Monday, September 29, 2014

September 2014 Movie Wrap-Up

By Andrea Renee Cox

September means back to school, which of course means tutoring started back up this month. It began with a trickle of students, but now my schedule is filling up. God’s blessings are bountiful, and I’m very grateful. To be able to work from home is one my greatest blessings right now, and this allows me time to watch more movies. Here are a few of my favorites from this month.


When the Game Stands Tall

What happens when the longest winning streak in sports history gets broken?

The true story of De La Salle High School football team’s 151 straight wins over 12 years, and the subsequent season of trials, might just be the greatest sports movie of all time. The way Coach Bob Ladouceur coached his boys with a faith-first method really struck me as genius. He wasn’t as concerned with winning as he was building up great character within each of his team members so they’d be able to live the rest of their lives honoring God. I’d say this world definitely needs more people like Coach Ladouceur.

Readers, what’s your favorite sports movie and why?

Dolphin Tale 2

This based-on-a-true-story movie picks up on the story of tail-less dolphin, Winter, a few years after Sawyer Nelson helped rescue her. Now in high school, Sawyer must decide between continuing to work with Dr. Clay Haskett at the Clearwater Marine Hospital, or accept the opportunity of a lifetime, which would take him away from his mom and marine hospital family—including Winter—for three months. His decision becomes further complicated when Winter’s surrogate mother passes away, leaving her alone and depressed. Will the Clearwater crew be able to find another female to team Winter up with before the USDA regulations officer demands Winter be moved to another aquarium?

The first Dolphin Tale film was a delightful story for the entire family, and Dolphin Tale 2 follows that style perfectly. I was glad to see the entire cast had returned. Such continuity makes following movie series more enjoyable because you get to see the youngest actors in them grow up before your eyes. Plus, you don’t have to get used to different actors in the roles you came to love so swiftly the first time around. I especially enjoyed learning more about Winter’s journey at the Clearwater Marine Hospital, and the people who take care of the animals there. The love they have for each other really comes through in this film.

Readers, what is it about based-on-real-life stories that keeps you coming back for more?


October Sky

Yet another based-on-real-life movie (this trend made itself apparent to me quite early in the month), October Sky is about Homer Hickam, who was inspired by the launch of Sputnik 1 in 1957, to take up rocketry. Despite his coal miner father’s wishes for him to follow in his footsteps, Homer and three of his friends build and launch rockets, learning from their mistakes along the way. Several members of their hometown of Coalwood, West Virginia, encouraged and helped them through the process, none more enthusiastically than their science teacher, Miss Riley. Did they overcome the odds and find a way out of Coalwood? Or did incidents outside their control send them down to the coal mine after all?

This movie was filmed in 1999 and starred Jake Gyllenhaal before he was a household name. The entire cast is great, including Chris Cooper as Homer’s dad and Laura Dern (also in When the Game Stands Tall) as Miss Riley. The story is one that sticks with me long after I watch it … every time I watch it. If you haven’t seen this one, I recommend you find a copy and soon! It makes me cry every time, which I assure you is a good thing. Plus, they tell you what became of the boys at the end of the movie.

Readers, do you dream big? Who has encouraged you to go after your dreams?

Thanks for stopping by today! I look forward to hearing your thoughts in the comment section below. And don’t forget to drop by next Monday for my latest article.

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Monday, September 22, 2014

The Daughter of Highland Hall - Coming Soon!

By Andrea Renee Cox

Another wonderful book is heading to stores near you in early October. The Daughter of Highland Hall is the second book in Carrie Turansky’s Edwardian Brides series, following The Governess of Highland Hall in grand fashion. Fans of Jane Austen, Downton Abbey, and Julie Klassen will love this author’s work as well!

When Kate enters London society as a debutante, her hopes for her future soar to new heights. But mistakes and family scandals seem to follow her like the train of her debut dress. Will she follow her aunt Louisa’s advice and “pull herself together and act like the gracious and confident young woman she’s been trained to be”? Or will she find an uncharted path carved out for her by the God she doesn’t yet understand?

Then there’s Jon, who doesn’t have a clue what he wants to do after he finishes his medical studies to become a doctor. Will he choose to return to India, where his family served in the mission field for years before his father’s illness brought them back home? Or will he choose one of a number of other options? Will he be able to discern the difference between his human desires and God’s will for him?

One thing that intrigued me about The Daughter of Highland Hall was the detail the author put into it. Not only did I feel immersed in the London season (in which young ladies attended parties, teas, and balls in hopes of finding their future husbands), but the intricate homes and settings really came to life under Carrie Turansky’s hand. In addition, I learned a lot about a couple of different missions of the era that captivated my interest. There is so much to take in, I’m sure I’ll need to read this book more than once to grasp it all.

Carrie Turansky
When I read the first book in this series, I knew I’d found a new author to love. Part of the reason is how Carrie used faith in the story. The characters’ faith in God was delicately threaded throughout each element of the story line, which is exactly what I look for in a great Christian fiction book. Sinking my teeth into this new installment of her Edwardian Brides series gave me more of that same intricately woven faith, assuring me I’ll be a fan for life. Have you become a Carrie Turansky fan yet? If not, I suggest you begin with her Edwardian Brides series. It’s five-star fantastic!

Thank you to Carrie Turansky and her publisher for the complimentary copy of The Daughter of Highland Hall. This is my honest review.

Readers, do you ever feel like you’ve traveled back in time when you read historical fiction? What is it about the story that pulls you into another era? What books have accomplished this for you?

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Monday, September 15, 2014

Be My Guest - Christina Tarabochia

I've had the pleasure of working for Christina Tarabochia, as a proofreader for her publishing company, Ashberry Lane. Today, I'm excited to host her here at Writing to Inspire. Her article features her experiences at writers' conferences, and I hope you find it helpful and interesting.

The Before and After—From Writer to Publisher

By Christina Tarabochia



Back in 2004, my mother, Sherrie Ashcraft, and I arrived at our very first writers’ conference with little idea of what to expect. We checked in and received our editor-meeting schedule—EEK! We had not gotten appointments with every agent and editor we NEEDED to meet with. This was life or death! What to do, what to do?!? Panic, then pray?

Christina Tarabochia and her mother, Sherrie Ashcraft
I think it’s pretty normal for emotions and expectations to run high for authors who are new to conferences. So much emphasis is placed on those fifteen minutes when we get to sit down with those superhumans known as editors. We know we only have a few minutes to snag their interest with our practiced pitch. Oh, but we don’t want to sound too practiced—it’s got to be fresh and we need to somehow drag the enthusiasm we have for the project out of the nervous pit in our stomach. Which can be especially hard if we’ve just had a meeting with a mentor or other editor that didn’t go as well as we’d hoped. And forget our dry mouths and shaking insides.

(For those reading this that haven’t experienced a fifteen-minute appointment, it’s kind of like speed dating for your career!)

Eventually, we learned to relax. As the years went by, the appointments became more and more natural and we were able to develop genuine friendships with these mentors, agents, and editors because of the connections we made.


This past August (2014), we returned to the very same writers’ conference, but this time as Publishers representing our small, traditional press, Ashberry Lane Publishing ( Oregon Christian Writers Summer Conference ( is one of the best in the country, and we were supremely honored to be asked to attend in this new capacity.

And new it was! Beforehand, we read multiple proposals that had been submitted through their FREE-to-conferees Manuscript Submission Program. Then we met with authors for two 4-hour blocks of fifteen-minute appointments. A very different experience on the other side of the table.

The Ashberry Lane family of writers
And guess what? Some of these authors seemed to have dry mouths and shaking insides. Some struggled to explain the plot of the books. Others whizzed right through their pitches with great enthusiasm. We tried to make the authors feel as comfortable as possible as we so vividly remembered presenting our work for someone to scrutinize. We loved giving specific feedback and pointing writers to resources that might help their novels rise to the next level.

Our greatest joy of the conference, however, was being able to offer, on the spot, TWO contracts to unpublished authors! (We’d been watching them for months after meeting at a previous OCW conference.)


I’d like to leave you with some practical tips for appointments, having been on both sides.

~ It was very difficult to give fresh attention to each story as the afternoon wore on. Unless you are the first pitch of the day, those agents/editors (AgEds) have cobwebs of the stories they’ve heard already hanging in their mind. Your job is to be very clear about what your story is—genre, word-count, theme, market. Think of this as sweeping out the cobwebs so your story can have the space in their brains.

~ Try to relax. I know, I know, what does this even mean? The AgEd is looking to find a great story that fits his or her needs, so don’t feel like you are facing an opponent. Think of your job as giving the most accurate depiction of your story as possible, then letting the Lord guide the results. The only pressure on you is to know your novel—that’s not so bad, right?

~ You’ve researched the house or company the AgEd represents, yes? Well, this is YOUR appointment. Feel free to ask questions, clarify what their needs are. This shows you know what you’re talking about, plus it reminds you that you have equal worth in this human-to-human interaction. 

Christina Tarabochia’s jointly-written-with-her-mom novel, On the Threshold, recently won an Oregon Cascade Award. As Publisher at Ashberry Lane, she oversees the contracting, editing, and releasing of all Heartfelt Tales of Faith/Fun novels. Find out more about her on 
or .

Readers, what have you learned from attending writers' conferences? Any tips you'd like to share with those of us who might be newcomers to them?

Thank you, Christina, for sharing your experiences on both sides of the table at writers' conferences. Such information is wonderful, especially to those who are new to conferences. May you find more gems at your next writers' conference!

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Monday, September 8, 2014

Treasured Verses - September 2014

Last week was quite busy for me. Between a proofreading job and the first week of tutoring (and watching the US Open Tennis Championships), I wasn’t able to find time to create a blog article for you this week, so I’m flinging this together on Sunday. Here are some Bible verses that have touched my heart lately.

1 John 4:4
“You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”

2 John 12
“… Instead, I hope to visit you and talk with you face to face, so that our joy may be complete.”

3 John 7
“It was for the sake of the Name that they went out…”

3 John 8
“We ought therefore to show hospitality to such men so that we may work together for the truth.”

Revelation 1:10
“… I was in the Spirit…”

Revelation 2:10
“Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.”

Revelation 3:10
“Since you have kept my command to endure patiently…”

Revelation 13:10
“… This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of the saints.”

1 Thessalonians 1:3
“We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Philippians 4:19
“And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”

Genesis 4:7
“If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.”

John 13:7
“You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”

These verses have lifted my heart and renewed my hope lately. I pray they do the same for you today.

Readers, what verses have touched your heart lately? How do you apply them to your daily life?

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Monday, September 1, 2014

Shadowed by Grace

By Andrea Renee Cox

A while back I won a copy of Cara Putman’s book Shadowed by Grace, and I had no idea  whether or not I’d like it. I’d never read anything by Cara before. The story sounded interesting, though, and I like discovering new-to-me authors, so I dove into it with an open mind. Boy, am I glad I did! What a treasure this book turned out to be.

Set in WWII, it tells the story of a photojournalist who travels to Italy to capture images of the war to help the folks back home really understand what it’s all about. Of course that isn’t the only reason she took on the job, but I can’t give away all her secrets. When she starts her journey, Rachel Justice wonders if she’ll ever be able to find peace in a time of war.

Throughout the chapters, I found myself completely immersed in the time period and setting. I’ve never been to Italy, but I sure felt like I was right there with Rachel. That’s when I realized I’d discovered a new favorite author. When history and the characters and the place really leap off the pages and come alive, that’s when I realize I’m falling in love with reading all over again.

One thing that really resonated with me was Rachel’s longing to “do something that matters.” I don’t know about you, but that’s what whispers through my heart too. I want to do something that matters. Something that not only will make a difference in the world, but something that really makes a difference in the spiritual sense. Furthering God’s kingdom. Advancing the Gospel. I’m not sure exactly what this something is yet, but I know God will reveal it to me in the right time. In the meantime, I’ll keep focusing on the tasks before me, which I’m sure are preparing me for whatever may come next.

Readers, what are you doing today that might make the difference for someone’s tomorrow? When has a book inspired you to make a positive change in your life?

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