Category Archives: Random

New Releases in Christian Fiction (October 2018)

October 2018 New Releases from Members of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW)

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.


Contemporary Romance:

A Christmas to Remember by Julie Arduini, Valerie Comer, Janet W. Ferguson, Kimberly Rose Johnson, Deb Kastner, Elizabeth Maddrey, Lindi Peterson, and Ginger Solomon — Eight authors from the popular blog Inspy Romance each share a Christmas-themed novella to put you in the mood for the season. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Their Family Legacy by Lorraine Beatty — Annie’s inheritance will provide a home for her twins and all she had to do is keep a man paying for his mistake forever. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

The Return by Marianne Evans — A prodigal who never wanted to return home must repair his family farm and rush back to the big city before an old love convinces him to stay. (Contemporary Romance from White Rose Publishing [Pelican])

A Harvest of Blessings by June Foster — When Nadia accidentally sits on a stranger’s lap in the graveyard where her late husband is buried, she’s horrified to learn the good-looking guy with salt and pepper hair is her new boss. Jared is intrigued by this beautiful woman who puts God first in her life, but his daughter isn’t ready for him to move on after his wife’s death. As Nadia and Jared try to cultivate a relationship, will they reap a Harvest of Blessings, or a season of drought? (Contemporary Romance from Forget Me Not Romance [Winged Publication])

A Sparkle of Silver by Liz Johnson — Ninety years ago, Millie Sullivan’s great-grandmother was a guest at banker Howard Dawkins’ palatial estate on the shore of St. Simons Island, Georgia. Now, Millie plays a 1920s-era guest during tours of the same manor. But when her grandmother suggests that there is a lost diary containing the location of a hidden treasure on the estate, along with the true identity of Millie’s great-grandfather, Millie sets out to find the truth of her heritage–and the fortune that might be hers. When security guard Ben Thornton discovers her snooping in the estate’s private library, he threatens to have her fired. But her story seems almost too ludicrous to be fiction, and her offer to split the treasure is too tempting to pass up . . . (Contemporary Romance from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing Group)

Reason to Breathe by Deborah Raney — At twenty-nine, Phylicia Chandler put her life on hold to care for her dying mother with her sisters, Joanna and Britt. Now Mom is gone and their father has run off with a woman young enough to be their sister. Phylicia feels stuck–until her father’s protégé, Quinn Mitchell, presents her and her two sisters with an intriguing business opportunity to purchase a trio of cottages just outside of Langhorne, Missouri. But Phylicia is skeptical. Quinn soon finds himself falling hard for Phylicia. But how can he pursue this beautiful, talented woman twelve years his junior when she’s still reeling over her father’s hasty engagement to a younger woman? Quinn is determined to give Phylicia her happily-ever-after. But first, he must help her come to terms with her discovery of long-held family secrets and persuade her that true love can transcend their differences. (Contemporary Romance from Gilead Publishing)


General/Women’s Fiction

An Amish Homecoming by Amy Clipston, Kathleen Fuller , Shelley Shepard Gray, and Beth Wiseman — A collection of four new Amish stories of coming home. (General from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)

Miles from Where We Started by Cynthia Ruchti — These no-longer-newlyweds want out of this road trip–and their marriage. Too bad they can’t find the off-ramp. (General Contemporary from Gilead Publishing)


Historical:

When the Heart Sings by Liz Tolsma — In 1943 Poland, the Nazis have forced Natia and Teodor from their peaceful farm to the harsh confines of a labor camp. When the couple is separated, Natia risks everything to send him messages through song as she passes Teodor’s dormitory. The stakes get higher when Natia finds a Jewish orphan on the doorstep where she works. She is determined to protect the boy and raise him as the child she and her husband were unable to bear—but if her German captors discover how much she’s hiding, both she and Teodor may pay the ultimate price. (Historical from Gilead Publishing)


Historical Romance:

This Courageous Journey by Misty M. Beller — When Noelle Grant sets off to visit her brother in the Canadian Rockies, the prospect of making a name for herself as a news correspondent finally seems within reach. But when the dangers become more than she bargained for, she finds herself—and the mountain man she’s come to love—in a situation more hazardous than any story her imagination could conjure. (Historical Romance, Independently Published [ACFW QIP])

The Reluctant Warrior by Mary Connealy — Union army officer Cameron Scott is used to being obeyed, but nothing about this journey to Lake Tahoe has gone as expected. He’s come to Lake Tahoe to fetch his daughter and nephew, and seek revenge on the people who killed his brother. Instead he finds himself trapped by a blizzard with two children who are terrified of him and stubborn but beautiful Gwen Harkness, who he worries may be trying to keep the children. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker] Publishing)

Enchanting Nicholette by Dawn Crandall — As she acclimates to life in Back Bay again, Nicholette Everstone meets someone she can’t help but fall for. But when she learns of the danger and sacrifices Cal Hawthorne takes on for the safety of others, will her heart be strong enough to keep her fears of “what if” at bay? (Historical Romance from Whitaker House)

The Christmas Heirloom by Kristi Ann Hunter, Sarah Loudin Thomas, Becky Wade, and Karen Witemeyer — A family heirloom brings true love to its bearers through the generations as it is handed down from mother to daughter. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker] Publishing)

A Heart for Freedom by Janet Grunst — Life was better than she dreamed, now the conflict between the British and the colonists threatened the loss of everything dear, even her husband. (Historical Romance from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

Romancing the Bride by Melissa Jagears — Marrying a stranger to save a ranch is one thing; losing the land on their wedding day is another. Desperate to keep the ranch where three of her children and a husband lie buried, Annie Gephart must marry or sell. Which of the few bachelors in town would consider a surprise proposal to wed a plain widow with a rebellious daughter, a spirited boy, and unpaid taxes—without laughing in her face? (Historical Romance, Independently Published [ACFW QIP])

The Cumberland Bride by Shannon McNear — Thomas Bledsoe and Kate Gruener are traveling the Wilderness Road when conflicts between natives and settlers reach a peak that will require each of them to tap into a well of courage. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

Mist O’er the Voyageur by Naomi Musch — Desperate to flee a cruel suitor, Metis woman Brigitte Marchal flees into the wilderness to find her long-lost, fur-trader father, but who will save her from the dangers of being a woman among a voyageurs’ brigade? (Historical Romance from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)


Romantic Suspense:

Five Years In Yemen by Luana Ehrlich — When the President issues a memorandum to bring home a military scientist who went missing in Iraq, CIA operative Titus Ray has been given the assignment. However, when the mission takes an unexpected turn after his contact is murdered in Riyadh, Titus is forced to make changes in the mission’s protocols, changes that endanger his operational team and have lasting consequences for his future. (Romantic Suspense, Independently Published [ACFW QIP])

Hidden Peril by Irene Hannon — A woman who owns a fair trade shop and a police detective find themselves plunged into international intrigue—and danger—when people connected with her shop begin dying. (Romantic Suspense from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing Group)

Burden of Proof by DiAnn Mills — A hostage negotiator is thrust into danger and betrayal when a frazzled young woman shoves a crying baby into her arms, then disappears. (Romantic Suspense from Tyndale House)


Supernatural Thriller:

Surrounded by Darkness by Rachel Dylan — When attorney Olivia Murray opens a legal clinic for victims of domestic violence in Windy Ridge, she knows she will face legal and spiritual opposition. The New Age presence has grown stronger as alliances form between groups hoping to spread their destructive way of life and gain a stronghold in the community. While the forces of evil target Olivia’s new clinic, her legal partner Grant Baxter, and her relationships, she refuses to let them stop her quest for justice. Will Olivia’s and Grant’s faith be strong enough—in God and each other—to prevail in the battle that threatens to bring darkness to the entire town? (Supernatural Thriller, Independently Published [ACFW QIP])


Speculative:

A Dance of Shadows by Erica Marie Hogan — Ten days have passed since Sundragon blood was shed for a sacrifice by Raphaela Kael. Ten days since Lathan and Maxx Jandry fled the city in search of Princess Damari Kael and their niece, Noelle. Brecken Jandry, Brae’s loyal husband, remains a tortured prisoner in the Kael dungeons and no one in Sunkai is safe from Roderick and Raphaela’s wrath. Damari Kael flees Sunkai with little Noelle Jandry, determined to deliver the child to the safety of the Shadow Lands, even as her own power emerges within her. The Eventide Sisters embark on a mission to join the Winter Queen. Across the land, Clea Jandry arrives in her birthplace of Molderëin where she is met with a savagery she thought long dead. Afra Malaki seeks the Creator’s will and the Queen of the Woodlands prepares for battle. In the peaceful city of Quintaria, the Winter Queen grieves. But the shadows are coming for her. They carry a message for Adlae Sundragon, and they will not rest until all is revealed. (Fantasy from Elk Lake Publishing, Inc.)

Body By Blood by Dr. Patrick Johnston — In the not-too-distant future, where cloned bodies are marketable commodities among the super-rich, leaving graveyards of trampled dehumanized classes in science’s wake, the richest man in the world who pioneered the breakthrough technologies learns the meaning of true love from a disabled granddaughter. (Speculative Action Adventure from Ambassador International)

Mercury Rising by Tim and Gail Sattler — Four ordinary people are thrown into an extraordinary situation when they are thrown into a diabolical plot hidden under the guise of global warming. (Contemporary Fantasy from Mantle Rock Publishing)

The Awakened by Richard Spillman — If Lazarus didn’t die a second time what would he be up to today? (Speculative from Mountain Brook Ink)

Author Interview: H.C. Beckerr

H.C. Beckerr writes Christian science fiction. His recently-released novel, Shadow of Tunguska, is the second and final instalment in the Hill of Great Darkness series, “an epic sci-fi thriller that spans two millennia and two galaxies.”

Janet: Welcome, H.C., and please tell us a bit about yourself.

H.C.: Well, Janet, I’m just an old-fashioned farm boy from the midwestern area of the U.S. I grew up in a time where folks sent their children to Sunday School to learn about Jesus and learned the difference between right and wrong.

Janet: That’s not too long in the past, but we’ve sure seen changes. Are your novels set in the near future, or farther distant?

H.C.: The entire story line of Hill of Great Darkness/Shadow of Tunguska is set in the spring/summer of 2037. So, it’s just around the corner and, truthfully, the world isn’t much different then, than it is right now.

Janet: Twenty years from now! Where did the story idea come from? [May not need this one if you were inspired by those locations I ask about next]

H.C.: Here is where y’all will go…WHAT???? Believe it or not, the idea for this story came from The Davinci Code. Yup…. that book. I gotta admit, when I read TDC I was inspired by the writing style of Mr. Brown. Especially since I had just finished a Church History class at Brookes Bible Institute (now College) in St. Louis, Missouri.  I saw how the author took real history and ‘twisted’ it into a lie (a technique I call twistery). You see, fiction is always better when based on truth. And, in my case, I wanted to bring glory to God, not shame.

Janet: Fiction based on truth feels more real, doesn’t it? The Hill of Great Darkness books are science fiction and venture into space, yet they’re tied to real but mysterious locations on earth. What kind of research did that involve?

H.C.: That was the fun part. Book 1 is all about a location here in the Midwest known as Cahokia Mounds Historical Site, an area of earthen mounds built by the Mississippian culture between about eight hundred to twelve hundred AD. Somewhere in the latter years the entire culture disappeared without a trace. Sounds like sci-fi to me (or, as I like to call what I write; Chri-fi…Christian science fiction).

Anyway… Book 2 picks up three months after the end of Book 1. It really is not a sequel so much as the end of the story. I wanted to go somewhere else on Earth that would be just as much an enigma as Cahokia so I (more or less) immediately turned to the Tunguska Region of Siberia where, in 1908, some sort of cataclysmic explosion occurred. We are talking of a blast that was one thousand times bigger than Hiroshima. This event leveled over seven hundred square miles of deep forest. Now, there’s something to lie…um, I mean, write about!!!  

Janet: In your research, what’s the strangest bit of trivia you’ve picked up?

H.C.: That’s easy…. Cahokia Mounds at its zenith was a metropolitan area that was only equaled in size by Paris, France, which happened to be the largest city on Earth at that time.

Also worth mentioning is Lake Cheko in Siberia, which, according to eyewitnesses to the Tunguska Event, did not exist before that fateful morning in 1908.

That’s some cool stuff to think about!

Janet: Indeed! Now, your novels include strong female characters. Are they more difficult to write, as a male author?

H.C.: Not at all. The dynamics are individualized to the point that each character is a joy to create. And, if I may; the story itself is what allowed the characters to come alive. To be real.

Janet: Do you have a favourite character in the books?

H.C.:  That’s easy. Simone Sytte (that’s See-yet-tea). I don’t remember if I have shared this with you before, but Simone is a confluence of three people I have ‘met’. Her lineage as a Ugandan is from a young woman that I had taught alongside in a preschool class at my church. She was, if I remember correctly, from Kenya. I loved to hear her speak English with her deep African accent! Another person who is part of Simone’s soul is another lady from my church who was involve in our music ministry. A very strong Christian with the reality of not always being perfect. And…never hiding that fact. Thirdly… Simone’s physical stature is borrowed from a fictional character from (I know you’ve been expecting this) one of the Star Wars movies; Episode 2, on a planet where clones were being made into an army by a race of tall, slender aliens (and NO… I don’t believe in aliens. Ask me about that one sometime when you can afford the time…. Ha!).

Janet: Simone is my favourite character, too, as a reader, likely in part because she’s exceptional but not perfect – and she trusts Jesus even when there’s crisis all around her. Why is it important to you to include faith in your fiction?

H.C.: That’s probably the easiest question of all, Janet. My faith in the God of the Bible through His Son Jesus Christ is the only reason I write! I want to share the glorious hope of the Gospel message in any way I can.

Janet: Jesus used story, too! What got you started writing?

H.C.: Here is where you will get a laugh; In grade school!!! I can remember writing short little stories in 5th or 6th grade and selling them for a few pennies so I could get an extra half pint of chocolate milk… always an entrepreneur, LOL!!!!!!!

Janet: My friend, Kimberley Payne, would call you an authorpreneur. I love it. What do you like best about the writing life?

H.C.: Creating. That is the plain truth. To sit back, come up with an idea and start writing; all the while letting God have the reins to take the story where He wants it to go.

Janet: Do you have any advice for beginning writers?

H.C.: I think the main driving force behind Hill of Great Darkness was the fact that I refused to one day find myself lying upon my death bed wondering; What if I had only just tried? If a person has an idea or the urge/dream to write… write! Don’t worry about whether or not it will sell. Don’t listen to naysayers…WRITE!!!!

Janet: Simple advice, and wise. We never know until we make the effort. Is there a particular song or Scripture verse that’s made a big difference for you?

H.C.: I Can Only Imagine by Mercy Me. One day we will see our Savior face to face and I long/hope for Him to look at me and say, “Well done!” or…in the words of the President of the United States at the end of the movie Independence Day, “Not bad…not bad at all!!!

Janet: I love that song, too. And yes, one day… Now, from the profound to the superficial: Chocolate or vanilla? Morning person or night owl?

H.C.: C.H.O.C.O.L.A.T.E.  And not ‘white’ chocolate…I call that vanilla!  Morning or night, hmmm…that’s a tough one. Try getting back to me on that one after a gallon of coffee…

Janet: Tell us something you appreciate about where you live.

H.C.: Gotta say, the beauty of God’s world where I live. The midwestern United States has a beauty all its own and I am so blessed to live here. Not to mention the fact that I grew up going on picnics to the Cahokia Mounds Site. Always loved that place… the mystery and grandeur of it all.

Janet: What do you like to do to recharge?

H.C.: You know, even Jesus needed some down time to recharge! I like to hike and bike ride out in the great outdoors. There is something ever so precious about being alone with the Lord, outdoors in His creation! Then, there is also worship. Whether alone (in the aforementioned outdoors) or corporately with my brothers and sisters. Life is so good when you are in love with your Creator and God! Amen!!!

Janet: Amen indeed. Thanks for visiting, H.C., and sharing these behind-the-scenes details. All the best with your writing and with life!

===

Shadow of Tunguska, by H. C. Beckerr

Shadow of Tunguska: Hill of Great Darkness Book II presents the final chapters of a saga that weaves together the tale of the surviving crew members of the space craft Magellan as they wake up in a top-secret lunar base station. On Earth, tensions mount as the nation’s masses face a worldwide economic takeover. Meanwhile, a small contingent of American explorers braving the Siberian wilderness make a startling discovery at the site of the 1908 impact of an errant black hole.

Shadow of Tunguska website: shadowoftunguska.com

H.C. Beckerr’s blog: shadowoftunguska.com/blog

Schedule Change

Things have been different here on my blog lately, and it’s time to redefine the schedule. On Tuesdays, you may find a book review. On Fridays, another post or guest post. Some weeks there may be a gap, if I don’t have anything particular I’d like to share.

Almost nine years ago, I started posting weekly devotionals, and every week God showed me something that I could share, usually something I needed for myself as well. Sometimes it didn’t come until Tuesday evening for a Wednesday morning post, but it always came. (Except for the one week when He sent me back to a previous post I needed to re-read, so I re-posted that.)

It reached the point where I didn’t stress if nothing had appeared yet, because He always provided. That’s how I knew the devotionals were something He wanted me to write, and I committed to share them every week as long as He gave them.

When nothing came even by bedtime on a Tuesday not long ago, I thought, okay, this is a new stretch. Maybe first thing in the morning. I like to schedule my posts ahead of time, but perhaps the lesson was in flexibility.

Wednesday morning’s reading and prayer time brought nothing: no insight to share, no stress, just a surreal sense of… nothing.

My prayer for these posts has always been, “Lord, let me hear what You say. Don’t let me make anything up.” So there was no devotional post that day. Nor has there been one since.

Not that He’s stopped teaching me, but there’s been nothing to share here. It feels like that door has closed, and I’m okay with that. Surprised, but okay.

Is this an end of a season, or a hiatus? I guess we’ll find out in time. For now, I’m grateful for the privilege to have been part of what He was doing in this way, and I’m grateful to those who’ve occasionally let me know how He used something I said in their lives. Those are the reward moments for a writer.

Thanks for taking this journey with me. I’m still writing, working on my first Green Dory Inn Mystery, and there’s a nonfiction project in the works, too.

Devotional-wise, God will continue blessing and teaching and challenging you through other voices. His love, mercy, and saving power is greater than we can imagine.

If you haven’t yet discovered them, here are my three favourite devotional resources:

I can’t pass up the opportunity to share one last song. There are so many to choose from, but let’s go out with one that celebrates God’s character and His tenacity: “God Undefeatable,” from Todd Agnew.

Without Proof Short-listed for Award

Without Proof [Redemption's Edge 3]The Word Awards short-list is out, for work published in 2015. I’m excited that Without Proof is one of the three novels in the Suspense category.

I’ve read the other two novels in that category, and they’re excellent reads: Shadow of a Butterfly, by J.A. Menzies, and Desperate Measures, by Sandra Orchard.

You can see the full list of books, articles, songs etc here: The Word Awards short-list. Results will be announced in June.

Cocoa White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies

Each novel in my Redemption’s Edge series has a recipe that’s significant to one of the characters. In Secrets and Lies, Carol does a lot of baking, at the café where she works, at home, and even a private catering stint. Baking is one of her coping mechanisms, and if she can give away the results, it’s less for her to eat. These are similar to the cookies she dropped off at Joey’s radio station for him and his co-workers. Recipe: Cocoa White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies (from Secrets and Lies, Redemption's Edge Book 2)

Celebrating Christmas

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Here’s a song you may not have heard: A Day of Glory, from Austin Stone Worship‘s album of the same name. (One of my favourite Christmas albums)

 

If You Love Christian Music

I think it was 2008 that I first heard Geoff Moore sing. I went home and forgot his name, his songs… but I remembered this guy who sang like he loved the Lord, so much that he practically glowed with it. When he came back to Halifax with Steven Curtis Chapman in 2011, I didn’t recognize his name. When he started to sing, I knew him.

I loved the songs he sang that night, bought his new album, Saying Grace, and loved it so much that I ordered some of his older material online. Buying a CD when you’ve just experienced a live performance is risky, as a couple of dusty cases in my stack will prove. But his songs fit into my soul at first hearing like they’d been there all along.

If you’ve followed many of my Wednesday devotionals, you’ve noticed I end each one with a YouTube video of a song related to the message. These are often songs I’m especially fond of, and every so often one of those songs is from Geoff Moore.

He’s planning a new album, and he’s funding it through Kickstarter. It’s called New Stories, and this is what he says in summary:

This August, 31 years after making my first album, I will be heading into the studio to make my 15th album. It will be an album of songs that explore the things I love; about the thoughts on my mind, the people in my heart, and the God in whom I believe in.

This project is only open for funding until August 30, so check out the details now while there’s time. If the video clip below doesn’t work, or for more details, head over to the Kickstarter campaign page. [If you’re not familiar with Geoff Moore’s music, he’s offering Saying Grace free at NoiseTrade for a limited time. Listen to the music: “I Believe,” “Loved” and “The Wonder of Kindness” are my favourites. If you love it, support this next album.]

If you’ve never been part of a Kickstarter campaign, it’s painless. It’s kind of like pre-ordering the final product. There are various levels of support, and if the project isn’t fully funded, you don’t lose your money. I’ve picked up a few albums and other products this way.

[Note: if you support this campaign, I gain nothing — except that when it’s fully funded, I’ll get the CD that I pledged for.]

Our Part in the Whole

Some of us like teamwork, and others prefer to work alone. As an introvert – and a writer – I’m used to solitary efforts. Even there, it’s good to know I’m connected to friends and co-labourers. We need one another, for support, encouragement, and perspective.

Volunteers painting a concrete barricade wall in Saint John, NB, May 2015

I took this photo when my husband and I were in Saint John, NB, in May. These volunteers worked together to repaint the city’s Marigolds Mural and turn it back into a feast of colours for locals and tourists to enjoy.

Nobody’d want to do the whole thing, but together 150+ volunteers did it in a day. I don’t think any of them were professional artists. It doesn’t matter. They saw a need, and they met it. (You can read CBC’s coverage here: Marigold mural revived in Saint John.)

Here’s more of the wall:

Volunteers painting a concrete barricade wall in Saint John, NB, May 2015

What could you or I do, that may not seem like much but could be part of a greater whole? Little contributions add up.

Tea and Spontaneity

My husband and I can offer visitors over 50 varieties of tea, from one of perhaps 10 pots, in any of a frighteningly large number of mugs or cups. [If that worries you, well it worries me too and I’m on a new mission to downsize our tea capacity — since I don’t want to open a tea room!]

Suffice to say, we love our tea. So this building was iconic to me when I saw it recently in Saint John, New Brunswick.

Red Rose Tea Building, Saint John, NB

Red Rose Tea Building, Saint John, NB “Only in Canada, you say?”

Here’s a link to Red Rose’s history of tea.

You can’t read much of this photo, but part of the text explains that King Cole tea originated with Barbour’s General Store.

Harbour Passage's tourist information: A Legacy of Tea

Here’s a link to Barbour’s history of King Cole tea. Writing this post, I discovered there’s actually a tea museum in the General Store. That would have been fun to explore when I was wandering around the city. (I did have a mighty fine cone of gelato, though.)

On a somewhat related note, check out what my brother and sister-in-law gave me for my birthday.

Teacup-shaped planter with pansies

So that’s the tea. Where’s the spontaneity? We were in Saint John for a Barbershop competition (my husband co-directs the newly-formed Halifax Harmonizers (who took second place) and sings in two quartets (September Sound competed and also took second place in their event). The competition was held in the gorgeous and historic Saint John High School. The school has flat, wide, marble banisters. Without those nasty impediments most schools put at the bottom to discourage sliding.

Blurred image of Janet sliding down the banister

Janet in action: moving too fast for the camera!