Thursday, March 22, 2007

Borders Stores changing...

An interesting piece in Publisher's Weekly about Borders reorganizing its stores. To quote the piece:
"Borders will be developing a new concept store during 2007 and plans to open the first one in early 2008. Few details were available about the new prototype, although it will likely include more technology offerings."
The full article of course includes much more information about the bookstore giant. Click here for the complete article.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

This writing life ...

I thought about something last night I think might encourage some of you writers out there.

How many years does someone work to become a doctor? There's 4 years of college, then 4 years of med school. 8 years total of schooling. But then there's at least 3 years of residency. What if we considered our writing careers the same way a prospective doctor considers theirs? Think about when you first got serious about writing. No, I don't mean when you first got the idea you might like to be a writer. But when did you get down and dirty and make the decision "I am going to be a writer." Three years ago? Six? One?

Someone doesn't one day decide they're going to become a doctor, and the next year they're operating on someone's leg. Why would writing be any different? What I'm saying is this: We need to give ourselves AT LEAST ten years before we can even start to doubt ourselves. :)

I bet every med school student has doubts, too. But the ones who succeed, the ones who become successful doctors, are the ones who keep going. Keep pressing on. Push through the tough days.

You CAN do it, writers. God has put the desire in your heart for a reason.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Tricia Goyer Blog Tour for A Valley of Betrayal

It's my pleasure to be a part of the blog tour for Tricia Goyer's new novel A Valley of Betrayal, Book #1 in the Chronicles of the Spanish Civil War series.

Tricia is an accomplished writer who was named "Writer of the Year" in 2003 by Mount Hermon Christian Writer's Conference. Her previous historical fiction series took place during World War II and included From Dust and Ashes, Night Song, Dawn of a Thousand Nights, and Arms of Deliverance. She is married to John, and they have three great kids whom she homeschools: Cory, Leslie, and Nathan. They make their home in Northwest Montana with their dog, Lilly.

Cool Stuff to Read & Do:

  • Read the 1st chapter of A Valley of Betrayal here.
  • Read an interview I did with Tricia a couple months ago here.
  • Read Cara Putnam's review of A Valley of Betrayal at her blog: The Law, Books and Life.
  • Read Cheryl Russell's review of A Valley of Betrayal at Infuze.
  • Sign up for On Trakk, the e-newsletter of, and be entered in a drawing to win a FREE copy of A Valley of Betrayal. Be sure to mention this blog when you do.
  • Listen to a podcast of Tricia talking about her books here.
  • Buy A Valley of Betrayal here.

So, Tricia, what inspired you to write
A Valley of Betrayal?

A few years ago when I was researching for my fourth World War II novel, Arms of Deliverance, I came across a unique autobiography. One B-17 crewmember I read about claimed to make it out of German-occupied Belgium after a plane crash due, in part, to his skills he picked up as a veteran of The Spanish Civil War. Reading that bit of information, I had to scratch my head. First of all, I had never heard of the war. And second, what was an American doing fighting in Spain in the late 1930s? Before I knew it, I uncovered a fascinating time in history—one that I soon discovered many people know little about. This is what I learned:

Nazi tanks rolled across the hillsides and German bombers roared overhead, dropping bombs on helpless citizens. Italian troops fought alongside the Germans, and their opponents attempted to stand strong—Americans, British, Irishmen, and others—in unison with other volunteers from many countries. And their battleground? The beautiful Spanish countryside.

From July 17, 1936-April 1, 1939, well before America was involved in World War II, another battle was fought on the hillsides of Spain. On one side were the Spanish Republicans, joined by the Soviet Union and The International Brigade—men and women from all over the world who have volunteered to fight Fascism. Opposing them, Franco and his Fascist military leaders, supported with troops, machinery, and weapons from Hitler and Mussolini. The Spanish Civil War, considered the “training ground” for the war to come, boasted of thousands of American volunteers who joined to fight on the Republican side, half of which never returned home.

Unlike World War II, there is no clear line between white and black, good and evil. Both sides committed atrocities. Both sides had deep convictions they felt worth fighting and dying for.

Loyalists—also know as the Republicans were aided by the Soviet Union, the Communist movement, and the International Brigades. If not for the weapons and volunteers from these sources their fight would have ended in weeks rather than years. While many men fought side by side, their political views included that of liberal democracy, communism and socialism. The Catholic Basque Country also sided with the Republic, mainly because it sought independence from the central government and was promised this by Republican leaders in Madrid.

Nationalists—or Francoists were aided mainly by Germany and Italy. The Nationalist opposed an independent Basque state. Their main supporters were those who believed in a monarchist state and fascist interests. The Nationalist wished for Spain to continue on as it had for years, with rich landowners, the military, and the church running the country. Most of the Roman Catholic clergy supported the Nationalists, except those in the Basque region.

During the Spanish Civil war, terror tactics against civilians were common. And while history books discuss the estimated one million people who lost their lives during the conflict, we must not forget that each of those who fought, who died, had their own tales. From visitors to Spain who found themselves caught in the conflict, to the communist supporters, Basque priests, and Nazi airmen . . . each saw this war in a different light. These are the stories behind A Valley of Betrayal.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Christians and the movies

A couple years ago I walked into the movie theater, and I saw a Christian couple I knew walking out. We stopped in the lobby, said hi, and I asked them what movie they’d seen. The guy shook his head and named a flick about a serial killer’s rampage (I think it was Summer of Sam). I was surprised this couple, who helped in the youth ministry and even had a Bible study group meet at their house, was watching a film like this. I remember the guy said, “We should’ve walked out.” And I couldn’t help but think, “Well, why didn’t you? Why did you even pick this movie in the first place? You had to know what you would see.”

I don’t say this to condemn this couple. We all make mistakes. We’ve all watched things we shouldn’t. But the question I’ve been asking myself lately is this: How will people know we’re Christians if we watch the same things everyone else does?

Some will argue we need to watch so we can be relevant. We need to be able to talk to people on their level, and sometimes that means watching things we wouldn’t normally watch. I see why people use this argument. Relevancy is a big issue in the church—too many people are completely irrelevant to the world. But is this really the answer? I find it hard to believe that Jesus would need to watch an R rated film so he could better minister to people. The Bible says, Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. (Proverbs 4:23)

Here’s the bottom line. When people look at you, do they see something different? Do they look at your life and want what you have? 1 Peter 3:15 says, Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.

But if there’s nothing in our lives that sets us apart, how will people know to ask us?

Rene Gutteridge & The Ultimate Gift

I had the chance to interview Rene Gutteridge for She talked about her work on the novelization of The Ultimate Gift screenplay, her most embarrassing moment researching, plus much more.

I have perfectionist tendencies and am my own worst critic. I’ve learned that even when it’s not perfect, it’s still purposeful.
--Rene Gutteridge

Check out the full interview here.

Also, my review of The Ultimate Gift movie is up at the site as well. Read it here.

The Ultimate Gift is a winner. review

Friday, March 09, 2007

The Ultimate Gift movie releases today!

Click here to see if the movie's playing near you.

Watch the trailer:

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

No Legal Grounds by James Scott Bell review

James Scott Bell's latest novel, No Legal Grounds, has just released from Zondervan.

My review of the novel is up today on

"James Scott Bell is an expert wordsmith, artfully placing us in the scene. We’re not just observing his characters, we’re involved with them."

Lawyer Sam Trask’s life is finally in order. His old drinking and success-at-any-cost ways have been replaced with embracing his family and his faith. Then Nicky Oberlin, an old college classmate, shows up. His first contact with Sam is an innocent enough e-mail. No big deal. Sam deletes the message. After all, he barely remembers the guy, and distractions in his already hectic schedule are not on the agenda. But there’s something about the tone of the message that makes Sam uneasy.

And rightfully so. Nicky Oberlin doesn’t take “no” for an answer, and soon his behavior escalates into harassment. Sam has sworn to uphold the law and defend the innocent as an attorney. But can the law protect him and his family from someone like Nicky Oberlin? Not when no law has been broken. Which is why Sam is forced to do something he never dreamed he’d do---take the law into his own hands.

Read the full review here.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

FIRST Blog Tour - Scimitars Edge by Marvin Olasky

It is March 1st, time for the FIRST Day Blog Tour. (To join our alliance, click the button.) The FIRST day of every month we will feature an author and his/her latest book's FIRST chapter!

This month's featured author is:
Marvin Olasky and his book:

Scimitar's Edge


Dr. Olasky is editor-in-chief of World Magazine, a senior fellow of the Acton Institute, and a professor at the University of Texas at Austin. He and his wife Susan have been married for 30 years and have four sons. He has written 17 non-fiction books and has also started (with several others) a Christian school; he has been a crisis pregnancy center chairman, a foster parent, a Little League assistant coach, a PTA president, and an informal advisor to George W. Bush. He is a graduate of Yale University and the University of Michigan.

Stepping away from his roles as professor, historian, and creator of "compassionate conservatism," Marvin Olasky, editor-in-chief of WORLD Magazine has penned an edge-of-your-seat novel that educates as well as it informs.

SCIMITAR'S EDGE is the story of four unique Americans on a journey that takes them to a world of great beauty and great danger. Olasky uses his vast knowledge of the culture to pen a tale about the War on Terror that is so realistic it might have been taken from today's headlines.

To read the 1st chapter in the Reading Room, click here.