Friday, October 30, 2009

eye of the god by Ariel Allison

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

eye of the god

Abingdon Press (October 1, 2009)


Ariel Allison


Allison is a published author who lives in a small Texas town with her husband and three young sons. She is the co-author of Daddy Do You Love Me: a Daughter’s Journey of Faith and Restoration (New Leaf Press, 2006). Justin Case, the first of three children’s books published by Harvest House in June 2009. Ariel is a weekly contributor to and has written for Today’s Christian Woman. She ponders on life as a mother of all boys at and on her thoughts as a redeemed dreamer at

From Ariel:
I am the daughter of an acclaimed and eccentric artist, and given my “unconventional” childhood, had ample time to explore the intricacies of story telling. I was raised at the top of the Rocky Mountains with no running water or electricity (think Laura Ingalls meets the Hippie Movement), and lived out the books I read while running barefoot through the sagebrush. My mother read to me by the light of a kerosene lantern for well over a decade, long after I could devour an entire novel in the course of a day. Authors such as C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkein, George MacDonald, and L.M. Montgomery were the first to capture my heart and I have
grown to love many others since.


eye of the god  takes the fascinating history surrounding the Hope Diamond and weaves it together with a present-day plot to steal the jewel from the Smithsonian Institute.

We follow Alex and Isaac Weld, the most lucrative jewel thieves in the world, in their quest to steal the gem, which according to legend was once the eye of a Hindu idol named Rama Sita. When it was stolen in the 17th century, it is said that the idol cursed all those who would possess it. That won’t stop the brilliant and ruthless Weld brothers.

However, they are not prepared for Dr. Abigail Mitchell, the beautiful Smithsonian Director, who has her own connection to the Hope Diamond and a deadly secret to keep. Abby committed long ago that she would not serve a god made with human hands, and the “eye of the god” is no exception. Her desire is not for wealth, but for wisdom. She seeks not power, but restoration.

When the dust settles over the last great adventure of the Hope Diamond, readers will understand the “curse” that has haunted its legacy is nothing more than the greed of evil men who bring destruction upon themselves. No god chiseled from stone can direct the fates of humankind, nor can it change the course of God’s story.

If you would like to read the prologue and first chapter of eye of the god, go HERE
Margie's Comments: I haven't finished reading eye of the god yet, but I'm definitely hooked! I love the blend of historical and contemporary, as I've said before on this blog. And the author has done a masterful job of intertwining the two. I can already say that I heartily recommend this book, especially for those who enjoy a good thriller.

Verse of the Day

Be still in the presence of the LORD, and wait patiently for him to act. Don't worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes. (Psalm 37:7 NLT)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

More Self-Editing Tips—Punctuation

We are in the middle of a two-day fall snowstorm. So far we have about 18"—a little hard to tell because of the wind drifting the snow. It's supposed to snow another 4–8" before it tapers off sometime around midnight tonight. So I'm staying snug in my house . . . and working . . . when I'm not outside shoveling. It's a great powdery snow. The skiers are ecstatic. LOL

Today we're going to talk about the colon, semicolon, and period. Fairly straightforward, actually. And some opinions run high, especially on semicolons. But I'll explain why in a minute.

Very simply put, outside of the usual uses of these punctuations, you use a colon after introductory material; a semicolon between two independent sentences, in place of the separating commas in a series where there are commas already; and periods in a.m./p.m., but no period in most capped abbreviations.

Let's look at some examples.

The grocery list his wife gave him was a menu for breakfast bacon, eggs, bread, milk, butter, and coffee.
The grocery list his wife gave him was a menu for breakfast: bacon, eggs, bread, milk, butter, and coffee.
Because a list of items follows the introductory material about the list, use a colon.

Another use for the colon is to separate two very similar sentences. Here are a couple of examples from the Chicago Manual of Style:

They even relied on a chronological analogy: just as the Year II had overshadowed 1789, so the October Revolution had eclipsed that of February.

Many of the police officers held additional jobs: thirteen of them, for example, moonlighted as security guards.

Some people enjoy staying home during vacations others prefer to spend this time as far away as possible.
Some people enjoy staying home during vacations; others prefer to spend this time as far away as possible.

Between two independent sentences. This semicolon use is not a hard and fast rule in fiction. Some authors feel it sticks out, abruptly slows the action. And I can see that argument in a fast-paced mystery or suspense. However, I like the semicolon and feel it's a little misunderstood. LOL I don't recommend using it on every page, but judiciously sprinkled in it can be very effective. BUT I do not like using it in dialogue. We may read over semicolons in narrative and non-fiction, but we don't speak in semicolons. That's my personal preference, and when I'm editing a book manuscript those are the guidelines I follow . . . unless I'm working on a project for a publisher and I know that author doesn't like them anywhere. Then I follow the author's preference.

Send sample copies of your books to our distributors in Hartford, Connecticut Bangor, Maine and Easthampton, Massachusetts.
Send sample copies of your books to our distributors in Hartford, Connecticut; Bangor, Maine; and Easthampton, Massachusetts.

Two things about this sentence. There is no colon before the list because this list is actually the object of the preposition. Don't separate an object from the rest of the sentence with any punctuation. However, because of the use of the comma in the elements of the list, we need to use semicolons to separate the items. Putting commas in there is too confusing otherwise.

9:00 a m
9:00 a.m.

600 BC, AD 2009

These examples are self-explanatory, but just a reminder. The preferred way of doing the a.m./p.m. is with the lowercase letters and periods. The other accepted way is to use small caps, no commas. As for the capitalized BC and AD, they do not have periods because they are capitalized abbreviations.

Hope that helps clear up a little confusion on these pieces of punctuation.

Verse of the Day

I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul will make its boast in the LORD; the humble will hear it and rejoice. O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt His name together. I sought the LORD, and He answered me, and delivered me from all my fears. . . . O taste and see that the LORD is good; how blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him! (Psalm 34:1–4, 8)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Verse of the Day

Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. (Ephesians 6:10–11 NASB)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Verse of the Day

The LORD is my shepherd; I have everything I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name. (Psalm 23:1–3 NLT)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Verse of the Day

"I will give you the treasures of darkness And hidden wealth of secret places, So that you may know that it is I, The LORD, the God of Israel, who calls you by your name. (Isaiah 45:3)

Friday, October 23, 2009

Verse of the Day

I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not "mine." (Galatians 2:20 MSG) How freeing this is when I step out of the way and let Christ live in me.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Self-Editing Tips

Today we'll talk about the last two most common uses for commas. Yea!!! LOL Commas are difficult to understand, but these rules today are pretty straightforward.

First, when do you use a comma when you have two or more adjectives? Adjectives are those words that describe or modify a noun. I could get all technical and tell you that adjectives come in different form (and they do), but I won't. Even though if you know the forms you will also know where to put the commas.

Thankfully, there's a quick and easy shortcut to all that technical stuff.

Here it is: IF you can put the word and between the adjectives in your sentence, THEN you can replace and with a comma.
 Examples (taken from the Chicago Manual of Style, 6.39):
Shelly had proved a faithful, sincere friend.
(. . . a faithful and sincere friend.)

It is going to be a long, hot, exhausting summer.
(. . . long and hot and exhausting summer)
She has a young, good-looking friend.
(. . . a young and good-looking friend)
She has many young friends.
(many and young friends doesn't work)
He has rejected traditional religious affiliations.
(traditional and religious affiliations puts a different meaning to the intent of the sentence, so it doesn't work here, either)

The second use of the comma we're going to look at is the comma used in dates and addresses that stand alone as well as in sentences.

Dates: comma between the day and year (May 10, 2010) but NOT between month and year (May 2010)
Addresses: between the city and state (Denver, Colorado)
Dates and time: after a.m./p.m. if in the middle of the sentence; after day if the date is given after it (Saturday, May 4, 1997), after the year if in the middle of a sentence
Addresses: between city and state and after state if in the middle of the sentence

The show will move into Springfield, Massachusetts, at about 8 p.m., Saturday, May 4, 1997, for this gala event.
I hope these guidelines for commas are a help to you in your writing.

Verse of the Day

You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind [both its inclination and its character] is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You. (Isaiah 26:3 AMP)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Verse of the Day

"Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown! When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. (Isaiah 43:1–2 ESV)

For Readers and Writers of Speculative Fiction

Special Announcement from
Marcher Lord Press
October 17, 2009

Marcher Lord Press Announces Marcher Lord Select

(Colorado Springs, CO)--Marcher Lord Press, the premier publisher of Christian speculative fiction, today announces the debut of a revolution in fiction acquisitions.

"Marcher Lord Select is American Idol meets book acquisitions," says publisher Jeff Gerke. "We're presenting upwards of 40 completed manuscripts and letting 'the people' decide which one should be published."

The contest will proceed in phases, Gerke explains, in each subsequent round of which the voters will receive larger glimpses of the competing manuscripts.

The first phase will consist of no more than the book's title, genre, length, a 20-word premise, and a 100-word back cover copy teaser blurb. Voters will cut the entries from 40 to 20 based on these items alone.

"We want to show authors that getting published involves more than simply writing a great novel," Gerke says. "There are marketing skills to be developed--and you've got to hook the reader with a good premise."

Following rounds will provide voters with a 1-page synopsis, the first 500 words of the book, the first 30 pages of the book, and, in the final round, the first 60 pages of the book.

The manuscript receiving the most votes in the final round will be published by Marcher Lord Press in its Spring 2010 release list.

No portion of any contestant's mss. will be posted online, as MLP works to preserve the non-publication status of all contestants and entries.

Participating entrants have been contacted personally by Marcher Lord Press and are included in Marcher Lord Select by invitation only.

"We're also running a secondary contest," Gerke says. "The 'premise contest' is for those authors who have completed a Christian speculative fiction manuscript that fits within MLP guidelines and who have submitted their proposals to me through the Marcher Lord Press acquisitions portal before October 29, 2009."

The premise contest will allow voters to select the books that sound the best based on a 20-word premise, a 100-word back cover copy teaser blurb, and (possibly) the first 500 words of the book.
The premise contest entrants receiving the top three vote totals will receive priority acquisitions reading by MLP publisher Jeff Gerke.

"It's a way for virtually everyone to play, even those folks who didn't receive an invitation to compete in the primary Marcher Lord Select contest."

The premise contest is open to anyone with a completed Christian speculative fiction manuscript that meets MLP guidelines for length, content, genre, worldview, audience, etc. To enter, authors must complete the acquisitions form found at the Marcher Lord Press site and supply all the components listed below on or before October 29, 2009.

Marcher Lord Select officially begins on November 1, 2009, and runs until completion in January or February 2010. All voting and discussions and Marcher Lord Select activities will take place at The Anomaly forums in the Marcher Lord Select subforum. Free registration is required.

"In order for this to work as we're envisioning," Gerke says, "we need lots and lots of voters. So even if you're not a fan of Christian science fiction or fantasy, I'm sure you love letting your voice be heard about what constitutes good Christian fiction. So come on out and join the fun!"

Marcher Lord Press is a Colorado Springs-based independent publisher producing Christian speculative fiction exclusively. MLP was launched in fall of 2008 and is privately owned. Contact: Jeff Gerke;

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Familiar Stranger by Christina Berry

Today I'm spotlighting Christina Berry and her debut novel, The Familiar Stranger.

Welcome to The Writer's Tool, Christina.

Tell me about your novel.

The Familiar Stranger—formerly known as Undiscovered—is about a couple going through a really rough patch in their marriage. When an accident incapacitates the husband, their relationship must be redefined. Which would be a lot easier to do if BIG secrets from his past didn’t raise their ugly heads. Despite the upheaval, the choices they make involving forgiveness and trust might allow a new beginning. Or … they might not.

You can see the back cover copy and what other authors have said about The Familiar Stranger by going to

How did you come up with the story?

In the summer of 2006, two stories appeared in the newspaper. One was a huge, national story; the other a smaller, local-interest item. I wondered what it might look like if those two stories conceived a child. Boom! I had the entire plot for The Familiar Stranger. It will be interesting to see if readers can figure out which stories inspired the book.

What challenges do you face with your writing? What comes easy to you?

As a single mother of young children, and currently serving as a foster parent, time is my biggest challenge. I have to make sure my family knows they come first, but to balance that with treating writing as a career.

Strength-wise, while the idea of writing or editing may seem hard, I usually get quite a lot done in a short amount of time once I start. An object in motion tends to stay in motion. That applies to our writing. A little momentum can go a long way!

What surprised you about the publishing process after your novel was contracted?

I knew that titles were frequently changed for publication, but I didn’t expect the title to change before the contract was officially signed. Also, I knew that editors move from house to house fairly often in this industry, but I didn’t expect to lose my dream editor two days after signing the contract. (Hi, Andy!)

After getting over the shock of losing my editor, I was very surprised at how much Moody valued my input, how frequently they communicated with me, and how they lifted my family up in prayer. In fact, everyone from my editor to the marketing manager to the author liaison has been amazing!

What takeaway value do you hope readers receive after reading your novel?

The recent changes in my life—losing my husband, facing finding a “real” job, selling my home—have done nothing but solidify what I hope to be the theme of the book and my life: Live Transparently—Forgive Extravagantly. If reading The Familiar Stranger makes even one man or woman be more honest with his or her spouse or delve into trust issues in a healthy way, I’ll consider it a success. Maybe there’s a hurting heart that can find a new path to forgiveness because of the story.

What part does God play in your writing?

I believe He guides the story, adding layers I’m not even capable of comprehending while I write it. I’m not great at starting my writing time with prayer, but I try to stay open to where He might lead me.

I see writing as one of the tools He uses to form me into His image—a tool to teach me patience, self-control, determination, reliance on Him, and other life lessons. I also see writing as a gift that brings hope, fulfillment, and purpose when the rest of my life is falling apart.

What fun facts may surprise your readers about you?

I was the team captain and second answerer in the speed round for our family on Family Feud in 2000 … and we won! Also, I grew up in Nigeria, West Africa, while my parents were Southern Baptist missionaries. I remember being awed at the selection of toilet paper in the grocery store when we returned to the States.

How can we pray for you?

Behind every book is an author, but what I tend to forget is that the author is a real person with real struggles, doubts, and hardships. This happens to be a period of pain, growth, and change in my life. I would love to be held up with prayers for the following: grace and strength to show Christ’s love to everyone I come in contact with, the ability to find joy wherever possible, and financial, emotional, and spiritual safety for my family as we continue the transition to a single parent home.

Some Christian writers argue that fiction is first and foremost entertainment and decry any "agenda driven" stories. What's your opinion on the subject?

I say we're all writing with an agenda, whether we recognize it or not. Maybe it's to show what a godly romance looks like, maybe to draw attention to child abuse, maybe to attempt to understand why people are capable of such evil, or ... With this book, I felt called to share what God has taught me about forgiveness. That is definitely my agenda, which correlates with my tagline: Live transparently—Forgive extravagantly.

However, if the story is not presented in a highly entertaining way the agenda will never be accomplished because the reader will toss the book down if she gets bored. The real skill—and I am by no means saying I'm setting the watermark with my writing—is to so thoroughly wrap the story around the agenda that it becomes unrecognizable to the reader. I'd love to hear other’s opinions in the comments.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

~Read craft books (I have a list of my favorites on the sidebar of my blog
~Write consistently
~Join a critique group
~Attend writing conferences
~Be open to criticism. One always has room to grow!

How important is faith in your books?

My faith undergirds every scene that I write. My hope is that it comes across to the reader in a very organic way, never as preachy or self-righteous. However, my characters’ spiritual arcs are a huge part of the storyline.

What themes do you like to write about?

The recent changes in my life—a divorce, working part-time outside the home, putting my home up for sale, moving toward adoption with a foster child—have done nothing but solidify what I hope to be the theme of the book and my life: Live Transparently—Forgive Extravagantly. If reading The Familiar Stranger makes even one man or woman be more honest with his or her spouse or delve into trust issues in a healthy way, I’ll consider it a success. Maybe there’s a hurting heart that can find a new path to forgiveness because of the story.

Can you tell us a little bit about your personal life?

Though the plot of The Familiar Stranger came from news stories, I’d been looking for a fictional vehicle to express the lessons I’d learned regarding forgiveness in my own marriage. I knew no one was interested in reading my particular story, but I still felt God had given me something to say. My husband and I worked through a major issue six years ago and found a vibrant, completely renewed marriage on the other side.

However, seven months ago, that same issue broke our bond. Now as a newly single woman, I’m in the midst of promoting a book that touches far closer to home than I would have ever dreamed. If no one else ever reads it, I’ve been convicted and encouraged by my own words. If that isn’t a gracious God at work, I don’t know what is!

How can our readers purchase your book?

Here are two links:

You can also have any bookstore order copies for you if they don’t have any in stock.

Thank you, Christina. I look forward to reading your book.

Verse of the Day

So we do not lose heart. . . . For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison. (2 Corinthians 4:16–17 ESV)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Verse of the Day

For the LORD will be your confidence And will keep your foot from being caught. (Proverbs 3:26)

Friday, October 16, 2009

Character Creation

Yesterday my characters for my new novel finally came out to play. (Only a writer will truly understand what that means.) And I found out so many fascinating things about them. Including the fact that my hero doesn't open himself up to strangers! Ooookkaayy! LOL But he finally made an exception. Nice of him.

I've been doing a lot of reading about character creation. Yes, a little OCD on the subject right now. But I am a recovering perfectionist. The internal editor is very hard to turn off. However, I've read good things from everyone who has tackled the subject.

However, I wanted to point out one book in particular that has helped me the most. Jeff Gerke's Character Creation for the Plot-First Novelist. You can find it here. Learning about the personality types and finding one that fits my heroine, hero, and antagonist (they are truly different) revealed a whole lot of ways conflict and friction between the characters, inside the characters, and through their spiritual journeys can play out in the story. It opened a whole new world to me.

Jeff's method has many questions to answer throughout the template, and then leaves space for summaries of each section. At the end you're ready to write all you know about that character from his/her point of view. At first I felt overwhelmed looking at the template as a whole, but as I worked yesterday, I found that it really did free me up to write as each of those characters. So cool!

And of course I'm already figuring out what works for me in this method and what other things I need to incorporate into it in order to make it work for me. That only emphasizes the fact that as writers we are all unique in our approaches to writing fiction. It reinforces the wisdom in learning from many different writers to see what works for them. Then I can determine what works for me and throw out the rest.

Now back to meditating on plot twists and conflicts while I clean house today.

Verse of the Day

The LORD is my strength and my shield; My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart exults, And with my song I shall thank Him. (Psalm 28:7 NASB)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Self-Editing Tips

Oh my. I just went back to see when the last time I posted a self-editing tips lesson—March 26. Yikes!! Didn't think it had been that long.

We're still on commas, the one piece of punctuation that has the most rules! We left off at parenthetical material set off by commas.

So today we'll cover a "rule" that is in a state of flux: when to use the comma in direct address. Used to be that anytime someone was spoken to using their name in dialogue, it was set apart with commas. And that rule still applies in sentences like these examples:

Officer, can you direct me toward the Southeast Expressway?
You have too many ands, buts, and sos in your essay, Dora.
For the moment, Carl, let's leave it alone.

However, today there is a shift toward dropping some of those commas in very short sentences/fragments. Like:

"But John . . ."

Go with your ear on these. If you don't put a pause in before saying the person's name, then leave the comma out.

Next week we'll talk about when to put commas in with adjectives.

Verse of the Day

"The LORD is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the strength of my salvation, and my stronghold, my high tower, my savior, the one who saves me from violence." (2 Samuel 22:3 NASB)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Verse of the Day

I have given you authority and power . . . and [physical and mental strength and ability] over all the power that the enemy [possesses]; and nothing shall in any way harm you. (Luke 10:19 AMP)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


The word yield has come up more than once in the past week. Sunday afternoon just before choir practice, our music pastor handed me the following poem saying he knew I would appreciate it. I did.

Alone with none but thee, my God,
I journey on my way.
What need I fear when thou art near,
O King of night and day?
More safe am I within thy hand
than if a host should round me stand.

My destined time is known to thee,
and death will keep his hour;
did warriors strong around me throng,
they could not stay his power;
no walls of stone can man defend
when thou thy messenger dost send.

My life I yield to thy decree,
and bow to thy control
in peaceful calm, for from thine arm
no power can wrest my soul.
Could earthly omens e'er appall
a man that heeds the heavenly call?

The child of God can fear no ill,
his chosen dread no foe;
we leave our fate with thee, and wait
thy bidding when to go.
'Tis not from chance our comfort springs,
thou art our trust, O King of kings.

(attributed to St. Columba)

Seeing who wrote this poem, I was reminded once again of the verse in Jeremiah about returning to the ancient paths, which is a reference to God and His Word.

This morning in my quiet time with the Lord, I was brought face-to-face with a verse I memorized many years ago. "Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God" (Romans 6:13 KJV).

Hannah Whitall Smith wrote: "To yield anything simply means to give that thing to the care and keeping of another. To yield ourselves to the Lord, therefore, is to give ourselves to Him, giving Him the entire possession and control of our whole being. It means to abandon ourselves, to take hands off ourselves."

Ouch! Taking my hands off the controls of my life is scary. But anything less than that is sin because of my refusal to trust God. But until I do, His peace is lacking.

Last night at my local writer's group meeting, the speaker encouraged us to spend at least 10 minutes a day free-writing. Allowing ourselves to get rid of the "junk," learning to mine the treasures from that junk, and deleting the useless, unworthy material. She led us in several free-writing exercises, and I resisted. Why? Because it feels out-of-control to me. Eventually I started putting those thoughts down as a letter to God.

And this morning's quiet time was a revelation of what I still have to yield to Him. It's a process of God prying my fingers off the controls, even though I've said often that I'm surrendering all to Him. It's like peeling the layers of an onion. It's painful. His wonderful Holy Spirit digs deeper and deeper as I learn to yield all to Him.

Verse of the Day

For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you. Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer; listen to my plea for grace. In the day of my trouble I call upon you, for you answer me. (Psalm 86:5–7 ESV)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Verse of the Day

"Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle, and you will find rest for your souls. (Matthew 11:28–29 NLT)

Friday, October 9, 2009

A Measure of Mercy by Lauraine Snelling

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

A Measure of Mercy

Bethany House (October 1, 2009)


Lauraine Snelling


Award-winning and best selling author Lauraine Snelling began living her dream to be a writer with her first published book for young adult readers, Tragedy on the Toutle, in 1982. She has since continued writing more horse books for young girls, adding historical and contemporary fiction and nonfiction for adults and young readers to her repertoire. All told, she has up to sixty books published.

Shown in her contemporary romances and women’s fiction, a hallmark of Lauraine’s style is writing about real issues of forgiveness, loss, domestic violence, and cancer within a compelling story. Her work has been translated into Norwegian, Danish, and German, and she has won the Silver Angel Award for An Untamed Land and a Romance Writers of America Golden Heart for Song of Laughter.

As a most sought after speaker, Lauraine encourages others to find their gifts and live their lives with humor and joy. Her readers clamor for more books more often, and Lauraine would like to comply . . . if only her paintbrushes and easel didn’t call quite so loudly.

Lauraine and her husband, Wayne, have two grown sons, and live in the Tehachapi Mountains with a cockatiel named Bidley and a watchdog Basset named Chewy. They love to travel, most especially in their forty-foot motor coach, which they affectionately deem “a work in progress”.


Eighteen-year-old Astrid Bjorklund has always dreamed of becoming a doctor. She had intended to study medicine in Chicago or Grand Forks, but when a disaster wiped out a major portion of her family's income, Astrid stayed home instead, receiving hands-on training from Dr. Elizabeth.

Joshua Landsverk left Blessing two years ago, but he's never forgotten Astrid. Returning to town, he seeks to court her.

Astrid is attracted to him, and when the opportunity unexpectedly opens for her to go to Chicago for medical training, she finds it difficult to leave. Love blossoms through their letters, but upon arriving back home, she makes a heartbreaking discovery. She learns he's left town—again. Believing Joshua no longer loves her, Astrid makes an impetuous, heart-wrenching decision.

Will she regret the choice she's made? Will she have to give up love to pursue her dream?

If you would like to read the first chapter of A Measure of Mercy, go HERE

Review to come later. I am really looking forward to going back to Blessing to see what new things are happening there. I've read most of Lauraine's books, but the ones I've enjoyed the most are her historicals about Blessing.

Notice: In accordance with the FTC regulations, I state that as a reviewer for the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance, A Measure of Mercy was sent to me directly from the publisher, Bethany House Publisher, for review purposes.

Verse of the Day

Change your life, not just your clothes. Come back to GOD, your God. And here's why: God is kind and merciful. He takes a deep breath, puts up with a lot, This most patient God, extravagant in love, always ready to cancel catastrophe. (Joel 2:13 MSG)

The picture of changing our lives here isn't as clear to me as the other versions state it: "Rend your heart and not your garments." A picture of grief and mourning, which is the way of true repentance. Repentance turns 180 degrees from sinful behavior to godly behavior, which is the meaning of the first word change in The Message. But I love the way the rest of the verse is paraphrased.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

What I've Been Reading

Not everything I read is for review. I still like to pick up books to read for the pure pleasure of reading—a concept that boggles the mind of many of my friends and family members. After all, I read for a living. Why on earth would I want to spend time reading in my spare time?

However, Exposure is one of the CFBA books for which I owe my blog readers a review. So we'll start with that one today.
Go here to read about Brandilyn and the book.

Exposure by Brandilyn Collins

Fear is something everyone deals with. Maybe not to the extent that Kaycee Raye does in Exposure. But it’s something that made her a sympathetic character. I wanted to step into the book and help her. In Exposure, Kaycee is forced to face her deepest fears. She dredges up courage she didn’t know she had in order to face her past and help someone she loves. And in doing so she learns a lot about herself.

Set in small town Kentucky Kaycee hopes she’s found a permanent home. But then weird things start happening. And they get weirder, feeding her fears. (Can such things really be done with electronics and technology? Scary thought!) She finds an unexpected ally in police officer Mark Burnett. Finally someone takes her seriously. Or does he? Can she really trust anyone? The action throughout Exposure is fast-paced and intense. Not a book for the timid reader.

I love Brandilyn’s Seatbelt Suspense™ writing. I love having my heart rate rise while reading, even when it keeps me up, much later than I should, reading it. :) When I pick up a Brandilyn Collins book, I know I’d better have time to read it because I won’t have any rest until I’ve finished the book. Exposure did not disappoint.

Zondervan sent me an advanced reader’s copy to review for CFBA.

Fools Rush In by Janice Thompson

Janice had her publisher, Revell, send this book to me as a gift, just because. (Thank you again, Janice!!) What a wonderful read!

Fools Rush In is the first book in the Weddings by Bella series. We are introduced to the delightful Rossi family, Italian to the core. They live on Galveston Island, Texas, where Bella’s parents have passed on the responsibilities of their wedding planner business to Bella. She’s neck-deep in a true Texas cowboy-themed Boot-Scootin’ wedding, something she knows nothing about. But she’s about to get a crash course in everything Texan, including one very handsome cowboy of her own.

Having grown up in Texas, I truly appreciated all the humor that introducing the true-blue Texan Neeley family to the full-blown Italian Rossi family brings. Fools Rush In is laugh-out-loud-funny and extremely heartwarming. And the spiritual thread slips right into the story beautifully.

I can’t wait until the second book in this series comes out. If you like romantic comedy, you will love this book.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

Not Christian fiction, but an excellent general market book. Again I received this book as a gift from Cynthia Ruchti, president of ACFW, when I picked her up at the airport in Denver before the recent ACFW conference and delivered her to the hotel.

Written entirely in letters, with the occasional telegram, the authors tell the story of post-war England, more specifically one of the Channel Islands that had been occupied by Germans during the war. This is not only a tale of survival, but also it tells how life can be reestablished after a devastating event like World War II. The story of the society’s beginnings and the lifeline it held out to its members is heartwarming and sincere. It made me want to be a part of the society. :)

Thank you again, Cynthia, for gifting me with this incredible book. It’s characters will live on for a long time in my heart.

Verse of the Day

Through thick and thin, keep your hearts at attention, in adoration before Christ, your Master. Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you're living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy. (1 Peter 3:15 MSG)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Though Waters Roar by Lynn Austin

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Though Waters Roar

· Bethany House (October 1, 2009)


Lynn Austin


Along with reading, two of Lynn's lifelong passions are history and archaeology. While researching her Biblical fiction series, Chronicles of the Kings, these two interests led her to pursue graduate studies in Biblical Backgrounds and Archaeology through Southwestern Theological Seminary. She and her son traveled to Israel during the summer of 1989 to take part in an archaeological dig at the ancient city of Timnah. This experience contributed to the inspiration for her novel Wings of Refuge.

Lynn resigned from teaching to write full-time in 1992. Since then she has published twelve novels. Five of her historical novels, Hidden Places, Candle in the Darkness, Fire by Night, A Proper Pursuit, and Until We Reach Home have won Christy Awards in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2008, and 2009 for excellence in Christian Fiction.

Fire by Night was also one of only five inspirational fiction books chosen by Library Journal for their top picks of 2003, and All She Ever Wanted was chosen as one of the five inspirational top picks of 2005. Lynn's novel Hidden Places has been made into a movie for the Hallmark Channel.


"Thank goodness you're such a plain child. You'll have to rely on your wits."

So went the words of Grandma Bebe. And for all of my growing-up years, I scoffed at the beauty of my sister and what I saw as her meaningless existence. But my wits hadn't served me well in this instance, for here I was, in jail. And while I could have seen it as carrying on the family tradition (for Grandma Bebe landed in jail for her support of Prohibition), the truth is, my reasons for being here would probably break her heart.

So how did I end up becoming a criminal? I've been pondering that question all night. Perhaps the best way to search for an answer is to start at the very beginning.

Harriet Sherwood has always adored her grandmother. But when Harriet decides to follow in her footsteps to fight for social justice, she certainly never expected her efforts to land her in jail. Nor did she expect her childhood enemy and notorious school bully, Tommy O'Reilly, to be the arresting officer.

Languishing in a jail cell, Harriet has plenty of time to sift through the memories of the three generations of women who have preceded her. As each story emerges, the strength of her family--and their deep faith in the God of justice and righteousness--brings Harriet to the discovery of her own goals and motives for pursuing them.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Though Waters Roar, go HERE

Review to come later.

All the books I review for the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance are sent to me free of charge by the publisher.

Verse of the Day

So if you're serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don't shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ--that's where the action is. See things from his perspective. (Colossians 3:1-2 MSG)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Prayer for Writers

Taken from my friend Liz Babbs's blog:

As I spend much of my time writing, this beautiful Celtic prayer is especially meaningful. I first spotted it in the book Celtic Fire by Robert Van de Weyer (DLT, London 1990) .

The Scribe
My hand is weary from writing; my sharp quill is not steady; as its tender tip spits it dark, blue stream, the words which are formed on the page are jagged and uncertain.

O Lord, may it be your wisdom, not my folly, which passes through my arm and hand; may your words take shape upon the page. For when I am truly faithful to your decision, my hand is firm and strong.

Let me never write words that are callous or profane; let your priceless jewels shine upon these pages.

Verse of the Day

As the deer pants for streams of water, so I long for you, O God. I thirst for God, the living God. When can I come and stand before him? (Psalm 42:1-2 NLT)

Monday, October 5, 2009

Verse of the Day

And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. (1 Peter 5:10 ESV)

Intervention by Terri Blackstock

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing


Zondervan (September 22, 2009)


Terri Blackstock


Terri Blackstock’s books have sold six million copies worldwide. Her suspense novels often debut at number one on the Christian fiction best-seller lists, and True Light, published last year, was number one of all Christian books—fiction and non-fiction. Blackstock has had twenty-five years of success as a novelist.

In 1994 Blackstock was writing for publishers such as HarperCollins, Harlequin and Silhouette, when a spiritual awakening drew her into the Christian market. Since that time, she’s written over thirty Christian titles, in addition to the thirty-two she had in the secular market. Her most recent books are the four in her acclaimed Restoration Series, which includes Last Light, Night Light, True Light and Dawn’s Light. She is also known for her popular Newpointe 911 and Cape Refuge Series.

In addition to her suspense novels, she has written a number of novels in the women’s fiction genre, including Covenant Child, which was chosen as one of the first Women of Faith novels, and her Seasons Series written with Beverly LaHaye, wife of Tim LaHaye.

Blackstock has won the Retailer’s Choice Award and has appeared on national television programs such as The 700 Club, Home Life, and At Home Live with Chuck and Jenny. She has been a guest on numerous radio programs across the country and the subject of countless articles. The story of her personal journey appears in books such as Touched By the Savior by Mike Yorkey, True Stories of Answered Prayer by Mike Nappa, Faces of Faith by John Hanna, and I Saw Him In Your Eyes by Ace Collins.


Barbara Covington has one more chance to save her daughter from a devastating addiction, by staging an intervention. But when eighteen-year-old Emily disappears on the way to drug treatment—and her interventionist is found dead at the airport—Barbara enters her darkest nightmare of all.

Barbara and her son set out to find Emily before Detective Kent Harlan arrests her for a crime he is sure she committed. Fearing for Emily’s life, Barbara maintains her daughter’s innocence. But does she really know her anymore? Meanwhile, Kent has questions of his own. His gut tells him that this is a case of an addict killing for drugs, but as he gets to know Barbara, he begins to hope he’s wrong about Emily.

The panic level rises as the mysteries intensify: Did Emily’s obsession with drugs lead her to commit murder—or is she another victim of a cold-blooded killer?

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

Watch the book trailer:

Review to come later

Friday, October 2, 2009

Verse of the Day

The LORD will command His lovingkindness in the daytime; and His song will be with me in the night, a prayer to the God of my life. (Psalm 42:8) My prayers are songs in God's ears.

ACFW October Book Releases

1. A Star Curiously Singing, The DarkTrench Saga, Book 1, by Kerry Nietz from Marcher Lord Press. An augmented human programmer is sent to space to solve the mystery of a bot’s destruction.

2. Double Take, by Jenness Walker from Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense. When a stalker becomes obsessed with a woman, the key to stopping him lies in a best-selling thriller…until he stops going by the book.

3. Dreaming of Home, by Glenna Kaye from Steeple Hill Love Inspired Two wounded hearts must learn to trust that God's dreams for them far exceed any they may have for themselves.

4. Eternity Falls - A Rick Macey Cyberthriller, Book 1 of the Rick Macey Cyberthriller series, by Kirk Outerbridge from Marcher Lord Press. A cyber-enhanced detective must stop a religious zealot from destroying a serum for eternal life.

5. Gripped By Fear, Chicago Warrior Thriller Series, 2nd book, by John M. Wills from Total Recall. Chgo Detectives hunt a serial rapist in the mean streets of Chicago in the midst of personal struggles.

6. Leaving Yesterday, by Kathryn Cushman from Bethany House. A mother rejoices at the return of her prodigal, but is faced with an impossible decision as evidence from his past refuses to stay buried.

7. Loves Finds You in Bethlehem, New Hampshire, by Lauralee Bliss from Summerside Press. Set in the Guilded Age within the beauty of New Hampshire's White Mountains, successful artist Tom Haskins and penniless Sara McGee discover through their circumstacnes that the most precious gifts of life and love don't always come as they're expected.

8. Love Finds You in North Pole, Alaska, by Loree Lough from Summerside Press. A story that's sure to warm your heart, despite the icy Alaskan setting!

9. Love is a Battlefield, Book One in the Walk in the Park series, by Annalisa Daughety from Barbour Publishing. War rages again at Shiloh, but this time it’s a battle of the heart.

10. Seaside Letters, by Denise Hunter from Thomas Nelson. Sabrina Kincaid didn't intend to fall for Nantucket native Tucker McCabe, the man she serves coffee to every morning-a man tied deeply to a past she deeply regrets. But she has. And she's fallen hard. But she's kept this a secret from her handsome customer. And now Tucker wants to hire Sabrina to help locate his friend "Sweetpea"-the mysterious woman he's falling in love with online. Sabrina is not inclined to help, but if Tucker hires someone else, it could spell disaster. Because if someone else sifts through the emails and figures out the truth-then Tucker will discover that the person he's trying to find is . . . her.

11. Soldier Daddy, Wings of Refuge Series-book 5-all standalones, by Cheryl Wyatt from Steeple Hill. A USAF Pararescue Jumper searches for a nanny for his twins and instead finds a future with a woman harboring a secret tied to his past.

12. The Case of the Mystified M.D., Book 2, Bouncing Grandma Mysteries, by A.K. Arenz from Sheaf House. First a foot, now a hand--what body part is next?

13. The Christmas Journey, by Winnie Griggs from Steeple Hill Love Inspired.

14. The Jewel of his Heart, Heart of the West Series, by Maggie Brendan from Revell. Discover the classic struggle between the world's wealth and the lure of eternal love in this Western story of elegance and survival.

15. The Matchmaking Pact, After the Storm #4
, by Carolyn Aarsen from Steeple Hill Love Inspired. A single father and a single mother have to deal with matchmaking children.

16. Thirsty, by Tracey Bateman from Waterbrook. “Deep, cutting, an intoxicating blend of human and supernatural, of characters scarred by the past, drained by life. This is the book I’ve waited for.”

17. Trial By Fire, by Cara Putman from Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense. When an arsonist targets her family, Tricia has to find him before harm is done without losing her heart to a fireman.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Verse of the Day

Keep a clear mind in every situation. Don't be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at bringing others to Christ. Complete the ministry God has given you. (2 Timothy 4:5 NLT)