Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Red Siren by MaryLu Tyndall

This week, the

is introducing

Barbour Publishing, Inc (January 2009)
M. L. (MARYLU) TYNDALL grew up on the beaches of South Florida loving the sea and the warm tropics. But despite the beauty around her, she always felt an ache in her soul--a longing for something more.
After college, she married and moved to California where she had two children and settled into a job at a local computer company. Although she had done everything the world expected, she was still miserable. She hated her job and her marriage was falling apart.
Still searching for purpose, adventure and true love, she spent her late twenties and early thirties doing all the things the world told her would make her happy, and after years, her children suffered, her second marriage suffered, and she was still miserable.
One day, she picked up her old Bible, dusted it off, and began to read. Somewhere in the middle, God opened her hardened heart to see that He was real, that He still loved her, and that He had a purpose for her life, if she'd only give her heart to Him completely.
Her current releases in the Legacy of The Kings Pirates series include: The Restitution, The Reliance, and The Redemption, and The Falcon And The Sparrow
Lady Faith Westcott has turned her back on God and on man. Having witnessed the hypocrisy in the Church of England, her older sister's abuse at the hand of her husband, and her own mother's untimely death in childbirth, Faith has determined never to marry and to gain enough wealth so she and her two sisters will never have to depend on man or God again.
To that end, though a lady by day, she becomes a pirate by night and begins her sordid career off Portsmouth when she attacks and plunders a merchant ship commanded by the young Dajon Waite. Humiliated at being defeated by a pirate and a woman no less, Dajon returns home without cargo and ship, and his father expels him from the family merchant business.
After a brief sojourn into debased society, Dajon rejoins the Royal Navy, where he finds comfort in the strict rules and redemption through his service to others. Three years later, he is sent to the frontier outpost of Charles Town, South Carolina to deal with the pirate problem. There, he connects with his mentor and old friend, Admiral Westcott, who has just arrived with his three daughters.
Much to Dajon's utter dismay, Admiral Westcott, who is being called away to Spain, asks Dajon to be temporary guardian of his three lovely daughters. One of the ladies seems familiar to him, a striking redhead who immediately sends his heart thumping.
Faith recognizes Captain Waite as the buffoon whose ship she plundered off Portsmouth. Yet, he appears no longer the fool, but instead a tall, handsome and commanding naval officer. Despite her immediate attraction to him, she labels him the enemy, but sparks are guaranteed to fly during the next few months when independent, headstrong and rebellious Faith falls in love with God-fearing honorable, rule-following Dajon-especially when Faith continues her pirating off the Carolina coast while her father is away.
Will Dajon catch her? And what will this man of honor and duty do when he does?
If you would like to read the first chapter of The Red Siren, go HERE
This post is late because of computer issues I've had with my laptop. Late Monday, the hard drive crashed. I had already asked MaryLu to post in place of my review. But now I'm trying to get this up on my husband's laptop--so toally different from mine. And as I'm sure you've noticed, it isn't as complete as usual. But this is the first time I've had the time to get this done. I'll come back and fix things when I'm back on my own computer.
So here's MaryLu. I'm glad we can welcome her back to The Writer's Tool.

Thank you, Margie, for hosting me and my new release, The Red Siren, on your blog! Here’s a few facts about me that may help your readers get to know me a bit better:

I’d rather sit on a warm tropical beach and watch the waves lap over the shore than do about anything else in the world.
My husband and I have 6 kids and 4 cats.
I grew up without a father.
I’d rather eat buttered popcorn than any other snack.
I received my first contract on the very first book I wrote.
I’ve only been writing seriously for five years.
My husband and I were both unbelievers when we got married.
My husband had a road to Damascus salvation experience that knocked him into the Kingdom.

The idea for The Red Siren came to me while I was walking on a hill behind my house. (A place I often go when I need to pray or think). I’d been doing some research on female pirates. (Yes, female pirates existed.) In fact, there were many of them throughout history. I wanted to write a story about a lady pirate, but I wanted to center it around a spiritual theme. As I was walking and talking this over with God, he clearly brought the parable of the sower to the forefront of my thoughts. In case you aren’t familiar with the parable, it’s the story of the sower who scatters seed over four types of ground: the wayside, the rocky soil, the thorny soil, and the good soil. The seed represents Gods Word, and the soil represents different types of people who hear the word. The seed on the wayside is quickly snatched away by Satan. The seed on the rocky soil has no depth, no roots and the person quickly falls away from God when tribulations come. The seed on the thorny ground begins to grow, but the cares and pleasures of this world make it unfruitful, and the seed on the good soil, sprouts, grows, and produces a good crop. So I decided to use the last three seeds in the parable as themes for the three books in my Charles Towne Belles Trilogy.

Faith Westcott, the heroine in The Red Siren, represents the 2nd seed that falls on the rocky soil. She grew up as a believer, but her faith was shallow and when a series of tragedies struck, she walked away from God and decided to take things into her own hands. To rescue her and her sisters from forced marriages, she decides she must acquire enough wealth so they can live independently and choose their own husbands. Back in 1718, women didn’t have many options to acquire wealth outside of marriage. At least not the kind of wealth she needed. So, what does this stubborn, independent, courageous woman do? She becomes a secret pirate by night. Of course she does, wouldn’t you? LOL. Well, perhaps not all of us would be so daring. But her plans come to a screeching halt when she encounters Captain Dajon Waite, a British Naval officer sent to Charles Towne to quell the recent surge in piracy.

Book 2, The Blue Enchantress (August 2009), is about the seed that falls on the thorny soil and is the story of Hope Westcott who is lured away from God by her desperate need for male attention and love. And book 3, The Raven Saint (January2010), is about the third sister, Grace Westcott, a woman desperate to spread the good news of the gospel, but who finds herself kidnapped by a mercenary determined to sell her to a Spanish Don.

I love to center all my novels around strong spiritual themes. It is my hope that people who read them are not only entertained but that they are drawn closer to God in the process. God Bless you and have a wonderful day!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Verse of the Day

Sing for joy in the LORD, O you righteous ones; Praise is becoming to the upright. (Psalm 33:1)

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Centurion's Wife by Davis Bunn and Janette Oke

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

The Centurion's Wife

Bethany House Publishers (January 1, 2009)


Davis Bunn and Janette Oke

Davis Bunn is an internationally acclaimed author who has sold more than six million books in fifteen languages. His audiences span reading genres from high drama and action thrillers to heartwarming relationship stories, in both contemporary and historical settings.

Honored with three Christy Awards for excellence in historical and suspense fiction, his bestsellers include My Soul To Keep and Full Circle. A sought-after lecturer in the art of writing, Bunn was named Novelist in Residence at Regent's Park College, Oxford University.

He and his wife, Isabella, make their home in Florida for some of each year and spend the rest near Oxford, England, where they each teach and write.

Her first novel, a prairie love story titled Love Comes Softly, was published by Bethany House in 1979. This book was followed by more than 75 others.

After Love Comes Softly was published, Oke found her readers asking for more. That book led to a series of eight others in her Love Comes Softly series. She has written multiple fiction series, including The Canadian West, Seasons of the Heart, and Women of the West. Her most recent releases include a beautiful children's picture book, I Wonder . . . Did Jesus Have a Pet Lamb and The Song of Acadia series, co-written with T. Davis Bunn.

Janette Oke's warm writing style has won the hearts of millions of readers. She has received numerous awards, including the Gold Medallion Award, The Christy Award of Excellence, the 1992 President's Award for her significant contribution to the category of Christian fiction from the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association, and in 1999 the Life Impact Award from the Christian Booksellers Association International. Beloved worldwide, her books have been translated into fourteen languages.

She and her husband live in Alberta, Canada.


Janette Oke has dreamed for years of retelling a story in a biblical time frame from a female protagonist's perspective, and Davis Bunn is elated to be working with her again on this sweeping saga of the dramatic events surrounding the birth of Christianity . . . and the very personal story of Leah, a young Jewess of mixed heritage trapped in a vortex of competing political agendas and private trauma.

Caught up in the maelstrom following the death of an obscure rabbi in the Roman backwater of first-century Palestine, Leah finds herself also engulfed in her own turmoil—facing the prospect of an arranged marriage to a Roman soldier, Alban, who seems to care for nothing but his own ambitions.

Head of the garrison near Galilee, he has been assigned by Palestine's governor to ferret out the truth behind rumors of a political execution gone awry. Leah's mistress, the governor's wife, secretly commissions Leah also to discover what really has become of this man whose death—and missing body—is causing such furor.

This epic drama is threaded with the tale of an unlikely romance and framed with dangers and betrayals from unexpected sources. At its core, the story unfolds the testing of loyalties—between two young people whose inner searchings they cannot express, between their irreconcilable heritages, and ultimately between their humanity and the Divine they yearn to encounter.

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Centurion's Wife, go HERE

Margie's Comments: The Centurion's Wife started slow for me, and I wasn't sure I was going to make it past my 50–100 page limit for getting grabbed by the story and wanting to finish reading the book. But I'm glad I persevered. The "romance" portion is very light, which I know will please some of my blog readers, as neither of the main characters expects to find love within their marriage. Alban wants the marriage to further his own ambitions; all the men in Leah's family and experience have failed her, and she expects no less from the man she finds herself betrothed to in the Judean custom. I'm fascinated by the setting (Jerusalem, mainly, immediately after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ) and the masterful depiction of the early church. The intrigue of Herod's court and Pilate's governorship adds greatly to the story, and the authors do a great job of painting the historical figures.

Verse of the Day

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.” (Isaiah 26:3–4)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

More Self-Editing Grammar Tips

The workshop I teach on grammar tips starts with punctuation. And I tackle the most abused and misunderstood first—the comma. I'm not even going to try to cover all the aspects of comma use in one post. It will take several. *smile* So let's begin.

The first comma we'll discuss is the comma that is used to separate two independent clauses when combined with a coordinating conjunction. A simple definition of an independent clause is a subject and verb combination that expresses a complete thought. In other words, it doesn’t make you want to ask a question in order to complete the thought. For example, She ran away is a complete thought as opposed to Though she ran away. . . . A coordinating conjunction joins similar sentence components. An easy way to remember which words are coordinating conjunctions is to remember fanboys: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so.

According to the Chicago Manual of Style (the publishing industry’s style standard for books), a comma usually precedes the conjunction when two independent clauses are joined with one of the fanboys. The exception to the rule (and, yes, there are usually exceptions—that’s what makes English so interesting!): If the two independent sentences are short and closely related, you may omit the comma.

Mike will work the first shift, but Lucy will have to work the second shift.
Joe munched on a hamburger, and I indulged in a hot-fudge sundae.
The exception:
Timothy played the guitar and Betty sang.

The problem I see often is the use of the comma before any coordinating conjunction. For example: He was at least sixty years old, with lively blue eyes, and a leathery complexion that proved he’d spent many of his years outdoors. In this case the comma after eyes is incorrect as it is separating a compound object of the preposition with. This sentence should read: He was at least sixty years old, with lively blue eyes and a leathery complexion that proved he’d spent many of his years outdoors. Another example: The racecar spun out, and hit the wall. In this case the comma is separating a simple compound verb: spun out and hit. Only two verbs. It doesn’t need the comma. This sentence should read: The racecar spun out and hit the wall.

Verse of the Day

The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup. (Psalm 16:5)

I could only choose one verse! But to read all the verses that spoke volumes to me today, go here

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Stand-In Groom by Kaye Dacus

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Stand-In Groom

Barbour Publishing, Inc (January 2009)


Kaye Dacus


Kaye Dacus is an author and editor who has been writing fiction for more than twenty years. A former Vice President of American Christian Fiction Writers, Kaye enjoys being an active ACFW member and the fellowship and community of hundreds of other writers from across the country and around the world that she finds there.

She currently serves as President of Middle Tennessee Christian Writers, which she co-founded in 2003 with three other writers. Each month, she teaches a two-hour workshop on an aspect of the craft of writing at the MTCW monthly meeting. But her greatest joy comes from mentoring new writers through her Web site and seeing them experience those “aha” moments when a tricky concept becomes clear.


When wedding planner Anne Hawthorne meets George Laurence, she thinks she's found the man of her dreams. But when he turns out to be a client, her "dream" quickly turns into a nightmare. Will Anne risk her heart and career on this engaging Englishman?

George came to Louisiana to plan his employer's wedding and pose as the groom. But how can he feign affection for a supposed fiancee when he's so achingly attracted to the wedding planner? And what will happen when Anne discovers his role has been Stand-In Groom only? Will she ever trust George again? Can God help these two believers find a happy ending?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Stand-In Groom, go HERE

What they're saying about it:

“Dacus pulls off a delightful story that places readers in the heart of the South with the debut of the Brides of Bonneterre series. Readers will enjoy this look at how lives are transformed through devastating events and how forgiveness is the key to a promising future. Nothing is as it seems in this heartwarming story.”
Romantic Times, 4-Star Review

“Absolutely delightful! I enjoyed Stand-In Groom from cover to cover! Ms. Dacus’s clever story and wonderful prose will draw you away to a place deep in the heart of Louisiana, surrounding you with the scents, sounds, and sights of the deep south. A story filled with romance and intrigue, betrayal and forgiveness, I found myself laughing, crying and rejoicing right along with the characters.”
M.L. Tyndall, author of The Falcon and the Sparrow and the award-winning Legacy of the King’s Pirates series

“Stand-In Groom is as sweet, beautiful, and chaotic as a perfectly planned wedding. Anne is a bright and wounded heroine you’re going to care about for a long time. George is a hero to capture your heart. Kaye Dacus will take you along for a fun, poignant ride in Stand-In Groom.”
Mary Connealy, author of the Lassoed in Texas series and Of Mice...and Murder

Margie's review: What a delightful read. I've long anticipated Kaye's debut novel, and I wasn't disappointed. The characters drew me into the story quickly, and as the story unfolded, I found I was rooting for Anne and George to work through their problems and learn the importance of forgiveness and love. I love to read a romance that isn't pure fluff, and Kaye produced a wonderful, "unfluffy" read. I'm looking forward to reading future books from this author.

Verse of the Day

He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it. (1 Thessalonians 5:24)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Verse of the Day

I have pursued my enemies and overtaken them; Neither did I turn back again till they were destroyed. I have wounded them, So that they could not rise; They have fallen under my feet. For You have armed me with strength for the battle; You have subdued under me those who rose up against me. (Psalm 18:37–39)

Monday, January 19, 2009

What's Happening in Israel?

I rarely post on political subjects, since that isn't the focus of this blog. But this issue isn't just political to the Christian, it's biblical. And we can't separate the two in this case.

Last night after our evening service at church, I stayed to watch a short video clip from the David Horowitz Foundation. Even as I watched this video last night, I thought of the many ways scripture is being fulfilled in my lifetime. Pretty awesome, I think.

As believers in Jesus Christ, we recognize that Israel is still God's chosen nation. I believe that means we have an obligation to pray for and support the Jews. Paul talks about this in Romans 9–11.

In regard to the ongoing struggle in the Middle East, we hear various reports. I've often wondered why we rarely hear both sides of the story. Go here to read what Benjamin Netanyahu said in an interview.

Our obligation to Israel today is to pray, get involved, be informed, know what is really going on. We are living in awesome times.

Verse of the Day

You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever. (Psalm 16:11)

Friday, January 16, 2009

Verse of the Day

Now glory be to God! By his mighty power at work within us, he is able to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or hope. (Ephesians 3:20 nlt)

Sweetwater Gap by Denise Hunter

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Sweetwater Gap

Thomas Nelson (December 16, 2008)


Denise Hunter


Denise lives in Indiana with her husband Kevin and their three sons. In 1996, Denise began her first book, a Christian romance novel, writing while her children napped. Two years later it was published, and she's been writing ever since. Her books often contain a strong romantic element, and her husband Kevin says he provides all her romantic material, but Denise insists a good imagination helps too!


A story of new beginnings from best-selling Romance for Good™ author Denise Hunter.
When Josephine's family insists she come home to help with the harvest, the timing works. But her return isn't simple benevolence—she plans to persuade the family to sell the failing orchard.

The new manager's presence is making it difficult. Grady MacKenzie takes an immediate disliking to Josephine and becomes outright cantankerous when she tries talking her family into selling. As she and Grady work side by side in the orchard, she begins to appreciate his devotion and quiet faith. She senses a vulnerability in him that makes her want to delve deeper, but there's no point letting her heart have its way—he's tied to the orchard, and she could never stay there.

A brush with death tears down Josephine's defenses and for the first time in her life, she feels freedom—freedom from the heavy burden of guilt, freedom to live her life the way it was intended, with a heart full of love.

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

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Self-Editing for the Grammatically Impaired

Sorry about the lack of posts on Monday and Tuesday. I was finishing up a round of medical tests/screenings that took up a lot of time and energy. But everything is good, so I'm thanking the Lord that they are over.

Now on to a topic that's close to my heart. I'm going to do small portions of a two-part workshop presentation I've developed and taught on several occasions. The title is self-explanatory, I think. *smile*

Why is it important for us writers to learn to self-edit our manuscripts before sending them to an agent or editor? Well, I'm going to let Lisa Samson, award-winning author, give the answer, since she does it much better than I do. To read her answer, go here

We'll get started with punctuation next week.

Verse of the Day

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For . . . your life is hidden with Christ in God. (Colossians 31–3)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Kiss by Ted Dekker and Erin Healy

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing


Thomas Nelson (January 6, 2009)


Ted Dekker
Erin Healy


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

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

Since 1997, Dekker has written full-time. He states that each time he writes, he finds his understanding of life and love just a little clearer and his expression of that understanding a little more vivid. Dekker's body of work encompassing seven mysteries, three thrillers, and ten fantasies includes Heaven's Wager, When Heaven Weeps, Thunder of Heaven, Blessed Child, A Man Called Blessed, Blink, Thr3e, The Circle Trilogy (Black, Red, White), Obsessed, Renegade, and Chaos.


Erin Healy is an award-winning fiction editor who has worked with talented novelists such as James Scott Bell, Melody Carlson, Colleen Coble, Brandilyn Collins, L. B. Graham, Rene Gutteridge, Michelle McKinney Hammond, Robin Lee Hatcher, Denise Hildreth, Denise Hunter, Randy Ingermanson, Jane Kirkpatrick, Gilbert Morris, Frank Peretti, Lisa Samson, Randy Singer, Robert Whitlow, and many others.

She began working with Ted Dekker in 2002 and edited twelve of his heart-pounding stories before their collaboration on Kiss, the first novel to seat her on "the other side of the desk."

Erin is the owner of WordWright Editorial Services, a Colorado-based consulting firm specializing in fiction book development. She and her husband, Tim, are the proud parents of two children


Let me tell you all I know for sure. My name. Shauna.
I woke up in a hospital bed missing six months of my memory. In the room was my loving boyfriend-how could I have forgotten him?-my uncle and my abusive stepmother. Everyone blames me for the tragic car accident that left me near death and my dear brother brain damaged. But what they say can't be true-can it?

I believe the medicine is doing strange things to my memory. I'm unsure who I can trust and who I should run from. And I'm starting to remember things I've never known. Things not about me. I think I'm going crazy.

And even worse, I think they want to kill me.

But who? And for what? Is dying for the truth really better than living with a lie?

Sometimes dying with the truth is better than living with a lie.

After a car accident puts Shauna McAllister in a coma and wipes out six months of her memory, she returns to her childhood home to recover, but her arrival is fraught with confusion.

Her estranged father, a senator bidding on the White House, and her abusive stepmother blame Shauna for the tragedy, which has left her beloved brother severely brain damaged. Leaning on Wayne Spade, a forgotten but hopeful lover who stays by her side, Shauna tries to sort out what happened that night by jarring her memory to life. Instead, she acquires a mysterious mental ability that will either lead her to truth or get her killed by the people trying to hide it.

In this blind game of cat and mouse that stares even the darkest memories in the face, Shauna is sure of only one thing: if she remembers, she dies.

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

Watch the Video Trailer

What people are saying about KISS:
“The human brain could actually be the real final frontier—we know so little about it and yet it drives the world as we know it. So when authors like Erin and Ted bravely explore these mysterious regions, going into complex places like memory and soul and relationships, I become hooked. The creativity of this suspenseful story is sure to hook other readers as well. Very memorable!”
~Melody Carlson, author of Finding Alice and The Other Side of Darkness

“Dekker and Healy prove a winning team in this intriguing, imaginative thriller.”
~James Scott Bell, bestselling author of Try Darkness

Kiss by Erin Healy and Ted Dekker is a superb thriller that hooked me from the first sentence. The original plot kept me guessing, and I may never look at a kiss the same way again. I’ll be watching for the next book!”
~Colleen Coble, author of Cry in the Night

“The writing team of Erin Healy and Ted Dekker has taken me through a page-turner with Kiss. It’s one of those books that you think about when you’re not reading it. I highly recommend it, especially if you don’t mind staying up late because you can’t put the book down!”
~Rene Gutteridge, author of Skid and My Life As a Doormat

Margie's Review: Erin and Ted have combined forces to write a true page-turner. Kiss grabbed my attention from the first sentence in the prologue and held it firm to the end. I hated having to put it down to get other things done, and now that I've finished I'm still thinking about the characters as though they are real people. The subject matter, exploring the capabilities of the mind, held my attention as well. I highly recommend this book, and I'm already looking forward to their next collaboration.

Verse of the Day

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love.” John 15:9–10

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Verse of the Day

In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. Romans 8:37

Monday, January 12, 2009

Verse of the Day

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. (James 1:5)

Friday, January 9, 2009

Verse of the Day

"He knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold." Job 23:10

The Perfect Match by Susan May Warren

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

The Perfect Match

(Tyndale House January 1, 2009)


Susan May Warren


Susan grew up in Wayzata, a suburb of Minneapolis, and became an avid camper from an early age. Her favorite fir-lined spot is the north shore of Minnesota is where she met her husband, honeymooned, and dreamed of living.

The north woods easily became the foundation for her first series, The Deep Haven series, based on a little tourist town along the shores of Lake Superior. Her first full-length book, Happily Ever After, became a Christy Award Finalist published in 2004 with Tyndale/Heartquest.

As an award winning author, Susan returned home in 2004, to her native Minnesota after serving for eight years with her husband and four children as missionaries with SEND International in Far East Russia. She now writes full time from Minnesota's north woods and the beautiful town that she always dreamed of living in.

You can sample a chapter of each and every one of Susan's novels, on her website, HERE.


Ellie Karlson is new to Deep Haven. As the town’s interim fire chief, she is determined to lead the local macho fire crew in spite of their misconceptions about her. But when someone begins setting deadly fires, Ellie faces the biggest challenge of her life. Especially when sparks fly with one of the volunteers on her crew: Pastor Dan Matthews. As Ellie battles to do her job and win the respect of her crew, she finds that there is one fire she can’t fight—the one Dan has set in her heart.
(This book is the repackaged edition published in 2004)

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Perfect Match, go HERE.


2004 American Christian Fiction Writer's Book of the Year

A Romantic Times Magazine TOP PICK – 4½ stars


Romantic Times Magazine:
Vibrant characters and vivid language zoom this action-packed romance to the top of the charts. This is a one-sitting read–once you pick it up, you won't want to put it down.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Verse of the Day

The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe. (Prov. 18:10)

Success or Failure?

This topic has come up several times in my lifetime, but especially in the last few weeks, not only in conversation but also in my pondering on the goals and plans I have at the beginning of the New Year. And each time it does, I'm reminded that as a Christian, being a success many times looks like failure to a nonbeliever. And to many believers, too, which is frustrating to me on several levels.

I’d like to believe that my closest friends and family members see success and failure as I do, and I think that on one level they do. But when it comes to actual practice in their own lives or in their assessment of my life, I find that too often the definitions of the world have affected their beliefs, their true worldview. (The seemingly invisible effect of the world’s thinking on the believer is another topic, one I won’t attempt to delve into today, except as how it relates to this topic.)

Success is defined as a “favorable or desired outcome; also the attainment of wealth, favor, or eminence.” Failure is seen as the lack of accomplishing or realizing a desired outcome or not attaining wealth, favor, or eminence.

As a believer trying to pattern my life after God’s revealed plan for His children, I would add one more phrase to the definition of success: within God’s plan for me. Failure would be defined as leaving God out of the decision-making, goal setting, or planning processes.

Several passages of scripture come to mind about this topic. But the one that has stuck with me ever since I heard one of the pastor’s at Kathy’s church in London preach on the subject is found in Luke 12:13-21 (ESV):

Someone in the crowd said to [Jesus], "Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me." But He said to him, "Man, who appointed Me a judge or arbitrator over you?" Then He said to them, "Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions."

And He told them a parable, saying, "The land of a rich man was very productive. "And he began reasoning to himself, saying, `What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?' Then he said, `This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, "Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry."' But God said to him, `You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?' So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God."

I don’t believe Jesus is saying we aren’t to be financially successful, have goals and plans, or strive for excellence in all we do. Not at all! It’s when we leave God’s plans, desires, and purposes for us out of the picture that the problem arises.

Several years ago, Roger and I clearly felt the Lord was leading us into full-time Christian work. We had a nice house in a small farming community in central Illinois. Roger had a great job with a wonderful salary and had a bright future in the company he worked for. We were involved in a good church; our children attended the Christian school where I taught part-time. We lived close to Roger’s family, and we enjoyed the fellowship of lots of friends. For me, that life represented all I’d ever dreamed of after a childhood of moving fourteen times by the time I was nine years old—stability, roots, comfort.

When we were sure of the Lord’s leading to move to Colorado to become the director of a small church-owned camp in the foothills, we began to tell our friends, employers, and family. While many were very supportive, we also received a good share of “You’re doing what?” “Are you crazy?” “You would give up all this for what? A third of the income?”

Believe me, we were facing the same questions in our own discussions and prayers. It looked like a foolish decision to many. Roger’s boss graciously took the news, but also let him know that he would hold the job open for him in case we found it too difficult or the new position failed to meet our expectations. And don’t think that wasn’t tempting when we found ourselves in the middle of situations we didn’t expect or hadn’t been prepared for!

The next three and a half years were ones of joy, realizing a dream we’d both had of living in the mountains. We had a beautiful view of the Continental Divide from our house on the camp property; it was close to our family cabin—a place I’d been visiting and gotten to know since I was a young child. And we loved serving the Lord in our positions as camp director and kitchen manager.

But they were also years of intense spiritual warfare that took a toll on our health and physical well-being. It was hard to adjust to living on much less than we’d become accustomed to. And we had a teenager and a pre-teen when we moved who were affected immensely by our decision to follow God, even though it was a family decision, not one arbitrarily placed on them. I had to put on hold my desire to teach, and many days it was all I could do to stay upright in the kitchen and think clearly. (I enjoy cooking, and I love to cook for many people, but it’s definitely not my primary calling! However, the Lord taught me much about myself and about Him in this position. So it was what He wanted me to do at that time.)

Today my husband is still in full-time Christian ministry as he is a construction manager for a company that builds churches around the country. After we left the camp, I went back to teaching. But four years ago, the Lord told me it was time to take another step of faith and leave that teaching behind to become a full-time freelance editor, working with Christian publishers and authors. (I still teach—not only workshops on the writing craft, but also one-on-one with authors, as well as teaching and leading a ladies Sunday school class and occasional Bible studies.) We faced another round of “What are you doing?” “How are you planning for the future with this decision?” “What are you going to do about insurance?” (A very real concern with Roger’s diabetes and my fibromyalgia and other related health issues.)

I realize that our choices, even our lifestyle, don’t look like success to many people, both believers and non-believers. But we had to ask ourselves, and we continue to ask these questions at every juncture in our life journeys, what does God count as success?

The rich man in Jesus’ parable was a success here on earth. He invested his money, time, and energy into his crops. His wealth increased, and he was well-respected for his work ethic in the community. He was set for life. He’d succeeded in everything he’d attempted. Jesus didn’t condemn him for any of this.

But the rich man didn’t look to see how he was set for eternity. In fact, he left God out of his planning for the future and didn’t recognize God’s hand of blessing on him in his endeavors. So he never gave God credit for his abilities and talents that earned him his wealth and status in the town where he lived. It was for this that God took him before he could even sit back and enjoy the fruits of his labors.

Because of this clear lesson, when I evaluate a year past and set goals and plans for a new year, my greatest desire is to hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” I know that my decisions, bathed in prayer and seeking God’s will through His Word, are foolish to those who look at life through the eyes of the world. In spite of this desire, though, it still hurts when those closest to me, or my family, are critical of my choices. It’s at those times that the Lord reminds me: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for wholeness and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11 ESV).

So I will continue to base my decisions on God’s Word and leading in my life, even if it doesn’t make sense to my natural logic, my reason, or others around me. And I will support others who make their decisions based on how God is leading as well, with prayer and encouraging words. For me, success is defined in Joshua 1:7–9:

"Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law [God’s Word]. . . . Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Verse of the Day

“I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise. . . . For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for wholeness and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jer. 29:10–11)

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Wanted by Shelley Shepard Gray

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing


Avon Inspire (January 6, 2009)


Shelley Shepard Gray


Hidden is Shelley’s first foray into inspirational fiction. Previously, Shelley lived in Texas and Colorado, where she taught school and earned both her bachelors and masters degrees in education. She now lives in southern Ohio where she writes full time. Shelley is an active member of her church. She serves on committees, volunteers in the church office, and is part of the Telecare ministry, which calls homebound members on a regular basis. Shelley looks forward to the opportunity to write novels that showcase her Christian ideals.

This is the second book in the Sisters Of Heart series. The first was Hidden.


Twenty-year-old Katie Brenneman has always quietly fancied Jonathan Lundy. So when the brokenhearted widower asks her to help him take care of his two young girls, Katie knows it will be a trying time—yet she cannot pass up a golden opportunity to get to know this man better.

Just as she's settling into her new life, a message arrives from Katie's past, threatening to expose her darkest secrets. During her Rumspringa, her running-around years, she experimented with activities forbidden in the Amish way of life. Frightened by how far she'd strayed from her values, Katie ran back home, vowing to cut all ties with the outside world. Now her transgressions are coming back to haunt her, just as Jonathan seems willing to welcome her into his heart.

Will the past destroy Katie's chances for love? Or will Katie finally allow herself to accept God's love, forgive her past . . . and receive everything she's ever wanted?

If you would like to read an excerpt of Chapter 1 of Wanted, go HERE


New Year's resolutions seem to be the main topic of discussion every new year. And this year is no exception. I don't particularly care for resolutions, but I do usually have an idea sometime in January of where I'd like to be on several fronts by the end of the year. Having my birthday on the last day of the year lends itself to a natural evaluation of what I've accomplished over the last year of my life as well as the calendar year.

Even while I worked to finish five projects last week (way too busy!), my mind subconsciously took over the evaluation. So I knew the areas I wanted to concentrate on this year when I sat down to make a list over the weekend. It also helped that my thoughts were already directed to success and failure through my quiet times last week. More on that later.

The Lord blessed my editing business last year. But in the blessing, I've learned that I'm not as organized and well-disciplined in keeping my self-imposed deadlines. And I'm carrying several individual clients into the new year. They've been incredibly patient with me, but I know I need to establish better guidelines to match what I can realistically do. So this is my first goal for 2009.

Along with the editing, the Lord has made it clear I'm to start writing more. That means less time to edit. So these goals need to be looked at with the editing in mind, as well. I've spent a lot of time in prayer over these interconnected uses of my time . . . and I'll need to pray a lot more before I find a solution that works. This blog is part of that writing. The purpose for this blog to help writers with self-editing their own work. Part of learning to write well is reading other authors. So I'll continue with the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance and post twice a week with information on new releases. Those I will post on Wednesdays and Fridays. For the remainder of each week, I want to focus on the writing process, especially as it relates to fiction writing. These posts will include revising and rewriting, self-editing, plotting, characterization—everything that's needed to get an idea down on paper and bringing it to the point of publication. This includes devotional thoughts on life in general, as how we relate to Christ has a huge bearing on every area of life, including our writing.

So this is ambitious, especially in the light of my editing schedule. But it's the one thing that seems to be clearly directed from the Lord. Now . . . if I could "see" as clearly where the other writing and editing and judging fit in with family life and physical health . . .

I'm so thankful for the Lord's promise in Isaiah 58:11 that He is guiding me continually.

Verse of the Day

Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established. (Pr. 16:3)

Monday, January 5, 2009

Verse of the Day

He led them by a straight way. (Ps. 107:7)

“And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.” (Is. 58:11)

Friday, January 2, 2009

Verse of the Day

“It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you.” Deut. 31:8

ACFW Colorado Goes Live

Please check it out! I blogged over there today: The Inkwell.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Verse of the Day

Instead of posting daily Bible readings, this year I'm going to do what I did when I was teaching. Each week day, I will post a verse, or verses, for the day. I'll also start my day on Facebook with the same verse. *smile* God is working daily . . . and we are to meditate on His Word. So this is mostly to help me keep God's Word foremost in my thinking each day.

But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind, . . . I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13–14)