Thursday, January 24, 2008

National Sanctity of Life Week

Here's a little something different. I didn't even realize it was Sanctity of Life Week until I received the following press release. It doesn't quite fit in with the theme of this blog, but who cares? I'm here to support my fellow writers in whatever way I can. And honoring the week is something I wanted to do.


How Babies Have Replaced Bling as the Cool Fashion Accessory and Why You Need to Know What to Do if Your Friend Buys Into This

There's a baby boom in Tinsel Town, and many of its biggest stars are taking part. Already this month, singer Christina Aguilera and her husband welcomed a son, and Nicole Richie, girlfriend of rocker Benjie Madden, gave birth to a daughter. Others are mamas-in-waiting, proudly showing their expanding bellies and giving interviews on when their engagement may take place. Still others allow the media to guess who the father might be.

Popular magazines cover every moment of their pregnancies and likely would have sent reporters into the delivery room if allowed. Designer diaper bags have replaced designer purses as the cool new Hollywood accessory. Baby showers take precedence over wedding showers, and the wedding does not necessarily come before the birth.

It all looks so glamorous and exciting. Who wouldn't want a beautiful bundle of joy to lavish love and kisses on? And yet, sometimes that bundle arrives under circumstances that are not God's best. Take, for example, Jamie Lynn Spears. One moment she was a squeaky-clean teen television sensation and star of Nickelodeon's Zoey 101. The next, she's in the news not for her acting but for being a pregnant teenager. With one decision, her reputation is now in shreds and her television show is under the threat of cancellation. One decision; huge dilemma.

This week is Sanctity of Life week. And because of the Hollywood Mama Drama, it is also a perfect time to understand that mama drama doesn't only happen in Hollywood. Every year nearly 1 million teen girls find themselves pregnant, and unlike Hollywood stars who have the money and fame to carry them, these girls wonder what they should do. Many choose abortion, and because of this they not only sacrifice the life of their child, but this decision also brings heartache they must carry for the rest of their lives. Perhaps YOU can be the one who can make a difference.

Who was the first one Jamie Lynn Spears turned to when she found out she was pregnant? Not her mom. Not her sister. She turned to a friend. What if you were that friend?

As a teen what can YOU do when a pregnant friend comes to you for advice?

Remain calm and loving. Your friend most likely feels alone, frightened and extremely sensitive about her pregnancy. The most important thing you can offer is your continued friendship.

Show God's love and forgiveness. Your friend may have been looking for love by giving herself intimately to a guy. Now she might feel ashamed and unworthy of love at all. Point her to God, who loves her unconditionally.

Celebrate life. She may consider this baby a "mistake"--a barrier between her and "normal" life. Lovingly remind her that no matter how the baby was conceived, he or she is a gift from God.

Be available to share ... and to listen. Your friend has big decisions to make, and although you can't make those decisions for her, you can be available to help her consider her options. Share information you've discovered on fetal development and on the physical and emotional trauma of abortion. Most of all, be willing to listen to your friend's deepest concerns.

Find help. Your friend is most likely in need of more answers than you can give. Visit a local crisis pregnancy center with your friend, or call CareNet for help at 1-800-395-HELP. Encourage her to tell her parents and to seek the counsel of a pastor or youth pastor.

Partner with her to make better decisions in the future. My Life, Unscripted (Thomas Nelson) is a book for teen girls and encourages teens to script their lives instead of being caught up in the drama and emotions of the moment. Read it together. Talk about the importance of making good choices.

Give her a book to help her face her unique issues, such as Life Interrupted: The Scoop on Being Young Mom (Zondervan).


Of course teen pregnancy isn't the only drama young women face. If you or someone you know has made a positive decision as a teen, Tricia Goyer wants to hear about it.

***Video Contest for teens. Watch the video for the contest here!

Here's the scoop!

Attention TEENS! Want to win an iPod?

Yeah, me too! (Just kidding.) Tricia Goyer, author of the teen non-fiction book My Life, Unscripted (Thomas Nelson) is hosting a video trailer contest! My Life, Unscripted uses the metaphor of screen writing to challenge young women to "script" your lives, rather than be blown along by the next emotional drama or temptation! (Been there, done that!) You could be one of three lucky contestants to win an iPod!

All you have to do is make a short (or not-so-short) video trailer sharing concepts shared in the book: My Life, Unscripted ... such as: how you've overcome temptation, or survived peer-pressure, or dumped the Loser boyfriend, or restored a relationship with your parents, or found your strength in Christ!

Be creative ...interview your friends (or even better, make them wear dorky costumes) and add some cool music. Then just post it on GodTube (video must be approved by GodTube before it is broadcasted, which takes a few hours) or YouTube! You also must include three things in your video:

1) the book title: My Life, Unscripted

2) the author: Tricia Goyer

3) and these words: "Check it out!"

After you finish the video, email your name, age, video link, and your address to:

The winning videos will be the top three with the most views as counted on GodTube or YouTube on March 31, 2008 at 11:59 p.m. This contest is open to young women ages 13-19. So go ahead, tell your friends, your teachers, your youth leaders ... and your parents friends to check it out!

***Videos with inappropriate content as decided by Tricia Goyer will be disqualified (G-rated please). For your best chance to win, only upload videos to either GodTube or YouTube. Choose one. We will not add totals from more than one site together.

Three winners will receive an iPod Nano 4G.

Tricia Goyer writes articles for national publications such as Focus on the Family and is a columnist for teen moms through MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) International: (

For more information, go to:

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Book Review: On Sparrow Hill

As I said, I'll be doing the occasional book review. So here's the official start to that chapter of my blog.

On Sparrow Hill by Maureen Lang
Publisher: Tyndale

Two eras intertwine in this tale—present day England, and Victorian Ireland.

Rebecca is the commercial manager of Quentin Hollinworth’s estate. The biggest challenge her job affords is trying to forget the childhood crush she had on Quentin. For twelve generations her family had been servants to Quentin’s family. Although class distinctions aren’t supposed to exist anymore, it’s not so easy to forget a history she comes face to face with every day. Besides, as a member of the dying aristocracy, Quentin makes regular appearances in the tabloids. Rebecca’s duty is to protect his reputation, not provide more fodder for the paparazzi.

When an American contacts Rebecca, claiming to be a relative of Quentin, she searches the vault for proof of the connection. There she comes across letters written by Beryl Hamilton in 1852, which lead us to the historic storyline.

In Beryl’s role as headmistress of a school for the mentally handicapped, she faces many obstacles. She has to deal with a justice of the peace who thinks women in general are feeble-minded, a population who thinks her students are beyond help, and the brother of one of her charges who all but accuses her of kidnapping his sister.

The two timelines are placed in alternating chapters. I found this added suspense, and kept each story fresh in my mind. I also appreciated the fact that the two tales were left to unfold independently. What I mean is that only once in the book do we see someone actually sitting down to read a letter. After the first chapter, it’s left to our imagination that Rebecca is finding time to read Beryl’s letters.

I highly recommend On Sparrow Hill. Each storyline was so compellingly told that I started every chapter eager to see where that particular thread would go next. Even though this was a sequel to The Oak Leaves, it stands on its own very well. I haven’t read the first book—yet—but I didn’t feel I was missing a piece of the puzzle. This was a touching and romantic story I won’t soon forget.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Sharon Souza interview


Author of Every Good and Perfect Gift

About Sharon:

Sharon and her husband Rick have been married 36 years. They live in northern California, and have three children and 6 grandchildren. Rick travels the world building churches, Bible schools and orphanages. Sharon travels with him on occasion, but while Rick lives the adventure, Sharon is more than happy to create her own through fiction.

Your debut novel Every Good & Perfect Gift is releasing this month from Nav Press. Can you tell us a little about the book?

DeeDee and Gabby have been friends since the sixth grade, when headstrong and courageous DeeDee began mapping out their lives. But after twenty years with her husband DeeDee changes her plan. Nearing forty years old, she wants a baby - now! Two years of infertility, prayers, and outrageous behavior finally results in the birth of DeeDee's demand.
Gabby is present for all of it, noting the increasingly strange behavior of her lifelong friend after the baby's birth. Then comes a diagnosis that threatens to shatter their world. Gabby must find the strength and faith to carry DeeDee and herself through the dark unknown, but is she up for it?

What inspired you to write Every Good & Perfect Gift?

I wanted to write a book about a "Jonathan and David" type friendship between two women, knowing that I was ultimately going to tell the story of a young woman who is diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer's. I have a close friend who, at the age of 42, began to exhibit many of the symptoms portrayed in the book. Since completing the book I've learned that another close friend has been diagnosed with EOA. What are the odds?
In determining what course the friendship between Gabby and DeeDee would take, I asked myself: What is the greatest way one woman can express friendship to another? The answer: By helping her have a child if she's unable to, which one character is willing to do if it comes to that.

You've incorporated two major issues in Every Good & Perfect Gift: infertility and Early Onset Alzheimer's. Why not focus on one or the other? Why both?

The theme of Gift is extraordinary friendship. The foundation for the friendship is established between the characters in their childhood, tested through the issue of infertility, and exemplified through catastrophic illness. Infertility was the catalyst to get to that level of friendship expressed because of the illness. One character's growth was accomplished because of infertility, while the other character's growth came as a result of the Alzheimer's.

What are your feelings about egg donation and other modern solutions that help women overcome infertility?

There are some things I might not personally opt for, but infertility was never an issue with me. If it had been I might have been willing to try anything. As it stands, I'm not opposed to in vitro fertilization or sperm donation, things of that nature. I don't find anything in Scripture that would cause me to be against it.

What are your feelings about a couple's decision to intentionally not have children?

Again, that wasn't my experience. I had three babies in quick succession and would not have done anything differently. But not every adult is cut out to be a parent. If an individual or couple realizes that they aren't equipped for parenthood, or if they feel their lives are full as they are, I don't' believe it's a sin not to have children. In fact, I think it's wise. That's not to say a person's feelings may not change in time, like it did for DeeDee. Then it's up to the couple to make the choice that's right for them.

What do you want your readers to take away from this book?

I spent several years in my early adulthood without a close friend. When the first one came into my life, I realized what I had missed and truly saw her as a gift from the Lord. But beyond that, I've experienced the truth of Proverbs 18:24: ". . . there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother." In her darkest moments, Gabby learned that the Lord reaches out to us in compassion, spanning the gap between our need and His provision. That's been the case in my life over and over.

Do you base any of your characters on real people?

The concept of the story was based on a real situation in regards to the Early Onset Alzheimer's. But the characters are not based on real people. I do typically use people I know/have known and then take their personality traits/quirks to extremes--almost like a caricature--in order to make the character as interesting as possible. Almost always my daughters will recognize something of themselves in my make-believe world. It makes for fun conversation.

If the characters are primarily fictional, what about the setting? Is that someplace known to you?

I actually wrote the entire story in a fictional setting, without ever naming it. I just placed the town in the San Joaquin valley. My editor suggested I nail down the location, even a fictitious one. As we talked back and forth, I decided to use my real "home town" of Lodi. I grew up in the Sacramento area, but have lived in or around Lodi since my husband and I got married. There's some debate about whether or not "our" Lodi is the subject of the 1969 Credence Clearwater Revival song, "Stuck in Lodi." Right or wrong, I choose to think it is. But not for a minute do I feel stuck. I love Lodi.

What is your purpose in writing inspirational fiction?
I've had well-meaning friends ask why I write fiction at all. If I want to share the Gospel, why not write "the truth." Two answers come to mind. First, that "burning fire shut up in my bones" (Jer. 20:9) finds its release in fiction. Second, when Jesus wanted to get a heavenly truth across, He didn't deliver a three-point sermon. He told stories. My desire in writing inspirational fiction is that women who read my books will find them easy to share with other women who haven't yet come into relationship with Jesus, and that those women will be directed to the One who loves them with an everlasting love.

Every Good and Perfect Gift

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Checking in

I wrote a little over 300 words yesterday. That doesn't exactly give me bragging rights, but I wrote. It's the start of getting back into the swing of things.

Just this morning I read yesterday's comments, and I appreciate them. Christina Berry gave me the kick I asked for, which couldn't have been easy--she's still recovering from knee surgery.

Some of you may remember that toward the beginning of August, my newly acquired agent sent the proposal for my other WIP to 9 publishers. So far, I've gotten 5 rejections and I'm waiting to hear from the others.

I would have thought by now I'd be running out of patience. But honestly, it's not something that's very much on my mind. I've heard stories of responses taking a year or more. Why fret now? I'm prepared for 4 more rejections, but I'm not discouraged by that at all. Instead, I'm relishing this time of freedom.

Lately I've been focused on eating healthier, which I hinted at in the refrigerator post. (By the way, I had to laugh at some of the comments. The cottage cheese isn't the healthy food in my fridge--it's my junk food! The first week of my new way of eating, I had both produce drawers plus the bottom shelf of my fridge crammed with green vegetables. And we ate all but one thing--I found I didn't care for kale.)

Anyway, that was just an aside to say where the rest of my focus has been lately (other than sick family). And I tend to have a limited ability to focus. One thing at a time for me. But now my eating habits don't require as much attention, so I can turn my focus back to writing.

And I do believe I'll write again today. Imagine that.

Monday, January 14, 2008

My writing

I was asked in an email how my own writing is going. Well, lately it hasn't been. I was sick all of November with a respiratory infection, or walking pneumonia--don't know exactly what, but it was a cough that hung on for 5-6 weeks. Miserable. That hampered my writing most of the month.

Then December was...well, December. I decided not to even try writing that month. I didn't need any more stress. And it was a good thing. We had many health crises in our family. Between a father with unexplained chest pains, a brother with cancer, and a father-in-law with cancer, it seems like someone has always been in the hospital since mid-December.

In fact, we just celebrated Christmas with the in-laws on Friday because Brian's dad went into the hospital Christmas morning and was only released Wednesday.

Now, those are all convenient excuses. But in reality, writing should have been my pressure valve, my release and getaway.

I've let perfectionism get in my way. My WIP wasn't coming out the way I wanted it to--and I can't think of how it should end--so I stopped altogether. Because of my fears, what used to bring me pleasure is now simply another source of stress.

Will someone kick me please?

To understand more, go to Brandilyn's post for today, if you haven't already. I particularly liked the gem, "The perfect is the enemy of the good." And what it said about quitting is me exactly. In fact, if I didn't have a wonderful agent on my side, it would be so easy to quit. But he believes in me, has invested time in me, and wants to see what I come up with next. Besides that, landing an agent in the first place was God's confirmation to me that He wants me to keep writing.

So off I go. I intend to write today. If I don't write a single word today, I'll have to come back tomorrow and admit it to you. And I really don't want to do that. I want to come back and say I wrote at least 500 words. But even if it's only 5, I can say I got back to it.

See you then.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

What's next?

I apologize to my readers, if I have any left. It's no secret that once the critique requests stopped coming in, I had no idea what to do with this blog. The contest didn't work. Not a single chapter came my way.

I'm turning my attention to reviews right now. I've never been a reviewer, so I'll have to learn how to write a good review as I go. Look for sporadic (at least to start with) reviews to appear here in the near future.

If I can think of anything to say in the meantime, I'll post.

For today, Brandilyn Collins is posting excerpts from a great book called Art and Fear. Today's post resonated with me, so I'm linking to it, even though I suspect most or all of you already read her blog.