Pennies Falling

Generosity is the word.

Just yesterday, in a conversation about faith and its place in a person’s life, a friend of mine shared that two types of near-daily observations, more than any other, stir her faith and cause her to marvel: the beauty of creation and the generosity of strangers.

How incredible, she noted, that such life-altering, majestic things are common!

Then this morning, during my standard ten minutes of perusing major news front pages, a headline caught my eye about Kmart and anonymous donors and layaway. When I clicked over to the story and read it, I decided you should have the chance to see it too, if you haven’t already. (A link follows here.)

I know, I know: Christmas isn’t about toys, and general revelation isn’t the same as specific. But we can all agree, I think, that when generosity is the word, something remarkable happens in this creation. When pennies are falling among us, it’s because grace is falling among us too. And when grace is falling, people start looking around, searching for the source of it.

May we find Him again and again, in all our tiny interactions and shopping trips this Christmas.

Referenced Article: Anonymous Donors Pay Off Kmart Layaway Accounts

Bump Ahead

Or, more aptly titled, Bump In Progress.

In a classic example of professional life bowing to personal, the excuse for my recent blog absence is that rumors are true: The first trimester of a pregnancy can be brutal. I will not get into the gory details or attempt to explain morning sickness to anyone who hasn’t been there. The point is: Hooray, there’s a baby on the way!

Now that I’m back to feeling well, I’ll thank you for your patience if you’ve been waiting on a new post here. Be on the lookout later this week—I’ve got a few Christmas-y things up my sleeve and in my drafts folder. See you again soon!

 

Friendship Double-GIVEAWAY

“Friendship is a sheltering tree.” Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Extra post for today! Courtesy of my friend Julie Chen, who designed the cover of Craving Grace and whom you should not only “like” but LOVE, a double giveaway.

This week Julie is giving away two friendship prints—to the winner, goes one 5″x7″ framed copy to keep and another to give away to a friend. All you have to do is like Julie’s page (Life Verse Design) on Facebook, then post to her wall, telling her who you’re going to give the second print. There are also ways to get extra entries in this contest, which you can check out on Julie’s blog. You’ve still got a few days, so find her on Facebook and enter now!

Sprinting For the Bookshelf: Secrets of Author Interviews

In my experience, the most potentially panic-laden moment of an author interview usually includes two variables:

1. The uncommon realization that my interviewer did, in fact, actually read my book.

2. A rare, specific interview question that stems from information (usually a list or bullet points) which I wrote over a year ago, published in a book a few months ago, and at the moment am not sure I actually, specifically remember anymore.

Regrets, Others, Community, Sweetness: Amy’s Author Interview, Part Two

Hope you had a great time checking out Part One of my author interview with blogger Amy Kannel yesterday. (If you missed it, you can find it here!)

Part Two is now posted—here’s a quick preview of what we talked about, or you can click on over now and catch the whole thing:

Have you had moments of regret in terms of how honest you were about various events and thoughts?

I would imagine memoir writing gets sticky…How have the friends and family members portrayed in the book reacted to your stories about them?

A significant element of the book is your experience of grace through living in community with other believers. How will you look for that kind of community in new places…?

Can you now answer Cora’s question on page 59: How has your life changed as God has become the sweetness in it?

Thanks to Amy for hosting such a delightful (for me, at least—hope you readers like it too!) interview. Again, you can find Interview Part One and Interview Part Two on her blog, as well as a review of Craving Grace. While you’re there, if you have a blogroll, be sure to consider adding Amy to yours!

Drafts, Writing, Sex, Characters: Amy’s Author Interview, Part One

Drafting vs. the finished, final copy.

Writing on writing.

Talking about sex.

And that pesky issue of composite characters.

Amy Kannel, a former classmate of mine and a great writer in her own right, is hosting and posting a two-part interview with me, this week on her blog. (You can also check out Amy’s earlier (thorough!) review of Craving Grace.) Here’s a taste of Amy’s first round of questions—visit her blog today for the full questions and my responses, which give an inside scoop on Craving Grace and quite a bit more.

How is this book different from the book you initially proposed to your publisher?

It seems unusual to write so consciously about the process of writing…How did you discover more of God’s sweetness through the process of writing a book about it?

Tell us more about Cora…Is creating a character like this a common practice in memoir writing?

Over the last several years you’ve had quite a platform for speaking to young girls…How has your message changed since experiencing the events of Craving Grace and then having the book published?

Wait—why are you still here? :) Time to hop on over to Amy’s interview.

“Three Cups” Overturned?

Mountain-climber/philanthropist Greg Mortenson’s memoir, Three Cups of Tea, became a bestseller several years ago, which is precisely why it took me until last winter to pick it up and read it. I’ve never been good at trendy reading. But I had been hearing fantastic reviews and had picked up the book at least a few times in bookstores over the years, and I do love pretty much every kind of tea.

Then, back in November or December, I was organizing bookshelves and saw that a paperback copy of Tea was one of my newly-so husband’s literary contributions to our marriage. I cracked into the book one day, intending to read just a couple pages. But Tea is a tough one to put down. I finished it in less than two days, despite having all kinds of other supposedly important things to do.

As he appears in the book, Mortenson is an intriguing character: brash and convincing and tireless. The book’s setting sparked my curiosity too—Pakistan and Afghanistan, beyond being international hotspots of late, were also locations in which the military folks I know either had served or would soon be serving. And I was hooked on the premise that some strapping American hiker could end up being a school-builder for thousands of kids in war-rocked and rural areas halfway across the globe. What generosity! What sacrifice!

However.

Welcome to Facebook. Get Something Free.

OK. The books are printed, I have this pile of them at my house, and it’s time to share.

To all Facebook users, you can register to win a free copy of Craving Grace this week by liking the fan page “Craving Grace by Lisa Velthouse.” Find it at facebook.com/CravingSweetGrace. Five random fans will win a free copy this week—so if you’re already a fan, gold star! You’re already in the contest.

Winners will be notified on Friday, April 22. You have six days, people.

Ash Wednesday Sneak Peak! Excerpt from “Craving Grace”

Lisa’s note: Last I checked, not even Amazon.com had posted any internal content for Craving Grace. Also, today is Ash Wednesday. This means: today’s post is timely and also a first. Below is an actual excerpt from my new book, verbatim and with only one sneaky marketing omission. (The two portions in brackets are notes added for clarity.) Come May 1st, you can find the whole story in chapter five. Enjoy!

To Ashes

Ash Wednesday, though a noted date on the traditional Church calendar, is not formally observed by many evangelical churches. In my West Michigan neck of the woods, for instance, most Christians think this day is for Catholic types only. Most of us grew up without knowing what Ash Wednesday is about. We’ve never practiced it, and we have no problem finding it odd and a little creepy.

Before Mars Hill [then my local church and my employer] became part of my life, my only formal experiences with the Church calendar had been the more or less standard observances: Advent, Christmas, Lent, Palm Sunday, Good Friday, Easter. Sometimes not even Advent and Lent. None of the churches I had been part of in the past had been big on liturgy—when it came to practicing sacred rites and rituals, we were willing to light purple and pink candles around Christmastime each year, but that was typically as wild as we got.

Me on Ash Wednesday a few years ago.

There is a practice on Ash Wednesday called the giving and receiving of the ashes. Traditionally the ashes are burned fronds from the previous year’s Palm Sunday—those who come to receive the ashes expect to have that fine, gritty palm dust put on their foreheads. They wear it all day in the shape of a cross, given in two small smudges by someone else’s ash-covered thumb. This is a way of remembering and mourning. We remember Christ’s time of temptation in the wilderness and we mourn his death. And we remember and mourn our own dying: the fact that death and sinfulness rule us finally, that even at our best we are full of the deceit and ingratitude and arrogance and self-motives that put holiness on our own strength permanently out of reach. It is a fine, gritty reality.

Welcome and Re-Welcome

LV.com 1.0, image #1

For the six of you who remember the old days and the original lisavelthouse.com, which went up sometime around 2002 promoting Saving My First Kiss, welcome back to a whole new bit. For everyone else, we’re glad you’re here too.

Facebook links!

A Twitter feed!

Current info and photos!

The initial rendition of LV.com was lovely for its time. It worked out of Blogger and included 2 photos. It told people that I was in college and had never been kissed, and its bio picture included not only lipstick but also pearls. At age nineteen, yikes.

LV.com 1.0, image #2

The moral of that story is: It’s good to grow up a little. It’s really good to be here.

Without further ado, I present phase 1 of the Website Update Project. Other phases will be happening in the near future. For instance, some of you proposed I add a few interesting details to my bio—favorite foods, anyone?—so I’m planning to include “pizza, any kind of PIZZA” and a few other fun facts sometime soon. I’ll be updating my calendar and contact info as well. In the meantime, feel free to rummage around and enjoy what’s already posted. New info includes never-before-posted endorsements for Craving Grace on this here Books page.