Monday, November 29, 2010

Review and Contest Information: Nightingale by Susan May Warren

This week, I'm delighted to introduce you to the latest book by my friend Susan May Warren. Susie is a talented author, and her skill shines in Nightingale.

This is a richly layered story set at the end of World War Two in Wisconsin. Much like my Captive Dreams, it illuminates the often unknown story about the prisoners of war that were here in the United States. But that and romance are about all our books have in common.

Esther Lange doesn't love her fiance -- she feels trapped in the engagement after a mistaken night of passion. Still, she grieves Linus when he's lost in battle, and the letters sent to her by medic Peter Hess, who stayed by Linus' side as he lay dying give her a strange comfort. So much so that she strikes up a correspondence with Peter, a wholesome Iowa farm boy. But is he? Peter is hiding a secret, something that could cost both of them dearly, especially when the past comes back to life.

As I've come to suspect with Susie's books, the spiritual thread is richly layered. Who doesn't have something in their past that they deeply regret? And who hasn't had the enemy of our souls try to berate us into believing we are unworthy of anything because of it? I found this book to be one I couldn't put down even though I knew what was coming thanks to hearing about it before it released. I still had to see how it twisted and turned into Esther's story.

With the release of this book, Susie is running quite a contest. Here are the details:

The Letters From Home Giveaway!
Enter the Contest:
Nightingale is about letters, the power of written correspondence to convey thoughts and emotions to those far away. And sometimes near. Letters are forever, they are something we savor and pull out to read again and again. They are often cherished and kept in a special place.

To celebrate the release of Nightingale, Susan would like you to write a letter. One grand prize winner will receive a Flip HD Camcorder. 5 runner's up winners will win a signed copy of Nightingale. There are two ways to enter the contest by writing letters.

1. Write a letter to a soldier. At the end of the contest we’ll print out and mail your letter for you.
2. Write a letter to a friend, loved one, family member, enemy. Tell them something you wished you’d told them before. Tell them you love them, or maybe how they touched your life. Perhaps an apology is in order or a thank you. Or perhaps you'd like to relate a funny tale or just share life. Whatever it is, submit it here along with your email address and we’ll send it for you.

Enter here or at the SHARE page on the Brothers in Arms website. Or simply click on the button to the right.

What a great idea! At this time of thankfulness, let a soldier know how thankful you are for his or her sacrifice! So write those letters and buy this book!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Season of Thankfulness

While we should live our lives with an eye on thanking God every day for the things He gives, there's something about this time of year that seems to prompt more introspection. Yes, the day on the calendar helps, but I hope I am developing throughout the year a heart that sees His hand in operation. And one that is thankful in all things.

So here's my list of things I'm grateful for in no particular order:
  1. A husband who loves me.
  2. Children who delight my heart and make me laugh.
  3. The freedom to worship God in the way that we choose (thank you, Pilgrims and Founding Fathers!)
  4. A land where our votes still count.
  5. An extended family on both sides that is such an amazing blessing!
  6. That my husband and I can continue the debate my parents started: who has the better mother-in-law!
  7. For a beautiful home that shelters us and can be a tool for hospitality.
  8. Flowers and a garden where I can experience anew the miracle of Creation.
  9. A heart that is another step toward healing after intense sessions of wrestling with God over the last year.
  10. A God who is more that worthy of my love, trust, and adoration. 
  11. A church where we can worship God with abandon and chase after His heart as a group.
  12. Pastors who aren't on an unattainable pulpit but are genuinely friends.
  13. The freedom to homeschool my kids and make sure they learn the things I value in addition to the three Rs.
  14. Neighbors who make our little piece of the world so wonderful.
  15. Friends who know the real me and still love me -- even when giving me the kick in the pants I need from time to time.
  16. Writing friends who take a solitary journey and make it so much richer as we pray for, critique, and encourage each other. 
  17. Books, books, and more books. So thankful for the way Christian fiction has exploded!
  18. For the baby who will join our family any day. He has been much prayed for and is a miracle to us.
  19. For the doors God continues to open. I don't know where He'll take me, but the adventure of following Him is life-changing.
  20. And for the honor and privilege of seeing the words and stories He gives me in printed form.
There's so much more, but that gives you a glimpse into my heart as we celebrate Thanksgiving! What are you thankful for?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Lightkeeper's Bride Review & Giveaway

I wondered how Colleen would top the Lightkeeper's Daughter, but Lightkeeper's Bride manages to do just that. The book is set in the fictional town of Mercy Falls, California, during the Gilded Age. The book opens with an overheard phone call and an abandoned one year old.

Katie's curiosity won't allow her to not follow up on the disturbing phone call. When she arrives at the house with her friend, she finds an abandoned baby and Will Jesperson, the new lightkeeeper. He claims to have nothing to do with the missing woman, but won't relinquish the baby who he says must be his brother's. He comes from the lighthouse where he just witnessed some piracy. Katie and Will join forces, for different reasons.

Throw in small pox, more disturbances and threatened harm, and the book is one I couldn't put down. The pages are filled with tension and characters that worm their way into your mind. The hopes of true love seem impossible when outside pressures, financial and parental, force them apart. Ultimately, the book is one of discovery and the courage to reach out and trust others and God.

A very enjoyable read that left me wanting more. Now if you would like a copy, leave a comment telling me why you want to read a book like this.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Classic Hollywood Reviews: White Christmas

White Christmas (1954) is one of my favorite Christmas films of all time. I know, you're thinking we haven't even had Thanksgiving can I think Christmas? Let's just say I love the music and this movie. I could watch it anytime.

Besides there are certain moments in the show that transcend holidays. Case in point: the song Sisters, Sisters. It's wonderful when Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen sing it. Then it's a stitch when Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye take a turn at it...All in the effort to give the girls time to escape the police.

Danny Kaye plays the classic foil in Phil Davis... the perfect role for him. Davis was injured in WWII saving Bob Wallace (Bing Crosby) from a falling wall. Throughout the movie that moment comes up repeatedly as a way to get Wallace to do things he doesn't want to do.

There are wonderful scenes paying tribute to those who served in the war...but the best is when the sing White Christmas. Is there any way to beat Bing Crosby crooning those words? I don't think so.

If you've never seen the movie, you can start with the trailer here. They even highlight Sisters in the trailer. This one was nominated for an Oscar for best music/original song for the song Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep, but did not win.

So pull up a comfy chair, build a nice fire, and curl up with a blanket and your honey. This movie is a great one to get your into the holiday mood.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Signs your ready to pop...

So most of you know I'm in the ninth month of my pregnancy. The body is showing signs that labor could be anytime. Maybe by the time you see this, I'll be holding my little guy. That would be awesome. But in the effort of bringing some levity to the waiting here's my top ten list of ways to know this woman is ready to pop....
  1. There aren't enough Mr Clean Eraser Pads in town to keep me occupied.
  2. My hand constantly goes to my stomach: is that a contraction?
  3. Closets that haven't seen the light of day in weeks are now organized.
  4. Daily trips to Wal-Mart because if the baby comes today, I don't want Grandma to have to run there.
  5. Periods of absolute wiped-out-ness (I know, not a word, but work with me).
  6. The calendar becomes mysteriously clear...a non-event around here.
  7. Every other moment is punctuated by questions from the kids about whether I'm going to the hospital yet. 
  8. I put off finishing sample chapters because that might signal the end of my to-do list. 
  9. I parcel out chapters and pages in books I'm reading to make them last just in case.
  10. The only thing left to clean in the house is the blinds, but who wants to wrestle with those.
Don't be surprised if at some time you seen one or more of these strange symptoms in one of my books. So, your turn...What did you do or have you seen in those last days leading up to a baby?

Monday, November 15, 2010

You know how sometimes God whispers in our hearts and we ignore it? I've been doing that. And not with something difficult or complicated.

So, since the ACFW conference God has whispered that I need to read I John. I don’t know why I’ve put it’s not like He told me to read Numbers or Leviticus! But last week I finally cracked open my parallel Bible as I ate my oatmeal.

I wanted to share a couple thoughts from chapter one, cause I think a few of us are in a similar boat. We’re writing because we feel called, but we’re not necessarily writing out of joy at the moment. Different things weigh us down. The proposal that intimidates the heck out of us. The edits that made us question whether we should even bother. Or the lack of direction that makes us feel like we’re spinning through a fog.

If you're not a writer, it might be a task God has asked you to do. It might be serving someone with a heart of joy. Each of us has something we're struggling with.

I John opens a lot like John, talking about Jesus as the light instead of the Word. But what I found fascinating is verse 4. John talks about how he and the disciples saw Jesus. But now “We write this to make our joy complete” (NIV) or “Our motive for writing is simply this: we want you to enjoy this, too. Your joy will double our joy.” (MSG)

We write to share Christ. We serve to share Christ. Whether facets of who He is, or the full-blown Gospel message. I want that complete joy again. So I’m praying today that the Holy Spirit will overflow in each of us, specifically with joy as we sit down to write for Him or to serve Him. To share who He is and what we’ve seen and experienced with Him. That our joy would be complete as we obediently share the stories God has placed in our hearts. Each story unique. Each story with a different readership. Each story an act of obedience to write.

May the joy flow in abundance for each of you today!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Classic Hollywood Reviews: Mr. Smith Goes to Washington Redux

This was one of the first Classic Hollywood Reviews that I wrote. And as we ponder the election from a week and a half ago, I thought it was appropriate to run it again. There will be many new people in Washington starting in January. Here's praying they come with the convictions and willingness to stand up for what's right that is portrayed in this movie. Whichever side of the aisle you vote, I think we can all agree that's what we need.

Do you have a wee bit of the crusader in you? Wonder if corrupt politics only arrived in the 1990s? Then you need to watch Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. A 1939 offering from one of my favorite classic directors, Frank Capra, with one of my favorite classic stars, Jimmy Stewart, it's the ultimate feel good tale. And what's not to like when Jean Arthur joins the fun.

Jimmy Stewart's character Jefferson Smith is basically a grown-up Eagle Scout who is sent to Wasghington because his handlers think he'll be easy to control. Boy, did they mess up on that assumption! One of my favorite scenes is when he gets to Washington, D.C. and hops on the trolley to take a tour giving his handlers ulcers with his disappearing act. (For a summary of the film, pop over here.)

This was the fifth film that Stewart made in 1939 and garnered a total of eleven Academy Award nominations but only won in one category. This was also the second film in which Stewart and Arthur are paired as romantic leads. Don't worry, I'll talk about the 1938 film in coming weeks, because it's another family favorite.

There's a lot to love about this film. It highlights the corruption of the media. The corruption in politics. The hero worship that can lead to disillusionment. Hmm, what's there to love, you ask?

How about a man who won't be railroaded? Who stands up for what he knows is right even when his is the only voice speaking? A man who will offer himself on the altar in sacrifice for what is right for the country? If you wonder about the power of one man, pop in this video and then pray for God to give us people in office like this!

This movie one best Oscar for story and was nominated for a string more. I highly recommend this movie.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thank You to Our Veterans and Troops

If you've read for any length of time, that I have a love and deep respect for those who have been in the military and endured wars. That's one reason seven of my first novels tell homefront stories from World War Two.

Today is Veteran's Day, and I wanted to thank all who currently serve and those who are veterans for their service to our country and their protection of our freedoms. Awhile ago a friend forwarded this YouTube video by Lizzie Palmer. It's a tribute to the troops and worth every moment of your time to watch.

It brought back all kinds of memories. My Dad's unit was called up during Desert Storm. I wish I had a photo I could post of him. There are some great ones of him in his flight and dress uniforms. Good thing he married mom on this way to Vietnam, because he looked GOOD!

After Nam, Dad was part of a National Guard unit in Nebraska. It was a medivac unit, and he'd been a helicopter pilot since he enlisted during Vietnam. I was so proud of him, but it was probably the first truly trying time of my life. I was 16. Had started classes at the Community College. Was beginning to make forays into adulthood. Then he got shipped out. Left the week of Thanksgiving. Shipped out the day after Christmas. Came back around Easter.

We were fortunate. Everybody in our community was so supportive. Everywhere you went there were cards to sign for the veterans including Dad. School classes sent him mail. A stark contrast to Vietnam.

I am so proud of my Dad. He has served his country well and ably through two wars and about twenty years of full-time and National Guard service.

And he's not the only one. We are blessed to be a nation where its citizens will willingly go into the breach, so that we can all enjoy our freedoms.

So watch the video. And then find a way to say thanks. There are many servicemen and women who need our support -- regardless of what you think about the war itself.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

God as a Consuming Fire

One of the names that the Bible gives God is that of a consuming fire. See Hebrews 12:29.

The last few days this image has played through my mind. What does it really mean to be a consuming fire? I think of a forest fire that rages out of control. One that the wind whips into a fury and then it roars across plains and mountain landscapes, fueled by trees, prairie grasses and a lack of rain. One that must be beaten back aggressively or it will consume you.

But don't I want God to consume me?

I mean, don't I ultimately want for God's presence and holiness to so consume me, that when people look at me, the last thing they see is me? Instead, their first impression is one of joy or love or peace that isn't something that can be conjured up or faked. That it's a fruit that flows straight from God through me to the world?

That God will work in my life, consuming anything that is displeasing to Him. My selfishness, vanity, pride, etc. Fill in the sin of the day. That through the process I will be refined and turned into gold. That's what I long for. But I know I hold back. I think all of us do. The image of a refining fire is laced with pain and suffering.

What do you think? What holds us back from opening our lives to the consuming fire of God and truly being transformed to His image?

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Hatteras Girl: CFBA Tour, Review, & Giveaway!!!

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Hatteras Girl
Bethany House; Original edition (October 1, 2010)
Alice Wisler
Hatteras Girl is the latest from Alice Wisler and a very enjoyable read. Told from Jackie Donovan's perspective as she approaches the big three-oh, the book has delightful pacing. It's not rushed, but instead has the feel of a vacation read. Jackie has harbored the dream of running a particular bed and breakfast since she was a child. Now that she's almost thirty, she wonders if that dream will ever come to pass. Add in dreams of finding a man who will love her and the "help" of her family in finding that man. The book is filled with charming characters and a great setting that pulled me in. Everything's not roses for Jackie, but she learns what's worth fighting for and when to step back...all while pursuing dreams for her future. I enjoyed this read and think it's perfect for a quick weekend escape. 

I'm delighted to have a copy to giveaway, so be sure to leave a comment to be entered.

There are two things twenty-nine-year-old Jackie Donovan asks God for: an honest, wonderful man to marry, and to own a bed-and-breakfast in the Outer Banks region. In the meantime, Jackie works for Lighthouse Views magazine, writing articles about other local business owners, and intrepidly goes on the blind dates set up by her well-meaning but oh-so-clueless relatives.

There's one specific property Jackie dreams of purchasing: the Bailey Place, a fabulous old home where Jackie spent many happy childhood afternoons, a place that has now fallen into disrepair because of its outrageous price tag.

When Jackie meets handsome Davis Erickson, who holds the key to the Bailey Place, Jackie is sure God has answered both her prayers. But as Jackie learns some disturbing details about Davis's past, she begins to question her own motivation. Will she risk her long-held dreams to find out the truth?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Hatteras Girl, go HERE.

Alice J. Wisler is an author, public speaker, advocate, and fundraiser. She has been a guest on several radio and TV programs to promote her self-published cookbooks, Slices of Sunlight and Down the Cereal Aisle. She graduated  from Eastern Mennonite University and has traveled the country in jobs that minister to people. Alice was raised in Japan and currently resides in Durham, North Carolina.

Monday, November 08, 2010

The Research...The Drudgery...The Dreaming

By the title I'm sure you gathered I'm writing a proposal.

I really should have titled it in reverse order. Ideas (for me) are usually sparked by some dream or idea captured as I read something else. In this case a non-fiction book. Gasp, yes, it's true. Fiction writers read non-fiction. I read a book that tells an under-told aspect of World War II and was hooked. Characters come to life, and ideas have germinated since late summer. They won't let me go.

If only they would translate to the page.

That's where the drudgery comes in. The slogging through character sheets. Reading more books, while begging and praying for inspiration and more ideas. Sitting down and staring at a blank computer screen. Wondering where the words are going to come from when I still barely know my characters. Digging deeper and finally putting words to the page, only to find I must stop and research all kinds of details.

Tuscan Villas.
Which painting to highlight.
On and on and on.
With little visible progress.

For a girl who loves climbing word counts, it's a frustrating process. But without it, there's no hope of a contract that would turn the idea into a published book. So I continue to pray, and slog, and dig deep. All while dreaming up ideas for the next proposal. Absolutely nuts!

Now don't you wish you were a writer, too? :-)

Friday, November 05, 2010

Ohio Brides: A Cover I had to Show Off!

Next week I'll be back with more Classic Hollywood Reviews. Today I just had to share my next cover for Ohio Brides. This is for the three-in-one compilation of my Ohio World War Two series for Hearstong Presents. Isn't it gorgeous! I absolutely love this cover!

I have been so blessed with the covers I've received, and this one tops my list of favorites, only slightly behind Stars in the Night.

Here's the blurb:
Step into 1940s Ohio when dreams are challenged by a climate of war. Newlyweds, Josie and Art are struggling to begin their life in a new city where war refugees are seeking shelter. Evelyn joins the WAVES to be of assistance, but Mark, an engineer, feels she is a distraction. Kat makes the All-American Girls Professional Softball League, but Jack, a reporter who wasn’t physically qualified to serve his country in war, takes his bitterness out on her. Where are God’s promises of peace and love during World War II?

Three Ohio women seek God’s promises for peace on the 1940s home front. Can each of them find love in such times of trial?

Ohio Brides will release in February 2011. But it is available for preorder now at CBD and Amazon. It would make a great late Christmas present or Valentine's Day gift.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

What's the biggest thing holding you back?

Between sermons and Sunday school classes, I've really been thinking about this. What's the biggest thing holding back my faith? What's the biggest thing keeping me from desiring more of God? In bigger ways?

Is it a lack of faith? God couldn't really mean what He says...

Is it false humility/pride? God does that kind of stuff for other people, not me.

I don't know about you, but I'm ready for a season of really chasing after God. Taking Him at His word. Being specific with Him about what I desire. Praying all the while that my desires would match His, but being specific about what I think He's saying to me. Does He not answer because I'm not specific? Or is He waiting for me to be specific? Or do I stop too soon? Do I fail to be like the persistent widow -- who asked and asked and asked until she got the answer?

What about you? Where does God have you right now?

Head in the Clouds Review: Very enjoyable romance laced with suspense

Head in the Clouds is the first book of Karen's I've read, but it won't be the last. What happens when a recovering romantic goes to work for a handsome ranch owner and her heart's not the only thing in danger? A fun historical romp that has enough overtones of suspense to keep me reading. And the characters are wonderful!

Adelaide is a heroine with a wonderful sense of humor who is passionate about life. She doesn't do anything halfway. I found myself pulling for her from the opening chapter. Who can't relate to her deep desire for romance, and her faith that leads her to do some things others might call crazy but that lead her to take a job as governess.

Gideon is a hero I enjoyed. Who hasn't dreamed of a British hero who sweeps you off your feet? He was a bit enigmatic but that only added to the fun. Add in his ward Isabella, and you have a wonderful mix of characters that were easy to love and pull for.

This book had a great mix of humor, romance and suspense. Loved it!

Monday, November 01, 2010

The Preacher's Bride: a great historical novel & Giveaway

Today, I want to share a novel by debut author Jody Hedlund with you. I don't know Jody well, other than bumping into her at ACFW conferences, but after reading this book, I can tell you she is one talented author. It doesn't hurt that she's another homeschooling mom. I have a feeling we'd be good friends if we lived near each other -- alas, we don't. Be sure to read all the way to the end to learn how to participate in the giveaway. Enough about that, though. On to the book.

Some books are a joy to read, absorbing me from the first chapter. The kind of book that pulls me back again and again and sits in my thoughts between readings. The Preacher’s Bride is such a book.

Set in 1650s England, it tells the story of a young woman Elizabeth Whitbread, who is a Puritan determined to serve God and his people. She is blind to all that would detract from the needs of those in her path. At a time when even the Puritan religion required certain “standards” to be upheld, she served all.

Part of that service is caring for the children of the recently widowed John Costin. The story that weaves from those two points is a beautiful one that I know I will return to again. I was uncertain about whether I could be pulled into a story set during that time period. Those concerns quickly evaporated as the pages flipped faster and faster.  The author hit a wonderful balance of providing enough details to make me feel like I was living during that harsh time, but not so many that I got bogged down in the minutia.

A lovely novel, and one I commend to anyone who enjoys historical fiction. And if you’re not sure you do, give it a try anyway. You might surprise yourself. To read the first chapter of The Preacher's Bride, go HERE.

Jody, where did you get the idea for this book? I love historicals, but don’t see many set in England during this time.

As a homeschooling mom, I read my children a TON of books. In fact, over the past eight years of teaching my children, I’ve read more books than the combined total of the rest of my life! During our history lessons, I try to pull in real life stories to help bring the past alive.

One of those real life lessons included a biography about John Bunyan. While reading about him, I ran across a small excerpt about his wife, Elizabeth. I loved the brave way Elizabeth defended John during one of his trials when he was under arrest for his “unlicensed” preaching. Her strength to face a court of persecutors and her determination to faithfully support her husband touched me so deeply, that I decided her little-known story needed to be told to the world. The Preacher’s Bride is inspired by her.

What was the hardest part of writing a book set then?

One of the most challenging aspects was deciding how much of the dialect to include in the dialog and how much to modernize. If I’d gone with the accurate way the English spoke in the 1600’s, the story might have been cumbersome for modern readers. So, I had to pick and choose which phrases to include so that I could give a flavor of that time period, but not bog down the story with too much of the unfamiliar.

Can you give us a sneak peek of your next book? I’m dying to know what to look for next!

The Doctor’s Lady is scheduled to release in September of 2011 and is another “inspired-by” novel. It’s a fictionalized story based on the first white woman to travel overland West to Oregon as a missionary to the natives. It’s a marriage of convenience story, but also the tale of how a young woman overcame the odds, endured a dangerous journey, and found true love along the way. In the process, her strength and courage paved the way for all of the women who came after her.

Jody Hedlund is a debut historical romance novelist who was a double finalist in the 2009 ACFW Genesis Contest in Historical Romance. She received a bachelor’s degree from Taylor University and a master’s from the University of Wisconsin, both in Social Work. Currently she makes her home in Midland, Michigan, with her husband and five busy children.

Jody has graciously agreed to giveaway a copy of the Preacher's Bride. Leave a comment about the classic book that John Bunyun wrote to be entered.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...