Friday, January 30, 2009

Janna's First Most Entertaining Books of 2008: Sharon Hinck

I am so glad that Janna choose these books as her most entertaining. Y'all know how much I am not a fantasy person. I need concrete worlds. But Sharon is a masterful writer and pulled me in from the first chapter. And I was so challenged while I was entertained. Sharon is a hero of mine for the way she pushes through in her writing. These are wonderful! Janna is giving away the third book in the series, but I believe in these SOOOOO much, I will actually go buy a copy of the first one, the Restorer, to give away if we have 20 or more comments, so leave comments and get your friends to join us. These are wonderful books!

The 1st Most Entertaining Books of 2008 are...
"The Restorer's Son" & "The Restorer's Journey"
by Sharon Hinck

Last year Sharon's first book "The Restorer" won in the Most Life Changing category and I did an interview with Sharon then, you can read that
here. I have rarely been as excited about a sequel in a series as I was when Restorer's Journey arrived in the mail - I was like, "Everybody leave me alone! I'm reading Restorer's Journey!" It's always bittersweet of course when you read a book that you know might be the last, you have to savor every word, so I did. My biggest concern is that a lot of you out there haven't read these books yet. That dismays me.

So enter with me into Susan's world... she is a soccer mom, married to a wonderful man with great kids and just a desire to maintain her sanity and try to walk a little closer with God. (Seems pretty usual so far, right?) Her precious husband turns part of the attic into a little haven for her where she can retreat to read the Bible and have her quiet time... wait... what is that in the corner of the attic... why is there a magnetic pull... where am I?!?! And thus Susan is sucked out of her own world into the world of Lyric. Now she must learn how to survive in an unfamiliar and most times unwelcoming place all while trying to figure out why she is "The Restorer" and what exactly she is supposed to restore so she can go home to her family. Moving on into The Restorer's Son we find a new Restorer has taken up the reins since Susan has left. Now there is a different enemy to deal with and this Restorer is even more reluctant than the last one!

I'm trying not to spoil anything here... In the Restorer's Journey we have another Restorer and yet another enemy - though some enemies never seem to really go away. We see most of the same characters in each book which I love and the overall setting stays the same - but situations and circumstances sure change. In every book Sharon packs the storys full of amazing allegorial pictures (the people of Lyric have the Verses (a version of our Psalms), the Rhusicans use mind poisoning to torment and kill people (our negative thought life) and much more). These books will make you think, let you escape, and thouroughly entertain you! They are too good not to read -
Now let's meet Sharon...

1. I picked The Restorer as one of the Most Life Changing Books of 2007 and while The Restorer's Son and The Restorer's Journey could have easily garnered the same title this year I decided that they should instead receive the title of Most Entertaining because above all else this entire series is designed to sweep you away to a different world and into a place where you wish you were but would be kind of freaked out to be. Is Susan based on you?

I think every character has some shadings of myself. There are elements of Susan that I identify with. I’m a wife and mom who struggles with the journey of serving Christ being more painful than anticipated, and also has felt the joy of surrendering to His purposes. But I haven’t ventured through any portals into alternate universes.

2) In books 2 & 3 Susan is no longer The Restorer, the mantle is passed on. How did you pick the next 2 Restorers? Was it obvious to you or did you have to think it through first?

I’m a “discovery” writer. I have a sense of where the story is going, but it often surprises me. I didn’t see either of those Restorer’s coming until it happened. It was one of those fun novel-writing moments, where I lifted my hands off the keyboard, read what I’d just typed, and said, “Wow!” And even though it surprised me, it felt like it had been meant to be all along.

3) In The Restorer series you make parallels between Susan and the Old Testament judge, Deborah and Kiernan and the judge Gideon. Did you model Jake after a judge ( a young, handsome, 18 year old judge)?

I was inspired by young David. He was the one voice ready to stand up to the Philistines when the seasoned warriors were afraid, he was a poet with a tender heart for God, and he had a difficult relationship with King Saul.

4) There are different enemies in the books (Rhusicans, Kahlareans, etc...) are they modeled after anything (or anyone) in particular?

When I was developing the Rhusicans (Rhus is the Latin botantical name for poison), I had been pondering the modern marketing industry. It targets people’s insecurities and seeks to exploit them to create a need. I wondered what it would be like if an enemy used that technique on a very personal level – probing, twisting, and literally poisoning people’s minds.

5) Is the Sword of Lyric series over or will we get to see what happens next in the land of Lyric?

For me, the adventures continue. I have more stories in me set in that world. I’m praying that if God wills it, I might one day have an opportunity to write more stories in the series.

6) What do you have in the works right now - so I know what to be looking forward to?

I’ve been busy the last few months with the release of “Stepping Into Sunlight” - a new contemporary novel about a Navy chaplain’s wife and her journey toward healing from PTSD.

****Readers, I recently read "Stepping Into Sunlight" and it would not surprise me to see it on the 2009 Most Life Changing list. It is a wonderful book that will increase your empathy towards others, open your eyes to those hurting and give you insight into the minds of those that have dealt with painful things. It's a wonderful story that is full of moments that will make you stop and think and be grateful for what God has given you. *****

7) How can readers find you online?

I LOVE for folks to visit me at There is encouragement for writers, for the faith journey, for families. Info on all my books. Fun video interviews. Audio clips of the music from The Restorer books. Lots to explore. :-) Thanks so much for your encouragement on these books that meant so much to me!!!!
Sharon won Book Of The Year in the fantasy category at the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference in Minneapolis this year - this is a picture of Sharon giving her acceptance speech. You can see the picture of the winning book "The Restorer's Son" in the background.
I love these books so much that I am going to give away a copy of "The Restorer's Son" from my own collection since I have two and some of you don't have any. Be prepared though... if you win and don't have the first one, then you must go buy it so that you can read them in order. This is one series where I think it's almost unacceptable to read them out of order *grin*. So you know the rules...
1) Leave a comment telling me where you would go to getaway if you could (obviously as much as I would love to go to Lyric like Susan did, not really a possibility) along with your email address and you get 1 entry

2) Blog about this giveaway yourself and leave another comment here and get 2 entries

3) Tell someone else about this interview with Sharon and when they leave a comment with your name in it you will receive 3 entries

4) Become a blog follower (on the left of my blog you can do that) and receive 1 extra entry

Thursday, January 29, 2009

My bookclub

A few months ago, a couple friends and I started getting together every few weeks to read books. It started with titles like Blue Like Jazz, The Shack, and Why We're Not Emergent by Two Guys Who should Be. The first was a book I'd wanted to read, but hadn't made the time for. The second was a book I'd read but needed somebody to talk about it with. The third seemed a natural extension of hte first two. This month we tried Pilgrim's Progress. I loved it as a young adult, but we all decided it was a bit harder as an adult.

So next month, we're reading The Hiding Place. Have you ever read it? I loved it as a young adult. I can't wait to read it again and introduce my friends to this true story. Check it out below. I can't remember if this is from The Hiding Place or another of her books, but I remember a story she told about her father. She'd asked him about grace and how we'd know we'd have it when we needed it. He said it was like when he took her to the train station. When did he give her the ticket? When she needed it to board. And that's like God's grace. He extends it right when we need that. So true!

And if you like, let's read it together and talk about it at the end of February. Maybe you can participate in the bookclub via the blog. Let me know what you think!

56696: The Hiding PlaceThe Hiding Place

By Corrie Ten Boom / Random House, Inc

When the Nazis invaded Holland, Corrie ten Boom's quiet life turned into a nightmare. Because she made her home a "hiding place" for Jews, she and her family were sent to a concentration camp. Refusing to despair, Corrie discovered how Jesus can turn loss to glory! This unforgettable story will move you to tears and to joy.

458346: Why We"re Not Emergent (By Two Guys Who Should Be)Why We're Not Emergent (By Two Guys Who Should Be)

By Kevin DeYoung & Ted Kluck / Moody Publishers

Pastor DeYoung and sports columnist Kluck thoroughly probe the emerging church from a theological and on-the-street perspective. Resourcing interviews, articles, books, blogs, and experiences, they carefully examine the movement's views on Scripture; the wrath of God; the place of Jesus; spiritual journey vs. pilgrimage; and more. A systematic, thought-provoking, and accessible "dialogue." 224 Pages. Softcover from Moody.

Kevin Deyoung is the senior pastor at University Reformed Church in East Lansing, Michigan, across the street from Michigan State University.

Ted Kluck is the author of three books and has written for ESPN the Magazine, Sports Spectrum Magazine,, and several small literay journals.

729230: The ShackThe Shack

By William Paul Young / Windblown Media

"Mack" Philips took his three children on a family camping trip while his wife visited her sister. Just as they were about to leave the campsite, the two older kids decided to take a last canoe ride before heading home. As their canoe overturned, and Mack went to help them, his back was turned and the unspeakable happened. Mack's youngest daughter,Missy, was abducted by a known child predator. After a massive search, evidence of Missy showed up at an abandoned cabin. Although they never found her body, everyone knew the worst had happened. For the next four years "a great sadness" fell over Mack and his family, until a note from God showed up in his mailbox. What happens next will move you to a greater understanding of God's unfailing love for us all.

63705: Blue Like Jazz: Non-Religious Thoughts on Christian SpiritualityBlue Like Jazz: Non-Religious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality

By Donald Miller / Thomas Nelson

Can you love a God who doesn't make sense? Like Anne Lamott's Traveling Mercies, Miller's memoir-like collection of essays wrestles with the paradoxes of the Christian faith, describing his journey back to a culturally relevant, infinitely gracious Savior. A mind-changing perspective for those who believe that organized religion doesn't meet their spiritual needs.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Janna's Second Most Entertaining Books: Julie Lessman

The 2nd Most Entertaining Books of 2008 are
Julie Lessman's two delightful books:
"A Passion Most Pure" & "A Passion Redeemed"

Readers - let me preface this interview by saying that my personal opinion of this book is that it is an absolute classic and we will be reading about the O'Conner family for many years and these are the kind of books that you will save on your shelf and pass on to your daughters and granddaughters. Legacy books this classic do not come along very often - at all... so don't pass up the opportunity to get to know the O'Conners and of course - Julie Lessman...

Julie blew me away with A Passion Most Pure and I really didn't think she could ever top it. I mean A Passion Most Pure was so fresh and new, it is like Little Women for 2008 - an epic saga that through the next books in the series will allow us to follow and continue to fall in love with the O'Connor family. We follow Faith closely in the first one and in A Passion Redeemed we follow her horrible, awful, dreadful sister Charity. Did I mention that she was basically the villianess in the first book? No, well she was though maybe vixen is a better word for it. At any rate I wasn't sure I really wanted to follow Charity and get inside her head. But I went for it and like I always say, there are 2 sides to every story and that holds true here.

I must
be careful because I don't want to give away anything that would spoil it for you, but let me just say that I told Julie I didn't think she could pull one over on me with this book - but she did it again - the ending was fantastic! So come meet Faith and now Charity and I can't wait to join up with the O'Connors again soon and get to know Beth really well too!

Julie Lessman is a debut author who has already garnered writing acclaim, including ten Romance Writers of America awards. She is a commercial writer for Maritz Travel, a published poet and a Golden Heart Finalist. Julie has a heart to write “Mainstream Inspirational,” reaching the 21st-century woman with compelling love stories laced with God’s precepts. She resides in Missouri with her husband and their golden retriever, and has two grown children and a daughter-in-law. A Passion Most Pure was her first novel.

1) When I got to read your first book "A Passion Most Pure," I thought for sure I had discovered a new Jane Austen or Louisa May Alcott. I was captivated by the writing style, the setting and most of all the characters. In the O'Connor family, is there one character that you really identify with the most?

Probably Faith, and then Charity, but there’s definitely a part of my personality in each of the three sisters in the series. Faith, the sister heroine of A Passion Most Pure, is my spiritual self. Faith has an intimate relationship with God—she talks and prays to Him as naturally as if He is her best friend, but she gets angry with Him too. You might say she (and I) are emotionally engaged with the God of the Universe—we laugh with Him, tear up at His goodness to us, and worship Him with all of our hearts.

Charity, the sister heroine of Book 2, is my rebellious and “passionate” self, before I came to the Lord. I was a wild child of the seventies who, like Charity, mistakenly thought lust was love. Thank heavens that Jesus got a hold of me (as he does Charity in Book 2), to teach me that real love has HIM at the center!

Lizzie (or Beth), the sister heroine of Book 3 is my dreamer self. Lizzie is a bookworm bent on fairytale romance, just like I used to be as a little girl, sneaking downstairs to watch romantic movies after my parents went to bed. In her story, Lizzie has to learn (just like I did) that true romance, the kind that really satisfies, comes from following God’s precep
ts, not the world’s.

2) In book #1 we get to fall in love with Faith as she struggles seeing her sister dating the man she has always loved. You have been criticized for having a little too much "passion" when it should be all "pure." I personally think it’s some of the more realistic romance I've ever read. But I'm sure a little criticism is nothing to a self-confident writer like yourself, you just let all that slide right off your back, right???

Grin. Uh, no. In fact, when I got my first 1-star review on Amazon that led off with the line, “This is simply a horrible book …”, I cried all the way out of work. This reviewer thought I had crossed the bounds of passion in a Christian novel, and for one, brief, awful moment, I thought I had missed God. But then He showed me that I was writing these novels for women like me – women with a passion for romance AND a passion for God. Yes, I wanted real romantic tension and passion in the books I read, but I also wanted God in the center of it, something I couldn’t seem to find in either the secular market OR the Christian market. So I decided to write my own, taking the romantic tension I so loved in books like Gone With the Wind and lacing it with God’s precepts. My books are not for everyone, but I am hoping they will reach some women trapped in today’s amoral society with the very real message that God is the true author of romance.

3) I believe that in order to really move you a book has to be something that people will really love or hate, it has to bring forth gut-wrenching emotions. You have accomplished that. I loved Faith and really detested her sister (and rival) Charity. I didn't think I would ever like her – you told me I would when I read book #2, A Passion Redeemed. You were right to a certain extent, Faith is still my favorite but now I do at least like Charity. I think part of the reason I didn't like Charity originally is because she reminded me a lot of myself. For that reason alone I loved seeing the redemption that Charity receives. Did that stem out of your own life at all?

Unfortunately, very much so. My father used to call me an “angle shooter,” which is what Charity was – a manipulator bent on getting what she wanted. I never saw myself that way, but the sting of my father’s rebuke branded me nonetheless. Like Charity, my relationship with my father was not good, so you might say I grew up in a very dysfunctional family where I did not feel loved.

My “redemption” into Christ was not as traumatic as Charity’s, to be sure, but it was similar in that I was seeking love through lust. At the age of 23 I was a brand-new Christian who was still intimately involved with my boyfriend. When my spiritual mentor confronted me with my sin, I remember screaming at her in the work cafeteria, saying that “if God thought I was going to give up the only love I have ever had, He was dead wrong.” I basically told her that if God wanted my boyfriend out of my life, let God do it. And, oh my,
He did! My boyfriend dumped me so fast, that I was totally devastated. So much so that a Christian couple had to keep me for the weekend to prevent me from calling or going to see my boyfriend. It was during this dark time that I finally bent my knee to God and allowed Him to heal my life.

4) The O'Connor family has more children, how many of them will we get to follow in books?

There are six O’Connor children in all – four daughters and two sons – and each one will have their own story. Book 1 of the next series will be the story of the youngest daughter, Katie, which will be fun because she is a pistol who comes of age in the Roaring Twenties, right before The Great Depression. Books 2 and 3 will be about the O’Connor brothers, Sean (and guess who … Emma, Charity’s scarred friend from book 2!!), and then Steven, all during the exciting era of speakeasies, dance marathons, gangsters, G-men and era criminals like Bonnie & Clyde and John Dillenger. Steven will be a tall, brooding G-man-type modeled after Elliot Ness … you know, a la Robert Stack from the Untouchables? I’m very excited because all three plots are very involved, include detailed sub-stories for ALL the character couples (can you say “complicated”???) and each plot has surprises that I hope and pray will blow readers away!

5) Did you ever imagine that your series would be so well received? How amazing is that for you?

Not in a million years. Keep in mind that after I wrote book 1, “A Passion Most Pure,” I had no earthly idea if it was any good or not. I knew I liked it, of course, but I honestly had no clue that anybody else would. My sisters enjoyed it, but they are blood, so I was never really sure how the public would receive it. It still stuns me today when I receive e-mails that use the words “amazing” writer.” Say what??? It pretty much stuns me, even now, which is good because it just underscores something I already know—God is the source and substance of any talent I may have, and I could NEVER do it without Him.

6) I see a lot of reviews of your books where readers say that you have reinvigorated the historical fiction genre for them. And my personal opinion is that they are books that deserve to sit on the same shelf as "Little Women." With that being said, where can readers find you online?

Thank you SO much for your kind words, Janna, and YES, I absolutely LOVE hearing from people who have read my books. I feel as if they are more like friends than readers. Let’s face it, we’re all women (at least mostly … I do have some male readers, which is a hoot!) who love a stirring romance heavily laced with God’s precepts, so for me, hearing from my “friends” seems more like a big, wonderful club of like-minded Christians. That said, I encourage anyone who wants to get in touch with me to do so by sending an e-mail through my Web site at I would LOVE to hear from you!

Thank you again, Janna, for the honor of being on your “list.” I pray a blessed 2009 for you and your family and all the readers of your blog.

Julie has agreed to give away a copy of whichever of the first 2 books the winner requests. So if you don't have the first one you can start there, but if you have that one then you can get the second one. So you know the rules...
1) Leave a comment telling me if a book cover (like the amazing covers Julie has) makes a difference in whether you purchase them or not, along with your email address and you get 1 entry

2) Blog about this giveaway yourself and leave another comment here and get 2 entries

3) Tell someone else about this interview with Julie and when they leave a comment with your name in it you will receive 3 entries

4) Become a blog follower (on the left of my blog you can do that) and receive 1 extra entry

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

ACFW Genesis Contest for Unpublished Authors Open

The Genesis, formerly known as the Noble Theme, is the ACFW contest for unpublished Christian writers. The contest has a multitude of categories/genres to enter, the opportunity for unbiased feedback on writers' work by published authors and experienced judges, and the chance for the Category Finalists to have their work read by Christian publishing house editors and literary agents. ACFW has been pleased to see previous Noble Theme and Genesis Category Winners and Finalists move further on in their writing careers to become published authors.

Eligibility – The 2009 ACFW Genesis contest is open to ACFW members unpublished in adult or young adult fiction in the last seven years (no published fiction print or electronic works of 20,000 words or more). Authors of non-fiction or library bound fiction dissertations are eligible.

Any author contracted for publication before April 1st, 2009 is not eligible. If an entrant receives a publishing house contract after April 1st, 2009, they must withdraw their entry if it was the manuscript that was contracted. If they are contracted on a manuscript not entered in the contest, they may remain in the contest with their other entry(s). See FAQ page for a more detailed explanation.

Self-published authors are eligible, however they may not enter a manuscript that is in print or that was/is available for purchase at any time between September 1st, 2002 and September 1st, 2009. Previously entered manuscripts may be entered again, but manuscripts that have won First Place in their category in previous Noble Theme or Genesis contests (or have been one of the FaithWords finalists in 2006) may not be entered again. Manuscripts that have been finalists in previous Noble Theme or Genesis contests but have not won first place may be entered again. See FAQ page for a more detailed explanation.

Go to to learn more.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Will it ever fade?

Today is the second anniversary of my miscarriage.

Last week I drove by the cemetery where the memorial is and started crying. Some days I wonder when it will stop hurting. When the ache will fade. And then another corner of me doesn't want to forget. Will that negate the life that God created?

Then I look at the women who miscarried ten, twenty, thirty years ago and still tear up when they mention their miscarriage.

I don't think it's the kind of loss you forget. You may move on. You may heal. It may not be such a raw pain. But you don't forget.

I wonder about the baby. Was he a boy or a girl? What call and purpose did God have on his life? What would he have added to our family? Was he the little brother Eric thinks Jonathan needs? I wonder.

Rebecca is chattering up a storm -- her sweet voice and personality is a balm to my heart, but the ache remains.

Review: The Someday List

Before the Someday List, I hadn't read any books by Stacy Hawkins Adams, but the blurb on this book intrigued me. Rachelle Covington is ten years into her marriage. After a call from a childhood friend, her life is thrust into unexpected turmoil when she wonders who she is. She's lived so long to meet others' demands, that she's unsure what she wants and was created to do.

This book wasn't easy to read. Not because of any writing issues, but the subject. Who hasn't had times that they've struggled with purpose and discontentment. Rachelle's questions and her desperation to come up with even one goal for the next 15 years of her life can strike chords.

And the marital issues are all too real. It felt like I'd crawled into her skin and went through each question and choice with her. The book has a definite message, but I would have loved to see another chapter or two that fleshed out the hard work in front of Rachelle and Gabe. This book would be a great one to give to a friend who is struggling with an early mid-life crisis or marriage issues.

That said, don't think it's a preachy book or one you shouldn't read for fun. No, instead you need to realize that it's a book that might make you think as you enjoy it.


TheSomedayList-thThe Someday List (The Jubilant Soul Series Book One)

by Stacy Hawkins Adams

Rachelle Covington has it all. A fabulous home, a handsome and prestigious husband, two beautiful children, and a place in the upper crust that’s quite comfortable. But her life is not all it’s cracked up to be. Rachelle visits a dying friend who leaves her with an unsettling challenge. As she seeks to meet it, she takes an honest look at her dissolving marriage, loss of identity and an abandoned faith and tries to pick up the pieces. Read this inspiring tale to discover how one woman finally faces the truth and triumphs in the face of it.


StacyHawkinsAdams-thStacy Hawkins Adams is a nationally-published, award-winning author and speaker. Her contemporary women’s fiction novels are filled with social themes and spiritual quests that take readers on journeys into their own souls.

She holds a degree in journalism and served as a newspaper reporter for more than a decade before turning her full attention to penning books, speaking professionally and writing freelance articles.

She is currently writing her sixth novel and her first nonfiction book, an inspirational title that will encourage women in their faith.

Stacy lives in a suburb of Richmond, Virginia with her husband and two young children. Visit Stacy online at

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Baby Fat Diet Book

The Baby Fat Diet intrigued me when I saw it. Anyone who's had a baby knows how hard it is to eat right in the months of craziness after a baby is born. And if you're trying to lose weight, it's hard to do while nursing and caring for everyone else in your family. This books is published by Alpha (the publisher of the Complete Idiots Guide to Business Law) and keeps that user-friendly CIG feel while being shorter and very readable.

I like the way the book is set up with short chapters -- they can easily be read in chunks. There are also lots of practical tips and bullets to help pull out the key information. The suggestions are also very practical. Struggling for ideas for healthy, but quick lunches and breakfasts? They have some for you in chapters 14 and 15. Wondered if organics are better? Read chapter 7. Looking for motivation to exercise and ways to integrate into your sleep-deprived state? Look no further than chapters 31 and 32.

Here's a little more from the authors. And be sure to check out their blog.

Where did you get the idea for the book? What compelled you to write it?
Monica: I have always maintained a private practice and teach a prenatal nutrition class at the Y – throughout my career, most of the women that I help to lose weight, started having weight problems post-pregnancy. It was the same for my friends and family. Throughout the years, we have learned what works and what does not work in terms of moms losing weight. So, we wanted to make the information that we had learned more available. And, since most post-pregnancy weight loss books are exercise-based, Shara and I felt that a nutrition and lifestyle book to help mom’s lose weight was missing from the shelves.

Shara: Monica and I both are moms of young children and recognize the challenges moms face in finding time to focus on themselves, including eating well and exercising. We wanted to write a book that took our experiences and those of women we know and have worked with as dietitians over the years to make a simple, realistic book to help them take off the baby weight. Most importantly it had to be fun to read in short chapters so moms could pick it up, read a few pages and put it down - not to be another chore on her to do list.

What are the major themes of the book?
Monica: Each short chapter is based on an issue faced by moms with a solution – we cover, when you should eat, what you should eat, how you should eat with concrete examples and interesting facts throughout the book. Additionally, we provide menus and shopping lists.

Shara: Simple changes make big differences in taking off the weight and living a healthier life.

Why do you think “baby fat” is so difficult for moms to lose?
Monica: With each child comes a new set of demands and less time, plus the body itself is different and needs attention. By focusing on easy to incorporate healthful strategies that really do make a difference versus trying different diets or following bad advice, moms can actually lose the weight without trying too hard or having to take too much time away from other activities and responsibilities.

Shara: They have little time and energy to focus on themselves. Eating well and exercising go by the wayside.

What kind of research did you have to do for the book?
Monica: The book is based on over 12 years of experience and research with a countless number of women (not to mention our own baby weight loss experiences) – every successful weight loss client as well as our own experiences went into this book. Additionally, all recommendations have a scientific foundation and are validated by scientific research.

Shara: In addition to talking to many women about the challenges they face and the solutions they find realistic, we did much research on the latest studies on each topic to provide scientifically based information that works.

What do you hope readers will take away from your book?
Monica: That to lose weight, one must eat and make good decisions. This book will help them learn how to do both.

Shara: That it’s worth focusing on yourself and your health – to be the best mom you can be you need to take care of yourself by eating well and being active. Small changes make a world of difference so it’s not a huge overhaul but tweaks that can really lead to taking off the baby fat.

Friday, January 23, 2009


As I started thinking about this post, I began hearing the Everly Brothers song. Dreaeaeaeam, dream ,dream, dream…

It’s the beginning of a new year, and I’ve been asking God what the next dream should be. At one time, my dream was to write books. Now I have. Four are out. Three more are written and releasing in 2009. I’ll write two more in the next six months. Then, I don’t know.

Hence, it’s time to dream.

But it doesn’t matter what you do. Dreams are critical. Solomon made it clear in Proverbs 29:18: without a vision the people perish. Then in Psalm 37:4: delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of you heart.

That last one is my life’s verse. As I chase God, I’ll draw closer to His heart. In the process my delights and dreams line up with His. I love that! And I’ve seen that.

Usually, I don’t have a problem dreaming. I’ve pushed myself with dreams throughout my life. I got the crazy idea I’d start college at 16. Then I did. I got the crazy idea that I’d go to law school and clerk for a federal judge. Then I did. I got the crazy idea I could actually write a book. Then I did. Each time, God birthed and/or blessed the dream. But each result started with that germ of a dream.

So what now? I since a change coming, but I don’t know what it is. Anyone else there? Scary, but what a great opportunity to lean into God and hear His heart for me. Slow down and focus on His heartbeat.

Match my dream to His.

So sing with me….dreeeeaaaammm, dream, dream, dream…

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Regardless of who you voted for...

It's our duty to pray for our new president and his family. In case you're like me and want concrete things to pray, here are some from the editor of Charisma Magazine. Let's join together to uphold our president and pray for God's will to be done....

Whether you voted for Obama or not, you need to pray for him. Here are 10 ways I plan to intercede for him regularly:

1. Pray for Obama’s protection. We already know that some weird, neo-Nazi fanatics in Tennessee plotted to kill Sen. Obama during his campaign. Let’s pray that racist hatred is not allowed to spread. Let’s cancel every assassin’s bullet in the name of Jesus. May civility triumph over bigotry.

2. Cover his wife and daughters in prayer. It is not easy to live under constant media scrutiny. Pray for Obama’s wife, Michelle, and their two daughters, Malia and Natasha, as they face invasive cameras, nosy reporters, maniacal fans and dangerous enemies. Obama is not only a politician but also a husband and a father.

3. Pray that Obama will govern with God’s wisdom. God rewarded Solomon because he asked for wisdom instead of wealth, long life or vengeance on his enemies (see 1 Kings 3:11-12). Pray that Obama will order his priorities like that. Despite Solomon’s tragic character flaws, his legacy was wisdom. We can ask God to give our president the same grace.

4. Ask God to keep our president humble. Many great American leaders became corrupt after they moved to Washington. The fatal attraction of fame, wealth and power proved irresistible. The only thing that will guard a man or woman from this pitfall is humility. May God deliver President Obama from the curse of pride.

5. Pray for wise and righteous advisers to surround him. Godly leaders cannot do their job alone. Even the best leaders have failed because they trusted the wrong people. Pray that Obama will not select his counselors based on party, race, pedigree or political cronyism but on godly character and proven wisdom. Pray also that he will not allow secret traitors into his inner circle.

6. Ask for the spirit of reconciliation. Some segments of our deeply divided society want nothing to do with Obama now that he has won the presidency. Even some Christians will be tempted to harbor resentment and nurse political grudges throughout his term in office. Pray that God will grant forgiveness and healing so that leaders on all political levels can have constructive dialogue.

7. Pray that Obama will adopt pro-life convictions. Many politicians have changed their views on key issues while in office. In the 1800s some leaders who favored slavery later denounced it. In the 1950s some who opposed racial integration later became champions of it. Even though Obama won approval from many voters because he sanctions abortion, God could soften and change his heart.

8. Bind all evil forces assigned to manipulate our president. The specter of Islamic terrorism looms over the United States, and dark forces are ready to infiltrate. Our only hope lies in prayer to the God who is able to expose and outwit the schemes of the wicked. This is truly a time for spiritual warfare, and intercessors must not come off the wall in this hour! Pray that no foreign government, terrorist organization or demonic principality will use Obama as a tool. We must stand strong against the spirit of antichrist that promotes dictatorship, persecution of Christians and hostility toward Israel.

9. Pray that Obama’s door will remain open to the church. The loudest voices of secular culture—from Bill Maher in Hollywood to atheists in academia—would be happy if religion were removed from public life. Pray that Obama, who claims to have a personal faith in Jesus Christ, will unapologetically welcome Christian leaders into his company and seek their counsel. And pray that false religious leaders (who claim to know Christ but deny His power) will not have his ear.

10. Pray that our nation will enjoy God’s peace and blessing during the Obama administration. The apostle Paul instructed early believers to pray for all in authority “so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity” (1 Tim. 2:2, NASB). God’s will is for America to experience peace and prosperity so that we can continue to export the gospel to the nations. This must happen whether a Democrat or a Republican is in the White House. As we cry out for God’s mercy on our wayward nation, pray that He will allow us to be a light to the world as we finance global missions, feed and heal the world’s poor and share Christ’s love at home and abroad.

J. Lee Grady is editor of Charisma

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Janna's 3rd most entertaining book of 2008

I am so glad Janna is highlighting this book. Shadow of Colossus has been sitting on my desk since Christmas because I've wanted to mention it to you. I honestly didn't know what to expect and wasn't sure that I'd enjoy a story set so far in the ancient world. Instead, I found myself pulled into a setting that intrigued me. And I could tell that TL Higley had researched until the details were as accurate as she could make them. So if you're looking for something fresh and different, give this one a try.

447309: Shadow of Colossus, Seven Wonders Series #1Shadow of Colossus, Seven Wonders Series #1

By T.L. Higley / B & H Publishing Group

Like Colossus overshadowing the island's harbor, years of bondage on Rhodes have darkened Tessa's heart. A high-priced courtesan in 227 B.C., she's abandoned hope for liberty or love. But her wealthy owner's death offers her a chance for both---if she can conceal his absence! Will she find God's wholeness before the island's peace is shattered? 400 pages, softcover from B&H.

The 3rd Most Entertaining Book of 2008 is

Shadow of Colossus (7 Wonders Series)

by TL Higley

Dear Readers - I have discovered a very special series of books that I'm thinking some of you haven't read yet and I am hoping to help you rectify that very sad situation. For lovers of historical fiction (and even those that may not think they enjoy historical fiction) this series is amazing! Welcome to the 7 Wonders Series by T.L. Higley... each book centers around one of the Ancient Wonders of the World and sets characters and mystery/suspense against that setting. I have read the first two (Shadow of Colossus (set against the statue of Colossus at Rhodes) and City of the Dead (set against the Pyramids at Giza)) and TL actually makes the particular Wonder of the World almost a character in the book. I was attracted to the series because of a fascination with the Ancient Wonders but drawn in by the amazing story lines. I thought the first one was great, and then the second one stepped up the story another whole level... I can't wait to read the third one! I strongly encourage homeschooling moms to get these books for their high school students because it will make ancient world history come alive. I am really hoping that sales are good for this series because I would love for TL to be able to finish all 7 books!

Now let's meet TL (Tracy)...

1) Sometimes people think of authors as being bigger than life and not "real", so I thought we would start off with a very important question, one that will show people just how real you are! "What dessert can you not resist when it is time to indulge?"

Anything with peanut butter and chocolate is just irresistible! Especially that rice-chex cereal mixture that some people call Puppy Chow. Yikes! I will literally eat that stuff until I feel sick. It’s a favorite “girls’ night” snack for my teenage daughters and me.

2) I am a fan of history and have always been fascinated by the 7 Wonders of the World so when I heard about your new series I was intrigued to say the least. How do you research for a project that is historical but most of the 7 Wonders haven't been around for hundreds and hundreds of years? Only the Pyramids of Giza are left standing... I would think it would make research difficult.

Actually, I love the research! The Seven Wonders are in various states of ruin. We have bits of some of them in museums, and some on the sites where they stood. We have the writings of historical figures like Herodotus, Strabo, Pliny and others to tell us what they were like. And with the Great Pyramid, it’s still there. There is a great body of research on each one of these engineering marvels, except for the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, about which we know very little. Thus far, I’ve visited the sites of four out of the seven wonders, so that has also helped my research greatly.

3) The first book is Shadow of Colossus and takes place in the 5 days before the earthquake that knocked Colossus down. What made you decide to start with that particular Wonder? Is there a specific order to how they are released?

There is no specific order to the books. They have evolved in an order that followed my own interests more than anything else. I had already written two books with Babylon settings, so I wanted to save that site for later in the series. I had another book idea for an Egypt story, so I decided to start with the Colossus of Rhodes, which seemed to be one of the more familiar of the Seven Wonders to most people.

4) I expected lots of fascinating history in these books and I certainly got that. What I wasn't expecting but absolutely loved was the mystery/suspense threads in the storylines that kept me on the edge of my seat and kept me from putting down the books until I was done. Did you always know they would be mysteries?

Yes, this is the type of writing that I naturally gravitate toward. I love to plot! I enjoy writing fast-paced stories with tight plots, and I enjoy history. Putting them together was natural for me, though I think in the process I’ve created a unique series, one that incorporates the history into mystery and suspense.

5) Then we are transported from Ancient Greece to Ancient Egypt in the middle of the Pyramids of Giza being built where book #2 takes place. The details of engineering such a feat are fascinating without slowing the story down. I wish I had these books to read when I was in high school, it would have made studying the ancient world much more interesting and enjoyable! Did you have any educational purposes in mind when you started this series?

I think the only education I had in mind when I began was my own. I really enjoyed learning about these different cultures and places, and traveling to them was awesome! But as the series has developed, I’ve heard from more and more people that they’ve appreciated the introduction to these cultures that the books provide, plus the integration of some Old Testament history into world history. They’ve turned into an educational tool for some readers, and I’m exploring ways to expand that idea.

6) How long do you expect it to take to write and publish all 7 books (I'm assuming there will be 7 books in the series :-) ?

The books are releasing about every seven months or so at this point. As with any series, the continuation will be subject to sales. If they continue to sell well, we’ll continue with the series. Regardless of what happens with the Seven Wonders, though, my plan is to continue writing historical adventures set in ancient times.

7) Where can readers find you online?

I would love for readers to visit me at I’ve got all kinds of fascinating information on the site, including an Ancient Treasure Hunt and a free download of one of my earlier books. Plus, the first three chapters of each book are there, free.


Tracy has agreed to give away a copy of Shadow of Colossus (the only one that has actually been released so far) to one lucky reader so you know the rules...

1) Leave a comment telling Janna which ancient wonder of the world is your favorite (mine is Solomon's Hanging Gardens) with your email address and you get 1 entry

2) Blog about this giveaway yourself and leave another comment here and get 2 entries

3) Tell someone else about this interview with Tracy and when they leave a comment with your name in it you will receive 3 entries

4) Become a blog follower (on the left of my blog you can do that) and receive 1 extra entry

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Why is it...

That for months I've wanted to fit exercise into my schedule and literally couldn't find time. It was exercise or get 5 hours of sleep. For some odd reason, sleep won.

Now that the Indy mini-marathon is less than four months away, things have changed. (The fact that I start writing my next book this week may alter things a tad....)

But I've been running and exercising like crazy.

Practically every day.

It's been awesome! And has me shaking my head.

It's amazing how the drop dead date to run 13.1 miles has made all the difference. Maybe I'll have to do a second mini this year. Just to stay motivated. Or scared.

You take your pick!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Want to decide a Courtroom Scene???

I just learned of a fun opportunity for those of us who love legal thrillers or Law & Order type shows to participate in determining how a scene in Randy Singer's next legal thriller will be written. Here are the details:

Readers will have an opportunity to determine the verdict in Randy’s upcoming legal thriller, The Justice Game (Tyndale House, July 2009), which features a court case centered on the gun debate. The verdict voted on by the readers will be written into the story and kept under wraps until the book’s release. This is the first time in recent memory that an author has taken reader involvement and feedback to this level.

“I wanted to do something different and get my readers really involved in the story,” said Singer. “This gives them an opportunity to hear both sides of the national gun debate and gets them thinking. Plus, it adds an element of fun to the book.”

Taking a new approach to the popular book trailer, Singer has produced a short, online video that mimics a cable news report. Featuring real-life talk show host Lorri Allen as the lead news anchor, the video shares the latest updates on the trial at the center of the book interspersed with segments of the closing arguments direct from the courtroom. At the end of the video, viewers are directed to a special section on Singer’s Web site to render their verdict.

You can access the video at:

Randy, who is a practicing veteran trial attorney as well as a teaching pastor in Virginia Beach, VA, has written seven critically-acclaimed legal thrillers. Publishers Weekly has said he, “is as enjoyable as John Grisham,” and his work has received several noteworthy reviews. His latest book, By Reason of Insanity (Tyndale), debuted in hardcover last summer and releases this month in softcover

BTW: these are my thoughts on By Reason of Insanity: This is the first book of Singer's that I've read, but it won't be the last. I literally finished the book and my head is spinning with all the twists and turns the plot took until the last page. This book is a page-turner of a legal suspense. It reminds me of Grisham's early books -- still my favorites of his.

The courtroom scenes are authentic. The characters rich. The faith element finely woven. In fact this book can be enjoyed by all readers -- regardless of faith.

If you're looking for a legal suspense, this book is well worth your time and money!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Janna's 3rd Most Life Changing Book

Hey, all. I haven't read this book, but after reading the interview and review, plan to go buy it the next time I'm at Carpenter's Son. It sounds awesome. And just a note. I'm not posting all of Janna's picks. Just the ones that I either read and loved, or books that appeal to me.

The 3rd Most Life Changing Book of 2008 is...
The Listener
by Terri Blackstock

I happened upon this book by accident and am so glad that I did. It is a true gem. It is simple, easy to read and short, but it is packed with so much amazing food for thought that is will make your mind swirl... What if I could hear the deepest cry of a person's heart? What if I could automatically know what lies within everyone else's smiles? What if I started looking at people like God looks at them? What is the deepest need in everyone's lives?

"The Listener" by Terri Blackstock will answer many of those questions and more - and in such a way that you won't want to put this book down until its done. Well written, great characters and a mind blowing storyline. This is a book that is fiction but you'll wish wasn't. Allow God to blow the doors off your mindset and read this book!

Now let's meet Terri...

1) Sometimes people think of authors as being bigger than life and not "real", so I thought we would start off with a very important question, one that will show people just how real you are! "What dessert can you not resist when it is time to indulge?"

Cheesecake! If it has strawberry topping, I'm a goner.

2) In your book "The Listener", Sam has a dream one night and when he wakes up he discovers that he has been given a gift - he can hear the deepest need in the hearts of the people around him. It is a little different than Sam being a mind reader, he is a heart reader (the original title of the book) - how did you come up with this premise for a book?

I was sitting in a special church service one day and the program had really moved me. The worship leader asked us to kneel at our pews and ask God if there was anything that I needed to repent of. I knelt and did that, and God reminded me that I'd made my writing about money lately. It wasn't that I was greedy, but my husband and I were trying to implement the Dave Ramsey method of paying off debts, and in an attempt to be more responsible, we'd gotten very focused on money. I would soon have two children in college and another coming up behind them, so we were trying to prepare. None of that was a bad thing, except that my work was supposed to be about glorifying God. So I repented there on my knees, and told God I would re-focus and make it about Him again. The moment I sat back in my seat, God gave me this story, fully formed. The idea--What if you could hear what God hears?--seemed like such a good one, that I wanted to shout. Silently, I rejoiced, thanking God for it. And then He said, in that still, small voice, "You can't take any money for this." It seemed like a perfect way for me to show that my repentance was real. I went home and stopped writing the book I was contracted for already, and in two weeks, I wrote this story. I gave all the proceeds to Samaritan's Purse for this book and its youth version, The Heart Reader of Franklin High, and I decided to write and market it anonymously. I thought that would make it less about me and more about God. Eventually, I began putting my name on it, because it wasn't selling that well with Anonymous on the byline. But it's gone through several evolutions. The Heart Reader's title has been changed to The Listener, and recently it was repackaged with its sequel, The Gifted, into a two-volume book called Miracles.

3) I was really moved by this book to the realization that people are hurting on a deeper level all around us. What do you hope that people take away from reading your book?

I hope people will realize that there's work to do. Jesus said, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few." We do so little for Christ's kingdom because we don't hear what God hears. We don't even act on the things we do hear. But if we're walking in the Spirit, then we'll be more attuned to the harvest around us. We are here for the purpose of bearing fruit and meeting the needs of others. That's what Sam learns to do in the book.

4) When I met you at the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) Conference in Minneapolis this year you said that this book was a labor of love for you. And I see in the forward that all royalties from this book go to Samaritan's Purse. What led you to do that?

When God told me I couldn't take money for this idea, I began looking around for a Christian charity that meets the needs of people, but also leads them to Christ, as Sam did in the book. Samaritan's Purse takes the message of Jesus all over the world, and meets their needs in many ways. I thought they would be a quite worthy recipient of the proceeds of this book. They're still getting them.

5) Through the course of the book Sam comes to a realization that people all need one thing - no matter what their heart is crying out for it all boils down to this - we all need Jesus. If Christians could grasp this it would change the world today. It is not about denominations, religions or doctrines - it is about Jesus. This is what really stuck out to me, do you think enough people today really understand this?

No, they don't. We spend more time worrying about what color the church carpet is or what they're serving for Wednesday night supper than we do about meeting the deepest needs of a dying world. We don't think like we should if we're walking closely with Christ. And frankly, I'm guilty myself. I need to read the book every year to remind myself of that message.

6) You are known for the series of books that you write like - the Cape Refuge series and the Newpointe 911 series and more recently the Restoration series. But The Listener was recently repackaged with another little gem - The Gifted - and rereleased. I am looking forward to reading The Gifted as well. Your newest book out is actually book #4 in the Restoration series isn't it? What do you have coming out next?

Yes, Dawn's Light is book 4 in the Restoration Series. It brings my global crisis to an end, and ties up the story of the Branning family, as God does a further "stripping-away" in them. I explored the subject of unanswered prayer in this book. Not the prayers that are answered "Maybe" or "Wait," but the ones in which God is silent. Haven't we all had times when we wondered if God was even listening? I thought this was something that needed to be addressed and explored. I'm not afraid to ask hard questions of God, because He can handle it. So I let my characters ask them, and my readers who've finished the series seem very satisfied with the way I brought it to an end.
My next book, Double Mind, will be shipping January 23rd, and should show up in stores around the first week in February. It's a stand-alone set in Nashville, about a singer/songwriter trying to make her way in Christian music, when she gets caught up in a murder that changes the way she sees everything. I'm very attached to my quirky character, Parker James. She's been floating around in my head for several years, so it was fun to actually bring her to life.

7) Where can readers find you online?

At, or on Face Book.

REMEMBER TO GO TO JANNA'S BLOG TO ENTER: Terri has just recently had "The Listener" repackaged with its 'sequel' "The Gifted" so that is what she has agreed to giveaway! I'm so excited for all of you to have the chance to win this - I really have to get a copy of "The Gifted" for myself! If we get 35 comments or more then I will add a copy of the original "Heart Reader" as a 2nd prize! Here is what you do...

1) Leave a comment telling me what you think the deepest heart cry of everyone is (just a guess) with your email address and you get 1 entry

2) Blog about this giveaway yourself and leave another comment here and get 2 entries

3) Tell someone else about this interview with Terri and when they leave a comment with your name in it you will receive 3 entries

4) Become a blog follower (on the left of my blog you can do that) and receive 1 extra entry

Good luck!!!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Ready to Get Fit? Giveaway

I mentioned the hard cover version of this book this summer. Now the book is in soft cover, and better yet, there's a Personal Fitness Trainer workbook. I've been using the workbook and loving it. It's a great tool to take random ideas and help you implement them in easy steps. Leave a comment for an opportunity to receive both books. (If you're on facebook, leave the comment there).

After years of failed diet attempts, Chantel Hobbs discovered the missing ingredient to permanent weight loss: to change your life, you first have to change the way you think.

She developed a balanced plan for exercise and nutrition and lost two hundred pounds. Now, through writing, speaking, and her work as a personal trainer, she inspires others to achieve far more than they thought possible.

In Never Say Diet, now available in trade paperback, Chantel provides everything readers need to lose weight for good, including:
  • Simple, step-by-step workout routines that fit into a normal weekday schedule
  • A realistic approach to nutrition that helps people break their bondage to food
  • Strategies for staying motivated when life takes unexpected turns
  • Keys to dealing with discouragement by relying on God’s strength
  • The secret to moving beyond past failures and getting over old excuses
Chantel helps readers make the five commitments that are necessary for changing their lives. Her high-energy, no-nonsense approach inspires readers to achieve results that last in body, mind, and spirit.

The Never Say Diet Personal Fitness Coach, now allows readers to have Chantel show up each week to inspire, encourage, and energize them on the journey to a healthy life that centers on body, mind, and spirit

This fitness guide helps readers set new weight-loss goals and create an exercise schedule that works in the midst of life’s constant demands. Readers will be inspired with Scripture, and they will welcome Chantel’s healthy eating plan with simple, energy-and-nutrition-packed recipes. Weekly checklists and personal evaluations direct readers in reaching their goals. Plus, Chantel’s personal and entertaining stories provide the motivation needed to get through even the most frustrating days.

With Never Say Diet and The Never Say Diet Personal Fitness Coach readers will establish new fitness habits that burn off excess weight, increase strength, and establish a new, healthy way of living.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Interview with Denise Hunter and Review of Sweetwater Gap

Sweetwater Gap, Women of Faith Series #18

By Denise Hunter / Thomas Nelson

When Josephine's family insists she come home to help with the harvest, the timing works. But her return isn't simple benevolence-she plans to persuade the family to sell the failing orchard.

The new manager's presence is making it difficult. Grady MacKenzie takes an immediate disliking to Josephine and becomes outright cantankerous when she tries talking her family into selling. As she and Grady work side by side in the orchard, she begins to appreciate his devotion and quiet faith. She senses a vulnerability in him that makes her want to delve deeper, but there's no point letting her heart have its way-he's tied to the orchard, and she could never stay there.

Sweetwater Gap is Denise Hunter's latest book, one that I throughly enjoyed. It started slowly, pulling me in page by page until I reached a point that I couldn't put it down. (Even though I say it started slowly, I reached the last page within two days of the start!) Josie is marred by an event where someone gives his life for her. She's lived with the guilt and intense sense of unworthiness ever since. Now she's been called home...the last place she wants to be and the place she has successfully avoided for years. As the pages turn I wondered if she'd find healing -- it was far from a given, even though romance fills the second half of the book. Denise's writing will pull you into the story and its struggles and have you rooting for the hero and heroine. This is a great read for a spring break escape.

Denise kindly agreed to an interview. I hope you enjoy this chance to get to know her better and be sure to stop by her website to learn more about Denise and her books.

In Sweetwater Gap Josie returns to her family orchard reluctantly. How did you decide on an apple orchard for the family farm?

First of all, I find apple orchards very romantic and that's my first prerequisite for a setting. An orchard appeals also to all my senses: the smell of the apples and grass, the view of orchard, the sounds of apples being plucked from the trees. I also loved the deeper themes that could be
drawn out with regards to growth, fruit, and harvest.

I have to admit I hadn't thought of an orchard as romantic until this book! Josie deals with Survivor's Guilt. What about that drew you in as a great issue?

I conceived of the idea for Sweetwater Gap when my editor sent me a newspaper clipping. The article was about a man who was dealing with survivor guilt after his fellow soldier had fallen on a grenade to save his life. He was left with questions: Why had his friend done the unthinkable
and how could he live up to this incredible sacrifice?

I did further research and found one particular soldier whose life had turned chaotic following a similar incident. Unable to deal with the guilt and pressure to be worthy of his friend's sacrifice, he changed, becoming reckless and distant from his family.

I began thinking about how Christ died for mankind and wondering how mere mortals can be worthy of that act. Seeing the parallels lit my creative fire. What kind of love story could I write that illustrated the value of this gift?

The creative journey led me to a wounded photographer named Josephine Mitchell, an apple orchard in Shelbyville, North Carolina, and Sweetwater Gap was born.

You're a wonderful writer and pull me in to each book. Romance has become your "genre". What is it about love stories that makes them your genre of choice? What draws you back to them over and over?

I not only write love stories, I read them. Unfortunately there are a lot of unwholesome ones out there and it pleases me to offer God-honoring stories for women who love to read about love. :-)

What book (not written by you LOL) pulls you back to its pages over and over?

I rarely read a book more than once, but I've read Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers 4 times. To me, that's the ultimate love story and every time I read it, I get totally caught up in it and can't put it down. I have to admit though, that it's hard on my author's psyche to read it. I always
close the book thinking "I'll NEVER be able to write a book this good! WAAH!"

As a new year begins, where is God directing you and how can your readers best pray for you?

God has so richly blessed my writing career. I know happily I'm contracted with Thomas Nelson through 2011. Beyond that, every day's a journey of discovery, and I look forward to see where he leads me.

What are you working on next?

I'm working edits for the third book in my Nantucket series entitled Seaside Letters which is due out in September and getting ready to start the fourth book in the same series.

Thanks for stopping by, Denise. If you haven't read any of her books, pick one up or have your library order it. You won't be disappointed.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Playoffs: Can I rant a moment????

No, I don't want to rant about the teams...though I don't know who to root for now that the Colts, Giants and Saints are out. Sigh. It's all about the quarterback for I may have to fall back to the tried and true, who has more Huskers on their rosters way to pick.

Anyway, I wanted to rant.

About the advertising.

I'm seriously second-guessing whether the kids can be in the same house when we watch the Super Bowl based on the playoff ads.

And I've decided the advertisers and networks are more than happy to turn off football-loving women like me. The ads have been horrible. Movies I'd never in a million years go see -- thank you very much, I don't even want to watch the 30 second ad!

And the kids have become conditioned to turn around almost immediately when Eric and I go diving for a remote. Jonathan's even talking about avoiding seeing evil things. All well and good but this is network TV on a weekend. During the day!


I'm liking the playoffs less each weekend.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Kiss: review

I enjoyed some of Dekker's early books like Blink. Then he slid into what I'll call horror, and I stopped reading them. Kiss intrigued me. One, because it was co-authored, and two, the title piqued my interest. Kiss had the threads of Dekker novels I enjoy: suspense, a sci-fi/supernatural twist, without the elements I shy away from.

Shauna McAllister awakes from a coma with six months of her memory wiped away. She's accused of doing things that she can't imagine doing, but how can she clear herself when she doesn't remember the most crucial time period. Out of necessity she leans on Wayne Spade and others that tell her she can trust them...but can she really? Then she discovers a hidden ability that pushes her as she struggles to solve the riddle of her past.

Shauna struggles to learn how to control her gift/curse. At first it manifests randomly, then she begins to manipulate it. However, she wrestles with whether it's worth the price. There is a strong cast of characters, though Patrice, plays the role of evil stepmother from her first scene without any sense of redemptive quality. The complex plot weaves together well and kept the pages turning as I raced to stay ahead of Shauna and see how the mystery/suspense would resolve.

This book also has a romance with a twist. What happens when you can't remember the man that you were secretly engaged to? While not central to the plot, the romance certainly satisfied.

Kiss is the kind of book you should pick up when you have time to sit down and read it in its entirety. I anticipated a few of the twists, but couldn't turn the pages fast enough at the end.

Here's more about the book:

Let me tell you all I know for sure. My name. Shauna.
I woke up in a hospital bed missing six months of my memory. In the room was my loving boyfriend-how could I have forgotten him?-my uncle and my abusive stepmother. Everyone blames me for the tragic car accident that left me near death and my dear brother brain damaged. But what they say can't be true-can it?

I believe the medicine is doing strange things to my memory. I'm unsure who I can trust and who I should run from. And I'm starting to remember things I've never known. Things not about me. I think I'm going crazy.

And even worse, I think they want to kill me.

But who? And for what? Is dying for the truth really better than living with a lie?

Sometimes dying with the truth is better than living with a lie.

After a car accident puts Shauna McAllister in a coma and wipes out six months of her memory, she returns to her childhood home to recover, but her arrival is fraught with confusion.

Her estranged father, a senator bidding on the White House, and her abusive stepmother blame Shauna for the tragedy, which has left her beloved brother severely brain damaged. Leaning on Wayne Spade, a forgotten but hopeful lover who stays by her side, Shauna tries to sort out what happened that night by jarring her memory to life. Instead, she acquires a mysterious mental ability that will either lead her to truth or get her killed by the people trying to hide it.

In this blind game of cat and mouse that stares even the darkest memories in the face, Shauna is sure of only one thing: if she remembers, she dies.

If you would like to read the first chapter of KISS, go HERE

Watch the Video Trailer

What people are saying about KISS:
“The human brain could actually be the real final frontier—we know so little about it and yet it drives the world as we know it. So when authors like Erin and Ted bravely explore these mysterious regions, going into complex places like memory and soul and relationships, I become hooked. The creativity of this suspenseful story is sure to hook other readers as well. Very memorable!”
~Melody Carlson, author of Finding Alice and The Other Side of Darkness

“Dekker and Healy prove a winning team in this intriguing, imaginative thriller.”
~James Scott Bell, bestselling author of Try Darkness

“Kiss by Erin Healy and Ted Dekker is a superb thriller that hooked me from the first sentence. The original plot kept me guessing, and I may never look at a kiss the same way again. I’ll be watching for the next book!”
~Colleen Coble, author of Cry in the Night

“The writing team of Erin Healy and Ted Dekker has taken me through a page-turner with Kiss. It’s one of those books that you think about when you’re not reading it. I highly recommend it, especially if you don’t mind staying up late because you can’t put the book down!”
~Rene Gutteridge, author of Skid and My Life As a Doormat

Monday, January 12, 2009

Susan Meissner Comes to Visit

I am delighted that my friend Susan Meissner could join me for an interview. I got to know Susan a bit in 2008 at a couple of writer retreats and conferences. She has an amazingly sweet personality and a beautiful writing style. I have enjoyed reading her books, and am delighted to have a copy of Shape of Mercy to give away. Just leave a comment at the end, and I'll enter you in the drawing.

Your Rachel Flynn series stars and attorney. Why did you decide to jump into the legal mystery arena?

Harvest House was looking for a series from me, and I knew the only kind I could feel good about writing was the kind where there’s closure at the end of each book. Mysteries are great for that because a good one offers a great solution at the end. Even if the recurring characters have some issues that they take with them into the next book, the overall tone of the book is one of closure. I picked the legal genre in particular because I had just spent a couple years as a guardian ad litem for the State of Minnesota. A guardian ad litem is a court-appointed advocate for children involved in child protection and truancy cases. I spent a lot of time with kids, parents, social workers, attorneys and in courtrooms during those two years so I felt like I had the basic knowledge to tell an accurate story.

What was the greatest challenge for you in writing a legal series?

The greatest challenge was getting all the little details to ring true. You can’t just make stuff up when you’re writing about police procedure and legal proceedings. Every time I had a character in a courtroom, in a police station, at the attorney’s office, I had to double check every action to make sure it could actually happen that way. For example, in one of my books, I had a person confess to a murder. A confession alone is not enough to seal a guilty verdict. The evidence must bear that the confessor actually did it. So when my character confessed to killing someone, I still had to take that person through the court process. He didn’t go from confessing in a police station to a prison cell.

How did you conduct research to get the details right?

When I began the Rachael Flynn series and gave my lead character a position with the prosecutor’s office for Ramsey County in St. Paul, I knew I had to talk to someone who knew what that job would entail. My experience was only with county attorneys in a district courthouse in a rural community. I knew it was going to be different in the big city. I called the Ramsey County Attorney’s office and asked if there was anyone, anyone at all, who could spend 10, 20, or 30 minutes with me so that I could pepper them with questions. To my utter joy, a managing prosecutor who dabbled in writing himself offered to do just that. We talked for 45 minutes. When we were done, he asked me if I had to head out right away (I had 100-mile commute home). I said no. He said, “Do you want to go court?” I said, “You bet I do!” He took me to the felony courtroom for the afternoon docket. I got to sit in the front row with the other prosecuting attorneys. It was the perfect way to envision my own character coming into that room from the jail and answering the charges against him. I also sent many scenes to a lawyer friend of mine who works for a public defender’s office in Florida. Between the two attorneys, I had two knowledgeable resources for getting the details right.

Rachel Flynn has a slightly supernatural element to the plot, yet it works. How did you balance her foresight/dreams so that the plot isn't conveniently resolved by that element?
I wanted there to be something unique about Rachael Flynn, otherwise she wouldn’t be different than any other determined young woman in every other legal mystery. Giving her insights that come from God allowed me to make the faith element organic. I didn’t have to force theological issues or concepts into the dialogue and narrative. Those elements came naturally because Rachael was dealing with an obvious gifting by God on a slightly supernatural level.

You've written about ten books. How do you find a fresh angle for each?

It’s actually getting harder, not easier to write new material. That surprised me about writing. Each time I finish a book I raise the bar for myself. Each subsequent book has to have an angle I haven’t touched before and that gets harder! Part of landing on new material is being uber observant. I try to take everything in. I read newspapers and news magazines to stay on top of cultural and societal changes – these often suggest a new premise for a novel. Once I have a new premise in mind I ask myself why it matters. When I know that, then I know what angle to take. Without it, I’ve nothing but an idea.

If you could write any book you wanted and know it would land on the bestsellers list, what would you write?
I guess I am really hoping The Shape of Mercy goes to that special place called the bestseller’s list. That book means a lot to me personally. I think there is so much to be learned from the times in our history when we’ve let snap judgments rule our thinking. If we loved more and judged less we’d find ourselves on a different kind of planet. It would still be flawed, and so would we, but it would be different. We’d be different.

The Shape of Mercy is your latest release and a beautiful story of three women from different times and generations. How did you come up with the germ of an idea and then weave their stories together?

I read an article a couple of years ago about a woman petitioning a Massachusetts court to exonerate her great-times-eight grandmother who was accused and convicted of witchcraft during the witch trials, was released when the hysteria ended, but whose name was never cleared. Reading the article brought back memories of reading The Crucible in high school and being in a play called “To Burn A Witch” when I was in junior high. The men and women hung in Salem in 1692 were all later declared innocent. They died proclaiming devotion to God and refusing to confess to an allegiance with Satan, even though a confession would have kept them from execution. That is remarkable to me. And there was a story there to be told. Heroism is always story-worthy.

What did you learn from Rachel and Mercy as you wrote their stories?
I saw myself often in Lauren as she transcribed Mercy’s diary and she came to realize how much she truly didn’t want to judge people but she did. She just did. We all do. We see a homeless man begging on the streets and we make all kinds of assumptions about how he got there and what he would do if we reached out to help him. We see a pregnant teenager or an obese child or a woman wearing diamonds and Jimmy Choos and we assume the teenager has no morals, the child has no restraint and the woman is wealthy and therefore has no worries. We believe these things because group-think tells us it’s so. Jumping to conclusions seems to permeate culture, regardless of the generation. Whatever the crowd says, we too easily believe. My lawyer character Rachael ran into the same problem with bias because she dealt with people accused of crimes, or suspected of crimes, often because of stereotyping. We assume too much, too often.

You're a big proponent of pre-writing. What is it and why do you think it's so helpful for writers?

Pre-writing is like packing your car for a long trip. You check all the belts and fluids, you put air in the tires, you pack a suitcase, you take some food that travels well, you pinpoint good places to stop for rest along the way and you bring a map with you of where your destination is so you can get there. Pre-writing is envisioning your story before you write it. It’s getting to know your characters on an intimate level before you write a word of story, it’s mapping your plot, figuring our your key transitions, researching your setting, your character’s jobs, their homes, their schools, their personas, before you write. It’s packing your car for a long trip. I didn’t start out to be a writer who pre-writes. In the beginning of my career as a novelist, I really wasn’t aware that I was one.

I wrote my first novel in 10 weeks, my second in eight, and my fifth was written in 30 days. People were asking me right and left how in the world did I write so fast. I needed a better answer than, “That’s just how the stories come out of me.” So I studied how I wrote and I realized how much upfront work I did before writing one word of actual story. And I learned that pre-writing – planning, plotting and preparing – allowed me to write at an accelerated pace. Not only that, but I didn’t hit walls, I didn’t have multiple drafts – just one – and I didn’t have boatloads of edits to do when the manuscript was complete.

When someone approaches you wanting to learn more about writing, what do you recommend they do if they seriously want to pursue the dream of seeing a book in print?

If publication is your goal, there are two things you must do. 1. Write an irresistible book, and 2. Put yourself in places where you can meet editors and agents so that you can show them your irresistible book. For the latter, that’s easy. You need to invest in attending a writer’s conference that’s nationally known and brings in the editors from publishing houses you want to publish for. That’s the place to meet editors and agents face to face. The former is hard, hard, hard. You must be writing all the time, reading all the time, growing in your skills as a writer, writing all the time, subjecting yourself to critique, responding positively to it, honing your craft, listening to experts, and writing all the time. The more you write, the better you become at it. The more you learn from other writers, the better you become at it. I actually suggest this aspiring writer start with an easy goal: “I want to learn more about writing!” Save the goal of, “I want to be published!” for after she or he has mastered some easier ones.

Susan’s bio:
Susan Meissner is a multi-published author, speaker and writing workshop leader with a background in community journalism. A devotee of purposeful pre-writing, Susan encourages workshop audiences to maximize writing time by planning ahead, mapping the writing journey and beginning from a place of intimate knowledge. Her books include The Shape of Mercy, the Rachael Flynn Mystery series, and A Window to the World, named by Booklist magazine as one of the Top Ten Christian novels for 2005. When she's not writing, Susan directs the Small Groups and Connection Ministries program at her San Diego church.


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