Friday, February 27, 2009

an interview with Nancy Famolari, author of Summer's Story

Why did you write this book?

I wrote Summer's Story because of my experiences in breeding, racing and training Standardbreds. I thought the harness racing world was inherently romantic. I also love the horses. I wanted to show that while there are some people who take advantage of these marvelous horses, there are others who sincerely love them and will go the extra mile to take care of them.

What's your favorite part of the book and why?

My favorite part of the book is the ending. I wanted Summer to grow up and have to decide that she couldn't become someone's caretaker. She took responsibility for her father and she was starting to do the same thing for Davis. I wanted her to become her own person, and I think she did. In the beginning she had what you could classify as a co-dependent personality. I wanted to see her change. It's difficult to give up the protection of caring for someone else and excusing their faults. Growing up means you have to take chances on your own and be responsible for your decisions.

What was hardest to write?

The hardest part of Summer's Story was the ending. I wanted Summer to grow and realize that she wasn't supposed to take on the responsibility for someone else's life. I also had the problem of deciding who she would end up with, Ned, Davis, or possibly on her own. I rewrote the ending twice to try to get it right. In the process, I came to know a great deal more about Summer's personality and what was driving her.

What do you hope readers will get from your book?

I hope the readers realize how wonderful horses are, and what dedication it takes to bring one to it's athletic potential. I also wanted to show a character, Summer, growing up and learning to accept responsibility for her actions, but not having to take on the responsibility for other's problems. I hope readers see that it's all right to be yourself and not feel that you're responsible for other people's problems.

What's next for you?

My next book, Murder in Montbleu will be available from Red Rose Publishing in 2009. This is a mystery set in a small town. I've written three other books also set in Montbleu, and I'm in the process of editing them. I find that writing about a small town, like the one I live in, is very satisfying. It let's me explore the people and situations I find here. Of course, the murders are more extreme that what actually happens. We're a pretty peaceful town.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Summer's Story by Nancy Famolari

Summer's father, a famous racehorse trainer, is dead; his only asset, a fabulous trotter. Two men offer help to get the horse to the races. Summer refuses Ned, owner of Golden Oaks, blaming him for her father's death. Davis, a famous racehorse driver, wins her heart, but deserts her after she suffers a serious accident on the track. Behind the scenes, Max, a wealthy owner, will do anything to get the horse for his stable. Can Summer get her trotter to the winner's circle and most important will she find love?



Chapter One

“If you think I'll stay in your house after you killed my father, Ned Granger, You're crazy.” Summer Langston folded her arms across her chest and glared.

“I think that's a bit of an overstatement.” Ned shoved his hands into this jeans pockets and rocked back on the heels of his English leather boots.

“Well, I don't. When you told him he couldn't work with the yearlings anymore, it broke his heart. You might as well have shot him.”

“I'm sorry, Summer.”

For a long moment the house was so still the ticking of the kitchen clock sounded like a blacksmith's hammer striking a metal shoe. Summer couldn't believe that things had gone so wrong. The move to Golden Oaks had seemed like the answer to a prayer. A wonderful old house to live in, top ranked yearlings to train, and a chance to try the breeding experiments Sam had always dreamed of doing.

Ned broke the silence. “I know you blame me, but frankly, Sam's drinking was way out of control. I had to do what I thought was right for the farm. I hoped he'd take it as a sign and get some help.”

“He could have gotten treatment and stayed on. He loved those horse. They were his whole life.” Summer wanted to grab the tall man in front of her, flail her fists at his broad chest until he felt the same pain she did.

“Be fair, Summer. Candyman coliced and nearly died when he got into the grain bin. Sam left the stall door open. I couldn't put any more horses at risk.”

“Maybe Sam didn't leave the door open. Maybe – maybe Candyman got it open.”

“Summer face facts, your father may have been the best Standardbred trainer I ever worked with, but he was an alcoholic. He was drunk most of the time this fall. You should know. You were running the stable.”

Summer stared at the green fields beyond the farmhouse window dotted with prize winning Standardbred horse. Ned worked hard to make his farm one of the best. She didn't want to believe that her father had decided to drink himself to death and put the reputation of the farm at risk. Someone else had to be responsible. Ned was responsible. She was responsible. They could have done more. She felt tears welling up behind her eyes.

Ned stepped closer. “I didn't ask him to leave. I did make it clear that he couldn't work with the horses until he got into a treatment program.” He lifted his arms as though he might try to comfort her. “I thought you knew.”

Summer moved so that the oak table separated them. She couldn't bear to have Ned touch her. He'd let Sam down; he'd let her down. “You could have tried harder.”

“I'm sorry you feel that way, Summer. I did the best I could.” Ned reached for the white stetson he'd tossed on the table.

Outside an engine roared, a door slammed and a heavy tromp of boots crossed the wooden porch. The old oak door swung wide and a tall, broad shouldered man with curly dark brown hair strode into the room. “Thought I might find you here.”

Summer fought down the fission of excitement that Davis always generated in her. “Where else would I be? I live here.” Sadly she let her eyes drift around the familiar room. “At least I live here for the moment.”

“That's good enough.” The dark man crossed floor in two steps and put his arms around the slight figure. “I came as soon as I heard.”

Against her better judgment, Summer relaxed into his embrace. It felt good to have someone hold her. “I'm glad you came.”

“I know it hurts. I loved the old guy too.”

They stood silently for a moment. Then Davis released her and said, “So what got your temper up? I could hear you yelling all the way across the yard.”

“You couldn't possibly have heard. You just got here.”

Davis grinned. “That's better. Well, maybe I only heard you from the porch, but when I see those red cheeks, I know someone's gettin' cussed.”

Summer stamped her foot. “I wasn't cussing.”

Davis looked at Ned standing stiffly beside the table. “That right?”

“I wouldn't call it cussing exactly.”

Summer opened her mouth, but Davis beat her to it. “All right, Irish. Just tell me what's going on.”

Ned said, “I was offering my sympathy and telling her she didn't have to rush to move.” His brilliant blue gaze rested on Summer. “I'd be happy to help any way I can. I – I'd like to make it up to you in some way.”

Davis put a protective arm around her shoulders. “I think Summer's got friends who can take care of her.”

“I'm sure she does. Are you planning to have her move in with you?”

“If she wants to.”

Summer shook off the heavy arm. “I'm not moving in with anyone. I'll find my own place.”

Order e-book from Red Rose Publishing.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Review of Plastic Jesus by Eric Sandras

(Note: Over the next month, I'm going to catch up on all the books I promised to review. It's been an insane six months, but there's no end in sight. My apologies for the wait.)

In this easy-to-read book, Pastor Eric Sandras gives friendly advice on how to deepen your spiritual relationship with Jesus. He likens most people's Christian Faith as a suburban faith, full of shallow problems and concern about appearances over substance. He shares personal experiences in his own spiritual journey as well as analogies and questions to consider to help the reader examine their own faith life.

I accepted the opportunity to review the book because it sounded like a unique way to do some personal spiritual work. Unfortunately, I think I'm not really his target audience. I found the approach patronizing at times and not really applicable to me. I was very turned off by phrases like "I was reminded of this the other day as I was dunkin' biscotti in a dark roast with a seeker dude" or comparing our relationship to God to clean upholstery: "God doesn't want to cover ups the smell of sins in our life (like the fancy air freshener I hang in my car to cover the smell of last week's spilled latte). He wants to tear up the fabric of our life and make it new, stain-resistant and inviting enough for others to walk on."

Having said that, I think that there are a lot of people who will respond to his "buddies chatting over lattes at Starbucks" approach. Such readers find some pearls of wisdom--like in the chapter on finding God's purpose for you by listening to His direction and not the "ought-to"s in life, by praying and listening, and by finding a mentor. Or believing the God loves you because you are His, not because of the things you do, because with that security comes courage to do great things for God. Some of his examples are spot-on, like the mother who was neglecting her role as mother in order to fulfill what she thought she had to do as a "good Christian." He also includes questions at the end of many sections in order to help you explore the lessons further and apply them to your life.

This is a good starter book for those who do feel trapped in a hollow, "plastic Jesus" kind of worship.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

You Can Lead an Atheist to Evidence by Ray Comfort’

By way of a lively Q&A format, Ray Comfort’s “You Can Lead an Atheist to Evidence” gives empirical evidence for the existence of God. Not only that, the existence of God can be proven and that anyone can do it!

Read an Excerpt:


To be an atheist is to play Russian roulette with all barrels loaded.
An atheist can’t win. Of course, he feels and acts like a big player, until the trigger is pulled.

The issue isn’t the existence of God. If the atheist is wrong and there is a Creator, then he was wrong. He gambled and he lost. No big deal. The real gamble is that there’s no hell. That’s what makes the player sweat just a little. “What if?” is the deep and nagging doubt. He believes it’s worth the excitement of the game. Yet atheism isn’t a mind game; it is intellectual suicide.

We know that there are six bullets that aim right into the
brain of humanity:

1. Creation. Could you believe that the book you are holding came into being without an author? There was nothing. No paper, no ink. No cardboard. No editor. No author. There was nothing, and then a Big Bang changed everything. Time (the magic ingredient) produced a book with a cover, binding, coherent words, page numbers, and chapters, all in perfect order. Such thoughts are truly insane. You cannot have order without intelligence creating order. And there cannot be an ordered creation without an intelligent Creator.

2. The God-given conscience. All sane people have a conscience. It comes with the package. It is an inbuilt judge in the courtroom of the mind. It makes moral judgments, even when its voice is not wanted, and its voice only addresses that which is moral. It doesn’t speak when my tie doesn’t match my shirt. But it does speak when I steal a tie from a store. Why is that? Where did the conscience come from? Why do all civilizations have the knowledge that it’s wrong to lie, kill, steal, etc.? Our social surroundings may shape the conscience, but they don’t create it. It is the inner light that God has given to every one of us, and it leaves us without excuse for our sin.

3. The unchanging testimony of Holy Scripture. Do what they will to the testimony of Scripture—paint it as an ancient and archaic book, say it is full of mistakes, that it has been changed down through the ages, that it says that the earth is flat—but it remains the unchanging Word of the Living God. It is His Book, and it is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. Refuse its wisdom, and you walk in darkness at your own peril.

4. The true and faithful testimony of the genuine Christian. These are not people who believe in God. Rather, they are sinners who have come to know Him. The Christian is called to testify as a witness to the truth. As in a court of law, the judge doesn’t want poetic or flowery speech. He simply wants to hear what the witness has seen and heard. It is then up to the jury to believe or not believe his testimony. The atheist chooses not to believe the testimony of the Christian, and in doing so, accuses him of bearing false witness. But why would a Christian lie? Why would he want to be found a liar, when the Book in which he sincerely believes warns that all liars will be cast into the lake of fire?

5. The witness of Jesus Christ. The True and Faithful Witness, before Whom every knee shall bow. The challenge to any atheist is to read the testimony of Scripture. Any honest skeptic will have no choice but to come to the conclusion that “never a man spoke like this Man.” He claimed to be God in human form. He claimed to have the power to raise all of humanity at the resurrection of the dead, with His lone voice. He claimed to be pre-existent, and that He came down to this earth to do the will of God. To make such claims, He could only have been a simpleton (that doesn’t match His matchless words), a liar (that doesn’t match His impeccable moral teaching), insane (then billions down through the ages have followed the teachings of a madman), or He was who He said He was.

6. The Spirit of Almighty God watches every thought and every deed and will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether it is good or evil. No one will get away with a thing. No murderer will go unpunished. No rapist will get away with rape. Perfect justice will be done. But the justice of Almighty God is so thorough He will see to it that thieves, liars, fornicators, blasphemers, adulterers, and all who have transgressed the moral Law (the Ten Commandments) will get equity—that which is due to them.

Death is the trigger that will send eternal justice like a speeding bullet into the heart of the sinner. It will end the game of life in a heartbeat, and no second chance will come. So, if you are an atheist, let me reason with you. You cannot win. Think about your life. Think about eternity, while you still have time.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Cross and the Water Tower by Patrick Mangan

The Cross and the Water Tower, A Christmas Story was written and illustrated by a group of talented teenage cousins. The story is inspired by a true story.
In 1989, the American Atheists threatened to sue a small Midwestern town to force the removal of the villagers’ crosses from their water towers. The town complied to avoid a costly legal battle. But the story did not end there. The residents then erected crosses everywhere in the town, on homes, businesses, cars, fences, barns - everywhere.

The town’s reaction is the inspiration to this fictional story. This story is not only very entertaining, but has, of course, a very timely theme.

This is a beautiful children’s story done by young people and very well llustrated. Any Catholic family should be happy to have this among their children’s book. I enthusiastically endorse The Cross and the Water Tower.
-Fr. Benedict J. Groeschel, CFR Author

Monday, February 16, 2009

CSFF Presents: Cyndere's Midnight by Jeffrey Overstreet

“Cyndere walked down to the water to make her daily decision — whether to turn and go back into House Bel Amica, or to climb old Stairway Rock and throw herself into the sea…”

In Cyndere’s Midnight, the power of Auralia’s colors brings together a bloodthirsty beastman and a grieving widow in a most unlikely relationship… one that not only will change their lives, but could also impact the four kingdoms of The Expanse forever.

Jordam is one of four ferocious brothers from the clan of cursed beastmen. But he is unique: The glory of Auralia’s colors has enchanted him, awakening a noble conscience that clashes with his vicious appetites.

Cyndere, heiress to a great ruling house, and her husband Deuneroi share a dream of helping the beastmen. But when Deuneroi is killed by the very people he sought to help, Cyndere risks her life and reputation to reach out to Jordam. Beside a mysterious well–an apparent source of Auralia’s colors–a beauty and a beast form a cautious bond. Will Jordam be overcome by the dark impulse of his curse, or stand against his brothers to defend House Abascar’s survivors from a deadly assault?

Critics hailed Jeffrey Overstreet’s first fantasy novel, Auralia’s Colors, as “exceptionally well crafted,” “beautiful,” and “masterfully told.” Now he continues weaving this fantastic tapestry with an enchanting fairy tale for ambitious imaginations of all ages.

Learn More about Jeffrey Overstreet
Jeffrey Overstreet’s Web site -
Jeffrey Overstreet’s blog -
Jeffrey Overstreet at Facebook -

*Participants’ Links:

Brandon Barr
Keanan Brand
Rachel Briard
Melissa Carswell
Valerie Comer
Amy Cruson
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Shane Deal
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Karina Fabian
Andrea Graham
Todd Michael Greene
Katie Hart
Timothy Hicks
Jason Isbell
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Eve Nielsen
Wade Ogletree
John W. Otte
John Ottinger
Steve Rice
Crista Richey
Alice M. Roelke
Chawna Schroeder
James Somers
Rachel Starr Thomson
Robert Treskillard
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Fred Warren
Jill Williamson

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Savvy by Ingrid Law

Savvy tells the story of Mibs Beaumont, who is about to become a teenager. If that prospect weren't scary enough, in the Beaumont family the day you turn 13 is the day when you get a special power – your savvy. For example, Mibs has older brothers who can cause hurricanes and another who creates electricity.

But before her big day, Mibs’s dad is in a terrible accident. Will Mibs's new savvy be able to save her dad? Mibs undertakes an extraordinary adventure across America in order to save her dad – and, in the process, she learns a lot about herself and how best to use her special new power.

About Ingrid Law, in her own words:

"Perhaps it was the Lake Champlain monster that started it all. Born in Northern New York in 1970, my first home was a stone's throw from the waters of Lake Champlain and its legendary prehistoric sea monster. From the very start, life was steeped in the lure of the fantastic, of tall tales and big ideas.

When I turned six, my family moved to Colorado, where my father taught in a one-room school house in the tiny mountain town of Gold Hill. In Gold Hill, and places like it, I discovered that small things and small places can be just as interesting and extraordinary as big noisy ones, and even now, I'm drawn to tiny towns and quiet places possessing their own charm and quirky character.

Today, I still live in Colorado, close to family, friends, and the mountains, all of which help keep me from getting lost. I am the mother of an intense and imaginative 13-year-old daughter, and she and I hide away in a lovely old mobile home, with rickety floors, that we like to believe is a cross between a spaceship and a shoe box. We enjoy writing on the walls, painting on the ceiling, and creating all kinds of stories."

Monday, February 09, 2009

Drumwall by Lynden Rodriguez

The mining colony at Drumwall Fortress on the planet of Cumaro was the ideal assignment: pristine, wild, and beautiful; with but one deadly flaw; Lord Banyon, the local tribal chieftain of the Mautlaut.

Two years prior to Father Andrew's arrival, his predecessor, Father Menlo, disappeared under mysterious circumstances. But now, a Mautlaut runner has brought a message from Lord Banyon - written in faultless English. Could Father Menlo still be alive?

But as Father Andrew begins to solve the baffling disappearance of his predecessor, he is haunted by yet another personal mystery. In discovering an ancient Cumaron text in a long forgotten library at Drumwall, Father Andrew begins experiencing visions. Are these visions of God, or are they a split from reality and a further spiraling downward into madness?

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

In Memoriam, Michael Dubruiel

Yesterday, Feb 4, the Catholic writing community was shocked and saddened by the sudden death of writer Michael Dubruiel.

Michael was a devout Catholic, who wrote many wonderful books to help people understand our faith and the Mass. He is survived by his wife, Amy Wellborn, and their five children, some of whom are still very young.

The family has asked that if anyone would like to help, they consider purchasing one of Michael's books. The money is for the kids' college funds, I'm told. The Catholic Writers Conference Online has set up a special page of his books. Please check them out. Or you can go to his website and purchase them there.

Please pray for them as well.

Monday, February 02, 2009

CFRB Presents: Vengeance by Donna Dawson

About the Book:
FBI agent James Benedict thought he was going on vacation. He thought he would have two weeks of relaxation and rest aboard the cruise ship bound for Hawaii. But he was wrong. Within hours of setting sail, a passenger dies, covered in horrendous boils that have eaten deep into flesh and bone. When more and more of the ship's inhabitants die of the same strange condition, it is feared that a virus has been let loose. James is the only one who can find out if there is a connection between the select victims--if he doesn't fall prey to the illness himself.

Dr. Julie Holding struggles to focus on her own FBI appointed tasks while the man she loves is stuck in the Pacific aboard a floating time bomb. Little does she know that she too will become embroiled in the conspiracy and intrigue that has taken hold of the ship and its passengers.
Vengeance will keep you on the edge of your seat as you discover the atrocities hidden in the pages of history and the struggle to keep faith and focus in a crazy world.

About the Author:
Donna Fawcett grew up in a military home near London, Ontario and flavours her writing with her faith in the diverse genres she explores. She began by writing articles for APHA's The Journal, Angels on Earth, 3.1.6. A Journal for Christian Thinking, Beyond Ordinary Living and other magazines. Moving beyond freelance work, Donna writes columns for OFTP's Home Rules, Homeschool Horizons, and The St Marys Journal Argus.

Her first book Thriving in the Home School by Word Alive Press has become a sought after guide for those seeking to teach their children at home. Moving from non-fiction, Donna released a thriller novel, under the pen name of Donna Dawson, called Redeemed--a story of a young teen surviving on the streets of Toronto while struggling with the battle of spiritual warfare. Taking advantage of her military upbringing, Donna's next novel The Adam & Eve Project was placed number eight on the top ten author list for Word Alive Press. Her recent release, Vengeance, has created a stir among reviewers who remark that her writing can be compared to that of Frank Peretti and Robert Ludlum.

Donna shares her love of literacy in high school and elemenary school English classes. With her energetic interactive, she works with students to build a basic book outline. Her method of teaching and her book reading brings life into writing for students who struggle to enjoy the craft. Donna invites you to stop at her guestbook and say hello.

Read a free excerpt from Vengeance

Visit Donna's Website

Check out these other member blogs this week for more info.