Thursday, August 21, 2014

Meet Alan Powell of Anthem Lights and The Song

Anyone who is around the younger crowd, especially girls, has probably heard of the group Anthem Lights. I had the privilege of meeting lead singer Alan Powell at ICRS in June and talking to him about their music as well as the latest project that is near and dear to his heart: the movie The Song, releasing in theaters September 26. Alan plays the lead character, Jedi King. Here's the blurb about the movie:

Aspiring singer—‐songwriter Jed King is struggling to catch a break and escape the long shadow of his famous father when he reluctantly agrees to a gig at a local vineyard harvest festival. Jed meets the vineyard owner’s daughter, Rose, and a romance quickly blooms. Soon after their wedding, Jed writes Rose “The Song,” which becomes a breakout hit. Suddenly thrust into a life of stardom and a world of temptation, his life and marriage begin to fall apart.

About
THE SONG was filmed on location in Nashville and Kentucky – known for American music and family. Both figure heavily in the film. Music is more than a score in THE SONG, it is the backdrop from which the story unfolds. Viewers who love American music, indie singer-songwriters or dream of the allure of the road, will especially love THE SONG.

Produced by a top-notch group of story tellers who believe in love, faith and family, THE SONG is opening nation-wide including resources to strengthen couples and families.



EVEN THE WISEST OF MEN
WAS A FOOL FOR LOVE


Here is my interview with Alan Powell:


It's great to meet you, and I know my daughter and her friend were particularly excited I had this interview scheduled! I understand you are a "preacher's kid." Did you have all the "PK" issues growing up, either the rebelliousness or the spoiled "do no wrong" issues?

I didn't. My parents are great and made sure I was pretty grounded. I'm just used to people paying attention to what I'm doing, for good or for bad. I'm not saying that's a good thing. People have always asked what I was doing and why I was doing it. That did prepare me for being an artist and now an actor. There's a lot of that. to realize there's a responsibility, that people are watching you, where are you leading them? I grew up with it, so that was pretty valuable. But my parents are great, and they weren't just teaching me the rules but the "why" for the rules. I think that's the difference. Kids who just know, "Don't touch the fire! Don't touch the fire!" They're going to touch the fire. But if you tell them why you don't touch the fire, then they may n ot touch it. That's a very elementary example, but I credit my parents. They're awesome people and they're more vested in God than the ministry, which is also a big delineation which is important.

Did you grow up always wanting to do music?

My sisters and I used to travel and sing Southern gospel, all the way through high school and even into college. I didn't like that kind of music, so I moved away from it and was actually studying to be a New Testament professor in college and fell in love with Greek and New Testament Greek. I was walking down that path and God used some very specific people in my life to tell me "I know you've moved away from it but you've got a thing over here in this music and I'd love to work with you." That opened the door, which eventually took me to L.A. I was there for a couple of years. As far as I can see, I've always had a passion for films, so when I was in L.A. I got an agent and met with some managers, and I would share with them my faith and what that means as far as what I will do and what I won't do. The response was always positive – "oh, that's so great! It's so refreshing to hear something like that." Than the very next day they'd send me on an audition where I would read the lines they would want me to read and ask "Didn't we just talk about this?" I can't tell you how many times I would leave an audition room , not even going into read, and call the newest manger and say, "Maybe I wasn't clear." Eventually, I decided that I can't act because I'm not willing to walk down those roads that someone has to do to act. Eventually, music took me to Nashville. I was in Nashville doing music and I got an email about The Song.

Anthem Lights does covers of other artists' songs, right? Do you sing any original material?

We do both. When we first got started we did the traditional form of marketing, basically playing everywhere all the time. We did 150+ shows a year for two years. I had one child at the time, and we were just gone way too much. We just decided that we were either going to stop or we were going to find a new way to garner an audience. We had done one cover on YouTube at that point, and it was doing really well. People were responding well to it. So we thought, what if we make this a thing? What if, instead of going on the road and leaving our families, we attempt to build an audience online? One of the strongest ways that we have been able to do that is through covers, singing other people's songs. The goal of that is just to garner an audience so we can introduce the original material, which is the message that we believe and that we want to infiltrate to those new fans and to those listening now because of those covers. So that's a large, large part of what we do and what has allowed us to continue doing that.

Is that a hard thing? Do you have to get permission to record?

No, it's a lot of legal stuff, but essentially, the short answer is no, it's not hard. If someone has recorded a song initially, anyone has license to record it. We just have to pay the publisher's fee and we pay the songwriter ten cents every time we sell one of them, and everybody's happy! A lot of legal stuff and we pay Bill to take care of it for us.

You don't do concerts anymore, then?

We do. We just don't do them nearly as often. We probably play three shows a month, which is much more manageable. I'm not kidding when I say we played over 150 shows a year. There are only 365 days in a year and there's travel time between those shows. So you're looking at being gone two-thirds of the year. And this is a schedule that most of the artists you know, that you hear on the radio, are forced to maintain. It's just really difficult.

I don't see how they do it. When they're on stage, it looks like this glamorous life, but it's not.

It is not at all. Not at all. They sleep in beds that are about as soft as this (he raps the table) on a bus moving 80 miles an hour. It's a calling and what they do impacts lives, and I respect that, for sure. But it's very, very difficult, no doubt. I drew from that experience in this movie. It's about a musician who's touring and gone, and all those things. I've been there.

And the temptations that come because they are away from their families so much. Some of them take their families with them.

But you can't do that every time. And Jed in the film asks Rose to come with him on multiple occasions and he's attempting to do everything he can to hold this thing together and it goes awry, if you will. But I drew from those similarities and conversations I've had with my wife and frustrations and ongoing issues we've had and what that does to a relationship. It was very, very exciting for me to be able to use those experiences to help encourage other people to prioritize their marriage in the way that they should.

Tell me about your family.

I am married and my oldest daughter, who I mentioned earlier, is almost four now. That's crazy to think about. And our youngest is fifteen months.

That's really hard, too, for the wife, being home with the baby.

That's the thing, too. That's what I love about the film from a marriage perspective. There are two sides to the story. There is the struggle that Jed certainly has, which is being gone and he's trying to get his wife out there. She won't come and he's out there doing what he feels like he's supposed to do to provide for the family. Then he comes home and there's the flip side of the story, which is "I've been there taking care of the child, taking care of the house, I haven't talked to you enough." Things that those of us who travel a lot – we get it! Those are conversations we've had and still do. I'd be lying if I didn't say that even to this day, when it's a week like this and I'm gone all week, when I'm not drawing from things I've learned from The Song, when I see her again, it would be easy to walk in and pretend like I haven't been gone. There's a settling in time. I still learn from this film in that regard, and I think people will as well.

Will there be other products besides the film?

The film is the flagship item and it will be supplemented with resources hosted by Kyle Idleman. There will be a DVD Bible Study with scenes from the film and teaching by Kyle Idleman from the Song of Solomon and briefly on Ecclesiastes. And it's not just for couples. It's for anyone interested in ever getting married, too. It does teach how to do the romance and the relationship up to marriage itself.

And there is a book coming out?

Yes, a novelization. We've been talking with the author, Chris Fabry, and he's been coming up with some back story. The theatrical release is September 26, and his book will come out between that release and the DVD release.

That sounds great. I can see his style of writing fitting the story.

That's what we've heard from many people. I'm excited to see what he does.

What's next on the horizon for you?

Between now and September I've cleared a lot of my schedule for this. I believe in this project, and I want to give it as much of a chance as we can and that means a lot of my time. Musically, I'm always creating content and doing video. I do have a few shows. It's fun for me to bounce back and forth between the film and my music. I feel very, very blessed, honestly, that I wake up in the morning and have the opportunity to provide for the family that I love so much doing things that I love, which right now is promoting a film that I'm passionate about and doing music that some people are enjoying.

So now for the awkward question. You're a Christian. This is not the secular world. But there are a lot of young girls who get all excited about you and Anthem Lights. I think about how girls used to act when they'd pass out and throw themselves at the Beatles.

That's a very stark contrast! (He laughs and shakes his head.) "You know, like the Beatles!"

Anyway, I know some girls who thought it was so cool that I was going to meet you. They aren't over the top, but girls do get crushes on celebrities. And you are a married man. Yet men have egos and like having women fawn over them and think that they are handsome and sexy, for lack of a better word. And it's got to be hard for your wife, too. How do you handle that as a Christian and not go the wrong direction and handle it appropriately?

Great question. It's interesting. No one had ever asked that before but in the last couple of months, I've gotten it a few times. I'm curious to know if something's changing about the brand that all of a sudden people are interested about it.

No, I just see the teen girls respond and I know how the secular world encourages it. And we're more aware not of the potential since several Christian musicians have been caught up in affairs.

That's true. And the secular world does play into it. Ultimately, it's a matter of perspective. It's really something God has been teaching me in life across the board recently. I mean, it's part of the gig, and I think that's totally okay, if I can be really blunt and honest. Part of the reason that I'm Jed in The Song is the appearance. That's what you need for Jed. And I had nothing to do that. I don't really understand physical appearance compliments. I just say, "Listen, I just showed up. I've got a mom and a dad and I look like a combination of them." I mean, I appreciate it but I had nothing to do with it! So it's understanding who you are.

Does your family keep you grounded and tell you you're not "all that?"

Yeah, they don't care! But from the stage every night, when I'm sharing between particular songs, I say, "We're not here because of us. We didn't come here so you would think these guys are awesome with a cool leather jacket. My wife thinks I'm cool, so I'm good." And I really mean that. Like I said, God has been teaching me some perspective. I appreciate the fans. I appreciate their admiration, for lack of a better term. I'm hoping that that turns into a response to the music or a response to the film. But I'm okay if the reason you came to the show is some sort of adoration in your mind. Whatever got you there. But if that's what you leave with, then I haven't done my job. So how I deal with it is just a matter of perspective. I love my wife and that goes so much deeper than physical. Don't get me wrong, she's HOT! But she's the mother of my children and the lady I'm going to do life with. I've been married for almost nine years now and I feel kinda like an old man at 29.

Oh my! You're only 29! (I shake my head and laugh, feeling very old!)

I am. I don't want to act like oh, that's not an issue for me because that's not true for anyone. The first step is denying that it's an issue. But my response is just perspective. They're gonna do what they're gonna do. I just have to ask daily that God will continue to help me see the world the way He sees the world. So that's what we do.

Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me, Alan. It's great to meet you. I look forward to seeing the movie The Song!

Thank you. It's been a pleasure!






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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Interview with Cynthia Ruchti

I always enjoy the opportunity to catch up with author Cynthia Ruchti. She is on the short list of a few women I know who just radiate God's grace whenever I am around her. I smile just thinking of our time chatting at ICRS. She is such a delight that it can be hard to stay on topic and officially interview her. Her books exude the same grace and hope that she does in person, and she shares a bit about her recent and upcoming offerings below. Grab a cup of your favorite brew and enjoy learning more about this lovely lady!

I always love visiting with you. And wow! You are having such a great year! When the Morning Glory Blooms and Ragged Hope are winning all sorts of awards. When the Morning Glory Blooms just won the 2014 Christian Retailing's BEST Award and also the 2014 Selah Award, and
Ragged Hope: Surviving the Fallout of Other People's Choices was honored with the 2014 Christian Retailing's BEST Award, AWSA Golden Scrolls Book of the Year Second Place, and a 2014 Selah Award. Both of those books are so good and so impactful. Your books really minister to people.


Thank you! I want them to be great stories. I want them to have a base of a story that's going to be interesting to people, but to have you say that is really a blessing.

Your tagline is so appropriate.

My tagline is Hope that Glows in the Dark. I tell stories of Hope that Glows in the Dark, whether that's writing non-fiction or writing fiction. It's the calling card of everything I do.

That is what I feel when I read your pages and even when I talk to you. You have such a sweet countenance about you and you just radiate that hope and sweet spirit.

Thank you. The Lord had to rub a few rough edges off of me and bring me to a place of really realizing what's important in life and who is important in life. There was a moment in my junior high and senior high years when I had to decide if I was really going to be serious about this Jesus stuff or not, even though I'd known about God forever and as a young child had made a commitment that I was going to follow and obey Jesus with my life. But sometimes in those junior and senior high years you have to this moment of just kind of a recommitment of "do I mean it?" Someone had pointed out to me the verse in Psalm 37:4, if you delight in the Lord, He'll give you the desires of your heart, but they taught it from a whole different angle. Finally, I was beginning to understand it, that it wasn't a card that I could shove into a slot and if I just delight myself in the Lord, then all these desires of my heart were going to come.

He changes the desires!

Right! He changes the desires of our heart but also, what he was saying was, "You focus on delighting in Me; I'll take care of your heart's desires." And when I changed my thinking on that, and I do that with the books, too – "you focus on Me, you focus on ministering, you focus on writing a great story, you focus on reaching people, you focus on listening to them well enough that you can tell their stories in your novels or in your non-fiction, I'll take care of any 'heart's desires' kind of things." So then, when He comes along and blesses in things like having these books be recognized, that is just a fulfillment of that very thing. I had to quit seeking an ambition or even a new book to write and instead focus on just making Him my delight, and then the rest of it is going to follow. And in His way and in His time. So it's been a joy!

I'm thrilled for you! All My Belongings is your most recent release, and it just won the 2014 CAN (Christian Authors Network) Golden Scrolls Fiction Book of the Year. Oh my goodness! I knew it was going to be good because I know your books. But because of the stage of life that I'm in, it so touched my heart! Becca, the main character, is caring for a lady who has dementia so she's dealing with that, and she has some family issues and some things that her father has done and she has tried to get away from that by changing her identity. The way you built that story and the many layers were just incredible. And even though some of it was inferred in the back cover copy, I was so immersed in the story that I didn't see the final situation coming and it was so powerful!

I'm very glad you said that. My prayer was just what you expressed, that readers would be caught up in the story, moving along in the story, and not see that as a possibility at all and when it happens, it's shocking, even if you did read the back cover. Or not even shocking, so much, as a stunning blow. Yet another layer of something that was going to call her to the core of who was she and how was she going to respond, the way she had been cared for in the past or not. That happens so many times. She had such a lack of someone to care for and nurture her in her early days. How did she grow into a woman who was so skilled at caring for and nurturing others, even when it was very difficult no matter what the need was?

The thing that I like about it is that it speaks to what following Christ really means. You know? It's hard! And we want to make Christianity, especially here in the US, all about us, What's in it for us. This whole concept of laying down your life and living with an eternal perspective. . . .And I'm certainly not sitting here saying this like I have it all together and that I willingly do it. But it is definitely something to wrestle with. We never want to do anything that costs us.

How that relates into the book or even my own life, there have been caregiving times with my kids or grandkids with illness that were so hard to get through. Sometimes it can be as a new mom getting up with a newborn and wondering if he will ever sleep through the night! A little bit of reflection when I went through that time in 2012 caring for my husband after an injury when he needed total caregiving. There were days when I behaved myself very well as a caregiver and other days that I did not. In the middle of all that was that call to lay down my life. There's that call! But we are so good at ignoring that call. I love how the friends in All My Belongings lay down their lives for one another, how the men have their core group where they were trying to hold each other accountable and grow. These strong, tough, rugged, funny men were holding each other accountable and when there was a crisis, they were there because they were laying down whatever was on their schedule for what the need was.

So I'm glad you pointed that out because there's a lot of that. Some of it, I didn't even realize until I was done with the book, totally done writing and I traced back and saw that it came up again and again and again.

Sometimes it's not convenient! Most of the time it's not convenient! So I really liked that portrayal that sometimes you do the hard thing because it's the right thing, even when it's not the fun thing or the easy thing or the convenient thing. That really ministered to me and I think it's going to speak to a lot of people.

I pray it will.

What are you doing next?

I have a novel coming out in 2015 called As Waters gone by. It's the story of a woman who is trying to figure out how to sustain their marriage with that much distance between them, and the distance is that he's serving a five-year prison term. Most of the time, when someone heads to prison, that's the end of a marriage of it certainly has a very difficult time sustaining itself without a lot of hard work. But it's not so unlike someone who has a husband serving in Afghanistan. Or someone who has a long-distance trucker for a husband who is gone for long periods of time. How does this work that he's never here but we're still supposed to see each other in this husband/wife role? I'm the one who's making all the decisions but when he comes home he thinks he's supposed to step into a different role? How does that work? Well, it's much more complicated for Emmalyn in As Waters Gone By.

What is he serving time for?

There was an accident and a homeless man was paralyzed. There are some extenuating circumstances that will be revealed in the book and the courts knew Max needed to held culpable for his actions.

So it wasn't a criminal act that he committed.

Right. It was one of those things where any one of us could get caught up in a situation like that. He wasn't an evil man but he still had to pay for what he had done, for his mistake. It wasn't a long prison term but it came at the worst possible time in the life of this couple or for her heart's desires. She's lost the home they had; she had to sell their home because his income was gone. It's almost the end of the five years and he's about to be released and at this point she doesn't even know if he's coming home to her. There has been so much distance that he told her not to write to him and said it was better for her just to get a divorce, but she didn't want to do that. The prison system makes getting a divorce so easy! In some states, you can get a divorce for $1.50 if you are incarcerated. They make it way too easy!

So she runs into such a quirky bunch of people on Madeline Island. They had a hunting cabin that's in really rough shape. She lost their really nice house and now she's living in this hunting cabin that she's trying to fix up into a cottage on Lake Superior. The setting is beautiful. The cottage is just a wreck. As she goes through the process of determining how to live this exiled life and try to create a place where he can land if he chooses to come home when he's released, she encounters some really quirky characters. A couple of Jesus-loving characters and one whose husband is serving in Afghanistan who had re-enlisted for another tour of duty against her wishes, and she's a librarian and massage therapist who is now saddled with his roofing business! So their paths are not unalike. Both of those women have to find out how they are going to survive and how to rebuild a marriage from something like that between you. It is, I believe, a hope-giving story. It's based on some events from people that I dearly care about who are close to me and are going through some of the same things, and they are a living example that a marriage can thrive even when there is prison between you.

And for some people, the imprisonment is a health issue in a marriage. For some, one is a person of strong faith and the other is not, and it seems like there are bars, in some ways, that they just can't cross in order to be able to connect like they would want to on a deep level. So my prayer, my hope is that there will be readers who will see themselves in this even though there will be few, I would pray, who would be in this exact situation, a literal prison.

I can't wait to read it. It sounds incredible. Do you have any non-fiction in the works?

I do. I have a book due on August 1 to Abingdon Press. Abingdon has been so incredibly good to me, and they've been a great, great blessing. At these Christian Retailing Awards, they swept the awards. Their Bibles, their children's books, their non-fiction – a lot of categories. My non-fiction is the second book following Ragged Hope: Surviving the Fallout of Other People's Choices and is called Tattered and Mended: The Art of Healing the Soul.

I love your titles!

Thank you! So there's this concept in the middle of that which is, when God does the mending, it's art. When we try to do it, it looks like a kindergartener took a needle and black thread against white. The true concept is that we resist mending. We throw things away. We don't patch much of anything anymore. We toss it.

I was just thinking about that when I recently had a little hole in my sock, remembering how my mother would darn socks when I was a child.

Exactly. That's part of our American culture now. If you have a problem, you get rid of the person. You don't problem-solve or find a way to take something that's shattered or fallen apart and fix it. I worked for a couple of years for one of the world's renowned knitters and her mother, who was the world's renowned knitter. As sometimes happens, there was a hole in a beautiful knit piece. The expert knitter said, "Let me show you how we repair that." She took the same color of wool and she wove in and out in the pattern of what the knitting would have been, and when she was finished, you could not tell there had ever been a hole there. It took careful work. It took skill. She had to learn how to do that and had practiced for a long time. But in the skilled hands of someone who knew what she was doing, she could make it so that you could not tell where the breach had been. The skill of a master.

When we submit to that process, that healing process, sometimes we're submitting to a long process for that healing. But when we get done, it is going to be so artful. We used to think of mending as scullery maid work, and just something to get done. But then there was that other level, the tailor artistry level where it could turn out not just repaired but better than ever, stronger than ever. A good surgeon can do that. When we have a scar, that scar is not a sign of ugliness or a sign of injury so much as it is a protective layer over what's in there – so strong and protective that sometimes, if a surgeon has to go in again, it's tough to get through because it's formed such a protective barrier.

Whether it's marriages or friendships – there are so many friendships that dissolve over something so small. So many family relationships get thrown out of whack by something so small. It could have been mended but they didn't want to mend, they wanted to walk away. That's what's coming in that book, and that will be out in 2015.

So I have a novel and a non-fiction releasing in 2015, another novel in 2016, and one in 2017. Then we'll see what's next. We're talking a little bit about another non-fiction idea that I have. We'll see if that comes in-between there somewhere.

That all sounds wonderful. On a personal level, what have you been up to?

On a personal level, I'm in a really good place of watching my grandkids come into their own and watching their personalities just blossom. Since they only live fifteen or twenty minutes away from me, that's a great joy. Working with ACFW involves a lot of time and work but practically every minute of it is joy, and that keeps me busy. I have to juggle all that just like many people do. They have a day job and their novel writing. My husband is nearing the age where he is going to be retired and home full-time and I'm in that place of figuring out if I'm going to have to write a book on what to you do with a guy who comes home! How are we going to keep him happy? We have two completely different ideas about what a "good day" is! My good day is full of work, and his good day is full of nothing, or his own choices, whether he goes fishing or hunting or whatever he wants to do, or nothing at all. That will be a good, interesting challenge.

Thank you so much for chatting with me. I always love catching up with you!

Thank you!


Click the titles to read my reviews of Cynthia Ruchti's books:

All My Belongings
Ragged Hope: Surviving the Fallout of Other People's Choices
When the Morning Glory Blooms>




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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A Bouquet of Love


A Bouquet of Love
Weddings by Design #4
Janice Thompson
(Revell)
ISBN: 978-0800721558
August 2014/352 pages/$14.99

She didn't expect to fall in love--but roses aren't the only thing blooming on Galveston Island

Cassia Pappas has found herself in a nearly impossible situation. She wants to spend her time immersed in her new job at a Galveston Island floral shop, arranging blooms and brightening occasions with her lovely creations. But her boisterous Greek family--especially her father--has other ideas. They've all relocated to Galveston to open up a new family restaurant located on the Strand--directly across the street from iconic pizza place Parma John's--and they want Cassia's full participation.

To make matters worse, as Cassia is trying to develop a strong professional relationship with Galveston's premier wedding coordinator, Bella Neeley, her own father is intent on stealing all of the Rossi family's faithful customers. Not exactly the best way to get into this former Rossi's good graces!

Still, at least Alex, that hot delivery guy from the nursery, is always hanging around the flower shop . . .


Read an excerpt.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Janice Thompson is a seasoned romance author and screenwriter. An expert at pulling the humor from the situations we get ourselves into, Thompson offers an inside look at the wedding business, drawing on her own experiences as a wedding planner. She is the author of the hugely popular Weddings by Bella series and the Backstage Pass series, as well as Picture Perfect, The Icing on the Cake, and The Dream Dress. She lives in Texas. Learn more at www.janiceathompson.com.


MY THOUGHTS

I absolutely love Janice Thompson's books, especially her series that are set on Galveston Island right here in Texas. Her Weddings by Bella Series was such fun that I was thrilled that she spun off a second series with Weddings by Design, and it has been just as delightful. This final novel pulls out all the stops and showcases Thompson's talents at creating an engaging story with sympathetic characters whose inner struggles are easy to identify with, while at the same time peppering it with just the right amount of laughter and fun. At times it looks as though mayhem may take over both the story and the island due to the somewhat tumultuous relationships and emotionally-charged interactions that characterize the Pappas and Rossi families. However, Thompson's skillful character development and her steady faith thread provides the necessary balance and gives the story depth. In addition to familiar faces from the previous books in this series and the Weddings by Bella series, some of the folks from the Backstage Pass series make appearances as well, and the result made me want to climb through the pages and join the party! Don't miss this novel and this series, and grab Janice Thompson's other books as well. You'll be heading to Galveston before you can even finish them!


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received an advanced copy of this book free from Revell as part of a blog tour. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


My reviews of the previous books in this series:

Picture Perfect (Weddings by Design #1)
The Icing on the Cake (Weddings by Design #2)
The Dream Dress (Weddings by Design #3)



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Friday, August 15, 2014

Christian Fiction Online Magazine Article


Click the cover above to open the August issue of Christian Fiction Online Magazine and read my article with interview excerpts from ICRS 2014 in Atlanta! I'll continue to post the full interviews over the coming days. While you are there, check out more of CFOM - it's full of great articles!


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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

All for a Sister


All for a Sister
Allison Pittman
(Tyndale House Publishers)
ISBN: 978-1414366821
July 2014/368 pages/$14.99

In Hollywood during the Roaring Twenties, Celeste DuFrane has it all. Her father’s work with color movie film opens doors that lead to the stardom she’s always aspired to. But after losing her mother, she discovers that half the estate has been left to a woman accused of killing Celeste’s baby sister before Celeste was even born.

Dana Lundgren arrives on the steps of the DuFrane mansion having spent most of her life imprisoned for a crime that never happened. After accusing her of murder so many years ago, why did Marguerite DuFrane leave her a sizeable inheritance?

As Celeste and Dana learn each other’s stories, they come up with more questions than answers. Then a surprising discovery begins to fill in the missing pieces: Marguerite DuFrane’s written confession, penned shortly before her death. Uncovering the treachery and deceit that changed the course of countless lives—most of all, their own—the two women find more than they ever dreamed of.

Read an excerpt.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Award-winning author Allison Pittman has penned more than twelve novels, including her series set in the Roaring Twenties—All for a Song, All For a Story (a 2014 Christy Award finalist), and All for a Sister. Allison resides in San Antonio, Texas, with her husband, Mike, their three sons, and the canine star of the family—Stella.

For more information, visit www.allisonpittman.com, Allison's Facebook page, or connect with her on Twitter.

MY THOUGHTS

I'm a big fan of Allison Pittman's writing. Her series set in the Roaring Twenties showcases the rapidly changing technology, hemlines, and morals that accompanied this decade. This story alternates between the setting of 1925 and the events of twenty years earlier while at the same time weaving in a confessional letter from Celeste's mother. As I read, I kept thinking of the old proverb, Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive. A "cameo appearance" by evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson adds to this fascinating tale.

isclosure of Material Connection: I received an advanced copy of this book free from Tyndale House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”



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Monday, August 11, 2014

In Perfect Time

UPDATE Monday, 8/18/14, 8:20 pm CDT: WINNER!

Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers:
2
Timestamp: 2014-08-19 01:19:42 UTC

Congrats to R Merr! Email me your address, please, and I will send the book to you. Please reply within 48 hours or another winner will be chosen.

* * * * *

Giveaways are everywhere! Read my review and enter to win the Kindle HDX below, but don't miss my giveaway of a copy of this book to one of my readers at the end of the post!


In Perfect Time
Wings of the Nightingale Series
Sarah Sundin
(Revell)
ISBN: 978-0800720834
August 2014/416 pages/$14.99

Two hearts are about to learn the rhythm of love.

Bold, sophisticated, and flirtatious, Army Air Force flight nurse Lt. Kay Jobson collects hearts wherever she flies, leaving men pining in airfields all across Europe. So how can ruggedly handsome C-47 pilot Lt. Roger Cooper be all but immune to her considerable charms? In fact, he seems to do everything he can to avoid her.

Still, as they cross the skies between Italy and southern France, evacuating the wounded and delivering paratroopers and supplies, every beat of their hearts draws them closer to where they don’t want to go.

Can they confront the fears and misunderstandings in their pasts?


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sarah Sundin is the author of “With Every Letter” and the Wings of Glory series. In 2011, A “Memory Between Us” was a finalist in the Inspirational Reader’s Choice Awards, and Sarah received the Writer of the Year Award at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. A graduate of UC San Francisco School of Pharmacy, she works on call as a hospital pharmacist. During WWII, her grandfather served as a pharmacist’s mate (medic) in the Navy and her great-uncle flew with the US Eighth Air Force in England. Sarah lives in California with her husband and three children. Visit www.sarahsundin.com for more information. Follow Sarah on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.


MY THOUGHTS

Sarah Sundin writes great WW II novels and since I am a nurse, I have especially been loving this series that focuses on flight nurses. Only a skilled author can develop a character like Kay Jobson, heartily disliked as a secondary character in the first book and reluctantly tolerated in the second, but who experienced a turnaround and became someone I cheered for and actually liked in this final story. Sundin brings the series to a satisfying conclusion as the War winds down. Exasperating interchanges and misunderstandings which occur between Kay and Lt. Roger Cooper are authentic and believable as they navigate their past individual struggles and reconcile them with their beliefs. Though I hate to see this excellent series end, I'm already eagerly anticipating whatever Sundin is writing next!


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received an advanced copy of this book free from Revell and Litfuse Publicity as part of a blog tour. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


Don't miss Sarah Sundin's hot-off-the-press novel, In Perfect Time. Publishers Weekly gives it an enthusiastic thumbs up: “Sundin excels at well-researched historical detail . . . with such accurate depictions of culture and setting that we are fully immersed in the times as well as in the story. The strength of relationships forged in war and the apprehension of God in times of trouble infuse this well-crafted novel with substance and light.”

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Sarah is celebrating the release of her book with a fun giveaway!

One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A Kindle HDX
  • The Wings of the Nightingale Series (With Every Letter, On Distant Shores, and In Perfect Time)
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on August 24th. Winner will be announced August 25th at Sarah's blog.

Don't miss a moment of the fun;
enter today and be sure to visit Sarah's blog on the 25th to see if you won!
(Or better yet, subscribe to her blog and have the winner announcement
delivered to your inbox!)



GIVEAWAY!

I have an additional copy of this book that I am giving to one of you! To enter, leave a comment on this post by 9:00 pm CDT Saturday (8/16/14) and I will choose a winner. Continental US residents only, please. You must include an email address to enter. Void where prohibited.


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Saturday, August 9, 2014

When I Fall in Love

When I Fall in Love
A Christiansen Family Novel
Susan May Warren
(Tyndale House)
ISBN: 978-1414378435
June 2014/400 pages/$14.99

Hawaii was the last place Grace Christiansen ever imagined she’d vacation, much less fall in love. But when her family surprises her with a cooking retreat in paradise, she is pulled—or maybe yanked—away from her predictable, safe life and thrown headfirst into the adventure of a lifetime.

Max Sharpe may make his living on the ice as a pro hockey player, but he feels most at home in the kitchen. Which is why he lives for the three-week culinary vacation he takes each year in Hawaii. Upon being paired with Grace for a cooking competition, Max finds himself drawn to her passion, confidence, and perseverance. But just when Grace dares to dream of a future beyond her hometown, Max pulls away.

Wrestling with personal demons, Max fights against opening his heart to a love he knows he should never hope for. And as his secrets unfold, Grace is torn between the safe path in front of her and what her heart truly desires. If love means sacrificing her ideal happily ever after, Grace’s faith will face its toughest test yet.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Susan May Warren is the bestselling, RITA Award–winning author of more than forty novels whose compelling plots and unforgettable characters have won acclaim with readers and reviewers alike. She served with her husband and four children as a missionary in Russia for eight years before she and her family returned home to the States. She now writes full-time as her husband runs a lodge on Lake Superior in northern Minnesota, where many of her books are set. She and her family enjoy hiking, canoeing, and being involved in their local church. Several of her critically acclaimed novels have been ECPA and CBA bestsellers, were chosen as Top Picks by Romantic Times, and have won the RWA’s Inspirational Reader’s Choice contest and the American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year award. Seven of her books have been Christy Award finalists, and two have won the Christy Award, including the first Christiansen Family Novel, Take a Chance on Me. In addition to her writing, Susan loves to teach and speak at women’s events about God’s amazing grace in our lives. She also runs a writing community for authors. Visit MyBookTherapy.com to learn more. For exciting updates on her new releases, previous books, and more, visit her website at www.susanmaywarren.com


MY THOUGHTS

Susan May Warren writes such delightful books and I am especially loving her Christiansen Family series. She has cooked up another great novel with When I Fall in Love. Grace and Max are both compelling and likable, and Warren creates many humorous moments--and some not so funny ones as well!--in this charming tale. Both of them wrestle with realistic and identifiable issues to which many readers will relate, yet the setting and pace keeps the novel entertaining and upbeat while at the same time providing subtle life lessons. The cooking competition adds flavor and turns up the heat on both the relationship and the story, serving up food, fun, and a heaping helping of faith. I'm already eagerly anticipating the next installment in this great series!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received an advanced copy of this book free from Tyndale House Publishers and Litfuse Publicity as part of a blog tour. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Click the titles for my reviews of the first two books in this series:

Take a Chance on Me
It Had to be You


Susan May Warren's newest book in the Christiansen Family Collection, When I Fall In Love,  has won over readers' and critics' hearts alike. With critical reviews like, ". . . an exquisite romance. Profoundly touching on the topic of facing fears, this book is a true gem," and more than 60 five-star reviews at Amazon, When I Fall in Love is sure to please.

Susan has teamed up with some amazing food bloggers for a fun food challenge and a KitchenAid Mixer giveaway!

whenifall-400-click
 
One grand prize winner will receive:
Grab your aprons and wire whisks and buzz on over to the When I Fall in Love website to learn more and enter the Hawaiian Chef Showdown! Susan is challenging you to make a Hawaiian-inspired dish using coconut, mango, or one of the other ingredients mentioned in the book. You’ll get extra points for creating your own recipe—plus she might share it on the When I Fall in Love site! Or if you're not up for an adventure in the kitchen just click one of the icons below for easy entry.

Hurry, the giveaway ends on August 10th. All winners will be announced August 13th at Susan's blog.

Don't miss a moment of the fun; enter today and be sure to visit Susan's blog on the 13th to see if you won!


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Friday, August 8, 2014

Operation Zulu: Act of Treason


Operation Zulu Redemption:
Act of Treason - Part 4

Ronie Kendig
(Barbour)
ASIN: B00KGMIS92
August 8, 2014/188 pages/$4.99

The Explosive Ending to a Brand-new 5-part Serial Novel!

It’s Zero hour for Zulu. They’ve been targeted, hunted, deceived, and betrayed. Zulu is crumbling in their pursuit of justice. Even rifts within the team are tearing them apart. Téya can’t seem to unravel her bizarre connection with deadly assassin The Turk—and it’s causing her team to question her loyalty. Annie is unable to focus and sort out her strong feelings for Trace and Sam—and she fears she’ll end up losing them both. Nuala vows to support Boone, but a devastating tragedy pushes her limits. And Trace hates sending the team on dangerous missions alone, but there are some secrets he can’t reveal. In the shocking, explosive finale of Operation Zulu: Redemption, Trace has one last plan to draw the enemy out and take them down—for good. But will it work? Who can they really trust? Ultimately, what price will justice demand?

Start the mission with Operation Zulu Redemption: The Beginning and don't miss any of these extended 200 page episodes....

Operation Zulu Redemption: Collateral Damage -- Part 1
Operation Zulu Redemption: Out of Nowhere -- Part 2
Operation Zulu Redemption: Hazardous Duty -- Part 3
Operation Zulu Redemption: Act of Treason -- Part 4

Ronie Kendig will leave you needing the next!

MY THOUGHTS

Whew! What a ride! Ronie Kendig wraps up her powerful serial novel with an intense finale that keeps turning up the heat until the final pages. This is not a casual read as rapid-fire action and quickly changing scenes keep the reader's heart and mind racing to keep up with the team and determine who or what lies around the next corner. Kendig excels at twists and surprises, and she stretches the tension to the very end. Don't miss this e-book, and be watching for the hard copy coming later this year!


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this this e-book from Ronie Kendig and Barbour Publishing as part of a blog tour. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”




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Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Keying in with the Hodgepodge


Ah, Joyce is so clever with her questions this week! I didn't even catch the common theme until I popped back on her blog to check something and noticed the italics on #3, and by then, I'd already answered all of the questions!

1. What would you say is the key to success?

While these are not guarantees of success, you won't find success without God's favor and hard work.

2. Have you ever been to the Florida Keys? Any desire to visit that part of the US of A?

Never been there. It would be nice to go, but it's not a burning desire.

3. When and where did you last see a real live donkey? Monkey? Turkey?

For the donkey, that would be three or four years ago at a live Christmas presentation. As for a monkey or turkey, I have no idea. Probably when my kids were little and we went to the zoo.

4. An old Portuguese proverb says, 'Beware of the door with too many keys.' What do you think this means? Share an example of how this has proven true or false in your own life.

There's usually only one way - the right way - to do something.

5. Besides your home, vehicle, and special jewelry, what is something you keep under lock and key?

Passports, car titles, birth certificates, social security cards.

6. When did you last get keyed up about something?

Assuming Joyce means "keyed up" in a good way, that would be this past Monday since it was my birthday!

7. Who thinks we need an easy one right about now? Key lime pie...yes please or no thank you?

Yes, please!

8. Insert your own random thought here.

One thing I've noticed: it's virtually impossible to write the current year on my birthday. I always automatically default to my complete DOB with the year I was born!!


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Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Spirit Bridge


Spirit Bridge
(A Well Spring Novel)
James L. Rubart
(Thomas Nelson Publishing)
ISBN: 978-1401686093
May 2014/384 pages/$15.99


The Warriors Riding have battled in astounding supernatural realms, set captives free, and awakened thousands of hearts. But now their only chance of survival depends on calling for The Spirit Bridge.

Reece, Dana, Brandon, and Marcus have achieved staggering success in the spiritual realm . . . but each is reeling from vicious attacks. They need rest. A break from the war.

But the warlord Zennon is raging and will give them no quarter. The demon holds what he believes to be the trump card—a hidden strategy set in motion before Warriors Riding even began—that will detonate the team from the inside out. And he's just set it loose.

The street magician Simon—finally free of Zennon's alternate reality prison—is racing to remember his past before his ignorance obliterates his destiny. Then there's Miyo—a brash young warrior with advanced knowledge of spiritual realities and supernatural armor even Reece doesn't know about. These two will be pivotal in the final war.

If only the Warriors knew which side Simon and Miyo are truly on. If only they knew how to fight against Zennon's final assault.

The Spirit Bridge is the epic conclusion to acclaimed author James L. Rubart's Well Spring series, which will propel each of the Warriors Riding on a quest of true identity, ultimate freedom, and a final battle that will leave them changed forever.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

James L. Rubart is a professional marketer and speaker. He is the author of the best-selling novel Rooms as well as Book of Days, The Chair, Soul's Gate (a 2013 Christy Award winner), Memory's Door, and Spirit Bridge. He lives with his wife and sons in the Pacific Northwest. Connect with Jim on his website (www.jameslrubart.com), Twitter (@jameslrubart) and Facebook (JamesLRubart)

MY THOUGHTS

Wow. I have loved this series, and James Rubart has brought it to a glorious conclusion with another gripping novel that will stir your heart and give you much to ponder. The portrayal of spiritual warfare and how it might play out in a believer's life is chilling and believable, a stark reminder of the unseen enemy whose chief obsession lies in distracting followers of Christ from the tasks and missions with which they are charged. While I am normally not a fan of the speculative or supernatural genre, Rubart's novels keep me glued to the pages with sound Biblical foundation and exceptional writing. Like its two predecessors, Soul's Gate and Memory's Door, this one stayed with me long after I turned the final page. Highly, highly recommended!

I was delighted to purchase a copy of this book; it will be going on my permanent "Jim Rubart" shelf.

Check out my reviews of the first two books in this series:

Soul's Gate
Memory's Door (includes an interview with Jim Rubart)



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Monday, August 4, 2014

Meet Jocelyn Green - plus a GIVEAWAY!

UPDATE Sunday, 8/10/14 10:00 PM CDT

WINNER!

Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers:
19
Timestamp: 2014-08-11 03:06:09 UTC

Congrats to Allison! Email me your address by Saturday 8/16/14 at 11:59 pm CDT, Allison, and I'll send the book your way!

* * * * *

I am thrilled beyond belief to welcome Jocelyn Green to the website today. I met Jocelyn two years ago at ICRS when she was promoting her first novel, Wedded to War, and we immediately became friends. I am a huge fan of her novels and she is a delight--so genuine and kind, and lots of fun as well. We roomed together this year at ICRS and had a wonderful time connecting at the end of each of our crazily busy days. Our room rang with laughter as we shared stories. We never did manage to have an official interview (not that Jocelyn would EVER not show up if one was scheduled! Grin!), so we made do via email. All this did was make me want to go back and do it all over again! Grab your favorite iced drink and enjoy getting to know a phenomenal author and my friend, Jocelyn Green. And be sure to enter the giveaway for an autographed copy of her latest novel, Yankee in Atlanta at the end of the interview!


I am so glad to connect with you again! I loved your first two novels, Wedded to War and Widow of Gettysburg. And of course, Wedded to War was a 2013 Christy finalist in two categories! I must say, though, that Yankee in Atlanta exceeds even those. It is phenomenal! What sparked your love for this era and led you write this Heroines behind the Lines series?

Thank you Linda! My love for this era is really fueled by my love for these women I represent in the novels. The Civil War is interesting and tragic on so many levels, but when I read the diaries of unsung heroines a few years ago, in a basement archives in Gettysburg, I really felt like these women were speaking to me. I could almost hear their voices, and they were blowing me away with their stories of faith and courage. I was stunned by their strength and by the fact that I’d never been taught much about women’s contributions during the Civil War. I was researching for a nonfiction book (Stories of Faith and Courage from the Home Front) but at that point I imagined the possibility of a historical novel series. Thankfully, my publisher agreed that these are stories that should be told.

Since it came out a couple of years ago, it had obviously been a little while since I read Wedded to War. As I continued my way through Yankee in Atlanta, I realized that several of these characters appeared in that first book. Did you plan this when you wrote Wedded to War?

Not at all! But after Wedded to War came out, so many readers asked what happened to Ruby O’Flannery, I wanted to give them a satisfying conclusion to her story. So I connected a bunch of dots in Yankee in Atlanta, and I think it worked well.

While Caitlin McKae is the main focus of this book, Ruby is a strong secondary character who touched my heart. I ached for what she went through! Without giving any spoilers, can you share a bit about her and what we can learn from her?

She’s a very interesting character, isn’t she? We first meet Ruby in Wedded to War. She’s an Irish immigrant whose first husband, Matthew, goes off to fight with the 69th New York regiment. His pay doesn’t come for months, and her needlework simply does not provide her with enough money for rent and food, so she makes some desperate choices in order to survive. By the end of Wedded, she has a baby and turns her back on a seedy lifestyle, choosing to become a new creation in Christ instead.

In Yankee in Atlanta, she’s a domestic, and her son is two years old. She’s doing weekly Bible studies, and life is better than it has ever been. But her past creeps up behind her and tries to drag her back into a world of vice and pain. She fights tooth and nail for the sake of her son.

Perhaps my favorite passage in this book is one I marked in chapter seven, when Caitlin is remembering the last conversation she had with her father, when things were so desperate during the Panic of 1957. She refused to attend a prayer meeting with him, saying it wouldn't feed their family. He responded, "'Prayer may not always change our circumstances. But it always changes us.' He smiled. 'That's why I go. My faith is not a talisman. 'Tis the anchor in the storm.'" Do you think some today who profess to be Christians, especially here in the USA, see their faith more as a talisman than an anchor? What is the danger in that and how can that be avoided?

Yes, I do. The danger in thinking of our faith or our salvation as simply a good luck charm is that it ignores the main point, which is our relationship with Jesus Christ. God never, ever tells us that as His children life will be without pain and trials. In fact, He tells us the opposite. What He does say is that He’ll never leave us nor forsake us. Through everything that happens, our relationship with Christ should deepen.

One good way to avoid that talisman mentality is to focus not on our circumstances, but upon the character of God. When it feels like He doesn’t love us, take that thought captive to the Scriptures. What does the Bible say about it? He says He loves us, over and over. I’m a big proponent of pinning down those niggling doubts with the Truth of God’s Word.

Life isn’t supposed to be easy. It’s supposed to bring glory to God.

I have long been a fan of Civil War era fiction. Your novels are unique in that they are historically accurate and portray the setting so well without providing so many details that parts become dry and monotonous, causing me to begin skimming paragraphs or even pages, as I have done with other books in this genre. I know you do a tremendous amount of research. How do you find such a great balance in knowing what to include and what is just information that helps you write the story better?

Thank you! I do love research, but battle details, for example, can get tedious. I only put as much in as my character would experience, which means I don’t have to explain the generals’ strategies, and exactly how many troops were where, etc. I figure there are plenty of other books which do that. I strive to boil the Civil War down to the personal experiences of my characters. What did they feel, see, hear, smell, taste? If it’s personal to them, and only if it helps move the plot forward, it will probably be interesting. And if it isn’t, I chop it out. I have pages and pages of “chopped copy” that just didn’t make the cut.

Are you a plotter or a pantser? Or a little bit of both? Do your characters ever surprise you or are you always in complete control?

Generally, I’m a plotter. But looking at my outline for Spy of Richmond and then at my finished manuscript, you’d think otherwise. I make a lot of changes along the way. But I need an outline to help me get going or I’m overwhelmed with too many possibilities.

Sometimes the characters do surprise me. They won’t let me continue writing if I’m headed down the wrong path. It’s a weird, fierce form of writer’s block, like Balaam’s donkey. :-)

What was the most difficult aspect of this book to write and why? What part, if any, flowed the smoothest?

Battle scenes are always hard. Especially after writing the Gettysburg book, it was a challenge for me to describe similar things (shooting, being wounded, artillery, etc.) in a different way. I want the scenes to be vivid, but not graphic. That can be difficult. But the scenes that made me cry or feel sick to my stomach were the one in which Ruby’s son is in danger, and one in which a group of deserters were executed.

The part that flowed the smoothest for me: does the “About the Author” section count? Ha ha! Seriously, for some reason, I felt like I had to fight for every chapter, almost every scene of this book. I’m not sure what it was, but my process felt extremely constipated. I was fact checking up to four sources for a single scene to make sure I got the details right, and keeping up the two story arcs (in New York City and in Atlanta) stretched me. I can’t think of anything I wrote that came easily.

What message do you want readers to take away from Yankee in Atlanta?

Yankee in Atlanta is about divided families, conflicted loyalties, and hearts refined by fire. But even through all of that, for all of the characters, these verses from 2 Corinthians 4 seem to resound: “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed.” In the end, there is hope. There is rebirth. It was true for the characters in Yankee in Atlanta, and it can be true for every single reader, by God’s grace.

You just finished writing the fourth (and final) book, A Spy in Richmond. Can you give us a sneak peek into it? Does it have any connections with any of the previous three books?

Yes I did! Yahoo! Here’s the book blurb:
Trust none. Risk all.

Richmond, Virginia, 1863. Compelled to atone for the sins of her slaveholding father, Union loyalist Sophie Kent risks everything to help end the war from within the Confederate capital and abolish slavery forever. But she can’t do it alone.

Former slave Bella Jamison sacrifices her freedom to come to Richmond, where her Union soldier husband is imprisoned, and her twin sister still lives in bondage in Sophie’s home. Though it may cost them their lives, they work with Sophie to betray Rebel authorities. Harrison Caldwell, a Northern journalist who escorts Bella to Richmond, infiltrates the War Department as a clerk–but is conscripted to defend the city’s fortifications.

As Sophie’s spy network grows, she walks a tightrope of deception, using her father’s position as newspaper editor and a suitor’s position in the ordnance bureau for the advantage of the Union. One misstep could land her in prison, or worse. Suspicion hounds her until she barely even trusts herself. When her espionage endangers the people she loves, she makes a life-and-death gamble.

Will she follow her convictions even though it costs her everything–and everyone–she holds dear?

So we actually do have several ties to previous books here, which really surprised me, but it works. Harrison Caldwell, Bella and Abraham Jamison are all main characters, and they are from Widow of Gettysburg. We also see Dr. Caleb Lansing from Wedded to War, and Susan Kent, the villain from Yankee in Atlanta, is Sophie Kent’s half-sister who comes back to town after the siege of Atlanta. Spy of Richmond can be read as a stand-alone, but it will be more fun if a reader has read the series in order.

If you had lived during the Civil War, which of your four heroines would you have been most likely to be and why? Or would you have been one of the secondary characters?

Oh, what a good question. I share a few qualities with each of the different heroines, but I probably relate most to Sophie Kent for a couple of reasons. First, she’s a writer. Second, she has an overdeveloped sense of guilt, and so do I. (I don’t recommend it.) And third, she feels compelled to do something, rather than just be an observer.

What's next on your horizon after this series is completed? Do you foresee writing more fiction? Do you want to continue in the Civil War era or move onto something else? Is more of your non-fiction for military wives and families ahead?

Honestly, Linda, I don’t know what’s next on the horizon. I am open to more fiction, including but not limited to the Civil War, but I miss writing nonfiction, too. I have a germ of an idea for a nonfiction for moms (not necessarily military moms) but it’s very embryonic at this point. I have lots of ideas for both fiction and nonfiction, but I’m praying God makes it clear which direction I should take, since writing is an investment that requires sacrifice for the entire family.

I know you are a busy wife and mom. When you aren't juggling writing and family duties, what do you enjoy doing in your free time, say if you had a whole day to yourself?

If I had a day to myself, I would read something for fun, eat pie, go for a walk by the river, and watch Les Miserables while eating Tostitos and salsa con queso. Or a documentary on The Plague. One of those. Ha ha ha  Or maybe I’d go antiquing with my mom and daughter… If I get up really early I bet I can do it all!

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

You’ve done a great job with your questions!

Thank you so much for chatting with me!

It’s absolutely my pleasure.


Click the links to read my reviews of Jocelyn's novels:

Wedded to War (includes my 2012 interview with Jocelyn)
Widow of Gettysburg
Yankee in Atlanta

Readers, you can learn more about Jocelyn at her website www.jocelyngreen.com and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter. You can also visit her Heroines Behind the Lines website to learn more about her Civil War books, characters, and settings, as well as Faith Deployed, her website for military wives.

GIVEAWAY!

Today is my birthday, but YOU get the gift! I have an autographed copy of Yankee in Atlanta provided by Jocelyn and Moody/River North Fiction to give to one of my readers! Just leave a comment on this post by 8:00 pm CDT Sunday (8/10/14) and I will randomly choose a winner. Continental US residents only, please. You must include an email address to be entered. Earn up to two additional entries by sharing about this post on FB or Twitter and leaving additional comment(s) with those links. One entry per comment. Limit three entries per person. Void where prohibited.



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Saturday, August 2, 2014

August New Releases

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Contemporary Romance:

Small-Town Billionaire by Renee Andrews -- When trapped in a tiny North Alabama "Mayberry" town, billionaire Ryan Brooks wants nothing more than to get back to Chicago ASAP, but a business opportunity--and the eclectic yet gorgeous woman with the brainstorm idea--keep him planted, if only temporarily, on his sister's ranch. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

The Doctor's Return by Narelle Atkins -- After years spent traveling the globe, Megan Bradley never expected to be back in her hometown sharing an office with her former sweetheart, Dr. Luke Morton. Though too busy to dwell on past mistakes, she can't ignore her feelings for the handsome doctor. Luke is afraid to trust his heart to Megan, knowing she may not stay for long. But as they work together, their romance quickly rekindles. When a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity comes her way, Luke must free Megan to choose between a big-city career or love and family...right there in Snowgum Creek. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Rescuing the Texan's Heart by Mindy Obenhaus -- Cash Coble is desperate for a change. Stressed out and overworked, he heads to Colorado to visit his ailing grandfather and finds his mood lifted by the beautiful woman living next door. After a troubled past, ice climber Taryn Purcell isn't looking for love. Especially not with a charming Texan who's consumed by work. But there's something about Cash that captures her heart. Never one to back down from a challenge, Taryn promises to show Cash how to carve out a happy life-one that includes her. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

A Heart to Heal by Allie Pleiter -- Guidance counselor Heather Browning is desperate. She needs a mentor to help Simon, a disabled student who is struggling at Gordon Falls High School. Unfortunately, hotshot Max Jones is her only option. Confrontational and cavalier, Max uses his flashy persona to hide the bitterness he's felt since his life-changing accident. Perpetually cautious, Heather finds Max's bad-boy bravado as intriguing as it is infuriating. But as Heather and Max work together to build Simon's self-confidence, they begin to trust each other. Max has never been slow and careful with anything. Can he be gentle with Heather's heart? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Stranded with the Rancher by Tina Radcliffe -- Stranded at single father Dan Gallagher's ranch during a Colorado blizzard, Dr. Beth Rogers is counting the days until the roads are clear. She can't wait to leave for her exciting new life in New York. But suddenly the big-city doctor is delivering babies in log cabins, helping to feed newborn calves and teaching Dan's little girl to play hymns on the piano. No-nonsense Beth even throws a snowball or two at the handsome, love-shy cowboy. She thought she had her heart set on leaving, so why does she dream of Dan asking her to stay forever? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Herb of Grace by Adina Senft -- Amish widow Sarah Yoder struggles with single motherhood and a forbidden attraction while she learns herbal medicine ... and God cures the ailments of the heart and spirit. (Contemporary Amish Romance from Faith Words [Hachette])
General Fiction:

Home to Chicory Lane by Deborah Raney -- When empty-nesters Grant and Audrey Whitman spend the bulk of their retirement funds to renovate their home into a beautiful bed and breakfast, the last thing they expect is that their five kids will return home. Can Audrey still realize her dream and at the same time provide the comfort of home her children so desperately need? (Contemporary from Abingdon Press)

A Grand Design: Quilts of Love Series by Amber Stockton -- A quest to piece together an heirloom quilt takes a surprising turn when a man from Alyssa Denham's past-the reason she hadn't returned to the island in fifteen years-interrupts the relaxing getaway for her and her best friend, Libby. Will memories of her past keep Alyssa from letting go? Or will the quest to piece together the heirloom quilt restore Alyssa's fractured heart-and bring healing to her entire family? (Contemporary from Abingdon Press)

Historical Romance:

With Every Breath by Elizabeth Camden -- In the shadow of the nation's capital, Kate Livingston's respectable life as a government worker is disrupted by an encounter with the insufferable Trevor McDonough, the one man she'd hoped never to see again. A Harvard-trained physician, Trevor never showed the tiniest flicker of interest in Kate, and business is the only reason he has sought her out now. Despite her misgivings, Kate agrees to Trevor's risky proposal to join him in his work to find a cure for tuberculosis. However, a shadowy enemy lies in wait and Trevor's closely guarded secrets are darker than she ever suspected. With everything to lose, they must find the strength to trust that hope and love can prevail over all. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker Publishing Group])

Tried and True (Wild at Heart) by Mary Connealy -- Kylie Wilde fought in the Civil War dressed as a boy and now she's homesteading as a man. But when land agent Aaron Masterson comes to inspect her claim, he immediately realizes she's a woman. She begs him not to tell, but can he in good conscience defraud the U.S. government, even if she really did serve in the war? Aaron is interested in the little spitfire from the moment her long hair falls from her cap, but when he tells her of his plans to make a life up in the mountains, she draws away. Kylie's focus is to "prove up" her homestead, sell it for a profit and move back east to civilization. When someone tries to burn her out, Aaron and Kylie suspect local land baron Gage Coulter, who denies any involvement. He does suggest a way for Kylie to stay safe, though--marry him! More attacks scare Kylie into considering matrimony. Should she tie her fortune to Gage or Aaron? Either choice will put an end to her dreams of a civilized life. And what if marrying doesn't stop the attacks after all? (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker Publishing Group])

The Lady and the Officer by Mary Ellis -- Madeline Howard never planned to become a spy, but when military intelligence falls into her lap, how could she not serve her country behind enemy lines? Two men love her-one a Rebel, the other a Union General. Maddy's heart is pulled between wanting to be loyal to those who care for her and wanting to help the man she believes is on the right side of the conflict. Will her faith in God show her the way to a bright future, or will her choices bring a devastation of their own? (Historical Romance from Harvest House)

A Stranger On My Land by Sandra Merville Hart -- Carrie and her little brother, Jay, find a wounded soldier on their land after a battle which later became known as "The Battle Above the Clouds." Adam, a Union soldier, has been shot twice in the arm. Though Carrie is reluctant to take Adam to their cave where her family hides their livestock from both armies, she cannot turn her back on him. But her Aunt Lavinia, bitter over what Yankees have done to their land, urges Carrie to allow Adam to die. Carrie refuses, but cannot remove the bullets. Adam's friendship with Jay softens her heart toward him. Even though Carrie's father fights for the Confederacy in far-off Virginia, her feelings for the handsome young soldier begin to blossom into love. When Adam's condition worsens, Carrie knows a Union surgeon is needed to save his life. How can she accomplish this and keep her family's hiding place a secret? (Historical Romance from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

Song of the Prairie by Vickie A. McDonough -- Janie Dunn's life changes when, at the request of her dying cousin, she flees with her cousin's newborn son to protect him from his abusive father. She moves to Kansas, but things take a dire change when her brother is killed. Is a marriage of convenience to kindhearted Aaron Harper the answer to her problems? Is Kansas far enough away from New York that they are safe from the baby's father? (Historical Romance from Whitaker House)

Romancing the Widow by Davalynn Spencer -- Martha Stanton isn't looking for love. The light went out of Martha's soul when her husband fell to a bullet in St. Louis. Now, back in her hometown of Canon City, she's convinced she'll never know happiness again. Until she crosses paths with a darkly mysterious Colorado Ranger. Haskell Jacobs has a mission. And the beautiful, flame-haired widow sure isn't it. But Martha is somehow mixed up in the crime that brought Haskell to the rough-and-tumble town...and soon, she's entangled in the lawman's heart. But the danger that lurks around them is all too real. Can they find strength and love in each other before it's too late? (Historical Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

In Perfect Time by Sarah Sundin -- World War II flight nurse Lt. Kay Jobson collects hearts wherever she flies, so how can C-47 pilot Lt. Roger Cooper be immune to her charms? Still, as they cross the skies between Italy and southern France, evacuating the wounded and delivering paratroopers and supplies, every beat of their hearts draws them closer to where they don't want to go. Can they confront the fears and misunderstandings in their pasts? (Historical Romance from Revell [Baker Publishing Group])

Miracle in a Dry Season by Sarah Loudin Thomas -- It's 1954 and Perla Long's arrival in the sleepy town of Wise, West Virginia, was supposed to go unnoticed. She just wants a quiet, safe place for her and her daughter, Sadie, where the mistakes of her past can stay hidden. But then drought comes to Wise, and Perla is pulled into the turmoil of a town desperately in need of a miracle. Casewell Phillips has resigned himself to life as a bachelor...until he meets Perla. She's everything he's sought in a woman, but he can't get past the sense that she's hiding something. As the drought worsens, Perla's unique gift divides the town in two, bringing both gratitude and condemnation, and placing the pair in the middle of a storm of anger and forgiveness, fear and faith. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker Publishing Group])

The Wrangler's Inconvenient Wife by Lacy Williams -- With no family to watch over them, it's up to Fran Morris to take care of her younger sister, even if it means marrying a total stranger. Gruff, strong and silent, her new husband is a cowboy down to the bone. He wed Fran to protect her, not to love her, but her heart has never felt so vulnerable. Trail boss Edgar White already has all the responsibility he needs at his family's ranch in Bear Creek, Wyoming. He had intended to remain a bachelor forever, but he can't leave Fran and her sister in danger. And as they work on the trail together, Edgar starts to soften toward his unwanted wife. He already gave Fran his name...can he trust her with his heart? (Historical Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Sweet on the Cowgirl by Rose Ross Zediker -- Laura Barnes Wants to Be a Wild West show. But her father will only allow her to perform if she disguises herself as Mr. Buckskin Jones. When soda-pop king Guy Roberts shows up to do business with her family, Laura is torn between keeping her identity under wraps and revealing her growing feelings for Guy. Guy is drawn to Laura's poise and beauty, but he, too, guards a secret. As their affection for each other grows, Guy begins to think about a future that includes Laura. When both their secrets suddenly come to light, their romance will face the ultimate showdown. (Historical Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Middle Grade/Young Adult:

Speak No Evil by Mary L. Hamilton -- At 15, Taylor Dixon dreams of getting his driver's license and driving race cars when he's older. His sister, Marissa, is the only one who believes in his dream, but her adventurous spirit keeps landing him in trouble. Consequently, Dad won't let him get his license and predicts Taylor is heading for the same jail cell as his once-favored older brother. Taylor returns to Rustic Knoll Bible Camp expecting softball, swimming and sermons. Then he finds a classic Mustang in the camp's garage and jumps at the owner's invitation to help restore it. But when Marissa falls for his snobbish cabin mate, the war of words and pranks escalates until it threatens both the car and his dreams for the future. Will Taylor fulfill Dad's prediction and end up in jail? Or will he finally learn the Truth found in the old car's engine? (Middle Grade from HopeSprings Books)

Rebels (The Safe Lands) by Jill Williamson -- The Safe Lands have long kept the true meaning of Liberation secret from their people. But after being sentenced to Liberation themselves, Mason and Omar soon discover the truth. Levi watched his brothers' public sentencing and tries to hold out hope they are still alive, He is forced to focus his attention elsewhere, however, when his new wife, Jemma, is captured and made the Safe Lands' newest Queen. His only choice to save Jemma may be to take up Omar's old role of undercover vigilante, leading the rebels in their quest to overthrow the government. But will Levi's new role be enough? Meanwhile, Jemma's sister, Shaylinn, is ready to give birth to the "Safe Lands'" children … but not even Ciddah is sure they can be delivered safely in the midst of a rebellion. And Mason must face the fact Omar's illness could be fatal. If they can all unite their efforts, together they may be able to expose the Safe Lands' lies to the people. But if they fail, they will all surely die. (Young Adult from HarperCollins Christian Publishing [Thomas Nelson & Zondervan])

Thriller/Suspense:

Her Stolen Past by Lynette Eason -- When Sonya Daniels finds a kidnapped baby's birth certificate hidden in her late mother's home, she's shocked. What was her family's connection to the child, still missing for over two decades? And what happened to the little girl? Sonya hires detective Brandon Hayes to help her get to the truth. But someone doesn't want the truth to come out and will stop at nothing to keep them from investigating. Sonya knows the guarded cop won't rest until he unravels the mystery-but the answers could be more than she can bear alone. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

A Cry from the Dust by Carrie Stuart Parks -- In the shadow of the Mormon church, a 19th-century conspiracy is about to be shattered by a 21st-century forensic artist. In 1857, a wagon train in Utah was assaulted by a group of militant Mormons calling themselves the Avenging Angels. One hundred and forty people were murdered, including unarmed men, women, and children. The Mountain Meadows Massacre remains controversial to this day-but the truth may be written on the skulls of the victims. When renowned forensic artist Gwen Marcey is recruited to reconstruct the faces of recently unearthed victims at Mountain Meadows, she isn't expecting more than an interesting gig . . . and a break from her own hectic life. But when Gwen stumbles on the ritualized murder of a young college student, her work on the massacre takes on a terrifying new aspect, and research quickly becomes a race against modern-day fundamentalist terror. Gwen finds herself in the crosshairs of a secret society bent on fulfilling prophecy and revenging old wrongs. Can a forensic artist reconstruct two centuries of suppressed history . . . before it repeats itself? (Thriller/Suspense from HarperCollins Christian Publishing [Thomas Nelson & Zondervan])

Operation Zulu Redemption: Hazardous Duty Pt 3 by Ronie Kendig -- After all the hits they've taken, it'd be easy to quit. But Annie, Teya, and Nuala didn't train so intensely to be part of the first all-female special ops team to let their enemy win. Now that the fight's been incited so fiercely with Jessie, Candice, and Keeley, the rest of Zulu won't go down without a fight. They'll find answers, justice, and vindication for that tragic night they were set up in Misrata. Or die trying. Sam Caliguari won't give up, either. Not even the thugs who steal him away from Manson in an effort to muzzle him will stop him from getting Annie out of trouble. Annie knows Sam will use every bit of his SEAL training to track her down, but she didn't expect the tangle of strong feelings she'd have for him and Trace. Teya never imagined the nightmare that would hit after crossing the deadly path of The Turk. What could he possibly want with her so specifically? And while Trace anticipates physical threats, he's also watching his back for the next political fallout, because Francesca Solomon is unyielding in her quest to bring him down. Will Zulu ever catch a break? (Military Suspense from Barbour Publishing)

Operation Zulu Redemption: Act of Treason Pt 4 by Ronie Kendig -- It's Zero hour for Zulu. They've been targeted, hunted, deceived, and betrayed. Zulu is crumbling in their pursuit of justice. Even rifts within the team are tearing them apart. In the shocking, explosive finale of Operation Zulu: Redemption, the team has one last plan to draw the enemy out and take them down-for good. But will it work? Who can they really trust? Ultimately, what price will justice demand? (Military Suspense from Barbour Publishing)



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