Monday, January 28, 2013

Author Interview/Giveaway and Book Review: Where God Finds You by Anita Higman

Welcome to the CBRB, Anita! It's a pleasure to have you here! Let’s start with God’s interaction with mankind. You’ve spent your career writing stories, so you must have thought about this before—why do you think God uses stories so often to communicate his truth?

I believe Jesus used storytelling (parables) because he knew that we could truly relate to this form of communication. After all, our lives are like living storybooks with each chapter being written every day. Stories go right to our hearts—stirring us, challenging us, inspiring us, changing the way we think. And most importantly, ever moving us toward redemption.

How do you see this book being used?

I believe Where God Finds You would make a good book to read while you’re sipping your morning coffee, or it would work well for a group Bible study.

What did the experience of writing these stories bring into your own life?


I have never felt so close to God as when I was writing this book. The experience felt a little like when you turn up the volume on your phone, and you can hear someone’s voice with more clarity. But it was also sensing his nearness—the warmth of his love and the light of his presence—that also made me well up each morning with worship and wonder and gratitude.

Why did you decide to tackle this particular subject matter?


Good question. I generally write contemporary romantic fiction, so working on a devotional book infused with Biblical fiction was not an easy task. Also, I’m not a Biblical scholar, so at first I was overwhelmed, knowing how much research it would take to write a book of this kind. In fact, I said no to the editor who’d asked me to take on this project, but then he asked me to pray about my decision. That weekend I did pray about it, and felt strongly that I was meant to write this book. I may not have a degree in theology, but I did want to be obedient to God. Writing this devotional book, Where God Finds You, turned out to be an amazing experience.

What do you think readers will take away from the book?


My hope is that people will enjoy discovering how relevant the Bible stories are to our lives today. I wanted to bring the characters to life and show that these ancient people were very much like us with similar hurts and tragedies, hopes and transgressions, joys and triumphs. Even though the culture was dramatically different, our hearts are the same. Those famous Bible folk needed God back then just as we need him in our daily lives right now.

What do you like about this book?


Getting to know these Bible characters and writing their stories in first person was a seemingly impossible undertaking, and yet the experience inspired and encouraged me. I hope readers will be equally moved.

Beyond your research, did you do anything special to prepare for a day of writing Biblical fiction?

During the months of research as well as the writing of this book I held to the routine of listening to the scriptures on CDs while I was in my car running errands and while I was getting ready in the morning. I did this hoping to absorb the Bible’s rich language, dramatic metaphors, and epic nature. In the end, this technique of preparing my mind for the day’s writing worked well. On some days the words flowed with little effort, almost like taking dictation, and on other days I struggled to complete one or two pages. But amidst my routine and aching back from long hours at the computer, the one thing that helped me more than anything was prayer. God really was faithful in helping me prepare this devotional book.

Do you have a favorite Bible character? 


If I were to choose a favorite Bible character, I’d say that I was drawn to Mary Magdalene. I wept when I read the exchange between Mary and Jesus just outside the empty tomb. I could not only see the Jesus who loved the masses, but I could see a more intimate portrait—the Jesus who loved Mary Magdalene as a precious friend—the same Jesus who loves me and you.

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Any other thoughts about the book that we didn’t cover?

Through the writing of these devotions I sensed the Holy Spirit whispering, “This book is going to change your life, Anita.” And I have to admit—it did. Even though all my troubles didn’t vanish when I finished the last page of the book, I did come away with an awareness—that the same God who set the stars in the heavens also knows the number of hairs on my head. Jesus is nearer than I imagined, and he cares more deeply than I’d hoped. And he’s constantly working things out for good in my life. And in your life…

I wanted to throw in a few fun questions, Anita, so.... When did you first discover that you loved writing?


Growing up I dreamed of being a writer. When I was very young (I don’t remember my age) I started working on a novel about a man from Mars who wanted to go to college in New York. I never finished that novel, but it left an impression on me. I knew deep down that writing was my dream, even though I didn’t get around to fulfilling it until I was in my thirties.

Has writing changed your life in any way?


Writing changes my life daily because I’m expected to be creative most of the time. That’s not always easy to do when you’re tired or you feel fresh out of words. But I love the writing life. I wouldn’t want to do anything else.

What’s the funniest/quirkiest thing you’ve ever done?


Thirty-four years ago I rappelled off a cliff alongside the man I was dating. We kissed in mid-air while dangling off that cliff. I ended up marrying that man, and we've celebrated our 33rd wedding anniversary!

Where can readers learn more information about you?


I’d love for readers to drop me a note through the ‘contact me’ button on my website at www.anitahigman.com or interact with me on my Facebook reader page at http://www.facebook.com/#!/AuthorAnitaHigman

My Thoughts:

Where God Finds You by Anita Higman is the type of devotional that I've been searching for! I have to admit that hardly any of the devotionals I've attempted to read in the past have kept my interest, so I just gave up on devotionals, knowing that they wouldn't hold my interest. So when the opportunity to review Anita's devotional presented itself, I was already prepared to decline– until I saw that Where God Finds You was unique in that it combined fiction (which my readers know that I enjoy immensely) with a devotion.

I decided to give it a try and I'm glad I did! Each devotion focuses on one Bible character and a situation surrounding that Bible character. After a fictional account from the POV (point of view) of the Bible character, the story as told from the Bible is included. Next, a short devotional written by Anita based on the topic/theme being addressed and, lastly, a few relevant questions rounds out a devotional for one day.

The devotionals were short yet spiritually stimulating and the fictional re-telling from Bible characters was written exceptionally well. I enjoyed that, since the re-telling was in first person, I was able to experience the Bible character's thoughts and feelings first-hand. The devotionals from Anita kept my interest and effectively applied the lesson/theme being taught to modern daily life.

However, I have to say that what I enjoyed most about this devotional were the questions. The author obviously thought and prayed about what questions to ask the reader. They were soul-searching questions that prompted me to realize areas where I needed improvement in my life, which, in turn, prompted me to pray about that particular need. They were unique and, like I mentioned before, my favorite part of this devotional.

I give this book 5 out of 5 stars. If your looking for a devotional that will keep your interest and spiritually stimulate you, give Where God Finds You by Anita Higman a try. God willing, you'll enjoy it as much as I did!

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GIVEAWAY!
  Anita has generously provided me with an extra copy of Where God Finds You to giveaway! Just leave a comment with your email address to be entered in the giveaway. Giveaway is available to U.S. residents only. Be sure to check the sidebar (under Winner Announcement) after the giveaway is over to see if you've won. The winner must contact me by going to my "Contact Me" page and sending me an email. 

For extra entries: 
~Be a follower +1 
~Add my button to your blog +1
 ~Post about this giveaway +2
~Be a subscriber +2
~Tweet +1
~Post on Facebook +1
(please leave a separate comment for each extra entry)

Giveaway ends on Saturday, February 9, 2013 at midnight (Eastern time). Winner will be chosen through Random.org.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Author Interview and Giveaway: Faith In the Shadows and The Seekers by Sadie and Sophie Cuffe

Welcome to the CBRB, Sophie and Sadie! Thank you for being here! To get to know each of you a little bit, can each of you please tell us about yourself?

Sadie Cuffe: I’m Sophie’s sister (obviously). You know those authors who say, “I wrote my first book when I was six years old!”? That wasn’t me. I never intended to be a writer, and God gave me a good length of time to do many other things before I sat down in front of a keyboard. I’m a blue collar farmer with rural roots and have the blessings of a close family and a wonderful church family. It’s a great life.

Sophie Cuffe: I'm Sadie's big sister. We share a lot of interests, but along with the farming and writing, I'm also a musician. We love singing with the residents of our local nursing home - we like to think we put the joyful in "joyful" noise.

Is there a particular genre you enjoy reading/writing and why is it your favorite?

Sadie: I enjoy reading suspense and mystery because I like the clever plot twists in a well written novel. I like writing the same genres as I read (and wish I could turn as clever plot twists as other authors... maybe some day) but my sister and I also like to throw in a dash of romance, intergenerational characters (who doesn’t like kids and older folks?), and mix it up with some contemporary themes and some historical.

Sophie: I like mystery and suspense, too, but have a soft spot for westerns. One of my favorite memories is of our father reading Louis L'Amour to my daughter one day when she was a sick little toddler.  and Sadie and I both got to read another Louis book to our father when he was no longer able to hold a book in his hands.  So I guess I'd have to say my favorite book we've written to date is HARD COUNTRY, a modern western suspense (still looking for a publisher!).

Can you tell us two or three things that most readers don’t know about you?

Sadie: I can start singing a totally different song when Sophie is singing, and drive her crazy. I hiked to the top of Katahdin [ME’s highest peak and the challenging end (or beginning depending on where you start) of the Appalachian trail.] when I was six, and I still love to backpack, hike, and camp whenever I get the chance. I’m really good at walking backward and tipping greens in the woods – two things I can do at a fast clip. 

Sophie: I play the accordion - LOVE polkas! I can milk a goat in under a minute. I can cross one eye independently of the other, although my ophthalmologist doesn't recommend this!

What five things do you love/like the most?

Sadie: 1. living in the sticks  2. having a sister  3. being part of the family of God  (love the blessing of having sisters and brothers in Christ everywhere) 4. crackers 5. being able to see, reason, and read

Sophie: 1. my three grandchildren, 2. my two children, 3. my sister, 4. that our mom lets us live with her since our dad passed away, 5. our precious extended family of God through church, nursing homes, wherever two or three are gathered together...  oh yeah, any kind of kettle chips!

If you could meet one person (besides Jesus, because who doesn’t want to meet Him!), who would you choose?
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Sadie: Hard question but at this moment I think I’d like to meet my great grandmother (my grandmother’s mom). Her family came from Ireland to settle in ME. She had a farm where they raised race horses and 13 children. Her husband died of a heart attack in the hay field when he was in his early forties and she never gave up. In my grandmother, I got to see some of our roots but I’d like to go back in time and hang out with my great grandmother on the farm and see her call to her favorite race horse and feed him sugar out of her hand.

Sophie: I'd like to meet C. S. Lewis. Before seeing Shadowlands, I thought he was just a misunderstood children's story writer - misunderstood because I didn't get the Narnia books LOL. After viewing the movie I came to admire him, his faith, and his writing..

What is your favorite Bible story?

Sadie: Who doesn’t like Ruth? She’s got faith, family issues, courage, heart, suspense, romance and real life drama.

Sophie: The story of Uriah the Hittite - what a man of integrity who carries his own death warrant to the battlefield without ever looking inside.

How do you choose your characters names?

Sadie: Glad you asked. Sophie and I don’t always agree on our choices but that’s part of the fun. (she always accuses me of choosing names that end in “S” and for some crazy reason I do! It’s some sort of sick affliction, no matter how hard I try, I can’t completely shake it but, fortunately I have a partner who notices and points it out, but it still doesn’t stop me.) We put in one character that bears a first or last name from our family tree and the rest hinges on whether someone is evil or kind, whether we “like” them or not and whether their made up circumstances fit their moniker. We mostly try to stay away from names of people we know and favorite names so we don’t end up having a Robbie or Sean in every book.

Sophie: Sadie's right about that "s" thing - it makes me laugh. It's good we have each other to bounce names off of. In one of our books we realized all the male characters had the same initials of JB - different first and last names, but all were JB. We do better now (at least we think we do).

If you weren’t an author, what would your dream job be?

Sadie: farmer and sculptor
Sophie: farmer and country music singer

Please tell us about the featured book.
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The Heart Knows is the third book in the Wainwright Trilogy (coming out in March of this year). Lydia Wainwright’s two grown children have married, and she doesn’t want to be hovering over their new lives, so she answers an ad for a school marm in the boom town of Abilene, Kansas. In August 1867, she heads west, gets in a train wreck on the Kansas border, and suffers temporary amnesia. (We know amnesia is Standard Plot #8, but it's fun, and it opens a thousand doors of possibility.) In Lydia’s case, she’s claimed by careful Civil War veteran Drew Spurlock, who mistakes her for his cousin (a woman he hasn’t seen in 25 years), who was coming to Kansas to care for his two children.

Lydia’s an independent Yankee who adapts to life on the frontier, and turns Drew’s life upside down. Drew’s no dope, but neither is Lydia. Both begin to suspect she’s not who she thinks she is. Drew finds the truth and keeps it from her, but when his ex-wife shows up to claim the children, things get complicated and interesting in a heartbeat. When Lydia finds out she doesn’t belong in a family she’s grown to love, and that Drew has lied, can she find a new life in Kansas, or have they both been deceived by a person and a dream that doesn’t exist?

Can you please give us the first page?

THE HEART KNOWS
Prologue

     Lydia Wainwright closed her eyes against the suffocating heat. She flexed her shoulders and shifted in the seat, every muscle in her back and legs screaming at the inactivity. The clack of the train wheels hammered in her brain. The raucous laughter of a gentleman seated at the front of the car rubbed her nerves raw. Have I made a mistake, Lord?
     A waft of moving air fluttered past her flushed cheeks. "Are you alright, Mrs. Wainwright?"
     Lydia forced a smile and turned her eyes on her newest traveling companion, a nice young lady from Kansas. With her dark hair and hesitant smile, she reminded Lydia of her daughter.
     Essie Claussen flapped her hand back and forth in an effort to fan them both. "I'll be right as rain, Essie. As soon as I get where I'm going."
     Essie nodded. "Perhaps if you removed your gloves and jacket you'd be more comfortable."
     Lydia took off her spectacles, peeled off her gloves, and ran a moist hand over her gritty eyes. "It certainly couldn't hurt." She perched her glasses back on her nose. After she stripped off the lavender Eton jacket and laid it and her gloves on the seat beside her, she undid the top buttons of her bodice and grinned. "This is more like it. I don't know what I was thinking. I'm usually not such a slave to fashion."
     "You just wanted to look smart, and you truly do, Mrs. Wainwright." Essie dropped her hand into her lap and leaned back, her face pale and glistening.
     "I can't very well make a good impression if I swoon like a ninny from the heat. A frontier school marm ought to be sensible, if nothing else."
     "I think it's awfully courageous of you to be traveling alone to an unknown land."
     Lydia shook her head. "Foolhardy is more like it. I'm stuffed in a new dress, cooked like a roasted goose. But I am excited; at least I was when I started out, before all those dreadful meals of filthy bread and bitter tea." She patted her bosom. "Probably won't do me any harm to miss a few meals, but I do miss my own kitchen."
     "I can't imagine going off to a place, miles and miles from home, where you won't have your own abode and aren't acquainted with anyone at all, especially at your age." Essie's big blue eyes widened, but Lydia took no offense. The girl was sweet as fresh cream and totally without guile, a refreshing respite from the sour so-and-so who'd chewed her ear off from New York to Chicago. The car had filled and emptied dozens of times, the occupants changing, their accents shifting with each depot stop. Now she and her companion sat in the back of the car, nearly empty save for a group of men to the front of them.
     "I thought I'd best get out on my own for a turn while I still had all my faculties in working order, more or less. Let my children have their turn to rule the roost." But I miss the company of family in the kitchen, and the fuss of the sheep when I hung the laundry out in the back dooryard. 
     Lydia took a deep breath, set her teeth against the wave of homesickness, and ignored the trickle of sweat running down her neck. "'Course, both my children are dead set against this, and that adds a bit of spice to my adventure. By the time I finish my year teaching contract, my daughter and her husband will have their first child; and, if I know my son and his wife, they won't be far behind." But I won't be there for the birth of my grandchild.

Where can readers learn more information about each of you?

We're in this together and can be found at the following links:
Website:  www.cuffesisters.com
Blog: www.cuffesisters.com/off-the-cuffe/
Facebook author page: http://tinyurl.com/9cflp7w

And our latest undertaking - a year-long daily blog fusing 1 chapter of serial fiction (entitled A WOMAN LIKE ME) with six daily devotions (per week).  http://awomanlikemeblog.com/
 
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GIVEAWAY!
  Sophie and Sadie have generously offered to giveaway an eBook copy of both Faith In the Shadows and The Seekers– the first two books in The Wainwright Trilogy!! Just leave a comment with your email address to be entered in the giveaway. Be sure to check the sidebar (under Winner Announcement) after the giveaway is over to see if you've won. The winner(s) must contact me by going to my "Contact Me" page and sending me an email. 

For extra entries: 
~Be a follower +1 
~Add my button to your blog +1
 ~Post about this giveaway +2
~Be a subscriber +2
~Tweet +1
~Post on Facebook +1
(please leave a separate comment for each extra entry)

Giveaway ends on Saturday, February 2, 2013 at midnight (Eastern time). Winner will be chosen through Random.org,

Author Interview and Giveaway: Song of the Meadowlark by Sherri Johnson

Welcome to the CBRB, Sherri! Thank you for being here! For those who were not able to enjoy your last interview, can you again give us a little information about you? (You can view Sherri's last interview Here.)

I am an Inspirational Romance novelist, a speaker, social media junkie, and a former homeschooling mom. I love to make people laugh and share stories of God’s blessings with them. I live in Georgia with my husband and two children. I love to dream of romance–good, clean romance, that is. I am passionate about purity and sexual integrity. I’m a bird-watcher, love the ocean, ice cream, my family and my Chihuahua, Posey, who faithfully sits by my side every day when I write. I am the author of To Dance Once More (OakTara) and Song of the Meadowlark (OakTara).

Is there a particular genre you enjoy reading/writing and why is it your favorite?

I have always loved the Victorian era so when I started writing my first full length novel, it was only natural to write Historical Romance with long gowns and debutante balls throughout the pages. My latest book is a Contemporary Romance though. I wanted to try my hand at it and the characters needed to be in a contemporary setting. I still prefer the Victorian era though and Historical Romance.

Can you tell us two or three things that most readers don’t know about you?

I’d love to go on the show WIPEOUT and see if I can conquer the obstacles courses and win $50,000.00! I’d also love to go on WHEEL OF FORTUNE.

I used to want to be a TV anchorwoman.

I hope to live to be 100 like my grandmother.

What five things do you love/like the most?

Besides Jesus and my family and friends, I love my dogs, my church, the ocean, writing, and talking.

If you could meet one person (besides Jesus, because who doesn’t want to meet Him!), who would you choose?

I’d like to meet someone who lived in the late 1800s in the town I’m writing about in my new series. It would be cool to see what it was really like then.

What is your favorite Bible story?

I love the story of Ruth and how God placed her exactly where she needed to be in order for her Boaz to rescue her. She could have gone with her sister-in-law and found a BOZO for a husband but instead, she found God’s best for her. I love how this story teaches the importance of faith in its truest form—believing before seeing.

How do you choose your characters names?

I usually pick names from baby name websites that give the meaning of the names. Once a character develops into someone with particular personality traits, I pick a name that suits them. I’ve also been known to change the names of characters if they evolve into someone different while I’m writing.

If you weren’t an author, what would your dream job be?

Like I said above, I used to want to be a TV anchorwoman. Now I think I’m too old to start a career like that. If I wasn’t a writer, I guess it would be fun to be a full-time speaker. Or maybe a stand-up comedian. Or maybe a combination of the two. 

Do you have any books that are soon-to-be-released that we should keep an eye out for?

My second novel was released in September 2012. My third novel is currently in the proposal stage and I’m working on a proposal for a series. So as of right now, nothing new is due out. But we’re hoping 2013 will be a big year.

Please tell us about the featured book.
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Song of the Meadowlark is a Contemporary Inspirational Romance full of hope, forgiveness, and second chances at life and love set in South Georgia on a ranch with an ornery cowboy.

Here is Song of the Meadowlark’s synopsis: When trusting others only leads to pain and rejection, and loving ends only in loss, what will it take to restore hope again? Shunned by the uncovered truth about her missing husband’s secret life, Cora Buchanan sets out on a road trip for home to mend her broken relationship with her parents. When her car breaks down, she’s stranded in a small Georgia town. While staying at the struggling Southern Hope Ranch, she meets little Susie O’Reilly, who unexpectedly fills a void in Cora’s heart. But Rex, Susie’s rugged cowboy father who lost his wife a year earlier, seems to go out of his way to either confront or avoid Cora. It doesn’t help her comfort level that the news continues to report missing and murdered women in the area. Cora has no idea just how close to home the crimes will hit…or how much the sweet sound of the meadowlark’s song at the ranch will impact her future.

Can you please give us the first page?
June — Lake Murray, South Carolina

Cora Buchanan stared out the paned window of her bedroom at Lake Murray through a mist of rain and sighed, her olive green eyes filling with salty tears. This picturesque place had become a prison to her.

Tossing her dark hair over one shoulder, she moved across the room to her bed. Lying on her stomach on her flowery comforter, she remembered how it had all happened. For the first time since then, she scanned the tattered pages of her scrapbook, memories flooding her with weariness. It had been such an innocent time.

On the next page, she saw the pictures from her twenty-first birthday party. Twenty-one had seemed so old and wise at the time, and Panama City, Florida, like the big city. She’d worked awhile in college and considered herself a perceptive woman. But her middle name should have been Na├»ve, since she didn’t see some people for who they really were.

Cora rolled over onto her back, propping herself up on her pillows. She raised her knees and placed the scrapbook on her legs. Her eyes found the picture of her running in the town relay race with him, and she remembered the pulled calf muscle that still hurt on cold winter days. As she turned the page, she saw her engagement pictures and the newspaper clipping from the wedding announcement. She remembered that day like yesterday, her parents’ disapproval forever seared into her mind.

She closed the scrapbook, and it fell to the floor with a thud, another chapter now over in her life. Three years had passed since Cora’s marriage to him, and she now lived, as a twenty-five-year-old woman, with her in-laws. As she sat up on the edge of her bed, she wondered where to go from here. She couldn’t wait any longer to move on.

Cora left her room and entered the earth-toned den. The Buchanans were watching Wheel of Fortune on the television.

“It’s been a year tonight.” Cora knew she didn’t have to explain what she meant. She plopped on the couch next to Judy. “I think it’s time I finally do something.”

“What do you plan to do?” Judy looked up from the television and patted Cora’s knee.
Cora pushed her hair behind her ears. “A good place to start would be to go home and take time to figure out what to do and how to make amends with Mom and Dad. I want them to forgive me.”

“I hope they’re ready. You could not have predicted the future,” Ben said tenderly.

“I’m tired of this wedge between us. Three years is a long time, but I’ve feared the arguments that will, without a doubt, occur.”

Judy nodded. “That’s the mature thing to do.”

“I hope so, Mom.”

With her mind made up, Cora felt a load lifted off her shoulders, like at the end of a tornado warning. Though she still hoped deep inside things would change before she left for Florida, she doubted they would.

Where can readers learn more information about you?

Readers can read the rest of Chapter One and see the book trailer at my website on the Song of the Meadowlark page.

Here are my main links:
http://sherriwilsonjohnson.com 

https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Author-Sherri-Wilson-Johnson/138396456193536 
https://twitter.com/#!/swj_thewriter  

http://nicoleodell.com/sherri-wilson-johnson-on-inspiring-purity 
http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5233294.Sherri_Wilson_Johnson
http://sherrijinga.wordpress.com

Thank you so much for hosting me today!
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GIVEAWAY!
  Sherri has generously offered to giveaway not one but FIVE eBook copies of Song of the Meadowlark!! Just leave a comment with your email address to be entered in the giveaway. Be sure to check the sidebar (under Winner Announcement) after the giveaway is over to see if you've won. The winner must contact me by going to my "Contact Me" page and sending me an email. 

For extra entries: 
~Be a follower +1 
~Add my button to your blog +1
 ~Post about this giveaway +2
~Be a subscriber +2
~Tweet +1
~Post on Facebook +1
(please leave a separate comment for each extra entry)

Giveaway ends on Saturday, February 2, 2013 at midnight (Eastern time). Winner will be chosen through Random.org,

Monday, January 7, 2013

Author Interview and Giveaway: A God for All Seasons by Patti Tingen

Welcome to the CBRB, Patti! Thank you for being here! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

    Thanks, Aizess. I’m very pleased to be here! I live in beautiful Lancaster County, Pennsylvania with my husband Doug and our cat Braveheart. Working full-time keeps me busy along with serving in various ministry positions at my church that have included prayer, teaching and serving as an elder. I love animals, music and nature. And I am humbled and amazed to have written two books. God truly had dreams for me that I knew nothing about!

When did you first discover that you loved writing?
   
    I would have to say as I was in the midst of writing my first book.  What started out as a simple desire to preserve the stories of my incredible cat Knickerbocker, turned into something far greater than I would have ever imagined. He Was Never a Cat: Knick’s Story, My Story, Your Story became an incredible adventure as I honed my writing skills and formed lasting relationships throughout the writing, publishing and marketing process.

Why do you write the type of books that you do?

    As I have continued on my spiritual journey and allowed God to deepen my faith, I have seen how He has used my experiences to encourage and bless others. Through many teaching opportunities at my church, God has blessed my words of personal experience and testimony to impact others in a positive way. He has now transferred those spoken words to written text but my ministry remains the same—to use my life experience to teach, encourage and bless others through writing inspirational, non-fiction books.

What was your greatest obstacle in writing and how did you overcome it?

    Probably understanding that I didn’t need to panic when I couldn’t find the words. Over time, I learned to trust the Holy Spirit to guide my thoughts and let my writing flow from Him—in His timing.

Has writing changed your life in any way?

    Writing has changed my life tremendously! Through involvement in conferences, vendor shows and a writer’s group on the Internet, I now have friends from around the world who have been blessed and encouraged by my words. I am forever grateful for their love and friendship.

What Bible scripture has impacted your life the most?

    My favorite scripture verse is Philippians 2:14-15. “Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe.” While I can’t say that I always do everything without complaining, the thought of shining like a bright star in a darkened world brings me great joy!

Is there a book you’ve read that has been truly spectacular?

    In 1997, I read The Final Quest by Rick Joyner and my life has never been the same. At that time, God was calling me to a deeper relationship and that book was pivotal in my choice to give myself fully to Him. It has been quite the adventure since then!

What’s the funniest/quirkiest thing you’ve ever done?

    This is really quite embarrassing. At my very first book signing for He Was Never a Cat, a gentleman asked me to sign a book for his daughter and incorporate her great love for her two cats. For some unknown reason, I got the impression that the cats were now deceased so I wrote my message about them in the past tense. With obvious disbelief and showing great restraint, the man asked me to revise a word in an effort to correct my error.
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Please tell us about the featured book.

    A God for All Seasons: Inspiration and Reflection for All Times takes the reader on a yearlong journey, month by month. Starting with winter, the book moves through the natural seasons of the year. Each chapter then correlates with a month, starting with December, and offers personal testimony and insights for the various spiritual seasons that we all experience. The theme of the book is that God’s love and presence is with us through every time and every season of our lives.

Can you please give us the first page?
   
    Sure! This is the Introduction:

“There is a time for everything,
a season for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to kill and a time to heal.
A time to tear down and a time to rebuild.  
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
A time to grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
A time to search and a time to lose.
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear and a time to mend.
A time to be quiet and a time to speak up.
A time to love and a time to hate.
A time for war and a time for peace.”     

                    Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (NLT)

    Life is never static. Physical, emotional, financial and spiritual ups and downs are all a part of this journey called life. More than ever before, I’m seeing how God is with us for the entire journey, through all of the highs and lows.
    The seasons of the year have often been used as pictures of life; I think the months are also such pictures. Walk with me through the seasons and their months, no matter where you need to start—by the calendar or by your life-season.
    Much of my adulthood has been peppered with a variety of struggles and times spent in the cold winter season. As I am now emerging into the warmth and light of spring, I’m realizing that I have learned well how to exist in the darkness. My desire is also to flourish in the blooming seasons.
    Please join me in this year of exploration and reflection. May you find hope and encouragement in every month—and in every season.
    It’s time.

Where can readers learn more information about you?

On my Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/patti.tingen
   
On my Facebook author page: http://www.facebook.com/PattiTingenAuthor

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GIVEAWAY!
  Patti has kindly offered to giveaway a print copy of A God for All Seasons! Just leave a comment with your email address to be entered in the giveaway. Giveaway is available to U.S. residents only. Be sure to check the sidebar (under Winner Announcement) after the giveaway is over to see if you've won. The winner must contact me by going to my "Contact Me" page and sending me an email. 

For extra entries: 
~Be a follower +1 
~Add my button to your blog +1
 ~Post about this giveaway +2
~Be a subscriber +2
~Tweet +1
~Post on Facebook +1
(please leave a separate comment for each extra entry)

Giveaway ends on Saturday, January 19, 2013 at midnight (Eastern time). Winner will be chosen through Random.org,

Author Interview and Giveaway: The Day the World Retreated by Jim Armstrong

Welcome to the CBRB, Jim! Thank you for being here! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I am an applied mathematician by training, a tennis player by choice, and a Christian writer by God’s grace

When did you first discover that you loved writing?

In high school.  Every time I found inspiration from something, I wanted to write about it.  My first serious foray into the field was authoring and copyrighting two sequels to the original Star Wars movie.

Why do you write the type of books that you do?

I like to think of myself as a futurist.  I’ve always enjoyed science fiction and speculations about life in the future.  It’s easy to create situations in the distant future because the bar for believability is low and you are likely never to be held accountable for the prediction.

Speculating about the near future is much more difficult since the near future always arrives during our lifetime   It’s also more though-provoking and that’s the hook for me.  I want people to think about their lives and the course of society in the near future.  How can you change?  How can you influence society in a positive manner?  What is the role of God in your life?

I want to tell stories that entertain and encourage thought.  Entertainment, however, always fades.  Inspiration and hope transform lives.  That’s my ultimate desire - to transform lives.

What was your greatest obstacle in writing and how did you overcome it?

Time.  Writing is time consuming.  Writing well is very time consuming.  Writing with even a small glimmer of hope of having the story read by many people is extraordinarily time consuming.  Giving up that time means giving up income and family interactions that may never be recovered.

At some point, you must believe that if you are lead to tell a story, then the story will eventually make its way to the right people.  Just follow God’s leading and leave the details of life in His hands.  That’s how the story was written.

Has writing changed your life in any way?

Yes.  It’s given me insight into a completely new industry and a greater appreciation of what every professional author endures to bring a story to the world. 

The feedback I’ve received from the story has been very uplifting.  Money is the secular measure of a book’s success.  If that’s the case, then the first few months of marketing The Day The World Retreated has not placed me in any A-list of elite authors.  I’m probably not in the B- or C-list either 

When I hear the reaction from readers, however, I realize that the positive effect on someone’s life is far more rewarding than the effect on my wallet.

What Bible scripture has impacted your life the most?

Not so much a particular scripture as two stories.  The fundamental thesis of the book is that true hope comes through faith.  Faith and hope of a single individual can change the world.  The story of Joseph always intrigued me as someone who had no rational basis for hope, yet his faith ultimately propelled him to a position of world influence.

The Day The World Retreated is also full of subtle ironies.  The greatest irony in the Bible seems to be Solomon.  Imagine a person who by every worldly measure obtained more of anything than anyone in history.  Yet, in the end, the great irony was his conclusion about wealth, power, accumulation, and indulgence in worldly desires.

Vanity.  All is vanity.

Is there a book you’ve read that has been truly spectacular?

You’re probably not going to like this, but I don’t read much, mostly due to lack of time.  The last book I read that still leaves an impression decades later is Clive Cussler’s Sahara.  The movie did not come anywhere close to the book.

What’s the funniest/quirkiest thing you’ve ever done?

Okay, this is the point where I change my name.  I’m rather absent-minded and often given to a very singular focus on the task at hand.  One day at work, I was reading a program printout while walking through the hallway on my way to the bathroom.  I was trying to identify a bug and focused so hard on a few lines of code that I walked right into the women’s bathroom 

Buy At Amazon
Please tell us about the featured book.

The Day The World Retreated is a futuristic thriller set in the year 2016.  With all the focus on the supposed end of the world on Dec. 21, 2012, I wanted to ask the more relevant question of ‘what happens when we all wake up on Dec. 22 and the world is continuing on its present course?’

This segues into where we place our hope for the future.  What is our inner happiness based upon?  Most people derive happiness from external circumstances such as people, places, wealth, and power.  The story centers around two men with strong ideas about what leads to happiness.  They ruthlessly pursue their desires with an unending passion, but only one receives his true desires and in a most unexpected manner.  This man’s experience illustrates that true hope comes through faith and true inner happiness is not derived from external circumstances.

The story is full of plot twists and ironies; expect only the unexpected.  The surprise ending is not revealed until the final paragraphs of the Epilogue.

From a style perspective, the story combines an intricate weave through time reminiscent of a Clive Cussler novel with a futuristic, though-provoking storyline popularized by Gene Roddenberry in the original Star Trek series.

As an aside, it’s not really a traditional sci-fi, so don’t let the sci-fi references sway you one way or the other.

Can you please give us the first page?

I’ll do much more than that.  You can have a special, extended three-chapter preview that includes the press release and synopsis.  That is NOT available online anywhere else! (Note: If this link doesn't work on your computer, try looking at it on an electronic device such as a phone or an iPod.)

http://bereanmemorialchurch.org/tdtwr_3.pdf

Where can readers learn more information about you?

Point your friendly, neighborhood browser to this URL  -  http://tdtwr.wordpress.com/ 


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GIVEAWAY!
  Mr. Armstrong is pleased to offer a special promotion to readers of CBRB, but you must act fast.  The first five people to purchase the Kindle version of The Day The World Retreated from Amazon will actually get paid to read the book!  (Don't fret if you don't have a Kindle; you can read Kindle books on your PC [For more info on how click Here].) This is a great time to order the book on Amazon since Mr. Armstrong recently added an alternate ending to the story exclusively for Amazon customers.

After ordering, please forward the proof of purchase from Amazon to Mr. Armstrong at vfx2112 [at] hotmail [dot] com.  Mr. Armstrong will reward the first five people to respond with either a $10 gift card or a direct deposit to your Paypal account.  Please provide either your mailing address or Paypal account in the email.

It's that simple!  Act quickly and not only will you be entertained and inspired but actually get paid to read!
Be sure to check the sidebar (under Winner Announcement) after the giveaway is over to see if you've won. The winner must contact me by going to my "Contact Me" page and sending me an email. 

For extra entries: 
~Be a follower +1 
~Add my button to your blog +1
 ~Post about this giveaway +2
~Be a subscriber +2
~Tweet +1
~Post on Facebook +1
(please leave a separate comment for each extra entry)

Giveaway ends on Saturday, January 19, 2013 at midnight (Eastern time). Winner will be chosen through Random.org,

Author Interview and Giveaway: Hailee by Penny Zeller

Welcome back to the CBRB, Penny! Thank you for being here! For those who were not able to enjoy your last interview, can you again give us a little information about you?

Hello Aizess, thank you for the privilege of having me back as your guest on the Christian Book Review Blog. I am a Christ follower, wife, mom, author, speaker, blogger, and volunteer. My most recent series is my Montana Skies Historical Romance Series and includes McKenzie, Kaydie, and Hailee.  I am also the author of 77 Ways Your Family Can Make a Difference, and three other books. When I’m not dreaming up new characters, I enjoy spending time with my family and camping, hiking, canoeing, and playing volleyball.

Is there a particular genre you enjoy reading/writing and why is it your favorite?

My favorite genre, both to read and to write is historical romance (surprise, surprise!) I especially love the time period between the mid 1800s and the first decade of the 1900s.

Can you tell us two or three things that most readers don’t know about you?

What a fun question to answer, Aizess! *grins* Let’s see, I think one of the most interesting things would be how I met my husband Lon, of 20 years. I met him through a prank phone call when my sister, cousin, and I found his football picture in the newspaper and decided to call him one day. I thought he was just the cutest! (He went to a neighboring school and was a football player, while I was a cheerleader at my school). We met in person for the first time the following week at the local gas station. Lon rode up on his motorcycle and I drove up in my old-fashioned high school clunker. Our eyes met…and the rest, as they say, is history!

As for the second thing most readers don’t know about me… hmm, let’s see…when I was a kid, I made up this romantic suspense series in my mind where the main character was the handsome and fictional police officer, Josh McClain. Each day, my younger sister and cousin would excitedly ask me what was going on in Josh’s life (and in the life of the main female character) and what crimes Josh had solved.

I loved telling my sister and cousin stories about Josh McClain that I had made up in my mind from the night before (usually when I should have been sleeping!) and leaving them at a cliffhanger until I could make up some more details the following night.

What five things do you love/like the most?

Of the things I love, I love these the most…
  1. Jesus;
  2. My husband and kids;
  3. Flowers (especially daisies and petunias) and trees (especially aspens and pines);
  4. Mountain air; and
  5. Candy hot tamales. 
If you could meet one person (besides Jesus, because who doesn’t want to meet Him!), who would you choose? 

Great question! I would have to say it would be a three-way toss-up between Helen Keller, George Washington, and Peter in the Bible.

What is your favorite Bible story? 

The story of Joseph of the Old Testament has always been my favorite Bible story. I love how God took something meant for bad and turned it for good.

How do you choose your characters names? 

Unique character names, especially for my female characters, are my favorite. I choose names that I would name my own children if I had a dozen more daughters, lol!

For my male characters, Biblical names and strong masculine names find their way into my books.

If you weren’t an author, what would your dream job be?

Besides being a wife and mom, of course, I would have to say my dream job would be to be a talk show host on a Christian talk show.

Do you have any books that are soon-to-be-released that we should keep an eye out for?

I am currently working on a historical romance series that takes place right after the Civil War. I’m excited to introduce a new cast of characters to my readers!

Buy At Amazon
Please tell us about the featured book.

For years, orphan Hailee Annigan was just a ragamuffin in the Cincinnati streets, stealing food to keep her two younger brothers fed. Her thievery landed her in a home for delinquent youngsters, where her life was changed, thanks to her teachers. Now, nineteen-year-old Hailee excitedly heads to Montana to be a teacher, yet she's still plagued by her shameful past and the fear of never seeing her brothers again.

Based on his upbringing in high-society Boston, no one would have guessed that Nate Adams would attend seminary and become a church pastor in rugged Montana. Even now, Nate's parents refuse to put aside their own plans for his future and accept his calling. 

When their paths converge, an immediate attraction draws Hailee and Nate together, even as the pressures and demands of others pull them apart. Can the unlikely pair come to terms with their pasts and face the future together?

The book trailer for Hailee can be seen here http://youtu.be/LEGoM43jtwA

Can you please give us the first page? Absolutely!

July 1893 • Cincinnati, Ohio

Hailee Annigan removed the discolored sheet of paper from the community board in the train depot. Time and weather had faded the poster, so the message was barely readable, but she had memorized the words:

Looking for Philip and Reuben Annigan.
If you have any information, kindly respond to:
Hailee Annigan c/o Dot Pangbourn’s Boardinghouse
West Eberlee Street, Cincinnati, Ohio

She crumpled the paper in her hand and stuffed it into her purse. In its place, she posted the notice she’d written that morning, then stepped back to make sure it would be conspicuous to people passing by or preparing to board a train. 

Looking for Philip and Reuben Annigan.
If you have any information, kindly respond to:
Hailee Annigan c/o Pine Haven School Pine Haven, Montana

Excerpt from Chapter One of Hailee by Penny Zeller, © 2011, with permission of the publisher, Whitaker House.

Where can readers learn more information about you? I love to connect with my readers:

On my blog: “A Day in the Life of a Wife, Mom, & Author” www.pennyzeller.wordpress.com
On my website: www.pennyzeller.com
On my Facebook page: www.facebook.com/pennyzellerbooks
On Twitter: https://twitter.com/PennyZeller

Thank you again, Aizess, for allowing me to once again be your guest. I appreciate your willingness to connect readers and authors.

May you have a Happy New Year!
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GIVEAWAY!
  Readers, here's your chance to win a book by Penny: Hailee, the third book in Penny's Montana Skies series! Just leave a comment with your email address to be entered in the giveaway. Giveaway is available to U.S. residents only. Be sure to check the sidebar (under Winner Announcement) after the giveaway is over to see if you've won. The winner must contact me by going to my "Contact Me" page and sending me an email. 

For extra entries: 
~Be a follower +1 
~Add my button to your blog +1
 ~Post about this giveaway +2
~Be a subscriber +2
~Tweet +1
~Post on Facebook +1
(please leave a separate comment for each extra entry)

Giveaway ends on Saturday, January 19, 2013 at midnight (Eastern time). Winner will be chosen through Random.org,

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The Top Ten Christian Fiction Books of 2012 and CBRB Awards

2012 has been a great year-- especially in the Christian fiction publishing industry. So many great books have been released this past year! I want to thank all the publishers and authors who provided many of the wonderful books I was privileged to read and review; and I ask forgiveness from those publishers and authors whose books I was not able to review this year due mostly to a lack of time. And THANK YOU to all the authors who extended the privilege of featuring them on CBRB (Christian Book Review Blog)! I owe much of the success of this blog's first year to you, authors, who took the time to answer my questions and who were generous in offering giveaways. Again, a BIG Thank You!

Um, what was the topic of this post-- oh, right, my top ten list;-) The following is my top ten favorite books of 2012, starting with number ten:

#10: Love In Disguise by Carol Cox

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A unique glimpse into the world of acting, Love In Disguise takes the Pinkerton detective agency to another notch! Intrigue, mystery, humor, and a dash of romance-- a riveting novel wrapped in a lovely cover. 

#9: Sneak by Evan Angler

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The much anticipated sequel to Swipe, Sneak delivers the "punch" you've been waiting for. A great plot and high-strung emotion await you between the covers of this book. And the ending has that BANG! every reader wishes for. A real winner! I'm greatly anticipating the third installment in the Swipe Series.

#8: Swipe by Evan Angler

Read My Review
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#7: A Texan's Choice by Shelley Gray

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A down-to-earth look into the heart of a Texan gunslinger! Shelley has truly out-done herself with the hero, Scout Proffit. This book is a winner, if for no other reason than Scout (the hero). And the secondary characters were a great addition to an already wonderful book.

#6: Forsaking All Others by Allison Pittman

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For Time and Eternity, the prequel to Forsaking All Others, made it to my Top Ten list last year and it's no wonder that Forsaking All Others acquired a spot this year because, well, this book (and For Time and Eternity) is PHENOMENAL! This series (the Sister-Wife series) is definitely the best series I've read to date. My heart was fully invested in these characters-- I mean, fully. The prose is bea-u-ti-ful and the pages are full of such emotion and feeling that my emotions were in an uproar. If you read no other book in 2013, read these two books-- I am sure that you will not be disappointed. The only reason Forsaking All Others  is sixth on my list is because of the incomplete ending and I've heard no word of another installment, BUT do not let this hinder your interest in these books. Every minute spent in these pages are worth it.

#5: A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California by Keli Gwyn

Read My Review
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#4: The New Recruit by Jill Williamson

Read My Review
Buy At Amazon

#3: Against the Tide by Elizabeth Camden

Read My Review
Buy At Amazon

#2: A Home in Drayton Valley by Kim Vogel Sawyer

Read My Review
Buy At Amazon

#1: The 13: Fall by Robbie Cheuvront and Erik Reed

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The 13: Fall was-- WOW! Phenomenal! Robbie Cheuvront and Erik Reed have done a wonderful job on this political thriller-- and a thriller it was. Full of emotion, suspense, and mystery. And political drama, complete with paid assassins! This was a definite page-turner and winner.

Why? Because the plot really surpassed my expectations and more. And not just the plot, but I connected with the characters and journeyed with them through their joys and pains-- especially Keene's. I loved his spiritual and physical change (attitude, view on God, etc...). And the suspense and intrigue! Edge-of-your-seat! Literally!

What made this book even more special was the fact that it dealt with something very dear to me: the future of America and how this country's rejection of God is piling up judgement for us. I don't know how many times I cried when reading this possible scenario of America's future unfold. It prompted me to pray even more earnestly for America and our authorities.

This book evoked all types of emotions from me: laughter, tears, anger, exhilaration, and ultimately an awareness of my continuous need of God. A book that prompts me to pray more earnestly for my beloved country definitely deserves top place-- and a book that leaves me laughing and crying at the same time when I read the last word deserves top place all the more. This, and many other reasons, is why The 13: Fall has earned first place in my top ten books of 2012. 
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CBRB Best Hero Award goes to... Scout Prroffit from A Texan's Choice by Shelley Gray

CBRB Best Heroine Award goes to... Camilla Fox from For Time and Eternity by Allison Pittman and Forsaking All Others by Allison Pittman

CBRB Best Child Award goes to... Tildy from A Bride Opens Shop In El Dorado, California by Keli Gwyn

CBRB Best Plot Award goes to... The 13: Fall by Robbie Cheuvront and Erik Reed

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Honorable Mentions 
~ No Safe Harbor by Elizabeth Ludwig
~ The Anniversary Waltz by Darrel Nelson
~ The Wedding Dress by Rachel Hauck 
~ The Maid of Fairbourne Hall by Julie Klassen
~ My Stubborn Heart by Becky Wade
~ Replication by Jill Williamson
~ The Scent of Cherry Blossoms by Cindy Woodsmall