Wednesday, May 25, 2011

2011 Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award Finalists

Women’s Fiction

The House on Sugar Plum Lane by Judy Duarte (Kensington)

Chasing Lilacs by Carla Stewart (FaithWords)

Plain Paradise by Beth Wiseman (Thomas Nelson)

Long Contemporary

Crossing Oceans by Gina Holmes (Tyndale)

The Six-Liter Club by Harry Kraus (Howard)

Long Finds You in Sugarcreek, Ohio by Serena Miller (Summerside)

Short Contemporary

Tender Mercies by Mary Manners (White Rose)

White Roses by Shannon Taylor Vannatter (Barbour)

Rodeo Redemption by Teri Wilson (White Rose)

Long Historical

The Preacher’s Bride by Jody Hedlund (Bethany House)

Abbie Ann by Sharlene MacLaren (Whitaker House)

A Memory Between Us by Sarah Sundin (Revell)

Short Historical

Walker’s Wedding by Lori Copeland (Harvest)

The Substitute Bride by Janet Dean (Steeple Hill)

A Matter of Character by Robin Lee Hatcher (Zondervan)

Romantic Suspense

Too Close to Home by Lynette Eason (Revell)

Forget Me Not by Vicki Hinze (Waterbrook)

Nightshade by Ronie Kendig (Barbour)


The Snowflake by Jamie Carrie (Broadman and Holman)

Once Upon a Christmas Eve by Anita Higman (Summerside)

A Bodine Family Christmas by Marta Perry (Steeple Hill)

CONGRATS to my friends from, Gina & Ronie!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Daphne Gray-Grant interviews Arthur Plotnik

I love Daphne's newsletter so thought I'd share this one with you -

Power Writing

Super fast tips to punch up your prose
May 24, 2011

As an unrivaled devotee of Spunk and Bite, I was thrilled to learn Arthur Plotnik had written a new book. I became ecstatic when I learned I'd have the chance to interview the author....

Word count this issue: 744 words

Estimated reading time: About 3 minutes

PW #274 - A few words with Arthur Plotnik

I am a triple-XL fan of Arthur Plotnik. So, when his new book, Better Than Great: A Plentitudinous Compendium of Wallopingly Fresh Superlatives, crossed my desk recently, I devoured it in a single evening. It now sits beside my computer for daily reference. When offered the opportunity to interview him, I accepted, gleefully. Rather than introduce him further, I think I'll just lot Plotnik speak for himself. But if you want to learn more, be sure to check his website.

What, specifically, sparked your interest in superlatives?

The interest has been long evolving, but one trigger was a yen to be more expressive in my everyday sentiments. I'm supposed to be a writer. How could I wish friends "a great birthday" or "an awesome trip," or call my wife "amazing" in an anniversary card? As I struggled for fresh superlatives ("have a rapturous, festal, nirvanic New Year's"), I was struck by the puniness of our common stock.

Your hypersonic book strikes me as an interesting cross between a cheerful guidebook and a rebellious thesaurus. Did you struggle with how to structure it?

"Hypersonic"? How about "superluminal"? But I'll take "cheerful," because the book does offer a counterbalance to the negativity choking the language. Not that I don't relish an expressive malediction; but the more superlatives you discover for worthy things, the more aware you become of those things and their joy-giving qualities. In categorizing the types and objects of our praise I chose broad categories -- Great, Sublime, Beautiful, Trendy, Cool, etc. -- seas of terms rather than measuring cups to encourage inventive, freewheeling usage.

What type of writing do you best like to do? Do you prefer books, poetry or magazine articles?

Each has distinct mojo -- pitfalls and rewards. I say, work at all three to develop writing muscle. Books allow for sustained expression on a theme, symphonic development, thrilling discovery along the way. Poetry offers the hard-won joy of distillation. Articles, with their demand for relevance, immediacy, and appeal, keep the writer's feet on the ground. Ease of publication can affect our writing preferences, but fiction -- hardest in that respect -- stirs my soul in those old irresistible ways.

Can you briefly describe your writing day (how much time do you spend at
it; where do you do it?)

My routine's one interesting aspect is the Chicago neighborhood outside my study window: a robust horse-chestnut tree with its popcorn flower cones; alley trucks groaning with trash; six squealing little siblings across the street; and the clangorous workings of a plumbing supply company up the block. In a small, dedicated room with four reference-heavy bookcases, I write three to eight pokey hours daily, depending on deadlines, and take a day here and there to abuse a city golf course.

Which part of the writing process do you like best - the thinking about it, the actual writing or the self-editing? And why?

Self-editing, no question. Because I tend to edit and revise as I write -- ignoring wise counsel -- [including Daphne's!], my drafts roll out in decent shape. So now comes the fun of buffing to a high shine. My background as an editor helps me spot problems, revise mercilessly, even kill my precious darlings when necessary. It's labor-intensive, but nothing like the gut-spilling battle with a blank page.

What do you do to motivate yourself to sit at your computer to write when you really, really, don't feel like writing?

I have the advantage of habit, having sat down to write since I was eight. I might start by revising yesterday's work, getting the verbal juices flowing. But if zilch is happening I'll go play some funky or moody jazz piano in my limited but self-energizing way. Or I'll take a writing problem for a walk in the neighborhood, usually working it out in the fresh air. But frankly, if there are whole days when -- barring special circumstances -- you can't write a few lines, you may be in the wrong business.

Can you name one other author you really like to read? What do you particularly like about his/her work?

The edgy British writer Will Self rarely lets me down. Right now I'm reading his four linked stories, Liver: A Fictional Organ with a Surface Anatomy of Four Lobes, and as you might guess it's wildly original. His language dazzles and surprises. Intelligent, passionate, never sentimental. Plot and character so inventive they should be patented.

Daphne Gray-Grant is a writing and editing coach and the author of the popular book 8½ Steps to Writing Faster, Better. She offers a brief and free weekly newsletter on her website. Subscribe by going to the Publication Coach.

Sunday, May 22, 2011


I was on my way to meet some friends for lunch and already running late. Seeing the flashing sign on the highway did not make me happy. Expect delays. Construction ahead. Haarrummph. Sure enough, the vehicles ahead of me started to brake. I slowed down with the rest of them and slid into the long line that was almost at a standstill. Then I noticed my hands were gripping the steering wheel rather tightly.

I took a deep breath and told myself to relax. Then I remembered commenting to my husband that it was about time this stretch of road was repaired. I sighed. The work was necessary for everyone's safety and there was no other way to do it than to make the traffic slow down and take a bit of a detour. Causing my blood pressure to hit the roof would not change anything. My friends would wait for me. I sat back and turned on a favourite CD.

Road blocks, whether on a physical highway or in our lives, are not easy to deal with. We have people to see, things to accomplish - delays look like nothing more than something that will add stress to our days. But, as a friend recently reminded me, they usually have a purpose. Like the construction on that local highway, the work is usually necessary - perhaps essential - to our mental, physical and spiritual well being.

I ran into a few road blocks in my writing career this week. They were frustrating and I admit they did not inspire me to praise. They almost pushed me to rage. I have books to write, books to market, words I know God will use to help and to heal - but the roadblocks keep popping up. Yes, I know God's timing is always perfect but these detours into cancer clinics and other road blocks that are suddenly thrown in my path don't seem to help. But yes, I know they do have a purpose.

Slowing down has its advantages. I'll be able to do more editing on my manuscript, since its publication has been delayed again. I'll have more time to pray about those who need to read it and how I should go about getting it into their hands. I'll have time, in those cancer clinics, to pray for and minister to people whose lives are all too real, all too painful. Perhaps stepping out of the realm of fiction into cold hard reality will give me a different perspective about my writing and about my life. Perhaps these detours and roadblocks are necessary, even essential to the work that God has ahead for me to do.

Perhaps there is no perhaps about it. I just need to "imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised" (Hebrews 6:12).

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Lightkeeper’s Ball by Colleen Coble

This is a fun read, especially if you like feisty heroines.

A Heart that Yearns for More - Colleen Coble leads her readers on a search for significance.

What do I have to offer this world? Can I really be loved for who I am on the outside and not for how others view me? Where does my true significance come from? In her third installment of the Mercy Falls series, The Lightkeeper’s Ball, award-winning author Colleen Coble will answer these questions while leading her readers down a path of betrayal, desire and ultimate fulfillment.

The Mercy Falls series centers on a small town in California and its lighthouse. Coble uses the lighthouse as a reminder that Jesus is our lighthouse always leading us home. In her latest addition to the series, the main characters must wrestle with their desire to find fulfillment in more than their work and money while being hunted by those who are holding on to resentment and unforgiveness.

Olivia Stewart’s family is one of the Four Hundred—the highest echelon of society in 1910. Living in New York with her mother, Olivia is twenty-five and unmarried, and her mother is threatening an arranged marriage if she does not pick a suitable match soon. But Olivia wants someone who will love her for more than her name.

Her sister Eleanor has headed to the Wild West of California to meet and marry Harrison Bennett. Harrison is the son of her late father’s business partner, Claude. Olivia’s father had specified in his will that the Bennett and Stewart families be joined in order for his family to receive half of the rights to the Bennetts’ diamond mine.

But when Claude Bennett arrives in New York to inform Mrs. Stewart and Olivia that Eleanor has drowned, everything changes. Now Olivia must marry Harrison, or her family will be left with no income. But Olivia is not convinced that her sister’s death was an accident. So she heads to Mercy Falls, California, under her formal title, Lady Devonworth, in order to seek the truth and to hide her identity from Harrison. But the truth she finds may not be what she expected.

Harrison Bennett is full of dreams. His father insists he run their business, and his mother tells him that he should not waste the gift God has given him. But all Harrison really wants to do is build and fly aeroplanes. And it doesn’t help any that his fiancĂ© drowned and now the nosy Lady Devonworth keeps asking him questions about something so private and hurtful. Yet there seems to be something more than skin deep with her, and he would like to discover what it is.

Can Olivia and Harrison both find the meaning in life that they desire? In her last novel in the Mercy Falls series, Coble does not disappoint. With murder, suspense and desire, readers will enjoy peeling back the layers and discovering that this is more than your average romance novel. They will be perched on the edge of their seats trying to solve the mystery of Eleanor’s death while discovering that the true worth of an individual never comes from a name or accomplishments. True worth can only be found in Christ.

The Lightkeeper’s Ball by Colleen Coble
Thomas Nelson/April 19, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-5955-4268-7/304 pages/paperback/$14.99

An Important discussion

Check out Novel Journey today. There's an important discussion going on, whether you are a reader of Christian fiction or a writer of it.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Abundant Rain

I'm excited about my new ebook, Abundant Rain - it's a collection of devotionals for writers of faith, originally published on Novel Journey. You can download it in any format here -

Saturday, May 07, 2011

The Titus Mandate

Can You Spot the Wolves?

Ted Bigelow encourages his readers to follow God’s model of leadership for the church.

The church is supposed to be the safest place on earth for Christians, so why is it often a place of deep dissatisfaction? Many Christians suffer from difficult church situations and are unsure how to live and worship with such stress, let alone grow in the midst of it. Much of this pain comes from being under poor church leadership. According to Ted Bigelow, if your church doesn’t follow God’s mandate for leadership as set out in the book of Titus, it is almost certainly headed for disaster.

All Christians want to be a part of a safe and godly church so that they can invest in its ministries and mission without fear or compromise. Yet thousands of real churches, perhaps yours, have been infiltrated by dangerous men. Many Christians have been so hurt by these wolves that they have left church, vowing never to return. Other sheep, unaware of what they are witnessing week by week, pay the wolves to preach their error.

In The Titus Mandate, readers will follow Paul’s special attachĂ© Titus on his treacherous mission to the Mediterranean island of Crete. You’ll learn for yourself what Titus experienced as he went toe-to-toe with the wolves, carrying out God’s very public mission to rescue Christians and churches from danger. Paul’s journey will teach you to spot the wolves and protect yourself and those you love from Satan’s most prolific form of spiritual peril.

Through reading this book, Christians will be equipped to:

· Understand the biblical reasons for most negative church experiences and gain scriptural wisdom about their church trials.

· Trust in the Lord whose wisdom brings such trials into His children’s lives, enabling them to move forward in their walks with Christ.

· Discern safe churches from unsafe churches.

· Participate in church in a way that draws them closer to the Lord.

Taking the truth from Scripture and applying it in the church is easier said than done, so The Titus Mandate provides specific instruction on how to live out God’s principles that make church a secure place. One’s confidence in church will be restored as God’s ways are explained, applied, and contrasted with those ways that bring danger. The Titus Mandate is a rescue plan for Christians and their churches. Readers will be able to feel confident that the leadership they have chosen will be trustworthy shepherds for their families.

The Titus Mandate by Ted Bigelow

CreateSpace/January 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4538-3127-4/352 pages/paperback/$14.95

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Blessed, Fortunate, Happy…Lucky

Glenn Packiam uncovers how we live as luck-bearers in Lucky: How the Kingdom Comes to Unlikely People.

Dallas/Ft. Worth, TX—Who are the lucky? The lottery winners? The rich? The famous? In his new release, Lucky: How the Kingdom Comes to Unlikely People, Glenn Packiam uncovers how the poor, hungry, mourning, and persecuted are lucky because the kingdom of heaven, its fullness, comfort, and reward, is theirs despite their condition. Packiam redefines the word lucky by studying the word’s context as used in Christ’s beatitudes in Luke’s gospel.

According to Packiam, “Jesus took an inherently nonreligious word, a word from normal, everyday conversations, and filled it with divine implications. It turns out the ones we ought to call ‘lucky’ are the ones that God is blessing with the arrival of His kingdom. In doing this, Jesus redefined who the lucky ones are. They are not the ones culture lauds as successful, not the ones we secretly aspire to be. He turned our appraisal of the good life on its head. There is a great reversal that is coming; indeed, it has already begun. And the ones who are receiving and participating in the kingdom of God are the ones who are truly lucky, deeply blessed.”

And just like the people whom Jesus was addressing in Luke, we are called lucky, not because of our pain or brokenness but because, in spite of it, we have been invited into God’s kingdom. The trajectory of our lives has been altered. What’s more, we now have a part in the future that God is bringing. God has come to us in the midst of our messes and mistakes. He invites us to surrender, to live in a different way, and to participate in His work of rescuing and redeeming the world. We have a part in the future that God is bringing. Packiam encourages his readers to discover how lucky they are that God has invited them to participate in His work of carrying this luck to the world. In his book:

Packiam challenges us to rethink the blessing that has come to us in Christ.
He challenges us to recover the call to carry that blessing to the world.
He reminds us that God brings His kingdom to unlikely people, making them luck-bearers to the rest of the world.

Like Abraham, we have been blessed to carry blessing, to live as luck-bearers to the unlikely and unlucky. We are receiving and participating in His kingdom. And for that we are lucky indeed.

About the Author: Glenn Packiam is an executive pastor at New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where he oversees spiritual formation and serves as the teaching pastor for New Life Sunday Night. As one of the founding leaders and songwriters for the Desperation Band, Glenn has also been featured on several Desperation Band and New Life Worship albums and recently released his debut solo album, Rumors and Revelations, also with Integrity Music. Glenn has written a few well-loved worship songs like “Your Name,” “Everyone (Praises),” and “My Savior Lives.” Glenn is also the author of Butterfly in Brazil: How Your Life Can Make a World of Difference and Secondhand Jesus: Trading Rumors of God for a Firsthand Faith. Glenn, his wife, Holly, their two daughters, Sophia and Norah, and their son, Jonas, are enjoying life in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains.

Lucky: How the Kingdom Comes to Unlikely People by Glenn Packiam
David C Cook/March 1, 2011/ISBN 978-1-4347-6638-0/224 pages/softcover/$14.99 ~