Monday, April 25, 2011

Stories from Grandma's Attic

I was so excited to see these books being re-released. I enjoyed them when I was a child and now I'm happy to share them with my kids. My son even enjoys listening to me read them to him at night before bed. The stories from another, simpler era are timeless. Scroll down for a peek at the first chapter.

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

David C. Cook (April 1, 2011)
***Special thanks to Karen Davis, Assistant Media Specialist, The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***


Arleta Richardson grew up in a Chicago hotel under her grandmother’s care. As they sat overlooking the shores of Lake Michigan, her grandmother shared memories of her childhood on a Michigan farm. These treasured family stories became the basis for the Grandma’s Attic Series.


Remember when you were a child, when the entire world was new, and the smallest object a thing of wonder? Arleta Richardson remembered: the funny wearable wire contraption hidden in the dusty attic, the century-old schoolchild’s slate that belonged to Grandma, an ancient trunk filled with quilt pieces—each with its own special story—and the button basket, a miracle of mysteries. But best of all she remembered her remarkable grandmother who made magic of all she touched, bringing the past alive as only a born storyteller could.

So step inside the attic of Richardson’s grandmother. These stories will keep you laughing while teaching you valuable lessons. These marvelous tales faithfully recalled for the delight of young and old alike are a touchstone to another day when life was simpler, perhaps richer, and when the treasures of family life and love were passed from generation to generation by a child’s questions and the legends that followed enlarged our faith. These timeless stories were originally released in 1974 and then revised in 1999. They are being re-released with new artwork that will appeal to a new generation of girls.

Product Details:

In Grandma's Attic:

List Price: $6.99
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Paperback: 144 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook (April 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0781403790
ISBN-13: 978-0781403795

More Stories from Grandma's Attic:

List Price: $6.99
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Paperback: 144 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook; 3 edition (April 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 9780781403801
ISBN-13: 978-0781403801
ASIN: 0781403804


In Grandma’s Attic – Chapter 1

Pride Goes Before a Fall

“Grandma, what is this?”

Grandma looked up from her work. “Good lands, child, where did you find that?”

“In the attic,” I replied. “What is it, Grandma?”

Grandma chuckled and answered, “That’s a hoop. The kind that ladies wore under their skirts when I was a little girl.”

“Did you ever wear one, Grandma?” I asked.

Grandma laughed. “Indeed I did,” she said. “In fact, I wore that very one.”

Here, I decided, must be a story. I pulled up the footstool and prepared to listen. Grandma looked at the old hoop fondly.

“I only wore it once,” she began. “But I kept it to remind me how painful pride can be.”

I was about eight years old when that hoop came into my life. For months I had been begging Ma to let me have a hoopskirt like the big girls wore. Of course that was out of the question. What would a little girl, not even out of calicoes, be doing with a hoopskirt? Nevertheless, I could envision myself walking haughtily to school with the hoopskirt and all the girls watching enviously as I took my seat in the front of the room.

This dream was shared by my best friend and seatmate, Sarah Jane. Together we spent many hours picturing ourselves as fashionable young ladies in ruffles and petticoats. But try as we would, we could not come up with a single plan for getting a hoopskirt of our very own.

Finally, one day in early spring, Sarah Jane met me at the school grounds with exciting news. An older cousin had come to their house to visit, and she had two old hoops that she didn’t want any longer. Sarah Jane and I could have them to play with, she said. Play with, indeed! Little did that cousin know that we didn’t want to play with them. Here was the answer to our dreams. All day, under cover of our books, Sarah Jane and I planned how we would wear those hoops to church on Sunday.

There was a small problem: How would I get that hoop into the house without Ma knowing about it? And how could either of us get out of the house with them on without anyone seeing us? It was finally decided that I would stop by Sarah Jane’s house on Sunday morning. We would have some excuse for walking to church, and after her family had left, we would put on our hoops and prepare to make a grand entrance at the church.

“Be sure to wear your fullest skirt,” Sarah Jane reminded me. “And be here early. They’re all sure to look at us this Sunday!”

If we had only known how true that would be! But of course, we were happily unaware of the disaster that lay ahead.

Sunday morning came at last, and I astonished my family by the speed with which I finished my chores and was ready to leave for church.

“I’m going with Sarah Jane this morning,” I announced, and set out quickly before anyone could protest.

All went according to plan. Sarah Jane’s family went on in the buggy, cautioning us to hurry and not be late for service. We did have a bit of trouble fastening the hoops around our waists and getting our skirts pulled down to cover them. But when we were finally ready, we agreed that there could not be two finer-looking young ladies in the county than us.

Quickly we set out for church, our hoopskirts swinging as we walked. Everyone had gone in when we arrived, so we were assured the grand entry we desired. Proudly, with small noses tipped up, we sauntered to the front of the church and took our seats.

Alas! No one had ever told us the hazards of sitting down in a hoopskirt without careful practice! The gasps we heard were not of admiration as we had anticipated—far from it! For when we sat down, those dreadful hoops flew straight up in the air! Our skirts covered our faces, and the startled minister was treated to the sight of two pairs of white pantalets and flying petticoats.

Sarah Jane and I were too startled to know how to disentangle ourselves, but our mothers were not. Ma quickly snatched me from the seat and marched me out the door.

The trip home was a silent one. My dread grew with each step. What terrible punishment would I receive at the hands of an embarrassed and upset parent? Although I didn’t dare look at her, I knew she was upset because she was shaking. It was to be many years before I learned that Ma was shaking from laughter, and not from anger!

Nevertheless, punishment was in order. My Sunday afternoon was spent with the big Bible and Pa’s concordance. My task was to copy each verse I could find that had to do with being proud. That day I was a sorry little girl who learned a lesson about pride going before a fall.

“And you were never proud again, Grandma?” I asked after she finished the story.

Grandma thought soberly for a moment. “Yes,” she replied. “I was proud again. Many times. It was not until I was a young lady and the Lord saved me that I had the pride taken from my heart. But many times when I am tempted to be proud, I remember that horrid hoopskirt and decide that a proud heart is an abomination to the Lord!”


More Stories From Grandma’s Attic

Chapter 1

The Nuisance in Ma’s Kitchen

When Grandma called from the backyard, I knew I was in for it. She was using her would-you-look-at-this voice, which usually meant I was responsible for something.

“What, Grandma?” I asked once I reached the spot where she was hanging up the washing.

“Would you look at this?” she asked. “I just went into the kitchen for more clothespins and came back out to find this.”

I looked where she was pointing. One of my kittens had crawled into the clothes basket and lay sound asleep on a clean sheet.

“If you’re going to have kittens around the house, you’ll have to keep an eye on them. Otherwise leave them in the barn where they belong. It’s hard enough to wash sheets once without doing them over again.”

Grandma headed toward the house with the soiled sheet, and I took the kitten back to the barn. But I didn’t agree that it belonged there. I would much rather have had the whole family of kittens in the house with me. Later I mentioned this to Grandma.

“I know,” she said. “I felt the same way when I was your age. If it had been up to me, I would have moved every animal on the place into the house every time it rained or snowed.”

“Didn’t your folks let any pets in the house?” I asked.

“Most of our animals weren’t pets,” Grandma admitted. “But there were a few times when they were allowed in. If an animal needed special care, it stayed in the kitchen. I really enjoyed those times, especially if it was one I could help with.”

“Tell me about one,” I said, encouraging her to tell me another story about her childhood.

“I remember one cold spring,” she began, “when Pa came in from the barn carrying a tiny goat.”

“I’m not sure we can save this one.” Pa held the baby goat up for us to see. “The nanny had twins last night, and she’ll only let one come near her. I’m afraid this one’s almost gone.”

Ma agreed and hurried to find an old blanket and a box for a bed. She opened the oven door, put the box on it, and gently took the little goat and laid it on the blanket. It didn’t move at all. It just lay there, barely breathing.

“Oh, Ma,” I said. “Do you think it will live? Shouldn’t we give it something to eat?”

“It’s too weak to eat right now,” Ma replied. “Let it rest and get warm. Then we’ll try to feed it.”

Fortunately it was Saturday, and I didn’t have to go to school. I sat on the floor next to the oven and watched the goat. Sometimes it seemed as though it had stopped breathing, and I would call Ma to look.

“It’s still alive,” she assured me. “It just isn’t strong enough to move yet. You wait there and watch if you want to, but don’t call me again unless it opens its eyes.”

When Pa and my brothers came in for dinner, Reuben stopped and looked down at the tiny animal. “Doesn’t look like much, does it?”

I burst into tears. “It does so!” I howled. “It looks just fine! Ma says it’s going to open its eyes. Don’t discourage it!”

Reuben backed off in surprise, and Pa came over to comfort me. “Now, Reuben wasn’t trying to harm that goat. He just meant that it doesn’t … look like a whole lot.”

I started to cry again, and Ma tried to soothe me. “Crying isn’t going to help that goat one bit,” she said. “When it gets stronger, it will want something to eat. I’ll put some milk on to heat while we have dinner.”

I couldn’t leave my post long enough to go to the table, so Ma let me hold my plate in my lap. I ate dinner watching the goat. Suddenly it quivered and opened its mouth. “It’s moving, Ma!” I shouted. “You’d better bring the milk!”

Ma soaked a rag in the milk, and I held it while the little goat sucked it greedily. By the time it had fallen asleep again, I was convinced that it would be just fine.

And it was! By evening the little goat was standing on its wobbly legs and began to baa loudly for more to eat. “Pa, maybe you’d better bring its box into my room,” I suggested at bedtime.

“Whatever for?” Pa asked. “It will keep warm right here by the stove. We’ll look after it during the night. Don’t worry.”

“And we aren’t bringing your bed out here,” Ma added, anticipating my next suggestion. “You’ll have enough to do, watching that goat during the day.”

Of course Ma was right. As the goat got stronger, he began to look for things to do. At first he was content to grab anything within reach and pull it. Dish towels, apron strings, and tablecloth corners all fascinated him. I kept busy trying to move things out of his way.

From the beginning the little goat took a special liking to Ma, but she was not flattered. “I can’t move six inches in this kitchen without stumbling over that animal,” she sputtered. “He can be sound asleep in his box one minute and sitting on my feet the next. I don’t know how much longer I can tolerate him in here.”

As it turned out, it wasn’t much longer. The next Monday, Ma prepared to do the washing in the washtub Pa had placed on two chairs near the woodpile. Ma always soaked the clothes in cold water first, then transferred them to the boiler on the stove.

I was in my room when I heard her shouting, “Now you put that down! Come back here!”

I ran to the kitchen door and watched as the goat circled the table with one of Pa’s shirts in his mouth. Ma was right behind him, but he managed to stay a few feet ahead of her.

“Step on the shirt, Ma!” I shouted as I ran into the room. “Then he’ll have to stop!”

I started around the table the other way, hoping to head him off. But the goat seemed to realize that he was outnumbered, for he suddenly turned and ran toward the chairs that held the washtub.

“Oh, no!” Ma cried. “Not that way!”

But it was too late! Tub, water, and clothes splashed to the floor. The goat danced stiff-legged through the soggy mess with a surprised look on his face.

“That’s enough!” Ma said. “I’ve had all I need of that goat. Take him out and tie him in the yard, Mabel. Then bring me the mop, please.”

I knew better than to say anything, but I was worried about what would happen to the goat. If he couldn’t come back in the kitchen, where would he sleep?

Pa had the answer to that. “He’ll go to the barn tonight.”

“But, Pa,” I protested, “he’s too little to sleep in the barn. Besides, he’ll think we don’t like him anymore!”

“He’ll think right,” Ma said. “He’s a menace, and he’s not staying in my kitchen another day.”

“But I like him,” I replied. “I feel sorry for him out there alone. If he has to sleep in the barn, let me go out and sleep with him!”

My two brothers looked at me in amazement.

“You?” Roy exclaimed. “You won’t even walk past the barn after dark, let alone go in!”

Everyone knew he was right. I had never been very brave about going outside after dark. But I was more concerned about the little goat than I was about myself.

“I don’t care,” I said stubbornly. “He’ll be scared out there, and he’s littler than I am.”

Ma didn’t say anything, probably because she thought I’d change my mind before dark. But I didn’t. When Pa started for the barn that evening, I was ready to go with him. Ma saw that I was determined, so she brought me a blanket.

“You’d better wrap up in this,” she said. “The hay is warm, but it’s pretty scratchy.”

I took the blanket and followed Pa and the goat out to the barn. The more I thought about the long, dark night, the less it seemed like a good idea, but I wasn’t going to give in or admit that I was afraid.

Pa found a good place for me to sleep. “This is nice and soft and out of the draft. You’ll be fine here.”

I rolled up in the blanket, hugging the goat close to me as I watched Pa check the animals. The light from the lantern cast long, scary shadows through the barn, and I thought about asking Pa if he would stay with me. I knew better, though, and all too soon he was ready to leave.

“Good night, Mabel. Sleep well,” he said as he closed the barn door behind him. I doubted that I would sleep at all. If it hadn’t been for the goat and my brothers who would laugh at me, I would have returned to the house at once. Instead I closed my eyes tightly and began to say my prayers. In a few moments the barn door opened, and Reuben’s voice called to me.

“Mabel,” he said, “it’s just me.” He came over to where I lay, and I saw that he had a blanket under his arm. “I thought I’d sleep out here tonight too. I haven’t slept in the barn for a long time. You don’t mind, do you?”

“Oh, no. That’s fine.” I turned over and fell asleep at once.

When I awoke in the morning, the goat and Reuben were both gone. Soon I found the goat curled up by his mother.

“Will you be sleeping in the barn again tonight?” Ma asked me at breakfast.

“No, I don’t think so,” I said. “I’ll take care of the goat during the day, but I guess his mother can watch him at night.”

Grandma laughed at the memory. “After I grew up, I told Reuben how grateful I was that he came out to stay with me. I wonder how my family ever put up with all my foolishness.”

Grandma went back into the house, and I wandered out to the barn to see the little kittens. I decided I wouldn’t be brave enough to spend the night there even if I had a big brother to keep me company!


Friday, April 22, 2011

Reflections on Easter with Anne Lamott

In this story, author Anne Lamott talks about the deeper meaning of Easter, with some particular insight on how we explain and pass on our faith to our children.


Friday, April 15, 2011

Soul Surfer. Beach flick or substance?

I took my kids to see Soul Surfer this past weekend and was pleasantly surprised. I always wonder if the movies (or any creative art form for that matter) can express people's faith in an honest and authentic manner. In this case they did a fair job. And with an all-star cast.

I took my 9 year old son and my 13 year old daughter and her friend. The girls loved it and it was perfectly positioned for their age group. My son was a little bored, but the surfing intrigued him. I was concerned that the shark scene might be too traumatic. It wasn't, and was quite well done.

You can watch a few clips of the movie and read an interview with Bethany Hamilton, who the story is about, here at NPR.

Christianity Today reviews the movie here.


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Cowboy's Touch by Denise Hunter

I'm excited to bring you this book. I've loved Denise's style of writing and was looking forward to see what a cowboy book from her would look like. It didn't disappoint! I enjoy cowboy books and she lived up to my expectations. From the beginning the situation is set up to be an impossible one between Abby and Wade and you spend the whole book wondering how they are going to get together. I love that kind of tension. Scroll down to get a sample of the first chapter.

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Thomas Nelson (March 29, 2011)
***Special thanks to Audra Jennings, Senior Media Specialist, The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***


Denise lives in Indiana with her husband Kevin and their three sons. In 1996, Denise began her first book, a Christian romance novel, writing while her children napped. Two years later it was published, and she's been writing ever since. Her books often contain a strong romantic element, and her husband Kevin says he provides all her romantic material, but Denise insists a good imagination helps too!

Visit the author's website.


Wade's ranch home needs a woman's touch. Abigail's life needs a cowboy's touch.

Four years ago, rodeo celebrity Wade Ryan gave up his identity to protect his daughter. Now, settled on a ranch in Big Sky Country, he lives in obscurity, his heart guarded by a high, thick fence.

Abigail Jones isn’t sure how she went from big-city columnist to small-town nanny, but her new charge is growing on her, to say nothing of her ruggedly handsome boss. Love blossoms between Abigail and Wade--despite her better judgment. Will the secrets she brought with her to Moose Creek, Montana separate her from the cowboy who finally captured her heart?

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (March 29, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1595548017
ISBN-13: 978-1595548016


Abigail Jones knew the truth. She frowned at the blinking curser on her monitor and tapped her fingers on the keyboard-what next?

Beyond the screen's glow, darkness washed the cubicles. Her computer hummed, and outside the office windows a screech of tires broke the relative stillness ofthe Chicago night.

She shuffled her note cards. The story had been long in coming, but it was finished now, all except the telling. She knew where she wanted to take it next.

Her fingers stirred into motion, dancing across the keys. This was her favorite part, exposingtruth to the world. Well, okay, not the world exactly, not with Viewpoint's paltry circulation. But now, during the writing, it felt like the world.

Four paragraphs later, the office had shrunk away, and all that existed were the words on the monitor and her memory playing in full color on the screen of her mind.

Something dropped onto her desk with a sudden thud. Abigail’s hand flew to her heart, and her chair darted from her desk. She looked up at her boss’s frowning face, then shared a frown of her own. “You scared me.”

“And you’re scaring me. It’s after midnight, Abigail—what are you doing here?” Marilyn Jones’s hand settled on her hip.

The blast of adrenaline settled into Abigail’s bloodstream, though her heart was still in overdrive. “Being an ambitious staffer?”

“You mean an obsessive workaholic.”

“Something wrong with that?”

“What’s wrong is my twenty-eight-year-old daughter is working all hours on a Saturday night instead of dating an eligible bachelor like all the other single women her age.” Her mom tossed her head, but her short brown hair hardly budged. “You could’ve at least gone out with your sister and me. We had a good time.”

“I’m down to the wire.”

“You’ve been here every night for two weeks.” Her mother rolled up a chair and sank into it. “Your father always thought you’d be a schoolteacher, did I ever tell you that?”

“About a million times.” Abigail settled into the chair, rubbed the ache in her temple. Her heart was still recovering, but she wanted to return to her column. She was just getting to the good part.

“You had a doctor’s appointment yesterday,” Mom said. Abigail sighed hard.

“Whatever happened to doctor-patient confidentiality?”

“Goes out the window when the doctor is your sister. Come on, Abigail, this is your health. Reagan prescribed rest—R-E-S-T—and yet here you are.”

“A couple more days and the story will be put to bed.”

“And then there’ll be another story.”

“That’s what I do, Mother.”

“You’ve had a headache for weeks, and the fact that you made an appointment with your sister is proof you’re not feeling well.”

Abigail pulled her hand from her temple. “I’m fine.”

“That’s what your father said the week before he collapsed.”

Compassion and frustration warred inside Abigail. “He was sixty-two.” And his pork habit hadn’t helped matters. Thin didn’t necessarily mean healthy. She skimmed her own long legs, encased in her favorite jeans . . . exhibit A.

“I’ve been thinking you should go visit your great-aunt.” Abigail already had a story in the works, but maybe her mom had a lead on something else. “New York sounds interesting. What’s the assignment?”

“Rest and relaxation. And I’m not talking about your Aunt Eloise—as if you’d get any rest there—I’m talking about your Aunt Lucy.”

Abigail’s spirits dropped to the basement. “Aunt Lucy lives in Montana.” Where cattle outnumbered people. She felt for the familiar ring on her right hand and began twisting.

“She seems a bit . . . confused lately.”

Abigail recalled the birthday gifts her great-aunt had sent over the years, and her lips twitched. “Aunt Lucy has always been confused.”

“Someone needs to check on her. Her latest letter was full of comments about some girls who live with her, when I know perfectly well she lives alone. I think it may be time for assisted living or a retirement community.”

Abigail’s eyes flashed to the screen. A series of nonsensical letters showed where she’d stopped in alarm at her mother’s appearance. She hit the delete button. “Let’s invite her to Chicago for a few weeks.”

“She needs to be observed in her own surroundings. Besides, that woman hasn’t set foot on a plane since Uncle Murray passed, and I sure wouldn’t trust her to travel across the country alone. You know what happened when she came out for your father’s funeral.”

“Dad always said she had a bad sense of direction.”

“Nevertheless, I don’t have time to hunt her down in Canada again. Now, come on, Abigail, it makes perfect sense for you to go. You need a break, and Aunt Lucy was your father’s favorite relative. It’s our job to look after her now, and if she’s incapable of making coherent decisions, we need to help her.”

Abigail’s conscience tweaked her. She had a soft spot for Aunt Lucy, and her mom knew it. Still, that identity theft story called her name, and she had a reliable source who might or might not be willing to talk in a couple weeks.

“Reagan should do it. I’ll need the full month for my column, and we can’t afford to scrap it. Distribution is down enough as it is. Just last month you were concerned—”

Her mother stood abruptly, the chair reeling backward into the aisle. She walked as far as the next cubicle, then turned. “Hypertension is nothing to mess with, Abigail. You’re so . . . rest- less. You need a break—a chance to find some peace in your life.” She cleared her throat, then her face took on that I’ve-made-up- my-mind look. “Whether you go to your aunt’s or not, I’m insisting you take a leave of absence.”

There was no point arguing once her mother took that tone. She could always do research online—and she wouldn’t mind visiting a part of the country she’d never seen. “Fine. I’ll finish this story, then go out to Montana for a week or so.”

“Finish the story, yes. But your leave of absence will last three months.”

“Three months!”

“It may take that long to make a decision about Aunt Lucy.”

“What about my apartment?”

“Reagan will look after it. You’re hardly there anyway. You need a break, and Moose Creek is the perfect place.”

Moose Creek. “I’ll say. Sounds like nothing more than a traffic signal with a gas pump on the corner.”

“Don’t be silly. Moose Creek has no traffic signal. Abigail, you have become wholly obsessed with—”

“So I’m a hard worker . . .” She lifted her shoulders.

Her mom’s lips compressed into a hard line. “Wholly obsessed with your job. Look, you know I admire hard work, but it feels like you’re always chasing something and never quite catching it. I want you to find some contentment, for your health if nothing else. There’s more to life than investigative reporting.”

“I’m the Truthseeker, Mom. That’s who I am.” Her fist found home over her heart.

Her mother shouldered her purse, then zipped her light sweater, her movements irritatingly slow. She tugged down the ribbed hem and smoothed the material of her pants. “Three months, Abigail. Not a day less.

As an extra benefit, here's an interview with Denise about her book.

Do the secrets from our past affect who we become in the future? 

Can the hurts we’ve experienced really prevent us from finding true fulfillment? 

In her release, A Cowboy’s Touch, award-winning author Denise Hunter will explore these questions, and readers will discover that “the truth really can set us free.” 

As the first book in the Big Sky Romance series, A Cowboy’s Touch is the story about a truthseeker who ends up discovering the real truth and a cowboy who learns to let go of his past.  Hunter shines as she draws her readers into an intriguing world of boots, chaps and cowboy hats.  This heartwarming romance is a story of love, pain and forgiveness.  It has also been named a Women of Faith novel for 2011.

An interview with author Denise Hunter:

Q: Have you always wanted to be a writer?  When did you first begin to write?

I’ve always been an avid reader, but I didn’t start dreaming about writing a novel until I was in my early twenties.  By then I was married and busy pursuing a degree.  I put writing on the back burner until my grandfather became fatally ill.  While I was visiting him in the hospital, I was struck by the brevity of life and felt God pressing on my heart to take the first step.  I started my first novel a couple weeks later.  I had two small children by this time, so I wrote while they napped.  I wrote my first four books that way.  Even if you can only write a page a day, by the end of a year you’ll have a complete manuscript!

Q: Are you a small town or a city girl?  What inspired you to write a book about the life of a cowboy?

I’m a little of both.  We live in a country setting just outside the city.  It’s the best of both worlds.  There’s something very earthy and organic about a cowboy’s life.  I was drawn by the idea of living off the land.  I think it takes us to a simpler time and place—even though the life of a cowboy is not necessarily simple!  And Montana is such a beautiful state.  I thought my readers might like to journey there with me through story.

Q: Can you tell us a little about what you have learned about the cowboy lifestyle while doing research for this book?

I learned a lot of fascinating details about the workings of a ranch: branding, breeding, cattle disease, etc.  But what I came away with is a great respect for cowboys and their families.  Those who choose this way of life do it because they love it.  It’s not easy, and it’s not for the faint of heart. 

Q: Abigail’s title at her job is “the Truthseeker.”  What is the significance of this title, and what do you think a real truthseeker does?

I thought it would be interesting to write about a protagonist whose job was to seek the truth and have her find out that she was missing the real Truth the whole time.  Since Jesus is the Truth, a real truthseeker follows Him.

Q: Forgiveness seems to be a recurring theme in your books.  Why do you feel it is so important?  Your main characters both dealt with forgiving their past mistakes.  Do you think that it is just as important to forgive ourselves as it is to forgive the mistakes of others?

With sin rampant in all of us, this is something we need to get good at!  Eventually, someone’s going to do something you struggle to forgive.  I think this is partly because forgiveness is easily misunderstood.  It’s not saying that what they did is okay.  It’s saying that you’re not going to hold it over them anymore.  I do think it’s just as important to forgive ourselves as it is to forgive others.  Oftentimes, it’s even harder. 

Q: Abigail and Wade both threw themselves into their work in order to escape their pasts.  Do you believe it is easy to find an escape in work in order to hide from our problems?

No one likes to hurt, so I think the tendency is to avoid it however we can.  Throwing ourselves into our work is certainly one way of doing so.  But these things have a way of bubbling up to the surface eventually, no matter how hard we try to avoid them.

Q: What would you like your readers to take away after reading A Cowboy’s Touch?

Abigail was essentially trying to work off her guilt.  She thought if she could just keep exposing other peoples’ wrongs, it would appease her own guilt.  I’d like readers to see that only God can redeem us.


Friday, April 01, 2011

The Hills Are Alive... Like You've Never Heard Them Before

How would Maria from the Sound of Music have sung "The Hills Are Alive" if she was sitting in front of a radio instead of a guitar?

That's the question Peter Kiesewalter, the leader, producer, and keyboard player for Brooklyn Rundfunk Orkestrata asked himself when he brought the soundtrack from The Sound of Music to life for a new generation on their album The Hills Are Alive. Climb E'vry Mountain becomes a hip-hop song and "You are Sixteen Going on Seventeen" gets a modern twist.

Read more and listen to a sample here. You'll be pleasantly surprised.