Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Gift of Psalms: Devotional Wisdom from 50 of the Best Loved Psalms

Devotions. Scripture. Psalms and CDs. Voice talent like: Gary Sinise, Malcolm MacDowell, Richard Dreyfuss, Joan Allen, Jason Alexander, Harry Hamlin and Jesse McCartney read the full Psalm. Then, a devotional is read by the narrator. The presentation is for the most part, peaceful. The book contains portions of some of the highlighted Psalms as well as the entire devotional there on the page. The physical package is nice with a padded book (think journal) and glossy pages. Very classy--gift book presentation. Three CDs are tucked into the back cover.

I found the devotionals timely often and enjoyed the comforting nature of the vocal presentation, especially the narration. Some of my personal favorites were included: Psalm 18, 90, 103 and 149. This book/CD combo would make a nice gift.

Some cons: overdone vocal presentation (at times) and poorly edited copy. If you can overlook that, you’ve got yourself a fine devotional help.

Monday, July 27, 2009

ACFW Book of the Year Finalists

Every year, the American Christian Fiction Writers host a contest of fiction from the previous calendar year. The finalists are named and then, in September, at the annual conference, the winners of each category are announced.

Here is the list of Book of the Year finalists for 2009 (in alphabetical order):

2009 American Christian Fiction Writers

Book of the Year Contest


Debut Author

  • A Passion Most Pure (Julie Lessman)
  • Courting Miss Adelaide (Janet Dean)
  • Every Good and Perfect Gift (Sharon K. Souza)
  • Hero, Second Class (Mitchell Bonds)
  • In the Shadow of the Sun King (Golden Keyes Parsons)


  • Faking Grace (Tamara Leigh)
  • Picket Fence Promises (Kathryn Springer)
  • Single Sashimi (Camy Tang)
  • Sweet Caroline (Rachel Hauck)
  • Truffles by the Sea (Julie Carobini)

Long Contemporary

  • Lookin Back Texas (Leanna Ellis)
  • One Holy Night (J.M. Hochstetler)
  • Stuck in the Middle (Virginia Smith)
  • Summer of Joy (Ann H. Gabhart)
  • Symphony of Secrets (Sharon Hinck)

Long Contemporary Romance

  • Along Came a Cowboy (Christine Lynxwiler)
  • Controlling Interest (Elizabeth White)
  • The Convenient Groom (Denise Hunter)
  • Finding Stefanie (Susan May Warren)
  • Zora and Nicky: A Novel in Black & White (Claudia Mair Burney)

Long Historical (6 finalists due to a tie)

  • The Apothecary’s Daughter (Julie Klassen)
  • Calico Canyon (Mary Connealy)
  • Deep In the Heart of Trouble (Deeanne Gist)
  • From A Distance (Tamera Alexander)
  • I Have Seen Him in the Watchfires (Cathy Gohlke)
  • My Heart Remembers ( Kim Vogel Sawyer)


  • The Case of the Bouncing Grandma (A.K. Arenz)
  • Death on a Deadline (Christine Lynxwiler, Sandy Gaskin, and Jan Reynolds)
  • Drop Dead Diva (Christine Lynxwiler, Sandy Gaskin, and Jan Reynolds)
  • For Whom the Wedding Bell Tolls (Nancy Mehl)
  • Of Mice . . . and Murder (Mary Connealy)


  • The Cookie Jar (Janet Lee Barton in A Connecticut Christmas anthology)
  • Dressed in Scarlet (Darlene Franklin in Snowbound Colorado Christmas anthology)
  • Santa’s Prayer (Diane Ashley in A Connecticut Christmas anthology)
  • Snowbound for Christmas (Gail Sattler in A Connecticut Christmas anthology)
  • Stuck On You (Rhonda Gibson in A Connecticut Christmas anthology)

Short Contemporary

  • Buffalo Gal (Mary Connealy)
  • Clueless Cowboy (Mary Connealy)
  • Family Treasures (Kathryn Springer)
  • Her Unlikely Family (Missy Tippens)
  • White as Snow (Janice Thompson)

Short Contemporary Suspense

  • Bayou Paradox (Robin Caroll)
  • Broken Lullaby (Pamela Tracy)
  • Countdown to Death (Debby Giusti)
  • Forsaken Canyon (Margaret Daley)
  • Killer Cargo (Dana Mentink)

Short Historical

  • Family of the Heart (Dorothy Clark)
  • Masked by Moonlight (Allie Pleiter)
  • Reckless Rogue (Mary Davis)
  • Return to Love (Susan Page Davis)
  • Sandhill Dreams (Cara Putman)


  • The Book of Names (D. Barkley Briggs)
  • DragonLight (Donita K. Paul)
  • The Restorer’s Journey (Sharon Hinck)
  • Shade (John B. Olson)
  • Summa Elvetica: A Casuistry of the Elvish Controversy (Theodore Beale)


  • Anathema (Colleen Coble)
  • The Black Cloister (Melanie Dobson)
  • Fossil Hunter (John B. Olson)
  • Lonestar Sanctuary (Colleen Coble)
  • Perfect (Harry Kraus)

Women’s Fiction (7 finalists due to a tie)

  • A Month of Summer (Lisa Wingate)
  • Every Good and Perfect Gift (Sharon K. Souza)
  • My Sister Dilly (Maureen Lang)
  • The Perfect Life (Robin Lee Hatcher)
  • The Shape of Mercy (Susan Meissner)
  • Stepping into Sunlight (Sharon Hinck)
  • Tuesday Night at the Blue Moon (Debbie Fuller Thomas)

Young Adult

  • The Big Picture (Jenny B. Jones)
  • The Fruit of My Lipstick (Shelley Adina)
  • It’s all About Us (Shelley Adina)
  • The Owling (Robert Elmer)
  • Trion Rising (Robert Elmer)

Congratulations to these authors! Looking forward to the award's banquet in September!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Return to Love by Betsy St. Amant

Betsy and I have been friends since we both were published with White Rose Publishing a couple of years ago. She's a fun person and a serious author.

Recently, she released her first book with Steeple Hill Love Inspired: Return to Love. I asked if she'd like to participate in an interview and she graciously agreed.

But first, the summary:

"I'm Not The Man I Used To Be!"

If only Gracie Broussard could believe that! Years ago, Carter Alexander broke her heart and betrayed her. Now, just when she needs him most, he's back—asking her to believe he's changed. But this time, it's not just Gracie who'll be hurt if he disappears. A penguin keeper, Gracie urgently needs to find a new home for her beloved birds. Carter is the only one who can help. He promises that she can trust him, that he's not the rebel he once was. And that he needs Gracie as much as her birds do.

And now, our interview:

What inspired Return to Love?

I just wanted to write a love story between two best friends. I really like the childhood-friends-turned-lovers's so romantic! And I believe love often develops from friendship. I know it did for me and my hubby! After that, the rest of the details just fell into place!

How long have you wanted to write for Steeple Hill?

I never started out wanting to write for any particular publisher, really - just wanted to go where God led and where He opened doors. I was thrilled to get the chance to write for Steeple Hill, though, as they are such a well respected publisher and I've always loved their books growing up. What a blessing!

What was it like seeing your book on a store shelf for the first time?

Such a rush! We took pictures. Then another day, I was grocery shopping and decided to push my cart by and wave at my book. Yes, I admit it. Well, there was a youn woman standing there and she was reading the different paperbacks in that section, and I saked if she ever read Love Inspired. She said "yes, me and my mother love those!" so I pointed mine out, and lo and behold, she scoops the last copy off the shelf and adds it to her buggy. Woohoo! She was so excited, as was I. =)

What are your upcoming projects?

I'm currently working on turning in my western manuscript for Steeple Hill - RODEO SWEETHEART - before deadline, which is rapidly approaching. Yikes! Back to work! =) Look for RODEO SWEETHEART on shelves April 2010!

What are your dreams in writing?

My dreams? For a nap! Haha! =) No, seriously, I hope to continue to contract with Steeple Hill for as long as possible, but also one day write for a house that publishes full-length titles and not just category romance. I truly enjoy writing for Love Inspired, but I have other stories in me begging for release!! =)

Betsy St. Amant lives in Louisiana and is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers group. Betsy is multi-published/contracted with Steeple Hill and has been published in Christian Communicator magazine and Praise Reports: Inspiring Real Life Stories of How God Answers Prayer. One of her short stories, 'Kickboxing or Chocolate', appears in a Tyndale compilation book, and she is also multi-published through The Wild Rose Press. Betsy has a BA in Christian Communications and regularly contributes articles to She is a wife, author, new mother and an avid reader who enjoys sharing the wonders of God's grace through her stories. You may contact Betsy at or visit her websites at or Her first novel RETURN TO LOVE with Steeple Hill Love Inspired is available now through Amazon - click here! And be sure to watch for the sequel A VALENTINE'S WISH coming February 2010.

Thanks for visiting, Betsy! Wishing you all the best!

And readers, I have begun reading this one. It moves fast, gets you right into the romance. Can't wait to have more time and get back to it.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Sunset Beach by Trish Perry

I've reviewed for Trish Perry before. She is a fun writer and "The Beach House" series has been full of takeaway.

First, the back cover copy:

In the popular Beach House series (more than 60,000 copies sold), a worn and comfortable coastal home in San Diego intersects with charming, contemporary stories—Sally John’s The Beach House and Castles in the Sand followed by Trish Perry’s Beach Dreams. In Sunset Beach, Perry delights fans by returning to the beloved backdrop where women gather and lives change.

Meet Sonny Miller, a recent college graduate with plans to get her master’s degree in psychology. With the intention of resolving some family drama and putting her academic interests to the test, Sonny cleverly invites her mother, Teresa, and her mother’s estranged twin, Aunt Melanie, to the quiet and quirky beach house. They both show up...and with surprises of their own.

Teresa, a successful classical singer, brings her latest protégé, Irina, and Melanie brings along secrets about Teresa and the identity of Sonny’s long–gone father.
The strong personalities cause some big waves, and Sonny is in over her head. Soon she is drawn to Irina and Irina’s charming brother, Grigori. Her faith is strengthened by their story of being adopted as children from a Russian orphanage by a Christian couple from America.

Readers will love being a guest alongside these characters. Between each sunrise and sunset is another day for healing, laughter, rediscovering the importance of family, and embracing the hope of God’s care.

And now, my review:

I've always had an interest in psychology, so I found the counseling aspect of the story (between Sonny and her mother and aunt) very interesting. But Trish doesn't leave her fiction there in a sort of non-fiction-esque place. :-) She includes relationship reality, secrets, even a dash of romance. Irina, the adult Russian orphan, was a fascinating character with her own psychological problems. I wondered how much research Trish had to do and found the story rich with takeaway.

With a gorgeous cover like Sunset Beach has (as with all the books in this series), you'd think you're getting a light read about a simple vacation. Not so with this book. Though I wasn't expecting it, it happened--ministry! Right in the middle of the story. Lines I wish I'd had a highlighter on hand to underline. Nuggets of wisdom presented in such a non-preachy way you just ingest them. And laugh-out-loud moments, as well! Trish's sense of humor is so much fun!

I highly recommend this read for so many reasons. Grab your favorite lounge chair, find the nearest beach and enjoy. And if you don't live near a beach, don't worry. The book will take you there.

Learn more about Trish Perry by visiting her Web site.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Snow Melts in Spring by Deborah Vogts

First, I have to say it was Deborah's book trailer that captured my imagination! She found the perfect voice for narration! You should check it out at her Web site.

Here's the back cover copy:

She loves the land.

Mattie Evans grew up in the Flint Hills of Kansas. Although her family has lost their ranch, she still calls this land home. A skilled young veterinarian, she struggles to gain the confidence of the local ranchers. Fortunately, her best friend and staunchest supporter is John McCray, owner of the Lightning M Ranch. They both love the ranch, and can’t imagine living anywhere but in the Flint Hills.

He’s haunted by it.

Gil McCray, John’s estranged son, is a pro football player living in California. The ranch is where his mother died and where every aspect of the tallgrass prairie stirs unwanted memories of his older brother’s fatal accident. Gil decides leaving the ranch is the best solution for his ailing father and his own ailing heart. But he doesn’t count on falling in love.

Falling in love isn’t an option. Or is it?

When Mattie is called in to save a horse injured in a terrible accident, she finds herself unwillingly tossed into the middle of a family conflict. Secret pain, secret passions, and secret agendas play out against the beautiful landscapes as love leads to some unexpected conclusions about forgiveness and renewal.

My review:

Deborah skillfully brings together horse ranching, professional football and veterinary medicine, penning believable characters into an interesting plot. She wasn’t afraid to tackle the complexities of relational themes – father-son, sister-sister and old-flame-new love. I didn't always like her hero, personally, but that's an indication she painted him realistically--I mean, you can't dislike a non-existing person right? He seemed real as I read.

I appreciated Mattie's spirit--to remain on the land she loved, to serve the people of the rural community. I did expect a slightly different story line and solution to her veterinary clinic's troubles in the story, but that would have felt more like a suspense. Deborah incorporated the right balance of interest to keep you reading and wondering if her characters could reconcile.

Congratulations to Deborah on her debut novel, and I wish her all the best in her writing!


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

ACFW Conference Blog Tour 2009

What It’s All About

It’s good to have a focus.

Golf players zero in on the hole (or the flag across the green). Ball players “keep their eye on the ball.” Runners aim for the tape.

As a Christian writer attending an ACFW conference, there are tons of things to focus on: from the business side of workshops, critiques, and meetings with agents or editors, to the more social aspect of fellowshipping or dining together with new friends and old.

But what if the appointments don’t go as expected? What if the editor you pinned your hopes on doesn’t love your project idea? What if the agent of your dreams doesn’t sign you after one glance at your sample chapters? Or what if the onions in the soup give you indigestion and keep

you up all night before a can’t-miss-it workshop?

What if you discover you’ve been writing all wrong all along?

That depends.

What is your focus?

If your focus is winning your top pick editor, or wooing that perfect agent, or hearing “I couldn’t find one thing wrong with your manuscript” from the award-winning author critiquing your project, when those situations go south, you might sink with them.

As in daily writing, if your focus is Jesus, in pleasing Him, in offering Him your hands, your words . . . then the response of those around you at conference isn’t as all-consuming, whether with worry or regrets.

Our perspective changes with our focus. Marathon runners will eventually make the finish line.

How do they get there? They endure because the goal is in sight (even if only mentally for the number of miles).

Make your goal this conference to focus on Jesus and pleasing Him. Be prayerful about your appointments, workshops and whose table to sit at during dinner, but let God cover the results.

I’m going to try following this advice this year. I imagine I’ll stress a lot less and enjoy myself even more than previous years.

Dig in. Get the most you can from the prayer room, from the worship times and from reaching out to help someone else—even if it’s only a smile to share with a weary traveler who arrives at

the end of the first day.

Focus on Jesus and leave the rest to Him.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Love's First Light by Jamie Carie

From her first novel (Snow Angel), I have enjoyed reading Jamie Carie's work. Her new book "Love's First Light" releases today.

Take a look:

Christophé, the Count of St. Laurent, has lost his entire family to the blood-soaked French Revolution and must flee to an ancient castle along the southern border of France to survive. But the medieval city of Carcassonne proves more than a hiding place. Here Christophé meets the beautiful widow Scarlett, a complex and lionhearted woman suddenly taken by the undercover aristocrat’s passion for astronomy and its influence upon his faith. Although their acquaintance begins brightly enough, when the Count learns that Scarlett is related to the man who murdered his family, he turns from love and chooses revenge. Heaven only knows what it might take for Christophé to love again, to love his enemy, and to love unconditionally.

I've only started this one, and I have to say, this one grabs you and doesn't let up. It's a nail-biting opening scene, so give yourself some time when you pick it up, because you won't want to put it down.

Jamie will be conducting a summer book tour this month. Here's the info:

Saturday, July 18, 2009 at 1:00-3:00 PM CT
Books-A-Million No. 431
Turtle Creek Crossing
6143 U S Highway 98 #40
Hattiesburg, MS 39402Phone: 601-268-2431

Saturday, July 18, 2009 at 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM CT
Baptist Bible & Book House
605 Commerce Street
Laurel, MS 39440-3923
Phone: 601-649-7682

Sunday, July 19, 2009 at 1:00-3:00 PM CT
Books-A-Million No. 616
131 S. Frontage Rd.
Meridian, MS 39301Phone: 601-485-2278

Monday, July 20, 2009 at 11:00 AM-12:00 PM CT
New Life Christian Supplies
1920 Highway 45 N
Ste. 2
Columbus, MS 39705-1922
Phone: 662-327-4602
Monday, July 20, 2009 at 3:30-4:30 PM CT
The Amen Corner
2637 Pelham Pkwy
Pelham, AL 35124-1353
Phone: 205-663-2370

Monday, July 20, 2009 at 6:00-8:00 PM CT
Books-A-Million No. 180
757 Brookwood Village
Birmingham, AL 35209Phone: 205-870-0213

Tuesday, July 21, 2009 at 2:30-3:30 PM CT
Dove Christian Supply
3112 Ross Clark Cir # B
Dothan, AL 36303-3048Phone: 334-793-5691

Tuesday, July 21, 2009 at 5:00-7:00 PM CT
LifeWay Christian Store Dothan
Shops On The Circle3500 Ross Clark Circle
Suite 310Dothan, AL 36303 Phone: 334-678-1718

Thursday, July 23, 2009 at 5:00-7:00 PM CT
LifeWay Christian Store Westside Centre
6275 University Drive NW
Ste 42A
Huntsville, AL 35806
Phone: 256-971-1646

Saturday, July 25, 2009 at 11:00 AM - 1:00 PM ET
LifeWay Christian Store Columbus
Columbus Park Crossing
5555 Whittlesey Boulevard
Unit 1300
Columbus, GA 31909
Phone: 706-653-8662

Monday, July 27, 2009 at 2:30-3:30 PM ET
The Lamb's Well Christian Bookstore
115 Margie Dr.
Ste. E
Warner Robins, GA 31093-7583
Phone: 478-971-2677

Monday, July 27, 2009 at 5:00-7:00 PM ET
LifeWay Christian Store Macon
Eisenhower Crossing
4664 Presidential Parkway
Macon, GA 31206
Phone: 478-405-0428

Tuesday, July 28, 2009 at 5:00-7:00 PM ET
LifeWay Christian Store Albany
Albany Exchange
1218 North Westover Boulevard
Albany, GA 31707
Phone: 229-435-7822

Thursday, July 30, 2009 at 6:00-8:00 PM ET
Books-A-Million No. 277
164 Forum Dr.
Columbia, SC 29229Phone: 803-788-4349
Friday, July 31, 2009 at 6:00-8:00 PM ET
Books-A-Million No. 658
Colonial Mall
10177 N. Kings Hwy.
Myrtle Beach, SC 29572Phone: 843-361-1674
Congratulations, Jamie, on your fourth release. We wish you continued success!

Christian Fiction Releases - July, 2009

Happy July! And congratulations to these authors whose work releases this month!

1. A Promise Kept, Heartsong Presents Historical Ohio Book 1 , by Cara C. Putman from Heartsong Present. Newlyweds Josie & Art must choose whether to honor the promises they've made when their relationship experiences the fire of pain.

2. Blackmail, sixth and final book in the Bayou Series, by Robin Carroll from Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense. The sixth and final book in Robin Carroll's romantic suspense bayou series.

3. Cranberry Hearts, by Lena Nelson Dooley, Beth Goddard and Lisa Harris from Barbour Publishing. What will happen when three Massachusetts women find their journeys home lead them down dangerous paths?

4. Deadly Intent, by Camy Tang from Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense. Massage therapist Naomi Grant must prove her innocence when her client is murdered in her family's Sonoma day spa.

5. Gripped By Fear, The Chicago Warriors Series, by John M. Wills from TotalRecall. Two Chicago Detectives struggle to capture a serial rapist.

6. Hometown Courtship, by Diann Hunt from Steeple Hill Love Inspired. A carpenter and a hair stylist work to build a house together--but are they building much more?

7. Lonestar Secrets, Lonestar Series Book 2, by Colleen Coble from Thomas Nelson. A young veterinarian returns to her childhood home and finds the man who humiliated her may be in custody of a daughter she thought had died.

8. Love's Rescue, The Sierra Chronicles Book One, by Tammy Barley from Whitaker House. A headstrong Southern woman falls for her kidnapper, a Western cattleman she blames for the loss of her family.

9. Maggie Rose, Second in The Daughters of Jacob Kane series , by Sharlene MacLaren from Whitaker House. Mission-minded Maggie Rose takes a job at an orphanage in New York City, never expecting to fall in love with a hardnosed newspaper reporter.

10. Menu for Romance, Brides of Bonneterre Series Book #2, by Kaye Dacus from Barbour Publishing. The Chef and the Party Planner Each Seek the Kind of Love that Requires No Reservations.

11. Montana Rose, by Mary Connealy from Barbour Publishing. Love Comes Softy, with mayhem, comedy and gunfire.

12. Ransome's Honor, Book 1 The Ransome Trilogy, by Kaye Dacus from Harvest House PUblishers. Once Youthful Sweethearts—Can Their Love Be Renewed?

13. Rose of the Adriatic, Sequel to Jewel of the Adriatic , by K.M. Daughters from The Wild Rose Press. Messages of hope and peace for the world from Our Lady of Medjugorje woven into a prayerful, fictional love story.

14. Second Chance Family, Fostered by Love Series Book 4, by Margaret Daley from Steeple Hill Love Inspired. Whitney and Shane, two wounded people, come together to try and help each other heal from their past through the appeal of a little boy who is autistic.

15. The Kidnapping of Kenzie Thorn, by Liz Johnson from Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense. Kenzie Thorn is surprised when she's kidnapped from the prison where she teaches a GED course, and even more shocking is that someone wants her dead.

16. The Last Resort, The Wanderlust Mysteries Book 2, by April Star from Five Star Gale I Cengage Learning. One woman's murder and a bottle washed ashore on the St. Anastasia beach open a Pandora's box and unleash secrets pursued by an entire camping resort . . . and the truth proves as elusive as the killer in their midst.

17. The Sacred Cipher, by Terry Brennan from Kregel Publications. An ancient, secret scroll could trigger nuclear war or world peace, four Americans are caught in the crossfire, and opposing radicals will stop at nothing to silence The Sacred Cipher.