Monday, August 25, 2014

August 2014 Movie Wrap-Up

By Andrea Renee Cox

Another celebration this month, readers. I turned a year older late this month. Will I ever look my age? I’m not sure. I may be in my late twenties now, but lots of people still think I look young enough to be in high school. I’m chuckling as I type this up. Honestly, who knew having a baby face would hold out so long? It’s kind of nice appearing to be a decade younger than my age. That shocked look on people’s faces when I tell them how old I am never gets old. Makes me laugh every time.

Here’s the lineup of a few of the movies I watched this month. Have you seen any of them?

Now Showing In THEATERS:


What happens when a family from India opens a restaurant across the street from the best restaurant in a French town? Lots of competition and laughs. The Hundred-Foot Journey is a new favorite of mine. It’s only rated PG, which is quite refreshing these days. Wish there were more with that label. Such sweetness throughout the film, and the acting is superb. This one is definitely on my keeper list.

During the movie, one of the characters says, “Food is memories.” That’s true for me as well. When I make sweet potato casserole, I remember past Thanksgivings. Queso and chips reminds me of homeschool parties with the kids my mom has taught over the years. Cocoa cookies means Christmas (although they’re really good any time of the year).

What memories are attached to your favorite foods?

Available to Own:


There’s a tradition in Verona, Italy, that is quite unique. People come from all over the world to write a letter to Shakespeare’s Juliet. When aspiring writer Sophie assists the Secretaries of Juliet in gathering these letters, she discovers a 50-year-old letter tucked behind a brick in the wall the letters are stuck into. Of course she feels prompted to answer the letter, which launches her on a journey that could jumpstart her writing career. As the letter’s author, Claire, searches for her long-lost love, will Sophie find that romance and love come in a different form than she previously thought?

As soon as I saw Letters to Juliet in theaters, it became a favorite. It’s so sweet and romantic. Amanda Seyfried, Vanessa Redgrave, and Christopher Egan (who plays Claire’s grandson) have such great chemistry and play off of each other so well. I never tire of watching this one and recommend it very highly.

At one point, Claire claims that “life is the messy bits.” Another bit of truth for me. When I make mistakes or misunderstand what someone says or struggle to break a bad habit, the lessons I learn in the growing up and overcoming of these things are priceless and will stay with me for my entire life. Those difficult times are what bring me closer to the people around me. Those moments bring me to my knees where I find yet another level of God’s grace, mercy, and love.

How do the messy bits of life affect you? Do you see them as positive things to learn from and bond you closer to the people around you? Or do you just see them as something to overcome and get rid of?


I’ve enjoyed a lot of classic movies this month, thanks to Turner Classic Movies (TCM) and their “Summer Under the Stars” where they show 24 hours of one classic movie star each day in August. Although John Wayne was not one of the stars featured this month, I found a copy of my favorite Duke movie when my family went to dinner at Cracker Barrel.

Rio Bravo tells the story of a sheriff (John Wayne) who enlists the help of his two deputies (Dean Martin and Walter Brennan), a woman with a past (Angie Dickinson), and a trigger-happy youngster (Ricky Nelson) to keep paid gunmen from springing a murderer from jail.

One reason I enjoy this film so much is because each character has their own story going on within the larger picture. It’s more of a collaboration than a one-man show. It’s a great one to watch if you’re an aspiring writer (of screenplays or manuscripts) as it shows wonderful character growth, pacing, and theme. Now that I own a copy of it, I’m sure I’ll be watching … er, analyzing it many times over the next few years.

What movies do you watch over and over and over … and why? Is it to learn more about writing? Or simply to enjoy a great story? Or some other reason altogether?


One of the greatest classic films of all time (in my humble opinion) is Roman Holiday. Not only did it launch Audrey Hepburn’s career, but it has definitely stood the test of time. This romantic picture is about a princess (of an unnamed country) who, overwhelmed with all of her responsibilities, runs away and spends a day with an American journalist in the city of Rome, Italy. As they travel around the city doing all the things Princess Ann has always wanted—but wasn’t permitted—to do, she and journalist Joe Bradley discover there may be more to their escapade than just a little holiday.

When you watch this one, pay attention to Audrey’s reaction at the “Mouth of Truth”. Gregory Peck pulled a prank (which was left in the film) on Audrey during the scene, and it went smashingly well, I think. But hey, don’t take my word for it. Judge the scene (and Audrey’s reaction) for yourself.

This movie is the reason I fell in love with black-and-white films. The romance behind it and the bittersweetness of it all … it’s quite timeless. It speaks of a different era, and yet resounds with each generation. Then again, maybe that’s just the matchup of Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck.

What do you think makes a classic film classic?

Readers, instead of leaving one question at the end, today I’ve scattered several throughout this article. Please drop me a note in the comment section sharing your thoughts on any or all of them. I love hearing from you guys!

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Monday, August 18, 2014

Be My Guest - Beth K. Vogt

Earlier this year, Beth K. Vogt released her third novel, Somebody Like You. It took on a different persona than her previous two, but then stories have a way of coming into their own. All three of her books are lovely reads that you'll want to come back to often. I'm pleased to host my friend and fellow writer, Beth K. Vogt, today. Please enjoy her article on the inspiration for writing twins into her latest story.

Write What You Know
By Beth K. Vogt

“Write about what you know and care deeply about. When one puts one’s self on paper — that is what is called good writing.”  
Joel Chandler Harris (1845-1908), American journalist & novelist

As writers, we are given lots of directions as we travel the writing road. The instruction “write what you know” is probably one of the most oft-repeated bits of advice. Here’s another one I like:

“There’s nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961), novelist

Of course, nowadays writers are sitting down at their computers and bleeding . . . I mean, writing. But the point is the same: You write what you know because it’s important to you.

And that is how I came to write about identical twin brothers in my latest novel, Somebody Like You.

Getting Personal
Brenda and Beth
I’ve always wanted to write about twins because I have a twin sister. My sister and I are fraternal twins, but I’m still capable of tackling the issues faced by identical twins. My sister and I looked so different that we had a difficult time convincing people we were sisters, much less twins. Even so, we dealt with people comparing us. Asking us why we weren’t more alike. We were called “the twins” or “Beth and Brenda” – you know, kind of like a permanently matched set.

The challenges I faced as a twin – and yes, the fun I experienced too – were woven into the story of Stephen and Sam Ames in Somebody Like You. By writing a novel about twins, I gave readers a small glimpse into my life – and that became a fun way to connect with readers who had no idea that I was a twin.

There were other little personal things I wove into Somebody Like You. At one point, Stephen tells Haley, the heroine, about when he and his brother, Sam, were born. He tells her that he was older than Sam by four minutes. I’m older than my twin sister by four minutes. Also in the story, Stephen gives Haley’s baby a nickname after it’s born prematurely: Peanut. That was my sister’s nickname when she was born. We were born six weeks premature and she was so tiny that my dad called her “Peanut.”

A Recipe from Somebody Like You
In Somebody Like You, Stephen enjoys cooking. I don’t spend all that much time in the kitchen, to be honest. But my husband loves to cook, as does my son, Josh, and my sons-in-love, Nate and David. It’s wonderful to see the guys in the kitchen cooking or outside grilling. In Somebody Like You, Stephen prepares Pasta Carbonara for Haley and her mother. So here’s a fun recipe for the readers of Writing to Inspire, with thanks to my son-in-love, Nate Huntley, who’s quite an amazing cook. (He went to culinary school!):

Pasta Carbonara


1 pound dried Bucatini pasta (hollow spaghetti – better texture & traps the sauce inside)
1 cup raw Pancetta (Italian bacon)
¾ cup diced white onion
¾ cup Fava beans (cooked)
2 eggs
2 TBL butter
2 TBL olive oil


1. In a pot of boiling water, cook pasta to al dente (firm to the bite).
2. While pasta is cooking, cube Pancetta to ¼ inch pieces. Sauté until brown on medium-high heat.
3. Add diced white onion and Fava beans to Pancetta and cook for about 3 minutes.
4. Drain pasta and add to sauté pan with beans, onion, and Pancetta.
5. Add butter, eggs, and olive oil – and then immediately turn off heat.
6. Stir mixture constantly for 3 minutes to keep eggs from scrambling.
7. Add salt and pepper to taste.

(Note from Andrea: You may check out my review of Beth's Somebody Like You here.)

Beth K. Vogt

Beth K. Vogt believes God’s best often waits behind the doors marked “Never.” A nonfiction writer and editor who said she'd never write fiction, Beth is now a novelist with Howard Books, with her third novel, Somebody Like You, releasing May 2014. She enjoys writing inspirational contemporary romance because she believes there’s more to happily-ever-after than the fairy tales tell us. Beth is also the Skills Coach for My Book Therapy writing community. Connect with Beth on her website or check out her blog on quotes, In Others’ Words.

Beth, thank you so much for visiting with us today and sharing your son-in-love's yummy recipe. I'm not sure it will turn out quite so well by my hand as his, but I might just give it a try! It's always fun to hear behind-the-scenes stories behind the books I love so well. Thanks for sharing your sister with us through this article. What a blessing.

Readers, what's your favorite part of interacting with the authors of your favorite novels? What are some of the challenges you faced with your siblings (whether or not you're a twin)?

Don't forget: There's still a couple more days left on the giveaway from last week. Be sure to add your name to the drawing.

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Monday, August 11, 2014

Giveaway! -- Through the Deep Waters by Kim Vogel Sawyer

By Andrea Renee Cox

A copy of Through the Deep Waters by Kim Vogel Sawyer is being given away by the Blogging for Books program. These giveaways are a new venture they're trying out. If it goes over well, I'm sure there will be more where this one came from. Won't you help support this fresh idea by signing up today?

Please visit this page for my review of the book, to see if it's one you'd be interested in reading.

Here's the Amazon summary of Through the Deep Waters:

A past filled with shame can be washed away with a love that conquers all. 
Born to an unloving prostitute in a popular Chicago brothel, timid seventeen-year-old Dinah Hubley was raised amidst the secrets held in every dark, grimy room of her home. Anxious to escape, Dinah pursues her dream of becoming a Harvey Girl, waiting tables along the railroad in an upscale hotel. But when she finds out she isn’t old enough, her only option is to accept a job as a chambermaid at the Clifton Hotel in Florence, Kansas. Eager to put everything behind her, Dinah feels more worthless than ever, based on a single horrible decision she made to survive.
The Clifton offers a life Dinah has never known, but blinded to the love around her, Dinah remains buried in the shame of her past. When a handsome chicken farmer named Amos Ackerman starts to show interest, Dinah withdraws further, convinced no one could want a sullied woman like her.  Despite his self-consciousness about his handicapped leg and her strange behavior, Amos resolves to show Dinah Christ’s love. But can she ever accept a gift she so desperately needs?

The contest starts on July 31, 2014 at 6:00am EST and ends on August 20th, 2014 at 11:59pm. One winner will be chosen at random on August 21st, 2014 and will be alerted by email.

In order to be entered into the contest, please fill out the form through this link.

Readers, what do you think of this new venture of Blogging for Books (offering giveaways)? I rather like it, but I'd like to hear your opinions.

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Monday, August 4, 2014

The Kissing Bridge

By Andrea Renee Cox

“The day of her sister’s death had also started Rebecca on her path to leaving the Amish.”

Graduating from high school, going to college, becoming a nurse… none of these things describe an Amish girl, but because of her sister’s death, those are things Rebecca Troyer strives to do. She won’t be caught unprepared for another emergency, not when she can learn the skills that could help save lives. Abandoning her family and Amish ways, she sets off on a journey to gain a worldly education. On the way to Portland, she makes a pit stop in West Kootenai, Montana, to visit a friend.

Caleb Hooley is on a life-changing journey of his own. After watching his grandfather fade away, he wants to live the adventurous life his grandfather always dreamed of. When this Amish bachelor goes on a week-long trek into the wilderness, falling in love was the furthest thing from his mind.

When Rebecca decides to join the traveling party, will one week be long enough for both she and Caleb to discover a Love greater than the tentative one growing between them? Will they choose to remain Amish, or will they leave everything they’ve known to explore the possibilities the world has to offer them?

The Kissing Bridge by Tricia Goyer (the third installment in her Seven Brides for Seven Bachelors series) is an adventure not to be missed. With humor and spunky characters, this story digs deep into who you think you are and who you want to be. While Rebecca and Caleb were figuring those things out for themselves, I found myself getting tidbits that had to do with what I was going through in my own life. I consider them little confirmations of what God was busy doing in my life while I read this novel. He often works through novels with me because reading them is one of my favorite hobbies (I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love reading).

“The harder part is relinquishing how I think things should happen and opening my heart up to what God wants.” That’s a lesson we all have to learn eventually, to let go of trying to control every situation. Sometimes we’ll be in control, but most of the times we won’t. Things happen that throw our plans out the window. We have to make clutch decisions and alter our plans, but God always knows what’s coming for us and provides options. Which door will we go through? Which opportunity will we take? Praying about what God wants for us is our way of tuning in to what God wants, letting Him lead us. It’s not always the easiest thing to do, trusting God, but it’s always the right thing to do. And His blessings abound when we trust Him. We are His children, after all. Why wouldn’t He bless us when we seek His will for our lives?
Tricia Goyer
Author of The Kissing Bridge
Thank you to Tricia Goyer for adding me to her reviewer list. I appreciate the complimentary book in exchange for my honest review. I thoroughly enjoyed The Kissing Bridge and highly recommend it to anyone who loves adventure. Especially the kind that happens through the pages of a book.

Readers, it’s your turn to weigh in. What journey are you taking with God these days? How does relinquishing control to what God wants play a role in your life?

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