Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Shakespeare (like you've never heard him)

An impressionist, Jim Meskimen, performs Clarence's speech from William Shakespeare's Richard III... in the voices of various celebrities. This is the most hilarious video I've watched in a good long while. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Almost Heaven, by Chris Fabry

I was going to tack this little post script onto my last post, then decided it was well worth its own. I don't know if I've ever given a review of a book I've yet to finish reading, but this time I can't really hold back.

I'm several chapters into Chris Fabry's Almost Heaven now, and it's already wrapped itself around my heart. Actually, it had me crying on the first page of chapter one for this wonderful, sweet character, Billy Allman. And every other chapter or so I feel like I'm being fed a full spiritual meal. If you want an interesting and sympathetic main character to root for, and an insight into spiritual warfare that will have you constantly in communion with the Father, and examining your own inner life and motives while reveling in beautiful prose and a compelling story, then Almost Heaven is for you.

It's no surprise to me this book won a Christy Award. If I could only write a story this rich and spiritually profound! Chris Fabry I believe has a special anointing for this aspect of the craft. I'll just be happy to be held in its embrace for the hours I get to read it, but I have a feeling this one's going to stay with me for a long while.

Visit Chris and learn more about Billy Allman and Almost Heaven at his website: 

Billy Allman played the mandolin, and his story makes my heart sing.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

2011 Christy Award Winners

The annual Christy Awards, given for excellence in Christian fiction, were announced last night. Here's the list of the 2011 winners in each category. Congratulations winners!

Contemporary Romance
Sworn to Protect 
DiAnn Mills (Tyndale House Publishers)

Contemporary Series
The Reluctant Prophet
Nancy Rue (David C. Cook)

First Novel  
Anne Elisabeth Stengl (Bethany House Publishers)

While We're Far Apart
Lynn Austin (Bethany House Publishers)

Historical Romance
The Girl in the Gatehouse
Julie Klassen (Bethany House Publishers)

The Bishop
Steven James (Revell Books)

To Darkness Fled
Jill Williamson (Marcher Lord Press)

Young Adult
Motorcycles, Sushi, and One Strange Book
Nancy Rue (Zondervan)

And the one I saved for last, because out of all the winners, this one's cover utterly captivated me before I had an inkling what the story was about. This is one of the most beautiful covers I've seen lately, and I will have my hands on a copy of this book by the end of this day.

Contemporary Standalone 
Almost Heaven
Chris Fabry (Tyndale House Publishers)

And in case this cover has captivated you as much as it has me, here's the back cover blurb:

Some people say Billy Allman has a heart of gold. Others say he’s a bit odd. The truth is, they’re all right. He’s a hillbilly genius…a collector, a radio whiz…and he can make the mandolin sing. Though he dreams of making an impact on the world beyond the hills and hollers of Dogwood, West Virginia, things just always seem to go wrong.

But however insignificant Billy’s life seems, it has not gone unnoticed. Malachi is an angel sent to observe and protect Billy. Though it’s not his dream assignment, Malachi always follows orders. And as Billy’s story unfolds, Malachi slowly begins to see the bigger picture…that each step Billy takes is a note added to a beautiful song that will forever change the lives of those who hear it.

PS: Still technically on blogging sabbatical, but when there's something to share, I'll share!

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

On Vacation... sort of

It's summer. It's hot. My brain is not at its best just now. I'm focusing on the messy middle of my novel in progress, and since this seems to be demanding more than usual brain capacity, I've decided to take a summer break from blogging.

Sort of.

I'll still be here, posting from time to time. Mostly to redirect you to other blog posts I've found inspiring, encouraging and/or helpful in some way.

Here's one for today. It's from agent Rachelle Gardener, and it's a glimpse inside the Editorial Letter that an author can expect to receive from an editor, or possibly an agent. Just reading the excerpts Rachelle includes in the post made me want to rush to my WIP and go all left-brained over the same issues in my story. Which is a saying quite a lot given the heat-induced fog my brain has been in the past week or so.

And here's another one over at Colonial Quills, posted by J. M. Hochstetler, on the faith of our Founding Fathers. Come on over and read in their own words just what these men believed about God, and the founding of this country.

Have a blessed & safe summer. Stay cool (or enjoy the heat and sun if you're one of the Lizard People). Of course, if there's exciting news to share on my own writing front, I'll be back lickity-split to share it here.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Saturday Snippet & Happy 4th!

I've posted this video before, but what better holiday for it, eh?  And be sure to check out Carla's post over at Colonial Quills on the Colonial Observance of Independence Day

Now, for a snippet from the WIP, The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn. This one has a big chunk missing because major plot stuff happens in it.

The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn
Copyright 2011 Lori Benton
Jesse looked back to see her lower lip caught between her pretty teeth. She wouldn’t meet his gaze. He didn’t know what she was thinking.

Possessing his soul in patience was a lesson coming hard. He didn’t want to be talking about himself, but about her. Her thoughts. Her memories. Her soul was a realm he longed to explore and know as well as he did every stone that pocked this creek path.

“Now I’ve told you something of my past, it’s only fair I get to ask something o’ yours.”

“What do you want to know?”

They were nigh the cabin clearing—he could see the edge of it through the trees—and he was wishing they’d miles yet to walk. Where was he to start?

“How ’bout… what’s the first book you ever read? Or maybe had read to—”

He never finished the question. They’d come out of the trees, and across the sloping cabin clearing the line of sight was clear now the corn was harvested. Two horses, neither of them his or Cade’s, were hitched outside the barn, and sitting in the cabin’s open doorway was Seth Trimble.

Jesse halted, gripping the pistol, letting go of Tamsen’s grasp to touch the butt of the rifle slung across his back. Not in alarm. Only habit.

Then it hit him. Two horses, but one Trimble in sight. 

Thunder rumbled in the seconds before Seth caught sight of them and stood. They heard his voice raised, but whatever he said was lost in the thunder’s trailing edge.

“Company.” Jesse shot a look at Tamsen, whose face showed no more pleasure at sight of their guest than he felt. He started up the slope and heard her following.

[long spoiler deleted]

Across the empty field, down at the edge of the wood where he and Tamsen had emerged, Cade sat his horse, still and watchful, rifle raised and leveled. There was no doubt in anyone’s mind at whom it was aimed, or that he was able to hit a mark even from that distance.

The Trimbles left, sullen and brimming with bad grace. Jesse stood in the door yard and watched them go, right hand stinging but aching to feel the crack of bone and teeth again. From the corner of his eye he could see Cade’s rifle following the brothers, till they mounted their horses and rode off down the trail toward Sycamore Shoals.

Jesse turned to find Tamsen standing in the cabin doorway. She was pale and shaken, and a glance told him she’d heard and seen it all. The look in her eyes struck him a blow.

“Tamsen,” he said, but she shook her head, as if adamant he not say another word.

“It was A Thousand and One Nights,” she said.

He stared at her, understanding the words plain enough, but finding no context for them. “What?”

She firmed her lips and said, “You were asking me what the first book I remember reading. That’s what it was. A Thousand and One Nights. Mama read it to me. I used to pretend she was Scheherazade.”

He opened his mouth to say something full of brains and dazzle, like, “Oh.” But she’d backed into the cabin and shut the door. 
 [end excerpt]

Have a Happy Independence Day weekend, all you who celebrate it! It's a long weekend for the Bentons, during which no doubt the grill will come out, and guests will be over to share a meal. And I'm sure a hike will happen at some point, though today looks like a yard work sort of day. And a library day. And maybe a swing by the store to find something pretty to wear day. Blessings all!