Friday, July 27, 2007

Diner Sampler!

Coach has posted a sampler of Coach's Midnight Diner and here's a link. It's only the first couple of pages for each story, just to whet your appetite for the whole thing. Check it out, then order your own copy.

CFBA Tour: To Dance in the Desert

Most of us think of the desert as a dry and barren place. Kathleen Popa's lyrical prose reveals the desert to be a place of beauty and wonder where God whispers his love to us, if we only have ears to hear. To Dance in the Desert (RiverOak) offers hope and encouragement to anyone who has experienced desert times through the story of Dara Murphy Brogan, who has fled to a home in the desert to escape her broken past. But through some wonderful characters she learns to trust and love again, and find the healing and peace that only come from God.

I couldn't put this book down -- not because of the plot so much as because I fell in love with Dara and her new friends. The story is fairly straightforward, with the plot revolving around turns of character more than turns of events (though certainly there is drama and conflict to propel the story). Dara learns first to accept, then love, her new friend Jane (best described as a hippie missionary earth mother). And from Jane, Dara learns to listen to the voice of God telling her he loves her and calling her to follow him, even though she can't imagine anyone loving her or wanting her around, so damaged is her view of herself. But once you let one person into your life, a whole host of others will soon follow, and so it is for Dara. She takes a job in the restaurant owned by Jane's brother, Tom (a widower); she is beguiled by Tom's little daughter, Clemmie; she is drawn into the life of a mysterious stranger, Sophie; and she begins to find answers to questions that have haunted her all her life.

This book moved me to laughter and to tears and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It's a beautiful story that shows how God's grace is at work around us. Kathleen has done a wonderful job of writing about faith in a natural way, with characters who live in the same fallen world we all do and have the same kind of struggles we all know, and ask the same kind of questions we all ask -- and choose to trust the Lord.

I know I tend to wax enthusiastic about a book I really enjoy, but I don't think you'll be disappointed if you pick up a copy of To Dance in the Desert.

Raised in the American Southwest, Kathleen began her love affair with the desert as a child. Before becoming a writer she, among other jobs, worked in both the juvenile facility fro incarcerated girls and a home for emotionally disturved children. Mother of two, she lives in Northern California with her husband and youngest son. Visit her blog, Reading, Writing, and What Else is There? She is a member of the CFBA, too! Give her a holler!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Blog Tour: Shred of Truth

(This is a very book heavy week!)

This is the first book of Eric Wilson's I've read and after reading it, I want to go back and read some of the others, especially the first Aramis Black story. I enjoyed A Shred of Truth. Wilson does an especially good job of portraying an interesting, complex character who is still learning what it means to walk with Christ.

Aramis Black is trying to make a new, more peaceful, life for himself in Nashville. But his past keeps coming back to haunt him. In this novel, just as his brother is on the verge of breaking out as a country star, he ends up tied to a statue with the initials AX carved into his shoulder.

Aramis can't ignore the attack, or the threatening e-mails he starts receiving. Nor can he ignore the evidence that seems to be saying someone he long thought dead is really alive. Aramis struggles to determine the truth without returning to the violent habits of his past.

There's a little something here for everyone -- fans of suspense thrillers will enjoy the fast pace, those who prefer character-driven tales will enjoy the complexity of not only Aramis, but many of the other characters. It's a good mix and a good read.

Eric Wilson is the author of Dark to Mortal Eyes, Expiration Date, and the first book in the Aramis Black series, The Best of Evil. He lives with his wife, Carolyn Rose, and their two daughters in Nashville, Tennessee. Visit him at

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

A few more thoughts ...

No, this isn't going to become all Harry Potter all the time. But The Deathly Hallows is a big book and there's a lot to digest. One thing that's sure to come up (because it always does) is whether or not the series is Christian, or at least is suitable for Christians. I found a good perspective in Bob Smietana's review for Christianity Today. Christ 'whispers' into the story, sometime pretty loudly it seems to me. But maybe not to you. Because that's one thing to remember about stories -- you can't leave the reader out of the equation. I got the scripture references on the tombs in Godric's Hollow and I've loved how, all along, the stories hint that death is not the end. There is a worse fate than physical death and Voldemort is a perfect illustration of that. (Just remembered -- in The Lord of the Rings the ancient Numenorians feared death, too, and it was their downfall.) But just remember that these are stories, after all, and you do a disservice to the story when you try to force it to do something it was never intended for.

Fantasy, maybe more than any other kind of story, is metaphor. But the metaphors work best when you don't strain too hard to look for them. They work best when you let the story sink in and simply be what it is.

Monday, July 23, 2007

I have read it ...

... and it is good. So very good. I wondered how she would do it -- end the story in such a way as to satisfy fans of the books and yet follow through on the heroic tale she seemed to be telling. Without giving anything away, I can say that J.K. Rowling accomplished it all -- not perfectly, but satisfyingly.

I bought the book Saturday afternoon, went home and started reading about 3:30 p.m. I quit at 11:30 to go to bed, then picked it up again after church yesterday and finished in about 3 hours. (And while I slept, Sam read it -- he's a very fast reader. Joel has it now, Bob and Tim are chomping at the bit.) My brain is still a big boggled by trying to absorb so much in a short time, but I really couldn't put it down. Rowling may not be a great literary stylist, but she knows how to tell a story. I was completely absorbed in the tale and sorry to see it end. For me at least, one mark of an author's skill is the ability to weave a world in such a way that you hate to leave. But the great thing about books is that I can revisit the world anytime I want. And I will want to return to the Harry Potter's world again.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

CFBA Tour: One Step Over the Border

This one sounds like fun -- I'll let you know more after I finish it. In the meantime ...

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

(Center Street June 12, 2007)


Stephen Bly is a pastor, a mayor, an antique Winchester gun collector and a writer.

He's mayor of a town of 308 in the mountains of Idaho, on the Nez Perce Indian Reservation. In his spare time, he pursues the three R's of ridin', ropin' and rodeo...and construction of Broken Arrow Crossing, a false-front western village near his home.

That keeps him very western. And he collect old Winchester rifles, which reflects his love of historical accuracy. He's also a fan of Jimmy Buffet music.

Stephen says about his writing, "I write about the West (historic or modern) from the inside. Born and raised on western ranches, I have both the heart and mind to describe things as they really were...and are. There are those who think the frontier has long passed and with it the ‘code of the west.’ The truth is, both are still around...and it’s fun to show that in a contemporary story. The West is so big, so diverse, so enchanting it’s a thrill to write about it in any era."

Stephen is the author of ninety-five books and hundreds of articles.


It’s a romp...

A road adventure...

It’s a buddy story with romantic comedy!!

Some call it CowboyLit. Rodeo cowboy Hap Bowman’s on a search for Juanita, the gal of his dreams, whom he hasn’t seen in 18 years. He seems stuck on 12-years-old and the enchanting girl he met then.

"An idiot obsession," his roping partner, Laramie Majors, chides.

But Laramie agrees to a final summer’s trek along the Rio Grande. If they don’t find Juanita during those months, Hap promises to drop the idea of the hunt for the mystery senorita. But if they find her, will she feel the same as Hap does about their years ago interlude?

In One Step Over The Border the time tested values of cowboys rub up against contemporary mores. It’s a crazy story that becomes more logical as the reader delves deeper into it. It will make you laugh and shed a tear or two.

Getting back to Hap’s pursuit . . . don’t we all have someone in the past, that we knew for only a short while, that we wish we could have known better, longer? Stephen Bly has!. So when Hap and Laramie ventured out on a quest for Hap’s Juanita, Stephen decided to invite others to go along too. Folks have been e-mailing Hap and asking for their own “Juanita Search Kits.”

They get a bumper sticker, magnet, bookmark, stickers, flyers, etc. It’s a whole packet of material that will equip anyone to join the fun of finding the Juanita with “the mark of God.” If they send Hap a picture of the places where they stuck their Juanita signs, they’ll receive a free copy of the book. It’s all there on the website at

And there’s a very special feature on more adventures about Hap and Laramie that did NOT appear in the book, can be found on AmazonShorts in the story entitled, Aim Low, Shoot High.

Friday, July 13, 2007

CFBA Tour: Fearless -- a review of sorts

Book Two of the Dominion Trilogy:

The world changed after that terrible day when the sky burned, and now every heart is gripped by fear...

And into the breach stride Grant Borrows and his team of heroes -- superheroes. As they use their powers to help a world experiencing one catastrophic disaster after another, Grant continues to grapple with destiny. Has he truly been able to choose a different path than the one planned by the Secretum? Or is he the reason the world seems to be falling apart? By the end of the book, you'll have discovered more about the mysterious organization called the Secretum, but more questions will remain, including the resolution to a cliffhanger ending that will absolutely guarantee you will want to read the third book, coming next summer -- Merciless.

In Fearless, Robin Parrish has crafted an exciting sequel to his debut novel, Relentless. And like Relentless, the pace never slows. I read the whole book last Saturday -- I couldn't put it down. Robin does a good job of pulling you into the world he has created -- a world like ours, but gripped by civil unrest and natural disasters on a scale that make the LA riots in 1992 or Hurricane Katrina seem like the good old days. But even as Grant and his fellow ringwearers use their powers to bring order and save lives, more challenges arise. They must deal with constant media coverage, as well as increasing suspicion from the government. When Grant and some of the others go to London seeking clues about the Secretum, events spin out of control and the team will never be the same again.

One of the pitfalls of a fast-paced story is a lack of emotional resonance. Fearless moves along so fast the characters hardly have time to breathe, let alone reflect on what's happening to them. And neither does the reader. Still, there's a certain reality to that -- when the world is falling apart all around us, most of us don't have time to process emotionally. But I think a little breathing -- and thinking -- room would have helped the story without slowing it down too much. Which is not to say that the characters are simply cardboard cutouts -- Grant and his sister and several of the other characters (especially Morgan, Payton, Lisa, Daniel and Alex) are distinct and do wrestle with what's going on. It's just that those moments of reflection feel hurried and a bit perfunctory. I don't mean to criticize the book for not being something it was never intended to be -- I just tend to like spending time in the characters' heads.

Fearless avoids the wheel-spinning that often slows down the second book of a trilogy. (Anybody besides me get bogged down in The Two Towers?) The plot developments are significant and set the stage for the final book. Robin has a journalist's eye for detail, so many of the scenes are vivid and gripping. He's not afraid to kill off (or at least appear to kill off) important characters, either. These deaths are significant to the story development and the ramifications will be felt throughout the third book, I'm sure.

Overall, I really enjoyed the book. When I finished it, I had to remind myself which world I lived in, which says something about Robin's ability to pull the reader in. Once again, he has managed to introduce ideas and raise questions in the reader's mind without preaching. If you enjoyed Relentless, you're going to want to read Fearless. And if you haven't read Relentless yet, then do so and then read Fearless. And then, as I said before, you're going to have a hard time waiting until next summer for the final installment.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

CFBA Tour: Fearless

Today I'm posting the canned stuff about Robin and the picture of the book. Tomorrow, I'll tell you why I can't wait for Book 3 (Merciless)!

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing


(Bethany House, July 1, 2007)



Robin Parrish had two great ambitions in his life: to have a family, and to be a published novelist.

In March of 2005, he proposed to his future wife the same week he signed his first book contract.

Born Michael Robin Parrish on October 13, 1975, Robin's earliest writing efforts took place on a plastic, toy typewriter, and resulted in several "books" (most between 10 and 30 pages long) and even a few magazines.

By the age of thirteen, he had begun winning local writing awards and became a regular in his high school's literary magazine. In college, he garnered acclaim from his English professors and fellow students while maturing and honing his skills.

After college, he entered the writing profession through a "side door" -- the Internet. He has spent more than ten years writing for various Web sites, including,, and his current project Infuze Magazine, which is a unique intersection between art and faith which he also conceived of and created.

One of his more "high concept" ideas for Infuze was to return to his love for storytelling and create a serialized tale that would play out every two weeks, telling a complete, compelling story over the course of nine months. That serialized story eventually came to the attention of several publishers, who saw it as a potential debut novel for Robin Parrish.

In 2005, Bethany House Publishers brought Robin full circle by contracting him for the rights to not only that first book, Relentless -- but two sequels. A trilogy, to unfold in the consecutive summers of 2006, 2007, and 2008. One massive tale -- of which that first, original story would form only the foundational first volume of the three -- spread across three books.

Robin is the Editor in Chief and creator of Infuze Magazine. He and his wife Karen reside in High Point, North Carolina. Karen works for High Point's First Wesleyan Church, where Robin and Karen are members and Small Group leaders.

Book Two of the Dominion Trilogy:

The world changed after that terrible day when the sky burned, and now every heart is gripped by fear...

And what about the book? Stay tuned ...

Friday, July 06, 2007

Friday goodies

Here's some good music: a new ep by Andrew Osenga (currently of Caedmon's Call) -- Letters to the Editor, Vol. 1. The music is wonderful -- acoustic and vocals, very simple. (Christian Music Today did a review.) He has a new fan. Would you like to have the cd? He's offering it as a free download from his Web site, though you can help out if you want. I like the way he went about writing the songs -- he asked people to send him pictures and stories and this is the result. The download includes a booklet with lyrics and more about how the songs came about. I think it's a neat look into the creative process.

Does the world need another group blog about writing? Well, The Misfits think so, and I say good idea. Check it out.