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2010 CHRISTY AWARD NOMINEES

2010 CHRISTY AWARD NOMINEES, and KEYNOTE SPEAKER ANNOUNCED

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—The Christy Advisory Board is pleased to announce nominees in nine categories for the 2010 Christy Awards honoring Christian fiction. The Christy Awards will be conferred in advance of the International Christian Retailing Show at a ceremony at the Renaissance St. Louis Grand Hotel, Sat., June 26, 2010, at 7:30 p.m.

Author and entrepreneur Lisa Samson, a two-time Christy Award winner and seven-time nominee, will present the keynote address.

THE 2010 CHRISTY AWARD NOMINEES ARE:

CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE


Breach of Trust by DiAnn Mills • Tyndale House Publishers
How Sweet It Is by Alice J. Wisler • Bethany House Publishers (Baker Publishing Group)
Stand-In Groom by Kaye Dacus • Barbour Publishing

CONTEMPORARY SERIES, SEQUELS, AND NOVELLAS



Who Do I Talk To? by Neta Jackson • Thomas Nelson
The Hope of Refuge by Cindy Woodsmall • WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group
Daisy Chain by Mary DeMuth • Zondervan

CONTEMPORARY STANDALONE



June Bug by Chris Fabry • Tyndale House Publishers
The Passion of Mary-Margaret by Lisa Samson • Thomas Nelson
Veiled Freedom by Jeanette Windle • Tyndale House Publishers

FIRST NOVEL



The Familiar Stranger by Christina Berry • Moody Publishers
Fireflies in December by Jennifer Erin Valent • Tyndale House Publishers
Scared by Tom Davis • David C. Cook

HISTORICAL



A Flickering Light by Jane Kirkpatrick • WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group
Though Waters Roar by Lynn Austin • Bethany House Publishers (Baker Publishing Group)
The Swiss Courier by Tricia Goyer & Mike Yorkey • Revell Books (Baker Publishing Group)

HISTORICAL ROMANCE †



Beyond This Moment by Tamera Alexander • Bethany House Publishers (Baker Publishing Group)
A Bride in the Bargain by Deeanne Gist • Bethany House Publishers (Baker Publishing Group)
The Inheritance by Tamera Alexander • Thomas Nelson
The Silent Governess by Julie Klassen • Bethany House Publishers (Baker Publishing Group)

SUSPENSE



Intervention by Terri Blackstock • Zondervan
Lost Mission by Athol Dickson • Howard Books: a Division of Simon & Schuster
The Night Watchman by Mark Mynheir • WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group

VISIONARY



By Darkness Hid by Jill Williamson • Marcher Lord Press
The Enclave by Karen Hancock • Bethany House Publishers (Baker Publishing Group)
Valley of the Shadow by Tom Pawlik • Tyndale House Publishers

YOUNG ADULT



Beautiful by Cindy Martinusen-Coloma • Thomas Nelson
The Blue Umbrella by Mike Mason • David C. Cook
North! or Be Eaten by Andrew Peterson • WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group

Visit the Christy Award website at ChristyAwards.com


The Christy Awards are also online at:
Facebook: facebook.com/ChristyAward

Twitter: twitter.com/ChristyAward

SHE WALKS IN BEAUTY BY SIRI MITCHELL

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

She Walks in Beauty
Bethany House (April 2010)
by

Siri Mitchell

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Siri Mitchell graduated from the University of Washington with a business degree and worked in various levels of government. As a military spouse, she has lived all over the world, including in Paris and Tokyo. Siri enjoys observing and learning from different cultures. She is fluent in French and loves sushi.

But she is also a member of a strange breed of people called novelists. When they’re listening to a sermon and taking notes, chances are, they’ve just had a great idea for a plot or a dialogue. If they nod in response to a really profound statement, they’re probably thinking, “Yes. Right. That’s exactly what my character needs to hear.” When they edit their manuscripts, they laugh at the funny parts. And cry at the sad parts. Sometimes they even talk to their characters.

Siri wrote 4 books and accumulated 153 rejections before signing with a publisher. In the process, she saw the bottoms of more pints of Ben & Jerry’s than she cares to admit. At various times she has vowed never to write another word again. Ever. She has gone on writing strikes and even stooped to threatening her manuscripts with the shredder.
ABOUT THE BOOK
For a young society woman seeking a favorable marriage, so much depends on her social season debut. Clara Carter has been given one goal: secure the affections of the city's most eligible bachelor.

Debuting means plenty of work--there are corsets to be fitted, dances to master, manners to perfect. Her training soon pays off, however, as celebrity's spotlight turns Clara into a society-page darling.

Yet Clara soon wonders if this is the life she really wants. Especially when she learns her best friend has also set her sights on Franklin De Vries.

When a man appears who seems to love her simply for who she is and gossip backlash turns ugly, Clara realizes it's not just her marriage at stake--the future of her family depends on how she plays the game.

If you would like to read the first chapter of She Walks in Beauty, go HERE.

JUST LIKE YOU by MARLA STEWART KONRAD - FIRST CHAPTER

                                                          Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:

Zonderkidz (March 9, 2010)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:




Marla Stewart Konrad is keenly interested in global issues and has a special concern for the well-being of children. Her career as a speechwriter and communications professional has taken her to numerous countries in Asia and Africa. She lives near Toronto, Canada, with her family, and is the author of several books for children.



Product Details:

List Price: $15.99
Reading level: Ages 4-8
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Zonderkidz (March 9, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0310714788
ISBN-13: 978-0310714781

Please Click the Button to Browse Inside the Book:


THE ANONOYMOUS BRIDE by VICKIE McDONOUGH - REVIEWED


This week, the


Christian Fiction Blog Alliance


is introducing


The Anonymous Bride
Barbour Publishing, Inc. (April 1, 2010)



by
Vickie McDonough

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Award-winning author Vickie McDonough believes God is the ultimate designer of romance. She loves writing stories where the characters find their true love and grow in their faith.

Vickie has had 18 books published. She is an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers, and is currently serving as ACFW treasurer. Vickie has also been a book reviewer for nine years.

She is a wife of thirty-five years, mother of four sons, and grandmother to a feisty four-year-old girl. When not writing, she enjoys reading, watching movies, and traveling.

ABOUT THE BOOK

How many brides does one man need?
It's been years, but Luke Davis is back--older and wiser--and still alone. Returning as Lookout's new town marshal, Luke is determined to face the past and move on. He flippantly tells his cousin he'd get married if the right woman ever came along. But then he discovers that the woman who betrayed him is now a widow, and all his plans fall at his feet.

Rachel has carried her guilty shame for eleven years. Her marriage to James Hamilton was not what Luke or the town thought it to be. Now James is dead, and her long-time love for Luke is reignited with his return to town. So when three mail-order brides appear, she panics.

Could they possible find love a second time?

Rachel begs his forgiveness, but Luke finds he has none to give.

And then the brides arrive. Three of them--ordered for Luke through newspaper ads by his incorrigible cousins. The only place in town for them to stay is Rachel's boardinghouse. And none of the ladies is willing to let Luke go. When choosing a bride becomes a contest, the chaos that ensues is almost funny.

When the mayor forces Luke to pick a bride or lose his job, will Luke listen to his heart that still longs for Rachel or choose one of the mail-order brides?

Will Rachel find the courage to tell Luke that she loves him? Or take an anonymous part in the contest for his hand?

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Anonymous Bride, go HERE.


THE ANONYMOUS BRIDE

By Vicki McDonough
Published By: Barbour
ISBN#978-1-60260-696-8
347 Pages

Back Cover: Luke Davis, marshal of Lookout, Texas, flippantly tells his cousin he'd get married if the right woman ever came along. When three mail-order brides are delivered to Luke a month later, he's in an uncomfortable predicament. How will he ever choose his mate? Rachel Hamilton's long-time love for Luke is reignited with his return to town. So when three mail-order brides appear, she panics. Will she find the courage to tell Luke that she loves him? Or take an anonymous part in the contest for his hand?

Review: The Anonymous Bride is a fun filled Wild West adventure I couldn’t put down and didn’t want to end. I enjoyed every minute of this book - a book that gets to the heart and truth about forgiveness, what it is, what it looks like and how we can begin to forgive ourselves and others in our lives. This is the first book I've read by this author. I’m so thankful for a review copy of such a fun and meaningful book.


I instantly adored the author's characters. Their intetaction reminded me a little bit of how the Clampets related to one another in the show 'Beverly Hillbillies'—western style! I smiled whenever young Jacqueline, who insisted on being called Jack, spoke up. Here is what she says to the new Marshall, “You put that dog in jail? What did he do?”

“Stealing and being a public nuisance.” Marshall says forcing away a grin....“heard tell he snatched a pie right out of Myrtle Williams’ kitchen window.”


“Marshall, what’s gonna happen to the dog? You ain’t gonna hang’m are you?", Jack said in all seriousness.


I loved Jack’s zest for life, her innocence and how she wasn’t afraid to tell people what she thought. Rachael Hamilton, Jack’s mom, who’s lived in the town of Lookout most of her life, thought things were good until Luke Davis came back to town as the new Marshall. There were hurt feelings between the two of them and for good reason! Could Luke Davis ever forgive Rachael for her betrayal? Rachael didn’t think so—could she take his daily rejection?

Three young ladies show up in their little town, claiming to be mail-order brides for Marshall Luke Davis. Luke doesn’t know anything about these ladies and the whole town explodes in excitement trying to make sense of it all. The Mayor suggests a contest between the women to win the Marshall’s favor and create some fun for the town - and boy did the fun begin!!

This is the first book in the Texas Broadinghouse series by Vickie McDonough. The sequel "Second Chance Brides" will be released the Fall of 2010...I can’t wait.

Nora St.Laurent
ACFW Book Club Coordinator

WILDCARD TOUR- RESTORATION ROAD by MITCH KRUSE & DEREK WILLIAMS

Today's Wild Card authors are:


and the book:

Credo House Publishers; 1 edition (March 7, 2010)



ABOUT THE AUTHORS:


Dr. Mitchell Kruse is an author, speaker, and the driving force behind The Restoration Road, a ministry movement that equips believers to live authentically where culture connects with Christ. Kruse is best known for his contribution to the auction arena, especially in the area of collector cars and real estate. For seventeen years, Kruse was owner, CEO, and auctioneer of Kruse International, the world’s largest collector car sales organization. Kruse was the youngest licensed Realtor in the nation and the first person to sell a vehicle for a documented one million dollars cash, while he earned his Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration from Indiana University.

For more than a decade, Derek Williams has worked with those who have a heart for compassion. His experiences in both church ministry and the entertainment industry have allowed him to build a company that combines media with compassion efforts. A few of his credits include: Executive Producer on Break Through with Tommy Walker: Live At Saddleback, in partnership with Purpose Driven Ministries. He was also writer and producer for The Invitation, a short-film and music project that captured the lives of 14,000 families living in a city landfill in the Philippines. Over the last decade, he has been a leader and producer for independent projects that have generated over $1 million for compassion efforts.

Visit the author's website.



Product Details:

List Price: $17.50
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Credo House Publishers; 1 edition (March 7, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1935391313
ISBN-13: 978-1935391319

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


sanD, stone, anD clay


In the small French town of Molsheim, a mystery remained unearthed inside the estate of famed automobile designer Ettore Bugatti. A vision, first shaped in a clay mold, was later transformed into seven of the most magnificent vehicles ever crafted--the Bugatti Royales.


These breathtaking vehicles were launched just as the world economy began to sour on the verge of the Great Depression. All seven had been built by 1933. They were enormous, with a 169.3 inch wheelbase and an overall length up to twenty-one feet--five feet longer than today's average car length of sixteen feet. They sported the first true “bling,” with twenty-four inch rims to support their 7,000 pound body. The 12.7 L “straight 8” engine produced up to 300 horsepower, with cylinders bored 5.1 inches, each discharging more horsepower than the entire engine of a contemporary Type 40 touring car of its day.


The Bugattis were rolling sculptures. And one man, now driving through Molsheim's Nouveau Quartier, was nearing the end of his quest to uncover these works of art.


Briggs knew that four of the Bugattis had already been sold, and the seventh one made had been destroyed by fire. But the remaining two were still missing. He slowed the truck along a dirt road as two refrigerators bounced back and forth in the back, and stopped at a wrought iron gate just outside of Bugatti's estate.


Ten minutes later Briggs stood in the main hall, surrounded by paintings and photos of Ettore's grand accomplishments. One piece of sculpture struck Briggs as unique. It was a statue of a boy kneeling before his father. Etched into the stone were the words, The Prodigal Son Returns. It was a beautiful work of art by Rembrandt himself--Rembrandt Bugatti, that is. Ettore's brother was a world-renowned sculptor who had added his considerable talent to the designs of the famed Bugatti Royales.


A woman's voice echoed through the hall.


“Good afternoon, Mr. Cunningham.”


“Therese, it's so good to see you again,” Briggs replied.


Therese was all business.


“As I mentioned to you yesterday, I'm not sure how much help I can be. However, you are welcome to take a look around.”


“Great! I'd like to start in your father's study.”


“Very well.”


Briggs followed Therese down several corridors. He glanced into the rooms as they passed by and noticed all of them were empty. It seemed that the cost of the war had wounded even those whom society had previously deemed untouchable.


Therese stopped at a mahogany door and reached for a key. Years had passed since anyone had entered this forgotten place--until now. As she swung the door open, Briggs noticed that this room was still fully furnished. Inside was a beautiful wooden desk and two leather chairs facing an old, red-brick fireplace. In the far corner, a sledgehammer stood propped next to a gas lantern.


Therese waited in the doorway as Briggs stepped inside. It had been years since her father had passed, and this unexpected visit had flooded her with forgotten memories, none of which had occurred in this room.


“Mr. Cunningham, what is it you do?”


“I build race cars,” Briggs replied. “And I've been captivated by the beautiful automobiles your father built for quite some time.”


He ran his fingers over the aged brick and wondered if he was about to unlock a piece of history. Could the stories he'd heard possibly be true?


“Whether I find what I'm looking for or not,” Briggs said as he reached into his pocket and handed Therese an envelope, “this is for you. And, as promised, the refrigerators are outside.”


“Thank you,” she replied.


Briggs' eyes gleamed with excitement as he glanced back toward the brick wall at the south corner. He was here to find an authentic original. Without another word, he picked up the sledgehammer and pounded into the center of the wall. As he did so, pieces of brick scattered in all directions.


Therese was stunned by this sudden burst of destructive energy, but she continued to watch, a bit bewildered by what unfolded before her. Even though reluctant to admit it, she was captivated by what this American might find hidden after all these years. All the while she told herself that her memories of her father and the legacy he had left behind were greater than any artifact that might now be uncovered.


Sweat poured down Briggs' face as he swung the hammer again and again. Thirty minutes later, Briggs and Therese stood in front of a small black hole. With one final grunt, he pulled a pile of bricks out of the opening. As the bricks tumbled at his feet, he grinned and turned toward Therese.


The moment of truth.


She lit a flame and handed the lantern to Briggs. Now she stood by his side and followed the glow that illuminated what was behind the wall. What they unveiled was a forgotten garage, built to protect two pieces of art that no one believed still existed. Briggs had found a lost treasure--Ettore's personal Bugattis, one of which was the prized Bugatti Royale Kellner.


“I knew you'd keep them close,” he whispered.


“Fou d'Amérique” Therese muttered. Crazy American.


What a day this had been! Briggs Cunningham had passed through a gate to Ettore Bugatti's estate, traveled up an unassuming dirt road, and arrived at a destination where he discovered two of the most sought-after, most valuable automobiles in the world--the rarest of Ettore Bugatti's priceless works of art. It had cost him a mere fifty thousand dollars and two refrigerators. Now that he had found them, he knew he must restore the automobiles to their original, authentic condition.


Briggs Cunningham was an American adventurer, a risk taker, whose heart beat to build the fastest cars on the planet. He was also a treasured acquaintance of mine who shared his love for rare automobiles with me. I remember strolling through his museum as he shared the Bugatti story. (I've taken the liberty to fill in the missing pieces as I imagined them.)


What always remained true about Mr. Cunningham was his heart's desire to find the rarest pieces of Bugatti's collection and restore them to their authentic, original condition. It was a dream that he believed one day would come true. He never gave up, using every resource at his disposal to fuel his treasure hunt until he found what was needed to complete the authentic restoration.


Maybe you too are an adventurer, a risk taker, in search of your heart's desire; someone who is searching for a hidden treasure to restore your authentic life. Perhaps you have repeatedly asked yourself, “How can I make what's old in my life shine like new again? How can I restore the truest desires of my heart?”


Whether we are CEO's, blue collar workers, stay-at-home moms, college graduates or freshmen in high school, we all have old patterns in our lives that we would like to change so that we can be restored to new. The challenge we face is answering the question, “How do we restore what's old in our lives--the rust that has formed on our purer motivations, the dings that have appeared in our passion for the good, the faded paint of our resolve to love God with all our hearts--to its authentic, original state?”


By definition, something that is authentic reflects the design of the designer. As in the case of Ettore Bugatti and his magnificent creations, an authentic collector car reflects the design of its designer. This is the design that Briggs Cunningham worked so tirelessly to restore, the same design that the Designer desires to restore in us.


The Desire of the Designer


Each collector vehicle begins life as a clay mold that carries the handprints of the designer who fashioned it. That design flows from the heart of its creator. Later, the design comes to life through a community of engineers, manufacturers, and executives who work together to carry out the inspiration, or the “breath,” of the designer. When it comes to automotive restoration, there is no greater value than a restoration that is carried out by a car's original designer.


Like a collector car, we also began as clay molds in the hands of the Designer who breathed life into us (Genesis 2:7), the same Designer who desires to restore us to the original creation that He intended. Our deep, inborn desire for authenticity originates from the One who designed us from the inside out.


Authenticity, one of the highest values in our postmodern culture, aligns our lives from the inside out. As postmoderns we deconstruct the layers of every person we encounter to discover whether he or she is someone who is the same, someone who is truly “authentic,” all the way through to the core of his or her being.


Pretense, the opposite of authenticity, misaligns our lives from the outside in. Pretense focuses on the outside at the expense of the inside. In the collector car world, we call this a cosmetic restoration--a vehicle is spruced up on the outside just enough to fool others that it is restored. It is only a matter of time before the concealed truth about the vehicle's cancerous undercarriage is revealed, followed by another outside in attempt at restoration.

This process never satisfies.


When we are uninformed, unaware, or unbelieving, we often pretend that we are the ultimate designers in our lives. Consequently, we pretend with ourselves, with God, and with others that we do not need inside out restoration. Those of us who continue on this path live our lives trapped in continual, progressive pretense that leaves us dissatisfied.


In life, our desire to be restored comes as a result of the damage, the dings, the rust and the corrosion that comes from trying to live lives our own way. And such a desire is not new to us today--we find the desire to be restored to authenticity scattered in writings throughout history, in religious texts, in those we love, and even in today's news headlines. And when we're honest, we also find it hidden in the darkest places within ourselves. We hear it in the countless whispers of anyone who longs to be brought back to a life that restores him from the pride-filled addictions that leave him destroyed. Restoration is truly humanity's deepest desire.


The Restoration Process


A life of pretense keeps us unrestored; therefore, a life of authenticity is impossible without restoration.


To be restored means “to be made new again.” When an auto enthusiast finds the car of his dreams buried under tarps in an old barn or chicken coop, he has a vision of what the car was and what the car could be again. He has a firm belief that this dusty, rusty, dinged-up old crate can be remade to the specifications of the designer.


This optimist, this visionary, surrenders his old basket-case of a car to a restorer so that the restoration process can begin. During the process, the car is disassembled and the individual parts are restored, piece by piece. After each part of the car is restored, it is carefully reassembled. After all the work is done, it's finally time for a test drive.



As the owner displays his pride and joy, others learn from his experience and dedication. However, even the most detailed, correct restorations lose their luster over time. The car gets dinged again, the paint fades, the interior tears, the tires wear, the engine grows tired and the metal rusts. But the true restorer's passion is to make these things new again.


The same is true for our lives.


First, the old is surrendered. Like a classic car that needs restoration, each one of us must surrender our old basket case of a life to the Restorer. Second, the pieces are surrendered. The Restorer begins to disassemble and renovate the components of our lives, piece by piece, whether they be unrestored or self-restored. Third, the new is surrendered. As the restoration process unfolds, we learn that we are designed to bring authentic restoration to others. We surrender the new for this purpose and continue to surrender any old parts that corrode again over time.


On our restoration journey our resolve can fade, tear, wear, grow tired, and become rusty as we occasionally turn from the Restorer in an attempt to restore the individual pieces ourselves. Pride deceives us into either believing that our self-restoration attempts are working, or thinking that we cannot bring a particular piece to the Restorer more than once. Consequently, pride leaves us questioning how we are supposed to surrender that one last piece of our lives.


Pride is the Lock on the Human Heart; Humility is the Key


Imagine the inner workings of a lock fashioned with two concentric cylinders that are held together by four spring-loaded pins. A key is the perfect combination for each respective lock. It pushes up the spring-loaded pins high enough so that the innermost cylinder can turn freely inside the outermost cylinder, unlocking the door. If by inserting the key we say we are surrendering the key to the lock, then partially surrendering the key into that lock will never open any door. Only fully surrendering the key will unlock it.


The same is true for our lives. In order to be restored to authenticity, we must humbly and fully surrender our hearts, desires, and lives to the Restorer.


Let's look into this metaphor a little more deeply. The inner cylinder represents our spiritual heart. The four pins are indicative of its four chambers. The outer cylinder illustrates our four primary, God-given desires (both the chambers of the heart and the four primary God-given desires are defined later in this chapter).


When the key is fully surrendered into the lock, all four pins pass through the inner cylinder, representing the heart, and the outer cylinder that encompasses our four primary desires. The lock is opened, which allows us to open the gate to the three key resources of our life: our time, talent, and treasure. When we unlock this gate, our lives are unlocked and opened to a restored life of authenticity. This newly surrendered life is measured on the basis of godly wisdom, not by any temporal measure of success.


Jesus spoke of similar keys when he said to his disciple Peter, “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 16:19). When paired with our current metaphor, this kingdom perspective comes into clearer view. The kingdom of heaven is God's divine reign, rule, and order in the hearts and lives of people on this earth, both now and in the future. It is one of the most profound expressions of Christ living within us. When we fully surrender the key of humility into the lock of our human heart, we open wide the gate to the kingdom of heaven in our lives. When we partially surrender the key of humility into our prideful heart, the gate to the kingdom of heaven remains locked--both in this life and the next.


The Sand and Stone of Pride


Pride is a hard heart, one that makes itself higher than others. We find it in two forms: a heart of sand or a heart of stone.


A sand heart partially surrenders the horizontal at the expense of the vertical. It focuses on people and tasks rather than on God. This is license. A heart of sand is loose and scattered; it requires a storm to be shaped and restored.


A stone heart partially surrenders the vertical at the expense of the horizontal. It focuses on God rather than on others. This is legalism--the thought that one can manipulate the deity of the universe through the actions and activities of our lives. A stone heart is hard. It requires tooling by a sharp instrument to be shaped and restored.


Ironically, both sand and stone are the same substance, just a different aggregate. In its essence, sand is just tiny pieces of crumbled up stone. However, neither a heart of sand or a heart of stone reflect the design of the Designer who is also our Restorer. Sand hearts and stone hearts break apart the vertical from the horizontal, creating four walls that form a prison. The result is the incarceration of pride.


The Master Key of Full Surrender


The Master Key that fully surrenders our hearts, desires, and lives to the Restorer is cross-shaped; this is the perfect picture of the vertical intersecting with the horizontal. The vertical axis is our relationship with God. The horizontal axis is our relationship with people. In order to fully surrender the Master Key into the lock of pride on the human heart, one must humble his heart vertically to God, and horizontally to others.


Christ the Designer (Colossians 1:16) and Restorer (Colossians 1:19) holds the restoring key of David that unlocks the kingdom of heaven. What he opens, no one can shut; what he shuts, no one can open (Revelation 3:7). He has unlocked the door to abundant and eternal restoration to those who humble their hearts, desires, and the three resources of life to Him. For those who choose to live in their pride and reject Him, the door will remain closed on this side of life and the next. In order to discover who God created us to be, we must gather the courage to travel into the mystery that God will reveal to us as He unlocks the condition of our hearts, our desires, and our three resources of life for the advancement of His kingdom.


A Clay Heart


A clay heart lives in the sweet spot where the vertical intersects with the horizontal--where our relationship with God intersects with our relationships with others. A heart of clay is a humble heart. The words “humility” and “humanity” come from the same Latin word, humus, which means “from the ground.” Humility involves bending the knee. It means “to make ourselves lower than.” Consequently, humility always has an object.


Whereas a sand heart is a picture of license, requiring a storm to be fashioned, and a stone heart is a picture of legalism requiring a severe tool to be shaped, a heart of clay is a picture of love. It's a heart that is malleable in the hands of its gracious Designer. While all three substances come from the ground, the heart of clay is void of meaning unless it is shaped and restored by the heart and hands of the Designer.


CLAY is an acronym that helps us remember how to live with a humble heart. First, we confess to God our proud sinful hearts of sand or stone. Second, we learn His design for our lives from the Bible. Third, we apply what we learn from the Scriptures to our daily tasks and relationships. Fourth, we yield the outcomes to God. A clay heart experiences the design of the Designer through full surrender.


The heart of the Designer, the One we desire to emulate, is clay. His deep desire is to restore all that He has designed. As the Designer, he understands the pattern that he has built into humanity--the pattern that has been damaged by sin. As the Restorer, He is the embodiment of a clay heart, of the vertical axis intersecting with the horizontal axis. He walked the earth as fully God and fully man. He is the authentic picture of a humble heart that fully surrenders everything in communion with the Father and at the same time humbly surrenders everything in community with others. He has restored the vertical (God with man) and the horizontal (man with man). He invites each of us to be restored to authenticity, to the unique expression of the Designer in us.


Outside in Versus Inside Out Living


On Restoration Road, we are reminded that the Restorer is Jesus Christ. He fully surrendered His heart, His desires, and His life to the Father. His heart was humble (Matthew 11:29). All of Jesus' time, talent, and treasure were completely surrendered to the promptings of His heavenly Father. Jesus glorified the Father in coming to earth as a sacrifice for sin, and in return, the Father restored Jesus to the glory of heaven (John 17:1-4). He came to inaugurate the kingdom of heaven, the biggest restoration project in the universe, because He came to restore the unique expression of the Designer in each one of us.


But we turn away from that design. Often times, our hearts of sand and stone sign up for self-restoration--that which takes place from the outside in. We think that if we go somewhere, we can do something, and then we will be somebody. This pattern attempts to restore our three resources of life (time, talent, and treasure) without first addressing our hearts or desires.


But living restored to authenticity occurs from the inside out. This is the be-do-go of full surrender. Who we are designed to be determines what we are designed to do, which determines where we are designed to go. This is the individual design of the Designer in each of our lives. Consequently, Restoration Road transforms our hearts, then our desires, and finally our three resources of life for the advancement of God's kingdom.


Let's unpack this a little more thoroughly. As we established earlier, Restoration Road is the road we travel in our journey of life. Remember, Jesus is the Restorer. First, Restoration Road transforms our hearts, the identity of who we are designed to be. When a vertical line intersects with a horizontal line, four chambers result. These represent the four chambers of the spiritual heart. We can remember them with the acronym, WISE.


The first chamber is the will. This is the chamber of our choices. The second chamber is the intellect, or the mind. This is the chamber of our thoughts. The third chamber is the spirit. This is the lead chamber of our prayers. The fourth chamber is the emotions. This is the chamber of our feelings.


In order to be restored to authenticity, we must fully surrender each of the four chambers of our hearts to the Restorer. We must choose, think, pray, and want to make this surrender. This is the prerequisite to unlocking wisdom's gate (Proverbs 1:7; 11:2).


Second, Restoration Road transforms our desires, or what we are designed to do. This is the heartbeat that connects our hearts with our three resources of life--our time, our talent, and our treasure. As we travel the road of life, we can see the desires of our hearts in three different ways, depending on the condition of our hearts. Whereas sand hearts see desires for their gratification, and stone hearts see desires often in terms of negation, clay hearts see desires for their transformation. The last one is what we were designed to do with our desires.


God created us with at least four primary desires, each coming from his being, or his identity.

Desire 1: Significance from being created in God's image (Genesis 1:27).

Desire 2: Contentment from being blessed by God to be fruitful, multiply, and subdue (bring contentment to) the earth (Genesis 1:28).

Desire 3: Control from being empowered by God to rule over the earth (Genesis 1:28).

Desire 4: Security from being given every seed-bearing plant and fruit-bearing tree (Genesis1:29-30).


These desires flow vertically from the heart of God into each one of our hearts. They flow horizontally into our relationships with others (Genesis 2:18).


So the next question is, what happened to these pure desires? How did they become corrupted? The answer to this question is summed up in one word that we focused on earlier in this chapter: pride. This original sin came into play when humans searched for the satisfaction of their desires apart from God (Genesis 3:5-6).


God had created Adam and Eve with humble hearts. In the perfected Garden, God was the object of their desires. Consequently, He satisfied their desires. However, pride made humans the object of their own desires and created the need for restoration. This is a pattern that each of us repeats both by birth and by choice (Genesis 8:21).


The first sin was followed by the world's first self-restoration program. I call it “sin's trifecta”: (1) Adam and Eve were ashamed because they had been swayed (Genesis 3:7), (2) they hid because they were afraid (Genesis 3:12-13), (3) they blamed because they had disobeyed (Genesis 3:12-13). Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and from that point, humans have determined for ourselves what is right and wrong (Genesis 3:1-6). This is our heritage; this is our legacy.


In essence, we take God's gift of life and continually attempt to satisfy our desires by setting ourselves up as gods in our own self-made kingdoms. We trust in our giftedness rather than our godliness. We follow our will rather than surrendering willingly. We rely on our own decisions rather than submitting them to the Decider. However, God the Designer responds by offering us the opportunity to be restored to authenticity (Genesis 3:15, 22).


Restoration Road transforms our three resources of life, or where we are designed to go. Time is fully surrendered to the Restorer, and our calendars are transformed. Talent is fully surrendered to the Restorer, and our business cards are transformed. Treasure is fully surrendered to the Restorer, and our investments are transformed. When we surrender all three resources of our lives to the Restorer, He leads us down Restoration Road to reflect the design of the Designer.


The Pursuit of Wisdom


Money is pride's measurement of our giftedness (time, talent, and treasure). Wisdom is humility's measurement of our godliness (Christ in us). Although the Bible often comments on money, it is the latter commodity that we are advised to pursue repeatedly throughout Scripture.


Wisdom is the intersection of the vertical with the horizontal. It is God's heart (vertical) combined with street smarts (horizontal). Wisdom applies one's relationship with God to one's relationships with others, including the tasks to be achieved. We were designed to have a heart for wisdom (Proverbs 3:5-6; 22:17-18). We were designed to desire wisdom (Proverbs 3:15). We were designed to pursue wisdom with our three resources of life (Proverbs 4:7). Wisdom begins with a humble, malleable, clay-like heart toward God (Proverbs 1:7; 11:2; 22:4).


Thousands of years ago, Jewish Rabbis searched for the ultimate word to describe God. They chose “wisdom.” Wisdom resides in a person in whom the vertical perfectly intersects with the horizontal. Christ the Restorer is the wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:24). Christ is the authenticity of God (Hebrews 1:3). He is humble in heart (Matthew 11:29). Humility toward him is the beginning of His wisdom in our lives (Proverbs 11:2).


Foolishness is the opposite of wisdom. It is derived from a proud heart. It begins as wet cement and progressively hardens like cured concrete. A stone heart is foolish. A sand heart is foolish. The two substances added together form a concrete mix that imprisons us in lives filled with pride instead of humility, and foolishness instead of wisdom. In our pride, we foolishly pretend that the satisfaction of our desires will occur through the pursuit of more time, talent, and treasure apart from God. The result is a life of pride, pretense, and foolishness that leaves us unrestored and dissatisfied.


The Gate, the Road, the Destination


So what happens as we move down Restoration Road? What are the mile markers, the signposts, the points of interest that we should be looking for? When we surrender our hearts, we know that Jesus is the voice on our GPS device directing our paths. But why are we on this road, and what is the goal?


The gate represents our hearts. On Restoration Road, we learn to shift the gates of our hearts, or who we were designed to be, from us to the Restorer. We move from a heart for our position to passion for His grace and His provision in our lives. We transition from a heart for our purpose to a passion for His vision. We change from a heart for our contentment to a passion for His peace. We journey from a heart for our competence to a passion for His character of wisdom. We travel from a heart for our control to a passion for trusting His power relationally manifested in our lives. We leave a heart for our security for a passion for His authentic truth. We give up a heart for our significance in exchange for a passion for His love. We let go of a heart for false liberty apart from the Restorer in lieu of a passion for the freedom found in the Restorer.


The road is imagery for our desires. Restoration Road leads us to change our perspective, or what we were designed to do for our satisfaction, from us to the Restorer. As Jesus leads us away from what was done in the Garden of Eden, we move from a desire that is closed to open. We go from a desire of hiding to seeking. We travel from a desire of protecting our pride and disobeying to praying and obeying. We change from a desire that is stubborn to one that is teachable. We cease our desire to trust ourselves and begin trusting the Restorer. We transition from our desire of denying truth to recognizing and acknowledging truth. We leave a desire of rejecting others and begin to accept others. We stop our sand-and stone-hearted desires of resisting and withholding forgiveness to surrendering to receiving and offering forgiveness.


The destination is where we go with our three resources of life (time, talent, and treasure). Restoration Road is a dirt-road journey into the secret places of our lives, places still filled with sand and stone, to a place that brings us to authenticity. As we travel this road, we gain the wisdom needed to live restored. Our time, talent, and treasure moves from the lock of death to the key of life. We go from the darkness of detouring from God to the light of His vision for our lives. We transition from living off-line, deaf to God, to living online, listening to Him. We travel from damming His river of wisdom to opening the flow of His wisdom in our lives, learning from Him. We no longer go through life as slaves, dividing ourselves from God, but now we live as sons and daughters, leaning into Him. We give up going through this journey with a heart of stone or sand that is deceived and have it replaced with a heart of clay that can lead others to the Restorer. We stop building walls in relationships where we are detached, and build bridges through love. We no longer live in the dungeon of unforgiveness for our wrongs and those of others, but we live waving the white flag of full surrender to freedom in Christ that allows us to let Jesus take the wheel of our lives. This is the goal of our journey down Restoration Road.


Briggs Cunningham unlocked the key to restoring the Bugattis when he broke through that brick wall. What brick wall in your life needs to be torn down so that you can travel Restoration Road? Will you allow the Restorer to unlock the chambers of your heart, your desires, and the three resources of your life?


Imagine how your life might be different than it is today if you traveled Restoration Road. As you surrender your life to Jesus, every activity, every relationship, every task, every decision in your life will come down to this: have you unlocked the door to a restored life with the Master Key that guides your journey? Are you working with the Restorer to help you choose between humility and pride, authenticity and pretense, wisdom and foolishness? As you travel Restoration Road, do you do so with a teachable, moldable heart of clay rather than one of sand or stone? If so, then you're venturing, with the help of the Holy Spirit, toward a life that is truly priceless.

AS YOUNG AS WE FEEL by MELODY CARLSON

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

As Young As We Feel

David C. Cook; New edition (March 1, 2010)

by

Melody Carlson

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Over the years, Melody Carlson has worn many hats, from pre-school teacher to youth counselor to political activist to senior editor. But most of all, she loves to write! Currently she freelances from her home. In the past eight years, she has published over ninety books for children, teens, and adults--with sales totaling more than two million and many titles appearing on the ECPA Bestsellers List. Several of her books have been finalists for, and winners of, various writing awards. And her "Diary of a Teenage Girl" series has received great reviews and a large box of fan mail.

She has two grown sons and lives in Central Oregon with her husband and chocolate lab retriever. They enjoy skiing, hiking, gardening, camping and biking in the beautiful Cascade Mountains.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Is there room in one little hometown for four very different Lindas to reinvent their lives … together?

Once upon a time in a little town on the Oregon coast lived four Lindas—all in the same first-grade classroom. So they decided to go by their middle names. And form a club. And be friends forever. But that was forty-seven years and four very different lives ago. Now a class reunion has brought them all together in their old hometown—at a crossroads in their lives.

Janie is a high-powered lawyer with a load of grief. Abby is a lonely housewife in a beautiful oceanfront empty nest. Marley is trying to recapture the artistic free spirit she lost in an unhappy marriage. And the beautiful Caroline is scrambling to cope with her mother’s dementia and a Hollywood career that never really happened. Together, they’re about to explore the invigorating reality that even the most eventful life has second acts … and friendship doesn’t come with a statue of limitations.

If you would like to read the first chapter of As Young As We Feel, go HERE.

Watch the Video:

BLOOD RANSOM by LISA HARRIS - REVIEWED

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Blood Ransom
Zondervan (April 1, 2010)

by
Lisa Harris

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Award-winning author Lisa Harris has been writing both fiction and nonfiction since 2000 and has more than fifteen novels and novellas in print. She currently lives with her family in Mozambique, Africa, where they work as missionaries.

From Lisa:

Have you ever noticed how God often uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things? In writing Blood Ransom, I wanted my heroes and heroines to be ordinary people, faced with extraordinary circumstances. Chad and Natalie’s lives were changed not only through the challenges they faced, but also through their reliance on God. And when they set off on their journey to the capital to save Joseph’s family, they never imagined that God would call them to a task that was beyond the scope of their own power.

But while this story is fictional, the issue of a modern day slave trade is very real. It is estimated that there are currently more than 27 million slaves on the world today from Africa, to Eastern Europe … to the United States of America. The fact is, we don’t have to travel around the world to see people hurting and exploited. They’re real people we pass every day, living in our neighborhoods, and attending our churches and schools. They’re empty and broken, searching for freedom and hope in an often hopeless world.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Natalie Sinclair is working to eradicate the diseases decimating whole villages in the Republic of Dhambizao when she meets Dr. Chad Talcott, a surgeon on sabbatical from a lucrative medical practice now volunteering at a small clinic.

Meanwhile, things are unraveling in Dhambizao. Joseph Komboli returns to his village to discover rebel soldiers abducting his family and friends. Those that were too old or weak to work lay motionless in the African soil. When Chad and Natalie decide to help Joseph expose this modern-day slave trade---and a high-ranking political figure involved in it---disaster nips at their heels.

Where is God in the chaos? Will Chad, Natalie, and Joseph win their race against time?

Romance and adventure drive Blood Ransom, by Lisa Harris, a powerful thriller about the modern-day slave trade and those who dare to challenge it.

If you would like to read the prologue and first chapter of Blood Ransom, go HERE.

REVIEW:
BLOOD RANSOM
By Lisa Harris
Published by Zondervan
ISBN# 978-0-310-30905-4
317 Pages

Back Cover: In the African republic of Dhambizao, Natalie Sinclair works with Dr. Chad Talcott to eradicate diseases that are claiming whole towns. Meanwhile, Joseph Komboli returns to his village to find rebels abducting his family. When Chad and Natalie help Joseph expose the modern-day slave trade, they're courting disaster.

Review: This is not your typical fiction book. Lisa’s story is based on real situations that exist in the world around us - especially in Africa. I applaud Lisa for being the voice of these hurting people and for making us aware of the horrific conditions and treatment of humans through this compelling story. Gabby is the journalist in this story who feels led to be the voice of this hurting nation and is willing to do the right thing, no matter what it costs. Lisa Harris gives voice to Gabby and her concerns in this startling story.

“Ghost Soldiers” were supposed to be nothing more than rumors—a myth—what if these rumors are true and people are disappearing from their villages because of them? Hundreds and thousands of people have vanished. It’s not a rumor or myth, but a reality that Lisa Harris writes about.

Natalie Sinclair exterminates the diseases decimating whole villages. She comes in contact with fifteen year-old Joseph, who has proof the Ghost soldiers are real. Joseph is hurt, so Natalie takes him to see Dr. Chad Talcott, a surgeon on sabbatical from his medical practice where he volunteers in a small clinic. They recognized each other from High School.

Dr. Chad tells her not to get involved; it’s best. Natalie takes Joseph back to his village to show her where his family disappeared. Joseph took pictures of people being killed and abducted by the Ghost Soldiers. After seeing proof, Natalie couldn’t walk away. This wasn’t right; they were selling and using people as slaves.

Natalie tells Dr. Chad of her discovery. Natalie and Chad embark on a mission to get this proof to the American Embassy. That’s when the trouble begins. Natalie sends the proof to her journalist friend, Gabby, who says, “It’s time we force these businesses and investors to change the despicable working conditions thousands are forced to live under. Nothing will change if they aren’t held accountable. They need a voice. It’s a heart-wrenching reality in our world, especially when one realizes human trafficking, child slavery and a booming sex industry, are all alive and well right here in the United States.”

Lisa pens a heart-felt, thought provoking and compelling drama you won’t soon forget. Blood Ransom is book one in the mission series. I’m so thankful to have received a copy of the powerfully moving book. I can’t wait to read the next book.

Nora St.Laurent
ACFW Book Club Coordinator

BIG GIVE AWAY - ALISON STROBEL MORROW INTERVIEWS WITH NORA

ABOUT AUTHOR: (From her website) Alison inherited the writing gene from her father, Lee, and grew up composing stories on everything from napkins to typewriters. Her talent earned her awards throughout school, a two page spread featuring her work in her senior yearbook, and even saved her from failing college chemistry. But it wasn't until she moved to California after college that she wrote her first full-length novel, and that's when God made Alison's oldest dream come true.

Waterbrook Press (now Waterbrook Multnomah) picked up Worlds Collide and published it in 2005. Violette Between followed it in 2006 and earned Alison a nomination for the prestigious Rita Award from the Romance Writers of America--a shock, since she hadn't realized she was writing romances. After taking a break to become a mom to Abigail and Penelope Jane, she landed two contracts, with David C. Cook and Zondervan, to write a total of four more novels that will release in 2010 and '11.

Parenthood turned Alison's head (as well as her husband Daniel's) to children's books, and together they penned That's Where God Is, the first in a series of children's books on spiritual formation, which will also release in 2010.

Alison and her family now live in Colorado. When she's not writing, she's reading, obsessively stalking her favorite online parenting forum, playing trains (or hide and seek, or school) with her daughters, or out with the whole gang exploring their new home state.






Did you have a working title for your book Worlds Collide? Or did you always have that title for your book?
Titles almost always come to me when I first get the idea for the story. In the case of Worlds Collide, one of the inspirations for the story was a song with that title by the band Plumb. It fit perfectly with the concept of the book--Average Jane's world literally colliding on the freeway with that of Mr. Hollywood. To date I've written 5 books, and with only one of them did I not get a title until after the book was completed. And in the end I wasn't even the one to come up with the title, which was a little weird for me. I mean, these books are like my children, and to let someone else come up with the title is a bit like letting someone else name your baby! But the title was such a perfect fit that I was able to let go of the disappointment that I hadn't thought of it myself. (That book, by the way, is The Weight of Shadows!)

Could you tell me how the book cover process works for you? The covers on all three of your books are very eye catching, just wondered if you had a say in how they turned out?

I've been really blessed with my book covers! I especially love Violette Between's cover--I looooove color and impressionism-style painting, so that one really got me.
With Waterbrook (where Worlds Collide and Violette Between were published) and Zondervan (where The Weight of Shadows is published), I didn't get to choose the covers. Waterbrook emailed me one day and said, "Here's your cover!" for both books I did with them. (Though, as a funny side-note: when I first signed with them, my editor asked someone in their graphic design office to whip up something he could glue onto someone else's book and show me, just to say, "Congratulations, you wrote a book, and someday it'll look like this!" He gave the guy a quick synopsis of the plot, and he came up with a cover. Well, two years later when the book--Worlds Collide--finally released, the cover they ended up using was the same one the guy had come up with on a moment's notice!) Zondervan, however, asked me to send them the ideas I had, as well as the names of books whose covers I really liked, or whose covers had an element in them that I really liked. They then used that information when coming up with the final cover. With David C. Cook (where my September 2010 release, Reinventing Rachel, is being published) they sent me four sample covers and asked me to critique them. I actually put together my own little focus group and asked those women for their input, then included their remarks with my own thoughts when I responded to the publisher. In the end, the cover they chose wasn't my favorite one, but they were receptive to changes I suggested on it and make a couple of them for me, which I appreciated.

People really do choose books by their covers--I do it all the time!--so it's really more of a marketing decision than an artistic one, in the end. And because of that, I totally understand when a publisher just hands you a cover and says "Here you go." But I really appreciate when my input is sought and considered. I know some authors whose covers have been...well, shall we say, NOT what they would have chosen. I've been really blessed that my covers, even the one for Reinventing Rachel that isn't my favorite, are all still really eye-catching and interesting.

How did you come up with the idea for The Weight of Shadows? Were you happy with the book cover if this book?

I've been ruminating and sitting on this story for almost seven years! What kicked it off was a tragic accident that occurred in the town where I worked. One of the other teachers at my school told our staff about it. A high school senior she knew had been driving home, and hit an off-duty policeman while he was out biking. He was killed almost instantly, and it was determined that the accident had actually been his fault. Nonetheless, she was a total mess over it. In the days following, she met his wife--I can't remember the details of how--and the woman turned out to be a Christian. She took this poor girl in her arms and told her there was no blame on her, the policeman's family held no grudge, and she was forgiven for her part in the accident. What an incredible show of grace and mercy! It made me start thinking about how that girl's life could have been changed for the worst if she had not been given that grace. That led to me thinking about guilt, and how guilt can destroy us over time.


The cover--it's awesome! Very Jodi Picoult, who is one of my writing heroes.

BOOK TRAILER FOR THE WEIGHT OF SHADOWS


Can you give us a sneak peak into what book you are working on right now? When does it release?

I have one book that is already finished and waiting for release--that's Reinventing Rachel, and it comes out in September from David C. Cook. It's about what happens to a young woman after she leaves the faith she was raised when a series of tragedies in her life convince her that God must not really be there. I also just finished the slightly-polished rough draft of my fifth book, the working title of which is Muscle Memories--that one releases with Zondervan in 2011. It's about a nationally-known writer and speaker who ministers to women, and what happens to her family and ministry after she wakes up from a heart transplant and finds her faith gone. I'm really excited about both of these books. They're both very different, but they, along with The Weight of Shadows, are turning my career away from the romance genre that Worlds Collide and Violette Between fit into (even though I never think of either of them as romances, and certainly didn't write them to be!) and more towards women's fiction, which deals a lot more with life and faith and not just love and relationships (though love and relationships often show up in women's fiction because women tend to be very relationally focused).

Can you tell me of two “Wow” moments you’ve had since you’ve been published? What made it a “Wow” for you?


















One of the 'wow' moments was a negative one, actually. Some of my word choices in Violette Between got censored, and I was stunned. They weren't swears, not my a long shot. One was "gosh" (I'm not kidding) and one was actually a phrase: in the scene where Christian is talking with the priest in the hospital chapel, when he thinks Violette has died, he says something about feeling like God was screwing him over. Yes, I will agree it's a somewhat crass statement to make--but the man thinks his girlfriend is dead, and this is after already losing his wife to cancer! I could have written something much harsher than that and have been justified--even Christians think and say things they normally wouldn't when faced with that kind of situation. But I thought I was striking a good balance between showing how deeply he's struggling but keeping the language tame. My publishing house thought otherwise. After talking with them, though, I learned something, and that's where I had my 'wow' moment. They said that the censoring wasn't something they wanted to do, but that they *needed* to do because of the audience that typically frequents Christian bookstores. It was a sad realization, thinking about how judgmental Christians can be, and how restrictive they can be on artists. I know SO many Christians who don't read Christian fiction because they think it's too sanitized, too unrealistic, and not authentic enough. That's why *I* didn't read Christian fiction until I started writing it! But when writers try to be authentic and true to life, we run up against a lot of opposition. I'm happy to see, though, that the tide seems to be turning, and that Christian fiction is getting a lot more realistic. The quality is going up, both of the writing, the production, and the cover art. That's really encouraging.

And NONE of that is to say that I have any problem with readers who don't want to deal with certain kinds of content. That is absolutely their choice! And thankfully there are plenty of Christian writers who will continue to produce great books for those people to read. But those people aren't who I'm writing for. It gets frustrating when my books are changed so as not to offend people who aren't even in my readership.

The second 'wow' moment was when I got the call from Waterbrook offering me my first contract. I've been writing stories since I was five years old. I wrote my first book when I was twelve. I never, never thought I'd be blessed with the talent and the opportunity to do something I love so much as a career. To get that call was so validating and exhilarating, and incredibly humbling. God gave me the desire of my heart, and when I realized that I was overwhelmed by the responsibility to steward those gifts well. I believe this is a calling for me, and that God gives me the stories he wants me to write. I feel a lot of pressure to produce the best writing I can, to do the most I can with what I've been given, to not waste my time or resources, so that God will be pleased with how I've managed the skills and blessings he's entrusted to me. That 'wow' moment comes back to me a lot, and renews my energy and motivation to give God my best.

Is being an author everything you thought it would be? What surprised you?

Yes and no. :) I never thought writing would be HARD work, and sometimes it is. Until I started writing for contracts, I always just did it when I was inspired. You can't wait for inspiration when you're on a deadline, though; you have to carve out the time every day and do it whether you feel like it or not. I almost always *feel* like writing, but whether I have any idea *what* to write is a different story. :)

All through school my writing received high praise. Save for my freshman year of high school, I don't think I ever got a bad grade on a written assignment (at least, not for my writing--the content might not always have been so perfect, though!). So when I discovered that my natural talent wasn't going to cut it long term, I was really taken by surprise--not to mention a little put out and frustrated. :) I didn't think I had anything to learn about writing. Silly, silly me. :) When I started listening to recordings of ACFW conference workshops, I was astounded by how much there was to know about story structure, plot development, character development, etc. Because I'm a pretty voracious reader (or at least, used to be when I had more time on my hands) I picked up the basics just by being exposed to them through what I read. But there are a lot of things that you actually need to study to learn them, and discovering that was like opening a whole new door to the writing world for me. I LOVE studying the craft, I love working on my writing and trying to make it better. Now that I've been doing this for a few years, I see how much I still have to learn. The longer I do it, the more I realize I need to work on to become the kind of writer I want to be.

Why write Christian Fiction when you could write any other market? What’s the draw?

I never consciously chose to write for the inspirational market. In fact, when I wrote Worlds Collide I didn't think I'd ever get published because I thought it was too secular to be inspirational fiction, but too Christian to be published in the ABA. The stories God gives me to write suit the inspirational market at this point, but I don't go out of my way to MAKE them inspirational. They just fit that genre. What 'compromises' I make when writing to keep the book Christian-friendly are in word choices only; I've never softened a plot point or written a scene differently than how I really wanted to just to keep it 'safe.' I don't like reading violence, or steamy sex scenes, so I don't want to write that kind of stuff, either. (And I don't like to read foul language but occasionally a choice (and un-CBA-approved) word or two would convey a character's emotions much better--and that's when I just have to get creative and find a different way to get that emotion across.) That being said, if God inspired me to write a story that was definitely NOT inspirational fiction, I would have no qualms doing that. I'd love to have my work considered by a wider audience. But I think my books would appeal to non-Christian readers if they knew about them.

QUESTIONS I JUST KNOW YOU WANTED TO ASK ALISON BUT WERE AFRAID TO SO I DID!!

What are your THREE Favorite books of all time?

Only three!?



1. Microserfs by Douglas Coupland. I LOVE this book and wish I could recommend it to everyone, but I always worry that people who aren't very knowledgeable about techie things might not enjoy it. But oh man, it's so good.






 2. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. Such a wonderful book. A classic for a reason. I read it for the first time in years with my book club last year, and I caught SO many things that had zipped right past me the million other times I'd read it in junior high and high school. I love when a book reveals more of itself every time you open it.





3. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. I admit I do not recommend this book very often. Not because it isn't good--because it is--or because I don't love it--because I do! But because she has some, shall we say, rather steamy scenes scattered throughout, and I have to know someone very well before I recommend they read it because I don't want to find out that they were horribly offended. But, in defense of the book, they take place between a married couple, and really, you could skip them and the book would still be fantastic. But they give you a glimpse into the depth of their relationship and how it deepens over the course of the book, which given the nature of the story (a 1940's English woman finds a time warp of sorts that spits her into 1700's Scotland, where she is "persuaded" to marry a young Scottish warrior to keep from being taken away by the English while she tries to figure out how to get home) is a very fascinating study. (Oh my gosh--my synopsis of the book totally doesn't do it justice! It sounds like a trashy historical romance! It really isn't, I swear.) It's one of the most addictive books I've ever read--and the books that follow are equally excellent.

What THREE things would you rather not live without?














1.Indoor plumbing.

2. GentleChristianMothers.com

3. A tie between cheese and bread.


What THREE movies could you watch over and over again?



1. Love Actually

2. Across the Universe

3. Back to the Future

If you had the opportunity to hang out with any two people in the history of the world—alive or dead; who would you pick and what would you do? (someone other than Jesus)













1. Corrie ten Boom

2. The Apostle Paul

A friend of yours has a time machine that they are letting you use. But you can only witness two events in this history of the world. What to events would you experience? Why?













1. The resurrection

2. The second coming (I can go forward in time, too, right?)

What THREE T.V. shows were you most passionate as a kid? (You know the ones you couldn’t miss each week)


O man, the memories...

1. KnightRider

2. Family Ties

3. The Cosby Show

What movie impacted you as a child? Why?



It's a Wonderful Life. It became kind of a family joke--we would watch it every Christmastime, without fail, and my dad would blurt it out as an answer to random questions all the time. But every year that we watched it I really "got" more of the story, and to this day I don't let a Christmas season go by without watching it--and sobbing every time. That scene where Uncle Billy loses the bank deposit--I've seen it countless times and yet I still get knots in my stomach!

ANY FINAL COMMENTS--THOUGHTS FOR MY READERS?

Come visit my website--http://www.alisonstrobel.com/ --and say hi on my guest page or blog! While you're there, you can read the first chapter of The Weight of Shadows and see its totally awesome trailer. (I can brag about it because I didn't make it.) I hope to get some trailers made for Worlds Collide and Violette Between soon, as well as get their first chapters up for anyone who might be thinking of checking them out. I also have a bi-monthly newsletter that you can receive for free by signing up on the right-hand side of my website; I have contests in every issue where folks can win gift cards, books, random things that writers love, stuff like that. :)

Thanks so much Alison for stopping by and letting us get to know you and your books. REMEMBER if you are ever in the Atlanta area you’ll most definitely have to stop by and speak to my book clubs.

Blessings

Nora :D

PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT ABOUT THE INTERVIEW and
SIGN UP FOR ALISON'S NEWSLETTER At Her Website  http://www.alisonstrobel.com/ FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN A COPY OF The Weight of Shadows, Worlds Collide and Violette Between. This is an EXCITING Opportunity.



DRAWING will be MAY 1st

CONGRATS Go to Brenda Hill, Wanda Chamberlain and Rita Gracia

THANKS EVERYONE for encouraging Alison with your comments and signing up for her news letter. Winners were chosen using http://www.randomnumber.com/

THANKS ALISON for this big give away and letting us get to know you and your books better. :D


****DISCLAIMER: Entering the give away is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws. Void where prohibited; open U.S. residents and Canadian residents only, odds of winning depend on number of entrants *****