Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Blog Tour: Hot Button Issues (Review)

Fill in the blank.
I don't know how to talk to my tween about_______.
...Internet Safety
... Pornography
...All Of The Above.

There's a lot of topics parents in my children's ministry struggle to talk about.

I'm always looking to find a resource I can pass along to them, to help start a conversation at home - between parent and child.

It's not easy, but it's important.Actually, it's quite vital. At times, the conversation might even make a difference between life and death.

Nicole O'Dell has created four (two more are pending) books that address the "Hot Button" topics in a tween's life - before they become a problem.

From dating to drugs, modesty to purity, morals to popularity and more - O'Dell tackles the tough issues in her four books: Hot Buttons: Dating Edition, Hot Buttons: Internet Edition; Hot Buttons: Sexuality Edition and Hot Button: Dating Edition.

Each book dives into the topic, lays a foundation for how a parent can discuss the issue, and then tackles some of the "hot" pieces.

The books are small - and could easily fit in a purse or backpack. Each book provides short scenarios and three or four responses a teen might talk about in a particular situation. 

I found the books (I dove into the Sexuality Edition and Internet Edition specifically) to be interesting. They may not be comprehensive - OK, let's face it, what book can cover EVERYTHING about a topic. But they are a solid resource that a parent can use.

I found the Internet Edition interesting, because she identified four websites that tweens and teens like to use, away from the "favorites" (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram).

I also thought the Sexuality Edition was frank, honest and not preachy.

I also liked the study guide, O'Dell included in the back of each book. The goal - another way students and parents can tackle an issue in a non-threatening way.

In all, I'll keep these books as a resource for parents. On the scale of one to five, I give them a solid three and half. Ultimately, these books aren't the definitive solution to an issue - but they are a tool parents can use to start a conversation with their student.

FYI - Bullying and Image Editions are coming in Spring 2013. Considering how many of my tweens are struggling with bullying at school this fall, I'm definitely going to check it out when it's published.

Here's a brief synopsis of the four editions:
Hot Buttons Dating Edition offers practical real-life situations that parents can read and discuss with their preteens. Topics include: physical activity, missionary dating, and violence/abuse in dating relationships.

Hot Buttons Internet Edition helps parents prepare their teens for online challenges they may face. Topics discussed include: internet activity, file sharing, social networking, and internet predators.

Hot Buttons Drug Edition braves the scary world of substance abuse, equipping parents with facts, warning signs, and real-world scenarios on: alcohol; Marijuana and other drugs; inhalants; and prescription drugs.

Hot Buttons Sexuality Edition offers the facts about teen sexuality, backed by statistics; specifics for how to talk frankly about sex with your kids, discussion about the growth of homosexuality and bisexuality among teens; and compassionate advice for guiding your teen to reclaim purity.

About The Author
Youth-culture expert, Nicole O'Dell is the host of Choose NOW Radio: Parent Talk and Teen Talk and the founder of Choose NOW Ministries, dedicated to guiding teens through tough issues and helping parents encourage good decisions.

On air, O'Dell covers peer pressure, dating, purity, drugs, alcohol, modesty, popularity, and anything else that comes up along the way. Nicole writes and speaks to preteens, teenagers, and parents about how to prepare for life's tough choices.

As an author, O'Dell writes both fiction and nonfiction. Her popular YA fiction includes the Diamond Estate Series and the Scenarios for Girls interactive books that feature alternate endings, allowing young girls to decide the outcome for the main character. Her nonfiction for teens includes Girl Talk, which she wrote with her two daughters based on their popular advice column.

While her YA resources encourage and equip teens, Nicole also works to bridge the communication gap between teens and their parents. The Hot Buttons series helps parents discuss tough issues with their tweens and teens before the issues pop up in real life. Watch for future Hot Buttons books on subjects like bullying, image, prejudice, friendships, politics, and more.

O'Dell, resides in Paxton, IL, with her husband and six children-the youngest of whom are toddler triplets.

Online Resources
Find out more about Nicole at http://nicoleodell.com.
Buy the books: http://ow.ly/esojj
Check out the blog tour: http://litfusegroup.com/author/nodell 

It's A Contest
Win a $100 Visa Cash Card at the Hot Buttons Live Video Chat with Nicole O’Dell!

Note: As a freelance journalist, I was provided a copy of these books by Litfuse Publicity Group. This review was not influenced by a free book - just in case you (or the FTC) were worried about this detail.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Make A Difference With Operation Christmas Child #OCCGiving

How do you turn an empty shoebox or plastic shoebox like this?
Into a treasure a which could mean the world to a child in the United States or another country?

It's all possible, when you take part in the efforts of Operation Christmas Child, a ministry of Samaritan's Purse.

This year, OCC expects to reach a milestone - with more than 100 million children set to receive shoe box gifts since the ministry began in 1993.

Can you imagine? At least 100 million children experiencing hope and the love of Jesus, thanks to boxes filled with toys, games, hygiene items, candy and more.

It's an amazing thing to think about.

But it's not going to stop here! OCC has set a goal of going above and beyond 100 million. With more than two billion children in the world - with at least half living in poverty - OCC hopes to collect more shoe box gifts for children this year.

I filled my first shoebox in 1998, as a newbie children's pastor in Kansas. The families in my new church had set a goal to fill a plethora (I can't remember how many) of boxes during the National Collection Week.I still remember going shopping for the items in that first box.

Since then, I've had the privilege of being involved with Operation Christmas Child in a variety of ways. Most recently, I participated in a community party in Siloam Springs organized by some amazing volunteers.

During that party, kids (of all ages) came to the church prior to National Collection week for a fun morning of carnival games. All of the prizes won were used to stuff 100s of boxes. In the last year I was there, we collected at least 250 boxes!

This year, I was encouraged to participate in a "virtual" packing party.

So armed with my list, my friend Laura and I sent shopping today - to buy treats for a 2 to 4 year old girl.

From toys (I really wanted to include a "soft" doll), to fun bath stuff (I loved the frog bath puppet), to a coloring book and crayons - we had fun finding things that a child might enjoy.

My personal favorites - the "duck whistle" (every kid loves a noise maker) and the doll baby (worth going to three stores for it!)

I finished off the box with candy - since it had to be double bagged in a ziplock bag, I was only able to include the dum dum suckers and ring pops - the fruit snacks didn't fit in the box.

I can't wait to see where this box ends up. Thanks to the EZ Tracking option, I should be able to "track" the box as it wings its way to another country. Two years ago a friend did this, and her boxes ended up in Ghana. (You can pay for the shipping online, and OCC generates a label with a track able bar code.)

So what are you waiting for? 
You can still take part in this year's efforts.It's never too late to fill a box!

The National Collection Week Is Nov. 12 to 19. You can fill a shoebox and drop it off at a local collection site (FYI in the Little Rock Metro area, there's at least four churches collecting boxes). You can also build a box online (what an amazing thing) by visiting the OCC website.

Your participation can grow beyond building a box. You can also join in the call to prayer - .

Volunteers are encouraged to sign up for a specific time - especially during the National Collection Week - to help cover the boxes, children receiving them and the volunteers working during the week with prayer. You can read more about it here! 

OCC is an amazing organization - one I gladly support. You can read more about it here.

But don't take my word for it. Check out 2011 American Idol winner Scotty McCreery's experience - traveling to to the Dominican Republic with Operation Christmas Child to deliver shoe box gifts packed by his hometown church.

Ready to pack a box with your kiddos?
Here's some quick instructions.
(You can see the full list here)

1. Use an empty shoe box (standard size, please) or a small plastic container. You can wrap the box (lid separately), but wrapping is not required.

2. Boy or Girl?
Determine whether your gift will be for a boy or a girl, and the child’s age category: 2-4, 5-9, or 10-14. You can download a label online or click the Follow Your Box option to get a special label to learn the destination of you shoe box gift.

3. Fill it up!
Fill the box with a variety of gifts that will bring delight to a child such as toys, school supplies, and hygiene items. A list of suggested gift items is available here.

4. Donate $7
Please donate $7 or more for each shoe box you prepare to help cover shipping and other project costs. You can give online by using our Follow Your Box option, or you can write a check to Samaritan’s Purse (note “OCC” on memo line) and place it in an envelope on top of the gift items inside your box. If you or your family are preparing more than one shoe box, please make one combined donation.

5. Drop Off
Click here to find the closest drop-off location during you and drop off your box during OCC’s National Collection Week, Nov. 12-19, 2012.

You can also send shoe box gifts year-round to:
Samaritan’s Purse
Operation Christmas Child
801 Bamboo Road
Boone, NC 28607

Follow OCC on Social Media



This holiday season build a box with your family to teach kindness, compassion, and generosity.

Operation Christmas Child and influencer marketing platform BlogFrog have teamed up with 200 bloggers like me to spread the word about this great cause. 

BlogFrog will match the first 200 boxes that are built.  Pledge your commitment below to build a box today on Facebook or Twitter!

Pledge your commitment below to build a box today on Facebook or Twitter!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Operation Christmas Child. The opinions and text are all mine.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Impressed by Katy Perry

I ran across this video a few days ago on Facebook.

It features Katy Perry and Jodi DiPiazza sing "Firework" at the Beacon Theater in New York - "Night of Too Many Stars: America Comes Together for Autism Programs" hosted by Jon Stewart. The event, held on Oct. 21, was designed to raise money for autism programs, schools, and services all over the country.

The video tells DiPiazza's story of how music has helped her. It then segues, showing DiPiazza playing "Firework" on the stage, with Perry joining her.

Frankly, I was just really impressed by Perry's actions. It was just awesome - and too good, not to share.

You can see more highlights from the show at http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLD7nPL1U-R5oQRBMDHXwFM1srbI-Smmqm

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Blog Tour: The Sandal Artist (Review)

I appreciate a good children's book. I love how good picture books successfully blend the story and illustration together, to form a work of art.

In The Sandal Artist, the author, Kathleen Pelley takes a familiar parable of sorts, and turns it into a new work of fiction.

In the book, she follows Roberto's journey as he grows and changes from an aspiring artist who only paints "bright vibrant" scenes - neglecting the images of the poor children playing or an older man with his donkey - until he begins to value the people and places around him.

This all takes place because a cobbler lends Roberto a pair of sandals and tells him they may help him see the world in a new light.

It's a re-telling of the idea of "walking" in another person's shoes, will help you really understand them.

This is an interesting children's book. I like the story line, and the images are beautifully created.

It's a simple story - not too "Christian" but definitely one that has a positive moral message.

I do think this would make a good "bedtime" book for a parent to read to a child - because it would open a conversation about how you value life and the people and things around you.

On the scale of one to five, it's a three. Beautiful images, thought provoking words and a nice addition to my children's picture book collection.

You can find more online here:
At Amazon
Visit Kathleen Pelley's Website

Note: I received a copy of this book, from the publisher. However, the free book did not influence this review.
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, October 22, 2012

Blog Tour: When A Heart Stops (Review)

There are days, I'm glad Lynette Eason wasn't on my high school reunion committee.

Her imaginative plans, provide a chilling and suspenseful foundation for the Deadly Reunion trilogy.

In the second book in the series, Eason continues the story of three friends - Serena, Jillian and Alexia, 10 years after their high school graduation. This novel focuses on the life of Serena - now a medical examiner.

When a serial killer begins to pick off former classmates - and then begins to target her - Serena  Hopkins finds herself becoming an ally with her former high school crush - Dominic Allen (Alexia's older brother, who is now an FBI Agent.) - all while she is balancing a secret - sent to her by Jillian.

In this novel, Eason has created a suspense filled addition to the series. While it's not a stand-alone book, it does build on the first novel - When The Smoke Clears (Alexia's story).

This is a sold, well written piece of fiction. While it didn't "grip" me as tightly as the first book - it did "pull me in" and keep me reading well past my bed time.

Eason is a solid author in the genre of romantic, suspense fiction. The romantic twists and turns do not overshadow the suspense and mystery aspects of the work - which is something I LOVE. (I hate when the romance seems to run over the storyline.)

I do highly recommend you read the first book - before picking up this novel. There are pieces of the storyline which are tightly entwined between both novels - that help make each of them better.

On the scale of one to five, I give this novel a solid three. It might not keep you up at night, but it might leave you jumping at the shadows!

More About The Author
Lynette Eason is the author of several romantic suspense novels, including Too Close to Home, Don't Look Back, A Killer Among Us, and When the Smoke Clears.

She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America. A homeschooling mother of two, she has a master's degree in education from Converse College. She lives in South Carolina.

Online Resources
Buy it online
Read my review of the first book - When The Smoke Clears
Check out Lynette Eason's website

Past Reviews of Eason's Books
Too Close To Home (Review)
Don't Look Back (Review & Interview) 
A Killer Among Us (Review) 

Note: As a freelance journalist, I was provided a copy of this book by Revell Publishing, a division of Baker Books. This review was not influenced by a free book - just in case you (or the FTC) were worried about this detail.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Election Advice From John Wesley

The graphic I found on Facebook,
which drew my attention to this Wesley quote.

Election season is in full swing. Considering how much election "junk" was in my mail today, I think it's safe to say it's an extremely contentious, polarizing election.

Unfortunately, the passion is not just limited to the presidential campaign. It seems like EVERY race I've encountered this fall is full of people willing to share their opinions in some questionable ways.

Twenty years ago, I was idealistic. I was voting, campaigning and covering (as a political science student and as a student journalist - not at the same time of course), my first presidential election.

I remember the excitement, the intrigue and the electric nature of those events. It was awesome. I campaigned at some things, covered others and learned from every experience.

I was able to hear and experience rallies for George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Dan Quayle in person. (I was sick for the Al Gore event.)  I covered the Bush event, as a student journalist, along side the national media.

As a political science student, I campaigned for both democrats and republicans. In my world, and in those smaller campaigns, the party didn't matter, it was the candidate - and what they stood for - that was most important.

I also remember how, in both campaigns, we treated the "opposing team" with respect and dignity. We may have disagreed at times, but we were still friends. In fact, after one rally, I'm pretty sure we all went out for pizza together.

Now, I'm finding myself disillusioned with the new face of politics. It seems as if we've given up respect for rants. The division is wide and at times, quite painful. One only has to view updates on Facebook, or tweets from Twitter to see this in action.

Still, regardless of my feelings, I'll vote in the election - the words of my professors ring in my head. It's important to vote - It's my civic duty and my right, and something I should NEVER take for granted.

But as Nov. 6 draws near, I also have the wise words of John Wesley (from his journal, Oct. 6, 1774), ringing in my head.

During the remaining days of this election season, I'll "speak no evil of the person [I] voted against," and I'll also make an effort to make sure my "spirits [are] not sharpened against those that voted on the other side."

I guess, my hope is others will do the same. Remember, life will continue after Nov. 6 - regardless of who wins the election.

What the journal page looked like.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

A Day At The Little Rock Zoo

Last week, I had a chance to relax and shoot some pics at the Little Rock Zoo.

Looking back on it now, it was a great way to live out my "One Little Word" for 2012 - Rest.

For 1-1/2 hours, I walked around the zoo with a friend, snapped some pics (next time I'm taking the "big gun" (aka my long range lens), and just hung out - enjoying a pretty fall day.

Honestly, this is one of the first times in a long time, I've shot pics, well, just to shoot - no reason. Not for an event, not for work, but just for me.

So, I thought I'd share a few of the favorites.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Blog Tour: You Don't Know Me (Review)

What would you do, if the secrets you've kept for years - in order to protect yourself and your family - suddenly became your worst nightmare?

Annalise Decker has crafted a life - she's a model wife, mother, member of the PTA, ideal sports mom and more - and suddenly everything is going to change.

No one knows - except Annalise - that she was once Deidre O’Reilly, a troubled young woman whose testimony put a dangerous criminal behind bars.

Given a new life - and a new location - though the Witness Security Program - Annalise/Deidre meets and falls in love with Nathan Decker in Deep Haven.

Twenty years later, Annalise's past comes crashing into the present, when her assigned agent, Frank Harrison, comes to warn her that the man she once put in jail is out - and looking for revenge.

Suddenly, Annalise's past is putting her family's present in danger. Her choices - and the baggage she brings because of her past actions begin to chip away at the life she's carefully crafted.

In her newest novel, Susan May Warren begins with an idea - what would happen if someone entered the witness protection program. What choices would they make?

She also examines what a person might do if that life suddenly begin to crack - and the past that was carefully hidden, suddenly came to light.

Warren explores Annalise's life - and her ultimate struggle to keep her family safe. She also explores the things that families do to keep each other safe.

I'll be honest. This is a "hard" book to read. It's not a "light and fluffy" novel. It follows the trend in Warren's recent works - that seem to center around older characters, facing mid-life type quandaries.

The novel is good, but it's not necessarily a "beach book" read. It will make you think and may make you have a conversation or two about the dangers of secrets.

On the scale of one to five, I give it a solid three.  If you are looking for a light read, check out Warren's PJ Sugar series. However, if you are looking for a solid read, then check out this offering, the latest in the Deep Haven series.

More About The Author
Susan May Warren is the RITA award-winning novelist of over thirty novels. A five-time Christy award finalist, a two-time RITA Finalist, she’s also a multi-winner of the Inspirational Readers Choice award, and the ACFW Carol Award.

A seasoned women’s events speaker, she’s a popular writing teacher at conferences around the nation and the author of the beginning writer’s workbook: From the Inside-Out: discover, create and publish the novel in you!.

Online Resources
Buy the book: http://ow.ly/e6zml
Check out her website: http://www.susanmaywarren.com/
Follow the blog tour: http://litfusegroup.com/

It's A Contest!
Win a $200 Weekend Getaway from @SusanMayWarren! RSVP for Facebook Author Chat Party on Oct. 23rd!

Welcome to the campaign launch for Susan May Warren’s latest offering in her beloved Deep Haven series, You Don’t Know Me. Susan is celebrating with a $200 Weekend Getaway Giveaway and hosting a fun video Author Chat Party!

One fortunate winner will receive:
  • A $200 Visa Gift Card (Use that to catch up with a loved one and “Get to Know” your spouse, friend, sister, mom…whomever!)
  • The entire set of Deep Haven Books
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on October 22nd. Winner will be announced at the ”You Don’t Know Me” Author Chat Facebook Party on 10/23. Connect with Susan for an evening of book chat, Deep Haven trivia, and a live video chat! There will also be info about Susan’s BookShout read-along and a chance to win gift certificates, books, and other fun prizes!

So grab your copy of You Don’t Know Me and join Susan on the evening of the October 23rd for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven’t read the books – don’t let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun, RSVP today. Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 23rd!

Note: As a freelance journalist, I was provided a copy of this book by Litfuse Publicity Group. This review was not influenced by a free book - just in case you (or the FTC) were worried about this detail.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Women Redeemed Life Webcast (Announcement)

Women Redeemed Live Webcast: Women sharing their struggles, fears and hope!

October 10th Women Redeemed 2.0 Webcast and iPad Giveaway!

Join authors Kim Ketola, Teske Drake and Dawn Scott Jones for an evening of encouraging chat about healing and hope for women on the evening of October 10th. The authors will join together for a Live Webcast Event to share their stories.

BUT ... wait there's more! Between 10/1 and 10/10 enter to win a brand-new iPad from Women Redeemed!

One fortunate winner will receive:
  • iPad with Wi-Fi
  • Cradle My Heart by Kim Ketola, Hope for Today, Promises for Tomorrow by Teske Drake and When a Woman You Loved Was Abused by Dawn Scott Jones
Hurry, the giveaway ends on 10/10/12. Just click one of the icons below. The winner will be announced that evening at the Women Redeemed Webcast!

In coordination with the launch of their fall releases, Kregel will be hosting a live webcast event on October 10th at 8 PM EDT featuring authors Kim Ketola (Cradle My Heart), Teske Drake (Hope for Today, Promises for Tomorrow), and Dawn Scott Jones (When a Woman You Love Was Abused). The webcast will allow women to come together to share their struggles and fears in order to move toward healing and hope. Women will able to support one another and discuss shared experiences in a non-threatening, open and loving environment.

Don't miss a moment of the fun, RSVP today. Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 10th!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Blog Tour: Life With Lily (Review)

Interesting and sweet is how I describe the first of four "chapter books" Suzanne Woods Fisher has created focusing on the life of a young Amish girl named Lily.

Using inspiration from her co-author's life, Life with Lily is a novel written in the "chapter style" found in Little House on the Prairie.

Each chapter is a short vignette, focusing on a different piece from Lily's life.

The writing style is sweet. The chapters are the perfect length for either beginning readers or short bedtime treats.

If there's one thing I wished that would be different - I wish the novels were written in first person, rather than in third person. The book is from a "child's perspective" but the style is such that it's "about" Lily, rather than "as viewed" by Lily.

Hard to explain, but it's just a slight difference, that does set the tone - which is important if you are reading the book out-loud to a child. (Not enough to detract you from the book, but just something to know before you sit down with a young reader!)

In all though, it's a sweet, enchanting book. I can see reading this with a special kidlet in my life. I can also see giving the book to a certain seven year old I know learning to read (hum... can we say Christmas maybe?) because I think it would be the best of two worlds - entertainment and educational.

I give it a solid three out of five. It will be interesting to see where book two goes - and what adventures Lily gets into in the next installment.

More About The Book
Book 1 in the ‘Adventures of Lily Lapp’ series.

Lily is six in this story, just starting first grade in a one-room schoolhouse in upstate New York. Her parents are busy building a farm, and soon animals join the family—Jenny the cow and Chubby the miniature horse. A baby brother arrives, too, which Lily has mixed feelings about. (She wanted a sister!) Aside from a mischievous friend like Mandy Mast, Lily is happy at school and even happier at home.

Trouble is brewing at the schoolhouse and change is on the horizon for Lily and her family.

More About The Authors
Suzanne Woods Fisher lives with her family in the San Francisco Bay Area. She has one husband, four children, one son-in-law, a brand new grand-baby, and a couple of dogs. She graduated from Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California.

Suzanne has contracts with Revell for six more books about the Amish, both fiction and non-fiction. She is also the host of “Amish Wisdom·” on toginet.com, a weekly radio program featuring guests who are connected to Simple Living.

Mary Ann Kinsinger was raised Old Order Amish in Somerset County, Pennsylvania. She met and married her husband, whom she knew from school days and started a family. After they chose to leave the Amish church, Mary Ann began a blog, A Joyful Chaos, as a way to capture her warm memories of her childhood for her own children. From the start, this blog found a ready audience and even captured the attention of key media players, such as the influential blog AmishAmerica and the New York Times. She lives in Pennsylvania.

Online Resources 
Buy the book online: http://ow.ly/e60PH
Find out more about Suzanne at http://suzannewoodsfisher.com/.
Follow the Blog Tour: Click here.

Read an excerpt online here: http://suzannewoodsfisher.com/

It's A Contest
Celebrate with Suzanne and Mary Ann by entering their contest and RSVPing to the “Life with Lily” Facebook Author Chat Party on 10/16!

Two fortunate winners will receive:
  • Either the new Kindle Fire or new Nook HD
  • Signed copy of Life with Lily for you and a young reader in your life.  
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on October 15th. Winner will be announced at the Life with Lily Author Chat Facebook Party on 10/16. Connect with authors Suzanne Woods Fisher and Mary Ann Kinsinger for an evening of book chat, Q&A about Mary Ann’s Amish childhood, trivia, and fun! There will also be gift certificates, books, and other fun prizes!

So grab your copy of Life with Lily and join Suzanne and Mary Ann on the evening of the October 16th for a chance to connect with the authors and make some new friends. (If you haven’t read the books – don’t let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun, RSVP todayTell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 16th!

As a freelance journalist, I was provided a copy of this book by Litfuse Publicity Group. This review was not influenced by a free book - just in case you (or the FTC) were worried about this detail.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...