Friday, November 30, 2007

Auralia's Colors by Jeffrey Overstreet

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

(WaterBrook Press September 4, 2007)


Jeffrey Overstreet


Jeffrey Overstreet lives in two worlds. By day, he writes about movies at and in notable publications like Christianity Today, Paste, and Image.

His adventures in cinema are chronicled in his book Through a Screen Darkly. By night, he composes new stories found in fictional worlds of his own. Living in Shoreline, Washington, with his wife, Anne, a poet, he is a senior staff writer for Response Magazine at Seattle Pacific University.

Auralia’s Colors is his first novel. He is now hard at work on many new stories, including three more strands of The Auralia Thread.

As a baby, she was found in a footprint.

As a girl, she was raised by thieves in a wilderness where savages lurk.

As a young woman, she will risk her life to save the world with the only secret she knows.

When thieves find an abandoned child lying in a monster’s footprint, they have no idea that their wilderness discovery will change the course of history.

Cloaked in mystery, Auralia grows up among criminals outside the walls of House Abascar, where vicious beastmen lurk in shadow. There, she discovers an unsettling–and forbidden–talent for crafting colors that enchant all who behold them, including Abascar’s hard-hearted king, an exiled wizard, and a prince who keeps dangerous secrets.

Auralia’s gift opens doors from the palace to the dungeons, setting the stage for violent and miraculous change in the great houses of the Expanse.

Auralia’s Colors weaves literary fantasy together with poetic prose, a suspenseful plot, adrenaline-rush action, and unpredictable characters sure to enthrall ambitious imaginations.

Visit the Website especially created for the book, Auralia's Colors. On the site, you can read the first chapter and listen to jeffrey's introduction of the book, plus a lit more!


"Film critic and author Overstreet (Through a Screen Darkly) offers a powerful myth for his first foray into fiction. Overstreet’s writing is precise and beautiful, and the story is masterfully told. Readers will be hungry for the next installment."
--Publishers Weekly

“Through word, image, and color Jeffrey Overstreet has crafted a work of art. From first to final page this original fantasy is sure to draw readers in. Auralia's Colors sparkles.”
-–Janet Lee Carey, award-winning author of The Beast of
and Dragon's Keep

“Jeffrey Overstreet’s first fantasy, Auralia’s Colors, and its heroine’s cloak of wonders take their power from a vision of art that is auroral, looking to the return of beauty, and that intends to restore spirit and and mystery to the world. The book achieves its ends by the creation of a rich, complex universe and a series of dramatic, explosive events.”
-–Marly Youmans, author of Ingledove and The
Curse of the Raven Mocker

Margie's comments: I took Auralia's Colors with me last week to Illinois. My son, Randy, saw it and immediately grabbed it to read. (That happens frequently when he's home and find a new fantasy among my TBR stacks!) In between finishing his classes and preparing for his finals before graduating next month, he's reading this book and writing a review for me to post. So when he gets it to me, I'll post it! I won't get the book back until he comes home for Christmas . . . oh, no, wait! I'll see him next week when we go to South Carolina for my husband's company Christmas weekend. I'll grab it then!~

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Desperate Prayers and a Thankful Heart—4

After the conference I shared with a few of my prayer partners at church and in my critique groups so they would know how to continue to pray for me. And the testing from the Lord began in earnest. It’s hard to describe the last two months. But instead of writing in the mornings like I used to, I now spend more time with the Lord. At a friend’s urging, I’ve started a study in the Song of Solomon. I’m not even through the introduction, and I’m already blown away by the incredible love God has for me as described in the Song. (The study is Song of Songs: The Ravished Heart of God by Mike Bickle of the International House of Prayer. I got it from Friends of the Bridegroom, .) By journaling everything as I study, I slow down enough to be able to grasp more of what the Lord is revealing to me through this study.

I now see God’s love in everything He has asked me to give up to Him, even though the circumstance may be hard. The events of the last two months have been like a whirlwind—fast, destruction, confusion, but always a sense of peace, knowing I’m loved and He’s purifying me, growing me in ways I never dreamed. And my prayers have been desperate. There’s no other way to describe it. I ache for people and their struggles in a way I’ve never done before. My prayer life has grown in ways I’d not expected.

After about six weeks of this kind of praying, I decided the Lord must be getting tired of hearing my desperate cries for my friends and family, and especially for myself. Until the Wednesday night Bible study at my church. The assistant pastor who usually leads this service started a series on the Beatitudes the week before. This Wednesday, he started with the first beatitude: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Kraig explained that the word Jesus used for poor describes one who is destitute, having no means monetarily or spiritually to help himself. Already I sensed the Lord was telling me to listen up. He had something very important I needed to learn. Jesus was talking about those who realize their complete dependence on God and begs for His grace in mercy in every area of life. I was there! I completely identified, because by this time, the Lord had allowed me to be tested (and continues to test) every single area the song “Whatever It Takes” touches on.

Kraig concluded his study of this first beatitude with the question, “What does poor in spirit look like?” The answer: The life of one who is poor in spirit is characterized by a life of desperate prayer.

Wow!! I literally felt the light bulb come on in my brain. God wants to hear my desperate prayers. I please Him, I bring joy and delight to Him, when I am totally dependent on Him, running constantly to the shelter He provides for direction, for wisdom . . . for everything! What a relief to know I was already on the right track!

And the next Sunday, as I was teaching my Sunday school class of ladies, I got the answer to how Abraham was able to obey so willingly, so completely, when God asked him to sacrifice Isaac. We are slowly working our way through Beth Moore’s study, Jesus, The One and Only (because of time constraints, each day’s lesson is a week’s lesson for us), and we have just completed the seventh week in the book. In day five of that week we studied the story of the prodigal son. Beth mentions the principle that when we stray, we still have to bear the consequences of our sin even after we have repented. In answer to the question, “When will all these painful repercussions end?”, Beth responds, “Not until the very idea of straying causes you such painful flashbacks that you’re hardly ever tempted to depart His will again.”

It wasn’t until Abraham had suffered the consequences of his attempts to take God’s promises into his own hands in order to see them fulfilled was Abraham willing to obey willingly and completely, right as soon as God asked for his obedience. And God is now working that principle into me. The tests are numerous, most of the time more than one at once. The last two weeks were some of the most difficult weeks I’ve ever faced, with not only my own personal things, but also with struggles and issues with other people—pulling me into situations and circumstances I’d much rather avoid because of painful associations with the past. And this testing isn’t just affecting me any longer. It affects my family, my church family, my friends.

I can see growth. (And there's still room for a lot more, believe me! I haven't "arrived" yet, not until the Lord calls me home.) Obedience comes much quicker these days. I see God’s love in everything, especially the hard things. I’m much more sensitive to hearing His voice as He speaks to me through His Word. All my words come under intense scrutiny, and my heart is moved to confess at the slightest deviation from what I know to be right. The Lord has blessed me with two work-for-hire writing contracts as a result of my going back to the editor who tried to direct me to this in our meeting at the conference. This time with a heart that was willing to listen. Thank God for second chances!

So desperate prayers lead to a thankful heart. The Lord truly has taken my grief and turned my mourning into joy. While I still grieve both of our mothers departure from this earthly life, I am rejoicing that they are with the Lord today. And I am so blessed by the heritage each of our mothers left behind for us. We will miss them at our Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations, yes. But no longer with a grief that has no joy.

I still have fibromyalgia and all the pain and other health issues that go along with it, and the last month has been intense as I've started using the guaifenesin protocol and hypoglycemic diet recommended at But God enables me to get through each day. We are being pulled into a ministry situation we thought was behind us. The Lord is stretching me far beyond my comfort zones in every area of my life. And do you know what? I’m excited. A little scared by the glimpses He’s given me of where He’s taking me. But I’m learning that He is all I need. God is truly good!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Desperate Prayers and a Thankful Heart—3

Labor Day itself was rather quiet. My husband and I spent the day at our cabin. Another place full of family history and memories. It is truly one of the Lord’s blessings for which we thank Him often. At 9000 ft. six or seven hiking miles east of the Continental Divide (and 3000–4000 ft. lower, depending on where you cross it), we literally own a tiny piece of God’s Country! Cell phones don’t work there; no electricity; no running water (except for the spring behind the cabin!)—a place where we often meet God. A great place to get away from the noise of our world. Something I don't take advantage of often enough.

We hiked to Lost Lake, something we’d not been able to do all summer because of my eye surgery in June. On the hike I pondered what the Lord was doing within me, and when we got to the lake, my favorite rock jutting into the lake was empty! A miracle really, on a holiday weekend that sees many, many people in this popular area. I was able to look across the lake to the west at the mountains that make up the Divide and praise God for His creation, His love, His awesome majesty. Just what I needed to encourage me that day.

The next two weeks were rather quiet as I prepared for the conference and continued to work. I sought the Lord often to show me the next steps, but all I had was a sense of confusion, which I knew wasn’t of God. Before I knew it the conference began, and in the very first session, I found myself crying all through the praise and worship time. I was so dry, so confused. I longed for the Lord to work in me. Other than journaling and the few blog posts I’d done over the summer, I’d done no writing in over nine months. Why I was even at the conference was a mystery to me! A woman I’d just met prayed over me right there while everyone was singing. Thank you, Sammi! I had peace that the Lord had me there for a reason.

But by Saturday morning, I was ready to tell my agent to drop me. Every editor appointment (I had two) seemed to put me deeper into the despair of ever writing a publishable word again. Okay, that was me, not the two wonderful ladies I had appointments with! In fact, I was so deep into that funk, I didn’t even hear the suggestion one of those editors had for me. That morning before I went down to breakfast, I was reading my Bible and felt the Lord’s nudging me to talk with Brandilyn Collins about praying with me that day.

Brandilyn emcees the ACFW conferences. She’s a great writer and a wonderful teacher. I’ve learned much from reading her blog, Forensics and Faith. After the Lord healed her several years ago from lyme disease, He has given her a fruitful ministry of intercessory prayer. I’d seen the results in many of my friends in previous conferences and in this one. I longed for the peace that radiated from their entire beings! I even know Brandilyn. She’d chosen me as one of the original writers for her Kanner Lake blog. But still I hesitated to ask her to pray for me. Pride, I guess. I didn’t want to admit I was struggling.

But the Lord wouldn’t leave me alone. And He reminded me of my promise to be obedient to Him, no matter what the cost. So . . . I swallowed my pride, interrupted my breakfast, and went across the huge ballroom where our meals were served in search of Brandilyn. She had an opening later that morning, after my appointments with an editor and my agent. The agent who refused to let me go, by the way. Instead she encouraged me, saying she believed the Lord still had much for me to write, and she wasn’t giving up on me just because I’d hit a dry spell. Another blessing from the Lord, for which I’m extremely thankful.

I met Brandilyn in the prayer room. After she prayed for a friend, she placed me before her and asked why I’d wanted prayer. Two friends who had prayed with Brandilyn the day before stayed to pray with us. I told Brandilyn of my confusion; spiritual, physical, emotional, and mental dryness; and of my grief over my mother-in-law and mother. She asked about our family, and I mentioned I wanted continued prayer for my daughter whom the Lord had asked me to let go. I explained she was moving to London in January, working as a tax accountant for the UK division of the accounting firm she works for here in Denver. Then she started to pray.

She first asked the Lord to reveal to her how to pray for me. A few minutes later she stood, placed her hands on my shoulders and neck, and asked me why the Lord had directed her to do so. The picture, and feeling, I had as soon as she touched me was that of a backpack fully loaded and strapped on. Brandilyn asked Kathy and Eileen to place their hands on my shoulders. Then she prayed for the Lord to break the bonds holding the burden in place, to release me, and to roll it off.

Almost immediately she took one hand off my shoulder and said she was to put her fist in my gut, deep down. When I gave permission, she did, saying that was where my grief had settled—way deep down in my spirit, in my body. The whole lower section of my torso burned and felt like a vise squeezing it. She then prayed the Lord would release me from grief over Mom’s death and my daughter’s leaving for London (another “loss”) a year later. Then she asked the Lord to bring all the grief up and out of my body, to again release me from the pain and heartache and to replace it with joy. By this time I was crying pretty hard, though not loudly, even though the pain increased under Brandilyn’s fist. After a few minutes, she said that even though I was so quiet she sensed the grief rising like a flooding river and pouring out of me. After several more minutes I began to feel a glimmer of hope, release, and best of all, joy. She prayed that I would have joy in the midst of tears, that tears were good and that I would still grieve, but it is no longer bottled up within me and therefore would be healing.

Then she placed her hands on my sides, running them up and down from under my arms down to my hips. Again she asked why the Lord had directed her there. I had no idea and said so. So she waited a few minutes then began to pray the Lord’s healing and protection for whatever that area signified. Two things came to mind: Mom’s leukemia because of the many lymph nodes in that area, and my weight gain from lack of exercise due to all the physical problems I’ve had this past year. Brandilyn prayed specifically for my lymph nodes, not knowing about Mom’s cause of death. But still she wasn’t sure what the Lord meant by having her put her hands there. And I’m still not sure why. God will reveal it in His time.

After that, Brandilyn started praying over my spine and said that all things in my life are being realigned—physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually. As her hands moved up and down my spine, she prayed for my writing, for clarity in direction, for a return of joy in doing what I’ve been gifted to do. She then told me that when it was the right time, my writing will be like a spring bubbling up from the ground, not like a pool but more like a fountain, water gushing from a small pipe—constant, overflowing, and plentiful, refreshing. (Note: Yesterday the Lord drew my attention to Isaiah 58:11: "And the LORD will continually guide you, and satisfy your desire in scorched places, and give strength to your bones; and you will be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water whose waters do not fail." My written promise from the Lord! He is so good!)

Then she put her hand on my head and prayed for my editing business, that it would prosper and bring forth fruit and be refreshing to those I worked with, that in all things I would be blessed, not just in the editing and writing. She told me she could see God showering me with blessing—a virtual rainstorm of blessing pouring down on me. At one point she tried to take her hands off, but put them back immediately saying the rainstorm hadn’t ended. While she was waiting for the showers to end, I quit crying and felt my being fill with peace and joy. I couldn’t keep a smile from breaking out. Not that I wanted to!

Then I returned home to a pile of editing projects that I was so behind on, to writing that I still couldn’t find the solution to, plus friends and family who wanted detailed reports of the conference. I didn’t feel ready to face any of that, other than I knew things had changed. The joy and peace were still there, the spring bubbling up in me at odd times. And people noticed the change in my countenance. Two days after I returned from the conference, I had yet another appointment of a long string of appointments this year with my ophthalmologist. I gave my sign-in sheet to the distracted receptionist (who by this time knows me by name ) and sat down to wait my turn. When she finished her phone call, she looked up to acknowledge me, then said something was different. She hardly recognized me, and in fact, hadn't until she looked at the sheet I'd given her. Whatever it was, she couldn't pinpoint it, I looked great!! Thank You, God! What an affirmation of the peace and joy within me that was so different from previous visits.

Monday, November 26, 2007


I read the following quotes from a devotional I get from Back to the Bible. I needed this reminder today.

"Faith is not always a champion which marches alone. Sometimes faith is accompanied by fear. Faith is not the absence of questioning; it is the presence of action in the midst of those questions. Faith does not provide all the answers; it provides a basis for confidence in the midst of unreasonable circumstances.

"If we are to live a life of faith, we must get our eyes off the stone before the tomb and on the God who does the impossible. The women knew the stone would keep them from their Lord, and yet they purchased their spices, readied themselves early in the morning, and made their way in the darkness toward the garden tomb. Faith is not being free from questions; faith is being firm in commitment to the power of God. How will you demonstrate your faith today? "

Woodrow Kroll

Friday, November 23, 2007

The Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Decked Out by Neta Jackson

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing


Thomas Nelson (October 2, 2007)


Neta Jackson

Neta Jackson Neta Jackson's award-winning Yada books have sold more than 350,000 copies and are spawning prayer groups across the country. She and her husband, Dave, are also an award-winning husband/wife writing team, best known for the Trailblazer Books--a 40-volume series of historical fiction about great Christian heroes with 1.8 million in sales--and Hero Tales: A Family Treasury of True Stories from the Lives of Christian Heroes (vols 1-4).

Dave and Neta live in Evanston, Illinois, where for twenty-seven years they were part of Reba Place Church, a Christian church community. They are now members of the Chicago Tabernacle, a multi-racial congregation that is a daughter church of the well-known Brooklyn Tabernacle.

Turkey dinners, tree trimming, and decking the halls--it's that time of year again! And I Jodi Baxter, can't wait to celebrate. My kids are coming home for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and then all of us Yadas are getting decked out for a big New Year's party.

But God's idea of "decked out" might just change the nature of our party plans. A perplexing encounter with a former student, a crime that literally knocks me off my feet, a hurry-up wedding, and a child who will forever change our's times like these that I really need my prayer sisters.

This holiday season, we Yada Yadas are learning that no one can out celebrate God. So let's get this party started!

THE YADA YADA PRAYER GROUP GETS DECKED OUT is a festive novella featuring America's favorite prayer group, the Yada Yadas!

Sometimes dubbed "chick-lit" for their bright covers and catchy titles, this series provides far more depth than witty banter and wacky situations. Inspired by a prayer group of real women, each book will have you laughing, crying, and perhaps praying anew.

In this highly anticipated installment, the Yada Yada sisters-a group of multi-cultural friends-and their families prepare for the event of the season.

But yes, eager readers, this novella—which picks up a year and a half after the end of book #6 The Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Rolling concludes the series with some twists and turns that will amaze and encourage you. Plus, it sets the stage for Neta’s new series with new characters and new situations but also occasional roles for the beloved Yada Yada sisters in familiar Chicago neighborhoods with all their cultural richness.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

We are safely in Illinois. Safely being the operating word here. For any of you who have ever traveled I-80 through Nebraska and Iowa—well, Iowa especially is always busy. But yesterday snow was added to the mix, and it was beyond busy! So many accidents! Two in Omaha alone. It took us nearly two hours to get to Omaha from Lincoln, then another hour to make it across the Missouri. Iowa was a whole other story! Finally about Iowa City we drove out of the snow and it was just rain the rest of the way. Twelve hours to make an eight-hour trip. But . . . God is good! We were always able to stop when traffic came to a standstill. And we're here with family. The sun is shining this morning. Always a good thing! And our son, driving from his university in South Carolina in a truck that runs on prayers, made it in before us, safely.

This morning I read Psalm 18, reminding me once again that nothing is too difficult for the Lord. He is fighting the battles for us, sheltering us safe in His arms at the same time.

Have a very blessed Thanksgiving! On Monday, I'll post the next installment in Desperate Prayers and a Thankful Heart.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Desperate Prayers and a Thankful Heart—2

Sunday morning I woke with disjointed phrases from the song running through my mind. Wanting to know what I was getting myself into, I pulled up the lyrics and printed them off. Here they are:

Whatever It Takes
Lanny Wolfe

There's a voice calling me
From an old rugged tree
And He whispers draw closer to me
Leave this world far behind
There are new heights to climb
And a new place in me you will find

For whatever it takes to draw closer to you Lord
That's what I'll be willing to do
For whatever it takes to be more like you
That's what I'll be willing to do

(verse 2)
Take the dearest things to me
If that's how it must be
To draw me closer to thee
Let the disappointments come
Lonely days without the sun
If through sorrow more like you I become

(repeat chorus)

(verse 3)
Take my houses my lands,
change my dreams, change my plans
for I'm placing my whole life in your hands
and if you call me today...
to a place far away
Lord I'll go, and your will I'll obey.

(repeat chorus)

I'll trade sunshine for rain
Comfort for pain
That's what I'll be willing to do
For whatever it takes for my will to break
That's what I'll be willing to do

That's what I'll be willing to do

Our day trip for Sunday was to spend the day at Camp Eden, a camp our church has owned since the 1940s. Before that it was owned by Denver Bible Institute where my maternal grandparents went to school and met. When we first moved to Colorado in 1996, we’d been hired as the directors of the camp. Mom even found pictures in my grandmother’s photo albums taken from where the entrance to the camp is today. So lots and lots of family history there, as well as spiritual history. Our church has their annual family camp Labor Day weekend, and the camp provides a barbeque dinner at noon for the entire church family. Since we left the camp in late 1999, we have usually spent the entire day on Labor Day Sunday up there, worshipping with the weekend campers in the morning, taking part in the barbeque, and joining with everyone for a late-afternoon service.

In light of the events the previous day, I went expecting to hear specifics from the Lord. Of course, I was still hoping to be let off easy since I was so willing to obey as soon as He told me what He wanted me to do. I still had no idea what the Lord had in store for me. Nor do I know how long this intense testing time will last. But God is faithful, and in reality, He did start easy with me.

Our daughter joined us for the barbeque. And as I watched her visit with friends and show the camp to a friend she’d brought with her, I sensed the Lord saying, “You have to let go of her. I can’t work in her life with you hanging on so tight!” In praying for the Lord to work in my children’s lives, I hadn’t realized that I was praying that He would work in the way I wanted. We’d dedicated both of them to the Lord when they were babies. I thought it would be easy to let them go as they became adults, but that's not necessarily true, at least in my case. (Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever get the hang of parenting adult children! Of course they’re both teaching me what they expect of me. Grinning.)

A little later in the afternoon service, our pastor preached on Abraham’s test when God asked him to sacrifice Isaac, the son of promise. By now the Lord really had my attention. I committed both my kids to His care once again. But I still couldn’t understand how or why Abraham obeyed so immediately and completely, even though the two points our pastor made were that Abraham obeyed because he believed God and he loved God. I somehow couldn't grasp those concepts. But the Lord has graciously shown me through the events of the last few months how this can be. Isn't He good?

[Note: We leave later today for our bi-annual trip to Illinois for the Vawter family Thanksgiving. I'm not sure what my Internet connectivity will be, but I will do my best to continue to post the rest of this serial story. I pray a blessed Thanksgiving for each of you and your families. Focusing on God's blessings truly give us much to thank Him for. Read Psalm 103:1-5 for David's list of thanksgiving.]

Monday, November 19, 2007

Desperate Prayers and a Thankful Heart—1

Yes, those two things do go together. I’ll explain in a minute, but first I need to apologize for being so long away from blogging anything other than blog tours for the last two months. Even my husband commented about it last week. When I went to the ACFW conference, I had no idea that the Lord would use it to change me and my focus in such a huge way. But He did and He’s continuing to do so. Isn’t He good?

This past year and a half has been challenging in many ways, but these last two months especially so. Both my mother-in-law and mother went to be with the Lord six months apart. Then started a months-long journey of health problems for me. Last month I saw my primary care doctor who ran a bunch of tests to see if we could get to the root of the problem. But all the tests came back negative, leading us to conclude that everything stemmed from my fibromyalgia, which has gotten a real stress workout lately. While in one sense that’s nice to know, in another sense it’s very frustrating. But God has a purpose in all this, I know.

This past Labor Day weekend, my husband and I decided to take advantage of our holiday by spending three days in the mountains. Since we live in the Denver metro area, it doesn’t take us long to get there, so we planned three separate day trips. On Saturday we took Heather Tipton, a writing friend and virtual assistant extraordinaire, with us to Rocky Mountain National Park. Late in the afternoon we drove out of the park on the west side of the Divide and headed back toward I-70 and home. We’d gotten out and hiked at several places, the sun was warm, and we were all quiet.

Into that quiet a line from an old song dropped into my mind: “For whatever it takes for my will to break, that’s what I’ll be willing to do.” Okay, not a thought that normally crosses someone’s mind after a day spent actively pursuing favorite activities. Suspecting it was from the Lord, I naturally questioned Him. Now usually when I question the Lord, I don’t get immediate answers. But that day was different. When I asked if He’d put that phrase into my head, He said yes. Hmm. Hadn’t I had enough testing in the last year? This time the answer was no. Yikes! I’m beginning to panic a little. So I asked why. He said, “Because I never, ever want you to doubt my love for you again.”

For months I’d been struggling with this issue of His love for me. Once again, I’d gotten too busy doing things to prove my worth to Him and had pushed aside the time I usually spent with Him. Oh, I still had my quiet time every morning, but it had become rote and dry. I even led a Bible study during the summer on developing a Mary spirit. (I highly recommend Joanna Weaver’s Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World and Having a Mary Spirit. Both books led me to life-changing decisions.) By August, I knew that something had to change. By Labor Day I’d already started putting some of those changes into place. Which is probably why I could hear the Lord speaking to me so clearly that day.

As I thought about His words to me, I was reminded of the many things I was still hanging on to. Things that were understandable in a human perspective, but that were hindering my spiritual growth. And I told the Lord, “Whatever it takes, Lord. Help me know what it is You want me to do, what You want me to let go of, and allow You to love me. Not because I’m worthy of Your love, but because I’m not worthy.” Which was the whole point of Christ’s coming to earth to die for my sin, to make me righteous and holy, and to restore fellowship with a holy God who desired all these things for me.

Then came Sunday.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Try Dying by James Scott Bell

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

(Center Street October 24, 2007)


James Scott Bell


James Scott Bell is a former trial lawyer who now writes full time. He is also the fiction columnist for Writers Digest magazine and adjunct professor of writing at Pepperdine University.

His book on writing, Plot and Structure, is one of the most popular writing books available today. The national bestselling author of several novels of suspense, he grew up and still lives in Los Angeles, where he is at work on his next Buchanan thriller.


On a wet Tuesday morning in December, Ernesto Bonilla, twenty-eight, shot his twenty-three-year-old wife, Alejandra, in the backyard of their West 45th Street home in South Los Angeles. As Alejandra lay bleeding to death, Ernesto drove their Ford Explorer to the westbound Century Freeway connector where it crossed over the Harbor Freeway and pulled to a stop on the shoulder.

Bonilla stepped around the back of the SUV, ignoring the rain and the afternoon drivers on their way to LAX and the west side, placed the barrel of his .38 caliber pistol into his mouth, and fired.

His body fell over the shoulder and plunged one hundred feet, hitting the roof of a Toyota Camry heading northbound on the harbor Freeway. The impact crushed the roof of the Camry. The driver, Jacqueline Dwyer, twenty-seven, an elementary schoolteacher from Reseda, died at the scene.

This would have been simply another dark and strange coincidence, the sort of thing that shows up for a two-minute report on the local news--with live remote from the scene--and maybe gets a follow-up the next day. Eventually the story would go away, fading from the city's collective memory.

But this story did not go away. Not for me. Because Jacqueline Dwyer was the woman I was going to marry.

In Try Dying, this fast-paced thriller, lawyer Ty Buchanan must enter a world of evil to uncover the cause of his fiancee's death--even if hie has to kill for the truth.
"Bell is one of the best writers out there...he creates characters readers care about...a story worth telling."
~Library Review~

Margie’s review: Try Dying is James Scott Bell’s first book in a new series featuring Ty Buchanan, hotshot lawyer in LA. He’s preparing for a court battle featuring repressed memory issues. The doctor his firm represents is being sued for defamation. In the middle of his preparation, Ty’s fiancée is killed in a freak accident on the freeway. Only the day of the funeral, he learns that Jacquelyn may have been murdered. In his search for the truth, he discovers core truths about himself. Try Dying is a fast-paced legal thriller with plenty of behind-the-scenes look at a lawyer’s world, including some courtroom drama. I look forward to the next book in this series.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Deadfall by Robert Liparulo

This week the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is featuring Deadfall by Robert Liparulo. Bob graciously answered some questions for me (and you) last week. Please make sure you read his interview below. He give some great, thoughtful answers. It my privilege to present to you Bob's third book, Deadfall.

(Thomas Nelson November 6, 2007)

Robert is an award-winning author of over a thousand published articles and short stories. He is currently a contributing editor for New Man magazine. His work has appeared in Reader's Digest, Travel & Leisure, Modern Bride, Consumers Digest, Chief Executive, and The Arizona Daily Star, among other publications. In addition, he previously worked as a celebrity journalist, interviewing Stephen King, Tom Clancy, Charlton Heston, and others for magazines such as Rocky Road, Preview, and L.A. Weekly.

Robert is an avid scuba diver, swimmer, reader, traveler, and a law enforcement and military enthusiast. He lives in Colorado with his wife and four children.

Robert's first novel painted a scenario so frighteningly real that six Hollywood producers were bidding on movie rights before the novel was completed. His acclaimed debut novel, Comes A Horseman, is being made into a major motion picture by producer Mace Neufeld and his short story "Kill Zone" was featured in the anthology Thriller, edited by James Patterson.

Bob has sold the film rights to his second book, GERM. And he is writing the screenplay for a yet-to-be-written political thriller, which sold to Phoenix Pictures, for Andrew Davis (The Fugitive, The Guardian) to direct!

He is currently working on his fourth novel.


Deep in the isolated Northwest Territories, four friends are on the trip of a lifetime. Dropped by helicopter into the Canadian wilderness, Hutch, Terry, Phil, and David are looking to escape the events of a tumultuous year for two weeks of hunting, fishing, and camping.

Armes with only a bow and arrow and the basics for survival, they've chosen a place far from civilization, a retreat from their turbulent lives. But they quickly discover that another group has targeted the remote region and the secluded hamlet of Fiddler Falls for a more menacing purpose: to field test the ultimate weapon.

With more than a week before the helicopter rendezvous and no satellite phone, Hutch, a skilled bow-hunter and outdoor-survivalist must help his friend elude their seemingly inescapable foes, as well as decide whether to run for their lives...or risk everything to help the townspeople who are being held hostage and terrorized.

An intense novel of character forged in the midst of struggle, survival, and sacrifice. Deadfall is highly-aclaimed author Robert Liparulo's latest rivetingly smart thriller.

Get Downloads and EXCERPTS at

"DEADFALL is drop-dead great!"
-In The Library Reviews

"What if Mad Max, Rambo, and the Wild Bunch showed up-all packing Star Wars type weapons? You'd have Robert Liparulo's thrilling new adventure Deadfall."
-Katherine Neville, best selling author of The Eight
"A brilliantly crafted thriller with flawless execution. I loved it!"
-Michael Palmer, best selling author of The Fifth Vial

"In Deadfall, Robert Liparulo gives us a fresh fast paced novel that instills a well founded fear of the villians and an admiration for the people who refuse to be victims. It truly deserves the name thriller.
-Thomas Perry, best selling author of The Butcher's Boy and Silence

"Another brilliantly conceived premise from Robert Liparulo. Deadfall will leave you looking over your shoulder and begging for more."
-Dave Dun, best selling author of The Black Silent
And now for our interview:

I first learned of Bob's work when I was given Germ to proofread for Thomas Nelson. I liked his style, his ability to tell a good story, so I bought Comes a Horseman. Liked that one, too. Then Thomas Nelson gave me Deadfall to proofread. I'm firmly hooked on Bob's books. I always wonder what makes a successful writer, so I took this change to ask Bob some questions.

How did you get started writing, and where has that journey taken you that you may not have expected starting out?

In fifth grade. I wrote an article about the Concorde landing in the Azores Islands, where my dad was stationed. It wound up in an Air Force publication, and I was hooked. A couple years later I read I Am Legend by Richard Matheson, and that’s when I got the bug to write novels.

The best part of this vocation is getting to meet great people—readers and leaders in their fields. As a journalist, I got a chance to talk with Stephen King, Steven Spielberg, Bruce Springsteen, Roger Daltrey, Charlton Heston . . . too many talented authors, musicians and film makers to remember them all. When I became a published novelist, I got to hang out with authors I’ve read for years: Thomas Perry, David Morrell, Clive Cussler. Meeting readers and booksellers is always a blast, as well. Very smart, sincere people.

How do you balance family life with writing?

It’s taken years, but I finally figured out how to achieve that balance: They help me with the business of writing. My kids proofread, my wife helps send out books, setting up my travel, stuff like that. Since they’re so invested, a lot of our dinner conversation is now about the current story I’m writing or the conference I just attended. It’s become a family business. Of course, we also try to get away from it, go on vacations. I try to get involved in whatever my kids are into: soccer, music, Boy Scouts. Keeps me young.

How does your walk with the Lord affect your writing? And how do you balance time with the Lord with your writing schedule?

Years ago, I prayed fervently for direction in my writing career: Should I put God in my stories overtly, or be subtler. I felt God wanted me to take the path less traveled and write adventure/thriller stories designed to entertain, while He puts himself between the lines in ways I could never have planned. Every day, I pray that God keeps His hand on my heart as I write. I have a prayer team who prays for me and my writing. My pastor reads my manuscripts. Nothing in my books screams about my faith, but I believe, though the characters, the redeeming nature of the stories, the way people behave—He’s there.

Since my blog is geared to writers who want to improve their self-editing skills, could you briefly take us through your process of writing a novel—from conception to revision?

Conception is the most difficult to discuss, because it’s so ambiguous. Somehow—in a dream, by reading an article, watching an interview on television, something—the seed of an idea gets planted. I think about it for a while and if something forms—if it starts to sprout shoots—I started sketching a skeletal outline. I try not to be too detailed with the outline, just four or five pivotal scenes. I’ll let my characters figure out how to get from one to the other. I start thinking about the characters, and I try to live with them, be them for a time: how would they respond to this or that situation? I write slowly, editing daily, as I go. I rarely go back over what I’ve already written, unless an editor says something’s not working for him or her. During the writing process, I constantly ask myself: Where’s the tension in this scene? Does it either move the plot forward or develop the character better? Have I touched on more than the sense of sight (I try to get at least two senses in each scene—smell, touch, hearing, taste; sight’s a natural sense in prose narrative)? Am I using the correct words? Is there a way to cull some words and still make the meaning clear?

What kinds of things do you have to revise once the editor at a publishing house gets done with your manuscript?

Honestly, not too many things. I’m a very careful, meticulous writer. Usually, it’s a turn of phrase that he or she doesn’t quite get, or a complicated action scene needs to be explained a little better: who’s doing what where and to whom?

Would you tell us a little about your future projects?

I’m really excited about a young adult series coming up. It’s called Dreamhouse Kings, and the first two books, House of Dark Shadows and Watcher in the Woods, will be out in July 2008. I’m planning on six books in the series. It’s about a family who moves into a strange old Victorian house with a wicked history. They find a hallway of rooms that turn out to be very different, in terms of what they experience when they enter them. It’s part-horror, part-fantasy, part-family drama, and all suspense. I have a team of young readers who have read the first book. I was blown away by their positive response to it. They’re excitement got my heart thumping for the story all over again.

I’ve decided my next adult novel will be a follow-up to Deadfall. I’m totally charged about revisiting some of the characters from Deadfall. I like them a lot.

Then there’s the story that seems closest to making it to the big screen, even though I haven’t written yet. All the elements are in place: Mike Medavoy and Phoenix Pictures are the producers, along with director Andrew Davis (The Fugitive, The Guardian). I’m working with Andy to write the screenplay. We have some incredible actors in mind and I have no doubt Andy will land someone big, based on who he’s already worked with. It’s a dream project that came together the way only dream projects can: Mike Medavoy liked Comes a Horseman and asked what else I had in mind. I pitched this idea to him and he liked it. Then Andy, who worked with Mike on Holes, went to him with a similar idea, and Mike told him, “Go talk to Bob, see if you guys can put something together.” So he did and we did. It’s going to be a killer novel and movie.

And after that, I’ll return to the big, global adventures I explored in Horseman and Germ with a story that takes a look at vigilante justice on a grand scale. I have enough to keep me busy for years, thank God.

Finally, would you discuss Deadfall? The research, the idea, and the scope of the project?

It's about four men who head to the Canadian wilderness to get away from it all after a tough year. The run into a group of people who are field-test a weapon and terrorizing a small town with it. The bad guys run a video game company and besides having some sick fun, they’re filming the death and destruction to make a game they’re developing more realistic than anything that’s come before. The campers have to decide whether to run for their lives or help the townies. They do help and the fun begins.

For research, back up to northern Canada, where I’d been before to camp and fish. It’s beautiful and isolated. I remembered thinking when I was up there that there is something intriguing about how it’s both peaceful and potentially fatal. If you get lost up there, you’re gone forever. In the fall and winter, you could freeze overnight. I’ve bow-hunted and a good friend of mine, who goes up to Canada every few years, is a big-time bow-hunter. He’s also the game warden for the Cheyenne area, so he’s knowledgeable about outdoor survival, camping, hunting, all of that. I spent many hours picking his brain. I also did a lot of reading and called a few bow-hunters who are internationally known. For the satellite laser canon, again I read a lot and interviewed about a dozen people working in the field, both civilians and military personnel. It’s as important to me to be accurate as it is to tell a good story and develop characters people care about.

Comes a Horseman and Germ were big, global conspiracies. I wanted Deadfall to be more intimate. It all takes place in a few days, and all within about a twenty-mile radius of a tiny, isolated town. I think it gives us a chance to understand the characters better than in my other books. I’m very please with the way it turned out.

Thanks, Bob. I look forward to many more years of great reading.

A NOTE from Bob: I’d like to give away five signed copies of Deadfall to readers of CFBA blogs during my tour. All they have to do is sign up for my e-mailing list (they won’t be inundated!) by going to my website ( and going to the “Mailing List” page. Or email me with “CFBA giveaway” in the subject line.

And a second NOTE from Bob: I wanted to let you know that I’m holding a contest on my site:

**one winner a week till the end of the year for a signed Deadfall
**one winner a week till the end of the year for an unabridged audio MP3-CD of Deadfall
***and on Dec. 31, I’m giving away an iPod Nano, pre-loaded with an unabridged audio recording of Deadfall

Winners are selected from my e-mailing list—sign up at my site. If a winner has already purchased what he/she wins, I will reimburse them for the purchase price (or give them another—whichever they choose), so they don’t need to wait to see if they win before buying Deadfall.