Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Paige Torn by Erynn Mangum

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Paige Torn
Think (May 1, 2013)
Erynn Mangum


A few things about her: So, if we were having this conversation in person, we would probably be hanging out at Starbucks or one of the cute coffeehouses in town. I’m nuts about all things coffee, I’m crazy about all things pink and girly, and I love, love, love the Food Network! I’m married to my best friend and the most amazing guy ever, Jon. He is amiable toward coffee, does not like anything pink or girly and tolerates the Food Network. So, we make a good match! In July 2010, we became parents to one of the funniest, cutest, sweetest little guys in the whole world (and nope, we aren’t biased at all!), our Nater-Tot, who is legally known as Nathan. Most days, I’m cleaning up messes, making goofy faces, trying to fit some writing in, and just LOVING the life that God has given me!


Everyone knows they can count on Paige Alder. But between volunteering at church, putting in overtime at work, and helping her best friend plan an anniversary party, she's lucky to grab a cheese stick for dinner. Paige can't even remember the last time she had a few minutes to relax or dig into God's Word. Then she meets laid-back Tyler, an attractive, Jesus-loving guy. Will he be able to help Paige get her priorities on track?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Paige Torn, go HERE.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Pieces of the Heart
Abingdon Press (June 1, 2013)
Bonnie S. Calhoun


Bonnie S. Calhoun is Owner/Director of Christian Fiction Blog Alliance, owner/publisher of Christian Fiction Online Magazine, Northeast Zone Director for American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), the ACFW ‘2011 Mentor of the Year,” President of (CAN) Christian Authors Network, and Appointment Coordinator for both the Colorado Christian Writers Conference (CCWC) and the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference(GPCWC).

For the last six years she has taught workshops in Facebook, Twitter, Blogging, and creating Social Media promotions at both CCWC, and GPCWC, and in 2011 at the Montrose, Pa Christian Writers Conference. She also taught a Facebook workshop at the 2012 ACFW conference.

Bonnie and her husband live in a log cabin in upstate area of New York with a dog and cat who think she’s wait-staff.

Her sites are:


Cordelia Grace watched Bernard Howard, the love of her young life, go off to fight for our country in WWII. And she has spent the last three years creating the Pine Cone quilt that will grace their marriage bed when he comes home. Each row of triangles signifies a layer in her life, sets of memories, hopes, dreams, and prayers for her future, enough spoken words to cover them forever. Her image of their “happy-ever-after” grows proportionally as the quilt expands.

But is the man that returns from the war, the same man that she remembered? Are the dark shades of color that she had to use for the outside edges of the beloved quilt prophetic of her life to come? Can love and faith overcome all?

If you would like to read teh first chapter of Pieces of the Heart, go HERE.

My review:
   This is another book in Abington Press' Quilts of Love series, which are all by different authors. Each book has a quilt at the center of the story. I don't read many books that are strictly romance, but this one sounded good, plus the author runs this blogging program, so I thought I'd better keep her happy ;-).

   I enjoyed the book. It is historical fiction set the 30's and 40's, covering World War II. I liked the plot and characters, but it was sad reading about the segregation that was still going on at that time. I didn't realize how much of an issue that was even in the war among our soldiers, and though the book was entertaining, and inspiring to see love prevail, it was also sobering to read about the segregation.

  This is Bonnie's second book, and though her first book was suspense which is my favorite genre', she shows in this book that she can write any genre' and do it well. Great book.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Lock, Stock, and Over a Barrel by Melody Carlson

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Lock, Stock and Over a Barrel
B&H Publishing Group (April 30, 2013)
Melody Carlson


Over the years, Melody Carlson has worn many hats, from pre-school teacher to youth counselor to political activist to senior editor. But most of all, she loves to write! Currently she freelances from her home. In the past eight years, she has published over ninety books for children, teens, and adults--with sales totaling more than two million and many titles appearing on the ECPA Bestsellers List. Several of her books have been finalists for, and winners of, various writing awards.

She has two grown sons and lives in Central Oregon with her husband and chocolate lab retriever. They enjoy skiing, hiking, gardening, camping and biking in the beautiful Cascade Mountains.


With high hopes, Dorothy Ballinger lands her dream job at The New York Times. But it's not long until writing about weddings becomes a painful reminder of her own failed romance, and her love of the city slowly sours as well. Is it time to give up the Big Apple for her small hometown of Appleton?

When her eccentric Aunt Dot passes away and leaves a sizeable estate to Dorothy, going back home is an easy choice. What isn’t easy is coming to terms with the downright odd clauses written into the will.

Dorothy only stands to inherit the estate if she agrees to her aunt's very specific posthumous terms -- personal and professional. And if she fails to comply, the sprawling old Victorian house shall be bequeathed to . . . Aunt Dot’s cats.

And if Dorothy thinks that’s odd, wait until she finds out an array of secrets about Aunt Dot's life, and how imperfect circumstances can sometimes lead to God's perfect timing.

If you would liketo read the first chapter of Lock, Stock and Over a Barrel, go HERE.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

NKJV New Spirit-Filled Bible

Find the Holy Spirit throughout the Bible. Dr. Jack Hayford, founding pastor of The Church on the Way, has led a team of anointed leaders to produce the New Spirit-Filled Life Bible. Even after more than twenty years, the Spirit-Filled Life Bible offers a fresh look at the Scriptures and the work of the Holy Spirit. This Bible addresses important issues of Spirit-filled living in the context of solid biblical scholarship.
Features include:
  • Kingdom Dynamic—41 themes throughout the Scripture that give us values as we advance the gospel throughout the world
  • Word Wealth—More than 550 key terms defined and brought to life pulling the language from the original Greek and Hebrew to everyday English
  • Truth-In-Action—Practical charts pulling out practical application from every book of the Bible
  • Detailed book introductions to each of the 66 books of the Bible
  • Verse-by-verse study notes
  • Articles from 50 of the most respected pastors, teachers, and leaders in the church today.
My review:
   The New King James Version of the Bible is one of my favorite versions, and I enjoy reviewing different study Bibles, so I grabbed this one.

  I have really been enjoying the features of this Bible. The study notes are very good and helpful, but a lot of Bibles have those. This Bible has something called Word Wealths. They are scattered throughout the Bible and tell more about the word, what it means, and expounds on it, and often gives other references where it is used in the same way.

   Kingdom Dynamics focus on different themes throughout the Bible and what they mean to us.

   Each book starts out with a page telling the author, date, purpose, and content, followed by an outline.
  Each book of the Bible also has Truth In Action. A small number will appear beside some verses, and there is a truth and action section at the end of the book to correspond to each number.

  I have been using the Bible daily for the last couple of weeks and am really enjoying the extra features of it, and finding them very helpful. It is definitely a Bible I will use often. I reviewed the NJJV, but it is also available in the New Living Translation.

The New Spirit-Filled Bible is available from Thomas Nelson Publishers

Thanks to Thomas Nelson for the review copy.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Rockin' Chair by Steven Manchester

**Note: I have not read this book. I am just helping the author out by doing a post about it.

Brief Synopsis: Memories are the ultimate contradiction. They can warm us on our coldest days – or they can freeze a loved one out of our lives forever. The McCarthy family has a trove of warm memories. Of innocent first kisses. Of sumptuous family meals. Of wondrous lessons learned at the foot of a rocking chair. But they also have had their share of icy ones. Of words that can never be unsaid. Of choices that can never be unmade. Of actions that can never be undone.

Following the death of his beloved wife, John McCarthy – Grandpa John – calls his family back home. It is time for them to face the memories they have made, both warm and cold. Only then can they move beyond them and into the future.

A rich portrait of a family at a crossroad, THE ROCKIN' CHAIR is Steven Manchester’s most heartfelt and emotionally engaging novel to date. If family matters to you, it is a story you must read.

Author Bio: Steven Manchester is the published author of the #1 best seller, Twelve Months, as well as A

Christmas Wish
(the holiday prequel to Goodnight, Brian) and Goodnight, Brian. He is also the Pressed Pennies, The Unexpected Storm: The Gulf War Legacy and Jacob Evans, as well as several books under the pseudonym, Steven Herberts. His work has appeared on NBC's Today Show, CBS's The Early Show, CNN’s American Morning and BET’s Nightly News. Recently, three of his short stories were selected "101 Best" for Chicken Soup for the Soul series.!/AuthorStevenManchester

Paperback & Kindle:

Monday, June 17, 2013

Fear Has A Name by Creston Mapes

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Fear Has a Name
David C. Cook (June 1, 2013)
Creston Mapes


Creston has fond memories of his boyhood in Bath, Ohio, where he became enchanted with his future wife, way back in the fourth grade. His father, Bernie, owned and operated The Weathervane Furniture Shop in town. The whole family lived right upstairs in the century-old house known as "The Shop."

Creston studied journalism at Bowling Green State University, then began his writing career. During the past 30 years, he has worked as a reporter, corporate copywriter, creative director, freelance writer, and author.


From popular suspense author Creston Mapes comes another faith-building thriller, a tale that follows journalist Jack Crittendon as he fights to protect his family from a stalker's terrifying schemes, investigates a pastor's mysterious disappearance, and struggles to keep his faith amidst unthinkable fear.

With his family's safety on the line, Crittendon realizes there are secrets behind "Christian" walls--secrets with painful, deadly implications. He must find the faith to trust a God who allows inconceivable trials, and the courage to guard his family, with danger exploding at every turn.

Through it all--the sharp, character-driven writing for which Mapes is known--takes fans and new readers on an edge-of-your-seat journey that explores the harsh, far-reaching consequences of bullying and the Christian response to fear.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Fear Has a Name, go HERE.

My review:
   Creston Mapes is a new author to me, and if this book is any indication of what kind of writer he is, I definitly want to read more of his books.

 This book is the first in a series, The Crittendon Files. I really like the main character Mapes has created for the series, Jack Crittendon, a newspaper journalist, and look forward to reading more in the series.
  I like it when an author writes a Christian novel and isn't afraid to make it Christian. The book is suspense, and is a great suspense novel with a lot of nail biting moments, action, and drama, but it also deals with issues of faith and has a great Christian message. The main characters struggle with strill trusting God even when bad things happen and it seeems God is not intervening and answering prayer. That must be a theme God is trying to beat into my head as I have read several novels lately dealing with trusting God.

  I enjoyed this book, a lot. Mapes has written a great suspense novel while showing that God can and should be trusted, even when things are going bad for us.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

40 Days Through Revelation by Ron Rhodes

The book of Revelation begins and ends with guarantees that its inspiring message leads to blessing. Popular Bible teacher and author Ron Rhodes guides readers on an encouraging journey through this prophetic book, interpreting its picturesque language and revealing its reassuring promises. Each short chapter is perfect for a group Bible study or a personal quiet time and includes…
  • Scripture Reading and Insights—a short passage of Revelation and easy-to-understand notes on each verse
  • Major Themes—brief summaries of the most important ideas
  • Digging Deeper with Cross-References—several other passages readers can look up on relevant topics
  • Life Lessons—practical and helpful applications to everyday life
  • Questions for Reflection and Discussion—thought-provoking starters for group discussions or personal journaling
Readers who may have been confused or intimidated by Revelation will appreciate this easy-to-understand and practical presentation of its empowering truths.

My review:
   Revelation isn't my favorite book of the Bible to read, and I don't read it often, to be honest. When I got the opportunity to review this book, I decided it might be my chance to grasp this book of the Bible better.

  The author really seems to know his "stuff". There are 40 chapters, one for each day. In each chapter, he deals with a different section of Revelation, discussing and explaining it, ending with some cross reference Scripture to read, life lessons, and questions for discussion and reflection.

  I found the book to be interesting, informative, and easy to read. The author has written it in a way that isn't boring to read, and he does a great job of explaining from a Biblical viewpoint, what this book is saying and what he believes it to mean. No one knows for sure how to interpret some of the passages in Revelation, but he does a great job of explaining them from what he believes.

  I did enjoy the book, even more than I thought I would, and understand some of Revelation more than I did before reading the book. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to better understand this mysterious book of the Bible.

About the author:

Ron Rhodes, president of Reasoning from the Scriptures Ministries, is heard regularly on nationwide radio and is the author of Bite-Size Bible Answers, Bite-Size Bible Definitions, Commonly Misunderstood Bible Verses and 5-Minute Apologetics for Today. He holds ThM and ThD degrees from Dallas Theological Seminary and teaches there and at several other seminaries.

View his website here.

40 Days Through Revelation is available from Harvest House Publishers.

Thanks to Harvest House for the review copy.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

An Open Heart by Harry Kraus

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
An Open Heart
David C. Cook (June 1, 2013)
Harry Kraus


A Word from Harry:

I started writing my first novel during my last year of surgery training at UK. I was a chief resident, and started writing Stainless Steal Hearts in a call room at the Veteran's Administration Hospital in Lexington. It was a crazy time to write! I had a very demanding schedule, often spending days and nights in the hospital. I had two sons at that time, and I recognized the wisdom in my wife's urging: "Now doesn't seem the right time for this dream."

My experience as a writer is far from typical. Having received my formal training in biology and chemistry and medicine, my only preparation for a writing career was a love for reading. The longest thing I'd written before my first novel was a term paper in undergraduate school. My first novel was accepted by Crossway Books and published in 1994, and it wasn't until after I had FOUR published novels that I even opened a book of instruction about the craft of writing fiction. This is not what I recommend to others! Yes, I was successful, but I was bending the "rules" without knowing it. I had a natural talent for plotting, but I realize my initial success may have stunted my growth as a writer. I'd have made faster progress if I'd have gone to the fiction teachers sooner.

I have three sons: Joel, Evan, and Samuel. Look closely in all of my books and you'll see them there. My lovely wife, Kris, provides the basic composition for all those beautiful, athletic, dedicated women in my novels.


Their Messages—From Beyond the Grave—Might Destroy Him ...

They hover between life and death, their hearts stopped on the surgery table. And the messages Dr. Jace Rawlings’ open-heart surgery patients bring back from beyond the grave cannot be ignored. For they predict the deaths of people around him, and point a finger of suspicion straight at him.

It thrusts Jace into a firestorm of controversy and danger. A maeltsrom blown by the darker winds of political intrigue and spiritual warfare. And the forces working against him will do anything to stop him from uncovering a truth they will kill to hide. He’d come to Kenya to establish a heart-surgery program for the poor. But what he will find in that place where he grew up will put everything at risk–his marriage, his career . . . his life.

If you would like to read the first chapter of An Open Heart, go HERE.

 My review:
    Harry Kraus' books were the first medical suspense novels I read, and I loved everything he has written. He has moved to write for David C Cook, and it seems to be a good move for him. His first book for them, A Heartbeat Away, was awesome. This book, An Open Heart, was totally different, but I enjoyed it just as much.

  Most of the book is set in Kenya, and Harry does a great job of painting a picture of what life is like there, and what it is like to be a doctor there, something he knows personally since he is there himself as a doctor.

  I found myself relating to the main character, Jace, quite a bit. Although he is a fictional character, his struggles with God mirror mine so much, it was like reading about my own. And even though he is a fictional character, it was a great message to me that not everyone gets it as easily, not everyone who grows up in a Christian home just naturally has all the faith in God to make it, but instead struggles to find that faith. It was a great message that maybe won't resonate with a lot of readers, but it did with me, and I won't give any spoilers, but Jace's struggles with God did have a happy ending in the book.

   There was a lot of suspense, and the book helped remind me that there is a very real evil in this world. We may never face an outright attack brought on by witch doctors, but evil is there, and the devil is fighting us all.

   This is a book that I would read in one sitting, but I started it too late last night to finish it, as I had to be in bed earlier than normal, but it was good enough that I had a hard time putting it down. I highly recommend it, and am giving it 5 stars.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Tempted, Tested, True. A Proven Path to Overcoming Soul-Robbing Choices by Michael Ross and Arnie Cole

Real, Lasting Victory Over Temptation

There's no use pretending: Everybody struggles with temptations. Sometimes those struggles can wear us down and we don't know where to turn. But as authors Dr. Arnie Cole and Michael Ross write, "Each struggle presents us with an opportunity for growth and intimacy with God--not condemnation."

Using real-life stories and information gathered from over 100,000 surveys, Tempted, Tested, True gives you a step-by-step process for resisting harmful choices through the power of God's Word. This book will show you how to live in the freedom God wants for you.

My review:
   I don't read enough non-fiction books, and have been trying to change that. When I saw this title, I figured it would be a good book to read and review as it deals with something we all face: temptation. If you don't face it, you'd better do a spiritual check up fast.

  This isn't a fast easy fix book. The authors address different areas of temptation we face, and use stories of real people to show how they affect us all and the struggle to overcome them. The book is interesting, easy to read, and has some valuable and sage advice. At the end of each chapter there is a few pages dedicated to "a nudge", which has some places to answer questions that are asked. I read the book through pretty fast for the sake of posting a review, but plan on spending more time with it later. It has the potential to be very helpful if used correctly and if the reader spends some time on it.

   At the end of the book there is a section describing all three Protestant views of sin and salvation: Calvin, Luther, and Arminius, which I found interesting. There is also two worksheets at the very end of the book to help the reader pinpoint his weak areas and how to combat them. I highly recommend
this book to anyone who struggles a lot with temptation.

About the authors:

Michael Ross is an award-winning journalist. He writes, edits, and manages Back to the Bible's book publishing efforts and is a former editor of Breakaway magazine, published by Focus on the Family. He has authored and collaborated on more than 30 books, including What Your Son Isn't Telling You. Michael and his family live in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Arnie Cole (EdD, Pepperdine) is the CEO of Back to the Bible and Director of Research and Development for the Center for Bible Engagement. He has spent much of his professional life tracking trends of human behavior and developing programs that can help change negative behaviors. He and his wife, Char, are the parents of adult children and operate Still Waters Ranch, an equestrian center that serves as a community outreach. The Coles live near Lincoln, Nebraska.

Tempted, Tested, True. A Proven Path to Overcoming Soul-Robbing Choices is available from Bethany House Publishers.

Thanks to Bethany House for the review copy.

Deadly Devotion by Sandra Orchards

Kate knows the truth is out there-but if she's right, that means a killer is out there too.
Research scientists Kate Adams and Daisy Leacock were on the brink of a breakthrough for treating depression with herbal medicine when Daisy was suddenly found dead. Kate knows that her mentor's death wasn't suicide or a careless accident-and she's determined to do whatever it takes to unearth the truth about what happened to the woman who changed her life.

Former FBI agent Tom Parker is finding it hard to adjust to life back in his hometown of Port Aster. Though an old buddy gave him a job as a detective on the local police force, not everyone approves. Tom's just trying to keep a low profile, so when Kate Adams demands he reopen the investigation into her friend's death, he knows his job is at stake. But despite his attraction to her, Tom thinks Kate may have something to hide.

As evidence mounts, a web of intrigue is woven around the sleepy town of Port Aster. Can Kate uncover the truth? Or will Tom stand in her way?

My review:
   Sandra is a new author to me. She has written some books for Love Inspired, but I don't read many books in that line, so I hadn't read any of her books before. This is her first trade paperback/full sized novel, to my knowledge.

  Deadly Devotion is the first book in the Port Astor Secrets series, and it is a great start to the series. Sandra has created a great setting for the series, and I like the characters she has created. The suspense is great, and I had a hard time figuring out who the guilty party was. There was romance in the book, but it was very light. It is common in romantic suspense for the couple to meet, fall in love, and either be engaged or well on their way to it by the end of the book. This may be somewhat of a spoiler, but I wouldn't say the couple was even really dating at the end of the book, which was different, but also cool. I have read the first chapter of the next book, which was included in this book, and the couple plays a part in the next book, so that may be revisited.

  I was impressed with this first book I read by Sandra. It kept me turning the pages as fast as I could read, and I read it in one evening. I am looking forward to more from her, especially in this series.

About the author:

Sandra Orchard is an active member in American Christian Fiction Writers, The Word Guild, Romance Writers of America, and a local writing group. She recently participated in the Writers' Police Academy for hands-on training and simulations at a police training facility. She is the author of Shades of Truth, Critical Condition, and Deep Cover, which won the Canadian Christian Writing Award for romance in June 2012 and was recognized as one of the top five novels of the year by Family Fiction magazine. Sandra has also received a Daphne DuMaurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense in both the inspirational category and for best score overall. She lives in Niagara, Ontario, Canada. To find out more, please visit

Available June 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Thanks to Revell for the review copy.

Dead Lawyers Tell No Tales by Randy Singer

Landon Reed is an ex-quarterback convicted of organizing a points-shaving scheme. During his time in prison, he found forgiveness and faith and earned his law degree. Now he longs for an opportunity to prove his loyalty and worth. Be careful what you ask for.

Harry McNaughton is one of the founding partners of McNaughton & Clay—and the only lawyer willing to take a chance employing an ex-con-turned-lawyer. Though Landon initially questions Harry’s ethics and methods, it’s clear the crusty old lawyer has one of the most brilliant legal minds Landon has ever encountered. The two dive into preparing a defense for one of the highest-profile murder trials Virginia Beach has seen in decades when Harry is gunned down in what appears to be a random mugging. Then two more lawyers are killed when the firm’s private jet crashes. Authorities suspect someone has a vendetta against McNaughton & Clay, leaving Landon and the remaining partner as the final targets.

As Landon struggles to keep the firm together, he can’t help but wonder, is the plot related to a shady case from McNaughton & Clay’s past, or to the murder trial he’s neck-deep in now? And will he survive long enough to find out?

My review:
   Randy Singer is near the top of my favorite authors, and he is an author who seems to get better with each book. This one has to be his best yet. I really liked his main character, Landon, a young guy who had done wrong, served his time, and was now serving God and wanting to live a godly and good life.

  The book had a terrific plot that had some surprising twists and turns, along with a lot of suspense. I love a good legal thriller, and long ago tossed John Grisham aside to read Singer's books. I personally feel he is better than Grisham - this book proves that he is, there is no cursing in his books, whereas there is plenty in the so-called Christian Grisham, and Singer isn't afraid to make his books Christian. This book isn't preachy, yet has a great message to it, and Singer does an excellent job on his courtroom scenes and lawyer jargon. He puts it in a terms a non-lawyer can understand.

  I did read the book in one sitting and totally loved it. This book is a page turner that I couldn't put down, and is a book Randy should be proud of. Definitely five star material.

About the author: 

Randy Singer is a critically acclaimed, award-winning author and veteran trial attorney. He has penned more than 10 legal thrillers and was recently a finalist with John Grisham and Michael Connelly for the inaugural Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction sponsored by the University of Alabama School of Law and the ABA Journal. Randy runs his own law practice and has been named to Virginia Business magazine's select list of "Legal Elite" litigation attorneys. In addition to his law practice and writing, Randy serves as teaching pastor for Trinity Church in Virginia Beach, Virginia. He calls it his "Jekyll and Hyde thing"—part lawyer, part pastor. He also teaches classes in advocacy and civil litigation at Regent Law School and, through his church, is involved with ministry opportunities in India. He and his wife, Rhonda, live in Virginia Beach. They have two grown children. Visit his website at

Read the first chapter here.

Q & A with Randy Singer:

1. What was your inspiration for this book, Dead Lawyers Tell No Tales?

Two things worked together to inspire this book. First, the scandals that rocked college football in the last few years. Have you ever noticed that when a player gets in trouble and is kicked off a team or sent to prison, we never hear from him again? What happens to him? Are there some inspirational stories of redemption out there? Do these young men ever discover a meaningful life beyond football?

Second was a friend of mine with a real-life story of redemption. He had committed a felony as a college student but had become a believer while serving his time. Everyone who knew the man verified that his life had dramatically changed while in prison. He was not just a model prisoner, but he became a spiritual leader and a catalyst for change in others as well.

When he was released from jail, he went to law school, where he was respected by all his peers and professors. After graduation, he applied for a license to practice law. His dramatic turnaround raised societal questions about the restoration of rights for those who have served their time and demonstrated that they’ve changed.

That’s when the what-ifs started happening. What if a college quarterback got caught up in a point-shaving scandal in a major football conference like the SEC? What if he went to jail and turned his life around? What if that man became a lawyer determined to prove his integrity and loyalty to the firm that hired him? And what if somebody had a vendetta against that firm and started killing its lawyers one by one? That’s where this book started—on a football field, in a courtroom, in a small and dysfunctional law firm in Virginia Beach (not mine—the one in the book!), a firm that believed in giving a changed man a second chance, a firm fighting for its very life.

2. Tell me about your main character, Landon Reed. Was his character based upon anyone in particular?

As I explained in response to the previous question, the inspiration for Landon Reed came from a real-life friend. That man showed me how much someone can truly change while incarcerated and how hard it can be to rebuild a life with a felony conviction. But he also demonstrated that, by God’s grace, it can be done. He became the inspiration for my protagonist, Landon Reed, and for that I am deeply in his debt.

3. What lessons or truths will your readers find in the pages of this novel?

I once heard a well-known Hollywood scriptwriter say that the two themes shown to most resonate with moviegoers were stories of redemption and forgiveness. It made me realize that God has planted an attraction for the themes of the gospel deep in our hearts.

Landon Reed’s life is a quest for redemption and forgiveness. Most of his former teammates have spurned him, but one of his offensive linemen stuck with him throughout his entire ordeal. That man plays a major role in this story. As a former quarterback, it was fun describing the "band of brothers" relationship between a quarterback and the members of his offensive line.

There’s also the question of how much society forgives someone who has been convicted of a serious crime. What roles are off-limits afterward? Should somebody who has committed a felony be allowed to practice law?

It’s fascinating to see how some athletes "earn" redemption after significant scandals, provided they can perform better than before. But what about those former athletes who never make it back into the game? How does a man like Landon obtain forgiveness and redemption for what he has done?

For Landon, earning redemption means proving his loyalty. When Landon went to prison, his girlfriend was pregnant with their first child. She waited for him while he served his time. She became Mrs. Landon Reed as soon as he was released. But this young couple faces unbelievable challenges to their marriage when Landon is willing to risk the safety of his family to prove his loyalty to the only firm that would take a chance on him.

Lawyers at the firm start dying, and a sensible man would run as far and fast as possible. But Landon is tired of running. And sometimes a quest for redemption makes a man anything but sensible. Driven to be a hero, Landon has to decide whether he is willing to sacrifice his own family in his quest for redemption.

4. How do you expect Landon’s story to resonate with your readers?
All of us have mistakes in our past that haunt us. One of my favorite verses is Joel 2:25a: "I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten . . ."

This is ultimately the story of how God can use our greatest mistakes and turn them into something redemptive. The first step, of course, is taking responsibility for our actions, facing into them, and owning them. I think we will all see a little bit of ourselves in Landon Reed.

5. As a writer, what did you particularly enjoy about crafting this story?

There is an axiom that writers should write what they know best. I’ve added a corollary: Writers should write what they know best and what they love most. That’s what I did with
Dead Lawyers Tell No Tales.

The story takes place in the legal community in Virginia Beach. In fact, the law office that Landon joins is in the same building where my firm is actually located. How’s that for writing about things you know? Moreover, I had some great mentors in the practice of law (I dedicated this book to them), so I gave Landon a colorful and affable mentor as well—a crafty old lawyer named Harry McNaughten.

But ultimately this is a book about what matters most: family relationships, loyalty to our spouses, and being changed by our faith. I loved crafting this story not just because it hit close to home but because it’s the story of an underdog battling the giants in his life—both those of his own making and those on the other side of his cases. And I love underdogs!

When lawyers start dying in Landon’s firm, he finds himself in way over his head with only his faith, his family, and his best friend to help him. For me, crafting that type of David and Goliath story never grows old.

6. What is your hope for this story? How would you like it to impact readers?

My hope is that I’ve raised important issues about redemption, forgiveness, and the power of the gospel to change lives. My goal is to entertain readers with a fun and compelling story while they wrestle with those issues. But there is also a more subtle thread throughout the story—an allegory for what Christ did on our behalf. I hope to surprise readers when that allegory is fully revealed at the end of the book.

7. How has this novel helped you to grow as a storyteller?

Something happened when drafting this story that has never happened to me before. Before I ever start writing a book, I put together a very detailed outline of the characters and plot (usually about twenty
pages long). The plot changes and evolves as the story is written, but I always know generally where the story is headed. This time, I got about halfway through the book and just ran into a brick wall with the plot. No matter how hard I tried to work the angles, I couldn’t seem to pull it all together in a coherent, believable, and compelling way.

I called my editor at Tyndale, Karen Watson, and told her that this story just wouldn’t work. But Karen wouldn’t let me quit. Eventually, everything came together in what I hope will be one of my best plots ever. This book is a story about persistence in the face of adversity and, providentially, writing the book taught me the same thing.

What have I learned as a storyteller? Sometimes our best stories are the ones we almost give up on. Nothing valuable in life comes without a struggle.

8. Your novels are typically multilayered and keep readers guessing until the end. Would you say that
Dead Lawyers Tells No Tales is similarly full of surprises?

I hope it is. I love to throw in enough twists and turns to keep readers off balance. When I read other authors, I love to be surprised so long as the author plays fair.

It’s easy to surprise somebody by bringing in some random twist from left field that has nothing to do with the story. But that’s not playing fair. My perfect ending is one where the reader says, "Wow! I didn’t see that coming,
but I should have." That’s the kind of ending I try to write.

9. Can you share anything about the next project you are working on?

Next Easter, I will be releasing a book that I am more excited about than any other book I have ever written. It feels like the book I was born to write. It brings together my roles as pastor, lawyer, and storyteller.

The working title of the book is
The Advocate. It’s the story of Theophilus, the man to whom Luke addressed his Gospel and the book of Acts. My premise is that Theophilus was Paul’s court-appointed advocate to represent him in front of Nero, probably the most despised ruler in the history of Rome (and that’s saying a lot). Theophilus was chosen because he had served in Judaea as Pilate’s assessore, or law clerk, during the trial of Jesus.

My hope in writing the book is that it might bring to life the stories surrounding the two greatest trials in the history of the world. One of those, the trial of Christ, has been studied, dissected, and analyzed more than any other trial for the past two thousand years. The other, the trial of Paul in front of Nero, has been a great mystery. We only know that Paul was somehow miraculously acquitted and left Rome to serve
a short time as a missionary in Spain. Both of these great trials changed the lives of everyone associated with them and the trajectory of history.

It’s a real stretch for me to write historical fiction, especially a book that is so intertwined with the story of the gospel. But I am embracing the opportunity. I’ve had a chance to visit Rome and talk to some amazing historians. I know for a fact that this is the most challenging and rewarding book I’ve written. My prayer is that it might also be the most impactful.

10. In addition to being an author, you are also a pastor and a lawyer. How do you reconcile those two things, and what skills do they have in common?

Most people think that someone who is both a pastor and a lawyer is an extremely rare bird. In fact, I had one reader e-mail me and say that she loved my books but that her son said it was impossible for somebody to be both a pastor and a lawyer!

That mind-set assumes an artificial barrier between "ministry work" and "secular employment." In truth, everything we do is ministry, and we should do it with all our heart, "as to the Lord, and not unto men" (Colossians 3:23). My law practice is a ministry just as much as my leadership at the church.

In both professions, I am meeting people at a point of need and often ministering to them in the biggest crises of their lives. To be effective, I need to have a servant’s heart for both my clients and my church members. And advocacy is an important skill in both trying a case and preaching the gospel.

A lot of people forget that Christ’s main method of making a point was through parables. Both pastors and lawyers are storytellers in the best sense of that word—not that we make stuff up but that we help our listeners enter into the story and become a part of it.

Come to think of it, I’m surprised there are not more people doing this!

Book Trailer:

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Afloat by Erin Healy, with a giveaway

Eagle's Talon is an architectural marvel-shining residential units afloat in a protected cove of the gorgeous Rondeau River. The project is nearly complete, partially occupied, and ready to make investors rich when a sinkhole gives way. Then torrential rains and a flood leave a ragged collection of builders, investors, and residents stranded in one floating building, cut off from the rest of the world.

They're bitterly divided over what to do next.

Architect Vance Nolan insists they should sit tight and wait for rescue. Developer Tony Dean wants to strike out into the darkness. And single mom Danielle Clement, desperate to protect her young son, Simeon, struggles to hold their motley band together.

Power failure, a pall of unnatural daytime darkness, explosions in the distance, then a murder ratchet tensions to a boiling point. But Danielle's young son, Simeon, has spotted something strange underwater-beautiful, shifting lights in the dark water below.

In this watery world where everyone's secrets will eventually come to light, salvation may mean more than just getting out alive.

My review:
   I've read all of Erin's books she has written, and this one is her best yet. There is suspense, sabotage, natural disaster, supernatural elements,  good guys, and bad guys. I had read the description of the book and thought it sounded OK, but found the book much more interesting than I had expected from reading the description.

  There is a lot going on in the story and some of the people have hidden agendas and secrets. Erin did an excellent job on being descriptive, and didn't cut corners on setting scenes for the reader. She did such a good job, I had no problem seeing the scenes in my mind, which made reading it all the more interesting.
  I enjoyed the book a lot, and found it an interesting and easy read.

About the author:

Erin Healy is the best-selling co-author of "Burn" and "Kiss" (with Ted Dekker) and an award-winning editor for numerous best-selling authors. She has received wide acclaim for her debut solo novels, "Never Let You Go" and "The Promises She Keeps".

She and her family live in Colorado.

Erin can be contacted through her website or through Facebook.

Erin Healy is celebrating the release of her latest novel Afloat (Thomas Nelson) with an iPad Mini giveaway.
One winner will receive:
  • An iPad Mini 
  • iTunes gift card
  • Afloat by Erin Healy 
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on June 15th. Winner will be announced on Erin's blog on June 17th. Save the date and click HERE to see if YOU won the iPad Mini!

Don't miss a moment of the fun; ENTER today. Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Visit Erin's blog on the 17th!

Book trailer