Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Buy Indie Day

Friday, May 1st has been declared “Buy Indie Day.” The idea is for everyone to find an independent bookstore in their area and buy a book. (Not a big box bookstore.) In these harsh economic times this simple act will help many independent bookstores to stay in business.

Here’s a link to an article about “Buy Indie Day” from the people at

Where will you shop for your “Buy Indie Day” book? I already have a place in mind; it’s called Ladybug Childrens Books and Homeschool Supply in Kingwood, Texas. I’ve never been in this shop, but found out it’s owned by an old friend from church. I found this website, so if you can’t make it out to her store, it looks like she has an awesome online collection to choose from.

Here are a few suggestions for independent bookstores in the Houston area:
Brazos Bookstore
Murder By the Book
Out Of Print Bookstore
Long-Lost Friends New/Used Books

Now get out there this Friday and buy some books! Happy reading everyone!

Bookstore Photo by Paul McRae:

Sunday, April 26, 2009

It Is No Secret

In the book of Ecclesiastes, chapter twelve, verse one, Solomon says to “remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come….” He goes on to list some of those troubles.

“When the keepers of the house tremble, (hands) and the strong men stoop, (legs) when the grinders cease because they are few, (teeth) and those looking through the windows grow dim; (eyes) when the doors to the street are closed (ears) and the sound of grinding fades; (speech) when men rise up at the sound of birds, (sleeplessness) but all their songs grow faint; (hearing) when men are afraid of heights and of dangers in the streets; (old age phobias) when the almond tree blossoms (white hair) and the grasshopper drags himself along and desire no longer is stirred (weakness). Then man goes to his eternal home and mourners go about the streets.” Ecclesiastes 12:3-5

I accompanied my parent’s Sunday school class to an assisted living home to perform for the residents. My amazing father and mother, who are quite possibly older than some of the residents, organized the entire event. Along with their classmates they sang some old songs; “Let Me Call You Sweetheart,” “For Me And My Gal,” “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling,” and “It Is No Secret.”

The audience was comprised of mostly women and a few men, all in different stages of lucidity. I noticed a sign on the facility stating they were ‘memory care specialists.’ The locked doors to the outside world told me what that meant.

As I stood to the side waiting for my queue to go on “stage” I notice a woman sitting alone. She didn’t look at the performers or acknowledge my attempts to make eye contact with her. But when those old songs began playing I saw her lips start to move—she new every word. The music touched her. Our visit blessed someone.

Solomon goes on in that same chapter to encourage us to remember God even in our old age before it is too late. My precious parents are doing just that. They honor God by giving their time to better the lives of those less fortunate than themselves. Why do Mom and Dad do it? Because they want those forgotten in the nursing home to know these lyrics:

It is no secret what God can do. What He's done for others, He'll do for you. With arms wide open, He'll pardon you. It is no secret what God can do.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Top Ten Things Overheard at 2009 Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference

10. A pitch is selling yourself and your ideas to someone you’ve never met in say, 30 to 45 seconds. No pressure—if you’re ready that is. Austin Boyd, Author, Speaker

9. Things to remember while at conference. Keep your hands open to God; maintain a teachable spirit; pace yourself, it’s a process. Mona Hodgson, Author

8. Three most important things to teens today. Friends, friends, friends. Robert Irvin, Acquisitions Editor, Standard Publishing

7. There is no one best way to write a novel. But to get published you need, content, craft and connections. Randal Ingermanson, Author, Mentor, Genius

6. To the postmodern generation, everything is gray, there is no black and white. Jesse Florea, Acquisitions Editor, Focus on the Family

5. Editor appointments at writer’s conferences are like speed dating. You must be prepared and confident. Tell me what the story is about. Don’t hand me your one-sheet and expect me to read it while you stare at the part in my hair. Know who your audience is and have questions ready to ask me. Sue Brower, Senior Acquisitions Editor, Zondervan

4. I’ll critique anything you bring me, fiction, nonfiction, zombie erotica. James Scott Bell, Author

3. Yes, the children’s market is slow right now, but did you know there are more children now than all the baby boomers put together. Those kids are going to read our books. Christine Tangvald, Author, Speaker

2. Love the idea of a dog rescue mystery…but it doesn’t really fit with what I’m doing. But it looks clever and fun! Keep at it! Shannon Marchese, Editor, WaterBrook Publishing

1. Thank You, God for writing the all time best seller. Anonymous, heard during prayer time

Thursday, April 16, 2009

I Once Was a Star

Acting has always been a great love of mine. Probably the reason why I’ve lent much time to the writing of plays and skits. Last week I was pleased to hear the words, “Mama, I got a part in the school play!” Pure joy to my ears. Yes, the thought of making a peanut costume for my eight-year-old son excites me to no end.

What is it about the stage that draws me in like a moth to a flame? Is it the chance to become someone or something else? Is it the love for your character you feel from of the audience—or the hatred? Is it the opportunity to be the center of attention? Perhaps.

Yes, I was Frosty the Snowman in the first grade play. I was on top of the world as the seven year old goddess of the cafetorium stage. Imagine my disappointment when the following year I was relegated to chorus member; made to wear a felt skirt and Mickey Mouse ears. I don’t remember any plays after that. You can only make it to the ranks of Frosty once in a lifetime.

My daughter has adopted my flare for acting as well. She was, after all, chosen to play the starring role of Big Bertha Lee in her first grade play, “Three Nanny Goats Gruff.” And yes, her performance was positively stunning.

I’ve had some interesting roles in recent years. There was Nanna in “The Plane Truth About Christmas,” where I played a rapping grandma. That was fun. I performed another rap number in the children’s play starring Hans Bronson. I concocted my own version of Mini Pearl complete with a gingham dress and a price tag hanging from my hat. One of the most fun roles was playing the parts of Fibber McGee and Molly with my husband. He’s a great actor too.

So how do you relate something of God to the ignoble art of acting? Well, let’s see. The ability to act is surely a gift from the Almighty. Just as we have received gifts such as singing or public speaking, acting is equally a gift from God. And there are many actors in the Bible as well. Take a look at Abraham and Sarah, their brother/sister act was so convincing a king believed them. Well, I guess that was actually lying, not acting.

In closing, I don’t think acting is looked down on by God unless the performance is a promotion of evil or if the role causes you to do something Biblically incorrect. Therefore go thou and act…be a clown, or even Frosty the Snowman should the chance come along. Or in my son’s case, go nuts…be the peanut!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

2009 Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference

2009 marked the 40th anniversary of the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. I’m happy to report that I was a first time attendee—and a satisfied customer.

For those of you who’ve never heard of Mount Hermon, the conference center itself is nestled in the small town of Mount Hermon, or Felton, California, about forty minutes south of San Jose. The encampment is surrounded by towering Sequoias and magnificent foliage. And because it is on a “mountain” and located on such a large plot of land, you find yourself doing quite a bit of walking—and hiking. Did I mention that my cabin was at the bottom of one of those mountains? But I digress.

Mount Hermon was a veritable treasure trove of editors, agents, publicists and even the rare published Christian author. I had the pleasure to meet Sue Brower, Acquisitions Editor for Zondervan, and Bob Irvin, Acquisitions Editor for Standard Publishing as well as Vicki Crumpton, Executive Editor for Revell, and Jesse Florea, Clubhouse Editor for Focus On The Family. I also met with Rachel Zurakowski, agent for Books & Such Literary Agency and had lunch with agents, Jonathan Clements of the Nashville Agency and Natasha Kern, founder of Natasha Kern Agency. Good feedback was received on my work from Shannon Hill Marchese of WaterBrook Publishing and author, Randy Ingermanson. Let’s see… I also met and took classes from a few famous Christian authors: Mona Hodgson, Curt Iles, Anita Higman, Brandilyn Collins, John Olson, DiAnn Mills, Mary DeMuth and Tosca Lee.

One great part of the conference was guest speaker, Bill Butterworth, author and speaker extraordinaire. The man had us literally aching from laughing so hard at his wonderful stories on raising five children, his own childhood and his career as a speaker to dozens of NFL football teams. Another wonderful thing about the conference is the man who has been the emcee for the past 33 years, Dave Talbot. As a concert pianist, Dave led worship at the conference with music played on a grand piano and an impressive old organ—you know the ones with lots of knobs and buttons.

Yes Mount Hermon is over and in its wake; much was left imprinted on my heart. I can truly say I took much away from the conference. There are the publishing connections, a deeper publishing knowledge, friendships, a closer walk with my Lord, and last but not least…astute familiarity with leg muscles I never knew existed.
In closing I'll say, the food was great, the people running the encampment as well as the locals were overtly hospitable and there really was a sweet spirit about everyone in attendance. Will I go back? I'll give it a very probable yes!