Easter Weekend

Easter 2
Celebrating the Easter Weekend

Easter 2I hope you have a joyous Easter weekend celebrating our risen Savior.

Just think… the same power that raised Jesus from the dead is the SAME power that is working in you… right now!  What undeserved love and mercy He bestowed on us.

Happy Easter to you!

2014 Christy Awards Finalists

Nominees for prestigious Christian fiction award are announced

Christy AwardHollywood’s award season might be over (finally!) but here in the Christian book industry, we’re just getting started!  The finalists for the 2014 Christy Awards were announced earlier this week.    This will be the 15th year the award is given out to those novelists who represent the best of the best in Christian fiction.  The awards will be given out in late June.

Here are the nominees.  How many have you read?  And do you agree with the list or is there a book you would have nominated?  I’d love to get your opinion!



Every Waking Moment by Chris Fabry  (Tyndale House Publishers)

The Prayer Box by Lisa Wingate  (Tyndale House Publishers)

Stones for Bread by Christa Parrish  (Thomas Nelson, Harper Collins Christian Publishing)



Dangerous Passage by Lisa Harris  (Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group)

Once Upon a Prince by Rachel Hauck  (Zondervan, Harper Collins Christian Publishing)

Rosemary Cottage by Colleen Coble  (Thomas Nelson, Harper Collins Christian Publishing)

Vanished by Irene Hannon  (Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group)

* This category includes four nominees due to a tie in scoring


Contemporary Series

Firefly Island by Lisa Wingate  (Bethany House Publishers, a division of Baker Publishing)

Lock, Stock, and Over a Barrel by Melody Carlson  (B&H Publishing Group)

Take a Chance on Me by Susan May Warren  (Tyndale House Publisher)


First Novel

Burning Sky by Lori Benton  (WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group)

A Cast of Stones by Patrick W. Carr  (Bethany House Publishers, a division of Baker Publishing)

Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay  (Thomas Nelson, Harper Collins Christian Publishing)



All for a Song by Allison Pittman  (Tyndale House Publishers)

Burning Sky by Lori Benton  (Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group)

Sweet Mercy by Ann Tatlock  (Bethany House Publishers, a division of Baker Publishing Group)


Historical Romance

Harvest of Gold by Tessa Afshar  (River North, from Moody Publishing)

Stealing the Preacher by Karen Witemeyer  (Bethany House Publishers, a division of Baker Publishing Group)

Under a Blackberry Moon by Serena B. Miller  (Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group)



Dark Justice by Brandilyn Collins  (B&H Publishing Group)

Outlaw by Ted Dekker  (FaithWords, a division of Hachette Book Group)

Singularity by Steven James  (Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group)



A Cast of Stones by Patrick W. Carr  (Bethany House Publishers, a division of Baker Publishing Group)

Dragonwatch by Anne Elisabeth Stengl  (Bethany House Publishers, a division of Baker Publishing Group)

Numb by John W. Otte  (Marcher Lord Press)



Giveaway Winners!

Announcing our winners!

Thanks so much to everyone who entered our giveaway yesterday!  It was fun to see where all of you live… from just around the corner to all the way up in Canada!

We have randomly chosen our three winners who will each receive a copy of Cindy Woodsmall’s latest novel, Seasons of Tomorrow.  Congrats to:

Seasons of TomorrowSharon Holweger
Carrie Mosher
Brenda Ayers


I’ll be contacting you soon to get your info!

Seasons of Tomorrow by Cindy Woodsmall Giveaway

New from best selling Christian fiction author

Today is a great day for many reasons!  First, we’re halfway through a short work week for most.  Praise!  Secondly, we have author Cindy Woodsmall here today to share about her new novel, Seasons of Tomorrow, which released yesterday.  And thirdly, we’re giving some of her new books away TODAY!

Seasons of TomorrowGiveaway Scoop!
For your chance to win one of three copies of Seasons of Tomorrow, simply leave your name in the comments section of this post.  And for fun, tell us what state you live in.

You have until midnight tonight (Wednesday, April 16) to enter.  We’ll announce our 3 winners on Thursday morning.

(Giveaway rules listed at the end of post)

And now, let’s hear from Cindy about what lead her to write this novel which, come to find out, wasn’t in her original plans!


Welcome, Cindy!

Cindy WoodsmallThe Amish Vines and Orchards series has been well received by readers, but when you began writing it, you had intended to make it a three-book series. Book four, Seasons of Tomorrow, released yesterday. So what happened to cause you to write this fourth novel?

Love! Love for what readers would want from this series. Love for the characters, who are warmly based on real people. Love for my own broken heart, because by the end of book two, I was in tears. Could readers’ hearts and my own be mended through me writing only one more novel in the series? —not that I get passionately invested in the stories or anything.

When I began writing book one of Amish Vines and Orchards, I was overcome with fervor and excitement. While doing my research in preparation for writing Seasons of Tomorrowthis new series, I became intrigued with the beauty, trials, and victories of apple orchard farming in the Woodsmall family (http://www.cindywoodsmall.com/woodsmall-apple-orchard/). I also spent time with Old Order Amish friends and came in contact with a woman who struggled with forewarnings and insights. Were they of God or not? Should she embrace them or stand against them?

As I continued my research, I stumbled onto the most fascinating Amish settlement I’d come across in years, one that had moved to Maine only a couple of years earlier. I asked some of my Amish friends in Pennsylvania if they were familiar with the Maine group. As it turned out, one of my Old Order Amish friends was related to and spoke to those in the Maine settlement regularly.

With my imagination racing, my research in hand, and connections to knowledgeable resources for each aspect of the story, I began writing the series that became Amish Vines and Orchards. But the more I wrote, the larger the story became. Apparently there are times when an author shouldn’t have such great resources that help enrich her stories.

Season for TendingAs I finished writing book one, A Season for Tending, I felt it ended in a good place. I had a few minor concerns as to how I would manage to wrap up all the story lines by the end of book three, but not too many.

When I finished writing book two, The Winnowing Season, I was teary-eyed and torn. What would happen next? Two brothers who were best friends were in love Winnowing Seasonwith the same woman, and unbeknownst to her, she wasn’t in love only with the one who’d been courting her.

Could I finish their story with only one novel left to write in the series?

As I stared at the screen through teary eyes, I had to admit that I wasn’t even sure who Rhoda should end up with. I dried my tears and rushed out the door with my husband to meet friends. It was time for our every-other-month dinner with four other couples that we’ve known for well over a decade. I love this diverse group. They’re clever, faithful, loving, and very down-to-earth. I entered the restaurant flustered, running late because I’d taken the time to write the last line of book two and my heart was pounding over the ending. With the story churning inside me like a storm, I was honest when one girlfriend asked how the writing was going.

“Confusing and heartbreaking!”

I’d never really talked shop with these friends before. They would ask, and I would talk for a few minutes before shifting the topic to how work or stay-at-home mom life was going for one of them. But this time, I needed their help, and soon the girls were fully engaged in a discussion of their personal pasts that led them to their right spouses. We discussed men they’d dated, who they’d almost married, and why they ended up with the ones they did. By the time we finished dessert and coffee, I knew who Rhoda would end up with and why. But my heart was still broken. Couldn’t I clone her? One Rhoda for each man? After all, despite my research and the situations that are “warmly based on real people,” I am writing fiction.

But the integrity of the story wouldn’t allow me to ponder that question for very long. The next natural question was what would happen to the man Rhoda didn’t end up with?

For Every SeasonIf Rhoda was going to handle herself in For Every Season in a manner that respected each man, herself, and God’s beautiful ethics about relationships, the journey would take time. A lot of time. There were also numerous other storylines that would take time to finish—all important aspects readers would want resolved in an emotionally satisfying way—which meant each facet would take a lot of pages. Would there be any room in book three to find healing and maybe even romance for the brother she didn’t end up with?

And what about Leah, the younger sister of the two brothers? She’s just a teen, healing from years of low self-esteem and making poor decisions. Will she have enough time in book three to go from rebellious teen who thinks God hates her into a mature young woman who’s ready to make decisions she can’t turn back from? What about the brothers? They had been best friends until Rhoda came along. Would there be time to heal that relationship?

With those questions pounding in my heart, I sat down to pen book three.

Months later, I was pleased with what had taken place in For Every Season. It was true to the original story, the research, and to the writer’s and readers’ hearts.

Still, I hadn’t finished the journey for the “other brother,” so I faced the dilemma I’d been concerned with—to either write an extra five to seven thousand words rushing the reader through what happens to all the characters in the future through added chapters and an epilogue, or ask my publisher to allow all of us to go on one more journey with Samuel, Jacob, Rhoda, Leah, Landon, Iva, Phoebe, and Steven.

I decided to turn in my manuscript to my editor and not say anything about a fourth book. I’ve had this same editor for every book I’ve written, and like my relationship with my girlfriends, I may not always agree with all of her opinions, but I trust her and the conclusions she comes to.

I wasn’t surprised when she called me about six weeks later and said, “You know what I think readers would enjoy the most? For you to restructure Leah’s journey in book three and give her time to mature, and for you to show the healing in the life of the brother who doesn’t face the future with Rhoda by his side. How would you feel about writing a fourth book?”

Um, this is how I felt: “THANK YOU!”

So, for readers who love family sagas, and these characters in particular, book four—Seasons of Tomorrow—is now available.


By entering today’s giveaway, you affirm and acknowledge LifeWay Christian Resources’ official promotion rules here.

Today’s giveaway starts at the posting time of this blog and ends Wednesday (4/16/14) at 11:59 p.m. central time.  You must be 18 years old to enter and you may only enter once.  The winner will be selected at random.  For questions about the rules and regulations of this giveaway, please contact Rachel McRae  at One LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN 37234.




The Pursuit of Tameson Littlejohn by Lori Benton

New historical Christian fiction release

One of my favorite discoveries last year was Lori Benton.  Her debut novel Burning Sky was one of my favorite reads for 2013.  I recently devoured her new book, which releases today, The Pursuit of Tameson Littlejohn, in less than 3 days (would have been 2 but work and sleep got in the way).  So, so good.  I love the cover, too!  In fact, I loved it so much that we included it as part of our blog heading above.  Oh, the power I have (insert evil laugh here…).

Pursuit of Tamsen LittlejohnIn an act of brave defiance, Tamsen Littlejohn escapes the life her harsh stepfather has forced upon her. Forsaking security and an arranged marriage, she enlists frontiersman Jesse Bird to guide her to the Watauga settlement in western North Carolina. But shedding her old life doesn’t come without cost. As the two cross a vast mountain wilderness, Tamsen faces hardships that test the limits of her faith and endurance. 
Convinced that Tamsen has been kidnapped, wealthy suitor Ambrose Kincaid follows after her, in company with her equally determined stepfather. With trouble in pursuit, Tamsen and Jesse find themselves thrust into the conflict of a divided community of Overmountain settlers. The State of Franklin has been declared, but many remain loyal to North Carolina. With one life left behind and chaos on the horizon, Tamsen struggles to adapt to a life for which she was never prepared. But could this challenging frontier life be what her soul has longed for, what God has been leading her toward? As pursuit draws ever nearer, will her faith see her through the greatest danger of all—loving a man who has risked everything for her?

I’m happy to have Lori here today to share about some of the history behind her new novel.

Welcome, Lori!


Lori BentonThe Lost State of Franklin

Can you name the fourteenth state? If you answered Vermont, you’re correct. But if you lived in some parts of the fledgling United States, in the year 1787, you might have had a different name in mind: Franklin. Never heard of it? Until relatively recently, I hadn’t either. Let me tell you the story of The Lost State of Franklin…

In 1783 the Revolutionary War officially ended with the signing of the Treaty of Paris, but for those frontier settlers living in the river valleys west of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the struggle for independence simply took another turn.

They’d always been men and women of independent spirit, those Overmountain folk. In 1772, before the region came under the jurisdiction of North Carolina, settlers along the Watauga River drafted a semi-independent government and called themselves the Republic of Watauga (or the Watauga Association). During the Revolutionary War, men from the Overmountain settlements fought bravely in the southern campaign, most famously at the Battle of King’s Mountain, where Patriot militia attacked and captured the Loyalist militia led by British Major Ferguson.

FranklinAfter the War came the need for the United States, newly independent and all but bankrupt, to pay down war debts. To help with this, the former colonies ceded their western territories to the federal government. North Carolina complied in 1784. Feeling neglected by the distant centers of power on the eastern seaboard, desperate for protection, aid, and structure, the western settlements took the opportunity to declare their own independence. They created a state government, elected a governor, and called themselves the State of Franklin.

That’s when things got troublesome. In short order, North Carolina re-asserted its claim on its western territories, and a civil war ensued. Neighbors chose sides against neighbors and defended their politics with acrimonious words, fisticuffs, sometimes even powder and lead. One was either a Franklinite (a supporter of the “New State”, Franklin) or a Tiptonite (a supporter of the “Old State”, North Carolina). The leaders of the opposing factions emerged as John Tipton for the North Carolinians, and Revolutionary War hero John Sevier for the Franklinites.

Despite more than one petition for statehood, and repeated appeals, the United States government failed to recognize Franklin’s legitimacy as a state. Left in limbo, for the next four and a half years the people of the Tennessee Valley found themselves living day to day under the simultaneous jurisdiction of two governments—two court systems vying for the same territory and tax dollars (or deer hides), when they weren’t raiding each other’s courthouses, menacing clerks, and stealing official papers.

Understandably this led to confusion. For instance, if a couple wanted to be married, it was a good idea to do so twice, once before a North Carolina judge, once before a Franklin judge—just to be sure of being legal in the end.

The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn opens in late summer of 1787, well into this unsettled situation. I thought it a Franklin 2fitting backdrop for a story about two young people from very different upbringings who find themselves thrown together in a moment of crises with two paths to choose—much as confronted the people of the frontier valleys. Tamsen Littlejohn and Jesse Bird are each faced with the choice of what kind of person they want to become, what sort of life they want to live, and what they’re willing to sacrifice to pursue that choice.
The story of the State of Franklin culminates in a battle that took place on a snowy day at John Tipton’s farmhouse, in February of 1788. The dream of a statehood crumbled swiftly after that, but the men and women of that Overmountain country, true to their independent spirit, found new dreams to pursue. On June 1, 1796, the land once called the Republic of Watauga, then the State of Franklin, finally donned a name that would endure: Tennessee.