Thursday, November 30, 2006

Look at the Snow - Landon That Is

Here's another quick post on Landon Snow and the Island of Arcanum by R. K. Mortenson. (Another quick post? When is she going to stop fooling around and post something lengthy? Well, probably January. With finishing up reviews, articles, and a critique - just about done, Valerie! - plus the holiday rush of cookies and gifts I've not even started, and a job where I can be called at any moment and asked to send out 100+ emails or something, plus starting Waterfall Books, church, rearranging the house, and about a dozen other things, blogging is taking a backseat. But at least it's not in the trunk or lying dead by the side of the road.)

Anyhow, though I haven't read Island, three specific things make me want to. First, I've read the first title in the series, Landon Snow and the Auctor's Riddle. Second, Randy was a Navy chaplain for many years, and the book is dedicated to the men and women serving in the Navy and Marine Corps (one of which is a friend of mine). Third, this novel is an ode to The Voyage of the Dawn Treader - also written by a guy who uses initials in his pen name. If you're not aware how much I love the Narnia books, you haven't been reading this blog for long. Even my email reflects this - The Lone Islands at

(Side note on using initials - it's classy, though the initials K.L. look a little too much like "kill" for my comfort. But it drives me crazy if I can't figure out the gender of the initialed writer from the context. CJ - I couldn't find anything that indicated one or the other until you started Title Trakk!)

By the way, Randy has a short story about Landon Snow published in the December issue of the well-known Clubhouse magazine. Read it online here!

Hey - you got your wish! This is actually somewhat long, if only because I like to ramble.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

An Amazing Influencer

Like the graphic above? It's not mine. Rachelle Arlin Credo created it for a website to help promote Waterfall Books. I didn't ask her to. She simply came up with the idea and did it. And that's only one of the many innovative methods she has used to earn influencer points.

Wow. You rock, Rachelle. Thanks so much!

Monday, November 27, 2006

We Have a Winner!

I'm pleased to announce the winner of the book Straight Up by Lisa Samson:

Deborah Khuanghlawn!

Please stop by and visit her blog to congratulate her! And don't forget, I'll be giving away another book every 20 subscribers, and will draw names from the entire list of subscribers, so the more people you get to sign up for Waterfall Books, the more chances you have to win (that is - if you're a subscriber yourself!). Plus there's the influencer prize packs and the grand prize to be won as well. So spread the word!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Calm, Cool & Adjusted

Happy Thanksgiving! Due to the busyness of this week (yeah, it's busy for everyone, but most people aren't taking half the meal to Mom's side of the family on Thursday, having Dad's side of the family over on Friday, plus helping their "adopted" family get stuff ready for their Thanksgiving on Wednesday), I haven't posted yet about Calm, Cool & Adjusted, the newest release by Christian chick-lit queen Kristin Billerbeck.

This book delves into the life of the third of a trio of friends, Poppy. Now that things seem to be going smoothly for Lilly and Morgan, chiropractor and natural health freak Poppy begins to wonder if her own life isn't out of whack.

Be prepared for another great laugh-out-loud novel from Kristin Billerbeck, this time with an organic flair. I'd recommend you read the first two Spa Girls books before you read this one, as it contains many spoilers about the lives of Lilly and Morgan. Of course, if you plan to only read Calm, Cool & Adjusted, it's a complete story in itself. But trust me, if you're female and you like witty fiction at all, after finishing this novel you'll want to read the whole set.

I give this novel a Waterfall Books rating of Eddy/Splash. Yes, I know, a split rating. Not sure if I'll try to incorporate or avoid those in the future. But it's Thanksgiving morning and my brain never works quite right in the morning. Stop by the other CFBA blogs (on the sidebar) for more about this book.

There are still a few (very few) slots left to subscribe to the Waterfall Books newsletter and have a chance to win Straight Up. But don't worry that you'll miss the boat - I have lots of other books to give away, including the huge prize pack (the contents of which will be revealed next month!). And be sure to tell others about Waterfall Books to earn an influencer pack.

Have a great Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Scoop by Rene Gutteridge

Rene Gutteridge, author of the lovable Boo series, begins her new Occupational Hazards series with Scoop. After their parents' death, the seven homeschooled Hazard siblings decided to sell their clown business and get jobs in the "real world." Five years later, Hayden Hazard is the new assistant to Channel 7 News productor Hugo Talley, who struggles to handle the stress in his job. An aging anchor with a Botox treatment gone bad. A weatherman so wrapped up in his job he's predicting sun while it's hailing. A reporter with an awakened conscience and a crush on Hayden. And Hugo rarely has time to even see his wife. A normal day is all he can handle - but with the news business, anything can happen. And everything is about to.

I came to Scoop with high expectations as the oldest of nine homeschooled siblings. The caricatured portrayal of the Hazard family rankled a bit. I realized exaggeration was one of Rene's trademarks, but it still annoyed me slightly. I don't know if that was the reason I didn't get into the book until after the first nine chapters or so. Only the opening and closing chapters were from Hayden's point of view, and it took a while for me to connect with the other characters. But after the sewage plant disaster (you'll have to read the book to find out!), I was pulled into the story and much enjoyed the ride. Scoop is a sweet humorous story with a touch of mystery. If you want insight into the running of a news station, or simply a funny read, be sure to pick up Scoop. And if you want to know more about the novel and its author, check out the Christian Fiction Blogging Alliance links on the sidebar.

I give Scoop a Waterfall Books rating of Splash. And there's still time to subscribe to the Waterfall Books enewsletter and have a chance to win Straight Up! (See review below.)

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Waterfall Books presents Straight Up

They are living lives they were never meant to live.

Bits of story collide like shards of broken glass in the latest novel from Lisa Samson, Straight Up. I'm almost afraid to share too much about this wonderful novel for fear of ruining it for you.

It's not for the faint of heart. It's not for those who like figuring out where the author is going. I'd read two of Lisa's books before - usually by then I'm starting to get a feel for how an author likes to unweave their stories. About a third of the way through Straight Up, I suddenly realized I had no idea where Lisa was going with the lives of Georgia and Fairly and the host of minor characters: Uncle Geoffrey, Sean, Hort, Solo, Mary-Margaret, Clarissa, and others. I felt lost for a second. Then I realized I was in for an adventure - and Lisa Samson hadn't let me down yet.

And she didn't. And those shards of broken glass? Their deep and colorful shades came together in a far different picture than I expected, one that pierced with a strange unearthly joy - and pain. I will forever think differently about the choices I make.

Highly recommended. I give this novel the rating of Cascade.

I received two copies of Straight Up, so I am giving one away to the first subscribers to Waterfall Books. I still have about ten spots open before the cut-off for this giveaway. To subscribe to this newsletter featuring reviews like the one above, send an email here. If you've already subscribed, you're automatically entered!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Landon Snow and the Island of Arcanum

Nope, this isn't the book I mentioned yesterday. I should post about that tomorrow. Actually, I haven't read Landon Snow and the Island of Arcanum yet. It's book three in the Landon Snow series by R. K. Mortenson and I haven't read book two yet. But I am interested in reading it, as I've heard there are some Voyage of the Dawn Treader-ish elements included.

I just lent out my copy of the first Landon Snow book (Landon Snow and the Auctor's Riddle) to a fantasy-hungry 9-year-old.

For more about this book and series, visit the blogs below:

Jim Black
Jackie Castle
Valerie Comer
Frank Creed
Gene Curtis
Chris Deanne
Janey DeMeo
April Erwin
Beth Goddard
Todd Michael Greene
Leathel Grody
Karen Hancock
Sherrie Hibbs
Sharon Hinck
Joleen Howell
Jason Joyner
Karen and at Karen's myspace
Oliver King
Tina Kulesa
Lost Genre Guild
Kevin Lucia
Rachel Marks
Shannon McNear
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Caleb Newell
John Otte
Cheryl Russel
Hannah Sandvig
Mirtika Schultz
Stuart Stockton
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Chris Walley
Daniel I. Weaver

Saturday, November 11, 2006

An Uh-Oh

I've wanted a laptop for years. But as a (mostly unpaid) freelance writer who picks up odd jobs online when she can, I haven't been able to afford one. Instead I hog the family computer and struggle to focus on my writing in the midst of life with eight siblings. Well, one moved out in January and just got engaged this week (congrats, Stephen and Sarah!) so he doesn't really count.

Anyhow, a Dell catalog arrived in the mail Wednesday, taunting me with sleek laptops with steep price tags. That evening I went to look up lyrics to a Superchic[k] song and one of those little annoying ads came up. One that said, "Win a Free Laptop."

I took the bait. I clicked. They gave me three options to choose from - one had a 100GB hard drive. I remembered our old youth pastor's wife had mentioned something about actually getting a laptop from one of these ad things. You just had to be sure to cancel everything you signed up for.

Okay. I could do that. Write 'em all down, make a bunch of phone calls, mail a few things back. No problem. Much easier than earning $1000 at $10 or less per hour. Minus taxes.

I began going through the survey stuff at the beginning, then got to the first offer page. It offered a bonus. Sign up for this particular offer and get Microsoft Office. Home Sweet Word. If I still wasn't sure at this point, that clinched it.

I signed up for two silver offers. Two gold offers. And SIX platinum offers. I signed up for things I'd never use and others I'd been wanting to do for a while, like a DVD club (after all, the new computer was coming with a DVD player!). One even said they'd give me a $25 Walmart gift card, which would pay for everything but the DVD club.

And then, bleary-eyed (I'd started after midnight and it now approached three), I clicked the link to check my gift status. All the offers I'd signed up for were still pending, which I expected. But there was something else. I needed to refer two friends. They would need to click my link and also sign up for the ten offers, within the next 60 days.

Ha. Ha. Ha.

Thanks for telling me about this up front.

But hey, I have friends, don't I? And I still need a laptop. And they could get a laptop too - they'd just also need two referrals.

So please. If this interests you at all (either getting a laptop or being really nice and helping me out), click on the link and check it out. I'd really appreciate it.

In other news, check back early next week for a quick preview of what's to come in the Waterfall Books newsletter, including a review of an awesome novel. There will also be details on how to win the novel by subscribing to the newsletter. But don't wait! Subscribing now could actually improve your chances of winning the book!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Cubicle Next Door

Your nice office has been divided into two cubicles since the Air Force Academy hired one too many instructors. You're now sharing space with a charming ex-pilot who expects you to be his new best friend. Not only will he not take no for an answer, he doesn't even ask! Even your grandmother is rooting for him. What's a geekish girl to do? Vent online, of course.

Jackie Harrison created her anonymous blog, The Cubicle Next Door, to share about office life and the environmental issues she cares about. And it's the only place where she can freely share her feelings about the guy on the other side of the partition wall, Joe, who she dubs "John Smith." As those feelings become more confused, a news station runs a segment on blogging and features The Cubicle Next Door. Now everyone is reading her blog, including Joe.

The Cubicle Next Door had jumped onto my favorite novels list by the time I'd finished the first chapter. Siri Mitchell has crafted an immensely humorous and heartwarming tale. The novel is chock-full of funny and memorable scenes - Jackie's grandmother and her friends switching from bridge to poker, the Emma Crawford coffin race, skiing lessons.

The beginning was so wonderful, I wondered how the end would meet my expectations, but it did. And threw in a few twists along the way. Jackie's blog posts are included, complete with comments. A novel about a blogger - how can you get better than that? Here's a bit from chapter one to whet your appetite:

“So what do you think, Jackie?”

What do I think? Funny Joe should ask me that. He's just finished reading my blog. He's just quoted me to myself. Or is it myself to me? Do I sound surreal, as if I’m living in parallel universes?

I am!

The blog—my blog—is all about Joe. And other topics that make me want to scream. But the clever thing is, I'm anonymous. When I’m blogging.

I'm Jackie, Joe's cubicle-mate, when I'm not.

And that's the problem.

Joe is asking Jackie (me) what I think about the Mystery Blogger (also me). And since I don’t want Joe to know the blog is all about me and what I think of him, I can't tell him what I think about me.

My brain is starting to short circuit.

So if I can't tell him what I think about me, I certainly can't tell him what I think about him, so I'm going to have to pretend not to be me. Not me myself and not me The Cubicle Next Door Blogger—TCND to my fans.

I have fans!

If I were clever I'd say something like, “Look!” and point behind him and then duck out of the room when he turned around to look.

But there’s so much computer equipment stacked around my desk and so many cables snaking around the floor that I’d break my neck if I tried to run away. So that option is out.

I could try pretending I didn't hear him. “What?”

“SUVs. So what do you think about them?”

But then we'd basically end up back where we started.

So how did I get myself into this mess?

It was all Joe's fault.

I'm giving away a copy of The Cubicle Next Door as part of the promotion for my upcoming review newsletter, Waterfall Books. Go here for info on how you can win it, as well as other great books!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Coldwater Revival - FIRST Day

It is November 1st, time for the FIRST Day Blog Tour! (Join our alliance! Click the button!) The FIRST day of every month we will feature an author and their latest book's FIRST chapter!

This month's feature author is:

This blog is featuring a contest to win a copy of Nancy's new book, Coldwater Revival. Just leave a comment and you may be the winner!

Just three weeks before her wedding, Emma Grace Falin has returned to her hometown of Coldwater, Texas, consumed by a single, burning desire. She must confront the guilt and shame of a devastating event that has haunted her since childhood.

"...What a stunning debut novel."
--Wendy Lawton, Literary Agent, author of Impressions in Clay

"An astonishing debut! Coldwater Revival is a hauntingly beautiful story made doubly so by Nancy Jo Jenkins stunning, lyrical writing. I was mesmerized from cover to cover."
--Deborah Raney, author of A Nest of Sparrows and A Vow to Cherish


Q. How long did it take you to write Coldwater Revival?

A. I perceived the idea for Coldwater Revival in June, 2003, and completed the manuscript in March, 2005.

Q. Tell us about your journey from writer to published novelist.

A. During my teaching career, I dreamed of the day when I could write the stories that continually swam around in my head. I didn't know at the time that it would take me four or five years of attending workshops, conferences, retreats, lectures, and of studying tapes, books and other materials before I was ready to put my newly-acquired knowledge to use, and begin writing the stories that God had prompted me to write. In March, 2004, at the Mount Hermon Christian Writing Conference, I submitted a book proposal to Steve Laube (Literary agent), and Jeff Dunn, (Acquisitions Editor) for RiverOak. Both gentlemen asked me to send them all I had written on Coldwater Revival, which at the time was 109 pages. During the summer of 2004, both men offered me a contract. My book was published by RiverOak and released in May, 2006.

Q. The agony and healing Emma Grace went through are so real. What personal experiences did you draw from to portray Emma Grace's feelings so well?

A. There was a time in my life when I suffered with depression, though it was not due to a death in the family, as Emma Grace's was. At the time, it seemed that I was in a daily knock-down, drag-out fistfight with sadness. I was truly blessed in that I was never prescribed any kind of medication to treat my depression, which proved to be relatively short-lived. But I did receive counseling, which was just what I needed to win the battle with this debilitating condition. During that time of depression I endured many of the symptoms that Emma Grace suffered through. Excessive sleeping was about the only symptom we did not share. There were times when I couldn't swallow my food, and times when I could almost touch the face of that same blackness that almost overwhelmed Emma Grace. Her sorrow and guilt were difficult scenes for me to write, and I found myself crying each time I wrote about Emma Grace's sadness and the continual ache in her heart.

Q. Emma Grace loses all desire for life when her brother dies - not eating or talking, just living in the blissful cocoon of sleep. Do you have any advice for folks who are in that dark place right now?

A. Communication was the key that unlocked the door of depression for me. Communicate with God, even if the only words you can utter are the words, "Help me." But I also benefited greatly from talking to a certified counselor; one who was trained in helping people express their pain, their needs, their fears. I hope that anyone who feels sad and lonely for an extended length of time, will contact their pastor, or someone who can direct them to a Christian counselor.

Q. Emma Grace's grandmother lives in the city while the rest of the family lives in the country. Why do you think she didn't move out to the country with the rest of the family long ago?

A. Granny Falin immigrated from Ireland to America with her husband and son when Emma Grace's papa was just a lad. This family shared a dream about their new country. It would be a place where they could find work and prosperity, raise their family, and put down roots. Even the Great Hurricane of 1900 couldn't wash those dreams from Granny's heart. Though her only remaining child lived a hundred miles away in the rural township of Coldwater, Texas, Granny could never leave Galveston. The island and the sea that surrounded the island were her home now. It was where the ashes of her husband and three children were buried. It was the home she and her husband had dreamed of during their desperate years together in Ireland. If she left Galveston and moved to Roan's home, she would be giving up the dream she had shared with her husband.

Q. Papa and Elo have a tough time showing their emotions. Elo, especially, is so hard to read in the book. Why do you think some people hole up inside themselves rather than sharing their emotions?

A. I believe we are born with a portion of our personality already deeply embedded within us. Some people are reticent to express their feelings and emotions, while others have no problem whatsoever in expressing what they feel or think. I have known many individuals who are like Elo; people we sometimes refer to as "the strong, silent type". Papa and Elo are powerful protectors and providers who waste little time and effort on words. Both of these men feel that "actions speak louder than words". Added to that is the fact that Elo feels extreme discomfort when his mother and sisters are emotionally distraught, therefore, he maintains a rigid demeanor, in part, to provide a stable link in the chain that makes up his family - The Falins.

Q. Do you have other books coming out soon?

A. Thank you for asking about my upcoming books. I'm about to submit my proposal for a novel entitileld, "Whisper Mountain". This story takes place in the early 1900's in the Great Smoky Mountains. It is the story about lost love, and a desperate woman's journey to fill the void that deprivation and loss have left in her heart. The story has elements of mystery, intrigue, murder, and of course, romance. I'm very excited about this story. I've also begun writing a sequel to "Coldwater Revival" which will parallel both Emma Grace's life after 1933, and the adventurous trek Elo begins when he falls in love.

Coldwater Revival


Coldwater, Texas

Three weeks before I was to marry Gavin O'Donnell, I set my feet upon the beaten path leading to Two-Toe Creek. What I had to offer Gavin in marriage—my whole heart, or just a part—depended on the decision I would make today.

As my feet tracked the dusty pathway they stirred loose soil to the air. My heart stirred as well, for the guilt I had buried in its depths smoldered as though my brother had just died, and not five years earlier. In the shadowed days following the tragedy, my disgrace had glared like a packet of shiny new buttons. I'd not thought to hide it at the time. In truth, I'd thought of little, other than how to survive. But at some point during that time of sorrowful existence, when my days and nights strung together like endless telegraph wires, I dug a trench around my heart and buried my shame.

From that day until this, I deeded myself the actor's role, closing the curtain on my stain of bitter memories, hiding my sorrow behind a veil of pretense. But that old deceiver, Time, had neither softened my guilt nor put it to rest; only allowed it ample pause to fester like deadly gangrene. Now, as the day of my wedding drew near, my heart cried out for healing. It was, you see, far wiser than my head. My heart understood its need for restoration—before I exchanged wedding vows with Gavin. For this reason, I now walked the trail to Two-Toe Creek. To revisit my failures of yesteryear and reclaim the peace that had slipped past the portals of my childhood. Perhaps then I could give Gavin the entirety of my heart.