Saturday, December 29, 2012

Mama was the Queen of Christmas with Linda Gilden

Mama Was the Queen of Christmas!
We're happy to supply you with a fun Christmas article and recipe to be used on your blog or in your newsletter or publication. We've also included some background on the book, in case you'd like to spotlight that information. If you do chose to use the article on your site, please also include the author bio. Feel free to use the book and/or author photo as well. Contact Linda directly if you need her to send you the material in some other format. And if you're interested in reviewing the book, request a review copy from her.
One reader says: “Mama Was the Queen of Christmas combines the art of storytelling, enthusiastic instruction, and family fun to inspire you and equip you for a meaningful, Jesus-filled holiday.”

Author: Linda J. Gilden
Retail: $12.95 (book)
Publisher: OakTara
October 26, 2012
ISBN-10: 1602903506
ISBN-13: 978-1602903500
(November, 2012 – Spartanburg, SC) Do you love Christmas but feel the real meaning of the season is lost in the busyness? Do you breathe a sigh of relief when the last holiday guest is out the door, the last gift unwrapped, and the last ornament put away? Do you struggle with balancing the preparation and celebration with honoring Jesus? After all, it is His birthday!

Mama Was the Queen of Christmas is a collection of stories highlighting “Mama's” role in the season as well as quotes, scripture, and practical suggestions for keeping the holidays focused on Christ. Mama presents creative ideas to plan a meaningful holiday season.

  • “For the Queen” helps the reader focus on the truth of each story. This feature includes suggestions for the reader to implement that truth in his or her life.
  • “For the King” points the reader to the One whose birth we celebrate through a personal activity.
  • “For the Court” suggests family activities to apply the truth in each story.

Article & Recipe Available for Your Use
A Game for All
Adapted from the recently released book, Mama Was the Queen of Christmas
by Linda Gilden
How will all the little holiday extras ever get done? I ask myself that question every year. And as much as I enjoy the holidays, there seems to be so little time.
One year I decided to let go of expectations and concentrate on celebrating Jesus. I came up with a plan to accomplish a lot of the extras in a very short time. I created a game!
“Come on, everyone,” I said. “We are going to play a game.”
There was minor grumbling but in the end everyone agreed a family game would be fun. And I was so excited about the end result!
“Just give me an hour of your time,” I said. “Then you can get back to your homework.”
I found a cute Christmas container and deposited little slips of paper, each describing a job.
“I am going to set a timer for twenty minutes,” I said. “When you draw a slip of paper, you have twenty minutes to work at your job. When the bell rings, you will choose another job and change what you are doing. In an hour, you will have helped me with three pre-Christmas chores.”
The papers in the container had jobs like:
  1. Position the electric candles in the windows.
  2. Put the greenery on the mantle downstairs.
  3. Wrap presents. (Not your own, although most were willing!)
  4. A smile face. This job was really important. The person who got the smile was to circulate, serve refreshments, and make sure everyone was having fun.
  5. Address Christmas cards.
  6. Plan a family activity that will help us concentrate on the real meaning of the season such as memorize the Christmas story from Luke, find someone to share the season with who hasn’t yet met the Savior, concentrate on a different aspect of Jesus’ birth in daily devotions, etc.
  7. Make a Christmas goodie or edible treat. My family favorite is “Rocks!”
Christmas music playing in the background created a festive and jovial mood.
As it turned out, everybody was a winner in this game. The family gathered in the kitchen for a sample of “rocks,” pointing out that we had become happy little elves, proudly creating an atmosphere of merriment for the holidays.
Are there things you can do to make this holiday season less stressed for you and your family?
RECIPE: Rocks – Favorite Holiday Treat!
2 cups chocolate chips
1 ½ cups dry roasted peanuts
½ cup peanut butter
(1) 12.3 oz. box Crispix cereal
Confectioners Sugar
  1. Melt chocolate in a large bowl in microwave oven. Heat on high for 1 minute. Stir well. Heat 30 seconds more or as needed to melt chocolate. Stir until smooth. (Chocolate could also be melted in a double boiler over low heat on the stove.)
  2. Add peanut butter and stir until well blended.
  3. Add peanuts and cereal and mix until thoroughly coated. A wooden spoon works best for this.
  4. Put confectioner’s sugar in a plastic bag. Add cereal mixture, close bag tightly, and shake gently until mixture is coated with sugar. If you do a third of the mixture at a time, it is easier to handle.
  5. Makes a lot! Store in an airtight container. Enjoy!

About the Author:
Linda Gilden’s favorite season is Christmas. But, truthfully, she and her family like to celebrate all year long, so can it really be called a season? Growing up in a home where the spirit of Christmas prevailed throughout the year, she knows she is blessed to have married a man who shares the same philosophy—Jesus is not just for a season but for a lifetime! Linda is the author of over a thousand magazine articles and several other books, such as Love Notes in Lunchboxes, Love Notes on His Pillow, and Mommy Pick-Me-Ups (all by New Hope Publishers), but Mama Was the Queen of Christmas is one she has wanted to write for a long time. Her heart’s desire is to see families enjoy each other and make memories no matter what the season. Linda lives in South Carolina with her husband, three grown children and children-in-law, four grandchildren, and a granddog, all of whom love Christmas as much as she does!
Linda J. Gilden
Author & Speaker

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Five Questions with fantasy author Chris Hibbard

Five Questions with Chris Hibbard

Welcome Chris who shares about his new book, Journey to Terreldor, which happens to have lots of special goodies in the offering today for those who purchase the book on Amazon.

But visit here first. Other prizes include a free Kindle.

Join Mark and his brother as they find themselves in a strange world filled with impossibility and adventure. Faced with tragedy and trial, Mark is forced to draw upon strengths and develop skills he never expected himself capable of. The brothers are taken in by mentors who claim to hold the secrets of true wisdom and maturity. In their endeavors, they learn the most difficult lessons in life are often found on the path home.

Begin the adventure in Journey to Terreldor, then follow these brothers as they are cast into peril in Terreldor at War. Discover the culmination of their odyssey in The Long Path Home.

ISBN: 0615643825


What do you love about this book?

[Chris] I love being able to engage readers through entertainment, while bringing them topics to ponder--relevant topics I hope they will appreciate.

What have you learned about writing and yourself since you started this book?

[Chris] Writing is easy--editing is hard. I've learned how to engage a larger audience, and to leave them with something they didn't have before they picked up my book.

Tell about your latest release.

[Chris] Journey to Terreldor is the first volume in the "Adventures in Terreldor" trilogy. It is centered on a teenager who finds himself in a strange world, with no memories of how he arrived. As he discovers this new world, he finds himself caught up in a conflict that threatens to divide a kingdom, and destroy many lives in the balance. He learns life's most difficult lessons are often found on the path home.

What three things do you know now about the publishing world that you wish you knew when you first started?

[Chris] How random the selection process can be. (Never give up.)

Marketing a book can be as difficult as writing it.

Indie writers need a community of support for gaining exposure.


What are the five best things writers can do to meet the challenges of the 21st century?

Recognize a "top-5" publisher doesn't offer as much as they used to, in today's increasingly digital world

Give something away before you try to sell your work

Learn to better edit your manuscripts

Plan on doing plenty of research; you need to be knowledgeable to write well.

Grammar, grammar, and more grammar.

Chris M. Hibbard was born in the suburbs of New Jersey, the second of three brothers. His family soon moved to Alaska, where he grew up scrambling over the mountains and beaches of a remote village wedged between thickly wooded peaks and deep fjords. His childhood shaped in him an early love for family and the outdoors, and inspired such hobbies as wildlife photography, grafting fruit trees, and horticulture.
His first novel began as a collection of stories he invented to entertain his children. He, his wife and four children make their home in the Piney Woods of Texas.
To find more about the written works of Chris M. Hibbard and check for publishing updates, visit

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Map Quilt Giveaway!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Map Quilt by Lisa J. Lickel

The Map Quilt

by Lisa J. Lickel

Giveaway ends December 20, 2012.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

Book Review: The Big Red Chair by Brenda J Wood

The Big Red Chair: A story for Grieving Children
Including audio CD of the story narrated by the author inthe print version

By Brenda J Wood

ISBN: 9780986531385
c. 2011
Alloway’s Printing and Publishing
32-page photo picture book

$3.99 eBook
Print can be ordered from

Wood’s charming story in rhyme features Grandfather Afi’s Big Red Chair. The chair is special for all family members, for hugs, naps, playtime; even laundry.

The tale begins with “We did not want a big red chair” until the time came Grandmother Ammi decides she would like the chair since Afi does. When Afi needs to be in the hospital, he misses his Big Red Chair. And when God calls Afi home, the rest of the family remember Afi’s love, especially when they use his chair.

More than a family tale, Wood’s book shares the love of a special grandfather who leaves fond memories in the everyday item they all enjoyed: his favorite chair. The pictures used to illustrate the book are a treasure and nearly any family can relate to them. A discussion guide meant to help young ones recall their friends or family members with love is included.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Forty Days of Encouragement, with Pauline Creeden

By Pauline Creeden 

Forty days of Recovering Grace


AltWit Press
C. 2012 

ISBN: 978-1480030725
$2.99 Kindle
$8.99 Paperback

Creeden’s dedication, “For those who, like me, find themselves in the middle of the lake of life without a paddle” says a lot about what to expect in this nifty little guide of forty days’ worth of lessons to change a habit of poor choices.

From the opening lesson of choosing to draw near to God through better prayer through cutting off “unfruitful” aspects of our lives, to doing what we are commanded to being teachable and seeking forgiveness and grace when we need it, each day opens with Scripture and ends with prayer – a habit in itself easy to seek.

This encouraging guide may be small but packs a huge impressive punch. You will certainly be uplifted and challenged as you read through these days and practice each lesson. Definitely a good gift to share with someone you love.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Jolly Days of Reading

And now...
The Jolly Days of Reading
a special Hop with the clients of literary agent Linda S. Glaz, of Hartline Literary

December 7, the Day After St. Nick's...

I belong to two local book clubs because I need to keep my reading habits expanded beyond, if given a choice, I'd probably just eat chocolate chip pancakes for the rest of my life (although there are a lot of things one can do with a pancake....) and need to read some classics and non-fiction instead of a steady diet of fiction that includes dragons.

So, in the month of December in each club we're reading a different holiday book.

Fannie Flagg's Redbird Christmas, and
Eowyn Ivey's The Snow Child

The Snow Child is now out in paperback

I loved the Russian fable of the snow child, so I was excited to read The Snow Child, a story about Alaskan homesteaders in the 1920s who couldn't have children of their own, thier dreams and play, and the little girl, Faina, who shows up on their doorstep. It's new, published 2012 by Little, Brown, and Co.

And honestly, after I read it, this book is my favorite of the year. I read quite a that tells ya something. I don't generall recommend books, either: BUT I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS ONE.

Fannie Flagg has a different take on life, for sure...but we had a good discussion about her story, published 2004, about Oswald T. Campbell who leaves Chicago one winter after getting a stunning diagnosis, to head south to Lost River for what he believes will be his last Christmas. The book was sort of cute, probably set during the fifties, had nothing to do with Christmas and was rather two-dimensional. I liked it okay, don't get me wrong. It was okay to sit down and have someone tell me a story. There were not layers nor enchantment. It was just a little story.

Other favorites of mine include Charles Dickens's classic A Christmas Carol. I love all the different interpretations of it over the years on television and in the theater.

O Henry's Gift of the Magi is another one - irony, fable, warning...we're treating ourselves to a live performance of the play this year for our Christmas gift, to American Players Theater in Spring Green, Wisconsin.

And finally, besides, of course, Luke's version of the birth in a stable, I think often of the Hans Christian Andersen tale, The Little Match Girl. I remember being absolutely horrified and weeping when I first read it as a little girl, and my mother having to comfort me, but now, I think of it fondly as a lesson in reality and comfort in knowing what comes after this life.

Enjoy a couple of chapters from The Map Quilt

Map Quilt 2 chapters

Merry Christmas!

Two of my books are on sale for the season for $2.99 each

And my co-conspirator on A Summer in Oakville has a very, very sweet Christmas novella for .99:
Grudges Not Included

Visit these sites to learn about other favorites!

15 - Karla Akins
19 - Patty Wysong --  
20 - Tamara Lynn Kraft  -

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Next Big Thing Blog Hop - following Carrie Padget

The Next Big Thing Blog Hop

I’m following in the blogsteps of the fabulous Carrie Padgett, who posted about Against the Peace last week.

Today, I’d like to share a bit about my new mystery coming out in 2013, for which I just received a front cover design:


What is the working title of your book?
Meow Mayhem

Where did the idea come from for the book?
As I was writing my Buried Treasure cozy mystery series, I started researching cats and stumbled across this really intriguing breed of ancient cats, Egyptian Mau, literally domesticated by the Egyptians. Coffee, books, cats all just came together and I went from there.

What genre does your book fall under?
Cozy mystery

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Yeah…tough one for me, as I have a picture in my head of what my characters are like, but I don’t usually base them on people/characters I’ve seen. I think Ivy is much like a not-serious Juliana Margulies and True, her boyfriend, is on the wounded-Billy-Burke type.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Ivy Preston keeps other people’s secrets for a living.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
It was contracted by Whimsical Publications.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I tend to write pretty quickly once I have all the research in place, though this book underwent a few re-writes. I think I spent about ten weeks on it.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Cozy mysteries by definition take place in smaller, intimate communities and have sleuths who are not professional law-enforcement or trained people. Meow Mayhem is somewhat like Deb Baker’s Doll Collector mysteries, and a bit like Mignon Ballard’s books.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

I love little quaint coffee and book shops, and cats, and small towns, so it was fun to come up with a story that used all of those elements.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

The breed of cat, Egyptian Mau, is unique, so people who like cats might enjoy the antics of these cats. Apple Grove is a small town trying to come back to life and filled with fun people who like what they know and have a bit of suspicion about anything new.

For your reading pleasure, please go visit my fabulous faithful friend next week, December 12:

Susan Baganz:

and new Whimsical writer friend,
Brieanna Denton at:

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Promise of Deer Run - a special gift for a history lover

Tuesday, December 4, 2011, Free eGifts Today Only

When you purchase
The Legacy of Deer Run

ASIN: B0081984UK

ISBN-10: 098388367X
ISBN-13: 978-0983883678

  • by Elaine Marie Cooper

The Year is 1800.

A young man makes weapons for the defense of America, still a fledgling nation. He also protects his heart from the allure of a young woman who seems so far above his station in life that he cannot win her.
The lady fights her own war against loneliness and grief. Despite her finery and airs, she is drawn to the young armory worker, who is distant yet disarming.
Love is the not the only entanglement. The nation's enemies are afoot. They creep within the very walls where America's defenses are being forged. Who are they? When will they strike? Who will survive their terrorism?
Intrigue of the heart and intrigue of the times are only part of this compelling story-Book 3 of the Deer Run Saga. This series finale is a gripping mix of romance and deception, faith and forgiveness, transgression and trial.

What Readers Are Saying!
This is a stellar read of the early American period. Elaine Cooper is a gifted wordsmith who brings the era to life vividly and leaves you wanting more. Bravo!
--Laura Frantz, Author, Love's Reckoning
"A plot to wound the baby nation of America, trusted friends who turn into enemies, death, faith, and life, all blend into a tragic yet beautiful tale of life and passion in 1800."
-- Lisa J. Lickel, Author, The Map Quest
"It's no wonder Elaine Marie Cooper is an award-winning author. Her writing shines with an artistic flair to blend deep-heart issues with light romance, love and adventure. Danny and Susannah capture the heart with their innocent love, yet honor and faith. Their story resonates with courage, commitment, faith and victory."
--Janet Perez Eckles, Author, Simply Salsa
Legacy of Deer Run is a truly beautiful, heart-warming tale that will appeal to readers who enjoy historical romantic Christian fiction.
--Lynn Dove, Author, the Wounded Trilogy

Elaine Marie Cooper is the author of The Road to Deer Run (Finalist in Next Generation Indie Book Awards for Religious Fiction, Honorable Mention in Romance at 2011 Los Angeles Book Festival) and The Promise of Deer Run (Romance Winner for 2012 Los Angeles Book Festival, Finalist in Religious Fiction for ForeWord Review Book of the Year).
Cooper is also a contributing writer for Fighting Fear: Winning the War at Home by Edie Melson. Look for her upcoming short story, "The Tea Set," that will appear in a soon-to-be-released Christmas anthology called, I Choose You (Dec. 2012) She is a wife, mom, Grammie to triplets, and a registered nurse.

The Legacy of Deer Run is Elaine Marie Cooper's third book in the Deer Run Saga. She will be offering free gifts to those that purchase this book at Amazon on Tuesday, December 4 when they go to her page at Be sure to save your receipt number from your Amazon purchase in order to obtain the free gifts offered! You can also purchase directly from Sword of the Spirit Publishing on December 4th at a special low price. See the above link for details.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Lost in the Woods: new preteen book free this weekend

Cheryl Rogers, author of a new series aimed at pre-teens, starting with Lost in the Woods, which you can get free today, Monday, and Tuesday on Kindle.

Lost in the Woods: A Bible Camp Mystery, a brand new mystery adventure for preteens and teens, is available for free this black Friday weekend in the Amazon Kindle Store.

The book set in the Florida backwoods is the story about a boys’ church group whose first-ever nature retreat turns into a nightmare. Problems begin early when the no-see-ums strike at dusk. And it’s downhill from there when 13-year-old Zack mysteriously disappears in the middle of the night, several of the campers become sick, and a hurricane threatens the Gulf Coast.

The story shares biblical principles and the message of God’s saving love in an action-packed plot with a cast of lovable characters. Readers encounter the nature-loving Zack, shy, video-loving Chang, tough and cocky Steve, and the reluctant chef, Bill.

The book is written by Cheryl Rogers, publisher of New Christian Books Online Magazine, a free publication with new book announcements, excerpts, author marketing news, digital book news, features and an online storefront.
“As a mom I’ve been privileged to work with school and church groups. I try to capture the realism of those experiences in a fiction account that shares my faith,” Rogers says.

Rogers, a Miami native who worked several years as a newspaper reporter, writes ebooks encouraging people of all ages to seek God and stay connected to his word. Among her books are Finding God: Biblical Answers to Questions About Our Maker and Fast Track to Victory, A Christian Guidebook.

She targets preteens and teens with Just Like Jonah Wail Tales, a collection of short stories teaching there is a price to pay when you disobey. A family book, the I Can See Christian Storybook Treasury aims to defeat doubts about God as a child grows.

Rogers came to know the Lord as an adult after suffering a devastating illness. “It is my hope to spare others the needless pain of not having God in their lives,” she says.

An experienced camper and native Floridian, Rogers has traversed the backwoods trails, swatted no-see-ums, paddled canoes, and pitched her tent on primitive campsites sans electricity.

The book retails for $2.99, but Get your free copy today. The giveaway runs Nov. 23, 24, and 25.
Exclusive details about the lovable Bible Camp Mystery characters will be published in the coming weeks at New Christian Books Online Magazine.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Next Big Thing Blog Hop, following Linda Glaz

The Next Big Thing Blog Hop

I’m following the fabulous Linda Glaz from , who shared about her prequel to her World War II novels, the romance that led up to the characters in those stories. Sounds like fun!

I’m sharing today about the next book in my Buried Treasure series, due out in 2013. Writing has finally become an okay full-time business for me, nine years after I said I'd give it a year and a half. Keep writing, keep producing, keep doing the best you can, network, like this, make friends, help others. Use common sense, and have fun!

What is the working title of your book?
The Newspaper Code

Where did the idea come from for the book?

The third in a series, this story clears up some leftover questions in the second book. Judy found an old quilt in a trunk in her attic that turned out to be stuffed with an old newspaper, one that had some letters circled in an article. The circled letters, were, of course a code. I came up with the idea from studying about the Civil War era in American history, how messages were created and sent during that time.

What genre does your book fall under?
Cozy mystery.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Ah…I don’t often think this way, so…Judy is kind of a sensitive Amy Adams-type; while Olivia is clueless but engaging Ellen Page-ish.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Judy Wingate’s NOT-BFF, Olivia Hargrove of the Robertsville Reporter, discovers a Civil War-era secret newspaper code that may lead to seven million dollars of missing city money.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

It’s contracted by the publisher who picked up the mystery series from Barbour.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
Four years – which is terrible of me; but I took a three-year break after I got half-way; in reality, less than six months. Brenda Hendricks (see below) was my supporter and loyal critique partner during the first half, and Gail Pallotta (also see beloe) has stepped in as chief accountability and critique partner during the second half. It’s been a joy and relief seeing my story unfold through the eyes of these wonderful authors.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
A little like the Cat Who mysteries, and Hannah Reed’s Queen Bee mysteries.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?
The mysteries were initially inspired by Barbour Publishing’s Heartsong Presents: Mysteries book club. As I met other mystery writers and learned about the style of writing, I was inspired by people like Deb Baker and re-explored Agatha Christie with fresh eyes, reminded myself of the Nancy Drew-type stories and pacing for the coziness of approach.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
The story is one of learning to fit in and make friends. Olivia is a bit clueless about how to deal with people, and Judy isn’t sure she wants anything to do with Olivia on a personal level, but the women come to respect and help each other, and to step away from their prejudices.

I encourage you to visit these authors who will post about their upcoming work next week:

Gail Palotta - - whom I've had the pleasure of working with both at Other Sheep and Clash of the Titles (, writes a lot like me, certainly a challenge to keep all our genres in order. I enjoy her sense of outside the box, as well as her vulnerability.

Shelley Wilburn - - really, friends, just visiting Shelley's site and seeing the picture and reading about her and her husband's activities is worth the visit!

Brenda K Hendricks - - who's working on a very, very cool story, one you won't want to miss: Maggie’s greatest worry is a leaky roof before her estranged niece Dawn shows up unexpectedly with more baggage than she could squeeze in the trunk of her Volkswagen bug.


Saturday, November 17, 2012

Guest Post from Joanie Shawhan

Welcome, my friend, Joanie!

Joanie Shawhan is an ovarian cancer survivor and a registered nurse. She writes articles of encouragement for women undergoing chemotherapy and is available for speaking engagements. Two of her articles have recently appeared in Coping with Cancer magazine. Joanie enjoys designing jewelry, knitting, and playing guitar.


Swinging in a “Swing” State
            Swings. Swings conjure up memories of my carefree childhood. Higher and higher I flew. I grabbed the chains, pumped my feet and sang at the top of my lungs. But life in a “swing” state has violated this childlike innocence.
            A new kind of violence has emerged–political assassination. Traditional commercials bowed to scandalmongering campaign ads. Even Fact Check struggled to sift the truth from the lies.
            Debates replaced primetime shows, making the boxing ring appear to be a two-step. Shout. Sneer. Interrupt. Raise a fist. The match is on! Fight over, (oops, debate over). A winner declared.
            The presidential campaign trail led to my city not once, but twice! With two large lakes surrounding us, the traffic was rerouted to make way for the entourage of 18 police motorcycles, two black limos with darkened windows, followed by a train of white vans loaded with the press corps. We waited at stoplights while the lights changed from red, to green, to red… No alternate route. Streets barricaded. The 9-5 work force hindered. For security reasons, university classes cancelled.
            Robo callers barraged my voicemail with unsolicited political opinions. “Unknown Number” inundated my private phone line, overtaking the volume of personal calls. As the election approached the finish line, I performed the one act that any self-respecting person would do­–take the phone off the hook.
            Now, the election is over. Promises made only to be broken. The other driver, my only traffic hindrance. Verbal assaults and slander return to the soap operas, violence to primetime. The phone is silent. (Did I put it back on the hook?). Chili’s fired-up favorites, adventures in the F4 pick-up and the breakfast of champions have made a peaceful return to my commercial screen. With multiple reruns, education for the aging population is underway once again featuring Boniva, Ginkgo Biloba, Lifeline and Depends.
            Santa, snowmen and twinkling Christmas lights will soon replace glaring yard signs. Life is back to normal in the “swing” state.


Friday, November 16, 2012

Book Review: Hidden in the Heart by Cathy West

Hidden in the Heart

Paperback: 248 pages
Publisher: OakTara (September 15, 2012)
ISBN-10: 1602903298
ISBN-13: 978-1602903296

From the publisher:

Everything Claire wants seems to be beyond her reach... After losing her mother to cancer and suffering a miscarriage soon after, Claire Ferguson numbs the pain with alcohol and pills, and wonders if her own life is worth living. Adopted at birth, Claire is convinced she has some unknown genetic flaw that may have been the cause of her miscarriage. She must find a way to deal with the guilt she harbors. But exoneration will come with a price. With her marriage in trouble and her father refusing to answer any questions about her adoption, Claire begins the search for her birth mother. For the first time in her life, she really wants to know where she came from. But what if the woman who gave her life doesn't want to be found?


My review:

Cathy West seems to excel at poking for your heart, cutting it into tiny little pieces, ripping out your guts and sewing it all back together with a little extra love and admiration added in.

No sophomore syndrome for this author, in my opinion. Right from the start of West’s new novel, Hidden in the Heart, I walked with Claire, who was completely out of control with grief and fear and loss of identity despite having everything most people only dream of. She certainly wasn’t likeable, nor could she even like herself. In her determination to find a cause or someone to blame for her miscarriage she sets out to find her birth parents.

West drew the threads of her story together tactfully. It wasn’t hard to figure out who was who, but, rather, the novel was more an exploration of who they became. Why do we abandon the things or people we love? Only from great depths can people rise to new freedom, and sometimes only when we are offered a second chance to revisit our past can we learn to forgive ourselves, let alone the people we wound.

Claire might have had everything from a husband determined to love her no matter how self-destructive and hatefully embarrassing she’d become, wealth and a loving home, but she threw it all away in order to search for answers to fill the hole in her identity, even if the rest of her birth family is determined to keep secrets or bent on revealing the worst of themselves. Readers shouldn’t be surprised at the real conclusions, but will certainly grieve and rejoice with Claire and her new-found sense of self and family.

West says her novel is very loosely on her own experiences of being adopted. I’ve come to admire this author for her realism, the depth of character and the beauty-in-the-face-of-ugliness of her story lines. Well done.


About the author

Catherine West is an award-winning author writing inspirational stories of hope and healing from her island home in Bermuda. Educated in Bermuda, England and Canada, Catherine holds a degree in English from the University of Toronto. Her first novel, Yesterday's Tomorrow, released in 2011, her second, Hidden in the Heart, in September, 2012. When she's not at the computer working on her next story, you can find her taking her Border Collie for long walks or tending to her roses and orchids. She and her husband have two college-aged children. Catherine is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America, and is represented by Rachelle Gardner of Books & Such Literary. Catherine loves to connect with her readers and can be reached at

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Lighten Up Day!

Living in the Light/Dwelling in His Presence
by Rhonda Rhea
excerpt from Chapter 14 of:
How Many Lightbulbs Does It Take to Change a Person?
I admit it, I’m a cruise fan. I love everything about it. Especially the food. A cruise and overeating go together like a hand in glove. Well more accurately, they go together like a size ten hand in a size two glove. All the gourmet food you can eat, for crying out loud! I guess I was just asking for a trip back to maternity pants. I now refer to myself as “17 years post-partum.” The staff on the ship said the average person gains seven to ten pounds on a seven-day cruise. But then, I’ve always considered myself an overachiever.
On prime rib night, my husband and I were walking out of the dining room and, even though he was about to let his belt out a notch, Richie said he was thinking of ordering yet another prime rib. Another one! I figured that could cost him at least another two belt notches. I told him I thought that would be a mistake.
Get it? Prime rib? “Mis-steak”?
Anytime we’re going to overdo, though, it’s good to make sure we’re “overdoing” in all the right areas. First Thessalonians 4:1 talks about living right to please God and then it says, “Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more.” To do and to overdo. It’s an encouragement to keep growing. Not so much growing in the “bring on the elastic waistbands” kind of growth. But growing in maturity.
We grow as we seek to stay in the light, dwelling in the presence of the Lord, making sure our lives are for Him and all about Him. Our growth is not an option. It’s a command. Verse 7 in that same passage in 1 Thessalonians says, “For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit.”
Rejecting His instruction? Rejecting the Father Himself? Mistake of the highest order.
Growing in Him and dwelling in His presence results in a life in which growing “a notch or two” spiritually is a regular happening. The good kind of growth. And seeking that consistency in growth diligently.
There’s a lot at stake. Sometimes also a lot at steak.

Rhonda Rhea is a radio personality, humor columnist, conference/event speaker and author of eight books, including I’m Dreaming of Some White Chocolate, High Heels in High Places, and her newest, How Many Lightbulbs Does It Take to Change a Person? She is presently working on her ninth nonfiction book, scheduled to release in early 2013, and just this week got a yes from a publishing board on a two-book fiction deal co-authored with her daughter, Kaley Faith Rhea. Rhonda is a pastor’s wife and mother of five mostly grown children. She chuckles through the hubbub with pastor/hubby, Richie Rhea, near St. Louis in Troy, Missouri.
About Rhonda's Latest Book:
How Many Lightbulbs Does It Take to Change a Person?—Bright Ideas for Delightful Transformation (New Hope Publishers, 2012). Author and speaker, Patsy Clairmont, calls the book “high voltage humor along with a biblical charge.”
In Ephesians 1:18, Paul prays, “that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened.” One version calls it “light” that will “flood your hearts.” God shines so much of His light through Scripture so that we can see—we can have understanding.
For every person longing for a change, for everyone who is getting weary in a grisly struggle to make a particular change, God-given enlightenment makes possible real change in every way. Lasting change.
The God who is powerful enough to create light, then create the sun—the God who keeps the sun blazing and the stars and moon reflecting—that same God is powerful enough, caring enough, and detail-minded enough to light our way. He wants to show us the path of change, and He longs to light the way for us in His magnificent plan for our lives.
How Many Lightbulbs Does It Take to Change a Person is a laugh-along-the-way journey into that light through God’s Word. His Word? Now there’s some enlightening! And I hear enlightening has even been known to strike twice in the same place.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Book Review: Debut Action Thriller

The Diaries of Pontius Pilate

c. August 2012
Trestle Press
Genre: Contemporary Thriller
e-Book $4.99





The Diaries of Pontius Pilate opens with the murder of a member of an archeological team along the shores of the Dead Sea. We learn that the murderer and victim are both spies observing the expedition and grappling with the fact that the team has just discovered some controversial artifacts.

In fact, archaeologists Kevin Elliot Jill Gates have unearthed twenty mysterious copper scrolls. They manage to open one scroll far enough to take a series of digital photographs of the writings and email them to a Professor of Ancient Latin for translation. Unaware of the content, Kevin and Jill are unprepared when they’re caught between an ancient conspiracy of global power that’s determined to destroy the scrolls along with everyone connected to them and a small interfaith group of former military volunteers, the only force on earth that stands between the truth and certain death.


My review:

Joseph Max Lewis, former Green Beret, debuts with a page-turning thriller. Although the author asked for a review and sent a review copy, I did purchase the e-book.

Diaries is part conspiracy theory, part archaeology, part special ops and technological suspense with some torture and a little romance.

The reader is sent between international and inter-denominational power groups, but it’s not clear at first who are the good guys and which are the bad, which only ramps the tension. Moving through Israel, the US, academia, and anonymous torture chambers where evil reigns, readers gradually learn along with archaeologists Kevin and Jill exactly the importance of the long-held secret they unearthed. Never published, documented, or even more than faintly rumored, the existence of Pontius Pilate’s, one-time Roman ruler of Palestine at the time of Christ,  investigation into the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus could affect the faith of the world. Pilate hid the diaries perhaps too well, for they lay silent for two thousand years, along with other artifacts from that horrible time.

Running from those who want to destroy evidence of the diaries and anyone who knows about them, Kevin and Jill must figure out who to trust as they are forced into close quarters on a ship. They wonder if they can even trust each other. Over the course of time, they examine their feelings as well as matters of faith while trying to keep the scrolls safe.

Diaries is not for the faint of heart, as scenes of massacre and torture are somewhat graphic. Intriguing details of military operations are detailed, as one would expect given the author’s background. Little formatting glitches and occasional other errors don’t stop the action much; I occasionally buzzed through extra-long passages of technology which others would probably enjoy. The romantic relationship was a little rough and spastic, but the story was not meant to be built around a romance, and those elements will only get better in future work, I suspect. I look forward to more from this author.