Posted 10/31/14 at 3:40 PM | Audra Jennings
Chances are you still remember your favorite nursery rhyme — why? Because meter and rhyme are powerful memorization devices. So for parents who want their children to have the lessons of the Bible hidden deep in their hearts, Kelly Pulley’s new Magnificent Tales™ release, Treasury of Bible Stories: Rhythmical Rhymes of Biblical Times (David C Cook/September 1, 2014/ISBN: 978-0781409179 /$19.99), will be the perfect nighttime read.
Best known for his work as the illustrator of The Beginner’s Bible, which sold more than 1.5 million copies, Pulley introduces us to his Treasury of Bible Stories, a full-color, hardcover book which is engaging enough to capture the attention of even the most media-savvy youngsters.
Q: Who was the Treasury of Bible Stories written for and what are some of the best ways parents can use the book within the home? Can Bible class teachers use it too?
I’ve illustrated many children’s Bible storybooks over the years; most are for toddlers or early readers. Treasury of Bible Stories, however, was created primarily for more advanced readers (4-8 years). It’s meant to be fun and entertaining, yet it follows the original Bible stories very closely; it has no made-up characters or talking animals, etc., and the stories all have clear messages. So, yes, I think it could be a very useful tool for church or at-home Bible classes.
Q: You’re a well-known illustrator, having done the art for the most recent release of The Beginner’s Bible, which sold 1.5 million copies. How did you transition from being a graphic designer to illustrator and writer?
I had a lull in illustration projects so I thought it would be a good idea to try something new during my down time. Writing children’s stories was an obvious choice since I was already illustrating them, but I had no idea if I could write a decent story or not. I’d never tried. My first attempt was Food for a Fish. I showed it to my publisher, and she liked it! That was in 2008.
Q: Why is it so important for parents to make sure their children are getting a steady diet of Bible stories?
As we get older and busier it gets harder and harder to find/make time to read our Bibles. At least that’s what I’ve found in my life. Getting in the habit of reading our Bibles as early as possible seems to me to be a good idea. And when something is fun for kids, they will more likely want to do it.
Q: Treasury of Bible Stories has been called “The Bible . . . if it were written by Dr. Seuss.” Has his work been an inspiration for you?
Yes, definitely. When I was in grade school, and I was in the school library, I would always head straight to the Dr. Seuss books. I loved the rhyming stories and the fantastical illustrations. I still do. It’s not that I try to make my stories sound “Dr. Seuss-like,” but I enjoy writing in the same meter he usually used. It works well for longer, more complex stories.
Q: Do you think the cadence of the rhyming in this book will help children remember the stories better?
The stories are a lot of fun to read, not only because of the rhyme and meter, but also because of word plays and the wacky pictures. I think because they are so fun, they will be reread over and over, which will help them to be remembered.
Q: In our world of slick marketing and non-stop stimulation, kids are more media-savvy than ever. How will Treasury of Bible Stories hold their attention? Why does using it as a bedtime storybook work well?
The illustrations in Treasury of Bible Stories are more contemporary and the stories more entertaining than most Bible storybooks. The stories are long enough to get the entire story and message in without dragging on and on. Most of the stories take around ten minutes to read. Just long enough for an end-of-the-day wind-down.
Q: Kids love repetition — but all parents have had a moment where they’ve thought they cannot read a particular book to their children one more time. Why won’t parents mind picking this book up night after night?
I have four kids, so you know I’ve been there! I must admit, I’ve tried hiding books or skipping pages to get through them faster . . . that never worked! I think the writing is clever enough to make them enjoyable for adults as well as children. I still like them, but I doubt that counts.
Q: How did you decide which Bible stories went into this book?
I started out with the most popular stories: Noah, David and Goliath, Daniel and the Lions, Jonah and the Whale and the story of the Nativity. The stories leading up to and including Christ’s death and resurrection were a must. For the rest I chose the most interesting stories with a good message that brought to mind the best images for illustrations. A good story should stand without illustrations but also work with only illustrations and no words.
Q: Which story in Treasury of Bible Stories is your favorite?
I have two favorites. One is “A Shout for the Lord (The Convincing Story of Gideon’s Doubt).” I like it because it has a lot going on (it has action and soldiers and such), but also because I can relate to Gideon. Many times I’ve felt God leading me, but I doubted I was the right guy for the job. My wife has warned me more than once that I was thinking like Gideon.
My other favorite story is “He Has Risen!” It’s the last story in the book and the last one I wrote. Sometimes during the writing process the right word or phrase will just pop into my head without any thought at all, as though it were a gift from God. This story has many gifts in it!
For more information about Kelly Pulley, or to request a review copy of Treasury of Bible Stories: Rhythmical Rhymes of Biblical Times, please contact Audra Jennings, email@example.com.
Posted 10/29/14 at 3:06 PM | Audra Jennings
Author Judith Miller invites readers to join her to celebrate the release of The Brickmaker’s Bride (Bethany House Publishers/October 7, 2014/ISBN 978-0764212550/$14.99) on November 4 at 8:00 PM EST when she hosts a live Facebook party. The online event is a part of the launch of Miller’s Refined by Love series set in West Virginia in the years following the Civil War.
“I’m excited about the prospect of sharing this new series with readers,” Miller shares. “The Refined by Love series is near and dear to my heart because it is set in West Virginia where I have lots of family ties. I look forward to visiting with readers about the post-Civil-War era and the professions I’ve featured in the series. I can’t wait to get some fun dialogue going!”
During the Facebook party, Miller will talk to readers about The Brickmaker’s Bride, introduce the Refined by Love series and answer questions submitted by participants. Throughout the hour, readers will also have an opportunity to interact with other fans and answer trivia about the book. Participants in the conversation will be eligible for prizes, including copies of Miller’s books and gift cards. At the end of the webcast, the winner of a Kindle Fire HDX will be announced. The Kindle giveaway is being held in conjunction with blog tour for The Brickmaker’s Bride, being coordinated by Litfuse Publicity Group during the three weeks leading up to the webcast.
“We are really excited to share The Brickmaker’s Bride with readers. It’s been getting great advanced praise, including a starred review from Library Journal that calls it ‘a must read,’” said Noelle Buss, fiction marketing manager at Bethany House. “Beyond the book, Judy is such a delightful and funny person. I am sure readers will be cracking up as they learn more about her and her writing during the party.”
Booklist describes The Brickmaker’s Bride as “written with an elegance that reflects the social graces of the time. Readers will enjoy intriguing themes of personal, professional, and spiritual integrity; prejudice; and caring for those in need.”
The author chat for The Brickmaker’s Bride will be hosted on Miller’s Facebook page. Leading up to the party, readers can RSVP for the event and sign up to receive an email reminder. From October 16 – November 4, fans can also enter the contest for the Kindle Fire HDX via the author’s Facebook page.
About The Brickmaker’s Bride:
In the clay-rich hills of the newly founded state of West Virginia, two families tentatively come together to rebuild a war-torn brickmaking business.
Ewan McKay has immigrated to West Virginia with his aunt and uncle, promising to trade his skills in the clay business for financial help. Uncle Hugh purchases a brickmaking operation from a Civil War widow and her daughter, and it's Ewan's job to get the company up and running again.
Ewan seeks help from Laura, the former owner's daughter, and he quickly feels a connection with her, but she's being courted by another man--a lawyer with far more social clout and money than Ewan. Resolving that he'll make the brickworks enough of a success that he can become a partner in the business and be able to afford to bring his sisters over from Ireland, Ewan pours all his energy into the new job.
But when Hugh signs a bad business deal, all Ewan's hard work is put in jeopardy. As his hopes for the future crumble, Laura reveals something surprising. Can she help him save the brickworks, and will Ewan finally get a shot at winning her heart?
About the Refined by Love series:
The Refined by Love series is a family saga that follows Ewan McKay and his family from Northern Ireland to the Allegheny Mountains of West Virginia after the Civil War. Determined to carve a new life, the family faces myriad obstacles as they begin to forge a living from the rich clay of the West Virginia hillsides. Their personal, professional, and spiritual integrity are tested as they encounter financial failure and family betrayal in the midst of blossoming love.
About Judith Miller:
Judith Miller is an award-winning author whose avid research and love for history are reflected in her bestselling novels. When time permits, Judy enjoys traveling, visiting historical settings and scrapbooking the photographs from her travel expeditions. She makes her home in Topeka, Kansas.
Posted 10/28/14 at 11:42 AM | Audra Jennings
Leslie Gould’s latest release, Becoming Bea is based on Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. It is the fourth and final book in the Courtships of Lancaster series. In this interview, Gould talks about the inspiration behind the series as well as her latest release.
What led you to write an Amish fiction series inspired by Shakespearean plays?
When I was in my master of fine arts/creative writing program at Portland State University, one of our assignments was to re-tell plays in short-story format. I loved writing those stories! When I started writing Amish fiction, it dawned on me that Shakespeare could be easily be retold using Plain characters and settings.
Which plays are the Courtships of Lancaster County books based on, and how did you choose which to use?
The series is based on The Taming of the Shrew (Courting Cate), Romeo and Juliet (Adoring Addie), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Minding Molly), and Much Ado About Nothing (Becoming Bea). I chose comedies—okay, Romeo and Juliet is a tragedy but the first part counts as a comedy— with strong female characters or characters who had the potential to be strong. All of the stories have a definite romantic element and conflict between young adults and their parents, along with each other.
Tell us more about your latest release, Becoming Bea.
I’ve always loved the characters of Beatrice and Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing so retelling their story in Becoming Bea was a delight. There are some novels that seem to write themselves and this was one of them. Bea and Ben have had a tumultuous friendship since their school days, and as they become young adults it morphs into a love-hate relationship. Misunderstandings haven’t helped—and neither do their meddling friends. But as Bea faces challenge after challenge, she must decide whom to trust, and in doing so she begins to change. Becoming Bea could have been as easily called Transforming Bea, but that wouldn’t have been a fun alliteration.
Can you share a little bit about your research for this series and the process of translating the plays to a modern-day, Amish setting?
My Amish research is ongoing with trips to Amish communities, mainly in Lancaster County, and tons of reading about the Amish. I have a wonderful friend who used to be Amish who answers my questions and reads my manuscripts. I am so grateful for her! (Thank you, Marietta!)
As far as the Shakespeare plays, I re-read each one a couple of times before I started writing and then, if available, watched films based on the plays. Thankfully I was able to attend local productions of Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream while I was working on the novels, inspired by those particular plays. I also saw The Taming of the Shrew at the Oregon Shakespearean Festival in Ashland soon after I finished Courting Cate. That was a lot of fun too.
Which Shakespearean play do you enjoy the most? Why?
This changes all the time! Right now it would be Much Ado About Nothing. The banter between Beatrice and Benedick is a hoot, and the exploration of different kinds of love, from shallow to sacrificial adds depth to the story.
What is your favorite lesson from Shakespeare?
Overall, Shakespeare teaches us to have empathy for a wide range of people, all with many different kinds of wounds, faults and gifts. Shakespeare’s complete work features 1,223 characters. He must have covered every archetype ever imagined!
Favorite Shakespearean quote:
This changes all the time for me too. My current one is from As You Like It. Duke Senior, who has been exiled, finds good in a bad situation.
Sweet are the uses of adversity,
Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous,
Wears yet a precious jewel in his head;
And this our life, exempt from public haunt,
Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
Sermons in stones, and good in every thing. II.i
This is the quote that makes me smile the most, because it leads to another back and forth banter between Benedick and Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing:
I pray thee now tell me, for which of my bad parts didst thou first fall in love with me? V.ii
Leslie Gould is the bestselling author of nineteen novels, including the #1 bestseller and 2012 Christy Award winner The Amish Midwife, co-written with Mindy Starns Clark. Leslie’s novel Beyond the Blue was the winner of the Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Award for Best Inspirational Novel in 2006, and Courting Cate (inspired by The Taming of the Shrew) was a best-seller and a finalist in the FHL Inspirational Reader’s Choice Awards for 2013.
Leslie received her master of fine arts in creative writing from Portland State University and has taught fiction as an adjunct professor at Multnomah University. She was the first-ever recipient of the Oregon Christian Writers’ Trailblazer Award (2013) for her writing achievements and for her encouragement and support of other writers. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband, Peter, and four children.
Visit her at www.lesliegould.com.
Posted 10/27/14 at 9:26 AM | Audra Jennings
Imagine being medically trained at some of the most prestigious institutions in the world — Harvard and Yale — and turning your back on a lucrative medical career in private practice to care for the poor. As Klaus-Dieter John writes in his book, I Have Seen God (Monarch Books/November 27, 2014/ISBN: 978-0857215741/$16.99), it was a dream he had since he was a young child, growing up in Germany. In high school, John met his future wife, Martina, who shared a similar dream to become a missionary doctor. After medical school, the Johns set out to fulfill their goal. “We shared exactly the same vision for our future,” John shares. “We wanted to get the best medical training available and then work as missionary doctors for the rest of our lives.”
John’s journey took his family around the world, including stops in Ghana, South Africa and Ecuador, before settling in the highlands of Peru where he founded the Diospi Suyana Hospital. He has written I Have Seen God to tell the world about the miracles God is doing in this top-quality health facility serving the Indians of the Peruvian Andes.
Descended from the ancient Incas, the Quechua make up approximately 40 percent of Peru’s population but have largely been either neglected or exploited by authorities for centuries. The majority of them lives in abject poverty, without windows, doors, running water, electricity or sewage systems. As a result, they have a significantly reduced life expectancy.
The healing that comes from the state-of-the-art medical care isn’t the only miracle seen at the hospital, which serves 150 patients a day. If faith can move mountains, it can also shake wallets and transform hearts; astonishingly, more than 50,000 private individuals and 180 companies from around the globe have donated more than $21 million to this work. Patients only contribute to about 20 percent of operating costs, can attend daily church services and while they’re seated in the waiting rooms will most likely catch the Jesus Film on TVs.
I Have Seen God explains how the hospital, whose name is translated into the Quecha language as “we trust in God,” has overcome the mire of bureaucracy and united Catholics and Protestants in one love for God and their fellow people. The ministry also reaches beyond the walls of the hospital — with a dental clinic and teams that go into the villages to mentor and teach children.
John believes the stories told in I Have Seen God have the power to change lives, including his own. “When I was a medical student I would wonder whether God was real or if it was just wishful thinking. One night I shouted at the top of my voice, ‘God where are you? I want to see you!’ In the history of our hospital, God has become very visible to me and to the hundreds of thousands of people who have heard the story.” John hopes readers will close the covers of his book more convinced than ever in the truth of a living God.
About the Author
Dr. Klaus-Dieter John grew up in Germany and met and fell in love with his wife, Martina, during his term as high school class president. The two bonded over the strong call they felt to obtain medical degrees in order to serve the medical needs of the poorest of the poor.
Dr. John began medical school in Germany, eventually completing his surgical training at Harvard and Yale in the U.S., as well as in Johannesburg, South Africa. Martina was trained in both Germany and the U.S. and is now a certified pediatrician in both countries.
Their medical missions work took them from Ghana to Ecuador, eventually bringing them to Peru, where they helped found the ministry Diospi Suyana in August of 2002. The main goal of Diospi Suyana was to maintain an interdenominational mission hospital, which was opened in the highlands of Peru in 2005. The ministry also operates a dental clinic, a school and a children’s ministry in Curahuasi, Peru.
Posted 10/22/14 at 9:12 AM | Tim Challies
I am in the enjoyable position of receiving copies of most of the latest and greatest Christian books. It has been too long since I’ve sorted through the piles and to tell you which of them have risen to the top. Here are some of the new and notable books I’ve received in the past month or so.
Ordinary: Sustainable Faith in a Radical World by Michael Horton. This was the book I wanted to write; Horton beat me to the punch. “Radical. Crazy. Transformative and restless. Every word we read these days seems to suggest there’s a ‘next-best-thing,’ if only we would change our comfortable, compromising lives. In fact, the greatest fear most Christians have is boredom—the sense that they are missing out on the radical life Jesus promised. One thing is certain. No one wants to be ‘ordinary.’ Yet pastor and author Michael Horton believes that our attempts to measure our spiritual growth by our experiences, constantly seeking after the next big breakthrough, have left many Christians disillusioned and disappointed. There’s nothing wrong with an energetic faith; the danger is that we can burn ourselves out on restless anxieties and unrealistic expectations. What’s needed is not another program or a fresh approach to spiritual growth; it’s a renewed appreciation for the commonplace.” (Amazon, Westminster Books) FULL POST
Posted 10/16/14 at 8:42 AM | Tim Challies
It is something I see again and again, and something that baffles me every time: People who expect unbelievers to act like believers. So often I see Christians acting surprised that their non-Christian friends or family members are acting like non-Christians. John Owen addresses this in his great work Overcoming Sin and Temptation. The book deals with the subject of mortification, of putting sin to death, and Owen dedicates one chapter to explaining why only Christians can behave like Christians.
He begins by insisting that only Christians have the ability to put sin to death. Unbelievers may suppress sin, but they cannot kill it. “Unless a man be a believer—that is, one that is truly ingrafted into Christ—he can never mortify any one sin; I do not say, unless he know himself to be so, but unless indeed he be so. … There is no death of sin without the death of Christ.” FULL POST
Posted 10/13/14 at 4:38 PM | Audra Jennings
Best-selling author Lynn Austin invites readers to join her for a live webcast on October 21 at 8:00 PM EDT to talk about the latest addition to The Restoration Chronicles series. The evening will center on a Biblical fiction book club discussion featuring Austin’s new release, Keepers of the Covenant (Bethany House Publishers/ October 7, 2014/available in hardcover, paperback and ebook).
During the online event, Austin will be discussing Keepers of the Covenant, answering reader questions live and giving a sneak preview of future releases. Throughout the hour, readers will have an opportunity to chat with other fans, answer trivia about the book and submit questions for Austin to answer during the evening. A number of prizes will be given away to those participating in the discussion, including copies of Austin’s books and gift cards. At the end of the webcast, the winner of a Kindle Fire HDX will be announced. The Kindle giveaway is being held in conjunction with the Keepers of the Covenant blog tour being coordinated by Litfuse Publicity Group during the month of October.
“We are so excited for readers to be able to connect with Lynn through this upcoming webcast,” states Noelle Buss, marketing manager at Bethany House. “Lynn is just as delightful and well-informed as her books. I’ve always come away cherishing my interactions with her.”
Austin’s The Restoration Chronicles have received rave reviews from critics and readers alike. Library Journal wrote of the first book in the series, Return to Me, “. . . a powerful new historical series that brings the Old Testament books of Ezra and Nehemiah to life.” According to Publishers Weekly, “Austin shines a bright light on ancient Jewish life and lands. Biblical fiction fans will cheer her latest offering, which bolsters this challenging genre.”
“I know many readers have been eagerly awaiting the next novel in my Restoration Chronicles series. It is based on the biblical book of Ezra and features him as one of the main characters. I really enjoyed researching this exciting time in biblical history and bringing the story to life for my readers. Even for those who didn’t read Book I, this book works well as a stand-alone novel, too,” explains Austin.
The Keepers of the Covenant webcast will be hosted on Austin’s Facebook page, as well as the Litfuse Publicity Group website for readers without a Facebook account. Leading up to the webcast, readers can RSVP for the event and sign up to receive an email reminder. From October 1-21, fans can also enter the contest for the Kindle Fire HDX via the author’s Facebook page.
About Keepers of the Covenant:
In their darkest hour, where would hope be found?
In one life-changing moment, the lives of the exiles in Babylon are thrown into despair when a decree from the king's palace calls for the annihilation of every Jewish man, woman and child throughout the empire in less than one year.
Ezra, a quiet but brilliant scholar, soon finds himself called upon to become the leader of his people. Forced to rally an army when all his training has been in the Torah, he struggles to bring hope in a time of utter despair, when dreams of the future — of family and love — seem impossible.
Austin weaves together the struggles and stories of both Jews and Gentiles, creating a tapestry of faith and doubt, love and loss. Here, the Old Testament comes to life, demonstrating the everlasting hope displayed in God's unwavering love for His people.
About The Restoration Chronicles:
The Restoration Chronicles bring the books of Ezra and Nehemiah to vibrant life, telling the stories of Babylonian exiles: the few faithful followers who struggle to rebuild their lives in obedience to the God who beckons them home. The series follows biblical characters like Zechariah and Ezra as they bring hope to God’s people in a time when dreams of the future—of family and love—seem impossible.
The first release in the series, Return to Me, released in October 2013.
About Lynn Austin:
Lynn Austin has sold more than one million copies of her books worldwide. She is an eight-time Christy Award winner and an inaugural inductee into the Christy Award Hall of Fame, as well as a popular speaker at retreats, conventions, women’s groups and book clubs.
Along with reading, two of Austin’s lifelong passions are history and archaeology. While researching her Biblical fiction series, Chronicles of the Kings, these two interests led her to pursue graduate studies in Biblical Backgrounds and Archaeology through Southwestern Theological Seminary. Twenty-five years ago, Austin was able to travel to Israel to take part in an archaeological dig at the ancient city of Timnah.
Austin’s husband’s career allowed them to live in Bogota, Colombia, as well as Ontario and Manitoba, Canada. They now make their home in Michigan.
Posted 10/13/14 at 11:28 AM | Shaunti Feldhahn
Welcome to Marriage Mondays! Each Monday, join me as I share my top findings on the little, eye-opening things that make a big difference in creating great marriages and relationships. Today’s post is one of a series on the surprising truths that men and women tend not to know about each other–and which change everything once we do.
Tip #33: Wives, see his anger as a legitimate signal of pain – and address it with respect
Every relationship – even the happiest ones! -- will have moments of conflict. And how we deal with that conflict can make the relationship stronger…. or really hurt it.
Ladies, one of the clearest examples of this is what happens when you’re in a time of “intense marital fellowship” (as a friend of mine puts it), and your man gets really angry. Maybe he confronted you after his office party about how you teased him in front of his colleagues, and says he can’t believe you betrayed him like that. FULL POST
Posted 10/12/14 at 2:54 AM | Diane Castro
Few books I have ever read depict the depths of human depravity, the strength of the human spirit, and the surpassing grace of God more powerfully than Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption. For good reason, the book has been on the New York Times Bestseller List for more than three years; readers are riveted by the gripping tale and, like me, want to urge others to read it.
Author Laura Hillenbrand, who also wrote Seabiscuit: An American Legend, spent seven years meticulously researching the life and times of the legendary hero of her book, Louis Zamperini. Louie was a hell-raiser as a child, but as a teenager he channeled his energy into running and became a world-class track star, making it to the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin while still in his teens.
Zamperini enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Forces in 1941 and became a bombardier in the Pacific. Hillenbrand graphically describes the harrowing missions flown by the Pacific airmen. The casualty rate was astronomical, even greater in accidents than in combat. In 1943, Louie and ten other men were sent out on a notoriously unreliable B-24 bomber to look for a lost plane and its crew. The B-24 went down in the Pacific, leaving only Louie and two other survivors on rubber rafts with little food or water. FULL POST
Posted 10/9/14 at 2:51 PM | Audra Jennings
Where do you turn when a dream you’ve cherished in your heart for your entire life is completely shattered? In her new release, Hidden in the Stars (Quilts of Love series from Abingdon Press/September 16, 2014/ISBN:9781426773600/$13.99), Robin Caroll introduces us to a young woman who must find the strength to continue living after losing everything she cares about.
Following an attack that killed her mother and stole her ability to speak, 21-year-old Sophia Montgomery has no choice but to accept her estranged grandmother’s offer to return to their family home. Although detective Julian Frazier is working hard on the case, Sophia unknowingly frustrates him because her inability to speak thwarts her eyewitness evidence.
Little do they know, the clues to solving the case may be right in front of them, displayed in Sophia’s mother’s “special” quilt design. Who will realize the secret Sophia’s unwittingly been hiding in plain sight? When the truth comes to light, will Sophia find her voice again? Or will the murderer — still at large — silence her forever?
Q: Tell us about the main thread or theme that runs through Hidden in the Stars.
The strength of the familial bond is the strongest thread in the story, but another theme would be the sacrifices we make for the people we love.
Q: How important to you is the faith element in your stories?
I never “plot” the faith element of my books in advance. I always pray for God to show me the spiritual arc for the characters, and then I let it grow organically from the characters as I interview and write them. Sometimes I’m lucky and the arc is apparent in the beginning of the story — sometimes it doesn’t become clear until near the end (that’s usually when God’s using my own story to teach me something or refine something in me). It’s my job to put that on the page with realism, but not beat anyone over the head.
Q: The main character in Hidden in the Stars, Sophia, loses not only the person she loved the most in life, but also her dream of becoming an Olympic gymnast. What can readers learn from how she manages this loss?
So often we begin to believe our dreams define who we are. What we do becomes our identifier. I wanted to portray a character who had worked hard for something all her life — something her mother had sacrificed much to help her attain — yet she had it snatched away with no hope of reclaiming it. I think we (myself included) sometimes need to realize we are, first and foremost, a child of God and not a dream or a goal.
Q: Sophia suffers a brutal attack, and the criminal remains at-large, leaving her feeling vulnerable and afraid. We all face moments in life when we feel that way, even if the events in our lives vary. Where do you go for strength in those times?
God. Yes, I have family members who are loving and supportive and encouraging and helpful. Yes, I have friends who are there for me through thick and thin. But when it comes down to brass tacks, as my grandmother used to say, God is my source of strength, comfort and peace.
Q: Why is it so challenging to forgive people who have hurt us?
Because we’re human and our initial reaction is based on our own thoughts and feelings. When we’re hurt, we don’t WANT to forgive. Sometimes, at least for me, the choice to forgive is more about wanting to be obedient to God and wanting to keep that pain from clawing at me.
Q: The attack left Sophia without a voice — is this a metaphor in any way?
Yes. When we’re attacked — physically, mentally or spiritually — we often feel like we aren’t heard . . . that our cries for help fall on deaf ears.
Q: Which character in the book do you identify with the most and why?
Sophia. She was strong and determined and wouldn’t let her attack and the murder of the one person she loved the most stop her from living a good life.
Q: Tell us about the quilt in Hidden in the Stars. How does it play a role in solving this mystery?
The quilt itself was made from the costumes of Sophia’s mother, Nina. It’s like a large declaration of her life’s ballet work. Once the police get the quilt, they determine it holds the key to solving the mystery and the murder.
Q: Tell us a little more about the Quilt of Love series and how you became involved in it.
As a young girl, my family lived in the country. We didn’t have many friends close enough during the winter where we could just hop on our bikes and ride down to a neighbor’s house. During those lonelier times, my mother taught me how to quilt. I will always associate quilts with the strength of the mother-daughter bond. When I heard about the Quilts of Love series, I wanted to be a part of it.
Q: How have you seen the Lord’s hand in your writing career, whether it be open doors, prayer partners, etc.?
I’d spent many, many months studying the craft and learning as much as I could. After finally getting up the nerve to start the submission process, I found myself faced with rejection slips, one after the other. I was extremely blessed to have strong critique/prayer partners who encouraged me, but I also had a mentor who pushed me and helped me develop the ability to separate my writing from myself as a person.
One day, fully frustrated and on the verge of tears, I prayed the scary prayer: that if writing wasn’t what He called me to do, then I’d walk away from it, but He’d have to remove the desire from my heart because I wasn’t strong enough to do it myself. I was lucky enough to get my first contract not too long after that, but I truly was willing to walk away if that’s what He told me to do. It was really scary because, for me at least, writing was, in my mind, tied to my identity. I learned that writing, while important to me and I love it, is still what I do, not who I am. I love being an author, but I’m also so much more: wife, mother, grandmother, daughter, sister, friend, etc.
Q: Do you ever hear from readers about how they have been touched by reading your books?
I hope each of my books brings glory and honor to God. Some of the reader mail I’ve received has put me in tears of praise for being allowed to share stories with readers. For instance, one reader wrote me after reading one of my books and thanked me for showing that it was possible to reconcile with God after being angry with Him. It truly blesses me for God to use me in such a way.
Q: What is the one thing you hope your readers will walk away with when they close the cover of Hidden in the Stars?
I hope they will feel they were entertained, but also they will be reminded that no matter what their circumstances, what the Enemy means for evil, God will turn to good.