Monday, June 30, 2014

The Bachelorette has mussels in Brussels, and the guys gang up on Nick

This week's episode of The Bachelorette is the crucial week prior to hometown visits. Of the six men left, two men will go home crying that they will not be bringing Andi home to meet their families.

Andi and her men are now in Belgium, and the men are amazed at the latest hotel in Brussels they get to stay at. Again, I ask, other than the cast of The Shark Tank, who can afford to stay at these places?

Oh, how I love Andi reading the teleprompter facts about Belgium because outside of Europe, no one knows much of anything about Belgium, or many other places they visit. The guys do think Brussels may be the most beautiful place they've visited so far.

Prior to the date card arriving, my disdain for Nick continues to grow. He's such a snotty, egotistical thing. And I don't find him that attractive actually. He's not a very masculine guy, in my opinion. He wants a one-on-one, and he doesn't care that he had one last week and has spent more time with her than anyone else. Nick says this and we see his crazy eyes. I think he may a little off his rocker, or at least playing up the character.


Josh is growing more obnoxious by the day. Josh knows that Andi was not happy with him after the last group date. I think he would be a very possessive boyfriend/husband. If it weren't for the fact that I am grossed out by Dylan admitting on the lie detector about not washing his hands and his history with women, I'd send the two cocky guys home.

As the guys sit around the hotel room, at least three are wearing scarves. Wardrobe may have gone a bit overboard because they wear them in a very un-American way and like they are going to be willingly wearing them inside?

Chris Harrison arrives with the date card and gives it to Nick to read. "Marcus..." Before the card is even finished, we hear a bleep to cover what Josh has to say about the matter.

"Marcus - Let's get a taste of Brussels. < 3 Andi"

Insert disappointed faces of men and snide remarks from Nick about ending up with Andi.

Marcus is a little scared of the date because he revealed to Andi that he had thought about going home. Andi says that Marcus has stood out to him since the first night with his blue eyes (sigh - I'm a sucker for those too). However, his revelation concerns her some. He explains the reason why was that he was scared of falling for her so fast. Marcus wasn't prepared to have so many emotions.

They have mussels in Brussels. Then they pig out on ice cream, and stroll the streets exchanging smooches. After all the eating, they still have to have dinner. Andi wants to know more about Marcus before potentially meeting his family. How will it go? There's no rose at the end of the date for one-on-ones this week.

Marcus is a little scared to talk about his family due to some things that have happened. It's going to be hard for him to talk about it during this date. Andi asked where they would go next week if they were to go to his home town. They would go to his sister's house to meet Mom, sister, brother, niece and nephew.

His father doesn't play a big role in his family. His dad left his family, blaming his mom and Marcus. What kind of questions will mom ask Andi? They get into how rough Marcus' relationship was with a mom who grew up in an abusive household. They have a much better relationship now. He and his sister are close though. It's a pretty somber conversation, but what Andi was looking for him to be able to share.

Marcus hasn't ever felt this way about anyone before. The show does funny things to people.

Date card time! "Josh - Let's Ghent it on."

The guys are surprised that the group date will be the last date of the week. And Josh just had a one-on-one in France. That's quick to get another one-on-one. Chris is especially disappointed since he has had the longest gap between one-on-ones.

When Marcus gets back from his date, Nick takes it as a cue that Andi is back at the hotel. He's going to go hunt her down. When Nick arrives at the front desk, he claims to have lost his room key and forgot the number. He says the room is under his wife's name, Andi Dorfman. He gets the room number and a key. SHAME ON THE FRONT DESK WOMAN!

He shows up at her door, and she's a bit shocked. She can't keep her jaw off the floor. I think he reads more into her reaction than might have been the case. Nick asks her to go on a walk. Andi admits this is a bit of breaking the rules, but at this point, go for it. He's so nervous. There's lots of staring at each other.

I really, really don't like him. Andi describes their relationship in one word: passion. It's evidently so very hot. Gag.

Nick is glad he put himself out there and took a risk. I wish they wouldn't show him talking to the camera. I think he's so very off balanced, especially when looking at him.

The next day, we find Andi and Josh in Ghent. Andi wants Josh to be more open like the rest of the guys are with their feelings. In that way, they are lagging a bit behind.

They explore the town, one of few cities to survive wars without mass destruction, so much of the city is original. The goose parade is interesting. A few man band leads geese through the street.

Josh admits it is hard to be vulnerable and open up, but he's ready for her to meet his family. He doesn't open up more than this right now. While Andi doesn't want to compare, she needs more. Mainly, she doesn't think Josh is ready to get married like other guys such as Nick and Marcus.

That night, Josh talks about how he doesn't like seeing her with other guys. He brings up his resentment for the lie detector because he feels like it is a lack of trust on her part. She wants to know if he's feeling anything for her.

They start talking about what might come up and what questions will be asked if she goes home with him. Finally, he admits that he is starting to fall in love with her. And the kiss parade continues. The date isn't over yet though. It's time for the private concert of the week with an unrecognizable talent. American Young?

The last date card... "Nick, Dylan, Brian, Chris - True love is sacred. < 3"

Nick expresses that after tomorrow he is so glad to never have to go on a group date again. In his opinion, they are the worst thing in the world. He's convinced he is going to be taking her home next week. No doubt in his mind. Have I mentioned how much I don't like him? I haven't seen the appeal ever.

The group date starts at the ruins of a historic castle. There will be one rose on this date.

They are going to explore the countryside via rail bike. It's like four bikes fused together with a cart in the middle and goes along a railroad track. Andi sits in the middle and a guy on each corner paddles along. The guys are easily worn out and are quickly huffing and puffing.

Nick points out that he is the only one of the four on this date who has had a second one-on-one. Rub it in. Ugh.

They then go to an active monastery. There is a rule of no kissing within the walls. I was considering the irony of going there before that statement was made. Already, the one rose is brought into the picture. It's the most important rose to date, she points out. It guarantees a hometown date, and whoever gets it will have extra time at the end of the date.

Andi takes Chris off first. They go into a pottery barn, and I'm sure there's going to be a Ghost moment. When will they start playing "Unchained Melody"? Oh, my love, my darling... I hunger for your touch. Alone. Lonely times... and time goes by. So slowly, and time can do so much...

We get a mere glimpse at her discussion with Dylan. Nick, in talking to Chris and Brian, focuses on strategy and annoys the other guys with his confidence.

Brian lays out his feelings for Andi, the first time to say he's falling in love to anyone ever. When he's back with the other guys, he expresses his angst about Nick.

When Nick gets his time with Andi, he tells her of his confidence. He talks about how he is sure he will marry her. (He absolutely believes he is the front runner.) Andi thinks he shows her, not just tells her, how she feels. They toy with the rule about no kissing and think about violating it.

It's time to hand out the rose. Andi starts off by explaining how important this rose is to her, the chance to see where a guy comes from and his family. She gives it to Nick, and I feel the disappointment of the other guys. Since she can't really tell the guys she loves them, Nick feels this is Andi saying it without saying it.

If I were one of the other guys, and I saw Andi's interest in Nick, I'd say, "she can have him if that's the kind of guy she wants." As the other three guys walk off, they pretty much say as much. I'm not a big Andi fan. They kind of deserve each other. I think Chris and Brian especially deserve better.

What's funny though is these three guys crammed in the back seat of a tiny car as they ride away.

For the sickening rest of the evening, we are witness to Andi pointing out to Nick how he got both the first impression and first hometown date rose. Ugh.

When the guys get back to the hotel, they all discuss how Nick is always into the strategy each week, knowing the show in and out. It sounds like someone on Survivor. The difference is, he would have been voted of the island by now.

I try not to hear them talk. Andi has a surprise to end the date. Thankfully, it's fireworks, not another private concert.

The guys have to quit talking about him when he comes in. The room goes completely silent except for Josh coughing and the sound of church bells in the background. I'd slap the smirk off of his face if I were one of the other guys.

Brian is the first to call him out and calling him cocky. Marcus tells him he plays with their heads. Chris asks him if he's playing the game or if he is there for Andi -- because to him it's always about strategy and what will happen next. Josh points out how everyone has an opinion about Nick that Andi doesn't see.

Nick claims it's about his relationship with Andi. He thinks he's good friends with all the guys. I think that's what he says anyway. If he did say that, he's delusional.

I believe each contestant needs to undergo a psychiatric evaluation before going on this show.

We finally come to the cocktail party and rose ceremony. Andi reveals that she could see going to the hometowns of Josh and Marcus who she had dates with earlier in the week. That leads one to believe that of Dylan, Chris, and Brian, two of those guys are going home. (Dylan sees it that way too.)

We see short glimpses of the various guys talking to Andi. Chris tries one more time to get time to emphasize his feelings. He wants to take her home to the middle of nowhere Northeast Iowa.

While Dylan is talking to Andi, we get shots of Nick lurking around. He's tired of seeing Andi with other guys, and even though he has a rose on his chest decides he's going to do something about it. He interrupts Andi's time with Brian. Andi told Nick that just put a target on his back. He whines about not being able to do anything right.

Chris makes another effort to take her outside and get a kiss in. The race is on to make an impression before her final choice.

Chris Harrison comes in to break up the party and get Andi ready for the rose ceremony.

It's the moment of truth...

She's only going to go home with a guy if she sees real potential. These three guys have the most potential.

  1. Josh
  2. Marcus
  3. Chris
I'm honestly not surprised that Dylan isn't going further. He's flown too far under the radar the whole time. Brian is just a down to earth, nice guy. They never finish first on the show. 

Andi sheds tears as Dylan walks away. He does too. It just takes him a while to open up, he tells the camera.

Brian is the sad departure to me. She turns her back to the men and sheds a tear there too. We see Nick in the background in a creepy way. 

Next week should be interesting!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Hosanna!

After a small class two weeks ago, most of the kids were back this week. Therefore, we tried "Hosanna" again since they weren't there when the three did so well.

I like having a full class. :)

Saturday, June 28, 2014

The rest of my time in Atlanta

There's something about my flights home these days. On Wednesday night, my flight was delayed two hours. At one point it was estimated at almost three hours late due to rain. It's come to the point of "just get me home!"

But, before we headed home from ICRS, three of us Litfuse chicks checked out a little more of Atlanta. The upcoming movie release, Mineral, is currently being filmed downtown, and we got held up as they were doing aerial shots. They had light rigs on some corners (like at the Hard Rock) and streets blocked off. 

Scroll down for Christine's picture with John C. Morgan, the George W. Bush impersonator. Her day was made!

I keep forgetting to show my dad the picture I took of Darryl Strawberry. It's kind of a joke.

I'll spare you the story of the drunk guy I talked to across the tracks of the Marta on the way to the airport. Amy and Christine were ready to gag me and never let me speak to anyone else again. I almost gained a stalker.












Friday, June 27, 2014

A Mother’s Secret | Kindle Fire giveaway from Amy Clipston

Don't miss the newest offering in the Hearts of the Lancaster Grand Hotel series from Amy Clipston, A Mother's SecretAn unwed Amish woman yearns for real love and a family. The only thing in her way is the shame she’s been carrying for half of her life. The novel received 4-1/2 stars from Romantic Times and was chosen as a Top Pick.

Amy is celebrating with a Kindle Fire giveaway.

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One winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire
  • Books 1 and 2 in the Hearts of the Lancaster Grand Hotel series, A Hopeful Heart and A Mother's Secret.
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on July 6th. Winner will be announced July 7th on Amy's blog.

Don't miss a moment of the fun; enter today and be sure to stop by Amy's blog on July 7th to see if you won.


9780310335818

{MORE ABOUT A MOTHER’S SECRET}


Book two in the Hearts of the Lancaster Grand Hotel series.
Carolyn Lapp dreams of marrying for love. But will the errors of her past destroy this dream forever?
Carolyn Lapp longs to have a traditional Amish family. But she lives on her brother’s farm with her parents and her 15-year old son, Benjamin. Carolyn has never revealed the identity of Benjamin’s father and lives daily with the guilt and shame of her youthful indiscretion. Her brother simply will not forgive her.
His answer is to arrange a practical marriage for Carolyn to Saul, a widower with a little girl. But Carolyn isn’t convinced that Saul really loves her and believes he is simply looking for someone to help raise his daughter.
When Benjamin causes trouble at a local horse auction, horse breeder Joshua Glick decides that he must be taught a lesson. Carolyn and Joshua are unmistakably drawn to each other, but Joshua mistakenly assumes that Benjamin is Carolyn’s brother. Carolyn fears that if he discovers the truth, her past will destroy their budding romance.
After years of shame and loneliness, Carolyn suddenly has two men vying for her attention. But which of them will give her the family-and the unconditional love-she’s longed for?
Amy Clipston

{MORE ABOUT AMY CLIPSTON}


Amy Clipston holds a degree in communication from Virginia Wesleyan College and works full-time for the City of Charlotte, NC. Amy lives in North Carolina with her husband, and two sons and four spoiled rotten cats.
Find out more about Amy at http://amyclipston.com.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Karen Barnett talks about Out of the Ruins

An Interview with Karen Barnett
Author of Out of the Ruins


Whether because of grief, guilt or a feeling of inadequacy, many of us find ourselves pushing God away during the time we need Him most. Abby Fischer, the heroine in Karen Barnett’s new novel, Out of the Ruins (Abingdon/May 6, 2014/ISBN: 978-1-4267-8057-8/$14.99), comes face to face with grief and anger that causes her to question her faith, something the author herself has done for similar reasons.

Q: How do you decide the setting — both time period and location — for your stories? When and where are readers transported to in Out of the Ruins?

Out of the Ruins takes place during the San Francisco earthquake and fires of 1906. The inspiration for the novel struck when I was watching a documentary on American Experience about the earthquake. Survivors who had experienced the disaster as children were interviewed, and I remember thinking, “What must it have been like to walk the streets during such an epic event?” As I did more research, I became enchanted with this time period. Much like today, the early 20th century was a time when technology was changing faster than people could keep up. The future looked bright but probably a little frightening, as well.

Q: In Out of the Ruins, your heroine’s answer to prayer comes in an unexpected way. How has God answered one of your prayers in an unexpected way?

He often answers my prayers differently than I expect. Just recently, I was working on the second novel in the Golden Gate Chronicles and started feeling overwhelmed and inadequate to tackle the difficult plot and theme I’d originally outlined. After stumbling around on my own for a couple of months, I finally turned it over to God and asked Him if He really thought I should be attempting this book. A few days later, my husband handed me an envelope. When I opened it, I nearly fell over. It was a $0.15 meal ticket from the Red Cross earthquake refugee camps, dated 1906. My brother-in-law had found it while going through some old family papers. As I held it in my hands, I felt God’s presence. It was as if He were saying, “Don’t worry. I was there for my people in 1906, and I’m here now. I’ll supply your needs.”

Q: In this novel, you explore the idea that even when we push Him away, God never leaves our side or stops loving us. How have you experienced this truth in your own life?

In Out of the Ruins, Abby pushes God away out of grief and anger. There was a time in my life where I pushed God away, but it was because of guilt rather than grief. I knew God would never approve of the choices I was making at the time, so I played Jonah and hid from Him, thinking I could return once I fixed all my problems. The result? I continued falling further into sin because I was incapable of changing myself. It took a time before I realized I needed God’s strength to overcome my weakness.

Q: Was there anything especially interesting or surprising you learned in your research for Out of the Ruins?

There is an incredible wealth of written information and images about the 1906 disaster. I loved reading people’s personal recollections, letters and journals. I found it particularly fascinating how after the initial earthquake, many San Franciscans breathed a sigh of relief, believing the event was over. They had no idea of the looming disaster to come — the flames that would consume a large swath of the city. Most sat down to breakfast, not understanding they might soon be fleeing for their lives. It reminded me of a horror movie. We watch a character step into a dark room, and we all scream “Nooooo!” because we know what’s coming. It also took me back to the events of September 11. I remember watching the news, horrified that an airplane had hit the tower in New York, but with no clue how much more was yet to come that day and all the days that followed. We often view history as a complete picture, but when you’re in the thick of it, you have no concept of the scope of events.

Q: Tell us a bit about your heroine, Abby Fischer. What will readers love about her, and how is she challenged throughout the course of this book?

When I wrote Abby’s story, I was determined to step away from the typical heroine mold of the confident and beautiful woman. Abby is shy, socially awkward and stubborn — like me. She envies her sister’s beauty and talents, while being completely blind to her own. She’s spent much of her life hiding in her sister Cecelia’s shadow, but when her sister becomes ill, Abby draws on a well of inner strength she never realized she possessed.

Q: How about your leading man, Dr. Robert King? Is he patterned after anyone you know in real life, and what will make readers fall in love with him?

Robert is partially based on my husband — his generous nature, his kind spirit and his beautiful brown eyes. But Robert also struggles with pride and a desire for recognition, as well as a tendency to put God on the shelf in favor of science and self. I’ve seen many people struggle with these issues, and it felt very natural to work them into Robert’s character. He desperately wants to be the hero but needs to learn to step back and let God work.

Q: Are you an author who draws on real-life experiences to create your characters or is this work of fiction entirely from your imagination?

I definitely take from real life. Abby is a mirror of my younger self: a complete lack of self-confidence and struggling with extreme shyness. I base many of my plots on anecdotes I discover in historical research, but I always spin them in a new direction. My first novel, Mistaken, is actually based on an old family story, whereas Out of the Ruins was originally inspired by a documentary.

Q: Out of the Ruins is the first in a series. What can readers expect as the series continues? Will you pick up with the same characters or will readers meet new characters in each book?

It’s actually a little of both. I’ve always loved reading series because I grow attached to the characters and hate letting them go.  Robert and Abby will appear in all three books, but new characters (or side-characters) will take the main stage. In the next two novels, a beloved character from Out of the Ruins will have a chance at love, and we’ll also be meeting two of Robert’s sisters.

Q: Both Out of the Ruins and the next book in The Golden Gate Chronicles series touch on medical research at the turn of the 20th century. How did that element come about and did you learn anything interesting in your research?

I’m fascinated by this early 20th-century time period because technology was changing so quickly — automobiles, telephones, electricity, early airplanes, etc. When X-rays were discovered in 1895, it changed the face of medicine. By 1906, doctors were toying with the concept that X-ray radiation could be used to treat cancer. This research is what brings several of my characters together. I remember a cold chill washing over me when I read how early doctors tested the equipment before using it on their patients. The correct radiation level was achieved by testing the rays on their own skin; you wanted the skin to be slightly pink but not burned. As you can imagine, many of these early researchers ended up dying of the very cancers they were trying to cure. Tragic, yes, but their research led to many of the treatments used to treat cancer today.

Q: This is your second novel, but your first time writing a series. How does that change the way you approach the writing process?

Writing is sort of like gardening. With a single novel, you plant seeds (like themes and characters), nurture those ideas and collect the harvest at the end of the book. I learned that when you write a series, you have to plan ahead. Each book needs to stand alone and complete, but you also sprinkle in a few story lines that will last throughout several books. I planted ideas and themes in the first novel that won’t play out until the second and third. I can’t wait to see that happen!

Q: What do you hope readers will walk away with after reading Out of the Ruins?

My dream is for readers to recognize that despite our feelings at the moment — joy, grief, anger, etc. — God is always beside us, as close as our next breath. He desires a deep relationship with us. Not just basic belief, but intimacy. As a young person, I thought of God as more of a Santa Claus; if I were good, He’d answer my prayers. Now that I’ve walked with Him for years, I’ve learned God wants more than my recognition; he wants my heart.

Q: How does a former park ranger become an author? Can you tell us a little something about your “former life”?

I think what’s unique about me is how much I love both research and teaching. As a park ranger, I was fascinated by nature, especially what made specific plants or animals unique and how they thrived in their own niche. I also loved sharing that information with others, putting it together in an entertaining package through guided hikes, evening campfire programs and school programs. The trouble with park careers is you have to be available to work when everyone else has their playtime: weekends, evenings and holidays. Since my husband worked an office job, it was challenging being on opposite schedules. I turned to writing at that time but didn’t get serious about it until our kids were both in school. I found that my thirst for knowledge fed well into writing. I could throw myself into historical research and put what I learned into story form. It’s not so different, really, except now I can wear my slippers to work.


To learn more about Karen Barnett and her books, visit karenbarnettbooks.com, become a fan on Facebook (KarenBarnettAuthor) or follow her on Twitter (KarenMBarnett).



Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Quilts of Love | RIVAL HEARTS

Don’t miss this month’s Quilts of Love book, Rival Hearts, by Tara Randel. Who doesn't like a friendly competition, every now and then? You'll be sure to love this fun tale of unexpected competition between two people forced out of their comfort zone.

Celebrate June's release by entering to win a summer camping kit (grill, tent, and camp chairs) from Quilts of Love.

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One winner will receive:
  • A Coleman grill, tent, and camp chairs
  • A Promise in Pieces by Emily Wierenga
  • A Stitch and a Prayer by Eva Gibson
  • Rival Hearts by Tara Randel
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on July 13. Winner will be announced on the Quilts of Love blog.

Spread the word—tell your friends about the giveaway via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning.

###
Rival Hearts

{MORE ABOUT RIVAL HEARTS}


They both want the promotion. But will they find out that it is worth the cost?
Molly Henderson and Ben Weaver have been rival magazine writers for the same publishing group for years. When both come up for the same promotion, they find themselves in an unexpected competition to win the spot. Molly, editor of Quilter’s Heart, and Ben, editor of Outdoor Adventures, must switch roles, each working for the other for one month, then submit an article at the end of their quests. Can girly‑girl Molly survive the outdoor adventures that Ben has planned? Can Ben navigate the perils of the social dynamics of quilting events without destroying a valuable quilt in one short month? More importantly, in this he‑said, she‑said situation, will Molly and Ben give in to their attraction and fall in love, no matter who wins?

{MORE ABOUT TARA RANDEL}


Tara Randel is the author of five romance novels including “Lasting Love,” “Melody of Love” and “This Time Love.” A member of ACFW, Tara is also the lead author of the new Annie’s Mysteries series (see AnniesMysteries.com). Tara lives in New Port Richey, Florida.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

A Season of Change treats readers to a story where two very different lifestyles intersect

An interview with Lynette Sowell,
Author of A Season of Change 

I believe there aren’t any circumstances God can’t use and work something beautiful from. Whatever the pain, loss or unseen curveball that comes our way in life, it doesn’t limit God.” This belief that God often works in unexpected ways is one of the main themes author Lynette Sowell explores in her new book, A Season of Change (Abingdon Press/May 20, 2014/ISBN 978-1426753558/ $14.99).

In the first novel in Sowell’s new Seasons in Pinecraft series, readers are introduced to retired circus performer Natalie Bennett as she searches for the dream of her heart: a family of her own. When she meets Amish widower Jacob Miller at a Sarasota hospital, she is drawn to his family and their simple ways.

Q: It isn’t often that we see an Amish story that also involves circus performers. Tell us how these two worlds collide in A Season of Change.

One thing I discovered when looking at Sarasota outside of Pinecraft was that it’s the winter home of Ringling Brothers Circus. It’s also home to the Ringling Museum of Art, a Circus museum, which used to be part of the estate of John Ringling. I also discovered Sarasota has a circus school, which I was able to visit for a Sunday afternoon performance under their big top. My heroine, Natalie, a “retired” circus performer who now teaches at a circus school, lost her mother to cancer. The story opens right before Christmas, and she received a box of her late mother’s things and learns her mother was once Amish — something Natalie never knew. While volunteering at a hospital in the children’s ward on Christmas day, Natalie meets the Miller family, visiting young Rebecca Miller, who’s recovering from severe injuries after being struck by a car.

Q: What kind of research was involved to create believable characters with such unique backgrounds? 

Sometimes the best thing we writers can do is to put ourselves in someone’s shoes, or at least try to find a common emotion or feeling we’ve experienced, and let our characters take it from there. I’ve grieved over losses, like my Amish hero, Jacob Miller, has. Although I’ve never lost a spouse, I’ve had friends who have. In fact, Jacob Miller was the first character who came onto my imagination’s stage for this book. So I knew I had to somehow get into the mind of a grieving Amish man, about 29-30 years old, and tell his story. I also had to deal with his outer journey — what does a man his age do for a living? Not all Amish work on farms now, but many work skilled trades, so I chose that for him.

Q: One of the main themes in A Season of Change is that God can work in our lives in unexpected ways. How have you seen this truth at work in your own life?

Wow, I could write a book about this one, but I’m not a nonfiction writer! Looking back, especially during difficult circumstances such as my husband’s cancer diagnosis in 2013, I can see how God warned us a year ahead of time, how He nudged my husband into a new career and job with health coverage to provide for his care. He’s given us encouragement through friends, with their prayers, support and words of comfort when they were sorely needed.

Q: What drew you to write about the Amish, and how is this story different from other Amish fiction books?

This book series is what people call a “happy accident.” I was asked by an editor to search out Texas as a possible setting for Amish fiction, but I was coming up with nothing. And then, I saw a picture of a Plain woman sitting on a three-wheeled bicycle outside the Pinecraft post office with an article captioned “The bicycle Amish.” That’s when the light bulb came on for me, and I knew I’d found something different. I think fiction trends can be a good thing, but I won’t follow a trend unless there is something I come across that grabs me and won’t let me go. Pinecraft did, and it won’t let me go. It’s become a very dear place to me.

Q: Most people are familiar with the Amish in Pennsylvania and Ohio, but probably not as familiar with the Amish population in Pinecraft, Florida, the setting of your book. Can you tell us more about Pinecraft?

Pinecraft is a winter vacation spot for the Amish and Mennonites from places like Pennsylvania and Ohio, as well as Indiana. The “village” is smack-dab in the middle of the city of Sarasota, Florida, and has a handful of year-round residents. From November through March, however, the neighborhood swells to a population of thousands. No horses and buggies — people walk or ride bicycles to get around the community. (I usually rent a bicycle for a few days while I’m there.) To get around the city or to the beach, the Plain people who don’t drive hire drivers, hitch rides with family members who do drive or take the city bus.

Q: What is the message you want to convey through A Season of Change?

I believe there aren’t any circumstances God can’t use and work something beautiful from. Whatever the pain, loss or unseen curveball that comes our way in life, it doesn’t limit God. I know that’s something often easier said than understood, especially when we’re in the middle of enduring that storm, whether it’s a time of uncertainty, disappointment or loss.

Q: Did you learn anything surprising while writing A Season of Change?

I think the biggest thing I learned was how easy it is to have misconceptions about certain groups of people. I attended college for two years in Pennsylvania, not far from Lancaster County. The college (Messiah College) is affiliated with the Brethren in Christ Church, so it has Anabaptist roots. Just like in mainstream Christianity, there are many facets to the Plain people, from ultra-conservative to what some might consider more liberal. (For example, on my first trip to Pinecraft, I met an Amish woman who owns a laptop. She uses it for her work, and her bishop has approved it.)

Q: A Season of Change is the first in a series. Is there a common theme or thread that runs throughout the series?

The series title is Seasons in Pinecraft. I have three strong female characters who are going through seasons in their lives. All three have had dreams for their lives. Book one’s dream is perhaps what seems like an impossible dream for Natalie — finding a family and that belonging her heart craves. In book two, Betsy’s dream is to run her own bakery. In book three, Rochelle’s dream is one she’d set aside for the sake of other people and realizing her dream hasn’t died after all.

Q: Tell us a little about your process for writing a novel. Do you know at the beginning how it will end?

Sometimes I do. I have a general idea of what the end will be, but part of the fun (and sometimes hair-pulling) is discovering how it all will come together. I usually have what I call “high points” of the novel. Those can be good or bad things for the hero and/or heroine, but I know I need to reach those points in the course of the story.


Readers can keep up with Lynette Sowell via her Facebook fan page (Lynette Sowell, Author) or by following her on Twitter (@LynetteSowell).


Monday, June 23, 2014

The Bachelorette: Liar, liar, pants on fire!

This week's post is coming soon! I'm out being social rather than being in a hotel room watching the show. Stay tuned!

I honestly am ready to watch it after this preview!

Keep reading! I finally got the post up!



So, this week we head to head to Venice. If I had a snowball's chance of getting cast, I'd go on the show for the travel.

Yeah, right! Who am I kidding? I wouldn't make it past the first rose ceremony.

As soon as she arrives to meet the guys, Andi announces that the first one-on-one date starts right then without a date card. Everyone expects it to be Cody since he is the only one who hasn't had a one-on-one among the men still left.

Surprisingly, it's Nick. Cody believes he's the pet dog among the group, being drug along. 


However, Andi has her reasons -- a method to her unpopular madness. After some tension last week, she has to see if anything is still there with Nick. He got the first impression rose, but she's not she's not sure that is still there.

The rest of the guys show up at the Abano Grand Hotel. Yet another place I could never afford.

Chris and Cody have a man to man. Chris correctly guesses that maybe the two just need to work some things out, that maybe it isn't that she's so terribly interested. He knows he needs to apologize and make good on being such a bratty child last week during the group date.

It's so hard not to fall in love and be romantic in Venice, at least according to Andi. They have some pizza. A bird lands on his head (I wish it left a mark on him). They walk hand-in-hand and trade smooches. Yet, it will still take some convincing.

Soon, the date card arrives back at hotel. Brian reads it: "Josh, Brian, Dylan, Marcus, J.J, Chris..." Before the rest of the date card is even read, the rest of the guys congratulate Cody.

Back on the canal, Nick continues to bore me. I've never seen what she sees in him, whatever it is. I haven't heard him say anything to her, but evidently he quickly smoothed out any ripples from last week. WHAT?

The evening portion of the date has them dressed for a formal dinner. Andi thinks Nick looks like a prince in his tuxedo. She is eager to get questions answered after last week. She brings up last week. Given the drama, Andi tells him she wants a guy that is liked by others, not in conflict. Nick tries to defend himself against Cody. Andi asks if he thinks he's a "front runner." He doesn't like the word, but he doesn't deny it either.

Then he mumbles and rambles on about falling in love. She's surprised by Nick's honesty which earns him a rose.

BOOOO!!! HISS!  The night continues with a masquerade dance.

The next morning, Andi gets her third note from her secret admirer. I don't recall her second one. It must not have been worth remembering.

It's time for the group date. She believes they are an honest bunch, so she puts them on the spot with a lie detector. 

The walk into what looks like a torture chamber. When she tells them a lie detector is ahead, Josh may look the most ready to mess his pants. Andi says that she will go first.

Is Italy your favorite country in the world? Yes.
Do you think all of guys are here for the right reasons? Yes.
Are you falling in love? Yes.
Do you think your husband is one of the remaining guys? Yes.

Does anyone remember the lie detector on some other program? What was it, Meet My Folks? Ok, sorry, back to this...

By the way what seems like typos in the questions area actually how they were asked in choppy English with an Italian accent.

Josh is up next. He's very uneasy about this.
Is your name Josh? Yes.
Have you ever cheated on a test? Yes.
Are you here for a right reason? Yes. (Seemed a little hesitant.)

Dylan
Are you ready for marriage? Yes.

Marcus
Do you prefer blondes to brunettes? No.

J.J.
Are you here for right reasons? Yes.

Josh
Do you believe you can fall in love with Andi? Yes.

Marcus
Are you ready for marriage? Yes.

Brian
Do you want kids? Yes. (Though the answer seems delayed.)

J.J.
Are you good in bed? Yes.

Dylan
Have you slept with over 20 women? Yes. (After taking a minute to count.)
Do you wash your hands after you go to the bathroom? No. (Dramatic music and me going ew ew ew.)

Let me just say right here that I had been thinking he might be the most attractive guy, but after these two answers I'm completely grossed out. He doesn't think he's going to make it through the rest of the day. Dylan takes her off to talk to her as sick as he is at this moment. He's sick to his stomach and tells her he needs to go back to the hotel.

Chris
Have you lied to Andi? No.
Are you here for right reasons? Yes.
Are you Andi's secret admirer? Yes.

Now we hear his confession about writing these notes for the last three weeks. He wanted to tell her in a romantic situation. If she is going to find out the results of the test, Chris wants to tell her now though it ruins what he wanted to do. Will he have to tell in front of everyone?

The results are in...

Three men told no lies. One man told two lies. Two men told three lies. Then, she gets the envelope with results.

Then, the guys get the news that Andi told two lies. They find that funny, but get her results. Josh says he doesn't need her results. Brian opens up the envelope -- the lies are her favorite country and whether or not she really thinks the guys are there for the right reasons.

Andi asks who is nervous about their results. Part of her wants to look (what's the point if you don't look?), but on the flip side, the guys will know she trusts them to be honest if she doesn't look at all. Disappointingly, at least to me (and to most viewers, I am sure), she tears up the package.

Josh is pleased with this.

Back at the spa, Cody and Nick are not speaking to each other while sitting in a sauna.

Andi takes the five guys to a castle, and hopes that by ripping up the results she'll get some confessions.

Brian takes her off, tells her to put a hand on his heart, and try this lie detector thing again, for fun.

Is your name Brian? Yes.
Have you ever lied to a girlfriend? No. No.
Have you ever told a girl she looked good when she didn't? Yes.
So, have you ever lied to a girl? Yes. #busted

Is your name Andi? Yes.
Have you ever been in love? Yes.
Do you want to make out? No. "YOU'RE LYING!" Brian surmises.

Back with the group, the guys start asking who the secret admirer is. Josh makes Chris feel uneasy. J.J. just seems awkward.

Marcus says that he is surprised she ripped it up. Did she regret it? Yes and no. Marcus admits he was unsure of the process and almost ready to leave before his one-on-one date. After admitting to it being hard for him to be open they have a bigger make out session than she and Brian had.

Sitting among all the guys, J.J. says he probably lied about his sex life and being good. Josh goes off with Andi next and owns up to his angst about the lie detector test and how he was glad she ripped it up. Andi doesn't understand why he is mad about the test while the others seem to be laughing it off. Now, she wonders what Josh had to hide and wishes she read the results.

Chris takes his opportunity to reveal that he is the secret admirer. She knows before he tells her that he is the secret admirer. She likes that he has a sentimental side and that he can share his feelings. He ends up getting the group date rose.

Josh is livid. J.J. is jealous and calls on the guys on congratulating each other on getting roses. He and Chris kind of get into it. But, moving on...

The next day, it's Cody's day, after 6 weeks. 

What Andi has to say about him is to compliment his awesome green eyes. She admits their romance has been lacking. I'm surprised he has stuck around this long.

Their date is in Verona... home to Romeo and Juliet. They sit down to read letters at the Juliet Club where people write in questions about love. The club answers all the letters about love. Cody actually gives some sound advice in a thoughtfully written letter.

At dinner, Cody wants to share a letter that he wrote. He writes to Juliet, explaining how he first saw Andi on TV and how now he is on his first date with her. It's really quite sweet, and I usually gag at that kind of thing. He wants to hug her, kiss her, roll around with her. HUH? He tells her he wants to take her home to meet his family. He is so smitten, but as Cody talks, she goes from smiling to crying. She stops him before he can go further. At this point Andi only sees friendship, not romance. She just doesn't feel like it is there, and she can't wait to hurt him later because she respects him too much. Andi tells him the right thing to do is to cut him loose.

He holds it together until he gets in the car. I know it hurts when something is one sided.

The guys aren't exactly celebrating when the bellman comes up to get Cody's suitcase either.

Now, we've come to the point in the show where it is time for the cocktail party for the seven remaining men.

The guys complain that Nick quickly swoops in for time with Andi given that he already has a rose. He starts making out with her right away. She calls that manly. He seems like a sissy boy to me.

The rest of the guys convince Dylan to break up their time right away. When Nick comes back in, the guys call him arrogant for what he did. Josh is turning more and more into the ego jock jerk. Meanwhile, we see bits and pieces of all the guys getting their time.

When Josh gets his turn, Andi tells him that she left their time together confused. The more they talk, the worse it seems to get.

When Andi talks to Chris Harrison, she says the week started great, but it wasn't a good week for her. Andi does share that Nick cannot talk in complete sentences when being transparent. Glad it wasn't just me zoning out.

Chris Harrison likes what Andi decided to do with ripping up the envelope. Then, she tells of how angry Josh got. They banter about how hard it is getting.

At last, we make it to the rose ceremony. Since Cody went home, there are only seven left and Nick and Chris have their roses. Only 4 of 5 left will get a rose.

  1. Dylan (if she only read the results...)
  2. Brian
  3. Marcus
  4. Josh
And there goes J.J. and his pants. And his bow tie. She's one of the guys that brought the most fun and laughter to her, but she just doesn't see a future. The guys remaining stare from the background as his car drives away. 

When Andi walks back in, the 6 surround her. She tells them next week they will head off to Brussels. 

I thought the clip that ran at the end was pretty funny. With the Italian accent, all the men thought one of the lie detector questions was, "have you ever farted in public?" They all said yes. However, the real question was, "have you ever FOUGHT in public?" The guys found the question much funnier than the guy administrating the test. 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Meanwhile in Atlanta

I'm in Atlanta on business at the International Christian Retail Show. Other than getting things ready and working in the media room, here's what we (me, Amy and Christine) have been up to so far.

The porch at Pity Pat's Porch. 
Christine and Amy

The porch

Church turned music venue

Centennial Olympic Park






In Olympic Park
CNN Center and the Omni Hotel

Olympic Rings

Ferris Wheel! 20 stories high!
Alan Robertson and his mama Miss Kay
Phil!!!


Saturday, June 21, 2014

Join the Odyssey Adventure Club for $5!

Odyssey-Adventure-Club-1

Are your kids in need of a safe and fun environment where they can explore, create and imagine, all while developing their faith and learning biblical truth? Enter the Odyssey Adventure Club (AOC)!
 
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For a limited time, you can join HERE for only $5 (regular monthly membership costs $15 for up to six users)!

Families will be able to stream the Adventures in Odyssey library, plus listen to exclusive new monthly episodes.  Busy families will find 24/7 access to the content through the Odyssey Adventure Club mobile iPhone app.

Children can also read daily devotions, interact with hands-on activities and view video documentaries featuring a behind-the-scenes look into the production of the Adventures in Odyssey stories. Parents can feel confident their children are safe on the Odyssey Adventure Club website — Focus on the Family staff will be monitoring all comments before they’re publicly posted. (Created for children ages 8-12.)

A portion of each Odyssey Adventure Club membership will benefit Focus on the Family partner relief organizations, including Christian Veterinary Mission, Operation Christmas Child and Compassion International. This provides parents with an opportunity to teach children about the value of giving and serving others.

Coming in July, Odyssey Adventure Club members get to listen to the brand new album, "The Ties That Bind," FIRST before it's available ANYWHERE ELSE!

Click here to join for only $5!

Want more summer activities for your kids inspired by the Odyssey Adventure Club? Check out this post.

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Summer is officially here! Don't let your kids' boredom run rampant. Adventures in Odyssey is here to save the day. Below are some must-try ideas for summer fun! Want even more summer fun? For the month of June, you can join the Odyssey Adventure Club for only $5! More details can be found here.

MORE Summer Activities!!!

As a parent you are probably a big proponent of reading. Encourage your kids to dig into a book or two this summer with Adventures in Odyssey's On Your Marks Summer Reading Challenge. Bonus points if YOU create a reading challenge for yourself as you read along with your kids!

Looking for something hands-on? Create Matthew in 3-D! Invite a few of your kids' friends over for a play date, print off the activity sheet, and let them have at it for the afternoon (with the promise of cookies and lemonade once they've finished constructing Matthew).

Maybe your kids aren't into reading, but they love math. If that's the case, have them solve Eugene's Sudoku!

The laundry needs to be done; the dishes need to be put away. But your kids are begging you to take them out to the zoo. Let them take a whack at Matthew's Decoder in the morning, then make an agreement that if they figure out how to use the decoder, you'll take them on an afternoon adventure. That'll give you the morning to finish up your to-do list!

Friday, June 20, 2014

SEAGRASS PIER | Pre-order @ColleenCoble’s NEW book for just $4.99

Don’t miss Colleen Coble‘s latest release in the Hope Beach series, Seagrass Pier. The book releases July 1st, and Colleen's publisher is offering the ebook at a special pre-order price of just $4.99 between now and 6/30 everywhere ebooks are sold.

PLUS . . . between 6/9 – 6/30 Colleen will be hosting a Kindle giveaway.

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One winner will receive:
  • A brand new Kindle Fire HDX
  • Seagrass Pier and the rest of the Hope Beach series by Colleen Coble
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on June 30th. Winner will be announced on Colleen's blog on July 1st.

Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning and be sure to stop by Colleen's blog on July 1st to see if you won!

Seagrass Pier

{MORE ABOUT SEAGRASS PIER}


In a secluded corner of Hope Beach, one woman must decipher a stranger’s memories . . . before they cost her everything.
Elin Summerall was one of the lucky ones. Not only did she get a heart transplant, but the donor was a perfect fit. A miraculously perfect fit.
But when Elin begins having violent flashbacks—and vivid dreams of being strangled—she realizes that she has been the recipient of more than just a new heart . . . Elin is remembering her donor’s murder.
Her strange affliction has attracted some unwanted attention: from the press, from the authorities . . . and from the killer himself. Now, living alone with her young daughter and aging mother, Elin is being stalked—by a man she’s only met in her nightmares.
The police are dubious of her story, but one off-duty FBI agent is eager to help her: Agent Marc Everton, the father of Elin’s daughter.
Of course, he doesn’t know about that. Yet.
Now, in a remote cottage on Hope Island, Elin and Marc must probe the secrets buried in her borrowed heart. And there’s no time to waste. One man is desperate to silence her—before she remembers too much.

Colleen Coble

{MORE ABOUT COLLEEN COBLE}


Colleen Coble has sold over 2 million novels worldwide. “Seagrass Pier,” the third installment in her acclaimed Hope Beach series, marks a new highpoint for emotion and complexity in Coble’s addictive brand of romantic suspense.
Find out more about Colleen at www.colleencoble.com.