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Saturday, June 30, 2007

Thinking Blogger Award

Thinking Blogger Award

Victoria Gains at Light for the Writer's Soul awarded me a Thinking Blogger Award. This is a high honor because Vicki's blogs are two places I go to have the Word poured in and be encouraged. Her other blog Windows to My Soul is a beautiful place of refreshing.

My nominees for fellow Thinking Bloggers are:

Marilynn Griffith
Rhythms of Grace

Paula Moldenhauer

Tricia Goyer
It's Real Life

Home Steeped Hope

The Heart of a Man

Rockin' Girl Blogger~ ME?

Heather at Red-headed Rants and Rambles made me dance and sing because she gave me a "Rockin' Girl Blogger" award! Way cool! Thanks a bunch, my friend!!!

Now, it's my turn to rock on and share the love:

1. My crit partner and friend Staci Wilder's blog Glimpses makes me smile every time I read. Staci's an awesome writer and an all around wonderful lady.

2. Laurie Moody's blog Life in the Moody Fast Lane is a place I love to hang out. Laurie's a Momsloop friend who has taught me much, knows me well and loves me anyway.

3. Another crit partner extraordinaire and friend Meg Moseley at Megawriter says is straight and clear and challenging.

4. My good friends and fellow WORD folks Lindi, Missy, and Christy at F.A.I.T.H. blog about writing and life with laughter.

5. My mentor and friend Mary at Rhythms of Grace is back in the blogsphere and I'm thrilled because this lady can write! Her posts alternately challenge and make me laugh, but I'm always glad I stopped by.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Odd and Ends and Ideas Needed

First off, I have a great book to give away, one that's perfect for a summer reading day! It's Rachel Hauck's Diva NashVegas. Leave me a note in the guestbook and I'll draw for the winner in early July.

Here's a taste of what Diva NashVegas has to offer:

For the past decade, Aubrey James has ruled the charts as the queen of country soul. She rocketed to fame in the shadow of her parent's death - pioneers in Christian music. While her public life, high profile romances and fights with Music Row writes juicy tabloid headlines, the real and private Aubrey is a media mystery.

When a close friend and former band member betrays Aubrey's trust and sells an exclusive story to a tabloid, the super star knows she must go public with her own story.

Inside NashVegas sports anchor, Scott Vaughn, is not prepared for the summer assignment of interviewing a country diva. Especially not one he dated. And abandoned.

But he has no choice. His career and the future of Inside NashVegas depend on the success of this interview.

Aubrey's private world is rocked when Scott shows up at her home for the first session. Realizing it's too late to back out of the deal, Aubrey bravely opens her heart to Scott and discovers a future beyond the lonely orphan girl. Will she find faith, hope and love?

"Ladies and Gentlemen, Aubrey James, the Queen of Country Soul."

Second odd and end is that I need your sage advice, especially about Gen Xers and values. God has something special coming up and I'm excited to be a part of it. But mum's the word until it's ready to be revealed. What I need to know now is what are your family values, Gen Xers? What are the things you're most passionate about and why?

Shoot me an email or leave me a note here with your wise words. Much thanks!!!

Lastly, if you haven't signed up already, please check out the Defenders of Hope newsletter. We'll have a sample newsletter going live tonight thanks to my wonderful Web master hubby. ;-)

Oh, and one more thing.... I have a cover for Healing Promises!!! I'm SOOO excited. Keep watch because I'll be sharing it here very soon!
Abundant summer blessings!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Life Lessons from a James Taylor CD

It should come as little surprise that I love James Taylor's music. That fact is all over Ransomed Dreams. What might be a stretch to imagine is that my kids (9, 6, and 3) all know every word of the first five songs on James Taylor's Greatest Hits CD.

This amazing feat happened over the last week on the way to swim lessons. We had to rent a car because our blue van, lovingly dubbed "Bluesy" dropped a transmission. Our rental car has a CD player and I grabbed one of my favorite CD's on the way out the door thinking we might listen to it.

My kids quickly fell in love with JT's music because, "It's soothing and fun."

Little did I know the lyrics would open up some very interesting discussions on values and life lessons.

Case in point: the first song, Something In The Way She Moves, talks about a woman who encourages the singer in more ways than her appearance. It's in the way she looks at him and calls his name and how she says things just to calm him down. JT sings, "I feel fine all the time she's around me now and she's around me now almost all the time. If I'm well you can tell she's been with me now and she's been with me now quite a long, long time, yes and I feel fine."

Well, I sing the song saying "he" and was asked by my girls why. I explained I sing it about their daddy. That brought plenty of giggles and a daily request, "Can you sing this about Daddy?" from my littlest one.

Lesson learned? Singing a love song about their daddy helps my girls see and feel joy in knowing Mommy loves Daddy very much.

We also talked today about how we can be like the woman the song was written about: we can encourage all the people we love. We can help others feel at peace just because we're around by sharing the love of Jesus with them in many ways, sometimes without words.

Another song, Carolina In My Mind, has the line, "Say nice things about me when I'm gone." My youngest leaned over to my oldest and said, "You will say nice things about me."

True to form, my oldest hugged her sister and said a smiling, "Yes!"

Lesson learned? What we say has power. Because my kids are (for the most part) truly loving toward each other, they know the majority of words spoken to them will be kind.

Another lesson from the rest of the lyrics can be summed up this way: sometimes life is hard and we want to escape to good memories in our mind. But life is to be lived each day facing forward with God, not stuck in the past.

The third song, Fire And Rain, has a line, "I've seen fire and I've seen rain. I've seen sunny days that I thought would never end. I've seen lonely times when I could not find a friend."

My girls boldly announced this song's lesson: "We will never not have a friend because we have Jesus." Childlike faith. What a simple truth.

We also talked about how in life we will see both fire and rain, bad and good. But Jesus is there with us through it all.

My girls may not understand all we talked over, but seeds were planted, God was present, and we bonded over an everyday item and the discussions that followed.

Here's the biggest lesson of all, a simple impression that God smoothed over my heart: My girls love this CD because it's one of my favorite. They want to be like me.

What an awesome honor and terrifying responsibility.

But it's not so terrifying when I listen to the Holy Spirit. He can take even the "questionable" stuff in CD's like this one or in circumstances of life and remind us of truth. Then we talk about what the Bible says is true and why we believe it.

Those are faith lessons.

Lessons I don't have to figure out and plan, but ones that come out of the everydayness of life, and God teaches them.

All we have to do is listen for Him and follow His lead.

God can take even a James Taylor CD and reveal His truth to those who have ears to hear His whispers through everyday things.

How about you all? In what everyday items have you caught a glimpse of the holy and learned or taught a faith lesson?

I love that Jesus took simple things like bread, water, and lending a helpful hand to a stranger to reveal God's character and glory. By the power of His Spirit within us we can do likewise. And the ones who follow in our footsteps and like what we like will remember the faith lessons learned.

Maybe even as they hum a special song from their childhood.

Reluctant Runaway

My friend, Jill Nelson, is an awesome romantic suspense author and has been a guest blogger here at the Peek-A-Boo ICU before. Her story about a funny jaunt on the research trail for Reluctant Runaway is entitled Inside the FBI with Jill Elizabeth Nelson .

Here's the CFBA tour for Jill's newest book in the To Catch a Thief series and then my thoughts about this great new FBI fiction.


Jill Elizabeth Nelson
is a member of the CFBA. Her blog, Artistic Blogger, addresses issues about art, art theft, antiquities preservation, and the art of fiction writing. She takes art seriously - when she's not having fun with it, that is. The To Catch a Thief Series combines her love of the written word with her love of other art forms.

The first in the series was Reluctant Burglar , second is Reluctant Runaway. In January 2008, she will reveal the third book, Reluctant Smuggler. Jill is thrilled if the adventures that spill from her imagination can raise awareness about art theft - deemed "a looming criminal enterprise" by the FBI. Jill and her husband, Doug, have four children and live in Minnesota.


Stolen Indian artifacts...

A murdered museum guard…

A missing woman…

A baby in danger…

Only Desiree can unearth the horrifying secret that links them all.

Museum security expert Desiree Jacobs doesn’t mean to get in danger’s path. Really she doesn’t. But when a friend is in trouble you don’t just walk away. No matter what your overprotective FBI agent boyfriend says! So when Desi and Tony’s date at a presidential ball is interrupted by a frantic Maxine Webb, Desi doesn’t hesitate to jump in.

Soon Desi is neck-deep in a confusing array of villains. Did Max’s niece run away or was she taken? Is she still alive or the victim of a perverse ritual? And who wants her infant son–and why?

Then Tony’s organized crime case collides with Desi’s investigation, throwing them both into the path of something dark and sinister. Something that craves blood...

From the streets of Desi’s beloved Boston to the mountain desert of New Mexico, Desi and Tony must rely on God to thwart unseen forces–and save a young woman and her baby from a villain more evil than any of them can imagine.

Amy here:
I stayed up way too late reading Reluctant Runaway and the romantic in me breathed a contented sigh with the awesome ending. The suspense writer in me checked my writer's hat and dove into the fast-moving action. I love how Jill covers a totally different segment of the FBI than I do and does so with great insider details and skillfully created characters. Reluctant Runaway is a wonderful addition to your summer reading list!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


A good friend emailed an encouraging word (thank you!!!) about how God is using me even if I don't see it, and suggested I check out Psalm 8. I did and it's a great reminder of the realization God gave me this morning~ a real ah-ha moment.

Last Saturday I taught about getting your foot in the publishing door with a dear friend, both of us fully expecting only a handful of folks to show up. We were blown away by a packed room and the Spirit of God making Himself so real. We laughed a lot, and I had a blast teaching as well as meeting people afterward and getting to encourage some awesome new writers.

All because God showed up and wouldn't let me stay in the place where lies were beginning to sound all too true.

Then today I had a radio interview. Lots of amazing folks were praying for me (thank you!!!) and yet I still felt my stomach clench and my voice quiver. So I prayed.

And told God over and over why I was nervous and what I was afraid of.

Guess what? I got more nervous.

Then a song from my favorite writing CD's said something about praising God.

The ah-ha lightening bolt hit me.


Mine was all wrong. I was busy "praying" and babbling to God what He already knew that had me focused on my fear.

I cried. And then started to pray listing the things God brought to mind about who He is. He is the Author and finisher of my faith. He spoke the world into being. He is for me, not against me. He loves me with an everlasting love.

The fear literally disappeared and the phone rang right after that for my interview.

What followed was an incredible time in God's presence, being given the opportunity to share a little about Ransomed Dreams and even more about who God is.

One line that God gave me to speak still lingers in my thoughts....

"Dream big because God is a big God who is amazing at taking shattered dreams, broken lives, and tears and mixing them with His grace to create something beautiful."

Thanks so much for your prayers! God is so not finished with me or with teaching me. Sometimes that thought makes me cry (being in God's school isn't always fun) but other times, like today, it makes me sing with joy.

God is good and He has good plans for us. Dream big. He can handle it. And He has so much more than we can ask or imagine ahead. Just remember who He is in the midst of the journey.

Focus. On Him.

All the amazing pray-ers in the Bible did... from Jehoshaphat to the psalmists to the apostle Paul. We can too.

Here's to God-focused prayers. They change the world. One heart at a time.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007


A comment I made today is coming back to haunt me.

Can you relate? I'm pretty sure everyone over the age of three has said something they wished easily retractable.

But words aren't.

Especially when God gets a hold of them.

The comment I made was to my husband who was trying patiently and with little success to encourage me out of a dark place.

I said to him, "If I'm writing out of pure obedience, then the results of my work are in His hands. Not mine."

Hopefully you weren't thinking I was going to type out some nasty phrase uttered in anger. I've said those too. But I'm learning to clamp my mouth shut quicker because I've seen the physical pain of angry words.

The quote above was said from my head and it's haunting me because I know the words are true. But my heart and body are still trying hard to "do my part" and make things happen.

And I'm weary.

Weary of Amazon rankings (mine stink). Weary of all the lists and measurements and of working for things that God keeps making clear are out of my control.

So I'm pulling back and asking the Lord to speak to my heart and make the above words ones of faith. Resting faith. The kind that trusts God with the outcome and chooses joyful obedience.

Not white-knuckled working hard to give my all and hope for the best.

I'm actually reading two books right now that are just like our loving Daddy to have dropped into my hands at this exact time because they're both perfect encouragement for where I am.

One is The Restorer by Sharon Hinck. Excellent book. I'm learning from Susan just how big God is and that it's okay to be where I am as long as I don't let the lies keep me from holding on to Jesus.

The other book is Facing Your Giants by Max Lucado. Another great read that God is using to remind me of simple truth that I've too easily forgotten.

So what is God using to speak to your heart right now? What words or books are seeping into your heart and helping you walk this sometimes difficult path?

I wish I had some great word of encouragement to share with you all. Maybe knowing you're not alone in the tough places is enough.

Pray for me, will you? I'd appreciate it so much!

Monday, June 04, 2007

The Restorer

Have you ever read a book and instantly cared about the characters and knew for sure that God had something big to show you? I did. This morning. The book was The Restorer by Sharon Hinck.

Here's the back cover blurb...


Susan Mitchell needed a change- any kind of change. Nearly twenty years of marriage to her college sweetheart, Mark, had given her two teenagers and two grade schoolers, along with miles of unmatched socks, sticky countertops, and the ever-growing hum of sheer bedlam. When had she become so...insignificant? Hadn't God once had a plan for her?

Well, at least Mark had a plan for an attic hideaway free of iPods and science projects and cookie crumbs. But before Susan can finish her first journal entry, she finds herself pulled through a portal into a world grappling for its soul and waiting for a promised Restorer. Someone does have a plan for her- one she never would have imagined. While she struggles to adapt to a foreign culture full of unfamiliar technologies and taboos, she faces unexpected battles, mind-poisoning enemies, and a profound spiritual journey. Her adventure will forever change her family, her faith, and how she experiences love- from the One.

Amy here: Can you relate? I can. You gotta love the "Don't mess with a mom" line. ;-) This book is stretching my genre choices because I don't typically read fantasy. But Susan is a mom I can relate to and the story is engaging. An awesome summer read!

Here's a little more about Sharon...

Author Bio:

Sharon is a wife and mom who has had many adventures, though none have involved an alternate universe (thus far). She has an M.A. in communication and has spent her life working in the arts (music, theatre, dance, and writing). Her other novels include The Secret Life of Becky Miller (Bethany House, 2006) and Renovating Becky Miller (Bethany House, 2007)

What was the inspiration for The Restorer?

I’ve always been fascinated by the story of Deborah in the book of Judges, and wondered what a modern woman would look like in that role. The fantasy genre provides a powerful way to look at a familiar story in a new way. I loved the challenge of creating a completely relatable character, and then inviting the reader to follow her into an imaginative journey.

What kind of reader did you have in mind as you wrote the book?

I wrote this story for my friends – ordinary women who are sometimes called on to fill extraordinary roles that they don’t feel prepared for. We may not be literally yanked into an alternate universe, but the idea of being pulled into an unexpected challenge is very real to most of the people I know. I wrote this book for my friends who receive a diagnosis of cancer, or the news that their child has a learning disability, or their parent is battling Alzheimers, or their spouse has lost their job. They suddenly find themselves in a foreign world, facing new rules, and being asked to fill a role they don’t feel ready for. My prayer is that as well as being entertaining, this novel can inspire courage and determination for those facing daily battles.

How closely is The Restorer based on your life?

Susan’s spiritual journey – her desire to follow God and her confusion when the road is much harder than she expected—is very parallel to my own. I’ve never carried a sword into battle, but I’ve faced the challenge of surrendering more deeply to God’ s purposes when they didn’t make sense to me.

What’s next?

The Restorer’s Son (the next book in the Sword of Lyric series) releases in September (NavPress), followed a few months later by The Restorer’s Journey.

Then in 2008 I have two new books coming out with Bethany House (back in the more contemporary fiction genre). Symphony of Secrets (2/08) and Penny’s Project (9/08).

My current books are available at all major bookstores as well as through my website at For a free monthly e-zine and updates on my projects and schedule, sign up to be a Book Buddy at my website!

If you aren't yet fully convinced this is a must read summer book, here are some great endorsements, a small sample of the great things people are saying about The Restorer:

"Sharon Hinck has done a remarkable job in writing a fantasy for people who don't normally read fantasies. A soccer mom finds herself in an alternate universe where she has to save her adopted people from vastly more powerful enemies. Loved the swordplay. Loved the spiritual insights. Most of all, loved the main character, Susan Mitchell, a compelling mix of Everymom and Wonder Woman."
~ Randy Ingermanson, award-winning author of Retribution

The Restorer is a great book for the hero – or heroine – in all of us. Sharon Hinck gives us a beautifully-realized world that demands the best that an everyday, run-of-the-mill Mom doesn’t even know she has. Hinck’s prose engages us in every moment of the struggle as the strength of the One drives the battle of the faithful against unimaginable odds. Excellent characters and an intriguing plot provide readers with great entertainment along with spiritual inspiration and enlightenment. I simply loved this book, hated for it to end, and am grateful that there’s another in the Sword of Lyric series coming soon.
~ Kathryn Mackel, author of Outriders and Trackers

“A compelling adventure, an engaging heroine, a unique and fascinating other world The Restorer satisfies on many levels. Skillfully incorporating themes of faith, sacrifice and the power of words to deceive or deliver, Sharon Hinck has crafted a tale that resonates in both soul and spirit. A welcome addition to the expanding genre of Christian fantasy. Don’t miss it!”
~ Karen Hancock, author of the Christy Award-winning LEGENDS OF THE GUARDIAN-KING series.
Leave me a note in the comments for your chance to win this awesome novel!!!
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