Thursday, June 30, 2011

Links of Interest

If you are a writer check out this excellent interview with Jeff Gerke here

If you enjoy speculative fiction check out Jeff's Marcher Lord Press

You can get Ether Ore, an ebook collection of short stories as well as other MLP books on their website.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

New Look at Novel Journey

There's a new look at Novel Journey - the new site will launch on July 1st and you could win prizes! Check it out, then let me know here what you think and I'll send you a code for a 25% discount on my ebook devotional for writers, Abundant Rain.

Just go here -

Then come back and tell me what you think. :)

Friday, June 24, 2011

How to Put a Dollar Figure to Stories by Daphne Gray-Grant

A Guest blogger today - and some wise words from Daphne Gray-Grant

PW #278 - How to put a dollar figure to stories

I'm not usually thrilled by the prospect of meeting famous writers. Generally, their work excites me more than their persons, so I seldom attend "writer's festival" events and instead spend my spare know...reading.

But there's an exception that proves every rule. Last week I presented a workshop at the world meeting of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) in San Diego. And I had the opportunity to meet Jonah Lehrer, author of How We Decide.

I read his non-fiction book late in 2009 and found it captivating. When I heard Lehrer, a neuroscientist -- who can write! -- was going to give the keynote address as this conference it made me practically giddy.

Not only is he hellishly bright, but he's also a fearsomely energetic and intense speaker who paces the stage like captured bobcat. A contributing editor at Wired he's a graduate of Columbia University and a Rhodes Scholar. He's also written for The New Yorker.

Lehrer is a neuroscientist -- that is, someone who has studied the human nervous system. How We Decide explores some of the mysteries of everyday life. How do we choose our breakfast cereals? Which areas of the brain are triggered in the shopping mall? Why do smart people take out subprime mortgages?

When Lehrer spoke, however, he impressed me most with his emphasis on the importance of stories. If you've read my newsletter for a while, you'll know I'm practically obsessed with stories. This is because:

· Stories have been meaningful to humans since before we were literate. We are hardwired to respond to the natural tension in stories and to engage in the "beginning, middle and end" structure of them.

· Stories entertain and empower readers in a way that statistics and facts simply don't. Stories help move people to action.

· People remember facts told in the context of a story better than in any other way.

I knew all this stuff well before Lehrer spoke, but then he told us -- guess what? -- a story that quantified the impact.

An American scientist (sorry, I wasn't taking notes, so I don't have his name) brought a bunch of students into his lab and told them about a youth (Somalian, maybe?) who had suffered through the horrors of war. The story was graphic and tragic, and when the scientist asked for donations to help support this youth, he received an average of $8.10 from every student who attended.

Later, the scientist called in another group of students and told them a much more elaborate and accurate description of the plight of Somalian (?) youth. This report was very factual and detailed and presented a much bigger problem -- not just the story of one young man, but the tale of a generation. You might be forgiven for expecting that when the scientist requested donations for such a cause he would receive much more money per student. But, no, the "macro" story generated donations of only 55 cents per person.

Thus, Lehrer quantified the power of stories. If cash-poor students can give $8.10 verus 55 cents, based on the power of a story alone, that tells you something about the importance of being personal, specific and detailed.

I'm not generally in the habit of favouring quotes from Joseph Stalin, but the Bolshevik summed it up aptly when he said, "The death of one man is a tragedy, the death of millions is a statistic."

Stories matter. Use them in your writing.


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.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Watcher by Sara Davison

Kathryn Ellison is being watched. And so is everyone else in this page-turner by Sara Davison. The novel is a good read and it's easy to see why it won the Word Alive Contest this past year.

Although I did find some of the sentence construction awkward at times, the prose moves quickly and keeps the reader wondering. The frequent comments by 'the watcher' add to the suspense, not only about the events unfolding but also about his identity. We are given clues as he personifies such attributes as Faith, Hope, Love, Fear and Forgiveness, but we have to wait until the very end to discover who he is.

This is a story about all of the above, and about holding on to God when everything else is slipping away. I'm sure we'll be reading more from this young Canadian author in the future.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

False Witness by Randy Singer

The Government Can Change an Identity,

but It Cannot Change a Life

Suspense author Randy Singer brings awareness

to the plight of Dalits in India

What is our responsibility for obtaining justice for those in need? Does the end always justify the means? Randy Singer examines these questions while taking his readers through twists and turns on a powerful journey in his novel False Witness. This engrossing legal thriller is a re-telling of Singer’s original novel by the same name. The new version has many substantial changes—some designed to bring about Singer’s original vision for the book inspired by his friend’s funeral.

The deceased was David O’Malley, Singer’s good friend and former client. O’Malley’s wife had asked Singer to give her husband’s eulogy. So, at the funeral, Singer talked about his friend’s generosity and big heart. Everyone there had a David O’Malley story, so heads nodded as he shared his. David’s pastor followed Singer in the pulpit. He spoke about a man named Thomas Kelly. The man was a scoundrel involved in organized crime. He turned on everyone he knew. “You don’t think you know Thomas Kelly, but you do,” the pastor explained. “David O’Malley was Thomas Kelly before he went into the witness protection program—before he came to the Lord.”

Prior to that moment, the only people that knew about David’s past were the government, his family, Singer, and his pastor. There was utter silence as the pastor concluded with a line Singer said he will never forget. “The government can give you a new identity,” he said, “but only Christ can change your life.” It was then that he decided to write this book.

But Singer also wanted to draw attention to one of his passions. He wanted to highlight the challenges of today’s church in India. He believes that most Western Christians are unaware of the persecution of the church and the miraculous things happening there.

Do you have a book club? Don’t miss your chance to sign up for the False Witness book club contest!

The first 10 groups that sign up will have the opportunity to have Randy appear either live or via Skype for a 1-hour discussion with the group. (In order to qualify, groups must have at least 20 members and have the ability to use Skype.)

The first 50 groups that sign up will receive a special book club package that includes a DVD, a reading group guide, and an assortment of Randy’s backlist titles.

Click here to sign-up!

India is a land of civil rights, in theory, but of brutal oppression, in fact—especially for the 165 million members of the Dalits, India’s lowest caste. During Singer’s first trip to India a few years ago, he saw firsthand the systemic oppression of the Dalits (formerly known as untouchables) through the Hindu caste system. Singer was astonished by the fact that the world’s largest democracy was also a breeding ground for the world’s largest human-trafficking operations, that it would allow the exploitation of 15 million children in bonded labor, that it would tolerate temple prostitution and other forms of sexual slavery, and that it would foster economic and social systems that oppress nearly 25 percent of its people.

But there is a silver lining. A bond was formed between the Dalits and Christians. The Dalits began asking the church to help educate their children. Hundreds of schools sprang up, providing thousands of Dalit children with an English-based education (critical to landing good jobs) and newfound self-respect. The Dalits responded with another invitation: “If this is the Christian faith, come start a church in our village.” The result is that millions of Dalits and other Indians are coming to Christ, drawn by a religion that believes the ground is equal at the foot of the cross.

Singer was moved by the plight of the Dalit children, struggling to throw off the yoke of oppression and replace it with real freedom and dignity, so he committed to do his part because he believes that “no child should be untouchable.” So he is donating every penny from the sale of False Witness to the Dalit Freedom Network. His novel will take readers from the streets of Las Vegas to the halls of the American justice system and the inner sanctum of the growing church in India with all the trademark twists, turns, and legal intrigue his fans have come to expect.

False Witness begins with Clark Shealy, a bail bondsman with the ultimate bounty on the line—his wife’s life. He has 48 hours to find an Indian professor in possession of the Abacus Algorithm—an equation so powerful it could crack all Internet encryption.

Four years later, law student Jamie Brock is working in legal aid when a routine case takes a vicious twist. She and two colleagues learn that their clients, members of the witness protection program, are accused of defrauding the government and have the encrypted algorithm in their possession. Now they’re on the run from federal agents and the Chinese mafia, who will do anything to get the algorithm. Caught in the middle, Jamie and her friends must protect their clients if they want to survive long enough to graduate.

In this engrossing legal thriller, Singer shows how God is a God of justice and how, in His time, justice will be served.

False Witness by Randy Singer

Tyndale House Publishers / May 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4143-3569-8 / 416 pages / paperback / $13.99 ~

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Fitting Room by Kelly Minter

Clothing Ourselves with the Virtues of Christ

Author Kelly Minter offers readers an irresistible invitation to a spiritual makeover

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” –Colossians 3:12

That verse is God’s call to a spiritual makeover, says Kelly Minter, an invitation to take off undesirable character traits and entangling emotions and put on the character of Christ. But how does that work in real life? The key, according to Minter in The Fitting Room: Putting on the Character of Christ, is to let the Master Designer do the fitting for you. This honest and relatable book stitches together Bible study and personal stories with warm encouragement.

Writing with her trademark dry humor and sharp insight, Minter gives us more than just descriptions of what the Christian virtues are and moves us past the “try harder” guilt trips to show how Christ forms these virtues in us as we cooperate with Him. What does it mean to authentically forgive in the face of deep wounds? How can we wear humility apart from weakness? How can we discover deep peace in our hurried lives? The Fitting Room explores these questions and more as it calls you to a life of beautiful integrity and strong character—relying on the Master Designer to make that possible.

There are no gimmicks here, just an irresistible invitation to a spiritual makeover as Minter urges readers to put on the life that truly was meant for them, personally tailored by the One who knows and loves them best. “Our dress is an expression of ourselves, a statement of our personalities or moods. We dress up, we dress down, we dress for comfort, we kill ourselves in high heels to dress for style, we dress for the weather, we dress for others, we dress for ourselves. But what about the dress of our souls? What about the way our character clothes us? And our character does clothe us,” writes Minter.

The Fitting Room offers welcome hope to the reader who is weary of duty-bound religion when it comes to the Christian virtues. By honestly exploring the power of Christ to live these virtues through us, the reader will walk away relieved of legalism and hopeful for change. The Fitting Room calls the reader to a life defined by the Christian virtues, with an unrelenting emphasis on the grace of God to accomplish this in each of us.

About the Author: Kelly Minter is a singer/worship leader, a recording artist, a popular speaker, and the author of two books (Water into Wine and No Other Gods) and three Bible studies (No Other Gods, Ruth, and Hannah’s One Wish). Among her CDs is one based on insights from her Bible study on Ruth. Minter resides in Nashville, TN.

The Fitting Room: Putting on the Character of Christ by Kelly Minter
David C Cook/April 2011

ISBN: 978-1434-79985-2/108 pages/paperback/$14.99

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Live Loved by Max Lucado

Live Loved: Experiencing God's Presence in Everyday Life (Devotional) by Max Lucado

I have long been a fan of Max Lucado and this pocket sized devotional book did not disappoint. Lucado's insights are always fresh and thought provoking. His writing style is fluid and a delight to the ear as well as the heart. If you are discouraged, pick up this book - it will lift your eyes to the Lord. If you are dry, pick up this book - it will pour water into your thirsty soul. If you are looking for truth, pick up this book - it will direct you to the source of all truth.

Imagine how your life would change if you were sure God loves you!

Using the same popular format as Grace for the Moment, Live Loved brings fresh, new devotionals based on the writings of Max Lucado. Included is a broad range of topics such as facing your fears, accepting His grace, and truly knowing God’s omnipresent love. Each devotional is accompanied by an ending prayer to nurture a stronger prayer life for new believers, as well as long-standing Christ followers. It’s a new devotional from one of America's leading Christian writers that will help men and women experience life from a whole new perspective.

Click the link below to connect to the Live Loved Community page on Max Lucado's site

Book has been provided courtesy of Thomas Nelson and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Thomas Nelson.