Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Big Picture by Jenny B. Jones


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

The Big Picture

(NavPress Publishing Group April 15, 2008)

by

Jenny B. Jones


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Jenny B. Jones is the author of A Katie Parker Production series. The other books in the series are In Between and On The Loose. Though now an adult, she still relates to the trauma and drama of teen life. She is thrilled to see her writing dreams come true, as her previous claim to fame was singing the Star Spangled Banner at a mule-jumping championship. (The mules were greatly inspired.)

Jenny resides in Arkansas, where, as a teacher, she hangs out with teens on a regular basis.












ABOUT THE BOOK
Sometimes there’s a fine line between comedy and tragedy—and Katie Parker is walking it.

School is winding down for the summer but Katie Parker is having a bad day. After leaving the drive-in, where her imploding love life was the main attraction, Katie arrives home to a big surprise on the Scott's front porch.

Her mother, Bobbie Ann Parker, a former convict and recovering addict, wants to take Katie away from her family, friends, and church. Now Katie's life will be changed by a series of dramatic choices as she struggles to understand what family and home really means.

Katie is forced to walk away from In Between, leaving behind a family who loves her, a town drive-in to save, and a boyfriend who suddenly can’t take his eyes off his ex. When the life her mother promised begins to sink faster than one of Maxine’s stuffed bras, Katie knows she needs to rely on God to keep it together.

But where is he in all this? Can Katie survive a chaotic life with her mother—and one without the Scotts? And if God is there, will he come through before it’s too late?

A Katie Parker Production series offers teen girls real-world fiction balanced by hope and humor. The The Big Picture helps us realize that the difficult chapters in our journey are only part of God's big story for our lives.

You can read the first chapter HERE

"A heroine to love. Jones just gets better with every book, and The Big Picture is her best one yet."
~BARBARA WARREN, author of The Gathering Storm

"Such inspiration in a package of fun and faith!"
~EVA MARIE EVERSON, author of the Potluck Club series

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

A Promise for Tomorrow by Sara Dubose and Book Giveaway!

I'm giving away a brand new copy of today's book! Leave a comment with your email address so I can contact you if you win. I'll pick a name and announce the winner on Tuesday, May 6. International readers are welcome. Good luck!

In the mid 1950’s small town, Sugar Hill, Alabama was quiet and sleepy in every way imaginable. Fannie Lea Rockwell has few pressing concerns, save for her dreadful nickname, Flea. Few concerns that is until she crosses paths with Mr. Boyd, Sugar Hill’s resident hermit and mysterious citizen. Mr. Boyd lives across the railroad tracks deep in the woods and his anti-social tendencies only fuel the gossip fire; its rumored that he keeps his daughter, Mavis, locked in the attic all day and that he brews moonshine in the woods behind his house.

One day when Flea and her brother, Rand, trespass on Mr. Boyd’s property to get a better view of Mavis, they encounter more than they bargained for. A grip around her waist, a knife to her throat and a threat on her life are quite enough to convince Flea to never return. His breath which smelled of rotting cabbage only served to fuel her fear.

As she unravels the mystery behind Mavis Boyd, Flea uncovers secrets of other Sugar Hill residents and soon discovers how little she actually knows her neighbors. Soon Flea will find herself in a life-or-death situation where she places herself in danger to save the life of someone more helpless than herself.

Themes in the Book: Living expectantly; Putting Faith Before Fear; Selfless Love

About Sara DuBose

Sara DuBose is a motivational speaker and author of three other novels: Where Hearts Live, Where Love Grows, and Where Memories Linger. Sara is also author of Conquering Anxiety, published by the Presbyterian Church in America. Her other writing credits include numerous articles and stories for publications such as The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Today’s Christian Woman, Virtue, Decision, The Christian Reader, and Family Life Today. She also appears in several anthologies published by Multnomah and Barbour. Sara received a first place fiction award from Putting Your Passion into Print and a first place fiction award from the Southeastern Writer’s Association. She currently travels as a speaker for seminars, festivals, civic clubs, schools and churches and may be contacted at www.saradubose.com. Sara and her husband live in Montgomery, Alabama. She is the mother of two daughters.

Q&A with Sara DuBose, author of A Promise for Tomorrow

Q. Everyone seems to be affected by today's tenuous economic environment. From housing to jobs, it seems there's always bad news on the 5 o'clock news. How can you 'live expectantly' in these uncertain times?

A. Sometimes our children show us how to live expectantly. Years ago I lifted my sick three-year-old from her bed and plopped us both in the rocking chair. Cherie felt hot and clammy. I was hot with fatigue and anxiety, having nursed sick people for over a month. I said, “Honey, I’m so sorry you are not feeling good.”

Sensing my frustration, Cherie pushed the hair back from my eyes and replied, “Dats all right, mama. We pray about it, den you won’t haf to worry.”

Can three or four-year-old children show us the way home? They can when our home is with the heart of God who said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27). So, whether it’s personal, financial, or even a global crisis, the Christian won’t find rest in another news report of the latest terrorist attack, freeway accident, or stock market slide. No, lasting peace is only found in Christ who lifts us from our sick bed of worry, pushes the hair back from our eyes, and rocks us for awhile.

Q. Worry seems to be the opposite of 'living expectantly,' but isn't some worry necessary for day-to-day life?

A. Yes, some anxiety or tension is warranted. We want to be alert when we pull into a six-lane highway at rush hour, take a test, or interview for a job. Above all, we want to be anxious to please God. As we begin to recognize and appreciate a holy, sovereign, just and merciful God we begin to lose our fear and anxiety over other people, our needs, adversities, or any uncertainties of life. The closer we draw to the Lord the further we withdraw from worry and fear.

Q. In A Promise for Tomorrow, Flea learns a lot about God's promises to His children. What can we derive from His promises for tomorrow?

A. Flea observes, and later interacts, with a neighbor who has become a victim of her circumstances. By applying what she has learned from her father and through her own spiritual growth she is able to offer a compassionate reprimand. Flea also learns the truth of Proverbs 17:22: “A cheerful heart is good medicine.” As the story progresses, Flea begins to understand a basic principle. Life is hard, but it can still be lived with hope.

Q. I've heard it said that faith is the opposite of fear, but many times Christians feel afraid even though they have faith that God will deliver them from the situation at hand. How do you balance faith and fear?

A. Yes, Christians are sometimes afraid just as Christ’s disciples were fearful during a storm (Luke 8: 22-25). In fact, those guys panicked as the squall continued and the boat began to sink. After bailing the water with little results, they called to their sleeping Savior. Three words from Jesus and the winds and waves obeyed.

“Quiet! Be still!” Then came the questions. “Why are you so afraid? Where is your faith?”

I think we should take note of these questions. Jesus didn’t say, “You have no faith,” but he did tell them to exercise it. As you and I apply our faith, fear must leave because faith and fear don’t belong in the same mind. Alarm, fear, and worry should never rule our lives, not when Jesus is in the boat with us.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Setting Boundaries with Your Adult Children by Allison Bottke

A special opening message from Allison Bottke:

The interview that follows has been personalized for every blog I’ll be visiting during the month of April. I want to thank our Blog Host for taking the time to read my newest non-fiction book and for sharing it here today on the Setting Boundaries April Blog Tour. You are helping to spread the word about a topic that desperately needs to be addressed—with a message already striking a chord in hearts around the nation.

Our country is in a crisis of epidemic proportion concerning adult children whose lives are spinning out of control—leaving parents and grandparents broken-hearted and confused. This painful issue is destroying individuals, families, marriages, churches, and communities. I believe in my heart that you are reading this message today for a very specific reason. Do you know someone who has an adult child who is always in crisis? An adult child who brings chaos to virtually every situation? Could this painful issue be touching your life today?

If so, there’s a truth I’ve come to embrace that has changed my life—it can change yours, too. It’s taken me more years than I care to admit, but I no longer believe in “coincidences.” The truth I’ve come to embrace is that God is the Master of orchestrating “God-cidences.” He has a plan for who he wants us to meet, what lessons he wants us to learn, even what books he wants us to read. He even has a plan for the trials and tribulations of life.

When we begin to look at everything that happens to us throughout the day as “God-cidences” (and not accidental coincidences) it changes the way we view our world.

That said, my prayer is that you will see the following message and the book; Setting Boundaries with Your Adult Children: Six Steps to Hope and Healing as a “God-cidence” placed into your life today for a powerful purpose. Perhaps it’s to help heal your family or the family of a loved one. Perhaps you are here to help us introduce this resource to a broader audience via additional media contacts you may have. Whatever the “God-cidence” may be, please know our primary goal is to bring hope and healing to families around the nation—thank you for helping us do that.

I pray you will view what you are about to read as a “God-cidence” meant just for you.

God Bless and Keep You,

Allison Bottke

Why do you think so many parents struggle with enabling their adult children?

ALLISON: We don’t understand the difference between helping and enabling, that one heals and the other hurts. We don’t realize that we handicap our adult children when we don’t allow them to experience the consequences of their actions.

How can we determine whether we are helping versus enabling our children?

ALLISON: Helping is doing something for someone that he is not capable of doing himself.

Enabling is doing for someone things that he could and should be doing himself.

An enabler is a person who recognizes that a negative circumstance is occurring on a regular basis and yet continues to enable the person with the problem to persist with his detrimental behaviors. Simply, enabling creates an atmosphere in which our adult children can comfortably continue their unacceptable behavior.

What are some of the most common ways that parents enable their children?

ALLISON: Being the Bank of Mom and Dad, or the Bank of Grandma and Grandpa. Loaning money that is never repaid, buying things they can’t afford and don’t really need. Continually coming to their rescue so they don’t feel the pain—the consequences—of their actions and choices. Accepting excuses that we know are excuses—and in some instances are downright lies. Blaming ourselves for their problems. We have given too much and expected too little.

What are some things that parents can do to break the cycle of enabling?

ALLISON: Follow the six steps to S.A.N.I.T.Y.: Stop blaming yourself and stop the flow of money. Stop continually rescuing your adult children from one mess after another. Assemble a support group of other parents in the same situation. Nip excuses in the bud. Implement rules and boundaries. Trust your instincts. Yield everything to God, because you’re not in control. These six things can start a parent on the road to S.A.N.I.T.Y. in an insane situation that is spinning out of control. However, a key issue in breaking the cycle of enabling is to understand whose problem it really is.

What is the ultimate goal of Setting Boundaries?

ALLISON: While recognizing and identifying enabling issues must come before positive change can be made, it is the eventual peace and healing parents will feel as they gain power in their own lives that is the goal of this book. It’s a tough love book for coping with dysfunctional adult children, as well as getting our own lives back on track, Setting Boundaries with Your Adult Children empowers families by offering hope and healing through six S.A.N.I.T.Y. steps. I walk parents through a six step program to regaining control in their home, and in their life.

What are the six steps for hope and healing you refer to in Setting Boundaries With Your Adult Children?

ALLISON: S.A.N.I.T.Y. Six Steps for Regaining a Healthy Relationship with Adult Children

S = STOP Enabling, STOP Blaming Yourself, and STOP the Flow of Money
A = Assemble a Support Group
N = Nip Excuses in the Bud
I = Implement Rules/Boundaries
T = Trust Your Instincts
Y = Yield Everything to the Higher Power of God (Surrender)

You say that enabling our children is “a nationwide epidemic with catastrophic consequences.” What has led you to believe this?

ALLISON: There is clearly an epidemic of major proportion plaguing our nation today. This has become obvious to me as I travel the country sharing my God Allows U-Turns testimony and outreach. Seldom does a week go by when I am not approached by someone in deep pain concerning their adult child. It’s not just audience members in conflict with this troubling issue, but fellow authors, speakers and entertainers, some quite well known, who are living in the throes of familial discord concerning out-of-control adult children. It’s happening all over the country to people from all walks of life.

ALLISON: I encourage your readers to tell me what they think about Setting Boundaries with Your Adult Children. I really do want to hear reader feedback. They can reach me at: SettingBoundaries@SanitySupport.com. Please be sure to visit our web site at http://www.sanitysupport.com/blogtourguests.htm where they will find additional resources for helping them on their road to S.A.N.I.T.Y. Remember to tell a friend in need and help save a life!

On Enabling…

As long as we continue to keep enabling our adult children, they will continue to deny they have any problems, since most of their problems are being “solved” by those around him. Only when our adult children are forced to face the consequences of their own actions—their own choices—will it finally begin to sink in how deep their patterns of dependence and avoidance have become. And only then will we as parents be able to take the next step to real healing, forever ending our enabling habits and behaviors. (pg. 33)

Many of our adult children have retreated from the trials and tribulations that not only test their faith but would also stretch them in ways that would develop their character, prove their mettle, and give them a sense of achievement. Consequently, many adult children have no idea what they’re truly capable of accomplishing. They’ve never really tried to move ahead with confidence and be all they can be. (pg. 35)

Friday, April 25, 2008

A Mother's Heart Knows by Margaret McSweeney

What better way to tell Mom how much you appreciate her on Mother's Day than with this lovely reminder of thoughts about the loving, selfless attitudes that fill a mother's heart?

The text and original four-color illustrations will be a beautiful and touching reminder to Mom that her love is never forgotten. The text is a reminder of those things that only a mother's heart knows, with some special emphasis on a Christian mother. Appropriate Scripture verses will be incorporated into the design element.

All royalty proceeds from this book go to WINGS (Women In Need Growing Stronger) and a student missionary scholarship fund. WINGS is a non-profit organization that provides a domestic violence shelter for women and their children in addition to transitional housing and programs.

About the contest: The "My Favorite Mom" spa basket contest. In honor of Mother's Day, Margaret would love to hear and share your favorite story about your mother (or someone who is like a mother to you). To enter the contest go here and share your story to win one of TWO fabulously scrumptious spa baskets! She will be posting the stories (with your permission of course) on her blog.
Oh, if you leave a comment on this post and you'll be entered to win a signed copy of A Mother's Heart Knows for your very own!

Margaret lives with her husband and two daughters in a Chicago suburb. Her book, A Mother’s Heart Knows was published by Thomas Nelson in 2005. Go Back and Be Happy, a co-authored book will be published by Lion Hudson in July 2008. Margaret has been featured on Greg Wheatly’s “Prime Time America,” TLN’s “Aspiring Women,” and LeSea’s “The Harvest Show.” Margaret writes freelance articles for The Daily Herald, the largest suburban Chicago newspaper. Notable interviews include Wolfgang Puck, Thomas Kinkade, Susan Branch and Dr. John Gottman. Margaret also wrote a feature article for crosswalk.com. With a master’s degree in international business, Margaret became a vice president in the corporate finance division of a New York City bank and worked there from 1986-1993. Supporting charitable causes is important to Margaret. For the past five years, she has served on the board of directors for WINGS, an organization that helps abused women and their children get a new start in life.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

A Bride So Fair by Carol Cox and Book Giveaway!

I'm giving away a brand new copy of today's book! Leave a comment with your email address so I can contact you if you win. I'll pick a name and announce the winner on Thursday, May 1. International readers may enter. Good luck!

After growing up in an orphanage, Emily Ralston loves being around children and thoroughly enjoys her job at the Children’s Building at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. As the receptionist she helps check in the children and ensures they are safe and well cared for while their parents view the fair. She could not have known what God had in store for her…

When Columbian Guard, Stephen Bridger, drops off a three-year-old named Adam as a lost child, her life irrevocably changed. While the sparks of attraction are undeniable, Emily tries her best to ignore them as she and her best friend, Lucy, scheme to keep Adam safe and happy, far away from the orphanages they both know too well.

Soon Stephen learns about Adam’s mother while both the mystery and his relationship with Emily deepens. As they learn bits of truth, danger and deception now threaten to undermine their growing relationship. Why is a young woman murdered while surrounded by thousands of fairgoers? What secrets could a sweet, abandoned little boy possibly hold? Can Emily and Stephen solve the deadly mystery before time runs out?

Themes in A Bride So Fair : Emily and Stephen’s unique love story offers a fresh and inspirational lesson of trust and betrayal, faith and doubt, the meaning of family and God’s unending goodness.

About Carol Cox

Award-winning author of twelve novels and eleven novellas, Carol shares her love of history, mystery, and romance in the books she writes. A pastor’s wife, Carol makes her home with her husband and young daughter in northern Arizona. To learn more about Carol and her books, visit her Web site at www.CarolCoxBooks.com.


Q &A with Carol Cox, author of A Bride So Fair

Q. Where did you get the idea to write A Bride So Fair?

A. Several years ago, I came across a brief article that mentioned the World’s Columbian Exposition held in Chicago in 1893, calling it a pivotal moment in our nation’s history. And my response was, “If it was such a big deal, how come I’ve never even heard about it?” So I looked it up online and was overwhelmed at the wealth of information I found. I had no idea how many of the things we take for granted today were introduced at that fair—things like the Ferris wheel, Cracker Jacks, Cream of Wheat, Juicy Fruit gum, and the concept of the Midway. Familiar names from our history books were among the 27 million people who visited the fair. Thomas Edison, Scott Joplin, Frederick Douglass, Jane Addams, and Susan B. Anthony were all there. It was a moment in which our nation felt itself on the brink of major change, and the more I learned about the fair, the more excited I became. I knew I had to set a story there, and that initial idea turned into a three-book series, A Fair to Remember. A Bride So Fair is the final title, and it was hard to say goodbye to the setting and characters I’ve come to love.

Q. How much research is involved in writing a solid historical fiction novel like this one?

A. I was so fascinated by what I learned about the fair that I continued researching for two years before the first book in the series was even contracted. As I mentioned above, I found a tremendous amount of information online, including photos of the fairgrounds and its buildings. I was able to purchase several books printed during that time period that gave detailed descriptions of exhibits as well as the reactions of people who visited the fair. That was invaluable in getting insight into how it affected people of that day. I studied maps of the grounds and floor plans of several of the buildings until I felt like I could navigate them as easily as I can get around my home town.

All of that helped in getting my facts straight, but I needed to add sensory details to make the setting come alive. What would my hero and heroine experience on the shore of Lake Michigan? What would they see, hear, smell? How would it feel to walk across the vast fairgrounds or stroll along the edge of the lagoon? I made a trip to Chicago, where I spent a day at Jackson Park, the site of the exposition. All but one of the buildings are long gone, but simply being there and soaking up the setting added a myriad of details for me to draw on when writing the story. At that point, I could look at my research photos and feel like I could step into the scene and describe it as though I’d actually been there.

Q. What inspires you the most as a writer?

A. It’s always interesting to hear what sparks ideas for other writers. For some, it springs from a character; for others, the catalyst is an issue they’re passionate about. With me, the setting often comes before either the characters or the plot. A particular place will catch my imagination and I’ll wonder what kind of people might have been there and what would have happened to them. I love the challenge of bringing a setting to life so it becomes something a reader can experience rather than just read about.

Q. You’ve written quite a few novels already, do you have any advice for aspiring novelists?

A. Read in a wide variety of genres to discover which holds the most appeal for you. Your writing will show far more depth and passion if you're working in a genre you love.

Be patient. Prepare to learn and gear yourself mentally for a marathon, not a sprint. The learning process takes time.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Winter Haven by Athol Dickson


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Winter Haven

(Bethany House April 1, 2008)

by

Athol Dickson


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Athol Dickson's university-level training in painting, sculpture, and architecture was followed by a long career as an architect then his decision several years ago to devote full time to writing.

Athol Dickson’s writing has been favorably compared to the work of Octavia Butler (Publisher’s Weekly), Daphne du Maurier (Cindy Crosby, FaithfulReader.com) and FlanneryO’Connor (The New York Times).

His They Shall See God was a Christy Award finalist and his River Rising was a Christy Award winner, selected as one of the Booklist Top Ten Christian Novels of 2006 and a finalist for Christianity Today's Best Novel of 2006.

He and his wife, Sue, live in Southern California. Visit AtholDickson.com for more information.


ABOUT THE BOOK

Boys who never age, giants lost in time, mist that never rises, questions never asked...on the most remote of islands off the coast of Maine, history haunts the present and Vera Gamble wrestles with a past that will not yield. Will she find refuge there, or will her ghosts prevail on...Winter Haven

Eleven years ago, Vera Gamble's brother left their house never to be seen again. Until the day Vera gets a phone call that his body has been found...washed ashore in the tiny island town of Winter Haven, Maine. His only surviving kin, Vera travels north to claim the body...and finds herself tumbling into a tangled mystery. Her brother hasn't aged a day since last she saw him.

Determined to uncover what happened in those lost years, Vera soon discovers there are other secrets lurking in this isolated town. But Winter Haven's murky past now seems bound to come to light as one woman seeks the undeniable and flooding light of truth.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

A Mending at the Edge by Jane Kirkpatrick and Book Giveaway!

I'm giving away a brand new copy of A Mending at the Edge! Leave a comment with your email address so I can contact you if you win. I'll pick a name and announce the winner on Tuesday, April 29. Good luck! Open to US addresses only.

“Of all the things I left in Willapa, hope is what I missed the most.”

So begins this story of one woman’s restoration from personal grief to the meaning of community. Based on the life of German-American Emma Wagner Giesy, the only woman sent to the
Oregon Territory in the 1850s to help found a communal society, award-winning author Jane Kirkpatrick shows how landscape, relationships, spirituality and artistry poignantly reflect a woman’s desire to weave a unique and meaningful legacy from the threads of an ordinary life. While set in the historical past, it’s a story for our own time answering the question: Can threads of an isolated life weave a legacy of purpose in community?

This richly textured novel, the third in the acclaimed Change and Cherish series, follows the historical figure of Emma Wagner Giesy, who chafes under the restrictions of her 1860s religious colony. When her bid to belong in her unique way unravels her most precious relationships, she seeks new ways to stitch meaning into her life.

The other books in the series:

A Tendering in the Storm, Book 2:

This lyrical novel, based on an historical figure of the 1800s, follows the spirited and intelligent Emma Giesy, who achieves her goal of separating her family from the repressive religious community in which she grew up.

But unexpected and dire consequences leave her family—and her faith—struggling to survive.



A Clearing in the Wild, Book 1:

Spirited young Emma Wagner chafes at the constraints of her 1850s religious community, which values conformity over independent thought, especially in women. Skeptical of the colony’s growing emphasis on preparing for “the last days,” Emma clashes with their increasingly autocratic leader—and faces the unexpected consequences of pursuing independence.





Jane Kirkpatrick is the best-selling author of two nonfiction books and fourteen historical novels, including the popular Kinship and Courage series. Her award-winning writing has appeared in more than fifty publications, including Sports Afield and Decision. She’s won the coveted Western Heritage Wrangler Award, an honor shared by such writers as Larry McMurtry and Barbara Kingsolver. Jane is a licensed clinical social worker as well as an internationally recognized speaker. She and her husband, Jerry, ranch 160 acres in eastern Oregon.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Chosen by Ted Dekker

It's April 21st, time for the Teen FIRST blog tour!(Join our alliance! Click the button!) Every 21st, we will feature an author and his/her latest Teen fiction book's FIRST chapter!



and his book:

Thomas Nelson (January 1, 2008)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Ted is the son of missionaries John and Helen Dekker, whose incredible story of life among headhunters in Indonesia has been told in several books. Surrounded by the vivid colors of the jungle and a myriad of cultures, each steeped in their own interpretation of life and faith, Dekker received a first-class education on human nature and behavior. This, he believes, is the foundation of his writing.

After graduating from a multi-cultural high school, he took up permanent residence in the United States to study Religion and Philosophy. After earning his Bachelor's Degree, Dekker entered the corporate world in management for a large healthcare company in California. Dekker was quickly recognized as a talent in the field of marketing and was soon promoted to Director of Marketing. This experience gave him a background which enabled him to eventually form his own company and steadily climb the corporate ladder.

Since 1997, Dekker has written full-time. He states that each time he writes, he finds his understanding of life and love just a little clearer and his expression of that understanding a little more vivid. To see a complete list of Dekker's work, visit The Works section of TedDekker.com.

Here are some of his latest titles:

Adam

Black: The Birth of Evil (The Circle Trilogy Graphic Novels, Book 1)

Saint



AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


beginnings

Our story begins in a world totally like our own, yet completely different. What once happened here in our own history seems to be repeating itself thousands of years from now,
some time beyond the year 4000 AD.

But this time the future belongs to those who see opportunity before it becomes obvious. To the young, to the warriors, to the lovers. To those who can follow hidden clues and find a great
treasure that will unlock the mysteries of life and wealth.

Thirteen years have passed since the lush, colored forests were turned to desert by Teeleh, the enemy of Elyon and the vilest of all creatures. Evil now rules the land and shows itself as a painful, scaly disease that covers the flesh of the Horde, a people who live in the desert.

The powerful green waters, once precious to Elyon, have vanished from the earth except in seven small forests surrounding seven small lakes. Those few who have chosen to follow the ways of Elyon now live in these forests, bathing once daily in the powerful waters to cleanse their skin of the disease.

The number of their sworn enemy, the Horde, has grown in thirteen years and, fearing the green waters above all else, these desert dwellers have sworn to wipe all traces of the forests from
the earth.

Only the Forest Guard stands in their way. Ten thousand elite fighters against an army of nearly four hundred thousand Horde. But the Forest Guard is starting to crumble.

one

Day One

Qurong, general of the Horde, stood on the tall dune five miles west of the green forest, ignoring the fly that buzzed around his left eye.

His flesh was nearly white, covered with a paste that kept his skin from itching too badly. His long hair was pulled back and woven into dreadlocks, then tucked beneath the leather body armor
cinched tightly around his massive chest.

“Do you think they know?” the young major beside him asked.

Qurong’s milky white horse, chosen for its ability to blend with the desert, stamped and snorted.

The general spit to one side. “They know what we want them to know,” he said. “That we are gathering for war. And that we will march from the east in four days.”

“It seems risky,” the major said. His right cheek twitched, sending three flies to flight.
“Their forces are half what they once were. As long as they think we are coming from the east, we will smother them from the west.”

“The traitor insists that they are building their forces,” the major said.

“With young pups!” Qurong scoffed.

“The young can be crafty.”

“And I’m not? They know nothing about the traitor. This time we will kill them all.”

Qurong turned back to the valley behind him. The tents of his third division, the largest of all Horde armies, which numbered well over three hundred thousand of the most experienced warriors, stretched out nearly as far as he could see.

“We march in four days,” Qurong said. “We will slaughter them from the west.”

Friday, April 18, 2008

Movie Review: "Bee Movie"

I don't like bees. If one gets into our sunroom, I'm sorry but I'm going to kill it. Windex works best if you don't have bug spray on you. (Sorry to all insect lovers). I've been stung by a bee before on the lip and it is not fun. I also am not a fan of honey except for Honey Nut Cheerios and Honey Bunches of Oats. So bees and me are not pals. But I'm a Seinfeld fan (one of the best TV shows ever) and the trailers for this movie were actually funny so I gave this one a try.

This movie was really quite enjoyable actually. While Antz made me feel icky because the bugs looked rather scary, the bees in this movie were positively cute. The movie is gorgeous to look at. There's lots of vivid colors that will grab the kids' attentions. In fact there's so much to look at that I felt like I was missing out on all the details. The only problem I have with animated movies is that I never can figure out who the speaking voices belong too. Apparently Michael Richards is in this movie (Kramer!!) but even with his character's name, I have no idea which bee/bug he is.
I LOVED the scene with Ray Liotta doing a cameo as himself. Him holding the Emmy for Best Guest Role on a TV show was a riot. There's so many little in jokes that will fly right over the kids' heads but adults will get a kick out of them. One of my favorites was John Goodman's character holding up Sue Monk Kidd's The Secret Life of Bees during the court trial.

Ok did anyone else find it a little weird that a bee and a human have a sort of relationship? Yes I know it's a fantasy world but still. Where did Barry see that relationship possibly going? Ick.

Other than this, this is a gem of a movie to watch. Both kids and adults will enjoy watching it and while there's some slight PGish items, there's nothing that will make the viewer blush. It's a honey of a movie and all the buzz surrounding it was totally true.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Book Review: "Par for the Course" by Ray Blackston

Bogeys and birdies and sand traps, oh my!

As the owner of a golfing center, Chris Hack specializes in treating his customers right. This includes personalize training time and also Happy Hour where one can release frustration by whacking a golf cart driven by Chris's assistant who hurls insults at you. One day a girl name Molly stops by and sees potential in Chris's golfing range in the political world involving elections. Soon business is booming as the publicity from the politicians make Chris's place a household name. However someone isn't too happy with all the holes in one Chris is getting. Will Chris be able to save his business and get the girl?

I am going to admit this. I am NOT a golf fan. I don't know anything about golf other than the goal is to get a ball into a hole. Is it a real sport? I mean, it's not in the Olympics. I suck at miniature golf too. I never can get it through the windmill course. Therefore I learned quite a bit more about what Tiger Woods does for a living while reading this book. This is by far one of the most hilarious books I have read this year. I could stop laughing while reading this book. Plus at the same time I kept thinking, wow this author is pushing the "Christian fiction" envelope with discussions of politics AND religion! Seriously it's really quite edgy the way the book allows for the attacks of both Democrats and Republicans. The feminist meeting which Chris attends was wonderfully written along with the battle of the sexes golf match. I do love the idea of whacking the golf cart with Cack hacking insults at the customers. I'd pay money to hit him as well! I also enjoyed how this book actually uses real political figures and not make up fake presidents or other top government officials. It's more fun to use the actual characters and jokingly make them larger than life. A lot of the issues dealt with this book really makes you think though about politicians, their tactics and elections. There's also a touch of mystery within the story as well. Chris and Molly are great characters who bring a hoot throughout the book. The study guide "questions" at the end will bring more laughs to the table. This is a great book to take on the lighter side of the election year this year. Another winner for Blackston!

Par for the Course by Ray Blackston is published by Faithwords (2008)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

My Soul to Keep by Melanie Wells


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

My Soul To Keep

(Multnomah Books - February 5, 2008)

by

Melanie Wells


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

A native of the Texas panhandle and the child of musicians, Melanie Wells attended Southern Methodist University on a music scholarship (she's a fiddle player), and later completed graduate degrees in counseling psychology and Biblical studies at Our Lady of the Lake University and Dallas Theological Seminary.

She has taught at the graduate level at both OLLU and DTS, and has been in private practice as a counselor since 1992. She is the founder and director of LifeWorks counseling associates in Dallas, Texas, a collaborative community of creative therapists.

When the Day of Evil Comes is her first published work of fiction, and the first of a three-book series. The second work, The Soul Hunter was released in May, 2006. Melanie lives and writes in Dallas.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

As nasty as I knew Peter Terry to be, I never expected him to start kidnapping kids. Much less a sweet, funny little boy with nothing to protect him but a few knock-kneed women, two rabbits and a staple gun…

It’s psychology professor Dylan Foster’s favorite day of the academic year…graduation day. And her little friend Christine Zocci’s sixth birthday. But the joyful summer afternoon goes south when a little boy is snatched from a neighborhood park, setting off a chain of events that seen to lead nowhere.

The police are baffled, but Christine’s eerie connection with the kidnapped child sends Dylan on a chilling investigation of her own. Is the pasty, elusive stranger Peter Terry to blame? Exploding light bulbs, the deadly buzz of a Texas rattlesnake, and the vivid, disturbing dreams of a little girl are just pieces of a long trail of tantalizing clues leading Dylan in her dogged search for the truth.

Like water rising to a boil, My soul To Keep’s suspense sneaks up on you…before you know it, you’re in the thick if a frightening drama…Superbly crafted.”
---ROBERT LIPARULO, author of Deadfall, Germ, and Comes A Horseman

Written with passion, a good dose of humor and, dare I say it, soul, this novel reminds us that we all, with grace and good fortune, bumble our way toward salvation.”
---K. L. COOK, author of Late Call and The Girl From Charmelle

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

A Handbook for Discovering God's Will by Gordon S. Jackson

It's April 15th, but this has nothing to do with taxes! It is time for the Non~FIRST blog tour!(Join our alliance! Click the button!) Every 15th, we will featuring an author and his/her latest non~fiction book's FIRST chapter!

The feature author is:


and his book:

NavPress Publishing Group (March 26, 2008)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

GORDON JACKSON is a professor of communication studies at Whitworth University in Spokane, Washington. He has worked at Whitworth as a journalism professor and college administrator since 1983. Originally from South Africa, where he worked as a journalist, he is a frequent speaker for churches and other groups. Dr. Jackson has spoken to scores of church, Sunday school, educational, and civic groups on a wide range of topics. In the past few years, he has also served as a consultant for church groups and Christian educational institutions in Uganda, Lebanon and Egypt.

He is also the author of:

Destination Unknown
Never Scratch a Tiger with a Short Stick and Other Quotes for Leaders


AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Introduction

Choosing Well: Living Out God’s Will


Most of the time in our attempt to follow Christ, we already know perfectly well what God’s will is and what He expects of us. It is to continue the work He’s already given us, precisely where we are, according to the guidelines for godly living we know from Scripture.

But there come moments when we face major decisions, crossroads in our journey where the signposts aren’t as legible or well-lit as we would like. We face hard choices. Should I attend this college or that one? Should I switch jobs? Am I truly being called to full-time ministry, or am I just bored with my current vocation? Is this the person God would have me marry? Should I move to a new city or stay put?

Some decisions we’ve anticipated for a long while, for example what to do upon graduating from college. Others are thrust upon us suddenly, perhaps an opportunity that comes out of the blue. Yet others can brew or stew slowly over time, such as a growing sense of disillusionment and frustration with our current job.

Situations like these ultimately demand some kind of decision. Assuming we seek to honor God in all areas of our lives—education, family life, career, ministry—we want to make a godly choice. But how? Clearly, guidance is a difficult area for Christians.

Scores of books on the topic have appeared over the past several decades demonstrating the ongoing quest for counsel on this issue. This book is intended to assist you in thinking through questions about guidance more incisively and, if you heed the shared wisdom handed down from two thousand years of our faith, to help you make wiser, more thoughtful, and more godly choices. The generalizations presented here are distilled from the wisdom of numerous thoughtful writers on this topic. In essence, the thoughts in this book are not new. The hope, however, is that their presentation and format will make these ideas more accessible and easier to understand and apply in your life. (A note on citations: For the most part, I’ve tried to avoid cluttering your reading by limiting the endnotes to some lesser-known authors for whom you may want to know the source.)

It’s plain that those who follow Christ could use ongoing help in this area. “In our quest for God’s guidance,” said J. I. Packer, British theologian and scholar, “we become our own worst enemies, and our mistakes attest to our nuttiness in this area.” This book is an attempt to head off some of those self-defeating tendencies and minimize the nuttiness. In doing so, this book differs from other writings on guidance in two ways. The first is its emphasis. This volume assumes what other authors carefully and painstakingly identify: the ample scriptural evidence that God guides those who genuinely seek His will and that He desires only the best for His children. So the assumption here is that you don’t need to be persuaded that God is both able and eager to guide us.

The second difference lies in this book’s approach. Most other books on this subject offer systematic, chapter-length expositions on the nature of guidance and its relationship to vital living as a Christian. By contrast, the approach here is far more hands-on, identifying practical problem areas, possible stumbling blocks, areas of confusion, and any other aspects of guidance that can lead to confusion and mistakes. What follows is a series of thoughts on topics about guidance. Each topic, summarized as a principle or key concept, serves as a stepping-stone through what often can be a mental and spiritual swamp for Christians seeking God’s will and direction.

All the topics are built around a foundational section called The Big Five—and Beyond. This is the assumption repeated by many writers that guidance is normally the product of five elements:

1. Scriptural guidelines
2. Prayer
3. The advice of other Christians
4. The circumstances we face
5. A sense of inner peace about our decision

It is typically the combination of these five ingredients that helps lead us toward sound, godly decisions.

Something else that holds together the sixty-two principles in this book is the understanding that guidance is a process that involves carefully thinking through and incorporating The Big Five, as well as other issues pertinent to your situation. Following this introduction is A Guidance Road Map—a set of common questions about guidance, along with the topics that are likely to help you most with each question. Please read The Big Five—and Beyond before dipping into other topics. Without the context it provides, the other sections will be less helpful.

The sixty-two topics, and the principles on which they are based, are presented as generalizations. As such, they need to be seen as part of the broader whole. What’s more, these principles don’t have to be read in order. After reading The Big Five, feel free to browse through the book and pick and choose among the issues that most interest you. Or you can scan the alphabetical list of topics at the back of the book and find subjects of particular concern to you.

As you read the pages ahead, please be aware of the following assumptions that are woven through the array of principles:

 You take seriously your commitment to follow Christ and seek to live a God-pleasing life. In other words, you earnestly seek God’s will for your life, not His seal of approval for what you plan to do anyway.

 You take seriously the authority of Scripture and are willing to apply its guidelines to all areas of your life.

 You already are convinced that God is able and willing to guide you in all aspects of your walk with Him, and you accept that He will do so on His terms and with His timing.

 You take seriously your God-given ability to think through whatever guidance issues you face.

It’s important to note a truly astonishing fact: We claim as part of our faith not only that the Lord of the universe sent His Son to die for us and redeem us from our sins but also that His interest and love for us continue day by day. Like the most loving of parents, God Himself seeks to guide and direct every facet of our lives.

Two reality checks also need mentioning. The first is that living our lives in a God-directed manner is never easy. Living as we do with a sinful nature, it is extremely difficult to do what we know we should and to avoid what we know we shouldn’t do. Paul said, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do” (Romans 7:15). If living the day-by-day dimension of following Christ is difficult, it’s no easier when we face those extraordinary moments when tough choices must be made. Søren Kierkegaard, nineteenth-century Danish philosopher and theologian, said, “It is perfectly true, as philosophers say, that life must be understood backwards. But . . . it must be lived forwards.”

As we grapple with trying to understand God’s guidance in our lives, we often recognize His leading only as we look back. But we must make difficult choices while living life in forward mode. No book on guidance can completely answer anyone’s questions; we each need to answer those ourselves. The ideas outlined in this book are only tools, and they are worthless apart from your commitment to seeking God’s will and your willingness to struggle through issues.

The second reality worth noting concerns our limitations in understanding how God moves in our lives. It is the height of presumption to think that any book can prescribe how God may choose to reveal Himself to us. The only absolute we can be sure of in this regard is that God will not guide us in a way that is contrary to His nature.

A final thought on how God directs our lives: While those who follow Christ agree that God is keenly interested in our lives, they differ on the degree to which He has a “perfect plan” mapped out for each of us. Some contend that God has a carefully worked-out blueprint for our lives: His guidance helps us discover that perfect will, and His Holy Spirit helps us live it out. Other Christians see this approach as artificially narrow. God, they believe, is not boxed into some lockstep, foreordained approach to how our lives unfold. God’s grace, power, and imagination surely transcend whatever mistakes we make or sins we commit, which would presumably otherwise relegate us to a “second best” plan. Rather, God is always able to offer constant, uninhibited love and direction, regardless of how far we might have fallen from His standards in the past.

If the issue of a “perfect plan” is important to you, understand that the bias of this book is clearly toward the latter position. God’s boundless grace in dealing with us makes Him love us no less when we choose something other than His best at any given moment. Yes, God’s discipline may follow our poor choices. But for the Christian who is wholeheartedly seeking God’s will, He presents us with far more of a buffet table of legitimate options than some stiflingly healthy yet tasteless diet. A. W. Tozer, a well-known teacher and writer, said, “The man or woman who is wholly or joyously surrendered to Christ can’t make a wrong choice—any choice will be the right one.”

That remark captures the spirit with which this book is written: that ours is a God of freedom whose guidance we can seek with confidence and enthusiasm. He’s a God of infinite love who enthusiastically champions our case and seeks our best. He is the architect wanting to help us build holy lives, lived to the full (see John 10:10). Yet we sometimes regard Him as the county planning officer who’s looking for every weakness in our plans, smugly catching yet another way we’ve fallen short of the building code. God is not a stickler; rather, He’s the architect who brings our possibilities to reality for our benefit and for His pleasure.

This book is an attempt to assist you as you invite God, the ultimate architect, to help you build your life in keeping with His overall design to make us holy persons. From the foundations to the finishing touches, He is eager to help at each step. The pages that follow are intended to help you build your own house of faith that shall last through eternity.

1

The Big Five—and Beyond

Every quest for guidance should be shaped by scriptural guidelines, prayer, the advice of other Christians, the circumstances we face, and an overall sense that this course is what God wants.

It’s the big picture that counts. A recurring theme found in books on guidance is that you need to look at the big picture as a whole when making major decisions concerning God’s will. Far from basing our decision entirely on a chance remark made in last Sunday’s sermon or on an obscure verse in 2 Kings, God expects us to use all the vehicles He’s made available for our decision making. That’s why it’s important to consider each of The Big Five factors and see how they mesh together as we consider our decision. Again, these five factors are:

1. Scriptural guidelines
2. Prayer
3. The advice of other Christians
4. The circumstances we face
5. A sense of inner peace about our decision

Until you’ve got a thumbs-up on each of the five, you’re probably not ready to make a decision. If, for example, you’re seriously considering a career change, but your spouse or closest friends are advising you against it, you need to check your thinking. Or if you’ve been invited to go on a short-term mission trip and the first four points check out just fine, yet you’ve still got a nagging feeling that something isn’t right, once again it may be best to hold off on your decision and give it further thought.

If you were leaving later today for a trip abroad, you’d make sure you’d taken care of your passport, airline ticket, health insurance, luggage, and spending money. If you were heading for the airport and realized you’d left your passport at home, it’s unlikely you would keep going and say, “Well, four out of five isn’t bad.”

Similarly, you’re probably asking for trouble by heading into a decision without a check mark against each of The Big Five. Is it possible that the advice from your spouse or friends is wrong, or that you’re confusing a lack of inner peace about a decision with plain old nervousness? Of course. The point here isn’t that missing one of these five checkpoints means you shouldn’t go ahead; it simply means there’s a warning light on the dashboard and you’re well advised to take a second look at what’s happening. Or, to switch metaphors, if these five principles don’t line up neatly like lights on a runway, you need to question seriously whether you’re ready to come in for a landing.

Sometimes those landing lights don’t line up neatly, or one warning light keeps flickering on the dash—and yet a major decision still looms. Remember, guidance is seldom a simple, clear-cut process. The words of C. S. Lewis provide a helpful reminder of the many ways God can speak to us: “I don’t doubt that the Holy Spirit guides your decisions from within when you make them with the intention of pleasing God. The error would be to think that he speaks only within, whereas in reality he speaks also through Scripture, the church, Christian friends, books, etc.”

Because working toward the decisions God would have us make can be complex and can lead to ambiguous answers, it’s necessary to dig deeper into our understanding of The Big Five. The separate entries of The Big Five are not of equal importance. The simple flowchart that follows shows that scriptural principles are the starting point. But they’re only the starting point. Each of these five principles merits careful attention. The next step is to examine any of the five elements that merits special attention in your situation. (These topics are addressed in the pages that follow.) Alternatively, you may want to turn directly to other individual topics that speak to your needs. The Guidance Road Map on page 17 will help you do that.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Do Hard Things by Alex and Brett Harris and Book Giveaway!

I'm giving away 2 brand new copies of today's book! Leave a comment with your email address so I can contact you if you win. I'll pick a name and announce the winners on Monday, April 21. Good luck!

With over 10 million hits to their website TheRebelution.com, Alex and Brett Harris are leading the charge in a growing movement of Christian young people who are rebelling against the low expectations of their culture by choosing to “do hard things” for the glory of God.

Written when they were 18 years old, Do Hard Things is the Harris twins’ revolutionary message in its purest and most compelling form, giving readers a tangible glimpse of what is possible for teens who actively resist cultural lies that limit their potential. Combating the idea of adolescence as a vacation from responsibility, the authors weave together biblical insights, history, and modern examples to redefine the teen years as the launching pad of life and map a clear trajectory for long-term fulfillment and eternal impact.

Written by teens for teens, Do Hard Things is packed with humorous personal anecdotes, practical examples, and stories of real-life rebelutionaries in action. This rallying cry from the heart of revolution already in progress challenges the next generation to lay claim to a brighter future, starting today.

Alex and Brett Harris founded TheRebelution.com in August 2005 and today at age 19 are the most popular Christian teen writers on the Web. The twins are frequent contributors to Focus on the Family’s Boundless webzine, serve as the main speakers for the Rebelution Tour conferences, and have been featured in WORLD magazine, Breakaway, The Old Schoolhouse, and the New York Daily News. Sons of homeschool pioneer Gregg Harris and younger brothers of best-selling author Joshua Harris (I Kissed Dating Goodbye), Alex and Brett live near Portland, Oregon

Friday, April 11, 2008

Movie Review: "Enchanted"

I love Disney movies. I love how almost all the Disney movies feature girls as their lead character. The more recent ones feature stronger female leads than past movies. I like Belle and Mulan way better than Snow White or Cinderella. I mean your whole life doesn't have to depend on finding one guy. And that's precisely what Enchanted dares to mock and does stupendously well.

I actually enjoyed the songs in this movie. My favorite was "That's How You Know". After watching, I had the song stuck in my head for about two weeks. It's a very catchy song and honestly it's the only one I really remember from the movie. I love how Patrick Dempsey finds himself getting into the song and then catches himself to look all serious again. I think the best part of this movie is how Disney is able to make fun of themselves. "How can you fall in love with someone after knowing them for one day?" Also the dresses which look so wonderful as a cartoon are absolutely horrific in the real world. Did you see the size of her gown? And ew to the animals helping to clean up. Did you see those rats???? And they picked them up by their tails!!!

Amy Adams is simply spectacular as Giselle. I loved her in Junebug as the always happy and positive pregnant wife and this is another role where she's always upbeat. Patrick Demspey is well...he's McDreamy. Poor James Marsden. He never gets the girl in any of the movies he's in (The Notebook, X-Men). And he had to wear that silly outfit for the whole movie. But he's a riot in his role. I especially loved when he gets hit by the bikers, and even more so that he yells "Giselle!" and then bites his fist. I couldn't' stop laughing. My only minor weird gripe is how did Edward know how to order his lunch, complete with standing in line with a tray and Giselle was completely clueless. I'm probably the only one who even notices this though.

This is a fun movie that EVERYONE can enjoy. There isn't a single negative aspect about this movie. It was the feel good movie of the year.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Book Review: "Skizzer" by A. J. Kiesling and BOOK GIVEAWAY


I'm giving away a brand new copy of today's book! Leave a comment with your email address so I can contact you if you win. I'll pick a name and announce the winner on Thursday, April 17. Good luck!


The Past Will Come Back to Haunt You

Claire's sister has gone missing. With barely any clues to go by, she and her brother in law go in search of Becca trying find the reason why she disappeared. Family secrets become revealed in their search, causing many closed wounds to open again. Among their travels, Claire is taken back to memories of her childhood trying to remember what could have caused Becca to leave so suddenly. These secrets cause her to rethink about her past and makes her wonder if the truth would be better off buried forever.

Never judge a book by it's title. When I originally heard of this book, I had no idea what to make of what the story was going to be like by it's name alone. To me it sounded like a science fiction novel which I normally don't . I'm so glad though that I didn't listen to my gut instinct. This book was a wonderful joy to read. I was totally drawn into this story. Hidden family secrets always make for a great plot, and this book uses that angle perfectly. At first the time shifting was a bit confusing. This is mainly because except for going back into the girl's childhood, it is difficult to differentiate between the past and present. However once you realize what's going on, it's very interesting as the reader is part of the story to try and solve the mystery. It is a little baffling as to why Becca left without telling even her husband anything, I didn't feel that part to be very realistic. Still, the mystery throughout is engrossing and I enjoyed the ride. I always enjoy reading stories about sisters mainly because of the fact I have two myself. Plus, I also love how the characters get to travel to England, land of the best story settings in my opinion. It gives good atmosphere to the storyline and helps to add to the mystery. I am so glad that I did end up reading this book. I'm looking forward to the next book by this author.

Skizzer by A.J. Kiesling is published by Revell (2008)