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Two Realities

I’m not much of a reality show watcher but two caught my eye this season: The Jackson Family Dynasty and One Big Happy Family. Now that they’ve ended their seasons, I’m left feeling sad for one family and inspired by the other.

Sad. The Jackson Family Dynasty left me feeling sad for the brothers. Their lack of maturity and self-awareness was stunning. They’re all older than me (I’m 50) but their words and actions reflected a much younger, and less-developed, mindset. While several moments in the show disturbed me, the moments that stick out are the ones with producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. When Tito and Jermaine first met with them, the award-winning producers asked them what their sound was. The brothers had no answer. Jermaine may have blurted out something like “we want a hit.” That exchange showed how lost the four brothers are as a group. They don’t even have a vision or purpose for their music. All they have is some vague notion about carrying out the family legacy, which is really Michael’s legacy.

In Sunday night’s final show, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis put a similar question to them: How do you answer the question, Where is Michael? Of course, the brothers didn’t understand the question. Jermaine said something about, “he’s in our hearts” and the other three agreed. As Terry Lewis said in his commentary, the brothers need to understand that they’re not carrying on the Jackson 5, they’re starting a new sound with four brothers. Until the brothers recognize this, I don’t seem them doing anything productive as group.

I have some sympathy for the brothers because it must have been difficult living in Michael’s shadow. That said, it’s time for them to give Michael his props. Michael was the greatest entertainer of all time, not The Jackson 5. They’re not Michael and can’t carry on Michael’s legacy but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for them. But first they have to accept reality. If it was hard making a name for themselves in Michael’s shadow when he was alive, I’m afraid it’s going to be even harder now that he’s dead. I advise them to listen to Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. It’s all about the music. If the music (and not stardom-seeking) is their focus, they have a chance.

Inspired. One Big Happy Family left me feeling inspired. For one, the family began to see the results of their lifestyle changes in the form of weight loss. Most of all though, I appreciated what they showed as a family. Home has to be a place where you’re accepted and loved unconditionally, and that’s what their home was. If you watch Oprah enough, you’d think a family this big would have all sorts of self-esteem issues. What I saw was a reasonably well-adjusted family who ate too much and moved too little. Why do I say they’re well-adjusted? They talk to each other. The wife works and the husband is a stay-at-home dad. They live in a nice home and seem to have a comfortable life. The kids seems to have their heads on straight. I was pretty impressed that the son loved to swim. I was equally impressed that the daughter was in the flag corps at school. Why was I impressed? Because these activities are not normally associated with fat and obese kids. Had they been brought up in other families, they may have shied away from these activities because of self-esteem issues. But their parents encouraged them to pursue the activities. I can’t wait for the show to resume in the summer so that we can see how things are going with this family as they continue their weight loss journey and the daughter gets ready for college.

A blog I enjoy

I’m taking a break from new blog posts until the new year so I don’t have an original Newlywed at 50 post this week. For your reading pleasure, I point you to a blog that I enjoy reading, Life After 50. I really enjoyed (and could relate to) her post on Couple Dating so don’t miss that one.

Enjoy the holidays and keep safe! I’ll be back with new posts on January 4, 2010.

World’s Worst Blogger

I admit it. I’m a bad blogger. When a lot is going on with me, I don’t blog. When I have time to blog, I don’t have anything to say.

If things work out as planned, I’ll be blogging again in the New Year. Some of the subjects I’ll address are life as a newlywed at 50 (yes, the hubby has agreed I can do this) and my recent contract negotiations. Both are pretty juicy so stay tuned.

In the meantime, Happy Thanksgiving. Take care of yourself and remind the folks around you how much they mean to you.

Whitney and Oprah

During my interview with RAWSISTAZ on the Sins of the Father virtual tour, I was asked about a movie version of the story.

If Sins of the Father was turned into a movie who would you cast to play your characters?

Denzel would play Abraham, Angela Bassett would be Saralyn and Whitney (the old Whitney) would be Leah.

After seeing the first day of the two-day Oprah interview with Whitney, I’m convinced the old Whitney is back, older and wiser. I think the interview is must-see TV so if you missed the show, please catch it HERE. Whitney’s openness was refreshing and I think what she said will speak to a lot of us. I know it spoke to me.

By the way, I’m more convinced than ever that Whitney would make the perfect Leah. What do you think?

SORMAG Online Conference

Since I’ve been so focused on the blog tour the last couple of weeks, I wanted to make sure you all knew about the SORMAG Online Conference that was held August 23 – 29, 2009. I was fortunate to participate in three sessions, two of which were archived:

Writing with a Day Job. This was a great session with a lot of interaction. People were honest and supportive.

Meet the Mainstream Author. This was a great session as well. More light-hearted than the Day Job one, but still a lot of fun. Six mainstream authors participated, one a NY Times bestselling author. You’ll have to go to site to find out who was there.

This was a great conference. There’s something for readers, new authors and advanced authors. If you missed, be sure to check out the archives.

Kings is in BIG Trouble

I’m still enjoying the new NBC show, Kings, but it’s in trouble.  It’s been moved from Sunday nights to Saturday nights, the place shows go before they are cancelled.  I’m really disappointed that the show hasn’t garnered much of a following.  Some cool things are happening:

  • Abner, the head of Silas’ army, has turned on him, but Silas doesn’t know it yet
  • David is more committed to Silas than ever
  • Silas’ son finally admitted the reason for his hatred of David
  • Silas misses the girlfriend he gave up to save his son

I’d like to see where each of these storylines end. I hope I get the chance.

Why I Like Facebook

Like many of you, I’ve joined a great many of the online social networks — myspace, shelfari, librarything, gather, and shoutlife. I’ve joined all of them but I haven’t been active. I’ve also tried to be a regular blogger here, but without much success. You know why? It’s too much work.

Facebook is different. Facebook is easy. All I have to give Facebook is a status, which is by definition short. I don’t have to add a picture to it to make it look better. I don’t have to go to a special page to do. I can post to Facebook from my iTouch.

I’m leaning towards focusing my efforts on Facebook and this blog while phasing out my presence on those other sites. What do you think? Which service do you like best? Where are you most active?

Second Photo Shoot

Yahoo!  This time my eyes are open.  These poses aren’t as “alive” as the others, but I think I have some good ones from which to choose.  Which one do you think I should use for the book?  Now I could have biased the selection pool by the ones I chose to show you.  There were 23 pics in all.

Option 1

Option 2

Option 3

Me and George

Okay, I just threw me and George in there because I like the picture so much.

Figuring out Kings

Okay, I just watched the third episode of Kings and I think I have the major characters figured out.

King Silas is Saul

David Shepherd is David

Reverend Samuels is Samuel

I have to tell you that this show has me going to back to 1 and 2 Samuel to brush up on the story. The show is a modernization of the story of David so it takes some leeway. For example, there are some characters that I don’t remember from the Bible. I’ll keep you updated as I figure out who’s who and you can do the same for me. Show liberties aside, you can’t fault a show that sends you back to your Bible, now can you?


Has anybody been watching Kings, the NBC show that’s the modern day story of the biblical David?  I recently caught the first two episodes and I’m hooked.  My favorite character is the Reverend.

If you’ve been watching it, tell me what you think?  If you haven’t seen it yet, you can catch up on the missed episodes at the NBC site here.

Bucket Madea

I saw two movies this week. I went to the theatre to see Tyler Perry’s  and I watched  on cable On Demand.

Madea Goes to Jail

You know, I enjoyed it.  I laughed out a loud a lot and I teared up a few times.  Still, I was peeved with Tyler. Sometimes I feel he needs a woman to read his scripts to add a woman’s perspective.  He has this perception of women, especially career woman, that I think is one-dimensional.  For example, I thought the female ADA in this movie had a legitimate beef with her fiance and the way he was acting.  Unfortunately, Tyler seemed to give short shrift to her concerns.  Doing so, in my opinion, made her a one-dimensional character.  I still enjoyed the movie but I was sorta letdown that he didn’t do better by the career woman.

NOTE: The link and image are to the DVD of the stage play, not the movie.  The movie is not out on DVD yet.

The Bucket List

I enjoyed this movie as well but when it ended I felt something was missing.  I have no idea what was missing, but I felt something was. Maybe I just wasn’t ready for it to end.  Anyway, Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman had great chemistry and were a joy to watch.  They should do something else together.

Fun with Pictures

I’m getting new publicity photos this year.  So far, it’s been a fun, but rocky road. 

My first attempt was an outdoor shoot with a local photographer.  We went to a local park that gave us some great backgrounds.  Unfortunately, it was a bit chilly (I was cold!) and windy (my hair wouldn’t stay in place).  The photographer did a good job though and we got some great shots.  

Unfortunately, my eyes were closed on many of them! I so hated that because I loved some of those shots.  The cost for the shoot was pretty inexpensive.  I paid $54, including tip, to get my makeup done at a local spa prior to the shoot and then the photographer only charged $50 for a CD of all the pictures, including the copyright release.  

My second attempt was a trip to the chain photographer in a local department store yesterday.  This shoot was inside and the photographer was great.  This time my fiance, George, went with me because we needed some shots together.  We had a great time!  

Having the “closed eye” experience behind me, we took particular care to make sure my eyes were open.  We were successful on some shots, but unsuccessful on others. Fortunately, we found the winning shot on sixth take.  I really love that picture!

Then it was time for George and me to take some shots.  We took a couple of shots using the top I wore for the publicity shots and then some in another top.  This time we came up with several winning shots and poses.

The cost for this shoot was also pretty inexpensive. I scheduled an appointment to get my make-up done at one of the make-up counters in the department store.  In exchange, I had to purchase two items.  I chose lipstick ($15) and concealer ($15).  The make-artist had used the concealer on my eyelids to give me eyes a more open look, which was a great trick that I’m going to try myself.  I ending up spending $61 in all because I just had to have the $30 brush that she used to apply the foundation.

The photo costs ended up at $100.90.  But look at what we got:

a 10X13 of me and George (one pose)

a 10X13 3-picture montage of me of George: one picture of us together, one of him, and then one of me. (three poses)

a framed set of George and me in different pictures, but similar poses (two poses)

a set of pictures of me: one 8X10, 2-5X7s, 4 wallet (one pose, the one I’m going to use for the publicity photo)

a set of pictures of George: one 8X10, 2-5X7s, 4 wallet (one pose)

a CD of all the poses with the copyright release

I know it sounds too good to be true because that’s how it sounded to me.  Fortunately for us, there was a 50% off sale going on.  The pictures should be back in two weeks, which seems a long time to me in the digital age but what can I do?

I’ve used some of the pictures from the first shoot in this post. I’ll post the new pictures when they’re available.

NOTE: I have a “lazy eye” that always causes me problems with pictures.  Couple that with a huge smile and my full cheeks and it’s “eyes are closed” time.

Yes, we can!

Francis Ray hit a double whammy this week.  Her newest release, , reached 144 on the USA Today Top 150 Books List for the week of March 12, 2009 for sales ending March 8.  If you don’t see her on the list, just put her name in the search box and her name will come up. If that wasn’t news enough, she also made the NY Times Extended List at #32 for the week of March 13, 2009 for sales through March 7.

As a someone who started writing around the same time Francis did and someone who has known her for quite a while, I celebrate this victory with her.  As I told her on the phone, while I am happy for her, I’m also encouraged for what her victory means to authors like me.  

I remember back in the day when we started writing, we would often dream of the day we’d make the Times list.  It was a dream we shared — not just me and Francis – but a bunch of us romance writers who started writing for Pinnacle Arabesque back in the mid-nineties.  It is refreshing and inspiring to see those dreams come true for Francis. It begs the question:  Who’s next?

It’s important to note that Francis is the second author of our generation to make the Times list. Brenda Jackson’s Irresistible Forces made the list in May 2008, reaching #34. Brenda also made the USA Today list with another book, Slow Burn, which reached #117 in November 2007.

So today is a great day for romance writers, especially those of my generation.  To those ladies, I ask, who’s next?

iTouch, my latest toy

I’m in love. 

With  the new iTouch or iPod Touch from Apple.  I’ve never had a PDA so the ITouch is the closest I’ve come.  I wanted the iPhone but I couldn’t get it.  The iTouch is close enough.

What do I love about it? 

It’s small, smaller than my cellphone, making it pretty easy for me to carry both around with me.

i can get email from both my work account and my gmail account.  Right now I just keep a week’s worth but you can keep as much as a month’s worth.

It syncs my Outlook calendar. This is a biggie for me.  I’ve always the person in the room without a PDA or a dayplanner.  Now I’ll have one.

It has a whispersync feature that syncs my Kindle books.  Another biggie.  Guess what?  The text size is even readable on the small screen! I couldn’t believe it.  I haven’t tried any long bouts of reading on it and I do wonder if my eyes will get tired fairly quickly.  I’ll keep you posted.  Oh, yeah, one more good thing: the book covers on the iTouch show in color, while on the Kindle they’re in black and white.

It has a speaker so you don’t always have to use the headphones the way you do with a regular iPod.

You can rotate it so that you read landscape or portrait.  This doesn’t work for mail for some reason, but it works for webpages and kindle books.

I’m using boingo for mobile Internet service.  The upside is the price is only $7.95/month compared to the $30/month the wireless phone company charges for Internet service.  The downside is that service is only available where there are hotspots. While there are a lot of hotspots, I won’t have all-the-time Internet access the way I’d have it if I had Internet service through a wireless phone company.

There are hundreds of apps that you can get for it. From games to utilities to educational programs.  I haven’t done much investigation with the apps yet, but I’ll be getting into it, especially the educational programs.

What don’t I like about it?

It only allows me to dowload Kindle books, not the other files (pdfs, doc files) that I’ve sent to my Kindle.

I’m sure there’s something else, but I’m so wowed now that I can’t think of it.  I’ll let you know as soon as I know.

Anybody else got any new gadgets?

I’m alive — really, I am

If you’re still visiting my blog, I appreciate it. I’ve been absent for so long that I wouldn’t be surprised if all of you had given up on me. Well, I’m still around. There are a lot of things I want to talk about but the best things I’m not sure I can talk about. So, I’ll be asking my editor how much of the editorial process of my next book I can share with you. All I have to say is that I have the BEST editor in the world.

I can’t guarantee how active I’m going to be on the blog. I have grand plans but I also had them last year nand you can see how that turned out. I am committed to hosting several blog tours, with Stacy Hawkins Adams being the first on Friday of this week, so that will happen.  Some big things happened in my life in the last year and I hope to blog my reflections on them.  They include:

  • The Obama Campaign — I don’t even want to think about the number of hours I devoted to it
  • Getting my book in — Oh, the stories I could tell, if only me editor will allow me
  • Tenure – I’m an academic so tenure is an important part of life
  • My long engagement — Yes, a wedding is in the works
  • Recent travels — I’ve fallen in love with cruising
  • Book club visits —  I know they think I’ve forgotten them, but I haven’t

If you’re still hanging around, please give a shout out so I’ll know you’re here.

I’m back, for good this time.

Obama’s Grandmother

You all probably know that Obama’s grandmother is ill so he’ll be leaving the campaign trail for a few days this week to spend some time with her.  Please keep him and her in your prayers.

I found this picture of his grandparents online along with a great post.  Here’s the photo and an excerpt from the post.  Now we know where he gets the ears!

From the post:

Likewise, I was looking at this picture of Obama’s grandparents and thinking how much he looks like his grandfather. And suddenly, for whatever reason, I was struck by the fact that they had made the decision to love their daughter, no matter what, and love their grandson, no matter what. I’d bet money that they never even thought of themselves as courageous, that they didn’t give much thought to the broader struggles in the the world at the time. They were just doing what right, honorable people do. But the fact is that, in the 60s, you could be disowned for falling in love with a black woman or black man. There is a reason why we have a long history of publicly biracial black people, but not so much of publicly biracial white people.

We often give a pass to racists by noting that they were “of their times.” Fair enough, and I know Hawaii was a different beast, but still, today, let us speak of people who were ahead of their times, who were outside of their times. Let us remember that Barack Obama learned the great lessons of life from courageous white people. Let us speak of those who do what  normal, right people should always do when faced with a child–commit an act love. Here’s to doing the right thing.

You’ve got to read it.

NOTE: I wrote this post on 10/21 but I’ve been having problems posting to my blog. Sorry I’ve been out of touch.

Tell us about the ACFW Conference

Okay, I’ve waited a couple of days to give the conference attendees time to get back and re-claim their lives.  Now I want to hear about it — and I want details! So if you attended, share your experience with us.  If you’ve visited a blog with a conference report, let us know the URL so we can visit, too.

I especially want to know the Award winners!

I’ll tell you why

I must say that when it comes to making fun of Christians it’s open season. It has been that way for a long time. Why are people allowed to get away with making fun of the Christian faith?

I found this quote on another blog. I won’t bother to link to it because it has to do with politics and I don’t want this to be a political discussion. Can you answer the question?

I think the answer is that people aren’t really making fun of the Christian faith. They’re making fun of folks who call themselves Christians. Unfortunately, all some folks know of the Christian faith is what they see in our lives, and let’s be frank here, sometimes it ain’t pretty.

I also think outsiders like to pounce on us because we pounce on them. It’s like we’ve drawn this line that makes sin among sinners REALLY bad while sin among saints is “well, nobody’s perfect.” Then we want to come back at folks with “sin ain’t what you do, it’s about the relationship.” Yeah, right. I’m sure they get that and the word they use to describe it is “hypocrite.”

At the core of the issue, I think, is the way Christians dole out compassion. I sometimes feel that our compassion is reserved for other Christians, usually Christians we know personally, and we have very little for the world-at-large.

So I don’t really get bummed out when people mock Christians because sometimes we deserve to be mocked. Many times it’s not them defaming the name of Christ, it’s them calling us out because we’re defaming His name.

I think this relates to our writing as well. How we draw our characters, the situations we put them in, and the way they resolve their issues all speak to how perceive Christian life. I think that’s why there’s such a diversity is what folks call “Christian fiction.” If I call myself a Christian and a book speaks to me where I am in my faith, then to me it’s Christian fiction. You’ll notice the definition is built around the person, not the book.

Anyway. That’s my nickel. What’s yours?

What makes it Christian?

You know, I asked this question a while back in reference to Christian fiction.  Today, I’m asking it about a post I read over on CBNNews. For those of you who don’t know, CBN is Christian Broadcasting Network.

I read David Brody’s blog, The Brody File, fairly often.  While David and I support different candidates, I read him because he gives me insight into the perspectives of evangelical Christians who identify as social conservatives when it comes to politics.

I recently found a post on his blog that disturbed me a bit. Here’s an excerpt:

Call it half truths, misleading, downright lies, or even mostly true, whatever. John McCain has gotten inside Obama’s head. It’s not pretty but it’s true. Look, let’s talk political strategy here ok? If your opponent’s campaign is great at organizing and is tapping into a new political enthusiasm not seen for quite some time then you need to figure out how to bring him down a peg or two.

You can read the full post HERE.

This post bothered me.  I’m an Obama supporter so it’s possible that I’m being overly sensitive.  That’s why I want your feedback.  Does it bother you that this post is on a Christian news site?  If so, why?  If not, why not? Would you feel differently if it weren’t a Christian site? 

A broader question would be, Should reporting by a Christian organization be different from reporting by the mainstream media?  If so, how?  If not, why not?

Please read David Brody’s full post before you comment. I don’t want to take him out of context. And I want to keep the comments made here to the post.  I don’t want want this discussion to turn into a bashing of any person or party.  Let’s keep it Christian.  I’ll have to shut off the comments off if we can’t.

The 100-Minute Bible

I’m not sure how I feel about this Bible. Have any of you read it?  What do you think of it?  Do you recommend it?

I was leery of The Living Bible so I’m really leery of a book that condenses the Bible to a 100-minute read.

If you haven’t heard of this Bible, you can read about it HERE.

After thinking about it, I think my problem is that the book is referred to as a Bible.  I’d probably be more open to it if it had another title.  Unfortunately, I can’t think of one.

What do you think?

Audacity and Dreams

Today is the 12th so I’m blogging at Blogging in Black, now You can probably guess what my post is about given the title of this one.  Come on over and see if you’re right.

There was a post by a New Orleans resident (Farrah Rochon) at BIB earlier this week about Gustav. You can check it out HERE.  Baton Rouge resident Lynn Emery talks about her experience HERE.

Romance Pioneers will resume on Monday.

Asked and answered

What’s a community organizer? 

The answer, according to community organizers: HERE

Organizers again (two minutes, forty seconds):

These descriptions lead me to an idea for a new book.  Not my next one since it’s due in a month but maybe the one after that.

We have a female community organizer of the Democratic persuasion and a male city official of the Republican persuasion, both Christians. I’ll give each one of them an Independent friend, not sure if the friends will be Christians. The goal of the story will be to put on display the tensions between faith and party allegiance, regardless of your party affiliation. 

The challenge with this story would be to resist the urge to turn it into an issue book.  Issue books are preachy and boring.  In this book, I’d have to trust my characters and give them the freedom to develop naturally.  Doing that means the book could take me somewhere I didn’t plan to go.

I wonder if such a book would be too heavy or too controversial for readers.  I’d really focus on the romance angle and show the two folks coming together to address some community problem and in the process having to reconsider some of their political and religious positions.

This is how my ideas start.  Who knows where this one is going to end.  I’ll keep you posted.

Where would you take the idea or would you drop it?  Do you know of other books that have tried to do this? Let me know your thoughts.

UPDATE: You know, I think the story will be more interesesting if the woman is the Republican city official and the man is the Democratic organizer.  What do you think?

Gustav – Hit or a miss?

Gustav hit, it just didn’t hit New Orleans.  This time Baton Rouge got most of the damage.  People evacuated New Orleans this time, but it doesn’t mean that they aren’t in trouble.  Ponder these questions:

Where would you go if you had to evacuate, pack up and leave your home?

Would you be able to afford the travel, housing and food costs associated with having to leave home for more than a week?

To be honest, I never really thought about these questions until I spoke with someone from Baton Rouge (hopefully she’ll be blogging about Gustav this week; her Internet service hasn’t been that reliable) and later got an update from someone in New Orleans who pointed me to this article (hopefully she’ll be blogging when she returns home)  — HERE

Just because Gustav wasn’t as devastating to as many people as Katrina was doesn’t mean it wasn’t devastating to those it did affect, including those in the Caribbean.  Let’s do what we can to help.

NOTE: Romance Pioneers will continue on Friday.


I’ve joined the hip generation and gotten on the Crocs bandwagon.  Guess what? I like them.  They’re comfortable and they even have a few cute styles.  Take a look at what I got from Amazon.  I couldn’t get too hip.  All mine are black.  I’ll post an update in a week after I’ve had a chance to wear them a bit.  Anybody else wearing them?  Let me know what you think.

Do readers feel welcome?

It occurred to me the other day that I have a link on the blog with resources for writers but I don’t have one for readers.  Then it occurred to me that I don’t know what readers want on an author web site or blog.  So help me out, readers. One of the reasons I started doing cocntests is that I thought readers liked them but I never really asked so I’m asking now.  What do you want to see on this site?  What would make this a fun place for you to visit?  What about a place for you to act out characters?  A place to discuss books?  All responses are welcome.

Have a safe and enjoyable Labor Day weekend!

An Event, Some Good News and a New Contest

For those of you in the Charlotte, NC area, I’ll be in your stomping ground on Saturday, August 30 at 1p at Joseph-Beth Booksellers in (or near) the SouthPark Mall.  Come by and visit with me if you have some time. I’d love to see you.

In news that I’m still trying to get my mind around, Up Pops the Devil has been chosen the November African-American Book Club Pick for Books-A-Million. This is great news as it means Up Pops the Devil will be featured prominently in all Books-A-Million stores from September 1 through November 31.

If you follow this link, you’ll see that Victoria Christopher Murray’s Too Little, Too Late and  ReShonda Tate Billingley’s The Pastor’s Wife have been recent picks.  LIterary great Richard Wright had two picks.

This is the first time one of my books has been chosen for as a book club pick for a chain bookstore so I’m very excited about it.  Be sure to drop by your local Books-A-Million and look for it.

In fact, you can be my eyes and ears.  If you send me a photo of you in a Books-A-Million store next to the book display for Up Pops the Devil as the African-American Book Club Pick, I’ll post the photo on my blog and enter you in a contest to win a $15 Books-A-Million gift card.  Three GRAND PRIZE winners will be selected from the entries.  The contest will continue through September 31 and the winners will be announced on October 15.

You may submit your entry (or entries) via e-mail to me at the address HERE or you may submit via snail mail to Angela Benson, PO Box 868643, Tuscaloosa, AL 35486-0077.

Each entry should include your name (first name or nickname is sufficient) or the name of your group, a photo of you standing near the book display with a book in hand, and the location of the Books-A-Million store where the photo is taken.  All photos become the property of Angela Benson and will be posted on my blog at

I’ll probably run the contest again in November so if you don’t win this time, you’ll have another chance in November.

NOTE: This is the second version of this post.  My computer ate the first one and I’m sure it was much better than this one.  Trust me.

Now get to clicking those cameras.  I can’t wait to see your smiling faces on this blog!

I’ve been tagged!

Patricia Woodside at tagged me. I believe I’ve been tagged before but I’m not sure I’ve ever participated.  Thus, today is a day for new things.

Here’s how it works:

I list three categories of books.
5 MUST Read Books.
5 Books on Your Nightstand.
5 Look For These Soon.

Keeping with the theme, I tag bloggers. They should put these same lists on their blog but SUBTRACT one book from each list and ADD one of their own. Then they should tag at least 5 more bloggers.

It will be fun to see how the lists change as it goes around the blogosphere. Please come back to this post and leave a comment so I can see how the lists are changing as they go around the blogosphere. Since this is Book Buzz…please keep your lists to titles released in 2007-2009.

My additions are in BOLD.

5 MUST Read Books:

Rhythms of Grace by Marilynn Griffith
Demon: A Memoir by Tosca Lee
Yellow Moon by Jewell Parker Rhodes
Conception by Kalisha Buckhanon
Better Than, Leslie Esdaile

5 Books on the Nightstand:

Secrets of a Sinner by Yolonda Tonette Sanders
Dance with the Devil by Sherrilyn Kenyon
From Harvey River by Lorna Goodison
My Soul Cries Out by Sherri Lewis
Murder Mayhem & a Fine Man, Claudia Mair Burney

5 Look For These Soon:

Bring on the Blessings by Beverly Jenkins
Nailed by Jennifer Lauren
The Hood Life: A Bentley Manor Tale by Meesha Mink and De’nesha Diamond
Wounded by Claudia Mair Burney
Rainbow’s End, GiGi Gunn

I’ve tagged: Marilynn Griffith, Missy, Angela, Cashana, and Shelia.

Please tell me this isn’t the equivalent of a chain letter.

Faith and Fiction Retreat

If you attended the Faith and Fiction Retreat this past weekend in Destin, FL, I’d love to hear about it. I’m sorry I missed it.  So details please!  You can post here as Comments or drop me an e-mail if you want to do a full-fledged conference report.  I welcome both.

UPDATE 3:  Ty has an excellent recap of the Retreat as well.  She even has pictures. See HERE.

UPDATE 2:  Patricia shared her Retreat experience HERE. You know, I think I’m breaking a commandment: Thou shalt not covet thy fellow bloggers’ Retreat experiences.

UPDATE 1: Rhonda McKnight blogs about her time at the Faith and Fiction Retreat HERE.  It’s great reading.

I couldn’t wait for Rhonda’s post.  I had to call the Retreat sponsor and founder, author Tiffany Warren.  I kept the poor woman on the phone for about an hour.  I got the scoop though.  This conference is on my list for next year.  It’s about time for me to become a regular conference-goer again.  I think my last one was RWA in 2001.  It was in Houston.

What conferences do you attend regularly and why?

Tuesday at

I’m blogging today at The topic is siblings. I originally wrote this piece back in December when I did my blog tour for The Amen Sisters. I’ve revised it a bit to include Up Pops the Devil.

You know, siblings are getting to be standard in my work. Francine and Dawn in The Amen Sisters. Preacher and Loretta and Barnard and Natalie in Up Pops the Devil. The manuscript I’m working on now has siblings, a son born within the marriage and a son and daughter born outside the marriage.

One of the reasons I have so much fun with siblings is that I have such a good relationship with my brother.  It’s a good relationship but not without its bumps.  I was talking to him on the phone the other day and I told him that there were times I had stopped speaking to him, but he hadn’t realized it. He started to laugh, really hard. When he finally piped down, I asked him what the laughter was about. He laughed again before telling me that he had stopped speaking to me, too, but I hadn’t realized it. Isn’t that a kicker? Now it’s your turn to laugh. It’s even funnier when you think that my brother and I talk multiple times a week.

Now that you know about me and my brother, tell me about you and your sibling(s). And don’t be surprised if you find yourself in one of my upcoming books.

Show “Vistoso Bosses” some love

Author Evelyn Coleman is one of my dearest writer friends.  I met her early in my career and we hit it off immediately.  We used to spend what seemed like hours on the phone but now we rarely speak.  Time and distance have a way of doing that to a friendship.  But when we do speak it’s as though there’s never been a lapse.  Evelyn is one the smartest and kindest people that I know.  Sometimes I think she’s too kind. 

I got an email from Evelyn today telling me about her granddaughter, Taylah P (aka Taylor), and the group she’s formed with a childhood friend, Kelci.  The group is Vistoso Bosses, which means gorgeous in Spanish, or so Evelyn tells me. 

As with any new group, they’re trying to build their fan base in hopes of moving on to bigger things.  If you’re willing, you can help them out by going to visit them on myspace, where they’re being featured for this week only, listening to their songs and viewing their videos. 

Now I’m going to be honest with you. I usually hate pages that play music automatically but I actually liked this one.  It’s such a cute song and has a nice tune and beat.  It seems appropriate for the teenagers.  We could be seeing the next Mylie Cyrus (times two, of course)!  Anyway give them a look and let me know what you think. 

You can find them on myspace at OR you can find them by going to the main myspace page at, selecting the Music tab and looking for the group among the Featured Artists.  Have it your way, as they say at Burger King.

They have a video series called The Hamiltons that you should check out.  You’ll see why Evelyn’s so proud of her granddaughter. They’re adding an episode every day and by Thursday they should be up to episode 4.  So let’s show Evelyn some love and support her granddaughter. 

For those of you who don’t know Evelyn, you can visit her at HERE at  She started out writing thrillers with What a Woman’s Gotta Do.  She’s written a number of acclaimed books for children of various ages including The Footwarmer and the Crow, White Socks Only, Born in Son and a mystery for ADDY in The American Girl series.  Freedom Train is her latest.  You can go diretly to her children’s pages HERE.

Don’t forget to tell me what you thought of Vistoso Bosses.

The Payton Skyy Movies

I found some wonderfully exciting news on Dee’s Christian Fiction blog–drum roll, please–Stephanie Perry Moore’s Payton Skyy series of teen novels is being made into a series of Direct-to-DVD movies by Tyler Perry!  This is great news!

I’ve bought the Payton Skyy series several times over the years.  I even bought it for my niece TWICE!  She called me up and said, “Aunt Angela, you already gave me these books–years ago.” I admit to getting a little sheep-faced at that, but when I saw them in hardcover at Black Expressions, I had to buy them.  Well, dIdn’t I?

I recently purchased (around Thanksgiving, I think) Stephanie’s pre-teen series, Carmen Browne, for a younger niece (the aforementioned niece’s sister).  To make up for giving the older niece the duplicate Payton Skyy books,  I tossed in the first books from the Perry Skyy Jr. series, figuring she’d love a series about a boy.

I realized today how long Stephanie Perry Moore has been writing young adult Christian fiction, particularly African-American young adult Christian fiction.  She is truly the godmother of the genre.  (Note she has at least one series, Laurel Shadrach, that stars a Caucasian pre-teen.)  Come to think about it, Stephanie is a pioneer in African-American Christian fiction, in general, as her first book came out in 2000 when the genre was first starting. 

Congratulations to Stephanie!  Let’s all be on the look-out for the DVDs.

RWA Conference Update

I haven’t been to a Romance Writers of America (RWA) Conference since the year Awakening Mercy was a RITA finalist. I think that was 2001 in New Orleans.  UPDATE: You can find the 2008 RITA winners HERE!

This year they’re in San Francisco and The Today Show paid them a visit. Nora Roberts and Beverly Jenkins made the tape that was shown on the show.

Thanks to Anika at WriteBlack for the heads up!

Expanding the Blog with CFBA and BIB

At the start of the year, I mentioned becoming more active on the blog this year. Well, I got off to a pretty bad start. I’ve picked up a bit lately. I really enjoyed having the guest bloggers last week and will do more of that in the coming weeks and months.  I’ve also joined the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance (CFBA) as a reviewer and Blogging in Black (BIB) as a columnist.  I hope that my association with CFBA and BIB to enrich what I do on the blog here.

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance (CFBA) 

I really like the idea behind CFBA.  Their goal is to raise the profile of Christian books on Technorati Popular Books site, making them visible to more bloggers.  Every month I will get a mailing from CFBA listing 5-10 books that I have the option of reviewing. I choose the books I want, they pass my name along to the book’s publisher, and I get a free copy of the book in the mail. In return, I agree to blog about the book on the dates of the CFBA blog tour for that book. You all know how I feel about authors and reviews so I won’t really be offering my reviews of books. Instead I’ll be posting general information about the book provided by the CFBA.  If you’re interested, check out their Requirements for Reviewers.

Blogging in Black (BIB)

Blogging in Black is an interesting blog that I read regularly.  Its purpose, from the website, is as follows:

Blogging in Black is a collective of mostly black writers and readers sharing their views on the writing life, publishing, and anything else related to books, writing, and the publishing biz.

Our goal is to present a strong and consistent product for our readership. No, we aren’t different from blogging in any other color; we all have different views, opinions and stories to share.

We have a group of regular columnists, who present their views, interviews, reviews, profiles, and other information relevant to the literary landscape. We will also present guest commentary from a host of literary professionals.

The views of each columnist are his or her own and do not reflect the views of other columnists, guest columnists, our moderators, or our administrators.

My first BIB column, My so-called career, will appear today, Thursday, July 31.  After that, I’ll have a column on the 12th of each month, starting in August.

Let me know what you think about the changes I’m making, and especially your thoughts/experiences on CFBA and BIB.  I want to hear from you.

Movie Talk – The Dark Knight

Okay, I’ve been in a movie-going mood. I saw The Dark Knight on Tuesday night and I have mixed emotions.

I have to tell you first that I absolutely loved Batman Begins! I thought it was wonderful. Even though I wanted Michael Keaton to be Batman forever (he only lasted one movie!), I had to accept that Christian Bale WAS Batman.

Okay, back to The Dark Knight. This movie reminded me of the Batman of my childhood. I hate to admit this but I though Batman was scary. And violent. And it was. And it is. I covered my eyes more than once during this movie.

The Joker stole this movie, IMO. I thought Jack Nicholson was a good Joker but Heath Ledger staked his claim on the character forever. Let’s just say my eyes were covered a lot when he was doing his most dastardly deeds. 

I don’t want to leave the wrong impression. This movie was not gory. The Joker did some gory stuff, or you thought he did, but they didn’t really show it on screen.

I hate to say this, but I thought Christian Bale was a bit off.  His voice was so muffled at times that I could barely understand him.  My friend told me his voice was the same as in the first movie, but I don’t remember it that way.  I liked him better in his Bruce Wayne persona.  He’s still Batman though.

What can I say about Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine?  They were excellent, just as you’d expect them to be.  I loved them on-screen.

So I have mixed emotions about the movie. I think I’ll have to go see it again. I should be able to keep my eyes uncovered the entire time, which ought to make a differece. Another reason I need to go see it again is that I feel asleep during the last 10-15 minutes. Though my movie companion told me what happened, I need to see it for myself.

That’s my story. What about yours?  Did you see The Dark Knight and what did you think?  What do you think of the new Batman series with one Batman, Christian Bale, compared the changing Batman of the previous series (Michael Keaton, George Clooney and Val Kilmer?  You know who my favorite was? 

Movie Talk – Will Smith as Hancock

I’m going to admit this publicly: I am a BIG Will Smith fan.  I mean really big.  I mean Fresh Prince of Bel-Air big.  I see him as a big kid.  You probably think I’m crazy, right?   Well, I’m not. I’m talking about Will Smith, the actor, the guy I see on screen.  I have no clue how he handles his business or his personal life, and to be honest, I don’t want to know.  Let’s just keep Will on the screen for now.

That said, I saw his new movie, Hancock, on Monday.  After I am Legend, I wasn’t sure what to expect.  I am Legend just didn’t work for me.  What’s this about an actor doing a movie with no other people.  Strikes me as a bit ego-centric but I’m getting off topic here.

Anyway, Hancock was wonderful!  I enjoyed it a lot.  The movie got mixed reviews, and lot of the major reviewers made not-so-nice comments about the second half of the movie.  Well, the second-half made the movie for me.  Hancock is the perfect date movie–something for him, something for her.  After you watch it, and I recommend that you do, you’ll see what I mean.

Hancock is rated PG-13 “for some intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence, and language.”  Hancock’s language is atrocious, I have to admit, and unnecessarily so.  I don’t think it added to his characterization in any way.

If you go see it, let me know what you think.

Charity begins with ME!

My mom loves Oprah’s new show, Oprah’s Big Give.  I’ve never seen it, but I certainly like the idea of a show about giving.  In fact, one of the things that has always impressed me about Oprah is that she’s a giver.  Yes, she has a lot so she can afford to be generous, but I believe that giving is a part of who she is and what makes her tick.

I recently read an article that I found interesting.  The author of the article started what she calls The Secret Society for Creative Philanthropy.  In the article, she describes the project as “giving ten of my friends one hundred dollars and inviting them to, in turn, give that money away.” 

Read the article and let me know what you think.

The Wire – I was hooked!


A couple of months ago Comcast was offering $5/month subscriptions to HBO and Cinemax.  Not one to pass up a deal, I signed up.  The greatest benefit in doing so has been getting to watch the last season of The Wire, the HBO crime drama.  Since I have digital cable, I was able to watch the episodes on “HBO On Demand” a week before they aired on regular HBO.

I have to tell you that I was hooked after the first show.  And still am, though I admit that the last episode was a bit of a downer for me.  I like tidy endings and that one was everything but tidy.

The series may be over but I’m still hooked.  I joined Netflix so I could rent and watch the four seasons I had missed. In addition to fifth season, I’ve now seen the first season, the fourth season and the last five episodes of the second season.  This is some good television.

If you’re offended by “colorful” language, you may want to pass on this show.  Your ears will be buring and ringing and everything in between.  But the stories and the characters are something to experience.  While there are “good guys” and “bad guys,” it’s sometimes hard to figure out which is which.

The series is set in Baltimore.  The first season dealt with the drug war on Baltimore streets.  To paraphrase Lt. Daniels, “If I follow the drugs, I’ll get drug dealers, but if I follow the money, I don’t know where it’ll take me.” That one sentence tells the story of the first season.  It turns the concept of “war on drugs” on its ear.

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I’m back!

My provider was upgrading my account so I’ve been off-line for a while.  I couldn’t even get to the blog so I’m sure you had problems.  Welcome back!  I finally made a comment on the review post below, so take a look. 

I’ve been losing the battle to a winter cold the past few days but I’m feeling better now.  I’ll be back in a day or so with a new post.

Any football fans out there?  How about those Giants!

Enjoy your week!

Happy New Year!

It’s 2008.  Can you believe it?  Time flies when you’re having fun, doesn’t it? 

2007 was a great year and I’m looking for even greater thing in 2008. 

I’m not doing resolutions this year, but I am setting a goal to blog twice a week.  That may not seem like much of a goal to you but it’s a lot to me because I have to think of something interesting to share twice a week.  That’s heavy-duty. 

Some of the things I’ll be blogging about are:

  1. the virtual book tour that I’ll be finishing up this month and other marketing/promotion activities that I’ve undertaken;
  2. the writing and publication process for Up Pops the Devil, my September 2008, release;
  3. the year-long writing seminar that I’m planning with Yasmin at
  4. writing conferences that I attend;
  5. reader mail Q&A; and
  6. anything else I think might interest you.

I’m also going to add a couple of new features:

  1. Guest bloggers to provide new perspectives and to help me meet my 2008 blogging goal
  2. Monthly contests where winners are selected from those who comment on posts during that month

That seems like a lot, I know, but I’ll try not to overwhelm you.  I want this blog to be a place where you can find up-to-date news and words of encouragement and, in order to that, I have to keep it current.  This will be my gift to you for the year.

If you want to get an e-mail each time I post to the blog (or if you want to subscribe to the blog RSS feed), select Subscribe from the right navigation panel.  You’ll get a lot of different options; just choose the one that works best for you.

That’s it for my first post of 2008.  Look to hear from me again this week.  In the meantime, why don’t you share with us one or two of your goals for the year.

Happy New Year!

A New Look!

As you can tell, I’ve been doing some work around the place.  Well, not me, but some folks that I’ve hired to help me with my promotion efforts. The new face of the blog and the new web site are courtesy of Kings Highway Web Design. I found them through the team at Black Christian Book Promo, who have been helping me to promote The Amen Sisters.  BCBP did a couple of great e-blasts for me (here and here) and a press release (here).  A big shout-out also  to for the work they did in helping me plan my overall pubicity program and sort out my blog and web site content.

The site is still in a work-in-progress.  For example, you may find the same content on different pages. I’ll take care of that as I update all the links in the blog to reflect the new site.  Please be patient with me as I get this done.

Since you always give me good help when I ask for it, I’d like to know what you think of the new look.  If you find any problems, please let me know.  If there’s something you especially like, let me know that as well.  If don’t find something, you’d like to see, let me know that as well.  I can’t promise I’ll add it, but I’ll certainly consider it.

One more thing: You’ll notice that I now have multiple URLs that you can use to find me on the web:

First, there was – Think of it as BensonInk.  I thought I was being pretty clever when I thought it up.  Benson for my name and Ink because I’m a writer.  This link takes you directly to the blog.

Then came –  Sometimes cute doesn’t cut it.  It much better to be clear.  So I have  This link also takes you directly to the blog.

The newest addition to the lineup is – Okay, this is for The Amen Sisters.  This link takes you to my new home page. You’ll find a link there to the blog and on the blog you’ll find a link to the new home page.

Given those three addresses, anybody looking for me or my books should be able to find me.

That’s it.  Let me know what you think.

Have a blessed week!

Looking for Brenda!

Brenda, on September 7, you posted a comment to my “Helping a Friend through the Trauma of an Abusive Church” article.  You asked for my help, but you did not provide an e-mail address so that I could contact you.  If you still want help, please email me.  Just use the e-mail link to the right under my picture.

I hope I hear from you.


Lincoln Heights

You have to watch this show!  Now I’m only on my first episode but I can tell this one is a winner!  

It’s a family drama playing on ABC Family.  The central characters are an African-American family.  You’ll have to check your cable guide for channel number and day.  You can find out more about the show here:

Here’s how the show is described in wikipedia:

Lincoln Heights is an American drama television series about a cop’s family who moves back to his old neighborhood of Lincoln Heights to start a new life and to help his old neighborhood. It’s a dangerous place to raise a family, and through the many trials the family goes through they soon learn that settling in is not as easy as it seems. While the dad struggles to cope with everyday life as a street cop, the kids try to fit in at their new schools and with their new neighbors.

I like that wikipedia doesn’t mention the AA factor; maybe it shows that it doesn’t matter. 

Check out the show and let me know what you think.  The second season starts here in about eight minutes.  I guess I’ll have to go to the itunes store and download the first season.  You get the pilot episode for free and the others are $1.99.

I’m so excited! I can’t believe I missed an entire season! 

SORMAG Online Conference

The SORMAG Online Conference is now going on!  This is a great online conference for writers and readers.  It’s the perfect opportunity for you to meet authors, editors, agents and others in the publishing business. 

The conference started on August 26th and ends on September 1st.  The goods news is that the conference is free!  You have the wonderfully giving LaShaunda Hoffman, who’s provided this fantastic opportunity for a few years now, to thank. Kudos, LaShaunda! Your good work has not gone unnoticed or unappreciated. 

So head on over to and join in the fun.  The conference is hosted in a blog format so even though you’ll be joining late, you won’t have missed a thing! 

Oh, yeah, you can see the full conference agenda here:

Last, not but least, be sure to click on one of those “Make a Donation” buttons and support the conference effort. 


House of Payne

Okay, it’s time. . .

I gotta get this off my chest first: Tyler, get rid of the laugh tracks. They drive me CRAZY!

Okay, now I feel better.

About the show. . .I don’t think it’s great, but neither do I think it’s as bad as other people say it is. I used to be a big-time sitcom watcher, but nowaways House of Payne is the only one I watch. I record the shows each week and watch them before the week ends so I’ve seen every episode.

As with all new sitcoms, I think these actors have to get comfortable in their roles. I’m beginning to see that growth in these actors. Some of the acting makes me cringe, but I did a lot of cringing in the early days of “The Cosby Show” and “Family Ties” and a whole bunch of other sitcoms. The actors will be better.

I think what will help them get better is better storylines. The good news is that the storylines are getting better, but Tyler is going to continue to be challenged to keep it comedy when the topics being covered are far from funny. Maybe he should give up the laugh track and just tell the story. I think the laughs would still be there but they would come out of the situations. I mean, a crackhead wife and mother is not exactly a laughing matter, but sometimes you have laugh to keep from crying. I encourage Tyler to trust us, his audience, a bit more. He doesn’t have to try so hard to make us laugh. Just give us an honest portrayal of ourselves up there on the screen and we’ll laugh. I guarantee it.

I didn’t realize Tyler was getting a lot of flack because two of his lead characters (Ella and Curtis) are overweight by more than a few pounds. This surprised me. Apparently, some consider the “fat” female a negative portrayal of black womanhood. Even though Tyler sent out a letter defending his actors, he did add a slim Hispanic female to the cast. I wonder how many letters he’s going to get about that. Anyway, you can read the “Overweight and on TV” letter on his web site at Use the right arrow to scroll to the letter. It’s dated 6/18/07. I have to give him props for it. What do you think?

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Who’s the Audience?

When I was with my friends the other week, we watched the movie, Stomp the Yard. (Thanks to Cassandra, who always brings the goodies). Anyway, I’d seen this movie advertised and it never appealed to me. But this turned out to be a verygood movie. I watched it twice. And I had the nerve to make folks be quiet so they wouldn’t miss some important lines!

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Cars and Blessings

For the last six weeks or so, I’ve been involved in the painful process of finding a car. My mind has been filled (to overflowing) with questions: used or new? lease or buy? sedan or SUV? msrp or invoice? Okay, the answer to that last question was easy — invoice! Actually, since we’re in the model year closeout period, “under invoice” is a good deal.

After all the dilberations, I’ve finally settled on a car. I drove it home last night and I go back today to sign all the papers. The good news is that now I can focus on something else as this car thing has completely consumed me. I won’t even talk about how much money I’ve had to spend to rental cars. Let’s just say that National is probably going to send me a holiday card.

Now summer fun can begin. Over the next few weeks, I’m going to put about 2000 miles on the new baby.

Speaking of babies. My new book is due September 1 which means things are going to get tight as the deadline draws closer. The good news is that I’m on track to finish in time.

Back to the car. You know, I did all the reasearch (Edmunds, CarsDirect, and the especially informative, leaseguide) and contacted a variety of dealers for quotes. Guess what? I ended up with what I wanted–my best offer came from a local dealership withou that much haggling. Yes, God takes care of the everyday things like cars as well and He knows more about cars than I do.

You gotta count those blessings!

Have a great week!

Daddy’s Little Girls

If you didn’t see Tyler Perry’s Daddy’s Little Girls, you missed a treat. I just saw this movie today, a Blockbuster DVD rental. I wish very badly that I had gone to the theatre to see this movie. We need more movies of this kind. I rank it right up there with The Five Heartbeats and Love and Basketball. Now anyone who knows me well knows that those are two of my favorite movies of this generation. These are strong family stories with messages of hardship, hope and love.

Daddy’s Little Girls didn’t do anywhere near as well at the theatres as the Madea movies, but it should have done better because it’s a movie for everybody. There are no over-the-top characters; just real people living, loving and growing through life’s challenges. If you haven’t seen this movie, go out today and rent it. You will not be disappointed.

My hat is off to Tyler Perry. He shows a sensitivity and awareness in this story that you don’t see in the Madea movies. This is a very talented man. I have to give him props! You go, Mr. Perry!

Tagged at ShoutLife

shoutlifeThis is the first time I’ve been tagged since I started blogging so I’m going to take this very seriously. . .well, sorta seriously.


1. Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
2. People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
3. At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
4. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.


1. I’m a night person, which means I’m not a morning person. I do most of my writing at night (actually, in the early, early morning hours) and then I sleep in. After I finish a book, it’s takes me a couple of weeks to get my body back on the standard night-sleep, day-awake schedule. People who know me well are used this quirk.

2. My first summer job during college was in a steel mill in Pennsylvania where I scurried around in a hard hat and steel-toed shoes, carrying my handy-dandy clipboard.

3. My favorite color is blue. (Yes, I stole this one from Christy who tagged me, but it’s true).

4. I’m not a big meat eater. In fact, I could go for months without meat. Sounds good and healthy, right? Well, the downside is I’m a big pasta (starch) person. Gimme some bread and I’m happy.

5. If I had been a boy, my mom was going to name me Bonanza. Don’t ask why; I haven’t. I’m just glad I’m a girl. She had to settle for naming me after her high school principal’s daughter.

6. I don’t know how to change a diaper. Believe it or not, I have three nieces who were once babies. 🙂

7. I don’t cook. I have to call my mom for directions when I bake a ham for the family Thanksgiving dinner.

8. After my cousin finished reading my first book, she called and asked, “Is that book about you?” Now, just who said first books weren’t revealing?

I had a hard time finding eight ShoutLifers who hadn’t been tagged so I don’t think I’m even going to try it here. I started feeling like an Amway salesperson, and everybody had already heard the plan. 🙂

So, if you read this, consider yourself tagged. Now, gimme eight. Don’t forget to let me know that you took up the challenge.


shoutlife Guess what? I’ve found a new spot to hang out in online. It’s shoutlife, the place some refer to as “the Christian myspace.” I’ve only been out there a few days and I already know I’m going to like it. I have a myspace page as well but I haven’t been active out there. To be honest, sometimes myspace scares me. Anyway, if you haven’t been to shoutlife, come visit me there. I think you’ll like it.

How ya’ doing?

I hope things are well with you because they’re pretty well with me. I want to report some progress in the weight loss arena for me. In a way, I don’t like to talk about it since it’s a lifestyle change kind of thing, rather than a diet. Anyway, it’s going well and I’m losing weight. I’m not going to post frequently about it but I will let you know as I hit major milestones. How’s that?

Otherwise, life is good. I read an article recently about people who had weight loss surgery who ended up trading one obsession for another. This probably happens most with emotional eaters. Since they can no longer turn to food to manage the obsession, they now turn to drugs, sex, gambling, shopping, anything else to give the “high” or the “relief” that food gave. Here are a couple of links about it:

Other compulsive behaviors replace overeating

Gastric bypass patients trade eating for shopping

Now isn’t that amazing? It is to me because it makes clear that for many of us, food is not the problem; food masks the problem. If you take away the food, we just find something else to mask the problem. And the God that we serve allows no masks. That’s just the way He is.

Have you ever felt like you keep going through the same thing over and over, as though God is trying to teach you something that you don’t seem to be able to grasp? I think it’s like this with those of us who wrestle with eating issues. We must learn the lesson or we’ll continue to wrestle. Forget shortcuts. We’ll still end up back in the same cycle, trying to learn the same thing.

The God of “no shortcuts.” That’s the God we serve. You gotta love it and Him.

Be blessed as you learn the lessons He puts before you. I pray we all learn much faster.

Have a great week!

Evil Intentions

Something happened to me recently that caught me by surprise. Someone misinterpreted something that I did and attributed it to “evil intentions” on my part. The words, “evil intentions,” were not spoken, so that’s my attribution. Anyway, the incident left me feeling a bit hurt even though I learned a long time ago to let God fight my battles.

Now I could have gone to the person and explained that I didn’t have “evil intentions,” but I didn’t; I left that one to the Lord. Over time, I pray, that as the person gets to know me better, they’ll begin to give me the benefit of the doubt. That’s why I always try to gove others that same benefit. When things happen, my first thought is not, “they’re against me” or “they’re out to get me,” rather it’s “why is this happening?”

In this case, I figured out that the person’s reaction was not even about me; it was about the situation and their trying to exert some measure of control over a situation that they thought was getting out of control. So, since it wasn’t about me, I couldn’t take offense. Life happens. I just have to trust God. If He opens the door at some point, I’ll bring it up to the person so we can talk about but I don’t feel any rush to do so.

Sometimes the lessons of the Bible are deep, but most times they’re very simple. I’ll leave you with 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

Now tell me about your blessings, because I count this as one of mine.

Winning the War with SPAM

I think I’ve finally gotten the upper hand with SPAM, but it wasn’t an easy task. Well, maybe it was. Here’s the story:

I have a free gmail account that I haven’t really been using. Well, I noticed that gmail seemed to handle SPAM very well. While browsing around recently, I found out that you can have gmail poll your other email accounts and have all your mail stored on gmail. Now this works for me because gmail has 2GB of storage for mail and mail on gmail is always accessible via the web.

Back to the SPAM. Well, I had gmail poll all my accounts. It had probably been a day or so since I’d downloaded mail. Well, gmail identified about 5000 SPAM messages and moved them automatically to the SPAM mailbox. A couple of pieces still got through but my mailbox wasn’t deluged with the garbage. I could actually read my messages! What a novel concept!

Anyway, I feel like I have a new lease on life.

Talk about a blessing!

The son of one my students had a car accident. Take a look at this picture of his car.


The blessing: He walked away with a couple of scratches. Now that’s a blessing.

A Good Deal on Phone Service

Now y’all know that I don’t use this blog to abuse you but I saw an offer that I wanted to tell you about. I’ve recently changed my telephone service to Sunrocket, a broadband service that is delivered over the cable line. The service is $199 a year, yes, a year. And they gave me three add’l months free.

Well, I just went to login and check my voice mail and I saw this special that they’re having for today (Tuesday, March 27) ONLY; $199 for one year and the second year free.

If you already have digital cable, you may want to consider this service. My phone bill was about $90 a month, and now at $199 a year, it’s only about $17 a month. A huge savings. Enough for me to hire someone to clean my house once a month, but that’s another story.

I promise not to bother you with promotions but I know some of us are trying to make our dollars go a bit further. Take a look at Sunrocket. If it seems it’ll work for you, give it a try.

There are a couple of downsides:
–You have to pay the full $199 when you join
–If you have an alarm system in your house that uses the phone to call out alarms, you’ll have to keep a second line or pay around $200 for some special fixture.

I don’t get anything out of this. It seems like such a good deal that I wanted to pass it along.


Why I’m Not Blogging

Well, I’ve figured out why I’m not blogging: the things I want to talk about, I can’t talk about yet. I keep thinking anyday now, but I can’t talk about them. LIFE!

There’s a lot going on with me in terms of work, writing, relationships, and faith. I’m seeing God’s hand all in it, but I can’t put it into words. Sometimes I just start crying tears of joy at what He has done in my life and how far He has brought me. I don’t want you to think that everything is “perfect” in my life because it isn’t, not in the way we think about perfection. But it is “complete,” and I recognize and appreciate that completeness more and more each day.

Maybe I’m getting older so I’m looking at life differently. I don’t know. I just know that I’m more grateful and more content today than I’ve been in a long time, maybe ever. And I say this even with so many things up in the air. Maybe it means I’m learning to trust Him. What do you think?

Rick Warren, My HERO!

pdl I have found a new friend and mentor in Rick Warren, pastor of mega-church Saddleback in Lake Forest, CA and author of the mega-bestselling book, The Purpose-Driven Life (PDL). I have to tell you that I’ve never met Rick and though I’ve purchased PDL, I’ve only gotten as far as Day 26. You’re probably wondering then how he became my new friend and mentor. Well, I heard him this past Sunday (12/24) on Meet the Press with Tim Russert and his heart touched mine.

You see, since I’ve started writing Christian fiction, I’ve been torn about the affluence and influence that comes with being a best-selling author, not that I’ve reached any great height in either area — yet. Anyway, Rick spoke to my heart when he spoke about these two in his life on Meet the Press. As he spoke, I knew his words were for me from God. I want to share them with you. You can read the full transcript of the entire conversation here or view a video of the session here until Sunday, 12/31. It was an excellent session all around, but here I’m only going to excerpt what he said about affluence and influence. Here goes:

MR. RUSSERT: As we speak on this Christmas Eve morning, tonight. many Americans will be surrounded by an abundance of gifts. I was quite taken by something that you said, Pastor Warren, and I’ll put it on the screen. “I don’t think it’s a sin to be rich. I think it’s a sin to die rich.”

I was a goner right here. This hit my heart so strongly. Wealth is not about having and hoarding/keeping, but about giving.

MR. RUSSERT: Explain that.

DR. WARREN: Well, in my own personal life, when “The Purpose Driven Life” came out and it became the best-selling book for a long, long time in the world…

MR. RUSSERT: Twenty-five million copies.

A note here. If PDL sold 25 million copies (or 30 million as Rick corrects below), I’d guess that PDL has made over $50 million. Now that’s a lot of money.

DR. WARREN: …yeah, now 30. And it’s in 56 languages. Well, that brought in enormous amounts of money. And it also brought in a lot of attention. And I had to pray about what I call the stewardship of affluence and the stewardship of influence. And I began to go to Scripture, and I, I found a verse in the New Testament on what to do with the money, and a verse in the Old Testament on what to do with the, the fame. And on—in 1 Corinthians 9, Paul—Apostle Paul says, “Those who teach the gospel should make a living by the gospel.” In other words, “It’s OK to pay your priest or your pastor.” That’s a legitimate offer to society. But, Paul says, “I will not accept that right, because I want the freedom to serve God and be a slave to no man.” And I thought, “I want to do this.” And when, literally, when all this money started pouring in, Kay and I make five decisions on what to do with the money.

First, we said, we’re not going to spend it on ourselves. I still live in the same house I’ve lived in 15 years, I drive a six-year-old Ford truck. I don’t own a boat, I don’t own a house—a second house. I don’t own—I don’t own a plane. We just said we’re not going to—I’m not going to spend it on that. A second was I stopped taking a salary from Saddleback Church about four years ago. Third is, I added up all that the church had paid me in 24 years at that time and I gave it all back. And I did that because I knew that I was being put under the spotlight and I didn’t want anybody to question my motives of why I do what I do. And sure enough, the very next week I was interviewed by Time. . .

I cut a short quip about Time magazine here. You can read it in the full transcript.

DR. WARREN: And the first question the author—the editor—the reporter asked was, “What’s your salary?” Which I thought, OK, here’s another fat cat megachurch pastor fleecing the flock. And I said, “Well, honestly, I’ve now served my church for free for 25 years.” Her face went white and I thought, it was worth every penny just to say that. You know, I had to repent of my pride, but I really felt good for about a minute. You know, and then I got real humble again. But I did that. Then we set up some charities, one’s called Acts of Mercy, which helps those with AIDS. And another on training leaders and another on this Global Peace Plan.

MR. RUSSERT: What did the New Testament tell you about celebrity?

Not so quick, Tim. Rick’s still telling us about the stewardship of affluence.

DR. WARREN: The last thing I did is we became reverse tithers. When my wife and I got married 31 years ago, we started giving 10 percent of our income as a tithe to our church. And each year we would raise it at least 1 percent. Now, we never told anybody for over 30 years–25, 28 years. We’ve been married 31 years and, and the first year of marriage we raised it to 11 percent. Second year to 12. Well, we’ve now been married 31 years, we give away 90 percent and we live on 10. And honestly, that’s quite fun. The joy of giving at Christmastime—I really do belive in the joy of giving. I’m probably the happiest person on the planet because we get to use money in so many great ways. You can’t outgive God.

Can’t you see why this guy is my hero? How many of us think about affluence this way? Now let’s hear about the stewardship of influence.

DR. WARREN: On the, on the stewardship of affluence, I was reading Psalms 72 and it’s an interesting prayer, it’s Solomon’s prayer for more influence. When you read this prayer, it sounds like the most egotistical prayer because he says, “God, I want you to make me famous.” He says, “I want you to spread the fame of my name to many countries. I want you to give me power, give me blessing and make we well-known.” And it sounds pretty selfish till you read the, the motivation and he says, “So that king may support the widow and orphan, defend the defenseless, care for the sick, assist the poor, speak up for the oppressed, the immigrant, the foreigner,” things like that. The purpose of influence is to speak up for those who have no influence, and that changed my life. It turned my old—I had to repent and said I will spend the rest of my life using whatever influence I’ve got for those who have little influence.

And Rick’s words changed my thinking. The purpose of the celebrity that comes with selling a lot of books is not to build self-importance or to sell more books, but to speak up for those with no influence and to build up the kingdom. I’ve wondered about the wisdom of church groups who invite people to speak just because they’d sold a lot of books. It seemed as though they were equating financial success with godly wisdom, which is a dangerous association to make. Listening to Rick, I began to understand that influence open doors that can be used for godly purposes. You may have already understood this, but I’m a bit slow. 🙂

As I look ahead to 2007, I feel more ready for any affluence and influence God may send my way, because I have some concrete examples of how to best use them for His glory. I thank Rick Warren for sharing them with me.

That said, I’m starting The Purpose Driven Life again on January 1. Anybody want to join in with me? You can get the first seven days of readings online here. Each day’s reading ends with a series of questions so the online readings will take us through the first week and then we’ll need the book. You can get the book just about everywhere, including local discount stores, bookstores, Rick Warren’s web site and online bookstores. It’s up to you.

Let me know if you’re interested and we can do this together. I know this is short notice so if you want to join with me but you want to wait until January 8 to start, just let me know and we’ll go with what works best for people.

Happy New Year!

Happy Holidays!

It’s been a while since I’ve posted and I really have no real excuse. But I do have a few excuse possibilities:

1. I’ve been settling into my new job. I’m enjoying the new job a lot so the settling in has’t been painful. Just time-consuming.

2. I’ve been breaking in a new computer. I have a new laptop (paid under $500 at Office Depot) so I’ve had to transfer all my data from the old machine. I made the mistake of not transferring the cookies and passwords so it hasn’t been easy getting into all my password-protected sites, including this one.

3. I’ve actually taken some time to do some reading. I read (and LOVED) Tiffany Warren’s Farther than I Meant to Go, Longer than I Meant to Stay. If you’re looking for “big girl” angst, you must read this book. Tiffany holds up a mirror and allows us to see ourselves, on the outside and the inside. It was a great book! I also read ReShonda Tate Billingsley’s “No More Drama,” another young adult inspirational story from the publisher of Jacquelin Thomas’s Divine series of young adult Christian fiction stories. I enjoyed it and so did my niece. We’re both eagerly awaiting the next young adult titles by both Ms. Billingsley and Ms. Thomas. I characterize the Thomas books as Christian fiction and the Billingsley books as more inspirational fiction. Read them and let me know what you think.

4. I travelled for the Thanksgiving holidays so I was out of town for a while. I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving. I spent a lot of my time being thankful for the life that God has given me. If there’s one thing that I’ve learned in my life is that the life God gives you is the best life you can have. I appreciate more each day the family he gave me, the people He’s placed around me , the opportunities He’s afforded me, and the hope He’s instilled in me. I have a good life and I don’t ever want to take it for granted. I also don’t want to forget why it’s a good life–because He’s directing it (when I’m not trying to take back the reins, that is). That’s the only reason.

As we moved into Christmas and the new year, I wish you all the hope of Christ. A friend blessed me with a story of a recent trial in her life, and while I can’t share it all with you, I can tell what I learned from it: What God provides is enough. It may not look like enough and it may not feel like enough, but is it. Think about the fishes and loaves that fed the 5000. Who would have thought the little they had was enough to feed all those people? They did, but they never would have known that they did if they hadn’t started feeding people with the little they had. That’s exactly what we have to do. We have to move in what we have and trust God that it’s enough. Our job is to believe; His job is to deliver. And He always does. Every time. Look back on your life. You know I’m telling the truth. Praise God!

I love you with the love of the Lord. Keep your hope in Him.

Happy Holidays!


I Get Madea!

Okay, I’m going to admit it publicly: I didn’t get Tyler Perry’s Madea.

There I’ve said it.

I first heard of Tyler Perry last Christmas when a friend gave me a couple of his plays for a Christmas gift. We watched the plays and I laughed a little, but I thought Madea was a bit much, a bit too much. That said, I went to see Diary of a Mad Black Woman the weekend it opened. Since a little Madea goes a long way, I still haven’t seen Madea’s Family Reunion.

I consider myself more a David Talbert type of viewer. The same friend who gave me the Perry plays later gave me a couple of Talbert plays and I enjoyed all of them: He Say, She Say, Fabric of a Man, and Love on-Lay-Away.

But I saw Madea Goes to Jail this weekend and now I’m a believer. I cannot express to you how much I enjoyed that play [on DVD]. I finally understood what Tyler Perry is doing with the completely over-the-top and irreverant Madea and I was moved. I wanted to watch it again. I’m going to buy a copy along with a copy of Madea’s Family Reunion. I just hate that I didn’t see Family Reunion in the theatre.

I haven’t seen Tyler’s television series, House of Payne, but you had better believe I’m going to scour the TBS listings to find it. I have nothing but love for Tyler Perry.

So tell me what you think of the Perry and Talbert plays. You have to try them!

Checking In!

It’s been a bit longer than I expected for this post, but here I am. My goal is post once a week until life settles down and I can post more frequently. So look for a weekly post. Let’s start with another update, this one with the details that you all requested. If you see some names here, they’re comments to folks who posted under the previous post, Still Alive!

The move. The move is now complete. My old house is on the market in Illinois and I’m a renting a house in Alabama. I ask that you all pray for me that the old house sells fairly soon since it ‘s pretty expensive to maintain two households. As for the new house, I’m all settled in, including my office. I like the new place a lot. It’s a bit smaller than my previous house, so I was forced to get rid of stuff. The good news: I needed to get rid of it anyway.

Are any of you pack rats like me? If so, I encourage you to do a bit of cleaning and make a few runs to the Salvation Army to share your unneeded bounty with others. I did, and it was a good feeling. I also got rid of a lot of books. I have to do this ocassionally to make sure there’s room for the new books. I always take my discards to the local library, where they are much appreciated.

Gabrielle, I moved moved back South because my roots are here. Maybe it’s my age. It’s as though the pull became greater for me in these last years to be somewhere that I considered home. This past weekend I drove to Atlanta to see a great-aunt who was visiting from New York. I drove over Saturday and came back home on Sunday. While there, I had a chance to visit with other relatives as well. It’s so nice to be able to do that and it’s something I would not have been able to do had I still been living in Illinois. I’m sure blacksunshine knows all about that since she recently moved from IL back down south. Vyta, who’s also considering a move, may join us in the South. Be sure to let us know what you decide, Vyta.

The new job. I’m settling into the new job. I really like my new colleagues and the general atmosphere of the College. My old work environment was very collegial and I’m pleased to say it’s going to be that way here at the new job as well. I’m teaching two courses this semester and I’m really looking forward to meeting my students. My office is almost together, but not quite. I think it’s going to take a while. To be honest, I’m not really motivated to do a lot since we’re moving to a newly renovated buliding in January.

The eating healthy plan. (Thanks for asking, Patricia. ) I’m happy that some of you reported good success with your health plans. I’m sorry to have to report that I don’t have a good story. I haven’t done a thing–no excerise, no keeping up with the First Place bible study, no Curves, no anything. In fact, I’ve gained a few pounds. YIKES. So I have to get started. My goal for this week is to transfer my Curves membership to a local Curves and to call a woman who’s hosted First Place bible studies to see if they’re planning any others. Those two are pretty easy goals, I know, but I have to start somewhere.

The new book. Don’t ask; pray. It’s good to hear that Xenia’s writing up a storm though. You go, girl, and congrats on the book. Tell us about it or give us a link to your site so we can read about it.

Spam. Thanks to Ty and Dee for the suggestions on getting rid of Spam in the blog. I’m pleased to report that we’ve wrested power away from the spammers! Sigrun, SpamKarma rates the spam factor of each posting and if it’s above a certain number, the post is listed in the possible spam listing and it doesn’t clutter up the list of good postings/comments. So far, I really like it.

Engagements! Hey, there must be something in the water ‘cos y’all are definitely getting engaged up in here! Geigh and blacksunshine (well, sorta) lead the pack. Congrats, sisters! Geigh, give a sister a phone call; we need to chat. Blacksunshine, keep on looking up, sister, you’re moving in the right direction.

Reading. It’s good to hear that many of you (yes, you, Patricia) are reading because I’m not. Sy, I haven’t read your book yet, but I’ll put it on my list. In fact, I haven’t really read much fiction since doing the Bible in 90 Days activity. It doesn’t have the same feel as it once did. I want to blog about that, but now’s not the time; maybe next week. Why don’t some of you tell us what you’re reading? It might give me the needed jump to get started again.

You know, I haven’t read much nonfiction either. My brother is on this “get your finances in order” kick these days so he’s encouraged me to read a couple of books on that. He’s turned into a big budgeter and now he’s trying to turn me into one. According to him and the books he’s reading, the Bible spends more time talking about handling money than it does talking about faith. (I hope I got that right). Anyway, I know I could use some discipline in this area so I’m going to try the books. I’ll have to tell you the titles later. I’ll also make sure I got the percentages right.

E-mail. You won’t be suprised to know that I still have issues with my email. My SPAM problem still exists, but I’ve complicated things by changing to a new email program. I’m using Mozilla Thunderbird now instead of AOL Communicator. I found out that AOL no longer supports the product so I figured I’d better change. Well, the problem is that I haven’t figured out how to import my old mail from Communicator into Thunderbird AND I don’t have the Communicator program running on my new computer. So, if you’ve sent me e-mail during the Summer while I’ve been trying to move, don’t hate me if I haven’t responded; it just means you were lost in switch. I do apologize. I spent some time this past week cathing up on e-mail but I’m sure there are some messages in Communicator that are unanswered. I’ll spend some time this weekend seeing if there is a way to get those messages into Thunderbird.

I guess that it’s for tonight. Have a blessed week. I’ll talk to you soon.

Still alive!

Hi there! I just wanted to let you all know that I’m still alive and kicking. I just cleared out my comment log that had over 1700 spam messages and only two valid messages. I’m in trouble, you all. I have to figure out a way to keep people from posting spam to the blog.

A lot has been going on with me since my last post and I hope to be able to share the details with you in a week or so. Just to tease you a bit–I’ve graduated my first doctoral student, changed jobs, moved back South and started the next phase of my life. I promise to share details as soon as I get settled in my new home and my new office.

Thanks for sticking with me all this time. Why don’t you take some time and tell me what you’ve been doing since we last talked/blogged? In other words, tell me about your summer. I know some of you have some juicy stuff going on.



Well, it’s happened. The spammers have found this blog and have decided to camp out here. My mailbox is flooded with their comments. Fortunately, you don’t get to see them. Unfortunately, there are so many of them that other stuff in my mailbox gets lost in the clutter. I apologize to anyone who has written to me in the last few weeks. If you don’t hear from me today, please email me again. I’ve tried to sort through all the garbage, but I have no doubt that I missed something good in the process.

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged and a lot has happened. We had a tornado here and I lost my Internet connection for a few days, not to mention about half of my roof. This tornado marked the first time that I took refuge in the bathroom like you’re supposed to do. Before Katrina, I kept doing what I was doing, totally ignoring the danger. I’ve become a bit wiser since Katrina.

The day my Internet connection was restored I went on a weeklong trip and I’m just getting back to town. As you can imagine my mail (snail mail, this time) is calling my name. There’s a lot of it and almost none of it is SPAM so I have to wade through it.

I hope to be back blogging in the next few days. I ask that you pray for me as I’m making some major life decisions over this coming week. It’ll be good to know that you’re with me.

I pray that you and your families are well and enjoying Spring. I haven’t forgotten our Eat Healthy Challenge though I have been a bit distracted. Let me know how you’re doing with it. I could use the encouragement.


Got Books?

The book lover in you will love the LibraryThing. This site allows you to maintain an online catalog of your books. You get to input up to 200 books for free; above that number, you pay $10 per year or a $25 lifetime fee. I’ve paid the 25 bucks already.
Why do I like this site? First, it’s very easy to input your books. You can input the book title or author and the system will search Amazon (or other libraries) to find the ISBN, cover and pertinent information. You do this on the “Add Books” page here. Or, you can use their universal import form and grab the ISBNs from any web page. You do that here. This feature I love. Since I tend to buy all the books of my favorite authors, I like to import their entire book list at one time. You can do this by entering the URL of a page that includes all their titles. For example, I do a search here and then I input the URL of the results page in the univeral import page. In one stroke, I enter all the books for that author.
The second thing I love about this site is that you can look at other people’s libraries. Once you’ve entered your books the system will automatically tell you which books you have in common with other users in the system. Third and last, I like that once I’ve input the books, I can easily download the ISBN and related information. This is important to be because I have a lot of old books that I’ve thought about selling on either or, but I’ve been reluctant to enter them one-by-one. Now, I can just download all the ISBNs from LibraryThing and upload them into either Amazon or
You can check out my library here. It’s by no means complete, (it actually lists some books that I don’ t own), but it’s a start. I would guess that I have over 1000 books so this is going to be a long project. Let me know if you decide to put your library online. We may find that we have a lot of books in common.

Looking for a Conference?

If you’re looking for a conference, here are two that I’m attending that you might want to consider:

March 9-12, 2006
Romance Slam Jam
Shreveport, LA

The Romance Slam Jam was started by Emma Rodgers and Ashira Tosihwe, owners of Black Images Book Bazaar in Dallas, to celebrate African-American romance writers. The first conference was held in 1995 in Dallas. I was in attendance at the first one and I’ve attended a few over the years. I enjoy seeing the writers who started in this business when I did. It’s also good to meet new people. I’ll be presenting a workshop on writing inspirational fiction on Saturday, March 11. The Saturday booksigning is open to the public.

UPDATE: I am unable to make the Romance Slam Jam event, after all. My apologies to those of you who expected to see me.

JUNE 30 – JULY 2, 2006
Raleigh, NC

Jacquelin Thomas sponsors this conference. The first one was held two years ago in Raleigh and we had a great time. Here you’ll get to meet some of your favorite authors of Christian fiction. I’ll be teaching a pre-conference writing workshop for beginning writers.

I love music!

Well, I’m more of TV person actually. I’m a Law and Order junkie (all versions, but the original is dearest to my heart) and I’m still recovering from the recently announced cancellation of The West Wing.

I think my preference for TV is a generational thing. A television is on in my house, almost all the time, and many times more than one is on. To make it even worse, sometimes they’re not even on the same channel. Yes, I have issues. 🙂 Anyway, television doesn’t distract me; it’s very easy to tune out. Radio (listening to music, in general) is much different; it commands my attention. Since I’m a compulsive multi-tasker, I can’t do much listening to music.

But I do like music and I need to update my gospel collection. I’m serious when I say update. My collection consists of the likes of the Winans (they’re old now, but they used to be young :)), Bee Bee and CeCe, Keith Green and Amy Grant. Okay, I do have some Kirk Franklin, a Mary, Mary and a recent Donnie McClurkin. I bought Kanye but something tells me that’s not gospel.

Anyway, I need some help so I’m asking for recommendations. Tell me what you like and I’ll try it. I have a subscription to Rhapsody so I can easily try new artists before I buy.

Please help!

Meet the Smartest People on the Web

I’m going to present, here and now, the list of the smartest people on the Internet. Here goes, in no particular order, because these people are just plain brilliant.

Carol Ann Culbert Johnson: Just check out her 2005 Top Ten Reads. You’ll have to scroll down a bit. Her list is on the right side, about halfway down the page.

Dee Stewart: Take a gander at her Gospel Fiction Top 10. Dee also has an interesting discussion of the term, gospel fiction. Let me know what you think.

If you’ve looked at the links above, you know that Dee and Carol Ann included The Amen Sisters in their 2005 Top 10 lists. This post is a special thanks to them for letting other readers know they enjoyed the story. So, Dee and Carol Ann, here’s a warm thanks from my heart to yours. May God grant you both the desires of your hearts in the new year.

New Web Site!

Angela BensonWhen my twelve year old niece told me that my web site needed help, I knew I needed to do something but I wasn’t quite sure what. The new design that you see here represents my current thoughts on what my web site should be. It’s not a finished product yet, but I’m not sure it ever will be.

What I like best about the new site is the blogging feature that allows me to easily update you with news as it occurs. You’ll see that I’ve included news items about my upcoming book, The Amen Sisters, as well as news about the re-issue of one of my older romance titles. The blogging feature also allows you to comment on what you see and read on the site. So I invite you to join me in my ramblings and share your thoughts on my news. You can start by telling me how you like the new site, but don’t forget to read the other news on this page. Just scroll down and keep reading.