Monday, November 30, 2009


National Novel Writer's Month ends in a few hours. Once again I have tortured a group of pre-adults with this daunting experience. They made it farther than I did.

I worked on several pieces, sporadically, and made some progress. But overall I was distracted and refused to write. I don't know if it is a rebellion against husband, girl and boy. Or simply a product of my exhaustion while working full time.

I miss the days of going to writing group. Completing a chapter every week. Getting the words down on paper.

The good news? I have an office now. And soon it will be a nice pretty green color. I'm SURE that will be the key to getting more words down.

Look out November. NEXT year I will be a winner.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Review: The Kidnapping of Kenzie Thorn

My wife likes romance novels. Loves them, in fact. Me, on the other hand....not so much. There have been times when I found myself in the throes of boredom and have read a couple, but that was when there was nothing else to do.

It's just never really been my cup of tea.

However, if all Christian romance novels were like Liz Johnson's, then I would seriously be rethinking that attitude.

Ms. Johnson wastes no time with this book: she introduces us to to Kenzie Thorn and Myles Parsons on the very first page, sparks are flying in the second chapter, and Myles has kidnapped Kenzie by Chapter three. However, unlike the typical romance novel, Ms. Johnson merely introduces the characters and then gets down to telling us the story, allowing additional descriptions of the characters to naturally fall into the flow of the story.

Also unlike the typical secular romance novel, there's no sweat-glistened skin or heaving bosoms.

None. Anywhere.

Ms. Johnson's depiction of two people truly falling in love is certainly a breath of fresh air in a world where "love" has been turned into a four-letter word and sold on daytime TV.

Now, the Kidnapping of Kenzie Thorn isn't simply a love story. The love story is interwoven with a gripping suspense story that leaves the reader guessing until the end.

Most importantly, all throughout the story, Kenzie and Myles are in constant communication with God. In his letter to the Thessalonians, Paul exhorts the church in Thessaloniki (and us) to pray constantly. Constant prayer is clearly demonstrated in this story.

So let's recap: this story is a Christ-centered, gripping suspenseful romance that contains a lot of prayer, true love and not one heaving bosom in sight.

Sounds like a winner to me! I can't wait to see more stories from Ms. Johnson.

Buy this book on Amazon.

Liner Notes:

Myles Parsons is just another inmate in Kenzie Thorn’s GED course until he kidnaps her, offering only a feeble explanation–that he’s actually FBI Special Agent Myles Borden. Terrified, Kenzie doesn’t want to believe his story of being undercover to protect her. Moreover, she can’t believe that someone might really want her dead.

But just when Myles thinks he has her out of harm’s way, his plans start to fall apart. He attempts to take Kenzie to a safe house—but the stubborn woman won’t go! So together they must uncover the clues that will reveal a most shocking perpetrator. All the while Myles tries to keep his distance from Kenzie … but finds himself falling in love.

Read more about Liz Johnson on her Author Page.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Review: Sir Dalton and the Shadow Heart

I've read Book Two in the Knights of Arrethrae series (reviewed here), and the more I read, the more I like Chuck Black's style. He takes Biblical precepts and truths and effectively weaves them into a medieval-style story to make the truths accessible to youth.

Sir Dalton and the Shadow Heart, Book Three in the Knights of Arrethrae series, is more of this allegorical storytelling. Sir Dalton, a young and inexperienced knight recently graduated from training camp, finds his skills as a Knight of the Prince challenged. He becomes a captive of the Dark Knight Lucius and finds that being a Knight of the Prince is very different than simply strapping on a sword and fighting evil.

This book is highly entertaining, but it's meant as much more. The discussion questions at the end can be used by parents, youth leaders, teachers or students themselves to examine and discuss Biblical truths about faith in Christ, true friendship and spiritual warfare.

I plan on teaching my own kids with this series. If that's not a testimony to the book, I don't know what is.

Liner Notes:

Sir Dalton, a knight in training, seems to have everything going for him. Young, well-liked, and a natural leader, he has earned the respect and admiration of his fellow knights, and especially the beautiful Lady Brynn.

But something is amiss at the training camp. Their new trainer is popular but lacks the passion to inspire them to true service to the King and the Prince. Besides this, the knights are too busy enjoying a season of good times to be concerned with a disturbing report that many of their fellow Knights have mysteriously vanished.

When Sir Dalton is sent on a mission, he encounters strange attacks, especially when he is alone. As his commitment wanes, the attacks grow in intensity until he is captured by Lord Drox, a massive Shadow Warrior. Bruised and beaten, Dalton refuses to submit to evil and initiates a daring escape with only one of two outcomes–life or death. But what will become of the hundreds of knights he’ll leave behind? In a kingdom of peril, Dalton thinks he is on his own, but two faithful friends have not abandoned him, and neither has a strange old hermit who seems to know much about the Prince. But can Dalton face the evil Shadow Warrior again and survive?

Get it here.

Author Info:

Chuck Black, a former F-16 fighter pilot and tactical communications engineer, is the author of eight novels, including the popular Kingdom series. He has received praise from parents across the country for his unique approach to telling biblical truths. His passion in life is to serve the Lord Jesus Christ and to love his wife, Andrea, and their six children. He lives with his family in North Dakota.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Never the Bride

If you are one of us who cried, "But I'm going to be forty...someday!"

If you ever asked "But why didn't he wanna marry me?"

If you have ever been in love with your best friend--the one who shares all his heartbreaks with you and tells you about the ones he loves...

If you have sat alone at Valentine banquets, church picnics, and Sunday services directed at smug marrieds....

If you have helped most of your friends with "the most important day of her life"...

If you are still searching for your one true love, or even if you've found him after living through any/ALL of the above, then this is the book for you!

Cheryl Mckay and Rene Gutteridge's book, Never the Bride takes a heartwarming look at a not-so-young-anymore woman who is waiting through her thirties, just as she waited through her twenties, for her life to begin. What does she believe it will take?

A man.

More importantly, a husband.

Follow Jessie, as she talks to you like a beloved friend. Experience her daily meanderings and obsessive thoughts of love and finding love. Perhaps take a few lessons from a fictionalized character who embodies a dozen people I myself know!

There is just enough of Jessie left in me that I wondered if I could stand to read a story about wanting to get married if she didn't find love and happiness in the end. For other readers out there who will feel the same way, and I know you're out there, the ending is very satisfying. Just like the man she meets along the way.

Cheryl McKay is the co-author (with Frank Peretti) of the Wild and Wacky, Totally True Bible Stories series, which has sold nearly 200,000 copies, and the screenwriter of the award-winning film The Ultimate Gift. Rene Gutteridge has published thirteen novels including Ghost Writer, My Life as a Doormat, the Boo Series, the Occupational Hazards Series, and the Storm Series. Together, McKay and Gutteridge are the authors of The Ultimate Gift, a novelization based on the feature film and popular book by the same title.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Amish Love

What’s all the hubbub about Amish fiction? Major media outlets like Time and ABC Nightline are covering it, and authors like Cindy Woodsmall are making the New York Times bestseller list regularly. What makes these books so interesting?

Check out the recent ABC Nightline piece here ( about Cindy and her titles When the Heart Cries, When the Morning Comes, and When the Soul Mends. It’s an intriguing look at Amish culture and the time Cindy has spent with Amish friends.

And don’t forget that Cindy’s new book The Hope of Refuge hits store shelves August 11, and is available for preorder now.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

History or Mystery

In my files I have a dozen stories waiting to be completed. Stories range from the 18th century through the 25th century and I have often pondered what they all have in common. I've been told, as a writer, that I must choose a genre and stick to it! Otherwise you are starting over with your reader base with each new book. The fact that my current reader base is quite small, I am not too concerned. But I must hone my skills.

The next dilemma is that writers must read. So, I consider my reading tastes. Again a huge range of time periods and and genres.

Whatever am I to do?

Every now and then I think--what would happen if I combined the things I love to write? A modern novel with a historical/suspenseful twist. Hmmm.

Time for a little research.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Review: Enduring Justice

When I picked this book up, I had to steel myself. Within the first few chapters it was clear that this book addresses some very difficult topics: kidnapped children, evil racist men who hurt children and the FBI's National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC).

However, as I read on, I found that the story is more about healing and Godly attitudes than the atrocities themselves.

Hanna Kessler is a barista in her father's coffee house. She has a dark secret that she has never discussed with anyone. Federal Bureau of Investigation agents Michael and Steven (Hanna's former boyfriend and her brother) are investigating a case that brings Hanna's secret to light.

However, this isn't Tom Grisham's A Time to Kill. Rather than writing about vengance and anger, Mrs. Wallace tells a story about love, healing and moving on. This story answers the question: what should be the Christian's response when bad things happen?

You can find this book here.

Publisher's synopsis:

Hanna Kessler’s secret remained buried for decades. But when the shadows of her past threaten those she loves and the system fails FBI Agent Michael Parker, setting a white supremacist free, they must learn the difference between vengeance and justice is their choice to heal.

Author bio:

Amy Wallace is the author of Ransomed Dreams and Healing Promises, a homeschool mom, and self-confessed chocoholic. She is a graduate of the Gwinnett County Citizens Police Academy and a contributing author of several books including God Answers Moms’ Prayers and Chicken Soup for the Soul Healthy Living Series: Diabetes. She lives with her husband and three children in Georgia.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Review: A Flickering Light

My wife and I have been fans of Jane Kirkpatrick for a couple years now, and we eagerly anticipate the new books as they come. A Flickering Light certainly lives up to Jane's reputation.

This story is about a young woman in the Midwest who dreams of being a photographer, despite the field being very male-dominated. She realizes her dream, but at the risk of her honor and his family.

I found myself fussing aloud at and about the characters, which never happens as I read a book. Of course, I knew that the characters were based on real people and only realized after I was done that Jessie was actually Jane's grandmother.

This story really draws you in and gets you involved with the characters, as is the case with all of Jane's stories. It will make an excellent addition to the Jane Kirkpatrick section of your personal library.


Returning to her Midwest roots, award-winning author Jane Kirkpatrick draws a page from her grandmother’s photo album to capture the interplay between shadow and light, temptation and faith that marks a woman’s pursuit of her dreams. She took exquisite photographs, but her heart was the true image exposed.

Fifteen-year-old Jessie Ann Gaebele loves nothing more than capturing a gorgeous Minnesota landscape when the sunlight casts its most mesmerizing shadows. So when F.J. Bauer hires her in 1907 to assist in his studio and darkroom, her dreams for a career in photography appear to find root in reality.

With the infamous hazards of the explosive powder used for lighting and the toxic darkroom chemicals, photography is considered a man’s profession. Yet Jessie shows remarkable talent in both the artistry and business of running a studio. She proves less skillful, however, at managing her growing attraction to the very married Mr. Bauer.

This luminous coming-of-age tale deftly exposes the intricate shadows that play across every dream worth pursuing—and the irresistible light that beckons the dreamer on.


Author Bio:

Jane Kirkpatrick is a best-selling, award-winning author whose previous historical novels include All Together in One Place and Christy Award finalist A Tendering in the Storm. An international keynote speaker, she has earned regional and national recognition for her stories based on the lives of actual people, including the prestigious Wrangler Award from the Western Heritage Hall of Fame. Jane is a Wisconsin native who since 1974 has lived in Eastern Oregon, where she and her husband, Jerry, ranch 160 rugged acres.

Review: Aurora

Wrap yourself in a fantastic journey, a remarkable commitment, and a spare and splendid story. Master storyteller Jane Kirkpatrick extols the beautiful treasures, unknown to a wider public, rediscovered in the Old Aurora Colony of Oregon’s lush Willamette Valley.

The people and legacy of Aurora, a utopian community founded in the mid-1800s, will stir your imagination, hopes, and dreams; and remind you that every life matters—that our lives are the stories other people read first.

  • Unique and treasured quilt pattern variations
  • More than 100 photographs, many never-before published, from 1850 to today
  • Cherished stories from Aurora descendants
  • Rich images of fine crafts from the Aurora Colony and private collections
  • An introduction by renowned American artist John Houser

Aurora is about the difference every ordinary life can make—and a beautiful celebration of a time and place in which people expressed their most cherished beliefs through the work of their imagination and hands.

Buy this book from Random House.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Sir Bentley

This is the first time I've read any of Chuck Black's books. I have to say, I'll likely be getting this whole series. The books seem aimed directly at the Middle School level, and as such were a very quick read for me.

Set in a fictional land in a vaguely medieval time, this book is allegory through and through. However, had I not been familiar with Scripture, the story would have been a wonderful teaching tool on the Book of Acts. As it stands, I wanted my Bible next to me as I was reading in order to catch all of the allegory.

The main character, Sir Bentley of Chessington, is alternately reminiscent of Simon Peter and Paul. The fact that he starts out as an elite Noble Knight (who stand for the Pharisees of New Testament times) lends the character even more of a Pauline tint. In his exploits, Bentley has a conversion experience, sees the true joy in the service of the King and Prince (God the Father and Jesus), and fights the minions of Lucius (Lucifer).

I recommend this series as a teacher and as a father, and I can't wait to read the rest!

This second installment in Chuck Black’s Knights of Arrethtrae series tells the tale of Sir Bentley, an honorable knight who abandons all to seek the truth of the Prince. Eirwyn, a mysterious young woman who brings food to the poor, teaches Bentley the power of compassion to overcome evil. Together, they save the people of Holbrook from poverty and despair.

Sir Bentley’s quest for the truth of the Prince finds him battling Shadow Warriors, a powerful lord, and a terrifying creature. Will greed destroy Holbrook? Or can Bentley and the mysterious Eirwyn restore prosperity to the kingdom through the compassion of the Prince? Intended for family read-alouds and Christian teens, this fantastic story will entertain and edify parents and kids alike.

To purchase this book, go to


Chuck Black, a former F-16 fighter pilot and tactical communications engineer, is the author of eight novels, including the popular Kingdom series. He has received praise from parents across the country for his unique approach to telling biblical truths. His passion in life is to serve the Lord Jesus Christ and to love his wife, Andrea, and their six children. He lives with his family in North Dakota.

Friday, February 13, 2009

For Couples Only

For Couples Only Box Set:
Since their debut, these revolutionary guides have sold well over a million copies, been translated into fifteen languages, and sparked much fascinating water-cooler conversation around the country. Now together in the For Couples Only boxed set, these books provide the perfect resource to help you understand what you never knew about the woman or man in your life.

Each volume is based on input from more than a thousand members of the opposite sex—including an unprecedented nationwide survey and hundreds of personal interviews. This innovative approach yields candid and surprising answers about everything you don’t “get” about your significant other—even what that person deeply wishes you knew. It also produces simple but groundbreaking awareness of how you can best love and support the one who is most important to you. [Part of me wanted to make this paragraph past tense—yielded and produced—because of the first paragraph, but that took away some of the immediacy of what the books offer. I’ll leave that up to you.]

So whether you are newly dating or have been married fifty years, get ready to know each other in a whole new way. The adventure is just beginning!

Author Bio:
Shaunti and Jeff Feldhahn hold graduate degrees from Harvard University and are popular national speakers, authors, and entrepreneurs. They are also active church members and the parents of two young children, and they enjoy every minute of living life at warp speed.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Love as a Way of Life: Devotional

Last year we reviewed the book Love as a Way of Life. Now, the devotional is ready to go.

Love As A Way Of Life Devotional

In his book Love As a Way of Life, best-selling author Gary Chapman shows readers how to cultivate a new lifestyle built around the seven characteristics of authentic love. Now in a companion devotional, he provides ninety inspirational readings to help Christians consistently live out the characteristics of love in every relationship.

Each devotional entry showcases biblical truths that guide a life of love, offering fresh insight and practical guidance in how to make love a lasting habit. Over the course of three months, readers will learn to follow God’s lead as they practice the characteristics of a loving person: kindness, patience, forgiveness, courtesy, humility, generosity, and honesty.

The Love As a Way of Life Devotional makes an ideal gift for the holidays or for any special occasion. Couples, parents, new graduates, and anyone celebrating a milestone in life will welcome this inspiring daily guide to richer, more satisfying relationships.

Author Bio:
Dr. Gary Chapman is the author of twenty-six books, including the New York Times bestseller The Five Love Languages, with more than 4 million copies in print. His daily radio program, A Love Language Minute, is broadcast on more than 100 stations nationwide. Dr. Chapman, a graduate of Moody Bible Institute, Wheaton College, Wake-Forest University, and Southwestern Seminary, serves on a church staff in North Carolina.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Review: I Do Again

With their professional success and adorable twin daughters, Jeff and Cheryl Scruggs looked like the perfect couple. But their polished facade concealed a widening chasm between two people unable to connect on an intimate, soul-deep level.

After years of frustration, Cheryl’s desire for emotional fulfillment led to an affair and, finally, divorce. Yet, incredibly, seven years later, Jeff and Cheryl once again stood at the altar, promising to “love, honor, and cherish” one another. A new and vibrant love had risen out of the ashes of this family’s pain.

I Do Again details the fascinating real-life story of a couple whose relationship seemed shattered beyond all hope until a spiritual awakening led them to reconsider their definitions of “happily ever after.” A riveting account of the power of prayer and redemption, this remarkable book offers renewed hope for even the most troubled marriages—and reveals why the rewards of restoration are well worth the wait.

Author Bio:
Cheryl and Jeff Scruggs are the founders of Hope Matters Marriage Ministries, and for the past several years they have shared their incredible story of a marriage restored with audiences across the nation. Jeff is an account manager with OshKosh B’Gosh, and Cheryl has served as director of the Frisco, Texas, office of the Center for Christian Counseling. They live in Dallas, Texas with their two college-age daughters.