Friday Favorite – Jenness Walker and GIVEAWAY

Hey guys! I’m so excited to introduce you to another author friend of mine, Jenness Walker. I had the pleasure of meeting Jenness at the ACFW conference in September, and she’s fantastic. Oh, and she’s an amazing writer, too. So I couldn’t wait to tell you about her new book Double Take, just out.

First tell us a little bit about your new book Double Take.
Double Take begins with Cole, the hero, reading a best-selling thriller where the villain plays a double-take1deadly game of cat-and-mouse with the heroine. When the first scene from the book is replicated in real life in front of Cole and a woman is kidnapped, Cole believes he holds the clue to her survival in his hands. But will anyone listen to him? Or will he be too late to save her? The story is set mostly in Atlanta and includes some of the scenes from the thriller.

Where were you/what were you doing when you got the call that Steeple Hill wanted a contract on this book?
Um…I was in the shower, actually. 🙂 I got a message to call my agent back ASAP, and I had a pretty good idea what it was about. But since I didn’t know how I would react if it was really THE CALL, I figured I should get completely ready for the day before I talked to her. Just to play it safe. 🙂

What’s your worst habit when it comes to writing?
Becoming distracted so easily. Email, house projects, new story ideas, spider solitaire (which has been banished from my computer before and is about to be once again!), etc. One of these days I’ll figure out how to stop procrastinating. 🙂

Now let’s have a little fun. It’s Girls Night Out, and you’re next in line at karaoke. What’re you going to sing?
First of all, this is fantasy, right here, because I am so not a solo kind of girl. 🙂 But…for some reason Unbreak My Heart is the first song that popped into my head–a favorite from my melodramatic high school days. 🙂

If you could “borrow” one character from a movie, TV show, or another book for your current WIP, who would it be? Why?
jenness-walker1I’d say Adrian Monk, but I don’t think I’d have the patience to put up with him as one of my characters. lol. So I’m thinking Morgan from Kristen Heitzmann’s A Rush of Wings. He’s a secondary character in this book, not yet attached, with a past that’s left him wounded and somewhat mysterious. I love writing/reading about heroes like that.

If you had a Saturday all to your self-no deadlines, no commitments-what’s the first thing you’d do?
Right now I could use some extra sleep and a relaxing day. So I’d say change into fresh pajamas and read a book while I eat an Entenmann’s devil’s food doughnut for breakfast.

Any parting words?
Read Liz’s book! It’s a lot of fun. 🙂

I swear, I didn’t pay her to say that!

 Want to learn more about Jenness? Visit her online at www.jennesswalker.com.

And … because Jenness is AWESOME … I have a signed copy of Double Take to give away. Just for you! Or you! Or any of you. So if you want to win, leave a comment with the last thing you saw that made you do a double take. I’ll pick one winner at random next Friday, so leave a comment and get a chance to win. And if you don’t win, be sure to pick up a copy at Walmart, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Borders, or any other book store.

Teaser Tuesday – Double Take

teaser_tuesdays1MizB of Should Be Reading hosts the Teaser Tuesdays weekly event

Here are the rules:
* Grab your current read
* Let the book fall open to a random page
* Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12
*You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!
* Please avoid spoilers!

This week’s teaser is:
“Kenzie held her breath, fighting the urge to run. No one would hurt her here. The kidnappers had made their escape. That’s all they’d wanted, right?”
pg. 42 – Double Take by Jenness Walker

– Just picked this fun little read up at Walmart for $3.50. You can’t beat that. Seriously! Plus Jenness is a really wonderful writer and a new friend of mine. I’m thrilled to read her book. And you’ll be hearing more from her later this week. So swing back by for my interview with her on Friday.

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My muse is annoying

A couple of weeks ago, my friend, fellow writer, and roommate at ACFW, Valerie Comer invited me to be  a guest on her blog. She said she’d like to review The Kidnapping of Kenzie Thorn–which she kindly did here. And then she said she’d like me to write 500-800 words on this prompt: Writing with my Muse.

Truth be told, I’d never really thought too much about my muse. I wouldn’t say my muse is a person or thing, really. It’s just my imagination, and I think it’s important to stretch and grow it all the time. Otherwise, my stories become mundane and much less fun.

I agreed to write the short guest blog post, and decided it was as good a time as any to have a little fun with it. So here’s the first few lines of my story:

My muse* is a pest—an incredibly annoying pain in the butt. She comes knocking on my door at the worst possible times. There I am snug as bug in bed, covers up to my chin, lights off, and sleep nearly reached. 

“Hey! Hey, Liz! Wake up! I have an idea.”

I open one eye and look around my bedroom. Same as always. She’s shy and doesn’t want to make an appearance, but she has no trouble pulling me from my extremely comfy situation because she has “an idea.” 

“What if it’s a bad one?” I ask.

Read the rest of the story here. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did writing it.

Stretching my silly imagination until next time. -LJ

Friday Favorite – Band of Brothers

band-of-brothers-1If you’ve seen my twitter updates, you won’t be surprised by this weeks Friday Favorite. I’ve spent the better part of every evening the last week or so watching the HBO miniseries Band of Brothers, which I borrowed from the library with the specific intent of watching it with my friends Jess Barnes and Jess Lacy. But Lacy’s grad school and Barnes’s family commitments kept us from actually getting to watch it together. So I had a decision to make: return it to the library and wait another 4-6 months to get to check it out again or watch it on my own?

Since both Lacy and Barnes had already seen it, I figured I’d make a go of it. And if I didn’t like it, I’d just take it back to the library. No problem, right? 

But just the idea of not liking it? Ha! What a laugh. How could you not LOVE the 10-episodes about Easy Company? I certainly can’t. But let me back up here a little bit for those of you unfamiliar with it.

Back in 2001 a little miniseries aired on HBO called Band of Brothers. Based on the book of the same name by Stephen E. Ambrose and helmed by none other than Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks as executive producers, this epic takes us on the journey of Easy Company, 506th Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division, U.S. Army from training to D-Day to the Battle of the Bulge to Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest. This elite company of paratroopers were the first in military history to jump from airplanes behind enemy lines. They sustained a 150 percent casualty rate and now, all of them over the age of 80, their heroism is glimmered in this amazing story.

I love so much of this series. I don’t even know where to begin. So perhaps I’ll start with the disclaimer. That is that Band of Brothers is not for children or adults with sensetive stomachs. The battles are bloody, the language often foul, and themes heart-wrenching. And you’ll walk away from it with a new respect for the men who fought in WWII.

I want to continue, gushing about this fabulous miniseries, and yet I’m afraid that my words can’t do it justice. How can I possibly put into the words the emotion that choked me up with each interview of the real survivors of Easy Company that begin each episode? How can I begin to express the respect that I’ve gained for these men by watching their stories?

Maybe I can start with a quick sum up: Everything I ever needed to band-of-brothers-6learn about leadership, I learned from Dick Winters. Lt. Dick Winters (played by Damian Lewis, who I already loved as Charlie Crews in Life)(Seriosly I just spent 20 minutes going through my blog archives looking for a Friday Favorite about Life, but apparently I haven’t done one yet. That will be remedied.) is the man that all the others in Easy Company look up to. He’s the one that goes on training runs up the mountain with his men, even though he’s been assigned to an easier task for the moment. He’s the one who builds up the men, and as he’s swiftly promoted through the course of the war, he continues to be a leader with integrity and bravery. He leads his men into battle, never asking them to do anything he wouldn’t do. He’s fierce and kind, strong and compassionate. He never took leave, and wouldn’t stray from the side of his men. As he was promoted, I could tell that his heart broke as he moved further away from the men of Easy. If I could work for anyone, I’d want to work for him.

And then there’s Lewis Nixon (played by Ron Livingston of Office Space fame), Winters’ best friend and the intelligence officer of Easy. For all of Winters’ morals, Nixon struggles with the opposite, seeking peace in the bottom of a bottle. He doesn’t find it there, but his friendship with Winters is an amazing thing to behold.

band-of-brothers-5Each episode is told through the eyes of one of the men of Easy. One focusing on the replacements, one on the senior noncom (noncommissioned officer), one on one of the original soldiers who was injured and away from the company for 4 months. One of my favorites was from the medics perspective. My heart broke as we watched him try to save men and lose them. And it soared when he tried to save them and succeeded. Mostly I loved watching him run from fox hole to fox hole looking for supplies for the men, putting himself in danger every moment so that he’d be ready when they needed him.

One really shocking moment for me was in the 9th episode. By this time the German army had surrendered, and Easy men were out on practice patrol. They stumbled on something they didn’t understand. Something they’d never seen before. One of them runs back to camp to find Winters, who brings translators. They’ve discovered a consentration camp, abandoned by the Germans, but still full of prisoners. But they didn’t even know what it was. They didn’t know why the men inside had been locked up, starved, and many killed. It broke my heart when the men of Easy realized that they’d been locked up and treated worse than animals because they were Jews. I just couldn’t imagine that they’d been fighting for nearly 2 years, and they didn’t have any idea what Hitler had been up to.

This undertaking was enormous, and the number of actors and extras extraordinary. I can’t count the number of times I realized I was watching an actor I recognized. From David Schwimmer of Friends fame to James McAvoy to Donnie Wahlberg to Neal McDonough to Jimmy Fallon. band-of-brothers-2They all played a role, some big. Others small. But it seemed every episode I was saying, Hey! I know that guy from something.

On top of this amazing story, told incredibly well, the DVD set includes really interesting special features. There’s a video diary from Ron Livingston showing the actors boot camp, more detailed interviews with Easy Company veterans, a making of featurette, interactive field guides, and much more. Kuddos to Hanks and Spielberg for equipping their audience to really begin to understand what Easy Company meant to the war and the world.  

As I mentioned before, each episode began with interviews from the survivors of Easy. But they weren’t identified until the end of the last episode. How incredible to get to see the men who actors were portraying. Of course when they were interview in the late ’90s, these men were in their 60s and 70s, but to hear them talk about their experiences is incredibly moving. It still brings them to tears. And it brought me to tears too. One of the men said at the end of the interviews that he’d received a letter from one of the other men in Easy. In the letter he wrote that his grandson had asked if he was a hero in the war. He replied, “No. But I fought in a company of heroes.”

Well … there you have it. My completely inadequate post about one of the best miniseries I’ve ever seen. So if you’re looking for a Christmas present for your favorite author, forget this. I don’t think Francine Rivers wants it. But I do!

So thankful to have been born in a country where these men are recognized and honored until next time. -LJ

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Well, folks. Snow is on the ground (thankfully without the ice we had last weekend). The wind is wipping up into a frenzy. And there’s hot cocoa to be had (seriously, I’m drinking it out of a moose mug exactly like the one below right this very minutes). It’s getting to be close to that time of year.

moose-mug

I love Christmas. I love everything about it. I love buying gifts and then watching my family and friends open them. I don’t mind getting them either. I love spending time with family. I love have a super-valid reason to take a week and half off of work. And I really love going to Christmas Eve service at church, singing carols, and listening to the only Christmas story that really matters.

There’s another holiday tradition that is near and dear to my heart, too. And in honor of said tradition, I’m going to do something really fun each week on my blog during the month of December. That something is going to include my good friend Katie’s expertise. I just know you’re going to love hearing from her, so be sure to swing back around in December. You won’t want to miss learning a little-known fact about me and finding out what a big geek I am. 🙂

Also, seeing as Christmas is coming, do you have a loved one who needs a signed copy of The Kidnapping of Kenzie Thorn for Christmas? Perhaps I should do a giveaway. I’ll noodle on a fun way to do just that. More details to come soon!

Singing Silent Night until next time. -LJ

Teaser Tuesdays – Front and Center

teaser_tuesdays1MizB of Should Be Reading hosts the Teaser Tuesdays weekly event

Here are the rules:
* Grab your current read
* Let the book fall open to a random page
* Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12
*You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!
* Please avoid spoilers!

This week’s teaser is:
“Grandpa Warren–Dad’s dad, who Win was named after–he had some pretty strange tastes in food. It’s a wonder we like anything normal considering how much he loved pigs’ feet and blood sausage and head cheese, all these strange meats that you eat when it’s your own animals and you can’t waste one little bit.”
pg. 51  – Front and Center by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

D.J. Schwenk is back in the conclusion to the trilogy that began with Dairy Queen. I loved DQ and The Off Season, the first two books about her, and I can’t wait to see how it all wraps up. Catherine Gilbert Murdock is an uber-talented writer.

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Happy Birthday Hannah!

I just wanted to give a shout out to my big sister Hannah, who turns 30 today!

I’m just so glad that we’re sisters and, moreover, that we’re friends. I love that I can tell her every embarassing story about myself, and I know she’ll laugh, give me crap for it, and still love me. We were just reminiscing a couple weeks ago about the one semester we lived together in college. It was seriously one of the most fun times of my college career–what with Friends reruns over dinner every night, plans for her wedding, and lots of laughs.

When I was a senior in high school, I said I didn’t want to go to the same college that my sister and brother were going to. But as it was, we all ended up graduating from Northern Arizona University, and it was some of the best years of my life. I think we’re all closer because of it.

Hannah and John and their girls, Julia and Rachel
Hannah and John and their girls, Julia and Rachel

Love you, Hannah! Happy 3-0! (Are we getting old?)

Friday Favorite – Christmas books

When it’s as cold and wintery as it is now, there’s nothing I like more than snuggling up under the covers in my bed and reading a great Christmas romance. I love YAs, historicals, and contemporaries. I just love a sweet holiday story.

There’s something so romantic about snuggling in front of a fire, the mood set by snow falling, and spending time with ones you love. It just seems like the perfect time of year to fall in love. And I’ve always thought it would be fun to write a Christmas story. Maybe I’ll get my chance.

Here are some books I’m especially excited about reading this winter. What am I missing? What is your favorite Christmas book?

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Monday Movie – White Christmas

I think you’ll notice a little trend going on this week with my posts. See Colorado Springs has seen fit to dump freezing white-christmasrain and ice on our fine city, turning the roads into a mess and me into a hermit. And it’s put me in the mood for Christmas! (See pictures from yesterday’s post.)

So in honor of an early winter in the Springs, I offer you one of my favorite Christmas movies of all time. White Christmas stars Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye as a successful musical duo who team up with a pair of sisters to help save a Vermont ski resort, which is owned by a retired vet of WWII. There’s singing and dancing and some of the most memorable moments in classic musical history.

How could you forget the scene where Crosby and Kaye fill in for the sisters in their classic “Sisters Sisters” routine?

sisters-sisters

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Classic laughs and a cute romance. Not to mention a group of army veterans who love their commander so much they come out to support him and save his resort. All set against the backdrop of beautiful Vermont snow (fake though it may be).

White Christmas airs every year on TV, but don’t wait for it. Enjoy it as soon as the temperatures drop and snow starts coming.

Walking in a winter wonderland until next time. -LJ