Tag Archives: Bonnie Grove

2010 Canadian Christian Writing Awards

The Word Guild’s 2010 Canadian Christian Writing Awards were presented on June 16 in Mississauga, Ontario, recognizing work published in 2009. For a complete list, see The Word Guild Awards site.

The awards cover articles, blog entries, reviews, short fiction… and books. Some of these books I’ve reviewed, and others are on my ‘to read’ list. If you’re looking for some good reading this summer, you might check these out:

Apologetics: Red Letter Revolution: If We Did Revolution Jesus’ Way by Colin McCartney (Castle Quay Books)

Biblical Studies: Jesus, the Final Days by Craig Evans (Augsburg Fortress Canada)

Children: Terrific Tuesday by Wendy van Leeuwen (Gumboot Books)

Christian Living: Beyond the Clutter: Discovering Personal Authenticity by David Wiens (Word Alive Press)

Christian Living Award of Merit: Master Mind: Thinking Like God by Dwight J. Olney (Word Alive Press)

Culture: Ninety-Nine Windows: Reflections of a Reporter from Arabia to Africa and Other Roads Less Travelled by Thomas Froese (Essence Publishing)

Culture Award of Merit: The Tender Heart of a Beast by Michael “Bull” Roberts (Trimatrix Management Consulting Inc.)

General Readership: The Tender Heart of a Beast by Michael “Bull” Roberts (Trimatrix Management Consulting Inc.)

General Readership Award of Merit: The Little Ones by M.D. Meyer (Word Alive Press)

Independently Published Fiction: The Lathe of God—A Quest For Noah’s Ark by Angus L. Franklin (iUniverse Inc.)

Independently Published Fiction Award of Merit: The Little Ones by M.D. Meyer (Word Alive Press)

Independently Published Non-fiction: In the Arms of my Beloved – A Journey through Breast Cancer by Sandra Crawford (independently published)

Independently Published Non-fiction Award of Merit: The Bishop or the King: How the Anglican Church of Canada Has Failed to Defend Its King by Ron Corcoran (Essence Publishing)

Instructional: The Leadership Edge: Seven Keys to Dynamic Christian Leadership for Women by Eileen Stewart-Rhude (Castle Quay Books)

Instructional Award of Merit: Your Best You: Discovering and Developing the Strengths God Gave You by Bonnie Grove (Beacon Hill Press)

Leadership/Theoretical: Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview and Cultural Formation by James K.A. Smith (Baker Publishing Group)

Leadership/Theoretical Award of Merit: 1 and 2 Peter: Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible by Douglas Harink (Brazos Press)

Life Stories: In the Eye of Deception by Nikki Rosen (McMaster University: Innovative Press)

Life Stories Award of Merit: The Bishop or the King: How the Anglican Church of Canada Has Failed to Defend Its King by Ron Corcoron (Essence Publishing)

Relationship: Majesty in Motion: Creating an Encouragement Culture in All Your Relationships by Stewart Brown (Word Alive Press)

Special: One Goal: A Praise and Prayer Journal by Gerry Organ (Word Alive Press)

Novel—Young Adult: If Only You Knew by Mags Storey (Kregel Publishing)

Novel—Contemporary: Talking to the Dead: A Novel by Bonnie Grove (David C. Cook)

Novel—Futuristic/Fantasy: After the Flood by Shane Joseph (Hidden Book Press)

Novel—Mystery/Suspense: Captives of Minara by Eric E. Wright (Word Alive Press)

Novel—Romance: If Only You Knew by Mags Storey (Kregel Publishing)

Novel—Romance Award of Merit: Shadows on the River by Linda Hall (Harlequin/Steeple Hill)

Writing Contest

InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship has announced details of its annual fall contest.

This year there are four categories:

  • Poetry – free verse – maximum 40 lines
  • Short story for adults – maximum 1,500 words
  • Devotional – maximum 500 words
  • Essay to theme – This year’s theme is: “What the Lord Requires” (Micah 6:8) – maximum 1,500 words

Entries must be postmarked by August 21, 2009. See InScribe’s Fall Contest page for rules and entry information.

Check out the InScribe home page for links to writing tips and information on the Fall Contest, featuring speakers Bonnie Grove and Kathleen Gibson, with Barbara Mitchell and Marilyn Hahn. InScribe’s Fall Conference will be held in Edmonton, Canada, September 25-26, 2009.

Review: Talking to the Dead, by Bonnie Grove

Book cover: Talking to the Dead, by Bonnie Grove

Talking to the Dead, by Bonnie Grove (David C. Cook, 2009)

I’d expect most novels that start in the aftermath of a funeral to be dull. Not Talking to the Dead. Kate’s grief has left her numb, but it’s not boring-numb. It’s an odd detachment that has her seeing the world in a realistically-offbeat way.

In the first chapter, she reflects, “Funerals exist so we can close doors we’d rather leave open. But where did we get the idea that the best approach to facing death is to eat Bundt cake?” (p. 13)

Kate doesn’t pull me into a shared grief or depression, but she does draw me into her quirky observations of a world from which she’s been abruptly dislocated – and into her quest to get back.

Talking to the Dead is a compelling story of one woman’s struggle to find answers: What belongs in the holes in her memory? Who can help her deal with her grief? And why does her dead husband keep talking to her? (This isn’t a ghost story, by the way.)

As Kate’s world falls apart, readers feel we’re right there with her – except the book’s quirky humour keeps us sane. Kate runs from one type of help to another – books, counsellors, even a toxic preacher – in her search for wholeness. In the end, it’s friends and relationships, basic human kindness, along with Kate’s spiritual pilgrimage, that help her let go of the past and choose to step into a new future.

This is neither a philosophical book nor a slow read. Kate feels like a real person, and the pages practically turn themselves. Bonnie Grove’s writing flows fresh and lively, with splashes of humour and intriguing turns of phrase.

Look at these: “I … looked up into the early June sky. The clouds were an unmade bed.” (p. 15) Can’t you see it? And “Fatigue filled the small spaces between my bones.” (p. 17) At that point I stopped taking notes and settled in to enjoy the story.

Talking to the Dead isn’t a particularly happy story, although it’s not really sad either. It feels like a quest for truth. And the ending satisfies. If you like to read with an eye open for themes, check out Bonnie’s suggested things to look for in the novel.

Canadian author Bonnie Grove is also the author of Your Best You. Talking to the Dead is her first novel.

Bonnie’s tag line is “Life is messy. God is love.”

That sums it up, doesn’t it?

Canadian author Bonnie Grove has a background in psychology, counselling, and theology. She says, “I’m endlessly fascinated by grace. All my writing, short stories, novels, non-fiction – the whole shebang – are explorations of God’s grace at work in the world.” As well as Talking to the Dead, she is the author of Your Best You (non-fiction).

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Review: Your Best You, by Bonnie Grove

Your Best You, by Bonnie Grove (Beacon Hill Press, 2009)

Your Best You, subtitled “Discovering and Developing the Strengths God Gave You,” is about just that: finding positive ways to grow into the unique, effective individuals we were designed to be.

If you’re struggling with an addiction or a stubborn habit, the book won’t be a quick fix but it’s a powerful tool to help you change – if you’re willing to work at changing. Note that the author’s description of stubborn habits includes negative thinking and gossip, not just physical behaviours like smoking or overeating.

Maybe you’re not looking to break any destructive patterns like these. This is still a book worth reading. I didn’t approach it with any sense of felt need to make a change, but I found the exercises on discovering my strengths very enlightening.

The book cover is a clever play on author Bonnie Grove’s method of “trying on” different possibilities for change. Unfortunately, it also implies a limited target readership. Your Best You is a valuable tool for everyone. If you’re a man – or a woman to whom the cover screams “not for you!” – please take a look at the back cover and read the summary, or read some reviews to see what it’s really about.

I’d never articulated my strengths in this way before, nor considered applying them to various facets of my life. Having done so, I’m beginning to see changes. For example, I’m using creativity and organization (with prayer!) to better manage my time and to pre-plan meals. And I’m using perseverance to actually do what’s on my list instead of putting it off. Prayer and persistence will be needed to keep me on track!

Your Best You offers a fresh approach to making changes: first keep a log to discover patterns and triggers, then articulate your goals and explore how to employ your strengths to reach them. I like the Bonnie Grove’s emphasis on not asking “what’s wrong?” so much as asking “what’s right, and how can I use that to make changes?”

The book is filled with charts and questions to help discover your strengths (the author calls them “reflections of God’s image in you”). It may be tempting to skip the application/fill-in sections, to think “I already know this” but it’s very helpful to stop and work them through. I learned a lot.

The questions are designed for reflecting or daydreaming in a positive manner. Daydreaming is one of the author’s strengths, and this may be harder for those who lack it, but these are valuable exercises. There are plenty of examples for those who have trouble filling out inventories. I would have liked to have a list of possible strengths, for those who aren’t strong at critical thinking or observing patterns, but the examples helped.

The author acknowledges that many readers may cringe at allowing ourselves to look at our successes and explore our strengths, as if it’s boastful or self-exalting. However, the point of the exercises is to give God the glory, not to congratulate ourselves. Grove invites us to see what God has done so we can cooperate with Him as He keeps working, and she draws an interesting parallel to the miracle of the loaves and fishes: if we give our gifts back to Jesus, how might He multiply them?

Identifying our strengths, and identifying behaviours we want to change, leads to making “do-able” short goals on the way to reaching long-term goals. Grove likens it to a “you are here” map: first you have to find where you are in relation to what’s around you, then find where you want to go. Then you can plan how to get there.

Prayer is a key element in discovering and implementing this plan. Readers are encouraged to “try on” their strengths in making desired changes, with the expectation that some things will “fit” while others will need adjusting. Grove asks readers to keep a journal of positive results.

One thing she stresses for the journey is the importance of being kind to yourself. Change is a process, and we need to set up meaningful rewards to meet the needs we formerly tried to satisfy through whatever behaviour we want to leave behind.

Kindness to ourselves includes keeping a “strength to change” journal, where each day we record one positive thing we did, chart our progress, and talk to God about the journey. The book includes a wonderful exercise that has readers stop and think about the ways we’ve seen God’s touch on our lives and consider how we know He’s with us.

Relying on God and on one or two trusted and supportive friends is key to our success in the journey to change. Follow-up exercises at the end of the book equip us to plan for continued success so that we don’t revert to what we’ve so intentionally left behind.

Readers can use Your Best You as a workbook for “discovering and developing the strengths God gave us.” Combined with prayer, it can be a powerful tool for positive change in our lives.

You can read an excerpt of Your Best You here.

Blogging on “Fiction Matters”

Pop, there it is: the perfect title for your story. Perhaps it even comes first, teasing you to discover a plot to do it justice. Or perhaps it has to be coaxed from some deep pocket of your brain.

If you’re a writer who’d like some help with titling your work, pop over to Bonnie’ Grove’s Fiction Matters blog. I’m happy to be part of the lineup of guest bloggers, and I share what’s helped me in finding titles for my stories. [Edit: Guest post is under the pen name of Joanna Mallory, which I was using at the time.]