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The Mailbox by Marybeth Whalen

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books.  A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured.  The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between!  Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

David C. Cook; New edition (June 1, 2010)
***Special thanks to Audra Jennings of The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***


Marybeth Whalen is the general editor of For the Write Reason and The Reason We Speakas well as co-author of the book Learning to Live Financially Free. She serves as a speaker for the Proverbs 31 Ministry Team and directs a fiction book club, She Reads, through this same outreach. Most importantly, Marybeth is the wife of Curt Whalen and mother to their six children. She is passionate about sharing God with all the women God places in her path. She has been visiting the mailbox for years.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook; New edition (June 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0781403693
ISBN-13: 978-0781403696


Sunset Beach, NC

Summer 1985

Campbell held back a teasing smile as he led Lindsey across the warm sand toward the mailbox. Leaning her head on Campbell’s shoulder, her steps slowed. She looked up at him, observing the mischievous curling at the corners of his mouth. “There really is no mailbox, is there?” she said, playfully offended. “If you wanted to get me alone on a deserted stretch of beach, all you had to do was ask.” She elbowed him in the side.

A grin spread across his flawless face. “You caught me.” He threw his hands up in the air in surrender.

“I gotta stop for a sec,” Lindsey said and bent at the waist, stretching the backs of her aching legs. She stood up and put her hands on her hips, narrowing her eyes at him. “So, have you actually been to the mailbox? Maybe the other kids at the pier were just pulling your leg.”

Campbell nodded his head. “I promise I’ve been there before. It’ll be worth it. You’ll see.” He pressed his forehead to hers and looked intently into her eyes before continuing down the beach.

“If you say so …” she said, following him. He slipped his arm around her bare tanned shoulder and squeezed it, pulling her closer to him. Lindsey looked ahead of them at the vast expanse of raw

coastline. She could make out a jetty of rocks in the distance that jutted into the ocean like a finish line.

As they walked, she looked down at the pairs of footprints they left in the sand. She knew that soon the tide would wash them away, and she realized that just like those footprints, the time she had left

with Campbell would soon vanish. A refrain ran through her mind: Enjoy the time you have left. She planned to remember every moment of this walk so she could replay it later, when she was back at home, without him. Memories would be her most precious commodity. How else would she feel him near her?

“I don’t know how we’re going to make this work,” she said as they walked. “I mean, how are we going to stay close when we’re so far away from each other?”

He pressed his lips into a line and ran a hand through his hair. “We just will,” he said. He exhaled loudly, a punctuation.

“But how?” she asked, wishing she didn’t sound so desperate.

He smiled. “We’ll write. And we’ll call. I’ll pay for the longdistance bills. My parents already said I could.” He paused. “And we’ll count the days until next summer. Your aunt and uncle already said you could come back and stay for most of the summer. And you know your mom will let you.”

“Yeah, she’ll be glad to get rid of me for sure.” She pushed images of home from her mind: the menthol odor of her mother’s cigarettes, their closet-sized apartment with parchment walls you could hear the neighbors through, her mom’s embarrassing “delicates” dangling from the shower rod in the tiny bathroom they shared. She wished that her aunt and uncle didn’t have to leave the beach house after

the summer was over and that she could just stay with them forever.

The beach house had become her favorite place in the world. At the beach house, she felt like a part of a real family with her aunt and uncle and cousins. This summer had been an escape from the reality of her life at home. And it had been a chance to discover true love. But tomorrow, her aunt and uncle would leave for their home and send her back to her mother.

“I don’t want to leave!” she suddenly yelled into the open air, causing a few startled birds to take flight.

Campbell didn’t flinch when she yelled. She bit her lip and closed her eyes as he pulled her to him and hugged her.

“Shhh,” he said. “I don’t want you to leave either.” He cupped her chin with his hand. “If I could reverse time for you, I would. And we would go back and do this whole summer over.”

She nodded and wished for the hundredth time that she could stand on the beach with Campbell forever, listening to the hypnotic sound of his voice, so much deeper and more mature than the boys at school. She thought about the pictures they had taken earlier that day, a last-ditch effort to have something of him to take with her. But it was a pitiful substitute, a cheap counterfeit for the real thing.

Campbell pointed ahead of them. “Come on,” he said and tugged on her hand. “I think I see it.” He grinned like a little boy. They crested the dune and there, without pomp or circumstance,

just as he had promised, stood an ordinary mailbox with gold letters spelling out “Kindred Spirit.”

“I told you it was here!” he said as they waded through the deep sand. “The mailbox has been here a couple of years,” he said, his tone changing to something close to reverence as he laid his hand on top

of it. “No one knows who started it or why, but word has traveled and now people come all the way out here to leave letters for the Kindred Spirit—the mystery person who reads them. People come from all over the world.”

“So does anybody know who gets the letters?” Lindsey asked. She ran her fingers over the gold, peeling letter decals. The bottom half of the n and e were missing.

“I don’t think so. But that’s part of what draws people here— they come here because this place is private, special.” He looked down at his bare feet, digging his toes into the sand. “So … I wanted to bring you here. So it could be our special place too.” He looked over at her out of the corner of his eye. “I hope you don’t think that’s lame.”

She put her arms around him and looked into his eyes. “Not lame at all,” she said.

As he kissed her, she willed her mind to record it all: the roar of the waves and the cry of the seagulls, the powdery softness of the warm sand under her feet, the briny smell of the ocean mixed with the scent of Campbell’s sun-kissed skin. Later, when she was back at home in Raleigh, North Carolina, she would come right back to this moment. Again and again. Especially when her mother sent her to her room with the paper-thin walls while she entertained her newest boyfriend.

Lindsey opened the mailbox, the hinges creaking as she did. She looked to him, almost for approval. “Look inside,” he invited her.

She saw some loose paper as well as spiral-bound notebooks, the kind she bought at the drugstore for school. The pages were crinkly from the sea air and water. There were pens in the mailbox too, some

with their caps missing.

Campbell pointed. “You should write a letter,” he said. “Take a pen and some paper and just sit down and write what you are feeling.” He shrugged. “It seemed like something you would really get into.”

How well he had come to know her in such a short time. “Okay,” she said. “I love it.” She reached inside and pulled out a purple notebook, flipping it open to read a random page. Someone had written about a wonderful family vacation spent at Sunset and the special time she had spent with her daughter.

She closed the notebook. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea. She couldn’t imagine her own mother ever wanting to spend time with her, much less being so grateful about it. Reading the notebook made her feel worse, not better. She didn’t need reminding about what she didn’t have waiting for her back home.

Campbell moved in closer. “What is it?” he said, his body lining up perfectly with hers as he pulled her close.

She laid the notebook back inside the mailbox. “I just don’t want to go home,” she said. “I wish my uncle didn’t have to return to his stupid job. How can I go back to … her? She doesn’t want me there any more than I want to be there.” This time she didn’t fight the tears that had been threatening all day.

Campbell pulled her down to sit beside him in the sand and said nothing as she cried, rocking her slightly in his arms.

With her head buried in his shoulder, her words came out muffled. “You are so lucky you live here.”

He nodded. “Yeah, I guess I am.”  He said nothing for a while.

“But you have to know that this place won’t be the same for me without you in it.”

She looked up at him, her eyes red from crying. “So you’re saying I’ve ruined it for you?”

He laughed, and she recorded the sound of his laugh in her memory too. “Well, if you want to put it that way, then, yes.”

“Well, that just makes me feel worse!” She laid her head on his shoulder and concentrated on the nearness of him, inhaled the sea scent of his skin and the smell of earth that clung to him from working

outside with his dad.

“Everywhere I go from now on I will have the memory of you with me. Of me and you together. The Island Market, the beach, the arcade, the deck on my house, the pier …” He raised his eyebrows as

he remembered the place where he first kissed her. “And now here. It will always remind me of you.”

“And I am going home to a place without a trace of you in it. I don’t know which is worse, constant reminders or no reminders at all.” She laced her narrow fingers through his.

“So are you glad we met?” She sounded pitiful, but she had to hear his answer.

“I would still have wanted to meet you,” he said. “Even though it’s going to break my heart to watch you go. What we have is worth it.” He kissed her, his hands reaching up to stroke her hair. She heard his words echoing in her mind: worth it, worth it, worth it. She knew that they were young, that they had their whole lives ahead of them, at least that’s what her aunt and uncle had told her. But she also knew

that what she had with Campbell was beyond age.

Campbell stood up and pulled her to her feet, attempting to keep kissing her as he did. She giggled as the pull of gravity parted them. He pointed her toward the mailbox. “Now, go write it all down for the Kindred Spirit. Write everything you feel about us and how unfair it is that we have to be apart.” He squinted his eyes at her. “And I promise not to read over your shoulder.”

She poked him. “You can read it if you want. I have no secrets from you.”

He shook his head. “No, no. This is your deal. Your private world—just between you and the Kindred Spirit. And next year,” he said, smiling down at her, “I promise to bring you back here, and you can write about the amazing summer we’re going to have.”

“And what about the summer after that?” she asked, teasing him.

“That summer too.” He kissed her. “And the next.” He kissed her again. “And the next.” He kissed her again, smiling down at her through his kisses. “Get the point?

“This will be our special place,” he said as they stood together in front of the mailbox.

“Always?” she asked.

“Always,” he said.

Summer 1985

Dear Kindred Spirit,

I have no clue who you are, and yet that doesn’t stop me from writing to you anyway. I hope one day I will discover your identity. I wonder if you are nearby even as I put pen to paper. It’s a little weird to think that I could have passed you on the street this summer and not know you would be reading my

deepest thoughts and feelings. Campbell won’t even read this, though I would let him if he asked me.

As I write, Campbell is down at the water’s edge, throwing shells. He is really good at making the shells skip across the water—I guess that’s proof that this place is his home.

Let me ask you, Kindred Spirit: Do you think it’s silly for me to assume that I have found my soul mate at the age of fifteen? My mom would laugh. She would tell me that the likelihood of anyone finding a soul mate—ever—is zero. She would tell me that I need to not go around giving my heart away like a hopeless romantic. She laughs when I read romance novels or see sappy movies that make me cry. She says that I will learn the truth about love someday.

But, honestly, I feel like I did learn the truth about love this summer. It’s like what they say: It can happen when you least expect it, and it can knock you flat on your back with its power. I didn’t come here expecting to fall in love. The truth is I didn’t want to come here at all. I came here feeling pushed aside and unwanted. I can still remember when my mom said that she had arranged for my aunt and uncle to bring me here, smiling at me like she was doing me some kind of favor when we both knew she just wanted me out of the picture so she could live her life without me cramping her style.

I tried to tell her that I didn’t want to come—who would want to spend their summer with bratty cousins? I was so mad, I didn’t speak to my mom for days. I begged, plotted, and even got my best friend Holly’s parents to say I could stay with them instead. But in the end, as always, my mother ruled, and I got packed off for a summer at the beach. On the car ride down, I sat squished in the backseat beside Bobby and Stephanie. Bobby elbowed me and stuck his tongue out at me the whole way to the beach. When his parents weren’t looking, of course. I stared out the window and pretended to be anywhere but in that car.

But now, I can’t believe how wonderful this summer has turned out. I made some new friends. I read a lot of books and even got to where I could tolerate my little cousins. They became like the younger siblings I never had. Most of all, I met Campbell.

I know what Holly will say. She will say that it was God’s plan. I am working on believing that there is a God and that he has a plan for my life like Holly says. But most of the time it feels like God is not aware I exist. If he was aware of me, you’d think he’d have given me a mom who actually cared about me.

Ugh—I can’t believe I have to leave tomorrow. Now that I have found Campbell, I don’t know what I will do without him. We have promised to write a lot of letters. And we have promised not to date other people.

A word about him asking me not to date other people: This was totally funny to me. Two nights ago we were walking on the beach and he stopped me, pulling me to him and looking at me really seriously. “Please,” he said, “I would really like it if you wouldn’t see other people. Is that crazy for me to ask that of you when we are going to be so far apart?”

I was like, “Are you kidding? No one asks me out. No one at my school even looks at me twice!” At school I am known for being quiet and studious—a brain, not a girl to call for a good time. Holly says that men will discover my beauty later in life. But until this summer I didn’t believe her. I couldn’t admit that no one notices me at school because, obviously, he believes I am sought after. And I knew enough to let him believe it. So I very coyly answered back, “Only if you promise me the same thing.”

And he smiled in that lazy way of his and said, “How could I even look at another girl when I’ve got the best one in the world?”

And so now you see why I just can’t bear the thought of leaving him. But the clock is ticking. When I get home, I swear I will cry myself to sleep every night and write letters to Campbell every day. The only thing I have to look forward to is hanging out with Holly again. Thank goodness for Holly, the one constant in my life. In math class we learned that a constant is something that has one value all the time and it never changes.

That’s what Holly is for me: my best friend, no matter what.

I wonder if Campbell will be a constant in my life. I guess it’s too soon to tell, but I do hope so. I’m already counting down the days until I can come back and be with Campbell. Because this summer—I don’t care how lame it sounds—I found my purpose. And that purpose is loving Campbell with all my

heart. Always.

Until next summer,


©2010 Cook Communications Ministries. The Mailbox by Marybeth Whalen. Used with permission. May not be further reproduced. All rights reserved.


I am a huge Nichols Sparks fan. I have not read a book by him that I do not love. Marybeth's new novel, The Mailbox, to me reads like a Nichols Sparks novel; with a Christian twist.

One reason I was interested in reading this book was the fact that it was based on a real landmark.
The Kindred Spirit mail box is located on Bird Island, North Carolina.

This little video helps put you right there in the actual spot that Lindsey stands.

Marybeth has done an exceptional job with her debut novel. The Mailbox is a great easy summer read.
I was captivated by Lindsey's life and was reminded a little about my teens years as I read The Mailbox. Any woman who experienced a summer love as a teen (or an adult) will be taken back to the feelings of young love and special summer memories.

This book makes my MUST READ of the summer list! You will not be disappointed.


Reflecting Him Virtual Book Tour-Guest Post by Carla McDougal

I am participating in a blog tour for Carla's new book, Reflecting Him: Living for Jesus and Loving It. 
Carla has provided an awesome guest post from her book to share with my readers.

From the Mouth of Babes
Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek Him. – Hebrews 11:6

Did you wake up with thoughts of Jesus on your heart, mind, and soul? 
So often when the alarm rings we hit the snooze button a few times, which leads to the “Late Again” disorder. We fly out of bed and then rush, rush, rush to get ready for the day so we’re not late for our appointments, church, work, school, etc. All the while, Jesus is on the back burner of our minds. In His tenderness, He never pushes Himself on us. He desires for His children to seek Him, search the Word, worship Him, and call upon the name of the Lord in all things.
When my children were younger, they knew I loved to spend quiet time with the Lord in the morning. They observed this on a regular basis (hint, hint: I said “regular,” not all the time!). Anyway, one day after dealing with the kids arguing and fussing, I finally hit the point of blast-off. I sent all four children to different parts of the house to bring some calmness back into our home. From one room I heard Luke, eight years old at the time, ask a question that penetrated my heart. In fact, it still lingers in the crevices of my mind. He said, “Mama, I need to ask you an important question. Did you have your quiet time with the Lord this morning?”
All of a sudden, I realized I had not even thought about the Lord that day. Before getting out of bed my wheels had been spinning ninety miles an hour, planning the tasks for the day. No thought of Jesus had entered my heart, soul, or mind.
How can my faith grow in the Lord if I don’t take time to be with Him? Oh, what we can learn from the mouths of babes!
This is an excerpt from Carla’s 10-week Bible Study, Reflecting Him: Living for Jesus and Loving It

About Reflecting Him
Reflecting Him: Living for Jesus and Loving It
is a ten-week women’s Bible study. Like Jesus’ parables (which teach important lessons by creating visual pictures for the reader), Reflecting Him uses familiar objects and situations (such as pottery, the human sensory system, and the sun-earth connection) and draws comparisons that help women become aware of Jesus working in various areas of their daily lives. The study is a unique and convenient lay-flat format, so you can write without that annoying bump (you know the one we're talking about.)

Each week is divided into five days (lessons), supporting the central theme for the week.
Read the first two chapters (or weeks) online.

The study also has an online component through a
Reflecting Him Bible Study Group on Facebook. Individuals working through the study on their own can still get the benefits of a group discussion while working at their own pace. More than 200 people are in the group already and the discussions are really taking off.

This fall a leaders guide, videos, and music will be released to accompany the study.

Carla McDougal is the founder of Reflective Life Ministries and Share Fair, an annual conference for connecting, equipping, and encouraging women in ministry. She speaks at women’s events, retreats, and conferences in the U.S. and internationally. Carla married her high school sweetheart, Fred, and they have four children ages 16 to 23 and live in Magnolia, Texas. Reflecting Him: Living for Jesus and Loving It (WinePress Publishing, 2010) is Carla’s first book, although she’s been involved in leading and teaching Bible studies for more than 20 years. Carla writes a Monday morning e-votional at her blog, Carla's Corner.

Want Carla To Lead a Lesson for Your Bible Study Group?
With every group purchase of 25 or more studies before August 1, Carla will lead a tele-lesson (over speaker phone) for one of your group meetings. Please email windy(at)reflectivelifeministries.org to purchase books. Mention the blog tour and tele-lesson at the time of ordering.

You can purchase
Reflecting Him through Amazon, Christianbook.com, or Reflective Life Ministries.
The Reflecting Him Blog Tour, hosted by RedCouch PR, is June 20 - July 16. Friday's post was at MiscMayzee  and tomorrow’s will be at Backseat Writer. Follow along to read a different guest post, interview, or review each day.  

I am still awaiting my copy of Reflecting Him. My review will come later in the Fall, after I have had a chance to complete the 10-week study.

This book was send to me by Rachel at  Red Couch PR for review purposes.

Posies in my Pockets ~ Magnetic Flower Hair Clips (With GIVEAWAY)

Posies in my Pockets are totally unique magnetic interchangeable hair flowers you create, and keep creating over and over again to get the perfect match, for the perfect outfit. 1 flower over 25 options.
Laura over at Cora's Closet is the inventor, designer and maker of the Posies in my Pocket hair clip.
She graciously sent me a Medium size clip in my choice of color for reviewing. 
I choose a white base with a white topper.

Here's how it works:
You start with a Base Flower:
(This is the very bottom of the flower that will be closest to your hair.)


Pick a petal or two to go next:
(These are the inserts.)


Then, place on a topper:

This is what you get!

Here is my daughter, Riah, wearing her new hair clip. She LOVES it and I love it because not only can she design it to match her outfit, she can easily put the clip into her hair!
The flower she designed matches PERFECTLY with her daughters shirt!
She made put this together herself, 
it only two about 10 minutes to get the PERFECT match!
(This is a MEDIUM size clip. Laura at Cora's Closet has other sizes available.)

Something for the upcoming Forth of July Weekend!

My favorite insert petals are the geraniums and daisies. (Above)

And my least favorite is the rose inserts. (Below)

Some other designs:

Below are a few designs from Cora's Closet website. I received the White base with the white topper. I wanted mine to be very easy for my girls to wear with anything. There are many different colors available AND she does special requests!

Having an upcoming wedding... get your flower girls a gift that they use for your wedding and everyday after!

New picturenew5


Package includes:
1 base (Your Choice of color!)
1 Topper (Your Choice of Color!)
10 Inserts (Laura's choice, but your preferences are considered!)

$12 / plus shipping

fractal_background_red-2-1.jpg picture by raaez

Would you like to own one of these amazing flowers!?!?! Well, you can!
ONE lucky winner will receive a Posies in my Pocket flower clip in your choice of size and color.

This giveaway is open to all followers of What You Reading Now? If you are not a follower, then start following and get int eh action!


  • Visit Cora's Closet and tell me which color base and topper you'd choose if you are the winner!

Extra Entries:
(One extra entry per each thing you do.)

  • "Like" Cora's Closet on Facebook.
  • "Like" SuperMom's Reviews and Giveaways on Facebook.
  • Follow What You Reading Now? on Networked Blogs. (Right hand column) ----->
  • Tweet about this giveaway, include #SuperMomV for credit! (Can be done daily!)

Leave ONE comment telling me how many entries you earned and how you earned them. Don't forget to include your email address.

Winner will be picked by random drawing on July 17, 2010. 
Winner will receive ONE flower of choice, with the option to purchase additional flowers at 20% off.

 The Legal Stuff: This book was provided by Cora's Closet for review purposes.

Sing, Read and Write from Brite Music

This delightful music will inspire your child to learn to read. Each CD in this five-volume set will prepare your child to read and write by teaching her about each individual letter. Learning letters and sounds through music is a proven way to help children understand these new and exciting concepts. Set includes 5 CDs, 5 activity books, 2 wipe-away, learn-to-write booklets, "Getting Ready to Write" and "I Love Writing Letters," all contained in a durable, plastic holder.

(IMPORTANT UPDATE:  Brite Music has decide to go Digital Only on all products. The physical products are still available while products last.)

My son is a huge music fan. I've come to find out that he learns well through music, so I was excited that Julie allowed me to review the Sing, Read and Write program.
We love it! The songs are catchy and easy to learn. My son, age 5, (and even my daughters) all love to listen to them, especially when they are doing writing time in school.

Music is a way that lots of people learn. If you notice that even after hearing a song (any song) a couple of times you can easily memorize it. That is why I give Sing, read and Write TWO THUMBS UP!

The program includes wipe-off books as well as paper writing books. Each book is meant to be used in conjunction with the CD, as the songs and talking on the CD take the child through each coloring page. Each page has the words to the corresponding CD. The awesome thing with the books is that you are given permission to make copies for your class use. I love that part! I can reuse this program with my twins in a year or so!

I have also made a copy of the CDs for my kids to use in the CD player in their play room. This has helped alot for my son to listen to them often and at his own leisure. He is learning without realizing it.

My son used this program as Language Arts in homeschool preschool and did excellent, we are ready to move on to Kindergarten this coming Fall. Wahoo!

If you have children who learn verbally, then you need this program to teach them there letters,the sounds and how to write each. My son is HUGE on music, songs and silly rhymes. This is how he learns best so this is how I tech him.

Wanna place an order?
Julie Jensen is my consultant and she is awesome. When ordering on the website, enter her Consultant Code 2031205. By using her consultant you will receive a 10% discount!!

fractal_background_red-2-1.jpg picture by raaez

One lucky reader will receive a $15 gift certificate toward the purchase of any product on the Brite Music website.

You must be a follower of What You reading Now? blog to be eligible. (So, become a follower!!)


  • Visit Brite Music, take a look around and then come back here and leave a comment telling me what product you'd like to own. 

Extra Entries:
(One entry per extra thing done!)

  • Share my blog through Twitter: **Use #SuperMomV and this url: http://bit.ly/b8g2Pj .
  • Share my blog through email. Copy the email to me: ladyverlina AT yahoo.com. (One entry per person you send the email too!!)

Leave one comment telling me how many entries you have earned and what you did to get them!

A random drawing will take place on Friday July 9, 2010.

 The Legal Stuff: This book was provided by Independent Brite Consultant, Julie Jensen.

Hungry Girl 1-2-3 by Lisa Lillien (WITH GIVEAWAY!)


With more than 200 recipes and two-ingredient “couples” to choose from, you’ll never be hungry again! Get ready to chew on:
Crazy Pineapple Salmon Teriyaki (347 calories)
Mom-Style Creamy Chicken ’n Veggies (307 calories)
Queen-of-the-Castle Sliders (254 calories)
Caramel Swirl Cream Puffs (121 calories)
Corndog Millionaire Muffins (160 calories)
Chili Cheese Dog Nachos (218 calories)
Turkey & Veggie Meatloaf Minis (142 calories)
Planet Hungrywood Sweet & Cap’n Crunchy Chicken (234 calories)
Shrimp & Grits . . . for Hungry Chicks! (380 calories)
Cannoli-Stuffed French Toast Nuggets (228 calories)

Lisa is not a nutritionist, she's just hungry.

(Taken form her website: www.hungry-girl.com)My name is Lisa and I'm just an average female, struggling with the same food issues most females struggle with every day. I try the latest fad diets, chomp on new fat free foods & diet products, and yes, I too order everything on the side. I consider myself a foodologist…not because I have some kind of fancy degree, but because I am obsessed with food, how wonderful it is, and how much of it will make it impossible for me to fit into my pants. Food is my passion and it has been my lifelong obsession. I love food because food is delicious. My mantra, as many of my friends know, is "I'm hungry!" Because I obsess over food, I learn about it, read about it, research it, dream about it. Nothing gives me a thrill like discovering a new low cal snack or assembling a no fat pizza! Over the years my food obsession has caused me to accumulate approximately a zillion diet and food tips, and because I am not only hungry, but also very nice, I want to share them with you.

I've struggled with weight issues for most of my life, and aside from the occasional slice of molten chocolate cake, I finally have it under control. I've tried every diet under the sun. Yoyo-ing up and down twenty pounds has been the story of my life. Then, about three years ago I decided to change my way of eating and for a full year I gave up flour, bread, pasta and starches. I said bye-bye to dry carbs and hello to 14 glasses of water a day and dropped almost 30 lbs. (and three sizes). Now I basically follow the Weight Watchers point system and strive to keep my dry carb intake to a minimum. Of course, there are days that I simply can't stick to this plan and I shovel anything that's not nailed down into my mouth. It takes a lot of work, energy and effort to keep my weight down, but the pros (like cute pants!) definitely outweigh the cons (like flab!). Losing and maintaining weight is not a temporary change -- it's a lifestyle - but it doesn't mean that life gets less fun. I scour supermarkets, restaurants and more to fulfill the cravings of my former lifestyle with replacement choices, and I love every minute of it! From low calorie ice cream sundaes to low carb donuts, I am always at the forefront of the latest trends in food and dieting, living the Hungry Girl lifestyle and loving what I eat!

Check out her website for more tips, tricks, recipes and advice!

Mama (Mama is my mother-in-law) swore by these recipes. She said that she could stay on her Weight Watcher points and still eat yummy food and even have dessert. I thought, okayI I'm game! Let's give it a try.

After receiving this book from the publisher to review, I tried a few recipes, which were yummy and yes, I could stick to my Weight Watchers point using them! (On her website she includes the Point Value for each recipe!!!! I love that part!)

Though the recipes are not all packed with veggies, fruits and healthy foods... they can help you stick to your calorie goal y allowing you to hit that craving. If not used as an everyday thing, or by just taking some tips and tweaking them to your particular diet, this can be a big help.

My favorite Hungry Girl tips is using original flavored Fiber One cereal as breading for baked fried-chicken. My family couldn't tell the difference because I used our normal seasonings but replaced cracker or bread crumbs with Fiber One cereal!

fractal_background_red-2-1.jpg picture by raaez

Do you wanna win a copy of Lisa Lillien's new book Hungry Girl 1-2-3!? Well, here's your chance!

(Giveaway only open to followers of What You Reading Now? blog... 
if you are not a follower, then become one and get in the action!!!)

Mandatory Entry: 
Leave a comment with your best tips for weight lose, trick to cutting calories or recipe that is diet friendly. (Don't forget to leave your email address!)

Extra entries:
  • "Like" SuperMom's Review & Giveaways on Facebook.
  • Become a follower on Networked Blogs (right hand column)  ------>
  • Sign up for Lisa's  Hungry Girl newsletter.
  • "Like" Hungry Girl on Facebook.
  • Tweet, share in your status on FB or blog abut this giveaway. (IMPORTANT: Tell your friends/followers to mention your name in their entry and you will receive an entry for each person you refer.)
(You can leave ONE comment stating how many entries and what you did to get the entries!)

Winner will be drawn by random on Friday July 9, 2010.


 The Legal Stuff: This book was provided by the publisher.

My BLAB Social Network ~ Great Contest!

A few weeks I told you about a new social network for Christians. Well, if you didn't join then, than consider it now! 

Here's why:

The new social network myblab.com has announced a six-week contest promotion where users can win prizes including an iPod Touch 32GB , a 32" Sony Bravia LCD HD TV and a Dell Inspirion Laptop computer with 4GB memory and 320GB hard drive. 

New users of the website gain entries by creating a profile free on the 
myblab.com site and they can then obtain additional entries for every person they get to join the network.  Entries into the contest are automatic for those already signed up on myblab.com (See complete rules here).  

According to co-founder Chris Burkhart, myblab.com is a Christian social network website that combines the best applications from Facebook and MySpace. 

Burkhart says the applications in myblab.com are fast, scalable, reliable, and feature-rich. Because the site is new, joining myblab.com now allows individuals or organizations to grab a simple and personalized link to their profile page (URL), something almost impossible to do at this juncture with any other social networking site.  Plus, music lovers and video fanatics can load their profiles with their favorite audio and video clips.  And like other social networks, myblab.com is completely free to use. 
Recent negative headlines about Facebook have 60% of its users considering other alternatives in social networking due to privacy and safety issues.  Burkhart hopes the moral disposition of the membership of myblab.com will discourage unseemly behavior that happens on other social network sites. "Obviously, any social network has the potential for exploitation by people who mean to do harm to others," says Burkhart. "We do have a zero tolerance policy with anything inappropriate.  Any user can flag any other profile and if we conclude it is offensive, we will delete it.  We take the safety of the community very seriously."

So are non-Christians barred from the site?  Absolutely not, says Burkhart.  Like a church, his vision is for myblab.com to become a community where people who are interested in the Christian faith can come and find answers to their spiritual questions.  Ultimately, Burkhart sees the site becoming a valuable resource to connect people with churches in their area or Christian-based organizations that can help them with both their spiritual and practical needs such as dealing with health issues, financial difficulties, marital and family concerns, addictions or other problems they may be facing.

"The vision for myblab.com is to form a community of believers across the globe, encouraging one another in their journeys of faith," says Burkhart.  "I can't think of a better way to use the internet than that."


Interview with Janice Thompson: New Online Fiction Writing Course

Have you ever thought about getting all those story ideas down on paper and turning them into a novel. 
Well, let Christian novelist, Janice Thompson,  help you! 

Author Janice Hanna ThompsonJanice, I understand you’re about to debut a new fiction course online. Why fiction? What is your background, as it relates to fiction writing? 
Every writer hopes to one day write “The Great American Novel.” I started writing novels as a child, so the desire to craft “story” has always been inside of me. In the mid ‘90s I started writing with the desire to be published. After years of trial and error, my first novel hit the shelves in 2000. Since then, I’ve published over forty novels—everything from inspirational romance to cozy mysteries to Y.A. (young adult) to romantic comedies. It’s been a great run! I’ve noticed a trend in recent years. “Young” writers approach me, one after the other, asking the same questions and struggling with the same problems. I’ve worn myself out giving the same answers! (There are only so many times and ways you can say, “You’re head-hopping, honey!”) Because of that, I decided it would be easier to compile the information into a fiction course, will debut mid-June at www.freelancewritingcourses.com. I can’t wait to see what novelists think of this exciting new course! 
You’ve started with a lesson on understanding the genres. Why is that? 
As mentioned above, I’ve been published in multiple genres. My first book was a suspense-thriller. I’ve since written historicals, contemporaries, children’s, young adult, romances, mysteries and much, much more. Because I’ve been able to successfully cross genre lines, I feel qualified to teach on the subject. Before writers can establish themselves as novelists, they must develop an understanding of the fiction genres/categories. Choosing the best genre (or genres) is critical to your success. But with so many categories to choose from, how do you know which is your best fit? This lesson will give writers a thorough introduction to genre writing and will provide them with the necessary information to choose the one(s) best suited to their literary style and voice. 
I see you’ve included a lesson on plotting. Is this based on your “Plot Shots” teaching, which you’ve offered at conferences? 
Yes! I’m so tickled to finally be able to offer this teaching in a course format. I’ve become known as “that Plot Shots lady.” That’s okay. I can live with that! I’m a firm believer in laying out a great plotline. Why? Because every story needs a beginning, middle and end. Careful plotting will lead the reader on a satisfactory, realistic journey through each of those stages, creatively weaving in and out, up and down.  The "Plot Shots" method gives writers the tools they need to plot their novel in twelve easy snapshots. It’s a fun and easy approach to plotting that won’t confuse or complicate the story. 
Characterization is such an important component of fiction writing. Can you tell us more about your characterization lesson? 
Years ago I developed a teaching that I call “Pandora’s Box.” It’s a layered approach to characterization, which uses the illustration of multiple boxes, one inside the other. In this lesson, I lay out the need for great characterization, then present the Pandora’s Box method. After presenting the method, I take the student through the process four times, using four fictional characters as a foundation. (Each character has a different personality, so the student learns how to apply the technique to the various personalities.) 
So many writers struggle with P.O.V. (point of view). Is that why you included a lesson on that very tough subject?
Point of View (P.O.V.) is a critical fiction component. Employing to your best advantage is tough! Most of the young writers I know struggle in this area. The head-hop. Oh, they don’t mean to. . .but they do! My detailed lesson on Point of View offers students a thorough teaching on the various P.O.V.s (omniscient, third person, second person, first person), and gives specific examples and tips so that writers can become P.O.V. purists. 

What is passive writing? Why have you included a lesson about it? 
Many of the manuscripts I edit are written in passive voice. They’re loaded with passive verbs and include huge sections of “telling.” The author “information dumps,” which stops the flow of the story. Knowing the difference between active voice and passive voice is key to writing a great novel. Conquering the art of "showing" instead of "telling" will give writers an added advantage. This detailed lesson--filled with nuggets of wisdom from published authors--will give writers the tools they need to strengthen their stories and pull them into active voice. 

Ack! Backstory! It’s so tough to add to our novels. Is that why you included a lesson on the subject? 
Backstory. We all struggle with it, don’t we? In so many ways, it's critical to our story. After all, the reader needs to know where our primary character has come from--what she's been through--why she acts like she does. So, do you add the backstory or not? If so, can you do so without resorting to author intrusion? And where will you place it? At the beginning of the story? Elsewhere? Will it come out in lumps or snippets? This lesson offers students an intense look at backstory and includes tips for interjecting it without stopping the action. 

Many writers struggle with finding their “voice.” Can you tell us more about that? 
A writer’s “voice” is her/her “stamp.” It’s the author’s “personality on the page.” And many young writers haven’t “found their voice” yet. This lesson delves into the topic, in detail, giving perspective on this very personal issue. The lesson (titled “Themes, Style and Voice”) also covers the various themes found in popular books, as well as style components. 

Can you tell us some of the top fiction mistakes? 
Sure! After editing hundreds of manuscripts, I can point out some of the “top” fiction mistakes: Lack of a good hook. P.O.V. issues. Passive writing. Weak characterization. Poor plotting (no “belly of the whale” scene). Overuse of adverbs. On and on the list goes. Many writers simply don’t realize they’re making these mistakes until someone points them out. They wonder why the book keeps getting rejected. This lesson offers writers a thorough list, detailing the top twenty mistakes novelists make. 

Why did you decide to add a lesson on humor writing? 
I’ve been writing comedies for years and have learned so much along the way. Humor writing is tough stuff! Some writers are born with an overactive funny bone. Others have to work hard to be funny. (Ironic, isn't it?!) If you're interested in adding a little har-de-har-har-har to your novel, then you've come to the right place. In this light-hearted lesson on humor writing, I share my top ten tips for adding humor to your writing. The bonus feature contains another twenty tummy-tickling techniques, so hang on for the ride!

Putting together a book proposal is tough! What have you learned over the years? 
Book deals are won or lost based on the proposal. If you've got a completed manuscript and you're ready to pitch it to an agent or editor, then this exciting lesson on query letters and book proposals will point you in the right direction, giving you all the confidence you need to submit, submit, submit! Students who use the information provided in this lesson can compose polished query letters and dazzling book proposals, sure to impress both editors and agents, alike.

Thanks so much for joining us, Janice. Where can people learn more about your courses? And where else can they find you on the web? 
They can learn more at www.freelancewritingcourses.com. On that site, they will also find my “Becoming a Successful Freelance Writer” course, which many students have already taken. Folks can learn more about that one by clicking on this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6-5IZSNaZFU. I offered a free webinar on the subject about six weeks ago, and it can be found here: http://www.freelancewritingcourses.com/?s=webinar. We’ll be adding to the course list every couple of months, so stay tuned for more announcements!

Other places to find me on the web:

For those of you who are looking to better your writing skills 
and learn some tricks of the trade 
(from one of my MOST favorite authors) 
...Good Luck in her course!
Look me up when your ready for your book tour!!!


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