Saturday, March 21, 2015

Gail Kittleson shares a devotional about healing...




Hello, friends! I'm changing the focus of the blog just a little bit. We'll still give away a lot of books, but we're going to focus also on encouragement and growing in God's grace. With that said, our first devotional comes from Gail Kittleson. It's from her book, "Catching up with Daylight." I'd never read her work until reading this devotional and I have to say, her devotionals remind me so much of Max Lucado's. Click on the book cover for more information. Enjoy!

Healing by Gail Kittleson
Jesus’ healings have a hold on me. I can’t seem to get enough of imagining the look in his eyes as he focuses on those stricken with all manner of infirmities. Today I read about the paraplegic lowered through the roof by his four friends. I love their audacity. They’re the kind of people most folks admonish, “Shhhh, can’t you see He’s TEACHING?” 
Maybe somebody did say that, but the friends pushed their way through anyway. Did they think Jesus would leave the area, cheating their friend of his chance? What made them so passionate that they seized that particular moment to reach the Master? 
 Jesus looked straight into his eyes and said, “'Get up. Pick up your stretcher and go home.' And the man obeyed. He got up, grabbed the stretcher, and walked out in front of everyone.
The man didn’t hesitate, even to say thank you. His obedience relayed the message to the Savior. Perhaps the healed paraplegic knew his obedience was required for Jesus to show the mocking religious scholars what was what. He had heard their challenge: ‘“He can’t talk that way! That’s blasphemy! God and only God can forgive sins.”’
I put myself in that crowded room lying on a cot, unable to move. The everyday odors of perspiration, cooking oils and smelly feet fill the air. The tension of so many human bodies in a small space press toward Jesus. From the cool night air, my friends lowered right into the midst of the melee, and there’s Jesus, looking up at my buddies on the roof, each with a rope in his hands. 
I breathe in as deeply as my weak muscles will let me. I search Jesus’ face as he turns toward me. His eyes glisten. He fixes them on me, and I hold my breath. It’s as if I’m the only person in the room. And then I hear the most remarkable words of my life: 
“Son, I forgive your sins.” 
Something happens inside me, deep down where bone meets bone, where sinew extends to muscle. Energy exudes from the center of my being, and anticipation makes the ends of my fingers tingle. My fingertips tingle? What can this mean? 
Then harsh voices whisper in the background something about blasphemy and what God and only God can do. Jesus whirls slowly, searching them out. Has he heard their insults? 
His voice, as clear as the sun overhead, rings out. “Why are you so skeptical? Which is simpler to say to the paraplegic, ‘I forgive your sins,’ or say, ‘Get up, take your stretcher, and start walking’? Well, just so it’s clear that I’m the Son of Man and authorized to do either, or both . . .” 
Then he looks at me again, and with the buzzing in my ears, a rising tide of the sort of hope I’d never imagined coming to me, I almost miss his words. But his presence holds me in the moment. When he tells me to get up, I do. Our eyes communicate everything, and his command enters me like a river of determination. I pick up the old stretcher and people wave back for me to get to the door. 
I feel their stares, glimpse their gaping faces, a mélange of shock and wonder. My joints creak and complain, but I keep walking. Someone says, “We’ve never seen anything like this!” I step over the threshold to a new world. 
 “They rubbed their eyes, incredulous—and then praised God, saying, “We’ve never seen anything like this!” Incredulous. Oh Lord of all, may my flighty, impetuous existence bear your passion for the healing you bring to and through me. And may I never lose that star struck incredulity that you care enough to be involved. 
Bio:  Sometimes we learn what we've done only after we do it. I wrote my memoir Catching Up With Daylight over a ten-year period, but learned the term "spirituality writing" only after the book was published. Figuring things out after the fact is a life theme for me, but even though it isn't the easy road, I learn a lot in the process. My very patient husband (37 years) and I in St. Ansgar, Iowa, where a small creative writing class meets in my home, and we enjoy our grandchildren. I facilitate workshops on creativity/memoir writing/aging with grace. My first fiction release with Vintage Rose, titled In This Together, will be released sometime in 2015.
Purchase links:
Amazon print: http://www.amazon.com/Catching-Up-Daylight-Journey-Wholeness/dp/1939023122/ref=sr_1_1_twi_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1424359652&sr=8-1&keywords=catching+up+with+daylight
Amazon digital: http://www.amazon.com/Catching-Up-Daylight-Journey-Wholeness-ebook/dp/B00EJPZHPK/ref=sr_1_1_twi_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1424359652&sr=8-1&keywords=catching+up+with+daylight
B&N print: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/catching-up-with-daylight-gail-kittleson/1117409147?ean=9781939023124
B&N digital: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/catching-up-with-daylight-gail-kittleson/1116460147?ean=2940148394945
Christian Book (print): http://www.christianbook.com/catching-with-daylight-journey-to-wholeness/gail-kittleson/9781939023124/pd/023120?event=ESRCN
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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Marian Merritt's "Deep Freeze Christmas



Tell us a little about Deep Freeze Christmas 

Deep Freeze Christmas is a Christmas romance novella set near Steamboat Springs, Colorado. In keeping with my tagline, Where the Bayous Meet the Mountains, a young gourmet chef and her mentor from New Orleans venture to the mountains to cook for a movie producer's holiday guests in his mountain lodge at Christmas. 

Here's the book blurb:

Louisiana Chef Leona Buquet agrees to cook for CG Fleming Jr, movie producer at his mountain lodge in the Colorado Mountains during the Christmas holiday. When Leona meets handsome Cameron, CG's son, she is taken by his striking good looks and warm personality, but with the glamorous actress, Marissa Madison, clamoring for his attention will he even notice Leona?

Cameron struggles with being in a career he hates only to please his father. When he meets Leona he feels he's known her all his life. He wants an opportunity to get to know her, but she keeps avoiding him. When they become stranded in a hunter's cabin, will she lower her guard and open her heart to Cameron? 

Briefly describe one of your typical writing days? 

A typical day starts with quiet time with the Lord then I do a quick pass through my emails. Once that's done, I open my writing program, read a few paragraphs of what I wrote the day before. I set my timer for 45 minutes then start writing. The timer helps me to stay in the writing mode even when I don't feel like writing. Once the timer goes off, if it's a good place to stop, I'll take a break for fifteen or twenty minutes. Maybe let the dog out, transfer laundry, or something else that doesn't require creativity or reading. Many times, when I return to the story, an idea is triggered or problem solved. Repeat with the timer. I usually do two or three 45-minute sessions.  

What led you to choose the genre in which you write?

I love reading stories about women in difficult situations and how they use their faith to overcome. It was a natural path that I would write those types of stories.

What do you enjoy doing when you are not writing?

I love photography and gardening.  

What author's books do you enjoy reading?

I have many favorites, but right now Sarah Jio, Kristen Hannah, Susan May Warren, and Lisa Wingate, are at the top of my list.

What can we expect from you in the future?
My first Women's Fiction full-length novel, The Vigil, is releasing soon with Harbourlight an imprint of Pelican Book Group.
When thirty-one year-old, hospice nurse, Cheryl Broussard flees an abusive boyfriend to return to the Louisiana hometown she vowed she'd never return to, she learns two never–say-never lessons. She also vowed she'd never allow anyone to abuse her. 

In Bijou Bayou, Cheryl confronts her broken relationship with her mother and the long-held resentment toward her for staying in an abusive relationship. 

She deals with awakening feelings for her first love, Beau. At eighteen, determined to leave, she refused his marriage proposal. Now with his wife in a coma, is his friendship enough? 

While reading a dying patient's Korean War love letters, revealed family secrets shatter Cheryl's belief about herself and her family.

Through forgiveness, honesty, and self-discovery, Cheryl is blessed with a second chance at relationship with her family, her first love, and with the God she never really knew.


I'm current writing a women's fiction story set in Mandeville, Louisiana and Tuscany, Italy called, Four Weeks in Tuscany.

I'm plotting my next Bijou Bayou book, The Eagle.

Thank you for having me here!








Elizabeth Maddrey's "Love Defined"



The Story Behind the Story…continued

I talked a little about the story behind the Remnants Series (Faith Departed, Hope Deferred, and my December release, Love Defined) when I was here in July and I’m grateful to have a chance to come back again this month to talk a little about the end of the story. As much as I love the happily ever after that I typically get to put into my novels (mostly I write contemporary romance – you have to have that!), this last installment in this women’s fiction isn’t the happily ever after that people are expecting. Which isn’t to say they aren’t happy – they all are! But my characters have had to reshape their own expectations over the course of their journeys, so happily ever after isn’t looking quite the way they’d imagined it would.

This is the way so many couples live their lives. We tend to have our future mapped out, and when you hit those bumps in the road, it can be a struggle to adjust to the new normal. But I’ve never personally experienced anything that shook me as much as infertility did. Whereas the usual bumps call for tiny adjustments on the path of your life, infertility often sends you careening down roads you didn’t even know existed, let alone plan on traveling. And so you have to adjust. And adjust. And adjust. But, if you’re willing to do the work and cry out to God in the midst of it, He is faithful to see you through. Maybe the end you reach isn’t the one you planned on, but He’ll make it your happily ever after if you’ll let Him.

Despite the fact that this is the last book in the series, and at this point the last time I plan to write about these sisters and their families, I continue to pray that women and men struggling with infertility will find comfort, hope, and peace in these pages. And if infertility isn’t something that has afflicted you personally, I hope these books will give you a little insight into the heartbreak that so many couples face, and with that insight, renewed compassion.

Blurb:

Dreams Change. Plans Fail.

July and Gareth have reached the end of their infertility treatment options.  With conflicting feelings on adoption, they struggle to discover common ground in their marriage. Meanwhile, July's twin sister, June, and her husband, Toby, are navigating the uncertainties of adoption and the challenges of new parenthood.

How much stretching can their relationships endure before they snap?


Bio:
Elizabeth Maddrey began writing stories as soon as she could form the letters properly and has never looked back. Though her practical nature and love of math and organization steered her into computer science for college and graduate school, she has always had one or more stories in progress to occupy her free time. When she isn’t writing, Elizabeth is a voracious consumer of books and has mastered the art of reading while undertaking just about any other activity. She loves to write about Christians who struggle through their lives, dealing with sin and receiving God’s grace.
Elizabeth lives in the suburbs of Washington D.C. with her husband and their two incredibly active little boys. She invites you to interact with her at her website www.ElizabethMaddrey.com or on Facebook:
http://www.facebook.com/ElizabethMaddrey

Social Media:
Twitter: @elizabethmaddre
Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+ElizabethMaddrey/posts




Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Janet Sketchley's Secrets and Lies



When Prayer Feels Risky
Guest post by Janet Sketchley

When I was little, I had two types of prayers. There was the mealtime-and-bedtime sort, where I rattled off a string of words in a comforting ritual that was a strange mix of security blanket and lucky charm.

Then there was the straight-from-the-heart sort, where I really talked to God – but only to tell Him what I wanted. And I had to include the exact details. What if He got it wrong?

A lot of calendars have come and gone since then, and I've learned that prayer isn't a superstitious chant. It's dialogue with our Heavenly Father, our Good Shepherd... our King. It's at least as much about reminding ourselves about His character as it is about pouring out our deeply-felt needs.

One of the hardest lessons for me was accepting that this God whom I can fully trust to work for good, and whose power hasn't faded since the Red Sea days may choose to allow pain despite my prayers. And I have to be okay with that, because as disciples said to Jesus when He wasn't doing things the way they expected, "Where else could we go? You have the words of eternal life." (John 6:68)

God has proven His love in the details of my life. I know He's real. I just have to let Him be God His way.

In my novel, Secrets and Lies, the heroine, Carol, is afraid to pray. She's endured an incredible amount of loss in her life, starting with her mother's death when Carol was in her pre-teens. Her mom came to faith in Jesus, and her dad turned abusive. Then her mom died in an accident. What good were Carol's prayers?

Growing up, Carol made a string of questionable choices, but a few years before the novel opens, life looked positive. Her husband's death left her free to raise their sons without his disruptive – and destructive – influence. She was alone, but she was strong. Until her younger son got into drugs.

Carol wasn't a Christian, but she had a friend who'd been healed of a brain tumour through prayer. The two women prayed together, desperate but confident. Carol's son, Keith, died. He was 12 years old.

The friend blamed Carol. Clearly, her faith wasn't strong enough.

So now, in the novel, when Carol and her surviving son, Paul, are in danger, when Paul's choices are taking him out of Carol's plan for his life, she's torn apart but she's afraid to pray. What if she gets God's attention, and Paul dies? What if her lack of faith means God can't help? What if He won't?

Those are similar to my earlier questions about God not shielding us from pain. And Carol doesn't know how trustworthy He is, or how much He loves us.

Carol needs to learn that God's heart longs to pick up the pieces of our lives and not leave us walking wounded and alone. That she can trust Him.

She also needs to let go of the fear that if He doesn't answer her way, it's her fault. The Bible shows that faith is key, and that a hard-hearted or doubt-filled refusal to believe inhibits what God will do, but the Apostle Paul himself experienced God's "no" in response to prayer. (2 Corinthians 12:9) Sometimes God says "no" – we may not see why on this side of Heaven, but if we trust His heart, we can wait that long.

What would you say to someone like Carol?


Monday, November 3, 2014

Sharon Dow's "Huldah" Prophetess"





Huldah: Prophetess (First place Winner – 2013 Word Alive Press contest)
    Publisher:Word Alive Press, a Christian Publishing company in Winnipeg, Canada.
I am excited to launch this third book, Huldah: Prophetess. If you like intrigue, a battle between good and evil, and unexpected developments to keep you on the edge of your seat, then this book may be for you!
Cover blurb: A young girl has frightening dreams and visions. An innocent baby dies. A wicked king lashes out in anger and hatred, dispensing a vile revenge on the people of Jerusalem. Blood runs in the streets. Rogue priests plot evil deeds.
                   A long line of wicked kings has ruled the land and turned the people away from their God. From kings to priests, to the citizens of back alleys and byways, the darkness of evil infests the land.
                   By standing for God and following His leading, can a lone prophetess make a difference? Will anyone listen? Will anyone follow? Walk with Huldah as she faces evil head-on, defying the king and his advisors, and pointing the way back to God. The road she travels is dark and dangerous and will have you holding your breath as she journeys into the unknown.
1) How did this story come to you? 
After completing my first two books, both of which are Biblical Historical fiction, I wanted to stay with the same genre as I love finding obscure Biblical characters and creating a story around them. I keep a list of characters that I come across when reading the Bible. Huldah fascinated to me and when I found there was so little information about her, I was excited to write her story.
2) Tell us about the journey to getting this book published. 
I entered the manuscript in the 2013 Word Alive Press Publishing contest and was delighted when Huldah: Prophetess was awarded first place in the fiction section. The prize was a publishing package. It was a very exciting time!
3) Tell me three things about yourself that would surprise your readers. 
1. I love politics and follow the American elections as well as the Canadian ones. I’ve always had a secret desire to be involved. 
2. I have also had the desire to spend a year above the Arctic Circle to experience total light and total darkness. I almost went there to teach when I graduated. 
3. I would love to have tea with the Queen!
4) What are you working on now and what's next for you? 
I am currently working on another Biblical novel titled, Sapphira: Unveiled. Sapphira was the wife of Ananias and together they displeased God and received death as their punishment. It is approximately 80% complete.
Bio: Sharon Dow won the 2013 Word Alive Press Free Publishing Contest for Huldah: Prophetess. She is a graduate of the University of New Brunswick with an education degree. She has twenty-seven years’ experience teaching Junior High, serving as Vice-Principal, and finally as Principal of a Christian day school. She is the author of two previous books, Antipas: Martyr, and Pergamum: Satan’s Throne. Sharon also enjoys speaking to groups, sharing her writing, and encouraging others in their Christian walk. She has three grown sons, six grandchildren, and lives in Ontario with her husband, George.
5) Parting comments? 
I hope to write and publish at least 10 books. I have the ideas and titles for them and a little written for each one.
6) Where can fans find you on the internet? 
I have a website
http://www.sharondow.ca.  My books, Antipas: Martyr, Pergamum: Satan’s Throne, and Huldah: Prophetess are available for purchase on amazon.com, amazon.ca, and christianbook.com, as well as Christian bookstores and other internet sites.
 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Jennifer Slattery's "Beyond I Do"





Beyond I Do:
Will seeing beyond the present unite them or tear them apart?

Marriage . . . it’s more than a happily ever after. Eternally more.

Ainsley Meadows, raised by a hedonist mother, who cycles through jobs and relationships like wrapping paper on Christmas morning, falls into a predictable and safe relationship with Richard, a self-absorbed socialite psychiatrist. But as her wedding nears, a battered woman and her child spark a long-forgotten dream and ignite a hidden passion. One that threatens to change everything, including her fiancé. To embrace God’s best and find true love, this security-seeking bride must follow God with reckless abandon and realize that marriage goes Beyond I Do.

Read a free, 36-page excerpt here:
http://issuu.com/newhopedigital/docs/beyond_i_do_sample?e=6362996/8842858


1) How long were you writing before your first publication? How many manuscripts had you written by that time? 
I’ve always enjoyed writing and was one of those students teachers often asked to shorten their papers. (Hm… my editor frequently requests I do the same to my manuscripts. Yes, I’m a tad verbose.) But I didn’t start pursuing writing as a career and calling until maybe six years ago. This might seem like a short period of time but as I’m blessed in that I’m able to devote a large chunk of my day to writing, which gave me plenty of time to learn and grow. And rewrite. Then rewrite some more.

By the time I received my first contract, I’d written a total of five novels, and they asked to see them all. They offered two additional contracts since, and hopefully, more are to come.

2) What’s your favorite setting for writing -- at home, in a coffee shop, on the front porch, sitting cross-legged on the living room couch, etc?  
If you’d asked me a few months ago, I would’ve said on the living room couch but lately I’ve been camped out in my office. This is mainly because I’m working on numerous projects at once, and my office allows me easy access to all necessary materials. Plus, it’s easier to tune out the television when I work late into the evening. 

3) Are you a morning person? A night owl?  
Um… neither? I get up early but absolutely don’t function until I’ve had a large amount of coffee and some quiet time with God. Without either, my day falls apart really quick.

4) When working on a manuscript, what do you do when you get stuck? 
This varies. Sometimes I’ll grab my smartphone with my Pandora app and go for a long walk. Other times I’ll do more research to help generate ideas. There are other times when I simply push through as I’ve found many times the block is a mental thing. 

5) Do you ever read your dialog aloud to see how it sounds? Have you ever performed
an action you want one of your characters to carry out in order to help you visualize or
describe it?  
Yes to both, much to the amusement of my neighbors.

6) How did you come up with the idea for your latest release? 
Many times plots and characters just pop into my brain and flow out. In fact, that’s usually when I know a story idea is one I should focus on—when it continues to unfold.

However, two aspects of this novel arose from very personal portions of my journey. One, the novel deals with homelessness, and I went through a period of homelessness as a teen. Second, the novel touches on surrendering to God’s call, something the heroine struggles with, as did I, when I first sensed God calling me to write. I felt certain I should be doing something much more logical. (grin)

7) Do you model characters after people you know? Are any of them (the real people, not
the characters) aware of it? 
Visually, sometimes, and there’s hints of my husband in every novel. But other than that, no.

8) Are your protagonists a lot like their creator? Or do you try to make them as unlike you as possible?  
In this novel, in some ways, mainly in terms of spiritual walk. As I referenced before, my heroine feels resistant to God’s call on her life, largely because she’s pursuing a safe and predictable life-plan. But she loves Jesus as much as I do, so I have a feeling she’ll surrender eventually. If she could slow her brain down long enough to actually hear Him!

9) Do you also write short stories, nonfiction, articles, devotionals, or other things, or are
you strictly a novelist?   
Oh, my! Um… yes. I think I dabble in a little of everything. Must. Slow. My. Brain. Down. Hm… It appears Ainsley, my heroine, and I, share yet another commonality.

10) If you felt the Holy Spirit urging you to quit writing, would you do it? 
Absolutely! I fought Him long enough when I first sensed Him calling me to write to know that’s not a place I ever want to go again. Though my salvation is secure, I know my intimacy with Him is largely dependent on my obedience, and I’ve come to cherish—deeply need—His daily abiding presence.

11) Do you read your reviews? Have you ever replied to one? Do you find they influence
your writing when you work on subsequent books?  

I do, and my editor often sends my work to early readers. Though I don’t always agree with everything, I’ve found I can learn from every review. And yes, I do think of them when I write my next novel. That doesn’t necessarily mean I’ll change anything, but I do consider all feedback.  

12) What question do you find most annoying on author interviews? 
I haven’t encountered any yet, and I kind of doubt I will as I know bloggers mean well and are truly do their best to help us authors out. Plus, I assume they know their readers better than I do, so their questions are most likely very applicable to their blog or magazine. 

Jennifer Slattery writes soul-stirring fiction for New Hope Publishers, a publishing house passionate about bringing God’s healing grace and truth to the hopeless. Her debut novel, Beyond I Do, is currently discounted in e-book format for under $3! You can find it here: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/beyond-i-do-jennifer-slattery/1118903211?ean=9781596694170 
She also writes for Crosswalk.com, Internet Café Devotions, and writes and edits for Christ to the World Ministries. When not writing, Jennifer loves helping aspiring authors grow in their craft, and has editing slots open beginning in November. Find out more here: http://wordsthatkeep.wordpress.com/
Visit with Jennifer online at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.