Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas to One and All!!

I just wanted to wish you all a very Merry Christmas!  This is my favorite time of year because I love to give without expecting anything in return. Below is an article I wrote for my church website about keeping the feeling of Christmas all year long.  I hope you enjoy it.

Keeping the Spirit of Christmas Throughout the New Year

As I sit writing this, Christmas is just two days away and the expectation of spending time with my family, my church family and my friends is bubbling up inside me.  You know the feeling I’m talking about.  It’s that “Christmas feeling”.  A feeling you get during the Christmas season.  It’s a feeling of joy, love, caring, sharing and most importantly giving.

Have you noticed that during this time of year everyone you seem to encounter seems just a little bit nicer than usual?  People tend to smile more and have a bounce in their step.  It’s always so exciting to me to see the way the world transforms during the Christmas season.  My question is why can’t we all be this way all year long?

Today I saw a wonderful sight.  It actually made me feel like a child again.  My husband, my mom and I were walking through a local stores parking lot when I heard the words, “On dasher, on dancer….”, it was coming from a speaker on a fire truck.  The firemen were driving through the parking lot throwing out brown packages to all the kids walking to or from the store.  The children were so excited.  I saw this precious little blond girl, about four years old, walking to her car with her daddy.  When they tossed the package out she scampered over to pick it up and when she turned back around the expression on her face was simply priceless.  What I saw in her face was the spirit of Christmas…a spirit of giving and receiving.

As a Christian we know that the greatest gift of all was our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, so that who soever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.”  John 3:16   God sent his precious Son to earth to die for us so that we can live eternally with Him.  What a gift He gave and is still giving every single day of our lives.  All you have to do is repent of your sins and ask Jesus to come into your heart.  Receive God’s gift.  Then you need to share God’s gift with everyone you know, and don’t know.  Share His love, His joy, and His gift.  Share the Spirit of Christmas everyday of your life.

Please, always remember that the real reason we should celebrate Christmas is because of the birth of Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Spirit of Christmas, He’s the reason for the season.

* * * * * * * * * * 

I would also like to share with you the following link to my favorite rendition of O HOLY NIGHT sung by the powerful tenor David Phelps. It is preceded by a brief message of giving.

Smiles & Blessings,

Friday, December 23, 2011

Stalker in the Shadows by Camy Tang - a review

I am a huge fan of the Love Inspired Suspense line of books so when I had an opportunity to review Stalker in the Shadows by Camy Tang, I jumped at the chance.  Let me tell you, I was not disappointed.

The story is about nurse Monica Grant who has plans to open a free clinic for children.  Unfortunately she is meeting resistance and starts receiving death threats. Monica is not going to give up her dream and decides to enlist Shaun O’Neill as her bodyguard.  Shaun was a former Border Patrol Guard.  After Monica receives a package containing a dead snake, Shaun believes that Monica’s stalker is the same person that murdered his sister years before.

Ms. Tang has developed her characters well and I enjoyed the romance between Monica & Shaun.  The plot kept me turning pages long into the night.  I even found myself sitting on the edge of my chair .  Great suspense!

If you enjoy good romance, suspense and Love Inspired books, Stalker in the Shadows is the book for you.

On a 5 star scale:  4.5 stars

Stalker in the Shadows releases on 01/15/12.  Make sure to grab a copy of this wonderful suspenseful novel as soon as possible as Love Inspired books only stay on the shelf for one month.

I would like to thank the author, Camy Tang, for my review copy of Stalker in the Shadows.  I received my free review copy to read and give my honest review which I have done.

Smiles & Blessings,

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Winner of My Favorite Bible

With the help of a winner was selected to receive a copy of My Favorite Bible.

to Sarah!

Sarah, I have sent you an email requesting your mailing information.  Please respond ASAP as I need to get your mailing information to the Publicist by the 15th!

Smiles & Blessings,

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Common English Bible - Interview with Paul Franklyn

Below is an interview with Paul Franklyn, an associate publisher and project director for the Common English Bible.  I'm sure this interview will answer any questions you have about the Common English Bible.

Interview with Paul Franklyn 

Paul N. Franklyn, associate publisher and project director for the Common
English Bible ( in Nashville, TN, earned the PhD in
Old Testament from Vanderbilt University. Since 1983 Paul has acquired,
edited, or produced more than 600 books, CD-ROMs, DVDs, and commercial
websites. Paul specializes in planning and launching new business ventures,
and his product development emphasis is in Bible, Reference, and resources
for leaders of congregations.

What is the Common English Bible? 
The Common English Bible is not simply a revision or update of an existing translation. It’s a bold new translation designed to meet the needs of Christians as they work to build a strong and meaningful relationship with God through Jesus Christ. A key goal of the translation team is to make the Bible accessible to a broad range of people; it’s written at a comfortable level (similar to USA TODAY) for most people who read English.

How is the Common English Bible unique? 
It’s uncommon in that it’s the newest translation by the largest number of biblical scholars & church leaders in words 21st century readers use every day, aligning academic rigor with modern understandability, proven through extensive field-testing with, and acting on feedback from, hundreds of readers. The new Common English Bible is the only translation to combine and balance highly respected ecumenical biblical scholarship necessary for serious study with responsiveness to 21st century clear communication requirements for comprehensive clarity. The Common English Bible is the only translation to extensively use contractions where the text warrants an engaging conversational style (not used in divine or poetic discourse).
And among all Bibles available today, the Common English Bible is the only one that includes exclusive, detailed color maps from National Geographic, well known for its accurate topographical map making.

Explain the translation process. 
Combining scholarly accuracy with vivid language, the Common English Bible is the work of 120 biblical scholars from 24 denominations in American, African, Asian, European, andLatino communities, representing such academic institutions as Asbury Theological Seminary, Azusa Pacific University, Bethel Seminary, Denver Seminary, Princeton Theological Seminary, Seattle Pacific University, Wheaton College, Yale University, and many others. They translated the Bible into English directly from the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts. Additionally, more than 500 readers in 77 groups field-tested the translation. Every verse was read aloud in the reading groups, where potentially confusing passages were identified. The translators considered the groups' responses and, where necessary, reworked those passages to clarify in English their meaning from the original languages. In total, more than 600 people worked jointly to bring the Common English Bible to fruition.

How long did this translation process take? 
We began in 2007. The complete Bible—Old Testament, New Testament, and Apocrypha—was just released in 2011. We were able to accomplish so much with so many people because of using a matrix schedule, coordinating in realtime translators with reviewers, and using Internet communication technology.

Who Is It For? 
The Common English Bible is committed to the whole church of Jesus Christ. That’s reflected in the dedicated work of a diverse team with broad biblical scholarship. As a result, the English translation of ancient words has an uncommon relevance for a broad audience of Bible readers—from children to scholars.

Why do we need another Bible translation? 
The Common English Bible is a non-polarizing Bible translation. It’s the result of collaboration between opposites: scholars working with average readers; teens working with retirees; men working with women; conservatives working with liberals; many denominations and many ethnicities coming together around the common goal of creating a translation that unites rather than divides, with the ultimate goal of mutually accomplishing God’s overall work in the world. The Common English Bible is also needed today because the digital revolution is accelerating changes in the English language and its everyday usage and understandability. This translation is necessary to clearly communicate God’s Word because 9,000 new words & meaning revisions are added yearly to the English lexicon. The Common English Bible is today’s freshest translation and uses natural, 21st century English.

Why would pastors and teachers want the Common English Bible?
Professional communicators (preachers, professors, speakers, leaders, etc.) who use this authoritative translation (not a paraphrase) will be great communicators, effectively reaching their audiences with biblical text their audiences readily understand because the text is written the way they naturally talk.

Why is the Common English Bible translated to be gender-inclusive? 
Present-day writers and speakers of the English language are no longer taught to use only male pronouns when referring generally to other human beings. Instead of referring to persons in general as “he,” “him,” or “his,” we’re taught to use third person pronouns, such as “we,” “they,” or “them” in our general communication. So, rather than referring only to "brothers" in the Bible when the context includes both genders, the Common English Bible says "brothers and sisters." The Common English Bible contains unbiased gender language because the Bible message itself teaches that God's love and grace must be clearly available to every woman, man, and child. Pronouns can be translated inclusively, accurately, and smoothly without changing the meaning of the source language with respect to general human beings. Pronouns for God, Lord, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit are translated as he, his, or him.

What are some examples of the translation style?
The traditional term “Son of Man” as a reference to Jesus’ self identification with humans, is translated in the Common English Bible as “Human One” to accurately reflect Jesus’ fully human nature; and the term “God’s Son” is used to accurately reflect Jesus’ fully divine nature. Likewise, “happy” is used in place of “blessed” in the Beatitudes to communicate the original language’s intent of human flourishing and community commitment (similar to the meaning behind “happiness” as it’s used in the US Declaration of Independence). Other terms used in the Common English Bible include “change your hearts and lives” for “repent,” “immigrant” for “alien,” “solemn promise” for “vow,” and “funeral clothing” for “sackcloth.

Who Sponsored the Common English Bible? 
The Common English Bible is a distinct new imprint and brand for Bibles and reference products about the Bible. Publishing and marketing offices are located in Nashville, Tennessee. The CEB translation was funded by the Church Resources Development Corp, which allows for cooperation among denominational publishers in the development and distribution of Bibles, curriculum, and worship materials. The Common English Bible Committee meets periodically and consists of denominational publishers from the following denominations: Disciples of Christ (Chalice Press); Presbyterian Church U.S.A. (Westminster John Knox Press); Episcopal Church (Church Publishing Inc); United Church of Christ (Pilgrim Press); and United Methodist Church (Abingdon Press).

What evangelical school was the first to endorse the translation?
Fuller Theological Seminary approved the new Common English Bible as a translation for use in biblical studies courses for its more than 4,000 students, and particularly for all master’s-level instruction in the seminary’s School of Theology, School of Psychology, and School of Intercultural Studies on all eight of its campuses.

What Common English Bible products are available? 
The Common English Bible translation is available in multiple print and electronic editions, with and without the Apocrypha. Reference books supporting the translation are also available. See the website for the entire list.

Where is the Common English Bible available?
At your favorite bookstore, at online stores (such as Amazon or Barnes & Noble),, or by visiting

Smiles & Blessings,

Friday, December 9, 2011

First Wild Card Tour - The Story Template by Amy Deardon

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books.  A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured.  The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between!  Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Taegais Publishing, LLC (July 25, 2011)
***Special thanks to Amy Deardon for sending me a review copy.***


Amy Deardon is married with two children, and spends much time taking care of her family. In her life BC (before children) she was a scientist who did bench research. She is also a Christian who came to faith under protest through studying the historic circumstances surrounding the death of Jesus.

Amy has written one novel, A LEVER LONG ENOUGH, about a small military team that travels back in time to film the theft of Jesus' body from the tomb. This book won two awards.

Visit the author's website.


THE STORY TEMPLATE is a programmed learner that allows the writer to develop her story from chaos. The book uses a series of exercises for the writer to construct her story’s four foundational pillars; learn how to use the “secret weapon” of story structure: the story template; build character depth and believable change; and construct subplots. THE STORY TEMPLATE then reviews writing techniques, and finishes with discussions of editing, writing the synopsis and query letter, submitting one’s work to agents, and types of publishing that the writer may wish to pursue.

Product Details:

List Price: $15.95
Paperback: 260 pages
Publisher: Taegais Publishing, LLC (July 25, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0981899730
ISBN-13: 978-0981899732

My Thoughts:

The Story Template is a unique book that I believe will be a permanent "go to" book for any writer, novice or published. Amy Dreardon has created a template that can work with any story, script or novel. I took a quick read through her book and know that it is something that I will refer to over and over again. I plan on going back now and really devour the concepts she has worked through in this book and apply them to my own WIP.


Writing a novel or screenplay sounds like a great idea until you sit down to start. Where do you start? Many different methods exist to write the story, ranging from extensive preplanning to venturing onto the first page without an idea. This book describes an approach to developing story--laid out as a sequential series of exercises to facilitate implementation--that you can use whether you prefer a structured or loose approach to writing. You can use it at the start to develop an idea fragment, or later to rescue a partial or completed manuscript that doesn't seem to be working. The method works whether you want to write plot-driven (genre) or character-driven (literary) stories. It enables you to efficiently use your time and creativity by breaking down the process of story building into a logical plan. You will not waste time sitting at your keyboard, wondering what you should write and how you can organize your ideas into a complete manuscript.

     The idea for this book originated from my own learning process in producing a novel. Having written scientific articles, newspaper columns, and other nonfiction, when I decided to write a novel I was surprised by how difficult it was to get the words down. I tried outlining, and I tried just going ahead. I had wonderful ideas, but although the scenes I wrote were exciting the story itself often seemed somehow “wrong.” I threw out more pages than I care to remember. Through sheer grit I finished the novel, but when I thought about writing another my heart sank. I decided to first solve the problem of understanding how story worked.

     I chose twenty entertaining, modern novels in different genres, and fifteen more-or-less recent films (and I've since confirmed my preliminary observations with tens of more stories). One at a time, I took them apart: I made a list of each scene, then did a word count or timed the scene, calculated percentages and other statistics, and graphed each story onto a five page chart. I studied each story's progression, then compared the progressions of different stories to determine common pathways. I also read all that I could on constructing stories. The writing how-to literature was heavy on techniques (plotting, point of view, characterization, dialogue)--all of which are important--but there wasn't much on blending it all together. Screenwriting how-to books were stronger on structure, but still didn't give me all I needed.

     I studied story after story, puzzling out how they were built. First, I identified elements called story posts, and found that these posts fell reliably within the timing of the whole. Then I found consistent trends of progression in the plot, as well as consistent trends of development and interactions in the characters. My biggest surprise, in fact, was finding just how unvarying were the underlying levels of the story. I also identified a unit of story construction I call a “bubble” that bridges the gap between the high concept ideas for the story and individual scenes.

     Once I had my background knowledge, I coached students to develop their stories, and thereby constructed an algorithm for the practical application of this theory.

     So, what is this “story template” that is the title of this book? Is this a formula or blueprint you can mindlessly follow, like a paint-by-numbers canvas?

     In a word, no. I like to call what I found a template since it describes the shape or progression, on a deep level, of virtually all stories. Recognizing this pattern in a story is something I liken to sketching a face. An artist will tell you that a person's eyes are about halfway down the head, and are separated by another eye width. The bottom of the nose is halfway between the eyes and the chin, the mouth is proportionally between the nose and the chin and extends to imaginary vertical lines drawn below the eyes' pupils, the tips of the ears hit about eyelid level, earlobe tips at bottom-nose level, and on and on. Faces are infinitely varied, yet if the artist ignores these rough proportions, no matter how carefully sketched the face will always look “wrong.” Similarly, you will use the template to ensure that your story elements are proportionally correct and all present. The template gives you a guide, but never dictates, what you can write.


     Getting the story shape right is the first, and (in my opinion) the hardest step to writing a gripping novel or screenplay. Without good structure, the story tends to meander without a point: although it may have high action, it is characterized by low tension.

     You may want to first read this entire book to get an overview of story before starting with the exercises. Keep in mind that shaping a story is intensive work, and it will take you weeks or even months to get your story organized. This is normal. Don't get discouraged, and don't skimp on the exercises. Take your time to thoroughly work through each step. At the end, your story will be much stronger, and the actual writing will go like a dream.

     This book is not sufficient for producing a finished story ready for publication or production. You will need to master further writing techniques such as characterization, description, dialogue, transitions, editing, etc. I will touch upon a few of these to give you some direction, but the only way to get really good is to practice. Fortunately, many excellent books are available for help. See Appendix One to start.
     Outline of The Plan

     I like to use the metaphor of constructing a house to envision building a story. To assemble a house, you move from larger to smaller elements to sequentially put something together. Only after you have worked through many tasks is it finally time to do the fine details of painting the windowsills and installing the wallpaper. Similarly, while you have ideas about character arcs and plot twists, and maybe you've even written some scenes, you will be well served to develop a direction before writing through your manuscript. If you write your first draft as the ideas occur to you, then this will comprise your story planning. You'll find that you probably don't have enough material to form an entire novel or screenplay, and even if you do it may not hang together. Believe me, this is a laborious and frustrating way to go.

     The Story Template gives a series of actions for you to do that will allow you to develop your story ideas with a minimum of angst and wasted energy. Some exercises will be quick, others will require a great deal of thought, and perhaps even a marination of thought, before finishing. Don't be in a rush--some of your best ideas will come as you play with character or event possibilities. As you continue to develop your story you will probably revisit different components of these exercises, going back and changing previous work, as you move through this programmed story outliner. That's okay. Just go with the flow, and have fun.

     When you've finished with these exercises, you will be ready to start writing your manuscript, with ease and flow and speed, because you will have already done the hard organizational work. Even if you want to change the story as you're writing, you'll be able to do so with an understanding of how to balance the changes. You will have a detailed roadmap that will allow you to bring your vision--your book or screenplay--to completion.
     Writing Tools

     You are a writer. Before you start, you need to assemble the following items:

     1. A tool with which to do your major writing, either a computer, an old-fashioned typewriter, or paper and pencil. If you do handwrite your notes, you may want to treat yourself to a special pen that you love, and is only to be used for your magnus opus.

     2. A system to organize your template exercises. I prefer hard copy: printing out computer files, or writing on loose leaf paper, then placing the sheets in a three-ringed binder. This notebook may inspire you and give you a sense of accomplishment as you look through to see how much you've done. Not as recommended is keeping files only on computer because they're harder to flip through, mark up, and juxtapose ideas; or a spiral or bound notebook because you can't replace pages or change their order. But do what works for you.

     3. A small notebook to carry with you at all times. Use this to jot down any thoughts that come to you.

     4. Index cards. Get two packs, and we'll go over how to use them to story board. Also get a roll of masking tape and a permanent marker (thin tip) for bold marks. Finally, you may want to purchase an index card binder to permanently keep your cards in order.

     Getting the Words Down

     Here are some tips to help you get the words down:

     1. Decide on a daily quota of words that is manageable. A good starting goal might be 300, but remember to keep pushing this number up as you become accustomed to the writing process. Create a log to record your daily output. Post this on your refrigerator or otherwise keep it prominent in your daily life.

     2. Set aside at least fifteen minutes at a time in which you can remain undisturbed. Aim for an hour or more if you can.

     3. Don't start your writing session by checking your e-mail or doing anything else except for writing.

     4. Turn off anything that might distract you--music, radio, or television. Some people can write through these things, but try without for a few days to see if you do better.

     5. If you're stuck, do free-writing where you talk to yourself on paper. Something like, “I'm trying to figure out what Jason's problems with Mike might be in this scene. I was thinking about…”

     Let's get started.


Sunday, December 4, 2011

Winner of A Sound Among the Trees

The contest is over and the winner of Susan Meissner's, A Sound Among the Trees is...


An email has been sent to Barbjan10 and she has 48 hours to respond or another name will be selected.  Thank you all for entering this giveaway and please come back soon as I will be offering more giveaways.  Also please check out the My Favorite Bible giveaway here and also the chance to win your own copy of the Common English Bible here.

Smiles & Blessings,