Monday, November 30, 2009

God Gave us...Reviews

The publisher sent me these two delightful picture books. I've received a couple earlier books in the series awhile ago, and the kids enjoyed them so much, I was eager to see what these titles were like. While we enjoyed the message and wonderful illustrations in both titles, I love the emphasis in God Gave Us Christmas. Sometimes it's hard to remind children that Christmas is not about presents. Instead, the best gift is Jesus. So if you're looking for thoroughly enjoyable children's books that will delight children, I recommend these two titles from Lisa Tawn Bergren.

God Gave Us Love: As Little Cub and Grampa Bear’s fishing adventure is interrupted bymischievous otters, the young polar bear begins to question why we must love others… even the seemingly unlovable.

In answering her questions, Grampa Bear gives tender explanations that teach Little Cub about the different kinds of love that is shared between families, friends, and mamas and papas. Grampa explains that all these kinds of love come from God and that it is important to love others because… “Any time we show love, Little Cub, we’re sharing a bit of his love.”

This sweet tale will warm the hearts of young children as they learn about all the different sorts of love, while the gentle explanations of each provide a valuable opportunity to encourage children to share with others a “God-sized love.”

God Gave Us Christmas: As Little Cub and her family prepare to celebrate the most special day of the year, the curious young polar bear begins to wonder… “Who invented Christmas?” Mama’s answer only leads to more questions like “Is God more important than Santa?” So she and Little Cub head off on a polar expedition to find God and to see how he gave them Christmas. Along the way, they find signs that God is at work all around them. Through Mama’s gentle guidance, Little Cub learns about the very first Christmas and discovers that… Jesus is the best present of all.

This enchanting tale provides the perfect opportunity to help young children celebrate the true meaning of Christmas and to discover how very much God loves them.

Lisa Tawn Bergren is the award-winning author of nearly thirty titles, totaling more than 1.5 million books in print. She writes in a broad range of genres, from adult fiction to devotional. God Gave Us Love follows in Lisa’s classic tradition of the best-selling God Gave Us You. She lives in Colorado, with her husband, Tim, and their children, Olivia, Emma, and Jack.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

More with the Munsons...

Here's our second installment of the interview with the Munsons. Read to the bottom for a synopsis of one of their latest suspense novels.

You write your books together. How does that work in a practical way? Do you take turns writing scenes? Each write different character’s scenes? Etc.

David loves to tell readers that we have discovered a unique writing format: Diane starts at the beginning and he starts at the end and write backwards. When we meet in middle, we’re done.
It is good for a laugh. In reality, it is not so tidy. We aim to first build the characters, to ask what are their dreams and conflicts, and then forge a compelling story about what our characters are facing. Then we create a mini-outline where we hope to go.

Because we each have our areas of expertise—David worked
undercover for years convincing drug cartels that he was one of
them and Diane both prosecuted and defended cases—we each write the scenes where we feel the skills coming forth. Then we read each others’ scenes or chapters and edit using track changes. What a marvelous invention. One of us gets to do the final edits so the voices are consistent. Can you guess who?

Anything else you want to tell us about your books?

The novels highlight many of the things we’ve done, fictionalize cases we’ve been involved in or places we’ve traveled, so the settings and agents, police officers, judges, and lawyers are realistic.
In our next release, Hero’s Ransom, watch for such intriguing places as Kazakhstan, where we got embroiled in a murder investigation by the KGB and Thailand where David survived a wild encounter with an elephant.

Where can readers find you on the web?

All readers are invited to read more about us, our writing, and appearances at They can sign up for our free e-mail newsletter or enter an occasional contest. It’s a family-friendly site with some Q&A about the justice system.

Last question: if you could go anywhere in the world right now, where would you go and who would you take (other than each other :-) ).

Diane – Maybe the Sudan? Alaska. Go with David, but if he was away on his own trip, my sister Michele who practices medicine in Texas.

Here are the blurbs on these books:

The Camelot Conspiracy: The Camelot Conspiracy rocks with a sinister plot even more menacing than the headlines. Former DC insiders Diane and David Munson feature a brash TV reporter, Kat Kowicki, who receives an ominous email that throws her into the high stakes conspiracy of John F. Kennedy’s assassination. When Kat uncovers evidence Lee Harvey Oswald did not act alone, she turns for help to Federal Special Agents Eva Montanna and Griff Topping who uncover the chilling truth: A shadow government threatens to tear down the very foundation of the American justice system.

CIA Agent Bo Rider (The Camelot Conspiracy) and Federal Agents Eva Montanna and Griff Topping (Facing Justice, Confirming Justice, The Camelot Conspiracy) return in Hero’s Ransom, the Munsons’ fourth family-friendly adventure. When archeologist Amber Worthing uncovers a two-thousand-year-old mummy and witnesses a secret rocket launch at a Chinese missile base, she is arrested for espionage. Her imprisonment sparks a custody battle between grandparents over her young son, Lucas. Caught between sinister world powers, Amber’s faith is tested in ways she never dreamed possible. Danger escalates as Bo races to stop China’s killer satellite from destroying America, and with Eva and Griff’s help, to rescue Amber using an unexpected ransom.

Based on their exciting careers, Diane, former federal prosecutor, and David, former federal agent, blend insiders’ savvy and surprising plot twists to ratchet up the tension in Hero’s Ransom, captivating readers. You won’t blink from page one until the end.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Meeting the Munsons...Interview Part One

I'm delighted today to introduce you to some new-to-me suspense authors, Diane and David Munson. They have graciously agreed to participate in an interview. And look for reviews of their two latest books to come in the next month or so. So without further ado, for those who are looking for some new suspense, read with enjoyment!

You were a federal prosecutor and federal agent prior to becoming authors. Why did you decide you wanted to write novels?

Diane has loved reading and writing since she was a child. David didn’t particularly enjoy reading or writing, but he liked telling stories. After studying her genealogy, Diane wrote an historical novel set in the days of Gutenberg. While publishers liked it, one suggested with Diane’s background as an attorney and a prosecutor, she should try suspense.

After learning David was a former Federal agent, that publisher was even more certain this was a winning idea and Diane came home from the writer’s conference with a searing questions: How would David feel about writing a suspense novel with Diane? His reply was swift, “Let’s try it.” The rest is “His-story.”

Tell us a bit about your latest novels. What “what-if” got your minds spinning and your fingers typing?

With our legal backgrounds, we’re intrigued by why people do what they do, which helps us build real characters. In Facing Justice, the story sizzles with several key “what-ifs.” What would it be like to be a respected person running a non-profit is accused of aiding terrorists? What would happen if the federal agent’s twin sister died on 9/11 and that agent finds a family from her church is accused of helping terrorists?

Then in Confirming Justice we flesh out what it’s like for a federal judge who tries to hide a medical secret when he’s nominated to the Supreme Court and his enemies seek to derail his life-long dream. In our most recent release, The Camelot Conspiracy, we blend historical fact from the JFK assassination and weave it into a modern tale where rogue government-types target Kat Kowicki, a young television reporter who is brash, but also naïve about what some will do to keep their power. Our previous two novels were set in Washington, DC, the Middle East and Florida, and since we had spent much of our lives in the Midwest, we wanted to write an international thriller with Chicago as a key hub in the suspense.

Camelot Conspiracy steps back to the JFK assassination in some ways. What inspired that plot?

David was a college student in Chicago when JFK was assassinated. He attended school by day and worked nights at the FBI office with plans to become an FBI agent. On the night of November 22, 1963, David took an ominous call from FBI Dallas—they had just found the rifle that killed the President, which had been purchased from Klein Sporting Goods right in Chicago. Someone had to get Klein’s to open their records that night to determine who bought that rifle. David was denied the opportunity to go with the agent to find the records because he was a “mere” college student who had to remain behind and answer the phones. But he remained in the office long enough to see the mail order form that Lee Harvey Oswald had used to purchase the rifle, using an alias. Also, Diane had studied the assassination in college and after reading the Warren Commission Report, wondered how Lee Harvey Oswald could have acted alone. After traveling to the Dallas Sixth Floor Museum and researching the record, we decided to build a novel around a fictional Chicago Police detective who went with the FBI agents and who found additional records that the FBI did not release to the public or find relevant. Readers will be fascinated by the detective’s discovery as well as recently-released evidence we season throughout Camelot through the television reporter, Kat Kowicki.

Your books bring the same characters together in fresh high-stakes races to investigate or stop terrorism. Should readers read them in order or do they stand independently? What’s the challenge of writing books with reappearing characters? Which of these characters has become your favorite?

Each of our novels can be read independently. Some of the characters move through, but in each we introduce new characters. Once we created Eva Montanna, the feisty Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent, and her task force partner, FBI agent Griff Topping, who have separate lives but work well together, we didn’t want them to end. Married and struggling to spend time with her family, Eva’s faith wilts and then grows as she faces the pressures from her career. In Facing Justice, she wants another child, but is warned by her doctor to slow down. Will she be able to have another baby? Griff is a young widower who loved his wife. While it takes him time to recover, in Confirming Justice he meets a federal probation officer who is a widow…

The more we wrote about Eva and Griff, the more we became attached to them as real people. They are too cool to let die. Some readers want to know if Diane is Eva and David is Griff. The answer is they are a blend of our personalities and some of their own to boot! To our readers’ delight, we found a way to get these courageous agents from fighting terrorists in the Indian Ocean, battling the bureaucrats and media in Washington DC to the alligator infested swamps in Florida, then to the gritty streets of Chicago.

I’ve found as I write that each book teaches me something. What lesson has surprised you the most as you’ve written?

Years ago as we studied our families’ histories, it seemed God was prompting us to move from the field of law into writing.

How we can be ready for that still, small voice and the changes that might come is the challenging aspect. The source of inspiration can be a mystery and where our ideas flow from often surprises us.

It might flow from a vivid dream, a snippet of a story we hear at a book signing or watching God’s creation as we hike trails that brings forth wonder and delight. We place every writing project at the feet of Jesus and aspire to glorify Him in all we do. Each of our lives has purpose and we hope to infuse that miraculous idea in our writing.

To be continued...

Friday, November 20, 2009

Bon Voyage, Sam I Am: Guest Blog by Susan Meissner

Imagine this. You’ve opened your heart and home to half a dozen troubled souls. You’ve taken on their burdens and practically made them your own. You’ve stayed up nights with them, pondered solutions with them, headed down bunny trails with them, intervened for them, stuck up for them, listened to them and gone out on a limb for them. You’ve helped them work through one of the most difficult times they will ever know.

And at the end of that journey, when it’s clear there is a light at the end of the tunnel for them, you finally take step back and realize, they’ve just about driven you crazy. Any novelist will tell you, when you finish a book, you are tired. Tired of writing, tired of thinking, and tired of those people you’ve carted around in your head month after month.

You need a break from them. You really do. You might think the best thing an author can do when he or she finishes a book is turn around right then, while you are still in the moment, and begin the tedious process of editing, but as Paul Kirby said to Amanda in Jurassic Park III, that’s a bad idea.


There’s a little maxim that goes like this: “Familiarity breeds contempt” which I admit, I always thought sounded rude and arrogant. Actually, it just means if you know someone very well you can easily stop respecting them. You don’t hate them. But they no longer wow you.

Any book worth editing should contain characters that still surprise, thrill and inspire you.

I remember mentally sending my characters off on a little vacation once. They needed the break from me as much as I needed it from them. I packed their little virtual suitcases, virtually hugged them goodbye and told them I’d see them in a week or two. And no postcards or text messages, please. No joke. And then I pretended that’s where they really were. Away. Gone. Unable to communicate with me.

Clarity is good. Sometimes it comes when everything is still and quiet – and that means the characters have to shut up and leave you alone for a pair of minutes.

I don’t always have the luxury of sending my characters off on a month-long cruise. Sometimes all they get is three days at Disneyland. But any distance from them is better than no distance. I am always glad to see them when they come home. I welcome them back, I toast their health and suntans, and then we get work.

Sometimes, it isn’t until I see them relaxed and rested that I understand the difference my story made to them.

And by golly, that surely surprise, thrills and inspires me! And makes editing less a chore and more a celebration.

Susan Meissner is the author of ten novels, including The Shape of Mercy, named by Publishers Weekly as one of the Best Books of 2008 and the newly released White Picket Fences. She lives in southern California with her pastor husband and their four grown children. Visit Susan at her website:

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Things Novelists Do When Writer's Block Abounds...

My friends have been at it again. In honor of NaNoWriMo, Angela Hunt, Terri Blackstock, Kristin Billerbeck, and Robin Lee Hatcher. Last week I read Angela's latest, a wonderful legal suspense titled Let Darkness Come. WOW! This woman can write. Actually, all four can. Intervention, Terri Blackstock's latest is on the NYT bestseller's list very deservedly. Kristin has a wonderful style, and Robin Lee Hatcher is amazingly diverse in historical fiction. Between them, they've written 200 books, so you don't expect them to have writer's block. This video is a very fun look into their personalities. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

What the Bayou Saw & Giveaway

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

What The Bayou Saw

Kregel Publications (March 24, 2009)


Patti Lacy

Be sure to read the interview when Patti Lacy stopped by in July. I have an extra copy of this book I'd love to send to a good home, so be sure to leave a comment. One copy will go to one lucky home.


Though Patti's only been writing since 2005, she thinks her latest profession of capturing stories on paper (or computer files) will stick awhile.

The Still, Small Voice encouraged Patti to write after a brave Irish friend shared memories of betrayal and her decision to forgive. In 2008, An Irishwoman’s Tale was published by Kregel Publications. Patti’s second novel, What the Bayou Saw, draws on the memories of two young girls who refused to let segregation, a chain link fence, and a brutal rape come between them.

The secrets women keep and why they keep them continue to enliven Patti's gray matter. A third book, My Name is Sheba, has been completed. Patti's WIP, Recapturing Lily, documents a tug-of-war between a Harvard-educated doctor and an American pastor and his wife for a precious child and explores adoption issues, China's "One Child" policy, and both Christian and secular views of sacrifice.

Patti also facilitates writing seminars in schools, libraries, and at conferences and has been called to present her testimony, "All the Broken Pieces," at women's retreats. She also leads a Beth Moore Bible study at her beloved Grace Church.

Patti and her husband Alan, an Illinois State faculty member, live in Normal with their handsome son Thomas, who attends Heartland Community College. On sunny evenings, you can catch the three strolling the streets of Normal with their dog Laura, whom they've dubbed a "Worchestershire Terrier" for her "little dab of this breed, a little dab of that breed.


Segregation and a chain link fence separated twelve-year-old Sally Flowers from her best friend, Ella Ward. Yet a brutal assault bound them together. Forever. Thirty-eight years later, Sally, a middle-aged Midwestern instructor, dredges up childhood secrets long buried beneath the waters of a Louisiana bayou in order to help her student, who has also been raped. Fragments of spirituals, gospel songs, and images of a Katrina-ravaged New Orleans are woven into the story.

The past can't stay buried forever Rising author Patti Lacy's second novel exposes the life of Sally, set amid the shadows of prejudice in Louisiana.

Since leaving her home in the South, Sally Stevens has held the secrets of her past at bay, smothering them in a sunny disposition and sugar-coated lies. No one, not even her husband, has heard the truth about her childhood.

But when one of her students is violently raped, Sally's memories quickly bubble to the surface unbidden, like a dead body in a bayou. As Sally's story comes to light, the lies she's told begin to catch up with her. And as her web of deceit unravels, she resolves to face the truth at last, whatever the consequences.

If you would like to read the first chapter of What The Bayou Saw, go HERE

Watch the Book Trailer:

Monday, November 16, 2009

Christian Vampires? Thirsty on...

WOW! Initially, the idea of a Christian vampire book scared me. I've never read a vampire book, and didn't expect to like it. I was wrong! In Thirsty Tracey has drafted a suspense that is richly layered. Nina Parker is an alcoholic and alcohol has destroyed her life. No, she has allowed alcohol to destroy her life. But now she's been sober 90 days and has an opportunity to start over...but that requires her to go home. A place she left in the middle of the night 17 years ago and has avoided since then.

Nina returns home with her daughter. Back in Abbey Hills, Missouri, weird deaths are happening. The kind that would normally have law enforcement exploring cults and Satanists. But nothing seems to explain them this time.

Nina is a richly drawn character as are the other point of view characters. I cared deeply about her and wanted to know how she was going to grow and how the events would turn out. There is a complex interplay between Nina and her daughter -- who secretly hopes she can someday have a relationship with her mom, but has been hurt too many times. And what about Nina's neighbor? The man seems to know her in ways he shouldn't.

I was leery as I read this about what the vampire angle would be like. It really read like a supernatural suspense where shades of evil were colored as vampires instead of other supernatural elements. The way Tracey developed the story, the vampire angle worked and added a depth to the story. Now, I can't compare it to other vampire books -- I've never read them. However, I can't wait to read the second!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

A Chat Over Coffee w/ Sandra Glahn

Most of you know I love Bible studies. I'm not always as disciplined as I should be, but I love a study that allows me to dive into the Bible, and pull apart the text. One series that has intrigued me is the Coffee Cup Bible Studies. With titles like Frappe with Philippians or Kona with Jonah, what's not to like?

I was asked if I'd like to participate in a blog tour and receive a copy of Frappe with Philippians. I jumped on the opportunit
y since I'm always looking for new studies to use at church. I haven't had time to dive into this one yet, because we're working through Beth Moore's Esther, but I love the idea. Philippians is a book packed with riches, but it's easy to glaze over them. Hence a study could be the perfect solution.

Below is an interview with the author, but be sure to scroll to the end for some GREAT ideas on how to jumpstart a unique Bible study.

Women who typically feel they don't have the time to do Bible Study find your studies relevant and easy to use. What's the secret to making
the study inviting?

I don't know if there's one secret. Different things appeal to different people. But I do know that with my own personal Bible study time, I've been able to stay fairly consistent Monday through Friday when my daughter is at school. But on the weekends everything changes in our household. Sometimes we travel. Or we sleep later on Saturday. And we rise and go to church on Sunday. Result: my routine gets disrupted. For this reason I often have a more difficult time doing Bible study on the weekends. So I designed the series for Monday-through-Friday study with only short devotional readings on the weekends. The weekday time can require twenty minutes or more; the weekend readings take less than five minutes.

I think the studies also appe
al to the right-brained person. As an artsy type, I sometimes engage more with the Bible if I can write out a prayer, draw, view a related video, compose a story, sing a song... And I wrote this series with that person in mind. The devotionals are also full of stories, which most of us love to hear.

In addition (and this is probably the main reason), when I was working full-time, I wanted a study I could stash in my purse without having to lug a Bible and a commentary. I wanted to use my lunch break for a quiet time without parading my resources in front of people. And I think it helps that the Coffee Cup series books don't look like typical Bible studies; they're all-inclusive (text, commentary, questions included); they're small enough to throw in a briefcase or diaper bag; and they're both spiral and bound--making it easier to use on a treadmill or fold in the lap and write on while sitting. In short they're designed for the multi-tasker. I heard from an ob-gyn who uses them as she's sitting in the doctors' lounge waiting for babies to arrive.

And one more thing--I also include a prayer at the end. I heard from an eighty-something man who told me how much those prayers meant. All his life he had struggled with prayer, and that guidance helped him respond to God. I'm glad that a series directed to women didn't scare him off!

In Jonah with Kona, what do you hope participants will take away and apply to their own lives?

We tend to like our own causes best; we like our own country best; we like our denomination best; we like our own families best; we prefer the schools we attended, the neighborhoods where we grew up, our own political party or cause, our gender--even our brand of peanut butter. And somewhere along the way we cross the line from preference to prejudice. We pray for our loved ones but rarely, if ever, our enemies. Mention atheists, opposing politicians, humanists, materialists, homosexuals, and radical feminists in most churches today, and the response you'll evoke will sound nothing like, "Let's pray right now for God to pour out his love."

Genesis tells us that humans are fellow creations of one maker. The qualities of God that so angered Jonah are the very qualities we most need: grace, compassion, patience, mercy, abundant love, and truth. And not just for those we love--but for those we hate. For those who have wronged us. For those who want us dead. For those with whom we strongly disagree. The only possible way we can demonstrate such remarkable goodness is through the power of the Holy Spirit.

The focus of Frappé with Philippians is the life of Paul and the early church. What kind of historical research did you do and did you learn any surprising facts as you compiled your information?

I think it's enormously important to understand the world in which Paul was writing. Let's take the view of women, for example. The Jews were the most conservative. The Greeks were better, though greatly influenced by Aristotle's low view of women. And the Roman women had the most freedom--even owning property and supervising gymnasiums. Knowing a city's predominant citizenship helps us understand Paul's letters on such issues.

My PhD work relates a lot to the Greek pantheon and Greek and Roman history. The historical backgrounds for the Bible books are essential, and fortunately they interest me.

I also love getting a sense of the geography, if I can. I had the advantage this summer of taking a clipper to follow the journeys of Paul. Some of our stops included Corinth, Troas, Neapolis, Philippi, and Athens.

One sentence out of the mouth of a guide in Corinth really stuck with me, as she provided a key to understanding the cities we visited. She mentioned that while American visitors seem generally uninterested in talk of gods and goddesses, knowing which member of the Greek pantheon a city worshiped is essential to understanding that city's mentality. The more I thought about this, the more sense it made:

ATHENS. Athena was the goddess of wisdom, so citizens of Athens wanted their city to reflect culture, religion, and philosophy. And sure enough, in Acts 17 we find Stoic and Epicurean philosophers hanging out at the Areopagus (Mars Hill). Paul affirms them for being religious, and rather than dissing their many false gods, he zeroes in on their altar to the unknown God and tells them about this Almighty one who was not made with hands--One who is never far from any of us.

CORINTH. Corinth was the home of Aphrodite, goddess of love (and not the agape version). Behind the city ruins stands a towering hill at the top of which sat Aphrodite's temple. One could not walk down the street without being conscious of its prominence. Might that explain why the Corinthians had so many issues with sexual immorality, and why Paul tells them that it's good for a man not to touch a woman (1 Cor. 7:1)? For the sake of the kingdom, he encourages them to consider embracing sexual abstinence rather than marrying. How fitting that in a city that prides itself on being a center of love, Paul pens the beautiful definition of true love--known to us as the love chapter (1 Cor. 13).

EPHESUS. Ephesus was home to the virgin Artemis who loved her virgin status and was immune to Aphrodite's love arrows. Among other things, Artemis was the goddess of the hunt. If you take a close look at the Artemis statues from the first and second centuries, you find her legs covered with numerous animals and flanked by a couple of deer. Now, usually we think of women as gatherers and men as hunters. And the fact that Artemis was a hunter suggests she had a less-than-feminine persona. In Ephesus we find stone work with the Amazon story (these women were way independent!), and guides tell visitors that the city was founded by an Amazon queen. The Book of Ephesians was probably intended for more than one city (like Laodicea), so we don't find much that points to a specific city's mentality in that book. But we do find 1 Timothy directed to Paul's protégé in Ephesus, and in it we find an emphasis on widows, women teaching false doctrines, and the need to marry and have children.

When reading the New Testament, I think it's important to find out something of its geography and certainly what member of the Greek pantheon each book's readers were up against. How its authors approached the cities' demons can provide insight for us into engaging a culture that's in love with worldly wisdom, immorality, and a low view of family.

Creative Ways to Have Girlfriend Bible Studies

· Get ripped with Ruth. Meet at the health club and walk side-by-side on the treadmill with your BFF. The study’s spiral binding and modest size lends itself to being stashed in a gym bag. You won’t even have to pack your Bible. The text is included.

· Inhale the aroma of java as you enter your favorite coffee shop. Order yourself a cappuccino, and then hang out around the table with friends discussing Colossians.

· For your friend’s birthday, give her chocolate-covered coffee beans and a Coffee Cup Bible study. Promise her an hour every week of your time for building your friendship on what lasts.

· Invite the person who does your nails to consider the words of Jesus. Provide a copy of Mocha on the Mount, and every time you’re together discuss what you’re both learning as you go through it.

· Schedule an extended “Spiritual Spa Day” together by watching and discussing a movie about Esther as you kick off bi-weekly meetings around your kitchen table. Contemplate what the Hadassah spa—Esther’s year of beauty treatments—must have been like. Then consider the part of her beauty that was deeper than skin.

· You don’t have to sip your cuppa joe in a shop that starts with an “S.” Grab some colleagues and organize a small group study. You can nurse your favorite beverage in the company cafeteria, the hospital coffee shop—even your local McDonald’s.

· Brew a pot of coffee in your church kitchen and meet one evening per week with members of your congregation. Engage in a lively discussion about Deborah, Jael, and Samson’s mother as you go through Java with the Judges.

About the Books:

(Dallas, Texas)- There's nothing better than curling up with a good book and a cup of coffee--and there's no better book than the Bible. Sandra Glahn continues her series of Coffee Cup Bible Studies, presenting Kona with Jonah and Frappe with Philippians. Using creative teaching resources, including the Internet, art, online study groups and more, Glahn provides a special blend of bold and flavorful experiences that will bring participants back for a second cup of God's Word.

Kona with Jonah begins with a brief history of Jonah and Ninevah. Merging historical event with current modern day practicality, Glahn invites readers to take a walk in Jonah's sandals. Coffee sippers will find it hard to escape the similarities as these two worlds collide. Prayer, mercy, city revival and other strong themes will perk the interest and heart of diligent students.

Frappé with Philippians brews for five weeks of strong, powerful conversation about Paul and the heroes of the Philippian church. With detailed study time spent examining the letters of Paul to the Church, readers will come away feeling like they have met with the man himself. With sections entitled "That God Will Get me Out of Here, and Other Prayer Requests Paul Doesn't Make," Glahn keeps the tone of the study light, without disrespecting the seriousness of the study of God's Word.

Getting Ready to Give Away Books

I have four books I'm getting ready to give away in the next two weeks:

Mary DeMuth's A Slow Burn
Golden Keyes Parson's Prison of Versailles
Tricia Goyer's Swiss Courier
Chuck Holton's Melt Down

To be entered, leave a comment here and over the next two weeks' entries. (If you're seeing this on facebook, go to my blog) If you have a preference, let me know in the comment, too.

Friday, November 13, 2009

CFBA Tour: Prisoner of Versaille with Giveaway

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
A Prisoner of Versaille
Thomas Nelson (September 1, 2009)
Golden Keyes Parsons


Madeleine's faith puts her at odds with an intimidating rival: King Louis XIV.

Having fled their homeland of France because of the persecution by Louis XIV, the Clavell family seeks refuge in Switzerland. However, the king is not about to let the recently widowed Madeleine, his childhood sweetheart, escape that easily. He sends musketeers to kidnap her and her oldest son, Philippe, holding them captive in his opulent palace. King Louis is suspicious that Philippe could be his son, and he's enraged by the growing affection of one of his courtiers for Madeleine.

Will Madeleine escape the king with her life or lose everything that she's fought so hard to keep?

If you would like to read the first chapter of
A Prisoner of Versaille , go HERE.

And if you'd like to win a copy of this book, leave a comment on this post. I'll pull a winner in the next week.

In her deep plowing of the heart, moving from tears one moment to laughter the next, Golden will touch your heart with her dynamic Bible teaching, combined with her vivid personal examples, moving from tears one moment, to laughter the next, all the while communicating the message that God is faithful--keep trusting Him. She has a passion to communicate the Word of God in such a manner that will lead to godly living.

Golden, and her husband, Blaine, have just retired as pastors at Faith Mountain Fellowship Church in Red River, NM. They have three grown daughters and eight grandchildren. Her testimony and myriad of life experiences lend a touch of authenticity to her teaching. She loves to speak for women's conferences, seminars, luncheons, retreats and Mother/Daughter events.

If deep Bible teaching that brings the Scriptures alive is what you want, Golden is the speaker you need.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

White Picket Fences by Susan Meissner

Susan Meissner is a lyrical, beautiful writer. Her The Shape of Mercy is one of my favorite books from 2008. I've started White Picket Fences, but have not had the chance to finish it yet. Look for a review as soon as I finish it. However, I can tell you that it has the feel of The Shape of Mercy. There are multiple, complex characters, each with much to lose. And they are cast together in a way that their lives are intertwined like the spiderweb that graces the fence on the cover.

Here's more about this book:

Amanda Janvier’s idyllic home seems the perfect place for her niece Tally to stay while her vagabond brother is in Europe, but the white picket fence life Amanda wants to provide is a mere illusion. Amanda’s husband Neil refuses to admit their teenage son Chase, is haunted by the horrific fire he survived when he was four, and their marriage is crumbling while each looks the other way.

Tally and Chase bond as they interview two Holocaust survivors for a sociology project, and become startlingly aware that the whole family is grappling with hidden secrets, with the echoes of the past, and with the realization that ignoring tragic situations won’t make them go away.

Readers of emotional dramas that are willing to explore the lies that families tell each other for protection and comfort will love White Picket Fences. The novel is ideal for those who appreciate exploring questions like: what type of honesty do children need from their parents, or how can one move beyond a past that isn’t acknowledged or understood? Is there hope and forgiveness for the tragedies of our past and a way to abundant grace?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Thank you, Veterans and Active Military!

Sunday, one of the men in our church who served in Korea shared pictures and stories of his experience. It was incredibly moving. And as his wife whispered to me, he was quite a hunk in those photos.

Today as we celebrate Veteran's Day, I want to say thank you to the men like Porter and my father who have served in the military. Some, like my father, served in more than one war. But I also want to say thank you to their families. I will never forget what it was like while my father and his National Guard unit served during Desert Storm. My mom and many other women and men make it possible for their spouses to serve by keeping everything working on the home front.

So thank you. And boy do I wish I had a scanned photo of my Daddy in his flight uniform in Vietnam. To echo, Pat, he was a hunk, too :-)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

If I perish, I perish: thoughts from Esther

The last few weeks, I've been leading a Sunday School class at church where we're using the Beth Moore Esther study. You can view the trailer here.

As with most of her studies, I am learning things I never anticipated. I love the way she has us dive into the Bible and pull it apart. And then think about what it must have been like. But the reason I'm writing about this is because Sunday we watched the 4th video session. The text focused on Esther's words "If I perish, I perish."

This study has talked a lot about destiny and stepping into the callings God has on our lives. Rich, deep, challenging thoughts and questions. But this session tackled fear. Who doesn't live in fear? As an author and an attorney, sometimes I think I'm super-hardwired for the WHAT IFs of life. What if something happens to my husband? What if something happens to one of my children? What if? What if? What if?

I challenge you to watch the video if you wrestle with fear. You can download it to watch on your computer for $4.99 here.

I am still processing the message and plan to watch it again. Wouldn't it be amazing to live in a place where it doesn't matter what our WHAT IFs and fears are. Because if _______ happens, then God will ___________.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Thank you, ACFW

Last week I signed my first trade contract. I'll be writing a historical romantic suspense for Summerside Press. And I am thrilled! I met the team at the Christian Book Expo in Dallas back in March. I really enjoyed all of them, but didn't necessarily think I'd have the opportunity to write for them. While you've probably seen their Love Finds You In... books, right now I will be writing for a new line for them. I'm so excited about this historical suspense line. Susan May Warren and Tricia Goyer, both fabulous writers, are kicking off the line in February. And then my book releases in July!

So look for some fun related to Hollywood and World War Two over the next few months, though I'll be spending a lot of time writing, because I also have a contract offer to write in Guidesposts next mystery series. I am really excited about that too. Six authors will be writing this series and we've already started work on that series, too.

And as I've marveled at the opportunities I have, I keep coming back to ACFW. I met Beth Adams, my Guideposts editor, at the 2008 conference, and we clicked. Susan Downs, my Summerside editor, and I have gotten to know each other through ACFW. And that's barely the tip of the iceberg for all I've gained from being a member of ACFW.

I've learned how to write. I've found mentors like Colleen Coble and Tricia Goyer. I've participated in contests as a writer and author that provided invaluable feedback. And I've been encouraged every step of the journey. So if you have a dream to write a book, be sure to check out ACFW. I wouldn't be where I am without ACFW.

And ACFW is rapidly approaching 2000 members. A very exciting mile marker for the organization and for the 2000 member who will receive a box packed with Christian fiction!

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Janna's Review of Slow Burn by Mary DeMuth

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

A Slow Burn

Zondervan (October 1, 2009)


Mary DeMuth

Today I'm going to do something a bit different. From time to time I post reviews my sister Janna has written. Her reviews are often very insightful and I completely agree with her review of A Slow Burn. Janna is giving away a copy of this book: So you can leave a comment on her blog. But I will also give away a copy, so be sure to leave a comment here to be entered to win a copy of this book -- just remember it's the second book in the series.
Janna's REVIEW:
This is book #2 in the Defiance, Texas trilogy and I liked it even better than the first book! My biggest issue with the first book is that it doesn't wrap up any issues or mysteries except for one... is Daisy really dead? The answer is yes, but we don't know who the killer is. That was really frustrating for me. REALLY FRUSTRATING! All the same I was looking forward to Slow Burn to see what revelations we would get this time around. In Daisy Chain the story is told from the perspective of Daisy's best friend (and true love), Jed Pepper. A 14 year old boy who holds himself responsible for Daisy being kidnapped. In Slow Burn we switch points of view and see everything through the eyes of Daisy's drug addict mother, Emory, with the viewpoint of Hixon, the black man that God told to marry Emory, being thrown in there periodically too.

We still don't find out the murderer, that will apparently be revealed in book #3, but I was okay with that this time because I've figured out Mary's style a little more by now... I didn't really expect to find out yet. There are many other revelations in this book though and if you are not crying by the end of this book you must not have a soul... just kidding, well, kind of.

Mary's style is amazing and her characters are so real, flawed and imperfect, that I just start to think of them as people I should know. This is not a series to be read out of order, or to be started without finishing (I really can't wait for book #3) but this is a book that woman's fiction fans will love.
I was fortunate to meet Mary at the ACFW conference in September and she is so wonderful! We sat together for breakfast one morning because my mom had really wanted to meet her, I couldn't believe how gracious she is! If you would like to win a copy of this book then leave me a comment telling me if you have read any of Mary's books and I'll enter you in the drawing. Be sure to leave an email address so I can contact you if you win - good luck!


Mary E. DeMuth is an expert in Pioneer Parenting. She enables Christian parents to navigate our changing culture when their families left no good faith examples to follow.

Her parenting books include Authentic Parenting in a Postmodern Culture (Harvest House, 2007), Building the Christian Family You Never Had (WaterBrook, 2006), and Ordinary Mom, Extraordinary God (Harvest House, 2005).

Mary also inspires people to face their trials through her real-to-life novels, Watching The Tree Limbs
(nominated for a Christy Award) and Wishing On Dandelions (NavPress, 2006).

Mary has spoken at Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, the ACFW Conference, the Colorado Christian Writers Conference, and at various churches and church planting ministries. She's also taught in Germany, Austria, Monaco, Italy, France, and the United States. Mary and her husband, Patrick, reside in Texas with their three children. They recently returned from breaking new spiritual ground in Southern France, and planting a church.


She touched Daisy’s shoulder. So cold. So hard. So unlike Daisy.

Yet so much like herself it made Emory shudder.

Burying her grief, Emory Chance is determined to find her daughter Daisy’s murderer—a man she saw in a flicker of a vision. But when the investigation hits every dead end, her despair escalates. As questions surrounding Daisy’s death continue to mount, Emory’s safety is shattered by the pursuit of a stranger, and she can’t shake the sickening fear that her own choices contributed to Daisy’s disappearance. Will she ever experience the peace her heart longs for?

The second book in the Defiance, Texas Trilogy, this suspenseful novel is about courageous love, the burden of regret, and bonds that never break. It is about the beauty and the pain of telling the truth. Most of all, it is about the power of forgiveness and what remains when shame no longer holds us captive.

Watch the video:

If you would like to read the first chapter of A Slow Burn, go HERE

Leaving Carolina Review

Ever run away? Maybe just around the block? Maybe across the country? Have you ever left and stayed gone until forced to return?

Piper Wick left Pickwick NC 12 years earlier and has worked had to leave the dust of the miserable town behind her. Then she’s called home in a manner she can’t avoid. Going home. To some people it’s a welcome event. But to Piper Wick it’s her worst nightmare. All she can focus on is getting there, doing what she has to do and leaving before her life in LA falls apart.

If only life were that simple.

One of the things I love about Tamara Leigh’s books is their wonderful sense of humor. I just read her first CBA novel – Stealing Adda – a couple weeks ago because I so love her style. Leaving Carolina doesn’t have the same sense of fun that’s present in her earlier books. Instead, it has a wonderful feeling of homecoming. And the reality that we have to give others the freedom to grow and change.

There is a rich cast of characters and the book is fully drawn. And there’s romance throughout the pages to keep the pages turning for those who love sweetness and the hope of a happily ever after. I won’t give you any hints of who she ends up with. You’ll have to read Piper’s story for that.

Monday, November 02, 2009

The Swiss Courier: World War Two fiction at its best!

This is historical fiction at its best! I was sucked into the pages of this book from the first page. And the final twist had me cheering! It was the perfect finish to an engaging and historically accurate novel. Don't mistake accuracy for boring -- this book is anything but. Instead, the characters were rich, the time and location perfectly detailed to transport you there without bogging you down. It truly was a perfect WWII read. Are there more in this series? Oh, I hope so!

She's risking her life to save a man she doesn't know. But who can she trust along the way?

It is August 1944, and the Gestapo is mercilessly rounding up suspected enemies of the Third Reich following the assassination attempt on Adolf Hitler's life. Gabi Mueller is a young woman working for the newly formed American Office of Strategic Services (the forerunner to the CIA) in Basel, Switzerland. When she is asked to put herself in harm's way to safely "courier" a German scientist working on the atomic bomb project into Allied hands, the fate of the the world hangs in the balance. This fast-paced, suspenseful novel will whisk you along the treacherous twists and turns of a fascinating- and deadly- time in history.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Swiss Courier Trailer

I loved this book! This is a great World War Two novel set in Europe. The suspense is great.


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