Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Dreaming With Our Kids

So I didn't really know what to blog about today, and my wonderful mom gave me a great idea. One that's near and dear to my heart.

Dreaming with Our Kids.

I've often wondered why I've never felt like I couldn't do something. No matter how crazy or out of this world, I thought anything I could dream was doable. What a crazy, amazing gift.

But how do we transmit that same take on the world attitude to a new generation?

Here are a few thoughts. I'm sure more will come to me...

1) Always encourage the dreams --no matter how crazy -- as long as they aren't illegal or dangerous. You knew I had to add that disclaimer. But if a kid can dream it and you can support it, let them dream. Time will change their crazy dreams. But I don't want to be the one telling my kids it's impossible - at least not until it truly is. Who am I to limit God?

2) Leave it to God to change or redirect their dreams. He cares about our kids so much more than we do. So leave it to Him to tweak and redirect. He knows our kids. He loves them more than we do. So let Him lead and guide.

3) Encourage the children to see God as the creator of dreams. If they see Him as the source, they'll be more likely to relinquish it back to Him. And most dreams worth dreaming require sacrifice.

So there are a few thoughts. Stay tuned for more.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Interview witth Allison Pittman and Giveaway

I met Allison Pittman this February when she graciously agreed to pick me up at the San Antonio airport and drive me all over the state of Texas. We then had a wonderful week at a writer's retreat, before climbing back into the car for the return trip to the airport. She has such an amazing heart. So I was so excited to read her book, Bridegrooms. And to get this chance to introduce her to you. Without further ado, here she is:

Allison, your latest book is filled with four sisters, each with different methods of coping with a tragedy. I could really relate to Vada and her take charge ways, but also her fatigue of being the strong one. Have you ever found yourself in that position, and if so, what did God teach you?

I have, but in my case, it's not that I perceive myself as being "strong." I simply have control issues! I lead a fairly large writing critique group here in San Antonio. We have close to 40 members meeting weekly, and every few months we offer some sort of one-day workshop, and I always make myself miserable with the planning, setting up, following up, everything. So, a few months ago, we had Cecil Murphey come for a day. He's a great teacher/mentor, and this was going to be a huge event, and I was swamped with so many things (deadline!), so I just told the group, "Hey, you're going to have to do this, and this, and this." And they were, like, "It's about time!" The day was a great success, and I actually enjoyed just showing up! And we were all blessed like crazy.

2) Which sister are you most like?

There's a little of me in each of them, actually! Like Vada, I too often work myself into a mess and then wonder how I got in it. Like Hazel, I am--at my core--a ball of insecurity. Like Althea, I'm often most content in silence (I love when I get a weekend to myself...I'll go days without uttering a word). And, like Lisette, when I do speak, I tend to be witty and, unfortunately, sarcastic. Speak now, deal with the collateral damage later. But, overall, I see myself in Vada, and I was especially close to the chapters near the end of the book when she is just so exhausted. Physically tired because her emotional/spiritual state isn't affording her the rest she needs.

What did God teach you as you were writing this book?

Well, there was this time I met this gorgeous baseball player...kidding! One thing that struck true to me was how Vada dealt with her temptation. Basically, in her prayers, she begged God to keep temptation from her so that she wouldn't have to rely on herself to overcome it. In other words, she was overly reliant on her own strength, rather than realizing that God's strength would be enough to see her through. So, like, I have a weakness for Hostess Cupcakes, and my life would be much easier if God would simply smite those snacks from the Earth. And, He could, but life doesn't happen like that. I need to be able to walk past those cupcakes and know that they just aren't good for me. He's provided so many better alternatives. Some might say that God has better things to do than protect me from Hostess Cupcakes, but my health choices matter to Him. I know my weaknesses, and so does He. So, He can give me the power to head over to the produce section, but then it's up to me to follow through.

What do you hope readers will see with fresh eyes as they read Bridegrooms?

One thing that was really important to me in this book with the character of Vada especially was to address the physicality of a committed romantic relationship. Of course it's a given that sexual intimacy before marriage is sin, but I don't think sexual attraction to the person God has called into your life is. Too often in Christian fiction, our heroines are so repressive of that aspect, and maybe that's because so many romances focus on the building of a relationship to that point of commitment. I found it so exciting to have the story start with a man and woman who have already gone through the initial attraction and courtship to establish a godly relationship. I love how Vada loves Garrison, unafraid to demonstrate her affection, and unafraid to admit (at least to herself), that she wants more of a demonstration from him. Vada, to me, is a great example of how you can be content without "settling."

Has there been a time in your life that God has asked you to step off a cliff to follow Him or chase a dream? Can you tell us about that time? What did you learn from that adventure that you still apply to your life?

When I left my teaching job to write full that was a leap. Throughout my entire last year of teaching I felt I was being disobedient to His calling, and I clearly remember my husband and I talking as we folded and put away laundry when we agreed that I needed to resign. It was like jumping into a lake, but releasing a thousand-pound ankle weight the minute I hit the water. Our income was instantly cut in half, and we're still not quite back to where we were, but other than the fact that I cook more and shop less, our lives haven't changed much. I can't think of a single thing we've had to deny our family. We have the same home, the same cars, and a better TV, so...I've learned that, no matter what, God will meet your needs. And in all circumstances, if you will seek Him, He'll help you clearly define those needs. I've learned that contentment is a choice that can only be made within the boundaries of the Lord. And, like Psalm 16:5-6 says, " boundaries are in pretty places."

Tell us a bit about Bridegrooms and where people can find out more about you and your books.

One thing I've said about The Bridegrooms since I typed out the first few chapters: this is, by far, the most "fun" book I've written. It's just lighter. I gave myself permission to run with the story however I wanted to, within basic confines of history and physics. It is, as you mentioned in the first question, a matter of how these four sisters deal with the tragic loss of their mother, but it's also how all four of them perceive and pursue love. It was so much fun to be able to play with different romantic formulas. In fact, Hazel Allenhouse is working with her own pre-suffrage version of eharmony! I think every reader is going to identify with a different character, and I'd love to hear their reactions! Readers can contact me through my website, or, they can friend me on facebook.

Back to Cara: guys, this book is a hoot. I loved reading it and am delighted that I have an extra copy from the publisher to offer to you. So to be entered, leave a comment detailing which sister you think you are most like...based on what Allison said above. It is a historical romance, and Allison's background as an English teacher is clear in the way the writing sings.

This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Seeing the Real Me

This year has many new steps in the writing journey for me. My first trade (it's kind of a big deal!) releases in July. And I'm writing for two new publishers...getting pushed in my writing in ways that is making me better.

But I've also been working hard on the marketing side. That means taking steps and doing the hard work of figuring out who I am.

I don't know about you, but that isn't easy for me mean. There's a strong people pleasing side to me and I've always been able to sense the "right" answers to questions...know what I...

So I've brought some people around me to help me dig deep.

It's actually been an exciting process as we've refined who I am as a speaker and writer. The theme was there. I actually did know it, but I needed help to mine it from its hiding place.

You see, I'm convinced Satan doesn't want us to know who we are. Or to truly get it. At the heart level. Because when we do, we are willing to do things for God that would seem impossible. But as He reveals who He created us to be and who we are in Him, a freedom and strength is released that has us running to tackle challenges and dreams.

So today my challenge to you: dig deep. Ask God who He sees when He looks at you. And be amazed!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

CFBA Tour: Blood Ransom

is introducing

Blood Ransom
Zondervan (April 1, 2010)

My Review: This book is a gripping look at a problem that isn't talked about in the media. Imagine with me that small hamlets in the United States were emptied of their residents over night. All that is left behind is the shells of houses. Storefronts bare of people. Schools empty of children.

It's a horrifying and foreign concept.

Yet this book brings it front and center. As someone who lives in Africa -- and has for 20 years serving the people there -- Lisa Harris makes the problem and the people come to life. She pivots the story on a hero and heroine who face the question we all face in our lives: Get involved or ignore the problem. It is a riveting story, one that will educate you as it entertains. But don't worry, it's not preachy or didactic. Instead, I was so pulled in by the characters, that I cared deeply about their struggles and challenges.

A Note from Lisa:

Have you ever noticed how God often uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things? In writing Blood Ransom, I wanted my heroes and heroines to be ordinary people, faced with extraordinary circumstances. Chad and Natalie’s lives were changed not only through the challenges they faced, but also through their reliance on God. And when they set off on their journey to the capital to save Joseph’s family, they never imagined that God would call them to a task that was beyond the scope of their own power.

But while this story is fictional, the issue of a modern day slave trade is very real. It is estimated that there are currently more than 27 million slaves on the world today from Africa, to Eastern Europe … to the United States of America. The fact is, we don’t have to travel around the world to see people hurting and exploited. They’re real people we pass every day, living in our neighborhoods, and attending our churches and schools. They’re empty and broken, searching for freedom and hope in an often hopeless world.


Natalie Sinclair is working to eradicate the diseases decimating whole villages in the Republic of Dhambizao when she meets Dr. Chad Talcott, a surgeon on sabbatical from a lucrative medical practice now volunteering at a small clinic.

Meanwhile, things are unraveling in Dhambizao. Joseph Komboli returns to his village to discover rebel soldiers abducting his family and friends. Those that were too old or weak to work lay motionless in the African soil. When Chad and Natalie decide to help Joseph expose this modern-day slave trade---and a high-ranking political figure involved in it---disaster nips at their heels.

Where is God in the chaos? Will Chad, Natalie, and Joseph win their race against time?

Romance and adventure drive Blood Ransom, by Lisa Harris, a powerful thriller about the modern-day slave trade and those who dare to challenge it.

If you would like to read the prologue and first chapter of Blood Ransom, go HERE.

Award-winning author Lisa Harris has been writing both fiction and nonfiction since 2000 and has more than fifteen novels and novellas in print. She currently lives with her family in Mozambique, Africa, where they work as missionaries.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

God's Faithfulness

I've been thinking about God's faithfulness lately.

You see, our church is in the middle of a series of miracles as we prepare to move to a new site in the next 18 months. Not something we sought -- but a highway coming through the sanctuary kind of makes it necessary.

It means we're in the middle of a building campaign and are being challenged as a congregation to dig deep as God moves us.

As a result, I've been thinking about the many times in my life God has been faithful to meet needs in big ways.

One I've ruminated on is college. Seven years of higher education is expensive. Crazily so for most people. But through a series of good choices and God's amazing intervention I was blessed to graduate without debt. That's given Eric and me such freedom. The freedom to make my children a priority. The freedom to invest in them through homeschooling. The freedom to respond to needs when God places them in front of us.

How has God shown you His faithfulness? And if you wonder...if you have a hard time seeing His hand and His faithfulness...remember the words of the Psalmist in Psalm 100:
5 For the LORD is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.

Monday, April 19, 2010

In Harm's Way and Too Close to Home Reviews

In Harm's Way arrived at my house in March, and the next morning I finished reading it. If you're a fan of a romance with a strong suspense thread, this story is perfect. From the moment Nick and Rachel meet -- even though the circumstances are strained -- the attraction is popping. Yet the prologue sets up the suspense thread in such a way that I couldn't wait to see how the plots would intertwine.

The race to find a kidnapped baby is interlaced with Rachel and her odd reaction to a tattered Raggedy Ann doll. It's a reaction that leaves even Rachel flummoxed and uncomfortable. When she approaches the FBI, she expects to be laughed out of the office, but Nick can't treat her like one of the delusional people who usually brings stories like hers to the FBI. While he's not sure what to do with her story or the doll, he knows he's interested in Rachel. The twists and turns come quickly and left me flipping the pages until I reached the end -- and what a satisfying conclusion. This book is the third in a series but stands completely on its own. It is a great read for people who love a strong romance wrapped around a tight suspense/mystery.

Too Close to Home is another romantic suspense offering from Revell. The concept is intriguing. Samantha Cash is the FBI's secret weapon. Her methods are invisible, and she never stops until the case is closed. When missing teens begin turning up dead in a small Southern town, Samantha is assigned to help local chief Connor Wolfe find the killer. And he has two problems with that. There's her faith--in God and herself. And then there's the fact that she looks exactly like his late wife. As they get close to an answer, the case becomes personal. The killer seems to be taking an interest in Connor's 16-year-old daughter, who thinks her dad is getting way too protective. Can't a girl just have some fun? Too Close to Home ratchets up the suspense with each page, and will have readers cheering for the characters they love as justice is served and love grows even in the face of danger.

The book had a slow start for me...and I'm really not sure why I struggled to get into it. But it took me a bit to connect with the main characters and push into the mystery. Once I did, the read smoothed out. I really wanted to be enthralled with this book from page one, but couldn't quite manage it. The thing that surprised me is I connected with the teenage daughter rather than the hero or heroine. That isn't typical for me, and may be what made the book a slower one to get into. But as the plots came together and barreled toward the end, I couldn't put the book down.

Available April 2010 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. I received both books from the publisher to review.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Forget Me Not: review & Giveaway

Ever feel overwhelmed by what you don't understand about life? Susan/Karen wakes up one morning, battered, attacked, and with amnesia. The only thing she remembers is her faith. She's take to the Crossroads Crisis Center where she learns she looks a lot like the founder's wife Susan, who was murdered along with his small son three years ago.

Benjamin Brandt believes Susan/Karen is just another fraud trying to take advantage of his grief, but that impression evolves as more people try to harm Karen.

The two find themselves in a race to stay alive. What I loved about this book is that as Susan/Karen has so many questions about who she is and why anyone would want her dead, the one thing she does know is that her faith gives her strength.

The book has two sets of people after Susan/Karen, and routinely takes the reader into their schemes. It didn't have the strong romantic thread of one of Irene Hannon's books, but romance is there. And sometimes I wondered if all the threads would pull together, but they did. There's a lot going on, but if you like suspense, you'll likely enjoy this book.

The review copy and giveaway were provided by the publisher. If you'd like a chance to receive a copy of this book, leave a comment.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Meet Author Vanessa Miller and Giveaway

Today, I'm excited to introduce you to a new writing friend. Vanessa and I participated on a conference call for a writer's conference last August. I was so impressed with how her love for God shown in her voice and what she said. This month she has a new book releasing, one of four this year!
Vanessa, tell us a bit about your writing journey. How did you know God had called you to write?

I was about nine years old when I realized I wanted to be a writer. I didn’t have the first clue as to how I would accomplish this goal, but I knew that I loved the written word. As a teenager, I wrote poems and short stories. However, in my early twenties I attempted my first novel. I got halfway through and couldn’t finish it. The same thing occurred with the next three novels I attempted. The first novel I completed was Former Rain and it took seven years from the start of that book until it was published.
I was so excited about finally completing a novel that I didn’t want to wait on a publisher to agree to publish my novel. So I self-published it in 2003. By 2006 I signed a contract with a mainstream publisher. That deal provided me with better distribution. Now, in 2010, I have 4 new books releasing by three different publishers. I knew that God had called me to write after I gave my life to Him. I no longer desired to write anything, but that which brings Him glory.

You have a new release, Yesterday's Promise, releasing this month. Where did you get the idea for the story? Tell us a bit about the book.

Yesterday’s Promise is a Christian romance about Melinda Johnson and Steven Marks. Melinda feels called to the ministry, but Steven doesn’t believe that women should preach. This disagreement between the two causes Steven to break off their engagement. But now, after ten years, Steven is back in Melinda’s life as the new bishop over her fellowship and he wants a second chance with Melinda.

However, Melinda can never marry a man who doesn’t respect the call of God on her life. To love one another, the two must knock down the walls that separate them. But can the bishop finally do that for his lady or will Melinda be forced to leave Omega Christian Church?

I came up with the idea for writing Yesterday’s Promise while doing a book signing at the Indiana Black Expo. The lady next to my table was signing copies of her book that talked about the struggle for women to preach. Since the bishop of my church is a woman and we have women preach at my church all the time, I had never thought anything about any struggle that women faced when it came to preaching. But then a man walked into the room where we were signing our books. He took one look at Pastor Notoshia Howard’s book and started screaming at her. He told her that she had no business trying to preach to men and that women were not allowed to preach. That’s when the idea of Yesterday’s Promise was dropped in my spirit. I wanted to write a book that details the struggles women who have been called by God have to deal with in order to preach the gospel.

I've learned that God usually has something for me to learn as I wrestle along with the characters through their problems. What did God show you as you wrote this book? What do you hope readers will see or understand better after reading the book?

Yesterday’s Promise taught me to hold onto to the dreams that God placed in my heart. And I want readers to close this book believing in themselves and in love again. Sometimes the world beats us up so much that we put aside the things we know we should be doing, in order to do the things that make the most sense – but if God called you to it, He will bring you through it.

Amen! You have four books releasing this year. How do you juggle multiple books, plots, sets of characters, with a busy life as a mother and your other activities?

Since I write full-time, I treat my writing just like I treated my corporate job. I sit down at my desk everyday and work… no excuses. I write between five-ten pages a day. At that rate I’m able to complete three to four books a year.

I try to outline each of my books, so I don’t get confused from book to book as far as the plot goes, but I must admit I do mix up the names of my characters from time to time. However, the thing that helps me the most is that I try to only work on one book at a time.

With your deadlines, I bet that's a challenge! What's coming next for you?

I’m just concentrating on publicity and promotions for my 2010 releases. I hope that readers with have a chance to check them all out. Here is the list:
  • Yesterday’s Promise, April 2010
  • Forgiven, June 2010
  • A Love for Tomorrow, September 2010
  • Long Time Coming, November 2010
I thought I was busy. Yikes! Now a fun question :-) If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go and who would you take?

In my dream vacation, I plan to tour Europe. I am making plans for this trip now, but it will be several years before I’m able to afford such a thing. I want to spend a month going from France, Italy, Africa, Egypt, Israel, and so on. I would like to take my mother because I know she would enjoy the adventure just as much as I will.

Oh, that sounds like a trip I would love! How can readers find you and your books on the web?

My books can be purchased at Christian bookstores, Barnes & Nobles, Borders, Books-A-Million, and other online bookstores. Readers can also go to my website to read an excerpt or purchase an autographed copy:

Be sure to click the link above to read the first chapter of Yesterday's Promise. And leave a comment if you would like to be considered for the copy I was given by the publisher for a giveaway.
Vanessa Miller is a best-selling author, playwright, and motivational speaker. She started writing as a child, spending countless hours either reading or writing poetry, short stories, stage plays and novels. Vanessa’s creative endeavors took on new meaning in1994 when she became a Christian. Since then, her writing has been centered on themes of redemption, often focusing on characters facing multi-dimensional struggles.

Vanessa’s novels have received rave reviews, with several appearing on Essence Magazine’s Bestseller’s List. Miller’s work has receiving numerous awards, including “Best Christian Fiction Mahogany Award” and the “Red Rose Award for Excellence in Christian Fiction.” Miller graduated from Capital University with a degree in Organizational Communication. She is an ordained “exhorter” in her church, explaining, “God has called me to exhort readers and to help them rediscover their place with the Lord.”

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

CFBA Tour: Wildflowers of Terezin

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Wildflowers of Terezin
Abingdon Press (April 2010)

Robert Elmer


When nurse Hanne Abrahamsen impulsively shields Steffen Petersen from a nosy Gestapo agent, she’s convinced the Lutheran pastor is involved in the Danish Underground. Nothing could be further from the truth.

But truth is hard to come by in the fall of 1943, when Copenhagen is placed under Martial Law and Denmark’s Jews—including Hanne—suddenly face deportation to the Nazi prison camp at Terezin, Czechoslovakia. Days darken and danger mounts. Steffen’s faith deepens as he takes greater risks to protect Hanne. But are either of them willing to pay the ultimate price for their love?

To read the first chapter of Wildflowers of Terezin, go HERE.

Robert Elmer is a former pastor, reporter and as copywriter who now writes from he home he shares with his wife Ronda in northern Idaho. He is the author of over fifty books, including eight contemporary novels for the adult Christian audience and several series for younger readers. Combined, his books have sold more than half a million copies worldwide. Like his popular "Young Underground" youth series, Wildflowers of Terezin was inspired by stories Robert heard from his Denmark-born parents and family. When he's not sailing or enjoying the outdoors, Robert often travels the country speaking to school and writers groups.

Monday, April 12, 2010

It's the time of year where I start looking for new books to read. I've got a flood of them, but am always on the watch for new authors and books to try.

So, the question is where to find them?

One resource that is a great place to learn more about books and authors is A project of ACFW, this online resource is THE place to go to learn about Christian fiction and authors. One thing I love about it is readers can select levels of suspense, mystery, romance, etc., that they are looking for in a book. Based on the selections, the database hunts books that match the criteria. Here's an example from one of my books. I had to play with the format a bit, but it gives you an idea of the information you can get on books.
Book Image

Order Now!

Trial by Fire

By Cara C. Putman
Publication Date: October 2009
Genre: Thriller/Suspense / Romantic
ISBN10: 0373443598
ISBN13: 9780373443598
Settings: Nebraska, Lincoln

Her mother's house was first. Then her brother's. County prosecutor Tricia Jamison is sure she's next on the arsonist's list. But who is after her family? And why does every fire throw her in Noah Brust's path? Noah can't forgive Tricia. Her failure to protect him on the stand the previous year meant his father's reputation was ruined. Yet every time the firefighter is near her, he's drawn to her again. The vulnerability she hides under her confident veneer surprises and moves him. Torn between Tricia's safety and his own bitterness, Noah belatedly remembers the first rule of firefighting: don't…

Reviews: 1


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