Friday, December 5, 2014

20 Favorite Christmas Movies of Authors

When do you start watching Christmas movies? I can watch them all year long, but Tim convinces me to wait until October or November most of the time.

This year, I asked our authors to share their favorite Christmas movies with us. I wanted a nice round number, so in my brain, I thought we'd make a list of the "Top 20 Christmas Movies." Only eight of our authors answered, with a total of 14 movies, because some gave more than one movie, and some were duplicated. It didn't take me long to figure out I could add SIX of my own favorites to the list that no one else mentioned!

Miracle on 34th Street was chosen by several as their favorite. No one specified which version - did you know there are actually four versions? 1947 (with Edmund Gwenn and Maureen O'Hara - my personal favorite), 1959 (with Ed Wynn and Peter Lind Hayes), 1973 (with Sebastian Cabot and Jane Alexander), and 1994 (with Richard Attenborough and Elizabeth Perkins.)

White Christmas was the second most listed.

The others, in no particular order are:

Smoky Mountain Christmas 
Christmas with Holly
Dear Santa
How the Grinch Stole Christmas (animated)
Home Alone (the first one)
The Gathering
Christmas Eve
One Magic Christmas
The Christmas Card
Polar Express
Elf
Rudolph

And some of my own personal favorites include:

A Christmas Snow
The Christmas Cottage
Midnight Clear
Christmas with a Capital C
Christmas Angel
Comfort and Joy
Christmas Kiss
Surviving Christmas
Stealing Christmas 
Snow
Snow: Brain Freeze
Christmas in Connecticut (1945)
The Santa Clause
The Gift of the Magi
Jingle all the Way
A Charlie Brown Christmas
A  Christmas Carol (almost any version or adaptation!)

Yes, that's more than six - I TOLD you I love Christmas movies!!!

Tell me some I missed! 
What are your favorite Christmas movies?




Today's the last day to get Jerusha Agen's This Dance, FREE on Kindle! The other books in the series are available in print and Kindle formats, so look for This Shadow and This Redeemer to complete the set.










Join more of the Five Golden Days of Christmas here:


Friday's Blogs:


Julie Arduini:  Christmas Concert Memories
Fay Lamb, On the Ledge: Ho, Ho, Help           

Thursday's Blogs:


Fay Lamb: On the Ledge: A Special Gathering
Sheryl Holmes: Created to Crave


Wednesday's Blogs:

Tuesday's Blogs:


PNP: Cancer Survivor and Mom of Nine Offers Hope All Year Long
Tracy Ruckman: Christmas at Rumi Rancho
Julie Arduini: The Focus of Christmas
Fay Lamb: On the Ledge: A Very Special Mom

Monday's Blogs:

Sheryl Holmes: Give Hope: Carry!




Tonight, we're having a Facebook Party and we'd love for you to come, 7-9 PM. It's a "drop-in, stay as little or as long as you want, come as you are" party! We're giving away books, jewelry, Christmas ornaments, a Nativity, gift cards, and more - hope we'll see you there. 


Thursday, December 4, 2014

Surrender is Key to Writers

As we continue our Five Golden Days of Christmas Celebration, I find myself smiling a lot when I think about today's featured author. Julie Arduini is a rare mixture of humor and heart, depth and light. When I got ready to create this blog post, I realized her appearance on our blogs this week is a perfect example of that. On Monday, we featured her on the Write Integrity blog, with the title "Just Don't Take Her Chocolate." The post was fun (but yes, she's serious about her chocolate!) and yet today, this blog post deals with surrender. We could say she means surrender your chocolate (and she probably does), but this is where the depth comes in.

Julie is sold out to Jesus, and she surrenders daily her life to Him to guide her and use her as He sees fit. Surrender is a theme that runs through her books and on her blog. It manifests itself in her attitude toward others - a giving, generous spirit who always has a kind and encouraging word to offer.

Julie's a blessing to us at Write Integrity and Pix-N-Pens, and I know her books will bless you immensely. And keep you entertained in the process.

We recently released Julie's first novel in her Adirondack Surrender Series, Entrusted.

From the back cover:

Jenna Anderson, sassy city-girl, plows—literally—into Speculator Falls with a busted GPS, arriving in town as the new senior center director. She has only one goal—that of belonging no matter how out of place she appears and how angry she makes town councilman and grocer Ben Regan.

Her new life is so rural there are no traffic lights, and when she learns her car isn’t equipped to handle the mountain terrain, Ben’s grandmother offers her late husband’s vehicle, further alienating the local businessman.

As she endears herself to the seniors at the center and creates a vision full of ideas, programs, and equipment, she ruffles Ben’s plans to keep Speculator Falls void of change, including the store his grandfather built.

The two work through community events and shared heartbreak only to face off in a town council meeting where Ben publicly rejects her proposal for the senior center, causing Jenna to react out of her fears about belonging.

She returns to Ohio where she realizes she needs to surrender her plans for the center and fears about belonging and trust her Heavenly Father when facing fear, change, loss, and love.


Don't forget to grab your copy of Jerusha Agen's This Dance. It's FREE on Kindle today and tomorrow. The other books in her Sisters Redeemed Series are also available in print and on Kindle to complete your collection: This Shadow and This Redeemer.

Today's the last day to get Fay Lamb's Charisse for FREE on Kindle, so be sure to grab yours and tell your romance-loving friends to get their copy. And don't forget about the next book in this series, Libby. She's quite the character, and there's a hunky hero involved in her story, in case you're interested. 

Join more of the Five Golden Days of Christmas here:


Thursday's Blogs:


Fay Lamb: On the Ledge: A Special Gathering

Sheryl Holmes: Created to Crave


Wednesday's Blogs:

Tuesday's Blogs:


PNP: Cancer Survivor and Mom of Nine Offers Hope All Year Long
Tracy Ruckman: Christmas at Rumi Rancho
Julie Arduini: The Focus of Christmas
Fay Lamb: On the Ledge: A Very Special Mom

Monday's Blogs:

Sheryl Holmes: Give Hope: Carry!


And be sure to mark your calendar! We're having a Facebook Party on Friday, December 5, and you're invited! We're giving away books, jewelry, Christmas ornaments, a Nativity, gift cards, and more! 



Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Immersed in the 1920s as Historical Fiction Writer


Certain decades intrigue me more than others, although I've never quite figured out why. Are you that way? The 1920s is one of the decades I'm drawn to, and one of our authors transports us to those Roaring 20s with her novels.

Betty Thomason Owens is the author of Amelia's Legacy, the first book in her Legacy Series. I had the privilege of meeting and hanging out with her at the Catch the Wave conference this year - she's one of those people you just want to hang around forever! She'll be at our Facebook party this Friday, so drop by with some questions for her. She's giving away a beautiful 1920s-inspired necklace too!

From the back cover of Amelia's Legacy:

It's the Roaring Twenties and anything goes ...

Orphaned and living with her grandmother since the age of six, Nancy Sanderson desires only her freedom from her strict grandmother, Amelia Woods Sanderson, who divides her time between Nancy and a successful career. Her grandmother’s plans include a wealthy, smart, and well-connected young lawyer named Robert Emerson, who bores Nancy.

Instead, Nancy seeks the company of the wild-hearted Nate Conners. When her rebellion turns deadly and her dalliance with Nate leaves her in trouble, Nancy turns to Robert, who promises to protect her. But Robert has underestimated Nate’s thirst for revenge.

As hidden truths become known, can Nancy find the strength to forgive herself and gain true and lasting freedom?




We're giving away THREE books today:

Jerusha Agen's This Dance, the first book in her Sisters Redeemed Series, is free today through Friday.

Today's the last day to get Peggy Cunningham's Really Rare Rabbits: Giant Green Ghosts and the Secret at Peppermint Pass for free, so grab it now!

Fay Lamb's Charisse is free today and tomorrow, so be sure to tell your romance-loving friends to get their copy. And don't forget about the next book in this series, Libby. She's quite the character, and there's a hunky hero involved in her story, in case you're interested. 


And be sure to mark your calendar! We're having a Facebook Party on Friday, December 5, and you're invited! We're giving away books, jewelry, Christmas ornaments, a Nativity, gift cards, and more! 


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Christmas at Rumi Rancho

Missionaries have held a very special place in my heart, since I was a baby Christian. I belonged to a women's missionary group at church, where we met regularly to learn about missionaries all over the world, and to pray for their specific needs. We also got to meet a few as they came back to the States on furlough - our church helped sponsor a house specifically for furloughing missionaries.

When I first started writing, I wrote for a missions magazine, doing book reviews on books written by missionaries.

Today, I'd like to focus on one particular mission I learned about a couple of years ago. We're honored to have Peggy Cunningham as one of our authors at Pix-N-Pens. She and her husband Chuck have served as missionaries in Bolivia since 1981, and in 1999, they founded Rumi Rancho, their home and ministry base where they work among the Quechua people.

From their ministry website: "Situated in a rural area of the Cochabamba valley, the Cunninghams minister to Quechua children and adults in their home and churches. God has raised up Rumi Rancho to help them teach practical skills to children while reaching them for Christ. Their desire is to give them hope for eternity by teaching them God’s Word, as well as equipping them for a better life while here on earth. Since Rumi Rancho opened its doors to the nearby 11 surrounding communities, it has seen more than three thousand children attend classes and hear about Jesus. The number rises each year as the Cunninghams continue ministering to the Quechua people and children."

In their October 2014 newsletter, they share some of their current needs, and I asked to share them with our readers in hopes that those who are able can help meet some of these needs.

They're in need of nine laptop computers to be bought in Bolivia, at the cost of $400 each. They've been utilizing desktop computers, but now that it's time for an upgrade, laptops will give them portability to use the classroom for other activities and to use the laptops in more ways.

The classroom building is in need of a kitchen and an inside bathroom, which will enable them to hold large meetings and provide a way to feed who attend.

Each Christmas, they travel into the mountains to reach people there, taking gifts and necessities to the children who live there. Monetary donations are always needed and appreciated.

You can learn more about their ministry on their website.

Their mailing address is:

Rumi Rancho Ministries
P O Box 135
Acme, PA 15610




Join more of the Five Golden Days of Christmas here:

Free Kindle Books:



Participating Blogs:

Tracy Ruckman: Christmas at Rumi Rancho
Julie Arduini: The Focus of Christmas
Fay Lamb: On the Ledge: A Very Special Mom

Sheryl Holmes BLOG: How to HELP those who are suffering during the holidays/ #1 Carry
Fay Lamb: On the Ledge: Is that All


And be sure to mark your calendar! We're having a Facebook Party on Friday, December 5, and you're invited! We're giving away books, jewelry, Christmas ornaments, a Nativity, gift cards, and more! 

            




Monday, December 1, 2014

Romance, Suspense, Cruises, and Retirement: An Author’s Life

Woo-hoo, it's Christmas! I love this time of year - except for the cold, that is! Yes, I could handle a warm, sunny Christmas!

This week, we're hosting the "Five Golden Days" of Christmas over at Write Integrity Press and Pix-N-Pens Publishing. I'll be featuring some of the authors or events here on this blog too.

Just be sure to mark your calendar for Friday, December 5 - we're having our annual Facebook party with lots of party favors and fun. And you're invited!

Today, I want to tell you about an author I met last year at the Catch the Wave conference in Atlanta. She is a fireball! When you get ready to read one of her books, just be prepared not to put it down until you've reached The End because Elizabeth Noyes writes the most incredible action-filled romantic suspense that keeps you turning pages.

I loved this 5-Star review for Imperfect Wings:

"I literally read this book in a day and was upset with myself as I brought it along for entertainment on a cruise, but finished it before we got to the ship! The characters come alive with such an elaborate use of language. I enjoyed every page and can't wait for the next book!!"

The review is quite apropo because Elizabeth is a cruise aficionada. She and her husband have taken dozens of cruises all over the world, including a celebratory cruise earlier this year to launch her retirement (pun intended, of course!) You can read more about that particular cruise on her blog.

More about the book:

Evil stalks TJ McKendrick.

Three years after burying her father, TJ visits Honduras where he died. While there, she witnesses a murder and is forced to flee.

Don Castillo dreams of power. Funnel the drugs into the States and it's his. First though, he must kill the woman who dared spy on him.

The last thing Garrett Cameron needs is another woman interrupting his life, but when the feisty vixen that put a monkey wrench in his mission two years ago shows up at his ranch running for her life -- what's a man to do?

The attraction between TJ and Garrett bursts into flame in the midst of danger, a fierce desire that neither is prepared for. Her past is filled with betrayal. He's lived a life of violence, and love isn't for someone like him. Do they dare let go of past hurts and embrace a future together?

Only faith in God and trust in each other can overcome the deadly odds they face.


Join more of the Five Golden Days of Christmas here:

PNP: Rare Rabbits in Bolivia - Today's FREE KINDLE book!
WIP: Just Don’t Take Her Chocolate! - There's a Giveaway!
Fay Lamb: On the Ledge: Is that All?


And be sure to mark your calendar! We're having a Facebook Party on Friday, December 5, and you're invited! We're giving away books, jewelry, Christmas ornaments, a Nativity, gift cards, and more! 




Friday, November 14, 2014

Changing Focus

Have you ever been so focused, so intent on doing one thing that you lose sight of everything else? So focused on that one thing that every conversation, every thought, every word that comes out of your mouth ends up pointing back to that one focus, whether you want it to or not?

I’ve been that way for the past three weeks. We’re struggling with a particular issue, and because I’m so focused on trying to deal with it, my thoughts and my words – and even my sleep – are consumed by it.

I know it’s not healthy. I know it’s not right. I know. I know. I know.

Yet, I can’t seem to stop, because the issue isn’t yet resolved.

Am I the only one with this problem? Of course not. But at times, it sure seems like I am. It’s those times when I want to stand up, pitch a temper tantrum, and shout the roof off, “Somebody, please HELP make this problem go away!”

This tunnel vision makes me do stupid things – say things or write things that I second-guess myself on later. For example, I wrote something to a group earlier this week, and have beat myself up over it ever since, feeling a silent judgment of my post. No one said anything – I just feel the condemnation coming through cyberspace. (See, my so-focused-brain isn’t even rational at times!) I’ve pondered whether the Holy Spirit is convicting me of saying something wrong and yet tried to justify it, by arguing that I was just stating the truth. Yes, I was truthful. But I probably shouldn’t have written what I did because my focus was too tight.  Too focused inward. Too focused personally. And yet, even as I write that, I question myself. “If I’m not focused on this problem, how else will it get resolved?”

I’m still a work in progress. God’s not finished with me yet.

This tunnel vision also hinders my work. It causes me to be overwhelmed with the problem, which keeps me from moving forward, onto other things. Instead, I dwell in the problem, wrestling round and round with it – not resolving it, but not accomplishing anything else either.

Now I’m behind, and that creates its own set of problems.

Today, I must change focus. I must drag myself out of this week’s quicksand and stand on Solid Rock. I do that by changing my focus from my problems to God’s Word, which tells me He’s bigger than my problems.

Jeremiah 32:27 says, “Look, I am Yahweh, the God of all flesh. Is anything too difficult for Me?”


Have you ever struggled with something like this? 
Are you going through it now? May I pray for you?

Friday, September 26, 2014

Two Weeks of Leading Men

Leading men make me sigh. One of those happy sighs, of course. The past two weeks have been filled with some incredible leading men, and an actress who puzzles me.

Gran Torino
2008
Directed by Clint Eastwood
Screenplay by Nick Schenk
Starring Clint Eastwood, Bee Vang, Christopher Carley 

Gran Torino is our critical essay this week. I did some preliminary research, but another assignment due at midnight last night pulled me away. Interestingly, in my initial search, there weren't many articles about the movie, so I'm curious to start the hunt again.



North by Northwest
1959
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Written By Ernest Lehman
Starring Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint, James Mason

This may be one of my favorite Hitchcock films, full of adventure and suspense, with a few turns I didn't see coming. I may have enjoyed this one more because I had no reservations about watching this one, after watching some of his others. 



12 Angry Men
1957
Directed by Sidney Lumet
Story and Screenplay written by Reginald Rose
Starring Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb, Martin Balsam

This one reminded me a lot of Runaway Jury with John Cusack, but without the outside influences or suspense. It still had tension, just not as much as Runaway Jury.



A Bronx Tale
1993
Directed by Robert De Niro (his debut)
Written by Chazz Palminteri
Starring Robert De Niro, Chazz Palminteri, Lillo Brancato, Francis Capra

We watched this movie not as an assignment but because I became a Francis Capra fan while watching Veronica Mars, and he didn't disappoint. The narrator sounds like Capra's voice as an adult, but he was only a child then, so it must be Brancato - but their accents and voices are almost identical. (I'm really an odd duck - I recognize voices almost instantly - and this one threw me.) 

One bit of trivia about this movie really emphasizes the need for research. In IMDb's list of "goofs" for this movie, they write, "It's supposed to be 1960 but the parking meters on the street where 'C' lives are the new kind with the slits for coins rather than the slots. These parking meters did not exist until 1973." This particular goof was production's fault, but the need for research applies to writers as well - when we don't research our topics, our credibility pays the price.

We're working on a spec TV script now in one of my classes. The beat sheet was due last night, and I struggled all week with it. My spec script is for an episode of Blue Bloods (season premiere tonight - YAY!) and the murder victim had a career I knew nothing about. So I had to research it to make his murder plausible. 

Tim and I continue to binge on various TV shows, studying different aspects. We're just finishing up (2 more episodes) the first season of Cedar Cove starring Andie MacDowell. The show's premise is interesting, and some of the actors are really great (Dylan Neal, Sarah Smyth, Teryl Rothery) but Andie MacDowell's performance leaves a lot to be desired, so much so, I've asked myself numerous times how she got to be such a big star. I'm not trying to be harsh - I'm truly curious. The script of Cedar Cove sometimes fails miserably, too. I haven't read the books by Debbie Macomber that the series is based on, so I don't know if the problems are from the original story or the screenplay, but it's one of those shows that doesn't live up to its potential. 


My older son alerted me to a new series starting this week, and we loved the pilot episode. Even if you're not a Batman fan, you may want to check out Gotham.

Gotham
2014
Directed by Danny Cannon, T.J. Scott, Dermott Downs
Written by Bruno Heller and a host of others
Starring Ben McKenzie, Donal Logue, Sean Pertwee, David Mazouz

More leading men worth a few sighs.


Who's your favorite leading man? (Besides your significant other...)