Monday, September 28, 2009


This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow
(Abingdon Press - September 2009)
Joyce Magnin


Joyce Magnin is the author of short fiction and personal experience articles. She co-authored the book, Linked to Someone in Pain. She has been published in such magazines as Relief Journal, Parents Express, Sunday Digest, and Highlights for Children.

Joyce attended Bryn Mawr College and is a member of the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Fellowship. She is a frequent workshop leader at various writer’s conferences and women’s church groups.

She has three children, Rebekah, Emily, and Adam; one grandson, Lemuel Earnest; one son-in-law, Joshua, and a neurotic parakeet who can’t seem to keep a name. Joyce leads a small fiction group called StoryCrafters. She enjoys baseball, football, cream soda, and needle arts but not elevators. She currently lives in Havertown, Pennsylvania.

The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow is her first published novel.


The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow is the story of an unusual woman, Agnes Sparrow. No longer able or willing to leave her home, where she is cared for by her long-suffering sister Griselda, Agnes has committed her life to the one thing she can do-besides eat. Agnes Sparrow prays and when Agnes prays things happen, including major miracles of the cancer, ulcer-healing variety along with various minor miracles not the least of which is the recovery of lost objects and a prize-winning pumpkin.

The rural residents of Bright's Pond are so enamored with Agnes they plan to have a sign erected on the interstate that reads, "Welcome to Bright's Pond, Home of Agnes Sparrow." This is something Agnes doesn't want and sends Griselda to fight city hall.

Griselda's petitions are shot down and the sign plans press forward until a stranger comes to town looking for his miracle from Agnes. The truth of Agnes's odd motivation comes out when the town reels after a shocking event. How could Agnes allow such evil in their midst? Didn't she know?

Well, the prayers of Agnes Sparrow have more to do with Agnes than God. Agnes has been praying to atone for a sin committed when she was a child. After some tense days, the townsfolk, Griselda, and Agnes decide they all need to find their way back to the true source of the miracles-God.

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow, go HERE

Read Jen's Take 5 Interview with Joyce on

Thursday, September 24, 2009

CFBA Presents FIELDS OF GRACE by Kim Vogel Sawyer

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Fields Of Grace
(Bethany House - October 2009)
Kim Vogel Sawyer


Best-selling, award-winning author Kim Vogel Sawyer is a wife, mother, grandmother, author, speaker, singer of songs and lover of chocolate... but most importantly, she's a born-again child of the King!

A former elementary school teacher, Kim closed her classroom door in 2005 to follow God's call on her heart to write and speak. Now blessed with multiple writing contracts with Bethany House, Barbour, and Zondervan Publishing, Kim enjoys sharing her journey to publication as well as the miraculous story of her healing from a life-long burden of pain and shame.

Kim's gentle yet forthright testimony lends credence to the promise of Ps. 117:2--"Great is his love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever."


Will their Mennonite faith be shaken or strengthened by the journey to a new land?

With their eldest son nearly to the age when he will be drafted into military service, Reinhardt and Lillian Vogt decide to immigrate to America, the land of liberty, with their three sons and Reinhardt's adopted brother, Eli. But when tragedy strikes during the voyage, Lillian and Eli are forced into an agreement neither desires.

Determined to fulfill his obligation to Reinhardt, Eli plans to see Lillian and her sons safely settled on their Kansas homestead--and he's equally determined that the boys will be reared in the Mennonite faith. What he doesn't expect is his growing affection for Lillian--and the deep desire to be part of a family.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Fields Of Grace, go HERE

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
One Imperfect Christmas
(Abingdon Press - September 2009)
Myra Johnson


Making up stories has been second nature to me for as long as I can remember. A select group of trusted friends back at dear old Mission High waited eagerly for the next installment of my "Great American Spy Novel" (think Man from Uncle) and my "All-American Teen Novel" (remember Gidget and Tammy?). I even had a private notebook of angst-ridden poetry a la Rod McKuen.

The dream of writing persisted into adulthood, although it often remained on the back burner while I attended to home and family and several "real" (read paying) jobs along the way. Then in 1983, while recovering from sinus surgery, I came upon one of those magazine ads for the Institute of Children’s Literature. I knew it was time to get serious, and the next thing I knew, I'd enrolled in the “Writing for Children and Teenagers” course.

Within a year or so I sold my first story, which appeared in the Christian publication Alive! for Young Teens. For many years I enjoyed success writing stories and articles for middle-graders and young adults. I even taught for ICL for 9 years.

Then my girls grew up, and there went my live-in inspiration. Time to switch gears. I began my first women's fiction manuscript and started attending Christian writers conferences. Eventually I learned about American Christian Romance Writers (which later became American Christian Fiction Writers) and couldn't wait to get involved. Friends in ACFW led me to RWA and the online inspirational chapter, Faith, Hope & Love.

So here I am today, still on this crazy roller-coaster ride. Still writing. Still hopeful. Writing, I'm learning, is not about the destination, it's about the journey. My current projects are primarily women's fiction and romance . . . novels of hope, love, and encouragement. Novels about real women living out their faith and finding love in the midst of everyday, and sometimes not so everyday, situations.


Graphic designer Natalie Pearce faces the most difficult Christmas of her life. For almost a year, her mother has lain in a nursing home, the victim of a massive stroke, and Natalie blames herself for not being there when it happened. Worse, she's allowed the monstrous load of guilt to drive a wedge between her and everyone she loves-most of all her husband Daniel. Her marriage is on the verge of dissolving, her prayer life is suffering, and she's one Christmas away from hitting rock bottom.

Junior-high basketball coach Daniel Pearce is at his wit's end. Nothing he's done has been able to break through the wall Natalie has erected between them. And their daughter Lissa's adolescent rebellion isn't helping matters. As Daniel's hope reaches its lowest ebb, he wonders if this Christmas will spell the end of his marriage and the loss of everything he holds dear.

If you would like to read the first chapter of One Imperfect Christmas, go HERE

Watch the trailer:

Read my Take 5 interview with Myra Johnson at

Monday, September 14, 2009

Dreaming with Michelle Sutton

Dreams Fulfilled
Michelle Sutton

Today's topic is about dreams. I've always wanted to be a mom, so that was a dream I've had since I was a child. Part of the motivation behind my dream is sad because my mother was bedridden for twenty years and I wanted to do for my kids what my mom couldn't do for me. I'm just thrilled God gave me that chance by blessing my womb after I got married back in 1990. My other dream was to be a stay-at-home mom. For whatever reason God hasn't fulfilled that dream yet. This day in age it's tough, if not impossible, to live on one income, especially when the man the Lord gave you has to pay child support for his prior child regardless of the fact that he wanted to stay married and his ex was the one who strayed in their marriage. So my entire 19 years of marriage I've had to work. Thankfully the support was paid off back in 2005, but life was tough for the many years we did have to pay.

Since this topic is about Dreams fulfilled I will go back to the dream of being a mom. The Lord gave me two boys with my wonderful husband. I've had only two pregnancies and both resulted in my children. Right now they are both teenagers and just finishing out their last year(s) of high school. They turned out to be great kids despite my having to work full time while they grew up. I have a heart for young people because my teenage years were pretty messed up, very unlike both of my sons, who both know Jesus and follow Him. I didn't know Jesus when I was a teen so many of my experiences are actually reflected in my books. I want young people to know God and know Jesus personally, which is why I write. It makes such a difference when the Lord is involved in your child's upbringing. The second part of my dream is to see young people inspired and changed when they read my novels, kind of like giving back part of myself to see them desire what I never had until I was 18…before I knew Christ.

The book being promoted is about Susie Ziglar's dreams. I hope you enjoy reading about her life and her experience dealing with the result of an unfortunate decision she made that would affect her life forever. Bless you all!


Michelle Sutton is Editor-in-chief for Christian Fiction Online Magazine, a member of ACFW, and edgy fiction writer, a book reviewer, avid blogger, CWOW blog mistress, mother of two teens, wife, pet owner, and follower of Jesus Christ.

ABOUT THE BOOK – It’s Not About Him
Sheaf House - September 2009

Susie wakes up after a party knowing something isn't right. When she discovers she is pregnant but has no idea who the father is, she decides to place her baby for adoption with an infertile couple from church. Following through ends up being more challenging than she'd imagined. But she wants to do the right thing. If only Jeff would quit trying to marry her so she'll keep her baby! Why doesn't he understand? It's not about him; it's about what's best for her child. Meanwhile, a man shows up in her life that looks irritatingly familiar. Could he be the father?


If you’d like to be entered to win a copy of It’s Not About Him, just leave a reply to this blog. I’ll pick a winner at random on September 21st. (NOTE: Residents of the United States and Canada only on this one.) 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, September 9, 2009

Dreaming with Julie Carobini

Dreaming Through
the Dark Times
Julie Carobini

I’ve been through divorce, brain surgery, and serious financial hardship. Probably not the way a post about dreams should begin. The reality is, though, that many of us go through times so tough that dreams seem both vaporous and unattainable.

Unless we know the ‘lifter of our heads’.

During many of those dark days, I found myself standing at the water’s edge, pleading with God. Sometimes I lived close enough to walk. Other times I had to get into my car and drive an hour just to stand in front of the vast sea and cast my cares upon the One who created them.

Since then, I’ve experienced many bright days too. New love, a family, healings, fresh joys…and still through the years, I have often taken to the sea to talk to God. At one particular point, I remember worrying that the beach had become my idol, and promising God that I would give it up, if that’s what he wanted. (I even made myself stay away, an endeavor that lasted all of two weeks.)

Instead, he gave me a writing career. He took all the lows and highs in my life and created something new with them. Believe me when I tell you that I had no plans of my own to write beach-themed novels one day. I just kept praying and writing and seeking until an idea popped into my head. I followed that idea, and now find myself writing my fifth novel filled with ‘waves of grace’, as I’ve come to think of these stories.

So what does this all have to do with dreams? Plenty. Has God given you a dream? Does it seem outlandish—maybe even to you? Don’t be quick to discount it. Instead, be patient. Pray over your idea until you know that it is absolutely not from him—or perhaps that it absolutely is!


Julie Carobini writes beach-themed novels for the ‘young at heart.’ Sweet Waters, the story of a woman whose fairytale turns out to be a soap opera, is available now (B&H Publishing Group). Visit her at ~ Julie would love to hear from you!

ABOUT THE BOOK - Sweet Waters

What happens when the fairytale turns out to be a soap opera?

Tara Sweet is nothing if not sensible. Usually. But her engagement is off, and her mother—yes, mother—is newly married and gallivanting around Europe.

It’s time for a change. So she convinces her sisters to honor their father’s final wish and rediscover the fairy-tale life they knew in Otter Bay, California. But Tara discovers fairy tales are fragile—and truth is often one ugly layer after another of secrets, accusation, rumor, and a past an entire church wants to forget.

Firefighter Josh Adams knows all about battling personal demons. He’s been doing so ever since a woman nearly died in his arms. Actually, long before . . .

As the turbulence in their lives grows, Tara and Josh find themselves at odds with their families, their faith, the townspeople of Otter Bay—and each other.

Only in facing the lies from the past can they find the truth.


If you’d like to be entered to win a copy of Sweet Waters, just leave a reply to this blog. I’ll pick a winner at random on September 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!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Review of FEARLESS by Max Lucado

In his new book, Fearless, Max Lucado takes a look at the things that scare us: something bad happening to our kids, not being able to provide for our family, disappointing God, and the threats of terrorism, joblessness, and global calamity, just to name a few.
It's a scary world we live in. It's easy to become overwhelmed when presented with the challenges that surround us. But Fearless puts a new spin on the fear that sometimes threatens to consume us. Lucado says this in Chapter 1:

When fear shapes our lives, safety becomes our god. When safety becomes our god, we worship the risk-free life. Can the safety love do anything great? Can the risk-averse accomplish noble deeds? For God? For others? No. The fear-filled cannot love deeply. Love is risky. They cannot give to the poor. Benevolence has no guarantee of return. The fear-filled cannot dream wildly. What if their dreams sputter and fall from the sky? The worship of safety emasculates greatness. No wonder Jesus wages such a war against fear.

Whoa. Makes you look at fear in completely different way, doesn't it?

Frequent readers of Lucado know that he has a way with words unlike most other non-fiction authors. Fearless is no different. Weaving real-life examples with spiritual truths, Fearless gives us a glimpse of a loving God who is with us always, protecting us as He guides us through the minefield of life.

I'll leave you with one more snippet from Chapter 11: Caffeinated Life: Fear of What's Next.

God never sends you out alone. Are you on the eve of change? Do you find yourself looking into a new chapter? Is the foliage of your world showing signs of a new season? Heaven's message for you is clear: when everything else changes, God's presence never does. You journey in the company of the Holy spirit, who "will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you." (John 14:26 NLT)

In this video, Max talks about why he wrote Fearless

Check out The Fearless Times, where you can ask Max a question about what makes you fearful.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Interview and Book Giveaway with Author Myra Johnson


Myra Johnson’s roots go deep into Texas soil, but she’s proud to be a new Oklahoman. Empty-nesters now, she and her husband share their home with two lovable dogs and a snobby parakeet. Her debut novel, One ImPerfect Christmas, releases September 2009 from Abingdon Press. She also writes for Barbour Publishing’s Heartsong Presents line. Autumn Rains, winner of the 2005 RWA Golden Heart for Best Inspirational Romance Manuscript, releases October 2009, soon to be followed by Romance by the Book and Where the Dogwoods Bloom. Myra and her husband, Jack, have been married since 1972. The Johnsons have two married daughters and five grandchildren.


JA: Not only is your book part of the Abingdon Press fiction launch, but it’s your debut novel. How does it feel to be striking out on such a grand adventure?
MJ: It’s been a wonderfully exciting time—exciting to learn all about the publishing side of the writing business, and amazing to be in on the ground floor as a fiction line launches. The Abingdon folks have done a tremendous job of getting the word out as well as holding our hands to guide us through the whole process.

JA: One ImPerfect Christmas is the tale of Natalie and Daniel Pearce, a couple who are watching their lives and marriage unravel. What made you want to delve into their story?
MJ: The idea first started percolating several years ago after watching a spate of sappy Christmas movies on TV. I wondered if I could write something with a little more depth and faith, and then one night I sort of “dreamed” the story of a couple (who turned out to be Natalie’s parents) ready to celebrate their fiftieth Christmas together . . . but what if . . . The story evolved over the next few years and went through many rewrites before (and after!) it sold to Abingdon Press.

JA: As a happily married woman, is it difficult to write about a couple in crisis, or do you find it a bit cathartic?
MJ: Every marriage has its share of troubles, so even though I may not have faced exactly the kinds of problems Natalie dealt with, much less experienced a separation, I do enjoy (okay, enjoy may not be the best word here, but other writers will know what I mean) delving into my characters’ emotional ups and downs.

JA: What do you hope people take away when they finish reading One ImPerfect Christmas?
MJ: I’d like them to take away the assurance that though no family is perfect and hard times come to us all, when you have faith, love, and the will to persevere, together you can get through anything.

JA: What’s next for you in the writing arena?
MJ: Immediately on the heels of my Abingdon sale, I received a contract offer from JoAnne Simmons, Heartsong Presents editor (Barbour Publishing), for my 2005 RWA Golden Heart winner, Autumn Rains. This novel, which releases in October, is the first of three contemporary romances set in Missouri. The next two should come out sometime in 2010. I’m also working on more full-length contemporary women’s fiction.

JA: You’ve had a lot of success with writing contests. How important are writing contests to fledgling writers?
MJ: For fledgling writers, I’d say it would be much more beneficial to connect with a good critique partner or group. Only when they tell you it’s “almost there” should you think about entering contests. Even then, be realistic. Plan to learn all you can from the judges’ critiques. You’re likely to get very mixed opinions, so use the experience to toughen your hide and learn to discern between personal taste and solid writing advice. When you’re consistently getting good scores and starting to make the finals, contests can be a great way to get your manuscript in front of an editor or agent. Contest finals also make a very nice addition to your writing résumé.

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?
MJ: Oh, my goodness, I’m living my lifelong dream! All my life I’ve wanted to be a published novelist. The real-life version may not have the glitz, glamour, and wealth I envisioned as a kid, but I still have to pinch myself sometimes to realize the dream has finally come true. If I have a dream right now, it would be that my husband would learn to cook a few more things so I could have just one more teensy hour to write every afternoon! And maybe a housekeeper, secretary, and personal shopper. :=)

JA: Last but not least, how can people keep up with your latest publishing news?
MJ: Visit my website,, or my blog. You can also find me on Facebook and my Facebook fan page. Or follow me on Twitter.


Christmas is the season of miracles, but when blame and guilt keep people apart, a miracle needs a helping hand. Natalie Pearce loves Christmas so much she’d gladly make it a year-round celebration—until her mother suffers a massive stroke while taking down the decorations. Natalie’s guilt over not being there to help her mom soon builds a wall that separates her from the rest of her family, including her husband, Daniel, and their teenage daughter. As the next December approaches, the last thing Natalie wants to be reminded of is another Christmas season. Only her family’s tenacious love and an unexpected Christmas gift from her mother can help Natalie mend the broken pieces of their lives.


If you’d like to be entered to win a copy of One ImPerfect Christmas , just leave a reply to this blog. I’ll pick a winner at random on September 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!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

REVIEW: Gone to Green by Judy Christie

Sometimes, life doesn't turn out the way we expect it to.

Lois Barker has a game plan. She's already city editor for The Dayton Post, and she's determined to work her way up through the newspaper ranks. But when she inherits a twice weekly paper in the small town of Green, Louisiana, the best laid plans of Lois Baker go astray.

In Gone to Green, Judy Christie has created a small town full of interesting folks. Some of them you will recognize. "Hey, I know someone like that," you may say to yourself. Others, you'll shake your head and think, "Glad I don't know that guy." Still others will make you wish you could drive to Green tomorrow and join them for a piece of pie.

Christie has a very gentle style of writing. Even when a town mystery is about to blow, the pace is as relaxed and languid as a Louisiana afternoon. And that's a good thing. I thoroughly enjoyed my trip to Green and the opportunity to join Lois on her personal journey. It's a good one, and I think you'll enjoy it, too.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Meet Christina Berry, Author of THE FAMILIAR STRANGER

It’s my great pleasure to introduce my friend, debut fiction author, and all-around great gal, Christina Berry. And it's also my honor to kick off her first-ever blog tour!

JA: Welcome, Christina, and congratulations on your debut novel! Please tell us about it.
CB: 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.

You can see the back cover copy and what other authors have said about The Familiar Stranger by going to

JA: Was there a particular spark that ignited the idea for The Familiar Stranger?
CB: 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.

JA: You’ve had some challenging events in your own life that come close to life imitating art. Would you like to share a bit about that?
CB: Though the plot of The Familiar Stranger came from news stories, I’d been looking for a fictional vehicle to express the lessons I’d learned regarding forgiveness in my own marriage. I knew no one was interested in reading my particular story, but I still felt God had given me something to say. My husband and I worked through a major issue six years ago and found a vibrant, completely renewed marriage on the other side.

However, seven months ago, that same issue broke our bond. Now as a newly-single woman, I’m in the midst of promoting a book that touches far closer to home than I would have ever dreamed. If no one else ever reads it, I’ve been convicted and encouraged by my own words. If that isn’t a gracious God at work, I don’t know what is!

JA: What do you hope people take away after reading your novel?
CB: The recent changes in my life—losing my husband, facing finding a “real” job, selling my home—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.

JA: What’s next for you in the writing arena?
CB: 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 --has 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!

JA: What fun facts may surprise your readers about you?
CB: I was the team captain and second answerer in the speed round for our family on Family Feud in 2000 … and we won! Also, I grew up in Nigeria, West Africa, while my parents were Southern Baptist missionaries. I remember being awed at the selection of toilet paper in the grocery store when we returned to the States.

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?
CB: If I could do anything, absolutely anything, I would live in France for a year. (Assuming I can take my children along!) The first place I would visit is Monet's garden. We'd follow that up with trips to the Louvre, Notre Dame, Arc de Triomphe, the Eiffel Tower, and all the normal touristy things. I'd ride a little bike with a basket to the market every day for baguettes and chocolate and cheese.

My high school French teacher, Madame Hoffman, created a deep hunger in me for all things French, especially art, so I'd be on a first name basis with the docents at the museums. I recently found Madame on Facebook. Wait, can I take her with me too, since my "fluent" French is pretty rusty?

Yes, Christina, you can take Madame with you. And thanks for taking all of us along on your journey today!


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


Craig Littleton has decided to end his marriage with his wife, Denise, but an accident lands him in the ICU with fuzzy memories. As Denise helps him remember who he is, she uncovers dark secrets. Will this trauma create a fresh start? Or has his deceit destroyed the life they built together?
Purchase the book at Christian Book Distributors or Amazon.


Christina is having a humongous book giveaway! Leave your comment here. During the month, Christina will collect all the comments left everywhere during her blog tour. On her birthday, September 30th, she’s giving the gifts… a copy of her awesome novel, The Familiar Stranger, to 10 lucky winners!


How does a 4GB iPod Shuffle or free books for the life of Christina’s writing career sound? Just sign up for her infrequent, humorous newsletter at and you’ll be entered for a chance to win!

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