Monday, December 30, 2013

The Guardian's Promise by Christina Rich ends January 6th



 Please welcome my friend, amazing web consultant, and wonderful author, Christina Rich to my blog this week. I'm so honored to have her here with me. Christina is giving away a copy of her new release. (If you win you'll be one of the first she sends her new book out to when she receives them in the mail!) Be sure to answer this question. 'Has a fiction book ever spoken to you spiritually and if so how?' Or leave a comment. Don't forget to leave your email and let me know if you are a follower for an extra entry!

The Message Within
I’ve always loved reading. Books like The Outsiders, The Jungle, The Great Gatsby, The Hobbit as well as many other classics lined my bookshelves. I loved the stories unfolded on the pages, loved being taken to another time and place.  Loved looking for the hidden messages within.
As writers, those messages within are important, they help tie all those words forming the story together. Sometimes they’re obvious, other times not so much. And sometimes they’re for the writer as much as they are for the reader.
Back in 2009, while sitting in church, inspiration took over with a simple question (and yes I believe it was God): What would happen if a bond servant fell in love with his master’s daughter? Oh, wait, what would happen if that bond servant was no servant but in truth a captain of the temple guard in charge of guarding a secret child king from his murderous grandmother?
I spent the rest of that afternoon plotting the story, which flowed out easier than any story I’d ever plotted. I started writing it the next day. Fifty-five days and seventy-five thousand words later The Guardian’s Promise was complete in rough draft form.  That book received a partial request late 2011 and due to a technical glitch (or was it) I didn’t receive the revision letter with the full request until mid-July. By this time our family was dealing with a troubled, incarcerated teen, but I was determined to sell this book, which meant pleasing the editor. I wanted to see my dream of publishing come true.
It was a monumental task trying to get the creativity flowing while dealing with the emotional ups and downs of my son being in a juvenile detention center. A huge part of me just wanted to curl in a ball and wallow in self-pity in order to cope with the disturbing thoughts. Where had we gone wrong? Did we miss a Sunday? Miss a tithe? Is that why it seemed God had abandoned us in what seemed like a great time of need?
But check out this excerpt from The Guardian’s Promise less than fifty pages in:
Questioning God’s faithfulness did not set well in his soul. He knew once the questioning began, it would soon fester and eat away at his heart. Ari fought the urge to bury his face into his hands. Instead, he stared into the great void and waited for some sort of reprimand from God Himself.
The quiet was only interrupted by the bleating of a goat. Still, he waited, for God’s peace to cloak him. Just as he was about to give up and seek his sleep, a star streaked across his vision and faded into the dark night. He recalled a psalm memorized from childhood.
The Lord doth build up Jerusalem: he gathereth together the outcasts of Israel. He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds. He telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names. Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite. The Lord lifteth up the meek; he casteth the wicked down to the ground.(Psalm 147:2-6 KJV)
If the Most High, in all of His greatness, cared to name even the stars and knew their number, would He not remember Ari?

WHOA! Isn’t all this just like God? He sent me, the writer, a message at the exact time I needed it. He hadn’t forgotten us. Not at all. He even cared enough to send me this little reminder in such a huge way, even promising to bind up the brokenhearted. What makes this even more awesome is that when I wrote the rough draft I didn’t have the scriptures added in, just little notes here and there saying look for one that might fit. When I was revising, nearly two years before, I did a search of stars in the scriptures, this one fit so perfectly that I knew right then the story I was writing could only have been orchestrated by God. I just didn’t realize that he’d orchestrated it for me. I won’t lie to you, I stared at those lines and then I wept. God is so very faithful, even causing a technical glitch. The Guardian’s Promise sold almost a year to the day of its initial request, almost three years to the day after I wrote those words.



The Guardian’s Promise Blurb
A Kingdom in Jeopardy
An evil queen and her royal guards will stop at nothing to find—and kill—the rightful heir to the throne of Judah. When their pursuit leads them to Mira’s village, only her father’s bond servant, Ari, a man shrouded in secrets, can keep Mira safe.
Abandoning his life as a temple guard and becoming an indentured servant was the only way Ari could protect young Joash, the true King of Judah, from Queen Athaliah. But his sacred duty prevents him from confessing his feelings for his master’s daughter. With the future of their nation on the line, Ari and Mira will risk everything to save their people.


MORE ABOUT CHRISTINA:
When she was younger, Christina tried to dig herself to China, loved Three Billy Goats Gruff, and had an obsession with maps. She gave up her dig to China but still jumps at the chance to travel even if it’s just down the road. She loves watching modern takes of fairytales and mythologies on the big screen and still has a huge obsession with maps. The older the better.
Born and raised in Kansas, where she currently lives with her husband and children, Christina loves to read stories with happily ever afters, research,  take photos, knit scarves, dig into her ancestry, fish, visit the ocean, write stories with happily ever afters and talk about her family and Jesus.
Her debut novel, The Guardian’s Promise, releases from Love Inspired March 2014.

DOUBLE YOUR CHANCES OF WINNING by following my blog with Powered by FEEDBURNER on the right, and don't miss any giveaways (the button with the flame). If you already follow my blog go ahead and follow by FEEDBURNER so you can be entered twice. If you're not getting an email telling you I have a new giveaway you're not following through Feedburner. Just mention that you follow through Feedburner when you leave a comment with each giveaway and you'll be entered twice.

Be sure to leave your email address. Please check your junk mail on and the day after the drawing. I've had to redraw because of no responses. Subject box will have: winner of (book title). I'll email the winner and they'll have seven days to respond. If I don't hear back I'll draw another name. USA shipping only. Thanks so much and please stop back again! Drawing will be held Monday, January 6th at 8:00 A.M. EST. Offer void where prohibited. Odds of winning vary due to the number of entrants.


Monday, December 23, 2013

A Cup of Christmas Cheer by Marilyn Turk, Carrie Fancett Pagels, and Carla Olson Gade ENDS December 30th



Marilyn Turk, Carrie Fancett Pagels, and Carla Olson Gade here, bringing you a little Cup of Christmas Cheer!

Thank you for having us on your blog, Debbie! As co-contributors to A Cup of Christmas Cheer from Guideposts Books we each enjoyed the opportunity to write one of the sixteen heartwarming stories for Christmas for the two-volume set. Each of us thought we’d share why we wrote our stories and we hope you’ll enjoy hearing about them.

We are giving away one set of the books and hope that others will purchase a copy for yourself or a gift. The first run of 30,000 sets was sold out in a matter of weeks and they now have more in stock. Be sure to pick up a set or two while they are still available!


A word from Marilyn ~ First, let me say that I’m delighted that Debbie asked us to talk about our Christmas stories in A Cup of Christmas Cheer. I am thrilled and honored that my story is part of the collection.

A Stranger’s Visit to the Lighthouse by Marilyn Turk:  My story is about the young wife of a lighthouse keeper who is about to give birth to her first child. When her husband goes to town to get her mother for a Christmas visit, a winter storm hits, leaving the very pregnant wife alone, frightened and worried about her husband and her baby. She searches Scripture for comfort, while at the same time, her husband and mother, stranded in town, pray for her protection and peace. The unexpected arrival of a stranger whose boat wrecks near the lighthouse proves to be the answer to their prayers. The Bible verse, “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” Hebrews 13:2, came to mind as I wrote the story, “A Stranger’s Visit to the Lighthouse.”

So why did I write the story I wrote? Well, it relates to the blog I started writing two years ago about one of my favorite things, lighthouses. Each week, I tell a story about a different lighthouse. These stories, some nonfiction and some historical fiction, became devotionals when Bible verses kept popping into my head as I wrote. While doing research for the blog, I developed a connection to the people who lived at lighthouses. That connection led to ideas for novels, and to date, I’ve written two, yet-to-be-published books for my lighthouse series.

When I heard that Guideposts was looking for Christmas stories with a classic, traditional feel, I
immediately thought of a story set at a lighthouse. My husband and I had the opportunity to serve
as volunteer light keepers at a darling little lighthouse on an island off the coast of Maine, and
while there, I was swept back into time, imagining what life would have been like back in the
1800’s. It is the Little River Light, in Cutler, Maine that I had in mind when I wrote my story!

Marilyn Turk has been published in Guideposts magazine, A Joyful Heart (Guideposts
devotional book), The Upper Room, Clubhouse Jr., several Chicken Soup for the Soul books, and has written three novels awaiting publication. Fascinated by lighthouses, she created a weekly lighthouse blog @ http://marilynturk.com. She lives in Florida with husband Chuck and enjoys fishing and tennis when she’s not climbing lighthouses or playing with her three grandsons.


Now about Carrie’s Story ~

Snowed In by Carrie Fancett Pagels: Set in the upper peninsula of Michigan, 19-year-old Eliza’s three younger sisters show up at her second job, seemingly abandoned by their father, after their mother’s death. Her wounded WWII veteran sweetheart takes the girls to his ailing grandmother’s log cabin near the lumber camp where they’d grown up. Although Henry promises to return for Christmas eve, the roads are quickly closed off by a blizzard. Can he make it back for Christmas when his car won’t start and his snowshoe straps break? And will a tender love bloom to a promise? 

I wrote my story because I heard about the project and immediately thought of this story I had in my head from years ago. I had written it out as a possible chapter in a WWII story I had put aside about five years ago. “Snowed In” was inspired by a story my mom told me about how she and my father, then newlyweds, took in two of her sisters (both kids--my youngest aunt was in elementary school.) My grandfather was going back to Kentucky after my grandmother died and my mom, then 19, told him he was NOT taking those girls back there (he also planned to return.) My mom was kind of a passive person when I was growing up so when I heard this story it resonated with me. She had a good reason she wanted those sisters to stay. In 1945 my dad had just returned from WWII, a wounded vet.  My mom would have only been 15 then. One of my dad's stories that similarly stuck with me was of him spending his birthday during the Battle of the Bulge with frozen coffee and wondering if he'd ever get home. Bottom line: I had a fun time "spending time" with my family, most of whom are in heaven now. The two little girls, Nellie and Jean, are inspired by my aunts, one battling cancer now and the other leukemia and Alzheimers. But in this story they are sweet little girls spending time with an adorable grandmother who isn't even their own! That's the fun thing about fiction!

Carrie Fancett Pagels is author of an Amazon top-rated Civil War novella, Return to Shirley Plantation: A Civil War Romance. Carrie also contributed to God’s Provision in Tough Times, Lighthouse of the Carolinas (July, 2013). Her short story, Snowed In: A Northwoods Christmas, appears in Guidepost Books “A Cup of Christmas Cheer” (October, 2013). With a Ph.D. in School Psychology, Carrie served as a psychologist for twenty-five years. Carrie is the former ACFW Zone Mid-Atlantic Zone Director and Virginia/West Virginia Area Coordinator and continues to serve as co-hostess of the Tidewater Area Christian Writers group. Married for over 25 years to the love of her life, she resides in Virginia’s historic triangle. She has an 11-year-old son and a 24-year-old daughter. Carrie has two popular group blogs: Overcoming with God and Colonial Quills. Website: www.carriefancettpagels.com

Greetings from Carla ~

Upon a Christmas Tree Schooner by Carla Olson Gade - A ship’s captain takes his schooner for his last haul of the season upon icy Lake Michigan to return with Christmas trees for the German immigrants in his town of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. His journey leads to an unexpected surprise of hope and healing for him and his grieving wife—a Christmas gift to treasure for years to come.

When I was invited to write a story for Guidepost Books new Christmas collection I knew I wanted to write about something timeless, that could resonate with the readers and become a treasured Christmas tale to enjoy. I heard about the Christmas tree ship Rousse Simmons that sank in Lake Michigan in 1912. I became intrigued how lumber schooner captains would risk so much to go out on the icy waters late in the season to bring back Christmas trees for the communities around the Great Lakes. They had been doing this since the last part of the 19th century. I didn’t want to retell the tragedy of the Rousse Simmons, but of one of the other schooners and make it a tale of Christmas hope. I invite you to visit my Pinterest Story Board to learn more.

Carla Olson Gade writes adventures of the heart with historical roots. A multi-published author of inspirational historical romance, her books include best-selling Mistletoe Memories, Pattern for Romance, The Shadow Catcher’s Daughter, Colonial Courtships, and the popular A Cup of Christmas Cheer. Carla writes from her home in rural Maine where she resides with her family. Visit Carla at her website  or Adventures of the Heart blog.

A Cup of Christmas Cheer, available exclusively from Guidepost Books: www.shopguideposts.org/new-releases/a-cup-of-christmas-cheer.html

Monday, December 9, 2013

For Such a Moment by Marie Coutu ends December 23rd

PLEASE WELCOME MARIE COUTU TO MY BLOG. SHE IS GIVING AWAY AN E-COPY OF HER BOOK, FOR SUCH A MOMENT. LEAVE A COMMENT WITH YOUR EMAIL ADDY TO BE ENTERED. AS ALWAYS, DON'T FORGET TO LET ME KNOW IF YOU ARE A FEEDBURNER FOLLOWER FOR AN EXTRA ENTRY. 

“How do you write a contemporary story based on biblical people?”
That’s a question I am often asked, right after, “how did you get the idea to write a novel about a modern-day Esther?” The latter question is easier to answer: like most writers, I find ideas for stories everywhere. A vacation to Williamsburg prompts a book idea about a character that lived there. An afternoon watching whitewater rafting and kayaking inspires a scene for a novel already in the works. A story told by a coworker over lunch is filed away in my idea list for use in a future book someday.
When I decided to get attention about writing a novel, I was reminded of the adage that there are no new stories, only the same stories told in new ways. Since I had long considered Queen Esther a great role model, I began to imagine what her life might be like if she lived in America in the Twenty-First Century. Because the basic elements of a story are present in the Bible, that seemed like a good place to start.
After I decided on a location and the character traits for Ellen, her story was relatively easy to plot. However, I needed to translate the story arc, conflict, and character journeys from an ancient story into believable situations of today. The foreign land I selected for her country of origin—one which I still have not visited—required extensive research. It’s a great compliment when people who have lived in or visited Guatemala say they can tell that I’ve been there!
The biblical record provides far less details in the stories of the characters I’ve selected for the next two books in the Mended Vessels series. We’re given a few hints, but not much in the way of back story or happy endings for the Samaritan woman at the well or for Bathsheba. But that means I have, literally, a blank page. I can develop the characters, the plot, the conflict, and take the story in any direction I want.
Or, I should say, in the direction the characters want to go. After all, that’s what we writers do—we tell the story that our characters want told.
In the case of the books I’m writing, I think my characters want to move across the centuries to bring their stories to life in a new way. I only hope I can be an adequate scribe.




For Such a Moment



“If I don’t do this … I might as well perish.”



Revealing her secret could save lives…or change hers forever. In this book that re-imagines the story of Queen Esther in a contemporary setting, Ellen Neilson enjoys her comfortable life as the wife of an American CEO. Having lived in America since the age of ten, she has forsaken her mixed heritage and kept aspects of her childhood secret. Her husband has become engrossed in his job, and she believes having a child will salvage their troubled marriage.



When her cousin Manuel, whom she hasn’t seen for twenty years, shows up as one of her husband’s managers, Ellen fears that her past will be revealed.  The company buys a banana plantation in her home country of Guatemala, and Manuel informs her that illegal pesticides have poisoned the water. People are dying, but she doesn’t know who’s to blame for the cover-up.



MORE ABOUT MARIE:

Marie Wells Coutu has written for newspapers, magazines, business, government, and nonprofit organizations. Her debut novel, For Such a Moment, won the Books of Hope Contest sponsored by Write Integrity Press and is the first in the Mended Vessels Series, contemporary stories based on Biblical women. She has lived in five different states and has worked for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association for fourteen years. She and her husband have two children and three grandsons.