Thursday, March 31, 2011

An Interview with Author T. Davis Bunn on Co-Authoring with Janette Oke and Their Latest Novel

Photo courtesy of Chris Kidler, Florida Today
I was recently given the chance to interview author T. Davis Bunn. I hope you enjoy this peek into the process of his writing and working relationship with author Janette Oke.

About Davis Bunn:

Davis Bunn is an award-winning novelist whose audience spans reading genres from high drama and action thrillers to heartwarming relationship stories, in both contemporary and historical settings. He and his wife, Isabella, make their home in Florida for some of each year, and spend the rest near Oxford, England, where they each teach and write.

How did you and Janette Oke establish your writing relationship?
Janette had read several of my early works and liked my sense of drama. I had read a number of hers, and was just amazed at her ability to weave in the fragile and beautiful emotions of a woman’s heart. We were at the annual gathering of Christian publishers when we first talked about writing together. Six months later, we met in Canada and began work on our first book. That was fourteen years ago.

What do each of you contribute to your novels?
I always advise would-be novelists to wait until they have firmly established their voice before partnering. A good partnership holds a number of the same requirements as a good marriage. There is give and take on a multitude of levels, and a huge amount of personal growth. The risk for a new author is that they might lose sight of who they are at the fundamental creative level. Know yourself, feel clear on what you can change and what must remain uniquely yours. Then partner.

Author Janette Oke
Working with Janette has been a continuous learning process, and because of this, a great joy. She does not merely create her stories. She lives her faith, as much on the page as she does in her life. And this has been an ongoing testament to me, an invitation to grow in my own walk as well as in my stories. When I look back at our time working together, this is what first comes to mind. The issues of characters and stories and writing change with each story. But this one issue remains steadfast at the heart of our work together. We begin and end each project with prayer and Bible study. We talk about the act of service as a component of our work together. We take aim upon our Lord. And then we begin.

And we hold fast to our focus upon God. This has allowed us to look beyond the petty differences that inevitably arise during the creative process. It is much like a family bonding, as we share the creative process. So long as we maintain that vital perspective, that we work in service to the family of God, there is a remarkable ability to hold our vision upon the eternal.

Working with Janette has been a wonderful gift of freedom. Janette has a remarkable ability to capture the soft strands of emotional story. She can perceive a woman’s heart better than any author I know.

There are many times when I have sent her part of a new manuscript, and watched her insert her own scenes, and be amazed at how perfect they draw out the feminine side of the drama. And at the same time I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I could not have come up with what Janette has done. Not in a hundred million years.

What is your favorite part of the story writing process?

There are moments in each story’s creation when I just go away. I do not know how to describe it any better than that. My thought processes grow as quiet as in the most intense moments of prayer, and my hands are merely extensions of something that is beyond me. The act of creation is complete. I am merely an open window, and the flow is from somewhere beyond my puny self, through my eyes and hands, and onto the page. Time ceases to matter. The work is all. My spirit sings until the energy is depleted and the voice upon the page is reduced to a mere whisper, a solemn intonation of thanks. I walk away exhausted, and very close to the divine

Is there a story you have written that has been especially poignant for you?

Without question, The Damascus Way – the third and final book in the Acts of Faith series – is my favorite. The Damascus Way centers upon one of the most crucial components of the Book of Acts – the persecution of the early church and the miraculous confrontation between Jesus and Saul of Tarsus.

There is the beginning of signs and wonders within the growing church. The church expands at a rate that is astonishing and miraculous to everyone involved. The Judean Temple hierarchy and the Roman government grow hostile to the church. Stephen has become the first martyr.

It was a true growing experience to spend these days and weeks and months so deeply involved with the Followers of the Way.

For me, The Damascus Way is by far the richest book in the series. Other readers, especially women, have come in strong for book one or two, but Damascus for me holds the most powerful elements. Not just for this series, but for everything Janette and I have done together.

I heard a really nice thing yesterday. I happened to bump into a friend at the supermarket, and he told me how someone had stood up in the middle of the formal church service on Sunday – at a church on the other side of the county – and lifted Damascus over his head and said everyone in the church had to go out and read this book, that it was life-changing. What a huge gift.

How can readers find you on the Internet?

My website, blog, and interactive discussion group are at
Twitter: @davisbunn -

More about The Damascus Way
Young Julia has everything money can buy—except for acceptance by either Gentiles or Judeans in Tiberias. When she discovers the secret her beloved Greek father has kept all these years, she is devastated. Julia and her Hebrew mother are indeed less than second-class citizens. Her future is dark with clouds of uncertainty.

Jacob, Abigail's brother, is now a young man attempting to find his own place among the community of believers. Does it mean trading away the exhilaration and adventure of his current profession as a caravan guard?

Hired by Julia's father to protect a wealthy merchant's caravans on the secretive "Frankincense Trail," Jacob also reluctantly takes on the perilous responsibility of passing letters and messages between communities of believers now dispersed across the land. He is alarmed to discover that Julia, hardly more than a girl, is also a courier. Can their initial mistrust be put aside to accomplish their mission?

The Damascus Way is the finale to the best-selling Acts of Faith trilogy co-authored by Davis Bunn and Janette Oke.

Racing to "No Safe Haven" by Kimberly and Kayla Woodhouse (review)

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:
and the book:

B&H Books (March 15, 2011)
***Special thanks to Julie Gwinn, Trade Book Marketing, B&H Publishing Group for sending me a review copy.***


Kimberley Woodhouse is a wife, mother, writer, and musician approaching life with a positive outlook despite difficult circumstances. Her previous book,Welcome Home: Our Family’s Journey to Extreme Joy, chronicles her daughter’s extremely rare health issues and how the Woodhouses received an amazing gift through the ABC television program Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.

Kim and her husband have two children and live in Colorado.

Kayla Woodhouse is a teenage author whose life-altering medical condition (a nerve disorder that prevents the body from regulating its temperature or sensing pain) has not stopped her love for swimming. She is home schooled and has an adventure blog called Dragon Claws, Dog Paws, Swimming Laws.

Visit Kim's website.
Visit Kayla's blog.


A young widow and her physically challenged daughter survive a plane crash in the Alaskan mountains but must puzzle together how it relates to the recent death of their husband and father.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: B&H Books (March 15, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1433671166
ISBN-13: 978-1433671166



The plane dropped like a 3000 pound stone.

Jenna Tikaani-Gray braced herself with one hand, and held a warm, foam cup away from her body with the other as they jostled along. These pockets of air were turning the flight into a wild ride at the fair. Good thing she loved those rides almost as much as she loved flying, because they were dropping again. Down, then up, then down again, until the sky turned to silk and the plane sailed along.

At least the turbulence hadn’t spilled the coffee.

After a long, slow sip, Jenna released a sigh as their small de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver, left the bowl of Anchorage, Alaska, and lifted into the clear blue sky above. The mountains around Anchorage always produced a bumpy ride, but she’d managed to pass coffee to Hank and their other passenger without mishap.

Only one more leg of the journey and they’d be home.

A beautiful hand reached across the seat, welcoming her embrace, and she smiled at her twelve-year-old daughter, Andrea. Such a sweet kid. Jenna had definitely been blessed from above with her only child. Andrea had been through such trial and heartache, yet faced the world smiling.

Jenna squeezed her daughter’s hand as the radio buzzed and crackled.

“Juliet Kilo 3-2-6 November”--Departure Control came through the channel loud and clear.--“I’m getting no mode C on your transponder. Squawk 2-3-7-5 i-dent.”

Hank, the pilot, replied, “Roger. Juliet Kilo 3-2-6 November i-dent…”

“Negative radar contact. Maintain VFR. Do you have another transponder?”

“Roger. I’ll switch to backup.”

Jenna leaned over the side of her seat watching Hank flip the switch from transponder A to B. She waited for word from Departure Control.

“Still negative radar contact. Can you maintain VFR?”

“Roger that, Control. No problem.”

That was strange. How could both transponders be malfunctioning? She furrowed her brow. When they returned to North Pole, she’d have to get it checked out. Good thing Hank was an experienced pilot. Since Marc’s death, Jenna had hired him to pilot their plane, and knew he could handle whatever might happen.

Andie pulled on her arm, bringing Jenna’s attention from the cockpit back to her daughter.


“Yeah, sweetie?”

“What does VFR mean?” Andie’s fascination was clear on her face.

Jenna felt the tension ease from her own features as she leaned close to Andie, a little thrill rippling through her body. How she loved talking about flying. “Visual Flight Rules. Hank filed an IFR flight plan—Instrument Flight Rules—but the transponders must be malfunctioning, so the tower is instructing him to fly VFR, meaning visually. If we didn’t have a clear day, that would make flying VFR trickier, sometimes impossible.”

“Is it safe to fly VFR?”

Andie must have noted her reaction earlier. Jenna had never been good at hiding things from her inquisitive child.

Jenna noticed the other passenger glance back at them from his seat next to the pilot, and she held back a frown. The rough flight could explain the man’s lack of a smile, but what caused the fierce look he shot them? Jenna cocked her head, questioning the man with her silent stare. A poke from Andie brought her back to the question.

“Yes, sweetie. It’s perfectly safe.”

“Just checkin’.” Andie giggled, squeezed Jenna’s hand, and turned to look out the tiny window next to her seat.

The man watched Jenna as she faced forward once again. Something in his intense gaze pulled at her, but she couldn’t discern what. She’d been so excited about going home that she hadn’t paid attention when they were introduced. His first name was . . . Cole? Ugh. Good job remembering the details, Jenna. Marc had taught her better than that.

Well, whether she could remember his name or not, something about this guy bothered her. She just couldn’t put her finger on what.

Forcing herself to break the connection, she slid her chin left and tried to focus on the scenery beneath them. Greens and blues melded with the white of melting snow. This was her favorite part of flying. Watching the beauty of God’s handiwork skim below her.

The two men up front spoke in hushed tones, bringing her attention back to their puzzling guest. Hank approached her before the flight asking if they could take another passenger, and she didn’t mind since the added income would be to her benefit. But who was this guy? And why, if he were just another tourist, was he so serious?

Closing her eyes, Jenna attempted to dispel her concerns. Think about the amazing news from Andie’s neurosurgeon instead. The results were far beyond her expectations, and for the first time in many years Jenna allowed herself to dream big for her precious child. So much tragedy and hurt could now be replaced with hope. The future was brighter than ever.

Instinctively, she reached for the dog tags around her neck. If only Marc could’ve been there. He’d been distraught when, as a toddler, their daughter was first diagnosed. But the additional diagnosis two years ago just about broke the man. He’d never quite recovered, and his demeanor had forever changed. The once crazy adventurer—a man full of life and laughter—closed himself behind a stone wall of protection.

She’d fought long and hard to penetrate his defenses, but taking care of Andie had become their focus, taken all their energy. When their daughter went in for brain surgery a year ago, the walls between them finally fell as they cried and held one another in the surgical waiting room. But Jenna never had the chance to discover what drove her husband to such emotional extremes. The accident happened before Andie was released from the hospital.

Opening her eyes, she blinked back the tears threatening to spill down her cheeks. Stop it! This is no time for tears. It’s a happy day.

They would move on from here.

She turned to gaze out the window. How long had she been lost in her memories? And, for that matter…where were they? Leaning closer to the glass, she searched for familiar landmarks. The scenery wasn’t right.

Before she could open her mouth to speak to Hank, brisk movement in the cockpit drew her attention to the two men up front. Seeing a tangle of arms shoved her heart into her throat.

Hank was fighting the passenger!

The man grabbed Hank’s arm and—a gun! Hank had a gun!

Before Jenna could move, Hank jerked his arm free, took aim, and shot the radio. Glancing at Andie, she ripped open her seatbelt. Her daughter’s eyes widened and her mouth hung open as Jenna yanked the belt off her and shoved her over the seat toward the rear of the plane. She climbed after her frightened child, signaling her to crouch in the floor. As Jenna hunched over her sweet daughter, she hugged her tight, whispering calming words in an attempt to shield her from the horror of the scene unfolding in front of them.

The plane plunged and veered to the west.

Heart thundering, Jenna monitored the scuffle through a crack between the seats and prayed for wisdom and safety. What was happening? And why? Arms wrestled and tangled—the passenger pushed upward, almost hovering over the pilot. What if he killed Hank?

As the plane teetered and shuddered, Jenna felt the panic rise in her throat. Surely God wasn’t going to let Andie die, not after all she’d survived already.

The man rammed a fist into the pilot’s face. Though Hank tried to fight back, he soon crumpled under the intense blows. Hank wore an evil smirk as he croaked out the awful words: “You’ll…never make…it…alive…”

The same fear that stole her breath rushed into the passenger’s face. What did Hank mean? Was it a threat to the passenger? Or to them all?

Determination stretched taut over the man’s rugged features as he threw Hank to the floor behind him, and climbed into the pilot’s seat. “Tie his hands!” He tossed a small cord to Jenna.

He fought to level off the plane, then glanced back in her direction. His breaths were ragged and his eyes bore a glassy sheen. He looked different… unfocused. Dare she depend on him? After Hank’s words, Jenna wasn’t sure about anything. It was all happening too fast.

Grabbing Andie, she hauled herself back over the seat and fumbled with the cording. It was a good thing Hank was unconscious, as her knots needed work. She darted a glance toward the cockpit, and decided to strap Hank back in. Their landing could be really rough if this guy didn’t know what he was doing, and she wanted their former pilot to be in decent condition to go to jail.

“Leave him!” Even though his upper lip was sweaty and he looked slightly green, his glare could burn a hole through steel. “You two buckle up!” He turned back to the controls.

Minutes passed.

Jenna bowed her head in prayer.

“This may be bumpy, I don’t know…what they did to…your plane…” The man’s words grew more and more slurred. “I’m not feeling…so… hhhoo…”

In a matter of seconds, he slid down his seat and slumped over the yoke, arms limp at his sides.

Time stood still. She could hear her lungs taking in air, watched Andie’s eyes widen in fear, felt the plane dive forward, but Jenna couldn’t move. God, Help me! Spare my daughter, please Lord!

Andie screamed. “Mom!”

In a split-second, Jenna’s survival instinct kicked in. Bolting up, she grabbed Andie. “It’s going to be okay, baby.” She slid a hand down Andie’s cheek. “I need you to help me move this guy, and then I want you to grab Hank’s headset and buckle up in the co-pilot’s seat. Can you do that?”

Without waiting for an answer, she squeezed Andie’s shoulder and climbed over seats into the cockpit. Adrenaline pumped pure strength through Jenna’s veins as she moved the bulk of the man who had tried to save them.

Or kill them.

She shook her head and shoved his solid, muscled frame over the seat. Jenna motioned for Andie to help strap him into another seat. Hank was sprawled, with his legs at an odd angle, but she had bigger concerns at the moment. Like landing the plane.

Andie grabbed Hank’s headset, dashed back to the front, and climbed into the seat next to her. .

Jenna took a deep breath and turned to the controls as Andie buckled in. She looked through the windshield--and gasped.

Denali—“the high one”—the tallest mountain in North America, loomed before her. They shouldn’t be anywhere near the Alaska Range, and yet here they were—flying straight into the South Face.

“Your seatbelt, Mom!”

Jenna’s hands gripped the yoke tighter. No time for a seatbelt. She needed control of this plane.


“It’s okay, honey. Calm down.”

“But, Mom…” Andie gripped the headset. “Can you save us?”

Two weeks of flight ground school and one lesson didn’t quite give Jenna the know-how she needed to get out of this alive. “I’m gonna try, Sweetie.” Oh, God! Show me what to do!

Pulling up on the yoke, she tried to level out the small aircraft. “Honey, I need you to set those four dials on the radio controls to 1-2-1-5. That’s the emergency frequency. 1-2-1-5. Okay?”

Andie nodded and didn’t hesitate to obey. The kid had been through brain surgery and a lifetime dealing with a rare physical condition. Her hands shook as she sucked in a deep breath and started turning the knobs. “Okay, Mom.” Nervous blue eyes met hers as she handed over the headset. “It’s set.”

Slamming the headset onto her head, Jenna winced. Careful. Breathe. Andie’s relying on you. “Mayday! Mayday! Juliet Kilo 3-2-6 November needs emergency assistance. We have no pilot aboard capable of flying this plane. Mayday! Mayday!”

Crackling, hissing, static, and then silence.

“Mayday, mayday! Juliet Kilo 3-2-6 November requesting emergency assistance!”


Andie’s sweet voice filled the cabin as reality set in. “Mom, the radio’s dead. Hank shot it. Why would he do that, Mom?” Tears quietly streamed down her daughter’s face.

“Baby, I don’t know, but I have to try to land this plane. Put your head between your knees right now and cover your head with your arms.”

Her brave little trooper obeyed, and Jenna prayed for guidance. Taking a firm grip on the yoke, she tried to turn the plane. The rudder barely responded. Something was wrong with the ailerons. What had she forgotten?

Okay, Jenna, think. Cut your descent. Flaps down. What else can I do? Oh, God, help me remember! Help me think. There was no avoiding it: they were going to crash. She needed to strap herself in. Fumbling with one hand made it all the more difficult. “Andie, help me with the buckle.”

She had to steer away from Denali. Sultana stood to her left, towering in all her glory. If she could just get close to Kahiltna glacier, she might be able to land there. But they were too high on the mountain. She’d have to find a different place and soon. With all her might, she worked the yoke to turn west, but the mountain face rushed toward her at a terrifying pace.

Not much time left.

Lifting the nose up, she prayed for the snow to be deep enough to cushion their landing. It was all she could do. The plane barely responded to her attempts to turn it, and they raced toward the steep mountain side.

With one last cry for help, Jenna lurched as the plane dove toward the side of the mountain. Letting go of the yoke, she flung her arms over her daughter’s body inhaling Andie’s sweet scent: Citrus shampoo and a sweetness all her daughter. But she couldn’t tear her eyes away from the scene.

Metal crunched. Glass shattered and peppered her arms. The plane creaked and groaned as they impacted Sultana’s unyielding side. The sound of screaming metal surrounded them, and Jenna knew. The mountain had ripped the wings from the fuselage. Her breaths seemed hours apart as the plane pummeled the snow-packed earth underneath them.

Another desperate prayer formed in her mind—only to be blotted out when everything went from the brilliant white of the snow to deep black.


What’s that?

Air crossed my face like someone breathing beside me. Then something rustled next to my hand.

Wind. I feel wind. My thoughts began to clear. Why would I feel the wind inside an airplane? Memories flooded my head and chills raced up my spine. Something wasn’t right. I tried to shake off the foreboding, but the slight movement sent piercing pain screaming through my head.

Ow! Okay, that’s weird. I wasn’t used to feeling pain.

I placed a hand on my head and put slight pressure to it. Slowly, I opened my eyes.

Oh! Bright light. Wiggling within the tight confines of my seatbelt, I just about conked my head on some sort of thingy hanging in the air above me. Everything was a blur and I felt like I was spinning. Why am I spinning? The sun shone bright, and I rubbed my eyes. The spinning stopped.


The seat belt straps were cutting off the circulation on my shoulders and squeezing the living daylights out of my stomach. I fumbled with the straps and wrestled with the buckles. Finally, I managed to unlatch them—and fell, landing on my shoulder.


I was on the ceiling of the plane. Hanging . . . upside down? No wonder my head hurt. I was just glad I didn’t land on it.

I rubbed the sides of my head to try and clear my fuzzy mind, then climbed on my hands and knees through a hole that at one time must have been the windshield. Moving only made my dizziness worse.

“Ouchy!” My head started to hurt. Really hurt. What was the weird, zinging pain? Wait…pain? Fear swirled through me like a hurricane. The last time I felt pain, they told me I needed brain surgery. Tears slid down my icy cheeks before I could stop them. Lord, please no! No. No. Not again, God I can’t handle this, it’s too much.

Panic bubbled up inside of me. Stumbling, forcing one foot in front of the other, I kept going. I wiped away the tiny droplets feeling grit and dirt covering my face. I looked down at my upturned palms. They were covered in dirt—

And blood.

Lots of blood.

Oh, great. Spots danced in front of my eyes as the dizziness overwhelmed me.

And then there was nothing.

The stinging on the back of my head made my eyes pop open. The sky loomed above me, and if I hadn’t known better I would have said it looked threatening. How long was I out? The pain was still there, but at least my brain wasn’t so fuzzy.

Ok, Andrea, do something. Those words seemed to help me push myself to a sitting position. I took deep breaths to calm the shaking that had taken over my body. One more breath, then I reached my left hand back under my long black hair to touch the scar on the back of my neck to see if it was intact. The familiar bumpy groove greeted my fingers. I pulled my hand back with a sigh, but avoided looking at it. I didn’t feel the stickiness of blood…well, not on that hand. That must mean no blood or wounds were on my scar. But my sticky right hand haunted me, as if something fierce--like a giant, abominable snowman--lay on top of the blood, waiting to gobble me up.

The fainting happens every time. I hate blood!

Ok, Andie, just don’t think about it.

My surroundings came into focus. Snow, more snow, boulders, glass, the airplane… Uh-oh. The airplane. Hadn’t I been in the airplane? Or had I dreamed that? I glanced around—then wished I hadn’t.

Some sort of big, metal part was smashed against a rock face and the tail-rudder-thingamabob had completely fallen off and lay on the other side of the crash. There was no sign of the wings and the windshield was shattered in a million pieces that lay sparkling on the snow as they reflected the sun’s light. And lying in the middle of it all . . .


I ran over to her. She was under one of the wings. Well, partly under one of the wings, covered in blood. Lots of blood. All over her legs. Her jacket was torn and had blood on it too.

“Mom! You have to wake up, Mom!” I shook her shoulder in an attempt to wake her. It didn’t work.

The blood… I pulled in air, then looked away before I threw up, and almost passed out again. That’s when I saw the man who fought Hank.

More blood.

Again, I jerked away, my stomach churning. Too much. Too much fear. Too much loneliness. Too much blood. I couldn’t do it. Walking away, I trudged through the snow, and sat—well more accurately, fell—on the ground. Tears spilled down my now soggy face, quickly turning to ice and sparkling on the snow as a scratchy voice inside my head said the most awful truth.

They’re dead. You’re all alone.

My Review:

It’s a high impact adventure through the barren snow capes peaks of Alaska with bad guys on the characters’ tail. Avalanches, plain crashes and firing missiles, it keeps the blood pumping while reading.

I wasn’t sure how I was going to like this book when I started it. It goes from five different points of view, two of those in first person. But as I got into the book and the breaks label the character speaking, it became easy to follow. Each character had their own distinct “voice” which is difficult to pull off in a story with multiply characters.

The faith message was well done and played a great role in the story. Several times I stopped and re-read something just to feel the impact of the words again. I also liked how I, as the reader, really got into Andie’s head. She was very black and white on the page.

The pace was pretty tight, I think it dropped a notch for a couple chapters towards the end before ramping up. The book is written in a “choppy” style— it was okay once I got into it, but the flow can be jarring at times.

I thought story threads were tied together well and the situations both external and internal played to a good advantage for an adrenaline rush story.

This review is my honest opinion. Thanks to the publishers through FIRST for my copy to review.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Special Guest Post: Michelle on Being a Proverbs 31 Wife

Please help me welcome today as the conclusion to the Proverbs 31 series, guest blogger Michelle. Take a moment and read her testimony, it is a story that every woman needs to read. I hope and pray it moves you like it did me. Here's Michelle.
           Hello, Casey!  Thank you so much for asking me to be a guest on your blog today.  It's a privilege and an honor to share a little bit of my story with you and your readers.  I don't claim to be an expert on the subject of being a "Proverbs 31" woman, but I hope that by sharing my journey, it might make a difference for someone.
            The first 34 years of my life were spent apart from a relationship with God, and not knowing what that even meant. My knowledge about God was limited, and I had all of the typical thoughts that skeptics and unbelievers have; how could there be a God who created all of this? It’s impossible, how could there really be a Heaven? And how could there really be a Hell? Why would a loving God "send" people to Hell? And why would a loving God allow all of these terrible things to happen in our world?  My standard response to church was, "I don't need to go to church to be a good person".   Those who talked about prayer and the Bible had me rolling my eyes and thinking to myself, "They're crazy!" 
            As years passed, I came to know more Christians.  Everywhere I looked I would see things of God; Jesus fish on the back of cars, bumper stickers saying "Jesus is Lord", church signs that read, "Don't know God?  Read the Bible.", and billboards that read, "He Died For You.", the list goes on.  Tiny seeds were being planted, and I had more and more questions. 
            During the summer of 2005, I saw a sign for FREE Vacation Bible School at a local church.  It ran for 5 days, from 9 am to noon.  Did I mention that it was FREE?  I went to VBS with a friend when I was a kid, so I thought my kids would like it, too.  They went for a week, and that was the end of that.  Fast forward to summer 2006, and it's time again for FREE VBS!  I get the kids signed up, only this time, I don't drop them off and go home.  I stay to watch the little skits, listen to the songs, and I heard the message; the Gospel message.  Well, this is news to me.  Why has this truth escaped me for all of these years?  Where have I been?  What have I been doing?  Truth be told, I was living my life my way, making a pretty fine mess of things.  Needless to say, my interest had been piqued.  I left the church thinking, “I like this place, and it would be pretty silly to just take the kids to VBS once a year and never come back the rest of the year." 
            The following Sunday, July 23, 2006, I attended Sunday service.  Two weeks later on August 6, I accepted Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior.  It's almost been 5 years since I became a Christian, and I've literally been like a sponge, soaking up all of God's word, and getting to know Him like I've never known Him before.  Not only getting to know Him, but LOVING Him.  Loving Him so much that I want to obey Him.  It continues to be the most amazing journey, and nothing can compare to a life that is lived for Christ!
            When my husband and I married in September 1993, neither of us were believers.  When I became a Christian, my husband was fine with that, and he didn't mind that I took the kids to church.  He's been very respectful of my decision the entire time.  He's on his own journey to salvation, and I'm trusting God will work in his life the same way that He did in mine.  The Bible verse I keep close to my heart is 1 Peter 3:1-2, "Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives." 
            I don't preach at him, and I don't lecture him about why he needs to be a Christian.  I show him respect (submission), I serve him, love him, and pray for him. 
            During the first 13 years of our marriage, I was bossy and wanted to be in control.  I felt it had to be my way, or no way at all.  I always had to make my point and prove why everything must be done my way.  It's hard to admit, but I was selfish and spoiled.   I felt resentment for being the one that had to "do all the work," while hubby and kids got to have all of the fun.  The words "what about me?" played through my mind on a regular basis.  I certainly knew nothing of what it meant to be a "Proverbs 31" woman.  And I certainly didn't have true peace or joy.  What I had was a lot of arguments and heartache. 
            When I became a Christian in 2006, everything changed. Slowly, over time, my thinking began to shift.  I learned what it truly means to serve others, including my husband.  If I strive to be like Christ, than esteeming others higher than myself must be a priority.  Paul tells us in Philippians 2:3, "Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself."  When I learned to embrace that something amazing happened – the amount of joy that comes from doing things God's way is indescribable!  It has been the biggest blessing to apply God's word to every area of my life, including my marriage.  To get to know Him, to serve Him, to obey Him, and to love Him; there truly is no greater joy than to live my life in a way that brings glory to Him. 
            In my marriage, it's inevitable that something will come up to test my obedience.  Whether it's a situation with the kids, or something in general, I have learned to back off, and let my husband take the lead.  Not that we don't work on things together as a team and not that he doesn't consider my thoughts and opinions, but I respect him as the head of the household.  I trust his judgment.  When I start to revert back to my old ways, I remember Ephesians 5:22 -- "Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord."  It's not always easy for my natural self to submit, but I do the best I can, because I love the Lord with all of my heart.  I want to obey Him and follow His ways.  Thank God that I have His word to guide and strengthen me in the things I need to do.  Things that certainly wouldn't be possible on my own.  As I've let God change my ways, the benefits have been tremendous in my relationship with my husband.  Instead of me trying to change my husband, I've let God change me.  Our relationship has only gotten better, and I give all the glory to God for that!
            On the Proverbs 31 Ministries' website (,  you can find the "Seven Principles of the Proverbs 31 Woman" . . .
A Proverbs 31 Woman . . .
-- Pursues an ongoing, personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
-- Loves, honors, and greatly enriches the life of her husband, encouraging and supporting his leadership within his family and his church.
-- Nurtures the next generation, shaping and molding the children who will one day define who we are as a community and as a nation.
-- Creates a warm and loving environment for family and friends.
-- Is a faithful steward of the time and money God has entrusted to her.
-- Speaks with wisdom and faithful instruction as she encourages others and develops godly friendships.
-- Shares the love of Christ by extending her hands to help the poor and opening her arms to the needy."
            Doesn't that sound like the type of woman I want to be?  Absolutely!  Becoming the woman God created me to be is no easy task, but I can rest assured He has equipped me with the tools I need to live this thing out.  To embrace it, to make it my own, and pray I can be an example to the women I meet.  The wonderful thing is I don't have to have everything figured out.  I can come to Jesus just as I am, broken and imperfect, knowing I can't do this thing called life without Him.  Jesus tells us in Mark 8:34, "Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me."  Thank you, Jesus, for your clear instructions. 
            So how does a woman like me go from unbelief, to knowing that God's way is the only way?  Simply by the mighty power of God!  It's a miracle!  Looking back, I see that He was seeking me before I even knew He was.  He knew me and loved me before I was even born, and He's had a plan for me all along.  Praise God He never gave up on me!  Praise God I came to a place of surrendering to Him, and praise God I get to live the rest of my life following Him and striving to become more like Him! 

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Wild-West Tale: "The Fire in Ember" by DiAnn Mills (review)

The first line of this book is a dynamite opening “A hanging is no place for a lady”, what an attention grabber. And there were other great lines waiting to be mined from “The Fire in Ember”. There was one particular description that made me stop and read it twice, just for the sake of reading it again.  About the rocks jutting out like “old man’s knees”. There were some attention grabbers, descriptions or bits of dialogue that were fun things to find in this book.

The story itself is a good fit for those that read the western genre. The age old concept of bad guy verses good guy set in the old west. I like the characters that play out on the tapestry of the story. Ember “Bert” is extremely likeable and her story adds a deep layer to the overall plot. Waiting for bits of her story to be unearthed was worth waiting for.

Overall I thought the book is a good addition to its genre. The characters have a good arc through the story, the romance is enjoyable and the story moves at a good pace. It’s a story you can read slowly or quickly, either way I think readers of historical westerns will enjoy it.

This review is my honest opinion. Thanks to the author for my copy to review.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Giveaway and Author Interview: Lilly's Wedding Quilt

Welcome to Writing for Christ Kelly Long, it is great to have you here! Do you have an interesting fact about yourself the average reader probably doesn’t know?

Thank you so much for having me! Let’s see…I cannot swim. I know….bad mother, fearful, and should have learned by now…but there it is!

Do you have a favorite genre to read/write?

I love to read short stories by Flannery O’Connor.

Do you have a nugget of writing advice that has completely changed how you view writing?

“Truck drivers do not get up in the morning and say that ‘they’re not inspired’ to drive…’ So, I learned that I’m a truck driver with a pen---that’s it.

What do you enjoy most about being a published author?

 I enjoy when I can really reach someone…I’ve had a lot of response back from Lilly’s Wedding Quilt about women dealing with depression and gaining peace from the book and also about rediscovering love in relationships through God’s help.

Places for readers to learn more about you?

Fans of Kelly Long on Facebook…I’m on there a lot.  And KellyLongAmish on Twitter as well as Amish Hearts and Amish Living.
Thank you for being with us today!
 You’re so welcome! Shine on…
Okay readers, here is your chance to enter to win Kelly's book!

Please leave an email address. If I draw your name and there is no email, you will not win!

For extra entries:
~Be a follower
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An EXTRA one:
Read and rate this review (you will never leave my blog, thanks!!)

Contest is only open in the U.S. and void where prohibited. Chances of winning are based on the number of entries and winner is draw from a non-biased third party- I am not responsible for any lost or damaged items for said prize.

Thanks for coming by to enter! Contest ends on April 9th.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

An Un-Put-Down-Able Story: "When Sparrows Fall" by Meg Moseley (review)

I couldn’t put this book down.

The author crafted a masterful story. Not only were the characters unique (some of the most unique I have read), but I was blown away time and time again by their fresh perspective. You “see” the world through the character’s eyes to the point I would read a description and immediately know that yes, I have seen that. The metaphors for the setting, similes between characters, it painted a beautiful picture with the words and was one reason I couldn’t stay away from the pages.

Aside from the stand-out word painting, the storyline kept it grounded. It’s a unique setting amongst a religious “cult” that isn’t really talked about— and is too in-depth to go into in a short review. Let me say this: there is a slight element of suspense, the details behind Miranda’s past and why it brought her to this moment kept me flipping fast with no idea what the next page held.

The children and their love coupled with Jack’s devotion add spice to the story. Humor relives pressure several times and I laughed and shared lines aloud with family on more than one occasion.

There is really one word for this book: unique and un-put-down-able. Okay that’s two. Yes, it was THAT good.

This review is my honest opinion. Thanks to the publishers for my copy to review.

You can check out Chapter 1 here
And Preorder from Amazon and CBD

More about When Sparrows Fall....

Enmeshed in an oppressive church, widow Miranda Hanford sees an escape when the pastor announces the congregation is moving. But before she can act, an accident stops her. Her brother-in-law, Jack, gives her children a "normal" life while she's hospitalized---and offers Miranda a choice that could cost her everything when she gets out.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Cold Call Friday with Ruth Logan Herne!!!

Welcome Ruth, to your “Cold Call” interview!!  For those of you who don’t know what the “Cold Call” feature is, at the beginning of the month I have a poll, the winning author YOU then get to interview!! Ruth Logan Herne won this month’s vote and I am thrilled to present her here with YOUR questions. Without any further ado, heeeerrrre’s Ruthy!

Out of all the heroines, who would you say most reflects you?
Oh. Well. Dagnabbit. Hmm…  Kayla…. Young, beautiful, educated, focused, pretending to be normal on the outside…
Gotta think on that.
Sarah… Strong, stoic, reserved but passionate, hard-working, determined, rough self-esteem, put down and demeaned all her life…
Considering that one, too.

Rita… A baker, a mother, an eager to please personality, recovering alcoholic, rough on herself, just starting to come into her own as a woman and entrepreneur…


Alyssa, self-sacrificing, a fixer but a hider, too, pretending things are all right when they’re not, proud, unwilling to bend when needed, longing to change things…

I think whenever you write characters that parts of your personality come through. Overall, though, I’d say Kayla because she’s brave and stout-hearted, willing to do whatever it takes and she puts on the face for the world even though she KNOWS she’s a mess inside. And while she feels like she’s improving and getting a handle on things, she recognizes her limitations. But she doesn’t want anyone else to see them, ever.  I gave Rita my baking credentials, and she makes a mean crème horn, LOL! And Sarah has my love and appreciation of dogs, but she treats them like dogs, not children, and that’s my quality too. Alyssa got my anxious to please part, the part that hates letting people down. But overall so far, I’d vote Kayla. Although she’s YOUNGER, PRETTIER, BETTER EDUCATED AND SKINNIER.  Brat.
If Winter’s End were a movie who would you like to see play Marc and Kayla?
Oh, this is a great question because I’d love, love, love to see my series work on the Hallmark Channel. I’d be thrilled. Beyond thrilled. Almost beyond chocolate, but not quite.
Why the Hallmark Channel, you ask? Why not movie theaters?
Here’s why:  People can see it for free (all right, all right, they’re paying for the cable, but you know what I mean.) on the Hallmark Channel. Do you know how fun it is to imagine touching hearts of so many and they don’t have to pay an extra dime?  And yeah, big movie deals pay more, but how much money does any one person need? 
Okay, back to it:  Marc:  Well, I sent Derek Jeter’s pic in to  Harlequin’s wonderful art team for cover art because Marc’s mix makes him distinctive. Latino and Dutch, a hint dark, but those big, green, Jeter-like eyes. Short hair, a little ragged at times…
Hmm… I’d go with Tom Welling. I’m attaching his pic. Strong. Rugged. Tough. Maybe a little acerbic.  But a heart of gold. Good with animals.
For Kayla, it would be Reese Witherspoon. Short hair, spunky, able to do whatever it takes, funny… Love her.

Hot, medium or mild? And that would be chicken wings, not romance. :-P
I’m the only person on the planet (and I live only an hour from BUFFALO, inventor of the wing!!!) who isn’t a big fan of chicken wings. I hate to fight the bone for my food, but when I do eat them, I like sweet-n-sour sauce, like Boss sauce. Just a little bite and a hint of sweet. Kind of like me.

Oh, I think I threw up, just a little, in my mouth. My bad.
(Casey here: answer the romance one too!! J)
Romance: Personal????  Hot’s great. I won’t even pretend otherwise.  There’s nothing wrong with stoking those been-married-for -37-years-fires, right???? 

Reading:  Warm. Mildly hot if it fits the moment, but… And this is a big but… (not mine, that’s two ‘t’s, the exception I’m about to make, sheesh… Ladies… really….)  I love reading great romance. I don’t need a huge build up of passion, but I do need one of emotion and those are very different things for me. So sweet-to-warm (think Hitch… Sweet Home Alabama… You’ve Got Mail… Maid in Manhattan) with purpose. And I love my gals to be pull-‘em-up-by-the-bootstraps tough. School of hard knocks educational society!
We always complain about the weather, but what are your favorite parts of living New York? Aside from those mystery men of Allegany County of course, ROFL.

Ah, those Men of Allegany County.  Gotta love the boys!!!  (laughing here…) And Casey, you’ve made the same mistake everyone does. The county isn’t spelled the same way as the mountains. Do not ask me why. I wasn’t around when they chose the spelling, but everyone messes it up. I have to keep changing it on my edits and copies because each editor must think the other one missed it.
Nope. Just different!
Anyway, favorite part of living in New York:  The weather. Before you spew, it’s true. I love the change of seasons, I love our long, languorous, gorgeous falls, it’s just breathtaking here, the hot, sultry summer, just enough for a taste, any more and I’d kill someone. (READ: DOESN’T DO BUGS OR HUMIDITY WELL. NEITHER DOES HER HAIR) 
So  knowing that, God sends just enough summer here to make me appreciate winter. Isn’t he clever???  Winter stays too long, but so does summer in Mississippi and I don’t have poisonous ANYTHING, so New York works for me. Except for the taxes. Oh my stars, do not get me started on New York taxes.
Do you really eat peanut M&M’s for breakfast?
I don’t trust anyone who doesn’t eat peanut M&M’s for breakfast. You’re kidding, right???
And for all the salivating fans out there…where can they get in touch with you online?
First, get them tissues. Baby wipes. Something. Here’s a napkin, salivating fans are just a touch disturbing, dear.
I’m actually everywhere these days. It’s got to be quite annoying to like the whole planet. Really. I mean that. Kind of.
The teeming masses can find me at Ruthy’s Place  which is where I exploit small animals and children in order to lure people in to buy books. Or I might be hangin’ with the guys at  where I love to cook up some really good food and chat up this new series that I LOVE… Have I mentioned that? My love for this series? Because if I haven’t, I should. Really. Put that in special font or something, Casey, because I LOVE THIS SERIES…
Or come see me and my buds at my fave hangout in all the world where all the cool cat readers and writers come to chat and eat great cyber food. No cover charge. NONE!!! SWEET! I’m also at which is a standard website, but I can’t blog and chat there so it’s more fun to annoy people where they can make fun of me and I can return the favor. So much more gratifying, don’t you think???

Friday's Note:
The winner of Cara Lynn James's Love on Assignment is...
Laura H!!!!
Thanks everyone for entering!!

FTC Rules

According to new FTC rules I must let you, the reader know, that all views shared on this blog are strictly my own. Books to review are either provided for me by the author, publisher or ones I have purchased and I am under no obligation whatsoever to present anything, but my true opinion on any product. I receive no monetary compensation for anything written on this blog. Any giveaways on this blog are provided by the author/ publisher and I am not responsible for any views they express in their work or on this site. Giveaways are void were prohibited and chances of winnng are based on the number of applicants. A random winner is draw when a book is given away.

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