Tuesday, March 31, 2009

THE REAL ENEMY

This is my first Kathy Herman book, and--wow. I'm SO glad this is a series. The emotions are real and raw it made me want to jump right in there. The way the family issues and suspense are woven together kept me devouring this book. In fact, I read it in about 24 hours, and for me that's fast. If you enjoy suspense, I highly recomment The Real Enemy.



This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

The Real Enemy

David C. Cook (March 2009)

by

Kathy Herman



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Suspense novelist Kathy Herman is very much at home in the Christian book industry, having worked five years on staff at the Christian Booksellers Association (CBA) in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and eleven years at Better Books Christian Center in Tyler, Texas, as product buyer/manager for the children’s department, and eventually as director of human resources.

She has conducted numerous educational seminars on children’s books at CBA Conventions in the U.S. and Canada, served a preliminary judge for the Gold Medallion Book Awards of the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association , and worked as an independent product/marketing consultant to the CBA market.

Since her first novel, Tested by Fire, debuted in 2001 as a CBA national bestseller, she's added thirteen more titles to her credit, including another bestseller, All Things Hidden.

Kathy's husband Paul is her best friend and most ardent supporter and manages the LifeWay Christian Store in Tyler, Texas. They have three grown children, five adorable grandkids, a cat named Samantha—and an ongoing fascination with hummingbirds. They also enjoy world travel, deep sea fishing, stargazing, and bird watching and sometimes incorporate all these hobbies into one big adventure.


ABOUT THE BOOK

Brill Jessup just became the first female police chief in Sophie Trace, Tennessee, and is riding on the credentials of a stellar eighteen-year career on the Memphis police force. She may be a pro at finding clues, but she tends to ignore the obvious in her personal life. And she would rather work than deal with the bitterness she feels about her husband Kurt's infidelity. Kurt, is weighed down by her unrelenting anger as he struggles to let God redeem the stupidest mistake he ever made. He is genuinely contrite and making every effort to show his commitment to Brill. But she hides behind her badge and her bitterness, deciding that moving her family away from Memphis is the only change she needs to make. So why can't Brill get over this anger?

Before she ever has time to unpack her boxes, people start disappearing. Lots of them. Seven people in seven days To complicate matters, a local legend has many residents believing that the cause is unearthly─tied to the “red shadows,” or spirits of the departed Cherokee who once inhabited the land.

While Brill draws on all of her experience and instinct to solve the case, she must confront an enemy that threatens everything she holds dear─one that cannot be stopped with a badge and a gun. She is forced to confront the real enemy.

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Real Enemy, go HERE
MY HEROINE AND I LIVE...

...in parallel universes--except she's more successful at it than me!

The heroine in my current WIP is big-boned and lovable, and one of her outer goals is to get healthy. She exercises, watches what she eats, and drinks tons of water. She's very intentional about her choices, and even though she struggles she (usually) musters the determination to overcome.

It's a sad state of affairs when conviction sets in every time I sit down to write.

You see, I haven't exercised since I started writing this book. Coincidence? Who knows, but I do notice the difference in my level of energy. Then yesterday I stepped on the scale and saw a number I never planned to see again. Talk about a bummer! 

But yesterday's bummer is today's motivation.



Here's my action plan:

*reactivate our club membership this month and start doing some group fitness classes
*drink at least 3 movie-cups of water a day
*eat at least 2 pieces of fruit and 2 ginormous helpings of veggies per day (surely after all the water and veggies I can't be too hungry for Schwan's caramel cream puffs, right?)
*start taking my vitamins 

Sigh. As you can tell, this is not my favorite thing to do. 

What do you do to stay healthy? Or, like me, do you need to get moving again?

Monday, March 30, 2009

IF IT ALL GOES DOWN RIGHT...

...I'll finish the first draft of my book this week. Wheee!!! Because I plotted ahead of time, and made changes to the story/characters/plot as I went instead of waiting for the 2nd draft (as per my usual M.O.) I feel confident to send it for final crit as soon as I finish it and of course clean it up a bit.

Prayers for the final push are much appreciated!
It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!


Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:


Salty Like Blood

Howard Books (March 24, 2009)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Harry Kraus, M.D., is a board-certified surgeon whose contemporary fiction, including Stainless Steel Hearts, is flavored with medical realism. A bestselling author, he has also written two works of nonfiction. He currently lives with his family in Kenya, where he is serving as a full-time medical missionary.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Howard Books (March 24, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1416577890
ISBN-13: 978-1416577898

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Rachel and I tumbled into the tall grass at the bottom of the hill, having survived yet another Daddy-just-one-more sled ride from the edge of our front porch. I collapsed on my back, trying to find oxygen between gasps of laughter and looked up at the summer sky. My daughter, with limbs sprawled in a wide “X” and her head against my foot, shouted her delight toward the house. “We did it! We made it!”

Seconds before, airborne and soaring toward record distance, Rachel reached for an octave above the normal human voice range, squealing a note that rang on in my head and I suspected invited half the neighborhood’s canine population to play. I laughed and put my fingers in my ears, rolling them in an exaggerated twist as if she’d deafened me.

She moved to lay her head upon my chest and quieted herself there, listening to my racing heart.

I stroked her hair, inhaled the scent of mown grass, and nestled my head back into the tickle of green.

“Is it okay?” she asked.

“It’s okay.”

“It’s too fast,” she said, raising up and pushing a bony elbow into my gut.

“Oh so now you’re the doctor.”

She smiled. “Someday,” she said. “For now, you’re the doctor.”

“Don’t worry. I’m okay.” I scowled at my first-grader. “Really.”

We rested together, staring at the sky full of clouds of hippopotamus, horses, rockets—whatever Rachel imagined. Mostly I gasped and oohed. In a moment, I found myself blinking away tears, overwhelmed with the enormity of it all.

It was so ordinary. A summer Saturday morning without an agenda. It’s hard for me to describe beyond the sense I had of emerging, as if I’d been submerged for so long, and now, just to play and laugh and roll in the grass seemed a joy that would burst my heart. I smiled, taking it in, gulping in ordinary life as if I’d never have a chance again.

As Rachel chatted on with her running commentary of sky castles, fiery dragons and fairies, other images drifted through my mind, pictures of painful chapters that set my current joy into sharp contrast. Traveling with Joanne through the dark tunnel of post-partum depression. My mother’s battle with cancer. Memories of an intensive care unit visit while I was the too-young patient, watching my own heart monitor and wondering if life would be cut short.

Joanne’s voice swept me into the here and now. “What’s going on?”

I looked up to see her standing on the covered porch, eyeing a bottle of vegetable oil sitting on the white railing.

Rachel lifted her head. Her blond hair dotted with grass seed. “We’re sledding, Mommy.”

Joanne’s hands rested firmly on her hips. “It’s July, David.” She picked up the bottle. “And I’ve been looking for this.” She was serious, but her eyes betrayed her attempt at scolding me. Her happiness at my delight in our little Rachel couldn't be spoiled by my summer antics.

I exchanged a mischievous glance with Rachel. She betrayed me in a heartbeat. “It was Daddy’s idea.”

“Women!” I said, grabbing my daughter by the waist and swinging her around in a circle. “You always stick together!”

As I trudged up the hill with Rachel folded around my back, I grunted exaggerated puffs. “You’re getting so big.”

I set her on the top step and kissed her forehead. She started pulling away. “Wait.” I picked at the seeds in her hair.“You’ll need to brush this out.”

She opted for the shake-it-out method. “I’m a rock star.”

I smiled. My star. For Joanne and I, Rachel had been the glue that helped us stick together through a valley of misery.

Joanne reappeared carrying lemonade in tall, sweaty glasses. She handed me one and kissed me. She had thin lips to go with sharp, elegant features, dark eyes alight with mystery, and hair the color of caramel. She could have been a model before big lips became the rage.

I’d been to hell and back with Joanne, but the last six months, I’d sensed a real change in her. She seemed settled somehow. Content. More romantic toward me—like she had been back in my medical school days. Our relationship, once teetering on the precipice of divorce, was now solidly a safe distance from the edge. I’d seen significant pieces of my life’s puzzle fall together in the last few years. When the marriage one finally clicked into place, everything else brightened with it. It was as if I’d been living my life in black-and-white and someone just invented color.

I kissed her back, trying to discern her mood. There seemed a surface calm, but I sensed a deeper stirring. I’d become a champion at reading her. I knew the quiet of her bitterness, the bubbly way she prattled on when she felt guilty, and the aloofness that dared me to pursue her into bed. For a moment, our eyes met. It was only a flash, but in that instant, I felt the a foreboding that threatened my wonderful ordinary-life euphoria.

I took her hand. “What’s up?” She lowered her voice, but even at that volume, sharp irritation cut at the edges of her words, clipping them into little fragments.

“Your father.”

I raised my eyebrows in question.

“His neighbor called.”

I waited for more, but it seemed the silence only uncapped her annoyance. In a moment, she was on the verge of tears.

“He always does this. Every time we have plans, he has a crisis.”

Plans. The practice was dining at the country club tonight.

I started to protest, but she interrupted, pushing her finger against my lips. “You know they’re going to announce that you’ve made partner.”

I smiled. Partner. A year early. Just reward for the practice’s highest revenue-producer nine months in a row. Another puzzle piece in my wonderful life about to connect.

“Which neighbor?”

“That Somali family,” she said, flipping her hand in the air. “A woman. She has an accent. She said his place is a wreck. He’s ill.” She seemed to hesitate before adding. “He’s asking for you.”

It was my father’s way. The crab-fisherman wouldn’t pick up the phone and let me know he needed me. He sent word around the block and expected me to show. “Define ‘ill.’ ”

Joanne imitated the neighbor’s accent. “Mister Gus isn’t eating. He toilets in the bedroom.”

I groaned. Whatever the neighbor meant, I knew it couldn’t be good. I walked into the house to my study and picked up the phone. I was listening to the endless ringing on the other end when Joanne entered. “Not a good sign,” I said. “He doesn’t pick up.”

“What are we going to do?”

I looked at my wife. Petite. Strong. And so able to read my thoughts.

She threw up her hands. “We’re going to the shore,” she said. “Just like that.”

I nodded. I was predictable. Family first. We had to go.

She glared at me. I read the silence, loud and clear. That’s why I love you . . . and hate you.

“I’ll call Jim. The practice will understand.”

Joanne shook her head. “This is your night, David. The moment you’ve been waiting for. And you throw it away because of family.”

I couldn’t say anything. She had me pegged.

“I’ll see if Kristine will take Rachel for the weekend.”

“Let’s take her with us.”

Joanne’s face hardened. “With us? That place is so . . . “ She paused, apparently mulling over adjective options. “ . . . crusty.”

It was the gentlest description of several other options that came to mind.

“We’ll take care of the crisis and stay at that seaside bed and breakfast. It will be fun. A chance for her to see her grandfather.” I let a hopeful smile tease at the corners of my lips. “Even if he is crusty he does adore her.”

Joanne sighed in resignation. “Yes he does.” She tipped her glass against mine. “As long as we don’t have to sleep there,” she said, shivering as if that thought was horrifying. She gave me a don’t-even-try-to-cross-me look. “You’re driving.”

I walked out onto the porch and into the humidity we Virginians call “summer.” As I called for Rachel, I followed the border of the house, my prize lawn soft beneath my bare feet. From her perch on the back deck, my daughter ambushed me with open arms.

“Can we sled some more?”

I looked at the blue sky and my Southern Living home, and I pushed aside a fleeting presence. A ripple beneath the calm.

I’d been through too many hard times to trust the peace. Nothing this great can last forever.

“We’re going to Grandpa Conners’,” I said, trying my best to sound excited.

Rachel wrinkled her nose. To her, the shore meant stinky crabs and everything smelling fishy.

I poked her nose with a finger. “You’re too much like your mother.”

She poked me back. “You’re too much like your father.”

A sudden breeze lifted Rachel’s hair against my face. I stopped, looking east. In the distance, a small thundercloud hung over the horizon. Not today. I don’t want to travel the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel in the rain.

My daughter squeezed my neck, bringing a smile to my face and pushing my anxieties aside. I nestled my face into her hair, trying to find an earlobe. She giggled and everything seemed right again.

Friday, March 27, 2009

ANXIOUSLY WAITING FOR UPS

I'm the first one to admit I'm a dork. I love getting the mail, and I adore getting a brown box from UPS. You never know which fabulous book will arrive on any given day.

Today I'm waiting for something a bit different. Math books for my four-year-old. You see, she loves math. Yes--math. We've worked through the little workbooks you can get at the teacher supply and she's ready for a real program now instead of waiting until fall for kindergarten. We'll work on this through spring and summer, but we have a big decision coming up.

Homeschool, public school, charter school?

With my oldest we've tried all three and she's now happy and well-adjusted in public high school. But with the little ones I can't help but think they'd do better at home. After all, Arizona is 50th in the nation for academics. (I have heard from a trustworthy source that we're actually 49th. But c'mon, even I can do better than 49th!!!)

Of course I expect to hear the usual protestations from people when they find out what we're considering, the number one concern: socialization. I have a few problems with this argument:

A. I send my child to school to learn academics, not to socialize.
B. Have you seen the way some kids act? I'd rather have my children socialized by wild chimps.

Anyhoo, I'd appreciate prayers for guidance as we make this decision. I want to do the right thing, the God thing.

If you have homeschool experience, as a student or a parent, I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!


Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:


Deadly Charm (Amanda Bell Brown Mystery Series, Book 3)

Howard Books (March 24, 2009)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:




Claudia Mair Burney is the author of numerous novels and the popular Ragamuffin Diva blog. She lives with her husband and their seven children in Michigan.

Visit the author's website and blog.

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Howard Books (March 24, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1416551956
ISBN-13: 978-1416551959

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Rocky showed up at my apartment door with an offer that, in his words, I “no coulda refuse.” Or maybe those were Marlon Brando’s words. I couldn’t be sure. My blond, dreadlocked former pastor slash ex-boyfriend locked me into a stare with those big, brown puppy eyes. He’d puffed out his jowls to utter the Godfather’s most famous line, while grazing his cheek with the back of his fingers—an excruciatingly amiss imitation. I’ve seen newborn babies’ smiles more intimidating.

“You look more like a hamster than a mobster, Rock.”

“Hamsters are cool.”

“But less compelling, you must admit.”

Rocky grinned and wagged his finger at me, “Never underestimate the power of a furry little creature.” He twitched his nose and started making hamster noises.

“Amen!” I said.

I thought of my vicious, former pet sugar glider, Amos. Although he’d become my friend and hero, I had to give him away to another nocturnal creature—otherwise, I’d never sleep again. My husband’s best friend, Souldier, had taken the murderous marsupial. Now Amos happily shreds his drapes.

“Come on in, my not-so-furry friend,” I told Rocky, mostly so he would stop making weird rodent sounds.

I moved aside so he could enter my little slice of paradise: shabby chic meets Africa is what Jazz, my husband called it. Rocky loved my funky, eclectically furnished place, too. He just didn’t describe it as aptly as Jazz did.

Who was I kidding? Rocky didn’t do anything as aptly as Jazz did. I had lost them both six weeks ago, and now here was Rocky, surprising me by showing up at my door like unexpected grace.

“Welcome back, Rocky,” I said. I know how lame I sounded, but I wanted him to know I was glad he’d come no matter what the reason.

He muttered a shy, “Thanks.”

We stood in my foyer exchanging reticent glances until I got bold enough to take a long look at him. I’d missed him so. He wore a typical Rockyesque uniform underneath his white down jacket—khaki pants and a long-sleeved Batman T-shirt. A cupid earring dangled in his right ear. Every year about this time he wore it to remind me to come to the Saint Valentine’s Day feast.

Without thinking I blurted out. “I see you and Cupid are still advertising our—” I bit my tongue. There’d be no “our” Saint Valentine’s Day feast this year for prodigal Bell. “Sorry,” I muttered.

“No problem,” he rushed to say, and then an awful silence descended on us like a cold, grey fog.

When I was still a member of his church, aptly named the Rock House, I never missed the event. Rocky would tell stories of the historical Saint Valentine; we’d eat candy conversation hearts, listen to live music, and share abundant amounts of food and laughter. It was Rocky’s way of making sure the lonely hearts wouldn’t spend the evening alone. There with my church family, not only did I get heaps of love, I could give out some from my meager supply.

That and we always had a chocolate fountain.

What was I going to do now?

I tried not to think about the sting of Rocky kicking me out of his church. I didn’t want to think about anything that had happened six weeks ago. Still, I figured whatever brought him to my door had an olive branch attached to it, and whatever he asked, short of sin, I’d be willing to do to reconcile with him.

Rocky hung up his jacket, kicked out of his Birkenstocks, and headed over to my rose-colored velvet sofa and sat. I followed, plopping down beside him.

“So, what’s the offer, Godfather?”

He stared at me. “Did you gain weight?”

Because I know it’s rude to kill your loved ones, I let that one slide and gave him a polite smile, but I did grab a mudcloth throw pillow and cover my expanding waistline.

“So, what’s the offer, Rocky?”

He gushed in a most un-Godfatherly like way. “I want you to go to a meeting with me. It’s only going to be the way-coolest event you’ve been to in forever.”

I cuddled the pillow and eyed him cautiously. He didn’t mean the Valentine’s Day feast. I braced myself. Rocky’s idea of way cool could get scary. “Can you be a little more specific?”

He didn’t answer. Just reached out and touched my hand, rubbing his thumb across my knuckles. “I really missed you.”

Oh, man. That small gesture—him touching the hand nobody held anymore—that tiny movement had the effect of a pebble in a pond, creating ripples of unexpected sadness that circled out of my soul. Lord, have mercy. I didn’t fling myself at him, begging like a rhythm-and-blues singer for him to keep loving me, to not give up on me, but something in me wished I could.

I didn’t want to marry Rocky, or even date him. He had never been the love of my life. In that moment I simply wanted to banish the nearly incarnate loneliness that had been dogging my heels as a solemn, maddening companion, shuffling me through all those days with no best-friend Rocky.

And with no husband Jazz.

I gazed up at him with my own version of puppy eyes. “I missed you too, Rocky.”

We let a bit of silence sit between us on the sofa like a third and very quiet presence. Our heads hung low. Apparently we both still smarted over our mutual pain of separation.

Minutes passed, our hands still clasped together, but Rocky’s merciful presence soothed my dry soul patches like olive oil.

Thank God. Thank God for every kind soul I don’t deserve in my life who loves me anyway.

“Rocky.” I made my voice as soft and small as a baby’s blankie.

He turned to me, his face as open and vulnerable as that blankie’s little owner.

I squeezed his hand. “I’m so sorry I hurt you.”

Those puppy eyes shone with the compassion I knew like the backs of my freckled hands.

“I’m sorry for the things I did, too, babe. For the things I said that night.”

“Don’t call me babe.”

He chuckled. “Some things never change.” Again, those gentle peepers bore into me. “Why didn’t you tell me you married Jazz?”

“At the time I didn’t seem too clear on it myself. Things happened pretty fast, and the next thing I knew, I was a wife.” I paused, the weight of that statement shifting just a bit since Rocky had shown up to help bear my burden. “He’s mad at me.”

“Duh-uh. You were kissing your blond boy toy.” He nudged me with his tattooed arm. “What’s going on with the two of you now?”

“I’ve seen corpses on Carly’s autopsy tables more involved than our marriage.”

I wondered if I’d ever get over what I’d lost with Jazz.

“I can only imagine what his parents think of me. I guess they’d say I’m the nightmare that took his ex Kate’s place.”

He regarded me with the care and concern I’ve seen him lavish on the fortunate souls he counseled as a pastor. Rocky may be only twenty-seven years old, but he’d been a pastor for two years. Two good years. He didn’t have the life experience an older pastor would, but God had given him an extraordinary shepherd’s heart.

“You’re not a nightmare,” he said. “You jumped into a marriage with no spiritual or emotional preparation.”

Like I, the clinician, needed him to tell me that.

I sighed. “Yet another psychologist heal thyself thing.” I looked away from him, guilt gnawing at me. “Maybe Jazz and I just aren’t meant to be, Rocky.”

“Have you talked to him?”

I shrugged. “Just once. He came over for a few minutes on Christmas Eve. I let him know I wanted him in a way I knew he’d understand. And then I waited. He never came back.”

“Why didn’t you go to him?”

“The same reason I didn’t come to you. I wanted to give him some space to feel whatever he felt and then to decide on his own.”

“But, maybe he’s not like me, babe.”

“Ya, think? And don’t call me babe.”

“Maybe he needs you to help him decide. Like, some extra reassurance or something.”

“That’s crazy, Rock.”

“It’s not so crazy, babe.”

I took back every nice thing I’d just thought about him. What did he know? Yes, he pastors a church of more than two-hundred members. He did missions work. He had a shepherd’s heart. He took pastoral counseling classes in seminary, but, honestly! His voice sounded just like Patrick’s on Sponge Bob.

Rocky glared at me. “Babe. . . .”

“Don’t call me babe.”

“Babe! You gotta go to him.”

“But he yells. Sometimes he cusses like a fish wife.”

“What’s a fish wife?”

“I don’t know, but my great-grandmother used to say that and it stuck with me. Maybe only females cuss like fish wives. Maybe he cusses like the fish.” Now I sounded like Patrick!

“Fish don’t cuss.”

“Okay, I know I should have reassured him.”

He sighed. Looked at me with those eyes. Squeezed my hand. “Will you ever let anyone love you?”

“People love me, Rocky. My sister. My secretary. Sasha.”

“I have doubts about Sasha.”

I thought about that and chuckled with him. “You may be right. My mother has done a few things that make me wonder. Now I’m really depressed.”

“I want to see you happy.”

“I want to see you happy, too. Speaking of which, how are you and Elisa?”

He grinned, reddened, looked away.

“What? Did you marry her in six weeks? My goodness!” For the first time, I didn’t feel jealous that someone was interested in Rocky. Well, not much.

“No. I’m not married. I’m . . . .”

“You’re what?”

“She’s really special, but it hasn’t been that long since she left creepy cult dude. I’m not sure I should be involved.”

“How involved are you?”

“I’m involved, babe.”

“You’re in love?”

He wouldn’t say anything, but his goofy grin spoke for him.

“Rocky?”

He nudged me, “Cut it out, babe.”

So, Rocky was really in love. Wow. I always knew it would happen, but I didn’t realize I’d still have the teensiest bit of pain knowing he’d moved on from me for good. I could see a flower of astonishing beauty blossoming between them when I saw them together, even though it nearly killed me at the moment. But God knows Rocky deserved the biggest, juiciest love he could find. He needed to look beyond the non-existent us. And he still calls me babe.

“Just take it slow, Rock. Trust me. The cost of moving too fast is astronomical, even if you are in love.”

I could tell he didn’t feel comfortable talking to me about Elisa. I decided to let their love blossom without my tending, pruning, or pulling up weeds. I got back to the business at hand. “Are you ever going to tell me what your offer is?” I eased into the lush upholstery of my sofa.

Rocky’s face lit up. Honestly, if that guy had a tail to go with those puppy eyes, it’d be thumping my sofa with joy.

“It’s gonna be awesome, ba— I mean, Bell.”

Apparently our little chat about Elisa made him correct himself.

“You think everything is awesome, Rocky.”

“I don’t think everything is awesome.”

“You said my Love Bug is awesome. You said Switchfoot’s new CD is awesome. You said my new zillions braids are awesome, and you said the ice-cream at Cold Stone Creamery is awesome.” Okay, the ice-cream at Cold Stone happened to be awesome for real. Lately I’d craved it like the blind crave sight.

“But, babe . . . ”

There he goes again. Honestly! A holy war couldn’t make that man stop calling me babe.

He went on. “Those things are awesome.”

“God is awesome, Rock. Awesome meaning the subject inspires awe, as in reverence, respect, dread.”

“You reverence your tricked-out VW Beetle,” he said, “And I respect Switchfoot, especially Jon Foreman, and your way-cool, African-goddess hair inspired me to get dreads.”

I stared at him. Comments like these coming from Rocky tended to render me temporarily speechless.

He filled the silence with his proposal. “I want you to go see Ezekiel Thunder with me.”

My eyes widened. Electroshock therapy wouldn’t have given me such a jolt. “Ezekiel Thunder?” I screeched. I jerked up from my slouch. I’d heard the un-right reverend wanted to hit the comeback trail, taking his miracle crusade with him.

Rocky gave me a wicked grin and settled himself smugly into the soft folds of my sofa. He knew I’d left Thunder’s particular brand of Pentecostal fire many years ago and had no desire to go back.

Rocky bobble-head nodded, as if his physical movement would affect a change in my attitude.

“Stop all that nodding!”

“I’m just trying to encourage you.”

I did not feel encouraged.

“It’ll be fun,” he said, blasting me with the full puppy-eyes arsenal. Oh, those eyes. Powerful! Mesmerizing! Like a basket full of cocker spaniel puppies wearing red ribbons. I could feel myself weakening.

“Rocky, that meeting will torture me. It will torture you!”

“No, it won’t. Ezekiel is my friend.”

“Your friend?”

“He led me to Christ.”

“Ezekiel Thunder led you to Christ?”

“I told you I came to Christ at a Bible camp.”

“Yes? And?”

“It was a Sons of Thunder Bible camp. I’m a Thunder Kid!” He beamed with what I hoped wasn’t pride.

“You never told me that!”

Honestly! You think you know somebody! He was my ex-boyfriend for goodness’ sake. We’d talked about marriage. I couldn’t believe I had no idea he was close friends with the infamous Ezekiel Thunder!

“You can be kinda judgmental about guys like Ezekiel.” He went on. “I didn’t mean to upset you or trigger bad memories of your tongues-talking days.”

“Then don’t ask me to go see him.”

“He’s a different man. He and his family want to buy a house in Ann Arbor. He’s living at the Rock House house until one comes through for him. ”

“God forbid!”

“He needs support. People to show up and cheer him on.”

“Cheer him on? We should stop him!” Had Rocky forgotten that Ezekiel Thunder had fallen as hard as many of his televangelist contemporaries in the eighties—and for a tawdry little tryst with a young intern? May it never be!

“How hard would it be for you to sit there and listen? Maybe say a few prayers for him.”

“God bless you as you do that for him.”

“I was there for you, supporting Great Lakes Seminary when they were struggling and going to lose their building. I did it because of how much you love Mason May.”

“Rocky! That’s not even comparable. Mason is a fine theologian training good men and women for powerful, effective ministries. He’s not a snake-oil peddler.”

“It’s not snake oil. It’s miracle prosperity oil.”

I stared at him. He’d stunned me to silence once again. I waited for Rocky to fill the silence with testimonies about the healing properties of miracle prosperity oil. Thankfully, he refrained. But he didn’t look like he’d let me off the hook.

I tried to reason with him. “You shouldn’t ask me to do this. You’re Emergent, Rocky, not a dyed-in-the-wool charismatic.”

“You don’t like post-modern, post-denominational, Emergent folks either.”

“I like them more than Ezekiel Thunders.”

“What’s that thing you say about the Emergent Church?”

“This is not about the Emergent Church. I’d go to an Emergent meeting with you anytime. You name the place: Mars Hill, Ann Arbor Vineyard. How ‘bout Frontline Church? ”

He didn’t budge. “Come on, babe. He’s like a dad to me.”

“A dad?”

“You always say Mason is like a dad to you.”

“But Mason has a PhD. He doesn’t sell ‘miracle prosperity oil’.”

“Ezekiel doesn’t sell it, either. He gives it away for a love offering.”

“A considerable love offering, if I remember! It’s plain olive oil he’s pushing to gullible babes in the faith who don’t know any better. How can I support his money-lusting schemes?”

“Ummm. By going with me?” Hope burgeoned in his voice as if I hadn’t just accused his mentor of being a hustler.

“Did you hear what I said, Rock? Ezekiel Thunder is everything I walked away from.”

“You walked away from a lot more than that, babe. And you’ve been known to hang out with people with worse theology than his. People way more dangerous.”

He had a point.

“Rocky . . . .” I didn’t want to go. Please, God, don’t make me go.

“He’s changed, babe. Give him a chance. For me.”

The eyes again, and a smile with an invisible tail wag.

I grumbled.

He grinned.

I gave him a dramatic sigh. “What time are we leaving?”

“If you’re not busy, and you’re not, we can leave in a few hours. I’ll pick you up at six.”

“How do you know I don’t have plans?”

“Because you have antisocial tendencies.”

“Don’t hold back, Rock. What do you really think about me?”

“Don’t worry,” he said, ignoring my insolence. “You’re gonna fall in love with Ezekiel.”

I rolled my eyes. “Not likely.”

He put his face right in front of mine until we were eye to eye. “You are feeling veeeeeery tired. You’re getting sleepy. You’re going to enjoy yourself at the crusade.”

“No fair,” I said, “Those eyes of yours are potent hypnotizers.”

“You are going to love Ezekiel Thunder.”

“I am going to love Ezekiel Thunder.”

Rocky got out of my face. “You’ve gotta admit, babe. This will be safer than sleuthing.”

No, it won’t, a disembodied voice--also known as the still, small voice of God--informed me.

I tried to ignore it. Maybe this Spirit prompting was speaking figuratively.

Couldn’t ignore it.

What, Lord, am I some kind of trouble magnet?

Don’t answer that, God.

I started rationalizing immediately to take the edge off what I truly hoped was not a prophetic warning. Maybe I could fall in love with the guy and respect him. Maybe he could even heal the egg-sized growth on my lower abdomen that scared me to death each time I ran my index finger across it. Maybe I could even find the keys to unlock the little room inside my heart where all the Ezekiel Thunders I’ve ever known were locked. I’d stored them there to keep me safe from the particular brand of harm only they could inflict.

I could feel my defenses shoot up as if a rocket propelled them.

Fall in love with Ezekiel Thunder?

I wished.

I shouldn’t have wished. My great-grandmother and namesake Amanda Bell Brown use to say, “Be careful what you wish for, baby. You just might get it.”

She ain’t never lied.


I DON'T CARE HOW GOOD IT IS....

Skunks Pictures, Images and Photos
.....I have another item to add to my list of THINGS YOU WON'T FIND ME WEARING.
Evidently some innovative people at Japan Women's University have developed underwear that's so super absorbant it can wick away (insert whatever springs to mind) for a week! Yes, an entire week. The Japanese astronauts are trying it out right now. Just thought you might like to know.



In other news...

I've decided to contact my state legislature for a pressing issue. Am I taking on education, life issues, or matters of national security?

No.
I'm lobbying for Arizona to join the rest of the civilized world and go on Daylight Savings Time. LOL!!! Well, it only makes sense. Who wants the sun to come up at 4:30 in the morning?

Fess up--what have you done to shape policy in your city/state/nation? And more importantly, will you be buying space underwear if/when it ever goes on the market? (Yes, I'm well aware that I'm a little loopy at the moment =P)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

TURNING THE PAIGE

I've really come to enjoy Laura Jensen Walker. Turning the Paige is the second book in the Getaway Girls series about a group of friends who go on adventures based on what their book club is currently reading. Now that's my kind of book club! Although it's part of a series, Turning the Paige stands alone, and focuses on Paige Kelley, a woman whose sense of responsibility nearly hinders her from having a life of her own. There are several issues--family, divorce, infertility--but it's all dealt with a gentle, humorous touch.



This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Turning The Paige

Zondervan (March 1, 2009)

by

Laura Jensen Walker



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Laura Jensen Walker is an award-winning writer, popular speaker, and breast-cancer survivor who loves to touch readers and audiences with the healing power of laughter.

Born in Racine, Wisconsin (home of Western Printing and Johnson’s Wax—maker of your favorite floor care products) Laura moved to Phoenix, Arizona when she was in high school. But not being a fan of blazing heat and knowing that Uncle Sam was looking for a few good women, she enlisted in the United States Air Force shortly after graduation and spent the next five years flying a typewriter through Europe.

By the time she was 23, Laura had climbed the Eiffel Tower, trod the steps of the Parthenon, skied (okay, snowplowed) in the Alps, rode in a gondola in Venice, and wept at the ovens of Dachau. She’d also learned how to fold her underwear into equal thirds, make a proper cup of English tea, and repel the amorous advances of a blind date by donning combat gear and a gas mask.

Laura is a former newspaper reporter and columnist with a degree in journalism who has written hundreds of articles on many subjects ranging from emu ranching and pigeon racing to goat-roping and cemetery board meetings. However, realizing that livestock and local government weren’t her passion, she switched to writing humor, which she calls a “total God-thing.”

Her lifelong dream of writing fiction came true in Spring 2005 with the release of her first chick lit novel, Dreaming in Black & White which won the Contemporary Fiction Book of the Year from American Christian Fiction Writers. Her sophomore novel, Dreaming in Technicolor was published in Fall 2005.

Laura’s third novel, Reconstructing Natalie, chosen as the Women of Faith Novel of the Year for 2006, is the funny and poignant story of a young, single woman who gets breast cancer and how her life is reconstructed as a result. This book was born out of Laura’s cancer speaking engagements where she started meeting younger and younger women stricken with this disease—some whose husbands had left them, and others who wondered what breast cancer would do to their dating life. She wanted to write a novel that would give voice to those women. Something real. And honest. And funny.

Because although cancer isn’t funny, humor is healing.

A popular speaker and teacher at writing conferences, Laura has also been a guest on hundreds of radio and TV shows around the country including the ABC Weekend News, The 700 Club, and The Jay Thomas Morning Show.

Another book in this series is Daring Chloe

She lives in Northern California with her Renaissance-man husband Michael, and Gracie, their piano playing dog


ABOUT THE BOOK

At 35, Paige Kelley is feeling very "in between." She's still working her temp job after two years, still not dating three years after her divorce, and still melting at every chubby-cheeked toddler she sees while her biological clock ticks ever louder. Paige even moves back home to help her ailing, high-maintenance mother.It's not exactly the life she'd dreamed of!

When her Getaway Girls book club members urge Paige to break free and get on with her life, she's afraid. How will her mother react? How can Paige honor her widowed mother and still pursue her own life? The answers come from a surprising source.
A trip to Scotland and a potential new love interest help launch an exciting new chapter in her life, and lead Paige to discover that God's plan for her promises to be more than she ever imagined.

This latest release in the Getaway Girls collection delivers a smart, funny, and warm account of one woman's challenge to reconcile who she is - a dutiful Christian daughter - with the woman she longs to be.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Turning The Paige, go HERE

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

STUPID ANONYMOUS...

...has way too much time on their hands.

I'm terribly sorry, blogging buds, if your inbox got flooded with blog responses from ANONYMOUS, who responded to every post I've ever written. It's because of stupid people (or computers?) like ANONYMOUS that bloggers have to put measures in place to make it more difficult to comment. I never thought I'd have to do it, but now you have to type in the box before you can leave a message here.

STUPID ANONYMOUS (EVEN IF YOU ARE A COMPUTER!) WE DON'T LIKE WHAT YOU DO! Do you really think anyone clicks on your links or reads your messages? Especially if they're not in English? Please, find a life.

Now friends, it's your turn to sound off to the random computers and people who program them, the spammers of the world who flood our inboxes and litter cyberspace. Poo!

Monday, March 23, 2009

CROSSING THE FINISH LINE--SPRINT OR HOBBLE?

When I was in high school the only sport I participated in was Cross Country. Because my father is a sports buff/coach, he had some great advice: save some juice for the end and sprint across the finish line--always finish strong. I always lived by that and no matter how exhausted I was I saved enough juice for a strong finish, most likely because everyone was watching.

Fast forward to writing books. 

I assumed that my "finish strong" mantra would carry over into my books. After all, you spend tons of time with the characters and story, and when it's time to cross the finish line you give it all your juice and sprint to a glorious finish. Well, not so much in my case. 

Currently, I'm on the brink of completing my 5th book. The only problem is that I'm hobbling to the end. I've been stuck around 15,000 words to the finish basically all last week, with only 2 new scenes. So, trying to self-diagnose my problem, is it that

A. I love my story so much I don't want to let go of the characters
B. I'm trying to craft the perfect finish, rather than sprint it out
C. Television on the comfy couch is too enticing
D. I'm out of gas
E. I'm convicted by my character's self-determination in the area of exercise and food and when she's doing much better than me I can no longer write about her
F. I'm out of gas

The rest of the book is sketched out, so it's not that I don't know where I'm going. It has to be one of the above. Today I'm going to do whatever it takes to finish a new scene, preferrably 1,500 words and barrel through.

Oh for the ability to sprint to the end!

How about you, do you sprint or hobble across the finish line?

Friday, March 20, 2009


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Michal

Revell (March 1, 2009)

by

Jill Eileen Smith



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Jill Eileen Smith is the author of several articles, poems, and stories, and her unpublished novels have placed in five writing contests in the past five years. A children’s story, which she wrote for her church led her youngest son to faith in Christ several years ago; much like a gospel tract led her to the Lord at a similar age.

That story, “Seeking Treasureland,” is now available. Jill is a member of several online writing groups and helps promote fellow authors’ works through monthly interviews on the "Spotlight" page of her website. She, along with her husband and children, are active members in their local church. A stay-at-home mom, she homeschooled the couple’s three sons for twelve years through high school, seeing them go on to higher education.

In her spare time, Jill teaches piano, reads, does picture scrap-booking, and enjoys trying out new recipes, especially those that include dark chocolate. Jill and her family make their home in Southeastern Lower Michigan.


ABOUT THE BOOK

Can their epic search for true love survive a father's fury?
The daughter of King Saul, Michal lives a life of privilege--but one that is haunted by her father's unpredictable moods and competition from her beautiful older sister.

As a girl, Michal quickly falls for the handsome young harpist David. But soon after their romance begins, David must flee for his life, leaving Michal at her father's mercy in the prison that is King Saul's palace.

Will Michal ever be reunited with David? Or is she doomed to remain separated from him forever?

Against the backdrop of opulent palace life, raging war, and daring desert escapes, Jill Eileen Smith takes you on an emotional journey as Michal deals with love, loss, and personal transformation as the first wife of King David. Jill Eileen Smith has more than twenty years of writing experience, and her writing has gathered acclaim in several contests. Her research into the lives of David's wives has taken her from the Bible to Israel, and she particularly enjoys learning how women lived in Old Testament times.

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

Thursday, March 19, 2009

UH OH
Without a garden and a stockpile of weapons, we're only 38% prepared for another Great Depression. Zoiks! Not that I believe we're heading for the big one, but....




You Are 38% Likely to Survive Another Great Depression



Your habits are pretty on par with the average person.

Unfortunately, this means your chances aren't good in another Great Depression.



Start saving your money now. Living in debt isn't doing you any favors.

Also figure out how to live a little more cheaply. Every little bit you can trim will help.


Even though I don't advocate panic--unless we're out of coffee--I do think it's practical to keep lots o' goodies on hand just in case something (power outage, earthquake, etc) happens. We have tons of food and hairspray, but I'll be honest, I don't have a clue how to build a fire. LOL!

Take the test and let us know if you're prepared!!!

In other news, Table for One got a nice review over at Novel Editions. Click here to see!





Wednesday, March 18, 2009

SHHH, USE YOUR LIBRARY VOICE....

I took the tots to the library with the high hopes of writing a full scene on my Dana AlphaSmart. The moment we walked in the door I knew my plans had been foiled. The cacophony in the children's corner ricocheted off the walls, and to my surprise--and let's face it, dismay--not one librarian put a clamp on it.

One child sat on the bench spewing all kinds of disturbing words at his mom.
One child kept trying to maul people (including me, and then my kids) with a dinosaur puppet.
One child poked at my AlphaSmart and kept asking if it was mine.
One child spent his library time barking. Yes, barking.

Their parents said nothing. The librarians said nothing. I wanted to say something, but knew it would come out oh-so-wrong. After all, it wasn't the fault of the children, but their doofy parents. Sadly, I'd promised my kids we'd stay there for a while so I was trapped.

Anyhoo, I'll bet you're wondering if I have a point. But yes! I realized that I work best with minimal noise--preferably background TV, dishwashers, etc. I can't work in the quiet, and I don't work well with music because I like to sing along. 

Evidently I don't work well with dinosaur puppets either.

Ideally I'd have my own office with a television and a tiny window with a lousy view. And I'd love a big desk with lots of drawers for all my beloved office supplies. What are your ideal writing conditions? Loud, quiet, in between? And more importantly, would you have asked the librarians to provide a little crowd control?


Tuesday, March 17, 2009


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Breach Of Trust

Tyndale House Publishers (February 5, 2009)

by

DiAnn Mills



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Award-winning author, DiAnn Mills, launched her career in 1998 with the publication of her first book. Currently she has over forty books in print and has sold more than a million copies.

DiAnn believes her readers should “Expect an Adventure.” DiAnn Mills is a fiction writer who combines an adventuresome spirit with unforgettable characters to create action-packed novels.

Six of her anthologies have appeared on the CBA Best Seller List. Three of her books have won the distinction of Best Historical of the Year by Heartsong Presents. Five of her books have won placements through American Christian Fiction Writer’s Book of the Year Awards 2003 – 2007, and she is the recipient of the Inspirational Reader’s Choice award for 2005 and 2007. She was a Christy Awards finalist in 2008.

DiAnn is a founding board member for American Christian Fiction Writers, a member of Inspirational Writers Alive, Romance Writers of America’s Faith, Hope and Love, and Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country. DiAnn is also a mentor for Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writer’s Guild.

She lives in sunny Houston, Texas. DiAnn and her husband have four adult sons and are active members of Metropolitan Baptist Church.



ABOUT THE BOOK

Paige Rogers survived every CIA operative’s worst nightmare.

A covert mission gone terribly wrong.

A betrayal by the one man she thought she could trust.

Forced to disappear to protect the lives of her loved ones, Paige has spent the last several years building a quiet life as a small-town librarian. But the day a stranger comes to town and starts asking questions, Paige knows her careful existence has been shattered.

He is coming after her again. And this time, he intends to silence her for good...

Paige Rogers is a former CIA agent who lost all she treasured seven years ago when her entire team was killed in a covert mission. She blames their leader—Daniel Keary—whom Paige believes betrayed them. Disillusioned and afraid for her life, she disappeared and started a new life as a librarian in small town Split Creek, Oklahoma.

But her growing relationship with high school football coach Miles Laird and the political ambitions of her former boss threaten to unmask her. When Keary announces his candidacy for governor of her state, he comes after Paige to ensure that she won't ruin his bid for office by revealing his past misdeeds. He threatens everything she holds dear, and Paige must choose between the life of hiding that has become her refuge . . . or risking everything in one last, desperate attempt to right old wrongs.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Breach Of Trust, go HERE

Watch the Book Trailer:

Monday, March 16, 2009

WOULD EVERYONE PLEASE QUIT SMILING?!

Lately my characters have been doing an awful lot of smiling, and it's starting to get on my nerves. Occasionally they'll grin or on a really good day they'll quirk their lips, but for the most part those goobers go around smiling all the time. Sometimes I catch it before it goes to critique, and sometimes not. The important thing is that I'm beginning to notice it for myself (which means it's a problem, LOL!) At least for the moment, smiling is my pet body language gesture and I need to get some variety.

**BTW, each book I write seems to have its own pet phrase. In my first book my characters kept tossing their heads back with laughter. How wrong is that??? LOL!**

Unfortunately, the English language is sorely lacking in synonyms for smile. In my quest to stop repeating the word smile a kabillion times in one manuscript, I'm digging into the root emotions that a smile conveys. Joy, nervousness, amusement, pleasure, politeness, optomism, etc. 

Now I've got something to work with by examining how else I can convey, for example, amusement. I could go with a clever line of dialog, their tone of voice, another physical gesture (but not lifting the brow--if I have my characters lift another eyebrow I might barf!), describe the glint in their eye, etc. 

So here's to a bit of variety! Today I'm committed to preventing my characters from flashing another boring smile. 

What's your pet phrase, gesture, word in your current WIP? Better yet, how do you plan to fix it?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

I'M MARIANNE DASHWOOD!!!

I like this result, although I had a serious tie between four of the Austen heroines. The description is fairly accurate.

 










You Scored as Marianne Dashwood

You're Marianne Dashwood of <i>Sense & Sensibility</i>! More dramatic and emotional than your sister Elinor, you have no trouble saying what you think and showing people how you feel about them. However, you usually know when to keep your mouth shut.








Catherine Morland

70%






Elizabeth Bennet

70%






Marianne Dashwood

70%






Elinor Dashwood

70%






Anne Elliot

65%






Fanny Price

55%






Emma Woodhouse

50%




YOUR TURN!! CLICK HERE AND COME BACK WITH YOUR RESULTS!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

THE ZONE

Caffeinated Beverage....check
Gum.....check
Peace and Quiet....check
Open Word Document.....check
Drink Caffeinated Beverage....check
Check Email....check
Type 1st Sentence.....check
Update Twitter.....check
Go to Bathroom....check
Type 2nd Sentence.....check
Click Word Count Button....check
Read Blogs....check

UGH--can you hear me screaming?! What you have just witnessed, my friends, is my sordid routine when I sit down to work on my WIP. Something is wrong here. Shouldn't I be able to put my butt in the chair and get sucked up into my storyworld? 

I cry/whine/rant for more WIP time and when I get it I can't sit still and write. I'm not nearly this scatterbrained when doing anything else. I'm a focused woman, full of purpose, on a mission! And yet...

....when I sit down to write it's a different story (pun intended.) 

If I'm a good girl and muddle through the first 500 words I hit my stride, a.k.a. THE ZONE. I love it when I hit THE ZONE--it's kind of like when your body goes into automatic after the first few miles on the treadmill. THE ZONE offers an exciting place where the only thing that matters is the story and what happens next...and man, will they finally kiss??? Unfortunately, without my 30 minute warmup I'm useless, doomed to wander in Nevernever Land.

Please tell me I'm not alone. What do you do to get into THE ZONE? Do you go through the craziness first, or are you one of those writers who jumps in and out with no transition time? (WARNING, if you are I'm going to cyber punch you. No, really!) Please, if you have a faster way, let me know =)


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

THE PASSION OF MARY-MARGARET

Oooo, very interesting book. When I first started reading I wasn't sure whether or not I'd sink into the story because it's not linear, and as a confirmed Type A that's a little harder for me. But WOW--this book knocked my socks off and caused me to ponder my own relationship with Jesus and how I view the way God works. This story nudged me closer to God, and isn't that what Inspirational fiction should do? Lisa Samson is an author I truly admire and she's definitely not afraid to color outside the lines. Totally fearless!


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

The Passion of Mary Margaret

Thomas Nelson (March 10, 2009)

by

Lisa Samson



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Lisa Samson is a Christy Award-winning author of 19 books, including the Women of the Faith Novel of the Year, Quaker Summer. Lisa has been hailed by Publishers Weekly as "a talented novelist who isn't afraid to take risks."

Her novel Embrace Me has been named as one of Library Journal's books of the year.

She lives in Lexinton, Kentucky, with her husband and three kids.

She stays busy by writing, volunteering at Kentucky Refugee Ministries, raising children and trying to be supportive of a husband in seminary. (Trying...some days she's downright awful. It's a good thing he's such a fabulous cook!) She can tell you one thing, it's never dull around there.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Mary-Margaret accepts a calling that surpasses her wildest dreams . . . and challenges her deep faith.

When Mary-Margaret Danaher met Jude Keller, the lightkeeper's son, she was studying at convent school on a small island in the Chesapeake Bay. Destined for a life as a religious sister, she nevertheless felt a pull toward Jude-rough and tumble, promiscuous Jude.

After sojourning as a medical missions sister in Swaziland, Mary-Margaret returns to the island to prepare for her final vows. Jude, too, returns to the island, dissolute and hardened. Mary-Margaret can hardly believe it when the Spirit tells her she must marry the troubled boy who befriended her all those years ago, forsaking the only life she ever wanted for a man she knows she'll never love.

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Passion of Mary Margaret , go HERE

Monday, March 09, 2009

WHAT'S YOUR PROBLEM?!

After years of blaming my busy schedule, chasing tots, mountains of laundry, playing chauffeur, and a host of other excuses, I finally came to a point where I can confess the truth to myself, and also to you.

I can see you leaning in for a bit of juicy gossip, so I won't make you wait and wade through a story, analogy, or....

.....actually I do have a funny story, and this is as good a place as any to tell you. A few morning's ago I came out to breakfast and my husband was feeding the tots pudding. PUDDING!!!

Me, hands thrown in the air: WHY are you feeding them pudding?!

Husband, nodding his head with utmost sincerity: Because they were fighting over a toy. (Like everyone knows that's what you do in this situation and why are you asking.)

Now, friends, you all know why I'm just a little batty sometimes.

Anyhoo, back to my not-so-juicy-nor-surprising-revelation....
I know exactly what stands in the way of me achieving more word count each day. Ready?

TOO MANY GOOD BOOKS TO READ!!!! Told you it wasn't all that surprising. The other night I had to fight like an addict to stay away from a good book when I found myself with extra time to write in the peace and quiet of the evening. That's when it hit me, if I didn't have such a thing for books, I'd have twice the word count. And let's face it, reading a book is way easier and often more pleasurable than writing one.

What's your NUMBER ONE OBSTACLE TO PUTTING MORE WORDS ON THE PAGE?
EXPERIENCING THE SPIRIT

Writing a full review would be impossible because even though I got this a few days ago, I haven't worked through the whole book. I can already tell this is one study where I'll want to linger and absorb everything the authors have to say. I've got my Bible and highlighter ready, and wow--I think this is going to be fantastic!!! Remember, you can read the first chapter below, and I hope you're blessed =)



It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!


Today's Wild Card authors are:


and the book:


Experiencing the Spirit

Multnomah Books (February 17, 2009)


ABOUT THE AUTHORs:


Dr. Henry Blackaby, president emeritus of Blackaby Ministries, is the author of more than a dozen books, including the bestselling classic, Experiencing God. He has spent his life in ministry, serving as a music director and as a senior pastor of churches in California and Canada. Today he provides consultative leadership on prayer for revival and spiritual awakening on a global level. He and his wife make their home in Atlanta, Georgia.

Visit the author's website.

Dr. Melvin Blackaby serves as senior pastor at First Baptist Church Jonesboro, GA. He’s the author of several books including Going the Second Mile and the Gold Medallion-winner A God Centered Church, which he coauthored with his father, Henry Blackaby. He and his wife, Gina, live in the greater Atlanta area with their three children – Christa, Stephen, and Sarah.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $16.99
Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: Multnomah Books (February 17, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1590529111
ISBN-13: 978-1590529119

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


REVEALING THE UNKNOWABLE


“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into

the heart of man the things which God has prepared for

those who loveHim.” But God has revealed them to us

throughHis Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things,

yes, the deep things of God.

—1 CO R I N THI A N S 2:9 – 10


The person who does not know the Holy Spirit of God does not know God. It’s that simple. It’s true that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son to provide eternal salvation and that, through His death and resurrection, we have victory over sin and new life in Christ. But apart from the Holy Spirit, God’s great salvation is of no relevance to us. Apart from the active work of the Spirit in our lives, we would neither know God nor have the ability to respond to Him. Divine truth is not something we “discover”; it is revealed by the Holy Spirit of God. As such, no other reality in the Christian life is as important as being filled with the Spirit. The doctrine of the Holy Spirit is distinctive to the Christian faith. No other religion has anything like it. What believers in Jesus Christ have come to know and experience through His gift of the Spirit brings them into a relationship with God that’s inaccessible in all other religions of the world. For just as God did not create the world and then step back and watch it spin, but chose to enter time and space and interact with His people, so also God did not just deliver a set of laws for us to follow in the hope of earning our way to heaven. Instead He chose to enter a relationship with His people on earth through His indwelling Spirit.


TRAPPED IN ATTIC DARKNESS


When I (Mel) was sixteen years old, I had a summer job as a laborer on a construction crew. My boss was a small contractor who built homes, but he also renovated older homes. One day he sent me to an old house to install pink Fiberglass insulation in the attic. The outdoor temperature that day reached 95 degrees Fahrenheit, so you can imagine how hot it was in that dusty old attic. I felt like I was working in a convection oven.

It was a nasty job. As I shone my flashlight around the attic, I saw a cloud of Fiberglass particles floating through the air. All day long I worked in that dark and dusty deathtrap. It was one of those labor jobs that encouraged me to later go back to school and get an education.

That night I was exhausted when my head hit the pillow. I guess the day’s work had had an impact on me, because I had a nightmare about being trapped in the attic. I got up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat—yet I wasn’t fully awake. I started to panic, thinking I was still in the attic and couldn’t find my way out. I scrambled frantically around the room looking for the attic’s crawl-out door and nearly destroyed my room in the process. I threw my dresser across the room and pulled down bookshelves. I was lost in the closet when suddenly a light shone through the crack under my door.

“Mel?” It was my mother’s voice. “Is everything okay?” Seeing the light, I got my bearings and knew exactly where I was and the reality of my situation. It was just a dream! My mom opened the door and saw my demolition work. “What’s

going on?” she questioned.


“Oh, it’s nothing…Just got a little disoriented.”


I’d been in a nightmare I couldn’t escape—trapped in darkness and unable to perceive reality—until the light was turned on. Only when a little light shone under the door did my situation become clear to me.

In the same way, unless the Holy Spirit turns the light on, your life will be kept in complete darkness, disoriented to the things of God. There’s absolutely nothing you can do to find the light; you’re at the complete mercy of God to reveal it. All you can perceive is what you see and experience in the physical world, but there’s a spiritual reality to which you’re blind.


SIN’S DAMAGE


Look at Paul’s description in Romans 3 of sin’s damage:


“There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable;

There is none who does good, no, not one.”


“Their throat is an open tomb; With their tongues they have practiced deceit”;


“The poison of asps is under their lips”;


“Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.”


“Their feet are swift to shed blood; Destruction and misery are in their ways; And the way of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes.” (verses 10–18)


Paul went on to say, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (verse 23). Everyone has fallen short; everyone has sinned. And sin has fatal consequences. Not only has it separated you from God, but it also keeps you from restoring that relationship. Paul emphasized these points in Romans 3:

• Sin makes you unrighteous and separates you from God.

• Sin keeps you from understanding God.

• Sin keeps you from seeking God.

• Sin causes you to turn to other things, leaving you worthless

and setting you on the road to depravity.

• Sin ultimately causes you to lose the fear of God. And when

you lose the fear of God, there’s no deterrent to sin; you

can’t stop your downward plunge into eternal destruction.

The reality of our spiritual state can look pretty depressing. Is

there any hope? Many would answer no. Some have committed suicide.

Many more have attempted suicide, and even more have contemplated it.


One of the most influential opponents of Christianity was Friedrich Nietzsche, who called Christianity “the one great curse” and “the one immortal blemish of mankind.” He proclaimed “the death of God” as a cultural fact and claimed atheism as the last evolutionary phase in the search for truth. Nietzsche later was debilitated by mental illness; having no hope, he’d gone mad. If not for the grace of God, we all would be in the same condition— without hope. For we have all sinned, and sin prevents a relationship with God—and life apart from God leaves no hope.


PROOF OF GOD AT WORK


But if you find yourself experiencing a desire to seek God, we have great news for you: God is already at work in you. The fact that you’re searching for Him is an indication that God is pursuing you and drawing you into a relationship with Him that’s real and personal. Apart from His active work in your life, you would never have the desire to seek Him. For as we’ve seen, because of sin, “There is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God” (Romans 3:11).

Theologians use the term prevenient grace to describe God’s work of drawing us to Himself. Before we in our fallen state can seek God, He must first create the desire within us for spiritual realities. There must be a work of enlightenment done within us before we’re aware of our need for salvation. That’s why we believe no one can go to church or open God’s Word “by accident.” God is drawing them, whether or not they realize it. If you find yourself wanting to consider spiritual truth, it’s not because of some funny feeling, but because God Himself draws you. King David showed us something about this when he cried out to God, “My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me” (Psalm 63:8, NASB). When we reach out to cling to Him, it’s God who is drawing us, and it’s God who holds us there. There’s no contradiction in this divine upholding and human following. For our part, there must be a response to God’s drawing power if we’re to experience a relationship with Him.

It’s like a man trying to draw a woman’s affection; the relationship will not blossom unless the woman responds. And when you do respond to God’s leading, He will give you the ability to answer the call. As James told us, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (4:8).

Listen carefully: Recognizing God is not the same as coming to Him. Hearing God in your heart is not the same as answering. Working for the kingdom of God does not mean living in the kingdom of God. Christianity is not believing the truths of the Bible; it’s acting

upon them and allowing God control of your life. You must respond to God and make the choice to interact personally with Him. Have you gone beyond accepting the fact that there’s a God? Have you moved beyond accepting Christ as God’s Son and made Him Lord of your life? If you believe there’s a God, that He sent His Son to die for you, that God raised Jesus from the dead after three days, and that Christ is coming back for His disciples—that’s great. But Satan also believes all that! What makes your life any different from Satan’s? To be different, you must come to Christ, pursue Him, give your life to Him, and keep growing in your relationship with Him—for He’s a Person to be loved, not an idea to be accepted

.

NO LONGER DORMANT


All that we’ve been talking about is the active work of the Holy Spirit in your life. If God had not sent the Holy Spirit to open your eyes, you wouldn’t see Him. If the Holy Spirit hadn’t opened your ears, you wouldn’t hear Him. If the Holy Spirit hadn’t touched your heart, you wouldn’t have the slightest desire to know Him. We’ve all been taught that we have five senses—sight, smell, taste, hearing, and touch. By using them, we can apprehend most realities. But when it comes to apprehending God, we struggle. We don’t see Him, smell Him, taste Him, hear Him, or touch Him. But there is within us another sense by which we can know God as certainly as we know material things by our five familiar senses. Because we’re spiritual creatures created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26), we have spiritual faculties that allow us to truly know Him. We can apprehend Him; we can experience Him; we can love Him. In non-Christians, this faculty lies dormant. It’s asleep in their nature. For all practical purposes it is dead because of sin. But this faculty is quickened to life by the work of the Holy Spirit when we’re born again.

The sending of the Spirit was part of God’s plan from the beginning, and that plan was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost. In fact, the sermon delivered by Peter that day was focused primarily on God the Father working in and through the life of His Son, Jesus. This brief selection from that sermon shows Peter’s emphasis: Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know—Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; whom God raised up, having

loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that he should be held by it. (Acts 2:22–24) Notice that God the Father was the one who orchestrated the events in the life of Jesus. In the same way, the Father brought forth the dramatic coming of the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. It’s true that Jesus sent the Spirit, but only after He had “received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:33). So we see that the coming of the Holy Spirit was in the heart of God from the very beginning.

Furthermore, the text of Peter’s sermon that day was from the Old Testament prophet Joel. Peter said, But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:

“And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, “That I will pour out of My Spirit on all

flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions,

Your old men shall dream dreams.” (Acts 2:16–17; see Joel 2:28)

Long before Jesus arrived in the flesh, God the Father was talking about this day. It was always planned as the next significant event after Jesus died and rose again—as the necessary event to bring the work of Christ to bear upon those who would believe. Why then do many Christians fail to experience the depths of what God has purposed for their lives? The reason is their insufficient personal dealing with God. When our faith is based primarily on the wisdom of men and not on the power of God, we’ve just nullified most of what God intended for our lives. When our faith is built only on a collection of doctrines, we miss out on the Person who wants to be our life. Like all personal relationships, this spiritual relationship is activated through faith. When faith is defective, the result is numbness toward spiritual things. Some have never given their whole heart to God yet wonder why they haven’t experienced Him. To live the Christian life in its fullness, you must have faith. “The just shall live by faith” (Romans 1:17), Paul said, and in Hebrews we read, “Without faith it is impossible to please [God]” (Hebrews 11:6). You must take God at His word! Every positive response to the Lord will open up new opportunities to know Him more and more. The more you pursue Him, the more He’ll reveal Himself to you.


WIND IN THE SAILS


To get a picture of the Spirit, consider the image of a sailing ship. The sailors make sure everything’s ready to go. The decks are swabbed, the trim freshly painted, and the galley stocked with food for the voyage. The anchor’s up, the ropes are in, the sails are raised, and the captain’s at the helm. But the ship doesn’t move. Why? Because the sails need wind to propel the ship forward. You can prepare everything in your life to go forward with God, but without the wind of the Spirit, there’s no movement. On a sailing ship you’re at the mercy of nature and the necessary wind to move; in life, you’re at the mercy of God and the Spirit’s power. Without that power, we can’t follow God and experience life to its fullest. Interestingly, the Greek and Hebrew words for Spirit (pneuma and ruah) can both be translated as “wind” or “breath.” Unless the wind of the Spirit blows, you’ll drift aimlessly along on the currents of life.

Even after you’ve done everything you know to connect with God, it’s all in vain without action on His part. With this in mind, can you understand why “blasphemy against the Spirit” is so serious? Look at the amazing and even terrifying statement about this from Jesus: Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come. (Matthew 12:31–32) Why would Jesus make such a statement? Why is it more dangerous to speak against the Holy Spirit than to speak against the Son of Man, Jesus Himself? Simply this: the Holy Spirit is the only one who moves upon a person to bring conviction of sin and the desire to be in a right relationship with God.

Speaking of the Holy Spirit, Jesus said, “When He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment” (John 16:8). Without this work of the Spirit, you’re incapable of responding to God. So the Holy Spirit is not to be ignored or taken for granted. He’s not to be cast aside as insignificant in comparison to God the Father and God the Son. The Spirit of God is essential to your life and to your relationship with the entire Godhead. He’s the illuminator of all spiritual truth and the doorway into the divine. He takes that which is unknown to fallen humanity and makes it a clear and unmistakable reality in our lives.


THE SPIRIT IS SPEAKING…


When you consider your life, do you need somebody to turn the light on? That’s the role of the Holy Spirit. Do you need some wind in your sails? Invite the Spirit to

breathe new life into your soul. Do you want a deeper and more meaningful relationship with almighty God? Then you must understand the Holy Spirit’s role in your life. Once you come to know the Spirit in all His fullness, you’ll see heaven opened up before you. Consider what you do know about God. Oh, there’s much more to learn, but take a moment and thank God for revealing Himself to you. The fact that you’re reading this book is an indication that God wants you to experience a deeper relationship with Him. So ask the Holy Spirit to help you see God more clearly. Ask Him to communicate

the deep things of God to your spirit. Finally, commit your life to respond to everything He says. A heart of ready obedience frees the Holy Spirit to speak into your life,

because He knows you’ll respond when He speaks.
Add to Technorati Favorites