I’ve Moved

I’ve brought most of my blogs together under one umbrella. I’d love for you to visit me at my new site. I look forward to seeing you there.


I’ve Moved…my blog

Thanks for stopping by.

I invite you to join me at my new blog http://stephseclecticinterests.wordpress.com

I created Steph Nickel’s Eclectic Interests as a home for most of my blogging. Check out Book Reviews…and any of the others that catch your interest.

You are also invited to http://casualtheology.wordpress.com (Who is God and who are we according to the Scriptures?) and Monday Motivation at http://www.christianeditingservices.com (tips and prompts for writers and those who want to be).

Hope to see you there soon…and often.


Yesterday’s Tomorrow

I read a review of Catherine West’s Yesterday’s Tomorrow quite a while back on God With Us: Finding Joy (http://janetsketchley.wordpress.com). I put it on my To Read Someday list.

A book set in Vietnam during the war wouldn’t normally have been my first choice, but the more I read, the more it drew me in. Of course, I want a story with a compelling plot, but I’m primarily drawn to characters that I grow to care about. And YT definitely fits the bill.

I love books. I always feel a sense of accomplishment when I turn the last page. However, I don’t always look forward to that time of day when I can open a specific book and plunge into the story, but that’s exactly how I felt about reading YT.

It’s not an easy book to read, but anyone who is old enough to remember the Vietnam War knows it wasn’t an easy time. Emotions ran high. The author doesn’t pull her punches. Because of it, it is a compelling story. The characters are real. Their stories are real. Their joys are real. And so are their heartaches.

The author doesn’t create a sanitized version of reality, nor does she overwhelm readers with too much disturbing detail. To me, she strikes the delicate balance.  And it’s just plain believable – another element of fiction that truly matters to me.

The pages of YT overflow with action, suspense, drama, character interplay, and an overarching romance (minus the fluff). If this appeals to you, I highly recommend Yesterday’s Tomorrow.

2012 Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market

It’s clean. It’s pristine. And it’s mine, all mine. (Well, actually I bought it for my daughter and myself, but that kind of takes away from the mental picture of me sitting in front of my computer rubbing my hands together and laughing sinisterly.)

My daughter is illustrating her first children’s book and would like to make a career of writing and illustrating. I knew this would be a good resource to have in our library.

It is my goal to get my picture books and chapbooks into the marketplace as well, and ordering a copy of the 2012…Market seemed like a good place to start.

Purchase of the book includes a one-year online children’s subscription to WritersMarket.com That plus the almost 400 pages of articles and markets make it a wonderful investment, especially if it leads to work.

How I wish I could order all the 2012…Markets. If I could, they’d include the 2012 Writer’s Market, and those for artists and graphic designers, photographers, poets, novel and short story writers, as well as the …Guide to Literary Agents. (Have I mentioned I’m eclectically-interested?)

If you’re new to freelancing, market guides are an invaluable tool. They list possible homes for your work, some you may never have heard of. They teach you which markets accept unsolicited work, which publish the kind of work you do, what the submission process is…

So, whether you’re a novice or have years of experience, I recommend ordering your market guides today…http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=2012+writer%27s+digest+market&x=0&y=0

The Bible

It may sound crazy to some of you, but it makes perfect sense to me.

Why would I read the Bible?

Isn’t it simply an out-of-date book with no relevance for today?

Isn’t it a book written by sexist men who want to subjugate women?

Isn’t it simply a book of rules?

Isn’t it filled with contradictions?

Don’t only superstitious, old-fashioned people believe the Bible?

I’m going to answer those questions from last to first.

There are many highly educated people who believe the Scriptures are divinely inspired, people with more letters after their name than in their name.

I won’t deny there are many hard-to-understand, seemingly contradictory passages in the Bible, but I believe that should make for more diligent study, not disregard.

The Word of God overflows with promise after promise. And yes, there are rules, but they are written for our good. Understanding and insight come from a study of all 66 books, not just picking out bits and pieces here and there.

If people took the time to understand the culture of Jesus’ day and came to realize just how radical his dealings with women were, their minds would be put to rest. Those who observed his actions would be amazed.

The Bible deals with topics that are every bit as relevant as they were thousands of years ago. Funny, the human condition boils down to the same things generation after generation.

While I can never convince you the Bible is the divinely-inspired Word of God, it boils down to faith. If you are willing to prayerfully open its pages and read it diligently, you will be amazed. (Even if you’re an atheist or an agnostic, there’s no harm in praying, “God, if you’re real and if this is your Word, please make yourself known to me.”)

Happy Thanksgiving from Canada

The Reading Promise

If buying new books isn’t in the budget, I best stay away from bookstores. If I don’t want to come home with a stack of books I don’t have time to read, I best stay away from our public library.

When I go to the bookstore, I gravitate first to the sale items. When I go to the library, the new release shelves call my name.

It was no different last week when I took a friend to pick up a book. There they were; the pristine new editions were beckoning. So, despite the facts that I have several books on the go and many more I haven’t gotten to, I signed out five books. While I’m pretty sure I won’t read them all, I do intend to complete The Reading Promise by Alice Ozma.

“She is passionate about literature, education, and working with children.” Sounds like an author I want to read.

I’ll admit I don’t usually bother with the Acknowledgments. However, I’m glad I did in this case. Ozma has a charming, conversational style. I love it.

Ozma refers to The Streak. It began as either a 100-night or a 1000-night commitment – depending on who you believe has the better memory, Ozma or her father. At any rate, it lasted over 3200 nights, until the author headed off to college.

The commitment? Dad read aloud to his daughter for at least 10 minutes before midnight every single day.

So, what good does this do after a child can read for him- or herself? The Commission on Reading declared, “The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children.”

As a homeschooling mom, I read, “Teach your children to read. They can, then, teach themselves everything else.”

I remember standing outside my children’s rooms at night reading to them. We read through The Chronicles of Narnia – well, except for The Last Battle. I thought that was a little scary for bedtime. I also read several of John White’s books. (OK, I’m sure they were even more frightening.) And I’m certain there were many others.

My mom instilled a love of books – and reading – in me from a young age. I still remember her reading aloud to me. (And that was at least four decades ago.)

The Reading Promise is about so much more than the books Ozma and her father read together. It’s about the bond that grew stronger with each passing year, with each passing book. So, if reading is important to you…if the special bond it can create between parent and child interests you…if spending time with an engaging, young author appeals to you…then pick up a copy of The Reading Promise.

I’d love to hear about what you’re reading these days.

The Corruptibe

I enjoyed a number of things about Mark Mynheir’s The Corruptible. First, I loved the short chapters. It was easier to justify “just one more chapter.”

I also liked the fact that it was written in the first person. I found it drew me into the story. It was more like sitting across from the protagonist, having him tell me the story, than being a distant observer. (Occasionally, the character referred to things he wouldn’t likely notice – even though he was a PI. I found it a little distracting. That’s one of the challenges of writing in first person: staying in the protagonist’s head yet giving readers enough information.)

The characters were distinct and easy to remember. There were enough of them to make the story interesting, but not so many that I got lost. (Although the only Christian character in the book played an important role, for some reason – maybe because she was the only believer – she seemed more like an extra rather than a regular cast member.)

I appreciated the fact that Mynheir didn’t sanitize the story. It was, after all, about a murder investigation and undercover police work. (I didn’t feel he pushed the bounds into the “unacceptable,” but some Christians might view The Corruptible as too edgy.)

All in all, if you enjoy police dramas such as Law and Order, Criminal Minds, and CSI, you will almost assuredly, enjoy reading The Corruptible.

I received a free electronic version of the book from Blogging for Books in exchange for this review.