for following and reading!