Sunday, March 28, 2010

"By Reason of Insanity" by Randy Singer

BY REASON OF INSANITY

Randy Singer–pastor, lawyer, and author. Randy is a critically acclaimed author and veteran trial attorney. He has penned seven legal thrillers, including the award-winning debut novel, Directed Verdict. In addition to his law practice and writing, Randy serves as a teaching pastor for Trinity Church in Virginia Beach, Virginia. He calls it his “Jekyll and Hyde thing.” He also teaches law at Regent University and serves on the board of legal advisers for the American Center for Law and Justice. He and his wife, Rhonda, live in Virginia Beach. They have two grown children.

My review:

By Reason of Insanity has to be the most intellectual, emotional, and psychological novel by Randy Singer that I’ve ever read. The multiple twisted plots take you from the full realm of innocence to the possibility of insanity, possibly multiple personality, based on a prior traumatic event in her life.

Catherine O’Rourke is a well-known and respected Virginia Beach reporter accused of being a serial killer, known as the ‘Avenger of Blood,’ based on her dreams that divulge detailed information that only the killer would know. She claims she sees the crimes in her dreams and shares them only to be helpful to the investigators. Her claims ends her up in the slammer, where abuse and inhumane conditions occur.

Throw in Quinn Newberg, a pricey lawyer from Vegas, and the trial begins. It’s the trial of his life. He believes his client, but a wrench is thrown in every time he turns around, making him wonder if he will get his client off.

I’ve worked in trials in my past, and believe me, just when you think you are gaining ground, plaintiff’s counsel/prosecutor throws you for a loop, again and again, sometimes on a daily basis. This book kept knocking me off my feet, trying to figure out the end result. If you are open for a great thriller, this is the book for you. I, personally, do not give credence to the paranormal, but that aside, the book is terrific!

This is a book I retrieved from my local library.

It can be purchased here.

"Deliver Us From Evil" by Robin Caroll

CHILD TRAFFICKING AND POLITICAL CORRUPTION!
Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: B&H Academic (February 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0805449809
ISBN-13: 978-0805449808

Robin’s novel, Deliver Us From Evil, follows a beautiful yet tough woman, Brannon Callahan, who works in a beautiful yet tough setting, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, as a search and rescue (SAR) helicopter pilot. Brannon has a strong faith and a decorated history of service in the Coast Guards and currently at the National Park, which have kept her one step ahead of on-the-job dangers. However, there’s no precedent for what’s about to happen.
After a blizzard takes down a small plane carrying U.S. Marshall Roark Holland (who’s already haunted by a recent tragedy), Brannon must save him in more ways than one, and safeguard the donor heart he’s transporting to a government witness on the edge of death. Otherwise, the largest child trafficking ring in history–with shocking links from Thailand to Tennessee–will slip further away into darkness along the Appalachian Trail.
Robin Caroll has authored eight previous books including Bayou Justice and Melody of Murder. She gives back to the writing community as conference director for the American Christian Fiction Writers organization. A proud southerner through and through, Robin lives with her husband and three daughters in Little Rock, Arkansas. She’s an author of Southern stories of mystery and suspense.

Visit the author’s website.

My Review:
Robin’s novel, Deliver Us From Evil, has death-defying moments, along with some romance, that keep you reading into the wee hours of the morning. As we read above, U.S. Marshall Roark is haunted by a recent tragedy, but Brannon has her own set if issues that keep popping up. The tension between them is palpitating throughout all the plot twists in the book, even in places you don’t expect!

The storyline brings out the horrors of child trafficking, along with the travesty of justice, in a way that opens your eyes to the plight of this horrific dilemma. It will give you a more healthy respect for the law enforcement and government officials who risk their lives for our safety and the children caught up in child trafficking.

This is a powerful book that opened my eyes to the vastness of child trafficking today! In one of the following sources, the United States and Japan are two of the leading countries involved, which shocked me. Here are some sites the author used for facts, but can also be used if you want to become involved. One could ‘Google’ child trafficking to find others, but use caution.

1. www.lirs.org Do a search under “child trafficking.”

2. www.childtrafficking.org

3. www.msnbc.msn.com/id/4038249/

4. www.gooddeedsinternational.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view*id=41

The book may be purchased here.

This book was supplied by Julie Gwinn of B&H Publishing Group for my honest review. I do this for the delightful purpose of suggesting good books for others to read, and where able, to get involved. Thanks to Julie and B & H Publishing.

"The Gospel Revolution" Dallas/Ft. Worth, TX May 20-22, 2010

The Association of Biblical Counselors presents The Gospel Revolution

Conference to Feature Line-up of International Speakers

An experience designed for both the young and old of our culture and those who lead them. The Gospel Revolution: Rediscovering the Power of the Cross, will teach a new generation of Christians how to effectively apply the Gospel of the Cross to the real issues of everyday life.

Click here to watch Tullian Tchividjian and Jeremy Lelek discuss the theme of this year’s conference!

Dallas/Ft. Worth, TX—The Association of Biblical Counselors (ABC) has announced its annual conference to be held on May 20-22, 2010 at Christ Chapel Bible Church in Fort Worth, TX. The keynote speaker will be Tullian Tchividjian, addressing this year’s theme of The Gospel Revolution.

Tchividjian is the pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, founded by the late Dr. D. James Kennedy, and is the grandson of renowned evangelist Dr. Billy Graham. Tchividjian has authored several books, including Unfashionable and Do I Know God?, and speaks at conferences throughout the US. His sermons are broadcast daily on the radio program Godward Living.

The conference is an experience designed for both the young and old of our culture and those who lead them. The Gospel Revolution: Rediscovering the Power of the Cross will teach a new generation of Christians how to effectively apply the Gospel of the Cross to the real issues of everyday life. Tchividjian explains, “I am absolutely convinced that most Christians believe that the gospel ignites the Christian in life, but they fail to believe the gospel is the fuel that keeps Christians going and growing every day.”

Although the conference is targeted to counselors, the event is open to anyone who would like to better apply Biblical principles to own their lives, as well to those who are seeking to become better equipped to offer counsel within their churches and ministries.

The Gospel Revolution conference will feature several authors and international speakers, including Dr. Paul David Tripp, Elyse Fitzpatrick, and Dr. Mike Emlet. Speakers with local ties include Beau Hughes (Lead Pastor of The Village Church in Denton, TX), Elliott Greene (Redeemer Seminary), and Jeremy Lelek (President of ABC).

Based in Bedford, TX, the Association of Biblical Counselors exists to encourage, equip, and empower all believers everywhere to live and counsel the Word. ABC offers resources designed to equip professional counselors, pastoral staff, and all Christians to provide wise counsel that comes straight from Scripture—and only from Scripture. ABC believes that the Bible answers every single question that psychology tries to answer.

For more information about ABC and for conference details and registration, visit www.christiancounseling.com.

"The Raven Saint" by M. L. Tyndall

Romance and Intrigue on the High Seas! The Raven Saint by M.L. Tyndall.

List Price: $10.97
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Barbour Books (January 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1602601585
ISBN-13: 978-1602601581

Book Trailer
M.L. Tyndall, a Christy Award Finalist, and best-selling author of the Legacy of the King’s Pirates series is known for her adventurous historical romances filled with deep spiritual themes. She holds a degree in Math and worked as a software engineer for fifteen years before testing the waters as a writer. MaryLu currently writes full-time and makes her home on the California coast with her husband, six kids, and four cats. Her passion is to write page-turning, romantic adventures that not only entertain but expose Christians to their full potential in Christ.

Visit the author’s website.
Visit the author’s blog.

My Review:

Grace Westcott was en-route to minister to an ailing Timothy Roberts on a dark, rainy night with her maid, Alice. She had been specifically warned by her father and brother-in-law not to go on any more of these dangerous expeditions. But Grace was doing God’s work: feeding the poor, tending to the sick and spreading the Gospel! However, when she arrived at the Roberts’ cabin, she found that Mr. and Mrs. Roberts had not called for her.

Betrayal! Grace was accosted and taken captive by men with swords and guns to the ship of a Captain Rafe Dubois, a mercenary who helped the poor. Only his mission with Grace was to sell her to Don Miguel de Salazar in Columbia, in retribution for the death of Don’s son by Grace’s father.

Betrayal, bitterness, revenge, piracy, and anger make for bitter decisions made by the Captain throughout the book. Grace prays for God’s rescue, but she receives no answer. Surely God must have sent her on this mission to save the Captain and his men! But no one listened to her.

The Captain, vacillating about his decision to sell Grace, takes a detour to Port-de-Paix, his childhood island, where he distributed food and clothing to the poor. It’s here that Grace is helped to escape, only to be robbed and left homeless for days, upon which she then met Nicole, a ‘woman of the night.’ She arranged for Grace to go to a Christian man’s home, Henri DuBois, The Captain’s father, in order to secure her way back home.

Rafe found out Grace was at his father’s home. The seething anger and revenge almost overtakes Rafe due to his father betrayals. Upon returning to the ship, Rafe finds unwanted people aboard the ship.

Grace finds herself helpless in reaching these men for the Lord. She’s again held captive aboard ship, and she finds herself weak to do anything. Does Grace find God’s will for this horrifying adventure? Will she be used to redeem these men and women? Does she find her way back home?

This book will keep you turning the pages, as scenes change from moment to moment. The suspense doesn’t seem to ever end. Although I found the ending a little sudden, I was enthralled throughout the rest of the book. Enjoy!

You may purchase the book here.

This book was provided free through Barbour Publishing in return for my honest review and blogging about it. My thanks to Ms. Tyndall and Barbour Publishing for the privilege. I do not receive compensation for my review.

"When You Lose Someone You Love: Comfort for Those Who Grieve" by Richard Exley

Comfort for those who grieve.

Dallas/Ft. Worth, TX—There is nothing more devastating than the death of a loved one. And whether it comes suddenly and unexpectedly, or at the end of a long and painful illness, every death is experienced anew, a shocking loss that takes your breath away and leaves you disoriented and lost.

Grief is mysterious, misunderstood, and experienced differently from individual to individual. Yet there are certain universal elements to the grieving process. In When You Lose Someone You Love: Comfort for Those Who Grieve (David C Cook, October 2009), author Richard Exley offers a compassionate handbook on grief. The book is written as a series of letters between a pastor and parishioner he seeks to comfort. As he offers understanding to a man suffering a profound loss, the pastor shows that grief is a healthy process that God can use to mend broken hearts.

When we lose someone we love, we are often overwhelmed by the strong emotions and confusion that come like tidal waves in our lives. Sometimes we hardly recognized ourselves or the world in which we live. Exley’s personal and empathetic epistle communicates the mercy and grace of the heavenly Father to grieving people.

Exley states, “This is not a book about grief; rather it is comfort extended to those who are even now walking through the valley of the shadow of death.”

This book is the perfect gift for anyone suffering a profound loss. It has been endorsed by many a reader who, having drawn great comfort from its pages, has passed it along to a grief-stricken friend or loved one. Pastors and ministries that regularly interact with grieving people should keep multiple copies on hand.

Revised and updated, this twentieth anniversary edition features prayers and Scripture meditation, as well as a new introduction and epilogue. Simple, profound, personal compassionate, … this book tenderly walks the grief-stricken through sorrow to peace and eventually, renewed joy.

Author Bio:

Richard Exley is the author of 29 books and has written both fiction and nonfiction. His articles have appeared in numerous magazines, including Leadership Journal, Charisma, Ministries Today, The Pentecostal Evangel, Advance, Enrichment and New Man. He has served as senior pastor of churches in Colorado and Oklahoma, hosted several popular television and radio programs, including the nationally syndicated Straight from the Heart, and appeared on the 700 Club, Richard Roberts Live, Actions Sixty, the former PTL, The New Jim Baker Show and The Harvest Show. Richard and his wife, Brenda Starr, spend their time in a secluded cabin overlooking picturesque Beaver Lake in Northwest Arkansas.

When You Lose Someone you Love by Richard Exley

David C. Cook/October 2009

ISBN: 978-1-4347-6480-5/128 pages/softcover/$9.99

www.davidccook.com

My review:

I recently reviewed a book by a different author on my blog on the grieving process from a man’s perspective and directed specifically to men. It mentioned practical ways for a man in grieving to take care of himself. I found it to be very informative and helpful to learn about and to help men cope with grieving in a healthy way. Being a woman, it took on even more importance.

Richard Exley’s book, “When You Lose Someone You Love” is, to me, a deeper continuance of the previous book. It, too, is a man’s perspective and directed to men, although this one could definitely be helpful for women as well.

Richard’s book is written in letter form so he can “speak to you directly and in a very personal manner.” His letters are in response to letters written to him. He claims, “Nothing I have written will take your pain away—only God can do that—but it will help you understand what you are experiencing, and how to get through it.”

Chapters include (italics are my descriptions):

1. When Death Comes–initial moments to days after the funeral

2. Without Warning–unspeakable pain to tragic truth

3. The Truth About Grief–emptiness to encouragement

4. The Tides of Grief–unimaginable tidal waves to redemptive work of grief

5. The Pitfalls of Grief–temptation to pretend to wallowing in grief

6. The Promise of His Presence–questioning God’s presence to Godly comfort

7. The Depth of His Love–can you trust God to God’s love

8. If God Is for Us–senseless tragedy to redemption

9. In My Father’s House–is there life after death to new life

Richard goes into great personal detail on each chapter subject, ministering, encouraging and empathizing. Each chapter also includes a prayer and Scripture reference pertinent to the subject handled. The prayers are so heartfelt that they minister straight to your heart. This is a very personal and intimate resource of great value for someone who has never been through the grieving process, bringing them back to a state of joy, or for someone who wants to minister to the grieving.

This book was provided by Audra at B&B Media Group, Inc., for the sole purpose of giving my honest review. I count it a privilege to suggest great books that may help you, whether fiction or nonfiction. Thanks to Audra and B&B Media Group and David C Cook.

This book can be purchased here and here.

"Transforming the Valley of Grief" by Thomas O. Mason

Transforming the Valley of Grief by Thomas O. Mason
Transforming The Valley Of Grief by Thomas O. Mason: Book Cover

Author:

Tom Mason is a founding member and elder of Evanston Bible Fellowship in Evanston, IL. He has served for many years on the Faculty of Northwestern University in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering. He is well acquainted with “The Valley of Grief,” having lost his wife of 31 years, Karen, to cancer. His healing process and suggestions for others who find themselves (or friends) in “The Valley of Grief” are the subject of this book.

My Review:

There are many books out there on grieving, but few specifically meant for men. “Women usually process grief verbally; but men retreat to their caves to grieve in isolation, or at least they are expected to do so.”

Transforming the Valley of Grief is a book on grieving for men written by a man. Thomas O. Mason takes you through his own loss of his wife, Karen, to cancer, hoping to help men work through their grief. He interprets his wife’s passing to the likes of a personal Tsunami, overwhelming and powerful, trying to drag you under with grief.

However, Thomas takes you through the ‘Valley of Achor’ (trouble) on through the ‘Re-entry’ period and ‘Up-Valley of Living.’ How long that journey lasts is individualistic, but he hopes to share his glimpses of glory and ideas that got him through. What to do to keep yourself busy, yet focused. Not allowing any days to linger on indefinitely in grief with nothing to occupy your time. Friendships, especially an accountability partner, to get you through and keep you on target. He deals with topics of Staying Afloat, Doing the Work, Flash Floods, A Door of Hope, and Re-entry in life again.

As a woman, I found this to be a very insightful book on the process of grief for men. Definitely a good book for a man you know going through the death of a spouse.

This book was provided to me by Audra of B & B Media Group, Inc., for my reviewal. I review books to offer insights to great books, whether fiction or nonfiction, for your pleasure and growth. My thanks to Audra and B & B Media Group.

This book may be purchased here.

Blog Tour: "Thin Places" by Mary DeMuth

THIN PLACES : MEDIA REVIEW

Thin Places by Mary DeMuth.
Every two minutes, someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted and of the millions of sexual abuse and rape victims, 15 percent are under the age of 12, according to a 2007 study by the U.S. Department of Justice. Critically acclaimed author Mary DeMuth is among the millions of adults who are victims of childhood rape and are living with the emotional scars of the haunting abuse.

DeMuth bravely shares her painful story in her new memoir, Thin Places (February 2010). Repeatedly raped by two neighborhood boys at a young age, DeMuth details her traumatic and disturbing childhood in the memoir. Raised in a broken home, she lost her biological father when she was ten and was stripped of her innocence growing up in an unstable environment where drugs were commonplace.

But Thin Places is about hope and healing more than it is about the traumatic events of DeMuth’s childhood. According to DeMuth, thin places are “snatches of time, moments really, when we sense God intersecting our world in tangible, unmistakable ways.” When she encountered the true love of Jesus at a Young Life camp in high school, DeMuth’s life trajectory changed. God reassembled the pieces of her emotionally fragile self, which initiated true healing and peace.

“Folks may wonder why I’ve spent all this time looking back,” says DeMuth, “dredging up what God sees of my story, what my eyes see. Jesus says truth sets people free. This is my way of doing that—of telling the stark truth on the page so others can be set free.”

DeMuth’s desire is to see readers set free from their family secrets. In light of that, she’s started a blog for readers to anonymously share their family secrets. Since the blog launched in February 2009, over 200 survivors have emailed their family secrets for DeMuth to anonymously post, and the blog was featured on Christianity Today’s blog, Her.meneutics. For more information, visit: http://blog.myfamilysecrets.org.

Thin Places offers a poignant look at the development of a well-known Christian writer,” says Christian Retailing, and author Tosca Lee calls Thin Places, “brave, moving and poignant.”

Writing is a cathartic experience for DeMuth, and remnants from her past influence her books. They are infused into her nonfiction parenting advice as well as her fictional characters and plots. Her literary fiction features gritty story lines and touches on the dark subject of abuse. Her first novel, Watching the Tree Limbs, featured a 9-year-old girl who was raped by a neighborhood bully, and the Defiance Texas Trilogy examines the emotional pain that results from the disappearance of a young girl in Texas. DeMuth talks about these writing projects in Thin Places. “Writing [Watching the Tree Limbs] is a thin place where I see
God’s desire to heal me,” says DeMuth, “and I understand that He loves me no matter what emotions I express.”

Thin Places
Release: February 2010
Soft cover, 224 pp., $14.99
Zondervan
ISBN: 031028418X

About the Author:

Mary DeMuth
Author and speaker Mary DeMuth helps people turn their trials to triumph. Her books include Ordinary Mom, Extraordinary God; Building the Christian Family You Never Had; Watching the Tree Limbs; Wishing on Dandelions; Authentic Parenting in a Postmodern Culture and the first two books in the Defiance, Texas Trilogy: Daisy Chain and A Slow Burn.
National media regularly seek Mary’s candid ability to connect with their listeners. Her radio appearances include FamilyLife Today, Moody Midday Connection, Point of View and U.S.A. Radio Network and is frequently featured on Chuck Colson’s BreakPoint. She has published articles in In Touch, HomeLife, Writer’s Digest and The Writer.

You can read my testimony on my website (www.marydemuth.com). I came from a difficult upbringing, but Jesus saw fit to find me at fifteen. He has utterly changed my life.I’ve been married 18 years to my husband Patrick (who’s been told he looks like George Clooney on more than one occasion). Interesting side note: I’ve been told I look like Laura Dern, and we share the EXACT same birthday. Twins separated at birth? Possibly. If you’re reading this and you’re chums with Laura, could you probe a bit?

George (er, Patrick) and I have three kids: Sophie, Aidan and Julia. Sophie’s learning to drive—and what’s interesting is that I’m not worried about it. She’s a careful driver. My son Aidan is thirteen. He’s passionate about finding water for a small village in Ghana. We got to go on the trip of a lifetime to meet the village of Sankpem last summer. Our daughter Julia is ten and is deeply kindhearted, beautiful inside and out. We also have an overly needy (farting) dog and a fat & fuzzy (sometimes cranky) cat. Mary lives with her husband Patrick and their three children in Texas.

Learn more about Mary at http://marydemuth.com.

THIN PLACES–MARY’S STORY

My True Story
By Mary DeMuth

When I started my writing journey toward publication, I thought I’d always be a novelist. My agent at the time suggested I write parenting books, something I balked at for quite some time. I was a storyteller after all. And because of my upbringing, I suffered from deep wells of insecurity in my parenting. And yet, I sold three parenting books. I wrote them from a position of weakness, and I prayed other parents with struggles similar to mine would be encouraged that they’re not alone. One facet strung its way through all my books: story.

I can’t help but tell stories, whether they be fiction or nonfiction. As I brainstormed with my next agent and my editor about who I wanted to be when I grew up, we all came back to story. I am a storyteller. We decided it would be best for me to place my primary focus on novel writing, but keep the storytelling alive in nonfiction.

Two years ago, I sensed the need, urge, and desire to write a memoir. I’d come a long way in my healing journey, enough that I could write it without bitterness, with a view toward God’s intervention. Thankfully, my vision for a memoir fit well within the story idea, and Zondervan took a risk and bought the book.

I wrote the book much like I’d write a novel, with an inciting incident, some flashbacks, a rising action and a late climax. Of course, as memoirs go, I had more freedom to explore and meander through the story, but I kept the book mostly in scenes, written in first person present tense to create intimacy and immediacy with the reader.

It was difficult to create me as the main character, to place the potential reader into my own head, to play it out in a way that would woo the reader to turn the page. In doing that, I learned even more about myself, how I viewed the world (sometimes in a warped way!), and what possible impact my journey might have on fellow strugglers.

Though I knew well the landscape, setting, and characters of my life, it proved difficult to give myself permission to truly delve in deeper, to re-feel my pain, angst, joy, frustration, anticipation, and worry. Once I let myself go there, the memoir progressed. And my editor helped me shape the book more chronologically, something for which I’m deeply thankful.

The end result is story: mine. It’s the story of a little girl who faced sexual abuse, neglect, drug-using parents, fear, death of a parent, and a host of other malevolence. And yet it’s a hope-filled story, where the bright light of God’s climactic redemption outshines the dark places. It’s a story of God’s nearness when I thought I’d nearly lose my mind and will to live. How grateful I am for the beautiful love of Jesus, how dearly He chose frail me to shame the wise. It’s really His story after all.

Interview:

What trials did you face as a child?
Childhood sexual abuse at five
Parents with addictions
Feelings of being unwanted
An unsafe home
Neglect
Death of a parent
Loneliness
Suicidal thoughts
Three divorces

It’s hard to write all that out and not feel bad for little me. But even in the recounting, I’ve been able to see the thin places in my life, those snatches of moments where God came near. That’s the message and hope of Thin Places, being able to see the nearness of God amidst heartache.

What compelled you to write Thin Places?

I felt sufficiently healed from my past, which had been a long, long journey. And in that healing, I knew I had the perspective I needed to be able to communicate my story with hope. In the past, I’d vomit my story of sexual abuse and neglect on any poor soul who’d listen, not with the intention to help her grow through her story, but to gain empathy.

But now I marvel at the path God’s brought me on, how gently He’s led me to this place of wholeness. From that abundance, I share my story. Why? Because I believe sharing the truth about our stories helps others see their own stories.

While I recorded the audio book for Thin Places, the producer asked me why I’d splay my life out this way.

“Because I don’t want folks to feel alone,” I told him.

“You’ve given a gift,” he said.

I sure hope so.

In this memoir you give readers a candid glimpse into your upbringing. Was it hard to share particular parts of your story?
In some ways, it was easy. I’ve shared my story over a decade now. What was hard was giving myself permission to say it all, to not hold back, to explore the emotions I experienced during the rapes, the drug parties, the feelings of loneliness.

Oddly, though, it was harder for me to share what I’m dealing with now as a result of my upbringing than the actual initial trauma. It’s hard to admit that I’m still so needy, so insecure. After reading the book aloud, I saw I still had areas of growth, particularly in being so hard on myself.

What do you hope readers gain from reading your memoir?
I hope they see hope.

I hope they realize how profound and surprising and radical God’s redemption is.

I hope they’ll see the irresistibility of Jesus.

Some folks wait until grandparents and parents are deceased until they write a memoir, but you wrote yours with some still alive. Was that difficult?

Extremely. In many ways, agonizing. You can be assured that I prayed through every word. I’m thankful for my critique group who walked me through the writing and my stellar editor who helped shape the manuscript into a redemptive story. My goal was not to impugn or point the finger at what went wrong way back when, but to shout about God’s ability to transform a needy, incomplete girl.

It’s never easy to tell the truth, and I know my words may hurt some. But, thankfully, I’ve sought God’s heart in this and I can rest peacefully in knowing that.

Anne Lamott says, “Risk being unliked. Tell the truth as you understand it. If you’re a writer, you have a moral obligation to do this. And it is a revolutionary act—truth is always subversive.”

Thin Places is my answer to her quote.

But why go there? Why examine the past? Hasn’t the old passed away?
Yes, of course we must move forward. We must move beyond our pasts. But in order to do that, we must mourn the reality of what happened, not bury it under a rug. I love what Sam says in The Two Towers movie about the importance of telling our stories, no matter how dark: “It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad has happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you.”

It’s my sincere hope that my story will stay with readers, not because of its sordidness, but because the Light of Jesus has shined so brightly upon it.

What encouragement or cautions do you have for those wanting to write their story?
First, prayerfully consider if this is something you need to do for therapy rather than publication. It’s very exposing to write a memoir. And sometimes we mistake the compelling feeling we have with publication. God sometimes calls us to write unpublished words, to get everything out on the page for the sake of our own personal healing.

Many of you have read memoirs that are self-indulgent or a poor-me fest. You need to evaluate whether you’re at a good place of healing before you embark on writing your story for everyone to read.

Do you worry that writing a memoir makes you out to be narcissistic?
Of course. Because I’m the main character! As I’ve edited, read and re-read the book, I’ve agonized over that. Now that the book’s released, I am resting. What’s done is done. And I honestly believe that the story isn’t about me. It’s about a rejuvenating God who stooped to rescue a needy, frail girl.

What fears have you battled as this book released?
Because this is such a personal book, I’ve worried about negative reviews. In some ways that’s good because it will force me to find my security and love from the One who made me, rather than the opinions of others. I’ve received some great endorsements, but also some harsh reviews. And those are the ones that knife me! Because the book’s about me!

I worry that I’ll be misunderstood. Or that telling the truth will hurt others. I’ve made a point to disguise nearly everyone and everything in the book, but of course the potential for hurt feelings is high.

I fear opposition by the father of lies. Since this is a truth-filled book, displaying authentic struggle, I have a feeling he won’t like it. I’m thankful for a specific, targeted prayer team around me to pray for protection regarding the release of this book. It’s humbling, actually, to see how God brought those pray-ers together.

What do you like to do in your spare time? Hobbies?
I love to cook and garden and sew and decorate and take pictures. I’m really quite a homebody. I also keep in shape by training for small triathlons, emphasis on small.

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
This may sound strange, but I wanted to be a doctor. But even then, the writer in me came out because I liked the cadence of my maiden name with the title doctor. Mary Walker, Medical Doctor.

How did you get involved in writing?
I’ve been writing since college when the bug hit me. I wrote my first short story about a missionary going to Russia (when it was firmly encased behind the iron curtain) and having to do all these clandestine things to share the gospel. I’m embarrassed to write this, but the piece started with these four words: Thump, thump, thump, thump (representing the protagonist’s heartbeat, of course).

I’ve been actively writing since 1992 when my daughter Sophie was born. I created a newsletter that helped moms manage their homes. I bought my first computer from the proceeds. I also designed and edited church newsletters, wrote homeschooling curriculum, and even wrote a script for an ultrasound training video. Soon after, short stories started flying out of me. When we moved from East Texas to Dallas for my husband to go to Dallas Seminary, I decided to get serious. I met my friend Sandra Glahn then, a professor at the seminary and a published writer. She shepherded me through the query-letter-writing process and has been an incredible cheerleader.

In 2002, I wrote my first novel. In 2003, I signed with an agent, then signed two nonfiction books. Since then, I’ve had five books published (those included), Daisy Chain being my sixth book. The first novel I wrote is yet to be published.

How do you find time to write?
I make time to write. I give myself word count goals every day. While my children are at school, I work full time. Lately I’ve been writing and promoting like a crazy woman, pulling 10-12 hour shifts. Even so, it’s a priority for me to have a sit-down dinner with my family every night. It helps that I love to cook.

What do you enjoy most about the writing process?
I love the initial flurry of words on the page where I’m uninhibited. I love fleshing out a story as it comes to me. I see my novels on the movie screen of my mind, which may account for the visual nature of my narratives.

What was the most difficult aspect of the writing process?
I am not in love with rejection.

I also don’t cherish rewriting. But it’s a necessary and important evil.

What would you say to someone who wants to become a published author?
Here’s the analogy you need to memorize and internalize: Beginning the publishing journey is like wearing a sweatshirt and toting a sack lunch at the base of Mount Everest, thinking, Hmm, this should be a breeze!

In addition: know you are called. Know you have talent. Know you’re full of tenacity. All three things will help you succeed along the journey.

Another idea is hang out at The Writing Spa and its corresponding blog WannabePublished. I tackle nearly every question a new writer would have. I offer weekly free critiques and I have guest authors cameo there. I evaluate the saleability of a book idea. Hop on by at http://www.thewritingspa.com.

IMPORTANT LINKS:

Thin Places on Amazon

Thin Places Trailer

Video Discussion

Mary DeMuth’s Website

Mary DeMuth’s Blog

Mary DeMuth’s Facebook Profile

Follow Mary DeMuth on Twitter

List of all participating bloggers

Thin Places: Writing Memoirs

Writing Memoirs
By Mary DeMuth

I wrote Thin Places only after I gave myself permission to say it all. More on that later.

First, one clarification about memoir: no memoir can be 100% accurate. Every memoirist must recall, to the best of his/her ability what happened in the past. Only God knows what truly happened! And to protect the people listed in a memoir, I’ve changed names and distinguishing characteristics. That’s allowable in a memoir, and is often expected.

To make a memoir work, it must be:

  1. From someone famous.
  2. Or a story so strong and surprising, the story carries the book.

I’m of the latter category since I am by no means famous. But my story is raw and redemptive. And a bit out there. Find out more about Thin Places here.

The most important thing for a memoir is that it be memorable and beautifully written. If you don’t have a platform, near perfect writing is a must backed up by an intriguing/surprising story. Think of a memoir as a novel with rising action, climax and denouement. Consider writing it as you would a novel, with characters, dialogue and a plot (even if the plot is your life!)

A great example of a memoir that tells an amazing story is Parting the Waters by Jeanne Damoff.

But even though the story is beautifully written, Jeanne shopped the story to every publishing house far and wide through her agent. Though it was a great story, she faced a lot of rejection.

Eventually, after much prayer and seeking wisdom, she decided to self-publish the book through WinePress. It’s got a wonderful cover and is selling well.

Another amazing memoir is Startling Beauty by wife Heather Gemmen. Wow. It’s one of the most beautifully written, achingly painful memoirs I’ve read.

It’s not easy to write a memoir. I fear that some people are so afraid to do it because the people involved aren’t yet dead. So they work on a fictionalized version. Is that really honest? What is the purpose of telling your true story if you make it fiction? Of course, you can take elements of your struggle and life and place that in fiction, but I’ve found that tacked on messages seldom make a book.

My best advice: obey God. Write what He tells you to write. If you’re too afraid to write a memoir, then don’t do it. Prayerfully consider whether your need to get it all out is, instead, a form of catharsis that no reader really needs to see. And if you add some of your story to the memoir, consider that story is the king. The story must support what you write about.

My Review:

The unspeakable has been perpetrated against five-year-old Mary multiple times, along with threats of death to her and her parents if she tells. Her father died when she was 10, leaving her feeling abandoned. Her mother was ‘unavailable’ when she needed her, throughout all of her marriages and other relationships, leaving her feeling neglected. Her grandparents weren’t as loving to her as she thought. She spent much time alone, fearful of who was ‘out there’ to get her. She was lied to, stolen from, and not believed many of her years. She felt unloved, unlovable, unworthy to even be on the earth. She considered suicide for over a year, but a school counselor helped her through that year. She had years of envy due to a lack of the basics that made her feel as if she didn’t fit in with other kids. She had a large “daddy hole” in her heart through all the losses of her father and step-fathers.

What really pulled her through was a relationship with Jesus at the age of 15. Not that all things went perfect from that point on, but she has what she calls “’thin places,’ snatches of time, moments really, when she senses God intersecting her world in tangible, unmistakable ways. They are the ‘aha moments,’ beautiful realizations, when the Son of God bursts through the hazy fog of her monotony and shine on her afresh.” He came to Mary’s life and brought her healing. She will tell you how.

Thin Places, Mary’s memoir, was written for specific purposes. To help others find hope and reconciliation with God and family. To get the counseling help they need. Get people talking about their abuse to gain healing. Help the abused women gain insights to be a good mother. To find hope for herself, etc. It’s not an easy read, but press through and you will find poignant moments that you can relate to and find hope and healing in Jesus. This is a book on freedom and triumph!

Although the story seems to flit about for me, my take on it is that triggers don’t necessarily happen in chronological order. Push through. It’ll all make sense in the end.

If you suffer from abuse, please check out http://blog.myfamilysecrets.org, to anonymously share your family secrets.

I came to know Mary and her writing through reading Daisy Chain. Daisy Chain has two more sequels, one of which has already been published, A Slow Burn. Mary has a very in-depth manner of pulling you deep into her stories through touching the very core of the emotions of her characters and the intense suspense. I can hardly wait for the third book in this series!

This book was provided free by Mary through Zondervan as a review copy. These are my own opinions on the book. I blog for the love of sharing books I think can help others and provide the titles of books I consider worth your time to read. Thank you Mary and Zondervan.

Blog Tour: "Finding Jeena" by Miralee Ferrell

BLOG TOUR:

Finding Jeena, the sequel to my first book, The Other Daughter (which many of your read) releases in April. It’s also available now, but only for pre-order on Amazon, Christianbook.com and BarnesandNoble.com.
Finding  Jeena Cover Jeena Gregory’s life is unraveling. Her shady boss has disappeared and unpaid salaries and mounds of bills have attracted the attention of the federal authorities. As she experiences financial ruin and alcoholic relapse, she lands in a homeless shelter–where she’s confronted with a God she’s long forgotten. A moving story of grace and redemption!

Miralee Ferrell

Novels of Restoration and Renewal

4 1/2 Stars in Romantic Times Review Magazine

Web Site: www.miraleeferrell.com

Blog Tour: Love Finds You in Bridal Veil, Oregon by Miralee Ferrell

Blog Tour: Love Finds You in bridal Veil, Oregon by Miralee Ferrell.

Miralee Ferrell is excited to announce that her newest historical romance (with a suspense twist) just released. Love Finds You in Bridal Veil, Oregon, set in 1902. It’s now available on Amazon, Christianbook.com, Wal-Mart stores, Borders, Barnes and Noble stores and most Christian book stores. Here’s a picture and summary of the book:

















Love Finds You in Bridal Veil, Oregon

In the thriving 1902 lumber mill community of Bridal Veil,accidents happened.

But nobody expected murder.

Against the backdrop of the breathtaking Bridal Veil Falls in a historic Oregon logging community, a schoolteacher finds herself torn between a past love and the man who could be her future. Sixteen-year-old Margaret Garvey promised her heart to Nathaniel Cooper the night he disappeared from town. Four years later, just as she’s giving love a second chance with Andrew, a handsome logger, Nathaniel suddenly returns to town with a devastating secret. While grappling with the betrayal of those she trusted most, Margaret risks her reputation and position by harboring two troubled runaways who might be involved in the murder of a local man. As disaster strikes the town and threatens the welfare of its citizens, Margaret will be faced with the most important choice of her life.