Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Tuesday Tip



Have you ever wondered how you can find out information such as what publishers are looking for, which publishers accept agent-only queries and submissions, and submission guidelines?

If so, you should pick up The Writer's Market Guide by Robert Lee Brewer ((ABA) and The Christian Writers Market Guide by Steve Laube  (CBA). Be sure to also follow-up with the publisher's website to make sure the information is updated.

Friday, July 19, 2019

"Overcomer" by Chris Fabry ... and a GIVEAWAY!


The publisher has agreed to give away one print copy of this book (US ONLY). You can enter by using the Rafflecopter link at the end of the post. (Giveaway ends July 26, 2019. If you are the randomly chosen winner, I'll contact you.) 

Q&A with Chris...

Q:  You visited the set of Overcomer when it was being filmed. What did you take away
from that experience?
A: I was amazed at the complexity of all the moving parts. I was also struck by the commitment the Kendricks and their team have to tell the story they’re given and not deviate. Their commitment to prayer on set was heartening and rich.

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about the story line, without giving too much away?
A: The film focuses on a fifteen-year-old girl, Hannah Scott. She’s been through a lot of loss in her life and struggles with her identity, which is universal. As you watch her grapple with what life throws at her, you will be encouraged to run your own race. Her coach also has a big part in the film and novel because he’s struggling with some of the same questions.

Q: This story suggests that we often let others, our culture, or the roles we play define us. What do you hope this story does inside readers?
A: First, I hope it captivates readers as simply a good story. I want you to turn the pages to see what will happen next. I was able to develop some of the story lines a little further and show a little more than the film can show in two hours. So my desire is for a satisfying read that takes you deeper into your own heart. Then, when you see the film, I hope you’ll be amazed at how the two versions of the story come together.

Q:  Is discovering our identity in Christ something you can do “mentally”? How do you get the knowledge to transform the way you live?
      A: There is a sense that you can “know” this and not experience it. In other words, there are plenty of Christians who get this in the head but not the heart. It’s our hope that this story will bridge the gap between head and heart. Transformation doesn’t come with knowing facts. It comes when you participate with God in the change he is making on the inside. That’s always a painful process but a good one. 
    Q:  This book suggests that surrendering our lives to God is the only way to discover the life we were meant to live. Comment on that principle.
    A: I once knew an old missionary to India who told me, “Your greatest mission in life is submission.” The best thing we can do with our lives is to fully surrender to God’s work. For those of us who like to control things (me being chief controller), this is a scary, vulnerable thing to do. But we find real, abundant life when we get to the point where we’re willing to allow God to do whatever he wants to do in and through us. 
    Q: What do we risk when we surrender control and place our future in God’s hands? What do we gain?
    A: Surrender is a huge risk because we lose control. We lose the ability to write our own story. But when you take that step of faith—and another and another—you begin the journey of entering the Bigger Story, the Larger Story of what God is doing in you and in the world. Look at the disciples before they fully entered that story and after they entered it. You’ll never reach your full potential until you submit to God’s working in your life. 
    Q:  This is your second novelization of a Kendrick brothers’ movie. What is your process for writing a movie novelization?
    A: I love the fact that the Kendricks have drawn the boundary lines and have made all the hard choices. I call it the fence line—they’ve put up the barbed wire and I get to play in the pasture. I read the script, I watch the rough cut of the film about a thousand times, I ask questions about what’s on Hannah’s wall, for example. Why does she choose those images to put above her bed? Why does she wear that shirt on her first day of school? So I get to do things with words and answer questions that you can’t do in a film because of the limitations on-screen.
     Q: What character will we learn more about in the book than we see in the movie?
     A: Hannah’s grandmother, Barbara, has a tough, crusty exterior. And in the film you see a lot of her fear and how that motivates her life. Of course, you want to see her change by the end of the story, but we know that doesn’t always happen. So I found it challenging to tell more about what’s going on inside Barbara in the novel.
    Q: Who is your favorite character in this story and why? 
    A: How do you not answer with Hannah? She’s just so relatable and real to me. But I have to say that Thomas captured my heart. When you see the depth of his struggle, the guilt he has lived with, the way God has taken hold of him—but that he is still growing in grace when we meet him—his face, his heart all comes through so strongly. 
    Q:  How did you relate to this story personally?
    A: I aspire to have my identity come from what God has done for me in Christ. In reality, I struggle with the same thing these characters are struggling with. Do I gauge my worth by my performance? Do I gauge my acceptability with God by some external thing, or do I really believe God accepts me as I am and that he sees the righteousness of Christ in me? Do I strive or rest? Those are questions that are huge in my life and I think will make a difference for anyone who reads or sees this story. 


My review...

It’s hard to write this review without including any spoilers. I read a lot of books, and I don't give out too many five-star reviews, but this one is certainly worthy of it. To keep it short and to the point, the message is something I needed to hear, and I think many others will feel the same way.

The book is divided into four parts (The Coach, The Question, The Answer, and The Voice). Throughout the book, Fabry’s characters are a reminder that life doesn’t always turn out as we expect. In fact, it rarely does. But that’s not always a bad thing, as God’s plans are so much better than we can envision. We are all overcomers in some way, and this book reinforces that message.

Many people will be able to relate to John and Hannah, who are struggling to find their paths. It's wonderful to see them grow as they realize the parts God has lined up for them to fulfill. The book may leave the reader evaluating who they really are … and whose they really are. It’s a highly emotional read, especially as the story unfolds, so keep the Kleenex nearby. I had a difficult time putting this book down, as it was that engaging. I look forward to seeing the movie.

A couple of my favorite quotes:

  • “When we give our life over to God, He helps us, He forgives us, He can turn the bad to good and carry us forward.”
  • “I think somehow forgiveness is a gift you have to open every day. First, you open it for yourself and receive it. Once you do that, you wrap it up and give it to somebody else.”



Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, but I wasn’t required to leave a positive review.



About Chris...



Chris Fabry is an award-winning author and radio personality who hosts the daily program Chris Fabry Live on Moody Radio. He is also heard on Love Worth Finding, Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, and other radio programs. A 1982 graduate of the W. Page Pitt School of Journalism at Marshall University and a native of West Virginia, Chris and his wife, Andrea, now live in Arizona and are the parents of nine children.

Chris's novels, which include DogwoodJune BugAlmost Heaven, and The Promise of Jesse Woods, have won five Christy Awards, an ECPA Christian Book Award, and two Awards of Merit from Christianity Today. He was inducted into the Christy Award Hall of Fame in 2018. His eightieth published book, Under a Cloudless Sky, is a novel set in the coalfields of his home state of West Virginia. His books include movie novelizations, like the bestseller War Room; nonfiction; and novels for children and young adults. He coauthored the Left Behind: The Kids series with Jerry B. Jenkins and Tim LaHaye, as well as the Red Rock Mysteries and the Wormling series with Jerry B. Jenkins. Visit his website at www.chrisfabry.com.



a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Writing Prompt Wednesday




If you're feeling stuck in your WIP (work in progress) or just want to shake things up a bit, here's something different to try today:

He hadn't seen anything like it in twenty years of teaching.


Happy writing!

Monday, July 15, 2019

Monday Motivation


"With hard work and effort, you can achieve anything."
— Antoine Griezmann


Have a wonderful week!

Saturday, July 13, 2019

The Mosaic Collection Blitz - Brenda S. Anderson Spotlight (JustRead Tours) ... and a GIVEAWAY!

 

Welcome to the Blog Blitz  for The Mosaic Collection, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!

ABOUT THE COLLECTION

For His glory...  

The Mosaic Collection is an international community of women authors who use faith-based fiction to touch hearts with the good news that Christ's finished work on the cross has made us one family, and to nurture affection for the people God has placed within our circles of influence, so that the grace and glory of God may become visible and personal to everyone we meet.

...and our good

We are sisters, a beautiful mosaic united by the love of God through the blood of Christ. We have experienced the redemptive, restorative power of God's grace in our marriages and families, and we believe our God is able to heal, restore and redeem our brokenness. His love fills us with the courage to persevere, and to offer others a Christ-like compassion that is full of His wisdom and grace.

Visit the Mosaic Collection Website to stay posted on each new release & follow the collection blog for meaningful posts from the authors!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Brenda S. Anderson writes gritty and authentic, life-affirming fiction. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, and is Past-President of the ACFW Minnesota chapter, MN-NICE, the 2016 ACFW Chapter of the Year. When not reading or writing, she enjoys music, theater, roller coasters, and baseball (GO Twins!), and she loves watching movies with her family. She resides in the Minneapolis, Minnesota area with her husband of 31 years, their three children, and one sassy cat.

CONNECT WITH BRENDA: Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest | Goodreads

Cornerstone message from the collection: 

Listen...

Everyone has their own life story that brings them to where they are in life and molds their beliefs and opinions. The problem is, we live in a reactionary world where we don't stop and listen to what others are saying, and too often we're not willing to really hear the other person's side of the story. Rather, we react to their statement or opinion by pointing fingers, and we’re quick to not only say, "You're wrong" but we often resort to name calling. We don’t stop and listen to this person whom God loves.

In each of my books, God has placed heroes/heroines on my heart that I would normally struggle with and want to tell them, "You're wrong!": a pro-choice woman, an arrogant businessman, a bully, mugger, collection agent, to name a few. With each character, God has told me, "I love them. I want you to see the heart that I see." And that's what I've tried to convey in my books. Open up our ears and our eyes to see who God sees, hears, and loves.



FUN FACTS

Favorite place to read: It doesn’t happen often, but sitting by the shore of Lake Superior. That’s my favorite place, period!

Favorite book character from childhood: Trixie Belden - I loved how real and relatable she was. She was far from perfect, yet she was loyal to family and friends.

Favorite movie: This is ever changing. Right now it’s Avengers: Endgame. I LOVE the Marvel movies!

Favorite quote or Bible verse: This is also ever changing! Right now my favorite verse is Isaiah 43:19a “Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?”

Favorite splurge/treat: Fannie May candies. Unfortunately (or maybe it’s fortunately …) there are no longer any stores near us.

Favorite character you’ve created: The main character in my first release and series, Richard Brooks. I loved his journey from broken man to bold Christ follower. Though his series is complete, he still makes random appearances in subsequent books because I just can’t say goodbye!

Last 3 great books you read: Oh, that’s tough, separating the Great books from the I really liked books. There’s a fine line, and it’s also a fluid line! But as of today, the last 3 great books I’ve read are: The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah, Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate, Water from My Heart by Charles Martin

Dream vacation: I’ve always wanted to travel to Israel, to walk the ground that Jesus walked.

Hidden talent/little-known fact: I (used to) draw portraits. Someday, I’ll get back to that!

Plotter or pantser: Total pantser, which is unusual because everything else in my life is organized. I think this is God’s way of getting me to release control.

In no particular order, ten of your favorite things (i.e. hot cocoa, a warm breeze, the sound of my kids’ laughter, etc.) :

  • Lake Superior
  • Silence
  • Laughing and spending time with family
  • Reading (of course!)
  • Musical theater (attending, not acting in)
  • Singing with a small ensemble
  • Chocolate!
  • Baseball
  • Encouraging and helping others
  • The haunting coo of a mourning dove

TOUR GIVEAWAY

Giveaway_MosaicBlitz_JRnew?w=600 

(1) winner will receive a $50 Amazon eGift Card & an ebook prize pack*!

Winner will receive an ebook of:
  • Where She Belongs
  • Pieces of Granite
  • Lifelines
  • Christmas on a Mission
  • Vigilant
  • Other Side of the River
  • The Third Grace
  • Carolina Grace
  • The Benefit Package (a devotional)
  • Dance of Grace
  • When Love Calls
Full tour schedule linked below. Giveaway will begin at midnight July 10, 2019 and last through 11:59 PM EST on July 24, 2019. Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize. Open internationally, but international winner will receive a gift card only *(may be substituted for a Book Depository gift card if winner cannot accept from US Amazon)

Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.


 
See tour landing page for a complete list of authors & book release dates. 
Follow along at JustRead Tours for a full list of stops!
cropped-justread-logo.png
*NOTE: This post contains affiliate links.

Friday, July 12, 2019

The Mosaic Collection Blitz - Deb Elkink Spotlight (JustRead Tours) ... and a GIVEAWAY!

 

Welcome to the Blog Blitz  for The Mosaic Collection, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!

ABOUT THE COLLECTION

For His glory...  

The Mosaic Collection is an international community of women authors who use faith-based fiction to touch hearts with the good news that Christ's finished work on the cross has made us one family, and to nurture affection for the people God has placed within our circles of influence, so that the grace and glory of God may become visible and personal to everyone we meet.

...and our good

We are sisters, a beautiful mosaic united by the love of God through the blood of Christ. We have experienced the redemptive, restorative power of God's grace in our marriages and families, and we believe our God is able to heal, restore and redeem our brokenness. His love fills us with the courage to persevere, and to offer others a Christ-like compassion that is full of His wisdom and grace.

Visit the Mosaic Collection Website to stay posted on each new release & follow the collection blog for meaningful posts from the authors!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR



ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Deb Elkink lives with her long-time husband in a cottage beside a babbling creek in rural Alberta, Canada. She grew up in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and studied in Minneapolis–Saint Paul (B.A. Communications), publishing a dozen or so short stories and articles as a young adult. She spent the next twenty years as a rancher’s wife and homeschooling mom (rounding up cattle on horseback, cooking for huge branding crews, earning her private pilot’s license, readying kids for high school).

Graduate studies (M.A. Theology) then prepared her for editing a professional quarterly magazine, doctoral dissertations and scholarly articles, and an online expository Bible study. Today she writes and edits, travels like mad, drinks lots of creamy decaf with friends, and speaks to women’s groups about the Christian faith.

Her debut novel (The Third Grace) received Canada’s prestigious Grace Irwin Prize in 2012, and her literary work on the fiction of a late-Victorian British writer (Roots and Branches: The Symbol of the Tree in the Imagination of G.K. Chesterton) was published in 2015. Her upcoming novel is a contemporary women’s fiction with a historical/theological twist: Eat, Pray, Love and The Wizard of Oz meet the Book of Hebrews in showing that “home” is a state of soul, a state of inner rest.

CONNECT WITH DEB: Website | Facebook

Cornerstone message from the collection: 

Look for God in the Bible. Everything (art, literature, fashion design, engineering, philosophy, travel, cooking, health, romance, community, fitness . . .) can be a way to express or illustrate God’s action on our world, but only the living and breathed-out Word of God can give us knowledge of the Father our hearts are longing for. Only the mind of God revealed to the minds of mortals by the Holy Spirit through Scripture can bring us into alignment with the Person of Jesus Christ. In today’s increasingly pagan culture, “spirituality” has become a buzzword for any belief but the truth—the more mystical the better. But the Holy Book of God is the only source containing all we need for salvation and spiritual life.  



FUN FACTS

Favorite place to read: In bed beneath my down duvet, propped up on goose-feather pillows, and ensconced in crisp, white, Egyptian cotton sheets of high thread count--with a chocolate snack to nibble.

Favorite book character from childhood: Nancy Drew--so poised, so brainy, and so gullible all at the same time. She led me into and through many mysterious plots that stimulated my curiosity about dude ranches and treasure maps and old attics. It’s funny I didn’t become a mystery writer.

Favorite movie: Usually psychological thrillers (with no spiritistic thread) like Gone Girl or The Game, or any movies I can read theology into such as Chocolat or Father Brown. Currently, however: When Love Is Not Enough: The Lois Wilson Story


Favorite splurge/treat: Chocolate! Dark, bittersweet, enveloping rustic candied ginger or cherries or salted caramel

Favorite character you’ve created: Mary Grace (renamed Aglaia after a Greek goddess), who ran from her rural background searching for herself (and love) in the arts. Or maybe Ebenezer MacAdam, the old Scottish sage full of truth. No, I take that back--better Libby Walker, who’s been walking away for all her life and finally finds her way home. That said, my current antagonist, Sybil Tansey, travels from one exotic international “sacred place” to the next for yet another thrill--gotta love the misplaced verve.  

Last 3 great books you read: All the Light You Cannot See (Doerr); Walking with God Through Pain and Suffering (Keller); Hebrews (the Holy Spirit)

Dream vacation: A Japanese ryokan (traditional inn) in Kyoto during cherry blossom season 

Hidden talent/little-known fact: I can hear the (silent to most) shriek of an armed but not activated high-frequency alarm in some shops--yikes, drives me bats!

Plotter or pantser: Definitely plotter

In no particular order, ten of your favorite things (i.e. hot cocoa, a warm breeze, the sound of my kids’ laughter, etc.) : Exotic perfume; Chinese brush art (ink on sepia paper); Mennonite food (especially vrenekje with schmontfat--look it up); deep red silk velvet; prairie thunderstorms; a huge church choir singing old hymns of praise beneath the vaulted ceilings of a cathedral; my sewing machine; a crisp sheet of blank superwhite paper and a new roller pen; my hot tub in a snowstorm; a warm hug



TOUR GIVEAWAY

Giveaway_MosaicBlitz_JRnew?w=600 

(1) winner will receive a $50 Amazon eGift Card & an ebook prize pack*!

Winner will receive an ebook of:
  • Where She Belongs
  • Pieces of Granite
  • Lifelines
  • Christmas on a Mission
  • Vigilant
  • Other Side of the River
  • The Third Grace
  • Carolina Grace
  • The Benefit Package (a devotional)
  • Dance of Grace
  • When Love Calls
Full tour schedule linked below. Giveaway will begin at midnight July 10, 2019 and last through 11:59 PM EST on July 24, 2019. Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize. Open internationally, but international winner will receive a gift card only *(may be substituted for a Book Depository gift card if winner cannot accept from US Amazon)

Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.


 
See tour landing page for a complete list of authors & book release dates. 
Follow along at JustRead Tours for a full list of stops!
cropped-justread-logo.png
*NOTE: This post contains affiliate links.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Takeover Thursday with Tara Johnson ... and a GIVEAWAY!

Tara's publisher has agreed to give away one print copy of this book (US ONLY). You can enter by using the Rafflecopter link at the end of the post. (Giveaway ends July 18, 2019. If you are the randomly chosen winner, I'll contact you.) 



Dandelions in Concrete: How to See Hope Amid the Rubble
By Tara Johnson

Several things are synonymous with summer: fireflies, the scent of honeysuckle, and dandelions. Even as a child, I’ve always been fond of those downy domes of fluff. I would clutch a stem in my fingers and blow, watching its feathery wisps dance and scatter through the air.
     Beauty in one eye is misery in another. My grandmother used to wrinkle her nose at the buttery heads poking up in her flower bed.
     “Ugh! Dandelions.” She always mentioned them as if tasting something sour.
     “Don’t you like dandelions, Grandma?”
     She shook her head. “No, honey. They are ornery little things.”
     “Why?”
     She frowned as she plucked the offensive blossom from the dirt. “Because there’s no taming them. Those white fuzzies scatter all over, sprouting weeds everywhere imaginable.”
     That very trait is what makes this little flower—some would say weed—so unstoppable. You can mow them down, but they come back over and over again. They grow and bloom in the harshest of conditions. The taproot that allows them to burrow in green meadows also allows them to flourish in concrete and brick.
     In my latest novel, Where Dandelions Bloom, Cassie Kendrick is running from her abusive father. When war is declared, she disguises herself as a man and enlists as a soldier in the Union Army. Gabriel Avery is desperate to escape his past and make a name for himself as a war photographer with renowned photographer Mathew Brady. Both bear witness to the devastating horrors of war, but the moment Gabe spies a lone dandelion left in a scarred battlefield, Cassie realizes their perspectives about life, and difficulty, are vastly different.
     As a child, Cassie had woven the yellow blossoms through her hair, pretending to be a princess . . . until her drunken father had yelled with his slurred bite, “Weeds, Cassandra. You’re not a princess, and you never will be. . . You’re playing dress up with a crown of weeds.”
     Gabe’s perspective was quite the opposite.

     Kneeling down, he lightly ran his fingertips over its feathery top. The leaves were wilted, but the flower was mostly unscathed. A memory of his mother pierced the shadowed fog of his mind.
     “I was only a boy of seven or eight, walking with Mither down the street in New York.” He could yet hear the way her boots had clicked sharply against the cracked pavement. Could still smell the smoke from fireplaces, the spicy sausage hanging in the butcher shop, the scent of baking bread mingled with the stink of refuse and urine as they passed alley after alley. Her brown skirt swished against his side when she’d halted.
     “I remember her stopping to point at a flower. She said, ‘Look there, Gabriel. What do you see?’ I squinted and saw a dandelion popping through the cracked concrete of an insurance building. ‘It’s a flower.’” He smiled softly at the memory. “‘Aye,’ Mither said. ‘A dandelion. Do you know what that means?’ I had no idea. She pulled me closer and said, ‘Wherever dandelions bloom in mortar, it reminds us hope is still alive.’”

     It really is all about perspective, isn’t it? Hope, like beauty, can be found if we train our eyes to see it.
     The problem is too many of us live in fear. It’s the one thing every human being on the planet shares. We’ve all felt it. We all know that dark, encroaching panic that claws at our hearts.
     For years I’ve heard the same pat answer, the same verse over and over until I can quote it verbatim. “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love” (1 John 4:18, NIV).
     Okay, so to get rid of fear, I need perfect love. Got it. But then I’m faced with a scary diagnosis, the bills that keep piling up, rebellious loved ones, and the coffeepot that no longer functions. Suddenly I realize I have no idea what “perfect love” means. The conditions are too hard. I’m surrounded by concrete.
     God recently revealed the beauty of this verse to me in a very tender way.
     We had just left my son’s elementary school after a difficult discussion. His therapists knew something was going on with my joyful little firecracker but were unable to pinpoint the source of his issues.
     “It might be time to test for autism.”
I agreed but as we pulled out of the parking lot, I was overcome with an onslaught of what-ifs. What would happen to my curious little boy? What kind of life would he have? Would he be bullied for being different? On and on the thoughts tumbled until the icy tentacles squeezing my heart grabbed me by the throat.
     “Mommy, sing to Jesus!”
     I blinked away the tears blurring my eyes. Peering into the rearview mirror, I watched Nate’s sunny smile and heard his sweet voice as he sang, “Jesus loves me. Jesus is mine. Jesus loves me. Jesus is mine . . .”
     I sucked in a breath. Here I was, worrying over things I had no control over, and the source of my angst was lifting up praises to Jesus. I pushed down the stinging tears and smiled. “Good idea, buddy. Let’s praise Jesus.”
     We sang song after song on the car ride home. With each melody, my fear evaporated. Why? Because fear dissolves in the presence of praise.
Fear cannot exist in Jesus’ presence. It scatters like darkness shattered by light. Revelation twisted my heart with a surge of joy.
     Perfect love casts out fear.
     Suddenly I understood.
     Perfect love is Jesus. Turning our focus on him, choosing to praise despite the turmoil, looking for the beauty within the shadows . . . all these things keep us blooming. Growing. Learning. And they chase the darkness away.
     Fear has no chance against such a hope . . . despite the conditions surrounding it. Just like dandelions blooming in concrete.


Q&A with Tara...

Q:  Thanks so much for the reminder that hope can be found amid the rubble! What inspired the story line and characters found in Where Dandelions Bloom
A:  The inspiration for Where Dandelions Bloom was birthed as I read the journal and multiple biographies of Sarah “Emma” Edmonds. This incredible woman enlisted as a female during the Civil War to escape her abusive father. Emma, a hardworking farm girl, found herself disguised as a male and teaching the young city-bred recruits how to load and aim a gun. Her abilities were so impressive, she was soon pressed into the delicate but grueling work of spying for Allan Pinkerton, head of President Lincoln’s intelligence service. 
      Yet despite her fiery independence and bravado, Emma carried deep scars from her childhood, and that was the story I wanted to tell. Cassie Kendrick is a fictional character inspired by the wounds and fortitude of countless women like Emma who enlisted to hide from their pasts or escape futures more terrifying than the horrors of war. 

Q:  What role does faith play in this story? 
A:  Cassie leaves everything she’s known and throws herself time and again into danger, trusting that God will show her the next step, even when the pathway seems dark. Although she struggles with deep wounds, her childlike faith in his ability to carry her through impossible situations gives her the courage she needs to face down formidable enemies.

Q:  Tell us about some of the core themes of Where Dandelions Bloom. 
A:  Cassie faces abuse at the hands of her alcoholic father. Gabriel Avery has grown up in the slums of New York, unable to care for his ill parents or erase the ugliness from the world around him. Both he and Cassie struggle with the bitter sting of unforgiveness— both with forgiving the ones who have hurt them and with being able to forgive themselves for poor decisions they’ve made. Another central theme in Where Dandelions Bloom is relentless hope, especially amid pain.

Q:  How do you hope these themes will resonate with and challenge your readers? 
A:  All of us have struggled with forgiving someone who has hurt us or our loved ones. The inability to let go of the offense, or the desire to replay it over and over or even to seek retribution, is a very real emotion. Harder yet is forgiving ourselves when we mess up. I want my readers to know there is freedom and life-changing power in forgiveness beyond anything they can imagine. I also want them to know there is hope, even in the darkest time of their life. Tragedy often births beauty, though our eyes may be blind to it at times. So much of how we live our life depends on our perspective.

Q:  How is the perspective of Where Dandelions Bloom unique compared to other novels in the Civil War genre? 
A:  There have been some amazing novels and biographies written around heroic women of Civil War, but I believe Where Dandelions Bloom is unique because it delves deeply into the emotions and wounds driving the choices these women made, as well as the trauma they endured while serving.  

Q:  Can you tell us about some of your upcoming projects? 
A:  I just finished the draft for my next novel with Tyndale, tentatively titled A Song for Cadence. It’s a story loosely based on the life of Elida Rumsey, a woman denied the opportunity to nurse wounded soldiers by Dorothea Dix but who found a way by singing her way into the hospitals. Her life becomes entangled with a surgeon battling a powerful enemy . . . a secret society determined to end the clandestine activities the surgeon has unknowingly led to Cadence’s door. I’m also finishing up the draft of a second story based on Sheridan’s burning of the Shenandoah Valley. The working title is When Fireflies Dance and explores the life of a deserter from the Union army, one of Sheridan’s personal spies, who unknowingly seeks shelter in one of the homes he helped destroy. This story has been the most difficult and raw for me to pen, but I pray my readers will be able to grasp the life-transforming truth that there is no condemnation for those in Christ. He removes sin as far as the east is from the west.

My review...

Cassie Kendrick decides to join the army to escape her abusive father and an arranged marriage. She is part of a secret mission, and she meets Gabe Avery, a young man trying to make a name for himself as a war photographer. Will she be able to keep her identity a secret, and can he escape his past, which continues to haunt him?

This is a wonderful example of historical fiction. It's well researched, and Johnson makes the reader feel a part of the action. Themes of faith, hope, courage, and forgiveness are key. The author seamlessly weaves in factual details, making history come alive. Where Dandelions Bloom is a beautiful love story, with the horrors of the American Civil War as the backdrop.

One of my favorite quotes: "Beauty can always be found if we train our eyes to see it."

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, but I wasn't required to leave a positive review.


About Tara...



     Tara Johnson is an author, speaker, and passionate lover of stories. She loves to travel to churches, ladies’ retreats, and prisons to share how God led her into freedom after spending years living shackled as a people-pleasing preacher’s kid.
      From the time she was young and watched Gone with the Wind with her mother for the first time, the Civil War has intrigued her. That fascination grew into all aspects of American history and the brave people and stories who make up its vibrant past.
     She says, “History is crammed full of larger-than-life characters. Doc Holliday, Annie Oakley, Helen Keller, Daniel Boone, George Washington, Amelia Earhart, and Frederick Douglass are just a few examples of flawed, wounded humans who battled their demons with determination and left an indelible mark on the pages of history. I suppose that’s why people are so fascinating. No matter the era, we all battle the same wounds. Abandonment, abusive fathers, overprotective mothers, loss, grief, rejection, addiction, crippling anxiety, loneliness, or the yearning for unconditional love, to name a few. We all battle the same junk and have to decide whether to fight or cave. Run or stand. Cry or smile. That’s what great characters do. They are a reflection of our struggles, our own wounds. Our own need. And, when written well, they remind us whom we need to turn to for healing.”
     Tara has written articles for Plain Truth magazine and has been a featured guest on Voice of Truth Radio and Enduring Word Radio. Tara is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. She and her husband, Todd, live in Arkansas, and the Lord has blessed them with five children: Bethany, Callie, and Nate, as well as Taylor Lynn and Morgan Lane, who are with Jesus.

     Visit her website at www.TaraJohnsonStories.com and connect with her on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/TaraLynnJohnsonAuthor/) and Twitter (@TaraMinistry).



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Wednesday, July 10, 2019

The Mosaic Collection Blitz - Stacy Monson Spotlight (JustRead Tours) ... and a GIVEAWAY!

 

Welcome to the Blog Blitz  for The Mosaic Collection, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!

ABOUT THE COLLECTION

For His glory...  

The Mosaic Collection is an international community of women authors who use faith-based fiction to touch hearts with the good news that Christ's finished work on the cross has made us one family, and to nurture affection for the people God has placed within our circles of influence, so that the grace and glory of God may become visible and personal to everyone we meet.

...and our good

We are sisters, a beautiful mosaic united by the love of God through the blood of Christ. We have experienced the redemptive, restorative power of God's grace in our marriages and families, and we believe our God is able to heal, restore and redeem our brokenness. His love fills us with the courage to persevere, and to offer others a Christ-like compassion that is full of His wisdom and grace.

Visit the Mosaic Collection Website to stay posted on each new release & follow the collection blog for meaningful posts from the authors!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR





Stacy Monson is the award-winning author of The Chain of Lakes series, including Shattered Image, Dance of Grace, and The Color of Truth, as well as her newest release, Open Circle. Her stories reveal an extraordinary God at work in ordinary life. Residing in the Twin Cities, she is the wife of a juggling, unicycling physical education teacher, a proud mom, and doting grandma.

CONNECT WITH STACY: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest


Cornerstone message from the collection: Our identity is found first and foremost in God. Made in His image, we bear His DNA. We are fully, unconditionally loved by our Creator. While society tells us we don’t measure up, we aren’t good enough, we need to conform, God tells us we are loved exactly where we are being who we are. He invites us daily to walk with Him, look to Him for whatever needs we have, and to trust Him no matter what happens to or around us because He is always there for and with us. Despite the negative messages that rain over us, His message shines through – you are loved.

FUN FACTS


Favorite place to read: outside on the deck in warm weather; in the bathtub in the evening; snuggled near the fireplace in cold weather

Favorite book character from childhood: Trixie Belden – she was spunky, brave, and fun (which I wasn’t)

Favorite movie: Price & Prejudice (Keira Knightley) and The Greatest Showman

Favorite quote or Bible verse: Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart, and wait for the Lord. (Psalm 27:14)

Favorite splurge/treat: Dairy Queen Butterfinger Blizzard

Favorite character you’ve created: Vanessa Jordan (Dance of Grace) and Grandma Em (Open Circle)

Last 3 great books you read: A Sudden Glory (Sharon Jaynes), Seven Trilogy (Sara Davison)

Dream vacation: European river cruise; my favorite vacation spot is Lake Tahoe

Hidden talent/little-known fact: Uh...

Plotter or pantser: Started as a total pantser, but am now probably 50/50


In no particular order, ten of your favorite things (i.e. hot cocoa, a warm breeze, the sound of my kids’ laughter, etc.) :  a long soak in a hot bath with a good book, hot cocoa, napping on the beach with the sound of laughing children in the background (not children I’m supposed to be watching!), golden retrievers, hanging out with my extended family, traveling (pretty much anywhere), writers retreats, our annual girls’ weekend away, laughing with my husband, laughing with anyone, and chocolate (that’s actually 11!).

TOUR GIVEAWAY

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(1) winner will receive a $50 Amazon eGift Card & an ebook prize pack*!

Winner will receive an ebook of:
  • Where She Belongs
  • Pieces of Granite
  • Lifelines
  • Christmas on a Mission
  • Vigilant
  • Other Side of the River
  • The Third Grace
  • Carolina Grace
  • The Benefit Package (a devotional)
  • Dance of Grace
  • When Love Calls
Full tour schedule linked below. Giveaway will begin at midnight July 10, 2019 and last through 11:59 PM EST on July 24, 2019. Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize. Open internationally, but international winner will receive a gift card only *(may be substituted for a Book Depository gift card if winner cannot accept from US Amazon)

Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.


 
See tour landing page for a complete list of authors & book release dates. 
Follow along at JustRead Tours for a full list of stops!
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*NOTE: This post contains affiliate links.