Congratulations to Alison (agboss) who won Susanne Dietze's The Reluctant Guardian!

Congratulations to Elise Jehan who won a copy of The Secret Admirer Romance Collection!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Worth the Wait

by Gwen Stewart

Some say that Christianity undervalues or represses women. I wish those folks would read God's Word more carefully.

Have you used the term, “It was worth the wait"? Well, in the Bible, women are portrayed as worthy--worthy in the eyes of God, and worth the wait of men.

Let’s start at the beginning, where the first man waits for the first woman. In Genesis 2:18, God asks Adam to name the animal species. Two long-necked walkers appear. “Giraffe,” Adam says. Two chubby grey beasts. “Hippopotamus.” Two friendly four-pawed creatures with wagging tails. “Dog." Animals parade all day. All day, Adam names them.

In each species, there are two animals. They eat together, frolic together, lie down together. But for Adam, there is no companion. Downcast, Adam feels his loneliness and his lack.

After a deep sleep, God gives Adam a rich reward: a woman, Eve. Though she initiates the Fall, she also becomes the mother of all generations. Eve was worth Adam’s wait.

Later, Abraham waits for his beautiful wife, Sarah, to give him children. God promises her a child, but Sarah laughs. She is too old to bear children. But just as God said, Sarah becomes pregnant with Isaac. Sarah’s motherood was worth the wait for such a son.

Abraham’s son Isaac waits for his bride to journey from his father’s land. Their son Jacob works for seven years to earn his wives. Rebekah, Leah, and Rachel were worth the wait. Later in the Old Testament, Song of Solomon details the anticipation of a loving couple awaiting their wedding day.

The New Testament begins with another strong, godly man who waits for his intended. Joseph receives bad news from his betrothed, Mary: she is with child--and the child is not his. Joseph must make a harrowing choice. By rights he can cast her out, even have her stoned. But in a dream, an angel of the Lord assures him that Mary has not violated their betrothal. “Wait for her,” the angel beseeches. “Stay with her. Marry her.” Joseph obeys, then waits through her pregnancy, her labor, and her long lying-in to make her his. Mary was worth the wait.

And oh, Mary’s Child! Jesus waited for women not as husband, but as Savior. He waited while men picked up stones to murder the adulteress, then He foiled the men's plans. He waited to hear from the woman who scrambled to touch his cloak so He could call her “daughter” and heal her bleeding disease. He waited while Mary and Martha served Him; He waited while the weeping woman washed His feet with her tears and wiped them dry with her hair. On the Cross, He did not die until He made provision for His mother’s care.

The Bible demonstrates that women are worthy to be loved and cherished. The glorious end of the Bible underlines this Truth: Jesus, the Bridegroom, arrives to claim the church, His Bride. Broken as we are, Jesus assures us that we are definitely worth His wait--men and women alike.

~~~ ~~~ ~~~ ~~~ ~~~ ~~~ ~~~ ~~~ ~~~ ~~~

Gwen Stewart is a writer, elementary music teacher, and musician. She sings "Wheels On the Bus" by day and pens inspirational stories by night, pursuing excellence in both. She lives in Michigan with her husband, two children, and ten thousand of her past and present students.
You can visit Gwen online at

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Hail Britannia! July's Backlist is an Anglophile's Dream

Despite that little independence holiday we just celebrated, many readers love to return to Mother England.
Here's a list of some recommended novels set in England or with English protagonists.

RANSOME'S HONOR, Kaye Dacus (Harvest House, 2009)
The Ransome Trilogy from author Kaye Dacus combines the wit, romance, and social commentary of Jane Austen with the sea-faring adventure of Horatio Hornblower.
July 1814. The war with France has ended, and Captain William Ransome, known for never letting women aboard his ship, has returned to Portsmouth, England. Julia Witherington, considered an old-maid at 29, discovers that she must marry immediately to receive a large dowry. Julia knows that the only man she doesn’t want to marry is William Ransome. And the only man her father will approve of is…William Ransome.
When the couple strikes a financial deal to feign marriage for one year, the adventure begins. These stubborn people face humorous and hard situations that reveal what else they have in common—a growing affection for one another. This intriguing tale of faith and loyalty may become one of your favorites. (Also available: RANSOME'S CROSSING and the newly released RANSOME'S QUEST...screech...hold the presses! Kaye just informed me that RANSOME'S HONOR will be available as a FREE Ebook Aug1 to Aug 15!)

FAMILY GUARDIAN, Laurie Alice Eakes. Winner of the National Readers Choice Award for Best Regency in 2007. (Avalon Books, August 2006)
Surrounded by the most beautiful scents and potions in the world, The Honorable Miss Clarissant Behn toils away, unconcerned with romance. She doesn't spend her days planning a wardrobe for the Season or wonder who she will marry. Against all conventions and Society's rules, Miss Behn spends her days engaged in trade.
If anyone learns that her perfume business is the source of her family's prosperity, the scandal will ruin both her business and her chances of marriage. Years ago she loved her sister's forbidden betrothed, Tristan Apking. But he disappeared five years ago and is presumed dead.
But when Tristan returns to England, alive and mysteriously prosperous, keeping secrets could cost Clarissant his love and possibly their lives. Overcoming his deep sense of loss at her sister's heart seems to be an impossible feat. Juggling everything for everyone else, Clarissant tries to keep the balance while finding love and happiness for herself.
Laurie Alice is a great friend of the Inkies. Check out all her books at her website.

A CONSTANT HEART, Siri Mitchell, (Bethany House, 2008)
Born with the face of an angel, Marget Barnardsen is blessed. Her father is a knight, and now she is to be married to the Earl of Lytham. her destiny is least, it would seem so. But when her introduction to court goes awry and Queen Elizabeth despises her, Marget fears she's lost her husband forever. Desperate to win him back, she'll do whatever it takes to discover how she failed and capture again the love of a man bound to the queen.

IN THE SHADOW OF LIONS, Ginger Garrett, (David C Cook, 2008)
The devout Anne Boleyn catches the eye of a powerful king and uses her influence to champion an English translation of the Bible—Scriptures the common people could read for themselves. Meanwhile, Rose, a broken, suicidal woman of the streets, is moved to seek God when she witnesses Thomas More's public displays of Christian charity, ignorant of his secret life spent eradicating the same book, persecuting anyone who dares read it.

MARK OF THE CROSS, Judith Pella (Bethany House 2006)
A Bitter Conflict Rages Between Two Brothers...And a Noblewoman Holds the Key to Their Future

Philip de Tollard, the illegitimate son of a powerful English lord, is sheltered by his father but given no claim to an inheritance. Gareth, the legitimate son, is cruel and abusive to his stepbrother. When their father suddenly dies, Gareth falsely accuses Philip, and he escapes only with his life to begin wandering as a fugitive and mercenary.Cover of "Mark of the Cross"
Philip and his longtime friend Beatrice have come to love each other, and she awaits his return, fervently hoping circumstances will change. But when she finds herself at the mercy of Gareth, who will stop at nothing to acquire her estate, she strikes a most grievous bargain.
Bitter and angry, Philip devises a dangerous plan for vengeance. But love and hate both have consequences, and he must face the truth that God will not be ignored. A masterful saga of love lost…and found…and a remarkable redemption.

BEFORE THE SEASON ENDS, Linore Rose Burkard (Harvest House, 2008)
In her debut novel of what she calls “spirited romance for the Jane Austen soul,” author Linore Rose Burkard tells the intriguing story of Miss Ariana Forsythe, a young woman caught between her love for a man who doesn’t share her faith and her resolution to marry only a fellow believer in Christ.
Trouble at home sends the young woman to her aunt’s townhome in the fashionable Mayfair district of London. There she finds worse troubles than those that prompted her flight from home. Ariana is soon neck–deep in high society and at odds with Mr. Phillip Mornay, London’s current darling rogue. Then a scandal changes Ariana forever. Her heart, her faith, and her future are all at stake in an unexpected adventure that gains even the Prince Regent’s attention.
Will Ariana’s faith survive this test? And what about her heart? For it’s Ariana’s heart that most threatens to betray the truths she has always believed in. When she finds herself backed against a wall, betrothed to the wrong young man, how can it ever turn out right? Also see the 2nd and 3rd in the series: THE HOUSE ON GROSVENOR SQUARE,  2009, and THE COUNTRY HOUSE COURTSHIP, Jan 2010)

THE HEALING SEASON, Ruth Axtell Morren (Steeple Hill, 2008)
Could a scarlet woman win the heart of an honorable man?

Though he'd found his life’s calling ministering to London's underclass, Dr. Ian Russell hadn’t yet found his life’s mate. Then the former army surgeon encountered the enchanting stage actress Eleanor Neville. Ian’s good works and strong faith set him apart from other men Eleanor knew. But despite his fascination with her glittering world, Eleanor feared her notorious past would end their future together before it had even begun. Could true love and faith overcome all obstacles and make their lonely hearts as one?
Also by Ruth Axtell Morren: THE ROGUE’S REDEMPTION  (Steeple Hill 2008)
Only she could redeem him…
He was tall and dark with eyes as blue as cobalt. In a glittering London ballroom Miss Hester Leighton saw a man who interested her more than anyone she'd met since coming to town. A woman of deep faith, Hester knew she should not keep company with Major Gerrit Hawkes, a jaded, penniless soldier haunted by nightmares of war. But their connection would not be denied.
Hester was the only woman who'd ever made Gerrit feel truly worthy of love, and he would not lose her. Separated from her by her father—and an ocean—Gerrit must decide whether he will risk his life and his soul to earn a home in Hester's arms forever.

THE CAPTAIN’S LADY, Louise M. Gouge (Steeple Hill, March 2010)
Captain James Templeton's orders from General Washington are clear. His target: Lord Bennington, a member of George III's Privy Council. The assignment: find Bennington's war plans. The risks: the future of the East Florida Colony, Jamie's life...and his heart. In spite of the dangers of their hopeless situation, he's fallen in love with Lady Marianne Moberly, Lord Bennington's daughter.
Desperate to protect his country, Jamie carries out his orders with a heavy heart. But Marianne's persistence is a challenge he never expected. With love and faith, they must navigate troubled waters to win their future together. (Want more Louise M. Gouge British  heroes and heroines? THE GENTLEMAN TAKES A WIFE Love Inspired June 2011, AT THE CAPTAIN'S COMMAND, Love Inspired April 2011)

THE LADY OF MILKWEED MANOR, Julie Klassen (Bethany House, 2008)
Charlotte Lamb, a fallen vicar's daughter, hopes to secret herself away in London's Milkweed Manor. But once there, she is mortified to find herself in the care of a former suitor, a physician whom her father long ago rejected as unsuitable--a man who now hides secrets of his own. Both are determined, with God's help, to protect those they love. But neither could guess the depth of sacrifice that will be required of them.

Drawn from fascinating research about the secret lives of women in the nineteenth century, Lady of Milkweed Manor is a moving romantic drama about the redemption of past failings and the beauty of sacrificial love.
Also from Julie: THE APOTHECARY’S DAUGHTER (Bethany House,2009) Lillian Haswell yearns to leave her father's apothecary shop in their small town and happily accepts an invitation to live in London. She leaves behind a handicapped brother, friends, her lonely father and memories of her lost mother, but finds that London holds its own troubles. (And the award-winning THE GIRL AT THE GATEHOUSE, Bethany House 2010)

A DISTANT MELODY, Sarah Sundlin (Revell, March 2010)
Never pretty enough to please her gorgeous mother, Allie will do anything to gain her approval--even marry a man she doesn't love. Lt. Walter Novak--fearless in the cockpit but hopeless with women--takes his last furlough at home in California before being shipped overseas. Walt and Allie meet at a wedding and their love of music draws them together, prompting them to begin a correspondence that will change their lives. As letters fly between Walt's muddy bomber base in England and Allie's mansion in an orange grove, their friendship binds them together. But can they untangle the secrets, commitments, and expectations that keep them apart? A Distant Melody is the first book in the WINGS OF GLORY series, which follows the three Novak brothers, B-17 bomber pilots with the US Eighth Air Force stationed in England during World War II. (Sarah has two more in this series; A MEMORY BETWEEN US came out in Sept of 2010). Sarah is currently, as in today, in Italy, researching her next book, so you can be assured of  beautiful details in  her series!

THE CONFIDENTIAL LIFE OF EUGENIA COOPER, Kathleen Y’Barbo (Waterbrook/Random House 2009) This Wild West adventure just might be the life she was meant to live.

The future is clearly mapped out for New York socialite Eugenia “Gennie” Cooper, but she secretly longs to slip into the boots of her favorite dime-novel heroine and experience just one adventure before settling down. When the opportunity arises, Gennie jumps at the chance to experience the Wild West, but her plans go awry when she is drawn into the lives of British born silver baron Daniel Beck, eldest son of an earl, and his daughter and finds herself caring for them more than is prudent–especially as she’s supposed to go back to New York and marry another man.
As Gennie adapts to the rough-and-tumble world of 1880s Colorado, she must decide whether her future lies with the enigmatic Daniel Beck or back home with the life planned for her since birth. The question is whether Daniel’s past–and disgruntled miners bent on revenge–will take that choice away from her. (If you've read this, I hope you know Kathleen's newest release, THE INCONVENIENT MARRIAGE OF CHARLOTTE BECK is now available)

VERY PRIVATE GRAVE, Donna Fletcher Crow (Monarch Books, 2010)
Felicity Howard, a young American studying for the Anglican priesthood at the College of the Transfiguration in Yorkshire, is devastated when she finds her beloved Fr. Dominic bludgeoned to death and Fr. Antony, her church history lecturer, soaked in his blood. Following the cryptic clues contained in a poem the dead man had pressed upon her minutes before his death, she and Fr. Antony-who is wanted for questioning by the police-flee the monastery to seek more information about Fr. Dominic and end up in the holy island of Lindisfarne, former home of Saint Cuthbert. Their quest leads them into a dark puzzle . . . and considerable danger.

Thank you to the authors and readers who contributed to this list!

For more lists including Celtic and Jane Austen inspired, scroll on down to our list at the right hand side and click on ...BACKLIST PROMOTIONS

I'm working on recreating Stonehenge by stacking and rearranging my
To Be Read pile. It's going quite well.

(For additional English Characters...of note -- or If you could use a little
romance as only the English Authors can do it... click here)

 Debra E. Marvin tries not to run too far from real life but the imagination born out of being an only child has a powerful draw. Besides, the voices in her head tend to agree with all the sensible things she says. Debra likes to write, weed and wander and is blessed to have the best family and friends in the world. She lives just close enough to her grandchildren. She’s thankful each day that God is in control, that He chooses to bless us despite ourselves and that He has a sense of humor.    Her work has finaled in the TARA, Great Expectations, Heart of the Rockies, Maggie, Rattler and most recently, the Daphne DuMaurier. Not too bad considering she’s trying a mashup of gospel and . . .  gothic.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Time for a Go-Stop!

by Susanne Dietze

Last summer, my family and I put a few thousand miles on our car as we visited relatives in another state. Traveling by car was more economical for us than flying, and it afforded us the opportunity to visit friends along the way and explore areas we’d never seen before (some of our most fun memories were of spontaneous stops, like touring a lavender farm in Sequim, Washington, and eating Umpqua ice cream in the car as we drove through Oregon).

First Beach, La Push, Washington: a favorite stop on last summer's car trip
Car travel also has its drawbacks. The road gets long, our backs ache, and everyone gets more than a little uncomfortable and claustrophobic. This year, our vacation will keep us closer to home, but car travel is still in the plans. I found a few tips that can help counteract some of the negative effects of long car rides--Go Stops, if you will, instead of Rest Stops--and I tried them out on a recent day trip. Maybe it’s my advancing age, but I thought they helped enough for me to share them with you!

It also occurred to me that the benefits of taking a break on the road would apply to other situations where we sit for lengthy periods of time—like sitting at a computer, for example. So whether or not you’re facing a long car ride, a deadline with your manuscript, or the daily grind of the workplace, some of these Go-Stop activities might be helpful. (But remember to keep your physical limitations in mind, and don’t try anything that your doctor might disapprove of you doing.)

Take a walk around the rest stop
You knew this was coming, but use stops to GO and get your body moving. When you take a bathroom or lunch break, stretch for five minutes. Walk around the perimeter of fast-food restaurants or rest stops. If there are stairs, take them, or step up and down a curb. Even five minutes of activity can increase blood flow, release muscle tension, and refresh brain power so you can better focus on the task at hand.

Drink, drink, drink. Water, that is. Staying hydrated keeps our bodies working as they should, and soda unfortunately doesn't rehydrate. Nibble on healthy snacks, like nuts and fruit. And don't forget your bathroom breaks.

Does your back ache from sitting too long? When you stop for a bathroom break, try this stretch, a variation on touching your toes: stand and place your hands behind your thighs. Slowly bend over, sliding your hands down the back of your legs as far as you comfortably can. In the meantime, lift your chest upward. (Similar to the woman in the photo, but lift your chest and head. Feel the pull!)

Another stretch that feels great but is sure to embarrass your teenagers if you do it in public? It requires a bit of balance, but I love this stretch when I’ve been working at the computer for too long. Turn your back to a bench or chair, and stand as far from it as you can so your foot will still reach it. Then tuck the top of one foot onto the table and lift your chest skyward. You’ll stretch your back, hips, and legs. (You can use a picnic table for this stretch, too. I have to stand closer to the table, put the top of my foot on it, and hop a little ways away from it, which is undoubtedly unattractive to watch, but it feels even better to me than using a low chair.)

If you’re taking a plane or train and can’t stretch out? Anything that gets you moving from time to time helps with muscle tension and preventing blood clots. Walk up and down the aisle if permissible. If you’re restricted to your seat, try flexing your calves and feet. Point your toes, hold for a count of five, then pull your toes upward and count for five. Your neighbor won’t be any wiser.

Here’s hoping your summer travels are fun, fancy-free, and refreshing!

Silly Question of the Day: What was the longest trip you ever took? What do you most remember about the journey?

Rest stop and yoga photos courtesy of

Susanne Dietze has written love stories set in the nineteenth century since she was in high school, casting her friends in the starring roles. Today, she writes in the hope that her historical romances will encourage and entertain others to the glory of God. Married to a pastor and the mom of two, Susanne loves fancy-schmancy tea parties, travel, and spending time with family and friends. Her work has finaled in the 2010 Genesis Contest, the 2009 Gotcha! Contest, and the Touched By Love Contest, 2008 and 2009. You can visit her on her personal blog, Tea and a Good Book,

Thursday, July 28, 2011

A Time to Pray

 by Dina Sleiman

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. ~1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

“Today we’re going to talk about prayer.” The youthful pastor glanced over the faces of the congregation lining the pews. One by one smiles turned to frowns of guilt and remorse. Several sets of eyes glazed over with disinterest, while others turned away from him. A sweet, elderly lady in the front row continued to gaze up with a beatific grin.

He rubbed his hands together in anticipation. This should be good. “How many of you have heard a sermon before that instructed you to rise early each morning and pray?”

Every hand in the audience shot up. “How many of you have tried to do this?”

Over half the hands stayed in the air. “And how many have succeeded?”

As he suspected, only five or six remained, including the saintly white-haired woman up front. “Well, I have good news for you. Jesus liked to pray at night.”

A few sighs met his ears, followed by a murmured, “Thank God.”

The pastor chuckled. “Different question. How many of you have been taught that you should set aside an hour a day to pray?”

Again every hand rose. “And how many of you actually pray an hour a day.” All hands fell. Even his friend in the front row lowered her wrinkled one and wobbled it back and forth to indicate hit and miss. Then one brave soul in the back raised his hand high. Several nearby parishioners glared at him and grumbling exploded about the building.

Oh, great. The last thing he needed was to get in trouble with the senior pastor. Again. “Settle down everyone. Today we’re going to talk about a different approach to prayer.”

Would it surprise you to know that every school morning for four years straight I’ve had a devotional time with my children? Often when I mention that to people, I’m met by disbelief, glares, or guilt. But we’ve found a simple formula that works for us. And if ever one child is running late, another will fuss at them because they love our prayer time. They crave that special moment to start the day.

However, we do not wake up early, and we don’t spend an hour. Allow me to share our recipe for prayer success.

1) Keep it short: Our prayer time is five minutes long.
2) Build it into your daily routine: We pray every morning at 8:00 am by the front window right before the youngest has to go outside and catch the bus.
3) Have a plan: We say the Lord’s Prayer together, then I read a 5-10 verse passage of scripture from a specified book. Finally, I (or Dad if he’s home) close with a prayer for our day.

Perhaps that sounds too simple. Too easy. But if you read my last post you will remember that prayer is meant to be enjoyed. Not dreaded. Let’s look at these simple steps in more detail.

Keep it short. When you first attempt to enter into a daily habit of prayer, start simple. Choose a reasonable goal that you feel confident you can conquer. Five minutes a day. Ten at the most. Once this becomes a habit and you begin to enjoy your prayer time, chances are you will find this time too short and want to pray longer. But take it easy on yourself and start out slow.

Build it into your daily routine. What do you do everyday? Have a cup of coffee in the morning and read the newspaper? Check your email when you get home from work? Read before you go to bed? Take a lunch break? Go running? If you’re super busy then what about drive to work? Or take a shower? Choose one of these times and add your five minutes of prayer to it. Once it successfully becomes a habit and you are enjoying it, consider extending it, or adding a second, and later a third time.

Have a plan: It certainly doesn’t have to be the same as my family’s plan. Maybe you’d like open with a worship song, read a devotional, listen quietly, and close with an out loud prayer. Maybe you’d like to read a scripture and meditate on it and then journal about it. Maybe you’d like to begin with a time of thanksgiving, then pray for friends, and finally for yourself. You might enjoy trying something different such as deep breathing, repeating a single scripture, and imagining meeting with God to talk about your day. Traditional folks might like to use a liturgical prayer and light a candle. Our more charismatic friends might want to incorporate praying in the spirit or even dancing. The plan is only to help you, and you get to set it. One day you might want to change it, or scrap it completely. No problem! But a plan will help you see how you can easily fill that time. In fact, before long you’ll find that five minutes is not nearly long enough.

And this is just a starting point to help you enjoy your prayer time. Also keep in mind what we learned in my posts “A Place to Pray” and some of the prayer techniques we’ve discussed. Soon every hand in our audience might go up when the pastor asks who prays an hour a day. The goal is not to sit miserably, whiling away the time. The goal is to enjoy God’s presence so that you seek it more and more. To long to meet with him again. To dream of those moments. To pray without ceasing.

Because you want to!

Do you have a prayer routine that you’d be willing to share with us? What helps you to enjoy your time with God? If you don’t have a regular prayer time, what might help you establish one?

 Dina Sleiman writes lyrical stories that dance with light. Most of the time you will find this Virginia Beach resident reading, biking, dancing, or hanging out with her husband and three children, preferably at the oceanfront. Since finishing her Professional Writing MA in 1994, she has enjoyed many opportunities to teach literature, writing, and the arts. She was the Overall Winner in the 2009 Touched by Love contest for unpublished authors. Her first novel, Dance of the Dandelion, will release with Whitefire Publishing in 2011. She has recently become an acquisitions editor for WhiteFire as well. Join her as she discovers the unforced rhythms of grace. For more info visit her at

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

What's In a Name?

By Lisa Karon Richardson

We’ve talked before about book covers, and how important they are in a reader’s decision to buy. There’s no question that a book is frequently judged by its cover. Publishers work hard to make sure that readers can do that very thing.

But in today’s climate of shrinking retail space, the very first impression people will have of most books is the spine. That’s right, we writers who slave to craft an exquisite 90,000 word tome, have (at most) about 5 words to actually capture a potential reader’s attention.

We’re not talking the first line of the story, we’re not talking about the back cover copy. The first chance we have to motivate a buyer to pick up our novel is the title.

Titles are hard, and writers are often consoled by the reassurance that it doesn’t matter what we call a manuscript, because the publisher’s marketing team will probably change it. It’s true, the marketing team often wants changes, but from what I’ve seen, they typically toss that particular albatross back into the author’s boat, by asking sweetly for other options, perhaps with certain key words that have been identified.

Being one who is not particularly good with titles I find the whole process interesting, if a little intimidating. I was trying to analyze a bit about what makes me as a reader pick up a book. There are a few authors on my auto-buy list. I may not even notice the title, when I see that name on the spine, it’s going home with me regardless.

The vast majority of my book buying decisions are more difficult. I did a survey of the books on my shelf. (A very scientific survey consisting of typing up some of the titles I can see on my shelf without having to get up from my chair.)

Justice Hall

The Camelot Caper

Cat Among the Pigeons

A Monstrous Regiment of Women

The Mummy Case

The Silver Pigs

Valley of Betrayal

The Swiss Courier

Death at Sandringham House

Sisterhood of Spies

Arms of Deliverance

I was trying to figure out if there were any common denominators. Using analysis nearly as scientific as the selection process, I have decided that all of these titles hint at intrigue within. Intrigue is clearly something I’m attracted too.

What are you attracted too? What titles are on your shelves? Why did you pick those books?

Influenced by books like The Secret Garden and The Little Princess, Lisa Karon Richardson’s early books were heavy on boarding schools and creepy houses. Now that she’s (mostly) all grown-up she still loves a healthy dash of adventure and excitement in any story she creates, even her real-life story. She’s been a missionary to the Seychelles and Gabon and now that she and her husband are back in America, they are tackling a brand new adventure, starting a daughter-work church in a new city. Her first novella, Impressed by Love, part of the Colonial Courtships collection, is coming in May, 2012.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Inspiration from India

Today we welcome guest author Christine Lindsay. Her debut novel with WhiteFire Publishing has been receiving rave reviews.  Join us as she shares the fascinating history that inspired it.

So much research went into writing Shadowed in Silk that it’s hard to choose just one aspect. From biographies of military personnel I discovered specifics like the galvanized bathtub my Major Geoff Richards would bathe in, the intricacies of his Sam Brown belt and his khaki drill jacket. And one of my favorite details, what it ‘feels’ like to sit on a cavalry charger as it jumps over irrigation canals in Northern India.

Or I could share details that make up the life of an English or American woman, such as my heroine Abby Fraser living in India at the beginning of the last century. Details such as the Vinolia soap she bathed with, or the chapattis spread with marmalade she served to her son, Cam. 

But I prefer to tell you about the inspiration behind one of my secondary---but oh so integral---Indian characters, Miriam. This tiny 50-year-old Indian woman is one of my favorites. Miriam’s back-story is that she is a former Hindu widow who turned to Christ. Since her conversion she rescues abused and abandoned women and children, and runs a small clinic and orphanage. It is there that Miriam teaches Abby that God does not wish His daughters to submit to cruelty within their marriages.

The inspiration behind my fictional Miriam is a the real Pandita Ramabai, an Indian woman who lived about 100 years ago.

I first heard about this true-life heroine, Ramabai, while sitting in a mid-week prayer meeting about 30 years ago. This brilliant Indian woman had died in 1922, but she had done so much for women and children in India that England awarded her the Kaisar-I-Hind Gold Medal. India has since issued a commemorative stamp in Ramabai’s honor, and she was given the honorary acclaim of ‘Pandita’ in Hindu tradition, meaning ‘learned master’.

Born into a high caste Hindu family, Ramabai’s father broke with tradition and taught her to read. This was the beginning of my heroine’s search for enlightenment. As a family they walked the length of India, Ramabai’s eyes were opened to the incredible suffering of Indian women and children.

After her parents and siblings died, Ramabai also broke with tradition and married a lawyer of a lower Hindu caste, but he died of a cholera leaving her alone with a tiny daughter.

One day, looking through her husband's papers she found a Bible, and found fulfillment to her spiritual search in the person of Jesus Christ. But Ramabai didn’t just add Jesus to a list of Hindu gods to worship. She came to the realization that Jesus is the only way to God the Father.

This prompted Ramabai to translate the Bible into her local language. To name just a few of her accomplishments—she started the first  Braille School, promoted the need for female medical doctors, and was the founder of the Ramabai Mukti Mission, a home for sexually abused Hindu widows and children. She was a great social reformer in India long before Gandhi.

I hope you’ll be able to read my debut novel, Shadowed in Silk, which reveals my fascination with British ruled India, but also the inspiration of Ramabai. Enjoy the trailer below.

You can find Shadowed in Silk by clicking on or Barnes and Noble. And drop by my website. I’d love to chat with you,


Christine Lindsay writes historical Christian inspirational novels with strong love stories. She doesn’t shy away from difficult subjects such as the themes in her debut novel SHADOWED IN SILK which is set in India during a turbulent era. Christine’s long-time fascination with the British Raj was seeded from stories of her ancestors who served in the British Cavalry in India. SHADOWED IN SILK won first place in the 2009 ACFW Genesis for Historical under the title Unveiled.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Whose economy are you living in?

by Niki Turner

The United States is approaching "critical mass" when it comes to the economy. If our nation's elected officials don't figure out how to get along and communicate with each other like grown-ups, we're likely to face a major disruption of our national economy in the next few months.

It's pretty scary stuff.

Unless you're plugged in to a different economic system, one that operates on a higher plane than Standard and Poor, Wall Street, and the national debt ceiling. (The heavenlies are FAR above any debt ceiling set by man!)

photo by colarusso    

The media (left-wing and right-wing) are pushers and purveyors of fear and anxiety. Why? Because fear sells,   even better than sex, in most cases. People who are motivated by fear rather than faith are easy to manipulate. Our enemy (that would be the devil, not the liberals, nor the conservatives) is well-aware of that fact, and uses it to his advantage on both sides of the political fence, no matter which side you're on. 

So what are we, as Christians, to do? 

First, we must look to the Word of God for our precedent. 
Second, we must resist fear and trust God to perform what He has promised.

Here are a few verses to serve as catalysts for our faith in this time of economic uncertainty, words of comfort and power and purpose.

Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men,  for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.
1 Tim 2:1-2 NKJV 
If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
1 Tim 5:8 NIV  
Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 
Eph 2:19-20 NKJV
"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 
Matt 6:25-27 NIV
The Bible is rampant with stories - true testimonies - about God's supernatural ability to provide for His people in the midst of terrible economic situations. Consider, if you will, the Hebrew children in the land of Goshen; Elijah at the brook Cherith, the widow and the unending vessels of oil; Jesus multiplying the loaves and the fishes; and so on.

Our elected officials can storm out of as many debt ceiling talks as they like. Their childish behavior doesn't change the truth of God's word or His promises for us as citizens of heaven and members of His household. God remains constant.

I know it's easy for me to fall prey to the fear-mongering mindset of the world system. I have to meditate on the truth that I'm subject to God's economy daily, remembering His promises and trusting Him to take care of me and mine no matter what happens in the world. Some days are better than others.

What do you do to keep out of the fear mode?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

When the Going Gets Tough

By Barbara Early

It was Joseph P Kennedy, the father of JFK, who said, "When the going gets tough, the tough get going." Since then, people have twisted this quote to suit their own purposes. We're probably all familiar with the self-medication versions: When the going gets tough, the tough go shopping." or "When the going gets tough, the tough eat chocolate."

A brief search on the internet shows the tough do even more:
  • Go blonder
  • Get duct take
  • Go to church
  • Get a little tougher
  • Crack Wise
  • Go Eating
  • Get a Government Handout
  • Head to the Gym
  • Break down
  • Buy US Treasuries
  • Quit
  • Clip coupons
  • Switch the subject
  • Lay off the nanny
  • Get Metamucil
  • Get Drunk
  • Do yoga
  • Get Lawyered Up
  • Get Gorgeous

But what we do when things aren't going right reveals a lot about us. Jim Berg, in his book Changed into His Image, used the analogy of a tea bag. When you place a tea bag in hot water, it doesn't change. But the hot water reveals what was already in the tea bag. In the same way, difficult times bring out what is already inside of us, whether it be a quick temper or a propensity for chocolate. And while some of these options are humorous and harmless, some are sad, and others are a tad scary.

Although I'll admit to being suckered into buying a delightful little wall decoration from Amish country that spouted "When the going get's tough, the tough go to church," I'm not sure that's the answer either. Church shouldn't be limited to the times in which we encounter difficulties. And motives are important too. Church attendance motivated by a religiosity is different from attendance because of a relationship with God. During the tough times in life, while other things may distract or salve, there is only one tried and true remedy.

If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people; If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:13-14

While this promise was given to Israel, God gives some clear principles to learn from today.

1. Humble yourself. One thing troubling times reveal quickly is that we're not so tough as we like to think we are. And sometimes all the dogged determination a person can muster will not be enough to solve a problem. When we encounter these unsolvable problems, we come to a place where we realize our limitations and our need for God. God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. James 4:6b

2. Pray. Once we have a humble spirit, God wants us to talk to Him, to call out to him and tell him our troubles. Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. James 5:16

3. Seek His face. For some reason, whenever I see this phrase, I think about making eye contact. Seeking his face to me implies a relationship and a love that makes gazing into someone's eyes comfortable and pleasant. A religion can't do that. A moral code can't do that. Only when we come, our sins and guilt washed away through redemption, can we stand before him with open face. Seek the LORD, and his strength: seek his face evermore. Psalm 105:4

4. Turn from Wickedness. How can you attempt to seek God's face and stand in His presence, and not be instantly aware of all the ways you're failed Him? God doesn't want these things to hinder us in our pursuit of God's presence, but to turn from the sin that hinders our relationship. He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy. Proverbs 28:13

Question: Where do you turn when trouble strikes?

Barbara Early grew up buried in the snowy suburbs of Buffalo, NY, where she developed a love for all things sedentary: reading, writing, classic movies, and Scrabble. She holds a degree in Electrical Engineering, but her penchant for the creative caused her to run away screaming from the pocket-protector set. She taught secondary English and science for several years in a Christian school before home schooling her daughter successfully through high school. Barbara cooks up cozy mysteries with a healthy dose of comedy and sometimes a splash of romance, and was a double finalist in the 2010 ACFW Genesis competition. When not reading or writing, she enjoys cooking, crafts, home-improvement projects, and spending time with her husband and daughter.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Reinventing Leona by Lynne Gentry

by Jennifer AlLee

Ebooks. They're everywhere. Some bemoan the existence of the ebook, worried that it spells the demise of print books. I'm not one of those people. To me, there's always room for another great book, whether it's on my Kindle, or my nightstand.

Today, I'd like to share a wonderful ebook with you. Reinventing Leona is one of the launch titles in Tyndale House's Digital First line. Just like it sounds, these books come out first in electronic form, and later in print.

Author Lynne Gentry's novel begins with these words: "Living in the parsonage is not for sissies." This is our introduction to Leona Harper and her pastor-husband, J.D. Leona has made a career out of being the consummate pastor's wife, miracle worker who stretches little into much, and the perfect hostess. So when J.D. drops dead in the pulpit with the word of God on his lips, a piece of Leona dies, too.

What does a woman do when the very thing that shaped her identity is ripped away? And how do the people around her act? What about her adult children, who are facing identity issues of their own? Gentry addresses all these issues, and more, in a style that is wonderfully genuine. There are times when you might wonder how Christian people could think such things, or act in such a way. But if we're honest, I think we all know times when we've done the same. Gentry doesn't sugar-coat the heartache, confusion, and desperation that grief can cause. At the same time, she delivers a story full of sass, hope, and the abiding love of family: both the kind we're born into, and the family of God.

I thoroughly enjoyed Reinventing Leona and highly recommend it. Congratulations, Lynne, on a fabulous first offering. I look forward to many more!

How about you? What are you reading now that has you intrigued? What do you think about ebooks? Have you caught the new wave?

 JENNIFER ALLEE believes the most important thing a woman can do is find her identity in God – a theme that carries throughout her novels. A professional writer for over twenty years, she's done extensive freelance work for Concordia Publishing House, including skits, Bible activity pages, and over 100 contributions to their popular My Devotions series. Her first novel, The Love of His Brother, was released by Five Star Publishers in November 2007. Her latest novel, The Pastor’s Wife, was released by Abingdon Press in February 2010. Her upcoming novel, The Mother Road, will be released by Abingdon Press in April 2012. She's a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Romance Writers of America, Christian Authors Network, and the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance. - Jennifer's website - A safe haven for women living on the front lines of ministry.

Friday, July 22, 2011

"Sorry" Isn't Always the Hardest Word

by Suzie Johnson

A few months ago I attended a one day seminar for women that was, over all, a positive experience. But there was one thing the instructor said that resonated with me in a negative way.

Never apologize. When women apologize,” she said, “we lose credibility.”

Is that really true? I had to stop and think about it for a while. Just because I paid for a seminar didn’t mean everything the instructor said was the truth. I can’t say I shrugged off her comment, because I didn’t. It bothered me, and I’ve mulled it over in my mind time and again. If I hurt someone, if I offend someone, of course I’m going to apologize. What about when we confess our sins to God? Don’t we do that with remorse and sorrow in our heart? Isn’t that part of a repentant spirit? What could be wrong with that?

Recently, my co-worker, Becky, was having a communication problem. She was receiving training via web-conferences, in order to train others to use a new software program. The vendor told her not to hesitate to ask if she had any questions. But every time Becky would ask a question the vendor would start by saying, “Well. I already showed that to you but since you don’t remember…I’ll show you again.”

Becky felt incompetent. The next time she needed to call the vendor, she said, “Maybe I should start by saying ‘I’m sorry, I know you probably showed this to me before, but apparently I don’t remember. I guess you need to show me again.’”


“No,” I said immediately. “You have nothing to apologize for. She told you to call if you have questions, so you shouldn't have to apologize.”


Then I remembered the seminar instructor’s mandate that we should never apologize. Suddenly I saw it in an entire new way. Becky’s plan to apologize before she asked her question would definitely affect her credibility, as well as her own self-esteem since she’d basically be criticizing or belittling herself.

In this case, I agree with the instructor. She’s absolutely right that we lose credibility when we apologize then qualify it with a self-criticism. Then, the more I thought about it, the more I became aware of those around me apologizing for things that seemed insignificant; an interruption, talking too loud, not answering the phone fast enough. The more I became aware of it, the more I became realized I was also apologizing frequently.

I decided to try counting how many times I apologized in one day.

First thing Monday morning, I was at the drive-through window getting my iced-tea. When I went to pay, I realized I needed to get more change out of my wallet. As I dug for seven more cents, I heard myself utter those dreaded words: “I’m sorry.”


Someone asked me a question. My answer didn't come out quite as cheerful as it ordinarily would. I immediately said, “Sorry, I didn't sound more cheerful. I didn't mean it that way.”


I was in a meeting later that day. My pencil rolled on to someone else’s paper. I picked it up, and what do you think I said?


As I was walking down the hall and someone cut the corner and almost ran into me. Who apologized? You guessed it!


That evening, I had to comment on an essay someone wrote. There was something I disagreed with. It was my opinion. His essay was his opinion. Neither of us was totally right or wrong. Um, what do you suppose were the first words I typed? Did I really need to apologize for expressing my opinion when it didn't agree with someone else's? It wasn't rude or hurtful, and we weren't arguing. Why did I feel so compelled?

Then I thought back over my day, trying to count up all the times I apologized for something. I couldn’t. Sometime during the day I’d lost track. It struck me then, if you say “I’m sorry” so many times during the day that you can’t even remember the reason…
...there’s a problem...

This is what the seminar instructor meant. This is how an apology could cause you to lose credibility. It begins to sound trite, trivial, meaningless. Please don’t misunderstand me. I do not for one minute believe we should not apologize when it’s warranted. As Christians and as human beings, we most definitely should.

But when we’re saying it out of an eagerness to please someone, because of low self-esteem, or because it’s simply a habit, “sorry” will lose its meaning.

In Matthew 5:37, Jesus said, “Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes’ and your ‘No’, ‘No’; anything less is from the evil one.”;He wants us to be known as people of our word. Similarly, let your “sorry” mean “sorry”, and not: “I’m stupid, dumb, incompetent, or clumsy.” We don’t want to lose credibility. We want to be people of our word.

For me, what may have once been low self-esteem is now actually a habit. I tackled the self-esteem issue, and now I intend to tackle this habit.

How about you? Do you tend to apologize too much? If you don’t, does it bother you when other people do?

Do you agree or disagree that we can apologize too much?

Suzie Johnson has won several awards for her inspirational novels (writing as Susan Diane Johnson), including the Maggie, Lone Star, Heart of the West, and Beacon awards, as well as finaling in the Touched by Love, Finally A Bride, Linda Howard Award for Excellence, and Virginia's Fool For Love contests. She is a member of ACFW, RWA, and is a cancer registrar at her local hospital. The mother of a wonderful young man who makes her proud every day, she lives with her husband and little kitten on an island in the Pacific Northwest. And although the beaches are rocky instead of sandy, lined with Madronas and Evergreens instead of Palm trees, and the surf is much to cold for wading, it is still the perfect spot for writing romantic fiction. You can visit her blog, Suzie's Writing Place at