Mira Sorvino on Human Trafficking

Mira Sorvino has become a U.N. Goodwill ambassador regarding the issue of human trafficking. She has really immersed herself in this issue, traveling and speak out for this cause. She isn’t a figurehead, but she is passionate about it and is involved with the nuts and bolts. She has visited with victims, and is collecting their stories so she can disseminate them to the unknowing world.

I’m highly impressed with Ms. Sorvino, and I encourage you to check out this short video.

Mira Sorvino on Human Trafficking

Mira Sorvino has become a U.N. Goodwill ambassador regarding the issue of human trafficking. She has really immersed herself in this issue, traveling and speak out for this cause. She isn’t a figurehead, but she is passionate about it and is involved with the nuts and bolts. She has visited with victims, and is collecting their stories so she can disseminate them to the unknowing world.

I’m highly impressed with Ms. Sorvino, and I encourage you to check out this short video.

The Adjustment Bureau

The Adjustment Bureau is a stylish, romantic “what if” movie that doesn’t underestimate the importance of good headwear.
I’ve be trying to get my wife to the new thriller with Matt Damon, The Adjustment Bureau ever since it came out. I was interested anyway, then Breakpoint with Chuck Colson highlighted it as an intelligent movie that can open the door for conversation about God, sovereignty, and free will.
Yes, please!
Matt Damon is strong as David Norris, a young hot shot politician who almost nabs the New York Senate seat. Almost, because a picture of him mooning classmates at a reunion adds to his impulsive reputation and kills the election for him.
As he practices his concession speech in the men’s room, he is interrupted by Elise (Emily Blunt), a woman hiding after crashing a wedding at this hotel. There’s an instant connection, and after she flees the hotel staff, David throws out his canned talk and gives a candid performance that impresses the voters and pundits again.
He didn’t get Elise’s name, but he happens to run into her on the bus Monday morning. Coincidence? Well, according to snappily-dressed men in fedoras following David, it wasn’t supposed to happen. It wasn’t “part of the plan.”
These shadowy men kidnap David and reveal themselves as part of the Adjustment Bureau, a group dedicated to making sure things go according to the plan. Misplace your keys lately? Spill coffee on yourself (like me) recently? It may have been an accident – or it may have been the Bureau making slight adjustments to keep things flowing in the right way. David is informed that he can’t reveal them, and he should stay away from Elise.
Three years later, and David is still taking the same bus hoping to catch her. He manages a glimpse of her in the crowd, and chases her down. Against the plan. Now David must choose between pursuing a woman that has captivated him like no other, or let destiny play out the way it should.
I’m easy to please in a movie, admittedly. Well, maybe I should amend that. I’m picky about the movies I go to, so if I choose to go to one, I’m usually happy. Still, it is the rare movie that makes me giddy as certain elements come to pass. The Adjustment Bureau is one of those movies.

The plot is good, the suspense continues throughout the whole film, and I never felt sucked out of the world they were bringing. However, this movie shines through the main actors. Matt Damon carries himself believably as a young politician that is caught in the balance of using his youthful drive for his benefit and not letting it stumble his ambition. Emily Blunt is flirty and vulnerable as the contemporary dancer that makes David swoon. The two together have a palpable chemistry, and it is enjoyable to see the sparks on screen. I groaned once in the film, when they kiss after only meeting for a few minutes. Does this really happen? Ever? Without alcohol involved, I mean? Otherwise, the audience is rooting for their romance all along.

Some reviewers were tripped up by the plot device used by the Adjustment Bureau guys to bop around New York City – I enjoyed it though. Properly attired, these guys can travel through doorways and use secret passages to end up all over the city. Terence Stamp has a great voice and gravitas as the heavy brought in to rein in David, and the actor who plays the ultimately compassionate agent portrays a man conflicted.

Breakpoint was right – there aren’t a lot of movies that make people face questions about weighty topics like predestination, free will, and who really is in control. And highly entertaining to boot! The Adjustment Bureau manages both of these points, and I am looking forward to seeing it on blu-ray down the road.

Anyone else seen The Adjustment Bureau? Share your thoughts below!

The Adjustment Bureau

The Adjustment Bureau is a stylish, romantic “what if” movie that doesn’t underestimate the importance of good headwear.
I’ve be trying to get my wife to the new thriller with Matt Damon, The Adjustment Bureau ever since it came out. I was interested anyway, then Breakpoint with Chuck Colson highlighted it as an intelligent movie that can open the door for conversation about God, sovereignty, and free will.
Yes, please!
Matt Damon is strong as David Norris, a young hot shot politician who almost nabs the New York Senate seat. Almost, because a picture of him mooning classmates at a reunion adds to his impulsive reputation and kills the election for him.
As he practices his concession speech in the men’s room, he is interrupted by Elise (Emily Blunt), a woman hiding after crashing a wedding at this hotel. There’s an instant connection, and after she flees the hotel staff, David throws out his canned talk and gives a candid performance that impresses the voters and pundits again.
He didn’t get Elise’s name, but he happens to run into her on the bus Monday morning. Coincidence? Well, according to snappily-dressed men in fedoras following David, it wasn’t supposed to happen. It wasn’t “part of the plan.”
These shadowy men kidnap David and reveal themselves as part of the Adjustment Bureau, a group dedicated to making sure things go according to the plan. Misplace your keys lately? Spill coffee on yourself (like me) recently? It may have been an accident – or it may have been the Bureau making slight adjustments to keep things flowing in the right way. David is informed that he can’t reveal them, and he should stay away from Elise.
Three years later, and David is still taking the same bus hoping to catch her. He manages a glimpse of her in the crowd, and chases her down. Against the plan. Now David must choose between pursuing a woman that has captivated him like no other, or let destiny play out the way it should.
I’m easy to please in a movie, admittedly. Well, maybe I should amend that. I’m picky about the movies I go to, so if I choose to go to one, I’m usually happy. Still, it is the rare movie that makes me giddy as certain elements come to pass. The Adjustment Bureau is one of those movies.

The plot is good, the suspense continues throughout the whole film, and I never felt sucked out of the world they were bringing. However, this movie shines through the main actors. Matt Damon carries himself believably as a young politician that is caught in the balance of using his youthful drive for his benefit and not letting it stumble his ambition. Emily Blunt is flirty and vulnerable as the contemporary dancer that makes David swoon. The two together have a palpable chemistry, and it is enjoyable to see the sparks on screen. I groaned once in the film, when they kiss after only meeting for a few minutes. Does this really happen? Ever? Without alcohol involved, I mean? Otherwise, the audience is rooting for their romance all along.

Some reviewers were tripped up by the plot device used by the Adjustment Bureau guys to bop around New York City – I enjoyed it though. Properly attired, these guys can travel through doorways and use secret passages to end up all over the city. Terence Stamp has a great voice and gravitas as the heavy brought in to rein in David, and the actor who plays the ultimately compassionate agent portrays a man conflicted.

Breakpoint was right – there aren’t a lot of movies that make people face questions about weighty topics like predestination, free will, and who really is in control. And highly entertaining to boot! The Adjustment Bureau manages both of these points, and I am looking forward to seeing it on blu-ray down the road.

Anyone else seen The Adjustment Bureau? Share your thoughts below!

CFBA Tour – Vicious Cycle

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing Vicious Cycle by Terri Blackstock

ABOUT THE BOOK

When fifteen-year-old Lance Covington finds an abandoned baby in the backseat of a car, he knows she’s the newborn daughter of a meth addict he’s been trying to help. But when police arrest him for kidnapping, Lance is thrust into a criminal world of baby trafficking and drug abuse.

His mother, Barbara, looks for help from Kent Harlan—the man whom she secretly, reluctantly loves and who once helped rescue her daughter from a mess of her own. Kent flies to her aid and begins the impossible work of getting Lance out of trouble, protecting a baby who has no home, and finding help for a teenage mother hiding behind her lies.

In this latest novel of suspense and family loyalty, bestselling author Terri Blackstock offers a harrowing look at drug addiction, human trafficking, and the devastating choices that can change lives forever.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Vicious Cycle, go HERE.

CFBA Tour – Vicious Cycle

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing Vicious Cycle by Terri Blackstock

ABOUT THE BOOK

When fifteen-year-old Lance Covington finds an abandoned baby in the backseat of a car, he knows she’s the newborn daughter of a meth addict he’s been trying to help. But when police arrest him for kidnapping, Lance is thrust into a criminal world of baby trafficking and drug abuse.

His mother, Barbara, looks for help from Kent Harlan—the man whom she secretly, reluctantly loves and who once helped rescue her daughter from a mess of her own. Kent flies to her aid and begins the impossible work of getting Lance out of trouble, protecting a baby who has no home, and finding help for a teenage mother hiding behind her lies.

In this latest novel of suspense and family loyalty, bestselling author Terri Blackstock offers a harrowing look at drug addiction, human trafficking, and the devastating choices that can change lives forever.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Vicious Cycle, go HERE.

CSFF Tour – The Resurrection: The Wrap Up

I told you it would be interesting!

The CSFF Tour is wrapping up its feature of The Resurrection, the debut novel by Mike Duran. There’s a lot of interesting opinions out there. The book was well-received by most, but there were a few who thought it didn’t meet its potential. Becky Miller keeps track of all the posts, and Mike has highlighted a few posts that stood out to him. You can find my interview with Mike under part 1 and part 2. Thanks Mike for taking your time with me and my questions! Although…I never did see an answer to question 8…

I reviewed the book a couple weeks ago, getting ahead of myself. Still, I wanted to comment on some things that came out from the tour.

 1. It’s not horror.
For those who can’t handle Stephen King and Dean Koontz, don’t fear. The Resurrection is a very suspenseful novel. You may be on the edge of your seat. But it doesn’t cross over into the horror category IMO. But be warned, Mike’s next book may be treading into that territory, from what I’ve heard.

2. There’s a lot to ponder.
I think a book that stands out not only entertains, but makes the reader think. Several people on the tour have noted this about The Resurrection. The part that has amazed me is the variety of themes and ideas people have gotten from it. I saw the themes of faith, modern philosophy vs. the gospel, and the real continuing battle between good and evil in the book. A lot of other thoughts were pulled from it as well. For this Mike, you should be proud.

3. People are interested by something other than a “standard” literary evangelical Christianity.
In CBA there seems to be a general feel for a church. A church in these books may be modern or traditional, but seem pretty middle of the road. Actually, Canyon Springs Community Church in this book is as well. The fact that there’s a resurrection, a miracle, sets the book apart. There is an interesting discussion at Becky’s blog regarding the gifts of the Spirit that is encouraging to me. It would be nice to see a little more of the wide variety of Christian expression in CBA novels. If the church is made of “every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb,” (Rev 7:9), then we should see God’s vast character highlighted in Christian fiction, right?

4. Spiritual warfare = Frank Peretti.
I didn’t think The Resurrection aped Mr. Peretti too much, but a lot of people made that connection. His Darkness novels are still standouts in my mind for Christian fiction, but just because a novel touches on spiritual warfare themes, it doesn’t make it a Peretti knock-off. Not knocking those who see that. Not knocking at all really…moving along….

5. Readership for CBA novels is evolving.
I thought there would be a little MORE controversy over The Resurrection, since it features miracles, ghosts with catchy monikers, and the spiritual warfare angle. Mike likes to provoke thought at his blog Decompose, so I teased about controversy with this tour. However, the participants didn’t fuss over this book at all. There were honest critiques and discussion over whether plot points (like the ghost) worked. But no one quit the CSFF over a lack of doctrinal purity (this has happened before, I’m not kidding). We have a lot of new folks lately and I really love CSFF Tour time because of the thoughtful exploration of the books we feature.

6. You need to buy The Resurrection.
Enough of sitting in front of your computer and reading this! Go here, order the book, and you’ll have a great way to pass the time when (if, in Idaho) spring arrives. Thanks for stopping by!

CSFF Tour – The Resurrection: The Wrap Up

I told you it would be interesting!

The CSFF Tour is wrapping up its feature of The Resurrection, the debut novel by Mike Duran. There’s a lot of interesting opinions out there. The book was well-received by most, but there were a few who thought it didn’t meet its potential. Becky Miller keeps track of all the posts, and Mike has highlighted a few posts that stood out to him. You can find my interview with Mike under part 1 and part 2. Thanks Mike for taking your time with me and my questions! Although…I never did see an answer to question 8…

I reviewed the book a couple weeks ago, getting ahead of myself. Still, I wanted to comment on some things that came out from the tour.

 1. It’s not horror.
For those who can’t handle Stephen King and Dean Koontz, don’t fear. The Resurrection is a very suspenseful novel. You may be on the edge of your seat. But it doesn’t cross over into the horror category IMO. But be warned, Mike’s next book may be treading into that territory, from what I’ve heard.

2. There’s a lot to ponder.
I think a book that stands out not only entertains, but makes the reader think. Several people on the tour have noted this about The Resurrection. The part that has amazed me is the variety of themes and ideas people have gotten from it. I saw the themes of faith, modern philosophy vs. the gospel, and the real continuing battle between good and evil in the book. A lot of other thoughts were pulled from it as well. For this Mike, you should be proud.

3. People are interested by something other than a “standard” literary evangelical Christianity.
In CBA there seems to be a general feel for a church. A church in these books may be modern or traditional, but seem pretty middle of the road. Actually, Canyon Springs Community Church in this book is as well. The fact that there’s a resurrection, a miracle, sets the book apart. There is an interesting discussion at Becky’s blog regarding the gifts of the Spirit that is encouraging to me. It would be nice to see a little more of the wide variety of Christian expression in CBA novels. If the church is made of “every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb,” (Rev 7:9), then we should see God’s vast character highlighted in Christian fiction, right?

4. Spiritual warfare = Frank Peretti.
I didn’t think The Resurrection aped Mr. Peretti too much, but a lot of people made that connection. His Darkness novels are still standouts in my mind for Christian fiction, but just because a novel touches on spiritual warfare themes, it doesn’t make it a Peretti knock-off. Not knocking those who see that. Not knocking at all really…moving along….

5. Readership for CBA novels is evolving.
I thought there would be a little MORE controversy over The Resurrection, since it features miracles, ghosts with catchy monikers, and the spiritual warfare angle. Mike likes to provoke thought at his blog Decompose, so I teased about controversy with this tour. However, the participants didn’t fuss over this book at all. There were honest critiques and discussion over whether plot points (like the ghost) worked. But no one quit the CSFF over a lack of doctrinal purity (this has happened before, I’m not kidding). We have a lot of new folks lately and I really love CSFF Tour time because of the thoughtful exploration of the books we feature.

6. You need to buy The Resurrection.
Enough of sitting in front of your computer and reading this! Go here, order the book, and you’ll have a great way to pass the time when (if, in Idaho) spring arrives. Thanks for stopping by!

CSFF Tour – The Resurrection Day 3

Day 3 dawns on the CSFF Tour, leading into Part 2 of my interview with Mike Duran, our feature author for March. Yesterday he talked about his debut novel, The Resurrection, and today he shares writing lessons learns and the one big change he would do if he were in charge of the CBA for a day.
Yes, I set him up.
See what the others in our CSFF crew are saying on Becky’s blog, where she tracks all the posts. I’ll post once more with thoughts about the tour and The Resurrection.

5. Your blog draws a lot of interest when you discuss the CBA and the issues around it. Many people on the tour are aspiring authors, obviously with a love for speculative fiction. What advice would you have for them in this journey?

MIKE: I believe that Christians should be the most wildly creative community on the planet! Our craft should be impeccable, our ideas lavish, our wit sharp, our humility great, and our perseverance unwavering. (How’s that for rallying the troops?)

I am not convinced that speculative fiction and the Christian market are a great mix. That said, there is so much great craft and market advice out there. With a little research, the aspiring author can have a lot of great info at their fingertips. My advice would probably revolve around three things.

First, resolve your calling. The devil will always attack us at the level of our calling. If we are unsure whether God has “called” us to write, we will be vulnerable to depression, defeat, and doubt. That would be my first suggestion: Are you writing as a hobby or for publication? Do you believe God wants you to really dig in – as in “career” digging in – or are you doing this recreationally? That perspective is important to your approach.

Second, develop a thin skin. That’s right – a THIN skin. Too many writers are too defensive. We hedge against critique, rejection, and advice. We develop chips on our shoulders and spout about artistic liberty and subjectivity. Of course there is a time to ignore the critics and press on. But sometimes, especially when interest in our material is waning, we need to ask, “What am I missing? What do I need to work on?” A thin skin will help us learn from our mistakes, readjust, grow, and heed the advice of others.

Thirdly, find a good critique group. I can’t stress this enough. Other writers who can review your material and provide tough critique are THE MOST IMPORTANT factor in your growth. We cannot be so beholden to praise that we do not allow others to dislike our writing. Finding a good critique group, those who will critically evaluate your stuff, will take time. Nevertheless, it is one of the most aspects of growing as a writer.

6. You are king of CBA for the day, and you are allowed to make ONE change to the industry. What would that be? (Pushing you out on a limb here…)

MIKE: I would start over.

7. Can you tell us about your next novel? How is the process different than writing the first one?

I was thrilled to learn that my publisher included the first chapter of my next book in The Resurrection. It is tentatively entitled The Telling. It’s about a disfigured modern-day prophet who must overcome his own despair in time to seal one of nine mythical gates of hell. The story includes a llama ranch, a black cherub, a roadside attraction, a haunted mine, and cactus jelly. Not necessarily in that order.

Writing the second book has been hugely different than the first. Most notably… I now have a deadline. I would encourage all aspiring authors to ponder this word and what it means: DEADLINE. This deadline has produced consternation and self-doubts. Am I a fluke? Am I a one-hit wonder? Can I do this again? About half way through the second novel, I had a meltdown of sorts. Between blogging, working full-time, family, and the next novel, I hit a wall. When I finally peeled myself off, I realized I had a good thing going.

All that to say, time management has become awfully important for me. I no longer have the luxury of perusing blogs and lounging on the sundeck like I once did (okay, the sundeck thing isn’t true). Things have become really busy, really stressful, and kind of exciting.

CSFF Tour – The Resurrection Day 3

Day 3 dawns on the CSFF Tour, leading into Part 2 of my interview with Mike Duran, our feature author for March. Yesterday he talked about his debut novel, The Resurrection, and today he shares writing lessons learns and the one big change he would do if he were in charge of the CBA for a day.
Yes, I set him up.
See what the others in our CSFF crew are saying on Becky’s blog, where she tracks all the posts. I’ll post once more with thoughts about the tour and The Resurrection.

5. Your blog draws a lot of interest when you discuss the CBA and the issues around it. Many people on the tour are aspiring authors, obviously with a love for speculative fiction. What advice would you have for them in this journey?

MIKE: I believe that Christians should be the most wildly creative community on the planet! Our craft should be impeccable, our ideas lavish, our wit sharp, our humility great, and our perseverance unwavering. (How’s that for rallying the troops?)

I am not convinced that speculative fiction and the Christian market are a great mix. That said, there is so much great craft and market advice out there. With a little research, the aspiring author can have a lot of great info at their fingertips. My advice would probably revolve around three things.

First, resolve your calling. The devil will always attack us at the level of our calling. If we are unsure whether God has “called” us to write, we will be vulnerable to depression, defeat, and doubt. That would be my first suggestion: Are you writing as a hobby or for publication? Do you believe God wants you to really dig in – as in “career” digging in – or are you doing this recreationally? That perspective is important to your approach.

Second, develop a thin skin. That’s right – a THIN skin. Too many writers are too defensive. We hedge against critique, rejection, and advice. We develop chips on our shoulders and spout about artistic liberty and subjectivity. Of course there is a time to ignore the critics and press on. But sometimes, especially when interest in our material is waning, we need to ask, “What am I missing? What do I need to work on?” A thin skin will help us learn from our mistakes, readjust, grow, and heed the advice of others.

Thirdly, find a good critique group. I can’t stress this enough. Other writers who can review your material and provide tough critique are THE MOST IMPORTANT factor in your growth. We cannot be so beholden to praise that we do not allow others to dislike our writing. Finding a good critique group, those who will critically evaluate your stuff, will take time. Nevertheless, it is one of the most aspects of growing as a writer.

6. You are king of CBA for the day, and you are allowed to make ONE change to the industry. What would that be? (Pushing you out on a limb here…)

MIKE: I would start over.

7. Can you tell us about your next novel? How is the process different than writing the first one?

I was thrilled to learn that my publisher included the first chapter of my next book in The Resurrection. It is tentatively entitled The Telling. It’s about a disfigured modern-day prophet who must overcome his own despair in time to seal one of nine mythical gates of hell. The story includes a llama ranch, a black cherub, a roadside attraction, a haunted mine, and cactus jelly. Not necessarily in that order.

Writing the second book has been hugely different than the first. Most notably… I now have a deadline. I would encourage all aspiring authors to ponder this word and what it means: DEADLINE. This deadline has produced consternation and self-doubts. Am I a fluke? Am I a one-hit wonder? Can I do this again? About half way through the second novel, I had a meltdown of sorts. Between blogging, working full-time, family, and the next novel, I hit a wall. When I finally peeled myself off, I realized I had a good thing going.

All that to say, time management has become awfully important for me. I no longer have the luxury of perusing blogs and lounging on the sundeck like I once did (okay, the sundeck thing isn’t true). Things have become really busy, really stressful, and kind of exciting.