Friday, May 31, 2013

“Afloat”! Win an iPad Mini from @ErinHealy!

Erin Healy is celebrating the release of her latest novel
Afloat (Thomas Nelson) with an iPad Mini giveaway.

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One winner will receive:
  • An iPad Mini 
  • iTunes gift card
  • Afloat by Erin Healy 
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on June 15th. Winner will be announced on Erin's blog on June 17th. Save the date and click HERE to see if YOU won the iPad Mini!

Don't miss a moment of the fun; ENTER today. 

Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Visit Erin's blog on the 17th!



For more about Afloat, visit this post
or an interview with Erin Healy here!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Win Your Own Promise Box from Tricia Goyer

Tricia Goyer is celebrating the release of her lastest novel, The Promise Box (Zondervan), by hosting an Amish Baking Box giveaway and connecting with readers during her June 12th Book Chat Party!


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One "promising" winner will receive:
  • Apron, hot mitts, and kitchen towels
  • Amish baking items (rolling pin, pie plate, etc...)
  • Sherry Gore's Simply Delicious Amish Cooking
  • The Memory Jar and The Promise Box by Tricia Goyer 
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on June 11th. Winner will be announced at the "The Promise Box" Facebook Author Chat Party on June 12th. Connect with Tricia for an evening of Amish fun - book chat, trivia, laughter, and more! Tricia will also share an exclusive look at the next book book in the Seven Brides for Seven Bachelors series and give away books and other fun prizes throughout the evening.

So grab your copy of The Promise Box and join Tricia on the evening of June 12th for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book, don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun; RSVP todayTell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 12th!


About the book:
With her heart – and her loyalty – on the line, can she let true love in her life?
Every year, young Amish men descend on the cozy little town of West Kootenai, Montana, arriving in the spring to live there for six months and receive ‘resident’ status for the hunting season in the fall. They arrive as bachelors, but go home with brides! Lydia Wyse, a book editor from Seattle who grew up Amish, returns to the small community of West Kootenai, Montana to give comfort to her father after her mother’s death.
She is drawn back to the familiar Amish ways after finding her mother’s most precious possession, a Promise Box of prayers and scripture. What her publisher sees, though, is an opportunity for a sensational ‘tell-all’ book about the Amish. Lydia soon finds herself falling in love with Amish bachelor Gideon Hooley. She wants nothing more than to forget her past and look forward to a future as an Amish bride. Will the pain of her childhood—and her potential betrayal of her community—keep her from committing her whole heart?

About the author:
Tricia Goyer is a busy mom of six, grandmother of one, and wife to John. Somewhere around the hustle and bustle of family life, she manages to find the time to write fictional tales delighting and entertaining readers and non-fiction titles offering encouragement and hope. A bestselling author, Tricia has published thirty-three books to date and has written more than 500 articles. She is a two-time Carol Award winner, as well as a Christy and ECPA Award Nominee. In 2010, she was selected as one of the Top 20 Moms to Follow on Twitter by SheKnows.com. Tricia is also on the blogging team at MomLifeToday.com, TheBetterMom.com and other homeschooling and Christian sites. In addition to her roles as mom, wife and author, Tricia volunteers around her community and mentors teen moms. She is the founder of Hope Pregnancy Ministries in Northwestern Montana, and she currently leads a Teen MOPS Group in Little Rock, AR. Tricia, along with a group of friends, recently launched NotQuiteAmishLiving.com, sharing ideas about simplifying life. She also hosts the weekly radio podcast, Living Inspired. 
Learn more about Tricia at www.triciagoyer.com

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Hauck Hopes Readers Discover God’s Beautiful Plan for Them

An interview with Rachel Hauck,
Author of Once Upon a Prince


Every little girl dreams of being a princess. Every woman longs to be treated like royalty. We’re all just a little bit fascinated by royal weddings and the princess that lives in every woman. That’s why readers will fall in love with Once Upon a Prince (Zondervan/May 7, 2013/ISBN 978-0310315476/$14.99), the first release in the Royal Wedding Series by award-winning author Rachel Hauck.

However, there is more to Once Upon a Prince than a royal love story.  Hauck hopes that once readers reach the end of the book, they realize: God has a beautiful plan for them! She even works some of her own experience into the story.

Q: Is there a “moral to the story” in Once Upon a Prince you hope readers will walk away with?

I hope readers walk away with a sense of hope and well-being. The moral about “the power of love” to change hearts, even a nation, is timeless and powerful. Love truly does transcend time and culture. It’s the truest picture of Jesus. Oh, and God has a beautiful plan for you!

Q: Do you think sometimes we miss what God’s plans are for us because we are so focused on our own plans?

We can, yes, but I also think God so loves us, so understands our weak human frame, He works things for good. One of my sayings is “I’m willing to hear ‘no,’ God.” I know how hard it is to wait on the Lord, to feel responsible for my own destiny, but He really is for us and can redeem our mistakes. I try to keep a “Yes” in my heart toward Him. And I’m willing to hear “No” if I’m pursuing something He doesn’t want me to pursue. I also have confidence that in even the smallest, most remote ways, He makes His will known. He directs our paths. And so we’re back to the “Yes” in our heart to Him first and above all.

Q: Have you ever had to give up on one of your plans, like Susanne did, because it wasn’t progressing or someone came along who threw the plan off track?

This is my life song! “Not my will but Yours, Lord.” After college, I tried everything I knew to get a job — networking, interviewing — but no doors opened. Then one day I said, “Lord, I’ve done all I know to do. I give up. You put me where you want me.” That night, that night, an old friend from junior college called and told me about a job in Melbourne, Florida. A month later I moved down and started a new job and a new journey.

The “I’ve got nothing” journey Susanna experiences is my personal journey. It’s the dialog and MO between the Lord and me. Everyone is different, but I believe God leads us and directs us with recognizable patterns. 

Q: There are some areas of his life that Nathaniel has no control over, and his life is about to change in a big way. While none of us are in the middle of transitioning into being King, what are some ways we can embrace life’s changes with a willing heart?

Life is always changing for us in some way. Marriage, babies, death. Children leaving the nest. Friends moving away. Family coming and going. Maybe a new job or a job loss.

With me, I say, “I hold all things with an open hand.” I love the amazing things God’s done in my life, yet outside of my marriage and my family, I hold relationships and my career loosely. God has to have enough of my attention and heart to move me in the direction He needs.

My husband and I were in youth ministry for more than 20 years, and we had a lot of kids come and go. Many of them became like our own kids. But when their season came to fly, to find their own ways in life, I knew I had to let go. The tears I cried were happy tears but tears none the less.

We have to believe God loves us and is for us. Then the changes are easier to endure, even joyful.

Q: There are often clues directing us to the Lord’s will, but sometimes they are difficult to recognize. Do you have any advice for trying to discern whether the clues are actually clues or our own wishful thinking?

When I figure it out, I’ll let you know! Actually, I think it’s the patterns I mentioned earlier . . . about how God leads us. That’s usually a good indicator.

But I’ve had my share of wishful thinking go awry. A good friend once told me, “I know God’s plans for me are good, and as I pursue Him, I try not to imagine the outcome.” That really stuck with me. I seek Him, and truly, He holds my heart so tenderly in His hand. I can trust Him to orchestrate the outcome of my life.

When I’m disappointed, I go back to “God loves me and God is good.” It gives my heart the right perspective. 

Q: As a romance writer, do you think there’s ever a time to give up love for the greater good of others?

We should never give up on love. Love is always for the greater good of others, as well as us. What I think we have to do is redefine love. Sometimes actions we consider “love” are really not love at all.

Jesus gave up all the beauty and majesty of splendor of Heaven, became a man and died a cruel death on a cross. All for love. Wow, what kind of love is this? Not the world’s definition of love.

But is there a time when two people love each other, want to marry but give up that hope because of love? Maybe because the family is against it? Or because they know they have different callings and goals? Yeah, I think there’s a place for that. I’ve known of a few couples who walked away from a relationship because it wasn’t right even though they loved each other.

Mostly love is about believing, hoping, enduring, forgiving and never failing.

Q: Your books usually relate back to Christ and His sacrifice through some form of symbolism. Can you tell us how the Lover’s Oak relates not only to the love story in Once Upon a Prince, but to the Gospel message?

I loved finding this real-life tree so near to my real-life setting: St. Simon’s Island. The tree is a symbol of Jesus, the tree of Life. And He is the God of love. When we go to Him, stand in His shade, we find our true selves, we find our lives. If you’re confused about life or where you’re going, go to the Tree of Life — Jesus.

For Susanna, finding true love while at Lover’s Oak is about finding the truest of all love when we come to Jesus.

Q: In the acknowledgements of Once Upon a Prince, you write about getting up early to watch William and Kate’s wedding. Have you always been entranced by royals or just by their love stories?

I’ve been fascinated by the love stories of royals through the years — both real and fairytale. But what I loved about William and Kate is the “ordinariness” about them. Is that a word? Anyway, they charmed the world with their love story, and I think they are a couple to watch. 

I’m equally fascinated by the love story of my friends and people I meet. Love is that transcendent force that captures all of us — men and women, young and old.

Over Christmas, I recorded my 99-year-old grandmother telling me about her favorite Christmas. “When Grandpa gave me my engagement ring,” she said. It was a precious moment. 

Love abounds! 

Q: How many details about royalty in the book are real, and how many were based on your own imagination? What kind of research went into this book?

The details are fictional though grounded in what I hope is royal reality. I read a lot of books on England’s royal family — both historical and contemporary — and used their lives and history as a boilerplate. “Is this scenario plausible?” Across Europe, the royal families have different functions and titles, so I used combinations of titles and authority to create my royal families and their countries. 

I also followed a few royal blogs and forums to get a feel for how people feel about royal families. I researched the royal families of Italy, France, Spain, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Greece, Luxembourg . . . and several Grand Duchies. 

I did not model my characters after anyone living or dead. They are from my imagination. 

Q: What can readers expect from the rest of the Royal Wedding Series? How many books will be in the series?

They can expect a fun, heartwarming, “ahhhhh” kind of read. Stories that inspire hope and tell of truth. The next book is Princess Ever After, releasing early 2014. The third and final book is tentatively titled To Catch a Prince. So, stay tuned for a fun, royal ride!

Visit her website at www.rachelhauck.com to sign up for her newsletter, read her blog, and follow her on Facebook (Rachel Hayes Hauck) and Twitter (@RachelHauck). 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Ray of Light by Shelley Shepard Gray

Welcome to the blog tour for best-selling author Shelley Shepard Gray’s latest book! 

Shelley brings inspirational romance to life in this sweet tale of love in the Amish community, Ray of Light, the second installment of her Days of Redemption series.


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{MORE ABOUT RAY OF LIGHT}
Bestselling author Shelley Shepard Gray brings inspirational romance to life in this sweet tale of love in the Amish community, Ray of Light, the second installment of her Days of Redemption series.
Roman Keim just wants a break from the family drama at his snowy Ohio home when he heads to an Amish snowbird community in Florida. There he meets Amanda Yoder and her daughter Regina who soon are warming his heart. But will Roman return to Ohio or will he stay and help the young widow embrace a second chance at love?
The author of the series Sisters of the Heart and Seasons of Sugarcreek, Shelley Shepard Gray delivers an honest, tender love story in Ray of Light, featuring the challenges of faith, family, and romance.
Shelley Shepard Gray

{MORE ABOUT SHELLEY SHEPARD GRAY}


Shelley Shepard Gray is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the “Sisters of the Heart”, “Seasons of Sugarcreek”, “Secrets of Crittenden County”, and Families of Honor series. She lives in southern Ohio, where she writes full-time, bakes too much, and can often be found walking her dachshunds on her town’s bike trail.
Find out more about Shelley at http://www.shelleyshepardgray.com.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Lisa Takeuchi Cullen talks about her debut novel

An interview with Lisa Takeuchi Cullen,
Author of Pastors’ Wives

How would you react if one day, completely out of the blue, your husband told you he wanted to go into ministry? What’s it like when the man you married is married to God? These are the questions the women must answer in Pastors’ Wives (Plume/April 30, 2013/ISBN 978-0452298828/$16.00), the debut novel from Lisa Takeuchi Cullen. Pastors’ Wives tells the story of three women whose lives converge and intertwine at a Southern evangelical megachurch and is set in a world that most of us know only from the outside.

Cullen passionately portrays the private lives of pastors’ wives, caught between the consuming demands of faith, marriage, duty and love. Ruthie follows her Wall Street husband from New York to Magnolia, a suburb of Atlanta, when he hears a calling to serve at a megachurch called Greenleaf. Reeling from the death of her mother, Ruthie suffers a crisis of faith—in God, in her marriage and in herself. Candace is Greenleaf’s “First Lady,” a force of nature who’ll stop at nothing to protect her church and her charismatic husband. Ginger, married to Candace’s son, struggles to play dutiful wife and mother while burying her calamitous past. When their lives collide during a fateful event that threatens the survival of all that is precious to them, each will ask herself: What is the price of loving a man of God? Each will answer that question in a different way.

Q: How did the idea for Pastors’ Wives come about?

A: It all began when my editor at TIME magazine handed me a press release about a convention of pastors’ wives. The article I reported and wrote for TIME eventually turned into the inspiration for the book.

Q: Why was the idea of a conference for pastors’ wives so intriguing to you?

A: It was a world I knew nothing about. And then, when I began meeting and getting to know PWs, I was utterly captivated by their stories, their passion, the careful balancing act of their lives.

Q: How much of Pastors’ Wives is based on women you actually met?

A: Quite a few of the anecdotes and details are inspired by real people and their stories. I spent two years, on and off, reporting the subject. I attended a weekend retreat for pastors’ wives in Wisconsin and conferences in Florida. I spent a lot of time in churches, including megachurches. I interviewed dozens and dozens of PWs, read their books and their blogs, followed them on Facebook and Twitter. But no one character is based on any one person. If anything, all three of the main characters are on some level an extension of me—the me I wish I was, and the me I wish I wasn’t.

Q: What is the most interesting thing you discovered in researching either the original article you wrote or the book?

A: The most fascinating thing I learned, and I hope this does not make me sound like a complete dolt, is that pastors’ wives are not necessarily supportive of their husbands’ jobs. Of the calling and the faith—yes. Of the job and all its attendant annoyances—no. I had imagined the woman standing behind the man behind the podium was an infallible pillar of support. Instead, I learned the role of pastor’s wife can be a great test.

Q: Tell us about the spiritual journey you embarked upon during the writing process.

A: My mother died of cancer in 2008. Nine months later, my father died of a broken heart. My parents were the root of my Catholic faith. My father was a Catholic priest who left the priesthood to marry my mother but remained devout to his last day; my mother had converted from Buddhism before they married. The only thing stronger than their love for the church was their love for each other. When they died, I felt forsaken.

Their deaths, along with the birth of my second daughter, forced me to reconcile my own faith. What did I believe? And why? Over the years I had grown increasingly disillusioned, and then outright disgusted, with the Catholic church—its protection of abusers, its disdain for women, its political stands. And yet I ached for its comforts and community.

Writers have the incredible privilege of working out our issues in our stories, and that’s what I did. Ruthie, Candace and Ginger guided and accompanied me in my hour of need. I asked questions. They answered. Sometimes I leaned on one; sometimes on the other. On the surface, Ruthie’s journey mirrors mine most closely. But each of them taught me something and helped pull me through.

Q: If you were in Ruthie’s situation — your husband was suddenly called into ministry — do you think you would react in the same way?

A: Marriage is complicated, isn’t it? But I think the bottom line is that when you love someone, you want to support him and help make him happy. This, by the way, was the central question driving me in writing this novel. What’s it like when the man you married is married to God? How does that feel? What do you do? Different women deal differently, as we see with Ruthie, Candace and Ginger’s very different journeys.

Q: Do you think megachurch pastors’ wives are often misunderstood? Do the stereotypes really fit the ones you have met?

A: Oh, yes, I do think they are misunderstood. When they think of megachurch wives, many secular and non-Christian Americans imagine a Tammy Faye Bakker. In real life, the First Ladies I met were incredibly accomplished and impeccably mannered. They reminded me of politicians’ wives. More importantly, I think outsiders—and even many congregants!—just have absolutely no idea how hard all PWs work for their churches. No task is too big or too small. They minister, manage budgets, coordinate programs, keep track of holiday decorations, welcome new members, stock the bake sale...all while providing counsel to their pastor husbands. And they receive little credit. I challenge you to find a PW who is appreciated for all her labor.

Q: Is there a spiritual message you hope readers walk away with after reading your book?

A: I feel it’s not for me to impart a spiritual message. What I hope with all my heart is that readers might take a journey with Ruthie, Candace and Ginger. I hope they’ll spend time at Greenleaf Church, a world of faith and wealth and power and intrigue. I hope my characters’ stories might make them wonder, What would I do for love?

Q: You have a background in journalism and have written for publications such as TIME. What made you decide to write a novel?

A: I had a story I had to tell. That’s the only reason to go through the torture of writing a novel!

Q: The release of Pastors’ Wives isn’t the only big thing you have going on right now. What can you tell us about your new TV pilot?

A: We’re currently shooting my CBS pilot, The Ordained. It stars Charlie Cox, Sam Neill, Hope Davis, Audra McDonald and Jorge Garcia. It’s set in New York City.

The Ordained is inspired by my father, a priest who left the priesthood in his mid-30s. In the case of the pilot, the main character is a member of a Kennedy-like political dynasty whose father is the former governor of New York and whose sister is the sitting mayor of New York City. One day, he takes a confession about a deadly plot against his sister. The seal of the confession prevents him from telling anyone about it. He re-enters civilian life to pursue the plot and the people behind it.

I wrote The Ordained right after I finished Pastors’ Wives. Clearly, the subject of faith was still on my mind. In the case of my TV pilot, what inspired me was my father’s story: What’s it like to start your life over as a man in your mid-30s? Of course I wove in many more complications and higher stakes because it’s TV. But that’s the central question for me. My character is named Tom Reilly, after my Dad. You could say it’s my way of resurrecting him. I hope to do him proud.

Learn more about Lisa Takeuchi Cullen and Pastors’ Wives at www.lisacullen.com. Readers can also friend Lisa on Facebook, become a fan on Lisa's Facebook author page (LisaTakeuchiCullen), or follow her on Twitter (@LisaCullen). 

Sunday, May 26, 2013

If you are going to give me a hard time, then you better be consulting GPS

When it is all said and done, I'll have a four day weekend that I've been sort of needing, but definitely wanting. I've not taken a full workday off in a long while. There's been a couple of days that I've only gotten a couple of hours in, but I had intended more than that for sure.

Anyway, I wanted to do something part of the weekend, and chill out the rest. Friday was our out and about day, but the rest of the long Memorial Day weekend is dedicated to the memory of my mom's Aunt Eula Mae that passed away overnight/early Friday morning. That makes it a long weekend in a whole other way. I sure will miss her!

But, back to part 2 of our Friday adventure...

I'm the Dallas driver among me and my parents. However, downtown Dallas within the confines of I-45, I-30, I-35 and Woodall Rodgers confuses the heck out of me. I hate trying to get most anywhere downtown because of the one way streets and the random street that crosses the others that isn't a N/S or E/W street. And I hate the stoplights on the sides of the road where you have to look off to the side to see if you have a green or red light.

We drove in a couple of circles trying to get to the museum, specifically parking. No help from my parents. And every time I get close to destination and am looking for an exit or turn, I for some reason need to go to the bathroom, and that only serves to frustrate me more.

At least I easily found my way to El Fenix to eat. One thing's for sure. I know how to find El Fenix.

Afterwards, we made it down to the Farmers Market without much trouble, but when we were leaving, I had a heck of a time driving around the blocks trying to find the quick way to the highway. I was thinking the street we were on was a straight way to the highway - if you went to the right. The ramp leading to the highway was to the left.

I still stand by the fact I was not LOST. I just couldn't not find a way onto the highway. We pull up at one light under a bridge and sit stopped when I finally realize we are stopped behind a parked car because stupid downtown streets, you have a lane you can drive in one minute and a lane you can park in the next. OH, my dad would NOT shut up about being stopped behind a parked car even though I am the one who realized it. After driving through a couple of questionable neighborhoods, we finally found signs to get us back on the right road.

At this point, I cannot operate my phone to figure out where we are and how to get on the highway from where we were at the moment. Neither has useful advice which irritated me to no end, and neither of them could operate the GPS on my phone to help me out.

Plus Dad pestered me the whole way home which only served to make me mad. Then it made him mad that I spent 15 minutes in Starbucks on the way home because everyone and their cousin was there.

However, my brother did something that got a bigger laugh that night.

We rushed home to get to Peyton's softball game which was an hour and a half later than we thought (we were rushing to find our way home to make the game), and then there was a rain delay for the first game. We hung out in the parking lot for a good while. Brian had been standing at the truck talking to us before the game for over thirty minutes. Next to my parents' truck was a jeep that had evidently been mudding and there was dried mud all over the bottom, especially the step-up rails. Brian decided to be "helpful" and kick off a mud clod.

I so wish that I had a picture of his reaction as the alarm on the jeep blared from his kick. We all laughed so hard we were almost in tears. It kept going and going and going. You may have had to have been there, but it thankfully took the hilarity (or lack thereof) out of my stopped behind a parked car episode. It least I didn't get caught kicking someone's car.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Everyone goes to see this in Dallas... but I had never been!

For everyone outside of Dallas or Texas, I ask this question... What was the most historic event to ever happen in Dallas? In case it isn't coming to you... the 50th anniversary is coming up this November.

It's not who shot J.R. Ewing, it's who shot John F. Kennedy.

With a day off yesterday (because I just had enough hours in that I could), I went up with my parents to the Sixth Floor Museum which is where Lee Harvey Oswald was when he fired the fatal shots.

I've always lived within an hour (north or south) of Dealey Plaza, I've only driven through it with the grassy knoll on each side. I've never been in the building. Neither had my parents, and with all the talk around here of the 50th anniversary, I guess we decided it was about time.


This is a replica of the building the way it looked back in 1963. It's actually housed on the 7th floor. You can't take any pictures on the 6th floor which I sort of don't understand. All that is up there are a bunch of walls of pictures (not originals) on information boards, and in the corner where the window is  from which the shots were fired, there is an area re-created with boxes stacked like the police found them after the assassination.

The walls detail Kennedy's election, the campaign trip with 5 cities on the itinerary for Texas and sequence of events that day. The only actual displays with any artifacts are a model built by the investigators (I think it was actually the Warren Commission) to investigate the shots and if they came from anywhere other than the window of the School Book Depository and cameras that witnesses used. And Zapruder's camera is in the Smithsonian in DC.

I guess the JFK Presidential Library has any other artifacts of the day, but it seems odd that there is nothing else there. Nothing of Lee Harvey Oswald's or Jack Ruby's either.




On display on the floor above are mosaic portraits of  the President and First Lady. Hers is made up of tiny pictures of him, and his is made up of tiny pictures of her.

And here is me and my mom...







And here are some goobers standing in middle of the road on one of the X's that mark where the car was when the shots hit him in the road. This person couldn't see me in the corner of the 7th floor right above the 6th floor window taking a picture right back of them. The way that everyone comes down the road, I think these people are pretty stupid. I've driven through there before and can tell you people go through quickly.

There was a guy taking pictures inside while we were standing there taking this picture. He lives in Australia, originally from England visiting the museum. See everyone from all around come to this museum... He did say that he lived most of us life within 30 miles of Stonehenge and just went last year.   How can you live within 30 miles of Stonehenge and not go? I mean A) it's Stonehenge B) it's kind of out there by itself. It's sort of a big deal. There's nothing that big of a deal within 30 miles of where I live, but if I lived that close, I would have been.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Check out The Offering from Angela Hunt and enter to win a Nook HD!

Angela Hunt is celebrating the release of The Offering
with a Nook HD Giveaway and
an Author Chat Party on Facebook {6/5}.

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  One winner will receive:
  • A Nook HD
  • The Offering by Angela Hunt 
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on June 4th. Winner will be announced at the "The Offering" Facebook Author Chat Party on June 5th. Connect with Angela for an evening of book chat, trivia, laughter, and more! Angela will also share an exclusive look at her next book and give away books and other fun prizes throughout the evening.

So grab your copy of The Offering and join Angela on the evening of June 5th for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book, don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun; RSVP todayTell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 5th!


About the book:
From bestselling author Angela Hunt, the heart-wrenching story of a young mother who unknowingly gave away her own child after serving as a surrogate for a childless couple.
After growing up as an only child, Amanda Lisandra wants a big family. But since she and her soldier husband can’t afford to have more children right away, Mandy decides to earn money as a gestational carrier for a childless couple. She loves being pregnant, and while carrying the child she dreams of having her own son and maybe another daughter…
Just when the nearly perfect pregnancy is about to conclude, unexpected tragedy enters Mandy’s world and leaves her reeling. Devastated by grief, she surrenders the child she was carrying and struggles to regain her emotional equilibrium.
Two years later she studies a photograph of the baby she bore and wonders if the unthinkable has happened—could she have inadvertently given away her own biological child? Over the next few months Mandy struggles to decide between the desires of her grief-stricken heart and what’s best for the little boy she has never known.

About the author:

With over four million copies of her books sold worldwide, Angela Hunt is the bestselling author of more than one hundred books, including "The Nativity Story." Hunt is one of the most sought-after collaborators in the publishing industry. Her nonfiction book "Don’t Bet Against Me," written with Deanna Favre, spent several weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. Angela’s novel "The Note" (with sales of over 141,000) was filmed as the Hallmark Channel’s Christmas movie for 2007 and proved to be the highest rated television movie in the channel’s history. Angela's novels have won or been nominated for several prestigious industry awards, including the RITA, the Christy Award, the ECPA Christian Book Award, and the Holt Medallion. She often travels to teach writing workshops at schools and writers’ conferences, and she served as the keynote speaker at the 2008 American Christian Fiction Writers’ national conference. She and her husband make their home in Florida with mastiffs. In 2001, one of her dogs was featured on Live with Regis and Kelly as the second-largest dog in America.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Ace Collins talks about Darkness Before Dawn

An interview with Ace Collins,
Author of Darkness Before Dawn

Q: You categorize Darkness Before Dawn in the genre of moral issues suspense. How would you define that category?

A novel has to be entertaining, so authors have to use some kind of genre, be it adventure, romance, drama, suspense and intrigue, in order to pull the reader in, then we can focus on moral issues. But the lesson has to be a part of the plot. This book uses drama, heartache and suspense in a way that might mirror Alfred Hitchcock’s movies, but its goal is to leave the reader thinking about choices. My next book, The Cutting Edge (due out this fall), really employs suspense to make its moral point. The suspense is the vehicle that carries the reader to the moral point we are making. Those values or issues in Darkness Before Dawn include abortion, suicide, DUI and a judicial system that can be swayed by influence, power and money. Those are pretty heavy topics, and they are wrapped in a plot that centers of cost or price of revenge and retribution. In other words, Darkness Before Dawn is a wild ride going into areas a lot of Christian books really don’t want to touch. That includes showing the bad side of a really good woman and flipping our feelings for the villain from hate to actually empathizing with him.

My goal is first and foremost to create books you can’t put down. In other words I want these novels to be page turners, to keep you reading by being so interesting that they cost readers some sleep and examine life decisions. It will explore them not just in a black-and-white fashion, but in these pages I want to get readers to consider the middle ground as well. Moral issues are not easy, and when faced with doubt, grief and pain, many Christians often make choices that others don’t understand. So I want to leave readers with a lesson that there is great wisdom in leaving the judging to God and for readers to realize that there is great power in embracing those in need even if we don’t agree with their choices. After all, a doctor can’t heal anyone until he or she lays their hands on that sick patient.

Q: What message do you hope readers walk away with after reading Darkness Before Dawn?

I am hoping folks see the real pain and suffering in a life fueled by hate and vengeance.  I hope in the end they also see the greatest power on earth is forgiveness and love.
Q: Meg is very angry at God after her husband is killed by a drunk driver. Do you think there anything wrong with asking, “If there is a God, why did He let this happen?” when something bad takes place in our lives?

I think it is a natural question. I think we all ask it when tragedies happen. When a hurricane or tornado hits and so many die, we wonder “Where was God in this?” I think the same thing is true when we see a child who has a terminal disease. Thus I think Meg’s reaction is one most of us would have, but I’m not sure how many would admit having it. That is why we have Nancy in the story. The dying woman who really knows about life not being fair gives Meg and us a perspective to consider.



Q: In dealing with her grief, Meg becomes very set on seeking justice for the drunk driver involved in her husband’s accident. How does her anger and bitterness make her situation even worse?

Seeking retribution and revenge brings out the ugliest side of any person. They become consumed by it and therefore lose their ability to reason. As we say in the story, a little bit of hate unchecked becomes a cancer that destroys all that is good in a person. So hate and bitterness gave her focus, but it made Meg’s life far worse and it took her being confronted by her own answered prayers to see the full cost.

Q: The story gets into abuse of power and influence over our court systems. It’s a little difficult to get into some of the issues of the book without giving away spoilers, but would there have been any court ruling Meg would have seen as fair given her state of mind at the time?

Though she didn’t fully realize it, Meg wanted an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. Thus any ruling under law would have left her hollow. She saw the ruling as a mere slap on the hand because perhaps the influence of a rich and powerful family drove her over the edge. I’m not sure it would have not have done the same thing to most of us.

Q: Meg found out she was pregnant on the very same day her husband died, which makes a difficult time in her life even more complicated. Once the baby is born, she names her Dawn. Can you share some of the symbolism of this choice as it relates to Meg’s life?

The name Dawn represents Meg living through a darkness she could not imagine and then once more finding the faith and the light. Dawn therefore represents not just a hopeful name for a baby but Meg actually finding a reason to live and the power to forgive. So it represents a new start for her as well.

Q: You’re very passionate about reaching Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) and Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) groups with this release. Has there been an event in your own life that has driven this passion?

I was 15 when my best friend was killed by a drunk driver. I watched what it did to his family, the toll it took not just in the weeks after his death, but on those parents for the rest of their lives. Meanwhile the man who was driving the truck, even though he had been convicted of several previous DUIs and was driving without a license, got off with just probation. So I have been waiting for a long time to use what I witnessed in my teens in a book.
 
Q: You are very prolific! How long does it usually take you to write a book from beginning to end?

It varies; a nonfiction book usually takes me longer than fiction. The shortest time it has ever taken me to do a 100,000-word novel is five weeks. That includes the writing and four-to-five rewrites. This is the way I work on books; I write a chapter and then go back and rework it three-to-four times. Then, when the book is finished, I go back and rewrite the whole thing one more time. Realize, when I am writing books, I also usually work six days a week and as many as 14 hours a day, too. But I like to write four books a year, and this is the method I have to employ to meet that goal.


Q: Is it difficult to come up with new material constantly?

In truth, the ideas are pretty easy for me. I have all these characters locked in my head, and if I didn’t put them in books they might just drive me crazy. It is the writing that is the work. On top of that I have a log book where I keep ideas, book outlines, hooks, plot twists, etc. I figured out the other day I have to live to 128 and write four books a year to go through the whole log book. I also have more than 50 church bulletins filed away that have detailed book ideas on them.

Q: You’ve written everything from novels to biographies and how-to books to devotionals. What do you enjoy writing the most? How do your projects come to you?

I have had so much success in nonfiction over the years, I should say I really like that. But in truth I most love the challenge of the novel. Fiction’s only limit is imagination while nonfiction is limited by facts. Thus, to have the freedom to create lives and then take them on adventures is just an amazing experience.  That said, I want to continue to write nonfiction, too. And both fit well with my fascination with history.

Q: Can you give us a tease for what happens in your next book, The Cutting Edge, coming out in October?

A top fashion model is assaulted in a dark alley, and the man behind the crime uses a broken bottle on her face. Now a woman who has always leaned only on her appearance must learn to be beautiful from the inside out. While she is trying to cope with what she sees as “the monster in the mirror,” she doesn’t know her attacker is stalking her every move in order to finish the job he started in that dark alley. I think readers will want to read this book with the lights on and the doors locked. 

Learn more about Ace Collins and his books at acecollins.com. Readers can also become a fan on Facebook (ace.collins) or follow him on Twitter (@AceCollins).

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Beth K. Vogt’s “Catch a Falling Star” Romantic Weekend Getaway Giveaway

Celebrate the release of Catch a Falling Star (Howard Books)
with Beth K. Vogt by entering to win a Romantic Weekend
Getaway and RSVPing for her June 4th Author Chat Party.


FallingStar300

  One "lucky" winner will receive:
  • A $200 Visa Cash Card (Perfect for a weekend stay at a hotel or B&B!)
  • Catch a Falling Star and Wish You Were Here by Beth Vogt (Swoon-worthy!)
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on June 3rd. Winner will be announced at the "Catch a Falling Star" Facebook Author Chat Party on June 4th. Connect with Beth for an evening of book chat, trivia, laughter, and more! Beth will also share an exclusive look at her next book and give away books and other fun prizes throughout the evening.

So grab your copy of Catch a Falling Star and join Beth on the evening of June 4th for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book, don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun; RSVP todayTell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 4th!


Read more about Catch a Falling Star by clicking here!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Healy’s Afloat is an exploration of the human spirit and supernatural possibilities

An interview with Erin Healy, Author of Afloat


We live in a world where a spiritual battle between good and evil is continually raging around us, whether we are aware of it or not. While supernatural fiction portraying the battle between light and darkness has become a popular genre in recent years, best-selling author Erin Healy hopes readers recognize a difference between her books and the others out there. “The secular paranormal genre is preoccupied with darkness. As honestly as I can, I try to be preoccupied with light.” In her latest release, Afloat (Thomas Nelson/May 7, 2013/ISBN 978-1401685522/$15.99), Healy’s characters are faced with the fight of their lives, in a desperate search for the light.

Q: How would you describe your latest book, Afloat?

Afloat is a supernatural-disaster survival story. An eclectic group of people stranded in a floating house grapple with the question of whether love can rise above self-preservation instincts.

Q: Is there a “moral to the story” in Afloat you hope readers will walk away with?

I hope they’ll have a renewed sense that for believers, death is nothing to fear; our survival is guaranteed. How we love each other, however, is entirely up to us.

Q: How did you get into writing supernatural suspense?

Ted Dekker is partly responsible for that. He invited me to write two books with him, Kiss and Burn, that contain supernatural elements. But the genre is a natural fit for me. I appreciate many stories that have supernatural elements, and I’m a person who believes the physical and spiritual parts of our lives are far less compartmentalized than we think they are.

Q: Because you write in such a unique genre, do you think it’s harder for you to come up with ideas than some other authors or does the supernatural element give you more ideas to play with?

I don’t believe I have more or fewer ideas to play with than any other writer, just different ideas, and different expectations to meet.

Q: Some readers feel really uncomfortable with the thought of reading supernatural fiction. Is there anything you would tell them to invite them over to what they would consider to be the dark side?

I respect their discomfort. There are certain genres that I’m not comfortable reading. But to those who are curious I would say that the supernatural world is real, it is biblical, it has a profound effect on our physical reality, and it is more bright than dark. I believe it’s no more terrifying than the physical world, because the same God rules over both. I write from a Christian worldview and make every effort to honor the Lord through my stories, to whatever degree they might be viewed as “supernatural” or “paranormal” or (as I think of them) “metaphorical” or just plain weird. So while I can’t speak for every supernatural story, there should be nothing to fear in mine.

Q: In your own experience, what causes a crisis to bring out the best character in some people and the worst in others?

I believe our behaviors are informed by our values. For example, in Afloat, one of my main characters values his authority and leadership, another values the lessons he’s learned from his past, another values the stability she’s able to provide for her son. None of these values is inherently bad. What makes the difference is whether a person holds his values to serve his own sense of security or others’. Extreme pressure proves the truth.

Q: What are some of the things give you a sense of security?

Love in my home, locks on my doors, and money in the bank. That doesn’t sound very spiritual, does it? I also crave approval, accomplishment, and a clear sense of purpose. Again, none of these is bad, but I do notice that my trust in them (in the form of fear that they will fail me) rises to the surface when I feel threatened. In Afloat, the disaster strips most of the characters of everything they thought would keep them safe. Learning how to trust in the only lasting security of God’s perfect love is a lifelong spiritual journey.
Q: Is it possible to love another person without sacrificing something of yourself for him or her?

This is the question at the heart of my hero’s story in Afloat. Vance has experienced sacrificial love but is reluctant to accept or to give it. I do believe it’s hard to love another person well without sacrifice. Jesus Christ, of course, is the ultimate model of what this looks like. He gave up absolutely everything of worldly value to love us. He even gave up his supernatural identity as the Son of God. For me, the definition of true love is the ability to care about another person’s needs more than I care about my own.

Q: For some people, there are there times when they feel the need for certainty that God is real. Are there times when you live comfortably with doubt?

When life is painful, doubt is like a blister that puts a barrier between the wound and the world. The protective layer—maybe God isn’t real after all—is undesirable but normal and maybe even part of our healing process. In my experience, God has the greatest opportunity to reveal himself to us in the deepest valleys of life. Doubt is never comfortable for me, but I’m learning to value seasons of doubt as a chance to know God more fully. 

Q: Do you believe the Bible condemns you for your mistakes or frees you to embrace God's love?

This question names a defining struggle of my life. In the beginning, Danielle (Afloat’s leading lady) reads condemnation and judgment into the message delivered to her. She can’t hear it as a message of love until it’s almost too late. I have read the Bible both ways, only lately discovering that the Word takes on whole new meaning—giving freedom, defeating fear, increasing joy—when read through the lenses of God’s love.

Q: Most authors include something of themselves in each book. What parts of you show up in Afloat?

I’m a totally fretful parent. You’ll see me in Danielle’s and Mirah’s parenting.

Q: Given Alfoat’s survival element, one would have to ask—are you much of an adventurist? How long would you make it away from civilization?

A friend once said that anything less than three stars is roughing it—I think that pretty much describes me. I like the kind of adventures that come with hot running water and clean socks. I like seeing new places, trying new things, eating new food, meeting new people… but you won’t ever find me in a Survivor lineup.

Q: If you were set afloat, what three items would you make sure were set adrift with you?

Tom Hanks, Wilson, and a copy of Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken, a great survival story that would remind me how to catch seagulls and sharks with my bare hands.

Readers can enter to win an iPad Mini from Erin Healy and Thomas Nelson. Watch for more details on her Facebook Page. Click here to view the book trailer for Afloat.

Visit Healy website at www.erinhealy.com to sign up for her newsletter and learn more about her books. She’s also on Facebook (erinhealybooks) and Twitter (@erinhealybooks).