Monday, April 26, 2010

Bye Bye Braces!

When my son got braces, we thought it would be a two to three year process. We also never expected to move before it was over. But sure enough, a year into it we decided to move to Las Vegas. That meant driving between SoCal and LV every six to eight weeks for brace maintenance. The good thing was that it gave us an excuse to see family and friends. But the drive was less fun every time we did it. Now, five years after they went on, the braces have finally come off!

Here's Billy on Friday....

And here he is on Saturday...

What a handsome fella. And just in time for the prom next week!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Interview with Francine Rivers - Her new book, advice for writers, and more

It's my pleasure to shine a spotlight on Francine River's latest book, Her Mother's Hope

The first part of an unforgettable epic family saga about the sacrifices every mother makes for her daughter and the very nature of unconditional love. On the eve of the First World War, fiery Marta Schneider leaves Switzerland and her difficult childhood behind, determined to find a new life on her own terms. Barely out of her teens, Marta is haunted by a devastating loss that fuels her ambition to one day own a hotel. From the cramped quarters of a French housekeeping school to the portrait-lined halls of a stately English manor, Marta becomes a hard working domestic who has little time to dwell on what might have been. Instead, she draws her strength from what could be. Then, Marta meets Niclas Waltert, a man just as determined as she to forge a better life in a new place. Niclas captures her heart and together they endure the harshness of life as tenant farmers on the vast prairies of Winnipeg, Canada, before following the promise of the American dream and migrating to the agriculturally rich Central Valley of California. Marriage and motherhood bring both joy and heartbreak, as Marta must surrender her long-held ambitions for the sake of her husband and children, including her daughter, Hildemara, upon whose shoulders her own hopes now squarely rest. Only the strong survive and Marta is determined to raise a daughter as strong as she. But as Hildie reaches young womanhood and another war is fast approaching, those hopes become too heavy a burden for Hildie to bear. Born with a heart to serve others, Hildie pursues her calling as a nurse, something Marta can’t understand. Marta’s years of hardnosed parenting have left Hildie still hungry for her mother’s love…and now for her mother’s respect. Amid the drama of WWII, Hildie falls in love and begins a family of her own. She wants her daughter, Carolyn, never to doubt her love—but the challenges of life conspire against her vow and the only person who can come to her aid is the person she remains so desperate to please: Marta, her mother. With hallmark touches of brilliant prose and gripping characterizations, Her Mother’s Hope is a rich, moving epic about faith and dreams, heartache and disappointment, and ultimately the resilience and tenacity of love.

Click here to read the first chapter


How did you get started as a writer?
From the time I was a child, I knew I would be a writer. Because I didn’t know what I would write, I majored in English (emphasis in literary writing) and minored in journalism (emphasis on who-what-when-where-why). My parents had always been non-fiction readers. Rick’s family loved all kinds of books – and lots of fiction. Mom Edith loaned me novels and I loved them. On a dare (from Rick) I decided to write a combination of my favorite genres and wrote a “western-gothic-romance”. Romance novels were booming in the general market, publishers were on the look-out for new writers. My first manuscript sold and was published. I was hooked! I followed with eight or nine more (of what I call my B.C. (before Christ) books). They are all now out of print, are never to be reprinted, and are not recommended.

When I turned my life over to Jesus, I couldn’t write for three years. I tried, but nothing worked. I struggled against God over that because writing was my “identity.” It took that period of suffering “writer’s block” to bring me to my senses. God was trying to open my eyes to how writing had become an idol in my life. It was the place I ran to escape, the one area of my life where I thought I was in complete control. (Hardly!) My priorities were all wrong and needed to be put right. God first, husband and children second (we had three children by then) and third-- work. I prayed God would change my heart. My love for writing and reading novels waned and my passion for reading and studying God’s Word grew.

Rick and I began hosting a home Bible study. I began working with Rick in his business. The children came along and played in the office, hiding in the shipping popcorn. Writing ceased to matter. I was in love with Jesus and my husband and children. God never stops with the transformation process. We began studying the book of Hosea, and I sensed God calling me to write again – this time a romance about Jesus’ love for each of us. Redeeming Love was the result. It is the retelling of the Hosea story, set in Gold Rush-era California. After I turned it in, I wasn’t sure whether I would write anything more. I had so many questions about what it means to be a Christian, how to live for God, different issues that still haunted me. I felt God nudging me toward using my writing as a tool to draw closer to Him. I would ask my question, create characters that would play out the different viewpoints and seek God’s perspective. I began work on A Voice in the Wind. Writing has become a way to worship the Lord through story – to show how intimately He wants to be involved in our lives.

Christian fiction continues to boom. What would you like to see happen in the field?
I want to see Christian fiction speak to the hard and real issues that tear people’s lives apart. We need writers who are willing to ask the hard questions and go through the soul-searching and agonizing to find answers – and present these stories with skill that surpasses the general market. Some of the greatest works or art and literature were rendered by Christians. I believe God is at work in these areas now. I would also love to see more Christian stories make it to the big screen and into the world of television, and to have the Christian worldview presented fairly. Much of what comes out of “Hollywood” appeals to the basest side of mankind and crushes the spirit. Right now, with war and a failing economy, people are hungry for stories that inspire them, lift them and give them hope. People need to know there are solutions and we can have peace and an abundant life -- even in the midst of trials.

What is your goal or mission as a Christian writer?
I want to whet the appetite for the real thing: the Bible and a personal relationship with Jesus. I try to weave Scripture throughout the story so people receive the Word and see what it might mean in their lives – how the Lord is present and real and passionately interested in each of us. He is not an idea. He is real, all-powerful, all-knowing, the embodiment of love, deeply involved in our existence, and He created each of us for a purpose.

What advice would you give to a new writer?
Write what you need to read. Write from your heart and. Write truth. Sometimes it hurts to peel away the layers of self-deception and see ourselves in the mirror, but it will also draw us closer to Jesus. And your work may minister to others struggling with the same issues. Read the Bible every day so that it will flow naturally into the story. Study the Bible from beginning to end. It is the most exciting reading in the world. It is also alive – and will help you recognize when you are entering into sin and need to realign yourself with the Lord. Keep your focus on Jesus.

Tell us about your current work.
I have just completed the second in a set of two books about mother-daughter relationship over four generations. This was intended to be one long novel dealing with the different ways generations have lived out their faith – but became so long it needed to be divided. Her Mother’s Hope will be released March 16, 2010. Her Daughter’s Dream will follow in September. There are numerous family and personal details woven into both books and I plan to share those things on my blog.

In Her Mother's Hope, Francine Rivers presents a story that transcends time lines and border lines, reaching to the very core of the mother/daughter relationship. At 483 pages, Her Mother's Hope is not a short read, but for me, it was a quick one. I found myself hesitant to put the book down, even when I knew I had to. One of the things I appreciate most about Rivers' writing is the elegant simplicity of her prose. Not once did I stop to note how skillfully the book was crafted. Not because her writing isn't skillful, but because her mastery of craft is invisible. In other words, I was so completely lost in the lives of Marta and Hildie that I stopped being a reader and instead became a participant. And even though the end leads us to the brink of Book Two, it's done in a way that doesn't feel abrupt or unfinished. What it did was make me want to run out and buy Her Daughter's Dream... but I'll have to wait for September to do that.

PLEASE NOTE: A complimentary copy of this book was provided to the me as a blog tour host by Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for posting this interview on my blog. Please visit Christian Speaker Services at for more information about blog tour management services.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Wildflowers of Terezin
(Abingdon Press - April 2010)
Robert Elmer



Robert Elmer is a former pastor, reporter and as copywriter who now writes from he home he shares with his wife Ronda in northern Idaho. He is the author of over fifty books, including eight contemporary novels for the adult Christian audience and several series for younger readers. Combined, his books have sold more than half a million copies worldwide. Like his popular "Young Underground" youth series, Wildflowers of Terezin was inspired by stories Robert heard from his Denmark-born parents and family. When he's not sailing or enjoying the outdoors, Robert often travels the country speaking to school and writers groups.


When nurse Hanne Abrahamsen impulsively shields Steffen Petersen from a nosy Gestapo agent, she’s convinced the Lutheran pastor is involved in the Danish Underground. Nothing could be further from the truth.

But truth is hard to come by in the fall of 1943, when Copenhagen is placed under Martial Law and Denmark’s Jews—including Hanne—suddenly face deportation to the Nazi prison camp at Terezin, Czechoslovakia. Days darken and danger mounts. Steffen’s faith deepens as he takes greater risks to protect Hanne. But are either of them willing to pay the ultimate price for their love?

To read the first chapter of Wildflowers of Terezin, go HERE.


The Holocaust is truly one of the darkest periods in the cumulative history of humankind. I have to confess, after watching Sophie's Choice, I've intentionally stayed away from most dramatizations of those days. To me, they are painful and soul-shredding (even though my pain is nothing compared to what the victims went through). So I approached Wildflowers of Terezin with a bit of trepidation. How would I feel when I was done reading this book? In a word, I was uplifted. Author Robert Elmer pulled me into the lives of those who fought against the horrendous crimes committed by the Nazi's. In Jewish nurse Hanne Abrahmsen and Lutheran pastor Steffen Petersen, we experience ordinary people who are forced by circumstances to do extraordinary things. They are surrounded by people who must choose between what is safe and what is right. While there is sorrow in the story, there is also great hope and love. Wildflowers of Terezin asks readers, when atrocities are committed, how long can you remain silent? This is a powerful book reminding us of a time that cannot be forgotten.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Interview and Giveaway with Fiction Author Richard L. Mabry, MD

One of the best things about having my own blog is that I have the priviledge of introducing my readers to some amazing writers. Richard Mabry is that kind of person. I met Richard and his lovely wife for the first time last September. I was immediately impressed by his kind, gentle spirit, and pleasantly surprised by his sly wit. I know you're going to enjoy this interview and his new book, Code Blue.


Retired physician Richard L. Mabry, MD, now writes Christian fiction and non-fiction, and works fruitlessly on improving his golf game. His book, The Tender Scar: Life After The Death Of A Spouse, was published by Kregel Publications. His work has also appeared in Upper Room, In Touch Magazine, and Christian Communicator. Code Blue, published April 2010 by Abingdon Press, is his first novel.


Q: Code Blue is your first novel, but you've previously published The Tender Scar: Life After the Death of a Spouse. How does writing fiction differ from non-fiction?
A: Let me go back even further. In my thirty-six years in medicine, I wrote or edited eight textbooks and had over one hundred papers published in medical journals…and none of it helped me in non-medical writing. One of my mentors, Randy Ingermanson, a scientist himself, warned me that I’d have to adopt a whole new mindset if I was to write fiction. How right he was.

My non-fiction experience was unique. The Tender Scar is based on the journaling I did after my first wife died, and the hardest thing for me in writing that book was seeing through the tears when I tried to type the words. I read through hundreds of pages of my journaling, picked out the subjects that seemed most relevant, and searched my own experience for the truths I wanted to share. The structure was there. I just had to find it.
But when it comes to fiction, everything changes. In fiction, although I draw on my life experiences and my medical background, they’re only background. For my novel, it was necessary to create a story arc, develop characters, and decide how to put all that into a classic three-act structure. I felt as though I was learning a foreign language, starting from the ground up. Just as with The Tender Scar, I believe God helped me put together the story that became Code Blue, but the process was much more difficult.

Q: On your website, you say you deliver "medical suspense with heart." I love that! How do you weave your faith and medical experience into thrilling fiction?
A: I think Janet Benrey came up with the tagline “medical suspense with heart.” She and I were struggling to find a niche for my writing. It wasn’t romance, it wasn’t suspense, it wasn’t a cozy. We were throwing out ideas, and that tag popped out. I think it totally captures what I try to write.

My desire was, and still is, to craft a novel that combines suspense and romance, set in a medical background, written from a Christian worldview. I can draw on thirty-six years of medical practice, both in the private setting and as a medical school professor, to give readers an inside view of that world. For romance, a combined fifty years of marriage to two wonderful women has provided me a bit of knowledge, and for the rest, I lean on Kay, whom I married two years after Cynthia’s death. She is my first reader, severest critic, and biggest fan. As for my faith, there are no contrived conversion scenes in my novels, and I try to avoid sounding “preachy.” Instead, I focus on the interrelationship of God and my characters. Sometimes they depend on their faith for strength, sometimes they’ve strayed from God, but there’s always a subtle subtext of the God-man relationship in the story, with a take-away message that I hope strengthens the faith of my readers.

Q: Code Blue is the first in a series. Can you give us an idea of what comes next?
A: The second novel in the Prescription For Trouble series, Medical Error, releases in September of 2010. In it, Dr Anna McIntyre learns first-hand that identity theft can be deadly. Her patient died because of an identity mix-up, her medical career is in jeopardy, and her credit is in ruins. She thought things couldn’t get worse, but that was before she opened the envelope.

In the third novel, Cause Of Death, which will be published in the spring of 2011, the medical career of Dr. Allison Perez Williams is in jeopardy as she is accused of ending the life of two critically ill patients, one of whom was her husband. A midnight caller torments her, and she can’t decide whether the people around her are friends or enemies. She only knows that one of them is stalking her.

Q: Your series sounds so exciting! I can tell right now that I'll want to read all three of them. Now, how do you deal with writer’s block?
A: I wish I had a sure-fire cure. My usual solution is to employ what Stephen King calls “the boys in the basement.” I set the problem aside and try to do something else. With my current work-in-progress, I’ve awakened on a couple of occasions with the solution to a problem clear in my mind. If that doesn’t happen, I just start writing, realizing that I may eventually find I’m on the wrong road entirely. That’s when I delete what I’ve done back to the point in question and start again. I guess this is sort of like the way I drive—don’t ask directions, just backtrack and try again if it’s obvious I’m wrong.

Q: How long does it take to complete a novel? How many drafts do you go through?
A: My first novel took somewhere between forever and eternity to “finish.” Seriously, I can finish a novel in six months, and the last few weeks before deadline are total anguish for me. That’s when I think, like every writer in history, “This isn’t good enough.”
My friend and mentor, James Scott Bell, preaches, “Get it down, then get it right.” I tried that, writing a first draft without regard to editing, but that didn’t work for me. So when I start to write, I review the previous chapter or at least the preceding several scenes, and edit them. That tells me where I’ve been and (hopefully) where I’m going, as well as serving to clean up the writing in those areas. After I finish the work, I revise it at least twice before sending it to my agent, Rachelle Gardner, who always has some great ideas for improvement.

Q: Do you plot out your story ahead of time, or do you dream it up as you go?
A: I’m pretty much a “seat of the pants” writer. I know how the story starts, who the main characters will be, the two pillars that bridge the three acts, and the conclusion. Then I turn the characters loose and see where they take me. That’s another reason I like to go back and edit as I go, because sometimes I see that a turn of events or even a character should be deleted or changed. There are times I can hardly wait to get back to writing, because I’m anxious to see how things come out.

Q: After becoming a published author, what surprised you the most?
A: Like Karen Carpenter sang, “It’s only just begun.” Right now I’m sweating a deadline, and my wife, Kay, reminded me that a year ago I was complaining because I didn’t have a contract…or a deadline. Beyond the time constraints, I’m amazed at the amount of work that’s a necessary part of the marketing authors are expected to carry out: participating in blogs (my own and others), arranging book signings, getting endorsements, networking with other authors, etc. It was an eye-opener to discover that publishers, although they do what they can, depend heavily on authors to promote their books.

The other surprise: no one has stopped me on the street to ask for my autograph. Seriously, my family and friends think it’s neat that I’m published, but I’m no Tony Romo. Hey, I’m not even Chad Hutchinson (probably the least well-known Cowboy quarterback in franchise history).

Q: The next time I see you, I'll definitely ask for your autograph :+} What’s the most important piece of advice you could give to a fledgling writer?
A: Every day, ask yourself, “Who am I writing this for?” If you’re doing it because you feel God’s leadership in that direction that’s wonderful. If you’re doing it because you have a message, and the printed word is your pulpit, write on. If you’re doing it because you want to see your name in print, get a copy of the phone book.

Seriously, if you’re writing for the right reasons, then learn the craft. Attend conferences if you can afford them. Study good books on writing craft. Read the work of excellent writers, so you’ll recognize good writing when you see it. And then write, write, write. Have one book going all the time. Keep querying, so when one book garners nothing but rejections, you’ll have another option ready.
One final thought. God will change people with your writing, even if it only changes one person—because writing will change you. Good luck.

What a great final thought! Thanks so much for hanging out with us, Richard.

Visit Richard's website 
Watch the trailer for Code Blue on YouTube


Code Blue means more to Dr. Cathy Sewell than the cardiac emergencies she faces. It describes her mental state when she finds that returning to her hometown hasn’t brought her the peace she so desperately needs. Now two men compete for her affection; the town doctors resent the fact that she’s a woman and a newcomer; and the potentially fatal heart problem that results from one of her prescriptions may mean the end of her practice. But a killer doesn’t just want to run her out of town—they want her dead.


If you’d like to be entered to win a copy of Code Blue, just leave a reply to this blog. I’ll pick a winner at random on April 16th. 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, April 4, 2010


I thought of writing something new and profound today,
but this really says it all...

For God loved the world
so much
that he gave his one and only Son,
so that everyone who believes in him
will not perish
but have eternal life.

John 3:16
New Living Translation 

A blessed Easter to you and your loved ones.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

New Releases in Christian Fiction - April 2010

Yowza, it's a big week in Christian fiction! While there may be other new releases this month, these are the ones I know about...

  • A Promise Forged, Heartsong Presents Historical Ohio Series by Cara C. Putman
    An historical from Heartsong Presents. A player in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League finds challenges and love as she travels with her team.
  • Abbie Ann; Daughters of Jacob Kane, 3rd & final installment, by Sharlene MacLaren
    An historical romance from Whitaker House. Abbie Ann, president of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union in 1907, butts heads with a handsome divorcee, blindsided when she realizes her utter attraction to him.
  • Blood Ransom; Mission Hope Series, Book 1 by Lisa Harris
    A suspense/mystery/thriller from from Zondervan. A woman bounty hunter fights bitterness and revenge to find the killers of her husband.
  • Calculated Revenge by Jill Elizabeth Nelson
    A suspense/mystery/thriller from Steeple Hill. When a teacher finds on the playground a backpack belonging to her long-ago abducted sister, she turns to the principal, an ex-private detective, to stop a child-killer from targeting her daughter.
  • Chesapeake Weddings by Cecelia Dowdy
    A romance from Barbour. Life sends three African American women into a tailspin; Can these women let God rebuild their tattered hopes when new romances unexpectedly enter their lives?
  • Code Blue by Richard L. Mabry M.D.
    A suspense/ mystery/thriller from Abingdon. A doctor finds that returning to her home town has put her in the midst of conflict and possibly marked her for death
  • Crossroads Bay by Kathleen Kovach
    A romance from Heartsong Presents. A beautiful charter boat captain searches for lost treasure while her real prize is the caterer trying to keep up with her.
  • Damages by Deborah Kinnard
    A romance from Desert Breeze. A story of second chances, found in an unexpected place.
  • In Plain Sight by Michelle Sutton
    A suspense/mystery/thriller from Desert Breeze. Abused by her gypsy ex-boyfriend and left for dead, Jovana moves to America seeking a new life; two handsome men desire her heart, but she must choose the right one or end up in a situation much worse than before.
  • Lorenzo and the Pirate by Rick and Lila Guzman
    An historical from Blooming Tree Press. Will Lorenzo Bannister, marooned on a deserted island with two pirates, ever get home to New Orleans?
  • Love Lessons by Margaret Daley
    A romance from Steeple Hill Love Inspired. Alexa Michaels brings a breath of fresh air into Ian Ferguson's and his daughter's life, but is it enough to make Ian trust in love again?
  • Lucky Baby by Meredith Efken
    A women's fiction from Howard Books/Simon & Schuster. Will adopting an orphan from China bring Meg and Lewis the happiness they long for?
  • Mountain Peril by Sandra Robbins
    A suspense/mystery/thriller from Steeple Hill, Love Inspired Suspense. A woman discovers violence has once again entered her life when a grisly website sets the stage for murder and terror on a peaceful college campus.
  • Queen of Hearts by K. Dawn Byrd
    A suspense/mystery/thriller from Desert Breeze. Daphne Dean never knew that serving her country as a spy during WWII would send her into hiding in an abandoned mental institution with secrets of its own.
  • Refuge on Crescent Hill by Melanie Dobson
    A suspense/mystery/thriller from Kregal. As Camden Bristow works to uncover the past and present mysteries harbored on Crescent Hill, she discovers a deep family secret hidden within the mansion's walls that could change her life˜and the entire town˜forever.
  • Rodeo Sweetheart by Betsy St.Amant
    A romance from Steeple Hill Love Inspired. She grew up with a cowboy hat and a pony; he grew up with designer duds and a silver spoon. Will this mismatched couple ever be able to lasso their differences?
  • Rooms by Jim Rubart
    A suspense/mystery/thriller from B&H Fiction. A young Seattle software tycoon inherits a home on the Oregon coast that turns out to be a physical manifestation of his soul.
  • Scenarios for Girls, Book 3 by Nicole O'Dell
    General fiction from Barbour. Molly Jacobs isn't sure what she should do: Should she follow through with stealing some clothes for her friends from Magna the trendy girls clothing store where she works? Or should she do what she knows is right, even if it means losing her newfound popularity? Scenarios for Girls are interactive books that allow the reader to choose between alternate endings to make important, moral decisions for the main characters.
  • Scenarios for Girls, Book 4 by Nicole O'Dell
    General fiction from Barbour. Kate Walker joins the swim team and becomes obsessed with practice and making it through the championships with flying colors. What will Kate do when she's faced with pressure from her teammates to take an illegal substance that will help her swim multiple events in their championship meet? Scenarios for Girls are interactive books that allow the reader to choose between alternate endings to make important, moral decisions for the main characters.
  • Seasons in the Mist; Seasons of Destiny Book 1 by Deborah Kinnard
    romance from Sheaf House. An eager historian, a time portal, and intrigue in King Edward III's court.
  • She Walks in Beauty by Siri Mitchell
    An historical from Bethany House. As Clara Carter makes her debut, she realizes it's not just her heart at stake--the future of her family depends on how she plays the game.
  • Sixteen Brides by Stephanie Grace Whitson
    An historical from Bethany House. Sixteen Civil War widows join the Ladies Emigration Society and head west to claim homesteads, only to find their organization has other plans. . . involving the word "brides.
  • Sworn to Protect by Diann Mills
    A suspense/mystery/thriller from Tyndale. Border Patrol Agent Danika Morales is caught up in a conspiracy and her life is at stake.
  • The Anonymous Bride by Vickie McDonough
    A romance from Barbour. Three mail-order brides arrive expecting to marry the town marshal. But he didn't order a bride. A contest to discover which bride would make the best wife turns into mayhem when there is a fourth anonymous entry.
  • The Cowboy's Baby by Linda Ford
    A romance from Love Inspired Historical. The prodigal returns but is he too late for a second chance?
  • The Word Unleashed, Book 2 of Face in the Deep by Steve Rzasa
    A sci-fi/fantasy/futuristic from Marcher Lord Press. Baden Haczyk's adventure continues as he tries to keep the last Bible safe from the religious secret police.
  • Too Close to Home, Book 1 of the Women of Justice Series by Lynette Eason
    A suspense/mystery/thriller from Revell. An FBI agent and a detective must track down a killer of teenage girls before his next victim hits Too Close to Home.
  • Wildflower Hearts, Book 1 in Series Set in North Dakota by Vickie McDonough
    A romance from Barbour. Three siblings who live on a ranch face problems and romance in the North Dakota Badlands
  • Wildflowers of Terezin by Robert Elmer
    An historical from Abingdon Press. In Denmark's darkest days, is it duty, faith...or love?