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@sprightlyamyanne Instagram photos

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Everyone Won A Copy of Love Starts With Elle

At rachelhauck.com, everyone is a winner!

A Message From Rachel Hauck!

Thanks so much to all the bloggers of the "Love Starts With Elle" blog tour. Applause, applause.

And a big thanks to all who signed up to win a free copy here at www.rachelhauck.com.

With so many entering, I just couldn't pick two so I went to Thomas Nelson with an idea and they heartily agreed.


They are graciously supplying the needed books for the 63 who sighed up for the drawing!

Please send your name and address with "LSWE Winner" in the subject line to rachelhauck@gmail.com and I'll get those books mailed out to you in the next few weeks.

Congratulations everyone!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Give the gift of life this Christmas!

Buy goat/chicken cards for your family and friends this holiday season and provide food, water and income to impoverished women and children in Africa!

Help support the work of Hands of Hope, find out more on their website: http://www.handsofhopeonline.org/

Purchase for yourself, as a gift, or even in larger quantities to send as holiday greeting cards.

“This was the most profound gift I have received from a student in all my 38 years of teaching.”
Roger Prazaider, 5th Grade Teacher, Geneva, IL

To order by mail - Please download an order form

Or to purchase by credit card call 847 381 7367

Also...if you're interested in joining the blog tour to help promote these cards and Hands of Hope, send me an email and I'll get you set up. amy@litfusegroup.com

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I LOVED this book!

This book is truly a testimony to the work of God...an amazing humbling read! Buy it TODAY!

Ron Hall and Denver Moore and the book: Same Kind of Different as Me

Thomas Nelson (March 11, 2008)


Ron Hall is an international art dealer whose long list of regular clients includes many celebrity personalities. An MBA graduate of Texas Christian University, he divides his time between Dallas, New York, and his Brazos River ranch near Fort Worth.

Denver Moore currently serves as a volunteer at the Fort Worth Union Gospel Mission. He lives in Dallas, Texas. Today, he is an artist, public speaker, and volunteer for homeless causes. In 2006, as evidence of the complete turn around of his life, the citizens of Fort Worth honored him as "Philanthropist of the Year" for his work with homeless people at the Union Gospel Mission.

Visit the authors' website.

Product Details:
List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (March 11, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 084991910X
ISBN-13: 978-0849919107


Well—a poor Lazarus poor as I

When he died he had a home on high . . .

The rich man died and lived so well

When he died he had a home in hell . . .

You better get a home in that Rock, don’t you see?



Until Miss Debbie, I’d never spoke to no white woman before. Just answered a few questions, maybe—it wadn’t really speakin. And to me, even that was mighty risky since the last time I was fool enough to open my mouth to a white woman, I wound up half-dead and nearly blind.

I was maybe fifteen, sixteen years old, walkin down the red dirt road that passed by the front of the cotton plantation where I lived in Red River Parish, Louisiana. The plantation was big and flat, like a whole lotta farms put together with a bayou snakin all through it. Cypress trees squatted like spiders in the water, which was the color of pale green apples. There was a lotta different fields on that spread, maybe a hundred, two hundred acres each, lined off with hardwood trees, mostly pecans.

Wadn’t too many trees right by the road, though, so when I was walkin that day on my way back from my auntie’s house—she was my grandma’s sister on my daddy’s side—I was right out in the open. Purty soon, I seen this white lady standin by her car, a blue Ford, ’bout a 1950, ’51 model, somethin like that. She was standin there in her hat and her skirt, like maybe she’d been to town. Looked to me like she was tryin to figure out how to fix a flat tire. So I stopped.

“You need some help, ma’am?”

“Yes, thank you,” she said, lookin purty grateful to tell you the truth. “I really do.”

I asked her did she have a jack, she said she did, and that was all we said.

Well, ’bout the time I got the tire fixed, here come three white boys ridin outta the woods on bay horses. They’d been huntin, I think, and they come trottin up and didn’t see me ’cause they was in the road and I was ducked down fixin the tire on the other side of the car. Red dust from the horses’ tracks floated up over me. First, I got still, thinkin I’d wait for em to go on by. Then I decided I didn’t want em to think I was hidin, so I started to stand up. Right then, one of em asked the white lady did she need any help.

“I reckon not!” a redheaded fella with big teeth said when he spotted me. “She’s got a nigger helpin her!”

Another one, dark-haired and kinda weasel-lookin, put one hand on his saddle horn and pushed back his hat with the other. “Boy, what you doin’ botherin this nice lady?”

He wadn’t nothin but a boy hisself, maybe eighteen, nineteen years old. I didn’t say nothin, just looked at him.

“What you lookin’ at, boy?” he said and spat in the dirt.

The other two just laughed. The white lady didn’t say nothin, just looked down at her shoes. ’Cept for the horses chufflin, things got quiet. Like the yella spell before a cyclone. Then the boy closest to me slung a grass rope around my neck, like he was ropin a calf. He jerked it tight, cutting my breath. The noose poked into my neck like burrs, and fear crawled up through my legs into my belly.

I caught a look at all three of them boys, and I remember thinkin none of em was much older’n me. But their eyes was flat and mean.

“We gon’ teach you a lesson about botherin white ladies,” said the one holdin the rope. That was the last thing them boys said to me.

I don’t like to talk much ’bout what happened next, ‘cause I ain’t lookin for no pity party. That’s just how things was in Louisiana in those days. Mississippi, too, I reckon, since a coupla years later, folks started tellin the story about a young colored fella named Emmett Till who got beat till you couldn’t tell who he was no more. He’d whistled at a white woman, and some other good ole boys—seemed like them woods was full of em—didn’t like that one iota. They beat that boy till one a’ his eyeballs fell out, then tied a cotton-gin fan around his neck and throwed him off a bridge into the Tallahatchie River. Folks says if you was to walk across that bridge today, you could still hear that drowned young man cryin out from the water.

There was lots of Emmett Tills, only most of em didn’t make the news. Folks says the bayou in Red River Parish is full to its pea-green brim with the splintery bones of colored folks that white men done fed to the gators for covetin their women, or maybe just lookin cross-eyed. Wadn’t like it happened ever day. But the chance of it, the threat of it, hung over the cotton fields like a ghost.

I worked them fields for nearly thirty years, like a slave, even though slavery had supposably ended when my grandma was just a girl. I had a shack I didn’t own, two pairs a’ overalls I got on credit, a hog, and a outhouse. I worked them fields, plantin and plowin and pickin and givin all the cotton to the Man that owned the land, all without no paycheck. I didn’t even know what a paycheck was.

It might be hard for you to imagine, but I worked like that while the seasons rolled by from the time I was a little bitty boy, all the way past the time that president named Kennedy got shot dead in Dallas.

All them years, there was a freight train that used to roll through Red River Parish on some tracks right out there by Highway 1. Ever day, I’d hear it whistle and moan, and I used to imagine it callin out about the places it could take me . . . like New York City or Detroit, where I heard a colored man could get paid, or California, where I heard nearly everbody that breathed was stackin up paper money like flapjacks. One day, I just got tired a’ bein poor. So I walked out to Highway 1, waited for that train to slow down some, and jumped on it. I didn’t get off till the doors opened up again, which happened to be in Fort Worth, Texas. Now when a black man who can’t read, can’t write, can’t figger, and don’t know how to work nothin but cotton comes to the big city, he don’t have too many of what white folks call “career opportunities.” That’s how come I wound up sleepin on the streets.

I ain’t gon’ sugarcoat it: The streets’ll turn a man nasty. And I had been nasty, homeless, in scrapes with the law, in Angola prison, and homeless again for a lotta years by the time I met Miss Debbie. I want to tell you this about her: She was the skinniest, nosiest, pushiest woman I had ever met, black or white.

She was so pushy, I couldn’t keep her from finding out my name was Denver. She investigated till she found it out on her own. For a long time, I tried to stay completely outta her way. But after a while, Miss Debbie got me to talkin ’bout things I don’t like to talk about and tellin things I ain’t never told nobody—even about them three boys with the rope. Some of them’s the things I’m fixin to tell you.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Free Coffee and a discount book

What could be better?

Sugar Jones just twittered that Barnes and Noble is offering a free cappuccino and 15% off one book!

Yee-ha! Go here to print your coupons.

Meet you at B&A...last one there is a rotten egg!

Once an Arafat Man by Tass Saada with Dean Merrill

This is a VERY interesting book. Highly recommended. Great depth and insight.

by Tass Saada and Dean Merrill Tyndale House Publishers (September 17, 2008)


Tass Saada is a former Muslim and a co-founder of Hope for Ishmael. Hope for Ishmael is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to reconcile Arabs and Jews to God and each other through the gospel of Christ. Saada was born in 1951 in the Gaza strip, and grew up in Saudi Arabia and Qatar. He was a PLO sniper and militant fighter. He worked directly for Arafat. In America, he converted to Christianity.

Visit the author's website.

Dean Merrill is the author or coauthor of more than 30 books, including the award-winning, best-selling trilogy with Jim Cymbala, Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire and its sequels, Fresh Faith and Fresh Power. He also collaborated with missionary survivor Gracia Burnham on the best seller In the Presence of My Enemies. A graduate of Christian Life College and Syracuse University, Dean is a former president of the Evangelical Press Association and is currently a board member of Global Publishers Alliance. Proud parents of three and grandparents of six, Dean and his wife live in Colorado.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $ 19.99

Hardcover: 256 pages

Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers (September 17, 2008)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1414323611

ISBN-13: 978-1414323619


The Second Battle of Jericho

The morning sun felt warm on my back as I crouched behind a large pile of shrubbery I had scraped together, overlooking the Jordan River valley. Jericho, perhaps the world’s oldest city, lay across the river in the distance. Here on the east side, my comrades and I had spent the night in a chilly cave along this range of hills. Now we were up early and excited about the surprise we would deliver to the advancing IDF (Israel Defense Forces) troops. My sleek, high-powered Simonov rifle with its telescopic sight lay beside me on the ground as I gazed down upon the quiet village of al-Karameh.

The dirt roads that meandered among the humble, mud-brick homes with flat roofs were empty on this morning of March 21, 1968. Most of the roughly fourteen thousand residents had left—not because of the warning pamphlets the Israeli planes had dropped the day before, but because we had told them what we planned to do. Now the village was eerily silent. No donkeys brayed in their pens; not an infant whimpered for its mother. Nobody could see our seven thousand or so Fatah fighters hidden behind stone walls or under tarpaulins, amid date trees and olive groves—a reception committee waiting to roll out a blood red carpet for the invaders.

A trained sniper at seventeen years old, I stood ready to do my job, waiting up on the hill for the opportune moment. I would pick off any IDF machine gunner who dared to stick his head up out of a tank or jeep. A soft breeze moved through the grass. I stared intently at the Allenby Bridge in the distance, the main crossing from the Israeli-controlled West Bank to the Jordanian territory where we sat.

Sure enough, the first vehicles in the convoy now came into view, their camouflage colors making them difficult to detect. This was the same IDF that had so humiliated the Arab armies nine months before in the infamous Six-Day War. We Palestinians had been peppering them ever since with hit-and-run attacks—a grenade here, a three-minute skirmish there. Now they had decided to storm our training camp at al-Karameh in force. They wanted to take out our operation wholesale, and maybe even get our heroic leader “Abu Ammar”—Yasser Arafat—in the process.

They figured most of us guerrilla fighters would have pulled back and away from the showdown, like so many times before. They had no idea that the wily Arafat had switched strategies this time, saying to us, “We will make a stand in this place. We will fight with honor. The whole of the Arab people are watching us. We will crush the myth that the IDF is invincible!”

And they certainly did not expect the newest tactic we would use today for the very first time: suicide bombers. We had gotten volunteers who were willing to make this their final battle for Palestinian justice. They now waited on rooftops in their bulky vests loaded with explosives until the moment came to jump into the streets below.

Deadly Surprise

The growling of the IDF engines grew louder. My heart began to pound. I positioned myself for steady action as I peered through my scope. The enemy convoy reached the edge of the village. I picked out my closest target, trained the weapon on his head, and ever so carefully squeezed the Simonov’s trigger.

At nearly the same moment, my comrades in the village began firing from their hiding places. The firefight exploded all at once. The noise was deafening. At that time, the Israeli infantry had no flak jackets, so we were able to wound or kill them right away. All hell broke loose that morning in al-Karameh.

Of course, we began taking our own casualties, too. Every Fatah fighter knew that would happen. None of us counted on surviving the day. We were fully prepared to die. We might never see the moon again, but we would regain our honor. That was, in fact, the meaning of this village’s name, Karameh. It was the Arabic word for “honor” or “dignity.”

The street battle raged on at full force while I kept picking off targets from the hillside. Minutes passed, perhaps even a full hour. There was no subtlety to our approach; we were going with every thrust we had to inflict mortal damage on the Jews. Then a massive bomb blast shook the entire valley. Our troops had blown up the Allenby Bridge, cutting off the escape route if the IDF tried to pull back. The Israelis were now trapped on our side of the Jordan—the east side—and would have to fight to the death. Only a miracle of Joshua-at-Jericho–sized proportions would save them now.

A few minutes later, my commander shouted at me with alarm in his voice: “Do you hear that? Helicopter gunships are coming!” I had been too focused on my targets to notice. “Get off this hill!” he ordered. “If you stay here, they’ll blow you to bits from the air! Get down into the village with everybody else!”

I scrambled down the hill to join my comrades in the fight. There the conflict grew increasingly close range. There was hardly room to use a weapon. It became a hand-to-hand brawl with fists, knives, and even rocks. We put our karate and judo training to use immediately. The two sides were so intermingled that their helicopter gunners couldn’t sort us out. At that point, I was fighting on sheer instinct. There was no time to think or strategize. I simply kept bashing the nearest IDF soldier before he could bash me.

I could tell the enemy was bewildered by our bravery. They had expected us to act more like classic guerrilla fighters, feinting and withdrawing. Instead, here we were in a no-holds-barred fracas. Guys were screaming, blood was splashing, the wounded were moaning, and all of us were jumping over an increasing number of dead bodies to keep up the attack. I glanced down at several cuts on my arm but paid little attention. The kick of adrenaline was too strong for me to worry about injuries.

We Fatah fighters were in fact more agile than the IDF since we carried less gear than they did and could therefore run faster. We also had our bayonets already fixed on our weapons and ready to use while the Israelis were still fumbling to get theirs off their belts and attached. At times they literally ran into our knives.

Whenever they tried to regroup behind one of their tanks, a suicide bomber would leap down from a rooftop with a thunderous explosion of nails and other metal bits. Blood spattered, and body parts flew through the air.

Occasionally throughout the afternoon, there would be a short lull in the fighting while the Israelis barricaded themselves inside a house. We would then quickly set up in the house across the street, from which we would open fire again. We stormed building after building.

Bragging Rights

Somehow, after seven hours of gruesome combat, a ceasefire was called. I still do not know who arranged that or how it was done. The IDF withdrew and headed downriver to find another bridge they could use for returning to the West Bank. The smoke over al-Karameh began to clear. “We won! We won!” we shouted, slapping each other on the back. “We stood up to the Jews and beat them!” We danced around the four IDF tanks we had destroyed, along with three half-tracks, two armored jeeps, and even one airplane.

The symbolism for us was huge. We had done what the regular Arab armies had failed to do three times: in 1948, 1956, and the previous year. We would be featured the next day in the world’s headlines. We had shown that we Palestinians were no longer just a pitiful clump of refugees. We were a proud and courageous people who had been robbed of our homeland and were on the march to take it back.

I was especially thrilled to commandeer a Willys Jeep that the Israelis had left behind. A vehicle of my own! I invited some of my comrades to jump in for a quick drive through the town.

As evening approached, we turned our attention to counting our losses. My unit of eight now numbered only three. Across the village, we went about the somber task of gathering and burying the dead. We mourned the fact that these friends were gone forever. It hurt deep within our souls, and we swore we would avenge them.

The longer we worked, the more we realized we had paid a high price on that day. We eventually tallied 128 dead, several dozen wounded, and 150 missing. These numbers, we had to admit, were probably greater than the losses suffered by the IDF.

But it was all worth it, we told ourselves. The Israelis had come from Jericho, looking for a fight, and we had given them far more than they ever expected. Our cause was now catapulted to a whole new level.

More than anything, we could hold our heads high in the presence of the man in a checkered headdress who had watched the entire battle from a hilltop not far from where I had begun the day. He had seen our bravery, our determination, our sacrifice. The Israelis had wanted desperately to find him that day and kill him, but they had failed. His leadership stood intact. Yasser Arafat was alive and well, and we revered him more than ever.

Copyright © 2008 by Tass Saada. All rights reserved

Monday, October 13, 2008

Home Another Way...

I just started this book and am LOVING it!

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Home Another Way

Bethany House (October 1, 2008)


Christa Parrish


Christa Parrish graduated high school at 16, with every intention of becoming a surgeon. After college, however, her love of all things creative led her in another direction, and she worked in both theatre and journalism.

A winner of Associated Press awards for her reporting, Christa gave up her career after the birth of her son, Jacob. She continued to write from home, doing pro bono work for the New York Family Policy Council, where her articles appeared in Focus on the Family’s Citizen magazine. She was also a finalist in World magazine’s WORLDview short story contest, sponsored by WestBow press. She now teaches literature and writing to high school students, is a homeschool mom, and lives with her family in upstate New York, where she is at work on her second novel.


After her mother’s death and her father’s abandonment, tiny infant Sarah Graham was left to be raised by her emotionally distant grandmother. As a child she turned to music for solace and even gained entrance to Juilliard. But her potentially brilliant music career ended with an unplanned pregnancy and the stillborn birth of her child.

In an attempt to escape the past, Sarah, now twenty-seven, is living life hard and fast–and she is flat broke. When her estranged father dies, she travels to the tiny mountain hamlet of Jonah, New York to claim her inheritance. Once there, she learns her father’s will stipulates a six-month stay before she can recieve the money. Fueled by hate and desperation, Sarah settles in for the bitter mountain winter, and as the weeks pass, she finds her life intertwining with the lives of the simple, gracious townsfolk. Can these strangers teach Sarah how to forgive and find peace?

A story of grace, of God’s never-ceasing love and the sometimes flawed, faithful people He uses to bring His purpose to pass.

If you would like to see a video book trailer of Home Another Way, go HERE.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Home Another Way, go HERE

Friday, October 10, 2008

Love Starts With Elle blog tour!

Hey all!

Elle is going on tour...be sure to stop by the WONDERFUL blogs on her schedule, see what they're saying about Elle and Heath and who knows, you might make a new friend! LOVE IT!

Oh, and leave a comment on Rachel's blog tour post for your chance to win a copy of Love Starts With Elle!

About the book: Elle's living the dream-but is it her dream or his?

Elle loves life in Beaufort, South Carolina-lazy summer days on the sand bar, coastal bonfires, and dinners with friends sharing a lifetime of memories. And she's found her niche as the owner of a successful art gallery too. Life is good.

Then the dynamic pastor of her small town church sweeps her off her feet. She's never known a man like Jeremiah-one who breathes in confidence and exhales all doubt. When he proposes in the setting sunlight, Elle hands him her heart on a silver platter.

But Jeremiah's just accepted a large pastorate in a different state. If she's serious about their relationship, Elle will take "the call," too, leaving behind the people and place she loves so dearly. Elle's friendship with her new tenant, widower Heath McCord, and his young daughter make things even more complicated.

Is love transferrable across the miles? And can you take it with you when you go?

Buy the book here!

About Rachel: Rachel Hauck is the author of ten, going on eleven novels, and has recently become an "acclaimed" author. (Yeah, funny how that happened. Some dude found her lottery stub stuck to the bottom of his shoe and tried to "acclaim" her. But her husband refused to pay out.)
Since then, she's gone on to become a best selling author of Sweet Caroline.

Living in central Florida with her husband of sixteen and a half years, one sweet little dog and one ornery cat, Rachel is a graduate of Ohio State University and a huge Buckeye football fan. One day she hopes to stand on the sidelines next to Coach Tressel as a famed, acclaimed best selling OSU alumni, beloved for her work in literature and letters. (She's written at least a couple hundred letters in her life time.)

Her current release, Love Starts With Elle (July 2008, Thomas Nelson) is set in the South Carolina lowcountry, and earned 4.5 Stars and Top Pick from Romantic Times Book Club.

Look for her next release next spring, The Sweet By and By, the first book in the Born To Fly series with award winning country artist, Sara Evans.
Of the writing journey, Rachel says, "I'm humbled by the amazing things God is doing in my life. I love what I do, and am so privileged to work with Thomas Nelson fiction and am excited to see what God has in store for all of His authors and writers. Just keep praying and writing!"

Go here for more on Sweet Caroline, the first book in this series.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Squeaky Clean Mystery Series!

Hello friends! You may remember a few months back I reviewed Christy Barritt's, Suspicious Minds on my blog! Check that out here!

Read what others had to say...

Elvis Has Left the Building…(well, actually, he’s UNDER it!)
Posted on September 27, 2008 by Joy

I haven’t laughed so hard reading a novel in a long time! Suspicious Minds, by Christy Barritt, is the laugh-out-loud hilarious story of crime scene cleaner and crime-scene-investigator-wannabe Gabby St. Claire (yes, a crime scene cleaner, as in the person that tidies up after the cops leave.) The story begins with Claire on the first day of a mold-remediation job where…

Suspicious Minds at The Cappuccino Life
Posted on September 5, 2008 by Margaret

I found this book a light read, but a good one. I love a good mystery and if it involves an Elvis impersonator, why, all the better! Romance is not my favorite genre (in fact, I don't much like it at all) but the romantic aspect in Suspicious Minds is secondary to the plot. The dead Elvis definitely comes first.

Review Suspicious Minds and Giveaway
Posted on September 4, 2008 by BookingMama

When I read the book's description, I thought it sounded like something I would probably like. Every once in awhile, I enjoy mysteries that tend to be on the lighter side; and I was curious how the author could incorporate the Christian angle into a murder mystery. I ended up really enjoying this book and its cast of characters.

Probably the most obvious comparison that came to mind when I read SUSPICIOUS MINDS was Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series, except without the raunchy parts of course! The main character, Gabby, is a down-on-her luck crime-scene cleaner who somehow gets involved in solving murders. I thought Gabby was a terrific character and very well developed. She's also very funny and caused me to laugh quite a few times! I mean the book starts with Gabby finding a dead Elvis impersonator while crawling under an old, abandoned house -- you can imagine some of the puns and jokes based on this alone.

I thought the mystery aspect of the book was pretty well done too. I have to admit that I didn't figure out who dunnit until it was revealed to me, but it's possible that I was a little slow on the uptake. There were enough possible motives and suspects to keep the reader guessing for awhile (and if you're like me -- until the last few pages.) The suspects were all very unique and provided lots of enjoyment.

Christy is a wonderful story teller and she needs our help! A message from Christy...

Help Save the Squeaky Series!
I just got word from my publisher that better sales numbers are needed if the Squeaky Clean Mystery Series is to continue. The thought of not being able to finish Gabby's story with the third and final book in the series, Organized Grime, makes me incredibly sad. My only hope of finishing this series is if sales numbers of Hazardous Duty and Suspicious Minds increase by Spring.

That's why I'm writing you! I'm sponsoring a contest called "Help Save the Squeaky Clean Mystery Series."

The premise is easy: send me an email, using the contest name as the subject, and tell me what you've been doing to spread the word about Hazardous Duty and Suspicious Minds. The first place winner will receive a $50 gift certificate to christianbook.com. Second-place winner will receive a snazzy musical Elvis Christmas ornament and some incredibly cute crime-scene tape bandaids. Third place winner will receive either the ornament or bandaids.

Contest deadline is October 15. I'll be looking for entries that demonstrate you're really trying to spread the word--either through book clubs, blogs, word of mouth, visiting bookstores, etc. If you can tell me about any direct sales due to your efforts, your entry will get special notice. Winners will be announced the first week of November. If anyone is interested, I still have some postage-paid postcards about the books, as well as bookmarks, that I can send you. Just let me know!

Thanks in advance for all you're doing to spread the word about the series.

Christy Barritt

Mary Byer's blog tour winners!

Congratulations to:



Donna M




You've won a copy of Mary's SOS for PMS: Practical Help and Relief for Moms.

Send me you mailing address amy@litfusegroup.com

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Seriously THE BEST Carrot Cake I've Ever Had!

I realize that is quite a statement! But, wow...These are A-M-A-Z-I-N-G !

I actually modified this recipe a bit...I made the gluten-free version (directions under recipe) and made cupcakes instead of the cake.

Carrot Cake
by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins
from The Silver Palate Cookbook: 25th Anniversary Edition

Makes 10 to 12 portion
E-mail to a friend

In the beginning, Sheila's mother drove her famous carrot cakes down to Manhattan daily from her Connecticut kitchen. The cake became a Silver Palate classic; it may now become yours as well.


For the cake

Butter, for greasing the pan

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

3 cups sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon baking soda

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1 1/2 cups vegetable oil

4 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups shelled walnuts, chopped

1 1/2 cups shredded sweetened coconut

1 1/3 cups puréed cooked carrots

3/4 cup drained crushed pineapple

Cream Cheese Frosting

8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

3 cups confectioners' sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Juice of 1/2 lemon (optional

Make the cake1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease two 9-inch springform pans.

2. Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl. Add the oil, eggs, and vanilla. Beat well. Fold in the walnuts, coconut, carrots, and pineapple.

3. Pour the batter into the prepared pans. Set on the center rack of the oven and bake until the edges have pulled away from the sides and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 50 minutes.

4. Cool on a cake rack for 3 hours. Fill and frost the cake with the Cream Cheese Frosting.

Make the frosting
1. Cream together the cream cheese and butter in a mixing bowl.

2. Slowly sift in the confectioners' sugar and continue beating until fully incorporated. The mixture should be free of lumps.

3. Stir in the vanilla, and lemon juice if desired.

To make cupcakes make as directed and bake for only 20-25 minutes. Half the frosting recipe.

To make these gluten-free, substite as follows:
~3 cups flour for 3 cups gluten-free flour mix and 1 teaspoon xanthan gum (as a binder)
~add one egg white to the four eggs

Friday, October 03, 2008

SOS for PMS blog tour!

"It’s my hope that this book will bring help, hope and healing to moms who suffer from PMS. It’s been a source of despair in my own life but things are looking up now that I’ve developed my own coping plan. Those I interviewed for this book shared intimately about their own battles and I believe their stories, along with that of Callie’s (the main character in the book) will convince other women that it is possible to change their current response to PMS and encourage them to start today.”

—Mary M. Byers, author of The S.O.S. for PMS

"Kudos to Mary Byers who addresses PMS and the havoc it wreaks in families with truth and transparency. As a health professional, mother, wife and PMS sufferer, I welcome Mary’s approach and information. This book is packed with encouragement, practical advice and perhaps, most importantly, the affirmation that as women we are not alone and have a choice in how to respond to the chaos of PMS. Make the choice today to walk this journey with Mary as your guide.”
—Kathy Pride, RN, BSN, author of Winning the Drug War at Home

"Mary has done an excellent job in presenting helpful advice and recommendations on a very sensitive and confusing topic. Her book will help countless women at the mercy of PMS.”
—Dr. Angelique Rettig, MD, fellow of American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

"I find Mary Byers to be very accurate and thorough in the topic of PMS. In this book she provides a logical and systematic approach to treatment of an often very destructive problem for women and their families.”
—Monica Ray, MD, fellow of American Academy of Family Practice

Catch the buzz about SOS for PMS: Practical Help and Relief for Moms! Follow the tour by clicking on the links below.

Win a copy of the book by leaving a comment on this blog tour post!

Trish at Books for Moms


Beth at Mommy Come Lately

While that might not be what you want to hear, there is hope--and you'll find it in Byer's book. The S.O.S. for PMS is a concisely written, highly practical book. I read the book in one sitting. I could see myself handing it off to a friend and saying, "Here, read this. It's got great information in it--and it doesn't read like an encyclopedia or a medical textbook."That said, Byers has done her research.

Sunny at Life in the Estrogen Ocean

Mary is here to tell you the symptoms are real and you're not crazy. She offers practical, easy help to cope with those raging hormones that seem to attack each month. She talks about why it seems to get worse and gives a simple way to figure out the madness, without lunging for the medication first. Through Mary's gentle understanding and brutally honest testimony you'll learn how to read yourself and find what exactly bothers you most and how to deal with it. You don't have to turn into that scary monster any more.

Tabitha at Making it up as I go along
Let me tell you that this book couldn’t have come at a better time. It came at the right time as far as I was concerned since I was suffering from PMS. This book has been eye-opening in that I didn’t realize that some of what I was feeling was PMS-related. I have enjoyed the practical advice and am looking forward to implementing some of it next month. Well, not really enjoy the fact that I have PMS but that there are things that I can do to prevent from turning into witchy-woman and alienating my family.

Tricia at Genx Parents

Friends, this is a wonderfully helpful and practical and hopeful book. If you suffer from PMS or have a friend who does, GET THIS BOOK!

Christy at Christy's book blog

SOS for PMS by Mary M. Byers is an eye-opening, honest look at how premenstrual syndrome effects women and their families. Byers bravely tells about her own struggle with PMS that included depression, fatigue, and blow ups with her husband and children, some so extreme they verged on abuse. Byers promises that there is hope.

Kate at A Simple Walk

The deeper I got into the book, the more hopeful I became. Mary includes wonderful tips and reproducibles for charting your moods throughout the month for several months to see what symptoms of personal negativity are directly correlated to PMS. I am looking forward to following this plan and seeing what my results are. I am also looking forward to applying Mary's wonderful coping techniques and advice.

Tamera at Write Perspectives

Mary Byers' delightful new book

Tyora at FaithWebbin


In her latest book, Mary explores an often frustrating topic, the symptoms of PMS, and offers practical advice and encouragement for mothers. Readers will find comfort in the stories shared by other moms, realizing that they are not alone in their struggles with PMS.

Heather at Mumblings of a Mommy Monk

A new book that has a refreshingly honest approach to women's issues


Kim at Window to My World

Mary’s book contains both spiritually and physically sound advice, and for those who have not been successfully guided in the treatment of their PMS, this book is going to be a Godsend – literally!! Truly, this is a great PMS guidebook. It is written in an easy-to-understand, personable format that will appeal to a broad audience. I personally think that there will be many who will benefit from the knowledge contained in this book, and they will finally claim victory in this monthly battle!

Camy at Camy's Loft

With this book, you will find suggestions designed to inspire healthier lifestyles, relationships, and daily choices for all women.

Pam at Without Fear


Mary offers hope like a lifeline to a drowning victim, and I am grabbing onto it and holding on tight. Thank you, Mary! Your book has the capacity to change homes and families by allowing moms to recapture the lives they've lost.

Kelli at Mama Zen

I found this book entertaining and enlightening. There is some really good information here, and I hope to put it to use to lessen the monthly pain and strain at my house.


I will definitely be applying some of these helps to my own life and teaching them to my daughters as well.

Jamie at Surviving the Chaos

One thing I didn't miss while pregnant and nursing Charming was PMS. I did miss the feel good hormones that complement PMS in the intervening weeks, but the dark week of darkness, I can do without. I think Hubs could, as well, if his attitude this week is any measure. My family is all holding onto their hats and tip-toeing around me. And it's working. Because knowing is half the battle.


Virginia at You've Got Books


Angie at God Uses Broken Vessels

Luckily, I had the opportunity to interview Mary Byers about her book, The SOS for PMS: Practical Help and Relief for Moms. I'm sharing a little of what I learned. I hope it is helpful to you too.

Amy at The 160 Acre Wood


I opened this book up on Monday and started reading… and it was like I wrote this book.. the stories of the ladies.. it was like reading about my own emotions… splattered across a page… just raw and real. I started crying in the doctors office (which by the way leads to weird looks)… I wasn’t expecting to read about someone else going through issues like myself.

Christy at Split Ends

When I found out this book "The SOS for PMS" existed I literally said: "Praise God!"As I read Mary's book, I realized I was not alone in my struggles. Things are so bad some times, my husband knows to steer clear of me. I related to so many of the examples in the book it was scary, but also made me feel more at ease that no, it is not just my personality that makes me act like this, it's something many women struggle with.

Leah at Ponderings From My Heart

I thought this book was awesome! A much needed, very helpful, and yet understanding look at PMS and how to manage it. My mom and I have both read this book and we have nothing but positive things to say about. It's very practical and very encouraging. Get it for yourself and a friend. Make sure your hubby reads it too!

Revka at Our Family Porch

This is not the dull, put-you-to-sleep book I was dreading. Mrs. Byers' honesty about her own battle with PMS and her wry sense of humor keep this from being a "heavy" book. She opens each chapter with a short scene from a fictional character's life which illustrates topics that will be discussed in the following pages. The ongoing fictional story helped keep me interested, and I love the humor Mrs. Byers injects into this sub-story.

Tara at Feels Like Home

The S.O.S. for PMS isn't all about affirmations. It tells the stories of real women, all mothers, who are struggling with difficult PMS symptoms. It also contains suggestions for controlling PMS through diet and lifestyle changes.


Pam at Pam’s Private Reflections

Not only does Ms. Byers accurately describe what is like to live with acute PMS, she does so with compassion and humor. I had to laugh when I read her ten humorous meanings for PMS. My poor son thought PMS meant "Pass My Shotgun" for years. (Strangely, I don't even own a shotgun.) As a fellow sufferer of PMS, I was able to relate and will be using some of the suggestions myself. This is a great resource for anyone whose PMS seems to be getting worse as they age, or anyone suffering from cases of mild to severe pms.

Brittanie at A Book Lover Forever
I really liked this book. There is a lot of practical advice on how to deal with the various issues that come with P.M.S. I also learned about some things I did not know like to chart your symptoms. She even includes sample calenders and charts for you in the book. I also liked the mini story in the book about Carrie a fictional character who provides an example of PMS and what it can do for a woman and family. This book really opened my eyes. I highly recommend it.


Sarah at Real Life Blog
http://reallifereview.blogspot.com/2008/10/book-review-sos-for-pms.html I was talking to my hairdresser while reading this book in "the chair," and she told me a hilarious story. Long ago, she had gone out with a co-ed group of friends, and the women began talking about PMS. One woman chimed in, "Well, I don't really have a problem with PMS." At which point, EVERYONE else (including the men) turned to her and shouted, "YES, YOU DO!" Can you imagine how that must have felt?

Renee at S.A.G.A

The worst part of this book was recognizing myself in so much of it.

Margaret at Creative Madness




Amy at In Pursuit of Proverbs 31

I enjoyed this book. As a thirty-something mom who has only recently begun to experience real PMS I have to say this book was very informative. Mary gives you practical ways to decrease the symptoms associated with your monthly hormonal changes and encourages you strive for a healthier lifestyle- spiritually, emotionally, and physically.

Susan at Scribbles

Catch the wonderful interview between Mary and Jill from CWAHMs !

Angela at All that Naz

Deena at Deena’s Bookshelf
Mary is thorough. She covers the wide range of symptoms and the variations of PMS diagnoses. She includes charts to help women track their symptoms, to better help their doctor with diagnosis.

Rachelle at Stifled Squeal
I think one of the things that sets this book apart from the others is the chapter about "PMS and Faith". I don't think there's a PMS-related book in the market today that tackles faith-related issues while being logical. The book is not only reader-friendly and insightful but also uplifting and helpful. It is still highly recommended!

Leticia at My Daily Trek

I recommend this book to every woman who suffers from PMS and even for husbands or boyfriends to try and understand what women have to endure every single month. It is not fun and can be stressful and downright painful. Women need understanding and compassion during this time. Yes, sometimes tempers will flare, emotions shift like the wind, but this book can help women to take control.

Laura at Light House Academy
Every month our attitude changes and we become short-tempered and more-demanding. Our husband and children learn to avoid mom during ‘that time of the month,’ if they are wise. Mary Byers has suffered with the same dramatic mood swings and other symptoms. As a fellow sufferer, she offers help, hope, and relief and she shares what she’s researched, discovered and tested.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

It's Not About Me!

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

It's Not About Me

Sheaf House Publishers (September 1, 2008)


Michelle Sutton


Michelle Sutton has lived in Arizona and since 1991 and has two sons and a husband of 18 years. She began writing fiction in August 2003 when God inspired her to write a novel with realistic characters that would glorify Him. In 2004 she joined ACFW - American Christian Fiction Writers. In 2006 Michelle ran for Volunteer Officer on the ACFW Operating board and ACFW members elected her to serve a two year term. She sold her first manuscript Then Sings My Soul (now re-titled It's Not About Me) to Sheaf House and her debut novel was released in Sept. 2008. The second book in the Second Glances series - It's Not About Him - will be released the following fall (Sept. 2009.)

Last, Michelle is Editor in Chief of the new Christian Fiction Online Magazine. The debut issue released in July 2008. The magazine is sponsored by the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance.


Annie has it all. She's attractive, graduated with honors, was accepted at the college of her choice, has supportive parents, good friends, and a steady boyfriend who loves her. One night an unexpected visitor appears and Annie's safe world is destroyed by a brutal attack. As she tries to pick up the pieces of her broken life, she is torn between two brothers, both of whom claim to love her. She is attracted to both, but which one does she love? How can she choose when her decision may cause a permanent rift between them? And more important, will she give her heart to the One who will sustain her even when human love fails.

"...the exquisitely written spiritual content shows the reader that redemption is available, no matter what the circumstances."
- 4 Stars, Romantic Times!

Instead of dealing with timely issues like alcoholism, premarital sex and pornography in a preachy, oh-so-tired fashion, Michelle Sutton's It's Not About Me gets to the heart of the matter with a shocking dose of realism and poignant storytelling. From the first paragraph, Sutton weaves together a thoroughly entertaining story that'll keep readers intrigued for the long haul as they get to know Annie, Dan, Tony and Susie—young adults that probably don't look and sound all that different from themselves. Now that's a seriously refreshing turn for Christian fiction."
~Christa Ann Banister~, author of Around the World in 80 Dates, (NavPress 2007) and Blessed are the Meddlers (NavPress 2008)

It's Not About Me is a wonderfully entertaining and deliciously suspenseful read that will keep you turning the pages. Sutton doesn't back away from the drama and with all of the twists and turns, It's Not About Me is hard to put down. I cannot wait for the sequel! Bravo!"
~Victoria Christopher Murray~, Essence best-selling author of multiple titles including The Ex Files and the upcoming YA series The Divine Divas

“Annie captured my heart on the first page and kept me enthralled to the very end. This edgy, yet surprisingly poignant story travels the inroads of intimate relationships – man to woman, brother to brother, parent to child, friend to friend. But especially satisfying is the author’s delicate handling of the relationship between a searching soul and the loving Savior who alone possesses the power to work all things out for the good. A terrific debut for Michelle Sutton. I can’t wait to read more from this talented author!”
~Virginia Smith~, author of Just As I Am and Sincerely, Mayla

"Michelle Sutton's gritty writing style will very likely go straight to the hearts of teens, addressing what they deal with every day in what is all too often grim reality for our youth. Sutton is no doubt a refreshing and much needed voice in today's YA fiction."
~Tina Ann Forkner~, Author of Ruby Among Us
Waterbrook Press/Random House

If you would like to read the Prologue and first Chapter of It's Not About Me, go HERE

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

How often should you publish?

For all you authors out there...this is an excellent article from Seth Godin's blog!

How often should you publish?

How many movies should you star in next year?

How many records should you release? How many songs should you write?
How many times a week should you post to your blog?

And when should my next book come out? Or your next newsletter or that next cartoon? What about Nike--they launch more than one product every day. Is that too many?

A lot of the stuff marketers make is unanticipated, impersonal, irrelevant junk that consumers merely tolerate.

But some of it is not spam, it's content. Stuff worth reading, worth paying for (at the very least, worth paying attention to.)

So, how often?

This discussion is usually filled with superstitions, traditions and half-truths. Daily comics come out every day because that's when newspapers always came out. And newspapers came out once a day because it was too expensive to publish three times a day (and advertisers and readers wouldn't support the extra expense.)

When movies were met with great fanfare and often stayed in the theaters for months, it was suicide for a big movie star to do three or four movies a year. But in a DVD/YouTube world, there's not a lot of evidence that this pace makes as much sense. Saturday Night Live was on every week because there's only one Saturday a week, but if it had launched today, it's hard to see the benefit of it being a weekly...

I'd like to propose that you think about it differently. There's frontlist and backlist.

Frontlist means the new releases, the hits, the stuff that fanboys are looking for or paying attention to.

Frontlist gets all the attention, all the glory and all the excitement. They write about frontlist in the paper and we talk about the frontlist at dinner. Digg is the frontlist. Siskel and Ebert is the frontlist.

Backlist is Catcher in the Rye or 1984. Backlist is the long tail (the idea) and now, the Long Tail (the book). In a digital world, backlist is where the rest of the attention ends up, and where all the real money is made.

Backlist doesn't show up in the news, but Google is 95% backlist. So is Amazon.

Sitting in a meeting yesterday, I brainstormed a term, "haystack marketing." I googled it to see if someone else was using it. You guessed it--number one match was an article I wrote eight months ago. Google doesn't forget even if you do.

So, here's the strategy:
Assemble a tribe, a group of true fans, followers, people who have given you permission. Give them all the frontlist they can handle. Make it easy for them to spread the word, to Digg you or bring a friend to your movie or buy your new book for their friends. If you create too much content for this crowd, then you're publishing too much. They care, and they want to hear from you.

Promote your backlist. Invest significant time and money to make your backlist available, to recirculate it, to have it adopted as a textbook in English class or featured on Netflix or part of a retrospective on TV. Take all that money you waste in frontlist marketing and spend it on the backlist instead.

Repeat. Frontlist becomes backlist, backlist grows, fan base grows, it scales.
Frontlist reaches your fans. Your fans spread the word, and eventually your backlist reaches everyone else. The backlist turns some people into fans, who then look for the frontlist.

The bestselling fiction authors (with one exception) all got hassled by their publishers for writing too often. Erle Stanley Gardner, Agatha Christie, Stephen King, JK Rowling... all but one had to write under a pseudonym because their publishers said they wrote too much. Nonsense. They wrote for their tribe, they give their followers just barely enough to read. Not too much, not by a long shot. And then, they were lucky enough to have persistent and talented publishers that managed to get their backlist read, over and over, by millions of people. People who turned into fans.

Key assertion: you don't publish it unless it's good. You don't write more blog posts than you can support, don't ship more variations of that software than your engineers can make marvelous. But given that you've got enough bench strength, enough remarkability to spare, now what?

When I look at my work, I think I'm in sync with my readers--one blog post a day feels right, while ten (which some bloggers pull off) wouldn't work for us. One book a year feels right, while three a decade (which Malcolm Gladwell does) wouldn't work for me or my core readers.

On the other hand, I do a lousy job of self-marketing my backlist. I have no doubt that a more patient push of The Dip would have doubled the numbers of books I sold (but posting about quitting all the time would have annoyed you guys to no end). It's still selling well, but given the base of sales (a big frontlist launch can lead to even bigger backlist, of course), more focus on the backlist would have been a profitable choice. The thing is, organizations can do this far better than an individual author can.

[Example: In the last month, four of my books have been mentioned in the NY Times. (The Dip, All Marketers are Liars, Meatball Sundae and Small is the New Big.) All backlist. All to people not in our tribe. This is far more useful and surprisingly, predictable, than the hit or miss nature of frontlist promotion. In my case, I think I'm putting my skills to better use when I'm writing, but that means I need to figure out how my backlist is going to get noticed. If you've got a team, part of the team should obsess about the backlist, honing it, editing it and promoting it, while the rest work to generate (as opposed to promote) the frontlist.]

The opportunity isn't to give into temptation and figure out how to recklessly and expensively market the frontlist. It is to adopt a long and slow and ultimately profitable strategy of marketing your ever-growing backlist.