Food for the Soul

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Posted 8/26/14 at 3:12 PM | Audra Jennings

Sarah Sundin Discusses Releasing Regret and Embracing Love

In Perfect Time
Revell

When you can’t get over the mistakes of your past, it’s nearly impossible to accept the gifts of the present. In her final installment in the Wings of the Nightingale series, In Perfect Time (Revell/August 1, 2014/ISBN: 978-0800720834/$14.99), Sarah Sundin introduces readers to two characters entrenched in the perils of World War II who are forced to confront their inability to receive the love and grace of God.

Q: All of your books are set during World War II — what is it about that era that draws you in?

It was a time of such intensity, of great upheaval and of great unity, a time that showed humanity at its most cruel and depraved — and at its most noble and heroic. Ordinary men stepped out of their ordinary lives and discovered they could do extraordinary things. Women tried on exciting new roles, learned new things about themselves — and yet remained ladies. It was a time of drama, daring and romance.

Q: What is the overall spiritual theme or message in this new book, In Perfect Time?

Both Kay and Roger feel they don’t deserve God’s gifts. Kay feels unworthy of God’s love and His mercy. While Roger has accepted God’s forgiveness, deep inside he doesn’t believe he deserves God’s grace, His blessings, His gifts. Both Kay and Roger learn that God doesn’t give to us because we’re good, but because He’s good. They can’t earn His gifts — and they should wholeheartedly embrace the gifts He gives.

Q: Was there a particular Scripture verse that inspired you as you wrote this book?

Although I never quoted it in the novel, a verse that underlies so much of this story is James 1:17: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights.” Another important theme verse that is quoted in the novel and is crucial for both Kay and Roger is Romans 5:8: “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

Q: Your main character, Kay, is actually a bit of a flirt, so much so that it’s impacting her career as a nurse. What drives her to seek out so much male attention?

A bit? She’s an extreme flirt! Throughout the course of the novel, Kay reveals exactly what makes her tick. For Kay, collecting men’s hearts gives her a sense of control and also serves as a form of rebellion against her overbearing father.

Q: Readers will get a sense she is also very wary of making any sort of commitment to a man. What is the basis for this fear? Do you think single women in our culture today will be able to identify with her feelings?

Women — and men — can have many reasons for avoiding commitment, such as deep hurts from past relationships or a history of abuse. For Kay, it boils down to a fear of losing control, of not being in charge. I see this more and more frequently nowadays. Women value their independence and strength, and sometimes men and relationships are seen as a threat or a hindrance to what they’ve built. I think a lot of women will relate to Kay.

Q: In the book we see a tension between those who have faith and those do not; why are people sometimes so sensitive when their friends try to talk about their faith?

Many people have been hurt by bad experiences at churches or with believing friends or family members, but for many people it once again comes down to the issue of control. Christianity requires surrender to God—to His teachings, His ways, and His will. That’s unacceptable to a lot of people.

Sarah Sundin
Revell
Sarah Sundin

Q: What can we learn from Kay’s relationships that we can apply to our own friendships with non-Christians?

Early in the story, Kay describes how she sees people of faith: “As far as Kay could see, religious people came in three varieties. Some held a can of white paint and wanted to slather it all over her. Some, like Mellie Blake, offered the paint can but didn’t get huffy when Kay turned it down. And some acted as if she held a can of black paint and wanted to slather it all over him.”

When Christians run into trouble is when we treat non-Christians as projects to be painted white or as evils with black paint to be avoided. I like Mellie’s approach with Kay the best. Throughout the Wings of the Nightingale series, Mellie and Kay have been good — if odd — friends. Mellie rightly understands that something in Kay’s past has made her skittish about God. She doesn’t hide her faith or apologize for it, and she offers occasional advice or comments — but she respects Kay and backs down when Kay doesn’t want to hear it. As a result, after almost two years of friendship, when Kay has questions about God, Mellie is the person she turns to.

Q: You write in this book about the tensions that can exist between a father and daughter. How can that influence how a woman views God? Other men?

It’s often said that our impression of our heavenly Father is strongly influenced by our earthly fathers. We tend to subconsciously transfer the strengths and weaknesses of our earthly dads onto the Lord. Unlike God, even the most loving dads have weaknesses that can skew the child’s impression of the Lord. When the earthly dad is cold or cruel or abusive, the child can be leery of God. For Kay, this is a serious problem, one she isn’t even aware of. And awareness is the cure. We must recognize this natural human tendency, then carefully extract the negative traits we’ve unwittingly placed on our perfect God. Immersing ourselves in the Bible and in prayer shows us the truths of who God actually is.

Q: The two main characters connect over difficult pasts. How would you encourage readers to allow God to use their pasts to minister to others?

This is one of my favorite parts of the story. Roger is ashamed of his past and is terrified history could repeat itself. He’s built walls to protect himself from temptation, and he guards his secret past closely. Although he tries to avoid Kay, he slowly sees her hurt and realizes his story might be just what she needs to hear. Revealing his past to her is painful, but it benefits Kay — and ultimately benefits Roger too as he wrestles with the truths he still needs to learn.

Bad things have happened to all of us, and we’ve all done bad things. Rather than live in regret, I choose to use those negative experiences to help others. Only through my hurts can I comfort the hurting. Only through my shame can I help someone burdened by shame. Only through my sins can I point the sinner to forgiveness. As King David says in Psalm 51:11-12, in his confession after his sin with Bathsheba, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, so that sinners will turn back to you.”

Q: This is the final book in the Wings of the Nightingale series. Is it sad for you when you complete a series as it is for some readers?

Absolutely! The initial story ideas came to me in 2006, so I’ve been hanging around with my Nightingales for many years, getting to know them and developing their stories. Now those stories are told, and yes, I’m sad. Writing the final chapter of In Perfect Time was an act of bittersweet mourning for me. I still miss my character friends from Wings of Glory, my first series — even as I’m making new friends with the characters from Waves of Freedom, my upcoming series.

To keep up with Sarah Sundin, visit www.sarahsundin.com, become a fan on Facebook (SarahSundinAuthor) or follow her on Twitter (@sarahsundin) and Pinterest (sarahsundin).

Posted 8/20/14 at 1:27 PM | Audra Jennings

Elisabeth Gifford Writes of Discovering Healing in the Search for Truth

St. Martin's Press

What happens when you bring the truth of who you are into the light? In her impressive debut novel, The Sea House (St. Martin’s Press/April 15, 2014/ISBN: 978-1250043344/$25.99), author Elisabeth Gifford introduces readers to characters who are forced to dig up the pain and secrets of their past in order to let the fresh air of faith and grace purify and heal the broken places in their heart.

Gifford was inspired to write The Sea House after coming across a letter in The Times archives from 1809, in which a Scottish schoolmaster claimed to have spotted a mermaid. Weaving the ancient Gaelic myth of the selkies into her story, she has created a sweeping tale of hope and redemption that is an ode to the healing readers can find when they acknowledge the truth about themselves.

Readers of The Sea House are taken back to 1860 and meet Alexander Ferguson, a newly ordained vicar and amateur scientist who takes up his new parish on the poor, isolated Scottish island of Harris. He hopes to uncover the truth behind the legend of the selkies — mermaids or seal people who have been sighted off the northern coasts of Scotland for centuries. Family legend says Alexander is actually descended from selkies. As he struggles to be a good pastor, his maid Moira faces the eviction of her family by Lord Marstone, whose family owns the island. Their time on the island will forever change the course of their lives, but the white house where the vicar lives on the edge of the dunes keeps its silence long after they are gone.

Readers may identify much of their own faith journey in the vicar’s story. “Alexander says he believes in grace, but he really believes in a formula where his particular failures cannot really be forgiven,” Gifford reveals. “So he tries incredibly hard to become a better person. Only after he sees how miserably he fails as a pastor does he let go and accept the mystery of grace.”

It will be more than a century before the house reluctantly gives up its secrets, when Ruth and Michael buy the grand, yet dilapidated, building and begin to turn it into a home. Their dreams are marred by a shocking discovery: Buried under the house are the tiny bones of a baby whose fragile legs are fused together. Is it a mermaid child? Who buried the bones and why? To heal her own demons, Ruth feels she must discover the secrets of her new home — but the answers to her questions may lie in her own traumatic past.

Connecting with the truth of one’s story is a critical theme in The Sea House. “I suppose there’s a human impulse to invent a better self so other people, and even God, will like us more and not turn away from us,” Gifford explains. “Jesus came to a very real and ordinary world, and that’s where God meets us. He sees all of us and doesn’t turn away. For Christians, we have the option of rewriting our stories around the extravagant love shown to us on the cross, if we choose to.”

To keep up with Elisabeth Gifford, visit www.elisabethgifford.com, become a fan on Facebook (ElisabethGiffordAuthor) or follow her on Pinterest (LizGifford355).

About the Author

St. Martin's Press

Elisabeth Gifford grew up in a vicarage in the industrial Midlands. She studied French literature and world religions at Leeds University and has published poems in Cinnamon Press and The Oxford Magazine. She’s also written articles for The Times and The Independent, along with a nonfiction book, The House of Hope (2011), a biography of Dr. Joyce Hill who opened a rescue center for abandoned babies in China. The Sea House has been shortlisted for the Historical Writer’s Association Crown debut award. Her second novel, Return to Fourwinds, will be released in 2015.

Gifford has a degree in creative writing from Oxford OUDCE and an M.A. in creative writing from Royal Holloway College. She is married to an illustrator, and together they have three children. The family divides their time between Kingston, near London, and the Hebrides in Scotland.

To keep up with Elisabeth Gifford, visit www.elisabethgifford.com, become a fan on Facebook (ElisabethGiffordAuthor) or follow her on Pinterest (LizGifford355).

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Posted 8/19/14 at 9:59 AM | Audra Jennings |

1 comment

Deborah Raney Asks: When Life’s Storms Hit, is a Parent’s Job Ever Really Done?

Abingdon Press

They say blood is thicker than water, and in her latest release, Home to Chicory Lane (Abingdon Press/August 19, 2014/ISBN: 978-1426769696/$14.99), Deborah Raney writes a story that examines how the love of our family can help us weather life’s storms. The first book in the new Chicory Inn series introduces us to Audrey Whitman, a mother who has launched all of her children into life and now looks forward to fulfilling some of her own dreams during her empty-nest years. However, not all of her children are ready to stay out of the nest quite yet.

Raney has beautifully captured the tenderness — and turmoil — of family life in her new release. It was easy for her to do. “We have four grown children and five grandchildren . . . so far!” Raney says. “So, as you can imagine, family is extremely important to us. We’re both close to our families, and all of the good, the bad, the ugly, the wonderful of being part of a family, went into this series.”

Readers of Home to Chicory Lane will meet all of the Whitmans, including Audrey and her husband, Grant, who are turning their beloved family home into a bed and breakfast. As Audrey works toward opening weekend, she is more than a little anxious, even as she joyfully anticipates her family and friends gathering from across the country to help celebrate the occasion.

What she doesn’t expect is her youngest daughter, the newly-married Landyn, to arrive with a U-Haul, clearly intending to stay more than just a few days. Questions flood Audrey’s mind: What happened in New York that sent Landyn running home? Where was Landyn's husband, Chase? It appears the Chicory Inn will be getting off to a bit of a rocky start.

The empty-nest parents of the story aren’t the only ones opening their doors to adult children — it’s a phenomenon increasing in the current economic climate, leading to the question: Is a parent’s job ever really done? “I think it is — or at least it should be,” Raney weighs in. “Ken and I loved how the relationship switch flipped from parent to friend at a certain point. Now, our job is to encourage, enjoy, give advice only when asked and to be the best grandparents we can be to our kids’ kids. That’s the true reward of all those sleepless nights raising our kids.”

In Home to Chicory Lane, that kind of parental love shines through Audrey’s character. As the stress of running her own business mounts, she will soon begin to wonder if she will be able to realize her dream while still providing her daughter with the comfort of home she so desperately needs.

Despite the challenges they face, Raney reminds us in Home to Chicory Lane that our family — whether brought to us through birth, marriage or adoption — is a gift given to us by God. Readers will come away from this warm and moving book with a new appreciation for family, in all its forms and functions.

Join Deborah Raney for a live Facebook Party on September 9 at 8:00 PM EDT, where she will chat with readers about the Chicory Inn series and give away copies of Home to Chicory Lane. Watch for more details on her Facebook Page.

About the author

Abingdon Press
Deborah Raney

Deborah Raney accomplished something very few authors are able to do with their first book. Her debut novel, A Vow to Cherish (originally published in 1996), inspired the World Wide Pictures film of the same title and launched her writing career after 20 happy years as a stay-at-home mom. Since then, her books have won numerous awards including the RITA, National Readers Choice Award, HOLT Medallion and the Carol Award, and have twice been Christy Award finalists.

Raney’s newest novel, Home to Chicory Lane, releases in August as the first book in the Chicory Inn Novels series for Abingdon Press Fiction.

Deborah and her husband, Ken, recently traded small-town life in Kansas –– the setting of many of Raney’s novels –– for life in the (relatively) big city of Wichita where they enjoy gardening, antiquing, movies and traveling to visit four children and a growing brood of grandchildren who all live much too far away. Raney also enjoys teaching at writers’ conferences across the country.

For more information about Raney and her books, visit her online home at deborahraney.com, become a fan on Facebook (deborah.raney) or follow her on Twitter (@authordebraney).

Posted 8/8/14 at 2:30 PM |

Major U.S. Company Partners With Renowned School Speaker to Counter Bullying and School Violence

Life Promotions, founded by international speaker and author Bob Lenz, is partnering with Lifetouch, the world’s largest employee-owned photography company, to supply Lenz’ new book entitled Dignity Revolution: Standing up for the value of every person, to 6000 middle schools around the nation. Co-authored with award-winning educator, Deborah Tackmann, Dignity Revolution is a culmination of Lenz’ three decades of leading assemblies in over 3000 public schools on the issues of bullying, self-harm, suicide and substance abuse. Since 1982, Lenz has reached an estimated four million youth in the U.S. and around the world.

“We are humbled and thrilled that Lifetouch has partnered with us to get this book into the hands of students and teachers around the nation,” says Lenz. “If you look at the number of addictions, cuttings, suicides, and school shootings, it can be discouraging. So how can we help this generation that seems to have so many opportunities before them, use those opportunities to their advantage in positive ways? That’s what I hope we can accomplish with the Dignity Revolution. The 8th and 9th grader is our core target group. We recognize we may not be able to stop all bullying, but we can teach kids how to stand up for themselves and not become victims of others, and how not to become bullies.” FULL POST

Posted 8/8/14 at 2:26 PM |

New Imprint to Offer Romance Novels That Promote Abstinence

Pelican Book Group, a division of Pelican Ventures, LLC, has announced the creation of its new imprint,Pure Amore, to launch books beginning in October. Pure Amore will be the first romance genre imprint to promote abstinence before marriage. Editor in Chief for Pelican, Nicola Martinez, says the content of the books will be something both Christians and non-Christians will embrace, but that there was a specific goal in mind while forming the new imprint.

“I wanted to produce something that would help young people to see how precious the gift of their virginity is to their future spouse,” says Martinez. “The truth is that each individual is worth waiting for and lovemaking is intended to create a bond with only one special person. To believe and act on this one truth will, across the board, increase self-worth and peer respect, strengthen marriages, cut the rate of unwanted pregnancy, and so many other things. As a Christian publisher that publishes romance—promotes lasting love between a man and a woman—I felt we could definitely do something to promote chastity.” FULL POST

Posted 8/5/14 at 11:09 AM | Audra Jennings

Sarah Sundin Encourages Readers to Open Their Hearts to God’s Perfect Gifts

Revell

When you can’t get over the mistakes of your past, it’s nearly impossible to accept the gifts of the present. In her final installment in the Wings of the Nightingale series, In Perfect Time (Revell/August 1, 2014/ISBN: 978-0800720834/$14.99), Sarah Sundin introduces readers to two characters entrenched in the perils of World War II who are forced to confront their inability to receive the love and grace of God.

Bold, sophisticated and flirtatious, Army Air Force flight nurse Lt. Kay Jobson collects hearts wherever she flies, leaving men pining in airfields all across Europe. Sundin reveals there is more than meets the eye to Kay’s coquettish ways. “For Kay, collecting men’s hearts gives her a sense of control and also serves as a form of rebellion against her overbearing father.”

Kay’s tumultuous relationship with her dad has also impacted the way she views God. Like so many others, she has subconsciously transferred the weaknesses of her earthly father onto the Lord. “For Kay, this is a serious problem, one she isn’t even aware of,” Sundin explains. “We must recognize this natural human tendency, and then carefully extract the negative traits we’ve unwittingly placed on our perfect God. Immersing ourselves in the Bible and in prayer shows us the truths of who God actually is.”

Ruggedly handsome C-47 pilot Lt. Roger Cooper initially appears to be all but immune to Kay’s considerable charms. Ashamed of his past, Roger has built walls around his heart to protect himself from temptation, yet he is intensely drawn to the beautiful flight nurse. As he glimpses the pain in her heart, he begins to wonder if his story might be just what she needs to hear.

As the two cross the skies between Italy and southern France, evacuating the wounded and delivering paratroopers and supplies, every beat of their hearts draws them closer to where they don't want to go. Can they confront their pasts and accept the gift of love that is calling out to them?

Although Sundin never quotes this Scripture in the book, she admits much of In Perfect Time was inspired by James 1:17: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights.” Both Kay and Roger have to find a way to accept the fact that God doesn’t give to us because we’re good, but because He is good. They can’t earn His gifts — and neither can we.

Sundin admits bringing her Wings of the Nightingale series to an end was as bittersweet for her as it will be for her readers. Yet while fans mourn the end of this series, they will also be enraptured by this tale filled with emotion, action and romance, as it transcends time and calls them to believe in the power of love.

To keep up with Sarah Sundin, visit www.sarahsundin.com, become a fan on Facebook (SarahSundinAuthor) or follow her on Twitter (@sarahsundin) and Pinterest (sarahsundin).

About the Author

Sarah Sundin is the author of The Wings of the Nightingale series and Wings of Glory series. In 2011, A Memory Between Us was a finalist in the Inspirational Reader’s Choice Awards, and Sundin received the Writer of the Year Award at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. On Distant Shores was a finalist for the Golden Scroll Award from both the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA) and the Christian Authors Network (CAN). She belongs to American Christian Fiction Writers, CAN and AWSA. Sundin plans to continue to focus on World War II for her upcoming Waves of Freedom series about three naval officers based in Boston.

A graduate of UC San Francisco School of Pharmacy, Sundin works on-call as a hospital pharmacist. During WWII, her grandfather served as a pharmacist’s mate (medic) in the Navy, and her great-uncle flew with the US Eighth Air Force in England.

Sundin lives in northern California with her husband and three children. When she isn’t ferrying kids to tennis and karate, she teaches Sunday school and women’s Bible studies.

To keep up with Sarah Sundin, visit www.sarahsundin.com, become a fan on Facebook (SarahSundinAuthor) or follow her on Twitter (@sarahsundin) and Pinterest (sarahsundin).

Posted 7/24/14 at 4:54 PM | Audra Jennings

Odyssey Adventure Club Offers Interactive Online Experience for Families

An Interview with Christi Lynn,

Marketing Director for the Odyssey Adventure Club

Christi Lynn

As media use continues to explode among children and teens, parents’ concerns about what their children could be uncovering while online increases. On average, children get their first smartphone at age 12, and research suggests kids and teens are spending more than 7.5 hours a day with their electronic devices — and often without a safety net. That’s exactly why Focus on the Family is launching the Odyssey Adventure Club, a safe and fun environment where children can explore, create and imagine, all while developing their faith and learning biblical truth.

Q: How is Focus on the Family and the new Odyssey Adventure Club addressing parental concerns about their children’s media use?

Media is a way of life for kids today, and we understand that. That’s why we created the Odyssey Adventure Club: to provide online, on-the-go delivery of more than 300 hours of safe, biblically-based audio entertainment. For more than 25 years, Adventures in Odyssey has been fostering spiritual and character growth in listeners. Many parents have come to trust us for solid lessons brought to life by fun characters. While we can’t monitor how many episodes a child hears, we can guarantee it’s an investment into their life every time.

Q: Some research shows that kids from age 8 to 18 spend more than 7.5 hours a day with electronic devices like a computer, phone or TV — why should this be a concern to parents?

We believe kids should be using their imagination and interacting with their family and friends. Many times media today tends to isolate. While the Odyssey Adventure Club is consumed through a computer or mobile device, it doesn’t require a child to sit and stare at a screen. Kids can listen to episodes while doing other activities, like coloring, playing with their toys or outside, riding in the car or exercising. The Odyssey Adventure Club also provides activities and devotions meant to be done as a family, encouraging that important interaction. Through the audio dramas, imagination is brought to life for kids within the theatre of the mind.

Q: How can parents leverage media to build a solid Christian worldview in their children?

There are a number of ways in everyday routines that parents can use media to teach their children. For instance, if you’re listening to Christian music, you can ask them, “What do you think the lyrics of this song mean?” Or if you’re watching a movie or TV show, you can talk with your child about the plotline and how it relates to morality, God and truth.

As parents, we have to equip our children with the knowledge and wisdom to face various situations in life, whether it’s something like bullying or lying, or understanding relationships. Adventures in Odyssey has episodes that touch on all of these issues and many, many more. With the Odyssey Adventure Club platform, you can even search for episodes on a subject matter and use it as a teaching tool.

Q: How does the Odyssey Adventure Club help moms and dads make spiritual investments into the lives of their children?

Through the power of story and imagination, Adventures in Odyssey teaches life lessons through the lens of a biblical worldview. This helps a child grow and develop spiritually. All of our episodes with the Odyssey Adventure Club are also connected to a devotional, which will give parents the ability to tie together easily the program to a scripture and a spiritual lesson. Additionally, parents will find a daily devotional on the website that will take their children and their family deeper on their spiritual walk.

Q: What is available to families through membership in the Odyssey Adventure Club?

Families will have access to more than 740 Adventures in Odyssey episodes and videos that highlight some of the real-life stories on which some of the dramas were based. The Web Quests feature hands-on learning and fun activities that enhance the audio dramas. Plus, with the member e-newsletter, parents can engage their child on a deeper level and use daily devotions for family time. They’ll also get exclusive new episodes each month, a subscription to Clubhouse magazine and a “behind-the-scenes” blog.

Q: How will this online club be kept safe for kids to explore on their own?

We require a parent to sign their child up, which helps to ensure that parents are aware of their kids’ involvement. All comments on the website are pre-moderated, and we do not allow any personally identifiable information to appear on the site.

Q: A portion of the monthly membership fee is being donated to Focus on the Family alliance organizations — why is this an important feature of the Odyssey Adventure Club?

We want to teach our members about giving and enlighten them to great social causes. Through our combined giving, the club can truly impact other ministries. We also hope to spread the word to our members about other great ministries that are doing God’s work around the world.

Q: The Adventures in Odyssey program has been sparking the imagination of children for 25 years. Share a few examples of how parents have used these award-winning radio dramas to disciple their children.

There are so many stories I could share of road trips, bedtime stories and devotional times. I remember one story about a boy who challenged his parents to listen to Adventures in Odyssey before bed instead of watching TV. The dad was so convicted that they started turning off the TV 30 minutes before bed and turning on Adventures in Odyssey instead. He wanted his family to start and end their day thinking about Jesus (Phil. 4:8). We have also heard numerous stories of how children were led to begin a relationship with Christ through listening to Adventures in Odyssey. We are blown away by these examples and feel humbled to play a small part in God’s larger story.

To learn more about the Odyssey Adventure Club, visit www.oaclub.org, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Posted 7/24/14 at 10:44 AM | Audra Jennings

Author Susan May Warren Unites Readers and Foodies in Giveaway

To celebrate her new release, award-winning author Susan May Warren is hosting a contest every foodie will love! When I Fall in Love (Tyndale House Publishers / June 20, 2014 / ISBN 978-1414378435 / $14.99) is the third installment in Warren’s Christiansen Family series and is filled with a sense of adventure — and lots of good food.

From July 24 – August 10, Warren’s readers have the chance to win a KitchenAid mixer by entering the Hawaiian Chef Showdown, hosted on www.susanmaywarren.com. Readers can enter by creating or selecting a recipe using one of the main ingredients mentioned in the book, then pinning the recipe to Pinterest, and sharing it via other social media sites, including their blog. The grand prize winner will receive a KitchenAid mixer and all three books in the Christiansen Family series.

Food bloggers Jackie Brown from Mom on a Mission and Melissa Ringstaff from A Virtuous Woman will be creating custom recipes inspired by the book and giving away some treats of their own. More information about their contributions, as well as more details about the contest, will be available on the book’s website, whenifallinlove.susanmaywarren.com, when the contest launches on July 24. The Hawaiian Chef Showdown is being held in conjunction with the When I Fall in Love blog tour being coordinated by Litfuse Publicity Group.

The recipe contest is tied to the main storyline of When I Fall in Love. In the book, Grace Christiansen finds herself snatched from her everyday routines when her family surprises her with a trip to a cooking retreat in Hawaii. There she meets hockey player Max Sharpe, who’s trying to escape the pressures of his career for a few weeks. As the romance — and the oven — heat up in the kitchen, Grace and Max both will have to learn to step out of their expectations to find the right recipe for true love.

Susan May Warren says cooking has played a role in her own love story. “My husband is a fantastic cook. I’m more of an ‘open the fridge and see what I can create’ kind of gal,” she admits. “We could drive each other crazy — but we create great food and enjoy sitting around with our family, laughing, telling stories and feasting on life. In a similar way, Max and Grace’s story shows us we can be a winning team if we’re willing to embrace the current ingredients before us and enjoy the mess we make together.”

Readers can keep up with Susan May Warren at her website www.susanmaywarren.com and the Hawaiian Chef Showdown at whenifallinlove.susanmaywarren.com. Warren is also active on Facebook (SusanMayWarrenFiction) and Twitter (@susanmaywarren).

About the Christiansen Family series:

Set on the north shore of Minnesota, the series features the Christiansens, a family readers can identify with as they try to figure out how faith meets real life.

In Take a Chance on Me . . . (the 2014 Christy Award winner for Contemporary Series)

Darek Christiansen, heir to the historic Evergreen Lake Resort is angry since the loss of his wife. After a charity auction connects him with assistant county attorney, Ivy Madison, Darek begins to believe there might be love again in his future, but he’ll have to overcome his painful past – and Ivy’s secret connection to his wife’s death.

In It had to Be You . . .

Eden Christiansen’s job as handler for her NHL rookie brother, Owen, leaves her little time to focus on her own career. If only team enforcer, Jace, would mentor the young man. When Owen’s carelessness leads to an injury, Eden and Jace are thrown together and begin to wonder if they belong on the same team after all.

In When I Fall in Love . . .

Hawaii was the last place Grace Christiansen ever imagined she’d vacation, much less fall in love. But when her family surprises her with a cooking retreat in the Aloha State, she is pulled away from her predictable life and thrown headfirst into the path of hockey player, Max Sharpe, and the romantic adventure of a lifetime.

Coming in February: Always On My Mind

About Susan May Warren:

Susan May Warren is the bestselling, Christy and RITA Award–winning author of more than forty novels, whose compelling plots and unforgettable characters have won acclaim with readers and reviewers alike.

She served with her husband and four children as a missionary in Russia for eight years before she and her family returned home to the States. Warren now writes full-time as her husband runs a lodge on Lake Superior in northern Minnesota, where many of her books are set. She and her family enjoy hiking, canoeing and being involved in their local church.

Warren holds a BA in mass communications from the University of Minnesota. Several of her critically acclaimed novels have been ECPA and CBA bestsellers, were chosen as Top Picks by Romantic Times and have won the RWA’s Inspirational Reader’s Choice contest and the American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year award. Five of her books have been Christy Award finalists. In addition to her writing, Susan loves to teach and speak at women’s events about God's amazing grace in our lives.

Readers can keep up with Susan May Warren at her website www.susanmaywarren.com and blog www.susanmaywarren.com/scribbles-blog/. She is also active on Facebook (SusanMayWarrenFiction) and Twitter (@susanmaywarren).

Posted 7/10/14 at 4:42 PM | Audra Jennings

Quilts of Love Series Reminds Us Every Quilt Has a Story

Abingdon Press

Abingdon Press has created a line of books that not only appeals to a wide variety of fiction readers, but is sure to catch the interest of quilters around the world. Each novel in the 25-book series is written by a different author and offers a completely unique story, setting and cast of characters. The books do not need to be read in order and can be enjoyed individually.

The idea behind the series (launched fall 2012) is that quilts tell stories of love and loss, hope and faith, tradition and new beginnings. The Quilts of Love series focuses on the women who quilted all of these things into their family history. Featuring contemporary and historical romances, as well as Amish fiction, women’s fiction and the occasional light mystery, readers are drawn into the endearing characters and touched by their stories. A new book will be released each month through January 2015.

“The Quilts of Love series was born out of a love for storytelling, whether that happens through the pages of a book or the stitches on a quilt,” explains Cat Hoort, marketing and publicity manager for Abingdon Fiction. “For more than 30 million active quilters in the U.S., stitches, like words, frame their family heritage, share a romantic tale, celebrate the achievements of a growing family or present a journey of overcoming odds. Our series uniquely captures those stories — their stories — and gives a face to the vast number of storytellers, both writers and quilters, whose work can be enjoyed by anyone with a creative spirit.”

Some of the authors are also avid quilters such as Cathy Elliott (A Stitch in Crime, available January 2015) and Lisa Carter (Aloha Rose). “One Quilts of Love reader I met recently has read every book in the series. As a quilter myself, I look forward each month to the new release too. I'm excited for the chance to connect with other quilt-book lovers,” explains Carter.

Authors contributing to the series include debut novelists, such as Emily Wierenga (A Promise in Pieces) and Cindy Loven (co-author of Swept Away), as well as veteran award-winners and best-sellers, such as Loree Lough (For Love of Eli), who has written more than 100 books, and RT (Romantic Times) Reviewer’s Choice Award winner Robin Caroll (Hidden In the Stars). Author Vannetta Chapman (The Christmas Quilt) is no stranger to books centered around quilts — in addition to her Quilts of Love contribution, she’s also written an entire mystery series set in a quilt shop.

Quilts aren’t just a part of each book’s story. A special tradition the authors have instituted with each release is the donation of a quilt to their chosen charity or individual in need. Quilt recipients have included an orphanage in Africa, a cancer center and a shelter for young mothers.

Readers can keep up with the authors and the series via social media and the series’ website. The Quilts of Love blog features chapter excerpts, special features from each book, weekly Guess the Quilt Pattern contests with giveaways and interviews with the authors.

Keep up with the Quilts of Love series online at the website, or on its Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest pages.

Each quarter the authors of the latest releases interact with readers during a live author chat hosted on Facebook. Follow the Quilts of Love Facebook page for details on upcoming events.

Posted 6/30/14 at 3:23 PM | Audra Jennings

Tricia Goyer Talks About Her Moms' Night Out

B&H Publishing Group

An endearing true-to-life family comedy that celebrates the beautiful mess called parenting, award-winning author Tricia Goyer’s Moms’ Night Out (B&H Publishing Group/April 22, 2014/ISBN: 978-1433684821/$15.99) novelization of the popular film by the same name chronicles how three harried moms, their husbands, a sister-in-law with a misplaced baby, a tattoo parlor owner, a motorcycle gang and a bewildered cabbie become intrinsically intertwined in one another’s lives after one momentous moms’ night out.

Q: This book is a novelization of the new movie Moms’ Night Out, starring Patricia Heaton, Sean Astin and others. We’re used to novels being turned into movies, but not so much movies being turned into novels. How does the novelization of a movie work?

A novelization means a novel inspired by the movie. I was contacted in December asking if I’d be interested in this project. I’d seen the trailer, and (as a mom of six with a hectic household) I immediately said, “Yes!” They sent me the movie, and I watched it a few times just to get an idea of the story. I loved it! It made me laugh and really spoke to my heart. Then with the screenplay in hand, I watched the movie a scene at a time. I’d catch the dialogue, and then I’d go back and bring the characters’ actions to life on the page. So, yes, I can pretty much quote the movie as it plays!

Q: How many times did you have to watch the movie in order to write the book?

I didn’t count, but I’d say I watched each scene 20-50 times, depending on how much action or dialogue there was!

Q: How involved do you get to be with the movie premiere and all the excitement of a theatrical release?

I was so honored to be able to go to Hollywood to be part of the premiere on April 29. They listed me as “Talent,” and I got to ride to the TCL Chinese Theater in a fancy car, walk the Red Carpet, watch the movie sitting next to Alex Hendrick (an awesome movie star/producer) and then have a wonderful time getting to know all the cast better at the after party. It truly was a magical night!

Q: You’re the mother of six and a best-selling author and speaker. What advice do you have for moms who are trying to juggle their work schedule and their family responsibilities?

Know how much you can say yes to. This year the only extra-curricular activity my children were a part of was Awanas. I only have one weekly commitment other than church and our small group, and that is our Teen MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers Support Group). We spend a lot of time playing with the neighbors and hanging out as a family. I’ve been at the spot where I’ve been running place to place with kids’ activities, and that’s not fun! After raising three kids, I’ve learned having dinners together and family time is a priority. I also balance my work commitments. As a writer my work is steady, and I have to make sure not to take on too many projects. It’s hard for me! Just last week I had to cut out some projects I really like just for the fact that I can’t do it all.

Q: Moms really do sacrifice so much for their families; why is it important for moms to make sure they’re finding rest and encouragement?

I love the well-known phrase, “When Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” When I am exhausted and overwhelmed, my whole family suffers. When I have time for friends and I fuel up on God, then I’m such a better mom. When I’m encouraged, then I pour encouragement out. When I’m rested, I give of myself with patience and love. It’s hard to step away, but so important too!

Q: How often do you get to have a Moms’ Night Out? Do you have a group of mommy-friends you’re able to connect with regularly?

I’m part of a small group of women at our church. They meet monthly, and I’m able to make it about every other month. I also have some girlfriends I’ll meet for lunch. Sometimes it’s hard to justify paying a babysitter to go to lunch, but I always come back refreshed. I also lead a Teen MOPS support group. The attendees and leaders range from age 17–55. We care for one another, love one another and draw support from one another. I get just as much back as I give!

Q: What’s the most comical experience you’ve had on a Moms’ Night Out?

Once a group of writer friends and I had gathered to go to a writers’ conference. We all came to town early to eat dinner at a very expensive restaurant. We dressed up and enjoyed the exquisite gardens as we walked to the front doors, only to discover it was . . . closed! We drove around for a while and finally ended up eating at a hole in the wall barbecue pit with picnic tables (inside), red-checkered, plastic table clothes and plastic forks. Not what we had in mind!

Q: Raising kids can be difficult, but there are some funny moments along the way — share one of your funniest memories involving your kids.

I have one from yesterday. We laughed so hard! Our daughter (six) was riding in the back of the car.

Her: “Mom, Dad!” she called out. “Grandma was sweeping the front porch and a black, wet cat leaped out of nowhere and jumped on her!”

Me: “Sweetie, remember we’ve been working about not lying or not telling stories.”

Her: “I saw a cat.”

It’s just a balance to be creative and to be truthful . . . we try to guide our children in both!

Q: How does your husband help out in those moments when you just have to get a break, like the moms in the film Moms’ Night Out? Are there other people in your life you can turn to?

I have the best husband ever! John and I adopted two children from the foster care system, and they came with a variety of issues. On most evenings, he’d take over the kid duty as soon as he got home from work because he knew I’d had a long day. Then on Saturdays he’d load up the three little ones into his car for an “adventure.” I’d enjoy the peace and write during this time. I also have two wonderful babysitters and some great neighbors who I can reach out to for help. Yes, I am blessed! Having a support system is SO important!

Tricia Goyer

Q: This movie and the novel are both very funny and lighthearted, but the day-to-day tasks of being a mother can become overwhelming. What advice do you have for the mom who is feeling completely overcome by her responsibilities?

Remember that God is there for you. You don’t have to do it alone. One of my favorite Scripture verses is Isaiah 40:11, “He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.” God wants to be there for you to guide you and assist you. Turn to Him. Even quick prayers, blubbered by an exhausted mom, make a difference.

Q: What advice would you give to dads about ways they can help alleviate some of the pressures moms feel?

I’d say that when it comes to helping, every little thing makes a difference. When my husband loads the dishwasher I’m so grateful! Also remind them often of their importance. Moms need to hear this most of all.

Q: Where can our audience find out more about the movie and book editions of Moms’ Night Out?

www.MomsNightOutMovie.com

For more information about Tricia Goyer, visit her online home at www.triciagoyer.com, become a fan on Facebook (authortriciagoyer) or follow her on Twitter (@triciagoyer).

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