Saturday, June 25, 2011

Q&A with Colleen Coble

Author of The Lightkeeper’s Ball

(I'm reviewing this book today, June 25th, and giving away my copy at Inkwell Inspirations. Visit and leave a comment if you're interested in being considered for the give-away.)

Q: Did you always dream of becoming a writer?  Why did you choose the romance genre?

I wrote my first story in the first grade.  It was about a horse that had twin colts.  The teacher praised it and the writing seed was planted.  I love illustrating God’s love through romance.  I especially love the suspense I put into all my books as well.  I have a strong streak of justice and it plays out in the suspense element.

Q: What inspired you to write a historical series based in the early 1900’s?  What would you have enjoyed about living in that time period and what would you have found the most difficult?

I happened to read an article about the Gilded Age and it mentioned how that era was so similar to today’s.  I was intrigued with that, plus I wanted to choose a time period that wouldn’t be too much of a departure from my contemporary books.  In that era, there were still cars and telephones!

I would have loved the simpler lifestyle.  However, I would miss my jeans!  How vain.

Q: Society at the turn of the century was very preoccupied with appearances and impressing other people.  How is that not so different than our society today and how can we keep from falling into that same trap?

That’s exactly right!  The parallels between the two eras are astounding.  I’ve been at the cancer hospital this week with a dear friend, and it was a reminder of how fragile this life is.  We seek THINGS when God wants us to seek Him.  We need to keep our eyes set on eternity and remember that THIS life is the real dream.  When we reach heaven, we will finally start to really live.

Q: Bitterness and unforgiveness led to the death of Olivia’s sister.  Why is it so important to forgive those who have wronged us?

An unforgiving spirit hurts us much more than the person we hate.  It makes us ugly and crowds out the love we want to show other people.  God is love, not hate.  Bitterness is the very opposite of the attitude God wants us to have.

Q: This is the third book in your Mercy Falls series.  Addie and Katie were the main characters in your first two books.  Olivia was given a true gift in the friendship of Katie and Addie.  What does it take to find trustworthy and loyal friends?  Why do you think that we all desire to find friends like these?

You have to first be a friend.  You have to be open and giving of yourself to have those kinds of friends.  A true friend tells you the truth in love, and that’s an important component of the give and take of real friendship.

Q: What do you hope that your readers will take away from reading The Lightkeeper’s Ball?

I hope the readers who feel they have to earn love will take away the realization that their true worth is that Jesus loves them and died for them.  They are valuable beyond comprehension.  When we can step into the role of daughters and sons, we can realize our true potential.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Pressing into Thin Places

It seems that each week another area of the country is hit with tragedy, leaving many hurting people struggling with loss. Whatever the situation or circumstance, author Margaret Wills offers readers hope and encouragement.

Is there sustaining comfort to be found for the suffering, perhaps flailing, faithful? Dr. Margaret Wills, Ed.D, asserts that there is, and in her book, Pressing into Thin Places (Brown Christian Press), she invites questioning, thinking, and hurting readers to recognize glimpses of wonder and to draw strength and find rest in the presence of a loving God.

Dr. Wills knows from her own experiences that life is not simple and that we all need encouraging words and reasons to hang on to hope. With transparency and refreshing gentleness, Wills tackles universal fears, disappointments, wounded relationships, and even death and beckons readers to pull aside the veil and to see into that “thin space,” as the Celtics called it, where all that separates heaven and earth becomes almost transparent.

Wills answers questions like, “How do we keep from falling into despair when pain and suffering weigh heavily upon us?” and answers honestly questions about doubt, mystery, and the experience of not knowing. Wills offers wisdom to cultivate a listening heart, encouragement for the downhearted, reassuring words for the faltering, and comfort and rest for those in any stage of their faith journey.   

Q&A With Margaret Harrell Wills, Ed.D
Author of Pressing into Thin Places

Q: Your book is titled Pressing into Thin Places. What is a “thin place”?

In the Celtic tradition, a “thin place” is the place where the veil that separates heaven and earth is nearly transparent. It is a place where we experience a deep sense of God’s presence in our everyday world. A thin place is where, for a moment, the spiritual world and natural world intersect. It can be a sudden momentary awareness or profound unexplainable experience.

Q: Pressing into Thin Places is a collection of stories, experiences, and learned truths expressed through poetry and prose. How are you hoping that readers connect with the experiences shared and those “thin places”?

Through the book I wanted to share a few “thin place moments” and encourage readers to have eyes to see the gifts of thin places through their own experiences. There are moments when we do feel the divine breaking through into our world. We feel unified and connected with God. It is not an intellectual knowing; it is felt in the spirit. Every once in a while, God draws the curtain and lets us see. He gives us reminders that, though we are tethered to this earth, there is another realm of reality just as real. Every once in a while, He lifts the veil. He thins the space between heaven and earth. He lets us experience the “thin place.” Ultimately, He helps our faith.

Q: Pressing into Thin Places gives readers permission to be authentic and to acknowledge doubt, questions, even depression. Often we experience guilt over these sometimes realities, fearing they show a weak faith. But how can facing these circumstances or emotions actually strengthen faith and reveal the presence of God in our lives?

We all have ups and downs. We are emotional beings. This is part of life. But can we dial up different thoughts? Can we change our feelings? Many times, I believe we can. Not too long ago I came across a verse in 1 Samuel 30. The chapter talked about a time when David was defeated by his enemies, rejected by all those around him and discouraged to the core. In verse 6, it says, “And David strengthened himself in the Lord.” How do we strengthen ourselves in the Lord? I believe we do what a verse in Psalms suggests: “And then one day I went into your sanctuary and thought” (Ps. 73:17). We strengthen ourselves in the Lord by going into His presence and letting Him guide our thinking. Many of the Psalms tell us that David worshipped and meditated on the scriptures. This was no exception. He received new purpose, vision, and authority. He waited patiently to become king.

Q: Why do you think we fear admitting doubt or struggles with faith?

Fear wants to rise and speak to the bottom corners of our mind. It will remind us not to be vulnerable. We will remember what happens when we risk psychological safety or abandon feelings of superiority. We will remember our nakedness. We will feel the wash of old fears and the pull of old attitudes and the temptations of old behaviors. But our heart, where our choice and our spirit live, desires our Father and His Kingdom. And our Teacher taught us to pray.

Q: It seems that more and more we all encounter people who profess to believe that God exists, but the crisis of faith arises in God’s goodness. What do you say to the reader who struggles to believe that God is good and loving?

Jesus says we can trust our Heavenly Father. We are safe, we are protected, and we are guided when we cooperate with God’s purpose and God’s way of doing things. We become participants in the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of God’s grace on earth. Jesus reminds us over and over again that we must have faith. We must believe in the fact that we are safe and that “good” will result as we submit our will to His Way. This submission is powerful. It defragments our life and gives us spiritual significance and wholeness of soul. This submission results in the process of spiritual transformation. Along the way, we are rewarded by “faith surprises” as resources of the Kingdom of Heaven are available to make changes in us, in others, and in the way things are.

Q: What do you hope that readers will take away from Pressing into Thin Places?

At the crux of this message of greater connection with God is the gospel message. Jesus encourages us to see our short space of time on this earth in the light of eternity. He instructs us to remember that there are two realities: a physical reality and a spiritual reality. We are first and foremost spiritual beings called to follow Christ’s teachings.

Pressing into Thin Places: Encouraging the Heart toward God
by Dr. Margaret Harrell Wills, Ed.D
Brown Christian Press – May 2011
ISBN 978-1-934812-99-0/208 pages/hardcover/$16.95

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Loved It, Loving It - A Different Sort of Book Review

Loved It:

Megan’s Hero – by Sharon Gillenwater 
I've been waiting o get my hands on this book ever since I first heard the storyline, and more-so after reading the first two books in this series. I just finished it, and am happily satisfied. This book was well worth the wait. Will Callahan, Megan Smith's hero, truly lives up to his title in this incredibly romantic story. And for all of you who read the first two books, the rest of the Callahan crew are on hand to help Megan through her crisis. I don't want to give too much away, since I'll be doing a complete review of this book at Inkwell Inspirations on July 9th. But you should know I absolutely loved this book and if you like homespun romance that makes you sigh, you will, too. 

The Lightkeeper’s Ball – by Colleen Coble
Set in California at the turn of the last century, this is also the third in a series. I've enjoyed all of Colleen Coble's contemporary suspense novels, and though historical, this series also has a generous amount of suspense woven in. I truly enjoyed this book, the setting, the suspense, and I especially loved the way the heroine, Olivia, throws herself into the goal of discovering the truth behind her sister's death. I also loved the discovering Olivia's secret goal and her longing to fulfill it. I will be doing a full review at Inkwell Inspirations on June 25th.

Witness on the Run – by Hope White
Hope White is one of the newer authors at Love Inspired Suspense, and I'm so glad she's there. Her novels are true romantic suspense, and I can't wait for more from her. After Robin Strand witnesses a murder, she suffers a head injury and amnesia. Jake Walters, former Homeland Security agent, now private detective, is just the hero to come to her rescue. Since I look forward to well-written Love Inspired Suspense novels each month, I can't help but hope there are more to come from this author.

Lawman-with-a-Badge – by Laura Scott 
Another premium Love Inspired Suspense by another fairly new author, and I can't wait for more by Laura Scott. This is the story of Megan O'Ryan, former crime scene investigator. Her sister was a victim of the St. Patrick's Strangler, and she helped convict him of the crimes. But someone's trying to kill her, and it appears to be the work of the the St. Patrick's Strangler himself. This is truly is an edge of the seat suspense, reminiscent of the old days of Harlequin Intrigue when they had M.J. Rodgers, Tess Gerritsen and Vickie York writing for them. 

…and speaking of Tess Gerritsen…

The Boneyard – by Tess Gerritsen 
Though not a Rizzoli and Isles story, Dr. Maura Isles is featured in the opening chapters of this book set in Boston. Not nearly as graphic in the forensic sense as the usual Rizzoli and Isles books, this story takes an interesting twist that I've never seen Tess Gerritsen do before. She skillfully and seamlessly weaves two stories together: one in the present, and one in the past where there’s a killer on the streets of 1830s Boston. To my knowledge, this is Tess Gerritsen’s only historical novel, and though it’s not Christian fiction, I felt as if I was reading a novel by Julie Klaasen. The other day at the Inkwell, Anita Mae Draper mentioned in a review how a particular book stuck with her for days. This one did the same for me. I was so caught up in the story, in the historical details, in the characterization, I did think about this book for a long time after reading it. I even woke up a couple of times while on vacation, thinking about it. I don’t often read books a second time, but this one, like Julie Klaasen’s books, begs to be read again.

Loving It:

Dance of the Dandelion – by Dina Sleiman 
I'm currently reading this book, which is not yet available in the print version. I wanted to make sure and tell people about it now, though, because the e-book version is available right now and you can download it for less than $4. That's a great deal, especially for this book, which is beautifully written in Dina Sleiman's trademark lyrical style. She has a touching poem at the beginning, which is a lovely prelude to the book. The cover is gorgeous, and especially special because Dina's daughter is the cover model. Even though I'm reading this on my Nook, I still can’t wait to hold the print version in my hand and celebrate with my fellow Inkwell Inspirations sister on her first sale. Hopefully I’ll be bringing you a full review and interview with this inspirational (literally and figuratively) author very soon. What I can tell you now, even before I've finished this book, is that Dina is destined to become one of my favorite authors.

Making Waves – by Lorna Seilstad
Just in time for the debut of her second book, Great Catch, I’m finally getting to read Lorna Seilstad's first book, Making Waves. It’s been on my virtual TBR for quite some time, and I’ve actually anticipated reading it for even longer...actually since the day I saw the cover in the publisher’s catalog before it even came out. I know you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but when I saw the cover, I knew instantly it was a book I wanted to read. In the two cases where I've bought a book based solely on the cover, I was absolutely right. Courting Miss Adelaide by Janet Dean, and this one, Making Waves. Both covers feature heroines in jaunty hats with a hint of spunkiness in their facial expressions; and both books feature lively heroines and great plots. I'm thoroughly enjoying this book, and looking forward to adding Great Catch to my TBR.

And since I mentioned are the covers from Lorna Seilstad's upcoming book, Great Catch, and Janet Dean's Courting Miss Adelaide - highly recommended if you haven't already read it!