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Christy Catherine Marshall

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May 18, 2007

If you enjoy keeping up with current book news, I’ve compiled a short list of good sites that offer reviews.

Please feel free to add your site or blog to the comments if you frequently review Christian books or other types of inspirational media.

All of the following sites are ones I highly recommend:

Active Christian Media
Books for Moms
CBA Marketplace
Christian Book Previews
Christian Children’s Book Review
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
Christian Women Online
Faithful Reader
The Midwest Book Review
Novel Journey
Novel Reviews
Publishers Weekly
The Parrot’s Perch
The Writing Life
Title Trakk

I wish you all a safe and happy summer, filled with joy — and great books! Let’s get back in touch in the fall.


By: Heather Ivester in: Book Reviews | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (8)

May 17, 2007

This summer, I have high hopes of attacking some organizing projects that I just haven’t made time for this year.

For one, my kids’ school papers need to be pared down and filed away. I’m bad about wanting to keep everything — but really, we can’t! My plans are to let them do this themselves, saving only their best papers into a three-ring binder. I try to remember it’s the “process” not the “product” that matters, especially when we’re going through hundreds of fill-in-the-blank worksheets.

Artwork and creative writing are special reminders of this school year, though, and I do want to keep some of it. These years seem to be flying by when I take them as a whole.

An author of a new series of organizing books recently contacted me about her mini-books for parents who’d like to get more organized. Her name is Beverly Coggins, and she’s a professional organizer with a special desire to help artistic, creative people — who may also struggle with being naturally organized.

Check out her site if you need some organizing inspiration!

Another project I’d really like to get done is to organize my photos — both digital and print — and Tasra Dawson has some great ideas for that.

I’m also hoping to be more involved this year in our summer garden. This is a task I usually leave up to my husband because I didn’t grow up learning how to plant a vegetable garden.

Yet I’ve learned that nothing tastes quite as good as a warm, ripe tomato from your very own vine. It’s really the best way to get your kids to eat vegetables!

When we start harvesting our summer vegetables, I want to be more organized about what we do with the extra produce. This year, I’d like to at least try blanching and freezing our extra tomatoes to use for soups and sauces. I don’t know that I’m ready for canning — yet — but freezing seems simple enough, if I’ll take the time to do it!

How about you? Do you have any organizing goals for this summer?

It’s hard to believe, but school will be out soon. While I love having my kids home more, I also know I’ll go crazy if we don’t have any plans. The phrase, “Mom, I’m bored,” strikes terror in my heart. So I’ve signed them up for a few camps.

My Mom Taxi will be on the go as I transport children to dance camp, art camp, overnight Christian camp, VBS, and grandma camp. We’ll also become regulars at the library’s mid-week storytime, when the summer reading program kicks into full swing.

And with our sweltering Georgia summers, I’ll be around water as much as possible. For our family, this means we buy a three-month family pass to the city pool — and we never turn down invitations from friends who bravely invite us to swim at their private pools.

During all this summer planning, I let myself daydream for a minute. Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a summer camp for moms? Ah … Mommy Camp. What would that be like?

First of all, we wouldn’t have to do anything if we didn’t want to. This is a camp where all activities are optional. If we’re totally exhausted, we can keep the curtains closed and just sleep in. Of course, the rooms are luxurious, with whirlpool tubs and the softest sheets imaginable.

After a day or two of sleeping in (interrupted only by room service bringing us gourmet meals), we might be recovered a bit. We’d then begin to dine together on a balcony overlooking the sea and mountains. Soft breezes would gently flow around us, keeping us cool. The balmy salt air would moisturize our skin, so that we’d begin to look and feel like teenagers again.

We’d meet together a few times to listen to a motivational speaker tell us how wonderful we moms (and grandmoms) are, how difficult yet important the role of mothering is, and how much the next generation is blessed by us. After that, we’d be set free to do whatever we wanted.

Some of us would change into hiking clothes and trek up the mountain, led by an entertaining guide who regales us with witty stories about our natural surroundings. Others of us would change into swimsuits and grab the novel we never have time to read and go lie out in the sun by the sea. We’d alternate between sleeping and reading — with no worries about keeping our eye on small, wandering children.

Later in the afternoon, a private fitness coach would meet with us and give us an individual workout, targeting our problem areas. Then we would be offered a full spa treatment — including body massage, facial, pedicure, and anything else we liked.

At some point during this camp, which lasts at least two weeks, we’d receive a complete makeover: new hairstyle, makeup, and an entire wardrobe!

To ensure that we had plenty of time to relax, we would only check email or answer our cell phones once a day, for an hour or less. Everyone would KNOW that Mommy is at Mommy Camp and needs some time to rest.

Oh yes, and this camp would be completely free of charge! It would be paid for by advertisers who provide us with the food, spa treatments, and makeovers — hoping that we’ll enjoy their products so much we’ll tell others about them. (No pressure, of course.)

Would you care to join me at Mommy Camp? I think, after two weeks, our batteries would be recharged to jump back into hectic daily living. And we’d always have that mental oasis in our minds — a place to retreat during our stress.

Seriously, where do you go when you’re feeling overwhelmed? Here’s where I’ve found the most peace: from the words of Jesus, who says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Christ longs to have a relationship with us if we’ll trust Him — and let Him carry our heavy motherload.

(c) Heather Ivester

This column was originally published in the April 2007 issue of West Georgia Ladies & Men magazine.

May 16, 2007

I’ve posted over at Writer Interrupted about how you can “work smart” as a magazine writer and get your foot in the door through a Letter of Introduction. I hope my experience helps someone.

Although I won’t be blogging here this summer, I’ll stay part of the team of writing parents at Writer Interrupted. I’ll be posting once a month, on the second Thursday of the month.

If you’re looking for inspiration and ideas, come check out what’s going on over there!

By: Heather Ivester in: Writing | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (1)

The finalists for the 2007 Christy Awards were announced recently. These awards recognize excellence in Christian fiction and are “named in honor of Catherine Marshall’s novel and of her contribution to growth of the fiction Christians love to read.”

Because of all the book buzzing I’ve done in the past year, I’ve read several books on the list, including:

* Straight Up by Lisa Samson (WaterBrook Press) — Contemporary
* Grace in Thine Eyes by Liz Curtis Higgs (WaterBrook Press) — Historical
* Sisterchicks in Gondolas by Robin Jones Gunn (Multnomah) — Lits
* The Way of the Wilderking by Jonathan Rogers (B&H Publishing Group) — Young Adult
* Watching the Tree Limbs by Mary DeMuth (NavPress) — First Novel

Here’s a quote from Eugene Peterson (The Message Bible translation) on the Christy website:

Authority and precedence for writing fiction comes from the Jesus who told stories. His stories, as good stories always do, penetrate our imaginations and take on a life of their own in us.

The winners will be announced at the The Christy Award Dinner at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis on Saturday, July 7, 2007 from 6:30 to 9 PM. This dinner is open to the public, and you can follow the link from the website to find out how you can buy tickets.

If you live near the Atlanta area and you love Christian fiction, you don’t want to miss this event! Author, speaker, and four-time Christy judge Lauren Winner will give the keynote entitled, “Why I Read Christian Fiction.” Author and speaker Michelle McKinney Hammond will host the evening.

Congratulations to all of these authors!

By: Heather Ivester in: Books | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (2)

May 15, 2007

I want to thank the devotional writing team at Laced With Grace for honoring Mom 2 Mom Connection this week as their featured blog. That was very nice!

Since this is my last week of blogging for the summer, but maybe longer, this was very encouraging to me. (Thank you, sweet Iris!)

I recently discovered a site that allows you to search your region to see if there are any parenting publications that accept freelance work. You can check it out too at Parenting Publications of America.

This is so easy to do. When I typed in my state, I discovered there are four parenting magazines that are members of PPA. I’m familiar with one that is available in our hometown, but the other three were new to me. Because I’m within driving distance of these areas, I may have some article ideas that would interest them. I’m definitely an “expert” on my own region.

According to the writer guidelines, here is the payment info for these magazines:

• Reprint rates: vary from $25 to $45
• Original articles: vary from $50 to $300

Several of the writers in my writing group have sold the same article dozens of times, being paid every time it’s printed.

I saw this hint in the guidelines:

Geography is important to PPA editors in more than one way. Whether you want to pitch an original idea or sell reprint rights to an already written piece, you will meet with more success if you offer to localize the piece for every publication that publishes it. For example, offer to add quotes from local experts or parents, or include a sidebar with local resources. The editor may be able to suggest contacts.

As a parent writer, you can be “interviewing” local experts as you go about your daily life. Think about what kind of how-to articles you could write to a newcomer or a new parent, using quotes from local sources. You could “interview” your child’s pediatrician (with permission, of course), while you’re at your well check-up. You could “interview” local artists if your child is taking art lessons and do a round-up article on what types of art lessons are available in your area for children.

My kids have taken painting lessons from a wonderful retired schoolteacher. I took some pictures of her one day teaching the kids. Then when an opportunity came from a national magazine to write an article about retirees getting involved in community service, I already had my source and a photo!

I interviewed her officially by phone and asked permission to use the picture. I also interviewed a retired cousin who is active in volunteer work to add another voice to the story. After the article came out, I sent them both a copy, and they were happy to see it.

I was also happy to receive a check for writing something that was so much fun!

By: Heather Ivester in: Motherhood,Writing | Permalink | Comments Off on Parenting Publications of America

May 14, 2007

I received an announcement about a writing contest going on at Regenerated Magazine. If you have teens in your house, here’s some incentive for a fantastic end-of-year assignment.

What I like most about this contest is that it’s sponsored BY teens and FOR teens. It’s encouraging for me to see Christian teens engaging their peers in such a thought-provoking assignment. And I love essay contests!

I hope you’ll help spread the word!

From the website:

Regenerated Magazine is holding an essay contest this summer for students ages 12-18. The topic is “How to live a regenerated life,” and the first place winner will receive an iPod Nano.

Regenerated Magazine is all about transformation, inspiring young Christians everyday to change our culture. Through the renewing of our minds with our biblical worldview, we’re challenging our peers to live for the glory of God.

How can you do this? How can you regenerate our culture in politics, in religion, in everyday life? How can you transform the world for Christ? Tell us! Write an essay about it—you might win an iPod® Nano!


In Regenerate Our Culture’s mission statement, it says we are trying to “regenerat[e] our nation’s worldview away from the post-modernism holding it and back to the Christian worldview it was first built on. It can’t be denied that many in our nation have turned away from God in politics, religion, and their everyday lives. Our vision is to help bring about a positive change in these three important areas…”

What does this mean in real life? How can you live a regenerating life that will impact our culture for Christ?

Entrant Qualifications:

Students between the ages 12-18 as of May 1st, 2007. This contest is open to homeschoolers, public schoolers, and private schoolers.

Contest Dates:

All essays must be emailed to essaycontest [at] regenerateourculture [dot] com between April 1st, 2007 and June 1st, 2007 (closing on 10:00 pm EST).

Contest Rules and Guidelines:

* All work submitted must be entirely the work of the person submitting it. No outside assistance in, but not limited to, brainstorming, editing, proofreading, is allowed.

* The essay cannot exceed 900 words.

* All essays must be emailed to essaycontest [at] regenerateourculture [dot] com and the header must have the entrant’s name as the subject line, and the essay must be BOTH in the text of the email and attached in Microsoft Word format. The essay must be double spaced in size 12 Times New Roman font. The essay must have the entrant’s name and birth date as the title.

* All essays must be submitted by 10:00 pm (EST) June 1st, no later.

* The essay must not have been previously published anywhere. This includes on the internet (on a blog or other site).

* Regenerate Our Culture staff and board members may not enter. Regenerate Our Culture writers may not enter unless Regenerated Magazine has only published one (1) of their articles.


Essays will be judged on the following:

* Biblical worldview (we’re not nitpicking the theology—just the essential doctrines of God, sin, man, salvation, etc.)

* Organization/Clarity/Logic

* Content/Writing Style

* How well the thesis is supported (how convincing the argument is)

* Grammar

Judges will be picked by ROC and their names will be disclosed when the contest winners are announced. They have been chosen for their excellence in writing, clear understanding of a biblical worldview, experience, and other qualifications. Judges’ identities will be revealed after the contest is closed.

By: Heather Ivester in: Faith,Writing | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (2)

I was recently contacted by this book publisher, asking if I’d be interested in reviewing one of their new children’s book series. While I browsed around their site, I found some great information for writers.

If you’ve ever considered writing a nonfiction book, you’ve probably heard by now that you don’t write the book first. You write a book proposal, which you submit to an agent or publisher. There are several different books that teach you how to do this, but this publisher’s site includes a very concise list of what’s required:

“In order to consider your nonfiction book for potential publication, we will need to see a proposal that includes the following items:

* A brief synopsis in 1-2 paragraphs
* Author bio or resume specifying credentials and publication credits, if any
* A complete table of contents, plus estimated length of manuscript in words and pages
* Two to three sample chapters (not the first)
* A description of the target audience
* One page/paragraph on your book’s unique advantages
* A list of competing or comparable titles and how your book differs”

You can read the rest of the guidelines here.

It is SO incredibly hard getting a good agent or publisher to notice your work. Your submission will most likely be piled high in a stack of other people’s manuscripts. How will you get anyone to notice you?

For one thing, make sure you submit EXACTLY what the publisher requests. If they don’t take unagented work, then don’t submit without an agent. If you have any opportunity to meet an editor or agent personally through a writer’s conference, then do it.

I keep reading over and over again that a book proposal must be sent to the right editor at the right publishing house at the right time. It’s a game; yes. You have to know when and how to make your move. BUT! Your odds of success are greatly improved when you know the rules of the game.

Just thinking about all this makes me want to eat a big piece of dark chocolate. *sigh.*

By: Heather Ivester in: Writing | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (2)

May 11, 2007

Mother’s Day is coming up this Sunday, and I know this day brings mixed emotions for many people. If your mother has passed on, then the day may bring sadness, mixed with fond memories of your childhood and special times you spent with her.

If your mother is still alive, yet you’re not able to see her in person, your joy is only complete when you can make a phone call or contact her in some way. The phone lines on Mother’s Day are busier than any other time of the year!

I’m looking forward to this Mother’s Day. I’ll be spending it with my parents, my husband’s parents, and my own family. Our church has a parent-child dedication service on Mother’s Day, and we’re having our younger two children dedicated. It will be a unique experience having all the grandparents with us to witness.

Also, our seven-year-old daughter will be coming forward this Sunday to announce her decision to accept Christ and to follow through with believer’s baptism. We had the joy of meeting with our pastor a couple of days ago — just me, my husband, and our middle daughter. She’ll be baptized on the last Sunday of this month. I’m planning on bringing tissues with me to church of course!

As Tasra Dawson mentioned yesterday (don’t you just love her?), motherhood is filled with so many days of mundane tasks — cleaning up spills, running out the door 10 minutes late, heating up last night’s leftovers in the microwave … again. Yet there are moments that sparkle with so much joy you know every second is worth it.

Yesterday I posted at Writer Interrupted a little about my mom and how my mother/daughter gift book came into being. Here’s what I wrote:

Nine years ago, my mom was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. It was a scary time, as she underwent surgery and chemotherapy. I wanted to tell her how much I loved her, but I didn’t know how.

So I started writing out thoughts in my journal. I called it “Tribute to Mom.” God miraculously healed my mom that year, although the cancer returned a few years later. Once again, I prayed, “Lord, how can I show Mom how much I love her?” I’d never given her the tribute because it was still just scribblings in my journal.

Then I went to a Christian writers’ conference, and a door to a publisher opened. I was invited to write a tribute book from a daughter to her mom. I wept as I went back through my long-ago journal and rewrote out my sentiments to meet the needs of the publisher.

These thoughts became a book, From a Daughter’s Heart to Her Mom: 50 Reflections on Living Well, published last spring by Thomas Nelson. Once again, the Lord spared my mom’s life, and I was able to give her my journal scribblings, polished by an editor, in book form.

My mom’s love for me came full circle when I was able to write that book celebrating the love of a mother and her daughter. As I worked on the manuscript, my mother-in-law graciously loaned me dozens of old books filled with poems, quotes, and art that helped inspire me to meet the deadline. To add to the emotional whirlwind, I was in my last trimester of pregnancy (a daughter), so I was completely surrounded by the love of mothers and daughters.

Whatever your plans are for this Mother’s Day, I pray that God blesses you with a love that only comes from Him.

She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
She watches over the affairs of her household and
does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
“Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all.”

Proverbs 31:26-29

By: Heather Ivester in: Motherhood | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (2)