Monday, September 30, 2013

God of Every Story - Interview with Laura Story

I adore Laura Story. I love her music but even more, I love her heart, her authenticity, and her wisdom. I met her two years ago and loved sitting down and interviewing her (that interview is here), and I was thrilled to catch up with her again in June at ICRS. Laura has a new CD releasing TODAY that will be great. I love the title God of Every Story. Laura and I talked about how her story has changed over the last two years and how that has impacted her music. Here's a bit about the CD, followed by the interview.

God of Every Story
Laura Story
September 30, 2013
Available at:
and other retailers

I'm so thrilled to get to talk to you again!

We hung out last time and had a great time!

I'm excited about your new album coming out and I got to listen to one of the songs on it, Love of God. What a great song! I wish I had had the lyricss because I'm a visual person and really like to read the lyrics while I listen.

That's such a visual song. It talks about creation and God loving us so well through creation and reminding us that He's everywhere. We can't go anywhere - what does the Psalm say? "Where can I flee from Your presence?" Nowhere! He's everywherre.

And Romans 1 says that He's made Himself evident through the creation so that people know Him. I don't see how people can say there is not a God when they see creation.

And it's so sad that they see creation and begin to worship creation. God did all this for us, and they say let's worship it.

Your life has been quite a journey since you've been married but just since we talked last time, you've been on an award-winning streak, getting a Grammy and multiple Dove awards.

Yes, the past two years the synopsis would be: released the song Blessings, God used it in ways we could never have asked for or imagined, won some awards, which in our minds is really not about the awards but that God used them to get the message about His faithfulness out to people that wouldn't have heard it any other way. So that happened. I was going to release an album last fall and ended up having a baby—releasing a baby—instead. So she's nine months old now [at the time of the interview; she has now had her first birthday] and she's so much fun. Little Josie.

She is adorable! I stalk you on Twitter!

Oh, please do! Stalk me all day long! I'm addicted to posting pictures of my baby! We have a community of people who have been cheering us on. And I'll be releasing a CD this fall. So that's the last two and a half years in a nutshell. Husband's doing well, loving being a dad.

The last time he was starting to look at doing a little computer retraining. Has he been able to do that?

Yes, he did a little bit of that. It was very much a God thing this last December. He met someone at church who was coaching baseball for fourteen-year-olds. It's some sort of rec league. He got involved with that, and it has been a greater blessing than we could have ever imagined. It started off just being, "Well, come and we'll see how it goes" and he went to a couple of practices. He has a short-term memory deficit. He played baseball in college. He's a great baseball player. Because all that's long-term memory, he jumps into this and it all starts coming back to him. So he's been coaching baseball for about six months now, just part-time, but it's the first part-time job he's had in about seven years. It's been amazing.

It's a paid job?

Yes! It became a paying job just a few months ago. I know it means a lot to him to contribute to our family income and I feel like the Lord's going to provide and we don't need to worry about it. I know it meant so much to him, getting into the whole thing—not for payment, but it was just this added blessing. It wasn't a ton of money but it was so affirming for these men to want him. It's been a neat thing that God even did that. The way God is using Martin in these boys' lives is just amazing. One of them gave Martin a Father's Day card and said, "We know you're not our dad but you've been so much like a spiritual father to us." We were just blown away by it.

That's wonderful. So he's loving being a daddy?

Oh, he is a mess! They just love each other. She has his eyes. They are so cute together. They just laugh at each other! Even though he is unable to drive and probably will never be able to drive because of his vision deficit, on Tuesdays he'll pick her up. There's a day care that's in walking distance of our house and he'll pick her up on foot and take her out to lunch, and it's their Daddy/Daughter Date Day. It's been neat to see. I think he was a little bit worried about, what does it look like being a dad with a disability? I knew that he still would be fabulous. Obviously, there are some complications to it that we've had to figure out and work through. But for the most part [it's worked out great]. I think that little girls need fathers that just adore them and listen to them and spend time with them. I think that's what the heart of a little girl needs. They don't need a dad that can drive. They don't need a dad that has a full-time job. Those aren't things that little girls care about or even notice! So he's just been the best dad. It's been good.

I know you alluded to things you had to work through. Are the memory issues not a concern with him caring for her?

I work two miles from our house at the church and he watches her between ten and fifteen hours a week, usually three or four hours at a time, maybe not even that much. But he can do most anything in a routine. On the road, it's not as easy and I have someone who travels with me to help with Josie because there are so many new surroundings. But at home he does really well. If he has questions about anything, he calls or texts. A lot of times we'll all just pack up and go to the church for the day so I'll see them between meetings. My office has the Pack 'n Play, the toys, and all that kind of stuff. And I'm finding more and more moms, for financial reasons, are having to return to work, and at least my employer has been so gracious with the whole thing. I can't have my baby screaming her head off in a meeting but for the most part, my boss just loves having her around and knows that's a big part of who I am. I know everyone doesn't have that luxury but it's been a great thing for us.

You're still the worship leader at the same church you were the last time we talked?

I am! Perimeter Church. I've been there almost eight years and they've been such a sweet community for us. It was such a God thing they that we were able to even have Josie. Then when we got pregnant, it was like, "Oh gracious, how are we going to be able to do this?" And the church has come alongside us, not just in giving us hand-me-downs. Someone gave us their old crib. You look at how much stuff you have to get for a baby and think "This is going to break the bank before they're even born!" But our church has not only helped us with all of that but in the wisdom of so many moms who have gone before me. People I have on speed-dial to say "she just did this, is that normal?" It's been great.

Talk to me about your new album. Did you write most of the songs on it?

I have written or co-written most of the songs. Sometimes I write songs by myself, moments just between the Lord and me, and sometimes I'll get together with friends, fellow writers, and we'll look at the scriptures together and say, what might God have us sing about Him today? What could we write about that would really be a blessing to the church or to someone? But most of them were inspired by how the scriptures interact with me and with others on a daily basis, where God's word and God's promises and God's truth intersect with our daily lives.

There is a lot on the album about God's love. Now that I'm a mom, I'm beginning to understand God's love in a new way. In a richer, in a deeper way. I knew that God as a father delighted in me but there is something about becoming a parent that no one could have told me. I knew I was going to like my baby. Most days! I never knew how much I would love her and that my heart can't even contain the love I have for her. And I think if that's how I as an imperfect, selfish human being is—because I'm pretty selfish at the core—I can't even imagine how much a perfect, holy, selfless God loves me! It awes me to think about it. So I've written a lot of songs about that, this newfound understanding of it. And even that, with my newfound understanding, I'm probably not even scratching the surface.

So God's love is probably the theme of this album?

Probably so, and how that love manifests itself. You look at our lives, and it's a story that we not only did not write for ourselves but would not have written. It's not as comfortable of a story as I would have written for us! But it's a story of God's faithfulness. It's a story of God's love and giving us the things that we need rather than the things that we want. And as a parent, even just this morning, Josie was trying to crawl into the toilet because she likes water, and there's a big ol' bowl of water that she thinks she can swim in. Trust me, honey! You do not want to swim in that big bowl of water! I continue to pull her away from it and she fights me tooth and nail, just bawling. And I'm thinking, "God, how do I handle this child that does not understand that what I'm doing is all for her good?" And He goes, "Yeah, I know! Been there, done that!"

I don't want you to think the album is all about what I'm learning about being a mom but it all intersects. Everything about our lives, whatever season we're in—whether it's a season of singleness, or a season of being a parent, or having a disabled husband, whatever it is—it's all an opportunity to learn. God has something He longs to show us about Himself and teach us about ourselves in whatever season of life we're in. If we're just so impatient to get out of this season to the next one, I think we miss the blessing of character lessons about ourselves. And also the blessing of experiencing God. I'd say, as a mom, some days I'm not as patient as I know I need to be. I was just reading about the fact that God gives us the Holy Spirit as our helper. He calls Him the Spirit of Truth. I was thinking about this and some days I have to call upon the God of patience to be patience in my stead. I need that. I need Him to be patience through me, and that's a way that I'm experiencing God that I've never experienced Him before. I feel like regardless of what it is we're going through, when we come to the end of ourselves, that's when we're the most aware of how much we need Him. And the good news is, I talk about us needing Him but we already have Him, Christ in us. If we're trying to do life in our own strength, then we're really missing out on allowing that Christ that rose from the grave, we're missing out on that power working through us.

Sorry, I'm just going on and on!

You're great! I love this. And I experienced the same thing you did when I became a parent but another aspect as well. Maybe it's because I had a boy first, but I also had a totally new view of God sacrificing His Son for us. Because there was no friend that I would sacrifice my child for, much less an enemy who hated me! I was not expecting that aspect to hit me that hard.

Oh, I can't even go there yet. Even considering that, I get a lump in my throat. On so many levels, understanding God's love in a much deeper and richer way. And as a worship leader, that's such a great thing. I love having these new and fresh encounters with the love of God because it just spurs me on to worship. That's the only response to it, is just worship. Just gratitude, throwing my hands up in the air saying, "I don't get it! How can You love me so much?" I don't have to understand it. I love getting to be part of something that's too big for me to understand! And all I can do is respond in worship.

As a worship leader—and I don't know what the makeup of your church is—how do you deal with choosing music? There are the hymns, which I grew up on and just love. And I love a lot of the new songs, too but sometimes songs can focus more on us and our feelings than on God.

We live in such a consumeristic age right now that it is all about us. We can pretty much get everything that we want, when we want it, how we want it. Every slogan is Have It Your Way, Do It Your Way. I think, as worship leaders, we have to push back on that.

When I listen to your songs, I feel like you "get" that. How do you deal with it as a worship leader and be relevant without giving people just what they want to hear?

Yeah, I totally agree. I'd say two things. First of all, I shy away from songs that talk about how I feel toward God or that maybe even talk about my faithful response toward God. Because I know that on any given Sunday when I show up to lead worship, that might not be the state of my heart. BUT, I show up to lead worship because God is always worthy. And if we sing His praises about who He is, then we can never go wrong, no matter what kind of day we're having. That's really what we need to focus on.

The other thing is, I serve in a church that is so grounded in Biblical truth. So grounded in who God is and what He's done, and it's such a Christ-centric service. We use a lot of old hymns. We use a lot of new hymns. We still use praise songs but we really want it to be doctrine—and when I use the word doctrine, it's who God is—and be sure our congregation isn't just having an emotional experience, but that the truth of scripture is seeping into their heart, whether it's through the sermon or through the music. It should be all one big message of who God is and how we should respond according to scripture. So we'll use a ton of old hymns but we've figured out, whether it's new tunes or new styles, ways to engage that younger generation. But engaging the younger generation doesn't mean just giving them fluff. It means giving them the same truths the church has been built on since the day that Jesus left and said, "Here you go, Peter! I'm about to build my church!" Hopefully the message never changes even though the sound of it might change, which I think is a good thing. I don't think, necessarily, that they should always do church music the way that I do. That's one of the hard things. We have these young kids at our church who love God and I find myself wanting to say, "no, no, no, you should do it this way" and I remind myself that it's not supposed to sound like me. I'm supposed to instill in them the truth of scripture and the values of worship-leading, and then I'm supposed to help them explore what their new sound is supposed to be. And that's a tough thing. Because I want to tell them what I think! I realize I've become that person that I fought so hard against when I came to our church!

What would you say is your favorite song on this new CD, if you have one?

Probably my favorite new song is one called I Can Just Be Me. It's about learning to let God be God and me be me. Not that God needs my permission to be God! But I realize how much of my life I spend just kinda spinning my wheels. There is so much that I'm responsible for, with my jobs and my roles and my husband and my child. For some crazy reason, I also try to take on these added responsibilities of controlling every situation and manipulating things and people. I'm learning that it's not only blasphemous, I think it's just futile. I'm learning that the more I just acknowledge Him as God, and Him as being in control, and His plans being good, the more I can be the best me I can be. I get so caught up in my own story and forget sometimes that my story only finds its greater purpose and context in His story.

This was great. Thank you so much, Laura!

Learn more about Laura on her website, or follow her on Facebook or Twitter.


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Friday, September 27, 2013

The Prayer Box

The Prayer Box
Lisa Wingate
ISBN: 978-1414386881
Septermber 2013/400 pages/$15.99

When Iola Anne Poole, an old-timer on Hatteras Island, passes away in her bed at ninety-one, the struggling young mother in her rental cottage, Tandi Jo Reese, finds herself charged with the task of cleaning out Iola’s rambling Victorian house.

Running from a messy, dangerous past, Tandi never expects to find more than a temporary hiding place within Iola’s walls, but everything changes with the discovery of eighty-one carefully decorated prayer boxes, one for each year, spanning from Iola’s youth to her last days. Hidden in the boxes is the story of a lifetime, written on random bits of paper--the hopes and wishes, fears and thoughts of an unassuming but complex woman passing through the seasons of an extraordinary, unsung life filled with journeys of faith, observations on love, and one final lesson that could change everything for Tandi.

Read an excerpt.


Lisa Wingate is a magazine columnist, speaker, and the author of nineteen mainstream novels, including the national bestseller Tending Roses, now in its eighteenth printing. She is a seven-time ACFW Carol award nominee, a Christy Award nominee, and a two-time Carol Award winner. Her novel Blue Moon Bay was a Booklist Top Ten of 2012 pick. Recently, the group Americans for More Civility, a kindness watchdog organization, selected Lisa along with Bill Ford, Camille Cosby, and six others, as recipients of the National Civies Award, which celebrates public figures who work to promote greater kindness and civility in American life. When not dreaming up stories, Lisa spends time on the road as a motivational speaker. Via internet, she shares with readers as far away as India, where her book Tending Roses has been used to promote women's literacy, and as close to home as Tulsa, Oklahoma, where the county library system has used Tending Roses to help volunteers teach adults to read.

Lisa lives on a ranch in Texas, where she spoils the livestock, raises boys, and teaches Sunday school to high school seniors. She was inspired to become a writer by a first grade teacher who said she expected to see Lisa's name in a magazine one day.

Lisa also entertained childhood dreams of being an Olympic gymnast and winning the National Finals Rodeo, but was stalled by the inability to do a back flip on the balance beam and parents who wouldn't finance a rodeo career. She was lucky enough to marry into a big family of cowboys and southern storytellers who would inspire any lover of tall tales and interesting, yet profound characters. She is a full time writer, and pens inspirational fiction for both the general Christian markets. Of all the things she loves about her job, she loves connecting with people, both real and imaginary, the most. More information about Lisa's novels can be found at and on her Facebook page.


A misunderstood and unappreciated solitary life. Prayers poured out on scraps of paper and tucked away in boxes for decades. A desperate young mother searching for a new beginning. Lisa Wingate has taken these seemingly disparities and pieced them together in a beautiful tapestry that is The Prayer Box. A setting so real that I could feel the sand between my toes transported me to Hatteras Island on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, and I longed to visit Sandy's Seashell Shop and discover some sea glass treasures. Most of all, I loved getting to know the heart of Iola Anne Poole through her prayers and watching the impact they had on Tandi's life. Tender and poignant, this tale will touch your heart and remind you that no one is unseen or forgotten by God or outside the reach of His grace. I love the concept of prayer boxes, especially the ideas that Wingate shares on her website about making and giving them as gifts. The Prayer Box is a must-read!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book 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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Thursday, September 26, 2013

This Debut is Made to Last!

Made to Last
Melissa Tagg
(Bethany House)
ISBN: 978-0764211324
September 2013/368 pages/$13.99

Miranda Woodruff has it all. At least, that's how it looks when she's starring in her homebuilding television show, From the Ground Up. So when her network begins to talk about making cuts, she'll do anything to boost ratings and save her show--even if it means pretending to be married to a man who's definitely not the fiance who ran out on her three years ago.

When a handsome reporter starts shadowing Miranda's every move, all his digging into her personal life brings him a little too close to the truth--and to her. Can the girl whose entire identity is wrapped up in her on-screen persona finally find the nerve to set the record straight? And if she does, will the life she's built come crashing down just as she's found a love to last?

Read an excerpt.


Photo Credit: © David’s Gallery
Melissa Tagg, author of Made to Last, is a former reporter and total Iowa girl. In addition to her homeless ministry day job, she is also the marketing/events coordinator for My Book Therapy, a craft-and-coaching community for writers. When she's not writing, she can be found hanging out with the coolest family ever, watching old movies, and daydreaming about her next book. She's passionate about humor, grace, and happy endings. Melissa blogs regularly and loves connecting with readers at


I ran across this author and debut book at a Bethany House promotion at the ACFW conference, and when they told us we could take one book at the end of the evening, I made a beeline for the table and grabbed it! Made to Last is a fun contemporary romance with a unique plot and a host of charming characters. Humorous moments and crisp dialogue pepper this engaging novel, yet Tagg also deftly depicts the restless unease that the main characters experience as they struggle with their faith and the hurts of their past. Melissa Tagg's delightful debut has secured her a spot on my list of favorite new authors, and I'm already eager to see what her next release will bring!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book from Bethany 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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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Autumn Wednesday Hodgepodge

1. What's one thing that's still the same about you as when you were young?

My hair color. I've never dyed it and I don't plan to. I just have a few stray grays here and there (so far!), and I plan to let my gray hair be a "crown of splendor!" (Prov. 16:31)

2. What's more important-history or science? Why?

Historically, I think science has proven that they are both pretty important. :-)

3. Lima, kidney, string, garbanzo, black or pinto-your favorite bean?

Ix-nay on the limas, garbanzos, and black. Green beans are awfully good when cooked with a little bacon grease. Or some beef bouillion granules tossed in, which is how I got my kids to like them.

4. What's something people come to your town to do?

Visit the Texas State Capitol!

5. When was the last time you were in a meeting? Sum it up for us in five words or less.

Two weeks ago. Church staff calendar meeting.

6. What special event would you like a VIP pass to attend?

Laura Story concert.

7. What's one piece of advice you'd give a writer?

Join ACFW. (Even some folks who write non-fiction are members.)

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Happy Fall, y'all!

Photo courtesy


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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Fired Up

Fired Up
(Trouble in Texas)
Mary Connealy
(Bethany House)
ISBN: 978-0764209154
September 2013/336 pages/$14.99

When a doctor who attracts danger falls for a cook determined to make it on her own, there's going to be trouble in Texas!

Dare Riker is a doctor who saves lives, but someone seems determined to end his. It may have something to do with the traitors he dealt with during the Civil War, or it might be related to the recent incident with Flint Greer and the ranch. Whoever the culprit is, he or she seems really fired up, and Dare can’t let his guard down for a moment, which is a challenge, since right now he’s trying to win the heart of the recently widowed Glynna.

Glynna Greer came west as a mail-order bride and ended up in a bad situation. Now her husband, Flint, is dead, and she’s determined to care for her son and daughter on her own. She wants to believe Dare Riker is as decent as he seems, but she’s terrified to lock herself into another marriage. She plans to support her small family by opening a diner–never mind that cooking is not her greatest talent. The men in Broken Wheel, Texas, are so desperate for home cooking that they seem willing to overlook dried-out beef and blackened biscuits.

Glynna can’t help but notice that danger follows Dare wherever he goes. There’s the avalanche. And then the fire. But things really get out of hand when someone plunges a knife from Glynna’s diner into Dare’s back. Are Flint’s cronies still plotting revenge? Is Glynna’s son engaged in a misguided attempt to protect his mother? Is a shadowy outsider still enraged over past injustices? And can Dare survive long enough to convince Glynna to take another chance on love?


Mary Connealy writes fun and lively “romantic comedy with cowboys” for the inspirational market. She is the author of the successful Kincaid Brides, Lassoed in Texas, Montana Marriages, and Sophie’s Daughters series, and she has been a finalist for a Rita and Christy Award and a two time winner of the Carol Award. She lives on a ranch in eastern Nebraska with her husband, Ivan, and has four grown daughters.
Find out more about Mary at and on Facebook and Twitter.


I do love a book set in Texas and no one can write a rollickin' fun romance with a twist of suspense quite like Mary Connealy! Beginning with the opening scene of an avalanche and continuing through burned biscuits and a fire, this is a story that grabs the senses as well as the imagination. Connealy infuses this tale with plenty of humor, although this one is a tad more nerve-wracking than some of her novels. About the time I thought I had figured out who was trying to kill Dare, something else would happen. I was in good company, though, because Dare and his Regulator friends seemed to be having the same problem! Set in the rugged beauty of the Palo Duro Canyon in what is now the Texas Panhandle, Fired Up is full of romance, danger, and action-and loyal men who will stop at nothing to protect a friend.

Mary Connealy is back with the second book, Fired Up, in her Trouble in Texas series, and she's celebrating with a Kindle Fire giveaway and a LIVE author chat party on October 8th.


One winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire HD
  • Swept Away  and Fired Up by Mary Connealy
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on October 8th. Winner will be announced at the "Fired Up" Live Webcast Event on October 8th. Connect with Mary for an evening of book chat, trivia, laughter, and more! Mary will also be taking questions from the audience and giving away books and fun gift certificates throughout the evening.

So grab your copy of Fired Up and join Mary and friends on the evening of October 8th 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 today by signing up for a reminder. Tell your friends via
 FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning.
Hope to see you on the 8th!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book from Bethany House and Litfuse Publicity Group 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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Monday, September 23, 2013

Raw Edges

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Raw Edges
Abingdon Press (September 17, 2013)
Sandra D. Bricker


For more than a decade, Sandra D. Bricker lived in Los Angeles. While honing her chosen craft of screenwriting in every spare moment, she worked as a personal assistant and publicist to some of daytime television's hottest stars. When her mother became ill in Florida, she walked away from that segment of her life and moved across the country to take on a new role: Caregiver.

The Big 5-OH! was released by Abingdon Press in the Spring of 2010, and the novel was very well-received, garnering a couple of nibbles from Hollywood.

Always the Baker, Never the Bride was released by Abingdon Press in September 2010. With its phenomenal reviews, the novel spawned a series of three more books based on the popular cast of characters at The Tanglewood Inn, a wedding destination hotel in historic Roswell, Georgia. The series cemented Sandie's spot in publishing as a flagship author of Laugh-Out-Loud romantic comedy for the inspirational market.

"Being allowed to combine my faith and my humor with my writing dream," says Bricker, "well, that's the best of all worlds, as far as I'm concerned!"


Grayson McDonough has no use for teal ribbons, 5k runs, or ovarian cancer support groups now that his beautiful wife Jenna is gone. But their nine-year-old daughter Sadie seems to need the connection. When Annabelle Curtis, the beautiful cancer survivor organizing the memory quilt project for the Ovacome support group, begins to bring out the silly and fun side of his precious daughter again, Gray must set aside his own grief to support the healing of Sadie’s young heart. But is there hope for Gray’s heart too along the way?

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

Watch the book trailer:


Once again, Abingdon has released a heartwarming book in the Quilts of Love series. I've enjoyed some of Sandie Bricker's previous books that tended toward the humorous side, and this one shows her ability to write a tender tale as well. A satisfying read full of hope and love!


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Critical Pursuit

Critical Pursuit
Janice Cantore
(Tyndale House Publishers)
ISBN: 978-1414375533
September 2013/384 pages/$13.99

Officer Brinna Caruso has built a reputation at the precinct as the cop to call when a child goes missing. For Brinna, it’s personal because she was once one of them. Brinna and her K-9 search and rescue dog, Hero, will stop at nothing to find a missing child, no matter the stakes.

Detective Jack O’Reilly isn’t ready to return to his homicide duties, after losing his wife to a drunk driver. He’s on the downside of his career, and bent on revenge, when he’s assigned as Brinna’s partner. While on patrol, Jack struggles between his quest for personal justice and his responsibility to those around him, especially his partner.

Skeptical of Jack’s motives, Brinna isn’t sure she can rely on her new partner, whose reckless abandon endangers the safety of those around him. But when a man surfaces with an MO similar to the criminal who abducted Brinna twenty years earlier, Brinna and Jack must cast aside previous judgments and combine efforts to catch the kidnapper, and finally allow Brinna the peace stolen from her as a child.


Janice Cantore is a retired Long Beach police officer who now writes suspense novels to keep readers engrossed and leave them inspired. Her twenty-two years of experience on the force lend authenticity to her stories. Her Pacific Coast Justice series has met with critical acclaim. Critical Pursuit is the first book in her latest series.

Visit Janice's website at and connect with her on Facebook.


Authors are often told to "write what you know" and it is obvious that Janice Cantore's experience as a police officer brings an authenticity that adds a level of suspense and a "shudder factor" to her novels. I could not have read this book ten or twelve years ago when my girl was little. The story is captivating enough when focused on the perspective of Officer Brinna Caruso and Detective Jack O'Reilly. When occasional chapters began giving a glimpse of the sicko's creep's perpetrator's mindset and plotting, the tension ratcheted up exponentially! Had that been all there was to the book, there would have been no point in reading it. However, Cantore's character portrayals and spiritual authenticity made this book impossible to put down. Both Officer Brinna Caruso and Detective Jack O'Reilly are deeply wounded individuals from the tragedies they have experienced. Brinna is convinced God doesn't exist, in spite of the relentless attempt by her believing mother to convince her otherwise. Jack has given up on his faith as a result of the tragic death of his pregnant wife and shuns any attempt by his friends to guide him back to God. Their raw honesty as they contend with each other and deal with their issues in the midst of some harrowing situations is gripping and thought-provoking. I picked this book up after dinner on a quiet night and didn't quit reading until I reached the end, much past my bedtime. Obtaining a copy of this book should be your next Critical Pursuit!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book 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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Friday, September 20, 2013

ACFW Gala Awards

I loved being at the ACFW Annual Conference last weekend, and Sunday night's Gala closed out the conference in style! Frank
Peretti received the first-ever ACFW Lifetime Achievement Award. What an honor to meet him and have my picture made with him! The Genesis Awards were also announced; these are awards given to unpublished authors whose manuscripts are critiqued by established authors, editors, and literary agents. And finally, the Carol Awards were presented to the authors in the following categories. (And yes, there really is a category called Category!)


Lost Legacy by Dana Mentink
(Love Inspired)

Heart Echoes by Sally John
(Tyndale House)
Debut Novel

Wildflowers from Winter by Katie Ganshert

Where Lilacs Still Bloom by Jane Kirkpatrick
Historical Romance

A Promise to Love by Serena B. Miller

The Soul Saver by Dineen Miller
(Barbour Publishing)

A Recipe for Hope: an Amish Kitchen Novella by Beth Wiseman
(Thomas Nelson)

Saving Gideon by Amy Lillard
(B&H Publishing)
Romantic Suspense

When a Heart Stops by Lynette Eason

(I was sitting next to Lynette when she won - soooo exciting!! I absolutely adore her and her books, and this one is amazing! My review is here.)

Daystar by Kathy Tyers
(Marcher Lord Press)
Young Adult

Like Moonlight at Low Tide by Nicole Quigley

Lynette Eason texting her family after winning the Carol Award

Carol Award Winners who were present at the Gala
Front row l-r: Lynette Eason, Serena B. Miller, Dana Mentink, Amy Lillard
Back row l-r: Dineen Miller, Nicole Quigley, Katie Ganshert, Beth Wiseman


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Thursday, September 19, 2013

Every Waking Moment - a Must-Read!

Every Waking Moment
Chris Fabry
ISBN: 978-1414348636
September 2013/400 pages/$14.99

Treha Langsam is a mysterious young woman who has fallen through the cracks, much like many of the elderly people she works with at Desert Gardens Retirement Home. But Miriam Howard, director of the facility, sees her extraordinary gift and untapped potential. Treha is a whisperer of sorts, calling those who have slipped into dementia back to a life of vibrant, if only temporary, clarity.

When Treha’s and Miriam’s stories intertwine with a documentary team looking for stories of the elderly, Treha’s gift is uncovered, and the search begins for answers to the mysteries of her past. As their paths converge, each person is forced to face the same difficult question: What if this is as good as my life gets?

An uplifting, human tale of an ordinary woman with an extraordinary gift.

Read an excerpt.


Chris Fabry is an award-winning author and radio personality who hosts the daily program Chris Fabry Live! on Moody Radio. He is also heard on Love Worth Finding, Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, and other radio programs. A 1982 graduate of the W. Page Pitt School of Journalism at Marshall University and a native of West Virginia, Chris and his wife, Andrea, now live in Arizona and are the parents of nine children.

Chris's novels, which include Dogwood, June Bug, Almost Heaven, and Not in the Heart, have won three Christy Awards and an ECPA Christian Book Award, but it's his lyrical prose and tales of redemption that keep readers returning for more. He has also published more than 65 other books, including nonfiction and novels for children and young adults. He coauthored the Left Behind: The Kids series with Jerry B. Jenkins and Tim LaHaye, as well as the Red Rock Mysteries and the Wormling series with Jerry B. Jenkins. RPM is his latest series for kids and explores the exciting world of NASCAR. Visit his Web site at


Chris Fabry has once again written a compelling story that touches the heart with Every Waking Moment. Since I have a close family member with Alzheimer's, I wasn't sure how I would react to this novel's setting and its characters but Fabry's gift for character portrayal captivated me. Multiple threads weave together throughout this novel with themes that resonate deeply. How we view and care for the aged and infirm. The way we treat those who are a bit different. Integrity. The power of story. And faith. Perhaps my favorite part of the book is found in a conversation between Elsie (one of the residents) and Miriam, when Elsie said,
That verse going over and over in my head--the one people use to say God won't give us more than we can handle, 1 Corinthians 10:13. They think temptation and the hard stuff of life are the same. I don't believe that for a minute. He does give us more than we can handle. He lets us go through deeper waters so that we cling to him; that's the whole point of having faith. If we could handle everything, there would be no reason for us to need God. (p. 156)
I adored Elsie and want to be like her when I grow up! While a few of the things in the story were a bit unrealistic due to today's HIPPA laws, I'll grant Fabry some literary license. Put this book on your fall reading list!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book 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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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Last of the Summer Hodgepodge

It's Wednesday, which means the Hodgepodge. Read and comment, visit Joyce, and play along. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

1. When did you last sing happy birthday to someone? When were you last sung to? Does that embarrass you or do you enjoy being the center of attention on your special day?

We sang it to my boy just a couple of weeks ago - exactly two weeks ago, in fact! I don't think my family sang it to me this year, but probably last year. It doesn't bother me. I love my birthday and don't like it to be forgotten or ignored!

2. Name a famous or 'infamous' person (living or deceased) who shares your birth day and month. Is that someone you'd like to meet in person if it were possible?

There are a fair number of them. My favorite was always the Queen Mother. She seemed like a delightful lady who would have been fun to meet. Louis Armstrong also was born on my birthday. (Or I guess I was born on his!) Just a few of the ontemporary figures who I share a birthday with are baseball's Roger Clemens, NASCAR's Jeff Gordon, and actor Billy Bob Thornton. And President Obama and I were born on the same day AND the same year (assuming we know his exact birthday! LOL).

Of all those, the Queen Mother is still by far the one I would have most enjoyed meeting.

3. Someone hands you a box tied up in a lovely bow...what are you hoping to find inside?

Whatever they chose with care because they know and love me!

4. What can you guarantee about yourself?

I am an extremely loyal friend.

5. Talking art and beautiful cities here...'The Last Supper' in the Santa Maria della Grazie Abbey in Milan, Italy or 'The Mona Lisa' in The Louvre, Paris...which would you most like to see up close and in person? Why?

I am not an art connoisseur, but I would probably choose Mona Lisa and Paris.

6. Your favorite dessert?

Something with dark chocolate, nuts (preferably pecans), and ice cream or whipped cream. And zero calories, of course!

7. This coming weekend marks the official start of autumn (in the Northern hemisphere)...what is something you do to get ready for fall? What is one thing you're looking forward to on your fall calendar? Spring or fall-which do you prefer?

I don't really do anything to get ready for fall.

I'm looking forward to visiting our girl in mid-October! Just 23 days!

And spring is by far my preference. The warming weather, the beautiful flowers, the lengthening days--all conspire to make me positively giddy!

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Had a great time at ACFW conference in Indianapolis this past weekend! Too many fun things to mention here! But a fun highlight after the conference was when I got to finally meet in person my sweet blogging friend Linda, aka Lid, from 2nd Cup of Coffee!


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Born of Persuasion

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Born of Persuasion
Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (September 1, 2013)
Jessica Dotta


Born in the wrong century–except for the fact that she really likes epidurals and washing machines–Jessica Dotta writes British Historicals with the humor like an Austen, yet the drama of a Bronte.

She resides lives in the greater Nashville area—where she imagines her small Southern town into the foggy streets of 19th century London. She oversees her daughter to school, which they pretend is an English boarding school, and then she goes home to write and work on PR. Jessica has tried to cast her dachshund as their butler–but the dog insists it’s a Time Lord and their home a Tardis. Miss Marple, her cat, says its no mystery to her as to why the dog won’t cooperate. When asked about it, Jessica sighs and says that you can’t win them all, and at least her dog has picked something British to emulate.


The year is 1838, and seventeen-year-old Julia Elliston’s position has never been more fragile. Orphaned and unmarried in a time when women are legal property of their fathers, husbands, and guardians, she finds herself at the mercy of an anonymous guardian who plans to establish her as a servant in far-off Scotland.

With two months to devise a better plan, Julia’s first choice to marry her childhood sweetheart is denied. But when a titled dowager offers to introduce Julia into society, a realm of possibilities opens. However, treachery and deception are as much a part of Victorian society as titles and decorum, and Julia quickly discovers her present is deeply entangled with her mother’s mysterious past. Before she knows what’s happening, Julia finds herself a pawn in a deadly game between two of the country’s most powerful men. With no laws to protect her, she must unravel the secrets on her own. But sometimes truth is elusive and knowledge is deadly.

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


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