Thursday, September 30, 2010

Strength in Adversity is Necessary for Life and Writing

I'm reading a chapter a day in Deuteronomy since that is the book of the Bible my pastor is preaching from right now. Today, it wasn't the scripture that contained a take-away for me, but the study note in my John MacArthur NASB Study Bible regarding Deut. 13:3 that says God was testing the Israelites to see how much they did love Him in the face of temptation. The study note states: "...while temptation was dangerous, the overcoming of that temptation would strengthen the people in their love for God and obedience to His commandments."

Temptations can be strength-builders when we overcome. I pondered this , but the lesson didn't hit full-force until I went to the gym and decided to increase the weights on some of the machines I use. The increase was only five pounds, but it made a huge difference in how easily I was able to do the reps. What had become fairly easy was suddenly more difficult. Yet I pushed on, straining at times, and accomplished my goals. Why? Because it's been proven that without increasing the resistance, my muscles will never strengthen. They need that extra weight in order to become stronger.

That got me thinking about adversity and trials beyond the temptations that I face every day. They provide increased weight to my inner soul, strengthening it like a muscle when I don't give up and stop resisting the temptation to climb on my pity pot. The harder I work at resisting and rising above the disappointments, the setbacks, the trials of life, the more I will depend on God to get me through. And the more my love for Him will increase as I realize He gives me EVERTHING I need for life.

How does that translate to my writing journey? Every rejection I receive (and there have been dozens over the years), every hard crit that points out flaws in my story, every time someone points out a typo that slipped past me before I posted my blog, or every bad interview I have at an editor appointment (and there have been very few), those times can benefit my strength and determination the same way increasing the weight on the leg press machine I use, similar to the one like the guy is using in the picture.

This morning I grimaced like him through most of the exercises, but I am now a bit stronger for having endured. And each disappointing experience I have with my writing will only make me stronger and more determined to grow from the experience, trusting God that He is in charge and is equipping me to better my craft. At the proper time I will reap a harvest if I don't give up. (See Galatians 6:9)

Bring on the weight!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

A Hope Undaunted By Julie Lessman - Blog Tour!

Ever since Julie Lessman's first book in her Daughters of Boston series, I have been a fan of hers. She actually first drafted A Passion Most Pure, the first book, when she was 12 years old! In that series she focused on each of the O'Connor daughters who belong to a comfortably well-to-do Irish-American family living in Boston at the beginning of the 20th Century.

What I love about Julie's writing is her way of conveying the authenticity of human emotions and passions, but keeping them within the boundaries of a life lived for God. That doesn't mean that every Christian in her story is perfect--none of us are. She portrays the weaknesses and strengths both, but always through a filter of a Redeemer God who is ready to forgive when we repent.

At the close of the third book in the first series, there was yet one daughter who had not had her story told. I was thrilled when I heard that Julie was writing a new series and the first book of that series would be Katie's story. Thus A HOPE UNDAUNTED was conceived.

Katie O'Connor comes of age in 1929, just before the big crash that led this country into the Depression. As the baby in the family, she is precocious, spoiled and cunning, while at the same time beautiful with a soft heart for women's needs. As a child, she often crossed paths with a scrappy, puny street kid who has now grown into a strapping, hunk of a lawyer named Luke McGee.

As punishment for not obeying her curfew, her father forces her to spend the summer before she is to enter law school working as a volunteer at the same agency where Luke works. She finds herself coming face-to-face with a choice. Does she follow her well-laid-out plans to marry Jack, the man who meets every criteria on her list as what would make a good husband, or will she follow the man who she swore to despise forever?

I picked up this rather thick book and wondered how I would ever finish it in time for the blog tour. I needn't have worried. Once I started reading, I couldn't put it down. You will love this book!


Although you can read this book out of sequence, if possible to start with Book One of the Daughters of Boston series, A PASSION MOST PURE,  it's recommended that you do so.


Julie Lessman is an award-winning author whose tagline of “Passion With a Purpose” underscores her white-hot passion for both God and romance. Winner of the 2009 ACFW Debut Author of the Year and 2009 Holt Medallion Awards of Merit for Best First Book and Long Inspirational, Julie is also the recipient of 13 Romance Writers of America awards. She resides in Missouri with her husband and their golden retriever and is the author of The Daughters of Boston series, which includes A Passion Most Pure, A Passion Redeemed, and A Passion Denied.

Available September 2010 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

This Crazy Love God Has for Me (And You!)

While at Sam's the other day I picked up a book I've been hearing a lot about called Crazy Love by Francis Chan. Last year while studying the Holy Spirit I'd used Chan's book on the subject called Forgotten God and thought him to be insightful and thought-provoking. So I bought Crazy Love.

Before I even got through the first chapter the author directs the reader to go to his website for the book and view a video called Stop and Think. I watched it this morning and was struck by a couple things. In the clip he is walking down an embankment to a cove on the California coast. Behind him the blue Pacific stretches out to the horizon.

A number of years ago before I surrendered my heart and life to Jesus, I lived in CA for about seven years. And the last several years I was there I lived within a mile of the Pacific, but I'd grown accustomed to that and hardly ever went there just to ponder creation and how a Master Creator had blessed us with such vast beauty. I was too busy living a self-centered life and knew not my Creator.

I'd grown up going to a mainline church and had quickly disposed of the God of my childhood for another god. Myself and the care and feeding of self was all that mattered. I made bad choices and that led to more bad choices. Toward the end of my seven years out there I felt a pull to return to the Midwest, not in particular to my small Wisconsin hometown.

At the same time I put in for a transfer at my office to the Chicago sales office in the Northwest burbs of Chicago, I was going through a personal crisis in my life. My roommate of the past four years and I had separated on not so pleasant terms and were embroiled in a small claims court action. It was then that a coworker shared with me a new Bible version she'd discovered called The Living Bible. I don't think either one of us realized that it was actually a paraphrase. I was drawn to it because amazingly all the thees and thous of the Bible I'd grown up on had disappeared and this one was written in a way I could relate to.

Long story short, I intended upon seeking out a church once I moved back to the Midwest, but almost as soon as I arrived between Thanksgiving and Christmas of that year I came down with a horrible flu that was going around and then right after the first of the year my mom was diagnosed with emphysema. We thought we were going to lose her and I found myself on my knees in tears, begging God to not let her die and promising to seek a church.

I still wasn't going the direction He wanted me to, but it was a start. Over time I came to know God in a personal way, but He first had to get me out of a part of this country where His creative beauty is so evident to the place where I grew up without a mountain or ocean in sight.

Then this past year I was compelled to write a story set in my hometown of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, just an hour or so north of where I live. How much my heroine is like me didn't immediately jump out at me until I was reviewing the ms. for final submission. It was then I realized that that this 21-mile-around lake in Southern Wisconsin contained just as much of God's creativity as a vast ocean or the highest mountain.

This little lake carved out by a receding glacier has charmed old and young, rich and poor, saved and unsaved, for many many years. And there it was ... God's testimony to me of His presence in my life. The very lake where I learned to swim at age three, learned to water ski at age 15, and still enjoy at age....nevermind LOL.

At the top of my one-sheet for the story is a quote from Margaret Sanger that says: There is nothing half so pleasant as coming home again.

This is so very true, and God has caused my lot to fall in pleasant places as a psalm says.

I am truly blessed!

Friday, September 10, 2010

CFBA Book Tour - The Bridge of Peace by Cindy Woodsmall

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

The Bridge of Peace
WaterBrook Press; Original edition (August 31, 2010)
Cindy Woodsmall

I have loved Cindy Woodsmall's stories ever since her first book was published. And, almost ever since her first book was published, she has been on the New York Times Best Seller List. Quite a feat!

There is a proliferation of Amish-centered novels on the market these days, but what makes Cindy's stand out is her direct connections to several people in the Amish community. She gains firsthand input from them that make her rendering of life in such a community very much as it is. As a result her readers are able to see these people not as a group of people, all possessing the same personalities and ways, but as individuals with quirks, personalities, and personal preferences. 

A Bridge to Peace is the second in a three-book series called Ada's House. I read the first book, Hope of Refuge, about a year ago and have been anxiously awaiting this book.

The story begins with a plot that starts out uncharacteristically slow-paced. I will admit that if I wasn't such a huge fan of Woodsmall's, I would have been tempted to put the book down, but I trusted this author to come through, so I kept on reading and wasn't disappointed. So, my advice is to not give up because a little past the middle of the book the pace picks up a lot, as more and more things seem to go wrong for Lena Kaufman no matter how hard she tries to rise above one crisis after the other.

I am definitely looking forward to Book Three.


Cindy Woodsmall is a New York Times best-selling author whose connection with the Amish community has been featured on ABC Nightline and on the front page of the Wall Street Journal.

She was also a homeschool mom. As her children progressed in age, her desire to write grew stronger. After working through reservations whether this desire was something she should pursue, she began her writing journey. Her husband was her staunchest supporter.

Her first novel released in 2006 to much acclaim and became a best seller. Cindy was a 2007 ECPA award finalist, along with Karen Kingsbury, Angela Hunt, and Charles Martin.

Her second book, When the Morning Comes, hit numerous best-sellers lists across the US, including edging into the extended list of the New York Times, coming in at number thirty-four.

Her third book, When the Soul Mends, hit the New York Times best-sellers list, coming in at number thirteen, as well as making the USA Today’s best-sellers list.

Cindy continues to write and release best-selling works of fiction, and she’s also written a nonfiction work with an Old Order Amish friend, Miriam Flaud. The book is titled Plain Wisdom: An Invitation into an Amish Home and the Hearts of Two Women. It will release March 11, 2011.

Her real-life connections with Amish Mennonite and Old Order Amish families enrich her novels with authenticity.

As an adult, Cindy became friends with a wonderful Old Order Amish family who opened their home to her. Although the two women, Miriam and Cindy, live seven hundred miles apart geographically, and a century apart by customs, when they come together they never lack for commonality, laughter, and dreams of what only God can accomplish through His children.

Cindy, her husband, their three sons and two daughters-in-law reside in Georgia.


Love alone isn’t enough to overcome some obstacles.

Lena Kauffman is a young Old Order Amish schoolteacher who has dealt all her life with attention raised by a noticeable birthmark on her cheek. Having learned to move past the stares and whispers, Lena channels her zest for living into her love of teaching. But tensions mount as she is challenged to work with a rebellious young man and deal with several crises at the schoolhouse that threaten her other students. Her lack of submission and use of ideas that don’t line up with the Old Ways strengthen the school board’s case as they begin to believe that Lena is behind all the trouble.

One member of the school board, Grey Graber, feels trapped by his own stifling circumstances. His wife, Elsie, has shut him out of her life, and he doesn’t know how long he can continue to live as if nothing is wrong. As the two finally come to a place of working toward a better marriage, tragedy befalls their family.

Lena and Grey have been life-long friends, but their relationship begins to crumble amidst unsettling deceptions, propelling each of them to finally face their own secrets. Can they both find a way past their losses and discover the strength to build a new bridge?

Win a "Trip To Amish Country"...contest opens August 31st -December 31st...go HERE to enter!

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

You can buy it at Amazon!

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Her Daughter's Dream by Francine Rivers - A Must Read!

Wow, this September is truly a month for new releases in Christian Fiction. Yesterday I released a list of 34 titles by ACFW and today I am honored to present the latest book by multi-published author, Francine Rivers.

Francine's books are autobuys for thousands of readers, but I'm sure every time a new book is published under her prolific pen, she captures new fans.

HER DAUGHTER'S DREAM is the second book in a two-book series that is a generational saga of four women. Although it is part of a series, you do not have to have read Book One, HER MOTHER'S HOPE, in order to enjoy this one. In fact, I did not read the first book and enough backstory from the first book was included that I never felt I had missed out on something.

The book begins in the 1950s when Carolyn Arundel's mom, Hildemara, is quarantined to her room with tuberculosis (TB), and during that time Carolyn forms a special bond with her oma (grandmother) Marta. Over the years,  tension builds between Carolyn's mom and grandmother and, feeling she was to blame, Carolyn escapes to college during the hippie years at Berkeley University. She is soon caught up in the anti-war movement, drugs and the embracement of free love, only to suffer the consequences of such a lifestyle. Pregnant with her daughter, May Flower Dawn, she returns home to her family and picks up the pieces of her life.

Without giving away too much, I must say that this sweeping saga that begins in the 1950s and ends in current times, kept me riveted during the twists and turns of the lives of these women. If you grew up in the 60s and 70s you will remember a lot of the days of Woodstock, Janis Joplin and the anti-war movement during the Vietnam War. But even if you are too young to remember those events you will gain much in learning about how life was back then for those just coming of age.

You can view a beautiful trailer about this book at this site.

Published by Tyndale House and on the shelves this month, this book is a keeper!

Francine Rivers began her literary career at the University of Nevada, Reno, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Journalism. From 1976 to 1985, she had a successful writing career in the general market and her books were awarded or nominated for numerous awards and prizes. Although raised in a religious home, Francine did not truly encounter Christ until later in life, when she was already a wife, mother of three, and an established romance novelist. Shortly after becoming a born-again Christian in 1986, Francine wrote Redeeming Love as her statement of faith. First published by Bantam Books, and then re-released by Multnomah Publishers in the mid- 1990s, this retelling of the biblical story of Gomer and Hosea set during the time of the California Gold Rush is now considered by many to be a classic work of Christian fiction. Redeeming Love continues to be one of the Christian Booksellers Association’s top-selling titles and it has held a spot on the Christian bestseller list for nearly a decade.
Since Redeeming Love, Francine has published numerous novels with Christian themes – all bestsellers-- and she has continued to win both industry acclaim and reader loyalty around the globe. Her Christian novels have been awarded or nominated for numerous awards including the Rita Award, the Christy Award, the ECPA Gold Medallion, and the Holt Medallion in Honor of Outstanding Literary Talent. In 1997, after winning her third Rita award for Inspirational Fiction, Francine was inducted into the Romance Writers’ of America Hall of Fame. Francine’s novels have been translated into over twenty different languages and she enjoys best-seller status in many foreign countries including Germany, The Netherlands, and South Africa.
Francine and her husband Rick live in Northern California and enjoy the time spent with their three grown children and every opportunity to spoil their five grandchildren. She uses her writing to draw closer to the Lord, and that through her work she might worship and praise Jesus for all He has done and is doing in her life.

Although an Advanced Reader Copy of this book was provided without cost to me by Tyndale House Publishers, I have been free to write my opinion of this book as I see it.