Posted 3/7/14 at 10:12 AM | Audra Jennings
When you come to a fork in the road, how do you decide where to go when your heart tells you to go left but your head says right? Barbara Cameron takes readers on a journey of new experiences, uncertainties and faith in the first book in the Amish Roads series, A Road Unknown (Abingdon/February 4, 2014/ISBN: 978-1-4267-4059-6/$14.99). Although set in a quaint Amish backdrop, we’ve all faced the same dilemma as Elizabeth where our heart is at war with our head. “Anyone feeling at a crossroads in life should stand back and ask God for guidance,” Cameron advises.
Elizabeth Bontrager wants to change her life, and with her upcoming rumspringe, or “running around,” she has just the opportunity to do so. She’s been given the chance to experience life outside of her community, away from the responsibility to care for her eight younger siblings. However, Elizabeth can't decide which path to take: Goshen is her home, but Paradise, Pennsylvania, where her friend Paula lives, sounds inviting. When Elizabeth meets Paula’s friend, Bruce, she quickly learns he wants more than a friendship. The same might be true of Saul Miller, her new boss at the country story that sells Amish products to the Englisch community. As the two compete for her attention, Elizabeth is surprised to realize she misses her family and becomes even more uncertain about where she belongs. She has a choice to make: return home or embrace this new life and possibly a new love.
Q: How did you come about writing Amish fiction? Do you have an Amish background?
I started writing Amish fiction after I visited Pennsylvania years ago. I haven’t found any Amish relatives in my family history, but my mother’s family emigrated from Sweden to a small town in Indiana near an Amish settlement. When I visited the family farm as a little girl I was fascinated by those Amish.
Q: A Road Unknown is about a young girl entering a time of rumschpringe — what is rumschpringe and why it is important?
The word is loosely translated from “running around.” It’s a time from the teens to mid-twenties when Amish youth can experience the Englisch world and decide if they want to remain in their Amish community or leave for the Englisch world. Nearly 90 percent stay in their Amish communities and join the church.
Q: There are currently several reality television shows featuring the Amish that especially focus on young adults leaving the Amish for the first time. What are some common misconceptions about rumschpringe that audiences may pick up from the media?
I hate to give any more publicity to those “reality” shows than they are getting. These shows are extremely inaccurate and don’t resemble any Amish I’ve ever met. Some have even been discovered to be actors. We have many misconceptions about the Amish youth: they’re going wild and so on and that their parents condone or ignore such behavior. This isn’t true.
Q: Englisch teens do not have an official period of time to explore the world outside their own as the Amish have. Would you say the process of self-discovery tends to happen more naturally throughout the teen years for those outside the Amish community?
Yes, the Englisch youth pretty much exist in a state of exploration throughout their teen years. In our world many get baptized as babies or as very young children, not in late teen or early twentyish years as the Amish.
Q: Do most young people return to their communities or do they leave the Amish?
Research shows from 80-90% of the Amish youth join the church and stay in their communities. This is thought to be because they form strong bonds with their family and church community. We don’t have as much of that bond in our Englisch world, in my opinion.
Q: What do you hope readers will take away from A Road Unknown?
I hope my readers will enjoy the sense of family and community and love that exist in both the Amish and Englisch worlds as they work together for better understanding.
Q: Where did you find inspiration for Elizabeth and her journey?
I went back to my early and teenage years to find inspiration for Elizabeth. As the oldest child in the family, I liked being trusted with responsibility but chafed at having to take care of younger children and the home.
Q: Elizabeth is at a crossroads between staying home and embarking on a new adventure — when faced with situations like this, how should we sort out what direction to take?
Anyone feeling at a crossroads in life should stand back and ask God for guidance. Jumping impulsively is almost always a problem, although you can over-analyze things. Listen for divine guidance and always pay attention to the still small voice you have within.
Q: Being the eldest child in her family, Elizabeth feels pressure to return home to help care for her siblings. Do firstborn children have more responsibility in Amish homes?
Oldest children in most families bear more responsibility, but in Amish homes it’s even more pronounced.
Q: Three of your earlier novels have been made into nationally televised movies. How did those opportunities come to you?
I sold story treatments to a then-newly formed production company — Karl/Lorimar Productions, which started out doing exercise videos that sold in HUGE numbers — and the company then went on to produce many successful television movies and series. I am lucky a dear friend works in the entertainment industry and got us in at the ground level.
Q: A Road Unknown is the first release in your Amish Roads series. What can readers expect next?
Each release in the series tells the story of a young person facing choices about her next phase of life. The young women in all three installments learn that love finds you when you least expect it and sometimes it takes the courage to take a different road to find the true path to love and happiness.
In Crossroads, the second book of the series, readers met Emma, a young Amish woman who always thought she and her childhood sweetheart would get married. But when Isaac seems to lose his way as he experiences his rumschpringe, she finds things changing very quickly. Emma longs for marriage, family, and community. She asks herself: Can a good girl reform a bad boy?
In One True Path, the third book, readers meet Katie who is struggling to find her way. One day her life is changed forever when she slips away to take a joyride with some friends and leaves a younger sibling in charge. Four-year-old Sam, the baby of the family, gets injured. Awash in depression, making one bad decision after another, she meets John, a young man from a neighboring Amish community. But will she ruin a chance for a life with him because of the guilt she struggles with?
Posted 3/6/14 at 2:58 PM | Book Stop
(This article comes from The Book Room - The Christian Post's new section for books and authors.)
New York Times best-selling author Francine Rivers talks about her upcoming novel "Bridge to Haven."
The novel tells the story of fictional 1950s Hollywood starlet Lena Scott. Lena is the hottest rising star to hit the silver screen since Marilyn Monroe. Few know her real name is Abra. Even fewer know the price she's paid to finally feel like she's somebody.
The circumstances surrounding her birth has etched scars deep in Abra's heart, scars that leave her vulnerable to a fast-talking bad boy who proclaims his love and lures her to Tinseltown. Hollywood feels like a million miles from Haven, and naive Abra quickly learns what's expected of an ambitious girl with stars in her eyes. But fame comes at an awful price. She has burned every bridge to get exactly what she thought she wanted. Now, all she wants is a way back home.
This riveting novel is a tale of temptation, grace, and unconditional love. FULL POST
Posted 3/6/14 at 2:42 PM | Prayer Concerns
In a possibly unrelated event, Autumn Radtke, CEO of the Singapore Bitcoin exchange First Meta, died mysteriously recently. Some media have suggested her death was caused by suicide, but Slate suggests that Bitcoin may not have played a role in her death even if it was caused by suicide. FULL POST
Posted 3/6/14 at 11:17 AM | Tim Challies
I am in the unique and enjoyable position of receiving copies of most of the latest and greatest Christian books. Over the past couple of weeks I’ve received a veritable mountain of books and, in sorting through the pile, here are the ones that have risen to the top because they appear the most noteworthy.
Truth Matters: Confident Faith in a Confusing World by Andreas Kostenberger, Darrell Bock, & Josh Chatraw. It’s not difficult to see how this book matters. “Here is how leading experts describe our church kids today: They are unarmed and incapable of defending their faith. They possess a faith that cannot withstand the scrutiny of trials or intellectual questions. They have a shallow belief system. They lack a robust faith. They haven’t learned how to think. They are embarrassingly ignorant of our faith. Easy to read yet loaded with meat and substance, this book is a level-headed reaction to those who equate Christian faith with ‘blind faith,’ even those whose subtle or stated goal is to separate students from their religious traditions. Readers will discover the kind of historical information and thinking skills that build a sturdy backbone of confidence in high schoolers and young adults, making them able to defend by ‘reasoned faith’ what the Bible claims as truth.” (Amazon) FULL POST
Posted 3/4/14 at 3:16 PM | Book Stop |
By Stephanie Samuel
Enhance your understanding of Jesus this Lent with a Bible study resource designed to shed light of the red letter words of Christ.
In most Bible translations, the words of Jesus Christ are highlighted in red. The bold color allows readers to track His declarations across the first four books of the New Testament. But what if you want a quicker way of studying Jesus’ ministry?
Author and speaker Steven K. Scott began compiling the 1,900 statements of Jesus during a personal Bible study. Scott found the study so powerful that he published his notes. His book The Greatest Words Ever Spoken (WaterBrook Press) gives readers the words of Christ organized in several different ways.
“It has all 1,900 statements that he made that are recorded in the New Testament organized into 225 subjects,” Scott told CP Insider.
The book’s first seven subjects are about things Jesus said about Himself. “He made 171 divine claims. But where did you find them? This is what brought C.S. Lewis to Christ. Well the answer is you turn to ‘The Claims Jesus Made About Himself’ and you have all of them right there.” FULL POST
Posted 3/3/14 at 2:09 AM | Bindings: Reflections on Faith, Life, and Good Books
I’m writing my next novel (working title, The Fire Trail), a story about the “medication generation,” hooking up, love and marriage, sexuality today, jungle culture versus civilization. I collected a thick file of news clippings, Internet printouts, and quotations from relevant reading. I revisited my first books on craft – creating characters, plotting plot. To develop my characters’ backstories, I tried a new technique. I wanted to care about them, so that readers would care as well. Each of the main characters – Jessica and Sebastian – wrote their backstories first-person. What did they want? What did they love? What were their fears, hopes, dreams? What were the painful events in their lives that molded them into who they were in the Fall of 2014? FULL POST
Posted 2/27/14 at 10:52 AM | Christian Post Guest Voices |
By Paul Tautges
Hell glorifies God—that is the premise of Thor Ramsey’s book The Most Encouraging Book on Hell Ever, the newest release from Cruciform Press. It is very encouraging to see a Christian publisher (who consistently aims at the general Christian audience) invest in a topic so essential to true Christianity. It is one thing to notice a few biblically-faithful publishers putting out academic defenses of the doctrine of hell (rare in itself), but it is another thing (and refreshing) to see diligent work put into the placing of such truth in the hands of the average person in the pew.
This book is refreshingly honest, and bold. In a day when too many publishers find it fashionable to waste paper and ink on so-called biblical treatments of hell (which are nothing more than pathetic regurgitations of old heresies), this book does not attempt to improve God’s reputation. As the author writes in his Introduction, “there is a swath of fashionable new preachers with a mission to clean up God’s nasty reputation as a bloodthirsty old clod. Unfortunately, in the process of doing God the big favor of helping his PR, they’re reinventing the doctrine of eternal punishment with a new and improved gospel. It’s gospel-riffic!” This book is a much-needed antidote to the plague of unbiblical teachings from famous, fashionable, and rich preachers who treat hell “like the Christian’s dirty little secret—the pock mark on the church’s history formed during its teenage years.” FULL POST
Posted 2/24/14 at 10:10 AM | Tim Challies
Sometimes we all feel like frauds. At times we feel like everyone else is experiencing something so wonderful while we are just putting on a show. Their relationships are so deep, their friendships are so real, their faith is so strong, their worship is so heartfelt, their marriage is so satisfying. But our relationships are so shallow, our friendships are so fake, our faith is so weak, our worship is so distracted, our marriage is so difficult.
That’s life under this sun. It’s a life of inadequacy, a life where we are never as fulfilled and satisfied as we want to be. For all the genuine joys this life brings, there is still and always the lingering sorrow of all that life is not and will never be.
Sometimes I like to sit and think about the books that push their way onto the lists of bestsellers. Almost by definition, each of the books that sells a half million or a million copies is addressing some kind of deep felt need. After all, why else would you buy it and why else would you recommend it to a friend except that it meets you where you’re at—it promises help in an area in which you feel incomplete or inadequate. FULL POST
Posted 2/21/14 at 11:01 AM | Audra Jennings
The best stories show ordinary people doing extraordinary things, and Rachel Hauck has captured that very essence in her new novel, Princess Ever After (Zondervan/February 4, 2013/ISBN 9780310315506/$14.99). The second book in the Royal Wedding series tells the story of an ordinary girl who finds out she’s a princess, a revelation that changes the life she’s created for herself.
Q: Your books usually include some kind of symbolism that relates back to the Gospel message. Will readers find that trademark of your writing in Princess Ever After?
Posted 2/21/14 at 9:28 AM | Tim Challies
I am in the unique and enjoyable position of receiving copies of most of the latest and greatest Christian books and I like to provide regular roundups of some of the best and brightest of the bunch. Of all the books I have received recently, here are the ones that appear most noteworthy.
Jonah & Obadiah (Hearing the Message of Scripture). Hearing the Message of Scripture is a new Old Testament commentary series edited by Daniel Block and published by Zondervan. The first two volumes cover Jonah (written by Kevin J. Youngblood) and Obadiah (written by Daniel Block). Here is a description of the series: “With careful analysis and interpretation rooted in a study of Hebrew, this addition to the Hearing the Message of Scripture series tracks the flow of argument in the Old Testament book[s], showing that how a biblical author says something is just as important as what they say. Through a set of distinctive features, the Hearing the Message of Scripture series serves pastors and teachers in their study of the Old Testament, helping them better understand and better convey the meaning behind each biblical text.” (Jonah: Amazon, Westminster Books; Obadiah: Amazon, Westminster Books) FULL POST