July 10, 2009
Besides reading fiction and writing my own stuff, one of the things I love doing is helping other novelists polish their work.
So I’m offering a free ten-page critique to one person.
Leave a comment on this post by midnight of July 16th, and I’ll randomly pick a winner the next day.
If you don’t win this week, stay tuned. I’ll be doing this often.
January 23, 2009
This week, the
Bethany House Publishers (January 1, 2009)
ABOUT THE AUTHORS:
Davis Bunn is an internationally acclaimed author who has sold more than six million books in fifteen languages. His audiences span reading genres from high drama and action thrillers to heartwarming relationship stories, in both contemporary and historical settings.
Honored with three Christy Awards for excellence in historical and suspense fiction, his bestsellers include My Soul To Keep, and Full Circle. A sought-after lecturer in the art of writing, Bunn was named Novelist in Residence at Regent’s Park College, Oxford University.
He and his wife, Isabella, make their home in Florida for some of each year, and spend the rest near Oxford, England, where they each teach and write.
After Love Comes Softly was published, Oke found her readers asking for more. That book led to a series of eight others in her Love Comes Softly series. She has written multiple fiction series, including The Canadian West, Seasons of the Heart and Women of the West. Her most recent releases include a beautiful children’s picture book, I Wonder…Did Jesus Have a Pet Lamb and The Song of Acadia series, co-written with T. Davis Bunn.
Janette Oke’s warm writing style has won the hearts of millions of readers. She has received numerous awards, including the Gold Medallion Award, The Christy Award of Excellence, the 1992 President’s Award for her significant contribution to the category of Christian fiction from the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association, and in 1999 the Life Impact Award from the Christian Booksellers Association International. Beloved worldwide, her books have been translated into fourteen languages.
She and her husband live nearby in Alberta, Canada.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Janette Oke has dreamed for years of retelling a story in a biblical time frame from a female protagonist’s perspective, and Davis Bunn is elated to be working with her again on this sweeping saga of the dramatic events surrounding the birth of Christianity…and the very personal story of Leah, a young Jewess of mixed heritage trapped in a vortex of competing political agendas and private trauma.
Caught up in the maelstrom following the death of an obscure rabbi in the Roman backwater of first-century Palestine, Leah finds herself also engulfed in her own turmoil–facing the prospect of an arranged marriage to a Roman soldier, Alban, who seems to care for nothing but his own ambitions.
Head of the garrison near Galilee, he has been assigned by Palestine’s governor to ferret out the truth behind rumors of a political execution gone awry. Leah’s mistress, the governor’s wife, secretly commissions Leah also to discover what really has become of this man whose death–and missing body–is causing such furor.
This epic drama is threaded with the tale of an unlikely romance and framed with dangers and betrayals from unexpected sources. At its core, the story unfolds the testing of loyalties–between two young people whose inner searchings they cannot express, between their irreconcilable heritages, and ultimately between their humanity and the Divine they yearn to encounter.
Sally Says: Apologetics is always an interesting topic. How do we prove that Jesus lived? How do we prove that He died and rose again? How do we take centuries old evidence and weigh it today?
Davis Bunn and Janette Oke have written a novel that deals with apologetics as it would have been in the weeks after Jesus died, and it’s a very interesting read. The two main characters are forced to investigate what really happened to this rabbi who died and whose body is now missing. The story feels kind of like a suspense novel, except you already know what they’ll find. They hunt down eye witnesses to the death of the rabbi, soldiers in charge of the crucifixion and tomb duty, the men who handled the cold body and buried him, and the women who say they saw him later — alive.
It’s really an interesting and unique read. The book isn’t fast-paced, partly because we know what happens, but I found the book just as easy to pick up as it was to set down. And halfway through the book, the stakes are upped for one of the characters, and that made the story more entertaining.
The spine says this is book one in the Acts of Faith series, and I do think I’ll be picking up the following books. There was one major Biblical event that I knew would happen at some point in the book, and I enjoyed how they handled it so I’m eager to see how they might fictionalize other events in Acts. The Centurion’s Wife really gave me a feel for the culture of Jews and Romans of the day and even brought up some struggles new believers might have dealt with that I had never thought about. While this isn’t't one of my favorite reads, it made me think and kept my attention. If you like Biblical, historical, or romantic fiction, you’ll enjoy The Centurion’s Wife.
November 14, 2008
A few Sundays ago, my husband’s church computer started smoking.
That’s not a good thing.
A lady in our church knew of a computer repair guy in town. In fact, only the week before this same repair guy, a man who is not a Christian, had fixed the church office’s hard drive for free. So Steve called him and told him he had another computer that needed work.
Turned out the power supply needed to be replaced. Steve told the man that we didn’t expect another free repair and that we’d pay for his work.
But the man had a better idea. He was the head of the local rotary club and needed a speaker for November’s meeting. Would my husband be willing to come and talk about our church?
Talk about God as payment for repair services?
Um, no problem.
So this week Steve went to the rotary club, got a free lunch, and at the end stood up in front of local business men and women and gave a clear, blunt plan of salvation.
He told them our church held to a literal view of the Bible and that the Bible says we are all sinners, that Jesus is the only way to heaven, regardless of how unpopular that is today. He kept his talk short, but he gave the complete truth in a loving yet uncompromising way. I joked with Steve later that those people hadn’t expected to go to church that Tuesday.
Strange, isn’t it? How do you explain a non-Christian asking Steve to do him this favor and making it clear he wanted Steve to talk about our church? God was in it — God sent that opportunity. We Christians often excuse our lack of witnessing by saying we don’t get chances, but when we do, we often cop out or sugarcoat the Bible. Even my husband said that as he was eating, waiting for his turn to speak, he felt the temptation to gloss over salvation, to maybe skip talking about the gospel altogether. But he knew he couldn’t.
Neither can we.
When opportunity knocks, I want to be bold enough to tell the complete truth without downplaying any aspect of man’s sinfulness or God’s perfection. I want to be bold enough to say that there is no other way but Jesus. I want to be bold enough to be deserving of the opportunities God hands out. I want opportunity to knock, and I want to meet it in a way that makes God smile.
October 30, 2008
. . . that something needs to change?
I’ve been feeling that way for the past month, maybe two. Last fall my family and I moved from the Chicago suburbs to a small town outside Kansas City where my husband took a job as a head pastor. Our kids were changing schools, and with my youngest in school for the first time, I was looking to go back to work to make ends meet. Between getting a new home set up, kids ready for the school year, job hunting, and getting settled in a new church as the pastor’s wife, God made it pretty clear that I needed to set my writing aside.
Ironically this was all four weeks before I attended the 2007 ACFW conference — to which I’d been given a scholarship to attend.
After the conference, my agent followed up on the contacts I’d made with a couple editors, but God closed the doors on those opportunities. That was okay — I was busy with work and home and a Bible study I was leading, not to mention my editing business. There was just no time to write.
But lately I’ve found myself longing for time to sit down with my characters and follow them around. I have two books started, one that finaled in the ‘07 ACFW Genesis contest, and I want so much to see how those stories turn out. Now with a newborn that we’re committed to me staying home with — and a busy editing business — there’s still no time to write.
But the desire is back.
There are other things in my life that God’s been showing me need to change. And He’s right. I know that. But for whatever reason part of me keeps bucking it. It’s probably laziness, being set in my own comfortable, if muddy, rut.
I want to change, but I want to do it for the right reasons. I suspect that the things God wants me to change might be tied in to this desire to get back to writing. I don’t want any altruistic motives that if I toe the line with God, He’ll come through on the writing contracts. I want to change because I know God wants me to change.
So, hm. Here I am still, feeling like the wind might be changing. And that it’s probably a good thing. But I can’t seem to find the willpower to do it. Maybe it’s lack of sleep, maybe it’s the flu I’m fighting, or the fatigue I had those last 2 months of pregnancy.
Or maybe those are all excuses.
Whatever the reason, something needs to change. And it needs to start with me. Me and God.
Ever get that feeling?
February 11, 2008
It’s only February, and so far it’s been a rather interesting year. God has made His plans, totally different from my own, very clear in such a short time.
What do we do when God says no? What do we do when He takes our well-laid plans, plans that to all appearances would benefit our family, plans that are not wrong, and destroys them? Do we keep a stiff upper lip? Do we throw a fit? Do we say, “Oh, well” and give up?
How do we handle a “no” that we can’t get around? It’s a hard place to be in, isn’t it? Years down the road, it’s different. It’s easy then to spout phrases about trusting God and realizing that He knew best, all of which is true. But for the person who’s stuck in what feels like quicksand, the no’s can be scary.
So what action do we take when God says no? What do we do and what should we do in the middle of a no?
April 23, 2007
Every day that our Chicago weather is humane, Child Two (C2) and I go for a walk.
Rather, I walk, she rides her bike.
She’s got one of those low to the ground, plastic three-wheeled bikes, the kind where the pedals are attached to the front wheel and the back two wheels are behind her seat. So when we go up inclines, she has to work really hard to make it to the top.
We’ve been working on this together. I walk behind her and let her know when there’s a “hill” coming that she’s going to need to prepare for. And I’ve noticed that these hills are usually preceded by a downward slope that she’s content to coast on.
“Start pedaling,” I tell her as her feet fly off the bike and she “wheees” down the slope. “If you don’t start pedaling now, you won’t make it up that hill.”
It struck me as we were walking Friday that our lives are very much like those slopes and inclines. The downward slopes are fun and easy. It’s tempting to sit back, lift our feet from the pedals, and do nothing. Who needs time with God when life is great? Who needs to pray? Who needs church?
But those uphill climbs are coming. If we’ve neglected God, the Bible, fellow Christians, prayer, we’ve in essence stopped pedaling, and the second we hit that hill, we stop moving forward and slide backward.
Why? Because we left the source of our power.
Avoid the temptation to stop pedaling when life is great. Remember that even in the good days, we get our power, our strength from God. And in those easy days, we can build our strength for the tough times coming.
April 11, 2007
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Brandilyn Collins is the bestselling author of Violet Dawn, Web Of Lies, Dead of Night, Stain of Guilt, Brink of Death, and Eyes of Elisha just to name a few.
Brandilyn and her family divide their time between the California Bay Area and Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.
She also maintains an informative blog called Forensics and Faith where she daily dispenses wisdom on writing, life, and the Christian book industry.
ABOUT THE BOOK:
The figure remained still as stone. Leslie couldn’t even detect a breath.
Spider fingers teased the back of her neck.
Leslie’s feet rooted to the pavement. She dropped her gaze to the driveway, seeking…what? Spatters of blood? Footprints? She saw nothing. Honed through her recent coverage of crime scene evidence, the testimony as last month’s trial, the reporter in Leslie spewed warnings: Notice everything, touch nothing…
Leslie Brymes hurries out to her car on a typical workday morning…and discovers a dead body inside.
Why was the corpse left for her to find? And what is the meaning of the message pinned to its chest?
In Coral Moon, the senseless murder of a beloved Kanner Lake citizen spirals the small Idaho town into a terrifying glimpse of spiritual forces beyond our world. What appears true seems impossible.
OR IS IT?
And as Brandilyn would say…
I haven’t read this book yet. If you’re wanting a great suspense/mystery, Brandilyn’s the woman for you. If you like your books soft and relaxing, she may not be your cup of tea.
On another note, I spent Tuesday evening with a bunch of friends from our Sunday School Class. Just the girls. We had a ton of fun and laughed our abs into shape.
Over the numerous years of my life , I have heard people complain about how hard a time they’re having getting to know people at their new church or how they feel like they don’t fit in yet.
Make sure you’re getting involved. It’s hard to build relationships with people when you’re only around them once a week. Attend all the services. Join a small group or Sunday School class. Volunteer to be a greeter or work in the nursery. Better yet, take the initiative and invite another family over or to McDonald’s after church.
The more active you are in your church, the faster you’ll feel a part of those people sitting in the pews around you. And with the extra Bible study and Christian friends, you just might find yourself growing spiritually, too.
April 6, 2007
Ever have one of those days where you were just horribly busy? Maybe emergencies came up or a disaster that needed to be dealt with right away. Did you skip a meal or eat junk food because it was fast? How’d you feel?
We never go without food if we can help it. We know we need it to function.
Yet it’s too easy to go without a spiritual meal.
Like our routine meals, we need a spiritual routine, too. Remember, we’re not using the word “routine” with the meaning of being in a rut. We’re talking about creating good habits and patterns that become second nature.
And making our devotions with God a daily habit is essential if we expect to function as Christians. Not making time for God and His Word starves us, exhausts us, and makes us useless Christians so far from God. The sad thing is sometimes we don’t even know it. We’re like the anorexic who looks in the mirror and truly thinks he’s fine. A little scary, isn’t it?
The more I grow as a Christian, the more I realize how much I depend on God. There’s nothing I’ve accomplished or learned on my own. Everything I have, everything I do is a gift from Him. No matter what I’m going through, whether a trial or a success, I have to cling to God.
Kinda hard to do if I don’t spend time in the Bible.
My challenge to you today is to make sure you have a daily routine for your time with God. It might be before bed, during your lunch break, or first thing in the morning, whatever works for your schedule.
Me — I’m a first-thing-in-the-morning person beause once I get my day started, I have a hard time settling down for a quiet, contemplative time to study. And I love how doing it first thing in the morning starts off my day. If I have my devotions at night, I end up with too many things to confess! But that’s just me.
So what’s your routine? What works best for you? If you don’t have a set pattern, let me encourage you to start one today. Make sure you’re not an anorexic Christian.
April 4, 2007
Today we have one of those guest bloggers I promised. Cynthia Ruchti is a critique partner of mine, friend, and a fun, fantastic writer. Recently she made a comment to me that I asked her to expand on. Take it away, Cynthia!
As a child growing up in the Midwest, a fresh snowfall meant new territory. A long, sparkling stretch of white, unmarked by evidence of human interference . . . until my booted feet marked paths and designs through the pristine surface. Untouched snow was like a new canvas for my imagination.
A similar but much deeper thrill overwhelms me now when I purchase a new Bible.
I own a zillion Bibles. One of those who enjoys studying many different translations and paraphrases, I’m also a person who can’t read my Bible productively without a pen or colored pencil in hand. Always marking. In fact, if I see a pristine, unmarked page in my Bible, I know in an instant I haven’t read that page. How can I be so sure? Because God speaks to my heart somehow, some way, on every page. If nothing is marked, it’s a tell-tale sign that I haven’t been over that territory.
Many people feel uncomfortable, downright sacrilegious about the idea of marking in their Bibles. Although I can respect their reverence for the physical book itself, to me it is the words of that holy Book that deserve our deepest respect. And those words come alive for me when I have a pen or pencil in hand. When I mark in my Bible, I’m interacting with the Word and by association with the Lord Himself. I don’t know what my family will do if I die first and they search for my Bible to gain insights into what was important to me in order to include “a little something” in the funeral sermon. They’ll find a shelf full of Bibles marked with exclamation points and heavy underlining and notes in the margins with dates and specific crises to which God applied a particular Scripture as a balm for my heart. They’ll find little musical notes beside all the verses I know have been made into worship songs. They’ll discover tracks on the snowy pages that reveal the path of my faith in the God Who speaks to us through His Word.
This morning, I opened my pocket-sized Bible to a passage in Jeremiah. Nothing marked. A fresh snowfall. Time to make tracks!
Cynthia blogs at Splashing in the Deep End.