Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Dead Reckoning

I'm very excited to share news about my friend and fellow Texas author Ronie Kendig's first novel. Dead Reckoning is an espionage thriller that will keep you turning pages. Here's the scoop on her book:

When Shiloh Blake’s first large-scale underwater archeological dig traps her in the middle of an international nuclear arms clash, she is forced to flee for her life into the streets of Mumbai, India. Is the man trailing her an enemy, or is he sent by her CIA father to protect her? Whoever he is, the only way to end this nightmare and prevent a nuclear meltdown is to join forces with former Navy SEAL Reece Jaxon.

About Ronie

Ronie Kendig has a BS in Psychology and is a wife, mother of four, and avid writer. Her novels include Dead Reckoning (March 2010, Abingdon Press) and Nightshade (July 2010, Barbour Publishing), Book#1 in The Discarded Heroes series. She speaks to various groups, volunteers with the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), and mentors new writers. Ronie can be found at

Read the first three chapters here:

Early Buzz About Dead Reckoning:

"Ronie Kendig surpasses all debut expectations. This story is well-researched, fast-paced, and centered around memorable characters; in fact, I may even have a crush on Shiloh Blake. From exotic locales to romantic tensions, Dead Reckoning gives us everything we hope for in a modern thriller." --Eric Wilson, NY Times bestselling author of Fireproof and Valley of Bones

If you're looking for a thrilling read, check it out! Even guys will love it (see above).

Monday, February 15, 2010

Never Say Never...Again

Okay, I knew there was something vital I needed to include with my post about Lisa's book. . .Lisa has been sharing about her book on several different blogs and web sites. To thank everyone for reading about Never Say Never, she's doing a grand prize basket giveaway. See below:

Donetta and Imagene's Texas Road Trip Basket (approximate total value over $150)

Take a Texas road trip, without ever leaving home!


The Daily Texas Series by Lisa Wingate:
Talk Of the Town
Word Gets Around
Never Say Never

The Blue Sky Hills Series by Lisa Wingate:
A Month of Summer
The Summer Kitchen
Beyond Summer (a special advance copy not available in stores until July 2010)

Road Trip Snacks (Straight from Texas, of course!)

Wrap it all up with a fuzzy, fleecy Texas throw blanket for those cold nights on the road
(or curled up with your books!)

Isn't that an awesome prize? Six books, a comfy blankie, and snacks! So leave a comment and your e-mail address (name @ xxxxxxx dot com format) by February 18, either here, or at the original post below..., (commenting more than once won't increase your chances of winning). Doesn't cost you a thing to enter your name, and I'll choose one name from a hat be submitted for the grand prize drawing after the 19th.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Lisa Wingate: Never Say Never

Kai Miller floats through life like driftwood tossed by waves. She's never put down roots in any one place--and she doesn't plan to. But when a chaotic hurricane evacuation lands her in Daily, Texas, she begins to think twice about her wayfaring existence.

And when she meets hometown-boy Kemp Eldridge, she can almost picture settling down in Daily--until she discovers he may be promised to someone else. Daily has always been a place of refuge for those the winds blows in, but for Kai, it looks like it will be just another place to leave behind. Then again, Daily always has a few surprises in store--especially when Aunt Donetta has cooked up a scheme.

Lisa lives in central Texas where she is a popular inspirational speaker, magazine columnist, and national bestselling author of several books. Her novel, Tending Roses, received dozens of five-star reviews, sold out thirteen printings for New York publisher, Penguin Putnam, and went on to become a national bestselling book. Tending Roses was a selection of the Readers Club of America, and is currently in its fourteenth printing.

Tending Roses series continued with Good Hope Road, the Language of Sycamores, Drenched in Light, and A Thousand Voices. In 2003, Lisa's Texas Hill Country series began with Texas Cooking, and continued with Lone Star Cafe', which was awarded a gold metal by RT Bookclub magazine and was hailed by Publisher's Weekly as "A charmingly nostalgic treat." The series concluded with Over the Moon at the Big Lizard Diner.

Last Sunday I had the chance to meet Lisa. I learned she was having a book signing in Clifton, so CJ and I hopped in the car and cruised up there to see her. As always when meeting a fellow writer, I enjoyed hearing about her current projects and how she juggles her schedule.

Never Say Never has earned a spot on my keeper shelf. Her vivid characters made me smile and cheer for them. If you live in Central Texas, you'll enjoy seeing local places mentioned in her book. Hmm..., exactly where is Daily, Texas, anyway? If you've never picked up one of Lisa's books, I highly recommend you do so.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A Sweet Nothing

On Sunday, we went out to eat. This is a big deal, since CJ and I now try every day to make good choices about what to eat. Frequent small meals, balance our protein and carbs, watch the fats, blah, blah, blah.

But Sunday is our day to have a "free" day and have one or two of those items that normally aren't allowed on our menu, or in our house.

So of course I chose the stuffed avocado dinner, and thought about how delicious that avocado would be, filled with fajita meat then battered and deep fried. Hey, when you're going to splurge, make it count, right?

A few moments after ordering, our waiter returned to the table and stood by my elbow. "Ma'am, you ordered the stuffed avocado? I'm so sorry, but, we're out." He handed me a menu.

Disappointed, I put on a happy face and made another choice. A while later, when the waiter brought our meals, he set my plate in front of me. Next to my tortilla wrap, sat this lovely tomato rose.

The waiter said, "The cook felt bad that you had to order something else, so he made this for you."

My first thought was, "How sweet, and how thoughtful." We weren't in an upscale restaurant, although the food is usually very good. This was a chain restaurant. Generally at chain restaurants, employees don't deviate from the norm. But this chef took a few seconds from his food prep to think of his customer (me) who didn't get what she originally wanted (that yummy stuffed avocado). Maybe to some people, this is nothing. But to me, it was a very sweet nothing.

Thoughtfulness is a trait we don't see very often, and it often surprises us when we find it. It's about thinking of someone else before ourselves, even in a small matter. Like a customer having to change an order. What would happen in the world, if we all find opportunities to give sweet nothings to someone else? Because a sweet nothing does mean something, to the one who receives our gift.

Let each of you esteem and look upon and be concerned for not [merely] his own interests, but also each for the interests of others. Philippians 2:4

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Mystery of The Cross

I realize it's Christmas time, but I've had the chance to look through Judith Couchman's new book. Part devotional, part art history, part spiritual journey, The Mystery of the Cross, Judith's book is dedicated to the symbol that's at the heart of Christianity: the cross. One of the things I appreciated about her book is that she shows how the cross itself has been a pre-Christian era symbol throughout history, yet the image has been transformed and adopted to be a symbol of the Christian faith.

In today's times, symbols don't seem to mean much anymore, the way they're tossed about and used as fashion accessories. We don't take the time to search into their meanings. "It's just a shape." But for some people, the shape of the cross resounds within them. For those who are part of the Christian faith, this book will be a journey of exploration about the cross, and what it means.

I've had the advantage (or disadvantage, depending on how you look at it) of being Catholic once upon a time. Art and symbol were always a part of the worship experience, unlike in a Protestant church. Paging through this book brought back some of this to me in a time of pleasant remembering. If you're not familiar with much of Christian history, The Mystery of the Cross takes you on a journey that will hopefully deepen your faith and encourage you.

Here's some of Judith's own words about her book:

Ancient Cross, Contemporary Life
If you haven’t considered the cross beyond weekend worship, tapping into these images and stories can broaden and deepen, renew or strengthen, your commitment to Christ. Exploring the art, uses, history, and mystery of the cross can validate its centrality to the Christian faith. Meditating on its enduring meaning can help apply its power and principles to everyday matters.

Accordingly, The Mystery of the Cross invites you to read intriguing stories about the sign of the cross, ponder their meaning, and consider how these anecdotes speak to you. The 40 short chapters can be read for art appreciation, historical information, personal meditation, spiritual formation, small-group discussion, Lenten observation, and worship insights. Whatever the use, The Mystery of the Cross can help you understand and appreciate the cross’s spiritual work in the world and its power for everyday life.

Most of all, I hope this book witnesses mystery. The apostle Paul wrote about the gospel’s mystery, revealed through Christ and his death on the cross. Irenaeus, a second-century church father, described it when he explained, “By means of a tree, we were made debtors to God. Likewise, by means of a tree [the cross], we can obtain the remission of our debt.” Beyond glorious art, ancient history, and intriguing anecdotes, the cross stands as a symbol of salvation. For reasons beyond my comprehension, the mighty God stooped to conquer evil and forgive sin. This is his eternal commitment. This is the inexpressible value and mystery of the cross.

From the Introduction to
The Mystery of the Cross by Judith Couchman
Released by Inter-Varsity Press, Novemver 2009
Available at Local at Local Bookstores and Online

You can learn more about Judith at her web site:

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Familiar Stranger. . .

My guest today is Christina Berry, author of The Familiar Stranger. Christina's debut novel is available now.

Christina, tell us about The Familiar Stranger.
The Familiar Stranger—formerly known as Undiscovered—is about a couple going through a really rough patch in their marriage. When an accident incapacitates the husband, their relationship must be redefined. Which would be a lot easier to do if BIG secrets from his past didn’t raise their ugly heads. Despite the upheaval, the choices they make involving forgiveness and trust might allow a new beginning. Or … they might not.

How did you come up with the story?
In the summer of 2006, two stories appeared in the newspaper. One was a huge, national story; the other a smaller, local-interest item. I wondered what it might look like if those two stories conceived a child. Boom! I had the entire plot for The Familiar Stranger. It will be interesting to see if readers can figure out which stories inspired the book.

Wow, I'll have to use a cliche here and say truth is definitely stranger than fiction. What an interesting way to find a story from the news. I love it when that happens.

What takeaway value do you hope readers receive after reading your novel?
If reading The Familiar Stranger makes even one man or woman be more honest with his or her spouse or delve into trust issues in a healthy way, I’ll consider it a success. Maybe there’s a hurting heart that can find a new path to forgiveness because of the story.

Writing is such hard work, especially with other priorities. What challenges do you face with your writing? What comes easy to you?
As a single mother of young children, and currently serving as a foster parent, time is my biggest challenge. I have to make sure my family knows they come first, but to balance that with treating writing as a career.

Strength-wise, while the idea of writing or editing may seem hard, I usually get quite a lot done in a short amount of time once I start. An object in motion tends to stay in motion. That applies to our writing. A little momentum can go a long way!

Since we're talking about time management, what would you be doing with your free time if you weren’t writing?
I would be reading the way I did years ago. Book after beautiful book. I’ve found budgeting time to write, blog, and market leaves very little time for pleasure reading. I also enjoy playing simple songs from musicals like Oklahoma or Sound of Music on the piano. Maybe I’d even sit down with my kids and squish Play-Doh with them now and again.

Many times our life can influence our books. What themes do you like to write about?
The recent changes in my life—a divorce, working part-time outside the home, putting my home up for sale, moving toward adoption with a foster child—have done nothing but solidify what I hope to be the theme of the book and my life: Live Transparently—Forgive Extravagantly. If reading The Familiar Stranger makes even one man or woman be more honest with his or her spouse or delve into trust issues in a healthy way, I’ll consider it a success. Maybe there’s a hurting heart that can find a new path to forgiveness because of the story.

What are you currently writing?
I’m about 1/5 of the way through my next manuscript, Unafraid, a story about a girl’s kidnapping, and how her life unfolds because of the trauma. One of my characters is a PI, so I’m having loads of fun with the research.

The humor Sherrie Ashcraft (my sometime co-author and always mother) and I display in our infrequent, humorous newsletters--sign up at garnered the attention of an editor. You just might see a funny, non-fiction cooperative work from the Ashberry Ladies at some point in time. Plus, I have a funky TV-based devotional a house is interested in … Busy, busy, busy!

Oh, Christina, I certainly can relate to a full schedule. Thanks for stopping by. I look forward to seeing more of your books on the shelf.

As a single mom and foster parent, Christina Berry carves time out of her busy schedule to write about the heart and soul of life. She lives with her family in rural Oregon. The Familiar Stranger is her debut novel. Get to know her better at

And on October 31, Christina will be giving away 10 copies of The Familiar Stranger at the conclusion of her blog tour. So leave a comment to be entered in that drawing! Thanks for stopping by, everyone!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

When God Turned Off The Lights

What to Do When the Lights Go Out

by Cec Murphey

If you sincerely desire to follow Jesus Christ, life won't always be easy. Many times the Bible promises victory, and you may need to remind yourself that there can be no victory without struggling and overcoming obstacles.

In my book, I used the image of God turning out the lights because that was how I perceived the situation. I felt as if I walked in darkness for 18 months. We all interact differently with God, and my experience won't be the same as yours. Even so, most serious Christians have times when God seems to turn away or stops listening. And we feel alone.

Perhaps it's like the time the Israelites cried out to God for many years because of the Egyptian oppression. "God heard their groaning, and he remembered his covenant promise...and knew it was time to act" (Exodus 2:24 NLT). God hadn't forgotten, of course, but from their perspective, that's how it must have seemed. It may seem like that to you if you're going through your own form of darkness.

Here are a few suggestions to help you:

1. Ask God this simple question: "Have I knocked out the lights by my failures? Have I sinned against you? After you ask the question, listen. Give God the opportunity to speak to you.

2. Don't see this as divine punishment (unless God shows you it is), but consider the silence an act of divine love to move you forward. This is God's method to teach you and stretch you.

3. Avoid asking why. You don't need reasons and explanations--and you probably won't get them anyway. Instead, remind yourself that this temporary darkness is to prepare you for greater light.

4. Say as little as possible to your friends. Most friends will want to "fix" you or heal you and they can't. They may offer advice (often not helpful) or make you feel worse ("Are you sure everything is right between you and God?").

5. Stay with the "means of grace." That is, don't neglect worship with other believers even if you feel empty. Read your Bible even if you can't find anything meaningful.

I chose to read Lamentations and Psalms (several times, especially Lamentations) because they expressed some of the pain and despair I felt.

6. If you don't have a daily prayer time, start one. Perhaps something as short as three minutes--and do it daily. Talk honestly to God. It's all right to get angry. (Read the Psalms if you're hesitant.)

7. Remind yourself, "I am in God's hands. This is where I belong and I'll stay in the blackout until I'm ready to move forward."

8. Pray these words daily: "But who can discern their own errors? Forgive my hidden faults" (Psalm 19:12 TNIV). Some versions say "secret sins." These are failures and sins of which you may not yet be aware. One of the purposes of your darkness may be to bring those hidden problems to light.

9. Ask God, "What do you want me to learn from this experience?" You may not get an answer, but it's still a good question. Continue to ask--even after the lights go back on again. If you're open, you will learn more about yourself and also about God.

10. As you receive "light" about yourself while walking in darkness, remind yourself, God has always known and still loves me.

Is it possible that God would use a time of spiritual loneliness and isolation in our life as an answer to our prayer for "something more?" That's what happened with best-selling author Cecil Murphey. In When God Turned Off the Lights (Regal, September 2009), he openly shares from his journey that seemed to be stalled in darkness.

Murphey decided to write about his months of seeking God in the darkness because he suspected his situation wasn't unique. "If this happened to me, a rather ordinary believer, surely there are others out there who have wept in the isolated blackness of night and wondered if they would ever see God's smile again."

Murphey could have handled this topic as a theologian and given pages of heavy, hard-to-read advice, but he chose to write from his heart and expose it for the readers to see. He talks honestly and shares his skepticism and frustration. He asks hard questions. And he lays out the steps of healing that brought him back to the light.

When God Turned Off the Lights is a book for those of us who ask, "What's wrong with me? Why are others living in the sunlight while nothing but dark clouds and darkness envelop me?" Readers will learn:
Why God turns off the lights
Why we have to have dark nights
Why asking "why" isn't the right question
What's worse than going through the darkness
How to feel worthwhile and accepted by God


My note: Sometimes we attach so much of our spiritual experience, or relationship with God, to feelings. Feelings lie to us. We may not always "feel" married or "feel" smart name it. Feelings change with the weather and the situation. It doesn't surprise me that there are times when we don't "feel" the presence of God with us. We don't "feel" like our prayers go anywhere. I think this book is an encouragement to those who feel like the lights are off and they're fumbling blindly. We shouldn't have to, nor should we criticize those who are going through such a time. I've received no compensation for posting the above information abou Cec's book, and sharing my own thoughts on his book.

If you leave a comment, your name will be entered into a drawing on October 22 for a gift basket that Cec is giving away.

Gift Basket Includes:

A copy of When God Turned Off the Lights
1 Book Light
1 LED Nightlight
1 LED Flashlight
Select Dark Chocolate