Monday, December 31, 2007

Thoughts on the New Year


As I sit here alone at the computer (yes, everyone is gone!), I am contemplating the New Year. My new Franklin Covey compact planner is sitting here all neat and clean, just itching for me to write in it, but before I begin I wanted to think about my goals for the New Year. You see, 2007 was an okay year for me. I have grown quite a bit over the last year and am learning and seeing the direction that God is leading me in, which is quite exciting. 2008, however, is the year that I am going to begin to see those dreams take shape and that is truly scary and wonderfully exciting in its own way. What are my goals for 2008?

1. To write a devotion for moms 3 to 5 days/week. These devotions will become the foundation for a book that God has placed on my heart. Yes, this is a big step for me, but I believe that God is going to equip me. If He calls you, then He will equip you, if you only believe.

2. To move more from writing articles that simply fill space on someone else's website (even though they make me money and I enjoy it most of the time) to writing meaningful articles that are meaningful and give me satisfaction for knowing that I am doing what I am supposed to do. Not sure what direction that is going to be in yet, but am excited to see what God has planned for me.

3. To live every day with purpose and in God's will. This is a big one, but even if I mess up, I get to start over the next day. Isn't God good?

4. To work more on teaching my children through my actions about God's love and mercy. I am a yeller and I got it quite honestly from my mom, who was also a yeller. That is no excuse, however, so I am going to work on showing them God's love through not yelling and not losing it quite as often.

5. To be a better helpmate for my husband. I am opinionated, loud-mouthed, and a bit pushy sometimes, but I want to begin to let him take the reins more, especially with the kids. This is difficult when he works so much, but it can be done if we can learn to balance.

6. To do my best at everything I do. I am a procrastinator, but I want to move away from that habit into a new one where I actually do things when I say I am going to. This is a lifelong habit of mine, but with God's help, I can get it done.

7. To be healthier. I am not going to say that I am going to lose weight or exercise or blah, blah, blah, because I have said it every single year. If I can just eat healthier and exercise every once in a while in 2008, surely it would make a difference. Won't it?

A New Year is a time to think back on what God has done for you in the last year and to evaluate where you feel that He is leading you in the next year. I am sure that God has all sorts of things in mind for me (and you!) in the next year. I only want to handle them in the way that He would have me to do. What are some of your goals for the next year? To read another post on this, visit Marybeth at www.marybethwhalen.com. She blesses me every single time I visit!

On the personal front, KA went to the doctor today and had some of the stitches taken out of her face. She looks so much better and the doctor said he didn't have to see her again if everything looks fine when she is through healing! Praise God! He is soooooo good! It could have been so much worse. I just thank Him for His protection over her and His awesome healing. What a great way to begin a New Year! Me and the hubby are going to a friend's house tonight for a party, so I hope you all have a wonderful and blessed New Year!

Smiles and Loves! Janis

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Dog Bites, Christmas Gifts, and Life...Oh My!

Well, the Christmas season here at our house started off not so well. Sunday morning, while I was at church, my sister called to let me know that she was taking my middle child, KA, to the hospital. It seems that her Great Dane had decided to bite my 8-year old in the face. As my sister is known for her overreactions, I had calmed down considerably on the 30-minute drive to the hospital, only to find that this time she was not overreacting. KA was lying in the hospital bed when I arrived, so when I saw her, I was very taken aback to find that about half of her bottom lip was not connected to her face. The doctor managed to stitch her back together physically after almost 40 stitches, but mentally she is still not quite herself. If you think about it, can you say a prayer for her? Eight is such a young age to not be feeling like you are beautiful. She is not interested in going to church this Sunday, so I am going to stay home with her and read the Bible, since her stitches don't come out until Sunday.

Christmas gifts were way too much this year. My hubby got me lots of good things, including two different Bibles that I had requested, the Alias boxset, and more. My mom outdid herself, as she does every single year, for me, my husband, and the kids. It was a good day that was only slightly overshadowed by KA's injury.

School for me starts back on the 9th. The kids go back on the 8th, so life will be back to business in just a few weeks. I am enjoying the down time for now.

How was your Christmas? What are you looking forward to in 2008?

Smiles and Loves! Janis

Friday, December 21, 2007

Distant Heart by Tracey Bateman

About this Book:

In the second book in the Westward Hearts trilogy, will the promise of a new life out west heal the scars of Toni's past?

This series tells the stories of three strong women as they struggle to survive on the rough wagon train and lose their hearts to unlikely heroes along the way. Think Little House on the Prairie meets Francine river's Redeeming Love and you begin to get a sense of the riveting historical series that Tracey Bateman has created.

In this second installment, we follow Toni Rodden, a former prostitute who sought to escape her past and build a new life, and a new reputation, when she joined the wagon train. Despite much resentment and distrust from the other women, Toni has finally earned a place on the wagon train and found a surrogate family in Fannie Caldwell and her two siblings. For the first time in her life, Toni actually feels free.

But while Toni once harbored dreams that her new life might include a husband and family, she soon realizes the stigma that comes with her past is difficult to see beyond and that she'll never be truly loved or seen as worthy. As the trip out west begins to teach her to survive on her own, she resolves to make her own living as a seamstress when the train finally reaches Oregon.

But despite Toni's conviction that no man will be able to see beyond her marred past, Sam Two-feathers, the wagon scout and acting preacher for the train seems to know of a love that forgives sins and values much more than outward appearances. Will Sam have the confidence to declare his love? Will Toni be able to trust in a God that can forgive even the darkest past? Faith, love, and courage will be put to the test in Distant Heart.

About Tracey:
Tracey Bateman is the award-winning author of more than twenty-five books, including Defiant Heart, the First in the Westeard Hearts series. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and recently served on the board as President. She loves in Lebanon, Missouri, with her husband and their four children.

To purchase this book for yourself, click here.

I hope that you and your family have a very Merry Christmas and Blessed New Year!

Smiles and Loves! Janis

Friday, December 14, 2007

What Lies Within by Karen Ball


Karen Ball has long been one of my favorite Christian authors, so I was thrilled to be able to review one of her books. This book was just as good as others I have read over the years and the best part is that I had already read the first two books in this series, so the characters and their stories was familiar to me. This is a great stand alone book, however, so even if you haven't read the first two, you will still find yourself very involved in the story and in the character's lives. If you have been looking for a book to curl up on the couch with, then this is it!


About the Book:

Nothing’s going to stop Kyla…


until the ground crumbles beneath her feet.


Kyla Justice has arrived. Her company, Justice Construction, is one of the most critically acclaimed, commercially successful companies in the Pacific Northwest. And yet, something is missing. Not until she’s called on to build a center for inner-city kids does she realize what it is: her sense of purpose. Now nothing can stop her, not the low budget, not supply problems, not gang opposition, not her boyfriend’s suggestion that she sell her business and marry him–and most especially not that disagreeable Rafael Murphy.


Rafe Murphy understands battle. Wounded in action, this Force Recon Marine carries the scars–and the nightmares–to prove it. Though he can’t fight overseas any longer, he’s found his place as a warrior in the civilian world. So he soldiers on, trusting that one of these days, God will reveal to him why Rafe survived the ambush in Iraq. That day has arrived.


Kyla and Rafe both discover that determination alone won’t carry them through danger and challenges. When gang violence threatens their very foundations, there’s only one way to survive: rely on each other, be real–and surrender to God. In other words, risk everything…


About Karen:

Karen Ball , bestselling novelist, is also the editor behind several of today's bestselling Christian novels. Her love for words was passed down through her father and grandfather - both pastors who shared God's truth through sermons and storytelling. Blending humor, poignancy, and honesty, Karen's writing style is a powerful force for revealing God's truth. She lives in Oregon with her husband, Don, and their "kids," Bodhan, a mischief-making Siberian husky, and Dakota, an Aussie-terrier mix who should have been named "Destructo."


To purchase this book for yourself, click here. You will not regret it!


Have a beautiful and blessed day! Smiles and Loves! Janis

Monday, December 10, 2007

Around the World in 80 Dates: Confessions of a Christian Serial Dater


I LOVED this book! It was such a fun read that I devoured it over just one night. It is the epitome of what Christian chick-lit should be - fun and inspirational. If you are looking for a good book to read over the Christmas holidays or for a gift for a book lover on your list, then you will want to consider this book. To read an excerpt, you can click here.


About the Book:

Sydney Alexander is a travel writer. She’s a very well dressed travel writer—hasn’t yet met a shoe or clearance sale she could pass up. She’s funny. She’s got a great relationship with her sis. She’s got a hilarious best friend, Rain, who happens to be a hippie. And, she’s got a wonderful relationship with God. So what’s missing?A decent date.


A date where she doesn’t have to pay because he’s “between jobs.” A date where she’s not fabulously fashionably ready to go only to learn “the band just got a last minute gig” and he has to cancel. A date she wants to kiss goodnight—not run screaming from the curb.


Bridget Jones may have had a few more public disasters (Sydney works in print not on the telly), and considerably more cigarettes (Sydney doesn’t smoke), but really, besides that, their lives really aren’t so different. She’s just a girl, looking for love, drowning in a sea of cute couples, determined to keep swimming.


About Christa:

In addition to possessing a funny, whip-smart pen, Christa Ann Banister has the gift of gab.


She talks. And talks. And she keeps on talking. Maybe this is in part what separates her from the mighty throng (or small army) of chick-lit writers working today, other than the fact that her dynamite debut novel, Around the World in 80 Dates, is already creating a tidal wave of underground buzz. That’s right. After years of working as a respected music critic and freelance writer for various Christian publications: CCM Magazine, Crosswalk.com, Christian Single, ChristianityToday.com, not to mention kickstarting the inaugural Christian music blog for MTV’s Urge.com, Christa has inked her first novel about her erstwhile adventures in dating, and she hopes that her story will inspire countless twenty and thirty-somethings in their quest for snagging Mr. Right, even as they hold fast to their Christian values.


Inspired by authors Judy Blume and Jane Austin, and a host of other writers including F. Scott Fitzgerald and C.S. Lewis, Christa tells the tale of Sydney Alexander—a gal who is not shy about life, her faith, or her career as a travel writer. Yet finding her lifelong soul mate proves to be a bit more elusive than she had originally thought.


“In a lot of chick-lit books it seems like the girl’s ultimate goal is to get the guy,” Christa says. “And she wants to get the guy for sure, but she’s very ambitious as well, and she loves life and is willing to try all kinds of different adventures—all without letting go of her Christian values.”


And in answer to the question of whether this romantic roller-coaster is fact or fiction, Christa plays coy: “I’ll have to be honest and say that the experiences that Sydney, the lead character, goes through in the book are very similar to experiences that I’ve had in the past. And of course I had to protect the guilty, so I changed a few names and a few situations, but some of situations were inspired by actual events.”


In the end, Confessions is a novel that is full of pluck and wit, and humor, and it is a shoo-in to become a classic for any guy or girl who is in the throes of navigating the pitfalls and quirks of the single life, all without letting go of what they believe.


Christa lives in St. Paul, Minnesota with her husband, Will. They love to play Scrabble and throw darts on a map and dream about going wherever the darts land someday. They have no pets.


And until her book hits the New York Times bestseller list, Christa is happily employed as a freelance writer for her many, many clients.


To purchase this book for yourself or as a wonderful Christmas gift, click here.


Have a blessed day! Smiles and Loves! Janis

Saturday, December 8, 2007

A Shadow of Treason by Tricia Goyer


This was such a wonderful book! I just love historical fiction books and this one met every one of my favorites! I am going to see if the library has the first book, so I can get caught up on the beginning of the story. This is how much I loved them. Tricia Goyer has written many different books that are historically based as well, so I may have found me a new favorite author.

About this Book:
Sophie discovers that nothing is as she first imagined. When Walt, the reporter who helped her over the border, shows up again after Guernica is bombed, Sophie is given an impossible mission. She must leave behind the man she's fallen in love with and return to the person who betrayed her. Another layer of the war in Spain is revealed as Sophie is drawn into the international espionage schemes that could turn the tide of the war and help protect the soldiers from the International Brigade ... she must find a way to get a critical piece of information to Walt in time.

About Tricia:
Q: A Shadow of Treason follows A Valley of Betrayal. This is the first time you've written books as a series instead of stand alone. Which way do you like better?

A: I love writing in series. It was great to continue with the same characters. In my stand-alone books I fell in love with these people and then I had to say good-bye after one book. It was wonderful to be able to continue on.

Q: In A Shadow of Treason Sophie must return to the person who betrayed her in an effort to help the Spanish people. It makes the book hard to put down because the reader has to know how Sophie's heart will deal with it. Why did you decide to make this an element of the book?

A: There are very few of us who go through life without giving away a part of our hearts to someone who didn't deserve it. Even though Sophie had the best intentions, she gave away her heart and she was hurt-not only that she must revisit those emotions.

I wanted to include this element-to delve into the topic that emotions are sometimes as big of a trap as any physical cage. Emotions are real and they guide us -- even when we don't want to admit it. Poor Sophie, not only does she have to deal with a war around her -- she also has to deal with a war within herself. It's something I've battled, and mostly likely others have too.

Q: There is an interesting element that arises in this book and that is Spanish gold. I know you can't tell us what happens in this book, but can you give us a brief history of this gold?

A: Sure. When I was researching I came upon something interesting. The Spaniards, as we know, had taken much Aztec and Inca gold during the time of the conquistadors. Well, at the start of The Spanish Civil War much of this gold was still held in Madrid. In fact Spain had the fourth largest gold reserves in the world at that time. The Republican government was afraid Franco would take the city and the gold. They had to get it out of Madrid and this included transporting priceless artifacts. The element of gold does make its way into my story. It was great to include this little-known (and true!) element into my story.

Q: Another historical fact I learned about was the Nazi involvement during this time. Not only were the Germans active in Spain, but they had spy networks busy around the world. How did you find out about this?

A: I love reading tons of research books. Usually I find one little element that I dig out and turn into a plot line. This is what happened with my plot-line for the Nazi pilot, Ritter. I dug up this bit of research of Nazi involvement in Spain -- and the United States -- because a lot of people aren't aware of the Nazi involvement prior to WWII. The truth is they were busy at work getting the land, information, and resources they needed far before they threatened the nations around them. The Germans knew what they wanted and how to get it. And most of the time they succeeded!

Q: A Shadow of Treason is Book Two. When will Book Three be out? Can you give us a hint of how the story continues?

A: Book Three is A Whisper of Freedom. It will be out February 2008. The characters that we love are all still in the midst of danger at the end of Book Two. Book Three continues their stories as we follow their journeys in -- and (for a few) out -- of Spain. It's an exciting conclusion to the series!

To check this book out for yourself (you can read the first chapter!), click here. To purchase it, you can click here.

Smiles and Loves! Janis

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Bluegrass Peril by Virginia Smith

This was a wonderful read. It was a quick read that was fun and exciting. It kept me guessing "who dunnit?" until the end. If you are looking for a good book to curl up on the couch with on a cold winter's night, then Bluegrass Peril is just the book you are looking for. Small, easy to hold and easy to read-what could be better?

About the Book:
WHO KILLED HER BOSS?

Local police had tagged single mom Becky Dennison as their prime suspect. But she'd only been in the wrong place at the wrong time...admittedly, with her boss's lifeless body. Sure it looked bad, but Becky had no motive for killing...even if she had opportunity.

When the director of the retirement farm for thoroughbred champions is murdered, Becky Dennison teams up with the handsome manager of a neighboring horse farm, Scott Lewis, to find her boss's killer. Soon the amateur detective are hot on the trail of the murderer...even as their feelings for each other deepen.

The amateur sleuths uncover a trail of clues that lead them into the intricate society of Kentucky's elite thoroughbred breeding industry. They soon find themselves surrounded by the mint julep set - jealous southern belles and intensely competitive horse breeders - in a high-stakes game of danger, money, and that famous southern pride.

And for Becky and Scott, this race on the Kentucky tracks has the greatest stakes of all: life or death!

About the Author:
Virginia Smith left her job as a corporate director to become a full time writer and speaker in the summer of 2005. Since then she has contracted eight novels and numerous articles and short stories.

She writes contemporary humorous novels for the Christian market, including her debut, Just As I Am (Kregel Publications, March 2006) and her new release, Murder by Mushroom (Steeple Hill, August 2007). Her short fiction has been anthologized, and her articles have been published in a variety of Christian magazines.

An energetic speaker, Virginia loves to exemplify God’s truth by comparing real-life situations to well-known works of fiction, such as her popular talk, “Biblical Truths in Star Trek.”

To purchase this book for yourself, click here.

Smiles and Loves! Janis

 

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