…because with twenty-four hours in a day its the only fiction you have time to read

 Kristen HeitzmannIndelible by Kristen Heitzmann 

Natalie Reeve is a gifted sculptor whose ability stems from a unique disability.  When her brother helps her buy a home and business in the peaceful mountain community of Redford, what she hopes for is  tranquility.  How was she to know that events would so quickly spiral out of control.

Trevor MacDaniel is searching for two elderly hikers that seem to be lost when he comes across a dire situation.  A mountain lion has snatched a toddler from the trail where he was walking with his father and aunt.   The decision to put his life on the line to save the boy requires no contemplation.  Having lost his little brother to a horrific accident years ago, he’s not about to let another family go through that kind of pain if he can help it.

The lives of these two are seemingly thrown together when Natalie and Trevor realize that not only did he rescue her nephew, but their businesses are next door as well.  The more time they spend together, the more they see that they may be just what each other needs.  When Trevor is stalked and Natalie is attacked by the stalker she may have seen, their worlds collide in a way neither of them saw coming.

This is an enjoyable story, and I found myself not wanting to put it down at times, but the beginning is not quite up to Kristen Heitzmanns best work.  The story started out with an impressive scene that was not carried out as good as it could have been, and it took too much time to see how the different threads were fitting together.  I definitely enjoyed the book, but although I was expecting it to be a five-star read, it really was more of a four-star.

This book was provided to me by the publisher, Waterbrook Press.  All opinions rendered are my own.

Michael BerrierJason Dunn thinks he know whats going on–he wasn’t born yesterday.  When he finds love notes from his wife to another man, he thinks affair, not set up (like she claims). 

 Little by little things in Jason’s life begin going so-right, and yet at the same time so-wrong.  His most despised co-worker becomes his boss, he gains a beautiful new assistant, his recently released jailbird brother is causing all kinds of trouble for him, and he finds a loophole that if he should take it, will net him enough money to last many lifetimes. 

What he would have never thought have doing at one time becomes a bit easier with every baby step, every little sin, every bit of twisted reasoning.  Now comes the big step, the one he won’t ever be able to undo.  Will he take it, or will something happen to change the path he’s headed down.

I feel like I should have had a crash course in banking and high finance before reading this book.  There was way to much bank-speak.  Also, this was definitely a book written with men in mind.  It is highly plot driven, and the characters are left swimming in shallow water. 

I was not comfortable with how the intimacy was described in the book.  If as it seemed it was truly written for men, then it would draw even more of a visual than I felt it did.  Although not excessive by mainstream standards, for a christian publisher it was awfuly close to the line.

  Overall I just did not enjoy this book, but I must admit that the writing skill was excellent and Michael Berrier has a lot of potential.  I will be looking out to see what he writes in the future.

3 Stars

This book was provided to me by the publishers through NetGalley.  All opinions rendered are my own.

Lisa T. BergrenWaterfall by Lisa T. Bergren

reviewed by Megan–a teen who devours books

Teenage sisters Gabi and Lia Betarrini are spending the summer in Italy.  Sounds like fun right?  It would be, except that they’re spending it with their mom at an archaeological sit–the same thing they do every summer.  Because they’re bored, Gabi and Lia start exploring an ancient tomb when they come across a hand print. When they touch it, somehow the hand print tosses them back in time to  the fourteenth  century.

Getting separated from Lia, Gabi finds herself in a the middle of a war between two families.  She meets  Sir Marcello Forelli who takes her back to his family’s castle.  Not sure how to explain what has happened, Gabi explains that she has been separated from her family.  Unsure of how to get home, she begins to discover life in fourteenth century Italy, with long fancy dresses, no indoor plumping, and being called Lady Betarrini.  But when Gabi discovers herself falling for both the time period and Sir Marcello  she begins to wonder if she will ever find her sister or get to go back to the twenty-first century.

I really enjoyed this book, even though I usually prefer action and suspense over romance.  It felt like I had really been transported to fourteenth century Italy.  It felt very real. I would definitely recommend this to my friends.  It was very well written.     4 stars

This book was provided to me by the publisher, David C. Cook  All opinions rendered are my own.

Eric Wilson

One Step AwayAlthough Eric Wilson was born in California, and grew up in Oregon, his most enduring memories revolve around the time he lived in Europe where his parents served as missionaries, smuggling Bibles behind the Iron Curtain. He found life to be an adventure with all the different exotic cultures and people he came into contact with. 

During Junior high and High School, Eric found himself back in the states.  After graduation, he took time to travel in Eastern Europe and China, before returning to attend  Life Pacific College in California. Eric WilsonEric Wilson

During his junior year of college, a childhood friend began attending, and within months they were married. Twenty years and two daughters later, Eric and his family live in Nashville, TN where he and his wife still enjoy going on dates. 

 From an early age, Eric knew he wanted to be a Eric WilsonEric Wilsonwriter. He is passionate about telling stories about real characters who struggle with life’s questions and are thrown into some very suspenseful situations.  He also likes exploring earth’s ongoing tension between heaven and hell.

I recently had the opportunity to ask Eric a few questions.

Eric WilsonKristen:   What is your favorite thing about writing books?

Eric:  On the creative end, I love seeing the characters and story come to life, then hearing how readers filter those things in specific ways. On the publishing end, I love seeing the cover for the first time. It gives the new baby a face.Eric Wilson

 Kristen:   How about your least favorite thing about writing?

 Eric:  I get tired of sitting for thousands of hours a year alone at my desk. It’s a marathon of the heart and mind.Eric WilsonKristen:  Do you have an all time favorite character that you created?

Eric:  Oh, don’t ask me to choose from among my “children.” I love Sgt. Turney. And Gina Lazarescu. I want to do more stories with Cal Nichols someday. My favorite, though, would have to be Aramis Black.Eric WilsonKristen:  I’ve noticed lately that quite a few really good Christian authors were either missionary kids, or were/are missionaries themselves. How do you think being a MK influenced you as a writer?

Eric:  Missionaries learn to adapt to other cultures and speak in ways that can be understood outside their own home. I think these are helpful for a novelist.Eric Wilson

 Kristen: In your new book, One Step Away, The Vreeland family is given material wealth as a test by Satan to see if they will abandon their faith in God. Most people consider financial success a blessing. Do you think they are misleading themselves?

 Eric:  Wealthis a distinctly American trait of spiritual blessing. All around the world, Christians serve the Lord in poverty, famine, and hardship. They will receive their reward in heaven. In America, many Christians receive their rewards here on earth. I don’t think money or wealth are wrong to have and enjoy, but I do think we are wrong to measure spiritual success by it. Hugh Hefner is a pretty wealthy guy, last I heard.Eric Wilson

 Kristen: Just for fun, would you tell us something really crazy you have done, or something about yourself that would really surprise your readers?

 Eric:  I used to live in the Himalayas, when I was a boy. I’ve seen the Taj Mahal, Petra, the Great Wall, and some of the other wonders of the world. And yet, I’ve never gone overseas with more than a few hundred dollars in my bank account. The walk of faith is exciting and often unnerving. Believe me, I’d love to be independently wealthy so I could focus my energy on other things. Maybe God knows I need a fire lit under me to motivate my writing. Maybe someday I’ll learn. Or maybe, just maybe, I’ll have to wait for a reward on the other side and serve and love Him with all my heart down here.

Eric Wilson

 Eric has written eleven published novels through Waterbrook press, Thomas Nelson, and most recently through Bay Forrest Books.

































Gina Holmes is the bestselling author of Crossing Oceans and the newly released novel, DRY AS RAIN. She’s the founder of Novel Rocket, (formerly Novel Journey), a registered nurse,  wife and mother who makes her home in Southern Virginia. You can learn more about her at www.ginaholmes.com 

Your debut novel hit ECPA, Amazon, PW and CBA bestsellers list (some throughout the span of a year!) For several weeks Crossing Oceans was the #1 free kindle download and then stay in the top hundred for a long time.
Beside the commercial success, your book was a finalist in every major Christian book award, including: Christy, ECPA, Retailer’s Choice, Carol Awards, and won RWA’s Inspirational Reader’s Choice and an INSPY. Does having that kind of success put the pressure on for your second book?
I try not to think too much about it. I didn’t expect that kind of success but am very grateful for it. I had a lot of pressure on me on this releasing novel, not because of the success of the first book, but because, unlike the first, I didn’t have all the time in the world to write it. Some books flow smoothly, this one I had to yank out like a bad tooth. I faced multiple rewrites, some of them pretty major, all while trying to promote my all important first novel. I was still working full time, mothering, running Novel Journey (now Novel Rocket) and all of that, so this was a tough tough book for me to produce.
Tell our readers about your latest release, Dry as Rain:
I’m a really bad pitchman so I’ll just repeat the back of the book copy:
Behind every broken vow lies a broken heart.
When Eric and Kyra Yoshida first met, they thought their love would last forever. But like many marriages, theirs has gradually crumbled, one thoughtless comment and misunderstanding at a time, until the ultimate betrayal pushes them beyond reconciliation. Though Eric longs to reunite with Kyra, the only woman he has truly loved, he has no idea how to repair the damage that’s been done.
Then a car accident erases part of Kyra’s memory—including her separation from Eric—and a glimmer of hope rises from the wreckage. Is this a precious opportunity for the fresh start Eric has longed for? Does he even deserve the chance to find forgiveness and win back Kyra’s heart . . . or will the truth blow up in his face, shattering their last hope for happiness? A richly engaging story of betrayal and redemption, Dry as Rain illuminates with striking emotional intensity the surprising truth of what it means to forgive.
You can read the first chapter HERE. 
This novel feels so much different than Crossing Oceans. Why did you choose to take such a different path?
I didn’t intend to write something completely different and I think it feels that way because of the characters telling the story. In Crossing Oceans, Jenny was our narrator and she was a melancholy, all woman sort.
In Dry as Rain, we have Eric, who is a man’s man and doesn’t think in flowery language and descriptions so it would have been wrong to write him that way. While both books have a heavy subject matter, Crossing Oceans was much more so. You can’t get heavier than dying, so it was bound to be more emotional, no matter how I wrote the next book.
But, my genre seems to be relational drama which both are and I like to pepper in a quirky cast and that’s true of both books.
You took a lot of chances in this book. First writing first person from a male’s perspective, secondly to have the protagonist someone who does a lot of things that aren’t very Christianly, like cheating on his wife, drinking, lying, etc. Are you afraid this might hurt your sales in the Christian market?
Afraid? No. Concerned, sure. While I don’t personally have a problem with Eric drinking a beer, the rest I have a problem with too. The thing is Eric’s a nominal Christian at the beginning of the book, lukewarm about his faith like many who call themselves followers of Christ. This is his journey though and he doesn’t end up where he begins. I wanted to tell the story as truthfully as I could and at the end of the day let the chips fall where they may.
What happened to your long time website, Novel Journey?
www.noveljourney.blogspot.com is now www.novelrocket.com You can get to it by either address but we decided on an overhaul because we wanted to drop the blogspot address and just have a dot com. The guy who owned Novel Journey didn’t return our emails to sell so we had to do something a little different. This turned out to be a good thing maybe because we’d been chewing on broadening the site for some time. We’ve got some exciting changes now, the most notable is the addition of “Rocket Pages” a sort of Craig’s List for writers to find the services they need to launch and sustain their career.
What’s going on with you personally?
Well, I’m blissfully married, mom to two, stepmom to three, and owner of 2 dogs and a fish. I bought a guitar and hope to start fiddling with that soon and just writing a lot. Nothing too exciting over here but that’s the way I like it. I’m the happiest I’ve been in my life. I’ve accomplished many of the dreams and goals I’d hoped to and I always tell my husband, if I died today, I’d feel I lived and full and rewarding life. Not that I’m looking to die just yet.
What are you working on now?
I can’t give the title yet as that’s a work in progress but it’s a story very close to my heart. I’m more excited about this one than anything I’ve ever written. Hopefully my publisher agrees and you see it on the stands in the next year or so. That’s really all I can say for now.
Tell us something we don’t know about you.
I’ll tell you a few. I thought I was afraid of heights until I bungee-jumped and loved it. I’d love to skydive for the first time in the next year, white water raft and get at least a little skill on the guitar. My husband is a talented songwriter. My kids are the sweetest in the world, (yes, the world!), and I love to get my hands dirty. That should do it. Thanks for having me!

Pompeii: City on Fire   By  T.L. Higley

From the fires of Jerusalem’s destruction Ariella flees only to find herself enslaved to a powerful and evil Roman politician.    Nine years of horrific abuse and degregation later  Ariella flees when opportunity arises, and attaches herself to a group of gladiators by tricking them into thinking she is a young man. Cato leaves politics and Rome behind to build a new life in Pompeii as a winemaker.  Before he has a chance to see his dream fulfilled he finds himself an enemy of the elected tyrant, and pursued by others to be the one who takes down the tyrant. Through circumstance and providence, their lives are thrust together, but what can ever break the barrier between a Roman patrician and a Jewish slave?  And what will happen when Mt.Vesuvius bursts forth? If I would describe this book in one word it would be ‘complete’.  When finishing the book I did not find myself thinking “Well what about…”.  The book is wonderfully written just like all of T.L. Higley’s recent work.  The story flows easily on the pages and is an enjoyable read.  The descriptions of Pompeii and life during this time period are well researched and allow the reader to sit back and immerse themself in the journey along with the characters.  I especially enjoyed the portion of the book where the characters are in the midst of the erupting volcano and it’s aftermath.  Altogether this is a very worthwhile read, and to give it another plug, it is also on my daughter’s Honors World History reading list. 5 Stars

One Step Away by Eric Wilson

Bret and Sara Vreeland are an average low income family struggling to make ends meet.  Though they try and try they just can’t seem to get ahead of all the expenses that pile up.  But they have learned to be content and serve God, and are trying to teach their children the same thing. When Satan notices this family who seems to have so little, he comes before the Almighty with a petition.  “Let me test them“, he says, “Will they still be so eager to serve you if they have riches beoynd belief?”  After careful scrutiny, The One Who Sits Upon The Throne gives his permission–permission to begin a trial of blessing. How will Bret and Sara respond when everything in life starts going their way?  An unexpected inheritance, a major promotion, a dream of sucess come true–will all these things capture the devoton they once gave God?  When they’re faced with an unexpected choice of life altering proportions what choice will they make? The premise of this book pulled me in from the start, and did not disappoint.  Well written and engaging , One Step Away brings us real characters who come alive on the pages.  I found myself cheering and yelling at the characters as if they were close friends.  Although not preachy, this book has me considering how I view the blessings I have been given.

5 Stars

This book was provided to me by the publisher, Bay Forest (an imprint of Kingstone Media Group).   Opinions rendered are completely my own.

Note:  Check back Monday August 15, 2011 for an Author Spotlight of Eric Wilson– a bio and interview you’ll not want to miss.

Half a millenia past, after  wars that decimated the earth, Sirin brought forth a new wisdom.  He taught the laying aside of life’s excesses  in exchange for  simple equality.  He preached the dangers of emotions untamed.  Many followed him, and for a time peace reigned throughout the earth–but humanity could not keep this up for long.

Megas developed a virus that would spread throughout the earth, stripping every person of all emotions but fear.  When Sirin is martyred, the blame is placed on extremest factions, and the road is paved for Megas’  rise to power.

The Book of Orders, a strict rule that reaches into every area of life is canonized under Megas’ rule.  The people crave the order and freedom from fear that complying brings.  They long for the possibility of bliss after death, which can only  be achieved  by strict adherence to Order.

The year is 480–calculated from the moment the age of Chaos ended and the age of Order was ushered in.  Simple craftsman Rom, and his friends are unwittingly thrust into the crux of the battle to save humanity from Order.  Some will die; some will wish they could.  Each of them will feel more alive than they ever imagined.  And a small cripple boy will be the only hope for life the world has left.

This book is truly amazing.  The combined storytelling of Ted Dekker and Tosca Lee have created a book that is destined to be among the greatest pieces of literature.  There is no real way to describe the majesty of this book adequately.  You must experience  it for yourself.  First in The Book of Mortals series, Forbidden is an experience you won’t soon forget. 5 Stars–but worthy of many more.

This book was provided to me by the publisher through NetGalley.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Water’s Edge          By Robert Whitlow

Tom Crane has a beautiful girlfriend, a nice home, and is about to make partner at his law firm–life is treating him pretty well.  Entering the meeting where he expects the partnership announcement to be made known, the rug is violently pulled from beneath his feet. Tom finds out that not only is he not going to be made partner, but he is completely out of a job thanks to economic cutbacks.  He tells his girlfriend, and before he arrives home  she has left him and taken his cat as well.

With nothing standing in his way, Tom heads back to his hometown to close up his deceased father’s small town law firm.  What he finds is suspicions of foul play, criminal activity, people who love him for who he is, and seeds of faith that had been planted long ago.  What he learns is that God can take even our biggest failures and turn them into something not only worthwhile, but beautiful as well.

Robert Whitlow never disappoints his readers, and this book is no exception.  A masterfully written plot with twists and turns that keep you glued to the pages long into the night, Water’s Edge is a book that you will treasure for years to come.  5 Stars

This book was provided to me by the publisher through NetGalley.  All opinions are my own.

The First Gardener by Denise Hildreth Jones

Jeremiah Williams has been taking care of the gardens at the Tennessee governors mansion for the past 25 years.  He has cared and prayed for its residents as well.  There is something special though about the current family.  Jeremiah wonders if all the hurt and unjust treatment he’s gone through in life have been so that he could be with this family at this specific time.

Governor Gray London and his wife Mackenzie, struggled with infertility and miscarriages for years.  Now it seems that all their dreams have come true.  Their miracle baby, Maddie, is heading off to kindergarten, and Gray is making a real difference as governor.

When tragedy strikes again and again, the London’s are thrust into circumstances they don’t know if they can survive, and they’re not sure they even want to.

What is God doing in their life?  Is he really even there?  How could he love them let these kinds of things happen?

This book is worth the read, but be prepared for uncontrollable sobs and keep a box of tissues nearby.  I was completely unprepared for the depth of this novel. Though the main plot is heavy, there are lighter sub-plots to take the edge off.  The southern voice throughout is authentic and beautiful.  The First Gardener is masterfully writt

5 Stars

This book was provided to me through the Tyndale Bloggers Network.  All opinions rendered are my own.

Targets Down by Bob Hamer

If the degenerates knew that the lady who witnessed them dumping a body was the wife of a FBI agent, they would have thought twice before leaving her for dead on the mountain overpass, because now Matt Hogan is on the case.

Matt Hogan’s job requires him to become like the slime he’s working to put behind bars.  The undercover FBI agent  finds himself living life on the edges of a branch of the Russian Mafia–a neo-Nazi group involved with all sorts of illegal enterprise including the sex-slave industry.

When his “in” is murdered, Hogan wonders if his cover is blown before he even gets started.  Surviving so many close calls during this operation have him seriously considering that the God his wife puts her faith in might be real after all.

An excellent read, this book was clearly written with the male reader in mind.  It is fast paced and action driven.  It is clear that this author, a retired undercover FBI agent himself, knows what he is talking about.  The undercover situation has a truly authentic feel I didn’t know was missing from other similar novels until reading this one.

One thing to note:  There is a bit more of the marriage relationship described between the agent and his wife than is typical in Christian novels.  Nothing too over the top, but enough that I won’t let my 15-year-old daughter read it.

I give this book 5 stars.

This book was provided to me for review from the publisher through NetGalley.  All opinions are my own.

Robin Parrish

Born October 13, 1975 in Thomasville, North Carolina, Robin Parrish began his writing career on a plastic, toy typewriter.  By age thirteen he had begun winning local writing awards. A feature on a website he started ultimately led to his life as  a fiction author.  On the site he created a serialized tale with a segment published  every two weeks  over the course of  nine months. The  story came to the attention of several publishers who saw its Relentlesspotential as a debut novel. In 2005, Bethany House Publishers contracted him for the rights to not only that book, but two Fearlesssequels.  These books became the Dominion Trilogy (Relentless, Fearless, and Merciless)–fast paced suspense/thrillers that not only crossedMerciless genre lines, but wiped them out altogether.  Since then he’s kept us sitting on the edge of our seats with Offworld, Nightmare, and the newly released Vigilante. Always pushing the envelope, ever on the edgeOffworld of where modern storytelling is going, Robin Parrish will gladly and unapologetically tell you that he’s an entertainer, a weaver of Nightmarestories that ignite the mind and delight the heart. Defying labels and refusing pigeonholes, his imagination is fueled by the possibilities of asking “What if…?”, and as anyone who’s read Vigilantehis work knows, he has a very big imagination. Readers will be happy to know that he has an endless supply of wild stories with enormous scope, that are still yet to come. Robin is a full-time writer. He and his wife Karen and two children live in High Point, NC. I recently had the opportunity to talk with Robin: Kristen:  Let me start by saying that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed all your books to date, and am really looking forward to reading Vigilante.  I was wondering though, which of your characters have you enjoyed writing the most?

Robin:  That is a question I don’t think anyone has ever asked me before! And it’s a really juicy one.
Without a doubt, my favorite character to write was Payton from the Dominion Trilogy. The world through his eyes is such an extraordinarily clear-cut place with a powerful moral code, where there’s absolute right and absolute wrong and nothing in between. I love his directness, his integrity, and that he doesn’t suffer fools. He’s a man of action, not words, yet he has a rather acidic tongue that speaks only the truth.
He was the first character I ever wrote that entered my mind 100% fully formed, and never once did he deviate from that initial mental image.
A close second would probably be Maia from Nightmare. It was impossible to spend so much time under her skin (since Nightmare was written first-person from her perspective) and not love that character and really get to know her inside and out.

Kristen:  Have you ever had a character that really grated on your nerves? Robin:  Wow, another fascinating question. I’ve never really considered that one before. Hmm…

I can’t think of anyone that had that fingernails-on-chalkboard quality, where I just cringed every time they opened their mouth. Some very minor characters that only appeared in one or two scenes, maybe.
Oblivion from Merciless was the closest I’ve ever come to creating a character that embodies absolute evil. He was a creature who thrived on death, who needed to kill the way that we need to breathe. I wouldn’t say he grated, but writing him was almost painful at times.

Kristen: Your stories tell some amazing tales.  Does the finished work usually tell the same tale you intended to write when you began, or do the stories take on a life of their own as you write? Robin:   I’m a very strong believer in the importance of a good outline, because stream-of-consciousness writing, in my experience as a reader, tends to have no sense of flow or pacing. Too much time is spent on some subplot where more time should have been spent on something more important. That sort of thing.

So yes, there’s always a strong resemblance between my original outline and the finished product. I do leave room for better ideas that occur to me along the way, and that happens with every book. The degree to which each book differs from my outline is different each time. Offworld, for instance, changed significantly during the writing process, while Nightmare was nearly identical to its outline. Vigilante was somewhere between the two.

Kristen: When you aren’t writing, what are you most likely to be found doing? Robin:   These days I spend almost all of my time writing, just trying to pay the bills. When I get a snatch of free time, I love to play with my kids, spend time with my beautiful wife, or partake of a good story by someone else. I rarely read books these days, but I enjoy an engrossing movie or TV serial, and I still love a good video game. Kristen: What is something about you that would surprise your readers? Robin:   I can wiggle my ears.

Not very exciting, I know. Okay, how about this: before I knew that writing was my purpose, I seriously considered becoming an architect. I got quite good at drafting in high school, and I’m a decent sketch artist even now. Nothing remotely special, mind you. But it’s something I dabble in on occasion.

Kristen:  Tell us a little bit about Vigilante, and why you decided to write this particular book. Robin:   I got the idea for Vigilante while talking to another writer, years ago. We were talking about the ways in which Christians interact with the world, and in particular how we carry out the Great Commission. On one end of the spectrum, you’ve got people who try to forge a relationship with someone, and let their lives be their witness. On the other end, you’ve got the people on street corners, holding up signs that proclaim John 3:16 or approaching strangers in public places and basically trying to forcethem to become a believer.

There was something in the tension between those two viewpoints that struck me as very interesting, and I couldn’t think of an instance of another novelist using that as story fodder before. That was the initial spark.
From there, Vigilante grew and grew, and I incorporated loads of other ideas and some storytelling elements that I enjoy — such as super-heroics — and to me, it ultimately became this really interesting character study wrapped inside a non-stop roller-coaster adventure.
Vigilante represents a lot of firsts for me. It’s got more social commentary in it than anything I’ve done before, it’s got deeper characterizations and motivations than anything I’ve done before, and for the first time ever, it’s a story set in the real world, with no supernatural elements to it. It’s the first time that I have a really fleshed-out, complex villain, who I think manages to be both repugnant and sympathetic at the same time.
Those things are by design. I always challenge myself to best what I’ve done before, to try new and different things. I’m a suspense/thriller writer, but under that umbrella I jump from genre to genre with each book I write, because I don’t want to get pigeonholed and I don’t ever want to get stale. I love lots of different kinds of stories and I’m eager to try my hand at them all! And not just books — I want to write for other mediums as well. Stay tuned for an exciting announcement on that front, by the way!
Robin Parrish

Robin Parrish wants to take you on a ride.  A wild ride — which is exactly what you’re in for when you pick up one of his books. And he’s adamant that it will never be the same kind of experience twice.

Dee HendersonDee HendersonThe O’Malleys are a  family.  They made themselves one as they grew up in a foster home together.  Taking on the same last name just made it official.  Now all grown up the seven siblings all share another thing in common.  They Dee HendersonDee Hendersonwork to help people.

Kate is a hostage negotiator

Marcus is a U.S. Marshal

Lisa is a forensic pathologist

Dee HendersonDee HendersonJack fights fires

Rachel works disasters for the Red Cross

Stephen is a paramedic

Jennifer is a doctor                                Dee Henderson

They watch each others backs and support each other through the hard times, but as one of their own faces life’s final battle will their bonds hold them together or will they be shattered and scattered.

This Spectacular Series was  re-released by Tyndale in 2005.

For those of you who have read this series, you can find an unpublished extra Jennifer’s story at Dee Henderson’s website.

Lynne GentryLeona Harper is the quintessential pastors wife.  She knows exactly how to be the person the parishioners expect.  From little old ladies who stop by before Sunday services to making sure her kids behave in public, Leona’s got it covered.

When her husband drops dead in the pulpit, Leona’s neat little world implodes.  No longer the pastor’s wife, she finds that she’s had no identity of her own, and that she’s alienated her children by her expectations as well.

Leona’s children arrive home for the funeral ready to disappoint their mother with their life choices, and her mother comes by to remind her what a disappointment she has been to her as well.  Within two weeks Leona begins to feel squeezed out of the parsonage by the elders, and she must begin to look for employment.  Forced to become her own person for the first time in decades, Leona must learn to take a stand for herself and be the person God created her to be.

Reinventing Leona is one of the new e-book only selections from Tyndale House.  A gentle read, it is full of charm and hidden wisdom.  The characters are vulnerable, yet endearing.  I was pleasantly surprised by just how much I enjoyed this book.  It tugs at the heart, and reminds us to be who God created us to be.  I hope to see many more books by Lynne Gentry in the future.  Definitely a 5 Star read.

This book was provided to me by the publisher through NetGalley.  All opinions rendered are my own.

C.J. Darlington

C.J. Darlington burst onto the scene of Christian fiction three years ago when she won the Jerry B Jenkins Christian Writers Guild Operation First Novel Contest with her first novel, Thicker than Blood

Books have been a part of C.J.’s life since she was a young child–both as a writer and a reader.  She says every book she read influenced her in some way, but it was as a young teen when she read Piercing the Darkness by Frank Peretti that things changed. “Nothing was the same after that”, she said.

When she was fifteen, she started writing the book that would eventually become Thicker than Blood.  But as C.J. says, writers aren’t born overnight.  She finished writing the book many years after she began writing it.  In 2004 She entered the book in the Operation First Novel Contest run by The Christian Writers guild.  At the time the book was only 67,000 words and needed a lot of work.  It placed as one of the twenty semi-finalists, and gave C.J. the self-esteem boost she needed to begin submitting the book to publishers.

So C. J. submitted the book and was rejected, and she submitted the book again and was rejected again.  This situation repeated itself over and over again.  Some editors were kind enough to give her suggestions, so C.J. would tweak the manuscript, add to the story, and submit it again.  Eventually she began to become so discouraged by the rejections that she was ready to pack the book away in a drawer and begin focusing on getting her second book published.

C.J. decided to give the book one more chance and submit the much improvedC.J. Darlington version to the 2008 Operation First Novel contest.  She figured that if it placed again she would know that the book wasn’t completely rubbish, and if it didn’t she would know that it was time to move on.  She entered the book two weeks before the contest closed for the year.  In November C.J. Darlingtonshe found out the book was one of four finalists being considered.  She was elated and decided that maybe the book was publishable after all.

In February at the Christian Writer’s guild annual conference, C.J. was amazed when they announced on stage that Thicker than Blood had won the contest.  She received for winning, a contract with Tyndale house.  Thicker than blood was released in 2010.  Her second novel, Bound by Guilt was released in February 2011.

C.J. Darlington is an identical mirror image twin who was homeschooled throughout her school days.  She loves camping (the more primitive the better), and has traveled the country in an RV visiting 44 states and having all kinds of crazy adventures.

She has been in the antiquarian bookselling business for over twelve years, scouting for stores similar to the ones in her novels before co-founding her own online bookstore.  In 2006 C.J. and her sister Tracey founded the Christian Entertainment website TitleTrakk.

I recently had the opportunity to interview C.J.  Here’s what she had to say:

Kristen:  You’re involved in writing, bookselling, and running an entertainment website.  If you weren’t doing any of these things, what would you most likely be doing?

C.J.:   I would love to be involved with something that involved animals or working outdoors. Lately I’ve had a real love of horses–learning how to ride, train, and understand them. It would be awesome to have the chance to work with them on a daily basis. Especially if I could work alongside someone who was much more advanced and skilled.

Kristen:  You say on your webpage that as a child you enjoyed reading the Childhood of Famous Americans series and the Landmark series, both historical fiction.  If you could  know one of these historical figures personally, who would it be?

C.J.:   I remember loving a book on Sacagawea. Wouldn’t it be fascinating to hear her perspective and insights on the Lewis and Clark expedition? Or Pocahontas. I went through a huge phase as a kid fascinated with the American Indians. I’m not really sure why, but I loved reading about them.

Kristen:  What does C.J. Stand for?

C.J.:   A girl’s gotta have some secrets, Kristen!! 🙂

Kristen:  How do you think being homeschooled has contributed to your success as an author?

C.J.:   Being homeschooled was HUGE for me. I truly believe that if it weren’t for homeschooling I wouldn’t be talking with you today about writing. I learned how to teach myself through learning at home. That’s enormous for me now as an adult. If I don’t understand something or want to learn something new, I don’t necessarily have to go out and take a course on the subject. I can research and discover for myself. I learned how to write fiction purely on my own through reading other novels and how-to books on the craft. Asking advice from others also played a part, but I am so thankful to my parents for making the sacrifices they did to enable me to be educated at home.

Kristen:  I’ve heard a lot of talk among Christian authors on balancing storytelling with sharing biblical truth.  How does your faith affect what you write?

C.J.:   My faith is the reason I write the stories I do. I want to share with others the hope I have. I do that by writing about flawed characters, usually at their lowest points. I want people to know that no one is ever too far gone for God to love and forgive. Some of my stories are more direct than others, of course. But the spiritual aspect is always there in some fashion or another. I don’t always know the direction the story will take along these lines until I’m in the midst of writing it, but I try to pray and ask the Lord for guidance. He’s given me ideas at the spur of the moment that have really surprised me! If one person is touched by what I write, it will be worth it.

Kristen:  Do you have a work-in-progress right now?

C.J.:  Yes, ma’am! I am currently writing my third novel and am about halfway through the rough draft. I’ve gone through a couple drafts of this story already, but I think I might’ve finally discovered the story I want to tell. I’ll keep you posted!

Brandilyn Collins

C.J. with Brandilyn Collins. Long before it was published, Brandilyn actually critiqued an early version of a scene in Thicker than Blood on her blog.

If you haven’t read C.J.’s books, be sure to pick them up sometime soon.  You won’t be disappointed.

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