Last Minute Gift Ideas

Need some last-minute gift ideas? Have some folks on your list who are hard to buy for? Here are a few book suggestions.

1. Underwater Dogs, a coffee table book. I gift this quite a bit. It just makes people HAPPY to look at these pics of some very motivated dogs swimming underwater. If they already have it, my pick this year is Harlow and Sage: A True Story About Best Friends. (2 dogs made famous by their Instagram.) Need more words than pics? Dogtripping by David Rosenfelt is a wonderful memoir of an author who went to crazy lengths to save some dogs.
2. Bomb: The Race to Build and Steal the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon. Nonfiction, but reads like a Clancy novel. Espionage, intrigue, and plot twists galore. Fascinating (quick) read, especially for your history enthusiasts.
3. Girls who read on a middle school level? This year I LOVED Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd and The Meaning of Maggie. Both so well written, both quirky and fun with lots of heart and “aw” moments. Both books receiving a ton of buzz.
4. Boy readers? My jr. high guys love anything by John Flanagan (Ranger’s Apprentice), the new Diary of a Wimpy Kid, all things Percy Jackson, and The Last Apprentice series.
5. Another middle grade/elementary suggestion: The Warriors series by Erin Hunter. The covers kind of make me laugh, but I can’t keep them on my shelves.
6. For fun: Nail Candy: 50 Ideas for Totally Cool Nails.
7. The chefs in your family might like the NomNom Paleo cookbook. Sometimes healthy food is difficult to prepare or gross. This collection of recipes are really great and very normal. This is my favorite cookbook right now.
8. Know someone who likes to bake? Popular books in my library are: The Big Book of Cupcakes, The Big Book of Cookies, and Cakepops by Bakerella.
8. Picture book readers: Tuesday Tucks Me In and The Day the Crayons Quit. LOVE LOVE LOVE these books.

Happy Reading!!!

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Can’t Let You Go


Hey, guys! Long time, no talk. Or write. Or book publish.
I’m very excited to tell you that Katie Parker’s story is finally here. Mostly here. Here in a lot of places.
What is Can’t Let You Go about? I’m so glad you asked.

An old love whose kisses make her weak, but whose secrets threaten to destroy all she holds dear…

Fresh out of college, Katie Parker had it all—a charming romance, a role in a famous stage production, and an idyllic life in London. Until she found her boyfriend cheating and got herself fired from the play. Leaving everything behind, Katie hops a plane home, only to run into her first love, Charlie Benson. As the couple returns to In Between, Katie questions everything she ever thought she wanted—including a renewed romance with her high school flame.

While she attempts to rebuild her life, Katie’s plan to manage the family’s theater meets a devastating obstacle, dragging her into a legal battle that will rock her small town. And the boy who once broke her heart seems to have the power to do it again. As Charlie’s secrets unravel, Katie must make a choice. Can she overcome her past and trust Charlie with her heart again?

It was a lot of fun to return to In Between and write these characters. I have missed Mad Maxine. If I could stick her in every book, I would. I’m excited about the book and very proud of the cover, created by Kelli Standish. For those of you who helped us make cover decisions on Facebook, thank you! (For those of you who don’t hang out with us on FB, where ARE YOU?)

It was also a lot of fun to write this age, something I’ve never done before. Though I’m not sure why, since I was only 23 a few years ago myself. *coughs*

I’ll talk more about the book later. I don’t want to be one of THOSE people who won’t shut up about it, won’t stop making you look at photos of cute things the book is doing, the book playing with the cats…

You can check out the book on Amazon HERE.
You can check out the book on Nook HERE.
CLYG will be at all online retailers hopefully by the end of the week, including paperback at Amazon.

I appreciate all of you. I have the best readers ever.
Have a great week!

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Stereotypically Yours

I’m spending two days at a conference for librarians. It’s interesting people watching. Any conference is.
There is a vendor fair here, and a company is selling tshirts. One of the shirts was for the librarian with a house full of cats. I did not see one shirt for the librarian who loves puppies or guinea pigs.
Is there anything more exhausting than sitting? Even when I’m interested in the material, my tush is totally bored.
Today I learned about every app and website known to man. I need an app to process all the information I took in.

What are your pet peeves at conferences or classes?
Here are my suggestions:
1. If turning down the air conditioning to -42 is the hotels way of combating global warming, I think the polar bears will forgive us if we raise the thermostat just a skootch.
2. If you’re the presenter and you speak in a monotone, you will not survive without bringing your class chocolate. The good kind. A good speaker could get away with cheap candy. You cannot. If you doubt me, check out the presenter feedback survey I turned in. Mine was the one with skulls and crossbones all over it.
3. Don’t schedule a conference in a hotel without Starbucks. I don’t even drink coffee, and I felt slighted.
4. When you say, “To be more environmentally friendly, I didn’t print out handouts,” I hear: “I’m cheap; take your own dang notes.”
5. Your sign-in sheets hurt my feelings. It’s like you don’t trust me to actually go to the class and stay. Maybe I was in the bathroom the whole 2 hours I was unaccounted for.
6. I don’t need to know where emergency exits are. I need to know where vending machines are.
7. Conference food. One time I dropped a burrito on the floor of a movie theater and ate it. The fact that I wouldn’t touch today’s lunch says something.

Care to add anything? What drives you nuts in a class or conference or even church?


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Would You Rather?

While finishing up standardized testing prep last week, I found myself overseeing a classroom of 7 eighth-grade boys. We had had 20 minutes left with nothing to do, so a game of “What If?” broke out.
Each of the boys threw out the typical questions.
“Would you rather eat worms or a live fish?”
“Would you rather have the power to fly or read minds?”
“Would you rather be a billionaire or be immortal?”
“Would you rather have a car or truck?”

One boy had been sitting on the fringes.
“Jake, what about you?” I ask. “Give us a question.”
He doesn’t hesitate. “You’re stuck on a desert island. Would you rather wipe your butt with aluminum foil or sandpaper?”
The ensuing debate rivaled Obama vs. Romney.
; )


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Nonfiction Roundup

I’ve been on a nonfiction kick in the last year. I read a lot of health books. I’m currently reading one called The Virgin Diet, which is not about throwing young maidens into a volcano. (Seriously, worst title ever, marketing folks. I keep the cover face down, I don’t tell people about it. All because I don’t want to explain the name. Though it’s a good health/diet book. Virgin is the author’s last name, God bless her.)  I really like the book, which is very similar to Paleo or Primal diets. Very easy read. But I’m a health book junkie. I like to read them while eating Cheetos.

I’ve read a handful of inspy nonfiction lately. I was really surprised at my favorite.

I enjoyed Steven Furtick’s Greater. I didn’t love it like I did his debut book, Sun Stand Still. He has a passion for people living big dreams, and I appreciate that. Furtick touches on things like hearing God’s voice, getting in the word, taking chances, and basically getting out of the boat. He talks about how Satan loves to remind us of what we don’t have to begin the goal/dream–like talent, money, age, resources. Loved the point that in the Bible so many didn’t get what they needed to move their mountains until they actually began the process. They just began on faith. I underlined some “keeper” lines. Do you guys highlight or underline? I’ve found I have to have a physical book if it’s nonfiction. If it’s Kindle, I’ll just end up ordering the physical book as well so I can mark all over it.  The book would make a great grad gift. It has quite a bit of repetition and filler, but still it was worth the read.

Women’s ministry is a weird thing right now, isn’t it? There is a big trend in pretty and fluff, and I dunno. Blogging is really shaping who we’re seeing at the pulpit for the gals. I like the hard hitters from women who’ve been in the trenches.  Christine Caine is one of my newer favorite women’s speakers. She’s a total fire ball. I don’t get the feeling she spent too much time agonizing over the matching of her scarf to her boots. She’s a very enthusiastic speaker and really encouraging and inspiring. She comes from a past of abuse and now dedicates her life to saving girls/women in prostitution and sex trafficking. Her book Undaunted touches on that. The book wasn’t quite what I thought it would be. It’s less an inspy living book and more of a book in three parts–part biography, part teaching, part trafficking education. That’s a lot going on in a book, but she has good things to say. I think mostly I like to hear her. She gets fired up when she speaks, and she’s funny. If you go to iTunes, you can find her in some free podcasts. I’ve heard her podcasts from Elevation Church, as well as National Community Church out of D.C. Definitely worth the search.

I read Soul Detox from Craig Groeschel. I like him a lot. This is an easy read and Groeschel (or someone) has a nice, conversational writing style. Basically he lines up a handful of categories in which we could be screwing up–finances, entertainment choices (I skipped this chapter) (kidding), family time, etc. The book doesn’t really present any new information, but more like it’s someone sitting down and saying, “Hey, take a look at all the ways junk could be getting into your life. Do any of these sound familiar?” I have no junk in my life, so I had to pass it on to others. ; )

Finally, I read a book by an author I typically stay away from. But I cannot say enough good things about I Declare by Joel Osteen. While I admire Osteen’s positivity, his hair makes me covet, and mostly he’s not my pastoral preference. And yet, this book rocks on every level. DEFINITELY a great gift book. It’s based on the idea that negative thoughts and words equals an underperforming life. “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.”  So this book is kind of a devotional, with 31 short chapters, and every chapter being a new idea to ponder, with a declaration to say out loud or think on. This is one of those books I got as a download and after reading a few chapters had to order the physical book. I loved this book so much. Please get it. I type out his declarations and put them on my bathroom mirror. I obnoxiously text the declarations to friends. As a side note, you can still catch Osteen discussing the book and his mode of operation on the OWN Network on Sundays here lately. I think he’s on March 31st.

What have you read lately? Doesn’t have to be inspy. I could tell you about the biography I read on Janice Joplin that I was going to put in our jr. high library until I turned a page and met Janice’s boobs…

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