The Time Lottery / The Second Time Around by Nancy Moser

The time Lottery Series by Nancy Moser contains two books. Below, I reviewed THE SECOND TIME AROUND.

I was in the middle of reading an incredible book about time travel called Replay by Ken Grimwood when I ran across Second Time Around by Nancy Moser at Mardels. This book is a sequel to the award winning Time Lottery, which I haven’t read. The premise is this: A company called Time Lottery Incorporated has developed a method for you to mentally go into your past and make a different decision than one you originally made. Time travel is both incredibly interesting and completely unrealistic, so for a book like this to work, the author has to set reasonable ground rules and then not break them. Moser does this exceptionally well. The winners of the Time Lottery will get to go back in time to a specific moment where they made a wrong choice. They will be able to make a different choice, yet they will have no idea they are time traveling or have a totally different life in the future. After a certain amount of time living in the past, they will have to make the choice if they want to stay in their alternate time or come back to the present.
time lottery
There are three lucky winners to the lottery this time around. Vanessa Caldwell is fifty and not happy. She is in a loveless marriage and can’t communicate with her daughter. Her father has controlled her for her entire life and forbidden contact with her mother since she was a teenager. Her mother has recently died and Vanessa longs for a chance to find out what her mother was like.

Lane Holloway is a world famous actress who secretly despises all the trappings that go with the fame. She wonders what life would be like if she never went to that audition that made her famous.

David Stancowsky is a 74 year old architect who never married. In 1956, his fiance died in a car wreck after running away from him and an argument he caused. He’s never forgiven himself. What if he could prevent the car wreck and his fiance’s death?

Each person is able to go back and make a different choice. Of course, the new choice leads to a bunch of other consequences, some good, some bad. Friends and family from the present must face the possibility of their loved ones never returning.

I really enjoyed this book. There are plenty of twists and turns regarding the motivations and true character of the characters in this book. You don’t need to read Time Lottery to enjoy this novel, but I perhaps which I had because Second Time Around may contain a few spoilers. This book doesn’t pack the punch the the above mentioned Replay did for me, but it does make me wonder if there are any decisions I would like to change in my life. Like most people, I’m sure there are, but if I were to have the opportunity, then it might just ruin everything I have now. That’s Moser’s message, I think. We only have one life. Enjoy it. Make the most if it. Be thankful for everything God has given you.

I urge Christian fiction readers who may be turned off by the time travel element not to worry. The time travel is just a premise to examine real life and the choices we must make.

Review of Saving Alice by David Lewis

I read this wonderful novel back in 2010. It showed me how a Christian novel could include time travel and an amazing story. Below is my Amazon Review of Saving Alice.

I have to admit to being biased towards tsaving alicehis book. I love books with the themes of marriage and the way they are destroyed and then saved and redeemed. I’ve enjoyed books like the explicit and violent CRIMINAL CONVERSATION by Ed McBain/Evan Hunter, and the father trying to get custody of his child in James Scott Bell’s BREACH OF PROMISE. So, David Lewis’s story, SAVING ALICE, had me hooked from the beginning with a story of love that could have been and a marriage that actually was. As an aspiring novelist, 3 of the 4 novels I’ve written also have a similar theme. Judging from the number and type of reviews, this book wasn’t a best seller, but I loved it.

In college, Stephen, Alice and Donna were best friends. Stephen fell in love with Alice , but a tragic accident took her away from him. Stephen and Donna eventually married and had a daughter, Alycia. As the years went by, Stephen experienced business problems and his family grew distant. Stephen blamed the marriage problems on Alice . He and Donna blamed themselves for the loss of Alice , and in the midst of grief and loneliness, they married each other out of desparation.

When Stephen’s life begins to go downhill, things go bad fast. Business partners, friends, and family all have serious problems and Stephen is always one step behind in trying to salvage what he can.

The concept of the novel that had me hooked is the second chance, Stephen’s chance to save Alice and live the life he could have had. The possibility of this happening is raised by the back cover blurb, and I knew from a friend that this would eventually occur. It does, in the last quarter of the book, and it his handled with skill and ease.

Early on in the book, I knew how it would end, or at least how I hoped it would end, and I wasn’t disappointed. However, I wish the author had spent more time on the climax. For so much build-up, it deserved more than one or two pages.

I really liked this book. It had potential to be one of my all time favorites, but the subdued ending brought it down just a notch. However, its themes are timeless for anyone who lives in the past or regrets decisions they made.

I believe the book was mismarketed. The cover screams women’s fiction, but his book is by a man and from a man’s point of view. I guess since it isn’t a mystery, thriller, or suspense novel, it had to be marketed the way it was, but this is hard edged look at a man trying to hold his family together that also covers father son conflict, business responsibility and does with a bit of time travel thrown in.

Does everything matter? Girls?

A few weeks ago my 6th grade son called from church camp asking if he should talk to a girl.

“Sure,” I said. “Don’t be shy.”

But I missed the point. He wanted to know if he should talk to this girl at camp because he already had a “girlfriend” back home. My wife and I both said “Yes!” talk to her.

I don’t know if he did talk to that girl, and it probably doesn’t matter. But, what if it does matter. What if this was the girl he will eventually marry. But it will never happen if he didn’t talk to her. I know people, even in my own family, who knew their spouses at a very young age.

I don’t think people should treat every decision as one that will have potential life changing affects. But neither should we live life in a way that leaves us scared to take chances, and open to regret that we didn’t take advantage of opportunities when we had a chance.

In my novel, THE DAY SHE DIED, John Michaels made a lot of mistakes in life. But he actually gets a chance to make up for those mistakes when he wakes up as a high school student back in 1986. What will he do different? Will his life turn out better? Or worse.

Real actual copy of “THE DAY SHE DIED” in my hands

Yes, it’s true! On Monday I received an advanced reader’s copy of THE DAY SHE DIED. When the book is released it will look like this. It is an incredibly humbling feeling to see my name on the cover of a novel. While I’ve worked hard, there are so many great writers out their that write Christian fiction, and so many that have offered their time and support.20140618_191517_resized Castle Gate Press has done a great job!

Take a look at some details below, and be sure to sign up for my newsletter on the top left of the page.

Summary:

In this clean time-travel whodunit, a middle-aged coffee-shop owner always wondered what his life would have been like if he’d stayed in town the day his college fiancee disappeared, the victim of an unsolved crime.

One morning he wakes up 20 years earlier and finds himself a student at OU in Norman again on the day she died. In a journey that takes months, he stumbles over people connected to Kim’s disappearance and puzzles over connecting the dots. He plays on a baseball team, something he’d dropped out of the first time, and discovers what it’s like to be a Christian pastor.

Selfie with my bok
Selfie with my book

Can he find some answers about Kim and about his own life? Or prevent Kim’s death? And if he succeeds in changing history, what happens to his beloved wife and kids?

ISBN: 978-0-9904399-0-5 paperback

ISBN: 978-0-9904399-1-2 electronic

Library of Congress PCN Control Number: 2014942009

Title: The Day She Died

Subtitle: A Time-Travel Mystery

Author: Bill Garrison

407 pages, $14.95

e-book $4.99

My first published work, THE HEART OF CHRISTMAS

While THE DAY SHE DIED will be coming out this fall, my first published work is a novella called THE HEART OF CHRISTMAS. Four years ago, I collaborated with several authors from the Oklahoma Christian Fiction Writers Group to write a novella. Now that we are all published authors, we have released the book. Click on the link below, or on my Amazon Author page to the right. Below is a Facebook Post I copied from Sharon Shrock that describes the book.

Four years ago, I helped write a novella with 4 very talented authors. Only one of us was published at that time, now we all are. God is so faithful!!
THE HEART OF CHRISTMAS by Lacy Williams, Robin Patchen, Terri Weldon, Bill Garrison, and Sharon Shrock isnow available as a 99 cent Kindle book. All proceeds from the sale of the novella will go straight to our writer’s group treasury.
Here’s the link:
http://www.amazon.com/Heart-Christmas-inspirational-romance-novella-ebook/dp/B00K5XAW5K/
Enjoy it and we’d love a review when you’re done.

The Heart of Christmas Cover
The Heart of Christmas Cover

Memorial Day with the Family

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I had a great weekend with the family over Memorial Day Weekend. We had a rare three days off together. Even though it rained all weekend, we found time to swim at the pool, grill hamburgers, go to Pops, the mall, and the Oklahoma Science Museum. We also took the time to let our kids know that Memorial Day is a time we honor those who served our country.

Pops is a restaurant on Route 66 just east of Oklahoma City that has 200 varieties of bottled soda in almost every flavor imaginable. Last year, my son got chocolate bacon flavored pop. This year he stuck with Root Beer. I went with Jolt Cola, a childhood favorite of mine.

Every weekend is filled with every kid doing every activity you can think of. So while we are still a family, we lose track of doing family things together. We had other options this weekend, but felt it was very important to be deliberate in doing things together, enjoying each other’s company, and having fun.

We all had a great time and now its back to work for my wife and  I, and a summer of fun begins for my kids. But thankfully, we began the summer with a great time together.

God’s Not Dead Review: Powerful yet Flawed

God’s Not Dead is a faith-based movie that, as of Easter Sunday, had made over $48 million dollars at the box office on a movie that cost around $2 million to make. So by all accounts, the movie is a massive success. The question is, however, is the movie any good? Is it a movie that has crossover appeal, or is it a movie that happened to make it to the big screen, and through a strong marketing campaign, pulled in a lot of Christian viewers?

godsnotdead_poster

Like most faith-based films, there are many things to like about the movie, and many to not like. I thoroughly enjoyed the movie, and it had me in tears several times, as my twelve-year-old son like to pointed out. However, there were plot lines that were both silly and exploitative, and will be a turnoff to anyone who goes to the movies to enjoy a good story. I’ll get into it more later, but at times, the movie tries to tell a message, and does so at the expense of a good story.

But the point of the movie is eternal, especially on this Easter Sunday. God is definitely not dead!!!!

The movie takes place on a college campus, where Josh Wheaton, played by Shane Harper, is challenged by Professor Raddison, played by Kevin Sorbo, to prove God is not dead over the course of three class periods. There are several other story lines that revolve around the campus, and all of them intersect at the end of the movie.

But the movie excels any time Harper and Sorbo are on the screen, and it’s because they are solid actors. Harper, especially, from the Disney’ kid’s sitcom, “Good Luck, Charlie,” does a great job as Josh, the student challenged to stick up for Jesus at the expense of his college career, his girlfriend, and his future. His debates with Sorbo are inspiring and the best part of the movie. After the movie, my son asked me if the actor was really a Christian in real life? I didn’t know, but Harper plays the part with conviction and passion, and had me convinced he was ready to risk it all for God.

There are other story lines, and most don’t fare as well. Radisson (played by Sorbo of Hercules fame) is dating a former student who happens to be a Christian, and his disdain for his faith makes their relationship unbelievable. There is also a Muslim student hiding her faith from her father. There is a left-wing blog writer trying to expose Christian public figures who finds out she has cancer, and is dumped my her money loving boy friend (Dean Cain of Lois and Clark in the 1990s.)

I need to make mention of this one plot line as an example of weak, almost harmful story telling. It is so silly and full of holes that any non-Christians might just be turned off by the poor movie making that they won’t take the rest of the movie seriously.

David White plays Reverend Dave and he is hosting a visiting missionary. The two are planning on taking a short trip. Rev. Dave feels like God isn’t using him to help people. So, when the get in the car to leave, it won’t start. They rent a car. Rev. Dave tries to start the rental and it won’t start. Then another rental, and it won’t start either. The car will start for others, but not Rev. Dave. The message of the movie is clear. God wants and needs Rev. Dave to not go anywhere because he will be needed later. This is true, and I also have no doubt God could make the car not start, but it just feels like a cheap gimmick in the movie to keep Rev. Dave in town.

Overall, the movie is a must see. The climax at the Newsboys concert was a lot of fun and offered a few twists as all the plotlines came together. This is an interesting time in the movie industry, with several faith-based films getting released like Heaven is For Real, God’s Not Dead, Mom’s Night Out, and of course there is Noah.

Yes I recommend this movie to all Christians or those interested in faith-based films. Is this a movie to show to people who are not Christians?  Sadly, I’m not sure. The core of the movie about the argument is definitely one you could share with non-believers, but the rest of the movie isn’t up to that standard.

How I Got my Publishing Contract

Everyone has a story of their first publishing contract, and here is mine. I won’t bore you with he details of my early writing journey, but just say it consisted of two novels and then a conversion of those novels into Christian novels.

A lot of this time was spent going to conferences, including American Christian Writers put on by Reg Forder, and then I took a trip to Mt. Hermon in 2006. I met a lot of great people on that trip and had a blast.

Soon I got hooked up with American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and went to my first ACFW conference in Dallas in 2008.

I wrote a business suspense novel called THE SOLOMON PROJECT and pitched it at an ACFW conference in 2009. Those conferences are a blast and also stressful as all the novelists try and find time to pitch their works to agents and editors. Through luck, or fate, or maybe even God’s grace, I was able to get an extra appointment with the agent Terry Burns. It was the last appointment of the day, and I’m sure he was exhausted. But we met, we talked, I pitched, and then we went our separate ways.

But, a few months later, I received an email from Terry offering to represent me.  That was probably to date the biggest thrill I had as a writer. All my hard work was paying off. Terry was great. He put a lot of time into working with me and preparing my proposal and then pitching it to the publishing houses he saw as the best fit.

Terry was all about helping his clients, and one of the things he did was set up a critique group. In this group, I got some great feedback on a novel I was working on called THE DAY SHE DIED. The group was active for about six months and I got feedback on probably the first 8 chapters of my novel. I ended up finishing THE DAY SHE DIED, and Terry tried to sell that book as well.

As the months went by and rejection emails piled up, life went on. Kids got super busy, and I started a couple of novels, and even got 25 thousand words into one. But my writing eventually stopped.

I still considered myself a writer, and always had plans to get back into it, but just hadn’t gotten here yet.

Then, out of the blue, last August, I get an email from Suzanne Hartmann. She was in the critique group and we had both read each other’s novels. She remembered mine, really liked it, and wanted to offer me a contract under her new publishing company, Castle Gate Press.

WOW!

I hadn’t given up on writing or getting published, but I certainly didn’t expect it to happen like that. I immediately thought of how God had worked to make it happen.

I got an unscheduled appointment with the hardest working agent in the biz, Terry Burns. The last appointment of the conference. I met one of his clients in a critique group. She liked my novel, and I’m sure this was years before she thought of starting her own publishing company. But, when Castle Gate Press was born, she remembered my novel.

So, that’s my story. My amazing journey up to this point. I’m right in the middle of making changes after receiving edits from my publisher. I’m really excited about these changes. They are truly for the better and will make THE DAY SHE DIED the best it can be.

Welcome to the official webiste of Bill Garrison, Author

That’s me. Bill Garrison. I write suspense/thriller/mysteries for the inspirational Market. THE DAY SHE DIED is my latest novel, a suspense novel about a man who travels back in time to relive his life in order to find out who murdered his girlfriend 15 years ago.

THE DAY SHE DIED is being published by Castle Gate Press. I’m so excited. Be sure to visit Castle Gate Press’s site by clicking on the links to the left.

What would you change?