Tag Archives: Marcia Lee Laycock

Review: A Traveler’s Advisory, by Marcia Lee Laycock

A Traveler's Advisory, by Marcia Lee LaycockA Traveler’s Advisory, by Marcia Lee Laycock (Small Pond Press, 2015)

These fifty-two “stories of God’s grace along the way” include tales of travel by air, on land, and on water. They’re drawn from the author’s experiences in Canada (including the Yukon), the US, and more exotic locales like Papua New Guinea.

Marcia Lee Laycock writes with a clear, practical style, sharing travel anecdotes and drawing common-sense spiritual parallels for life’s journey. The readings are a good length for a daily burst of inspiration that’s relevant to readers – be they seasoned travellers or homebodies.

A Traveler’s Advisory is a great little book to keep handy for a quick pick-me-up or as a discussion starting-point for a group.

Canadian author Marcia Lee Laycock is known for her devotionals as well as for both contemporary and fantasy fiction. For more about the author and her work, visit marcialeelaycock.com.

[Review copy from my personal library.]

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Review: An Unexpected Glory, by Marcia Lee Laycock

An Unexpected Glory, by Marcia Lee LaycockAn Unexpected Glory, by Marcia Lee Laycock (Helping Hands Press, 2013)

Christmas pageants. Intensive practice and preparation, with so much pressure to get everything just right.

For Pastor Steve, there’s an extra weight. The annual performance generates most of the revenue needed to run the homeless shelter for another year.

The community loves this event, with its elaborate costumes and skilled acting. But the day before the show, with the bills adding up, Pastor Steve is told his actors—and their costumes—won’t be there.

He’s a man of faith, but he can’t face this. His assistant insists the show must go on—played by the men from the shelter. Can they possibly do an adequate job? Will the audience still donate, or will they leave?

An Unexpected Glory is a short, heartwarming tale of what happens when everything goes wrong—and how sometimes that means everything’s really going right.

Marcia Lee Laycock is a Canadian author and speaker. An Unexpected Glory is one of the novellas in Kathi Macais’ 12 Days of Christmas collection.

[Review copy provided by the author.]

Review: A Tumbled Stone, by Marcia Lee Laycock

A Tumbled Stone cover artA Tumbled Stone, by Marcia Lee Laycock (Word Alive Press, 2012)

Andrea Calvert grew up on the Canadian prairies with foster parents who provided for her but were never able to show their love. Now 19 and pregnant, Andrea would rather take her chances alone than live with their silent reproach.

She finds a job and caring friends at Evie’s Diner. Evie, the owner, is a Christian who welcomes the strays she says God sends her. At the moment, that includes Andrea and a young mentally challenged man named Benny, who makes it his mission to protect Andrea’s unborn baby.

Author Marcia Lee Laycock writes with a contagious compassion for her characters. Andrea feels real, as do her foster parents. Edna and Earl aren’t cardboard, rigid people. They’re silent because they’re trapped behind walls of hurt from the past. As Andrea tries to find her own way and the brother she doesn’t know exists tries to find her, this wounded couple move toward finding one another.

The first book in the series, One Smooth Stone, tells the story of Alex Donnolly, Andrea’s older brother, whose experience in foster care was horrific. In A Tumbled Stone it’s good to see how far Alex has come in recovery and in his new Christian faith. He’s a work in progress, and the urgency he feels to find Andrea brings more pressure to bear.

The characters in A Tumbled Stone drew me in. The word “tumble” in the title refers to rock tumbling, which smoothes a stone’s rough edges and texture. Evie makes jewellery from stones, and she tells Andrea “God is always doing things in our lives, but it takes time. He knows exactly when to take the pressure off or to increase it. He knows  just how much tumbling we need.” (p. 76)

Andrea faces more “tumbling” before the book is done.

A Tumbled Stone is a good read that kept calling me back to finish. Marcia Lee Laycock is a gifted writer, and I hope we’ll see more fiction from her. She’s also the author of the non-fiction books Abundant Rain, Spur of the Moment and Focused Reflections. You can learn more about Marcia Lee Laycock and her books at her website

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A Tumbled Stone, by Marcia Lee Laycock

Fiction by Marcia Lee Laycock

One Smooth Stone was the best Christian fiction I read in 2007. After a long wait, the sequel is finally out: A Tumbled Stone.

Here’s a refresher on One Smooth Stone, and a link to a review of A Tumbled Stone.

One Smooth Stone is a compelling read about hurt people fumbling toward healing, and about a God who won’t let go.

Marcia Laycock’s writing style is vivid and rich with sensory detail. She draws on her time in the North to evoke a strong sense of place. It would be worth reading just to experience the Yukon setting from our warm living rooms, but she also gives us lifelike characters to root for, suspense, and a puzzle to unravel.

Protagonist Alex Donnelly is a man with secrets, and Marcia Laycock brings them to light slowly, compassionately, and with a defter touch than a debut novelist should have. Alex’s and the other characters’ pain is neither minimized nor exploited, and it’s brought to light in a way that didn’t traumatize this chicken reader.

Hard questions and spiritual issues are treated naturally, with none of the heavy-handed preaching or pat answers found in some Christian novels. The story feels real, and it offers hope.

This is a story for adults, male or female, wounded or whole. You can read the opening chapter of One Smooth Stone here.  [Review copy from my personal library.]

Marcia Lee Laycock is a Canadian writer, speaker and pastor’s wife who lives in Alberta. You can learn more about Marcia and her books (novels and non-fiction) at her website, Vinemarc Communications, and read an interview on the Hot Apple Cider site. A Tumbled Stone, by Marcia Lee Laycock

Laura Davis’ review of A Tumbled Stone at Maranatha News begins like this:

A Tumbled Stone by Marcia Lee Laycock is the much anticipated sequel to One Smooth Stone and it doesn’t disappoint. Laycock is a gifted writer and has written a flawless story that tackles many issues such as teenage pregnancy, abortion, forgiveness and even autism. [Read the full review.]

I haven’t read the novel yet but I’m looking forward to it! Marcia’s books can be ordered through her website or through your regular bookstore.

Review: Abundant Rain, by Marcia Lee Laycock

Abundant Rain, by Marcia Lee Laycock (Smashwords, 2011)

The subtitle of this ebook is “Inspiring words for writers of faith.” It’s an 110-page collection of short pieces designed to encourage and sustain writers (and perhaps to help their loved ones understand them).

The articles in this collection have appeared as Marcia’s weekly devotional posts on the popular Novel Journey blog.

Topics cover perseverance, pride, writing about life’s ugly bits and hard questions, self-promotion versus bragging, art and perfectionism, praising God, and what happens when we compare ourselves with other writers.

One of the selections, “Little Songs,” particularly warmed my heart. In it, Marcia describes a string of emails in an online writing group, all on the theme of “whatever our circumstances, bless the Lord.” I’m part of the same group—InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship—and I remember that conversation thread well. In fact, one of the quoted prayers may well be mine.

Writers, like any other group of people following a particular passion, are a misunderstood lot. It takes one of our own to know which words will encourage us. Abundant Rain is a book designed to bless writers. It’s one to read and then read again, in small sections, as needed.

Look for the free ebook, “A Small Patch of Blue,” on the author’s Smashwords profile page if you’d like to preview an excerpt from Abundant RainAbundant Rain is available from Smashwords in various ebook formats.

Marcia Lee Laycock is an award-winning Canadian author of non-fiction and fiction. Her work has been published in numerous anthologies (most recently in A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider) and she has written two devotional compilations, Spur of the Moment and Focused Reflections, as well as the novel One Smooth Stone. A Tumbled Stone, the novel’s sequel, is due to release soon.

Marcia can be found on Facebook, Twitter, and on her website, which also has links to her various blog presences.

[Review copy from my personal library.]

Writers and Musicians

Fans of Canadian suspense writer Linda Hall will be happy to know some of her stories are available in various ebook formats through Smashwords. Currently there are two free short stories, one 99-cent short story and the novel, Steal Away, for $2.99. The short stories may not be suspense, but Steal Away is the first in a series featuring private investigator Teri Blake-Addison. I highly recommend it, and you can read my review of the paper version here.

A Better Way is a new blog from Canadian writer Jan Cox, reflecting on the “better way” Jesus told Martha that Mary had chosen… and discovering how we can choose that way as well.

Part of living the better way–God’s way–is gratitude and praise. Check out Marcia Laycock’s excellent post, “Maybe it’s Time we Pay Attention,” on Grace Fox’s Growing with Grace blog.

The Barn Door Book Loft spotlights and interviews 3-6 Christian authors each week and hosts book giveaways.

I’ve been captured recently by the music of Geoff Moore, specifically his new album, “Saying Grace,” which is not yet widely available (you can get it at any of the stops on his cross-Canada tour with Steven Curtis Chapman). I wish I could share my favourite tracks with you: “I Believe,” “Saying Grace” and “The Long Way.” You can hear some of his other music on the Geoff Moore facebook page. Or searching YouTube will bring up older material including a duet with the legendary Larry Norman: “Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music?

Friday Findings: A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider

 

Hot Apple Cider – the book – is a best-selling inspirational anthology, in the tradition of Chicken Soup for the Soul. It makes a terrific gift for someone in need of a little encouragement, or someone who simply enjoys reading a variety of stories written by “real” people. Watch for A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider – coming on May 1, 2011. Both anthologies are published by That’s Life Communications.

Co-editor and contributor N.J. Lindquist writes:

Over 30,000 copies of Hot Apple Cider have gone out through World Vision’s Girls Night Out and Couples Night Out programs and another 15,000 have gone out through other means. We’re hoping for similar results with Hot Apple Cider 2.

Congratulations to everyone whose work was chosen for the book. While some of the contributors are veterans, others are being published for the very first time.

A. A. Adourian, Scarborough, Ontario

Brian C. Austin, Durham, Ontario

Paul M. Beckingham, Vancouver, British Columbia

Bonnie Beldan-Thomson, Pickering, Ontario

Glynis Belec, Drayton, Ontario

Mary Ann Benjamins, Brantford, Ontario

Vilma Blenman, Pickering, Ontario

Bill Bonikowsky, Surrey, British Columbia

Ann Brent, Brights Grove, Ontario

Connie Brummel Crook, Peterborough, Ontario

Marguerite Cummings, Toronto, Ontario

Kevin J. Dautremont, Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan

Donna Dawson/Fawcett, St. Marys, Ontario

Angelina Fast-Vlaar, St. Catharines, Ontario

Rosemary Flaaten, Calgary, Alberta

Ed Hird, Vancouver, British Columbia

Ron Hughes, Smithville, Ontario

Evangeline Inman, Fredericton, New Brunswick

David Kitz, Orleans, Ontario

Marcia Lee Laycock, Blackfalds, Alberta

N. J. Lindquist, Markham, Ontario

Les Lindquist, Markham, Ontario

Heather McGillivray, Chelmsford, Ontario

Heidi McLaughlin, Westbank, British Columbia

Ruth Smith Meyer, Ailsa Craig, Ontario

M. D. Meyer, Norway House, Manitoba

Wendy Elaine Nelles, Toronto, Ontario

Kimberley Payne, Millbrook, Ontario

Judi Peers, Peterborough, Ontario

Gloria V. Phillips, Collingwood, Ontario

Johanne E. Robertson, Toronto, Ontario

Denise Budd Rumble, St. Marys, Ontario

Jayne Self, Orangeville, Ontario

Adele Simmons, Whitby, Ontario

Janet Sketchley, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia

Jeannie Lockerbie Stephenson, London, Ontario

T. L. Wiens, Beechy, Saskatchewan

The official release date for the book is May 1, 2011, just in time for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and Canada Day. [Information from the Hot Apple Cider website and the press release]

Review: One Smooth Stone, by Marcia Lee Laycock

One Smooth Stone, by Marcia Lee Laycock (Castle Quay Books, 2007)

I expected One Smooth Stone to be good read. After all, the manuscript won the 2006 Best New Canadian Christian Author Award, earning publication by Castle Quay Books.

The novel’s tagline challenges, “No matter how far you run, God will find you. No matter what you’ve done, God will forgive you.” One endorsement labels it a thriller, but I disagree—it’s not Clancy-esque or high action. It’s a compelling read about hurt people fumbling toward healing, and about a God who won’t let go.

Marcia Laycock’s writing style is vivid and rich with sensory detail. She draws on her time in the North to evoke a strong sense of place. It would be worth reading just to experience the Yukon setting from our warm living rooms, but she also gives us lifelike characters to root for, suspense, and a puzzle to unravel.

Protagonist Alex Donnelly is a man with secrets, and Marcia Laycock brings them to light slowly, compassionately, and with a defter touch than a debut novelist should have. Alex’s and the other characters’ pain is neither minimized nor exploited, and it’s brought to light in a way that didn’t traumatize this chicken reader.

Hard questions and spiritual issues are treated naturally, with none of the heavy-handed preaching or pat answers found in some Christian novels. The story feels real, and it offers hope.

One Smooth Stone is the best Christian fiction I read in 2007, and its characters have a place in my heart.

This is a story for adults, male or female, wounded or whole. You can read the opening chapter of One Smooth Stone here.  A much-anticipated sequel is in the works.

Marcia Lee Laycock is a Canadian writer, speaker and pastor’s wife who lives in Alberta. Besides One Smooth Stone, she’s the author of two devotional books and sends a weekly devotional via email to over 4,000 subscribers. You can learn more about Marcia and her books at her website, Vinemarc Communications, and read a recent interview on the Hot Apple Cider site.

[Review copy from my personal library. This review has been adapted from the original, which appeared in Faith Today, March/April 2008.]

One Book / One Conference

Out of 12 nominations, The Church Library Association of Ontario chose one book for everyone at their 2009 fall conference to read and discuss. It’s quite an eclectic list, and the ones I haven’t read I’ve heard good things about. What a great way to raise awareness of quality Canadian writing.

Nominated books were:

The Book of Negroes, by Lawrence Hill

Broken Angel, by Sigmund Brouwer

The Cellist of Sarajevo, by Steven Galloway

Christianus Sum, by Shawn J. Pollett

Cibou, by Susan Young de Biagi

Hot Apple Cider, N.J. Lindquist and Wendy Elaine Nelles, editors

Love Comes Softly, by Janette Oke

Mohamed’s Moon, by Keith Clemons

One Smooth Stone, by Marcia Lee Laycock

The Shack, by William P. Young

Shaded Light, by N.J. Lindquist

Vengeance, by Donna Dawson

I’ve read a lot of these books, although some were before I started doing regular reviews. If you want to see which ones I’ve reviewed, just click on the “reviews” tab at the top of this page.

Each one would have been a fine choice, and the most votes went to Hot Apple Cider. Since it’s an anthology from 30 Canadian authors who are Christian, covering a variety of topics in non-fiction, poetry and fiction, there’s sure to be something to please each participant in the One Book / One Conference event.

Congratulations to each author whose work was nominated!

Online Course: Writing Devotionals

Marcia Lee Laycock will be teaching an online course in writing devotionals, November 3 – 24, 2008.

Content: Writing in an anecdotal style, learn how to stimulate your readers to consider spiritual things. The course will cover Using Literary Devices, How to Show instead of Tell, Keeping your Focus, Using Metaphor

Cost: $90.00. Receipt of fee confirms enrollment. Enrollment is limited. To enroll and for payment information, please visit the InScribe site here.

Format: The course will run as a Yahoo group. Students should make themselves familiar with Yahoo Groups before the course begins. A short lesson and assignment will be given at the beginning of the week. Each student will send her/his devotional to Marcia for critique. Students are also free to comment on/critique one another’s work.

Credentials: Marcia is an award-winning, published writer. She has been writing a weekly devotional column for the past 18 years and has been published in both national and provincial newspapers and magazines. Marcia has taught writing at InScribe’s conferences as well as at God Uses Ink in Ontario and through Adult Learning of Alberta. She has been invited to read at The Gathering, a yearly event for poets in Edmonton, AB., as well as the Festival of Faith and Writing, Grand Rapids Michigan. Her devotional books, The Spur of the Moment and Focused Reflections have been endorsed by Janette Oke, Phil Callaway and Mark Buchanan. Her novel, One Smooth Stone, won her the Best New Canadian Christian Author Award in 2006 and was released in Sept. 2007.

I haven’t taken this course yet myself, since I focus more on fiction, but I’ve heard many good things from Marcia’s former students.