Wednesday, November 29, 2006

This week the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is doing a blog tour for Landon Snow and The Island of Arcanum by R.K.Mortenson, published by Barbour Publishing (October 2006).

About the AUTHOR:
R.K.Mortenson is an ordained minister with the Church of the Lutheran Brethren. He has been writing devotional and inspirational articles since 1995. He currently serves as a navy chaplain in Florida and lives with his wife, daughter and son in Jacksonville.

This page at Barbour's site provides a few good links, two as recent as last week: The top link there goes to a story about Randy's adoption experiences, the second link goes to the Landon Snow short at Clubhouse magazine.

Randy got the idea for this series one late night, when flute music woke him from a sound sleep. As he stood at his window, trying to locate the source of the sound, he spied a library across the lawn. Suddenly, he envisioned an eleven-year-old sneaking out of his bed and stealing to the library in the dead of night...And thus Landon Snow was born.

In the latest adventure of Landon Snow And the Island of Arcanum, Landon, once again visits his grandparents in Button Up, Minnesota. If your familiar with the first two books, Landon Snow and the Auctor's Riddle, and Landon Snow and The Shadows of Malus Quidam, you'll know that Landon's adventures always start at the Library in Button Up.

This time, Landon's most dangerous journey yet, begins in a rowboat-shaped tombstone that floats. And it's lucky for him that it floats because a few drips from the library ceiling turns into a powerful waterfall.

The stone turns into wood. The stone book propped up in the prow of the boat turns to paper.

The left page says "ANCHOR". The right page says "AWEIGH".

"Anchor aweigh?" said Landon.

Holly whispered, "Did you hear that?"

No one has time to respond, however. The next instant saw the water before them dropping away as the water behind them grew into a giant swell, pitching them headlong into the abyss.
Landon will have to protect his two younger sisters, Holly and Bridget, who wind up in the boat with him headed towards The Island of Arcanum. On the Island, the animals of Wonderwood are imprisoned and the evil shadows of Landon's nemesis, Malus Quidam lurk!

With the help of some old friends, a horse named Melech, an odd fellow named Hardy, a girl named Ditty, and the poet/prophet Vates--Landon seeks to unlock the island's dark secrets and escape with the animals intact.

But first, he must navigate his way through unchartered waters and battle the villainous Archans...Can Landon and his friends rescue the animals from deep within the island's stronghold?

R.K.Mortenson's website:

Book link:

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Penguins and such

Movie going has turned into somewhat of a challenge in recent years for me. The lack of quality movies began this decline in my cinema experience. After I became a Christian, it got worse. A lot worse. Alas, with the onset of the computer generated animation age, I thought my problem had been solved. Among my all-time favorite movies you'll find animated classics like Toy Story, Finding Nemo, And Monsters, Inc. Finally, films that were just fun, well-made, and told a good story.

Those days appear to be over. After Brother Bear, Over the Hedge, and Open Season, I'd just about had enough. The final nail in the coffin came with our family outing to see Happy Feet last night.

For those who haven't seen it, let me warn you, it goes on about an hour longer than it should. I could pretty much point out the moment that the original writer probably intended the movie to end. Then, the addition was made. Someone in Hollywood realized they'd left out The Message.

What's The Message?

Oh, it's been fairly consistent since the making of Bambi, but until recently, it didn't appear in every stinkin' movie. The Message is: Animals and Nature Good, People Evil Evil Evil.

In Happy Feet, the Evil Evil Evil humans are taking all the fish out of the Antarctica. This was news to me. Our hero, Mumble the dancing penguin, follows the fishing ships (not boats, ships) back to Human World. He is picked up, tossed in a zoo, and stared at by the uncaring humans while his family starves back in Emperor Penguin Land. Keep in mind, up until this point, the movie was good. Fantastic animation, funny. Welllll....there was the usual poking fun at religion (yes, by penguins), but I let that slide.

And how does our hero, Mumble the dancing penguin, convince the humans of his plight? He dances, of course. Somehow, by tap dancing to Stevie Wonder, he communicates to the United Nations that his flock is starving (you'll notice no one felt sorry for the leopard seal and killer whales who were denied their penguin snack). So Mumble is released back to his flock with a tracking device attached to his back. He convinces all of his brethren to dance for the humans who follow him, and the world is saved!

If I'd written that, my crit partners would have sent me a big fat "Try again bonehead!" on my manuscript. But, since there's an important Message for all of us Evil Evil Evil humans, it was given a pass.

And would someone please explain the Robin Williams character to me? As far as I could tell, he was put there to poke fun at religious extremists (you know, people who believe in Jesus and the bible). But that feat had been accomplished by the Emperor Penguin leaders, who stubbornly held on to the old dried up ways. The old dried up ways involving faith, of course, instead of tap dancing.

Happy Feet was supposed to be, originally I'm sure, a story about a penguin who stayed true to his heart, though it caused him much social grief, and won the love of his life. Unfortunately, the ever wise ones in Hollywood decides us Red State, bible thumping, SUV driving dolts needed a life lesson.

A famous Hollywood producer from the golden era once said, "If you want to send a message, use Western Union." Apparently, his advice has been forgotten. We want to be entertained, Hollywood, not indoctrinated.

It's a good thing I can write my own stories. At least I won't have to de-program my kids after they read them.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Friday Top 10

Top 10 Hints to get you and your eating disorder through the Holidays…

10. Get off the internet and get back to the mall! Full contact sports are a great way to burn calories.

9. A serving of turkey and mashed potatoes contains the same number of calories as a piece of fudge, so skip the turkey and mashed potatoes.

8. Apples are fruit. Wrapping them in pie crust doesn’t change that.

7. With the onset of global warming you’ll be sweating off those calories in no time!

6. Chocolate production makes up 23% of the U.S. economy. Or don’t you care?

5. Tell your Weight Watchers leader that “I’m sorry, this just isn’t working out. I’m going to have to let you go.” Practice in front of the mirror.

4. You’ll be wearing a heavy coat for the next three months anyway.

3. Make sure you add Ronco’s “Home Lipo-Suck” to your wish list (call 1-800-UMOOTOO).

2. Skinny people are never jolly.

And the number one hint to get you and your eating disorder through the Holidays…

1. By January, you won’t be able to afford food. Better bulk up now.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is posting about Calm, Cool, and Adjusted by Kristin Billerbeck

Kristin Billerbeck was born in Redwood City, California. She went to San Jose State University and majored in Advertising, then worked at the Fairmont Hotel in PR, a small ad agency as an account exec, and then,she was thrust into the exciting world of shopping mall marketing. She got married, had four kids, and started writing romance novels until she found her passion: Chick Lit.


Calm, Cool, and Adjusted is the third book in the Spa Girls Novels.
Billerbeck did a great job with the characterization of Poppy, a quirky Christian chiropractor who is a health nut. I'm talking real NUT. She is so obsessed with health that she forgets about living. When she finally realizes that she is over the edge obsessed, she doesn't know how to stop herself.
Best friends since Johnny Depp wore scissors for hands, "The Spa Girls" live very separate lives, but stay in touch with routine visits to California's Spa Del Mar.

The third novel in the Spa Girls Series focuses on Silicon Valley chiropractor Poppy Clayton, who is as calm, cool and adjusted as they come. Or is she? Known for her bad fashion sense, a love for all things natural and the inability to get a second date, Poppy is beginning to wonder if she might be misaligned herself. Her route to self discovery will be an unnatural one - a plastic surgeon, a dilapidated house in Santa Cruz, a flirtatious client, and a blind date from the dark side.
It's all enough to send a girl - and her gal pals - running for the comfort zone of their spa.
Ron's note: Having met Kristin at the '05 Conference, I can tell you that she is a joy to talk to. Visit her blog, shared with three other authors, at Girls Write Out.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Friday Top 10

Top 10 Ways to get kicked out of your critique group…

10. Insert the little vomiting Pac-Man icon in various places throughout their manuscripts.

9. Post their work on your blog and ask for charitable donations to the writer.

8. Reply to them with “Does your mommy have anything to send now?”

7. Highlight their entire manuscript and write “Fix This!”

6. Send your work with a note that says “No need to critique--for your enjoyment and education!”

5. Charge a reading fee.

4. Let them know you’ve checked the donor box marked “Talent” on the back of your driver’s license.

3. Send them the link to

2. Go to chapter 36 of their manuscripts and write “The story begins here!”

And the number one way to get kicked out of your critique group…

1. Autograph your submissions.

Best Wishes...Ron

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is posting about Scoop by Rene Gutteridge.


Rene Gutteridge is the author of several novels, including Ghost Writer (Bethany House Publishers) The Boo Series (WaterBrook Press) and the Storm Series, (Tyndale House Publishers. She will release three novels in 2006: Storm Surge (Tyndale) My Life as a Doormat (WestBow Press, Women of Faith)Occupational Hazards Book #1: Scoop (WaterBrook Press).

She has also been published over thirty times as a playwright, best known for her Christian comedy sketches. She studied screenwriting under a Mass Communications degree, graduating Magna Cum Laude from Oklahoma City University, and earned the "Excellence in Mass Communication" award. She served as the full-time Director of Drama for First United Methodist Church for five years before leaving to stay home and write. She enjoys instructing at writer's conferences and in college classrooms. She lives with her husband, Sean, a musician, and their children in Oklahoma City.


The Occupational Hazards Books are a series of books about seven homeschooled siblings whose last name is Hazard. The parents died in a freak accident leaving the kids ages 16-26 with a lucrative clown business but the kids realize that God has other plans which doesn't include being a family of clowns for the rest of their lives.

Scoop is the first of the series and centers around Hayden, who was age 20 when her parents died. If you haven't yet guessed by the series title, this book is packed with many laugh out loud moments and great one liners.

Hayden is a strong Christian who, having been homeschooled, lacks some of the politically correct social not praying in front of everyone during a crisis. She finds herself in an internship at a television news station with a boss that takes stress pills, an aging news anchor that everyone wishes Botox on, a weatherman who wants to predict love for himself and Hayden, and a reporter struggling with his own politically correctness of being a good reporter and being a Christian.

Old School meets New School meets Homeschool. A smart and funny read.

Monday, November 13, 2006

A week in the life

Okay, it's Monday. Can I stop here? The official kick-off of cold & flu season has arrived. In Michigan we have a parade to celebrate the event. Floats with giant hypodermic needles, children dressed as bacteria and viruses, scouting troops tossing handfulls of cough drops into the wheezing crowd. It's all very magical, really.

At any rate, I'll suffer through my first bout, ten rounds, no whining, and get through the week.

We crossed over to the dark side this weekend. Yes, that's right, we bought an artificial Christmas tree. Although I do love the smell of fresh cut pine in my living room, the magic disappears after about a week when the needles begin carpeting the carpet. There's also the minor back pain after trudging through snow, cutting down the perfect tree (which looks more like Charlie Brown's tree when we get it home), and hauling it a mile back to the pick-up spot because children can never find the perfect tree ten feet from the road. And now that spruce is up to $40 a pop, I figure it's time to join the faux Christmas crowd.

Besides, the tree is a cast-off of some pagan ritual anyway. No trees in the manger. Maybe a palm branch. How come we don't have palm trees for Christmas? It would be easier to clean up. Just a hundred or so great big leaves. Then you can save them for Easter. Unless, of course, you opt for the artificial palm tree. Then you'd have to buy artificial dead palm branches for Easter.

Palm trees would bring disastrous results for the Michigan Christmas tree farms. Even more than the deer. Some business, I think it was a golf course, on M-24, the main road shooting up into the Thumb, planted about six full grown palm trees along the road a few years ago. Really. I don't know where he got 'em or how much he paid for the transplant, but he was obviously not the quickest bunny in the roost (check out more at!). The trees wilted sometime around early August, then turned brown before fall. Last time I checked, palm trees aren't supposed to change colors with the seasons. So, he did what any good Michigander would, he spray painted the branches green. I don't make this stuff up. I don't have to. I live in Michigan.

So, since WNIC is already playing 24hrs of Christmas music, let me wish you all a very Merry Christmas. Drag your local ACLU member under the mistletoe and give him a big wet one on the lips. Then charge him with sexual harassment.

Now go out and cut down those palm trees! I'll give you directions to the golf course.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Friday Top 10

In honor of my 16th Wedding Anniversary, I give you my Top 10 Secrets to a Lasting Marriage...

10. Never give your wife a brake light as a gift to prove you know what they look like.

9. Never respond honestly to the question “What are you thinking about?” (Just because it’s about her, don’t assume you’re sharing in the same fantasy).

8. Always take the time to say “It’s my fault.”

7. If you go to Vegas without her, call every 15 minutes. Use the phone camera to prove your whereabouts and state of dress.

6. Women find no humor in embarrassing bodily functions (10 year old boys do, though, so make sure you have one around).

5. She knows you’re not really shopping for her birthday gift in the Victoria’s Secret catalog.

4. Never shop for her birthday gift in the bathroom.

3. Never introduce her as "your first wife."

2. Never refer to your bed as “Ol’ Shakey.”

And the number one secret to a lasting marriage...

1. Never write a blog. She’ll find it. She’ll hurt you.

Happy Anniversary, sweetie.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Interview with Rachel Hauck

Today's guest is Rachel Hauck, author and President of the ACFW.

Rachel Hauck is a multi-published author living in sunny and sometimes hurricane-plagued central Florida with her husband and ornery pets. She is a graduate of Ohio State University with a BA in Journalism. Visit her blog and web site at

Her latest book, Lost in NashVegas, comes out in November from Westbow.

(Enter stage right--a ruggedly handsome gentleman puffing a pipe and waving to his adoring fans. He sits, crosses his legs and thumbs through a copy of The Iliad in its original Greek, glances at his watch, and waits patiently for his guest.

Enter stage left--a harried woman in scarlet and gray, cell-phone to her ear. She trips over the roses that litter the stage, tossed by the host's afformentioned adoring fans. She scowls at the adoring fans and slips into the guest chair.

The host pencils in a correction in The Iliad and turns to his guest, flashing a brilliant smile though cleverly hiding his distaste at his guest's fashion sense. Really, scarlet against a blue backdrop? Oh, well, he could only hope that his own brilliance would draw attention away from the garish "O" emblazoned on her sweatshirt. He sets the pipe in its holder and clears his throat, pulling gasps of anticipation from the audience.)

Host: Welcome to my blog, Rachel. Sorry about the mess. I get a lot of strange visitors.

RH: No problem. I think I’ll be right at home.

Host: So you graduated from Ohio State? Despite that handicap, you’ve done quite well. How important do you think your education has been to your fiction writing?

RH: LOL. What handicap! Certainly education at such a GREAT university helped my writing journey. I studied journalism and received encouraging feedback from a professor who loved a short story I wrote for his class.

But life itself is the best writing teacher.

Host: Has the CBA always been your only option, or did you consider the secular market?

RH: When I started writing. I was reading CBA fiction which was just starting to get a foot hold in the publishing world. I didn’t consider the secular market at the time because it just wasn’t something before me.

I think if a Christian author can write in the ABA market, he/she should. They need the fragrance of our message.

Host: What influenced your decision the most?

RH: My decision to write in CBA? Because I was reading CBA fiction like Broke and Bode Thoene, Gilbert Morris, Lori Wick.

Host: Here’s your chance to stump for re-election, even though Robin will threaten to strap me to a black ant hill only because red ants would get the job done too quickly. Where do you see the ACFW going in the next few years?

RH: More power to Robin and the new board. It’s been an honor to be a part of ACFW’s growth and vision. What a fabulous organization. I see ACFW doing more and more to encourage writers and I hope grow to influence the ABA and CBA publishing world.

Host: It must be tough to juggle the responsibility of being President of ACFW, a writer, and a pastor’s wife. How goes an average day in the life of Rachel?

RH: I consider writing my career and job. So, it comes first. Though I must confess I’m easily distracted. My goal is to organize my day so I can get my word count done, as well as meet other demands – ACFW, ministry.

My husband and I have a unique approach to ministry. He may be on staff at church, but I’m not. I only do the things I’m called to do. I work with him in our prayer and worship ministry, Fire Dweller, and I lead Sunday morning worship. So, I schedule time for those activities. Ministry wise, we are in flux since Tony recently handed over the youth ministry to a younger man and had taken over other pastoral duties.

Host: Do you feel your dogs and cat have suffered social or psychological consequences as a result of your Buckeye background?

RH: My dogs and cat are huge Buckeye fans and feel most fortunate to belong to such a wonderful football winning family.

Host: You talk a bit on your website about your college years. Sounds like your faith got tested a bit. How’d you get drawn back into the fold? Was there any one person who stood with you?

RH: The years after college when I knew it was God-now or God-never, I walked the walk alone for over a year and a half. Just me and Jesus. I knew I would never be happy or feel satisfied in life without Him. I think all believers go through a wilderness time where the have no one but Jesus. He’s an amazing God-Man. Even when I found a church family, I traveled so much I still felt alone many times. But a good kind of alone. I know how faithful God is.

Host: The bible says that salvation is for all who believe, even a Buckeye (though I’m sure there’s a prohibition period). You’ve been to a lot of places and seen a lot of things. Is there anyone you just knew would never come to believe in our Lord, but surprised you?

RH: I’ve witnessed to a lot of people around the world. But, there was an engineer I worked with. I can remember being on the road, working against an installation deadline, and calling this man for support in the wee hours of the morning. I witnessed to him a lot during those times while waiting for the system to reboot and software to compile.

He visited church once. Over time, he left the company and moved away. Years later I ran into a mutual co-worker and he said, “You ruined that guy?”

I said, “What are you talking about?”

He said. “He got all church and saved, and stuff.”

I was thrilled. And so surprised!

Host: You talk a lot about the power behind the faith. Have you seen or done anything that would be a good example of that power?

RH: Lots of things. Small power encounters, but the biggest example is how I learned to pray the Word to overcome attacks of fear and anxiety. I’m living proof prayer and the Word work to overcome anxiety even if part of it is physical as well as emotional.

Host: As you may have surmised, I don’t ask normal interview questions. Do you have a favorite Food Network chef?

RH: I love your questions. Yeah, I love what’s her name… Paul Deen. J

Host: Pluto. Planet or a really big rock?

RH: Isn’t he the Disney Dog?

Host: Did you tell your husband you went to OSU before you got married?

RH: Of course, he’s a big OSU fan. As you can tell, he’s very smart.

Host: Before you go, any “Top 10” requests?

RH: You become a Buckeye fan. (snicker)

Host: Thanks for visiting, Rachel. And Rachel—Go Blue.

RH: Thanks for having me! Go Buckeyes!

(As the credits roll, the host hands his guest a an autographed photo of himself. She glances at the audience, clearly fearing for her safety as she tucks the photo into her Buckeye bag, then hurries off the stage. Security restrains the crowd while she escapes. Your host picks up his copy of The Iliad and, with a final wave, exits stage right.)

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is posting about The Cubicle Next Door by Siri L. Mitchell.

If you like blogging...which you must if you are reading will think this book is blogarific. After each chapter, there is a blog entry. The book is written in first person and contains some hilarious blog antics.

Imagine that you are an anonymous blogger, one who uses a silly name instead of your own, then imagine blogging about your work. Now imagine blogging about your cubicle mate of the opposite sex and calling him by an anonymous name.

I know some who have done just that.

But now imagine that your cubicle mate has discovered your blog and begins to read it out loud to you. EVERY MORNING.

The Cubicle Next Door is set in a civilian's view of working on a military post. That in itself is funny enough...then add that the main character is a tree hugging, anti-SUV lover, with a thing for Bollywood movies. (Her favorite it Bride & Prejudice.) Suddenly this civilian hippie is thrown into a cubicle next to an Air Force Pilot/Teacher who SUV. Can't you feel the love?

Also, The Cubicle Next Door has some wonderful moments of self discovery.

A delightful is an excerpt for you:The Cubicle Next Doorby Siri L. Mitchell Released Aug 06Excerpt from Chapter 1:
“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.
“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.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Happy 2nd Tuesday

It's election day. This means two things: 1. You will get no more recorded phone messages from candidates who don't even have the decency to use a human being. 2. The U.S. may be a very different place, politically, by this time tomorrow.

I normally try to avoid the subject of politics on my blog because I try to keep it light and focus on writing and my faith. Yes, my faith plays a huge role in the way I vote, as it should, but I don't expect to convert many Democrats on a blog that attracts about 10 people a day, mostly conservatives. Even the Dems I talk to sound very conservative when we drill down to core issues and values. They want the same things I do: security, a chance to prosper, low taxes, and a place where my kids can grow up without being exposed to the more unsavory elements of our culture (see my entry on Las Vegas).

So what separates us? Well, it's the way we get to our desires. Without getting into details, most Republicans, including myself, feel the government should stay out of the free market (thus keeping it "free") and allow businesses as much freedom as possible to prosper. When they prosper, jobs are created, everyone is happy. Well, not everyone. There will always be those who don't like "unfair" profits to corporations. Here's the thing: the only way to stop that is to have the government intervene. Then you no longer have a free market economy. You have socialism.

Okay, economics aside. The other reason I cannot vote Democrat is their ridiculous alignment with the pro-abortion community. It's the only issue that is literally life and death. I'll choose life, thank you. And, oh, by the way, abortion is a huge business in America. We're talking billions. Now I will start complaining about unfair profits.

Yes, I know all Dems aren't pro-abortion socialists. There are conservatives among them. And I also know that it's not safe to equate the GOP with conservatism any more. I do wish we could expand from the two party system and not feel like we're flushing our votes.

In the meantime, I'll continue to follow God's law as close as possible in the way I live and vote. Jesus commanded us to "Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's." He never said we'd like the Caesar we have. But He did tell us to love our God with all our heart, mind, and strength. That I can handle. There is no gray area with God.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Surviving Las Vegas

I'm home! Thirty-degrees never looked so good! I have plenty to say, including several top ten lists, but for now I need to wash Sin City off my grubby hide and get re-acquainted with my time zone (not to mention my wife).

I must say, though--YIKES!

Is this how far we've fallen? I feel like I've spent a week on the world's biggest porno set.

Oh, well. More to come later.