Books

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Posted 11/20/17 at 12:28 PM | Audra Jennings

Celebrate the 50th anniversary of a classic American novel

Part 1 of an interview with Nancy LeSourd,
Publisher of Gilead Publishing’s Evergreen Farm imprint
about Catherine Marshall’s Christy

Watch the book trailer!

Gilead Publishing and Evergreen Farm
"Christy" by Catherine Marshall

Some stories are evergreen, their themes and lessons standing the test of time and connecting with readers generation after generation. One such book is Catherine Marshall’s Christy, originally released in 1967 and now celebrating its 50th anniversary with the release of a new hardcover edition and its first-ever release as an e-book from Evergreen Farm, an imprint of Gilead Publishing. Based on Marshall’s mother’s life, the story of Christy is one of determination, devotion and commitment to making a difference in the world.

Marshall’s best seller tells the story of nineteen-year-old teacher Christy Huddleston who moves from her home in Asheville, North Carolina, in 1912 and finds herself in Cutter Gap, a Smoky Mountain community that feels suspended in time, trapped by poverty, superstitions and century-old traditions. Christy struggles to find acceptance in her new home, and some of the Cutter Gap residents see her — and her one-room school — as a threat to their way of life. Her faith is challenged by trial and tragedy, and her heart is torn between two strong men with conflicting views about how to care for the families of the Cove.

Q: How many copies of Christy have been sold in the last 50 years since its original release?

Exact figures are hard to estimate as the way sales are tracked has changed throughout the years. The book has also been re-released in various formats from different publishers. However, with the information we do have, we believe more than 10 million copies have been sold.

Q: Readers throughout time have always had a strong emotional connection to Christy. What is it about Christy that resonates with young women especially?

The story of Christy has endured because of its timeless themes. A young person, barely 19, is inspired to contribute her time and talents to make a difference. Her idealistic ideas clash head-on with those who see her as an outsider, a do-gooder and a meddler. Christy has to learn how to come alongside people she wants to “help” and learn how to care — really care — for them, one person at a time.

Throughout the years, we have learned of many people inspired by the story of Christy who became a teacher or a doctor or who entered public service living among the poor in their communities in the United States or abroad.

Q: In what ways will millennials be able to relate to Christy, a character based on a woman who was born 120 years ago?

There is an entire generation who does not remember the CBS TV series. I gathered our children to watch it every week, but they were two and four when it aired. Today they are 25 and 27. The largest demographic by 2020 will be the millennials. Their choices, passions, investments of time, talent and treasure will impact America economically, politically and socially.

I am particularly excited to introduce this audience to the novel Christy. Christy is a timeless tale of courage, determination and passion — a story very much reflective of millennials today. With their desire to make a difference, ingenuity to create businesses or engage in work that has social impact and rejection of cash donations in favor of offering their time and talents or social enterprise, it is time to introduce them to this amazing young woman, Christy. Christy and other key characters in the novel, such as the doctor and a minister, have to learn how to take who they are and what they have to give and learn to serve a community that challenges them in ways they cannot anticipate.

How these key characters approach trying to make a difference — all very unique and different — are everyman and everywoman who desires to do the same in their own community today. The wonderful thing about millennials is that they are disrupters; they want to make a difference. The desire to be a change agent often starts in the heart, as did Christy’s desire to come to the mountains to teach children. That inspirational motivation can sometimes flag when met with obstacles, resistance or even hatred. The story of Christy takes on these challenges head-on and does not flinch with depicting the realities of pitting the enthusiastic change agent Christy against resistant, suspicious people in the community. How she navigates her life in the Cove and her passion to make a difference applies to anyone who wants to make a difference in his or her community, business, charity or social enterprise.

Q: What lessons can those who are about to make a life change and enter an unfamiliar world glean from the story of Christy?

In a word, courage. It took a lot of courage for Christy Huddleston to leave everything familiar and comfortable and enter a world different from anything she had experienced before. Her life in the Appalachian Tennessee mountains was a stark contrast to the life she had lived in the city of Asheville, North Carolina. It required courage for her to face opposition and evil. It required courage for her to face her own shortcomings and doubts without running away. She continued to try new methods and ideas.

Catherine Marshall, author of "Christy"

Perseverance is another lesson. Christy learned that change of social injustice and community values is slow and often painful. Changing a community and its way of doing things is usually the result of impacting one life at a time. Learning how to persevere in the midst of discouragement and setbacks is another life lesson demonstrated in Christy’s encounters with the fiercely determined Scottish highlanders in the mountains of Tennessee.

Unexpected joy — it is often when we risk the familiar, launch out into the uncertain future and leave behind what is comfortable and familiar that we encounter unexpected joy. Christy had no idea when she first arrived in the Cove that she would experience unfettered joy with these ragamuffin children, encounter the depths of shared friendship and insights with an unusual mentor or be taught about true beauty and joy in the simplest of things by a mountain woman. She came as the teacher. She came to serve. She came to make a difference. As so often happens when we take these kinds of risks, she found herself the recipient of so much more.

Learn more about the 50th anniversary of Christy plus download a free map of Cutter Gap by visiting www.christybook.com. Readers can also keep up with news on future Evergreen Farm releases via Facebook (@gileadpublishing) and Twitter (@GileadPub).

Posted 11/16/17 at 11:39 AM | Audra Jennings

When past events affect present situations

Part 2 of an interview with Kim Vogel Sawyer,
Author of Bringing Maggie Home

Read part 1 here.

WaterBrook Press
Bringing Maggie Home by Kim Vogel Sawyer

In Bringing Maggie Home (WaterBrook), award-winning author Kim Vogel Sawyer introduces readers to three generations of women whose lives have been shaped by a 70-year-old unsolved mystery.

Hazel DeFord was just 10 years old when her younger sister Maggie vanished while they were picking blackberries one afternoon. However, her guilt over the incident has shaped her entire life, particularly in her relationship with her daughter Diane. Hazel’s inexplicable eccentricities, unexplained overprotectiveness and constant paranoia drove a wedge between the two women.

When Diane became a parent, she was determined not to imitate the close hold her mother held on her. In fact, she gave her daughter, Meghan, such free rein that Meghan sometimes questioned whether her mother really loved her. Though neither woman had a good relationship with their own mother, Meghan has built a cherished relationship with her aging grandmother who lavishes her with attention and affection.

Will the three women ever find a way to mend their tattered relationships?

Q: Why do past events affect present situations? How can we make sure we aren’t allowing our pasts to influence our future negatively?

Past events remain embedded in our memories and impact the way we view the future. Sometimes life lessons lead us to make better decisions, and sometimes they send us into hiding for fear of being hurt again. It’s wise to take inventory of your actions and reactions now and then, to explore if what you’re doing/saying/feeling is building you (and others) up or bringing you down. We can’t always rely on our own judgment on this, though, so it’s good to have one or two people you trust to give you honest observations . . . and to listen to them. I also suggest digging into God’s Word. God doesn’t give us a spirit of fear, so if fear, uncertainty or any other negative emotion has control, He wants to offer peace and discernment in its stead. Seek Him.

Q: There are things people turn to in order to numb the pain of the past and escape their problems. Why are these comforts only temporary?

EVERYTHING in this life is temporal; only our relationship with God through Jesus’s sacrifice at Calvary is ETERNAL. Thus, seeking comfort, joy or satisfaction from any other source is a waste of time and energy. Sure, drugs or alcohol will temporarily mask the pain; obtaining the latest gadget or adding more money to our bank account will give us a rush of pleasure. However, those effects quickly diminish, leaving us needing a bigger binge, a larger acquisition, a better whatever-it-is we’re grabbing for. In the end, they all leave us empty. Nothing fills us and satisfies the way the hope of heaven can, and that is found when we become a child of God.

Q: Diane believed God orchestrated certain events in a way to bring the three generations together. Do you believe God plans our pathways or uses the paths we create to bring us to Him?

I believe God makes good plans for His children (see Jeremiah 29:11 and Ephesians 2:10). I also believe He gives us free will — salvation is a gift we can accept or reject — so we can either seek and follow His path or carve our own pathway. However, it’s His will all should find Him (see 2 Peter 3:9), so even when we’ve gone running off on our own, our route doesn’t catch Him by surprise. He can use those circumstances to grow us in faith and work good in our lives. That’s the wonder of God — nothing is wasted. So, in answer to the question . . . both.

Q: What message do you hope readers take away from reading Bringing Maggie Home?

I hope readers will come away with a fresh realization it is never too late to restore broken relationships. God is in the mending business! He’s the Great Healer. Whether the scars are emotional or spiritual, He wants us to be whole so we can trust Him to bring us to healing when we place ourselves in His hands and let Him lead.

Kim Vogel Sawyer, author of Bringing Maggie Home

Q: Can you offer us a tease about your next release?

I’d love to. In March of 2018, I’m returning to “prairie romance” with Beneath a Prairie Moon. It’s a major twist on the mail-order bride story:

Abigail Brantley grew up in affluence and knows exactly how to behave in high society. However, when she is cast from the social registers due to her father's illegal dealings, she finds herself forced into a role she never imagined — tutoring rough Kansas ranchers in the subjects of manners and morals so they can “marry up” with their mail-order brides. Mack Cleveland, whose uncle was swindled by a mail-order bride, wants no part of the scheme to bring Eastern women to Spiveyville, Kansas, and he’s put off by the snooty airs and fastidious behavior of the “little city gal” in their midst. As time goes by, his heart goes out to the teacher who tries so diligently to smooth the rough edges from the down-to-earth men. How can he teach her that perfection won't bring happiness?

I hope readers will enjoy this often humorous, sometimes touching story that brings two very different worlds together in a way only God can orchestrate.

Learn more about Sawyer and her books at www.kimvogelsawyer.com, on Facebook (KimVogelSawyer.Author.Speaker) or by following her on Twitter (KimVogelSawyer).

Posted 11/15/17 at 6:24 PM | Michael Bresciani

Book Review: “God’s Prophetic Voices to America” by Dr. David Reagan

Published by Lamb and Lion Ministries out of McKinney, Texas, “God’s Prophetic Voices to America” released its first edition in 2017. It is a book Written by the Senior Evangelist and founder of, Lamb and Lion Ministries - who is himself, one of America’s most significant prophetic voices.

The ministry has over 20 national and international outlets and a weekly television program called, Christ in Prophecy. Dr. Reagan, the writer of 15 books, is a well-traveled preacher, himself with a full itinerary in which he carries the message of the gospel and the soon return of the Lord Jesus Christ across the nation.

It is a book of 287 pages with a very intense introduction and history of the decline of our nation from the sexual revolution of the sixties to the present. Reagan has entitled the first section after the preface as “Prologue: America’s Spiritual Crisis.” It is a brief, but highly accurate history of our moral decline up to the present day.

The book is available through Lamb and Lion Ministries and in many outlets including Amazon.

While Dr. Reagan has chosen some of the people and ministers who have a high level of notoriety, he has acknowledged that there are tens of thousands of additional prophetic voices who are fully engaged in the full defense of the gospel and prophetic warnings. FULL POST

Posted 11/15/17 at 5:32 PM | Audra Jennings

Catherine Marshall’s Christy celebrates its 50th anniversary

A new edition of the classic story of determination and devotion to be released

Gilead Publishing and Evergreen Farm
"Christy" by Catherine Marshall

Some stories are evergreen, their themes and lessons standing the test of time and connecting with readers generation after generation. One such book is Catherine Marshall’s Christy (Evergreen Farm, an imprint of Gilead Publishing/October 17, 2017/ ISBN 9781683701262/$24.99), originally released in 1967 and now celebrating its 50th anniversary with the release of a new hardcover edition and its first-ever release as an e-book. Based on Marshall’s mother’s life, the story of Christy is one of determination, devotion and commitment to making a difference in the world.

Marshall’s best seller tells the story of nineteen-year-old teacher Christy Huddleston who moves from her home in Asheville, North Carolina, in 1912 and finds herself in Cutter Gap, a Smoky Mountain community that feels suspended in time, trapped by poverty, superstitions and century-old traditions. Christy struggles to find acceptance in her new home, and some of the Cutter Gap residents see her — and her one-room school — as a threat to their way of life. Her faith is challenged by trial and tragedy, and her heart is torn between two strong men with conflicting views about how to care for the families of the Cove.

Christy landed on the New York Times list on November 5, 1967. Since then, more than 10 million copies have been sold worldwide, and the book blazed a trail for the new Christian fiction genre. In 1994, more families were introduced to the beloved character, Christy, and to the works of Marshall when the story inspired a CBS television movie pilot starring Kellie Martin that was so well received, it became a TV series.

“The story of Christy has endured because of its timeless themes. A young person, barely 19, is inspired to contribute her time and talents to make a difference,” states Nancy LeSourd, Evergreen Farm’s publisher and spokesperson for the Marshall-LeSourd family. “Christy is a tale of courage, determination, and passion. Christy and other key characters in the novel have to learn how to take who they are, and what they have to give, and serve a community that challenges them in ways they cannot anticipate. Even though the story took place 100 years ago, these key characters’ approaches to making a difference is not unlike the Millennial generation today.”

In conjunction with the bestselling book’s Golden Anniversary, the e-book will be available for the first time. Readers can purchase the digital edition through online retailers, and libraries can now include the digital book in their OverDrive collection. Its re-release will introduce a new generation of readers to the story that has delighted millions and inspired many authors in the Christian genre. Christy will also mark the first release under Gilead Publishing’s Evergreen Farm imprint, specializing in books written by both Catherine Marshall and Dr. Peter Marshall.

“There is a whole generation of readers who aren’t familiar with Christy, and we want to introduce them to her story,” explains Dan Balow, CEO and Publisher of Gilead Publishing. “Our intention was to create a book to be read, not placed in a shelf as a keepsake, so readers won’t find commemorative features. The book being available in digital format for the first time is an avenue of reaching a vast new audience.”

The Christy Awards™, the industry's premiere award program for recognizing excellence in Christian fiction, was named in honor of the book. This award promotes the power of story written from a Christian worldview in nine categories. This year’s The Christy Awards™ will be awarded November 8, 2017, in Nashville in association with The Evangelical Christian Publishers Association’s (ECPA) Publishing University (PubU) and The Art of Writing conference.

Learn more about the 50th anniversary of Christy plus download a free map of Cutter Gap by visiting www.christybook.com. Readers can also keep up with news on future Evergreen Farm releases via Facebook (@gileadpublishing) and Twitter (@GileadPub).

About the Author

Catherine Marshall, author of "Christy"

Catherine Marshall (1914-1983), the New York Times best-selling author of 30 books, is best known for her novel Christy. Based on the life of her mother, Christy captured the hearts of millions and became a popular CBS television series. Around the kitchen table at Evergreen Farm, as her mother reminisced, Marshall probed for details and insights into the rugged lives of these Appalachian highlanders.

She also shared the story of her husband, Dr. Peter Marshall, Chaplain of the United States Senate during World War II, in A Man Called Peter. The movie version, an immediate box-office hit, was nominated for an Academy Award. A decade after Dr. Marshall’s untimely death, Marshall married Leonard LeSourd, Executive Editor of Guideposts. The writing team collaborated often at Evergreen Farm on Christy and 17 other books.

A beloved inspirational writer and speaker, Marshall’s enduring career spanned four decades and six continents and reached more than 30 million readers.

About the Spokesperson

Nancy LeSourd is the daughter-in-law of Catherine Marshall and spokesperson for the Marshall-LeSourd family. She grew up in Atlanta, Georgia, during the turbulent civil rights era of the 1960s, where she learned first-hand as a teenager the impact that a young person can have on history. She taught history in middle school and high school before becoming a lawyer and has more than 30 years of experience as an intellectual property attorney, helping nonprofit organizations maximize their publishing assets.

LeSourd also serves as publisher for Evergreen Farm, an imprint of Gilead Publishing. Nancy and her husband, Jeff, live at Evergreen Farm in Lincoln, Virginia, and have two delightful grown children.

Posted 11/3/17 at 12:34 PM |

New book addresses major reason religious “nones” left their faith

A recent Pew Research Study discovered that one of the main reasons religious “nones” – people who do not identify with any religious group – left the church or faith in which they were raised was that there are “too many Christians doing un-Christian things.” In his new book “When Good Samaritans Get Mugged: Hope and Healing for Wounded Warriors,” Pastor David Stokes addresses this issue head-on. Stokes shares practical strategies for overcoming the depression, anger, and discouragement that people deal with when they are hurt by Christians.

“I often refer to myself as a ‘church survivor,’ having been in church since I was eight-days old,” says Stokes, who currently pastors a church in Fairfax, Virginia. “My father was a pastor. My mom really didn’t enjoy being a pastor’s wife—she got hurt a lot, so I saw things like this early on. The key is to learn how to truly forgive, and to learn what that means and what it doesn’t mean. Forgiveness doesn’t always mean reconciliation, because that takes all parties. And forgiveness doesn’t mean broken trust is immediately restored. I’ve forgiven many people I will probably never be able to trust again.” FULL POST

Posted 10/27/17 at 12:58 PM | Audra Jennings

'Rule of Law' based on real-life inspiration

Part 2 of an interview with Randy Singer,
Author of Rule of Law

Click here to read part 1 of the interview.

Tyndale
Rule of Law by Randy Singer

Inspired by real events involving American contract workers detained in Yemen, Singer wrote Rule of Law to address what he describes as critical issues lurking on the horizon. “Is the president above the law in matters of foreign policy?” Singer asks. “Should the CIA be fighting shadow wars with drones and special forces in countries where we have not declared war? What happens when the lives of service members are sacrificed for political gain?”

To avoid getting bogged down in political polarization, Singer assures readers his fictional president, cabinet and Supreme Court bear little resemblance to the current administration and Court. He does, however, anchor the story in reality with historical references — political, military and legal — based on actual events. He also has great respect for the sacrifices made by the Navy SEALS and their families, some of whom attend the church where Singer serves as a teaching pastor.

Q: While you made sure the characters such as the President and members of the Supreme Court in Rule of Law were not based on anyone in the current presidential administration, you did have real life inspiration for the book. Can you tell us about the people who did inspire you and the story?

Two remarkable people inspired me to write Rule of Law. They are both clients of my law practice.

Rule of Law begins with a SEAL Team raid of a prison camp in Yemen where the Houthi rebels are housing two important political prisoners.

Mark McAlister was working for the United Nations on October 20, 2015, in Yemen when he was captured by the Houthi rebels (who believed he was working for the CIA). For the next six months Mark was confined to a small, windowless cell where he was abused and interrogated. Through it all, he never renounced his faith. On the contrary, he boldly told his captors that he was a follower of Jesus. After they took his Bible, Mark would pace his small cell, praying and reminding himself of the miracles of Jesus.

“Lord, if you can walk on water, you can get me out of this cell. Lord, if you can heal the blind, you can get me out of this cell. Lord, if you can come back from the dead after three days, you can get me out of this cell.”

Six months into his captivity, Mark was miraculously released by his Houthi captors. By then, he had won their respect and developed a relationship with them. I had Mark share his testimony with my church which can be accessed, along with the message I preached that day, here: Lord of the Nations.

The second person who inspired this book was Dana Wise. She is the widow of a former Navy SEAL who attended the church I pastor and who was killed by a terrorist in Afghanistan. Dana’s grace and class in the midst of tragedy have been an incredible testimony to so many people. The main character in this book is a young female lawyer who is on a mission to avenge the death of her boyfriend, a Navy SEAL killed in the line of duty. The strength and class of Dana served as a great model for my protagonist. Dana shared her story on Memorial Day at our church, which can be seen, along with my message, here: Greater Love.

In Rule of Law, I want readers to experience triumph in the midst of tragedy, and justice rising out of pain.

Q: Your church serves many servicemen and women. How did your work with military families influence you as you wrote Rule of Law?

Rule of Law begins with a tragic ending to a military mission. As part of my duties as pastor, I have been called on to minister to families who have lost loved ones in battle. The valor of these gold-star families is amazing. Rule of Law is, in many ways, a tribute to them. Additionally, just being around a military community and having friends who can answer my questions about how things would work (and I had tons of questions) helped make the book more realistic.

Randy Singer, author of Rule of Law

Q: You are a lawyer, a pastor and an author. How do all of those roles work together in writing Christian legal thrillers?

Writing Christian legal thrillers is the ideal intersection of my “lives” as pastor, lawyer and author. I believe I can write more realistic legal thrillers because I am still in the arena—trying cases in court and experiencing the kinds of emotions, victories and defeats that my characters experience.

I would also say that my three lives collide a fair amount. My writing is inspired by cases I’ve handled. My wife reads my initial manuscripts and gives me feedback. My daughter and I practice law together. My law partner is an elder in my church. My sermons are influenced by the storytelling tools I’ve learned as an author and the persuasive skills I’ve developed as a lawyer. Everything bleeds together and feeds off everything else.

To my church members, I’m a pastor; to my clients, a lawyer; and to my readers, an author. In today’s specialized society, it seems like it should be hard to juggle all three. But if you look at it historically, it was not at all unusual for one person to fulfill numerous roles. I think it helps me to be better at each one. As a pastor, I know what my church members go through in the “secular” world each week. As a lawyer, I can help bring a spiritual perspective to bear on my client’s biggest challenges. And as a writer, I can draw from both of those other wells for inspiration, experience and ideas.

Q: In the midst of tragedy, what does it mean to rely fully on God to get you through?

There are times in our life when we can hardly find the strength to take the next step. Friends tell us God can turn even this tragedy into something good, but we are hurting so much that we can’t find the faith to believe that. It is in those heartbreaking and gut-wrenching moments that we discover God’s amazing grace and the truth that Jesus is enough no matter the circumstances. I have found God does not give us the grace and strength ahead of time but that He always gives us exactly what we need for the next step, even when it feels impossible. We do not serve a Savior who is above our suffering; we serve one who suffered himself and who walks through tragedy with us, one who fully understands the pain of loss, abandonment, rejection and injustice. He is also a Savior who promises the power of the resurrection — that God can restore and redeem something hopelessly broken and lost.

Q: Rule of Law uses the platform of fiction to bring a true-life message to a wide audience. What is the message you hope readers gain from reading the book?

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13

I also want to remind them that God will give us the courage and strength even in our darkest days to do what He has called us to do. The same power that brought Jesus back from the dead is alive in us. Ephesians 1:19-20.

Learn more about Randy Singer and Rule of Law at www.randysinger.net.

Posted 10/26/17 at 1:55 PM | Audra Jennings

When a mother-daughter relationship is strained

Part 1 of an interview with Kim Vogel Sawyer,
Author of Bringing Maggie Home

WaterBrook Press
Bringing Maggie Home by Kim Vogel Sawyer

Mother-daughter relationships can be complicated. When secrets from the past are involved, the best of intentions can be entirely misunderstood. Bringing Maggie Home (WaterBrook/September 5, 2017) by award-winning author Kim Vogel Sawyer explores the hearts of three generations of women whose lives have been shaped by the 70-year-old unsolved mystery of 3-year-old Maggie Blackwell.

Q: Bringing Maggie Home explores the relationships between three generations of mothers and daughters. Do the relationships mirror your own relationships with family members in any way?

I think it’s inevitable that personal experience finds its way into every story because writing is an intensely personal activity, and we tend to write from the view of our own “life’s glasses.” I didn’t have the privilege of a relationship with my grandmothers — they both died when my parents were children — but I had Tantie, a dear woman who was an important part of my life until her death on my 16th birthday. She filled the role of “grandma” for me, and much of the advice Hazel gives to Meghan are gems of wisdom passed from Tantie to me. Diane (Hazel’s daughter and Meghan’s mother) tells Meghan at one point, “I did the best I could with you, and everything I did was out of love.” This is so true for me with my three daughters. I loved them endlessly, but that didn’t mean I made no mistakes with them. We enter any relationship with the best we have to offer, and we pray it will be enough.

Q: When there are strained relationships in families, someone often gets put in the middle as a mediator. In what ways is this unfair to the third party involved?

Oh, poor Meghan. She loved her mom and her grandma, and the great divide between them was more painful for her than it was for Hazel and Diane.

Can you imagine being the “rope” in a tug-of-war game? Being trapped as the “middle-man” is no less uncomfortable, and it really isn’t fair to the individual because they end up less a mediator (guiding two opposing sides into agreement) than a complaint department for both parties. All a middle-man can do is defend one side or the other; they can speculate but not really know the problem at its root. It’s best for the two differing parties to come face to face and talk things out—not in an accusatory way, but to illuminate the issues and eventually find a way to forgive and start fresh.

Q: Carrying guilt and fear can be detrimental to ourselves, but how can it overflow to those around us?

I’ve heard it said we all are products of our past experiences. For instance, after being bitten by a dog, most people are uneasy around dogs. They would then, whether intentionally or unintentionally, convey that fear to others, who become uneasy around dogs, too. Thus, a person who might have loved having a dog as a pet, misses the opportunity because of someone else's fear. We learn by our own experiences, but we also learn from observing others’ actions and reactions. Healthy fears as well as unhealthy ones are passed on in this observation process.

Q: Hazel was a child when her younger sister disappeared one day when they were out together, and she has always felt responsible for what happened. How did she overcompensate for that loss when raising her daughter, Diane?

Hazel vowed never to be so irresponsible again, and she kept careful watch over her precious Margaret Diane. This, in itself, was very loving — she wanted her daughter to be safe. However, the “careful watch” was viewed by Diane as an overprotectiveness that smothered her. When Diane became a parent, determined not to imitate her mother’s cloying presence, she did the opposite and gave Meghan free rein . . . so much “free rein” Meghan sometimes questioned whether her mother really cared about her. Extremes in any behavior have the potential to result in the opposite of what we intend. This was seen in the relationships between Hazel and Diane, and Diane and Meghan.

Kim Vogel Sawyer, author of Bringing Maggie Home

Q: How did what happened in Hazel’s childhood impact her granddaughter, Meghan, and in turn Meghan’s relationship with both her mother and grandmother?

Hazel’s experiences colored her means of parenting; Hazel’s means of parenting prompted Diane to choose a different pattern. Meghan was exposed to what she perceived as indifference from her mother and lavish affection from her grandmother. Although she loved both women, she felt more loved by her grandmother and wanted to spend extra time with her, which of course stirred jealousy from Diane. It’s interesting that both Hazel and Diane loved Meghan fiercely, but they chose very different ways of expressing it. Each of the women had a different opinion about the way she showed love. We are all unique!

Learn more about Sawyer and her books at www.kimvogelsawyer.com, on Facebook (KimVogelSawyer.Author.Speaker) or by following her on Twitter (KimVogelSawyer).

Posted 10/26/17 at 1:14 PM | Audra Jennings

Lori Benton reminds readers of God’s power and perfect timing

Part 2 of an interview with Lori Benton,
Author of Many Sparrows

Click here to read part 1 of the interview.

WaterBrook Press
Many Sparrows by Lori Benton

Set in 1774 and based on historical facts, Many Sparrows depicts the harrowing account of a young mother who will stop at nothing to find and reclaim her son after he is taken by a native tribe. Clare Inglesby, a settler of the Ohio-Kentucky frontier, finds herself in a perilous situation when an accident forces her husband to leave her alone on a remote mountain trail with their four-year-old son, Jacob. Her precarious circumstances only intensify when Jacob is taken by the Shawnee under the cover of darkness. Clare awakens the next morning to find herself utterly alone and in labor.

Clare will face the greatest fight of her life as she struggles to reclaim her son from the Shawnee Indians now holding him captive. However, with the battle lines sharply drawn following a conflict between the Shawnee and new settlers, Jacob’s life might not be the only one at stake. Frontiersman and adopted Shawnee Jeremiah Ring comes to Clare’s aid and promises to help her recover her son. However, his deep familial connection to the Shawnee makes his promise more complicated and the consequences more painful than either party could anticipate. Can Jeremiah convince Clare that recovering her son will require the very thing her anguished heart is unwilling to do — be still, wait and let God fight this battle for them?

Benton deftly handles the moral complexity of the two ways of life that clashed against each other as colonists encroached upon Native American territories on the Ohio-Kentucky border. “I was inspired to write it by my research into the 18th century and also by what God’s been doing in my own heart in recent years,” Benton shares. “I hope to convey [in Many Sparrows] a picture of what it means not to rely on our own understanding and strength, but wait on the Lord to work on our behalf.”

Q: Have you always enjoyed studying history? What drew you to writing specifically about 18th-century America?

I had no particular interest in history as a subject until around my sophomore year in high school, when I discovered the Sunfire Young Adult historical romance series (Jessica was my favorite) and Christy by Catherine Marshall. That’s all it took to engage my interest, although it wouldn’t be until I started writing historical fiction I began what I’d call studying history.

What drew me to write about 18th-century America in particular was nothing more profound than a liking for men’s knee breeches. I’d seen the movie The Patriot (starring Mel Gibson and Heath Ledger) and for the first time, for some reason (Mel? Heath?), paid attention to what the guys were wearing. I’d been thinking of trying my hand at historical fiction and suddenly knew that if I did, I’d want my male characters wearing knee breeches. A quick Google search told me the fashion began disappearing around 1800, so I zeroed in on the late 1700s as I began hunting for a time and place to set a story. Little did I know I’d taken the first step on a journey that has lasted nearly two decades. I discovered a passion for 18th-century Colonial and early Federal American history I certainly didn’t see coming when I sat down to watch that movie.

Q: What inspired the storyline for Many Sparrows? How much of the book is based on historical fact?

Story ideas set on the 18th-century frontier are constantly spinning around in my head as I research whatever novel I’m presently writing — too many to write in one lifetime. The initial kernel/idea for Many Sparrows dates too far back to recall it specifically. For years I had a file going called “The Frontiersman” because I knew I wanted to write about one. From time to time other ideas began sticking to the bits in that file, and eventually I saw the beginnings of a story forming about a man who lived his life on both sides of that frontier. I wasn’t really sure yet why. Still on the backburner, I began thinking about what sort of woman I might add to my frontiersman’s story. Why would she be on the frontier? What might compel her to cross the line, and in what way might my frontiersman’s path get tangled up with hers? As I asked such questions, Clare Inglesby eventually formed. At the same time I started looking at what was happening on the frontier at various points before and after the Revolutionary War, seeking the exact year for the story’s setting.

I landed on two incidents that occurred in 1774, one to use as the inciting incident from which the rest of the story flows, and the other much deeper into the story. The Yellow Creek Massacre formed the book’s opening scene. The murder of nearly the entire family of the Mingo warrior, Logan, on the banks of the Ohio happened April 30, 1774. It and his subsequent revenge is part of what escalated the brutal conflict between Native Americans and white settlers along the Ohio that year, culminating in Lord Dunmore’s War and the Battle of Point Pleasant in October. Numerous other incidents portrayed in Many Sparrows are drawn from the historical record, but Logan’s tragedy and Virginia Governor Dunmore’s campaign against the Shawnees are the most prominent.

Q: Can you tell us about the research that went into writing this book?

Like most of my story research, there was a lot of book-reading. My primary source for the historical timeline of 1774 turned out to be a slender volume in the Osprey campaign series, Point Pleasant 1774, by John F. Winkler. Though I spent half my life on the east coast and have nearly 25 years of memories to draw from, I now live 3,000 miles away from the settings of my novels. However, while writing Many Sparrows I was able to take a road trip with a fellow historical fiction author. We covered a lot of ground in Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania, including spending a night in a hotel on the east bank of the Ohio across from Yellow Creek on the spot where Logan’s family was murdered.

Lori Benton, author of Many Sparrows

Q: There are many things we never learn in history class, and it seems as if students are taught less about history today than ever. What are some lessons from history during this time period that would be beneficial for us to know, especially from a cultural standpoint?

If I could change anything about the way history is taught in school (or was taught when I was coming up), it would be to add historical fiction to the curriculum. Facts, figures, dates — none of that translates to caring about what people in the past experienced or the choices they made that have shaped who we are as a nation. If you can see the past through their eyes — even fictional eyes — it comes alive in a way that actually makes an impact on our thinking (perhaps on our own choices).

What I’ve learned in my study of those who lived in the 18th century is, like us, they were flawed human beings, whatever side of the frontier they happened to be born. Men and women on both sides of the 18th-century frontier made selfless choices, and they made cruel and grasping decisions. Brutality isn’t limited to one skin color or another, and neither is grace and love, forgiveness and friendship, or the capacity to have a heart changed and a life transformed by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is the only One who can with any finality disrupt the cycle of enmity that has been in play across the face of this earth since Cain turned his hand against Abel.

Q: It is well known that traveling west was a dangerous endeavor, and many lost their lives not only to the elements and illnesses, but to native tribes. What added dangers did a pregnant woman face?

Childbirth was one of the riskiest things a woman in the 18th century could experience. Death in childbirth was common, even in the best of circumstances. Couple that hazard with heading into the wilderness perils you mentioned, and I’m amazed any woman, such as Clare Inglesby in Many Sparrows, survived at all.

In truth, I know of at least one woman in a similar situation to Clare’s who did survive: Mary Draper Ingles. Mary was pregnant when she and her two young sons were taken captive by Shawnees from her frontier home during the 1750s. She went into labor during the long march to the Shawnees’ Ohio villages. She survived childbirth, the march, months of captivity, an epic escape and retracing a journey of hundreds of miles back to her Virginia home. The courage, strength and fortitude women in far less desperate straits than Mary had to possess to venture westward to settle the frontier is astonishing to consider. I’m thankful they did it and I don’t have to.

Learn more about Benton and her books at http://loribenton.blogspot.com. She is also active on Facebook (@AuthorLoriBenton), Twitter (@LLB26) and Instagram (@lorilbenton).

Posted 10/18/17 at 11:42 AM |

New book about peace birthed in the midst of incurable cancer diagnosis

When Dr. David Butts, long-time Chairman of the National Day of Prayer Task Force, began writing his new book “Prayer, Peace and the Presence of God: A 30 Day Journey to Experience the Shalom of Jesus,” he didn’t know that the words he was writing after six months of study would soon become desperately needed in his own life. Barely one week into the writing process, Dr. Butts was diagnosed with Stage IV Mantle Cell Lymphoma, an incurable cancer. It was devastating news to his family.

“My wife, Kim, often tells people that we have not shed a single tear over cancer, but many tears over the love shown us by so many people,” says Dr. Butts. “There’s no doubt that the cancer diagnosis caused us concern, but I have to say firmly that we never lost our peace. I had been studying Scriptures on peace for over six months in preparation for the writing of my book, and those scriptures had prepared my mind and my emotions for this jarring intrusion into normal life.” FULL POST

Posted 10/10/17 at 11:15 AM | Audra Jennings

God has a plan in the messiness and confusion

Part 2 of an interview with Cindy Woodsmall,
Author of Gathering the Threads

Click here to read part 1 of the interview.

WaterBrook
Gathering the Threads by Cindy Woodsmall

Cindy Woodsmall’s latest series, Amish of Summer Grove, introduces readers to two young women, one Englisch and one Amish, who were switched at birth and follows them as they discover what their lives would have been like had the switch never taken place. In Gathering the Threads (WaterBrook), Woodsmall deftly weaves complex issues of identity into the story. What makes us who we are? Are we simply a result of our genetic ancestry? Does our family determine our future . . . or is there something more to identity?

Q: Skylar experienced a culture shock when she arrived in Summer Grove. What lessons did she learn from her new Amish family that helped her overcome her battle with drug addiction?

Oh, my, where to begin when it comes to Skylar! I’ve had readers contact me, sharing they felt she was unredeemable and wished I wouldn’t waste any more time on her and just toss her to the side to focus on Ariana and her Amish family. That surprised me, and it hurt because I have someone in my life who once had many of Skylar’s traits. We can’t give up the fight. Everyone wants the sweet, stalwart child. However, like winning the lottery, reality doesn’t give us everything we want.

Skylar lives a selfish life unchecked. Her desires for admiration and drugs are a bottomless pit of hunger, but despite those things, when Ariana was forced to live with her biological parents, Skyler was the only person who had the ability to save Ariana’s café from going under. Skylar is smart and talented, but her addiction threatens to ruin her life before it can really get started.

It was quite a battle for Skylar to get clean, and she fought with her Amish family to leave her alone and let her be an addict. One Amish sibling fought back, saying, “Don’t let something that cares nothing about you control your life. It will make you as apathetic as it is. Fight, Skylar. Decide that you, your family and your future are worth more than these stupid pills!”

Other things came into play concerning Skylar and her addiction, but Skylar finally understood the value of life. She began the battle to get clean and stay clean.

Q: What lessons in hope and faith do you hope readers takeaway from reading Gathering the Threads?

Metaphorically, we often have an idea or vision or number in our heads of what life and people are supposed to add up to be. In reality life is messy and confusing, and it’s rarely what we thought it would be. Even God doesn’t always add up to our ideas or dreams or that elusive number, and we can’t make ourselves, others or God add up. We must accept and believe despite all the messiness and confusion. In the series, Ariana realized there were many translations of God’s Word, and it seemed to her there needed to be more grace and less legalism about exactly how to live. That’s the theme. Hebrews 13:9 says, “It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace.”

Q: Is there a subtler, maybe even hidden lesson you hope readers consider as well?

I think there are many. A fictional story has the power to slip into a reader’s skin and enable her to see nuances of understanding that make life as broad and beautiful as God intended. I didn’t intentionally write hidden lessons, but when readers slip into a character’s world, they often discover things the author didn’t see. As readers, personal insight is our superpower.

Q: Some people who have never read Amish fiction usually have a certain perception of the genre without giving it a chance. What would you say to encourage new readers to branch out and try the Amish of Summer Grove series?

I would say they may be missing out on some of the best reads of their lives. In any genre, there are different types of books. I’d like to think this series goes deeper than most and leaves readers breathless, thinking they were going on one journey and discovering they went on an entirely different one. I enter the Amish world and lift the veil of presupposition, not showing readers what they expected to see, but showing them a very different reality — one I hope builds faith inside their own lives.

The Amish way of life challenges us to consider more than the mantra of self-discovery and self-rule. When we get a peek into their way of life, we can begin to understand how and why they put sacrificial action behind their beliefs. At the same time, we take a journey into a world that struggles to uphold all the previous generation upheld. The heart cry of the faithful in every generation, whether Amish or Englisch (non-Amish/non-Plain), is to do what is best for the family, the faith community and those we influence. We learn how the Amish pass their faithfulness from one generation to the next while we see the weaknesses of trying to have too tight of a grip on the next generation. The determination and struggles of the Amish are a clear depiction of our struggle with the world around us.

Cindy Woodsmall, author of "Gathering the Threads"

Q: Gathering the Threads is the third and final book in your Amish of Summer Grove series. Is it difficult for you to end a series and leave the characters behind?

Yes and no. After three books there are many pieces to put together and many facets of the story to juggle and remember. It’s a bit of a relief to get to start a fresh story, but at the same time, it feels like I’m saying good-bye to close friends. How can I not write any more about Ari, Quill and Skylar? Possible spin-offs about their future lives fill my mind when I close my eyes at night, even though it’s not feasible to bring those to the page right now. The good thing about book-friends is they are always there on the page and in my heart whenever I want to visit them.

Q: Can you share a little bit about the book you are you writing next?

I just finished writing my first non-Amish novella with my daughter-in-law, Erin. It comes out in October and is titled The Gift of Christmas Past. I’m currently writing a full-length non-Amish book that will release in the fall of 2018. Its working title is Soft Dusks and Noonday Fire, and the setting will be the beautiful St. Simons Island, Georgia. I have an amusing, spunky cast of characters I think my readers will enjoy getting to know.

Learn more about Woodsmall and her books at www.cindywoodsmall.com. She is also active on Facebook (@authorcindywoodsmall).

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