Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Mary Connealy writes romantic comedies with cowboys for Barbour Publishing. The Husband Tree, Book #2 of the Montana Marriages series, released in January, book #1 Montana Rose is in bookstores now and book #3 Wildflower Bride comes in May.
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Mary is also the author of the Lassoed in Texas series and a cozy mystery collection, Nosy in Nebraska. Mary is a Christy Award finalist.

Find me online at all these great places.
Seekerville
Petticoats & Pistols
My Blog
My Website

When did you decide to be a writer?

I wrote my first book when I was twelve. I have no idea what happened to it and that’s probably for the best for everyone. I starting writing my first book as an adult the year my baby went to Kindergarten. So I’ll pick that as my ‘deciding’ date.

At what point did you stop juggling suggestions and critiques and trust yourself (as a writer)?

Well, honestly I think I still listen to suggestions and critiques. I do trust myself as a writer, as far as my story goes, but I am always interested in how a book strikes someone else. I was very blessed to have a fantastic critique group I met through ACFW, the American Christian Fiction Writers. So their opinion was valuable to me.

Are you a disciplined writer or do you just write when you feel like it?

I’m very disciplined. It’s the only area of my life where I’ve shown one speck of self-discipline as a matter of fact. (we can talk for a while about dieting at this point if you want to!)

I write 1000 words a day, often more but never less. I’ve just come off a week traveling with a book signing tour and I didn’t get much writing done and I’ve very aware of that and it chafes. But I’m home now and back to work.

What kind of activities to you like to do that help you relax and step away from your deadlines for a bit?

I’m pretty good about deadlines. I’ve been fortunate to not be pressed by them. I just turned in a book that has a deadline of January 1st, 2011. I do have galleys to edit right now due the end of the week so there are always those. My relaxing activities are crossword puzzles and reading books. Yes, I know, I noticed, all sedentary. Like it would kill me to take a walk once in a while. I’m going to start. I promise. Maybe tomorrow.

What is your favorite novel and what made it special?

My absolute favorite novel of all time is To Kill a Mockingbird. That is so obvious that I shouldn’t even write it. But what I love about it is the mix of humor and drama. Such a terribly, bitterly ugly subject seen through the eyes of a child who doesn’t really understand one bit what’s going on. But we get it. I think it’s brilliant.

How do you think reading the work of others helps you as a writer?

I thinking reading great books is a better way to learn writing that most ‘How To’ writing books. Mostly I read for fun, but if I want to do a fire in one of my books, I’ve got a stack (a BIG stack) of boo
ks and I’ll think through them until I remember a fire, then I’ll drag that book out. Study the words an author used for hot and smoke and burn. It makes for a really powerful thesaurus.

Tell us a little about your latest release:

My latest release is The Husband Tree. Belle Tanner buries her third worthless husband and makes a vow over his shallow grave. She’s learned her lesson. No more men.

Silas Harden just lost his second ranch because of a woman. The first deserted him when times got tough. Now he’s had to quit the whole state of New Mexico to avoid a trumped-u
p shotgun wedding and the noose of matrimony. He’s learned his lesson. No more women.

Belle needs hired hands to move a cattle herd late in the season and there’s no one around but seemingly aimless Silas. She hires him reluctantly.

Silas signed on, glad for the work, though worried about a woman doing such a thing as hiring d
rovers, only to find out he’s the lone man going with five woman, including a baby still in diapers. After the cattle drive is over, he might as well shoot himself to speed up the process of being embarrassed to death.

Where did you get your inspiration for The Husband Tree?

You know when I look at the final product, the finished book, a lot of times I just wonder what in the world I was thinking when I started it. I love really strong women. I love a woman who doesn’t NEED a man but chooses to join her life with a man out of respect and love rather than necessity. The four daughters, well, I have four daughters so that’s almost too easy. The rest is rooted in comedy and conflict. A woman who just says whatever is on her mind and everyone can accept it and go along or get run over. Then bring in a man strong enough to handle that.

Which character is most like you?

I don’t see any of them being like me. In fact, I think my really mouthy strong characters are how I WISH I was, because I’m crazy non-confrontational and I’m the peacemaker in my family and I’m someone who watches her mouth about anything that people could take exception to. And for the most part, I think being the voice of reason is a pretty good thing. Nothing like Belle Tanner. But all that sass and in-your-face attitude makes for a pretty stressful life outside fiction.

Who is your favorite character and why?

Definitely Belle. I just love her. In fact she may be my favorite character of all time. I just had a blast making her as strong and mouthy as possible, without one speck of concern how anyone else feels about her opinions. Then in comes Silas. A man who could take it, handle Belle and love her, not in spite of her strength but because of it.

Did you know how The Husband Tree would turn out? Were you surprised by any of the plot twists or characters?

I start a book with no end in mind besides ‘happily ever after’. I’m very seat of the pants. I keep trying to learn to plot and plan, and I can do it, but sometimes I get a better idea while I writing along and I abandon my plot without a backward glance when that happens.

What is the main thing you hope readers remember from this story?

I hope they had fun. If they learn something, too, that’s fantastic, but fundamentally, I hope they had a good time going along on the cattle drive with Belle and Silas. I also hope they got to liking Wade Sawyer a little better because that very troubled soul from Montana Rose is the hero of book through of the Montana Marriages series, Wildflower Bride.

What kinds of things have you done to market this book? Have you found anything that works particularly well?

I do as much as I can and then let it go. I always think the very best thing I can do to market a book is to write the very best book I know how to write. That’s my very most important job. Beyond that I like doing this blog interviews. In case you haven’t noticed, it’s all done with WRITING. I can handle that. I do book signings and they’re fun but usually, because I live far from everyone, they’re long drives. I’ve gotten to really know a few of the area book store owners though and they’re great people. I try and stay in contact with the area newspapers and I can make my way into them sometimes.

Tell us what new projects you’re working on.

Next up is Wildflower Bride, coming in May, Wade Sawyer finally gets his happy ending.

A white woman, raised by the Indians has yet to meet a white man she doesn't pull her knife on. . .including Wade Sawyer, who is determined to marry her.
She doesn't really need saving, but Wade doesn't let that stop him. And she hasn't actually cut him yet so he thinks she'd coming around.

Wade's been trying to rescue women who are doing fine on their own since Cassie Dawson didn't need saving in Montana Rose. Now he's picked the toughest woman he's ever met to protect.

Glowing Sun might end up marrying him out of pure respect for his persistence. . .she can’t get rid of him anyway.

And while Glowing Sun is trying to adjust to a different world, Cassie Dawson is taking lessons on how to be tough from Belle Tanner.

Red may not survive.

Do you have any parting words of advice?

Thanks for having me on, Lisa. If anyone would like to be kept up to date on my releases they can sign up for my newsletter here: My Newsletter

And I’ll make you a promise—Not only will I NOT sell your information, I probably won’t even get my act together enough to actually send you a newsletter, so it’s not like signing up will flood your inbox.

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Want more? Be sure to stop by The Borrowed Book for an excerpt from The Husband Tree by Mary Connealy.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A stone massage, homemade chocolate cake, a round of golf, the perfect cup of coffee, your morning run – or your afternoon nap. These are all simple pleasures that God created for us to enjoy – not feel guilty about. Bestselling author Gary Thomas urges Christians to embrace pleasure and carve out time to enjoy life.

In Pure Pleasure: Why Do Christians Feel So Bad About Feeling Good? (Nov. 2009)
Thomas explores the idea that Christians should view pleasure as a gift from God that points us back to him.

According to Thomas, “God isn’t just our Redeemer… He is our Creator. He made us, and he made this world. So when we participate in this world as he made it, we celebrate him every bit as much as we honor him when we do things that reflect his redeeming work.”

Christians shouldn’t necessarily feel guilty every time they buy a latte or indulge in a seemingly unnecessary expense. There is a line between enjoying the world God created and frivolous excess, but Christians shouldn’t feel pressure to consistently ignore what brings them joy. Thomas helps readers determine which pleasures are healthy and life-giving and which pleasures are destructive and should be avoided.

Thomas offers an impassioned biblical defense of pleasure and explains
how God delights in, and shares, the pleasure we experience when we encounter his world with thanksgiving. Everyone finds pleasure in unique ways, and whether readers delight in high thread count sheets, gourmet cooking, the scent of freshly cut flowers or finishing a crossword puzzle, Thomas says incorporating guilt-free pleasure into our lives rejuvenates and refreshes individuals and provides a stronger platform for a lifestyle of worship.

Thomas boldly confronts the contentious issue of the cost of pleasure and how we can balance our need for restorative pleasure with our call to be faithful stewards of God’s resources. Pleasure in moderation is healthy and life-restoring, but overindulgence is harmful and must be avoided. Thomas assists readers in determining their own boundaries. He helps readers come to grips with the true costs of that daily latte or expensive vacation – not necessarily that those things are sinful, but how they affect one’s spiritual life.

“I’m asking you – no, pleading with you – to embrace pleasure with sophistication. Pleasure is a gift from God. It is good. He designed us to receive pleasur
e in many ways and is, in fact, preparing us for an eternity of pleasure. We must also realize, however, that there is a hierarchy of pleasure – with God at the top – that orders all of our other pleasures. If the hierarchy gets broken or becomes skewed, then lesser pleasures will begin to war against the primary one, which is delight in Christ.”

Gary is launching a downloadable video curriculum for small groups. A discussion guide with questions for each chapter is included at the end of Pure Pleasure. The six-session video curriculum will be available at www.zondervan.com/purepleasure on Oct. 15 and costs $24.99.

About the Author:


Gary Thomas enjoys spending time with his family, is an avid runner and has completed seven marathons including the Boston Marathon. He is a writer and adjunct faculty member at Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon. He is the author of several books including Sacred Marriage, Holy Available, Sacred Pathways, Sacred Parenting and the Gold Medallion Award-winning Authentic Faith.

Learn more about Gary at http://www.garythomas.com.

Pure Pleasure
Release: November 2009
Soft cover, 272 pp., $14.99
ISBN: 0310290803

Monday, March 29, 2010


In his day job Jim Rubart help authors and businesses market themselves through his company Barefoot Marketing. he's married with two teenage boys and live in the Pacific Northwest. You can catch up with him here:

http://www.jimrubart.com/
http://www.barefootmarketing.com/Home/
jim@jimrubart.com

When did you decide to be a writer?
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I don’t think I ever decided, just like I never decided how tall I would be. But I understand what you’re asking. It was around 7th grade that being an author became my greatest dream.

Good analogy! How long did you write before you sold your first book?
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I got serious about writing a novel in 2003. People sometimes say I had overnight success as ROOMS is the first novel I wrote, I got an agent less than a year after finishing it, and we sold it a year and a half later. But in my day job I’m a marketing guy so I’ve been writing Web site copy, radio and TV ads, one sheets, brochures, etc. for twenty years, so I did pick up a few craft skills along the way.

Everyone’s journey to publication is different. Now that you’ve walked that road, what tips can you give to authors still hoping for that first contract?
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Stop hoping for that first contract. I’m serious. If you’re a follower of Jesus your calling isn’t to get a contract, it’s to follow Him. I know it’s easy for me to say this being on the other side, but truly, in the scope of eternity what will matter is if we followed Him, not if we got published. But, at the same time, let me offer one suggestion for those whose dream is being published:

Make friends. Just like any business, publishing is about relationships. And by make friends I don’t mean just editors and agents. Sure, knowing editors and agents can be helpful, but they’re inundated with people trying to buddy up to them. I’m talking about making friends with other authors, and not just the published ones. Some of my closest friends in the pub world are authors now published, that weren’t when I met them. We’ve “grown up” together.

Follow Jesus, study the craft hard, be real with people, make friends and leave the rest up to Him.

Was there something about the experience of getting published that was a surprise to you?
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How competitive it is. Getting a book published is like getting to the top 24 on American Idol. The hopefuls are many, the slots are few. Good writing isn’t good enough, it has to be great. BUT, people make it to the top 12 every year!

Are you a disciplined writer or do you just write when you feel like it?
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Ha! Wouldn’t it be great to write when you felt like it, and still get your word count in? Whoever said, “I only write when I’m inspired, and I’m inspired every morning at 7am,” had it right. Sometimes beginning writers think they can only write when the muse descends on them. Wrong. Most times the muse doesn’t show up until you’re writing. Action first, then the inspiration shows up.

What kind of activities to you like to do that help you relax and step away from your deadlines for a bit?
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A million different things. Here are a few: Water ski, mountain bike with my sons, play guitar, take photos, long walks with my wife, sleep.

What is your favorite novel (not written by you) and what made it special?
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ARENA, by Karen Hancock. (Her Guardian King books are brilliant too.) The Shack has been called the Pilgrim’s Progress for the 21st century, but truly ARENA should have that distinction. It’s the most powerful allegory I’ve ever read.

How do you think reading the work of others helps you as a writer?
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It inspires me, stretches me, scares me, it makes me see ways of approaching story or craft that I haven’t thought of. To be an author you must read extensively.

Tell us a little about your latest release:
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ROOMS is the story of a young Seattle software tycoon who inherits a home on the Oregon coast that turns out to be a physical manifestation of his soul. If you’re saying, “Ooooooo,” then I think you’ll like it. If you’re saying, “Huh?” then the jury is out. :-) If you took It’s a Wonderful Life, Disney’s The Kid, The Shack, The Screwtape Letters, and mixed them together you’d have ROOMS. (Along with a big dollop of romance. RT Book Reviews gave it 4 ½ stars and made it a top pick for April, and I confess, someone had to tell me this is a big deal.) The headline on the back of my cover conveys the story pretty well: “What would you find if you walked into the rooms of your soul? One man is about to find out.”

Where did you get your inspiration for ROOMS?
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When I was a teenager I read Robert Unger’s little pamphlet "My Heart, Christ’s Home." When I was in my mid-twenties I thought, “What if you took that idea and put it on steroids? What if you mixed it with John Eldredge’s Wild at Heart and all the movies and books I mention above? Out came ROOMS.

Which character is most like you?
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Wow, great question! It’s very tempting to cop out and say none of them. But since I don’t want to do that, I’ll say Micah Taylor, my protagonist. They say a first novel is somewhat autobiographical, and I supposed I’d have to say there are more elements of me in Micah than any of the other characters.

Who is your favorite character and why?
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Rick, definitely. He’s amazing. Brilliant, funny, wise, strong … I can’t say anything more than that … but if you read ROOMS you’ll find out why I’m so enthralled by him.

Did you know how ROOMS would turn out? Were you surprised by any of the plot twists or characters?
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Very surprised. I didn’t know how to write a novel when I wrote ROOMS. I had no plot, no outline, all I had was an idea, and a vague idea of how it would end. (It didn’t end that way, even in the first draft.) For the most part I felt like I simply transcribed the story from what I saw happening in my mind and heart.

What is the main thing you hope readers remember from this story?
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That there is incredible freedom and healing in Jesus.

What kinds of things have you done to market this book? Have you found anything that works particularly well?
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I’m a fulltime marketing professional, so I could easily fill pages with my answer to this question, but let me offer three quick comments:

First, visit Christian Fiction Online Magazine (it’s free) and read my marketing column as well as my archived columns.

Second, marketing at its core is getting people to like you. You can do this through blogs, Twitter, Facebook, your Web site, but the most powerful way is face to face, one-on-one with your readers. No, you can’t sell enough novels one at a time to be successful, but if people like you, they’ll tell your friends about you and so on and so on.

Third write a book like nothing else out there. I’ve been blessed to have a significant amount of authors rave about ROOMS. I think part of this is because it’s unlike most books out there. Now there’s a fine line between unique and so unique that no one will touch it. But get as close as you can to that line without going over. Books in the middle don’t get talked about much. It’s the books on the edge that do.

Tell us what new projects you’re working on.
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I just turned in my second novel, Book of Days which will release January 2011. It’s a part of a new three-book contract with B&H which is a thrill because they’ve been fantastic to work with on every level.

Do you have any parting words of advice?
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One of my favorite quotes is from Annie Dillard: “We have to jump off cliffs all the time and build wings on the way down.” When I wrote ROOMS it was a jump off the cliff with no visible means of flying. And isn’t that what God says? “Anything done without faith is sin.” If you’ve been standing on the edge of your cliff wondering if you can fly, you’ll never know until you take the risk and find out.
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Jim is giving away a copy of his book, Rooms. Be sure to stop by The Borrowed Book on Friday for your chance to win!

Saturday, March 27, 2010


It's always so much fun to give away great books!! Congratulations to this week's lucky winners:

Marcia Gruver - Moving from Fear to Freedom by Grace Fox

Emma Schummer - The Familiar Stranger by Christina Berry

Grace Thorson - The Mockingbird's Call by Diane Ashley and Aaron McCarver

Winners of this week's books, please use the button in the upper right side of this page to email me with your mailing address so I can forward your information to the authors. Then, sit back and wait for your book to arrive.

Thank you all so much for stopping by The Borrowed Book, and thank you Grace Fox, Christina Berry, Diane Ashley and Aaron McCarver for your generosity in providing books!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Entering our weekly drawing is easy:

1. Leave a comment on Fridays or...

2. Sign up to follow The Borrowed Book. Followers will automatically be entered for a chance to win that week's drawing!

This week, The Borrowed Book is giving away three great books:

Moving from Fear to Freedom by Grace Fox ~ Fear was not part of God’s original agenda for his creation. It slithered onto the scene when Adam and Eve sinned, causing a tear in their relationship with God. And even though fear touches every life and can still debilitate people today, the news isn’t all bad. Popular speaker and author Grace Fox demonstrates how believers can face their fear and actually let it be a catalyst for change.

Readers will learn how to stop hiding from God and instead develop a deeper relationship with Him. This is what she calls “the upside of fear”: When we cry out to God for help, He answers, and we experience Him in new ways.

Each chapter highlights a particular area where readers can begin to experience freedom from fears about their personal identity, their finances, their kids, the future, and more.
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The Familiar Stranger by Christina Berry ~ Craig Littleton's decision to end his marriage would shock his wife, Denise . . . if she knew what he was up to. When an accident lands Craig in the ICU, with fuzzy memories of his own life and plans, Denise rushes to his side, ready to care for him.

They embark on a quest to help Craig remember who he is and, in the process, they discover dark secrets. An affair? An emptied bank account? A hidden identity? An illegitimate child?

But what will she do when she realizes he's not the man she thought he was? Is this trauma a blessing in disguise, a chance for a fresh start? Or will his secrets destroy the life they built together?


The Mockingbird's Call by Diane Ashley and Aaron McCarver ~ Amelia never planned to become a notorious agent on the Underground Railroad; it just happened. Before she knew it, the whole Confederate army was looking for her - including her fiance, Captain Luke Talbot. Jared Stuart finds himself torn between his convictions and his duty. While he can't support slavery, he chooses to use his talents as a writer to prove the pen is mightier than the sword. When Luke arrests Jared, Amelia must face herself and make difficult decisions. Will she admit to her actions, freeing Jared and destroying her own engagement?
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Winners will be announced on Saturday, 03/27/10.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


“But I don’t want to go to Virginia.” Jared Stuart’s jaw clenched and he looked at his dinner plate, ignoring the creep of his spectacles down the bridge of his nose. His stomach churned, but not because of the food in front of his blurred gaze. It was his rebellious words that made him ill. He knew his parents planned for him to attend William and Mary, the school where Pa had studied law thirty years ago.

Jared’s words seemed to echo from wall to wall of the well-appointed dining room. He felt a cold hand steal into his own beneath the cover of Great-Aunt Dolly’s imported tablecloth. Victoria, the sister who was only a year his senior, knew of his wish to attend East Tennessee University in Knoxville. She had been his sympathetic confidante, her tender heart torn between supporting his desire to attend a small school and their parents’ stated plan to send him to William and Mary.

“I don’t understand why you don’t want to go there.” Adam Stuart’s voice was not loud, but Jared could feel the frustration behind each word. “You know it’s the alma mater of many of our country’s founding fathers. Your own family has a history there. Your mother and I have all the connections it would take to ensure your success—”

“That’s just it, Pa.” Jared looked up from his plate. He could see the flecks of green in his father’s brown eyes, a sign of banked anger. Resentment rose up and pressed against his throat. “I want to succeed on my own merits, not because I’m your son or Grandpa Landon’s grandson.”
“Going to William and Mary won’t prohibit that.”

“Adam.” Iris Stuart’s voice was barely a whisper. She shook her head slightly at her husband, and a curl sprang from her coiffure. She brushed it back with one finger. “Not now. We can talk about this later.”

Great-Aunt Dolly, imperious in her black bombazine dress and her position at the head of the table, cleared her throat. “Well, I don’t see what all of the rumpus is about.” She lifted a wrinkled hand to her mouth and coughed for a moment before continuing. “Young people will always insist on their own ways in things.” She pointed an arthritic finger at his ma. “Why I remember when the boy’s grandma and I went all the way to New Orleans in the middle of a war just so she could see your pa. Didn’t take Rebekah long to convince her parents to let her have her way.”

“That’s a different matter,” Adam Stuart protested.

Great-Aunt Dolly shrugged a shoulder and looked at Jared. “You’re a grown man now and you have a good head on your shoulders. Doesn’t matter to me if you want to go to school in Williamsburg, Knoxville, or even Schenectady. All you have to do is say so. I’ll make sure you have the money.”

Want more? Be sure to stop by The Borrowed Book tomorrow for a chance to win The Mockingbird's Call by Diane Ashley and Aaron McCarver!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


A “town girl” born and raised in Mississippi, Diane has worked more than twenty years for the House of Representatives. She rediscovered a thirst for writing while caring for her ailing mother and was led to a class taught by Aaron McCarver on writing novels from an outline. After the class ended, she became a founding member of the Bards of Faith. Her first publication was a finalist in the Book of the Year Contest. She and Aaron have collaborated on four books so far and are working hard to produce fiction which glorifies Christ. Visit her at http://www.bardsoffaith.homestead.com/


Aaron McCarver is a transplanted Mississippian who was raised in the mountains near Dunlap, Tennessee. He loves his jobs of teaching English at two Christian colleges and editing for Barbour Publishing. A member of ACFW, he is the co-author of the best-selling series, “The Spirit of Appalachia” and is currently co-authoring, with Diane Ashley, a second series for Heartsong Presents.

When did you decide to be a writer?

He said: I first thought this when I was around 8 years old. I have always loved books. My mother used to say that if she had not been there she would have thought I was born with a book in my hands, so it wasn’t a great stretch to dream of writing my own. As I grew up, God led me to teaching and I put the writing dream aside. God brought it back to me like a precious gift when I met Gilbert Morris at a CBA convention (now ICRS). He encouraged me and eventually asked me to write a series with him. That was “The Spirit of Appalachia.” I have unfortunately allowed other bumps to get in the way at times, but God has always been faithful to lead me back to writing for Him...with a lot of help!

She said: I started writing for publication while taking care of my mother, who was terminally ill. It gave me something to while away the hours spent in the hospital and a temporary escape from the grief of watching her illness progress.

At what point did you stop juggling suggestions and critiques and trust yourself (as a writer)? .
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He said: I really got into writing through editing. I even did this for Gilbert before we wrote together, so that really helped me. Also, Gilbert is a great teacher and taught me to trust what God has given me while still listening to others to make the work better. I try to always follow this. I hope my editors agree...

She said: Tomorrow??

Are you a disciplined writer or do you just write when you feel like it?

He said: I am pretty disciplined, but not as disciplined as Diane. Her time management and commitment to her craft is truly inspiring. And Gilbert is one of the most disciplined writers ever! He can and does write a book in a month. I remember one time he dictated a young adult novel in a 24 hour period!

She said: I’m fairly disciplined. God has blessed us with several contracts and I have to work pretty hard to meet our deadlines.

What kind of activities do you like to do that help you relax and step away from your deadlines for a bit?

He said: Work on my editing deadlines! Seriously, reading a Christian historical novel, going to bookstores to look for books, or watching old movies or episodes of classic TV shows.

She said: Puzzles on my computer. I have a special few on shockwave.com that I can do while a part of my brain is considering either the next scene or the one just completed.

What is your favorite novel and what made it special?

He said: So many books, so little time... I would have to say Gilbert Morris’s The Honorable Imposter. I was reading secular historical fiction, which was my favorite, at the time this book came out. I was thrilled to find my favorite type of story from a Christian worldview! Gilbert’s books opened me up to a whole new world. I am so thankful God led me this way because of the many wonderful books and equally wonderful author-friends I have made. I have honestly read very little secular fiction since as Christian fiction is so much better!!!

She said: Someone loaned me a copy of This Present Darkness by Frank Peretti which forever changed my view of Christian Fiction.

How do you think reading the work of others helps you as a writer?

He said: Knowing Christian novels, especially Gilbert’s books, opened so many doors for me that otherwise would have been closed. Also, other Christian novels inspire me to live better for God which in turn makes me write better for Him.

She said: It helps me keep up with the market. When I read a book now, I am always looking for the progression of characters and plot.

Tell us a little about your latest release:

She said: The Mockingbird’s Call is set in Knoxville, Tennessee, during the Civil War. It is a glimpse of some of the tough decisions Christians had to make during a difficult time in our history.

He said: This is the third book in a three-book series chronicling three generations of one family through 50 years of Tennessee history.

Where did you get your inspiration for The Mockingbird’s Call?

She said: Aaron is the idea man for our writing partnership. He comes up with all of our plots.

He said: Believe it or not, the symbol of the mockingbird came first. When we were planning and plotting the proposal for this series, we talked about doing three generations during the 1800s in Tennessee. I wanted the titles to represent symbols of the state so we used the state tree, flower, and bird—Under the Tulip Poplar, A Bouquet for Iris, and The Mockingbird’s Call. The third book was to take place during the Civil War period. The mockingbird is able to sound like other birds, disguise itself really, so I thought of a spy of sorts. This led to someone working for the Underground Railroad. The rest of the story was built around this.

What special challenges did the two of you face by co-authoring this book?

He said: We are so blessed in our writing partnership that we have never had trouble co-authoring. We actually prefer it to writing alone.

She said: Trying to write a story about the South during the Civil War that does not necessarily match everyone’s preconceptions. (Our book is not Gone with the Wind.)

Can you give some advice to people considering co-authoring?
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She said: Aaron and I have been friends for years. I respect him and trust his judgment without question. I cannot imagine trying to co-write with anyone I didn’t know and like as well as I do him.

He said: Only choose someone with the same goals as you. And I think your writing approach should be similar—we are both heavy plotters. Most importantly, be ready to give up the idea that it is YOUR baby. I think this actually makes my writing stronger as it reminds me that the work should never be mine anyway if I am truly writing it for God to use as He wills.

Which character is most like you?

She said: Aunt Laura. She is a nice lady who wants everything to stay the same and all problems to magically disappear.

He said: I know Diane is getting a big kick out of this one! I conceived Jared Stuart, the hero, as a beta male, as Myra Johnson referred to this type of hero in a recent post on the Heartsong Connections blog. I wanted him to be more cerebral than rugged, more sensitive than dashing, wear glasses, and still get the girl. (Alas, this almost never really happens.) Diane said, “You mean he is like you.” I disagreed strongly, but she told me that while writing the character of Jared, she always asked herself what I would do in the situation. So, I guess Jared is most like me, although as the disclaimer always says, “Any similarity between these characters and real people is intentional...I mean UN-intentional!” :-)

Who is your favorite character and why?

He said: I like Jared, and not because he may or may not be me. I like that he stands up for his beliefs without wavering and that he follows God’s calling for his writing to have purpose for Him. I hope and pray that I am like this!

She said: I like Amelia because she eventually turns to God for the answers to her dilemma.

Did you know how The Mockingbird’s Call would turn out? Were you surprised by any of the plot twists or characters?

She said: Although both Aaron and I are plotters, I was happy to add a twist to one of the minor characters who will have to remain unnamed so the readers won’t catch on until the right time.

He said: We are definitely diehard outline plotters. However, the last one-fourth or so of this book just didn’t work after we wrote it. We had to scrap it, re-plot that part of the book, and rewrite it. The new ending works so much better!

What is the main thing you hope readers remember from this story?

He said: That God has a special calling for each of us and this calling must be done with honor and integrity before Him, being willing to sacrifice everything for His work to be fulfilled.

She said: To search for God’s guidance all the time.

What kinds of things have you done to market this book? Have you found anything that works particularly well?
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He said: I find getting to do interviews on the blogs of other wonderful writers who happen to also be wonderful friends works great!

She said: I’m not good at marketing our books—give me a computer and a plot, and I’m happy. Aaron generally handles all the stuff after the writing part.

Tell us what new projects you’re working on.
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She said: We just finished edits on the first book of a new series for Heartsong Presents, titled Across the Cotton Fields. We plan to begin on the second book by the end of March. I am also working on a historical novella for Barbour which I hope to finish in a couple of weeks.

He said: This new series is set in our home state of Mississippi. (I grew up in Tennessee, though.) The second book has just been titled Among the Magnolias. Each of the three books will actually feature a character from one of the three books of our Tennessee series.

Do you have any parting words of advice?

He said: You have probably heard it before but sit at a computer and write, write, write. Gilbert always told me that many people actually talk a lot ABOUT writing without ever really writing. Also, learn the market (Sally Stuart’s guide is great), read books in your genre, and attend Christian writing conferences. Do this for the teaching, yes, but do it more for the networking. This is so important and often overlooked.

She said: Writing with a partner is wonderful, and I would recommend it to anyone who has as talented a friend as I do...but sorry, Aaron’s already taken.

He added: Aw, thanks Diane. But she would never tell you that she is a much better writer than I am and brings life to all of the plots floating around in my head all of the time.
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Want more? Stop by The Borrowed Book tomorrow for an excerpt from The Mockingbird's Call by Diane Ashley and Aaron McCarver.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Grace Fox is an author and speaker best described in three words: Daring. Deep. Devoted. Her passion is to help women develop the same characteristics – to become daring in their faith, deep in their convictions, and devoted in their relationship with Jesus Christ. Drawing from Scripture and personal experiences learned while living on Canada’s rugged coastline, in urban U.S.A., and in Nepal’s Himalayan mountains, she uses the written page and the public stage to build Christ-based confidence in audiences worldwide.
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Grace’s quick wit, real-life stories, and biblical insight keep her in constant demand as a speaker for international women’s events and as a World Vision representative. National radio and TV programs look to her as a trusted guest to inspire their audiences. Her frequent media appearances include 100 Huntley Street, It’s a New Day, and The Harvest Show.

Her writing includes hundreds of articles for magazines including Focus on the Family, Today’s Christian Woman, Insight for Living and Power for Living. She has four published books: Moving from Fear to Freedom, 10-Minute Time Outs for Moms, 10-Minute Time Outs for Busy Women, and 10-Minute Time Outs for You and Your Kids, as well as contributions in five compilations including Hot Apple Cider and Tyndale’s One-Year Life Verse Devotional.

Former missionaries to Nepal, Grace and her husband, Gene, live in Abbotsford, British Columbia. They direct International Messengers Canada, a ministry that offers creative short-term and career missionary opportunities in Eastern Europe. They’ve been married for 28 years and have three grown children and two grandchildren. In their spare time, they enjoy motor biking.

When did you decide to be a writer?
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In 1979 during my senior year of Bible college, someone asked me what I’d do with my life if neither time nor money mattered. One of the answers I gave was, “Be a writer.” I had no idea what that might look like, but it sounded glamorous to me. In 1999 – 20 years later – I began pursuing that dream and attended my first writers conference.

At what point did you stop juggling suggestions and critiques and trust yourself (as a writer)?

That happened a year or two later. I had critiqued a friend’s articles and he’d done the same for mine. When I began writing my first book, he offered his critiques again. I accepted, but this time he suggested so many changes that it started driving me crazy! I had to step back and ask myself whether or not these changes were truly warranted or wasting my time and energy. When I realized it was the latter, I began to trust myself. The book was eventually published with very few edits.

Are you a disciplined writer or do you just write when you feel like it?

Very disciplined. I write a devotional three times weekly, write assignments for Power for Living, and more.

What kind of activities do you like to do that help you relax and step away from your deadlines for a bit?

Play with my grandkids. Bake. Ride motorbike with my husband. Walk around a nearby city park. Tend to my flowerbeds. Travel. Wow – that list sounds like I have a lot of free time. If only!

What is your favorite novel (not written by you) and what made it special?

I’m not into novels so much. You can usually find me buried in a non-fiction book. The latest was Soul Cravings by Erwin McManus.

How do you think reading the work of others helps you as a writer?
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It helps me see technical areas where I can improve. Also, when reading on a topic that I’m writing about, I see things from a fresh perspective and it forces me to consider more angles as I put words on paper.

Tell us a little about your latest release:

Moving From Fear to Freedom: A Woman’s Guide to Peace in Every Situation is a non-fiction book that addresses specific fears with which many women struggle. These include the fear for their kids’ well-being, the fear of inadequacy, the fear or rejection, of financial insecurity, of the storms of life, and more. Each chapter ends with several Scripture promises about fear, Scripture-based prayers, and questions for personal growth or group study. The last chapter is a collection of salvation testimonies to assure unbelievers that it’s okay to trust an unseen God with their lives. Readers tell me it’s transformed them by helping them identify their fears and giving them practical ways to move beyond them.

Where did you get your inspiration for Moving From Fear to Freedom: A Woman’s Guide to Peace in Every Situation?

My inspiration came from life experience – going through difficult stuff and seeing God prove Himself faithful. As a result of learning more about His character, I can now take divinely-appointed risks knowing that He’s in control. I’ve seen Him do some amazing things when I’ve said yes to Him, and I want other women to experience the same freedom and joy in their spiritual journey. For many, fear is often the deterring factor. It’s one of the enemy’s tactics to prevent believers and non-believers alike from fulfilling God’s purpose for their lives.

You went through some interesting trials with this book. Can you share a little about that?
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It was released in 2007, and I was certain that this topic would be a hot one. Unfortunately, publicity fell flat. I’d sell many copies wherever I spoke at women’s events, but overall sales seemed to lag compared to my previous books. Last October, still passionate about addressing the fear issue, I decided to hire a publicist to do a four-month media campaign. That’s when I learned that this book was going to be remaindered in January 2010, so I called off the campaign.

When January arrived, I contacted my publisher to buy all the remaining copies of Moving From Fear to Freedom. No one knew there knew anything about it going out of print. The three individuals I spoke with were very apologetic and said they couldn’t understand where the misinformation came from.

I don’t understand how this could have happened, either, but I know that God controls every detail of my life. I’ve since hired a publicist who is doing a four-month media campaign. Meanwhile, several ministries are now considering this book as a possible resource. One has asked me to write a study guide and has offered grant money to get the job done. A couple of weeks ago, an individual offered to put it on audio. Insights (the magazine for Insights for Living Canada) will run one of my articles and post the book on their website homepage in May. Things are happening – it’s truly a Lazarus experience and I can’t wait to see where God takes it. I can trust and not be afraid – hmmm – where have I heard that before?

What is the main thing you hope readers remember from this story?
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God is faithful, loving, wise, and powerful. We can trust Him and not be afraid.

What kinds of things have you done to market this book? Have you found anything that works particularly well?

I’ve done blog, radio, and TV interviews. I’ve visited bookstores to let buyers know about it. I’ve written magazine articles about overcoming fear, and I’ve had book excerpts published. I’ve published bookmarks and given them to bookstores to use as bag stuffers. I’ve started a devotional blog to encourage my readers and to develop deeper relationships with them, and I’ve been building readership through my free monthly online newsletter. I’ve done a lot of speaking at women’s events – this is the best form of marketing I’ve found. When my audience connects with me and trusts me, they’ll buy the book to dig deeper.

Tell us what new projects you’re working on.
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I have a book proposal sitting with a publisher right now and am waiting on his response. Meanwhile, I’m developing three talks and laying the business groundwork for the secular marketplace. And from now through the fall, I’ll be writing a study guide and making a DVD teaching series for Moving From Fear to Freedom.

Do you have any parting words of advice?

When I began my writing career, someone gave me this advice: “If God is in this, don’t stop until He says so.” I remember these words each time I feel discouraged, and they remind me who’s in charge. And so I pass these words along – “If God has directed you to write, then don’t stop until He says so.”
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Grace is giving away a copy of her book Moving From Fear to Freedom: A Woman’s Guide to Peace in Every Situation. Be sure to stop by The Borrowed Book on Friday for your chance to win!

Monday, March 22, 2010

As a single mom and foster parent, Christina Berry carves time out of her busy schedule to write about the heart and soul of life. She’s one of those crazies who enjoys Math and Literature, majoring in both with a minor in French. All that confusion must have influenced her decision to be team captain of a winning team on Family Feud. Get to know her better at www.christinaberry.net, www.authorchristinaberry.net, www.twitter.com/authorchristina, or on Facebook.

When did you decide to be a writer?

Buried deep within my closet, one might find some angst-filled poetry from my teenage years and a very spooky seven pages of the novel I started in high school. Though I was in love with the idea of being a writer, it wasn’t until I finished college and stayed home with my first child that I actually decided to write a book. Truthfully, my mom told me we were going to write one together, and being the obedient daughter I am …

How long did you write before you sold your first book?

My mother, Sherrie Ashcraft, and I began writing in the summer of ’99. We figured the accountability of having a co-writer would make us actually do what we’d always dreamed of but never put action to. It took a long road of learning how much we didn’t know, tons of re-writing, brooding over rejections, making connections, pitching at conferences, and directional prayer to make our writing salable.

In the summer of 2006, when Mom was busy caring for her dying mother-in-law, I got the itch of a new story idea. Undiscovered was written by February 2007, edited by June, won second place in the 2008 ACFW Genesis Contemporary category, and was renamed The Familiar Stranger, contracted by Moody Publishers in October, and published in September 2009.

One decade from naïve first scribbles to debut novel!

Everyone’s journey to publication is different. Now that you’ve walked that road, what tips can you give to authors still hoping for that first contract?

~Read craft books—anything by James Scott Bell is a great place to start
~Join a critique group
~Attend writing conferences
~By open to criticism. One always has room to grow!

I wish I could say I’d found an amazing secret that held the key to getting published, but I believe it comes down to constantly working on craft and waiting on the Lord’s perfect timing. Don’t ever give up unless you hear Him calling you to something else.

Was there something about the experience of getting published that was a surprise to you?

I knew that titles were frequently changed for publication, but I didn’t expect the title to change before the contract was officially signed. Also, I knew that editors move from house to house fairly often in this industry, but I didn’t expect to lose my dream editor two days after signing the contract. (Hi, Andy!)

After getting over the shock of losing my editor, I was very impressed at how much Moody valued my input, how frequently they communicated with me, and how they lifted my family up in prayer. In fact, everyone from my editor to the marketing manager to the author liaison has been amazing!

Are you a disciplined writer or do you just write when you feel like it?

When I am in the writing mode, as in on a self-imposed deadline, I am very disciplined. I set a daily word count, usually of 1500 words, and I meet it no matter what. When I don’t have a deadline or a specific goal in mind, I get far less done.

What kind of activities to you like to do that help you relax and step away from your deadlines for a bit?

I love playing sappy songs from musicals or Disney tunes on the piano. I’m not a great musician, but it makes me happy to sing along. Of course I love to read, though there’s far less time for that now that I’m officially a writer. When I need to clear my mind, I clean. Love, love, love doing laundry. (Yes, it’s a sickness!)

I also enjoy a few TV shows, card games, the Wii (especially the Wii Fit Plus), trips to the beach or nearby lake … anything I can do with my family.

What is your favorite novel (not written by you) and what made it special?

Francine River’s first book in the Mark of the Lion Trilogy, A Voice in the Wind. The heroine of the novel, Hadassah, was so real to me. She lived out her faith in a soul-sacrificing way. As I read, I felt my heart changing and becoming hungry to please God.

How do you think reading the work of others helps you as a writer?

A deft turn of a word, a brilliant description, a true-to-life yet bigger-than-life character … all these things I note and then aspire to do in my own writing. To be honest, there are also books I read where I might say to myself, “Oh, this author just crossed the line into preachiness, in my opinion,” and I’ll go back and reread to see why I felt that. Reading both the good and the excellent, I learn what works and what doesn’t.

Tell us a little about your latest release:

The Familiar Stranger—formerly known as Undiscovered—is about a couple going through a really rough patch in their marriage. When an accident incapacitates the husband, their relationship must be redefined. Which would be a lot easier to do if BIG secrets from his past didn’t raise their ugly heads. Despite the upheaval, the choices they make involving forgiveness and trust might allow a new beginning. Or … they might not.

You can see the back cover copy and what other authors have said about The Familiar Stranger by going to http://www.christinaberry.net/books.aspx

Where did you get your inspiration for The Familiar Stranger?

In the summer of 2006, two stories appeared in the newspaper. One was a huge, national story; the other a smaller, local-interest item. I wondered what it might look like if those two stories conceived a child. Boom! I had the entire plot for The Familiar Stranger.

Denise and Craig’s story is based on the lessons of forgiveness God taught me when my marriage fell apart … the first time. During the editing process, and years after my husband and I reunited, our marriage of thirteen years unexpectedly ended. The words I had written as a happily married woman ministered to me in my singleness. My heart’s hope is that this book will lead people to Live Transparently—Forgive Extravagantly!

Which character is most like you?

Many of the emotions Denise goes through correspond to what I felt, though our situations differ. However, I also wanted to really understand the male perspective, so Craig had parts of me in him as well. The path away from God and following temptation is something we can all recognize and, unfortunately, identify with.
Who is your favorite character and why?

Jamie, the couple’s youngest boy, is a fun-loving, good-hearted scamp. Any scene with him in it came alive. But I also love Denise’s friend Sarah, and think anyone who has a friend like her is a blessed person.

Did you know how The Familiar Stranger would turn out? Were you surprised by any of the plot twists or characters?

I had a rough outline, and the ending is the main point of the book, so I did know what the ending would be. The last chapter however, didn’t appear until a month after I thought the story was finished. In feedback from readers, I would have been in big trouble if I hadn’t added it!

The sons took on a life of their own. Jamie and Nicolas became such organic subplots, all I had to do was transcribe what I saw them doing.

What is the main thing you hope readers remember from this story?

My novel is an exploration in forgiveness. When do we grant it? Why? What do we expect in return? What are the limits? If reading The Familiar Stranger makes even one man or woman be more honest with his or her spouse or delve into trust issues in a healthy way, I’ll consider it a success. Maybe there’s a hurting heart that can find a new path to forgiveness because of the story.

What kinds of things have you done to market this book? Have you found anything that works particularly well?

I set up a 61-day, 90+ blog tour that seemed to be very effective. Many people heard about the book in the first few months after its release. Since then, I’ve taken the approach of making one fan at a time. My mother and I also have an infrequent, humorous newsletter with almost 1,000 subscribers. As soon as we hit that mark, we’ll be giving away free autographed books or an iPod Shuffle. (Sign up at www.christinaberry.net) Word of mouth is everything to marketing, so people need to care about the book or the story and the author to really invest in future books. I’m always looking ahead, hopefully planning for a long and fruitful career.

Tell us what new projects you’re working on.

What are you currently writing?

I’m about 1/5 of the way through my next manuscript, Unafraid, a story about a girl’s kidnapping, and how her life unfolds because of the trauma. One of my characters is a PI, so I’m having loads of fun with the research.

The humor Sherrie Ashcraft (my sometime co-author and always mother) and I display in our infrequent, humorous newsletters—you can also sign up at www.ashberrylane.net/update.aspx --has garnered the attention of an editor. You just might see a funny, non-fiction cooperative work from the Ashberry Ladies at some point in time. Plus, I have a funky TV-based devotional a house is interested in … Busy, busy, busy!

Do you have any parting words of advice?

Write with purpose, whether it is a letter to a friend, a blog entry, or a full-length novel. The Lord says we will be held accountable for what we’ve said, so let’s make these words of our count for eternity!
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Christina is giving away a copy of her book, The Familiar Stranger. Be sure to stop by The Borrowed Book on Friday for your chance to win!

Saturday, March 20, 2010


It's always so much fun to give away great books!! Congratulations to this week's lucky winners:

Charity(esterried[at]yahoo[dot]com) - The Jewel of His Heart by Maggie Brendan

Lena - Rewriting Your Emotional Script by Becky Harling

Susan Sleeman - Love Finds You in Homestead, Iowa by Melanie Dobson

Winners of this week's books, please use the button in the upper right side of this page to email me with your mailing address so I can forward your information to the authors. Then, sit back and wait for your book to arrive.

Thank you all so much for stopping by
The Borrowed Book and thank you Maggie Brendan, Becky Harling, and Melanie Dobson for your generosity in providing books!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Entering our weekly drawing is easy:

1. Leave a comment on Fridays or...

2. Sign up to follow The Borrowed Book. Followers will automatically be entered for a chance to win that week's drawing!

This week, The Borrowed Book is giving away three great books:

The Jewel of His Heart by Maggie Brendan ~ Set in 1890s Montana, The Jewel of His Heart finds Juliana drawn to a handsome, gentle sheepherder--but sparks fly when he considers mining, the occupation that lured her father away from his family. Both Josh and Juliana must make a choice--the world's riches and promises, or the eternal value of love.
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Rewriting Your Emotional Script by Becky Harling ~ Women who have gone through hard times often carry years of emotional baggage that keeps them in bondage to a time, event, or person.

Using the blessings in the Beatitudes, Becky Harling shows how to erase negative emotional messages of the past. Learn how to rewrite your emotional script by adopting the positive attitudes of the Beatitudes.
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Love Finds You in Homestead, Iowa by Melanie Dobson ~ Times are hard in 1894. Desperate for work, former banker Jacob Hirsch rides the rails west from Chicago with his four-year-old daughter, Cassie. When a life-threatening illness strands the pair in Homestead, Iowa, the local Amana villagers welcome the father and daughter into their peaceful society. Liesel, a young Amana woman, nurses Cassie back to health, and the Homestead elders offer Jacob work. But Jacobs growing interest in Liesel complicates his position in the Amanas. Will he fight to stay in the only place that feels like home, even if it means giving up the woman he loves? Or will Liesel leave her beloved community to face the outside world with Jacob and Cassie at her side?
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Winners will be announced on Saturday, 03/20/10.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


“Becky, you must forgive.”

If someone had told me that I needed to jump off a cliff or take up bungee jumping, I couldn’t have been more stunned. I stammered out, “But…..I think….I have…”

There was a long pause, and then the speaker said, “No, I don’t think you have. I can see fear written all over your face. If you want to be set free from fear, you must forgive.”

I swallowed, trying to choke back tears. Then I whispered, “How? How do I do that?”

Another long pause. Then, “Begin by going back to every memory you have of being abused. As you revisit each incident, tell God you are willing to forgive.”

I bit my lip and tears streamed down my face. My throat closed and my stomach felt nauseated. “You don’t know what you are asking me. I have already visited those memories. I cannot go back. Is there another way?”

For the past year the Holy Spirit had been prompting me to tell a particular Christian leader about the sexual abuse I had experienced growing up. I figured it must be my imagination, because I had never met this person, but the promptings continued. Then one Sunday my husband and I visited another church in town. Imagine my shock when we entered the sanctuary and this man was the guest speaker! Sure enough throughout the service the Holy Spirit nudged me to talk with him and since I could no longer deny the promptings, I silently told the Holy Spirit I would obey. After I told this Christian leader my story, he invited both Steve and me to have coffee with him, and that’s when he challenged me to forgive the person who had abused me as a child.

The next morning, after my family had left the house, I lay facedown on my bedroom floor and told the Lord that I wanted to forgive but that I didn’t know how. I began to pray, Holy Spirit, I am petrified of revisiting those horrible moments, but if You will lead me, I will follow You even there.

The Holy Spirit was more than willing. It was as if He led me down a long, dark corridor, opening door after door. Behind each door I saw a little girl being sexually abused. She tried to scream for help, but no wounds came out of her mouth. As I watched sad scene, I felt angry, sad, afraid, powerless, confused….and a host of other emotions.

Each time I watched another episode of abuse, the Holy Spirit whispered, “Becky, will you dare to give me your hurt? Your pain? Your anger and your fear? Will you forgive?”

Between broken sobs, I whispered, “yes.” When I finished four hours later, I felt exhausted but also free form fear and anger.

That day was the beginning of my journey to forgive the one who had abused me. Yes, it was only the beginning. For years I had resisted forgiving the person who had done such evil toward me, yet I knew that if I wanted to move ahead emotionally and spiritually, I had to take this step. Forgiving my abuser has not been simple, nor easy. Indeed, it has been gut-wrenching. Sometimes I feel I have completed the journey and then the Holy Spirit reveals another layer of anger or resentment tied to the abuse. Once again, I must affirm my decision to forgive.

Adopted from Rewriting Your Emotional Script Becky Harling (Colorado Springs, CO: Navpress, 2008), 161-162

Want more? Becky is giving away a copy of her book Rewriting Your Emotional Script. Be sure to stop by The Borrowed Book on Friday for your chance to win!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Melanie Dobson is the author of six novels including Love Finds You in Liberty, Indiana and her latest Love Finds You in Homestead, Iowa. Her novel The Black Cloister won the ForeWord Magazine Religious Fiction Book of the Year Award in 2009 and was nominated for an ACFW Book of the Year Award. Melanie lived in Iowa for several years where she became intrigued by the Amana Colonies including the quaint village of Homestead. More information about her story is at www.melaniedobson.com.

When did you decide to be a writer?

I’ve been compelled to write ever since I began jotting down my thoughts into a bright red diary in second grade. During middle school, my fascination with Nancy Drew pushed me to start a number of “mysteries,” but I discovered early in life that endings are hard to write so I never finished these stories. After college, I pursued a career in public relations and journalism instead of fiction writing. I always thought I would start writing stories again when I was “older,” but it wasn’t until a few months before my thirtieth birthday that I realized I was indeed older. God renewed my passion for fiction, and a decade after the big 3-0, I’m still writing novels.

At what point did you stop juggling suggestions and critiques and trust yourself (as a writer)?

Critiques keep me accountable when my writing gets lazy and help me see things I may have missed so before each of my novels are published, I ask a core group of talented writing and reading friends to critique my manuscript. I still have to decide which suggestions I should implement, but if the majority of these readers recommend I change a certain character or plot line, I almost always rework it.

Tell us a little about your latest release:

Love Finds You in Homestead, Iowa is set in one of my favorite places in the world--the quaint and very peaceful Amana Colonies. Here’s the storyline:

Desperate for work, former banker Jacob Hirsch rides the rails west from Chicago with his four-year-old daughter, Cassie. When a life-threatening illness strands the pair in Homestead, Iowa, the local Amana villagers welcome the father and daughter into their peaceful society. Liesel, a young Amana woman, nurses Cassie back to health, and the Homestead elders offer Jacob work. But Jacob’s growing interest in Liesel complicates his position in the Amanas. Will he fight to stay in the only place that feels like home, even if it means giving up the woman he loves? Or will Liesel leave her beloved community to face the outside world with Jacob and Cassie at her side?

Where did you get your inspiration for Love Finds You in Homestead, Iowa?

I’ve been intrigued by the Amana Colonies and culture since I lived in Iowa during my high school years. There is no place else in the world like the Amanas so it was an honor for me to visit and write a story of what life would have looked like in these communal villages during the late 1800s. As I worked on the story, I contrasted the contented Amana people with the stress and worry following the financial Panic of 1893. The collision of these two very different worlds is the premise of Love Finds You in Homestead, Iowa.

What is the main thing you hope readers remember from this story?

Even though most of us can’t live in the Amana Colonies, this story was a good reminder to me to take a step back from the never ending craziness found in the world and savor the peace and joy that Jesus offers all who choose to follow Him.

Tell us what new projects you’re working on.

My next novel, Refuge on Crescent Hill, releases in April. This is a contemporary romantic suspense set in a dilapidated Ohio mansion—a mansion hiding a number of both past and present secrets. The Silent Order, my next romantic suspense novel through Summerside, releases this fall. This novel is about a Cleveland detective who hides out in Ohio’s Amish country during the late 1920s.

Do you have any parting words of advice?

A bestselling author once said in an interview that she was a horrible writer but a fabulous re-writer. When I watched this interview, I was thinking and talking about writing all the time but I wasn’t actually writing because I was terrified I would fail. And if I failed, my dream of becoming a writer would die.
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Once I realized that my first draft would stink, I let go of my fears and began spewing random thoughts onto my computer. After I had my first draft on paper, I polished and reworked and rewrote until it was coherent. Even though I still get anxious each time I start a new book, I’m no longer as scared of the process.
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Melanie is giving away a copy of her book, Love Finds You in Homestead, Iowa. Be sure to stop by The Borrowed Book on Friday for your chance to win!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Becky Harling is a gifted communicator, with a passion for seeing the Bible “come alive” in the hearts of women. Her love for the Lord, compassionate spirit, sense of humor and energetic style inspires women to draw closer to God.

Becky has spent more than 30 years teaching the Word of God to women both nationally and internationally. She and her husband have served in pastoral ministry both here in the United States and overseas in the country of Sudan, East Africa. She creatively combines deep Biblical insight with her powerful testimony and the stories of other women. Her life experience as a pastor’s wife, missionary, parent of four children, Women’s Ministries Director, survivor of breast cancer and childhood sexual abuse all bring depth to her message. She brings a message of hope and healing that is refreshingly transparent.

Becky holds a degree in Biblical Literature. She speaks both individually and together with her husband Steve, who is the Lead Pastor at Foothills Community Church in Arvada, Co. Becky has served as a consultant for Women’s Ministry Directors around the country. She and Steve have four adult children and one grandchild.

Becky has written Finding Calm in Life’s Chaos and Rewriting Your Emotional Script, which is now also published in Polish. Her third book, Living for His Applause Alone is scheduled to be released in 2010. She has been a guest on Denver Celebration (Daystar Television Network), Moody’s Midday Connection, The John and Stephanie Show, The Author’s Corner with Adam Winkler and many other top rated radio talk shows.

When did you decide to be a writer?

I first thought about being a writer as ten year old. I loved reading and the thought of writing felt intriguing! That year I read 100 books and thought about what type of book I’d like to write.

At what point did you stop juggling suggestions and critiques and trust yourself (as a writer)?

I am not sure I’ve reached the point of “trusting myself” yet……..I’m definitely growing and my editor continues to build my confidence. She is teaching me to “trust my gut.” I continue to remind myself that the Holy Spirit indwells me and so I know that He leads as I write.

Are you a disciplined writer or do you just write when you feel like it?

I tend to be fairly disciplined but at times “writers block” sets in and I have to lay it aside and let my thoughts simmer until I have clarity.

What kind of activities to you like to do that help you relax and step away from your deadlines for a bit?

I work out at the gym and go for walks. My husband and I enjoy going to movies together and watching the Denver Nuggets play basketball. I love to read and I am wild about hanging out with my eight week old grandson! (Charlie)

What is your favorite novel (not written by you) and what made it special?

At Home in Mitford by Jan Karon. My husband and I entered pastoral ministry at age 21. Our first church was a little country church in small town America much like Mitford. I fell in love with the characters that Jan created because I felt like I had already met them in our small country church!

How do you think reading the work of others helps you as a writer?

I find inspiration in reading the writings of other authors. I was first a “speaker” who then became a writer so, I still consider myself a learner. Reading the writings of others helps me pick up tips on how to develop my thoughts and find my own writing voice.

Tell us a little about your latest release:

My latest release was Rewriting Your Emotional Script. The book gives readers a process for personal healing and life transformation. Rewriting takes readers through the beatitudes and shows them how to step by step erase the false messages they received in childhood and replace them with truth from God’s word. The book gives women hope that freedom from the emotional baggage of childhood is possible!

Where did you get your inspiration for Rewriting Your Emotional Script?

As I began sharing my story of healing from childhood sexual abuse, women began coming to me and asking me to show them how I found healing. Many felt hopeless and as if they would never recover. In many ways, God used my story to provide living hope for women, showing them that healing and life transformation were possible!

One of the themes of this book is finding freedom for people whose past is holding them bondage. What would you say is the number one thing people struggle with freeing themselves from?

The number one thing I hear is that women are held in bondage to the messages of their past. Instead of replacing those messages with truth they rehearse those false messages over and over like a broken tape in their minds.

Was there ever a time in your life when you wish someone would have shared the tips found in this book with you? Can you tell us about it?

Yes! When I began having sexual abuse memories and realized the extent of those memories I felt as if my life was over. At that time God brought a godly mentor and a godly therapist alonsgide me and together they worked with me showing me how to erase the messages of the past and replace them with the truth found in God’s word. God used those two godly women to shoe me that God was going to use me in the lives of thousands of women to show them how to break free from their past.

What is the main thing you hope readers remember from this story?

No matter how much emotional pain you have experienced, freedom and life transformation are possible!

What kinds of things have you done to market this book? Have you found anything that works particularly well?

I have taken a lot of radio interviews. Moody radio ran a ten week on the air Bible study where listeners could join two co-hosts and myself, on the air for a “small group Bible study” going through Rewriting Your Emotional Script. In addition, whenever I do a Rewriting Your Emotional Script conference in an area of the United States, I contact counseling agencies in that area and send ahead copies of my book to give them a head’s up that I will be in their area. I make them aware that I will be mentioning issues such as sexual abuse, eating disorders and depression. That has worked very well and gets counselors behind the book.

Tell us what new projects you’re working on.

I am presently finishing my third book which helps women find grace in a performance driven world. The book uses the parables that Jesus taught as a spring board to help women internalize grace. The whole book is built around one statement: “Grace tells me I am completely known, loved, forgiven, empowered and pursued by God.”

Do you have any parting words of advice?

Learn to unleash the power of praising God in your own personal life. When you learn to praise God in spite of your circumstances, chains of bondage are broken!
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Becky is giving away a copy of her book, Rewriting Your Emotional Script. Be sure to stop by The Borrowed Book on Friday for your chance to win!

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