Tuesday, December 31, 2013

CROSSREADS Book Blast: Win prizes, find great books

TITLE: CrossReads Book Blast: Serenity to Accept by Elizabeth Maddrey

cover photo
Serenity to Accept By Elizabeth Maddrey

About the Book

Karin Reid has never had much use for God. There's been too much pain in her life for her to accept that God is anything other than, at best, disinterested or, at worst, sadistic. Until she meets Jason Garcia. After his own mistakes of the past, Jason is committed to dating only Christians. He decides to bend his rule for Karin, as long as she comes to church with him. As their friendship grows, both will have to decide if they'll accept the path God has for them, even if it means losing each other.   ElizabethMaddreyElizabeth Maddrey Elizabeth Maddrey began writing stories as soon as she could form the letters properly and has never looked back. Though her practical nature and love of math and organization steered her into computer science for college and graduate school, she has always had one or more stories in progress to occupy her free time. When she isn’t writing, Elizabeth is a voracious consumer of books and has mastered the art of reading while undertaking just about any other activity. She loves to write about Christians who struggle through their lives, dealing with sin and receiving God’s grace. Elizabeth lives in the suburbs of Washington D.C. with her husband and their two incredibly active little boys. She invites you to interact with her at her website www.ElizabethMaddrey.com or on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ElizabethMaddrey
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Thursday, December 26, 2013

LOST AT SEA



A true story by Ada Brownell


Originally published Nov. 8, 1970 in “LIVE,” a publication of Gospel Publishing House, Springfield, MO


The airplane’s engine sputtered and died.
“SOS!” the radio operator shouted. “Mayday! Mayday!”
While he continued to cry out and static filled the air like a swarm of gnats, the B-17’s nose turned downward toward the sea.
This was a confidential mission only a few months after the attack on Pearl Harbor.  Eddie Rickenbacker, one of eight persons aboard, was sent to inspect military bases in the Pacific Theater and to carry a super-secret unwritten message from the Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson to Gen. Douglas MacArthur.
The General expected them in Canton at 9:30 a.m., but the navigator’s octant became damaged, and they were lost. The captain’s watch showed 1 p.m as the engines sucked the last drops of fuel.
 “Prepare to ditch the plane!” Capt. William Cherry jumped up from the pilot’s seat.
Cherry, Rickenbacker, five crewmen, Rickenbacker’s aide, and Col. Hans Adamson grabbed rations and Thermoses of coffee and water. They and Sgt. Alex Kaczmarczyk, on his way back to his unit in Australia after an appendectomy in Hawaii, scurried toward the escape hatch.
Rickenback tied a rope around his waist, stuck a map and important papers in his shirt.
The plane collided with the Pacific Ocean with explosive force. Two life rafts automatically released. A third was inflated by hand as the men scrambled onto the wings. High waves reached for the men as they dropped into the rafts.
 “Where are the thermoses?”
In the hustle, the water and rations were left behind.
In about three minutes, the plane’s tail swung up, poised a moment, then slipped beneath the sea.
Dark shadows circling the rafts proved to be sharks.
Rickenbacker tied the rafts together with his rope. They found buckets, knives, oars, compasses, a pistol, eighteen flares, and two fishing lines on the rafts—but no food or water. Cherry had four small oranges. The men decided to eat one every forty-eight hours, in case they weren’t rescued soon.
Rickenbacker warned against drinking sea water. “If you drink salt water, you’ll die. It’ll drive you mad with thirst!”
They arranged two-hour watches. The night was miserably cold, although they were almost on the equator. Water splashed them continually. Rckenbacker wore a business suit and leather jacket, but others weren’t as well protected. Sgt. James Reynolds took off most of his clothes when he left the plane in case he would need to swim.
At dawn, Rickenbacker was appointed to divide the orange. He carefully peeled it, being sure not to squeeze out the juice.
“Let’s save the seeds and peel for bait,” suggested Cherry. They dangled the bait in the water, but the fish weren’t interested.
Rickenbacker took out his map and the men decided they were northwest of Canton. The nearest land would be Gilbert Archipelago, held by the Japanese, and 400 miles away.
After lighting two duds, that night they sent up a flare. The men waited all night for a plane. None came.
The ocean rocked the crowded rafts day after day while the sun burned their skin and made sores aggravated by salt water.
They ate the last orange on the sixth day. “I need water!” croaked Alex, weak from surgery, and repeated his plea often. The men knew if they were not rescued, all could face death.
“Why don’t we gather for prayer?” asked Rickenbacker. Although he hadn’t been to church in years, he never went to sleep at night without praying. “I believe God answers prayer.”.
They pulled the rafts together for a prayer meeting.  Pvt. John Bartek had a New Testament.  He read a Scripture, then passed the Bible on.  Each man tried to read something fitting. Voices quivered, but they weren’t ashamed. After that, they gathered for prayer twice daily.
Not all believed, but that changed the eighth day. When the prayer meeting was over, Rickenbacker pulled his hat over his eyes and dozed off. A sea gull landed on his head. He awoke and slowly moved his hand until he grasped the gull’s legs. In minutes, the raw sinewy meat was divided and devoured, bones and all.
They saved the intestines for bait. Cherry caught a mackerel and Rickenbacker landed a small sea bass.
The men’s spirits rose as nourishment flowed through their starving bodies, but they were aware the gull miraculously landed right after their prayer meeting.
Toward dark, the sky filled with rain clouds. The ocean churned, jerking the rafts against the lines that held them together. Lightning flashed .They took off their clothes so they would be ready to absorb rain water and squeeze it into buckets. But only sprinkles fell. They were on the edge of the squall.
“Over there!” Rickenbacker pointed. “Get the paddles.”
They put all their energy into reaching the storm. Rain washed away salt and cleansed sores. They rinsed salt out of their clothes then gathered water while the rafts jerked and swayed on the huge waves.
Then Cherry’s raft capsized. Gasping, the men grabbed the hand lines while Rickenbacher and Bartek turned the raft upright. The men climbed back aboard.
They lost one bucket, but the men went back to work drinking rain water and accumulating about a quart and a half of liquid.
They decided on one-half ounce each per day.
The rest of the fish was consumed the next day. Sharks carried away the lines before they could catch more fish.
Alex suffered, and three nights later, he died and was buried at sea. The men wondered who would be next. Hans Adamson, a fair-skinned Dane, was a mass of saltwater sores and he’d suffered a back injury in the crash. Paralysis crept over his body and he apparently developed pneumonia.
Rain came again a few nights later and they got enough water to have two ounces a day. But sharks tailed them. The sharks went after a school of mackerel and two mackerel jumped into the rafts, giving them another small supply of food.
On the nineteenth day, Cherry sat up. “I hear a plane!”
The plane came out of the clouds flying low and fast.  The flares were gone, so the men shouted and waved, but the plane flew on.
The men decided, over Rickenbacker’s protests, to unhook the rafts to attract more attention. By now, Reynolds was unconscious and Adamson and Bartek were in such poor condition Rickenbacker had to pour their daily water down their throats.
November 13, 1943, the twenty-fourth day, Rickenbacker dozed when Bartek pulled at his shirt.
“Planes! I hear planes!”
Two planes flying low passed over and kept going. Thirty minutes later, they came back. Rickenbacker signaled with his hat. The pilot smiled and waved back.
One plane circled while the other, a U.S. Navy seaplane, landed on the choppy sea. “The others have been found,” said the pilot.
It was forty miles to the base at Ellice Islands.  Because the enemy was in the area, they didn’t wait for the PT boat. Adamson rode in the cockpit, but it would hold only one man, so Bartek and Rickenbacker were tied on the wings.
“Thank God,” Rickenbacker said over and over as they crossed the water.
      All seven survived. Rickenbacker recovered enough by Dec. 1 to meet with General MacArthur.
But Rickenbacker was not the same person who set out to see the General.  After his miraculous deliverance, which he told everybody was because of the grace of God, he no longer hesitated to tell others about his faith.

Ada Brownell tell another story about Rickenbacker in her book, Swallowed by LIFE: Mysteries of Death, Resurrection and the Eternal. http://amzn.to/Jnc1rW
Also, read Rickenbacker, Eddie Rickenbacker’s autobiography for more adventure and miracles.

©Ada Brownell 2012

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Christmas Gift I hated most

Our  great-grand-daughter, Layla with a doll she likes
By Ada Brownell
With eight of us children and I the youngest, many Christmases we had no gifts. But one year, probably while I was 4 or 5, I received a doll almost as tall as I was. She obviously was used because she had little cracks all over her hard "skin," even up into her molded hair. Her clothing, however, clean and new, showed someone made it for her, probably Mama.
 I hated that doll. I wanted a soft baby doll like I saw another girl have, with a bottle that you could fill with water, and when you stuck the nipple into the hole in the doll's mouth, the bottle emptied and the baby doll wet its pants. That big doll I had did nothing but stand up.
 Just a little growing up, and every time I looked at that doll, I was ashamed of myself--a selfish, unthankful kid who hated a gift given in love. I didn't like the doll anymore than I ever did, but I loved my parents more. I saw myself, probably as God saw me, and that did something in me.
Perhaps it was the Christmas poem I was given to deliver at the annual church program.  The poem, titled "If Jesus Should Come at Christmas," touched me and although I can't remember the poem, I never forgot the message it delivered. Would I go to heaven with all that ugliness and greed in my heart? I learned to appreciate what Christmas really means.
Yes, Wise Men brought gifts to Jesus, and giving and receiving is wonderful, but I learned as a child the Christmas story doesn't revolve around Gold, Frankincense, Myrrh, and Christmas trees, but the centerpiece is a lowly manger, an ugly cross smeared with blood, an empty tomb, and the scripture, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16).
But it's O.K. and wonderful to enjoy the lights, because Jesus is the light of the world. It's also nice to give gifts and receive them, because it brings joy all around. The Christmas music reminds me of that holy night when Jesus arrived as a baby and why there is Joy to the World.
Yet, whether or not there are gifts under a tree, who we share the holiday with, it's possible to have a merry Christmas. Jesus came. He brought the gift of hope to anyone who will receive it, and that not only makes the angels sing, humankind has been singing year 'round since that day.
©Ada Brownell Dec. 10, 2013




Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Parenting: Do your children believe God created the earth?


                                    By Ada Brownell

The following is an excerpt from my book, Imagine the Future You, a motivational Bible study for youth.
Belief in God is essential to having contentment and success in our tomorrows, so along with other success tips and training in my latest book, I included evidence for faith in our Creator and the Heavenly Father who loves us.
This is a section from Chapter Eight: Imagine God Changing Your Future.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Dating methods are being challenged by some of today’s Christian scientists.

 The potassium-argon dating method, which dates the Earth’s age in billions of years, is said by scientists to be valid because of the amount of time needed to make evolution seem reasonable, say textbook authors Emmett L. Williams, a former metallurgical engineering professor at Virginia Polytechnic Institute, and George Mulfinger Jr., a physics specialist (authors of Physical Science for Christian Schools). [1] The dating method, however, assumes no argon was present when the rocks were formed. Yet, when volcanic rocks known to have been formed in 1800 to 1801 were tested, their age was said to range between 160 million and three billion years!

The radiocarbon dating method also is challenged by Williams and Mulfingers, who say it is unreliable because the calibration curve cuts off at about five thousand years ago and because the amount of carbon-14 in the atmosphere does not remain constant and appears to be continually increasing.

But suppose scientific dating is correct. It does nothing to undermine faith in God. Many Bible-believing Christians accept a very old Earth.

Often people try to make the Bible say something it doesn’t. The Bible doesn’t say the Earth was created in six twenty-four-hour days, although some people believe it was. Neither does the Bible say when “the beginning” was.

Here are some Christian ideas about the days of creation:
 Twenty-four Days of Re-creation: The belief there was a creation before Adam that was somehow destroyed. (This idea leaves a gap of time between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2.)
Age-Long Days of Creation: The belief that creation occurred over six different ages that could have been thousands of years in length.
 Revelatory Days of Creation: The idea that the days had nothing to do with creation but with the amount of time God took giving Moses, the writer of the Book of Genesis, information about creation.
Twenty-four-hour days of creation: The belief that God literally created the Earth and all that is in it in six twenty-four-hour days, as we know days.

So when Genesis says, “So the evening and the morning were the first day,” “The evening and the morning were the second day,” and so forth until God rested on the seventh day, the length of time can be interpreted several ways.

One thing that makes me believe in a young Earth is population. Scientists use the “population J curve” to show exponential growth of the number of humans. The “J curve” is any system that grows by doubling—one, two, four, eight, sixteen, thirty-two, etc., or geometric growth.

Experts estimate the world’s population was two hundred million in 1 AD and population continued to double and double until 1850—the curve of the J— when eight hundred million people lived on the Earth. Estimates and censuses showed two billion by 1930, three billion in 1960, four billion in 1976, five billion in 1990, six billion in 2002, and an estimated seven billion in 2011.

It took nearly two thousand years to quadruple the number of people from the time Jesus walked the earth but only eighty years for the population to grow from one to two billion between 1850 and 1930 and twelve years to grow a billion between 1990 and 2002. The US Census Bureau estimated the world population to be 7.073 billion in 2012.

 This increase is despite diebacks because of disease and epidemics, natural catastrophes, and wars. In my mind, there is no way man could have been here millions of years. Again, science uses millions of years to make evolution seem plausible because we can’t see any evidence for it in a lifetime of one hundred years.
 But the length of time that it took to create the Earth is not exceedingly important. What is important is that we know and believe Genesis 1:1, that “in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”
The whole world’s scientific thought constantly changes and often contradicts what scientists thought was solid evidence. On the other hand, the Creator and his witness never change and will never be outdated.




[1] Bob Jones University Press, Greenville, SC, 1974, 271.

Friday, December 13, 2013

HOW TO TEACH THE REASON FOR CHRISTMAS IN A SECULAR WORLD




By Ada Brownell
A disabled man who grew up in a Chicago orphanage during the violent prohibition era of the '20s and '30s gave his testimony at our church in Arvada, Colo. He told how the famous bootlegger and gangster, Al Capone, visited the orphanage every Christmas, bearing gifts.
Historians say despite his unlawful activities, Capone became a somewhat respected public figure because of donations to charities. I'm sure most orphans adored the man. Yet, at least one child discovered someone greater. He heard about a Heavenly Father who loved him, and God's gift to this boy was His Son coming to earth—for Jesus brought the gift of eternal life to anyone who would accept it.
The world still needs to hear the wonder of God becoming man that we might have life.
Death is why God came down. Sin caused death. Adam and Eve believed Satan when he said, "You won't die!" So they disobeyed, ate the forbidden fruit, and soon after had to bury a son.
The Father promised a Redeemer in the early pages of the Bible, Genesis 3:15, to restore immortality. Jesus, God's Son, was that Redeemer and He suffered on the cross to take away sin.
So, Christmas is about the cross as much as it is about the manger.
How can we share the true message of Christmas with our children and grandchildren?


  • Memorize and talk about John 3:16: "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son that whoever believed in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life."               
·         Don't talk about Santa as if he compares with the all-knowing, all-powerful God who is everywhere. No one is equal to God.
·         Teach about the wonder of "God with us."  Jesus has many names, counselor, almighty God, the alpha and omega, the lily of the valley, but "Immanuel," which means God with us, is most significant. Isaiah prophesied that it would be His name 700 years before the Messiah was born (Isaiah 7:14. Even now, God's presence is with us and if we open our heart to him He is in us "He dwelleth with you and shall be in you" (John 14:17).
·         Teach about angels. We should never worship them, but according to Psalm 91, God gives angels charge over us to protect us. They also sometimes deliver messages, as Gabriel did to Mary, when he told her she would be the mother of Jesus.
·         Teach about giving and gifts. It is more blessed to give then to receive (Acts 20:35).
·         Talk about the stable and how Mary and Joseph were content in the humble place.
·         Discuss the inn and the innkeeper. What would we have done if we owned the inn? One of the most dramatic Christmas plays I've seen was a children's Christmas musical, The First Leon. Ever since Leon discovered that his name spelled backwards is Noel, he's felt called to tell the world the true meaning of Christmas. But when he tries out for every role in the annual pageant, he finds that he's the only one who doesn't get a part. Rejected. Now Leon understands how Mary and Joseph must have felt when they heard the words, "No room" that night in Bethlehem. If I remember correctly, Leon breaks into the performance and the boy says even if others have no room, he has a place in his heart for Jesus and He wants Him to live there.
The night I attended the play, many gave their lives to the Lord—even adults.
That's good. Christ always needs to be in Christmas and celebrations in honor of His birthday.

©Copyright Dec. 13, 2013


Saturday, December 7, 2013

OUT OF A DREAM: The dark side of Yoga, New age beliefs, and meditation

Interview with Rosemary Hines


Q. You’ve written a best seller. What do you think launched Out of a Dream into that category?
A. The honest truth is that God has had His hand on Out of a Dream from the very beginning, so I really can’t take credit for its success. He walked me through the writing of this story as His way of redeeming the years the locusts had eaten away in my life. I think it resonates with readers because it is very real and suspenseful, and it has a powerful message of redemption and hope.
Q. How does this book tap into your salvation testimony?
A. Out of a Dream exposes the deception of New Age beliefs. I know this deception personally because I spent years steeped in that false religion. Reading my horoscope daily, participating in séances and Ouija board sessions, practicing New Age forms of meditation, and even reading tarot cards for others were all part of my life.
When I was 29, my father took his own life. It rocked my flimsy spiritual foundation and brought me to my knees. Through his death, I realized my New Age philosophies and practices were empty. A search for truth led me to Jesus, and a new path in life.
Q. Were you surprised at the response of readers with your revelation of New Age beliefs, the darkness of meditation outside of focusing on things the Bible tells us about, and the negative spiritual side of Yoga?

A.  Many of my Christian readers are uneasy as they read the first part of the book, which shows how easily someone can be seduced by New Age beliefs and practices.  But all of them have given me such positive feedback after they finish reading the story and my letter to readers at the end of the story. In that letter, I share my own painful journey to God and why the writing of this novel was such a gift from Him.

Q. Was it difficult to bring your fictional character “out of the miry clay” of false beliefs and set her feet on “the Rock, Christ Jesus and truth?”

A. One thing I discovered as I became immersed in the process of writing this book is that my character, Michelle, needed to tell her own story. I could not control her every thought and move. So I learned to watch her life unfold as if it were a movie playing out on a screen in my mind. As she struggled along her own path to truth, God showed up and guided the way.

Q. How long did it take to write the book?

A. Not to discourage any fledgling authors, but from the first time I sat down to write until the day it was published was seventeen years. You have to know that writing this was a God thing, not a dream or aspiration of my own. During those years, I was living the life I had planned and chosen — raising a family, getting a teaching credential and a Masters Degree in counseling, and launching a 20 year teaching career. So the writing was sporadic and relied on God’s inspiration and timing.

Q. Was it difficult to show instead of tell the reader what your character, Michelle, was going through?

A. Definitely. Since I had no formal training in writing fiction, I really had a lot to learn. Getting inside Michelle’s head and heart really helped. As she took on life, she breathed her own depth and drama into the story.

Q. Do you have a critique group or critique partners?

A. Currently I rely on a college English professor, who is my editor, and a host of well-read friends to critique and correct my writing. But I did belong to a critique group for several years and have attended numerous writing conferences. All of these people and events helped to shape Out of a Dream and the Sandy Cove Series, which has by God’s grace found its way into many hands and hearts.

Q. Some readers commented they liked the way you handled the romance. Did you plan to weave it in that way? Tell us how you did it.

A. The goal in all my books is realism, not sensationalism. I wanted to handle romance realistically and with sensitivity toward my audience. So I focused on the heart and feelings of my characters as I wrote the romantic scenes. Love relationships are part of life and that is how I wove them into the lives of my characters. I didn’t bend the personalities of my characters to fit the typical formula for romance.
I am not a fan of formula writing or of reading books written in that style (the basis for many romance novels). Life is not formulaic. These are stories about real life. From what my readers have told me, the realistic nature of my novels resonates with them at a deeper level, and they feel very connected to the characters.

Q.  What is your next book in the series? Is it available, or when will it be?

A. There are three books in the Sandy Cove Series. All three are available in print and ebook formats. Although each can be read as a stand-alone novel, they also flow seamlessly as one continuous storyline beginning with Out of a Dream, followed by Through the Tears, and finally Into Magnolia.





Q. Are you thinking of your next series? What is the theme?


A. There may be another book in the Sandy Cove Series coming up. In addition, I am considering a Christmas novella and a possible memoir. One of the projects I’d love to see happen is a co-authored novel with my sister. So there are many possibilities on the horizon, depending on God’s direction and inspiration.



Q. How has your life changed since you became a born-again Christian?

A. The biggest changes are in the realms of fear and purpose.
Fear used to be the rudder that steered my ship in life. In fact, I wrestled with a pretty intense anxiety disorder for quite awhile. God has patiently pried my hands off that rudder as He teaches me to rest and trust Him with every circumstance and outcome. Lots of prayer, deep breaths, and scriptures are part of this ongoing process.
Before I became a Christian, I had many interests and goals, but not a prevailing sense of purpose. Now I look at life as an opportunity to seek God’s direction and plan for each stage of my life, leaning on Him to help me live it out.

Q.  What is your greatest desire at this point in your life?

A. Other than a slew of grandkids? J To love God completely and live life fully to the very end.

Thanks, Rosemary, for being our guest and for sharing your story with the world.

Thank you, Ada. I’d like to offer a free copy of Out of a Dream to one of your readers. Anyone who shares this blog on social media like Facebook or Twitter during the next 5 days will be entered in the drawing.
Readers, if you are entering the drawing, please comment below and indicate your email address as well as where you shared this blog. The drawing will be held on Dec. 12 and the winner will be notified by email.



Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Interview with novelist Dana Pratola

DESCENDED
By Dana Pratola


Men like Sebastian want only one thing, and Natalie has vowed not to give it to him. Yes, he’s gorgeous, intelligent and heroic, but he’s also a constant reminder that she isn’t good enough for him. Can she outrun a club owner who wants her dead when she’s weighed down by the failures of her past? 

His whole life, Sebastian has viewed women one way – as marvelous distractions. But when Natalie enters his life, he’s forced to see the world – and women – in a new light. Teaming with Jett Cestone, they enter a world of sex traffickers to rescue young innocents. But only Natalie can rescue him and give him the one thing his heart needs. 



1. What drove you to become a writer?   >> God. It was always there, always in me as long as I can remember. It took me a while though to realize He gave it to me for a reason.

2. What caused the greatest satisfaction in your writing so far?  >> Finishing is always wonderful, LOL. I’m a great starter, but getting mw to finish a project is another story. But I have to say the BEST part is when I get emails from people who say they were touched by my work and that they see things a little differently after reading my books. LOVE that.

3. What are your goals? >> To see as many people come to the Lord as possible through my books. It’s so important to spread the word that God isn’t mad at anyone, just come. There’s a Salvation prayer at the end of Descended~Sebastian (ebook), and I pray unsaved readers see it and give their hearts to Jesus.

4. How long did it take to get Descended published? >> It was written over a two-year period, roughly, and then I indie published it. The publishing part was easy – well, with help from a friend J

5. To be published by Pelican Book Group is a nice achievement. Were you accepted by an agent before you received a contract? >>  No, when I submitted The Covering to Nicola Martinez of PBG (then White Rose Publishing), I had never submitted anything anywhere. The Lord led me to an online conference and I was blessed to get a pitch session with Nicola. It was a 5 minute Q&A session and she requested the full manuscript. It was all God.

 6. Where did Sebastian and the Descended idea come from?  >> It started with a story I was working on about a recluse who falls in love with someone he thinks he can never have because she’s too “normal” for him. It was basically pages and pages of conversations they would have, her never having seen his face. Then I started to build around it, thinking, well, why wouldn’t she have seen him if they’re living in the same house? The idea of being descended from angels just came, and the notion that they aren’t fully angelic, but live as well-adjusted humans but with super abilities. Thus, Jett was born, the first in the series.

7. I presume Sebastian is the first of a series of interesting descendants in a notable family? Who's next, and is that book in progress? >> Sebastian is the second, Jett is first. Aaro, the third, is started and I hope to get rolling with him when I get past the holidays. After him will come Ulrick, the final of the four.

8. Do you have an interesting bunch of  relatives that influence you? How do they influence? >> Interesting is putting it mildly. I’m around my kids most of the time, and no one makes me laugh like they do. Never a dull moment.

9. Is there a spiritual payload to this series? >> I want readers to close this series with the knowledge that God loves them and has made provision for His children. It’s available to everyone, no matter what we’ve done. There’s always a change to look at your life and say, I’ve done it my way long enough, now I want to do it His way.

10. Anything else you'd like to add? >>  Thanks so much for having me. And I pray you and all your readers have a FANTASTIC holiday!!



EXCERPT FROM DESCENDED

Natalie could become a significant hindrance to moving forward, especially now that he found himself suddenly filled with the beat of her heart. It thudded in his chest, a perfect accompaniment to his. He was breathing, finally, but it was her rhythm, faster, more shallow than his own. He blinked and pulled back.
“I know this isn’t the time for this....” He shook his head. “Forget it.”
“No, what?” she asked.
It was insane. Nuts! “Can I kiss you?” he asked. Natalie stared back. “Just once, for my own personal reference. I have to see if I’m off my nut or not.”
He took her silence for permission and leaned toward her. She met him half way.
He couldn’t say there were fireworks. There was heat, and light, but instead of quick, random bursts of energy and color, there was one long, white hot blaze.
This was bad. This was so bad.
As his lips pressed more firmly onto hers, as hers softened beneath his, his mind tumbled through time and space. And though he’d never felt anything like this—ever—he recognized the white light for what it was—an emergency flare. Not to signal the forces of nature to run to his rescue and prevent disaster, only a marker, to pinpoint the wreckage of his former life.
Was it insane to believe this single kiss changed the course of his life? Because he did. He knew that even in these bizarre circumstances, something had just clicked into place and he was exactly where he was supposed to be. It felt right.
He was having such a hard time coping with his own overwhelming reactions that he almost missed hers. She was emotionally engaged, yes, nearly as much as he, nearly as confused, and holding back. Sensible. And necessary at this moment. One of them had to keep a firm grip on reason, and it wasn’t him. His thoughts ran to carrying her to the couch and indulging his fantasies until the sun rose.
But, the very next thought made his eyes pop open, his hands ball in his lap, his head lift. Jett could be watching.

 
Dana Pratola
  
God has blessed me with a wonderful husband and three dynamic kids, all of whom are destined to make wide, colorful splashes in this world. We live in New Jersey with our Maltese, Lola, Shih Tzu, Maggie (Magnolia) and German Shepherd, Jett. I have no hobbies to speak of, unless you include writing. I don’t.
God gave me a passion to write Christian Romance. These books don’t contain explicit sex scenes, but my characters have real desires, struggles and choices to make. A lot of the time they make the wrong ones. No subject is prohibited but good always triumphs. This is not your mother’s Christian fiction. 

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Parenting: Should parents protect their children from evil?




                           By Ada Brownell
The cradle the mother cuddled her tiny boy into was like no other.
Some of the pitch wasn’t quite dry. There was no time, so Jocebed didn’t worry about the sticky black stuff getting on the blankets. The pitch would keep the little ark afloat.
Ducks quacked in nearby reeds. A few crickets sang, while a long-legged bird fished quietly.
"Keep an eye on him and pray," Jocebed whispered to her young daughter, tears rolling down her face. "Pharaoh's childless daughter bathes here."
Jocebed disappeared, but soon the beautiful dark-haired princess arrived to wash herself. The sister stood in the distance and watched.
"Wade out and see what that is," the princess called to her maids, pointing to where the three-month-old baby's ark floated. The child was in danger of death because of Pharaoh's decree to kill all the Israelite boys. Pharaoh wrote the decree because he believed the Jews had become more numerous and mighty than the Egyptians.
The princess lifted the blankets and the baby, Moses, began to wail. "This child is one of the Hebrew's children," she said.
The big sister, stepped close. "Shall I go and call a Hebrew woman to nurse him for you?"
The answer was yes and the child became a grandson of the man who desired to kill him.
"I'll name him Moses because I brought him out of the water," the princess said, a satisfied smile on her glowing face.
 Jocebed's scheme worked. She nursed her own baby, and evidently became his nurse-maid or something because she taught the boy about the One God the Hebrews served and about His Almighty power. As a result, Moses didn't accept Egyptians' false gods, and was used mightily by the Heavenly Father.
When our children are in danger, are we willing to put ourselves at risk as Jocebed did?
A colleague of mine told about a similar situation in her youth during World War II in Holland. A bus filled with Japanese soldiers pulled into the little village. All able-bodied men rose up to fight for their nation, leaving the women, children and old men at home defenseless.
 Soldiers gushed out of the bus and ran after the young women who had come to see the visitors. As they dragged the struggling girls toward the bus, a mighty scream echoed. As one, women of every age took off their wooden shoes and beat the enemy soldiers on the head, and all over their bodies.
Captured girls followed suit and the wicked men dropped them and ran for the bus. The girls were saved.
The people dragging our young people off to hell today aren't so noticeable. They start with the mind, teaching them God isn't there, that sin doesn't matter, that there are no consequences for rebellion against the Creator who loves them, the church is irrelevant, and that America and Christianity are evil.

Parents can't protect their children from all the abominations on earth, however. We can pray, but we should go beyond that and teach our children to make good decisions on their own and to choose the path that leads to righteousness and heaven.
That's why I wrote the book, Imagine the Future You. The book opens the curtain and reveals the truth. I teach about brainwashing; propaganda; sexually transmitted diseases; evidence from the Bible, archaeology and eyewitnesses that God is there and Jesus Christ rose from the dead so that we can live forever.
But that's not all. The book talks about the good things we can put into our minds like money in the bank that we'll benefit from all our lives. I talk about relationships, falling in love, marriage, how to look and be your best, how to develop talents, and tell about people who achieved great things. In contrast, I relate true stories about those who discovered when you only seek after pleasure, riches and fame, a person's future blows away like dust in the wind.
  From God's Word, not quickly outdated university textbooks, I show how to find joy and peace beyond your wildest dreams.
Get the motivational Bible study now for you, your children and your grandchildren. It is available for Kindle at the .99 introductory prices, and the paperback is discounted on Amazon. http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B001KJ2C06
©Ada Brownell, Nov. 30, 2013

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Black Friday Sale--Books by a group of 32 Christian Authors

BLACK FRIDAY SALE
A Bible study on the eternal:
Evidence you're more than a body

An inspiring novel for youth and adults
Give a faith boost 

                               
                                    A Motivational Bible study for youth
                  http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B001KJ2C06
Enjoyable reads with a spiritual payload
  
All on sale for .99
Paperbacks of these books also available for gift giving
Join a group of Christian authors in their Black Friday Sale

Don't give e-readers gifts empty! Fill them with good books

Meet the 32 authors participating in the event:



Monday, November 25, 2013

DO YOU SEE HUMOR IN YOUR DISTRESS? CATCHING UP WITH DAYLIGHT by Gail Kittleson



Book summary

Catching up with Daylight by Gail Kittleson makes a pleasant companion for this season of reflection. Snuggle near the fire with this volume, or give a friend a gift to . . .

celebrate the power of friendship

explore historical and contemporary passages from darkness to light

discover an ancient Benedictine meditation practice

re-experience the beauty of the present moment

                        rethink your favorite gospel stories


Many of us long for rest, as the author did while renovating an old house after her husband’s first deployment to Iraq. Yet a different hunger undergirded that desire: a hunger for wholeness.

No fast track exists to a closer walk with God, but the ancient Benedictine practice of Lectio Divina enhances and extends our times with our Creator. Allowing the Spirit to emphasize one word and ruminating on that word throughout the day empowers us to remain present for every moment, attentive to embrace all that God has for us.


Meet the author, Gail Kittleson 



Bio: After teaching expository writing and English as a Second Language, and facilitating grief and transition workshops for hospice and other caregiver organizations, Gail Kittleson has finally made writing her priority. She enjoys her family (married 35 years, delightful grandchildren), teaching a local memoir-writing class, and writing. Her nonfiction (Catching Up With Daylight/WhiteFire Publishing) and fiction (Historical Women's Fiction (1800'2)  andWorld War II era--still in the works) share consistent themes—personal growth through life's challenges, finding one's voice, and gratitude.



My friend Carol recently discovered she faced a double mastectomy. A day or so later, she did some journaling to vent about an unrelated issue that had niggled at her for many years. When she read her rant to her husband, she said, "Boy, it feels good to get that off my chest." 

         He looked at her and responded, "Be careful what you say."

Our memoir-writing class cracked up when Carol shared this story. She and her husband, known for their mutual respect and a lifetime overflowing with humorous anecdotes, have encouraged me so many times. 

         It's not that they suffer less than others, or that their life has been the proverbial bowl of cherries. But Carol's ever-present sense of humor finds something positive in every situation. How many people do you know who could make a self-effacing joke about a nasty pending surgery? 

         All this to say that humor often slides in to cheer us, even when nothing else can. I don't know about everyone else, but I sometimes have to work at seeing the funny side of things. This is true in my writing, too. 

         What fun, after years of honing fiction writing skills, to have created a couple of characters with a natural humorous side. This manuscript has yet to receive "The CALL," but even the act of creating a middle-aged widower who falls for his neighbor lady, a recent widow, has given me satisfaction. 

Al, an all-around great guy with the ability to laugh at himself, also has enough nervousness left from his WWI service to last a lifetime. The juxtaposition of these two characteristics intrigues me—of course, I hope Al will some day intrigue readers, too.

I'd like to develop more humor about publishing in general—it's such a tense arena these days. A bit of humor helps—being fraught with worry certainly does no good.  

My recent nonfiction release, Catching Up With Daylight, focuses on several Gospel stories of divine reassurance from unlikely sources, highlighting the importance of living in the present moment. The ability to laugh at a moment’s notice is part and parcel of that goal. I wonder if, later in life, the disciples were able to chuckle a little, looking back at their zany experiences with Jesus?

         When has fresh humor, possibly from an unexpected source, given you a boost?

Gail Kittleson
DARE TO BLOOM!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

You Turkey!



Thanksgiving Musing by Ada Brownell
Does anyone know what calling someone a turkey means? I heard if you call someone a turkey you are calling him stupid and a failure, but they’re wrong.
The turkey is one of the most famous birds in North America. Benjamin Franklin wanted to make the wild turkey, not the Bald Eagle, the national bird!
The wild turkey we usually see in photos is not the same as the domestic turkey that we love to eat at Thanksgiving. Domestic or farm-raised turkeys weigh twice as much as the wild turkey and are so heavy they are unable to fly. Some people might think that makes them wimpy.
Yet, I’ve seen television clips where a female television reporter does a story from the turkey pen, and when one of the birds attacks, you’d think it was a mountain lion. Such screaming! The cameraman must charge through the gobbling swarm of beaks and flapping wings to rescue the damsel in distress. Of course, he brings the camera along, but neither wastes time climbing over the fence to safety.
Despite the wild variety’s small size, hunters love to bag wild turkeys, plentiful in my state. The gobblers live in woods in part of North America and are the largest game birds in this area of the world, and they can fly!
But to me, wild turkeys aren’t as beautiful as the big-breasted ones raised on farms for profit. Next time someone calls you a turkey, remember the male strutting his stuff with his often colorful plumage fanned like a peacock’s for some gorgeous hen to see.
Yet the most wonderful turkeys I’ve seen were in the center of a dining room table surrounded by family and friends who love one another. The bird, no fancy feathers, no caruncle (those brightly colored growths at the throat), no red snood (the flap of skin that hangs over the beak), and no wattle (the red flap of skin under the turkey’s chin), has never been more attractive.
The platter is covered by a buttery brown bird chosen instead of prime rib, fancy  steaks, lamb, seafood, lasagna or any other main dish or meat. This bird is the centerpiece as people thank God for His blessings, love one another, laugh with each other, pray for another, and make memories.
Never cringe again if someone says, “You turkey!”
And be thankful! There is emotional and spiritual power in doing just that.
©Ada Brownell Nov. 22, 2013