Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Welcome, Guest Blogger Author Marianne Evans!

by Marianne Evans

Don’t you just love it when you come upon a book series that hits you so hard you think about it even when you’re busy at work? Even when you’re driving around town on errands? Cooking and cleaning?

Do you ever find yourself so deeply immersed in a story that you find yourself thinking about the characters at the oddest times, pondering the circumstances they find themselves in, simply because they’ve been so vividly, authentically drawn?

You feel for them, because you share in their tribulation – the questionings – and most of all, the beauty of their faith.
I’m in the middle of just such a series, and I honestly can’t read them fast enough (fortunately it’s a long, detailed series, so I have many wonderful nights of reading ahead of me). I’m halfway through the second part of the three part “Baxter Family” series by Karen Kingsbury, and as a new reader of this Christian inspirational author, I’m riveted.

Some background about this series, which has actually been around for quite a while: The Baxter family includes John and Elizabeth Baxter, and their five children: Brooke, Kari, Ashley Erin and Luke. The series evolves into three parts: The Redemption Series, The Firstborn Series (because we come to learn there are actually six Baxter children!) and the Sunrise Series.

Against a tapestry of events both small and large: from small-town living in Bloomington, Indiana to the world-shattering events of 9/11, Kingsbury weaves together story threads that beautifully engage each and every character: their struggles, their faith in Christ, their relationships with one another, their spouses and loves, and in no way does Kingsbury shirk away from tough questions, circumstances and the struggles so many Christians face as they try to remain faithful to God’s call in a culture that goes so strongly against Him at times. These characters are real; they’re flawed, yet retain a grace and nobility in the face of crisis – even if they have to learn life-lessons the hard way. They have secrets, they have dreams, they fail and they succeed and as a reader I find myself rooting for them every step of the way, because to do so is like rooting for every Christian brother and sister who lives life the best way they can day in and day out.

Most of all I’m impressed by this family’s unshakeable faith in God and their unconditional love toward one another. Faith and family devotion forms the bedrock of their lives and the backbone of the entire series.

Karen sets scenes in such a way that they become part and parcel of the story she tells. She uses dialogue in such a way that it reflects character, mannerisms become as familiar as those of a best friend. And her plotlines will, through the course of a book, make you feel any one of a hundred emotions as you ride through these stories along with the characters you come to love.

I refuse to give away a single plot point – only because I pray you pick up book one of the Redemption Series, which is the story that kicks everything off. These are Christian inspirationals – yet they are never preachy. Instead, any Christ-centered message revolves around characters coming to terms with who and what they are. These stories are a combination of the romance and family saga genres, and I believe once you start reading them, you’ll be hooked as well.

It was my niece who first recommended Karen Kingsbury, and the Redemption series. I took her recommendation to heart, but didn’t act on it until almost a year later. From there, I dove into the entire Baxter Family series with passion and enthusiasm. I’m in awe of Ms. Kingsbury’s talent and am delighted to have this chance to let you know how deeply these books took root in my heart and inspired me as a writer, and a Christian.

I can’t recommend these books highly enough. Enjoy – and God bless!

What's your favorite fiction series? Why? Or is there a book you wished was part of a series? If so, what and why?

To read an excerpt of Marianne's newest release, Hearts Surrender, go to Gina's blog.

Marianne Evans loves to tell a good story. In fact, she’s been enthusiastic about writing ever since she could string sentences together. Kensington Publishing purchased her first book, Friends & Lovers, a contemporary romance. Her second release, Right Hand Man, followed shortly thereafter. Her third offering from Kensington, Hannah’s Heart, won critical acclaim from readers, and The Oakland Press.

Her fourth book is her inspirational romance debut at White Rose Publishing – the contest winning novella Hearts Crossing. Hearts Crossing led to the creation of the ‘Woodland Series.’ This series of books centers around Woodland Church and characters who are first introduced in Hearts Crossing. Book two is titled Hearts Surrender. Hearts Communion and Hearts Key will follow as books three and four.

The series is offered in both print and electronic formats via White Rose Publishing ( and Amazon (

A lifelong resident of Michigan, she calls suburban Detroit home. She’s happily married, with a son, a daughter, and cats who wrap her around their paws. An active part of Romance Writers of America, she’s a long-time member of the Greater Detroit chapter where she served the chapter most notably as Treasurer and two terms as President. She also belongs to the Faith Hope and Love chapter of RWA, American Christian Fiction Writers and the Michigan Literary Network.

Connect with her at:
@marmo212 (Twitter)!/pages/Marianne-Evans/308711716744?ref=ts (Facebook Fan Page)

Kiara Jordan is a sophisticated modernista, but beneath an engaging personality and super-model looks, her heart hungers, and she longs for deeper meaning in her life.

Ken Lucerne is the charismatic young pastor of Woodland Church ; he's adjusting to life on his own following the death of his wife and copes by keeping as busy with parish life and mission work as he can.

A home-building mission in Pennsylvania brings them together, and forces them to look hard and deep at the relationship they share, and where God means for it to go. Already bound by mutual respect and caring, love dawns, a love that takes them to a life-point neither would have expected.

After all, can a chic, vivacious woman find fulfillment within the quiet, mission-centered life of a clergyman? Can they trust God's hand strongly enough to surrender their hearts to one another…forever?


  1. Hi Marianne,

    Thanks for visiting today. I find the longer I can spend with charcters, the more I become invested in their lives and fall in love with them. I can hardly stand to watch a two hour movie anymore when I've gotten used to spending a minimum of ten hours with characters in novels. Get a nice series going, like you mentioned, and you truly feel like you know the people.

    Great post and great thoughts!

  2. Thanks for visiting Marianne, and sharing your love of Karen Kingsbury's writing. I didn't know about this particular series, but I started reading her back about 10-12 years ago. I think her readership doubled with the heart wrenching fiction she wrote based on 9/11 events.

  3. Marianne,
    I agree that to keep my intrest, whether as writer or reader, the characters must be compelling. You do an excellent job, so your books are really fun to read.

  4. Thanks for hanging around with us at the Inkwell today Marianne! I still think about the first Karen Kingsbury I read. She really is wonderful at characterization.

  5. Great post, Marianne! I love series, love getting reacquainted with characters I've already learned to love in a previous book, and looking forward to what's going to happen in the next one. Can't wait to finish reading the Woodland Series!

  6. Thanks, Marianne, for visiting with us today.

    Could you tell us a bit about White Rose Publishing and what led you to them?

  7. Dina, thanks so much for your sweet compliment and your visit! I couldn't agree with you more! As I dive into a series, and fall in love with not only the H&H but secondary characters as well, I know an author has done their job very well!

  8. Debra, Hi!! KK's 9/11 series is what actually got me started reading her, but my, what a gut-wrenching ride! In fact, it was so intense, I really needed a bit of a breather before my next installment of Kingsbury's works. When my niece recommended this series, I was pulled in for sure!

  9. Hi, Sue! Absolutely agree about compelling characters. The author has to find a way to make them 'mean' something, for want of a better word. Once that's accomplished, you'll have engaged, and entertained readers! So glad you stopped by! :-)

  10. Hi, Lisa! I'm so glad to be here!! Inkwell is fantastic! :-) I loved your comment about the fact that you still think about stories/characters, even after you've finished with a book. Such a sign of a great read!

  11. Delia, thanks so much for the compliemnt about The Woodland Series! I hope you enjoy it! After writing Hearts Crossing, I found I couldn't get away from the entire cast of characters, and watching their "new lives" develop, even as new characters took center stage.

  12. Hi, Gina - and thanks again for having me here! I'd love to tell you about White Rose Publishing. First things first, a web addy for those who are interested in checking out our offerings:

  13. I found out about White Rose Publishing after selling a novella to The Wild Rose Press. At that point, White Rose was the Inspirational arm of TWRP, but White Rose has since branched off into its own publishing house and business entity, and it's headed by one of the most gifted, anointed people I've ever had the pleasure of working with: Nicola Martinez. She's the owner and Editor in Chief, and she's amazing.

    I had wanted to switch from secular to Christian Inspirational romance for quite a while, but didn't have a story idea that pulled at my heart. Along came the Hearts Crossing contest, sponsored by WRP. I entered, and was blessed by a win. That's when I found myself sitting at church one day, watching people come forward for communion. I started to think: Each person has their own story - their own victory, failure, fear, joy, love. The idea dawned for a series of books, based upon characters who share friendship, family ties, and the same place of worship. Story ideas began to take off, and the Woodland series was born. It is truly an answer by God to the call on my heart.

  14. Now it's my turn! :-D I know it's like asking a parent to pick a favorite child, but since I'm not just an author, but an avid reader as well, I have to know: What book most captured your heart, and why? What elements (plot, writing, setting, whatever!) caused it to stay with you, and remain on your 'keeper' shelf?

    Yeah - like my 'to be read' pile needs added weight!! :-) Still, I can't wait to hear your answers. After all, I'm always up for a great book!!

  15. Marianne, Nicola designed my terrific book covers. She is amazing. Continued good luck with your career.

  16. Keeper books?

    1) The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler

    My copy's spine is utterly bent. I read it every couple years, and this winter is my next time. Macon is so adorably OCD and Muriel is so...odd. But what draws me back is the emotional journey Macon goes through to learn to live again following his son's death.

    2) To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

    I read this last winter. Took my leisurely time by only reading one chapter a night for a month or so. When I finished, I cried because I felt like a good friend passed away. No more Scout. No more Atticus. No more Boo.


    3) Better than Gold and When the Snow Flies by Laurie Alice Eakes

    Partially because she's my friend, but mostly becuase she has a gift for writing sensory details. When I get stuck writing, I'll skim her books for a spot where I know she wove in, say, scents.

    4) Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series by Douglas Adams


    5) Best Loved Folktales by Joanna cole and Grimms Brothers Fairytales

    Fun to read. Also a good resource for plots.

    6) I also have a handful of Julia Quinn historicals that I've read several times. A couple are autographed.

    7) Outliers and The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell

    Writers should read these books.

    8) Various Christian living and craft of writing books

    I donate to the library most of the inspy fiction I buy or win in a contest or get free at a conference. Why? Because I know they'll put them on the shelves. My donated copy of Julie Lessman's A Passion Most Pure has curled book cover edges and a broken spine from being checked out so often. Makes me happy to see that.

    I'll donate her newest release and Karen Witemeyer's books, but I'm keeping Melanie Dickerson's Healer's Apprentice.

  17. Thanks for visiting us today, Marianne! I loved your post and I'm definitely going to check out Karen Kingsbury's 9/11 series.

    When I finish a really good book, I mourn the loss of those characters for a few days. I miss them! Those are the kinds of characters we as writers strive to create and develop, aren't they?

    Thanks for the information about White Rose, too.


  18. Hi, Caroline! Thanks so much for visiting! I'm a Nicola fan from way back! :-) Blessings!

  19. Gina, Gina, Gina...stop tempting me with the great-sounding books!! LOL! Hitchikers Guide was awesome, too! :-) How sweet of you to donate to the library like that! What a wonderful way of paying it forward!!

  20. Hi, Susanne! :-) So glad you stopped by! Your comment about mourning the 'passing' if you will of characters you love once a book is finished really hit home with me. I'm so eager for every installment of the Baxter Family series by KK, and yet I don't want it to end! Her storylines and characters are that vivid and appealing to me. :-) Glad you liked the info on White Rose Publishing. Check them out. Great Christian inspy romances. I couldn't be happier there.

  21. I am so looking forward to this whole series! I love your stories!


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