The Turning by Davis Bunn

Turning
New from Christy Award-Winning Novelist

Today I’m happy to welcome Davis Bunn to share about his new novel, The Turning.  You can find it now at your local friendly LifeWay Christian Store!  Before Davis comes, let me give you a look at the story.

TurningThe message was unexpected but instantly recognizable. 

A voice resonated from a distance and somehow from within.  Against all earthly logic, it carried a divine command.  And five very different people knew they were summoned to obey.

Their actions were demanding, but not particularly grand.  Only later would they see a pattern emerge – one that links their tasks together and comes to challenge the cultural direction of the nation.  They realize that one small personal response unveiled a new realm of moral responsibility.  And this affirmation of everyday hope captures the attention of millions.

But power and money are at stake.  Malicious elements soon align themselves to counter the trend.  To succeed they must also undermine its source.  Can we really believe that God speaks to people today?  Surely this must be dismissed as superstition or delusion.  These well-intentioned but misguided individuals should not be allowed to cast our society back into the Dark Ages.

The public debate and media frenzy place an unprecedented spotlight on knowing and doing God’s will.  The five encounter threats, but try to remain steadfast in their faith.  Had God indeed imparted wisdom on selected individuals?  Is this sweep of events part of his divine purpose? 

The movement may herald a profound renewal – one that some are calling The Turning

Welcome, Davis!

Davis BunnThe Turning opens as five different people, in different congregations, and different cities, and different cultures, all have been studying a lesson plan about listening to God.  And to their astonishment, God communicates with them.  In each case, the communication comes in the form of a request, or an invitation if you will.  God asks them to turn away from the normal course of their lives, and do something that would be impossible unless they relied fully on him, and trusted him to see them through.

Take the main character as an example.  While in university, John Jacobs was a rising star of the Ohio State football team.  But one night he goes out with buddies, gets drunk, starts a bar fight, and winds up going to jail on felonious assault charges.  John has spent the forty years since that point carrying the burden of that youthful mistake.  When the story opens, John’s nephew is being released from jail.  For the second time.  During Danny’s first stint, he found Christ and turned his life around, only to get out, go back on drugs, and rob John’s own home.  In John’s case, the request is for John to be there when Danny emerges from prison that very afternoon.

All five of these people assume the request from God, this turning, is all there is.  But in fact what really happens is, God has a major challenge he intends to put before them.  But first he had to unite them as listeners.  As people willing to follow his guidance.  Whatever that requires.  Wherever God might take them.

The spiritual theme behind the story – and to the lesson plan available as a free download on the book’s website TheTurningBook.com – is the need for us to carve out space in our daily walk for quiet time with God.  Perhaps the easiest way to understand this is to go back five hundred years, to the formation of the Protestant Reformation.  Our forebears wanted to take control of spiritual development away from the priests and give it back to the individual believer.  The question was, how to create a structure where this became not just a theory, but actual practice.

These early reformers came up with what they called, the Spiritual Disciplines.  These were tithing, daily prayer, daily Bible study, fasting, and listening to God.  It is this last crucial element that I hoped to emphasize in my story and the study.

The key question is not whether God speaks to us, in words or in his creation or any other way.  The real issue is, are we attentive to his voice, to the movement of his Holy Spirit, and to the concept of calling.

 

 

How Sweet the Sound by Amy K. Sorrells

Exciting new debut novelist

I love discovering new novelists.  And I really love getting others hooked on them too.  So, for my latest must-read debut novelist, I recommend Amy K. Sorrells.  She released How Sweet the Sound about a month ago.  Oh.  My.  Stars.  So good.

How Sweet the SoundThe Harlans appear to be the perfect Southern family.  Wealth and local fame mask the drama and dysfunction within their family line.  But as the summer heats up, a flood of long-hidden secrets surface.

Three generations come together on their pecan plantation in Bay Spring, Alabama.  Chief among them is Anniston, who by the time she turned thirteen, thought she’d seen it all.  But as her heart awakens to the possibility of love, she begins to deal with her loneliness and grief.

This tender coming-of-age tale, inspired by the store of Tamar in 2 Samuel 13, shows how true healing and hope come only from God.

 

Amy’s descriptions of the fictional town of Bay Spring had me feeling like I was there, smelling the salty air off the ocean and having my hair frizz from the gulf humidity.  It’s a town that is steeped in southern traditions like cotillions, festivals, country cooking, and where all of the small town gossip is easily passed around.  A perfect setting for the secrets of the Harlan household to start unraveling in.

I began reading How Sweet the Sound about two weeks ago sitting in Panera on my lunch break.  I was barely a few chapters in when bam!  A dramatic moment that I had not seen coming happened.  I think I might have choked on a crouton from my salad (have y’all seen the size of those things at Panera?  They’re huge!).  I love getting pulled into a story in such an unexpected way.  That moment set the tone for the rest of the book and starts young Anniston off on a year of discovering just what it is about her family she’s always felt was a bit off.

As her world is turned upside down by a family tragedy, Anniston is left to determine if hope can be found in any of it.  People she loves have been taken away from her, her grandmother is as distant and critical of her as ever, and she’s at a loss as to where her place is in all of it.  But all the while, glimmers of the hope she is desperately seeking continue to appear.

If you’re into rich, family dramas, I highly recommend How Sweet the Sound.  I’ve read a lot of books this year and it’s already one of my favorites.

Be sure to check out the guest post that Amy did for us a few weeks ago.  She gives a fun look into one of the scenes in the story.

Read the first chapter to How Sweet the Sound here.

 

 

 

How Sweet the Sound by Amy K. Sorrells

Amy Sorrells
Debut Christian Fiction novelist to watch

I’m excited to have Amy K. Sorrells here today to share about her debut novel, How Sweet the Sound.  I’ve had this book on my “oh, I can’t wait to read!” list since I first learned about it last fall.  I’m a sucker for strong generational stories.  There are already great reviews coming in on it.  Before Amy comes, let me give you a look at her novel:

How Sweet the SoundFrom a distance, the Harlans appear to be the perfect Southern family.  Wealth and local fame mask the drama and dysfunction swirling through their family line.  But as the summer heats up, a flood tide of long-hidden secrets surface.

Devastation from a rape followed by the murder of two family members brings three generations of the Harlans together on their pecan plantation in Bay Springs, Alabama.  Chief among them is Anniston, who by the time she turned thirteen thought she’d seen it all.  But as her heart awakens to the possibility of love, she begins to deal with her loneliness and grief.

This tender Southern coming-of-age tale, inspired by the story of Tamar in 2 Samuel 13, shows how true healing and hope comes only from God.  Though our earthly father can wound and disappoint, our heavenly Father is ever-present and always good.

Welcome, Amy!
Starving for a Jubilee

Amy SorrellsThe crab and shrimp, flounder and eels look drunk, hundreds of them floating, limp and logy, just beyond the shoreline of Mobile Bay. As word gets out about the approaching masses of sea life, crowds began to gather, some bringing buckets, others lugging nets and fish-stringing equipment over their shoulders. The salt-laden breeze carries with it an air of excitement as people of all ages came to celebrate a unique, occasional, and unpredictable bayside event officially called a jubilee.

The eastern coast of Mobile Bay is the only place in the world jubilees have been observed, fascinating scientists and estuarians for generations. Research tells us the sea creatures are, in fact, a bit tipsy, although not from alcohol or chemicals. The creatures are dazed from a lack of oxygen, caused by a combination of decaying matter on the ocean floor, weather, tides and temperatures, which deplete deeper waters of oxygen. This forces the animals to swim inland, where shallower water near shorelines contains more oxygen.

How Sweet the Sound takes place in a small, fictional town along the coast of Mobile Bay, and one of the favorite chapters I wrote features a jubilee. The strange spectacle offers a unique parallel to the characters in my story. Like the sea creatures, starved for air and forced into uncharted waters for their survival, the characters in my book languish under long-hidden secrets, until a violent series of events forces them into new territory, rich with truth and grace.

I’m always amazed at the times in my life when I feel most comfortable, and God stirs up my surroundings so I’m nudged into new territories of emotional or social circumstances, financial or physical challenges. At first, the new experience makes me feel awkward, skeptical, even afraid. But eventually, by His grace, I see why He wanted me to move. But ultimately, following hard after Him in that new circumstance, inhaling the richness of His grace, I am restored and renewed in ways I could’ve never imagined.

—–

A former weekly newspaper columnist and the award-winning author of How Sweet the Sound, Amy works as a registered nurse in a hospital in central Indiana. When she’s not working or writing, she loves spending time with her three sons; spicy lunches and art gallery walks with her husband; digging in her garden sans gloves; walking her dogs; up-cycling old furniture and junk; photography; and friends.

 

Amy K. Sorrells

Award-winning author of How Sweet the Sound: A Novel

Website: http://amysorrells.wordpress.com

Email: aksorrells@gmail.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/amysorrells

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Amy-K-Sorrells/265415650723

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Breaking News Alert!

Jan Karon
Coming to LifeWay Christian Stores in September

I’m thrilled to let you know that Jan Karon will be releasing Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good in September!  It’s been almost 4 years since her last book in her popular Father Tim Series.  I don’t have an image of the book yet but here is a look at the story:

Jan KaronA publishing event: #1 New York Times–bestselling author Jan Karon returns—and invites her millions of fans to join her again in Mitford.
 
After five hectic years of retirement from Lord’s Chapel, Father Tim Kavanagh returns with his wife, Cynthia, from a so-called pleasure trip to the land of his Irish ancestors.
 While glad to be at home in Mitford, something is definitely missing: a pulpit. But when he’s offered one, he decides he doesn’t want it. Maybe he’s lost his passion.
 His adopted son, Dooley, wrestles with his own passion—for the beautiful and gifted Lace Turner, and his vision to become a successful country vet. Dooley’s brother, Sammy, still enraged by his mother’s abandonment, destroys one of Father Tim’s prized possessions. And Hope Murphy, owner of Happy Endings bookstore, struggles with the potential loss of her unborn child and her hard-won business.
All this as Wanda’s Feel Good Café opens, a romance catches fire through an Internet word game, their former mayor hatches a reelection campaign to throw the bums out, and the weekly Muse poses a probing inquiry: Does Mitford still take care of its own?
 Millions of fans will applaud the chance to spend time, once more, in the often comic and utterly human presence of Jan Karon’s characters. Indeed, they have never been more sympathetic, bighearted, and engaging. 

Are you a fan of Jan’s novels?  Share with us what you enjoy about her novels!  And share in the excitement of this new book!

 

A Promise Kept by Robin Lee Hatcher

Robin Lee Hatcher
Powerful new novel from Christian Fiction favorite Robin Lee Hatcher

If you scan any kind of social media long enough, you will run across people talking about how much they enjoy Robin Lee Hatcher’s novels.  I’m sure her legion of fans are thrilled to have a new book from her.  A Promise Kept is sure to be one of Robin’s most personal novels to date.  I’m happy to have her here today to share about her latest work.  Before Robin comes, let me give you a glimpse into the story:

Promise KeptGod was going to save her marriage, Allison was sure of it. But neither her husband nor her marriage had been saved.

What had become of His promise?

Tony Kavanagh had been Allison’s dream-come-true. They were in love within days, engaged within weeks, married and pregnant within a year. Her cup bubbled over with joy . . . but years later, that joy had been extinguished by unexpected trials.

The day Allison issued her husband an ultimatum, she thought it might save him. She never expected he would actually leave. She was certain God had promised to heal; it was clear that she’d misunderstood.

Now, living in the quiet mountain cabin she inherited from her single, self-reliant Great Aunt Emma, Allison must come to terms with her grief and figure out how to adapt to small town life. But when she finds a wedding dress and a collection of journals in Emma’s attic, a portrait of her aunt emerges that takes Allison completely by surprise: a portrait of a heartbroken woman surprisingly like herself.

As Allison reads the incredible story of Emma’s life in the 1920s and 1930s, she is forced to ask a difficult question: Does she really surrender every piece of her life to the Lord?

Welcome, Robin!
THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY

Robin Lee HatcherNovelists borrow tidbits from their own experiences all the time, but every so often a story comes along that demands more than a tidbit. Such was the case with A Promise Kept.

On an evening in 2011, as I talked with my dearest friends and confidants, sharing what God was doing in my life, I knew I would one day write a story about how God kept His promise to heal a husband’s addiction and save a marriage—and how He healed and saved them through divorce. It was, after all, how He healed my husband and saved our marriage.

That “one day” arrived a little over a year later when my editor sensed the desire of my heart and encouraged me to set aside the book I was then working on to write a new and different kind of novel.

A Promise Kept is my attempt to glorify the God who answers prayers in His own timing and in unexpected ways. It is my attempt to encourage other believers who trust in God’s promises but don’t see those promises manifested in their lives in the way they expected—or at all—to keep right on trusting in His promises.

Sharing a deeply personal story in novel form can be tricky.

First, of course, I had to know my husband was willing for his life, as well as mine, to be opened up to others in interviews and articles and a note to readers at the back of the novel itself. I want to honor him in his journey and am grateful for his trust and support.

Second, I had to allow my protagonist, Allison, to be Allison and not me. I had to allow her story to unfold in its own way without having to mirror mine in every detail. There are many similarities between Allison and me, quite a few scenes in the novel that I lived through myself, but A Promise Kept is not a memoir. It is, if you will, a parable (by definition, “a simple story used to illustrate a moral or spiritual lesson”).

I am amazed at how God can take painful experiences in my life and turn them to good. Because of those painful experiences, I have learned to hold onto the foot of the cross so tightly it’s as if I can feel the splinters in the palms of my hands. I hope that through the words I write I can encourage others to hold onto the cross in the same way.

I consider my life lesson to be this: Nothing, absolutely nothing, enters my life—filtered first through God’s loving hands—that isn’t caused or allowed by Him for the purpose of making me more like Jesus.

And because I believe this life lesson to be true, it allows me to be open and vulnerable—as a woman and as a writer—in order to offer hope and encouragement to others. When my marriage ended in divorce, I thought it was an end. I thought it was “The End.” My heart was broken in a way I thought could never be mended. I was wrong.

The God of the Bible is a God of second chances and a God of miracles, and He is not confined by an ending. He isn’t contained by any boundary that He hasn’t set Himself. Which is why, when Jerry and I were reunited in marriage five years after the divorce, we were able to declare together: “This is the Lord’s doing; It is marvelous in our eyes.” Psalm 118:23 (NASB95)

There is hope, even when there appears to be none. So hold on and keep trusting in Him.

* * *

Best-selling novelist Robin Lee Hatcher, author of over 70 novels and novellas, is known for her heartwarming and emotionally charged stories of faith, courage, and love. She and her husband make their home in Idaho where she enjoys spending time with her family, her high-maintenance Papillon, Poppet, and Princess Pinky, the DC (demon cat). You can learn more about Robin and her books at http://www.robinleehatcher.com.