Thursday, October 29, 2009

CFBA Presents EYE OF THE GOD by Ariel Allison

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
eye of the god
(Abingdon Press - October 1, 2009)
Ariel Allison


Allison is a published author who lives in a small Texas town with her husband and three young sons. She is the co-author of Daddy Do You Love Me: a Daughter’s Journey of Faith and Restoration (New Leaf Press, 2006). Justin Case, the first of three children’s books will be published by Harvest House in June 2009. Ariel is a weekly contributor to and has written for Today’s Christian Woman. She ponders on life as a mother of all boys at and on her thoughts as a redeemed dreamer at

From Ariel:
I am the daughter of an acclaimed and eccentric artist, and given my “unconventional” childhood, had ample time to explore the intricacies of story telling. I was raised at the top of the Rocky Mountains with no running water or electricity (think Laura Ingles meets the Hippie Movement), and lived out the books I read while running barefoot through the sagebrush. My mother read to me by the light of a kerosene lantern for well over a decade, long after I could devour an entire novel in the course of a day. Authors such as C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkein, George MacDonald, and L.M. Montgomery were the first to capture my heart and I have
grown to love many others since.


eye of the god takes the fascinating history surrounding the Hope Diamond and weaves it together with a present-day plot to steal the jewel from the Smithsonian Institute.

We follow Alex and Isaac Weld, the most lucrative jewel thieves in the world, in their quest to steal the gem, which according to legend was once the eye of a Hindu idol named Rama Sita. When it was stolen in the 17th century, it is said that the idol cursed all those who would possess it. That won’t stop the brilliant and ruthless Weld brothers.

However, they are not prepared for Dr. Abigail Mitchell, the beautiful Smithsonian Director, who has her own connection to the Hope Diamond and a deadly secret to keep. Abby committed long ago that she would not serve a god made with human hands, and the “eye of the god” is no exception. Her desire is not for wealth, but for wisdom. She seeks not power, but restoration.

When the dust settles over the last great adventure of the Hope Diamond, readers will understand the “curse” that has haunted its legacy is nothing more than the greed of evil men who bring destruction upon themselves. No god chiseled from stone can direct the fates of humankind, nor can it change the course of God’s story.

If you would like to read the prologue and first chapter of eye of the god, go HERE


I've always been fascinated by the mystery surrounding the Hope Diamond, so I was especially excited to read eye of the god. I was expecting a good read. What I wasn't expecting was the effortless weaving of historical fact and modern-day thievery, both equally as thrilling.

Dr. Abigail Mitchell has father issues. She also knows more about the Hope Diamond than just about anybody in the world. Alex Weld is one of the world's most successful and cunning jewel thieves. When their paths cross, the sparks fly and suddenly, nothing is exactly as it seems.

It's hard to say too much about eye of the god without giving away the plot. Suffice it to say that zigs and zags abound. Author Ariel Allison deserves mad props for making the historical portion of this tale so compelling. From the time the diamond is procured in India in 1653, we follow the path of the diamond and the lives of the people it touches. Their stories, interspersed with the present day heist, underscore the fact that the real curse of the Hope Diamond may be the greed and lust it brings out in people who look to things for fulfillment.

eye of the god is a fast-paced, action packed book with a final twist that took me by surprise. If you're like me, you'll have a hard time putting this one down.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Take a trip back to the seventies with Leonard Nimoy & Bilbo Baggins

I couldn't believe it when I stumbled on this video on YouTube. My mother owned this album, and I remember listening to it a lot as a kid. But who knew there was a video?

Granted, the image quality is pretty bad and the whole thing is maximum cheese. You can't help wondering, "What was he thinking?" But you also can't beat if for nostalgia!

I now give you Leonard Nimoy singing "The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins."

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Marcher Lord Select - What it's all about and how I'm involved

Would you like to check out some cool speculative fiction and at the same time have a voice in choosing who gets their book published? If it sounds good to you, then please be part of Marcher Lord Select. It's kind of like American Idol meets book acquisitions.

What's really exciting for me is that I'm one of a select group of authors who've been invited into the competition. My completed novel, Vinnie's Diner, will be among the manuscripts you get to vote for. Cool, huh? Vinnie's Diner is best described as a supernatural journey of self-discovery. While quite a departure from my previous books, it's probably my favorite to date. In fact, I'm so excited about it that I made a Vinnie's Diner book trailer several months back. You can check it out on YouTube if you really want to get a feel for the story. Or, you can watch it here:

I've pasted the complete press release from Marcher Lord Press below so you can find out exactly what the contest is about. An important piece of information is that all the manuscript viewing and voting takes place on The Anomaly forums under the sub-heading Marcher Lord Select. You need to register there in order to vote, but it's totally free and secure.

Of course, the main idea behind this contest is to pick the best, and that's what I encourage you to do. Vote for THE BEST story, which may or may not be mine. But you won't know that until you check them all out.

I'll keep you posted as the contest progresses. Thanks for your support!

October 17, 2009

Marcher Lord Press Announces Marcher Lord Select

(Colorado Springs, CO)--Marcher Lord Press, the premier publisher of Christian speculative fiction, today announces the debut of a revolution in fiction acquisitions.

"Marcher Lord Select is American Idol meets book acquisitions," says publisher Jeff Gerke. "We're presenting upwards of 40 completed manuscripts and letting 'the people' decide which one should be published."

The contest will proceed in phases, Gerke explains, in each subsequent round of which the voters will receive larger glimpses of the competing manuscripts.

The first phase will consist of no more than the book's title, genre, length, a 20-word premise, and a 100-word back cover copy teaser blurb. Voters will cut the entries from 40 to 20 based on these items alone.

"We want to show authors that getting published involves more than simply writing a great novel," Gerke says. "There are marketing skills to be developed--and you've got to hook the reader with a good premise."

Following rounds will provide voters with a 1-page synopsis, the first 500 words of the book, the first 30 pages of the book, and, in the final round, the first 60 pages of the book.

The manuscript receiving the most votes in the final round will be published by Marcher Lord Press in its Spring 2010 release list.

No portion of any contestant's mss. will be posted online, as MLP works to preserve the non-publication status of all contestants and entries.

Participating entrants have been contacted personally by Marcher Lord Press and are included in Marcher Lord Select by invitation only.

"We're also running a secondary contest," Gerke says. "The 'premise contest' is for those authors who have completed a Christian speculative fiction manuscript that fits within MLP guidelines and who have submitted their proposals to me through the Marcher Lord Press acquisitions portal before October 29, 2009."

The premise contest will allow voters to select the books that sound the best based on a 20-word premise, a 100-word back cover copy teaser blurb, and (possibly) the first 500 words of the book.

The premise contest entrants receiving the top three vote totals will receive priority acquisitions reading by MLP publisher Jeff Gerke.

"It's a way for virtually everyone to play, even those folks who didn't receive an invitation to compete in the primary Marcher Lord Select contest."

Marcher Lord Select officially begins on November 1, 2009, and runs until completion in January or February 2010. All voting and discussions and Marcher Lord Select activities will take place at The Anomaly forums in the Marcher Lord Select subforum. Free registration is required.

"In order for this to work as we're envisioning," Gerke says, "we need lots and lots of voters. So even if you're not a fan of Christian science fiction or fantasy, I'm sure you love letting your voice be heard about what constitutes good Christian fiction. So come on out and join the fun!"

Marcher Lord Press is a Colorado Springs-based independent publisher producing Christian speculative fiction exclusively. MLP was launched in fall of 2008 and is privately owned. Contact: Jeff Gerke;


This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Fence My Father Built
(Abingdon Press - October 2009)
Linda S. Clare


Linda S. Clare is an award-winning coauthor of three books, including Lost Boys and the Moms Who Love Them (with Melody Carlson and Heather Kopp), Revealed: Spiritual Reality in a Makeover World, and Making Peace with a Dangerous God (with Kristen Johnson Ingram). She has also published many essays, stories, and poems in publications including The Christian Reader, The Denver Post, and The Philadelphia Inquirer. Linda grew up in a part of Arizona, where the dirt is as red as it is in Central Oregon. She graduated summa cum laude in Art Education from Arizona State University and taught in public and private schools. She has taught college-level creative writing classes for seven years, and edits and mentors writers. She also is a frequent writing conference presenter and church retreat leader. She and her husband of thirty-one years have four grown children, including a set of twins. They live in Eugene, Oregon, with their five wayward cats: Oliver, Xena the Warrior Kitty, Paladine, Melchior, and Mamma Mia!


When legally separated Muri Pond, a librarian, hauls her kids, teenager Nova and eleven year-old Truman, out to the tiny town of Murkee, Oregon, where her father, Joe Pond lived and died, she's confronted by a neighbor's harassment over water rights and Joe's legacy: a fence made from old oven doors.

The fence and accompanying house trailer horrify rebellious Nova, who runs away to the drug-infested streets of Seattle. Muri searches for her daughter and for something to believe in, all the while trying to save her inheritance from the conniving neighbor who calls her dad Chief Joseph.

Along with Joe's sister, Aunt Lutie, and the Red Rock Tabernacle Ladies, Muri must rediscover the faith her alcoholic dad never abandoned in order to reclaim her own spiritual path.

Watch the trailer:

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Fence My Father Built , go HERE

Read Jen's Take 5 Interview with Linda on

Monday, October 19, 2009

Promotional Opportunities for Published Authors


A little over a month ago, I took over as the Las Vegas Christian Fiction Examiner on The good people of Vegas (and beyond) need to know how much great Christian fiction is out there, and how cool all you authors are, and I aim to tell them.

But what if you don't write Christian fiction? Or what if you write non-fiction? Well, I'm the Las Vegas Writing Examiner, too. I'm also the Las Vegas Pop Culture Examiner. So there's a place somewhere for me to talk about your book!

I'm starting two new, ongoing features:
  • Take 5 Interviews - Short interviews with authors. As the title indicates, just five questions. There will be no book giveaways attached to these, but I'll link to your website as well as that of your publisher, your blog, and anything else of interest to readers.
  • The Story Behind the Story - Is there an interesting story behind the creation of your novel? Some event that sparked the initial idea? Something amazing you discovered during the research phase that turned the plot around? A fan response so touching that it changed you? I want to share those stories here. And if somehow, you have some Las Vegas connection, even better... but not at all necessary.

I'm extending this invitation to ALL published authors. Yes, oh self-pubbed ones, that means you, too. There's so much talk about self publishing and POD right now, readers will be interested in your input as well.
In addition to the above two features, I want to keep readers updated on industry news. If you have a publicist or marketing department contact who would like to put me on their Press Release mailing list, please pass on my email address.
If you have any questions or would like to participate, let me know.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

A Silly Sign Spotted at the Ren Faire

My son and I hit the LV Renaissance Faire last weekend (and had a blast, BTW). This sign was propped up in one of the vendor booths amongst the knives and leather pouches.

Whoever thought up that one gets an A+ for effort!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Interview and Book Giveaway with Author Steve Rzasa


Steve Rzasa was born and raised in South Jersey, and fell in love with books—especially science fiction novels and historical volumes—at an early age. He worked for eight years as a newspaper reporter and editor before moving to Buffalo, Wyoming, with his wife, Carrie, and their two boys. He now works a county library. Steve’s short story, “Rescued,” which is set in the universe of The World Reclaimed, won the 2009 G.K. Chesterton Award in the Athanatos Christian Ministries Writing Contest.


JA: Congratulations on your debut novel, The Word Reclaimed. Tell us a bit about it.
SR: Baden Haczyk lives in contention with his father aboard the family cargo starship Natalia Zoja. His routine existence is turned on its head when he finds a book in the wreckage of another ship. Suddenly the omnipresent religious police are on his tail, and will stop at nothing to seize the book. Baden finds himself confronting a powerful faith, and runs in to allies who are fighting to stop the overthrow of the royal Realm of Five.

It is set in a future where all printed materials are banned – only electronic media are allowed, and the royal family owns the companies that make all computers, handheld devices, etc.

JA: Give us a glimpse of your road to publication. Was it a long and winding road, or are you an overnight success?
SR: It took me about six years to finish writing The Word Reclaimed, which is part of a much longer novel called Commissioned. As a weekly newspaper reporter and editor, I didn’t spend much time writing outside work – it took a lot out.

JA: What do you hope people take away when they finish reading your book?
SR: First of all, I want them to have fun. This is a space adventure, full of intrigue and battle both in space and on new worlds. Second, I want them to see the power of God’s Word and the effect it has on people.

JA: What’s next for you in the writing arena?
SR: Well, since The Word Reclaimed is the first half of what was originally one long novel, the sequel – so far untitled – will come out hopefully sometime next year. Jeff Gerke of Marcher Lord Press wants to do the sequel but we haven’t set a firm date yet. I also have at least two more novels in my head (and partially on paper) for this universe.

JA: What’s something people might be surprised to learn about you?
SR: Though my taste in entertainment runs more toward spaceships, explosions and gunfights, one of my favorite movies is a D.B. Sweeney 1990s flick called “The Cutting Edge.” It’s a great movie.

JA: As a fellow Firefly fan, I have to ask: What did you think about the movie, Serenity?
SR: It was action-packed, but not as funny as the series. There is nothing that beats the episode “Jaynestown” – hysterical! I was disheartened to see them kill off Wash and Book in the movie – mostly because now we’ll never know Book’s secrets! – and I missed the interplay between Mal and Inara.

JA: We think alike, Steve. And I so agree about Wash and Book! Okay, now back to you...

JA: What’s the one far out sci-fi technology you’d most like to see become a household item?
SR: That’s easy – holographic systems! Think “Star Wars” only cooler and less grainy-looking.

JA: The current theme on my blog is The Year of Dreams. If you could realize one life-long dream right now (other than being a published author), what would it be?
SR: I think that dream would be to visit Poland, which is where my bloodline on my father’s fraternal side originates. We here in the U.S. of European descent have a very brief history – 400 years at max. I’d love to visit a land where the people’s language and traditions have roots thousands of years old.

JA: Last but not least, how can people keep up with your latest publishing news?
SR: I’ll keep everybody up to date at

ABOUT THE BOOK – The Word Reclaimed

Baden picked up the wrong book.

In the far future, the civilized worlds have finally been freed of the curse of religion. Tolerance now rules the five colonies.

Thanks to the secret police, no one has been bothered by so much as a hymn in two generations—much less a Torah, Koran, or that most dangerous of books, a Bible.

Baden is a young man with an attitude. He spends his spare time salvaging wrecks in deep space, claiming for himself whatever the pirates leave behind.

One day, Baden finds a book. A strange and very old book, preserved carefully against the ravages of deep space. Thinking he’ll become rich if only for the value of the paper, he takes it. He counts himself lucky beyond all imagining.

Until it begins talking to him.

Amidst an interstellar war that threatens to overthrow the monarchy and drive great families to oblivion, Baden must evade the secret police and their attempts to get that book.

Baden never had much use for religion. But, it seems, one has use of him.


If you’d like to be entered to win a copy of The Word Reclaimed, just leave a reply to this blog. I’ll pick a winner at random on October 23rd. Please leave an email address so I can contact you if you're the winner. (To prevent spammers from trolling for your email, please use this format with the brackets--you [at] yourmail [dot] com--or something similar.) Good luck!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

CFBA presents LEAVING YESTERDAY by Kathryn Cushman

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Leaving Yesterday
(Bethany House - October 1, 2009)
Kathryn Cushman


I graduated from Samford University with a degree in pharmacy, but I’ve known all my life that I wanted to write a novel “some day”. For me, “some day” came about five years ago, when I started writing and never looked back.

My third attempt became my first published novel.

A Promise to Remember was a finalist for the American Christian Fiction Writers Book-of-the-Year in the Women’s Fiction category, and Waiting for Daybreak was a finalist in Women’s Fiction for the Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award. Leaving Yesterday just arrived on scene and I’m very excited about it!

On the homefront, I’ve been married to the wonderful and handsome Lee for over twenty years now, and our two daughters are currently braving the worlds of elementary and high school. We’ve lived in Santa Barbara for the last seventeen years. When I’m not writing or reading or braving seventy degree holidays, you’ll find me watching the younger daughter play softball, or the older daughter building amazing high school theater sets


Alisa Stewart feels like she's lost two sons: her youngest to a terrible tragedy and her eldest, Kurt, to a life ruined by addiction. But now Kurt has checked himself into rehab and found a healing faith that seems real. It's like he's been raised from the dead.

But then a detective arrives at Alisa's door asking questions about a murder--the death of a drug dealer before Kurt entered rehab. Alisa fears losing her son again, and when she finds evidence linking him to the killing, she destroys it. Her boy is different now. He's changed and deserves a second chance.

But when another man is charged with the crime, Alisa finds herself facing an impossible choice: be silent and keep her son or give up everything for the truth.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Leaving Yesterday, go HERE


The only thing worse than losing one son is losing two. In Leaving Yesterday, Kathryn Cushman delves into the mind of woman desperate to save the son she has left.

After the brutal murder of her youngest son, Alisa Stewart sees her eldest, Kurt, slip into a lifestyle ruled by his addiction. To Alisa, it's almost as though he died, too. But then Kurt calls home one day. He has turned his life around. He's gotten through rehab, is working hard, and gone back to college. So when evidence links Kurt with the murder of a drug dealer, Alisa doesn't want to face it. Her son isn't the man he used to be. He's worked so hard, he deserves a second chance, and Alisa is determined to give it to him at any cost.

Cushman asks hard questions: Should a man be judged on his past deeds or on the road he's on? Is one life worth more than another? Is there ever any justification for deceit? As a mother, I could feel the pain and confusion Alisa was going through. In a desperate attempt to save her child, a mother might act in a way completely contrary to her character. Cushman examines not only Alisa's motivation, but also the aftermath of her decisions.

There are no easy answers in Leaving Yesterday. But there is hope. It's a compelling, hard-to-put-down story of one family's journey through grief and restoration.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing. I am not a paid reviewer. The opinions in this review are mine alone.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Abingdon Press Author Linda S. Clare - Interview and Giveaway


A friend once asked me what my goals were as a writer. I want to connect with people, I told her. That was more than fifteen years ago and it's still true today. I write in order to build a bridge, an emotional bridge, from me to you. I began writing as a poet. My first sold poem was to the Denver Post and at age sixteen. I was thrilled to get $3 for it.

I took a lot of time off writing between high school and today--raised four children, including a set of twins,owned too many cats to remember and a couple of dogs, too. I'm a polio survivor, with my share of blessings and burdens along the way. Those burdens have given me a neverending source of writing material, reflected in my books.

More than anything, I love to write and read about God in my life. I started out with a mean angry God, but I'm crawling toward a God whose lovingcare and comfort blows me away, time after time. For years I've been seeking God, but all along, He's been hunting me. These are the Grace Notes of my life: God singing to us, God singing through us, God singing for us.


JA: Congratulations on being part of the Abingdon Press fiction launch. How did you hear about Abingdon Press, and what made you want to be part of this bold new venture?
LSC: My long-time pal, Melody Carlson, mentioned my name and manuscript to Editor Barbara Scott. Dumb luck or God’s hand? I prefer to see it as God’s perfect timing. Once I found out what Abingdon fiction was about, I got as excited about the fiction launch as everyone else. What a buzz!

JA: The Fence My Father Built is the story of Muri Pond, a librarian who hauls her kids to the tiny town of Murkee, Oregon, only to discover her dismal inheritance from her father: a dilapidated house trailer and a fence made of oven doors. What was the spark that ignited Muri’s tale in your mind?
LSC: My own life-long search to know my biological father was the driving force. Also, I come from a family of educators, and to honor my Aunt Shirlee who retired recently as Head Librarian for Tempe Schools in Arizona, I made Muri a librarian too. And about that fence: my newspaper ran a feature story on an old guy who lived in this dilapidated trailer in a rural area around Eugene. He’d made a fence out of old oven doors. I couldn’t get the image out of my mind, and later on, I discovered that the fence had major significance both to Muri and to the one who built it—her own father, Joseph Pond.

JA: Muri has her hands full with two unhappy children and a conniving neighbor, not to mention her own spiritual struggles. What do you think is Muri’s most admirable character trait?
LSC: Her determination. She does her best to raise the kids, even when the older one, Nova, runs away. She won’t back down when the conniving neighbor threatens to take over the very place her father had loved and cared for. Above all, Muri is a spiritual seeker, and although she starts off being rather cynical of God’s Love, she is open enough to accept God’s presence as the story goes on.

JA: What do you hope people take away when they finish reading The Fence My Father Built?
LSC: I hope readers will take away that it’s never too late to honor your own heritage. You can find your way home, to where you belong. It’s never too late to mend fences (groan) and forgive. It’s never too late to let God run your life.

JA: What’s next for you in the writing arena?
LSC: Right now I’m shopping a stand-alone novel that examines the question of how a mom who has tragically lost one son deals with her grief and also the remaining son, who has been implicated in his brother’s death for ten years. It’s called Hiding From Floyd. Beyond that, I have a series proposal for The Fence My Father Built, and a couple of other stand-alone and series ideas.

JA: You’ve co-written three non-fiction books. What’s the greatest challenge and/or joy in making the shift to solo fiction writer?
LSC: I have loved every moment of being a published novelist. When I coauthored three nonfiction books, I swore I’d never do it again—there are many challenges of coauthoring, from bumping heads over ideas to deciding which one (and often publishers only pay for one) will travel to appear on television or other media interviews. But, just this past weekend another Abingdon author, Kay Marshall Strom, and I co-hosted a three day Church and Culture Conference. After we discovered we both live in Eugene, Oregon, both have had debut novels with Abingdon, we sat down and looked for common themes in our books. We arrived at the topic of social injustice so Kay spoke about human trafficking to tie in her historical novel’s theme of the eighteenth-century African slave trade. I spoke on the contrasts between the forced Indian Schools of the early 1900s and the heritage-affirming Lillian Vallely School in Blackfoot Idaho, serving Indian children on the Fort Hall, Idaho reservation. I don’t know if tying your novel’s themes to some current issue is an original way to market a book, but we worked well together and may take our act on the road. So apparently, working with another author is not completely off the table for me.

JA: The current theme of my blog is The Year of Dreams. If you could realize one life-long dream right now, what would it be?
LSC: I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that I’m ambitious. I’ve got all these stories in me that drive me crazy trying to get out. I once joked that I want to be the next Sue Monk Kidd. I think that’s grandiose but I do think I’m called to write. My dream would be that readers would clamor for my next book, and that I wouldn’t disappoint them.

JA: Last but not least, how can people keep up with your latest publishing news?
LSC: I blog at On that blog I write about writing mostly (I teach writing classes at Lane Community College in Eugene) but I have started doing “selected” book reviews. And if I have personal publishing news I can’t help but write about it. I’m also Lindasclare on Facebook, Twitter and ShoutLife. And I occasionally shout from rooftops.


Muri Pond has always longed to know her biological father, who left when she was a small child. Years later, she’s still reeling from learning that it’s too late: Her father, a half-Nez Perce Indian named Joseph Pond, has died, leaving her an inheritance of property in Central Oregon. As Muri and her two children, Nova, 16, and Truman, 11, make their way from Portland out to the tiny town of Murkee, Muri has lost a lot: her librarian job, her marriage and her faith in God. When she arrives at her newly-inherited property, she’s shocked: it’s little more than a ramshackle trailer, surrounded by a fence made from old oven doors. As she tries to make the best of things, she grapples with Joe’s charismatic sister Aunt Lutie, her husband, Tiny, who keeps potbellied pigs and mountains of bicycle parts for needy kids and Linc Jackson, a conniving neighbor who threatens to sue over water rights. Muri struggles to accept her father as he was and in doing so rediscovers the faith he somehow never abandoned.


If you’d like to be entered to win a copy of The Fence My Father Built, just leave a reply to this blog. I’ll pick a winner at random on October 20th. Please leave an email address so I can contact you if you're the winner. (To prevent spammers from trolling for your email, please use this format with the brackets--you [at] yourmail [dot] com--or something similar.) Good luck!

Watch the book trailer for The Fence My Father Built

Monday, October 12, 2009

BOOK REVIEW - The Expanded Bible from Thomas Nelson


The Expanded Bible: New Testament reflects the latest scholarship, current English, and the needs of contemporary students of the Bible. This new testament includes a multitude of study aids and expanded translations right in line with the text making it possible for you to study the Bible while you read!
  • Expanded translations bring out the meaning of words and offer alternatives.
  • Literal meanings of terms from the original languages are included where they can provide more understanding.
  • Traditional wordings assist recollection of familiar terms and expressions.
  • Comments explain passages that can be understood better with a brief remark.
  • Useful references supply rewarding opportunities for comparing other Scriptures.
  • Variants display additional wording in some of the original language texts.


The whole idea behind The Expanded Bible is that you can study the Bible while you read. Sprinkled among the text are expanded meanings, comments, cross references, etc., all meant to enhance your Bible reading experience. The result is that there's a whole lot of stuff going on withing each passage. Thankfully, a section at the front of the Bible explains what each symbol means. But until you memorize the symbols, you'll probably spend a lot of time flipping back and forth.

I took The Expanded Bible out for a test drive by bringing it along to my Monday night Bible study. I found that while this Bible is good for an at home, personal study, it doesn't work so well in a group setting. Trying to read passages aloud and explain them along the way - "That's the traditional meaning," or "That's an alternate meaning," - got very confusing. Plus, it's only the New Testament.

If you're looking for a Bible that will enhance your personal study time in the Word, you may enjoy The Expanded Bible. If you're looking for a Bible to use in a group setting, this one probably won't do it for you.

Full Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing. I am not a paid reviewer. The opinions in this review are mine and mine alone.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Joke of the Day: Some Teenage Beach Humor

This was Spirit Week at my son's school. For beach day, he put on one of his dad's Hawaiian shirts. I took one look at him and said, "Wow, you look like Mini-Dad."

Without missing a beat, he smiled and said, "Yep, I'm a real son of a beach."

What a joker that kid is! Where does he get his sense of humor?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Interview and Book Giveaway with Author Kerry Nietz

It's my great pleasure to present debut novelist Kerry Nietz.


Kerry Nietz is a refugee of the software industry. He spent more than a decade of his life flipping bits—first as one of the principal developers of the database product FoxPro for the now mythical Fox Software, and then as one of Bill Gates’s minions at Microsoft. He is a husband, a father, a technophile and a movie buff. He has one previously published book, a memoir entitled FoxTales: Behind the Scenes at Fox Software. A Star Curiously Singing is his first novel.


JA: Congratulations on your debut novel, A Star Curiously Singing. What’s the book about?
KN: A Star Curiously Singing is a speculative Christian novel with a decidedly cyberpunk feel. It takes place in a future hundreds of years from now, where much of the world is living under something akin to sharia law.

It is dualistic society, where average people live on the streets in near-squalor and the powerful ride above them in cable car-like conveyances. This latter group is shrouded in high tech, to the point of needing specialized human “debuggers” to handle their machines.

That’s where my protagonist comes in. Sandfly is a debugger who’s summoned to solve the mystery of why a bot malfunctioned. The unusual circumstance? The bot has been to space. Deep space. Something about the trip made it malfunction. So it is a sci-fi mystery novel, of sorts.

JA: What was the “from submission to contract” process like for you?
KN: Unusual, I guess.

My publisher—Jeff Gerke—is also a former acquisitions editor who now does freelance work. When the first draft of my novel was complete, I knew there were things about it that were outside the norm for novels. Plus I’d reached the point in my writing career where I really needed some constructive input about my style.

So, I hired Jeff to look over my manuscript and see what he thought. His initial response was very positive. There were some flaws, of course. But Jeff really got my story and style, and even hinted that if the flaws were addressed, he’d be interested in publishing it himself.

I spent the better part of a year addressing those things. The back and forth continued, with me sending him chunks that I’d changed, and him commenting or suggesting improvements—until finally one of the things he sent me was a contract. Now here we are.

JA: I hear you break all kinds of fiction rules with this novel. How so?
KN: Yes, I’m the author Jeff now has to apologize for when he speaks at writer’s conferences.

The biggest rule I break is the tense. My novel is written in first person present as opposed to first person past. There are a couple reasons for that.

First, my protagonist Sandfly is this technologically enhanced individual who lives very much in the present, so the tense choice seemed to fit his personality and story.

Second, prior to this novel I wrote a memoir of a portion of my life in the high-tech industry. In that book, I wrote the prologue in first person present to give the reader a feel for what it was like to be me at that time. I received lots of compliments on the book as a whole, but the section I often got specific comments about was that very first chapter. Something about it really resonated. It made me wonder whether I could write a whole book that way.

Turns out I can.

JA: What do you hope people take away when they finish reading A Star Curiously Singing?
KN: I hope they think: “Wow, that was really cool! I’ve never read anything like it.” Then I hope they appreciate the story and the broad-stroke messages I try to convey. Also, aside from all the rule-breaking, I think I show things in this novel that have never been shown before, even in science fiction.

JA: What’s next for you in the writing arena?
KN: If this book finds favor with the buying public, then a sequel is a very real possibility. I have about 50,000 words written in that direction, in fact.

JA: What’s something people might be surprised to learn about you?
KN: Given the fact that my first two published books are tech-filled stories, they might be surprised to learn that I don’t own a cell phone. It is the one glaring hole in my otherwise tech-filled fa├žade. I don’t feel the need to have one. Plus, sometimes I like being unreachable.

JA: What’s the one far out sci-fi technology you’d most like to see become a household item?
KN: My book has a chapter where Sandfly rides an elevator to space. That’s not a household item, I know, but it is something that isn’t far outside the realm of possibility. An elevator to space—what could be cooler than that?

JA: The current theme of my blog is The Year of Dreams. If you could realize one life-long dream right now, what would it be?
KN: This is it. Having a novel published.

JA: Last but not least, how can people keep up with your latest publishing news?
KN: Either or will find my website. Please check it out. I think it is very cool. Thanks!


Sandfly is a debugger. He is property. Bought and paid for by his master, a relatively benign lord in a future Earth living under sharia law.

All other faiths but one have been banned. And the word of the great Imam is supreme.

Sandfly just wants to debug his master's robots and avoid the mental pain shocks sent from the remote triggers owned by all the masters. But now he's been called into Earth orbit. Apparently the masters have a new spacecraft—one capable of interstellar flight. And on its maiden voyage, the only robot on board went mad and tore itself limb from limb.

Why? Better question: does it pose any risk to humans?

When Sandfly reviews the bot's files and replays its last moments, he hears something strange playing in the bot's ears as they orbit Betelgeuse.

He hears singing.

Is it just solar winds interfering with the robot's wiring? Or is it something else?

As Sandfly pieces together the clues, the masters spread the trap before his feet. Everyone is racing to the same conclusion, but only one side welcomes what that singing represents.


If you’d like to be entered to win a copy of A Star Curiously Singing, just leave a reply to this blog. I’ll pick a winner at random on October 15th. Please leave an email address so I can contact you if you're the winner. (To prevent spammers from trolling for your email, please use this format with the brackets--you [at] yourmail [dot] com--or something similar.) Good luck!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Interview and Giveaway with Marcher Lord Press Author Kirk Outerbridge


Kirk Outerbridge developed a passion for storytelling at an early age. Through years of reading Fantasy and Science Fiction novels, comics, table top gaming and watching endless hours Japanese anime, he developed a keen sense for what made stories enjoyable and more importantly—what didn’t.

While pursuing an engineering degree in college, Kirk endeavored to tell his own stories, choosing writing as the easiest and cheapest medium to master—or so he thought. Several years and several hundred thousand words later, he produced a Sci-fi trilogy that shall never (God willing) see the light of day, but that did teach him much needed lessons about the craft of writing fiction.

After college Kirk returned to his homeland of Bermuda where he reunited with his childhood friend and future wife, Ria. But before marrying his lovely wife, Kirk entered an even greater marriage and devoted his life to Christ in 2002.

With a new found direction in life, writing fell by the wayside but the urge to tell futuristic stories never left. After much prayer and contemplation, Kirk purposed his writing for God’s Will, seeking to draw to Christ those who shared his passions for all things futuristic and Sci-fi.

Kirk currently lives with his wife Ria and 18 month old son Miles in beautiful Bermuda. He is a faithful member of the Church of Christ and is a professional engineer employed by the government


JA: Congratulations on your debut novel, Eternity Falls. What’s the book about?
KO: The book is about a genetic breakthrough called “the Miracle Treatment” which grants eternal life—that is, until one of the earliest clients of the Treatment suddenly dies of natural causes.

The company’s Marketing VP, Sheila Dunn, is convinced there is some religious sabotage at work and hires religious counter-terrorism expert, Rick Macey, to uncover a religious conspiracy plot that may not even exist.

With only days before the media blows the story wide open, Rick and Sheila must work together to solve the case. If they fail the lives of millions of clients and the Miracle Treatment itself could be destroyed forever.

JA: I’d love to know about the moment you found out your book was going to be published.
KO: It was a very exciting moment, but it happened quite simply. I saw an email pop up that said. “Hey Kirk. Want to be a Marcher Lord?”

To understand what it means to be a Marcher Lord, you’d have to visit my publisher’s website over at Marcher Lord Press. I’d been working with Jeff Gerke, the publisher, on various other projects so we had a relationship prior too, but still it was an unexpected and exciting message to get.

JA: You’ve said that you write Christian cyber-punk. For those who might not be familiar with the concept, how would you define it?
KO: It’s probably easier to describe the cyberpunk first. Cyberpunk is a subgenre where the embracing of technology (usually through the direct interfacing of man and machine) has in someway caused great social imbalance and the fringes of that society rebel against the masses to try and restore order. Although my work has the technology portion, my society has moved beyond the angst and found balance. Some call this cyberpunk 2.0.

The religious aspect is something I always found missing in cyberpunk and Sci-fi in general. The belief in “something”, rather Christian or not, is a big part of who we are as human beings. To portray realistic characters and problems I just had to include it, and as a Christian it provided the perfect avenue to tell people about God.

JA: What do you hope people take away when they finish reading Eternity Falls?
KO: Foremost I hope they will come away feeling they were entertained. Secondly, I hope they would have had an opportunity to reflect on the big questions in life and hopefully make some decisions to answer those questions.

JA: What’s next for you in the writing arena?
KO: I’m currently working on the next book in the Rick Macey series, tentatively title The Tenth Crusader.

JA: What’s something people might be surprised to learn about you?
KO: I burn trash for a living.

JA: What’s the one far out sci-fi technology you’d most like to see become a household item?
KO: It would have to be the direct brain to computer interface. Amazing possibilities there.

JA: The current theme of my blog is "The Year of Dreams." If you could realize one life-long dream right now, what would it be?
KO: Well I can honestly say that I already have realized a life long dream in the publication of my first novel. I guess the next dream would be to write full time. We’ll see what God has to say about that though.

JA: Last but not least, how can people keep up with your latest publishing news?
KO: You can sign up for my publisher’s newsletter here. Or catch the blog updates on my website here.


In the future, death is only a problem if you can’t afford the price. Such is the promise of Gentec Corporation’s “Miracle Treatment”, a genetic anti-aging elixir that grants eternal life—or does it?

When a Gentec client suddenly dies of natural causes, the powers that be will stop at nothing to ensure their version of eternity remains unchallenged; even if it means concocting a religious sabotage conspiracy to cover a lie.

With the media about to blow the story wide open, the credibility of Gentec and the lives of millions of clients rest on one man’s ability to uncover the truth. Enter detective Rick Macey, religious counterterrorist expert and Gentec executive Sheila Dunn’s last hope for salvation. Now with the clock ticking and the corporate brass seeking their own solution at any cost, Macey must track down a religious zealot out to destroy the Miracle Treatment for good.

But when Macey finds himself not only falling for his client, but confronted with the possibility that the culprit could hold a connection to his shaded past, the truth suddenly becomes a dangerous thing. Only through a test of faith can he stop the crisis before it’s all too late and eternity falls.


If you’d like to be entered to win a copy of Eternity Falls, just leave a reply to this blog. I’ll pick a winner at random on October 14th. Please leave an email address so I can contact you if you're the winner. (To prevent spammers from trolling for your email, please use this format with the brackets--you [at] yourmail [dot] com--or something similar.) Good luck!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Penny Lane like you've never seen it before

The blog's been pretty quiet lately because I've been crazy-busy. But now that I've got a temporary lull, I thought I'd share something fun with you. Check out this Literal Video version of the Beatles' Penny Lane.

(Thanks to Chip MacGregor who posted this on his blog, which is how I found out about it.)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

CFBA presents IT'S NOT ABOUT HIM by Michelle Sutton

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
It's Not About Him
(Sheaf House - September 1, 2009)
Michelle Sutton


Michelle Sutton, otherwise known as the Edgy Inspirational Author, is Editor-in-chief of Christian Fiction Online Magazine, a member of ACFW, a social worker by trade, and a prolific reader/book reviewer/blogger the rest of the time.

She lives in Arizona with her husband of nineteen years and her two teenaged sons. Michelle is also the author of It's Not about Me (2008) and It's Not About Him (Sheaf House 2009). She has nine other titles releasing over the next three years.


Susie passed out while drinking at Jeff’s party and later discovered she’s pregnant. She has no idea who the father is and considers having an abortion, but instead decides to place her baby for adoption. Following through ends up being more wrenching than she imagined, but she’s determined to do the right thing for her baby.

Jeff feels guilty that Susie was taken advantage of at his party and offers to marry her so she won’t have to give up her baby, like his birth mother did with him. But Susie refuses, insisting he should marry someone he loves. Can he convince her that his love is genuine before it’s too late? Can she make him understand that it’s not about him—it’s about what’s best for her child?

If you would like to read the prologue and first chapter of It's Not About Him, go HERE


In It's Not About Him, Susie must deal not only with the heartbreaking decision to give her baby up for adoption, but the aftermath of that choice. Meanwhile, Jeff feels guilty for not protecting her. Adopted himself and longing to find his birth mother, Jeff doesn't want to see another child go through what he has and tries to convince Susie not to go through with it. In the end, Susie and Jeff discover it's not about either one of them. It's about what's best for the baby. And through their sacrifice, God works all things to good in their own lives.

Michelle Sutton creates real characters who act the way real people would. She doesn't shy away from the ugly truths or the cold hard facts. Young people can relate to her characters, because they speak from the heart.

Michelle dedicates this book to mothers who have recognized the needs of their children and chosen adoption over abortion. As one of those women, I'd like to thank Michelle for addressing such a sensitive subject with such honesty and compasion.