Congratulations to Alison (agboss) who won Susanne Dietze's The Reluctant Guardian!

Congratulations to Elise Jehan who won a copy of The Secret Admirer Romance Collection!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Good Friday Movie Reviews

Since today is Good Friday, I thought I would review two of my favorite Easter movies.

The first is really more of a Passover movie than an Easter movie, but since Passover is a depiction of Christ's atoning sacrifice for His people and since, of course, this IS Passover, too, I feel it is especially appropriate. 

I'll be the first to admit I am a sucker for old movies, especially old movies in the style of the great Hollywood studios.  One of my favorite movies of all time is the 1956 version of The Ten Commandments.  Yes it's sometimes pompous and silly and often overwrought, but how could you resist that all-star cast?  Charlton Heston as Moses, Yul Brynner as Rameses, Anne Baxter as Nefretiri, Edward G. Robinson as Dathan, Yvonne De Carlo as Sephora, Debra Paget as Lilia, Judith Anderson as Memnet, Vincent Price as Baka, and John Carradine as Aaron. 

I always especially enjoy Sir Cedric Hardwicke's sly performance as Seti and John Derek's earnest Joshua (maybe just because he was SO cute).  The movie is lush and always a visual delight and seeing death itself pour into Egypt's streets to claim the firstborn always chills me.  And, after the dramatic parting of the Red Sea and Rameses' defeat, I love to hear his grudging declaration concerning Moses' triumph:  "His God IS God."

The other movie I would like to review is Jesus of Nazareth.  Filmed in 1977 as a miniseries, it was directed by  Franco Zeffirelli, and his touch shows in the lavish sets and costumes.  Jesus is portrayed by Robert Powell, blue eyed and ethereal, not exactly Jewish, but his performance is touching and memorable.
This movie also boasts an all-star cast:

    Anne Bancroft as Mary Magdalene
    Ernest Borgnine as the Roman Centurion
   James Farentino as Peter
    James Earl Jones as Balthazar
    Stacy Keach as Barabbas
   James Mason as Joseph of Arimathea
   Laurence Olivier as Nicodemus
    Donald Pleasence as Melchior
    Christopher Plummer as Herod Antipas
    Anthony Quinn as Caiaphas
   Ralph Richardson as Simeon
    Rod Steiger as Pontius Pilate
    Peter Ustinov as Herod the Great
    Michael York as John the Baptist

I particularly enjoy Olivier's Nicodemus as he puzzles over what it means to be born again.  The crucifixion scene, though I'm certain not as harrowing as the one from The Passion of the Christ, is certainly brutal and heartbreaking enough.  And when they take Jesus from the cross, in the pouring rain and His mother wails out her grief, I am always touched by Mary Magdalene kneeling silently in the mud, kissing His feet.

Of course, there are many movies depicting Jesus' life, death and resurrection.  Ben Hur is another in grand Hollywood style.  And King of Kings with Jeffrey Hunter is also a favorite.  Of course, Hollywood never seems to get everything exactly right, but this is truly the greatest story ever told, and it has power no matter how imperfectly it is portrayed.

I hope I'll get a chance to watch both of these movies this weekend.  What are your favorite Easter movies?

DeAnna Julie Dodson has always been an avid reader and a lover of storytelling, whether on the page, the screen or the stage. This, along with her keen interest in history and her Christian faith, shows in her tales of love, forgiveness and triumph over adversity. She is the author of In Honor Bound, By Love Redeemed and To Grace Surrendered, a trilogy of medieval romances, as well as Letters in the Attic and The Key in the Attic, contemporary mysteries. Her new series of Drew Farthering Mysteries will debut in the Summer of 2013 with Rules of Murder from Bethany House.  A fifth-generation Texan, she makes her home north of Dallas with three spoiled cats.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Third Cup

 The Last Supper by Nicholas Poussin – considered the ‘most likely to be accurate’ depiction of how a meal would have been taken in the time and setting.  This painting is in the National Gallery of Scotland and this picture is courtesy of Olga’s Gallery. ( )

Today is Holy Thursday, or  Maundy Thursday. Growing up in the Presbyterian church, I recall going to church on Thursday night for this special service.  I understand a lot more about it now, and the Last Supper. I also know why Good Friday is not as ironic a name as I thought back then and as an adult, I’ve come to love Easter Sunday with a great joy.

Jesus and his followers were Jews (I'm afraid some people forget this), and were in Jerusalem during the joyous celebration of Passover. The entire Old Testament points to the coming of the Messiah and Passover specifically represents the blood of a Passover Lamb symbolically sacrificed to save God’s chosen people from death.

I’m not here to prove that the Last Supper was indeed the Passover Seder but there are many reasons to believe it is. Every single part of the Passover Seder tells a story of redemption and mercy. While we often wonder how the disciples could have been with Jesus and not completely understood who he was and what he was teaching at the time-- remember . . . we now have the benefit of hindsight.  The Last Supper, on Maundy Thursday (Maundy means Commandment by the way) was Jesus’s final group lesson. He commanded them to serve one another in love as he represented in the washing of their feet after their disagreement over who among them was greatest. 

Throughout the meal , every precious word of warning AND promise, seemed lost on them. Only hours later,  the disciples dozed in ignorance, as Jesus sweat blood at the prospect of what was to come (His fear was not fully due to the upcoming crucifixtion but the fact that bearing our sins would forcibly separate him from the Father).

My favorite part of this occasion is when Jesus takes the cup after dinner. A Seder meal has four cups. The third cup comes after dinner and  is the cup of redemption representing the shed blood of the lamb.  For years and years and years Jews celebrated the Passover with this cup. On this night, THE LAMB OF GOD himself raised that cup and said. “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.'"  How sweet the opportunity to remember that moment in the practice of Communion.

My prayer for you, as you read this, is that the amazing picture of sacrifice in this third cup touches you and that Good Friday is real in your life.  What could be good about the Son of God being beaten, despised, nailed to a cross until he died? Because our sins were put on him and his blood made us acceptable to spend eternity with a Holy God. 

(image of carved cup from jelldragon .  com - I chose this 'viking' drinking cup over the traditional gold or carved stemmed chalice.  Photo of the Garden of Getheseme from Itsabeutifulgospel. com)

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

If My Life Were A Book...

by Jennifer AlLee

I have always loved books. Certainly, this comes as no surprise, as being a writer who didn't love books would like being a jockey who couldn't stand horses. It doesn't make much sense.

When I was a kid, I would reread books over and over. Among my favorite rereads were the Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I read those books until the bindings were falling apart. I loved them so much, I used to imagine what it would be like to be Laura, to live on the prairie, and do all the things she did.

I think part of my fascination with those books is because I always lived in the city. I grew up in Hollywood, after all. Being a country gal was a very romantic idea, and it stuck with me for a long time. That is, until I had a chance to live it out.

During college, I was able to spend a summer in Montana on a real ranch. I got to experience all kinds of new things. Some of them were great: riding a horse bareback, making cinnamon rolls from scratch, and picking wild strawberries. And some of them were not so great: mucking out stalls, taking a bath in the ice-cold crick, and being bitten by mosquitoes over 100 times while picking wild strawberries. It was a great experience, but it proved to me that I wasn't cut out for the country life.

Thinking about living out my literary dream made me wonder... Have YOU ever wished you could live out a book? If you could transplant yourself into another time period, another setting, another pair of shoes, what would it be? Let's have some fun with this!

JENNIFER ALLEE believes the most important thing a woman can do is find her identity in God – a theme that carries throughout her novels. A professional writer for over twenty years, she's done extensive freelance work for Concordia Publishing House, including skits, Bible activity pages, and over 100 contributions to their popular My Devotions series. Her novels include The Love of His Brother (Five Star, 11/07), The Pastor’s Wife (Abingdon Press, 2/10), The Mother Road (Abingdon Press, 4/12) and A Wild Goose Chase Christmas (Abingdon Press, 11/12). She's thrilled to be working on her first historical series with the amazing Lisa Karon Richardson. Diamond in the Rough is the first book in the Charm and Deceit series, to be released May 2013 by Whitaker House. And... as if that's not enough, her novella Comfort and Joy will appear in the Christmas anthology, Mistletoe Memories (Barbour, 9/13) She's a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Romance Writers of America, Christian Authors Network, and the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance.
Visit Jennifer's website at

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Secret Underground

By Lisa Karon Richardson

My recent post about the time capsule Parisian apartment got me thinking about secret places and abandoned spaces. I remembered a story I had read about a secret underground built in New York City 30 years before the officially sanctioned subway project got underway. It happened this way:

Alfred Ely Beach, inventor, editor for Scientific America, and owner of the Beach Pneumatic Transit Company had an idea for a subway system using pneumatic pressure to power the cars. Several groups had attempted to propose such a system, but had met barriers due to concerns that tunneling would cause buildings to cave in and undermine the entire city.

After being denied a permit to build his underground transit system. Beach applied to Tammany Hall and received permits to build a pneumatic package delivery system. This was originally to consist of two small tunnels from Warren Street to Cedar Street. These permits were later changed to reflect a single large tunnel in order to “simplify construction.”

Beach, gutsy guy that he was, then set about constructing his tunnel right beneath City Hall. It was meant to be a showpiece. An example, that would have citizens clamoring for more of this new method of travel.

To maintain secrecy, the digging and carting away of debris was done at night and everything went through Devlin’s Clothing Store on Warren Street. The tunnel was completed in just about two months. Then Beach brought in artisans to make the Warren Street station beautiful. When it was done the station was replete with mosaics, a goldfish fountain, a grand piano, and zircon lighting. It ran about a block on lower Broadway in Manhattan between Murray and Warren Streets.

Beach opened his technological marvel to the public on February 26, 1870. The car was essentially a large tube. It was furnished with couches and could hold up to 22 passengers at once with an airtight door to maintain the pneumatic propulsion. He sold 11,000 rides in its first two weeks of operation at $.05 each. Visitors came for the novelty. They gawked at the elaborate station and thought it beautiful. But it was little more than a curiosity to New Yorkers.

In 1873 the tunnel was closed for lack of passengers and the experiment was over. 

Beach and the amazing tunnel he created were completely forgotten by the citizens he hoped to serve until 1912 when a construction crew working on excavation for the BMT Broadway Subway line found the remains at the south end of the tunnel and the wooden remains of the car. They kept on with their project, completely destroying the original tunnel in the process. (Beach had passed away but his successors sued over the destruction of their property!) The lavish Warren Street station was destroyed when the building above it was demolished and rebuilt.

I have to say I was sad to find out that this 19th century marvel hadn’t been preserved for tourists of today. I’d have loved to give it a try.
The pneumatic tunnel when it was discovered in 1912.

How about you? Would you be willing to ride in a pneumatic tube like you were a bank deposit? What do you think of Mr. Beach’s chutzpah in moving forward with his plans secretly?

Influenced by books like The Secret Garden and The Little Princess, Lisa Karon Richardson’s early books were heavy on boarding schools and creepy houses. Now that she’s (mostly) all grown-up she still loves a healthy dash of adventure and excitement in any story she creates, even her real-life story. She’s been a missionary to the Seychelles and Gabon and now that she and her husband are back in America, they are tackling a brand new adventure, starting a daughter-work church in a new city. Her newest release, The Magistrate’s Folly, is available now. And look for Diamond in the Rough, co-authored with Jennifer AlLee coming May 1st.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Eastery Yet?

 by Susanne Dietze

Time for some Better Homes and Gardens Talk.

How do you make your house look Easter-y? Do you hide eggs? Do you prefer pastel eggs or brighter colors? Will you have an Easter lily in your house? Ham for dinner, or something different?

(For the record, my house has a few Easter decorations of a pastel nature, and if the jonquils in the yard are blooming, I'll cut some stems and bring them inside. For dinner, we’ll have ham, asparagus, and a potato casserole.)

Since I’m the wife of a pastor who’s happily exhausted by Easter afternoon, our Easter Day traditions are simple. After a joyful celebration of the Resurrection at church, the kids hide plastic eggs multiple times for the joy of finding them, and in the evening we eat a nice, yet undemanding dinner while wearing sweatpants.
© Trexec | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images
Easter is the foundation of our faith as Christians, for it's through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead that we have received new birth into a living hope (1 Pet. 1-3 NIV). As Christians, our desire is to "...know him and the power of his resurrection..." (Phil. 3:10 ESV). Therefore we keep a holy Easter.

We all have traditions to commemorate holidays, but at Easter, I think it’s a treasure when we follow traditions that remind us Jesus conquered the cross and grave for us.

Here are a few of my personal traditions (it's striking how many of them have to do with food):

Hot Cross Buns--more please! The icing cross on top of these breakfast buns reminds us of the true meaning of Easter. I confess I could easily become addicted to Panera’s hot cross buns, made super-scrumptious with candied orange peel and strawberries. But instead of indulging, we try to keep them as a special treat, remembering Jesus when we eat them.
© Teekaygee | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images
Several years ago we bought Resurrection Eggs from the Bible book store. There are a dozen plastic, hollow eggs in a cute little carton, and inside each egg is symbols of the Easter story (a donkey for Palm Sunday, a chalice for Maundy Thursday, a spear). You open one egg a day for twelve days, accompanied by a short devotional.

Attending Church services during the week keeps me grounded and focused. In my denomination, we offer services on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, so we go into Easter having journeyed with Jesus through Holy Week.

At some point, I'll watch “The Passion” (starring Jim Caviezel), because it's is a visceral reminder to me of what Jesus endured for my sake.

Dyeing eggs with my kids happens on Friday or Saturday. No wonder eggs have long been symbols of Easter, with their hard shells representing the tomb, and the hatching chick symbolizing the new life of Resurrection. There could be other yummy reasons, too: since Lent is a season of fasting, Christians boiled eggs laid during Holy Week to preserve them for Easter, and it’s interesting to note some countries’ traditional Easter dinners contain boiled eggs (Hungarians eat them with potatoes, while Spaniards enjoy them in hornazo).

As for our family's eggs? They generally end up in sandwiches, but I can tell my husband’s gunning for deviled eggs.
Resurrection Cookies are another fun (and tasty) tradition that helps direct our eyes to our Risen Lord. They're meringue cookies, and if you make them, let me know how they turn out!

You’ll need:
1 cup whole pecans
1 teaspoon vinegar
3 egg whites
a pinch salt
1 cup sugar
a zipper baggie
1 wooden spoon
scotch tape
  • Preheat oven to 300F. Line cookie sheet with wax paper.
  • Place pecans in baggie and let children beat them with the wooden spoon to break into small pieces. Explain that after Jesus was arrested, He was beaten by Roman soldiers. (Set aside the baggie.) Read: John 19:1-3
  • Let each child smell the vinegar. Put 1 teaspoon vinegar into mixing bowl. Explain that when Jesus was thirsty on the cross He was given vinegar to drink. Read: John 19:28-30
  • Add egg whites to vinegar. Eggs represent life. Explain that Jesus gave His life to give us life.Read: John 10:10-11
  • Sprinkle a little salt into each child's hand. Let them taste it and brush the rest into the bowl. Explain that this represents the salty tears shed by Jesus' followers, and the bitterness of our own sin.Read: Luke 23:27
  • Add 1 cup sugar to the bowl. Explain that the sweetest part of the story is that Jesus died because He loves us. He wants us to know and belong to Him.Read: Psalm 34:8 and John 3:16
  • Beat with a mixer on high speed for 12 to 15 minutes until stiff peaks are formed. Explain that the color white represents the purity in God's eyes of those whose sins have been cleansed by Jesus.Read: Isaiah 1:18 and John 3:1-3
  • Fold in beaten pecans. Drop cookie batter by teaspoon onto waxed paper-covered cookie sheet. Explain that each mound represents the rocky tomb where Jesus' body was laid. Read: Matthew 27:57-60
  • Put the cookie sheet in the oven, close the door and turn the oven OFF. Give each child a piece of tape and seal the oven door. Explain that Jesus tomb was sealed. Read: Matthew 27:65-66
  • Leave the cookies alone and go to bed. Explain that they may feel sad to leave the cookies in the oven overnight. Jesus' followers were in despair when the tomb was sealed. Read: John 16:20,22
  • On Easter morning, open the oven and give everyone a cookie. Notice the cracked surface and take a bite. The cookies are hollow! On the first Easter Jesus' followers were amazed to find the tomb open and empty.Read: Matthew 28:1-9
What about you? What are some of your Easter traditions?

In the mood for a spring outing? Wednesday, come visit me on Regency Reflections, where I'm posting on what it would have been like to visit the zoo (The Royal Menagerie in London) during the Regency. Here's a teaser: Monkey Attack.


Susanne Dietze began writing love stories in high school, casting her friends in the starring roles. Today, she writes in the hope that her historical romances will encourage and entertain others to the glory of God. Married to a pastor and the mom of two, Susanne loves fancy-schmancy tea parties, travel, and curling up on the couch with a costume drama and a plate of nachos. She won first place in the Historical category of the 2011-2012 Phoenix Rattler, and her work has finaled in the Genesis, Gotcha!, and Touched By Love Contests. Susanne is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of The Steve Laube Agency. You can visit her on her website,

Friday, March 22, 2013

The Diary in the Attic

by C.J. Chase

It’s always a special day when I can introduce a book written by a friend. The Diary in the Attic by fellow Inkwell contributor DeAnna Julie Dodson is part of the Annie’s Attic Mystery series.

While searching the attic for her grandmother’s Easter-themed table linens, Annie Dawson stumbles upon a box contain a diary (dated 1943) and other World War II memorabilia. Did the young couple in the letters marry or did war end their chance for a happily ever after?

From the inside front cover:

Lilly saw Mrs. Lambert standing in the front window, clutching the curtain in one hand and a paper of some kind in the other. She was at the door before Lilly could knock.
Sobbing out a broken torrent of German, the older woman pulled Lilly inside and sat down with her on the sofa. She held out the paper in her hand. A telegram. The telegram.
“Peter,” she managed to say. “Peter!”

Annie Dawson’s discovery of a diary in the attic of Grey Gables, the Victorian-era home she inherited from her grandmother, Betty Holden, has set her on a mission. The diary reveals a poignant love story from World War II, a story cut short when young Peter Lambert goes off to the European Theater, leaving his young girlfriend, Lilly Pryce, with a promise: He will come back to her.

But that promise is smashed when Peter’s mother receives notice from the War Department that Peter is missing and presumed dead while on a mission behind enemy lines.

Lilly’s diary brings into focus Annie’s personal tragedy—and her growing relationship with Ian Butler, Stony Point’s handsome mayor. Did Lilly find a new love after her loss of Peter?

She is also intrigued by the discovery of several V-mail letters form Peter to Lilly and several photographs. Annie wonders: Whatever happened to Lilly after Peter’s death? Where is she now? How did such personal belongings end up in her grandmother’s attic.

With the help of her best friend, Alice MacFarlane, and the other members of the Hook and Needle Club, Annie sets out to find the answers to this latest mystery. Along the way, they may also find the answer to that age-old dilemma: Can love once lost become love found again?

Annie locates the diary’s owner in an assisted living apartment near Stony Point. But what happened to Lilly’s handsome beau? The last available information from the War Department listed him as MIA. Can Annie discover his fate and bring closure to an 87-year-old woman’s remaining time—or will her questions resurrect old wounds and betrayals best left buried in the past?

This is a gentle mystery. And while Stony Point bears more than a passing resemblance to Jessica Fletcher’s (Murder, She Wrote) Cabot Cove—right down to the picturesque, Victorian-era coastal Maine town—you won’t find any dead bodies here.

The Annie’s Attic Mystery series is only available to subscribers in either (or both) hardcover and digital formats. You might also check your local library for copies. (And if you library doesn’t have them, be sure to ask if they will order them.)

If you like cozy mysteries with small town settings, here's a new series for you to check out.

Do you like mysteries? Do you have another favorite mystery series (either book or TV) that you think Inkwell readers might want to check out?

After leaving the corporate world to stay home with her children, C.J. Chase quickly learned she did not possess the housekeeping gene. She decided writing might provide the perfect excuse for letting the dust bunnies accumulate under the furniture. Her procrastination, er, hard work paid off in 2010 when she won the Golden Heart for Best Inspirational Manuscript and sold the novel to Love Inspired Historicals. Her current release, The Reluctant Earl, is now available at retailers such as Walmart and Kmart and in online bookstores. You can visit C.J.'s cyber-home (where the floors are always clean) at