Awesome Book Review and website! Crooked Lines #3 in an inspirational fiction category!
Awesome Book Review and website! Crooked Lines #3 in an inspirational fiction category!
Betsy Duffey, Blog, Book Review, Good Shepherd, He makes me lie down in Green Pastures, Holly Michael, I shall not want, Inspiration, inspirational book, Inspirational novel, Jesus, Jesus Christ, Laurie Myers, Psalm 23, The Lord is My Sheperd, The Shepherd's Song, Writing Sisters, www.writingstraight.com
I grew up reading Newberry winner Betsy Byars‘ books (the mom of these beautiful ladies on the left). Read them to my children, too. (I always liked the name Betsy. It’s my sweet daughters name!)
Imagine my excitement to discover the daughters of Betsy Byars-Betsy Duffey and sister Laurie Myers-had teamed up with their mother to write more children’s books and the two continued on as the “Writing Sisters.” They went on to become authors of more than thirty-five children’s novels.
Betsy Duffey and Laurie Myers (above left) have teamed up with Howard Books and have published their first book for adults, “THE SHEPHERD’s SONG,” an inspirational novel about second chances. LOVED IT! (See my review below).
The Shepherd’s Song: Follow the incredible journey of one piece of paper–a copy of Psalm 23–as it travels around the world, linking lives and hearts with its simple but beautiful message.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures…
Shortly before a tragic car accident, Kate McConnell wrote down the powerful words of Psalm 23 on a piece of paper for her wayward son. Just before she loses consciousness, Kate wonders if she’s done enough with her life and prays, “Please, let my life count.” Unbeknownst to Kate, her handwritten copy of Psalm 23 soon begins a remarkable journey around the world. From a lonely dry cleaning employee to a soldier wounded in Iraq, to a young Kurdish girl fleeing her country, to a Kenyan runner in the Rome Invitational marathon, this humble message forever changes the lives of twelve very different people. Eventually, Kate’s paper makes it back to its starting place, and she discovers the unexpected ways that God changes lives, even through the smallest gestures. With beautiful prose evocative of master storyteller Andy Andrews’s The Butterfly Effect, this story will touch your heart and remind you of the ways God works through us to reach beyond what we can imagine.
WRITING SISTERS AUTHOR INTERVIEW
Holly: What inspired you to come up with this fantastic book idea?
Betsy & Laurie: The idea for The Shepherd’s Song began in a small coffee shop in Madison, Georgia, where we meet every week to write. That morning we prayed for God to reveal our next writing project. Up till that time we had written children’s books individually and together and we thought we had come to the coffee shop to plan our next children’s book. Betsy had read the 23rd Psalm that morning in her quiet time that day. We had both committed our writing to God and began to think the Psalm would be a good subject for a book. The problem was we couldn’t see it as a children’s book. As children’s writers it was hard to imagine writing a book that was longer than 64 pages! We knew that we could only do it with God leading us. The more we talked about the idea the more excited we became and we finished drafts of the first two stories that day.
Holly: The characters and places seem so real. Tell me about your research?
Betsy & Laurie: The physical traits of the characters come from people that we see, a stranger on the street or people that we know. The emotions of the character come from our own feelings. Since we were writing about people in different cultures we used readers from each culture to guide us and help to stay true. The locations were fun to research. We used some familiar locations in the book, Laurie had recently visited Italy and Betsy lived several years in Turkey. The others we explored through video and pictures.
Holly: What is your writing strategy, working together as sisters?
Betsy & Laurie: We discovered early on that we had to have spiritual agreement to have unity on the page. In collaboration there will be differences of opinion, which are good and bring growth and depth to the work. It is in the resolution of the disagreements that our faith is exercised. We decided that we would never go forward in any area of writing or publishing without agreement. We begin each writing session with prayer and are constantly submitting the work to God. Staying in harmony with God keeps us in harmony with each other. We can do more together. As we constantly try to align our work with God’s will, we align ourselves with each other.
Holly: Besides your mom, which writers inspire the two of you?
Betsy & Laurie: We have been readers all our lives from our first book mobile! During the writing of The Shepherd’s Song two books stand out as significant. First, Andy Stanley’s Visioneering. We read and worked through this book together as we defined our vision for writing and learned how to work together. The second book was Mark Batterson’s Draw the Circle, The 40 Day Prayer Challenge. We used this devotion together for forty days to develop spiritual unity in our work. We also love to read for fun and are constantly sharing books as we meet each week. Christian classics and contemporary fiction are our favorites.
Holly: Next projects?
Betsy & Laurie: When we decided to write for God we chose a verse to be a mission statement for us: We will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord. Psalm 78:4 We love using fiction to show how God works in the world and we are continuing to write using Scripture as a catalyst for change in our stories. Our next book focuses on the Lord’s Prayer and we are learning so much as we study and research this great prayer.
My review: Get ready for an inspirational journey across the world with The Shepherd’s Song, a well-crafted novel that uses the 23rd Psalm, written on a slip of paper, to bring well-developed characters and readers close to the heart of God. Like me, you’ll want to keep this captivating book on your nightstand with your Bible. After you read it, you’ll pick it up again and again.
The prose is exceptional. The characters, believable. The plot, inspiring.
My blog’s theme is based on connections. I love how Duffey and Meyers used the 23rd Psalm to masterfully connect the characters across the globe.
Though the twelve stories are short, the writing sisters creatively and ingenuously draw the reader into the lives of seemingly real people. Their emotional journey becomes yours as you feel for them in their struggles and cheer them on when they grasp the love God expresses to them through the lines of the psalms.
The Shepherds Song is a great book to give as a gift or to use for a Bible study or book club discussion group. I can’t give it less than five stars!
So happy to share this blog about The Shepherd’s Song after Good Shepherd Sunday!
Stealing a cliché from Forrest Gump, Amy Matayo’s The Wedding Game is like a box of chocolates. Delightful, colorful, well-developed characters are mixed up in a sweet-tart romance and placed in a colorful reality TV plot. Sprinkled among ingenious twists are nuggets of witty humor and snippets of snarky sarcasm.
And like a box of chocolates, each deliciously addictive page will have you saying, “more please.” More Ellie and Cannon!
Amy Matayo has mastered the craft of writing in this clean, contemporary romance. And like a box of chocolates, the sweetness of The Wedding Game lingers long after the book is finished. Gratifying but no calories! Loved this book! A great Christmas or anytime gift for anyone: women, teens, and if you sneak it into your man’s Kindle, I know he’ll love it, too!
About The Wedding Game: Cannon James has a plan: Sign on as a contestant for his father’s new reality show, marry a blonde hand-picked by the producers, and walk away two million dollars richer. It’s all been arranged. Easy. Clean. No regrets. Until Ellie McAllister ruins everything by winning the viewer’s vote. Now he has to convince America that he’s head over heels in love with her. Not easy to do since she’s a walking disaster. Ellie McAllister has her own problems. She needs money, and she needs it now. Despite her parent’s objections and her belief that marriage is sacred, she signs on to The Wedding Game…and wins. Now she’s married to a guy she can’t stand, and if she wants her hands on the money, she has six months to make voters believe she loves him. Not easy to do since he’s the most arrogant man in America. It doesn’t take long for Ellie and Cannon to realize they’ve made a mess of things…even less time for their feelings for one another to change. But is it too late for them? More importantly, can the worst decision they’ve ever made actually be one of the best?
And for more sweetness, here’s my interview with Author Amy Matayo:
Holly: How did you come up with such a clever plot for The Wedding Game?
Amy: A couple of years ago I was watching Good Morning America while getting dressed for work. They were running a feature on Kim Kardashian, telling about her recently-announced divorce. Well, I had just watched clips from her televised wedding a few days earlier, so I know she had only been married for a month or so. Annoyed, I turned to my son and said “You know, pretty soon there’s going to be a reality show where two strangers get married for money.” I meant to sound outraged, but instead my brain started spinning. The idea for The Wedding Game was born right then.
Holly: Can you share The Wedding Game’s journey to publication?
Amy: Originally The Wedding Game was sold as a three-book series, but a few months later my publisher (B&H Publishers) made a decision to discontinue their fiction line. The Wedding Game was salvaged in the process, but after a lot of back and forth I made the ultimate decision to get my rights back on that book as well. After a lot of communication with my agent and editor The Wedding Game was released on Amazon November 16, 2013.
Holly: What did you learn from your publishing experience that really stuck with you?
Amy: That it can turn on a dime, and that authors need to be open to new opportunities when they present themselves. Publishing is changing at a rapid pace–not necessarily always in the greatest way–and it’s sometimes tough for authors to keep up. But with self-publishing on the rise, indie success stories becoming more and more visible, and hybrid (both traditionally and self-published) authors willing to take chances on multiple venues, there are lots of opportunities for writers right now.
Holly: Best advice for other writers?
Amy: That even though the writing road is hard–like any other career in the arts, I suppose–keep going. Write every day, even if it’s just a paragraph. The only people who make it are the ones who don’t give up. And believe me, my family and friends have to talk me off the ledge almost every day.
Holly: Readers will surely want more after finishing The Wedding Game. Future books?
Amy: Love Gone Wild is a sort-of sequel to The Wedding Game. It’s also reality-show based and takes place in the Alaskan wilderness–a Survivor-type scenario. It releases on Amazon March 1 of next year. And then later next year will come Sway, a New Adult romance that intersperses a political theme of separation of church and state.
And a little more about this fabulous up and coming author:
Amy’s Bio: I graduated from John Brown University with a degree in Journalism. I came this close (holds finger and thumb together until they practically touch) to also having an English degree, but decided I wanted to get married instead and besides, who needed it? After all, managing an entire six-credit-hour semester seemed just so exhausting, and one degree was more than enough. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. Not the marriage–that’s all good. But the pseudo-exhaustion. It might be nice to have that degree right now. Anyway, after graduation, I went to work for DaySpring Cards–a division of Hallmark–where I worked for seven years as Senior Writer and Editor. After the birth of my first child–a ten pound boy–I became a freelance writer before pursuing novel-writing full time. My first contracted novel–The Wedding Game–won the 2012 ACFW Genesis Award. It released on November 16, 2013. As the mother of four children with a husband immersed in political life, I have very little free time. I prefer to spend that time enjoying intellectual pursuits such as: watching television with my feet propped up, watching movies with a bucket of popcorn, and watching my laundry pile high–with no desire to do anything about it. It’s a fun life.
With all the terror and tragedy lately, I’m pleased to review and discuss an engaging novel, rich with themes of hope, healing, and wholeness.
Crumple Zone, a thrilling novel by Edith Parzefall, subtly but fully embraces the message of Romans 8:28: And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
While Crumple Zone is a psychological suspense novel with some bad language and sexual scenes, great messages and complex, intriguing characters make this book a wonderful read.
After losing her job, Lara takes an impetuous trip to Chile. Rick, a questionable hitchhiker joins her in the rented X-Trail. The reader certainly isn’t left behind on this suspenseful, scenic ride across the Atacama Desert.
Truck-driver Enrique, losing his grip on reality, is on the same highway. A crash on Ruta 5 clears away a new route toward trust, healing, and an awakening to the difference between reality and illusion.
In Crumple Zone (and her other books), Author Edith Parzefall successfully brings an admirable depth to her writing. The novel beautifully reveals how a higher power leads people in the right directions, at the right times. The characters aren’t do-gooders set out to save the world; they are flawed people. Difficult situations force them to think outside of themselves and make choices that ultimately bring peace into their lives. And like in real life, characters who choose to remain in their selfish worlds, get left behind to their own devices. I totally recommend Crumple Zone.
Crumple Zone is a read that will stick with you for a long time. I wiped away tears before clicking off my Kindle. Thanks Edith!
Author Edith Parzefall based Crumple Zone on a real accident. In 2008 she visited Chile, supposedly the safest country in South America. Stopped at a red light in their rented SUV, she and her partner were sandwiched between two trucks on the Pan-American highway. An unplanned excursion to the local hospital and the Carabineros de Chile allowed her insights she never meant to gain but wouldn’t want to miss. A new story idea sparked: Crumple Zone
Edith told me that the accident always felt like the hand of God gently rubbing her off errant tracks that made her unhappy and filled with more and more purposelessness. She really brings that into the novel.
Edith studied literature and linguistics in Germany and the United States, worked as an editor, technical writer, team leader and project manager. Now a full-time writer, she strives to combine her two passions: writing and traveling.
Below is a sample chapter from Crumple Zone with photos from Edith’s trip to Chile.
CRUMPLE ZONE EXCERPT
Lara parked at the lighthouse in La Serena. They climbed out and walked along the beach, enjoying the gentle morning sun.
The night before, Rick had made her feel like he wanted her, not just a playmate. More nights like that and she’d be doomed. Except, there was still this nagging feeling. Did he just act the Don Juan, same as he could turn into a caveman or her sex slave?
“Less than three hundred miles to Santiago.” He lifted his head and smiled. “Why don’t you come further south with me? You still have time.”
Lara took a deep breath. “We’ll see.”
He nodded. “Okay. Let’s get going.”
Lara slipped her arm through his as they strolled back to the lighthouse. She didn’t want to let go of the new Rick.
Kids had written names in the dust covering the X-Trail. Maybe they could run it through a car wash somewhere on the way. Lara unlocked the doors with the remote, slipped into the driver’s seat, buckled up, and put on her sunglasses. Off to new adventures and just maybe real romance; an extended dopamine high wasn’t the worst kind of brain xxxx-up.
She smiled at Rick before she backed onto the street running along the beach. Ruta 5 would take them inland again, so Lara kept glancing at the sea until restaurants blocked her view. She steered the X-Trail away from the esplanade.
Lara pulled onto the Pan-Americana and accelerated, heading south toward cooler and more fertile regions. Some high-rises still lined the highway, with hotels, a casino, cabañas.
A red light caught her off-guard. Lara braked hard and brought the X-Trail to a squealing stop. She looked at Rick. “Sorry, I thought we basically had a clear stretch ahead.”
“Yeah, me too.”
A horn blared. Her eyes flicked to the rear view mirror. A red truck growing larger—coming fast, too fast. “Shit!” She focused on the road ahead. All clear. Still the honking. A last glimpse in the mirror and she slammed down on the gas pedal. The car lunged forward.
Something big and white entered her peripheral vision from the left. Deep shit, she thought as the barrel-shape filled the windshield. No time to brake. The horn still screamed at her.
Nowhere to go.
If you like Crumple Zone, and I’m sure you will, check out my earlier blog where Edith Parzefall shares about her book, Strays of Rio.
Book Review and Five Author Questions
Featuring The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch by T.M. Gaouette
I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me. (Philippians 4:12-13). My favorite Bible verse, on the first page of The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch, lassoed me straight in to T.M Gaouette’s YA novel.
We meet Benny, a foster child who trusts no one and lacks faith in God. He’s been moved from place to place and arrives at Sunshine Ranch apprehensive and even unwilling to unpack his bags. Then, we’re introduced to the other foster children, all with diverse issues: depression, sadness, loss, abuse, neglect. Their means of coping is uniquely crafted to each well-developed character.
The foster children need The Sunshine Ranch and they need David and Martha Credence, foster parents who have opened their large white farmhouse and generous hearts to them. Even through David and Martha’s own adversities, the couple gently guides the group of teens toward a loving God, helping them heal from old wounds and deal with new issues.
Dynamics change when new kids arrive at the ranch, and Benny, especially, is challenged at many levels. When the children discover the Credences may lose the ranch, their decisions, difficulties, and hopeful efforts will engage and entertain readers.
Though The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch is a YA novel, once you meet the characters, readers of all ages will be intrigued to discover how things will turn out. You’ll root for each child and for the Sunshine Ranch, while enjoying T.M. Gaouette’s rich prose and vivid descriptions.
Young readers dealing with depression, loss, and challenges will find hope within the pages of The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch. This heartwarming novel leads readers, along with the characters, on a route toward God, toward His love, and toward healing and the hope of living a fulfilled life. And for those already rooted in Christ, the novel will surely be a faith-strengthener.
So, come along to The Sunshine Ranch and to the themes of adversity and God’s transforming and healing power.
Questions to T.M.
Holly (Q1.): Author’s often write what we know. Where did you get your ideas for the theme and storyline of The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch?
T.M. (A1): The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch was inspired by a culmination of things. News stories about foster homes where children are abused just break my heart, but you never hear about the wonderful homes where foster parents actually love their children. I’m also an advocate for overcoming adversity and try to negate the idea that if you have experienced abuse in the past, it will affect you negatively in the future. And ultimately the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has a plan for all of us, is our strength. Maybe some of it is a reflection of past emotions, but ultimately the story I wanted to tell was one of strength, generosity, love, and faith.
Holly (Q2): You begin with “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me. (Philippians 4:12-13)” What special meaning does this passage hold for you?
T.M. (A2): This scripture is the crux of the story. It’s a truth that we should never forget. That no matter how bad things get, God is your strength, and with Him you can get through anything.
Holly (Q. 3): You were born in Africa, brought up in London, and now living in New England. How does this diversity in your background enhance what you write?
T.M. (A. 3): It gives me valuable insight into cultural diversity, I believe. Experiencing different people, places, and cultures has afforded me the opportunity to add color and depth to my stories, whether it’s in the dialogue, characterization, or settings within my stories. I love having the experiences stored in my memory, ready to use when needed. The smells, the emotions, the incidents, the characters are all there, waiting to be brought to life in one of my novels.
Holly (Q. 4): Are you a full-time novelist? Tell us something about yourself.
T.M. (A. 4): I’m a Catholic wife and mother of three. I pray that eventually I’m afforded the pleasure of writing novels full-time. For now, it’s part time. I’m also a contributing blogger for Project Inspired – a Christian website for tween and teen girls. I work from home and homeschool.
Holly (Q. 5): Any other books coming out?
T.M. (A. 5): Yes, actually I’m working on three right now. It’s ridiculous, I know, but when I have ideas I just start working on them, so I usually have a few books at various stages of the process. The next book out will be the first of a four-part Kung-Fu faith series, titled Freeing Tanner Rose. That should be out later in the year.
T.M. Gaouette is a freelance writer, ghostwriter, blogger and fiction novelist. She was born in Africa, brought up in London, and is now living in New England with her husband and three children. Devoted to Him, Gaouette is dedicated to glorifying God through her stories for children and young adults. She believes that life is too short to waste on the superficial and that adversity should be used to make one stronger. More importantly, Gaouette feels that the Lord has given us all special gifts and opportunities to make a positive difference.
Order The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch online by visiting the author’s website, Barnes and Noble or through Amazon. Any online or local bookstore can order it too, if they’re not already carrying it! This title is also available on Kindle.
From concept to published novel, the journey is arduous. There’s the idea, research, revising, rewriting, hooking up with critique groups (like IWW or Critique Circle), then revising and rewriting again. And again!
There’s the horrid synopsis and query letters. And rejections. Lots of rejections. Agents. Editors. more rejections. More revising. The entire process can take many years, probably a few tears, and much nail-biting. I hope to grow my nails back one day.
Award-winning authors, Margaret and Terry Moran understand this long, rough road to publication very well. Pull up a chair while Margaret shares their journey. Take it away Margaret!
Margaret Moran: I have to give my husband first credit for our novel, MY ENEMY’S FACE. About fifteen years ago, Terry wrote the book, titled “The Other Side”. He found a publisher in Birmingham that was looking for “1960’s racial tension” stories. We wrapped it up, mailed it off, and then expected the usual rejection letter. One Saturday, the editor of the publishing company called and said that although he had instructed his secretary to return any unsolicited manuscripts, he picked it up and began reading. He wanted to publish it! We were on cloud nine! He was small, and didn’t have an editor, so he told us to fine tune it.
That’s where I came in. I was stronger in English than he was in school, so I took the editing job. New scenes began popping into my head, and even though I thought I was just correcting it, I wrote the scenes down. Terry liked the changes and we found ourselves rewriting quite a bit of the book.
Bad news. The publisher went out of business!
Skip ahead 15 years! With 3 children, 2 jobs, and a household to run we just didn’t try very hard to get our book read. Every once in a while I would look at it on the shelf and just feel like it needed to be published! I knew it was hard to get a publisher to look at books without an agent, so I prayed that someone we knew would have a connection in the publishing business. The next night we were eating dinner with friends when they mentioned their brother-in-law worked for a major publishing company! They made a call and the editor agreed to read it. We were so excited and sent it off right away.
Sounds perfect, right? Well, it came back with a standard rejection letter attached. You might imagine our disappointment! Another year went by when my husband found a friend he worked with in the FBI and found out he had a couple of books published. He told him he would introduce him to his publisher, Total Recall Press. In less than a year, we had “My Enemy’s Face” published as well as “The Miami Files”, a drugs/FBI/Mafia thriller my husband had written.
The moral of this story? Don’t give up, no matter how many rejection letters you get!
The novel, MY ENEMY’S FACE, takes place in Alabama, circa 1965. The local high school is integrated, making the Mayor of the town of Webber furious. His son, the local football hero/heart-throb carries his father’s racial hatred with him and decides to make life miserable for the new arrivals. His main target is Noah Franklin, who happens to be the son of the Mayor’s family maid. When the hatred turns violent, a mysterious Act of God makes the two boys switch places, physically. They find themselves experiencing racism through the other’s eyes. The two become bonded with their impossible secret, and hearts are changed. It is inspirational, strong, and a glimpse into a world that amazingly happened only decades ago.
REVIEW by Laschinski Emerson
My Enemy’s Face provides specific details of the atmosphere of growing up white versus black in a small Alabama town. The mysterious role reversal of the lives of a white boy and a black boy and their ultimate outcomes makes this book a must read. Having grown up in Mississippi during serious racist tensions, I had either experienced or seen first-hand many of the vivid details and situations outlined in the book.
To purchase MIAMI FILES by Terry Moran, click here.
Visit Margaret and Terry Moran on Facebook: Moran Books
Thanks Margaret, for sharing your journey and for introducing us to your novels. Check them out! I’m sure you’ll love them both.
And as Margaret and Terry will surely agree, all goals are worth pursing. In the end, it’s like giving birth. You never regret the sweet bundle in your arms, in spite of the struggles involved in bringing the new creation into the world.
Instead of my usual book review and author questions, I’m presenting author William Weldy and his fascinating post about how his novel, (soon-to-be a bestseller) OUTLAWS, came to be. OUTLAWS is released TODAY! Yay! CONGRATULATIONS Bill!
I was a part of the IWW group that critiqued OUTLAWS. Even then, it shined as a book you’d pull off the bestseller shelf in a bookstore. I’m keeping my words short to give him more blog time. So my review is this: TRUST ME! Get this book! You will love it! OUTLAWS has it all: Solid plot, action, well-developed strong characters, romance, bad guys vs. good guys, rich descriptive settings. An extremely well written, “clean book” that grabs you and doesn’t let you go until the last page. I’m so impressed with Bill’s talent and with OUTLAWS.
Take it away Bill:
William Weldy is a retired police lieutenant from a large Ohio city. He grew up in small town USA and still lives there with his wife, Pam and dog, Abby. Frequently pestered by a horde of grandkids who try to interfere with his writing.
Deanna Nowadnick:”…I know the important stuff’s on the inside, but honestly, I’m not so sure that the inside stuff’s any prettier. Perhaps I’ve been expecting God to act as my own fairy godmother, ready to pop into the scene any moment now with a twinkle in His eye and a wand in His hand. I’ve been waiting to be tapped ever so gently on the forehead and magically transformed into a loving, joyous, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, self-controlled delight in His life, adorned in a nice white ensemble, cute shoes, and fresh nail polish. In thinking that, I’ve not only trivialized God’s love and forgiveness, but I’ve missed the magnitude of His mercy that’s been shared with me over and over again. I’ve overlooked the fruit of His Holy Spirit that’s already a part of my own spirit in all that I do and all that I am.” p. xiii
My Review of Fruit of the Spirit: Reframing Life in God’s Grace
by Deanna Nowadnick
Ever gathered with good friends in someone’s living room for a Bible study, delved into matters of the heart, journeys in faith, and got to know one another on a deeper level? That’s how it is when you read Deanna Nowadnick’s book, Fruit of My Spirit. Her easy, honest, and humble style of writing invites you in like a good friend would open the door, hand you a cup of coffee, and say, “Come on in. Sit down. Let’s chat.”
Deanna’s sincere revelations of her “not so perfect” faith walk will have you saying aloud, “Me too.” Her sharing of how God has worked in her life, even through missteps and misdeeds, touches your heart as you laugh and say, “Yeah. I get that girlfriend.”
Talking to book is weird, no doubt, but that what happens. Deal with it. The author’s engaging style of writing will inspire readers to openly reflect on their own spiritual walk.
Personally, I’ve always considered the worst sin and entrapment happens when a Christian questions God’s ability to love and forgive them for whatever sins they become entangled in. Deanna’s transparent revealing and faithful perspective offers hope for those who experience these moments. She shows how God uses anything to bring about His purposes in our lives.
Deanna uses pictures to begin each chapter (a fruit image to relate each attribute to its Greek equivalent) and lovely hymn lyrics to end each chapter. Her delightful photos take us through thirty years of her marriage to her husband Kurt, and their sons, Kyle and Kevin. Rich in Biblical quotes and references and through stories of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, she allows readers to experience the enormity of God.
Five Questions for the Author
Holly Q.1: What inspired you to write this book?
Deanna A. 1: I did not plan to write a book. I just wanted my sons Kyle and Kevin to know how I met their father. They’re young adults now and some of the cringe-worthy details were beginning to emerge. I didn’t want the fact that they’ve been the benefactors of a beautiful marriage and a wonderful family to get lost in the giggles and groans of 40-year old memories. When I started writing, the chapter on Love went straight to the chapter on Self-Discipline. And by the time I was done with those two chapters, there was no stopping me. Even as I wrote, I had no idea where the book would go or where it would end up. I did know that by the time I got to the chapter on Patience, a theme had developed.
Holly Q. 2: Who did you write this for? Your audience?
Deanna. A. 2. Holly, I’m embarrassed to say that I did not think about my audience. As the stories came to mind, I just focused on getting the words down, still not expecting the whole project to become an actual book. Finally one day I said to anyone who’d listen, “I think I wrote a book.” Fruit of My Spirit has resonated most with us women, both younger and older, who can relate to those times in life when faced with questions about God, particularly our place in God’s family and God’s place in ours.
Holly Q. 3: What was the most difficult challenge in writing this book?
Deanna A. 3: My most difficult challenge was keeping God in focus as I wrote and published the book. I still have moments when I look back and ask myself, “Where did those words come from?” I knew that I’d been given a special gift and I wanted to make sure that I honored God throughout. As I said in the book, I have an ego the size of a mountain. I wanted to make sure that the book gave God the glory, not Deanna. And may I add, I continue to work on that!
Holly Q. 4: You included lyrics to beautiful hymns in the book. Why?
Deanna A. 4: Honestly, I think it’s not an overstatement to say that music defines me in so many ways. I play the violin during worship services, but trust me, I’m a struggling musician in many respects and not someone who should be amplified on Sunday morning! As I look back, I remember events and I remember songs. The hymns in the book represent special places, special times. I’m also part of the Rock-n-Roll generation, but that’s another story!
Holly Q. 5: Have you written other books? Any plans for another book?
Deanna A. 5: Yes, I’m working on Book 2. Signs in Life: Meeting God at the Corner of Grace and Mercy tells of those times when God has come alongside and guided, directed and turned me. The book is another collection of short stories, this time recounting when God has met me at life’s crossroads, when I’ve been “on point” with God, not because of anything I’ve done, but because a loving, gracious, merciful God has been there time after time, again and again.
A Sister's Promise, Book Review, Holly Michael, internetwritingworkshop.org, Karen Lenfestey, Self-publishing, What Happiness Looks Like, Women's Fiction, Writingstraight.com, www.karensnovels.weebly.com
Book Review and Five Questions
Featuring What Happiness Looks Like by Karen Lenfestey
Joely’s fortune cookie read, “Your past will determine your future.” Her sister Kate is desperate to assure her future includes a child.
Review by Holly Michael: Kate and Joely became my bffs when I read Karen Lenfestey’s, “A Sister’s Promise.” Karen more than delivers a great read with her second book, “What Happiness Looks Like,” (It’s a solid stand-alone book, if you haven’t read Karen’s first book.)
Picking up “What Happiness Looks Like” was like opening the door to a favorite girlfriend (two in this case). Kate and Joely are back and it’s time to grab a cup of coffee, sit with them, and find out what’s happening in their lives.
While reading “What Happiness Looks Like,” laundry doesn’t get put in the washer and dirty dishes remain in the sink. Karen’s well-defined, very likable characters face real life issues that strike at the heart of every woman. Her well-crafted fast-paced novel urges you to see the sisters through their through struggles and difficult choices, and cheer them on to the last page.
What does happiness look like for Joely? The life she’s living isn’t what she planned for herself. She’s made mistakes, wrong choices, and struggles with Lupus. But, that’s what makes her real. Who can’t relate? Her affair with Jake, her old fiancé (a married man) resulted in Joely conceiving Anna. Now, she’s a single mom, living with her sister. When Anna’s father comes back into their lives, Joely must protect her daughter’s heart in a way she’s not been able to protect her own. Can she trust Jake after he abandoned them and left them broke? Will her past determine her future? She likes another man, who better fits her definition of what happiness looks like.
What does happiness look like for Kate? She’s a career driven counselor, at age forty, battling infertility. Her firm stance on getting pregnant is driving a wedge between Kate and her husband, Mitch. She covets secrets and wonders if she should reveal them to her husband. Like Joely, Kate’s dreams of a happy life, aren’t coming together as she imagined either.
As the sisters resolve to figure out the difference between fairy tales and what they really need in their lives in this heartwarming tale, you’ll keep filling your coffee cup and turning pages until the characters finally discover what their happiness really looks like. The ending does not disappoint.
Holly (Q. 1): Most of your readers will have read your first book, “A Sister’s Promise.” Is “What Happiness Looks Like” a sequel?”
Karen: A Sister’s Promise” is Kate’s story of trying to decide if she’s willing to become a mother despite genetic and personal roadblocks. “What Happiness Looks Like” follows up with Kate and her sister, Joely, a few years later. This time, Joely is the main character facing a personal dilemma when she realizes her life hasn’t turned out at all the way she’d envisioned. It’s a sequel, but readers don’t need to have read “A Sister’s Promise” in order to enjoy “What Happiness Looks Like.”
Holly (Q. 2): Writers often write what they know. How do the characters in both books relate to your life experiences?
Karen: Like Kate, I worked as a high school counselor and that’s why the students Kate encounters seem so real. They’re composites of students I once knew and cared about. Joely is more who I’d like to be–artistic, out-going and upbeat.
Holly (Q. 3): You decided to self-publish and have had fantastic results. Can you share your self-publishing success story?
Karen: I worked on “A Sister’s Promise” for about three years–writing, querying agents and attending writer’s conferences. Fortunately, I received the Midwest Writer’s Fellowship which paired me with a published author as a mentor. Even after a major rewrite of my novel, agents would tell me it was a good story idea with strong writing, but not for them. I published it as an e-book on Amazon and sold over 25,000 copies. I owe a big thanks to my friends who mentioned my book on their Facebook pages and blogs!
Holly (Q. 4): Any advice for an aspiring author?
Karen: This is a wonderful time to be a writer. If you study what makes a good plot and create characters that people care about, you can share your work with the world. I think it’s important to join a critique group to get honest feedback, too. Thanks to technology, you have access to on-line critique groups no matter where you live. I’m fond of the www.internetwritingworkshop.org which is full of talented writers.
Holly (Q. 5): Will we get to devour another book featuring Kate and Joely?
Karen: So many readers have told me they want to know what happens to the sisters. In my next novel, the main character is a friend of Joely’s and is a newlywed whose husband suffers a head injury, which drastically alters his personality. The wife struggles between acceptance, hoping he’ll go back to the way he was, and walking away from the relationship. Please visit my website at www.karensnovels.weebly.com to read the opening chapters of both novels and my semi-humorous “Thoughts on Motherhood” blog. I love to hear from fellow readers and writers. Thanks, Holly, for interviewing me on your blog!
Holly: You’re Welcome! Thanks for the read!
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