Tuesday, October 4, 2016

If you live in Ohio, Tracie Peterson is coming your way with Kimberley Woodhouse in October. Thebook tour is the 11th-21st. Here's a list of the places they will be, so put it on your calendar if you live in the area. 

Oct 11 Lifeway Christian Bookstore in Cincinnati at 1pm
Inner Blessings Christian Books and Gifts, Cincinnati 4pm

Oct 12 Highland County Dist. Library, Hillsboro 1pm
Jackson City Library, 6pm

Oct 13 Praises Book Store, Chillicothe 1pm
Fairfield County Dist. Library, Lancaster 6pm

Oct 14 Pickerington Library, Pickerinton Noon
Guernsey County Library, Cambridge 3pm

Oct 15 Tuscarawas County Public Library, New Philadelphia 10 am
Gospel Bible Store, Berlin 2 pm

Oct 16 - Sunday no events

Oct 17 The Gospel Shop, Sugarcreek 10 am
Gospel Christian Life Shop, Mount Vernon 2pm

Oct 18 Lifeway Christian Store, Columbus North 10am
Plain City Public Library, Plain City 6pm

Oct 19 Lighthouse Christian Bookstore, Marysville 2pm

Oct 20 Beacon of Hope, Springfield 1pm

Oct 21 Piqua Public Library, Piqua 10:30
Bread of Life Christian Bookstore, Greenville 2pm

Monday, October 3, 2016

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

Biblical Fiction:  
Providence: Hannah's Journey by Barbara M. Britton -- When the prophet of Israel refuses to heal her, Hannah flees Jerusalem and is captured by an enemy with a curse all his own. (Biblical from Harbourlight [Pelican])  
Shadow of the Storm by Connilyn Cossette -- In defiance of her mother, Shira pursues her heart's calling to become an apprentice midwife. When a delivery goes horribly wrong, Shira finds herself bound to a man who betrayed her, the caretaker of three young children, and the target of a vengeful woman whose husband was killed by Shira's people, the Levites. As contention between the Hebrew tribes and the foreigners fans the flames of another dangerous rebellion, Shira will come face-to-face with the heartbreak of her past that she has kept hidden for so long. How can she let go of all that has defined her to accept the love she's denied herself and embrace who she truly is? (Biblical from Bethany House [Baker])

Christmas Novella:  
Christmas Lights by Chautona Havig, Vikki Kestell, Cathe Swanson, and April Hayman -- From historical romance to contemporary cozy mysteries and Christmas wonder, these four "light" reads will warm your heart and ignite your Christmas spirit! (Christmas Novella, Mixed Genres, Independently Published)

Contemporary Romance:  
Risking Love by Brenda S. Anderson -- Can cautious bank employee Lissa Morgan risk falling in love with a former thrill-seeker, a widowed single dad, when she may have to foreclose on his house? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)
A Mom for Christmas by Lorraine Beatty -- Noah's dream of a happy family and Beth's dream of a continuing ballet career are both dashed, but when they come together they discover that the Lord might have a new dream for both of them. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin]) Sleigh Bells Ring by Sandra D. Bricker, Barbara J. Scott, Lynette Sowell, and Lenora Worth -- Santa Claus is coming to town, and so are the Tucker sisters. The girls have inherited their father's run-down horse farm for Christmas. It needs some serious TLC in order to make it sell-ready. Joanna knows that by recruiting her sisters and one handsome ranch hand they can fix up the place and even celebrate one last Christmas while they're at it. However, to Isabella, returning to their home in Kentucky bluegrass country for Christmas seems like an impossible hurdle. Can her Chicago boyfriend make life merry and bright again? One thing's for sure: nothing is peace on earth for Sophia as a new beau brings up old wounds. And when the fate of the horse farm is put in jeopardy because Amy accidentally fraternizes with the enemy, tensions rise. But it's not like the land developer stole Christmas . . . just her heart. Can the Tucker sisters have themselves a merry little Christmas? (Contemporary Romance from Gilead Publishing)  
Do You Hear What I Hear? by Margaret Brownley -- Stranded at the old Star Inn until the road back to his cabin reopens, lumber mill owner Rick Talbot suddenly comes face to face with the past. The only woman he's ever loved is standing in front of the inn's blazing fire trying to get warm. Both Rick and Sally regret what happened between them years ago, but his family lumberyard clashes with her tree-hugging ways and neither is willing to try again. It will take the storm of the century, one stage-struck young boy, a certain meddling "angel"--and even a cranky cat--to convince them that in matters of the heart, sometimes the second time around is best. (Contemporary Romance from St. Martin Press)  
More Than a Tiara by Valerie Comer -- Marisa Hiller abandoned her modeling career to nurse a broken heart in Montana, far from the photographer who ruined everything. Her family farm is now part of a CSA program teaching gardening and cooking to single moms, but when the coordinator begs her to represent the program in the Miss Snowflake Pageant, Marisa balks. God has forgiven Jase Mackie but hasn't answered his prayer to bring Marisa back into his life… until Jase finds himself out West as the official photographer for a beauty pageant, face to face with the woman he's never forgotten. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)
 Room at the Inn for Christmas by Mary Connealy -- Ambitious hotel executive Amanda Star's has got her sights set on the CEO job at the multi-national Halston hotel chain. But then she inherits the Star Inn, a place her father had always wanted her to run alongside him. With no time to be away from her job, she rushes home to put the inn up for sale. Once there, she's struggles against keen regret, sweet memories, and the longing to return, which grows stronger when she is reunited with an old classmate: Anthony Carter, a handyman with a guarded heart. (Contemporary Romance from St. Martin Press)  
Can't Help Falling by Kara Isaac -- A funny, heartfelt romance about how an antique shop, a wardrobe, and a mysterious tea cup bring two C.S. Lewis fans together in a snowy and picturesque Oxford, England. (Contemporary Romance from Howard [Simon & Schuster])  
A Christmas Homecoming by Kimberly Rose Johnson -- Interior design assistant Bailey Calderwood suspects the mysterious admirer sending her cards and flowers is none other than the son of her unpleasable, bed-ridden boss. When Stephen Belafonte's mom demands he fire Bailey, can he find a way to heal the rift in his family as well his own heart, or will he be forced to let Bailey go? (Contemporary Romance from Mountain Brook Ink)  
Where Two Hearts Meet by Liz Johnson -- When Caden Holt's boss asks her to show off their own beautiful Prince Edward Island to impress a visiting travel writer and save the Red Door Inn, the reclusive executive chef is forced to face a world much bigger than her kitchen--and a man who makes her wish she was beautiful. (Contemporary Romance from Revell [A Division of Baker Publishing Group])  
Trust My Heart by Carol J. Post -- Grant McAllister, a jaded big-city lawyer and small-town reporter Jami Carlisle have no hope for finding true love--except for a zany old matchmaker who won't give up. In the unspoiled beauty of the Smoky Mountains, there's healing and forgiveness to be found. And for Grant, this unplanned detour may be just what's needed to finally guide him home. (Contemporary Romance from Waterfall Press)
 Insight by Deborah Raney -- She's having a baby. It's a blessing that brings comfort to newly widowed Olivia Cline. Yet with no insurance, no job and precious little money, how will Olivia care for herself and her child? The answer is a handsome and brooding artist seeking an assistant. Reed Vincent has recently regained his eyesight thanks to a donor. And through his eyes, Olivia begins to see all the possibilities before her. Before them. Until, in a flash of insight, she knows why his signature is so hauntingly familiar. (Contemporary Romance from Raney Day Press)
 Silver Bells by Deborah Raney -- As Elvis croons from the radio and Christmas descends upon a small Kansas town, two people find the miracle of love. (Contemporary Romance from Raney Day Press)  
A Family Under the Christmas Tree by Terri Reed -- In this heartwarming tale set during the Christmas season, a single father and a fashion photographer are brought together by a young boy and a mischievous Bernese mountain dog--but first they must learn to set aside their differences if they are willing to let their relationship bloom. (Contemporary Romance from Howard [Simon & Schuster])  
Third Strand of the Cord by Catherine Richmond -- Caroline will do anything to keep her ex-husband from putting her son with Down syndrome in an institution--even enroll the boy in a class taught by a know-it-all karate instructor. Lee Marivaux is an expert at reading people. He knows his feisty new student will thrive with firm guidance - and he's right. He pegs the boy's mother as a clueless socialite who loafs at the country club - and he's never been so wrong. When Caroline's abusive ex shows up, demanding custody, Lee and Caroline must join forces to keep the boy safe. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)  
Buying Love by Toni Shiloh -- Impatient for marriage, Nina Warrenton places an ad in the newspaper for a husband--attaching a monetary reward. But when she begins to fall for the small-town chef who answers her add, she realizes how much she wants him to love her and not her money. Dwight Williams needs fast cash to save the family restaurant, but can he let it go to prove his love for Nina? (Contemporary Romance from Celebrate Lit)  
Moonlight Over Manahttan by Carrie Turansky -- Professional organizer Sarah Montgomery is hired to organize her elderly neighbor's cluttered apartment by Justin Latimer, her neighbor's grandson. Sarah believes free-spirited Justin is a lazy, unemployed poet who is taking advantage of his grandmother's generosity. Though attracted to him, she guards her heart against her growing feelings. As Sarah and Justin work together to help his grandmother and enjoy Christmas events in NYC, romantic sparks fly. When Sarah discovers who Justin really is, she must decide if she will continue to hide behind her protective wall or open her heart and embrace love. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)  
Love Bears All Things by Beth Wiseman -- Charlotte Dolinsky needs time to recover after breaking up with her boyfriend, Ryan. But when a surprise visitor shows up on her doorstep in Texas, she's forced to put aside her own worries to help her Amish friends in Lancaster County. Daniel Byler struggles each day in his Amish community to heal from his fiancée's betrayal. When he discovers that a member of his family is in danger of being shunned, his pain turns to fear. His only way to help is by partnering with Charlotte, a woman he barely knows who has already deceived them all before. (Contemporary Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)

General Contemporary (includes Women's Fiction):  
Paint The Storm by Dawn V. Cahill -- When Meg is challenged to love her lesbian daughter as Christ would, she struggles to live out God's command, and when her daughter goes missing, she finds herself joined with the unlikeliest of allies in her search for Linzee, and finally learns of God's unconditional grace for sinners. (Contemporary Women's Fiction from Spring Mountain Publishing) Restoration Road by Elise Phillips -- Mallory Andrews's short trip back to Texas for her mother's funeral quickly becomes a move home to help her grieving father with his contracting business. When her old crush, Tres, hires them for a restoration project Mallory falls in love with the crumbling old house. And when feelings bloom between her and Tres, she finds herself on the road to a brand new, unexpected life filled with faith, sweet tea, and fresh paint. (General Contemporary from Desert Breeze Publishing)  
Above All Things by Deborah Raney -- Expecting their first baby, Judd and Evette McGlin are thrilled to become parents. But the couple faces the ultimate test when Judd learns he already has a child: a six-year-old mixed-race girl born amid secrets and lies. Now, Evette must decide if she can accept the child. She thought she was open-minded--until hidden prejudices threaten the future of an innocent little girl, Evette's marriage and the very notion of who she thinks she is. (Contemporary Women's Fiction from Raney Day Press)  
Restoring Christmas by Cynthia Ruchti -- Alexis set out to restore a fieldstone farmhouse in need of repair. She didn't expect to restore a life in the process. (General Contemporary from Worthy Inspired)  
Strings of Faith by Terry Stafford -- Darcy is a classically trained violinist who dreams of playing bluegrass and winning The National Oldtime Fiddle Contest in Weiser, Idaho. When tragedy strikes, Darcy lays her gift aside for her family and faces unimaginable pain and loss, leading to dissension with her husband, disappointing judgment from her church, and anger with God Himself. Can her gift of music survive when her life is turned upside down? (General Contemporary, Independently Published)

The Lost Generation by Erica Marie Hogan -- On August 5th 1914, the world changed forever. For John and Beth Young, it meant the happiness they finally achieved was snatched out from under them. For Emma Cote, it meant that her husband Jared would do his duty, despite her feelings. For Christy Simmons it meant an uncertain future with the boy she loved. The lives of six people, spread across the British Empire to America were changed forever. (Historical from Elk Lake Publishing Inc.)  
Aboard Providence by Keely Brooke Keith -- When an accident forces Jonah Ashton to serve as a ship's physician, he boards the Providence with the plan to escort a group of families to their new settlement in South America and then return to Pennsylvania to finish medical school before rumors of Southern rebellion erupt into all-out war. What he doesn't count on is getting lost at sea... and Marian Foster. When the settlers finally reach land, Jonah makes a startling discovery that changes everything, but will it change his heart? (Historical from Crossriver Media Group)

Historical Romance:  
The Rails to Love Romance Collection by Diana Lesire Brandmeyer, Amanda Cabot, Lisa Carter, Ramona K. Cecil, Lynn A. Coleman, Susanne Dietze, Kim Vogel Sawyer, Connie Stevens, and Liz Tolsma -- Journey the Transcontinental Railroad along with nine unlikely couples who encounter all the dangers and disappointments of traveling the rails in the late 1800s. From sight-seeing excursions to transports toward new lives, from orphan trains to circus trains, can romances develop into blazing love in a world of cold, hard steel? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)  
Cowboy Christmas Homecoming by Mary Connealy, Ruth Logan Herne, Julie Lessman, and Anna Schmidt -- For widow June Harper, another cold front is about to hit. Most call him Hugh. She'd call him Scrooge, except as the man ensures her needs are met, June can't help but wonder how to meet the needs of his heart. Netty Lewis can take care of herself, has for a while now. And even if Roy, her hired help for the holidays, does take care of her, that doesn't mean he cares for her or that he'll stay past Christmas. Pastor Colton McCabe is not sure he'll make it through the holidays with his new housekeeper. Grace can't seem to do anything right but love. Perhaps being a homekeeper will earn her a permanent residence in his heart. Connie Lancaster is determined to return to St. Louis, and no cowboy can change her mind. But if Isaac can change her heart, maybe Connie will see the homecoming she's been longing for isn't to a place but a person. (Historical Romance from Gilead Publishing)  
The Captive Heart by Michelle Griep -- Stranded in a strange land, Eleanor Morgan faces starvation or marriage . . . but who wants to marry a murderer? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing) The Rightful Heir by Angel Moore -- Cowboy Jared Ivy must work with stranger Mary Lou Ellison until a judge comes to town and determines which one of them is the rightful heir to his family's Texas newspaper. Intrepid reporter Mary Lou won't lose the Pine Haven Record--the legacy he left her--without a fight. But when she and Jared stop sparring long enough to investigate a story together, they become a force to be reckoned with. Will they let their battle over the Record get in the way of something even more newsworthy: true love? (Historical Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin]) Christmas at Stoney Creek by Martha Rogers -- When newspaper reporter Tom Whiteman befriends a homeless man named Joe, Tom decides to bring him home to Stoney Creek, Texas for Christmas. As Tom and his childhood friend Faith Delmont set out to learn the truth about the mysterious old man with the kind, sad eyes, they discover that God's love can turn tragedy and loss to triumph, and that true love comes to those who wait. (Historical Romance from Realms [Charisma Media])  

Another Day, Another Dali by Sandra Orchard -- In order to regain her grandmother's favor FBI Special Agent Serena Jones agrees to investigate a missing Salvador Dali painting. But when the evidence points to members of the owner's own household, it becomes clear that Serena won't be winning any popularity contests. Then Serena stumbles upon links to her grandfather's unsolved murder. (Mystery from Revell [A Division of Baker Publishing Group])

Romantic Suspense:  
Tangled Webs by Irene Hannon -- After a disastrous Middle East mission ends his six-year Army Ranger career, Finn McGregor needs some downtime in the woods. But when someone threatens his neighbor, publishing executive Dana Lewis, Finn and Dana must work together to discover who wants her to leave her lakeside cabin before it costs both their lives. (Romantic Suspense from Revell [A Division of Baker Publishing Group])  
Identity Unknown by Terri Reed -- When a John Doe washes up on the shores of Calico Bay, no one knows who he is—including him. But one thing's instantly clear to deputy sheriff Audrey Martin: the man's marked for murder. And she's the only one who can protect him from the assassins who lurk at every turn. The arrival of a team of men claiming he's Canadian Border Services officer Nathanial Longhorn only further complicates the matter. As his memories slowly start drifting back, Nathanial and Audrey work to uncover who wants him dead and why. If they don't, this Christmas might be their last. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

A Time to Rise by Nadine Brandes -- What more can you sacrifice than your life? Parvin Blackwater is dead. At least that's what the Council and the world thinks. But her sacrifice tore down part of the Wall long enough to stir up hope and rebellion in the people. Parvin and Solomon must uncover the mysterious clues that Jude left behind in order to destroy the projected Wall once and for all. Meanwhile, the Council schemes to new levels of technology in its attempts to keep the people contained. Can a one-handed Radical and a scarred ex-Enforcer really bring shalom to the world? (Speculative Young Adult from Enclave Publishing)
 Unblemished by Sara Ella -- Eliyana can't bear to look at her own reflection. But what if that were only one Reflection—one world? What if another world exists where her blemish could become her strength? (Speculative Young Adult from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)  
Beast by Chawna Schroeder -- For as long as Beast can remember, she has lived among her master's dogs. With them she sleeps. With them she eats. With them she fights and struggles to survive. But through hunger and cold she dreams of one day becoming her master's favorite, earning bones with meat and a place beside the fire. When her pack scatters after a surprise raid, Beast must defend herself against slavers, hunting down the loners. They are so strong, and she is only a beast . . . or is she? (Speculative Allegory from Enclave Publishing)  
Accelerant by Ronie Kendig -- He'll destroy the world. But he must save it first. As the only able-bodied heir to the Fire Throne, Haegan, Prince of Seultrie must return to the Nine Kingdoms and fight for his people. But there are insidious forces at work. When reality itself falls into question, Haegan struggles to know where to fight, who to trust. Caught between duty to his country and duty to the world, Haegan must see clearly enough to choose the right path to save his devastated world. (Speculative High Fantasy from Enclave Publishing) 

Death in the Mind's Eye by Rick Acker -- It knows what you're thinking. It knows when you're lying. Does it know how to kill? San Francisco attorney Mike Webster and Dr. Johanna Anderson, a brilliant and beautiful psychologist, must clear Jo's name of a malpractice case before the controversial, technologically-assisted Mind's Eye therapy is seized by a shadowy finance firm and used as a weapon. (Thriller/Suspense from Waterfall Press)  
The Warrior's Seal by Ronie Kendig -- A Special Forces team is thrust into a war with the past to save the president after an artifact unleashes a deadly toxin. Special Forces operative Cole "Tox" Russell and his team are tasked in a search-and-rescue--the U.S. president has been kidnapped during a goodwill tour. The mission nosedives when an ancient biblical artifact and a deadly toxin wipe out villages. Tox must stop the terrorists and the toxin to save the president. This is a free e-novella prequel! (Thriller/Suspense from Bethany House [Baker])  
Deadly Infiltration by W. Richard Lawrence -- Infiltrators inside the American government are betraying undercover agents while helping sneak weapons of mass destruction across our borders. To keep their work hidden, they are willing to murder anyone who gets in their way. Sara, a brilliant computer expert working for the FBI, finds herself caught in the middle. Sara's young faith in God is gravely tested when she is framed for the murder of an FBI agent, forcing her to go into hiding. Meanwhile, Sara's fiancé Derry lives up to a promise he made to her, and gives up his future to save her and hopefully the country. (Thriller/Suspense from Boarding House Publishing)

Western Historical:  
Refining Fire by Carol Cox -- Meet the Arizona Territory Brides. Four strong, independent women--each determined to stand on her own two feet, and not one of them looking for romance. But sometimes love shows up when you least expect it... (Western, Pioneer/Prairie, Independently Published)

Sunday, October 25, 2015

12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

 Carrying on from last time, and the idea of being released from a performance mindset ... the next part of this well-known passage in Philippians seems at first glance to be all about performance, but really ... it’s the opposite.

Because we’re told here not to consider what we’ve already done. Not the failures, not even the successes. Because regardless, until we’re finished here, we aren’t finished.

We are all works in progress, regardless of who we are, and what we’ve done.

You know that verse about Elijah having a nature like ours? Well, the reading at church a couple of weeks ago was the passage of him running off to hide from Jezebel right after the victory on Mount Carmel ... and I was struck by Elijah’s words, “I am not better than my fathers.”

Right after this amazing event where God Himself answered Elijah’s prayers with fire from heaven.

Fire, y’all. So hot it burned up not only the sacrifice but the water and dust and very stones.

And Elijah’s response to being hunted by a pagan queen? I am not better than my fathers.

I remembered the night after taking my mom back to the hospital in September, feeling like such a failure for not being able to keep taking care of her at home, feeling indeed like every endeavor I’ve set my hand to in the course of my life has either been unfinished or just ... fizzled. Weeping before the Lord because in nearly half a century on this earth, I’d wanted more. I’d expected more, not of life but of myself.

Was so tired of handing God only messes and half-finished projects.

I am not better than my fathers.

Elijah really was just like us.

For all the times I’ve seen fire fall from heaven, seen God work out details and do, oh, amazing things ... I am disappointed to learn I’m still the same fallen flesh and blood as my parents and grandparents. The ones who wanted to follow God but somehow never accomplished what they wanted to for Him. The ones who abused or neglected those in their care. The ones who let their impulses and sin rule them.

And yet ... I cannot cling to the past. Yes, I can look back and see where I’ve come from, see what God has done for me and how unworthy I am of His grace, but I have to turn and keep walking.

Keep running.

Don’t look back. Don’t be distracted by who I think might be gaining on me. Don’t wish this part of the path was like the one before.

What’s that SEAL motto? “The only easy day was yesterday”?

Keep pressing on!

15 Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. 16 Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind. (Philippians 3, NKJV)

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Lynne Gentry
Lynne Gentry has written for numerous publications and is a professional acting coach, theater director and playwright with several full-length musicals and a Chicago children’s theater curriculum to her credit. She likes to write stories that launch modern women into ancient adventures, such as The Carthage Chronicles series (Healer of Carthage, Return to Exile and Valley of Decision). Gentry is also an inspirational speaker and dramatic performer who loves spending time with her family and medical therapy dog. 

If you felt the Holy Spirit urging you to quit writing, would you do it? 

I confess that I regularly fight the urge to quit writing. These desires usually intensify whenever life becomes overwhelming. After much prayer, I’ve decided these urgings are not from the Holy Spirit. I feel my writing abilities are God-given gifts. The interruptions and distractions are not from the Lord. Therefore, my challenge is to push aside those urges to quit and to keep on writing. Only through prayer will I be victorious. 

When working on a manuscript, what do you do when you get stuck? 

I write by the seat of my pants. While this approach allows me a great deal of freedom, I can also write myself into some very tight corners. The best thing for me to do when I’m stuck is to READ. I have my go-to books (favorite novels) on a nearby shelf. Actually, I keep stacks of books everywhere. All I have to do is flip one open and start reading. A few minutes of reading time fires options in my head. 

Do you ever read your dialog aloud to see how it sounds? 

Absolutely. Since I’m stage-trained, for me it is often in the hearing of the words that I can detect breaks in thoughts or weaknesses in the dialogue. Do I read in front of anyone? Only my dear, sweet critique group. 

What aspect of being a writer is the most challenging for you? Why is this difficult, and what steps have you taken to overcome this hurdle? 

Writing is a solitary sport. For this extrovert sitting chained to a computer for days at a time can be sheer torture. I knew I was in trouble when my imaginary characters started to become my best friends. I was going to lose it if I didn’t out of the house more. I set up more speaking engagements. I volunteer at our church. I rescued a dog from the shelter and trained him as a medical therapy dog. The time Roman and I spend working the hospitals is a great way for me to get my “people fix.”

Do you read your reviews? Have you ever replied to one? Do you find they influence your writing when you work on subsequent books? 

I don’t handle rejection well. This meme sums it up for me:

So I find it strange that I love to read my reviews. After the initial sting of a bad review, I consider what was said. If I feel the reader has made a valid point, I make an effort to correct that in my next work. However, I’ve also been known to flip over to the negative reviews of some bestsellers just to encourage myself. 

Does your best writing flow? Or are you most satisfied with the work that you’ve labored over, sweating and groaning? 

My best story lines just flow, but I’m more satisfied with the writing when each word has been carefully chosen.

Do you prefer writing the initial draft, or do you enjoy the revision process more? Do you revise as you write, or do you first produce a big mess that you later have to fix? If your first draft is rough, do you usually have to cut out a lot of dead wood, or add flesh to the bare bones? 

I’ve learned a lot at the feet of some fantastic editors. I like both parts of the process, drafting and editing. Since I revise as I write, my first draft is not usually a mess. There are holes and timeline issues, but those are easily fixed.

To keep up with Lynne Gentry, visit www.lynnegentry.com, become a fan on Facebook (Author-Lynne-Gentry) or follow her on Twitter (@Lynne_Gentry) and Pinterest (lynnegentry7). And don't forget to check out her latest book, Valley of Decision!

The Carthage Chronicles, Book #3: Thirteen years ago, Lisbeth made an impossible decision—leave third-century Carthage and her husband Cyprian behind for good. She knew it was to protect her daughter Maggie, so Lisbeth gathered the strength to move on with her life. 

All these years, Lisbeth has thrown herself into her work and raising her headstrong daughter, all to live up to the promise she made to Cyprian. But Maggie is sick of being protected. In an act of teenage rebellion Maggie decides to do what her mother can’t—secretly returning to the third century on a quest to bring her father back, leaving Lisbeth no choice but to follow. 

With Maggie’s surprise arrival in Carthage, chaos ensues. She finds her grandmother on trial for murder and attempts to save her, but instead the diversion sparks a riot that nearly destroys the plagued city. Only one thing will appease the wrath of the new proconsul of Carthage: the death of the instigator. 

Will Lisbeth arrive in time to save her daughter from the clutches of Rome? How can God possibly redeem such a slew of unwise decisions and deep regrets? Filled with heart-wrenching twists and riveting action, Valley of Decision brings the romantic adventure epic, The Carthage Chronicles, to an electrifying conclusion. BUY HERE.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

by Lynne Gentry

I held my breath as my toddler grandson wavered between the couch and the coffee table. One of his chubby hands clutched the supple leather while the other reached for the toy on the table. He stretched as far as he could, but the distance was too great. He tried again and failed. Eventually he sighed and returned both hands to the couch, but he kept looking over his shoulder at the table. To get where he wanted to go he’d have to let go, but he was too afraid to let go. 

In many ways, I’m like my grandson. I cling to what I know with all my might…all the while longing for something just out of reach. In my case, I longed for freedom. Freedom from the ugly regret gnawing at my insides. 

I don’t think anyone makes it through this life without wishing they could have a do-over, a chance to go back in time and tell their younger, immature self to make a different decision. Counselors say regrets are usually exacerbated by times of severe loss or unexpected life changes. 

A very abrupt and disappointing life change left me wide open for a whole range of feelings, but the one that surprised me most was regret. Even more surprising was regret’s ability to cripple me. Unhappy as I was in my old life, I was determined to hang on to what I knew. I was afraid to let go.

Then a very unexpected thing happened. The opportunity to sell our house and move closer to our children became a real possibility. I’d always wanted to live close enough to be involved in my grandchildren’s lives, but to make the move, I had to let go. 

Let go of the neighborhood I knew. The friends I knew. Even the dream I’d had for our life in that place.

I wavered between what I had and what I wanted.

In the end, we put our house on the market and it sold in 24 hours.

Now I had to let go.

And when I did, it was freedom like I’d never experienced before.

Holding out my empty hands, the Lord replaced my regret with joy, peace, and hope.

The other day I re-read the last page of The Carthage Chronicles series (Valley of Decision). Throughout this story Dr. Lisbeth Hastings has been dealing with regret. In the end, she makes the stunning discovery that every decision she’d ever made was like a thread in her life. The good decisions were the light, vibrant colors. The bad decisions were dark shadows. When she stood back and looked at the whole picture, that’s when she knew there would have been no depth in the picture of her life without the bad decisions. She didn’t want to pull a single thread. 

And neither do I.

Overcoming regret can only be done by letting go of the past and grabbing the future.

What do you need to let go?

“Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13

Lynne Gentry
Lynne Gentry has written for numerous publications and is a professional acting coach, theater director and playwright with several full-length musicals and a Chicago children’s theater curriculum to her credit. She likes to write stories that launch modern women into ancient adventures, such as The Carthage Chronicles series (Healer of Carthage, Return to Exile and Valley of Decision). Gentry is also an inspirational speaker and dramatic performer who loves spending time with her family and medical therapy dog. 

To keep up with Lynne, visit www.lynnegentry.com, become a fan on Facebook (Author-Lynne-Gentry) or follow her on Twitter (@Lynne_Gentry) and Pinterest (lynnegentry7).

Sunday, October 18, 2015

The king receives the news: “Your enemies are coming. There’s a huge army amassed and it’s on its way.”

He knew they didn’t have the military strength to defend their nation. Nor did he have time to summon their allies.

So what did he do? He hit his knees—then called for the entire nation to fast and pray with him.

“O Lord God of our fathers, are You not God in heaven, and do You not rule over all the kingdoms of the nations, and in Your hand is there not power and might, so that no one is able to withstand You? Are You not our God ...  10 And now, here are the people of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir ...12 O our God, will You not judge them? For we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.”

The whole nation gathered there, before the Lord at His temple, to show their desperation for God’s intervention.

The word they received was surprising. Don’t be afraid! This battle isn’t yours to fight. Go down to meet the invaders tomorrow—here’s where they’re sure to cross. You’ll find them at a particular place, but when you get there, just stand and watch God work.

Well, huh. Would that be the advice you’d expect God to give? I’m sure the king expected something more like, “Gather your best warriors and ...” Or did he think of the long-ago story of Gideon, who defeated an army with the noise and light from shofars and torches, and hope deep in his heart for a similar intervention?

Whatever it was, the king took it a step further—and not only did he order the army to march down to the appointed location, but he set the best of their musicians and singers to the front, and instructed them to “sing to the Lord,” while others were to praise “the beauty of holiness.”

Early the next morning they went.

And then what happened?

22 Now when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushes against the people of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah; and they were defeated. 23 For the people of Ammon and Moab stood up against the inhabitants of Mount Seir to utterly kill and destroy them. And when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, they helped to destroy one another.
24 So when Judah came to a place overlooking the wilderness, they looked toward the multitude; and there were their dead bodies, fallen on the earth. No one had escaped.

Could it be that worship was what triggered God’s power in this situation? Or at least that God wanted to make a point about the importance of praising Him?

In our own lives, events can blindside us and leave us feeling completely helpless. It seems a no-brainer that our reaction should be to go to God ... but turning our desperation into praise can feel completely alien. Yet almost without fail, every Psalm that begins with crying out to God ends with an expression of trust and worship.

We talk of God being worthy of praise, but it’s true—no one else is more worthy than He. Only He is God ... only He is holy and good, only He is all knowing and all powerful and all loving. Perhaps it’s more that focusing on who He is frees our hearts and minds from the grip of whatever struggle we’re engaged in, than enabling God to work. Whatever, praise is a powerful tool in those situations where we feel most trapped.

God may not deliver us the way He did Jehoshaphat, that king of old—or Gideon—but we never know. He just might.
26 And on the fourth day they assembled in the Valley of Berachah, for there they blessed the Lord; therefore the name of that place was called The Valley of Berachah until this day. 27 Then they returned, every man of Judah and Jerusalem, with Jehoshaphat in front of them, to go back to Jerusalem with joy, for the Lord had made them rejoice over their enemies. 28 So they came to Jerusalem, with stringed instruments and harps and trumpets, to the house of the Lord. 29 And the fear of God was on all the kingdoms of those countries when they heard that the Lord had fought against the enemies of Israel. 30 Then the realm of Jehoshaphat was quiet, for his God gave him rest all around. (2 Chronicles 20, NKJV)
(First appeared 5/26/13)

Thursday, October 15, 2015

M.K. Gilroy
Mark Gilroy has had a long, varied, and successful career in publishing, from his first paid creative assignment as a newspaper sports writer while in college, to serving as head of gift, specialty, and backlist publishing for Thomas Nelson, the world’s largest Christian publisher. Throughout his journey in the world of books he has worked with leading authors such as Max Lucado, Sarah Young, John Maxwell, Darlene Zschech, H. Jackson Brown, Donald Miller, Billy Graham, Newt Gingrich, Beth Moore, George Foreman, and many others. 

Gilroy and his wife Amy reside in Brentwood, Tennessee. Their six children are Lindsey, Merrick, Ashley, Caroline, Bo, and Zachary—the youngest has now headed off for college, so he and Amy are officially empty nesters. 

1) How long were you writing before your first publication? How many manuscripts had you written by that time? Have you published any of your early works since? Do you plan to? 

My start in writing fiction is quite a bit different than many authors. I had already published hundreds of articles and numerous books as a publisher and freelance writer. I got my start as a sports writer for a local newspaper while I was a junior in college. I’ve done many nonfiction books without my name on it. For example, the devotional, A Daybook of Grace, has been in Barnes & Noble for five years.

I think I enjoyed writing in the background and helping build projects. I think that’s what made me nervous about writing novels with my name on the cover. I couldn’t hide from the review process! 

2) Are you a morning person? A night owl? How do you arrange your schedule to allow the most efficient, productive time for writing? 

I’ve always been a morning person and used to be a night owl with about five-hours of sleep per night for most of my adult life. I thought you were supposed to need less sleep as you get older! Now I’m sleeping seven hours. I get up early, about six, to get a couple hours of writing in, before the phone starts ringing and emails start stacking up! 

3) When working on a manuscript, what do you do when you get stuck? 

Sometimes I promise myself a reward if I get a certain amount of writing done. That helps. Other times I head for the Y to workout or take a long bike ride. Occasionally, I just get away from the computer keyboard and write longhand – that always seems to help. 

4) Do you ever read your dialog aloud to see how it sounds? Have you ever performed an action you want one of your characters to carry out in order to help you visualize or describe it? Have you ever embarrassed yourself doing this? 

Dialog, I definitely speak out loud to test how it sounds. 

On action, I’ve been told my fight scenes are very realistic. That probably comes from having wrestled and putting on some boxing gloves with friends when I was a teen. I don’t get up and act the scenes out but I do visualize the mechanics and physics of Kristen Conner’s fight scenes very carefully. 

5) What aspect of being a writer is the most challenging for you? Why is this difficult, and what steps have you taken to overcome this hurdle? 

I’m probably typical in telling people I absolutely love to write – especially when I’m done! But two specific things that come up for me is first, my ideas come faster than my fingers type. If I don’t finish a scene, I don’t necessarily remember the idea as well later! Second, I have an uncanny ability to mess up the timetable on my storyline. My solution was to set up a Google calendar for each book to map scenes and events. 

August, 2015
6) Do you read your reviews? Have you ever replied to one? Do you find they influence your writing when you work on subsequent books? 

I read all my reader and professional reviews. I reply to all of them – but it’s always with a simple “thank you.”

Do they influence me? I’ve been blessed to get a ton of great reviews. I just looked at Amazon and Good Reads the other day and I have 135 five-stars and 77 four-stars on Cuts Like a Knife, my first book, alone. So my response to positive reviews is obviously encouragement. I do try to be very open minded to negative reviews. Sometimes I get some helps, other times it is just a matter of my genre or style not connecting with what a reader likes. My character is a wise-cracking introspective – not everyone’s cup of tea. In those cases, I don’t get upset, but realize I have a well-liked character that other people are waiting for. I buy into the philosophy that you can’t please everybody and shouldn’t try. That’s why the world of publishing is so huge. 

7) If you’re a plotter, have you ever tried pantsing it? If you’re a pantser, have you ever given plotting a try? Can you swing both ways, or are you a confirmed devotee of one of these methods? 

I plot two things – the basic murder and motivation for the murder is first. Second is a twist to keep readers guessing and really surprise them. Everything else is seat-of-the-pants. I just let her personality interact with the world around her! 

There are a few reoccurring elements that I know I will add to the story – Kristen Conner coaches her niece’s soccer team and is a workout warrior, she usually has a fight or two with her sister, and there is her love interest, so I know there will be certain kinds of scenes that will show up in the final product. 

8) Does your best writing flow? Or are you most satisfied with the work that you’ve labored over, sweating and groaning? 

I think overall my best writing flows. But then I have to edit and make sure elements of the story agree throughout the entire book. That is when I labor, sweat, and groan. Writing is “funner” than editing! But both are required. I have slowed down on writing the first draft somewhat so that the editing isn’t labor-by-design! My first three novels are all 100 thousand words and 400 pages – so anything I can do to keep from unnecessary editing is smart on my part. 

To learn more about Mark, visit him at:
Website: www.markgilroy.com
Facebook: www.facebook/markgilroy
Twitter: @markgilroy

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