Tuesday, September 29, 2009

My New Cover: A Promise Born!

Isn't it gorgeous! This book was a lot of fun to write. Who wouldn't like a young woman who's trying to build a professional career in the middle of World War Two. And Mark Miller gets to star as the hero. Let me tell you, he's a good one :-)

Monday, September 28, 2009

When nothing else remains..

Have you ever noticed how exhaustion takes the edges off?

We can no longer hide from ourselves or God when we are too tired to hold the mask or shield up.

That happened to me at ACFW. I was poured out. Everything I had to offer was wrung out of me by Saturday at lunch.

In July I traveled to Denver in the process of miscarrying. Last week, I journeyed to Denver trying to pretend I was okay while desperately wanting to be real. During worship Sunday morning, I broke. I had no reserves left to pretend that I wasn’t angry at God. That I didn’t desperately question why He allowed this second miscarriage. That I am scared to offer Him all of me for fear of what else He will ask me to give up.

Sunday morning I surrendered. Again.

He’s asked me to believe that He has my best – that all He intends for me is good. That I don’t hae to wait for the other shoe to drop.

Life is parallel lines of wonderful and terrible. Good and bad. Intersecting, separating, Like railroad tracks running into a future that blurs in the distance.

But through it all God remains the same. And His promises never change.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Eye for an Eye Review

Irene Hannon's latest in the Heroes of Quantico series, An Eye for an Eye, is a perfect read when you're ready for a romantic suspense escape. Mark Sanders, a strong supporting role in the first book, is in St. Louis while he recuperates from a hostage situation gone bad in Virginia. While running he bumps into his first flame and then someone shoots at them. The book flows through the investigation and whether or not these two can now find love that passed them by twenty years earlier.

Mark and Emily, the heroine, are richly drawn characters. Both have to change if they are going to find the shooter. I loved how the author crafted the ending. It was a perfect ending based on the characters, but also a stretch for them because of their pasts. The romance is rich, the suspense thread fluid, and the book a great escape for those who love romantic suspense ala Dee Henderson. Irene Hannon has earned her spot on my list of must reads.

733117: An Eye for an Eye, Heroes of Quantico Series #2 An Eye for an Eye, Heroes of Quantico Series #2
By Irene Hannon

After he accidentally shoots a teenager at a tense standoff, FBI Hostage Rescue Team member Mark Sanders is sent to St. Louis to work as a field agent and get his bearings while the bad press starts to settle. Just weeks away from returning to Quantico to resume his work on the HRT, Mark has a chance encounter with an old flame, Emily Lawson. But their reunion is cut short by a sniper. Now Mark must find the shooter before he tries to strike again. But what is his motive--and who was his intended target? Can Mark put the pieces together, keep Emily safe, and rekindle a long-dead relationship at the same time?
Available September 2009 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Handling Grief Part Four

Here's my last thought on this... at least for now :-)

Please acknowledge the pain. Even though you may not understand what the mother is going through, please acknowledge that she's had a loss and that her pain is real.

Little hurts more than having the loss seemingly ignored.

So if you don't know what to say, just say you're sorry. Really that's all it takes. Send a card. Even an e-card. Anything that acknowledges that what they've experienced is real. Because you're silence -- even when because of discomfort about knowing what to do or say -- can be interrupted as not caring. And often that is the farthest thing from your mind.

Things friends and family have done that are meaningful to me:
  • cards
  • emails
  • flowers
  • emergency deliveries of ice cream sandwiches (my comfort food)
  • hugs, hugs, and more hugs
  • calls to let me know they were praying and thinking of me
  • gifts in recognition of the baby
  • We planted two rose bushes last month: one for each baby.
  • etc.
The woman in your life will probably have other things that are meaningful to her. But please, say something and send a card that acknowledges her loss.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

photos from ACFW

Here are some photos from the conference last week. This first one was from the early bird. Almost 300 people participated in this workshop with Don Maas on Writing the Breakout Novel. It. Was. Incredible!

Seriously, if my conference had ended there, I would have still received my money's worth. If I'm not a better writer after this -- say it with me -- I'm a lazy writer!

I'm in the purple sweater, Jenny B. Jones is in front of me looking away from the camera, and fellow Hoosier Ronda Wells is next to me.

This next photo is one Dr. Richard Mabry snapped while Don Maass and I chatted a moment before his introduction. Did I mention that Robin Miller (check out the trailor for her book on her site) asked me literally two minutes ahead of time to introduce one of the most famous men in writing? Ack!

Fortunately a lady right there in the front row had both of his writing books, so I grabbed them and started talking. Seriously, who wants to hear me blather on when a man with his wisdom is in the room.

Then this is a photo of me with writing pal Tina Forkner. One of the best parts of conference is connecting with friends I usually see at conference if at all. Tina is an amazing writer and her personality is so fun! Her daughter is a year older than Abigail and a level six in gymnastics so we had fun comparing notes.

I had my camera but didn't take any pictures. Instead, I loaned my card to Mom and Janna so they could take photos. I need to email those to Janna ASAP.

So for today, I'll end with this photo: it's of my mom and Mary DeMuth. Mary is an AMAZING writer and has such a wonderful heart. She's one of those gals I wish I got to spend more time with. Some day. Until then, I'm so delighted that I got to introduce these two and hear more about Mary's memoir Thin Places. Isn't that a wonderful title -- God meets us in the Thin Places of life...

Monday, September 21, 2009

Are We Dreaming Big Enough

This year's ACFW conference is over. In fact as I type this I sit in the Denver airport waiting for my fight. Have to redeem the time because -- well -- I'm me :-)

I've got much to share, but today I'm going to focus on dreams. Throughout the conference the recurring theme was to dream bigger. From Debbie Macomber who did a wonderful job encouraging and challenging us to the continuing session for published authors to private appointments with editors and my agent -- the message I got loud and clear was to stop and dream.

Sometimes I become so focused on tasks and completing them that I forget to stop and dream. Or to slow down and allow myself the freedom to ask God what He has planned.

At some point I'll need to begin to focus my writing. I received excellent advice since I still can't identify my deeper passion -- ask God what He's planted in me. Isn't that good! So hold me accountable. There's much to share. More to come.

But for now, dig out a journal or card and list ten dreams that seem too impossible to accomplish and then give God room to move.

Friday, September 18, 2009

My Head is Swimming!

The first full day of the ACFW is in full swing and my head is spinning. Learning so much, announcing new projects, and meeting with folks like my wonderful agent Karen Solem.

This afternoon ACFW announced a new project designed for readers and booksellers: Fiction Finder. Go check it out and let me know what you think: www.fictionfinder.com.

Handling Grief Part Three: Resources

Here are some resources that I wish I'd found in the days and weeks after my first miscarriage.

227771: Grieving the Child I Never Knew: A Devotional Companion for Comfort in the Loss of Your Unborn or Newly BornGrieving the Child I Never Knew: A Devotional Companion for Comfort in the Loss of Your Unborn or Newly Born

By Kathe Wunnenberg

Grieving the Child I Never Knew offers comfort and the reassurance of God's presence as you grieve the loss of a child you never got to know. If you've lost a child through miscarriage, tubal pregancy, stillbirth, or early infant death, this devotional will encourage you along your healing journey. Each chapter includes a journaling exercise. Hardcover.
This is the book I searched for but couldn't find as I was trying to process the first miscarriage. Once I found it, I've given it away to each woman I know who has experienced a miscarriage. I probably keep two ready to give at any time. Each person has said how much the book has helped them. I've flipped through it and found the short chapters to be vulnerable and helpful. And I like the way it has space to journal inside the book. It also has a great index that helps you find devotionals that are most helpful for what you're feeling at that time. For example Mother's Day, anniversary of loss, etc.

21371: Silent Grief: Miscarriage-Child Loss, Finding Your Way Through the DarknessSilent Grief: Miscarriage-Child Loss, Finding Your Way Through the Darkness

By Clara Hinton

More than 200,000 couples experience the shock and grief of first-trimester miscarriage every year. On top of that are the later-term miscarriages and stillbirths that also occur. Clara Hinton not only writes of her own experience, but the experiences of scores of other women and men.
I just found this book and again am flipping through it. It's not the kind of book you can sit down and read in one setting because of the topic. But so far it's been helpful -- if nothing else it helps to know you're not alone in what you're feeling and experiencing.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

I'm here!

I arrived in Denver this evening. Made it to the hotel only a couple minutes late for the first board meeting thanks to Tiff Stockton and her darling baby picking me up.

Had a God moment on the plane out...one of those times I could minister -- love it when He does that. Praying it's the first of many this week. Wednesday I'm in board meetings all day and then will help Mom and Janna set up the conference bookstore. Looking forward to spending some time with them.

I'll try to post from the ACFW conference, but will be running pretty crazy starting tomorrow. Have a great week!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Remembering: Guest Post by Kim Woodhouse

I read a great blog post today about how we need more 9/12s. September 11th marked a tremendous tragedy for our country, but September 12th marked the time of change. We all acted differently, looked at each other differently, faced our problems differently. We were united. We were supportive. We were encouraging. We were there to help our brothers and sisters in need. While none of us want to go back and re-live that horrible time, I think I would like to re-live how it changed us. I need that reminder. Don’t you?

So it is with our lives. Our pasts are full of mistakes, trials, tragedies. None of us want to go back and re-live the bad stuff—the hurt, the grief, the stress. But do you ever think about going back to re-live a lesson learned? I thought about it a lot as I wrote my story, Welcome Home.

In two-and-a-half weeks, I poured my heart onto the page. I cried, laughed, sobbed, and remembered all the emotions of defeat, anger, despair, hurt, and always - joy. It was an amazing time. And I realized that even though I had endured incredibly difficult circumstances, I needed to remember how they had changed me. How I had grown. How each lesson learned brought me to greater joy. God’s unfathomable joy, that can’t be taken away.

I pray that you are encouraged by our story, and I pray that you too, will take the time to remember.


Overwhelming trials . . . met with overcoming joy.
Kayla Woodhouse is not your typical twelve-year-old. Due to a rare medical disorder, she feels no pain, doesn’t sweat, and needs protective cooling gear just to go outside. With her restrictive lifestyle; countless hospitalizations, including brain surgery; and the resulting mountain of hospital bills, what’s a family to do?

How the Woodhouse family has faced seemingly impossible challenges is a story that has captured the hearts of America. Millions of people have experienced glimpses of their lives on Discovery’s
Mystery ER, The Montel Williams Show, and Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (recently voted one of the show’s all-time best episodes!).

Now Kayla’s mom, Kimberley, takes readers behind the cameras to reveal their family’s journey as never before told. From medical sleuthing to cross-country moves, from freak fires to battles with insurance companies,
Welcome Home proves that truth really is stranger than fiction. This candid life story reveals both success and failure and demonstrates how, even during tough circumstances, to shift your life from heartbreak to extreme joy.

Peek inside the Woodhouse family’s life (and their famous house) with a 16-page photo insert.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Eight Years Ago

Eight years ago I was one week into a clerkship at the Court of Federal Claims — across McPherson Square from the White House. I didn’t get back to work for a week because the White House security perimeter often included that building.

Eight years ago I couldn't reach my husband on my cell phone to let him know I was crawling through backstreets of DC trying to reach a bridge we could cross to get out of the city. They’d shut down the cell network to prevent bomb detonations. Know that now, didn’t think of it then.

Eight years ago, a friend who worked for the Vice-President's wife tore across McPherson Square because they were told to leave...NOW.

Eight years ago, a friend who was chief of staff for a Congressman walked home because they shut down the metro system.

Eight years ago, another friend barely made it out of the World Trade Center and that experience inched him closer to Christ.

Eight years ago, my husband, 11 month old and I sat in a neighbor's townhouse watching the coverage until he and his wife got called to the Pentagon to do grief counseling. He is a Anglican priest in the Air Force.

Eight years ago, Eric and I walked our daughter and dog to the bridge in our neighborhood that crossed 395 and watched the Pentagon burn.

I’ll never forget the impact of that day.


Handling Grief Part Two

Did I mention that men and women are different?

Boy are they! On one level it makes sense. The women is the one who knows that her body is hard at work protecting and supporting this developing life. She's already imagined what's coming for the next nine months and beyond.

To a man, it may be exciting but it's still theoretical at a certain level, even as his wife's belly grows and he sees an ultrasound. The baby becomes solidified in a sense when he gets to hold the child for the first time.

The woman's already held the child for nine months.

So when a miscarriage occurs even before she begins to show, it is largely theoretical for the man. But if you believe life begins at conception, it's still a life that has ended. A family landscape that has been altered. A brother or sister, son or daughter, niece or nephew that will never be part of the family. And that is a very real loss.

But because it is theoretical, the man learns for a short period and moves on. Women, or I should say I, don't.

Then there's also the issue of milestones. I feel them all. Eric doesn't -- remember the theoretical?

People I've talked to say this is normal. When two people grieve they will rarely do it at the same time. So be forewarned and prepared. And there may come a day where you are so angry at the man in your life because he's moved on and you are being crushed by the grief. You're not the only one who's ever felt this way -- many of the women I've talked to who've had a miscarriage have experienced that. But pray through it. And let him know where you're at so he can be there for you.

Oh, and men hate this because they can't fix it. That makes grief all the more avoidable.

So be prepared and forewarned.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

ACFW Conference is Right Around the Corner

"The Premier Christian Fiction Conference"


"Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord,
forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.
1 Corinthians 15:58 (KJV)

SEPTEMBER 17 - 20, 2009

Bestselling authors, publishing industry representatives, and newcomers to Christian fiction writing will gather in Denver at the American Christian Fiction Writer’s annual conference September 17-20 to compare notes, learn from each other, and encourage one another in the pursuit of publishing goals.

This year’s conference theme , Standing Firm…Moving Forward, will especially inspire the full range of talent and dreams in the ever-changing publishing world today.

This amazing conference will feature representatives from major publishing houses like B & H, Guideposts, Zondervan, Harvest House, Barbour, Steeple Hill, Summerside Press, Bethany House, Waterbrook Multnomah, Marcher Lord Press, Tyndale House, and Thomas Nelson, and top literary agents who will meet with writers and identify promising proposals from both new and veteran novelists. Conferees will have access to publishing panels, professional critiques, and customized workshops based on skills and interests.

The keynote speaker is New York Times bestselling author, Debbie Macomber, who has more than 100 million copies of her books in print worldwide.

Learn more about the American Christian Fiction Writer’s Conference by visiting www.acfw.com <http://www.acfw.com> . Click on the left sidebar on Annual Conference.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Fearless: ready to tackle life?

The last couple weeks I've read Max Lucado's latest release Fearless. My husband first introuduced me to Max's books long before we were married. Eric worked at a Christian bookstore while in college and thought I would enjoy his book. I can't remember what the first one I read was titled, but I enjoy his storytelling, direct mail kind of writing. Max may not consider that a complement -- but it really is. It means his writing is clear, easy to understand and connects with my heart.

Fearless has been no exception. If you'd asked me a couple months ago if I feared anything, I probably would have said no. But the last months have emphasized at least one area in my life where I fight fear. And then I received this book.

Now I need to note that I'm not reading this book slowly because it's a dull read. Instead, I'm savoring it. Trying to pull the principles from it rather than rush through it. It's probably why I read so much fiction, because I naturally slow-down when I get a thought provoking book. And that's exactly what Fearless is.

First, Max talks about Fear and why we're afraid. Then he launches into chapters that identify each fear. So many of them resonated with me:
  • Fear of not mattering: be honest -- haven't you felt this too? That no matter what you do and how you impact things nobody will notice or it won't matter in the end?
  • Fear of disappointing God: this is such a big one for me. What if I do everything I know to do for God and it's not enough? Talk about a lie straight from the pit!
  • Fear of not protecting my kids: We live in a scary world. Need I say more?
  • Fear of What's Next
  • Fear of Life's Final Moments
  • And several more
  • But here's one of my favorites: fear of God getting outside my box. Oh, isn't that good. Shouldn't we all beg God to do just that. In fact I've prayed for Him to break down the boxes I place Him in and then cringe as I fear what that will actually look like and what it will mean in my life. So incredibly silly.

Here's one excerpt from the book that will give you a flavor for the full text. Enjoy!

The Decaffeinated Life
If only we could order life the way we order gourmet coffee. Wouldn’t you love to mix and match the ingredients of your future?
“Give me a tall, extra-hot cup of adventure, cut the dangers, with two shots of good health.”
“A decaf brew of longevity, please, with a sprinkle of fertility. Go heavy on the agility and cut the
“I’ll have a pleasure mocha with extra stirrings of indulgence. Make sure it’s consequence free.”
“I’ll go with a grande happy-latte, with a dollop of love sprinkled with Caribbean retirement.”
Take me to that coffee shop. Too bad it doesn’t exist. Truth is, life often hands us a concoction entirely different from the one we requested. Ever feel as though the barista-from-above called your name and handed you a cup of unwanted stress?
“Joe Jones, enjoy your early retirement. Looks as if it comes with marital problems and inflation.”
“Mary Adams, you wanted four years of university education, then kids. You’ll be having kids first.
Congratulations on your pregnancy.”
“A hot cup of job transfer six months before your daughter’s graduation, Susie. Would you like some patience with that?”
Life comes caffeinated with surprises. Modifications. Transitions. Alterations. You move down the ladder, out of the house, over for the new guy, up through the system. All this moving. Some changes welcome, others not. And in those rare seasons when you think the world has settled down, watch out. One seventy-seven-year-old recently told a friend of mine, “I’ve had a good life. I am enjoying my life now, and I am looking forward to the future.” Two weeks later a tornado ripped through the region, taking the lives of his son, daughter-in-law, grandson, and daughter-in-law’s mother. We just don’t know, do we? On our list of fears, the fear of what’s next demands a prominent position. We might request a decaffeinated life, but we don’t get it.

There's a great website that goes with the book, be sure to check it out here.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Two Books I've Enjoyed this Week

548511: Just Between You and MeI am going to start with the book I finished late last night. I love Jenny B. Jones. She is the kind of gal that if we lived in the same town -- make that the same state -- I would love to spend time with. I only get to see her once a year at the ACFW conference, but I adore her sense of humor and she's just plain fun. Until now, she's written YA, and while I like her style, I simply haven't had time to dive into that series. So when her latest came out as women's fiction, I had to try it.

Let me tell you, Just Between You and Me exceeded my expectations. I wanted the book to be funny. It had me snorting and laughing so much that Eric almost grabbed the book from my hands to start reading it. The humor was fantastic. I almost listed a couple examples here, but there were so many, I couldn't choose. And this was one book where my internal editor went to sleep. The characters are perfect, the pacing excellent, and the dialogue snappy. This book is labeled women's fiction, a genre I usually avoid, but I am so GLAD I picked this one up. I loved every twist and turn, and literally couldn't put it down. I had to know what happened.

The mix of characters is perfect. All of them grow -- even the grouchy old dad who seems beyond hope through most of the book. And the hero...oh my goodness. What woman wouldn't want to mind a man like him!

So if you need a new book to read and don't know where to start, please do yourself a favor and buy this one. You will thank me and then you'll buy copies for your girlfriends for their birthdays.

548511: Just Between You and MeJust Between You and Me
By Jenny B. Jones

Maggie lives life on the edge, seemingly unafraid of anything. But the image she so carefullyconstructed is coming undone.

Maggie's job as a videographer takes her around the world. She tells people's stories, especiallythose of impoverished children. That's when she feels most alive, like she's making the worldbetter.

But when a secret from her past resurfaces, Maggie gets a call that sends her home. Her daddesperately needs her help. Her estranged sister has run off, leaving 8-year-old Riley in his care.She returns reluctantly, hoping to help her neice. There she reconnects with Cooper--a onceawkward and shy, now handsome, veterinarian. Her feelings skyrocket when she's with him, butshe's afraid if she shows him her true self, he'll reject her.

An honest, hilarious journey that will transform Maggie--if she just learns to trust more and fear less.

Next is Irene Hannon's latest in the Heroes of Quantico series.
An Eye for an Eye is a perfect read when you're ready for a romantic suspense escape. Mark Sanders, a strong supporting role in the first book, is in St. Louis while he recuperates from a hostage situation gone bad in Virginia. While running he bumps into his first flame and then someone shoots at them. The book flows through the investigation and whether or not these two can now find love that passed them by twenty years earlier.

Mark and Emily, the heroine, are richly drawn characters. Both have to change if they are going to find the shooter. I loved how the author crafted the ending. It was a perfect ending based on the characters, but also a stretch for them because of their pasts. The romance is rich, the suspense thread fluid, and the book a great escape for those who love romantic suspense ala Dee Henderson. Irene Hannon has earned her spot on my list of must reads.

733117: An Eye for an Eye, Heroes of Quantico Series #2 An Eye for an Eye, Heroes of Quantico Series #2
By Irene Hannon

After he accidentally shoots a teenager at a tense standoff, FBI Hostage Rescue Team member Mark Sanders is sent to St. Louis to work as a field agent and get his bearings while the bad press starts to settle. Just weeks away from returning to Quantico to resume his work on the HRT, Mark has a chance encounter with an old flame, Emily Lawson. But their reunion is cut short by a sniper. Now Mark must find the shooter before he tries to strike again. But what is his motive--and who was his intended target? Can Mark put the pieces together, keep Emily safe, and rekindle a long-dead relationship at the same time?

Friday, September 04, 2009

Handling Grief

I've learned several things through the miscarriges about grief and how I process it. I'll share a few today in case they might help you as you try to understand or be supportive of someone you know going through grief. A couple things hit me this week that made me think this might be a good time to share.

1) Sometimes I may be breaking under the weight of grief. I may cry out for help -- actually I probably will send a text or email to carefully selected folks letting them know that I am breaking. You know who you are from this latest round. I am so incredibly grateful for you because there are days I don't respond well to the grief, anger and mix of emotions, but I know your support and prayers are what carry me through. But if you call, I may answer and be incredibly buoyed by your call. Or I may listen to your message, thank God for putting you in my life to support me, but I might not answer or respond for a few days. The reason? I've learned that if I walk through that particular segment of the journey with more than two or three people, I may throw myself back into that pit. I need to talk about it, but I can't live there. Does that make sense? So please don't take it personally if you call and get an email in response. I may be too drained and precarious to actually talk to you at that moment.

2) Please share your good news. I got great news write before I sat down that broke my heart all over again. Fortunately, I could be incredibly excited during the call -- and believe me, I really am. Yet emotions are incredibly complex and my heart breaks again at what I've lost even as I celebrate with you. This has happened with both miscarriages that someone near and dear to me got pregnant at the same time, waited to tell me because they wanted to respect me and what I was processing. With the one, I cried every time I held her daughter for about a year since the birth dates would have overlapped. I could rejoice (and still do) in the amazing miracle and blessing that baby is, while mourning what I had lost. The same with the miracle I just learned about. I'm crying as I type these words, partly in sadness, but partly in joy. God has certainly made our emotions complex and layered things.

So please don't hide your joy, but don't be surprised if I smile while tears course down my face.

3) Men and women greive a miscarriage completely differently...but this post is so long I'll leave it at that for the moment.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Surrender All Review

Ever feel like life is careening out of control and the more it spins the more you fight to hang on and steer? Wonder what it would feel like to surrender everything to God's control? Wonder if it would bring the peace that seems too good to be true?

Surrender All explores this topic, while aspiring to deliver an Answer to Living with Peace, Power & Purpose. I wasn't familiar with Joni Lamb before getting this book, but the first chapter quickly fills in the details. The woman has walked the walk -- she outlined ways that God has called her and her husband have surrendered their lives to God's call -- and the mighty ways He has used them as a result.

Surrender involves giving up control. Sounds simple --- but as Max Lucado states in his new book Fearless --- we often fear that act of giving up control. We may not be in control, but it feels like we are. So Joni advocates rethinking surrender. Instead of seeing it as a lack of control, we should see it allowing God to do what He wants to do in our lives -- and as a result landing smack-dab in the center of God's will. I have to admit that when I've managed to surrender, there is nothing like knowing you are in the middle of His will!

Joni suggests praying a prayer of surrender and then watching your gifts and talents. when you find the spot where you are fulfilled, full of joy and maximizing your abilities to put God's gifts to work, then you may have found the spot God wants you in. She goes on to explore how to surrender your marriage, children, career, health, friendships, loss and more.

This book is an easy read. It's not filled with deep word studies, but by way of lots of stories and examples provides a perspective on the process of surrender.

Interview with debut author Christina Berry

My friend Christina Berry had her first novel release this week! Familiar Stranger looks like a fascinating book. Congratulations, Christina! She's agreed to stop by and answer a few questions. Thanks, Christina.

This first question is one everyone wants to know. How did you receive The Call?

My agent, Sarah Van Diest, had been back and forth with me on the phone and over email for a few weeks as two houses were showing a lot of interest in what was then titled Undiscovered. House “A” had said they would be making an offer, but nothing concrete came in. House “B” was rushing the project through so they could compete. Being a compulsive email checker, I actually found out House B—Moody—had come through with an offer about three minutes before I answered The Call. Instead of breaking the news to a clueless author, Sarah had to listen to me shriek with excitement for a few moments before she could even speak!

Tell us about your novel, Christina.

The Familiar Stranger—formerly known as Undiscovered—is about a couple going through a really rough patch in their marriage. When an accident incapacitates the husband, their relationship must be redefined. Which would be a lot easier to do if BIG secrets from his past didn’t raise their ugly heads. Despite the upheaval, the choices they make involving forgiveness and trust might allow a new beginning. Or … they might not.

You can see the back cover copy and what other authors have said about The Familiar Stranger by going to http://www.christinaberry.net/books.aspx

What fun facts may surprise your readers about you?

I was the team captain and second answerer in the speed round for our family on Family Feud in 2000 … and we won! Also, I grew up in Nigeria, West Africa, while my parents were Southern Baptist missionaries. I remember being awed at the selection of toilet paper in the grocery store when we returned to the States.

Do you put yourself into your books/characters?

Any character has some aspect of my personality, for better or worse. I can only write what I know. I’ve seen a richness develop in my writing as I’ve grown in my faith and walked through some valleys in the last decade.

Denise and Craig’s story is based on the lessons of forgiveness God taught me when my marriage fell apart … the first time. Accordingly, many of the emotions Denise goes through correspond to what I felt, though our situations differ. However, I also wanted to really understand the male perspective, so Craig had parts of me in him as well. The path away from God and following temptation is something we can all recognize and, unfortunately, identify with.

During the editing process and years after my husband and I reunited, our marriage of thirteen years unexpectedly ended. The words I had written as a happily married woman ministered to me in my singleness. My heart’s hope is that this book will lead people to Live Transparently—Forgive Extravagantly!

What is your favorite book you’ve written and why?

Even though it’s my one and only so far, I believe The Familiar Stranger will always have a special place in my heart because it comes from such deep personal pain … and shows the strength of the Lord’s restoration.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

~Read craft books (I have a list of my favorites on the sidebar of my blog http://www.authorchristinaberry.blogspot.com)

~Write consistently

~Join a critique group

~Attend writing conferences

~By open to criticism. One always has room to grow!

What is the best piece of advice you've received on your writing journey?

(If you've been writing for years and have yet to get published, this is especially for you!) To start a new novel.

I'm a stubborn girl—just ask my parents. My mother and I reworked and reworked a co-authored story for eight years, each time putting our newly acquired writing knowledge/skills to use. We were determined that it woudn't end up in a box in the closet or shoved under the bed. I still love that manuscript, and it's actually very close to selling as I write this, but it wasn't until I took the advise of others far sager and experienced with writing to start a new novel that I finally made my first sale.

What was the worst piece of advice you've received?

At a Christian conference, I met with a New York agent. The conference doesn't require the faculty to sign any kind of statement of faith, though it is blatantly Christian in tone. The man actually told me replacing "Jesus" with "God" would make an easier sale and not offend as many people.

With all due respect, excuse me? The very Cross itself is offensive. (See Galatians 5:11) I'm going to use the name of Jesus because in His name dwells power and glory and honor. And really, because when you love Someone, even His name is beloved.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Gone to Green First Chapter

Lois goes from being a corporate journalist at a large paper in the Midwest to the owner of The Green News-Item, a small twice-weekly newspaper in rural North Louisiana. The paper was an unexpected inheritance from a close colleague, and Lois must keep it for at least a year, bringing a host of challenges, lessons, and blessings into her life.

When Lois pulls into Green on New Year’s Day, she expects a charming little town full of smiling people. She quickly realizes her mistake. After settling into a loaned house out on Route 2, she finds herself battling town prejudices and inner doubts and making friends with the most surprising people: troubled teenager Katy, good-looking catfish farmer Chris, wise and feisty Aunt Helen, and a female African-American physician named Kevin.

Whether fighting a greedy, deceitful politician or rescuing a dog she fears, Lois notices the headlines in her life have definitely improved. She learns how to provide small-town news in a big-hearted way and realizes that life is full of newsworthy moments. When she encounters racial prejudice and financial corruption, Lois also discovers more about the goodness of real people and the importance of being part of a community.

While secretly preparing the paper for a sale, Lois begins to realize that God might indeed have a plan for her life and that perhaps the allure of city life and career ambition are not what she wants after all.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Gone To Green, go HERE.


Judy Christie, after working as a journalist for twenty-five years, left the daily news business to open a consulting firm that works with individuals, businesses, and churches on strategies for meaningful life and work, including goal-setting, living fully, and balancing personal and professional lives. She is the author of Hurry Less, Worry Less; Hurry Less, Worry Less at Christmastime; and co-author of Awesome Altars. Judy and her husband live in northwest Louisiana.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Review: Welcome Home!

I remember watching the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition that feature the Woodhouse family. I know Kim through the writing grapevine and ACFW family. I'd seen the prayer requests for Kayla and the taping, etc. But was blown away by the show.

But that's only half the story.

This book tells the rest of the story. And in a style and way that makes it a joy to read. I picked it up to literally flip through it and set it to the side. However, a couple hours later, I finished it.

The Woodhouses' story is filled with challenges, fear, and ultimately a joy that will take your breath away...and I'm not talking about their amazing house.

Be warned: if you pick this book up, you will find yourself pulled into the engaging and amazing journey that the Woodhouse family has traveled. Their story has been featured on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, Mystery ER, and the Montel Williams Show. But with this book you will see so much more than the headlines. You'll delve into the faith journey this family has experienced as they struggled to find answers for their daughter Kayla. You will marvel at God's fingerprints in their lives. And you will be challenged by their journey to extreme joy.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...