Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Book Giveaway Winners: Jason and Sally

Okay, using the highly advanced "write names on equally sized bits of paper, put in bag, have hubby stick hand in and pick randomly" method, we have two winners finally selected:


The winner of the Donald Maass WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL WORKBOOK is:

Sally Apokedak



The winner of the FIREBIRD trilogy is:

Jason Joyner


Kindly email me at Mirathon at aol dot com and give me your mailing address.
I expect to send these out by end of this week, early next week the latest.

THANKS TO ALL WHO ENTERED.

Monday, May 29, 2006

For Those Who Died To Keep This Country Free And Safe: THANK YOU

A lot of blood has been shed by good men and women, both old and young, in many conflicts over the centuries. To all those who gave their all for the good of their fellow humans, I salute you.

And may God bless richly and fully the families and friends of all the brave and true who have died in our most recent conflicts. His peace and comfort be upon all of you. His guidance be with you. His love rain on you. There is no greater sacrifice than to give one's life for one's friend.

Thank you.



And heads up to Karen Hancock for these words by Victor Davis Hanson on what our selfless troops have done in the ME:

We should remember the achievement this Memorial Day of those in the field who alone crushed the Taliban and Saddam Hussein, stayed on to offer a new alternative other than autocracy and theocracy, and kept a targeted United States safe from attack for over four years.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

INsites Focuses on Mirathon: Read Mike's Interview of The Mir

It's hard for me to believe that Mikey D. would follow-up his fabulous interview with J.M. Bertrand with an interview of little ole and much less eloquent me. But he has.

And boy, can I ramble on.

Check it out at DeCompose.

He even put up a camera-phone pic of me. I rarely take pics, so this is the most recent (from late April).



I wish I could use eye-makeup. Blech.

If you want to get a taste of Mr. DeComposer's writing, check out the horror story RAVEN over at DRAGONS, KNIGHTS & ANGELS.

Thank You, My Dears, For Your Patience* Update on Book Giveaways * Bad Agents and Good Parody!

I have not forgotten all of you lovelies who entered the book giveaways. I simply have been healing and sleeping, and sleeping, and sleeping some more. Apparently, my body is demanding to make up for lost snoozing. I hope it doesn't want its lost pounds back. I'd like to see those stay away.

As of Saturday, I'm still sick--coughing and oozing mucousy grossnesses. But I'm not feverish, I'm eating fine, and I'm coherent. I've even written some poetry. I can't sit up at the computer with enough focus and non-wobbliness to write long passages of prose, but poetry I can do with a notebook and a fave pen while on the couch. Plus it keeps my brain warm for the--ahem--brilliant prose to come.

I plan to pick a winner on Tuesday. Hear that: THIS TUESDAY.

If you haven't entered and wish to do so, hurry. I'll take names until Tuesday 2pm. On Tuesday night (or Wednesday AM if I zonk out), I'll announce the winner. So, check here for announcement, 'cause if you are the winner, I'll need you to email me with your name and snail mail address .

Use this email, you who win: Mirathon at aol dot com

I would pick the winner today, but Mike Duran of DeCOMPOSE is posting an interview with me at his super-duper smart website-- and by smart I mean in both design and content. I believe he plans to have the interview up on Monday, the 29th, and I'd like to give anyone who reads it a chance to enter. One day is enough, I figure.

Do check Mike's blog for that lengthy interview if you care to know me better. He asks tough questions, too!

~ ~ ~

To add my wee voice to a particular web movement of the moment, I offer this link:

Barbara Bauer

Why did I put that link there?
Go here to find out. If you notice Absolute Write, that terrific website for writers, is missing, you may want to ask
Barbara Bauer how come. Or you can go here and read up on how Barbara Bauer might have had something to do with it.

I visited Barbara Bauer , Ph.D.'s website, and the picture she offers of herself is from 1979. Hmmmm. Also, I checked a few of the books she lists as having helped sell, and the two I checked were a decade or more old. I would be happy to suggest Barbara Bauer post the covers of books she's sold in the last, say, 2 years.

If you regularly read the snarkelicious Miss Snark, you already know about Barbara Bauer.

Even that yumyum writer, Neil Gaiman--oh, I have SUCH a crush on him--has posted on Barbara Bauer and the hoopla that has resulted from, allegedly, a phone call by said Barbara Bauer.

And if you're in a mood for a laugh, check out the musically-enhanced parody inspired by the unique agenting talent of Barbara Bauer. It's got Miss Snark and Killer Yapp in starring roles, too. Hugh Jackman--MmMMMmmmMMMmmmm!--shines in a cameo role.

Just helping the cause of truth, free speech, and the American writerly way.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Crawling out of the Valley of the Shadow of Raging Infection

I haven't been able to read or type for days--too busy trying to just breathe. But God and antibiotics and steroids are ever so good.

THANK YOU FOR THE PRAYERS.

For all I know, they helped me get through the hellish weekend without having to call an ambulance. And I was this close to heading for the E.R. But this is Miami, and one would almost rather eat raw slugs covered in shredded beetle dung than go to a Miami E.R. on a weekend.

The sinusitis has been awful, but got worse when the infection took hold lower down in my bronchii. So, I had congestion up top and down low, and days of gasping hard for every breath while shaking with chills from the fever. Sudafed, mucinex, hot tea, and albuterol nebulizers didn't dent it much.

Historical Note for Context: Some might wonder why I didn't rush to get treatment. I've suffered from recurrent bronchitis since childhood. Pneumonia, too. In the 90's, when I was a "respiratory cripple" for a few years, nearly stuck in bed most of the time, I had up to 6 acute bronchitis events a year. If you added up the weeks I was actively ill with bronchitis, it would be the equivalent of 4 months out of each of those years. So, I learned to hate the effects of repeated bouts of steroids and antibiotics. Most infections are viral,anyway, so I learned to live with 3-4 weeks of feeling icky to get over bronchitis, rather than more weeks getting over other complications from antibiotics. I was following my routine of waiting and seeing this time. I waited and saw the airways were shutting down and ran for the urgent care center. Well, no, didn't run. Sort of very, very slowly wobbled.

I didn't sleep for days. That makes me a mite irritable and weepy. Hubby helped me prop myself up against the back of the sectional sofa, pillows to my right and left to keep me upright, so I could catnap an hour or so before the phlegm overwhelmed me into wakefulness.

Hubby took two days off work to get me treated and make sure I got food and water and made it to and from the bathroom without falling on my face. He's a gem of the highest quality. Nice legs, too. Never underestimate the power of beauty to soothe the ailing soul.

April? Claritin didn't work for me. I used to take it for the minimal effect--anything is better than nothing when your nose is running all the time. Zyrtec has worked best. I take Zyrtec every day, also Singulair--both to control my normally insane allergic reactions. So, you might wanna give Zyrtec a go if you ever need it. It's not gonna help an infection, but it's pretty good for the daily annoyances of the allergic type.

Again, thanks for the prayers, you lovelies.

Now, back to my regularly scheduled bit of sofa rest, nebulizer treatment, and water.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Pray Away My Sinusitis, Would Y'all?

I had a bad allergic reaction two days ago that led to a painful case of sinusitis--as has often happened to me in the last two decades. (You don't wanna know about the year it happened six times and I was ready to jump off a bridge!)

Right now, a couple of hedgehogs seem to have taken up residence in my congested, aching places in my head.

I'm drinking juice and irrigating with saline solution, but I figure prayer is always needful and helpful.

If any of y'all are inclined, please pray for my healing. I often get bronchitis from sinusitis, and that means I'd be miserably sick for 3 weeks, minimum, and risking another bout of pneumonia. (I don't recover snappily from any infection.)

Thanks, praying pals, and see you when the hedgehogs go back to their hedges.

Monday, May 15, 2006

THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY BLOG TOUR! You can win a complete Christian Science Fiction Trilogy

Stories of science fiction and fantasy make up a significant part of our entertainment industry--in films and books, on television and online.

You know it's true!

The adventures of a wizard orphan captivated us--and billions of dollars--in print and on the screen. A lion symbolizing Christ as Savior roars through a classic fantasy series and in a recent box office smash. Spock is not primarily a children's "doc." Skywalker isn't immediately thought of as an American Indian moniker, but rather the name of a young man in tune with "the force." We know how to doo-doo-doo-doo the Twilight Zone theme.

A passionate segment of us who love SF/F and are Christians want to see more believers reading and writing tales of wonder, enjoying futuristic or fantastical stories. We think it's crazy that a popular genre seems moribund in the CBA. Christianity is a religion of the marvelous and the mind-boggling. We're the natural audience of tales of great powers and miracle-working heroes and heroines and amazing deeds.

So, we're starting modestly.

We plan to promote monthly something related to Christian SF/F--a book, an author, a website, etc. Our bloggy spotlight this month shines on our inaugural subject for THE CHRISTIAN SF/F BLOG TOUR --

Tim Frankovich's online site, FOCUS ON CHRISTIAN FANTASY.

What will you find there? Well, click on the link above and go see!
All right. Just a teeny bit of a preview. . . Some Christian SF/F books you'll find reviewed there by Tim are:

Douglas Hirt's FLIGHT TO EDEN and QUEST FOR ATLAN, the first two books in a trilogy set in pre-flood days.

GIVER OF ROSES by Kathleen Morgan

THE RATS OF HAMELIN by Adam & Keith McCune, a retelling of the Pied Piper tale.

THE LAST GUARDIAN by Shane Johnson

DRAGONSPELL by Donita K. Paul, and its sequel, DRAGONQUEST.

The critically praised LEGEND OF THE GUARDIAN KING series: THE LIGHT OF EIDON, THE SHADOW WITHIN, SHADOW OVER KIRIATH, all by Karen Hancock. The first two books won the Christy Award, and the third is nominated this year for yet another Christy. In total, Ms. Hancock's works of speculative Christian fiction have won her four Christy award nominations and three awards. You really should check out this fine series!

SHIVERING WORLD ,a science fiction title by Kathy Tyers, is also reviewed at Tim's site, though not her praised FIREBIRD trilogy.

So, I'm giving you Mirathon visitors, guests to the first CHRISTIAN SF/F BLOG TOUR, a chance to win THE FIREBIRD TRILOGY, a three-in-one volume, the complete saga.

Why should you want this trilogy? Space battles. Romance. Spiritual themes. Good writing. (And for you ladies, a hero to DIE for!)

Well, you can read my review of the first installment over at amazon.com. I'm the spotlight review dated September 10, 1999, that 22 out of 22 folks found helpful. It begins with this first sentence: "I'm giving this five stars not because it's some academically thought out review, nitpicking every sentence--almost nothing would get five stars that way--but because once I got several pages into it, I was totally swept into the story of Firebird and her world(s)."

Okay, it's not my most comprehensive or brilliant review, but, hey, 22 people thought it helped.

If you want the FIREBIRD trilogy, post a comment for this blog entry and say you want the book. It's that simple. Put some identifier there. Anonymous won't help. A first name is fine or some nickname.

I'll announce the winner in a post here at Mirathon, so you'll need to check back next week to see if it's you. We'll hammer out the "how to mail it to you" details at that time.

Other fine folks are participating in this tour. You should drop by and visit some (or all!) and have a good time with us:

Becky Miller
Beth Goddard, who is giving away a copy of OUTRIDERS by Kathryn Mackel, a fine Christian science fiction novel I reviewed in March here and at amazon.com
Shannon McNear
Stuart "Dino-man" Stockton
Jason Joyner’s Spoiled for the Ordinary
Marci’s Writer-Lee Blog
Sally Apokedak’s All About Children’s Books blog
Steve Trower’s Old Testament Space Opera blog
Jim Black
LaShaunda’s See You On The Net blog
Cheryl Russell's "Unseen Worlds"
Chris Well’s Nifty Blog


And if you want to read a really fun interview where Tim Frankovich takes on Mike "DeComposer" Duran's questions, drop by DeCompose, Mike's blog.

UPDATE: Karen Hancock, fabulous author of the LEGENDS OF THE GUARDIAN KING series and of the award-winning allegory novel, ARENA, has joined the blog tour. YAY! She's pooped out, but a supportive trooper.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Apprentice Writers: Win WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL WORKBOOK by Donald Maass

MIRATHON'S first book giveaway!

Most of you who write fiction (published or unpublished) have heard of Donald Maass and of his bestselling WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL--perhaps even of his workshops by that title. (Several ACFW members have raved about it.) Could be that you've read that "hot" writing book in the last couple of years.

Well, maybe you didn't know about the workbook. (If you read Camy's blog, you've definitely heard about it.)

It's designed to help you. . .

*build plot layers
*create inner conflicts
*strengthen voice and POV
*discover and heighten larger-than-life character traits
*strengthen theme
*and much more!


If you want to go step-by-step through the exercises he's developed to help you write a novel with the "wow" factor, here's your chance to win WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL WORKBOOK for FREE.

(Hey, I have to go to the post office at the end of the month anyhow, so why not kick off my first giveaway to coincide?)

Just click on the comments link at the bottom of this post and enter a comment that tells me, briefly, why you think you need this "hands-on help for making your novel stand out and succeed." I'm going to put names in a bag and pick one at random.

You'll get double the chances to win if you do this:

Visit my writing blog, Once Upon A Novel, and add a comment HERE, under this blog post, that tells me which of the articles at Once Upon A Novel was most helpful or of interest to you.

Note: I will eventually need the winner's email and snail mail addresses to send the book, so if you're superduperprivate and won't ever give it to me, well . . . don't enter! (Addresses will be used ONLY for the book, not for any advertising or any other nefarious and selfish enterprise.)

Good luck!

Monday, May 08, 2006

Getting It Donne, Again: A Little World Made Cunningly

Mirathon Poetry Moment!

This is the second of the great John Donne's "Holy Sonnets" that I offer for the pleasure of your mind and spirit. Read it aloud. Think on it. Use it for a selah sort of moment today.

And if you missed the first sonnet I posted, you can read it here.

Holy Sonnet V

I am a little world made cunningly
Of elements and an angelic sprite,
But black sin hath betray'd to endless night
My world's both parts, and oh both parts must die.
You which beyond that heaven which was most high
Have found new spheres, and of new lands can write,
Pour new seas in mine eyes, that so I might
Drown my world with my weeping earnestly,
Or wash it, if it must be drown'd no more.
But oh it must be burnt; alas the fire
Of lust and envy have burnt it heretofore,
And made it fouler; let their flames retire,
And burn me O Lord, with a fiery zeal
Of thee and thy house, which doth in eating heal.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

HERE WE GO ROUND THE BLOGBERRY BUSH!

The Mistress of Mirathon loves to visit blogs. Here's some good stuff you may want to blogsurf to:

Drop by NOVEL JOURNEY soon. Gina and the gals have some nifty stuff up there, especially a two-part interview with editor Karen Ball. I think anyone who is writing with an eye to be published in the CBA should check it out. Karen talks about branding, the "wow" factor, how far ahead Zondervan is booked, whose fiction she considers anointed by God, and more. Some other excellent posts on the site this week. Go there! When you're done here, natch.

Mike "DeComposer" Duran has had mighty stimulating posts lately on matters of theological concern. You'll also want to read his most recent entry about one way that God has spoken to him and how it relates to his writing:

Now I'm not easily enamored with visions and words and premonitions, nor people who claim to have them all the time. But I believe God spoke and God speaks; He still interacts with His people on a personal level. And sometimes this involves oddball intrusions.


Over at Forensics & Faith, Brandilyn "Seatbelt Suspense" Collins demystifies the bestseller list for you. (And thanks to B.C. and Kris B. for help with my novel blurb.)

Camy "3-Book Deal" Tang, in case you didn't know, has been giving away books. Yes, book giveaways. Books for FREE. Drop by her loft and enter the latest giveaway by following her instructions (ie posting a comment saying, "enter me in the drawing to win X book, please, Camykins.")

If you haven't discovered the cerebral yumminess of J. Mark Bertrand, then I suggest you do so today. If you're a writer, read his entry on "The Only Writing Teacher" you can rely on. His most recent entry over the terrific group blog, The Master's Artist, is "Why We Don't Know What We're Doing."

If you've been following the latest, big plagiarism brouhaha, and you wonder how it would feel to just freely help yourself to the creative work of other people--and if you haven't heard about the Viswanathan scandal, or if you haven't wondered, then, er, um. . . forget about the next link--here's a contest for you.

If you write paranormal or fantasy romance, and you wonder where Anna Genoese of Tor might be hanging out, so that you can pitch your opus her way, here's her schedule. I don't recommend Christian fiction be pitched to her, though. Ahem. You'll want to check out her archives, btw. She has great "insider" stuff on publishing. Sometimes, she just cuts to the chase:

The best advice I can give anyone about submission is: Don't be an idiot.

Then she gives some helpful, if basic, pointers on finding guidelines via the internet and formatting manuscripts. She's a vegan with painted toenails and attitude!


Ever wonder what the submitting-to-an-agent process looks like from an agent's POV? Wonder no more. Jennifer Jackson (an agent who actually will take on SF/F) has posted on this subject.

Bonnie, aka, She Who Writes, has some really terrific links on writing a synopsis on her sidebar over at, well, ah, BONNIE WRITES. ATTENTION CRITTER LOVERS! She's got, for whatever reason or conjunction of heavenly bodies, lots of cute animal pics on her blog this week. If you swoon for pooches and meowers, you'll want to stroll down her page. The silver cat on the blue couch had me guffawing. The wee kitty playing with a leaf looks like a toy, she is soooooooo cute! Make sure you scroll way down 'til you get to the striped kitty under a dozy hound dog's ear. It will make your day.

And lastly, you don't have much time. If you hurry, you might get your free comic book because today--what's left of it--is Free Comic Book Day. Visit kooky Chris Mikesell for his posts on the subject.

Happy Linking!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Can You Spare a Prayer?

Let me preface this by saying that, if you haven't picked up on it, Mir is a semi-hermit. An urban recluse. I've lived in this neighborhood for 8 years. It wasn't until the last two destructive hurricane seasons that I was forced into prolonged contact with...the outside! And that's when I met some neighbors.

They thought our house was uninhabited. I kept watching passersby stop, stare at me in confusion as I sat in a shady spot in my yard, and say something along the lines of, "Oh, we didn't know anyone lived here. We knew someone was keeping the place up nice, but we never saw anybody. Are you new?"

(This illusion of "the empty house" was added to by the fact that I put down the hurricane shutters on 4/5 of the windows of my house and LEFT THEM DOWN. Hey, after the previous seasons, I've learned my lesson. And hubby comes in via the garage, not via the front part of the property. Hence, the "we see nobody.")

I got to know some of my neighbors because of the storms: the hospitable and kind Jamaican lady and her kin. The sassy and sweet biracial gal married to the handsome Asian young man and raising two kids. The Venezuelan family next door. A few Columbians and Haitians across the street. We're a diverse block. About once a month, I'll go out and stroll and let them know, yes, I'm still alive. I'm trying to fight my cloistering nature for my own good. To be neighborly.

But it's a perpetual battle.

All this to say that I can be a very unintentionally neglectful pal. You might call me and I may never get back to you. I'm really bad with messages. I might email you and forget I did, especially if I don't get a speedy reply. I will stop in the middle of something here in my chaos of a house and think, "Hmmm, did I ever get back to X?"

Well, one of my pals got back to me yesterday via the phone. (I do answer it at times.) She's one of those folks you tend to like right off, as spirited as her red hair and freckles would lead you to assume. Smart, sensible, kind, and good-hearted. Much, much nicer than I am, and certainly better organized about these social matters. A terrific mom and wife. And she unabashedly loves Jesus. (That's always high on my list of things I admire in people.)

Anyway, her name is Yami. (Nickname, as you may guess.) She's an asset to humanity. And she's sick.

So, those of you who drop by regularly and believe prayer can do wondrous things, such as heal a body distressed by illness, would you pray for Yami to be healed of what ails her? And...hey, thanks.

I keep waiting for miracles, every day.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Review: FIREWORKS by Elizabeth White--or as I call it--WOOING SUSANNAH

FIREWORKSby Elizabeth White (Zondervan)


Here's a book whose packaging and opening may easily mislead the bookstore browser or would-be audience.

What do I mean? you ask.

Okay, the cover has a sharp-featured, attractive blond with carefully coiffed long curls, her face in a banded field against a background of fireworks bursting across a night sky. (The fireworks, from a bit of distance to the bookshelf, look like a very odd hat.) The little teaser on the bottom front uses the phrase "former ATF agent" in the same line as the word "danger," and then mentions a hero with "explosive charm."

What does that make you assume? Perhaps that this is gonna be a book about a gal in danger and that it's gonna have romance and explosions and, yeah, fireworks. Romantic suspense in a pyrotechnics milieu.

Let's move to the back cover as we browse.

The well-respected CBA romance author Lori Copeland praises it as "heartwarming" and an "explosive ride." Now, those two descriptions don't seem to go hand-in-hand. But perhaps it's a very emotional, very fast-paced romantic suspense in a pyrotechnic milieu? you say.

Um, you half-nail it.

It's when you get to the last line in the back cover blurb that the truth of what this novel is about comes out: "a cynical young woman's first encounter with Christ-like love."

What we have here, folks, is a case of mixed messages. I had such a hard time getting a fix on this baby just from the packaging. After I read it, I shook my head. Nuh-uh.

It's bad packaging of a very sweet, very Christian, romantic story.

There should have been a nicely shadowed Southern town at dusk with fireworks in the sky above trees and cozy homes. And we should have seen Ms. Copelands term "heartwarming" in big, big letters under the sleepy town with the fireworks. (And maybe a couple going for an evening's jog along a quiet street.)

This is not romantic suspense. This is not an "explosive ride." This is not a fast-paced novel of "danger." Chapter one is not typical of the other chapters. The author, the lovely and sweet Beth White, sort of plays with expectations starting with that chapter. It's kind of misleading. It's a nice chapter, btw, with a good measure of dread and adrenaline. It's just that the rest of the book is not at all like that.

Hang with me.

Okay, now that we know that Zondervan's marketing folks really mispackaged this sweet story, and that you may not know what you're really getting from the bits we book lovers usually scrutinize before we decide "buy or no buy", I'll tell you what this novel really is:

FIREWORKS is, in the main, a salvation story imbedded in a romance that's part Southwestern-Gal-in-Alabama/fish-out-of-water tale blended with a leisurely-solved mystery.

(
It's pretty easy to figure out who did what and even why.)

FIREWORKS opens with a scary pyrotechnic mishap that nearly kills Quinn Baldwin, the owner of the company staging the show. No one is hurt, but a lot of damage is done to a key civic edifice. Even though authorities call the mishap an "accident," the insurance company receives an anonymous letter saying otherwise. And so, pretty, blond, leggy Susannah Tait, multi-degreed explosives expert and investigator, is dispatched to find out what happened and, her boss hopes, nail Quinn so that the insurance company is off the hook moolah-wise.

The rest of the novel is a strolling Christian romance. Quinn and Susannah get to know each other, while Susannah's deceit becomes a burden. (She befriends Quinn to get info, slips into his circle of friends, and must hold up her deception.) Bit by bit, she's falling under the spell of all the love and faith around her.

To non-Christians, this novel will come across as decidedly preachy. Almost every significant character--from her landlady to her brother (who only shows up via phone calls)--is a strong believer, and all of these are out to get Susannah converted. In fact, the barrage is so persistent, I thought while reading that any non-believing reader would wonder if Susannah had happened upon a Jesus cult out to nab her mind.

Half-joking, there.

Outsiders don't understand the evangelistic fervor we Southern Evangelicals can display in real life. Within the confines of a novel that, naturally, compresses major incidents, having a good percentage of the scenes relate to getting Susannah to surrender to Jesus could leave a less than fervid reader feeling a bit overwhelmed, religiously speaking.

However, once I said to myself, "Okay, the real romance here is between Susannah and the God who is persistently wooing her through his people, not between Susannah and Quinn," I was able to settle enjoyably into the tale. That's the key. Tell yourself, "This is a God-courting-Susannah story." It will fall into place. That's what the marketing should have been. The romance with Quinn has its own secondary place, and the mystery is a straggling third on the list.

It took me well past a third into the book to feel the spell of the romance(s). Quinn is just too perfect in the early part. It's when we start seeing his vulnerability--his first fib, even--that we can connect. Ah, see, he's human. Susannah is likable, although I hated that she was turned into something of a "Southern Girly-Girl". I understand the metaphor the author is using there, but it was nice to have her be the natural beauty without regard for the rituals of prettied up femininity.

Susannah, btw, makes some serious missteps that made me question if she deserved all those educational letters after her name. One especially huge error, professionally speaking, is particularly annoying, and seemed to be a plot contrivance to allow her to hold off some information until the very end. But by then, I very much liked this young couple, as well as the older Elva May, and I also had a small fondness for the quirky secretary and Skeet and Dana. I liked spending a bit of time with the group.

Beth White has a smooth, uncluttered style of writing. It doesn't force metaphors. It doesn't attempt stylistic flights. It's a gentle, clean style that will suit a quiet afternoon or evening's reading when your mood is matched by a novel that doesn't rush, doesn't offer anything offensive, and walks you unhurriedly beside a young woman as she encounters all sorts of new loves--God's love, a good man's love, the love of a faith community.

This is a novel of a woman finding her place, and it's about a man learning lessons about forgiveness, even as both of them learn that what God brings into one's life, even when it seems awful, may ultimately turn out for a whole lotta good.

Lovers of sweet Christian romances should enjoy this novel quite a bit. The romance is believable. The first kiss is utterly exhilirating and delightful to read. The book and its author, I believe, seek to honor a very traditional faith experience--an unsullied and honorable progression from unbelief to belief, from non-love to love--and it succeeds at that.

If you know folks who like to read sweet romances and aren't offended by "churchese", but who haven't fully taken that step and committed to Jesus yet, this is actually a good story to put in their hands. It's like having a soft-spoken, friendly, likable gal tell you about the Lord over tea.

If this is the sort of gentle read you gravitate to, I recommend it. For me, ie. someone who prefers more extreme fiction, it provided a few hours of tenderness and uncomplicated storytelling. And that's not at all a bad thing now and then . . . for anyone.

Mir's rating of the various components of FIREWORKS:
The mystery: 2.5 stars
The romance: 3.5 stars
The spiritual journey: 4 stars

OVERALL RATING: 3.5 out of 5 stars