Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Some neat things going on in Blog Land!

I'm "stealing" Rel's spotlight only to tell you of the exciting thing going on over at Relz Reviewz! She is featuring Character Spotlights that allow the author to share a behind-the scenes look at some of their lead characters! This is SO COOL!!

So jump on over to Relz Reviewz and check out what is sure to be a very successful addition to her already very cool blog!! She is from Austrailia, so it must be that lovely accent and adventuresome spirit that has inspired her latest venture! Don't miss it!

Also, my good friend Deena over a A Peek at My Bookshelf will begin October with a new feature: Author of the Month! Deena is going to be introducing readers to authors whose names are not yet well-known but who should be. She is going to give them and their writing some extra time in blogland so that others can appreciate their terrific writing!

So please, get excited about all of the great books and great authors that are making the Christian Fiction market so vibrant and special! Fall is going to be exciting!

Monday, September 29, 2008

John 3:16 by Nancy Moser

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

John 3:16

Tyndale House Publishers (September 9, 2008)


Nancy Moser


Nancy Moser is the author of three inspirational humor books and eighteen novels, including Solemnly Swear, Time Lottery, a Christy Award winner, and her latest historical, Washington's Lady.

Nancy and her husband Mark live in the Midwest. She’s earned a degree in architecture, traveled extensively in Europe, and has performed in numerous theaters,
symphonies, and choirs. She gives Said So Sister Seminars around the country, helping women identify their gifts as they celebrate their sisterhood. She is a fan of anything antique—humans included.

Find out more at Nancy Moser.com and Sister Circles.com


Five people looking for a reason to keep living are about to find it in the last place they expect... In my usual "big cast" style comes a story of what happens when one man puts his faith on the line and holds up a John 3:16 sign at a sporting event. Roman Paulson's life revolves around his son, Billy, a University of Nebraska football hero with a promising life ahead of him. But when Billy's coach encroaches on Roman's relationship with his son, Roman fears he'll lose Billy forever. Roman isn't the only one whose world turns upside down. He's one of five unsuspecting people whose lives intersect on a bright fall day.

If you would like to read the first chapter of John 3:16, go HERE


“Let me, Let you…” (p. 258) A prayer, uttered from a broken heart, a broken spirit.

“God’s going on inside.” (p. 236) A prayer of hope whispered into a father’s heart.

“He doesn’t change. We change. Through prayer.” (p. 357) Truth, spoken from a changed heart.

Nancy Moser has written the most beautiful, poignant, powerful story of her career within the pages of her latest novel, John 3:16. If you want an honest, painful look into the hearts of those who have rejected Christ as well as the hopeful, patient, selfless working/waiting done by those who do know Christ – read this book! The beautiful weave of events is so careful, so purposeful, so real…truly God did a mighty work to have this novel written and published! It’s that good.

Read the sample chapter. Go out and buy the book. Share it with a friend. God is working. John 3:16!

The S.O.S. for PMS by Mary Byers - GIVE AWAY!

“…I contemplated the awesome truth that we are children of God and he cares about us. We matter, our spouses matter, and our children matter. Consequently, our response to the PMS challenge also matters since it’s part of our unique walk on earth.” (p. 185)

Mary Byers has written a book that contains a powerful message for women who struggle with PMS. (premenstrual syndrome) For those of us who have heard the phrase, “It must be that time of the month,” from our husbands, we know that there are monthly changes going on in our bodies that cause us to behave in ways that our friends and families come to dread. Too often, we become people that no one wants to be around – including ourselves! Thankfully, this chemical imbalance that many women struggle against has been identified, and Mary Byers has created a warm, personal guidebook that succinctly takes the reader through successful steps to combat this problem.

I have personally battled severe PMS since I was in my late teens. After reading Mary’s book, I realize that I have been very fortunate to have had physicians that understood this problem and were willing to guide me to successful treatment. Mary’s book contains both spiritually and physically sound advice, and for those who have not been successfully guided in the treatment of their PMS, this book is going to be a Godsend – literally!! From identifying the symptoms and the three most common ways to combat them, to revealing diet modifications and activities that will increase your body’s serotonin, Mary’s book is filled with practical advice for everyone! One chapter even contains open letters from both Mary and her husband about how to strategically deal with PMS! (her husband has a terrific sense of humor!)

Truly, this is a great PMS guidebook. It is written in an easy-to-understand, personable format that will appeal to a broad audience. I personally think that there will be many who will benefit from the knowledge contained in this book, and they will finally claim victory in this monthly battle!

To read an excerpt go HERE.

A Word from the Author

"It’s my hope that this book will bring help, hope and healing to moms who suffer from PMS. It’s been a source of despair in my own life but things are looking up now that I’ve developed my own coping plan. Those I interviewed for this book shared intimately about their own battles and I believe their stories, along with that of Callie’s (the main character in the book) will convince other women that it is possible to change their current response to PMS and encourage them to start today.”

Win a copy of the book:

Mary is giving away 4 copies of SOS for PMS. All you have to do is leave a comment on the blog tour post!
I also have an extra copy! Leave your comment here along with your contact information, and I will draw a winner next week!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Let's Play a Game of Tag!

Deena over a Peek at My Bookshelf has tagged my window to play! So, here goes a good game of tag, folks!

Here's the rules for those I'm tagging. Check the list after my 6 THINGS to see if you're it then
1. Link to the person who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Write six random things about yourself.
4. Tag sixish people at the end of your post.
5. Let each person know he or she has been
6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

6 Random THINGS about me:

I wrote a children's novel while I was in college and spent two years collecting rejections before I finally shelved it.

I've been an avid reader for years and sharing my thoughts with the authors. But I've only been blogging reviews since September 2007.

I love watching football games with my two teenage sons.

I enjoy long walks in the country, down dirt roads, alongside cow pastures and alongside the pond's edge.

I have volunteered at a women's rehab facility for over a year now and I never cease to be amazed at the power of addictions and the greater power of God to deliver from them.

I dearly love piano music. Jim Brickman is a favorite.

Now, you're it!

Becky at A Christian Worldview of Fiction
Kelly at Scrambled Dregs
Tami at Tree Swing Reading
Michelle at Edgy Inspirational Author
Michelle at Chewing On It
Tiff at Amber Miller

A View from Cindy Woodsmall's Window

Cindy Woodsmall's stories have truly captured my heart! I love it when I reach the end of a book and my faith is challenged and my spirit is encouraged! I had the unique experience of being able to ask Cindy a few questions about her work, and I am pleased to be able to share it with you! Welcome Cindy Woodsmall to my Window!!

Hi, Kim. Thank you so much for this interview. I’m thrilled to bring the conclusion of Hannah’s journey to readers. Before I answer your questions, I’d like to clarify a bit of terminology. An Englischer is anyone who’s not part of the religious groups whose women wear the caped dress and prayer Kapp. The men have a standard of dress, also, but it’s the women’s outfits that set them apart. The clothing is an easy outward way to identify the Amish or Plain Mennonites. It’s not, by any means, the only difference.

The Amish have enriched your life a great deal. Can you share with us what you find most inspiring about their lifestyle and how it influenced your dream to write?

The Old Order Amish way of life has much that is inspiring. Their faith, humility, and tenacity are truly amazing. The complexity of a people choosing to live similar to those in the early 1900s is worthy of a second look. It makes me long to understand what things in that lifestyle work for them and what don’t. Understanding that may help us make some of our choices of what to allow and not allow in our Englischer lives. Theirs is a multifaceted, multilayered society that pursues God, but they are still just people who deal with the same struggles we do.

I’m inspired by the strength it takes to live as they do. Regardless of how man chooses to live, we will never be without the need for God to redeem us. Wherever man is, sin, mistakes, and heartaches still happen.

How receptive are the Amish people to the gospel?

Although their perspective is coming from a different world view than ours, my encounters among the Amish indicate that they are as receptive to the gospel as any Christian group. The church leaders teach from the Old and New Testament. They use a Bible written in High German and they speak High German during the services. The church leaders teach the Protestant Christian message and believe each person must confess who God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are and that each person joining their faith must make the decision to believe and must be baptized as adults. That is their foundational beliefs in a nutshell.

Sometimes it seems as if their “rules” bind them in a way that keeps them from fully understanding God’s grace and forgiveness. Is this true or is this a misunderstanding of their unique culture?

Our goal as Christians is to balance His gift to us, which is redemption through Christ, with our gift to Him, which is being a living sacrifice (Galatians 3:16; Romans 12:1).

The Amish strive to keep the Ordnung, which is the written and unwritten rules of their forefathers. The Ordnung has been passed down for hundreds of years. When people join the faith, they are agreeing to keep the Ordnung and raise their children by those standards. Because the book is a “rule book,” it may make its followers very rule/sin conscious. At the same time, they are very aware that no one can make himself or herself worthy, and their hope is that when they die, they are deemed worthy and true by God.

Some feel that their unwillingness to say, “I’m saved. I know I’m going to heaven,” is a lack of faith on their part, but they feel that many Scriptures point out that not everyone who thinks he or she is saved is truly saved and that those who think they stand need to take heed lest they fall (Matthew 7:22-23; 1 Corinthians 10:12).

Understanding that their faith is based on the Word of God, I feel we need to always remember Philippians 2:12, which tells us to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”

Working in a drug rehab center has helped me a great deal along this road. Can you share your own journey to “nevertheless” love for others and how that is lived out in your own life? Through your writing? Church activities? Family?

I love the nevertheless principle! People deal with heavy and painful disappointments—whether it’s illness, death in the family, or financial, marital, job, or school issues. Perhaps they live in regret over things that cannot be altered. No matter where we find ourselves, we can say, “Nevertheless . . . God.” He is the answer. He has the answer.

I’d like to share a quote from When the Heart Cries. (Warning: if you haven’t read When the Heart Cries, the following is a plot spoiler.)

As she stared through the window, a soft whisper crossed her soul.


It was an odd word coming to her at an odd time, but it kept circling through her mind, whispering hope. Life hurt. Nevertheless, it was a gift worthy of honoring.


The word came stronger this time, immediately lifting her spirits and causing sprigs of new faith to grow.

Her infant had died. Nevertheless, Rachel was now with God.

Hannah’s relationship with Paul was over. Nevertheless, God’s strength would pull her through.

If everything ended with God, then those who were in Him had a good ending—eventually.

A deep warmth comforted her.

I believe this is a truth for every believer. Nevertheless, God.

Do you plan to continue to write about the Amish or do you have plans to write about other things? Can you share a bit about your next project?

I’ve just finished writing the novel The Hope of Refuge. I’ve turned it in to my publisher and it will come out in 2009—probably in the fall.

Raised in foster care and now twenty-six years old, Cara struggles against poverty, loss, and a stalker. When vague memories reveal snippets of life inside an Amish community, she follows every lead to discover the truth about her childhood. What she finds is more harsh than all her years of having no family.

The story is one of losses sustained due to poor choices made by her parents, and even as an adult, Cara continues to pay. But one Amish man dares to fulfill the command he thinks he’s received from God: “Be Me to her.”

What exciting things is God doing in your life? Any words of encouragement you’d like to share with your readers?

God is doing the same exciting things He’s been doing in my life since I came to believe in Him three decades ago: He’s faithful to encourage, correct, and provide. And He continually does above all I can ask or think, even in the midst of trials that I wish weren’t a part of life (Ephesians 3:20).

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Encore Effect by Mark Sanborn

“The key to a remarkable life is to do everything with a passion for glorifying God. We should never be preoccupied only with an industry competitor, our customer, a colleague or and “audience.” Our ultimate audience is our heavenly Father.” (p. 66)

Growing up, I was blessed to have many people in my life who always encouraged me to do my best at whatever I set my hand to. Whether I was studying for a test, memorizing lines for a dramatic performance, or practicing a piece for a piano recital, I was instructed to do my best. Mark Sanborn has captured the essence of that basic message and presented it as a terrific learning/teaching tool in his latest book entitled Encore Effect. Building on the principle that life is a stage with all of us cast in a unique role, we are to perform in such a way that others call for an Encore!

Reading Sanborn’s book is not just a “how-to” book of becoming the best in a given field. Instead, it is a book that encourages believers to place God at the center of their hearts and lives and then go on to perform our very best while seeking to always polish our work and skills so that we become better over time and are able to reach out and encourage others to do their best as well. Sanborn’s book reminded me that the Bible is filled with many scriptures where God’s instructions to us are, “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not unto men.” (Collosians 3:23) I was encouraged and challenged with each scripture that was listed in my notebook by the time I reached the end of this book.

Encore Effect carries a scripturally accurate message that all of us should heed and follow. If you want to be encouraged in your own work and dreams for the future, pick up a copy today! You may also learn more about the author and his work on his website! Be encouraged and live each day as unto the Lord!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

When the Soul Mends by Cindy Woodsmall

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

When The Soul Mends

WaterBrook Press (September 16, 2008)


Cindy Woodsmall


Cindy Woodsmall is a veteran homeschool mom. As her children progressed in age, her desire to write grew stronger. After working through reservations whether this desire was something she should pursue, she began her writing journey. Her husband was her staunchest supporter as she aimed for what seemed impossible.

Her first novel, When The Heart Cries, released in 2006 to much acclaim and became a Christian Book Association best seller. Cindy was a 2007 ECPA Christian Book Award finalist, along with Karen Kingsbury, Angela Hunt, and Charles Martin.

Her last book, When the Morning Comes, hit the New York Times best-sellers extended list and the Christian Book Association best-sellers list.

Cindy’s real-life connections with Amish Mennonite and Old Order Amish families enrich her novels with authenticity.

Cindy, her husband, their three sons and daughter-in-law reside in Georgia. Her husband is a registered land surveyor and a vice president at an engineering firm. Their oldest son has a bachelor’s degree in nuclear medicine and works at a local hospital. Their second son and his wife are both students at the University of Georgia. Their teen-aged son keeps the household energized with his love of music, books, and writing.


Returning to the home she fled in disgrace, will Hannah find healing for the wounds of the past?

After receiving a desperate and confusing call from her sister, Hannah Lapp reluctantly returns to the Old Order Amish community of her Pennsylvania childhood.

Having fled in disgrace more than two years earlier, she finally has settled into a satisfying role in the Englischer world. She also has found love and a new family with the wealthy Martin Palmer and the children she is helping him raise. But almost immediately after her arrival in Owl’s Perch, the disapproval of those who ostracized her, including her headstrong father, reopens old wounds.

As Hannah is thrown together with former fiancé Paul Waddell to work for her sister Sarah’s mental health, hidden truths surface about events during Hannah’s absence, and she faces an agonizing decision. Will she choose the Englischer world and the man who restored her hope, or will she heed the call to return to the Plain Life–and perhaps to her first love?

If you would like to read the first chapter of When The Soul Mends, go HERE

“A skillfully written story of forgiveness and redemption. Woodsmall’s authentic characters illustrate beautifully how wounded souls can indeed be mended.”
Susan Meissner, author of The Shape of Mercy

“Like the stitches on a well-loved quilt, love and faith hold together Cindy Woodsmall's When the Soul Mends, the brilliantly written third story in the Sisters of the Quilt series. With deft plotting and characters that seem to jump off the page, this novel offers the timeless truth that forgiveness is the balm which heals all wounds and a blanket for the soul.”
Kathleen Y’Barbo, author of Beloved Castaway

“What a vibrant, strong, emotional story! When the Heart Cries will grip you and not let go, I promise. Highly recommended!”
Gayle Roper, author of Allah’s Fire and the Seaside Seasons series

“Reaching deep into the heart of the reader, Cindy Woodsmall pens a beautifully lyrical story in her debut novel When the Heart Cries.”
Tamera Alexander, bestselling author of Rekindled


Nevertheless is a powerful word when placed inside the context of God’s promise that all things work for our good and His glory. Cindy Woodsmall’s final book in the Sisters of the Quilt Series – When the Soul Mends – is a story of hope and healing that beautifully satisfies the definition of nevertheless.

Without a doubt, you really must read the first two books in this series to fully appreciate the final installment of this series. The “nevertheless” letter is one written by the main character, Hannah, in the second book When the Morning Comes. The back story preceding this powerful message is both heartbreaking and hope-filled. When Hannah is called to return to her home community where, it seems on the surface, that her life fell apart, she has matured enough to reach past the pain and heartache that still exists some two years after she left and help her ailing sister Sara and her best friend Mary.

Through Hannah’s selflessness, others find healing, and still others find forgiveness – even Hannah herself. The lives of God’s children are often painful and heartbreaking as we journey through this fallen, sin-filled world. However, in God’s time, as we listen to His voice and follow His leading, we come to understand just as Hannah did that He is working things out even amid the pain. We come to understand that sometimes it is the pain and heartache that molds us into His image so that we may fully love others – nevertheless.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough!! Please go here to read my review of the first two books in this phenomenal series. Then, stop by here and purchase your own copy today! On Friday, pause in your reading and come back to my Window for an interview with this fabulous author!

Never Surrender by LTG Boykin with Lynn Vincent

It is time to play a Wild Card! Every now and then, a book that I have chosen to read is going to pop up as a FIRST Wild Card Tour. Get dealt into the game! (Just click the button!) Wild Card Tours feature an author and his/her book's FIRST chapter!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and his book:

Never Surrender: A Soldier's Journey to the Crossroads of Faith and Freedom

FaithWords (July 29, 2008)


Lieutenant General William "Jerry" Boykin served in a variety of posts during his 36-year career in the Army, most of them involving Delta Force and Special Forces. He is an original member of the Army's Delta Force. His last post was as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Intelligence in the Pentagon, overseeing the gathering and exploitation of intelligence during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Visit Lieutenant General Boykin's website.

Lynn Vincent is WORLD on the Web's features editor and the blog’s managing editor. She is the coauthor of two books. She covers news and politics, and most enjoys writing stories of ordinary people doing extraordinary things. A U.S. Navy veteran, wife, and mother of two boys, she and her family live in San Diego, California.

Visit Lynn's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $24.99
Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: FaithWords (July 29, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0446582158
ISBN-13: 978-0446582155


LTG William Boykin has written a powerful book that contains a critical message for our country. On page 350 Boykin states, “But we (the U.S.) are not the bad guys. Our motto is life and liberty. The jihadists’ motto is convert or die. And no matter how much the PC crowd would like to deny it, the inalienable right to liberty that America is fighting for is part of the Judeo-Christian heritage that is the bedrock of our nation. As Thomas Jefferson wrote, the right to liberty comes from outside us, planted in our hearts by our creator, making it not merely an American ideal, but a human ideal.

America is a melting pot society. We speak many languages, and respect many cultures and religions. But every man, woman, and child deserves the freedom endowed by their Creator.

That’s why America’s cause is just. That’s why we’re the good guys. And that’s why we will never surrender.”

Never Surrender not only contains the biography of one of our nation’s finest soldiers, but it contains great truth and insight into what is taking place in the United States even now as I write these words. Truly, the U.S. is fighting for its very existence as the great nation that was founded almost 250 years ago. The patriotism, the bravery, the willingness to serve our country that is boldly displayed in William Boykin’s life is being crucified by a liberal media that hates everything Christian. The trial of faith that took place in Boykin’s life within the media only serves as testimony that God is still working in the lives of His people, and that His truth cannot be silenced or denied.

William Boykin has written a personal, compelling story about his life and the time he spent in service to our country. As a reader, you experience the sights, smells and sounds of war as well as the quiet moments of anguished prayer in the heart of a fiercely patriotic and selfless leader. This book will stir your heart and strengthen your own faith in God and our country. I highly recommend it to all who want to better understand what is taking place in our country and in the hearts of those who love the Lord and serve a risen Savior. This is an excellent book!


Chapter One

WASHINGTON, D.C., IS A FICKLE BEAST— especially in February. In that month, the world’s most powerful city can wrap itself in sheets of ice and dare folks to step outside. Or it can flirt a little, enticing with a false glimpse of spring. During the first week of February 2003, temperatures spiked into the fifties and I saw bureaucrats braving the Beltway in shirtsleeves when I arrived from Fort Bragg for an interview with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

I was a two- star Army general at the time— commander of the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School at Fort Bragg— and the Army had nominated me for a third star. Here’s the way that works: Up through their second star, military officers advance in rank through promotion boards. But for any stars after that, the defense secretary has to submit a nomination to the President. Then the President has to endorse the nomination. Then the Senate has to confirm. That’s one more hoop than a Supreme Court justice has to jump through.

And Rumsfeld added another hoop: anyone nominated for a third star had to come in and interview with him personally. Which was why I made the trip to D.C. Rumsfeld was still in the media’s good graces then, which meant he was in America’s good graces. (The former, I would soon learn the hard way, is finely calibrated with the latter.) The Secretary had just overseen the U.S. military’s crushing defeat of the Taliban, the group U.S. intelligence identified as the primary backer of Osama Bin Laden’s September 11 attack. Now for some months, his attention had been tuned to a new target: Iraq. As Saddam Hussein pretended to cooperate with weapons inspections ordered by the United Nations Security Council, Rumsfeld, a former fighter pilot who served in Congress and under three presidents, sparred with the press over the Bush administration’s case for war. In the midst of all that, I walked into the Pentagon, just a routine item on the defense secretary’s daily calendar.

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The world’s largest office building, the Pentagon is built in five concentric rings. More than seventeen miles of corridors wind through the place, and I truly believe a person could wander for days and never find the office he was looking for. As I made my way to the inner sanctum, the powerful “E Ring” where the Secretary has his office, I remembered my first time there twenty- five years before. I had arrived just days after Iranian terrorists loyal to the radical cleric Ayatollah Khomeini seized the American embassy in Tehran. I was a young captain then, one of the first three officers to make the cut for America’s brand-new, highly secret counterterrorism unit, Delta Force. I could recall hunkering down for days in a cipher- locked secret room off the E Ring, helping plan Delta’s first mission— rescuing American hostages from Iran. I had done a Pentagon tour since then, but those tense, smoky sessions spent calculating against impossible odds were what flashed through my mind as I headed for Secretary

Rumsfeld’s office.

His senior military aide, Lieutenant General John Craddock, showed me into a large, dark- paneled executive space with a sweeping view of the Potomac and the Capitol complex beyond. Rumsfeld kept a large mahogany desk in his office, backed by a matching credenza. But there was no chair behind the desk. That’s because he never sat down while he worked. Instead, he did correspondence and paperwork behind an elegant chart table, standing up.

“General Boykin!” said Rumsfeld, striding toward me in his customary fleece vest. He always took off his jacket in his office, but thought the air conditioning chilly and usually wore a fleece vest over his shirt and tie.

“Thank you for coming in. Here, have a seat.”

He and I sat at a small circular conference table, opposite the stretch

conference table on the other side of the room. General Craddock sat down

on a sofa nearby. Rumsfeld flipped through my service record, which, because of my

career in Special Operations and intelligence, was classified. “You have a very interesting record here,” he said. “Spent a lot of years in Delta Force.” “Yes, sir,” I said. “About thirteen.” I had been a founding member of Delta Force, and later its commanding officer.

“You’ve spent most of your career in Special Operations?”49:43 AMN

“Yes, sir.

I did spend some time on the staff of the Joint Chiefs and some over at CIA, but most of my career has been in Special Ops.” With Delta, I oversaw both the rescue of CIA operative Kurt Muse from a Panamanian prison and the capture of Manuel Noriega, the brutal dictator who put him there. In Colombia, I helped hunt down the drug lord Pablo Escobar, a cruel and filthy-rich thug who terrorized a nation, personally ordering the deaths of more than a thousand people. The Secretary noted that I had also hunted war criminals in Bosnia, helped rescue hostage missionaries in Sudan, and tracked kidnappers in El Salvador. Among other things.

“You have two purple hearts,” Rumsfeld said. “Where’d you get those?”

“Grenada, 1983, and Mogadishu, Somalia, 1993.”

“You know, I still don’t understand that, how Mogadishu was considered

a failure,” he said. “When you consider the statistics, it appears to me

that we won that battle.”

“Well, that’s always been an issue with me,” I told the Secretary. I felt fairly certain Rumsfeld knew that the popular version of the events—both the book, Black Hawk Down, and the movie made from it— omitted my role as mission commander. “We killed or wounded eleven hundred, but lost eighteen and had seventy- six wounded. It’s an example of how you can win a battle and lose a war because of politics.”

“Yes, I agree with you,” Rumsfeld said, smiling grimly. “We’re dealing with some of that right now.”

Exactly thirty minutes after it began, my interview was politely terminated

by the Secretary. I walked out of his office and didn’t hear another word about our meeting for weeks. I was excited about the reason for the timing of my promotion. The chief of staff of the Army, General Rick Shinseki, had offered me a plum assignment as deputy commander of the Training and Doctrine Command at Fort Monroe, Virginia. Not only was it an opportunity to work directly with soldiers again, it was in the Tidewater region of Virginia, where my brother and sister and their kids lived. My wife, Ashley, and I had long wanted to buy a home in Virginia, with space for nieces, nephews, and grandchildren. The TRADOC assignment seemed like the ideal twilight tour— a low- key but productive way to wind up what would by then be a thirty- fi ve-year Army career. I immediately said yes.

Then, in late February at a military convention in Fort Lauderdale, Army vice chief of staff General Jack Keene walked up and put his hand on my shoulder. “Jerry, Secretary Rumsfeld told me he was very impressed with your interview. You did well.”

I was pleased. All the pieces appeared to be falling into place: it looked as if I’d be promoted to lieutenant general, serve my final Army tour in a command that would leave an important legacy for future troops, and retire to a house in the country. Perfect.

Or so it seemed at the time.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

White Christmas Pie by Wanda Brunstetter

It is time to play a Wild Card! Every now and then, a book that I have chosen to read is going to pop up as a FIRST Wild Card Tour. Get dealt into the game! (Just click the button!) Wild Card Tours feature an author and his/her book's FIRST chapter!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and her book:

White Christmas Pie

Barbour Publishing, Inc (September 1, 2008)


Fascinated by the Amish people during the years of visiting her husband's family in Pennsylvania, WANDA E. BRUNSTETTER combined her interest with her writing and now has eleven novels about the Amish in print, along with numerous other stories and ministry booklets. She lives in Washington State, where her husband is a pastor, but takes every opportunity to visit Amish settlements throughout the states.

Visit her at her website.

Product Details:

List Price: $10.97
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Barbour Publishing, Inc (September 1, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1597899372
ISBN-13: 978-1597899376


“Sometimes when we’ve convinced ourselves of something it’s hard to believe the truth even when we hear it.” (p. 293”

Will Henderson has labored most of his childhood and into manhood under a load of misunderstanding and the bitterness of a grudge. As a man soon to be married, he struggles with uncertainty and moodiness that he can’t seem to understand well enough to express to those who love him best. Will he ever be free from these dark feelings? Will he be a better husband and father than the man who abandoned him sixteen years ago?

Wanda Brunstetter has created a story of family love and faithfulness set among an Amish family on a dairy farm in Indiana. Papa Mark and Mama Regina are the only parents Will Henderson has known since his father abandoned him at six years of age. Now that he stands on the brink of starting his own family, the grudge he carries against his father causes him to struggle against the reality that there are many people in his life who love and cherish him and only want the very best for his future. When an ad appears in the local paper seeking Will’s location, it forces Will to face his real father and all of the emotions that have plagued him since childhood.

However, Will chooses to close his heart and mind against the possibility that his father had just cause to leave him behind. When he finally faces his “Pop” the years of bitterness pour forth and the results are painful in many ways. Can Will accept the truth, or will his bitterness cause him even greater sorrow? Purchase your copy of White Christmas Pie today to find out! This book will make a wonderful holiday gift for all of the readers on your list!


Three-Year-Old Girl Abandoned in Small Town Park.

A lump formed in Will Henderson’s throat as he stared  at the headline in the morning newspaper. Not another abandoned child!

The little girl had been left alone on a picnic table in a small Michigan town. She had no identification and couldn’t tell the officials anything more than her first name and the fact that her mommy and daddy were gone. While the police searched for the girl’s parents, she would be put in a foster home.

Will’s fingers gripped the newspaper. How could anyone abandon his own child? Didn’t the little girl’s parents love her? Didn’t they care how their abandonment would affect the child? Didn’t they care about anyone but themselves?

Will dropped the paper to the kitchen table and let his head fall forward into his hands as a rush of memories pulled him back in time. Back to when he was six years old. Back to a day he wished he could forget. . .

Will released a noisy yawn and rolled over. Seeing Pop’s side of the bed was empty, he pushed the heavy quilt aside, scrambled out of bed, and raced over to the window. When he lifted the dark green shade and peeked through the frosty glass, his breath caught in his throat. The ground and trees in the Stoltzfuses’ backyard were covered in white!

“Pop was right; we’ve got ourselves some snow!” Will darted across the room, slipped out of his nightshirt, and hurried to get dressed. He figured Pop must be outside helping Mark Stoltzfus do his chores.

When Will stepped out of the bedroom, his nose twitched, and his stomach rumbled. The tangy smell coming from the kitchen let him know that the Amish woman named Regina was probably making breakfast.

“It didn’t snow on Christmas like Pop said it would, but it’s sure snowin’ now!” Will shouted as he raced into the kitchen.

Regina Stoltzfus turned from the stove and smiled at Will, her dark eyes gleaming in the light of the gas lantern hanging above the table. “Jah, it sure is. It would have been nice if we’d had a white Christmas, but the Lord decided to give us some fluffy white stuff today, instead.”

Will wiggled his bare feet on the cold linoleum floor, hardly able to contain himself. “I can’t wait to play in the snow with Pop. Maybe we can build a snowman.” He rushed to the back door, stood on his toes, and peered out the small window. “Is Pop helpin’ Mark milk the cows?”

Regina came to stand beside Will. “Your dad’s not helping Mark do his chores this morning,” she said, placing one hand on his shoulder.

Will looked up at her and squinted. “He’s not?”

She shook her head.

“How come?”

“Didn’t you find the note he wrote you?”

“Nope, sure didn’t. Why’d Pop write me a note?”

Regina motioned to the table. “Let’s have a seat, shall we?” When she pulled out a chair, he plunked right down.

“After you went to bed last night, your dad had a talk with me and Mark,” she said, taking the seat beside him.

“What’d ya talk about? Did Pop tell ya thanks for lettin’ us stay here and for fixin’ us Christmas dinner yesterday?”

“He did say thanks for those things, but he said something else, too.”

“What’d he say?”

Regina’s eyes seemed to have lost their sparkle. Her face looked kind of sad. “Your dad said he would leave a note for me to read you, Will. Are you sure there wasn’t
a note on your pillow or someplace else in your room?”

“I didn’t see no note. Why would Pop leave a note for me?”

Regina touched his arm. “Your dad left early this morning, Will.”

“Left? Where’d he go?”

“To make his delivery, and then he—”

Will’s eyebrows shot up. “Pop left without me?”

She nodded. “He asked if we’d look after you while he’s trying to find a different job.”

Will shook his head vigorously. “Pop wouldn’t leave without me. I know he wouldn’t.”

“He did, Will. That’s why he planned to leave you a note—so you would understand why.”

Will jumped out of his chair, raced up the stairs, and dashed into the bedroom he and Pop had shared since they’d come to stay with Mark and Regina Stoltzfus a few days ago. There was no note on the pillow. No note on the dresser or nightstand, either. Will ran over to the closet and threw open the door. Pop’s suitcase was gone!

Will’s knee bumped against the table, bringing his thoughts back to the present.

He lifted his head and glanced down at Sandy, his honey-colored cocker spaniel, who stared up at him with soulful brown eyes. “Did you bump my leg, girl?”

Sandy whimpered in response.

Ever since Will had been a boy, he’d wanted a dog of his own, but Pop had said a dog wasn’t a good idea for people who lived in a semitruck as they traveled down the road. Papa Mark had seen the need for a dog, though. A few months after Will had come to live with Mark and Regina, he’d been given a cocker spaniel puppy. He had named the dog Penny because she was the color of a copper penny. Penny had been a good dog, but she’d died two years ago. Will had gotten another cocker spaniel he’d named Sandy. He’d bred the dog with his friend Harley’s male cocker, Rusty. Sandy was due to have her pups in a few weeks.

Sandy nudged Will’s leg again, and he reached down to pat her silky head. “Do you need to go out, girl, or are you just getting anxious for your hundlin to be born?”

Sandy licked his hand then flopped onto the floor with a grunt. Maybe she only wanted to keep him company. Maybe she felt his pain.

The lump in Will’s throat tightened as he fought to keep his emotions under control. A grown man shouldn’t cry over something that happened almost sixteen years ago. He’d shed plenty of tears after Pop had gone, and it had taken him a long time to come to grips with the idea that Pop wasn’t coming back to get him. Tears wouldn’t change the fact that Will had been abandoned just like the little girl in the newspaper. He wished there was a way he could forget the past—take an eraser and wipe it out of his mind. But the memories lingered no matter how hard he tried to blot them out.

Will’s gaze came to rest on the propane-operated stove where Mama Regina did her cooking. At least he had some pleasant memories to think about. Fifteen years ago, he had moved with Papa Mark and Mama Regina from their home in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, to LaGrange County, Indiana, where they now ran a dairy farm and health food store. On the day of that move, Will had made a decision: He was no longer English. He was happy being Amish, happy being Mama Regina and Papa Mark’s only son.

Now, as a fully grown Amish man, he was in love with Karen Yoder and looked forward to spending the rest of his life with her. They would be getting married in a few months—two weeks before Christmas. Will didn’t need the reminder that he had an English father he hadn’t seen in almost sixteen years. As far as he was concerned, Papa Mark and Mama Regina were his parents, and they would be the ones who would witness his and Karen’s wedding ceremony. Pop was gone from his life, just like Will’s real mother, who had died almost a year before Pop had left. Will’s Amish parents cared about him and had since the first day he’d come to live with them. They’d even invited Will and Karen to live in their house after they were married.

As Will’s thoughts continued to bounce around, he became tenser. Despite his resolve to forget the past, he could still see Pop’s bright smile and hear the optimism in his voice as he tried to convince Will that things would work out for them after Mom had been hit by a car. Pop had made good on his promise, all right. He’d found Will a home with Regina and Mark Stoltzfus. In all the years Pop had been gone, Will hadn’t seen or heard a word from him. It was as though Pop had vanished from the face of the earth.

A sense of bitterness enveloped Will’s soul as he reflected on the years he’d wasted, waiting, hoping for his father’s return. Is Pop still alive? If so, where is he now, and why hasn’t he ever contacted me? If Pop stood before me right now, what would I say? Would I thank him for leaving me with a childless Amish couple who have treated me as if I were their own flesh and blood? Or would I yell at Pop and tell him I’m no longer his son and want nothing to do with him?

Will turned back to the newspaper article about the little girl who’d been abandoned. “It’s not right,” he mumbled when he got to the end of the story. “It’s just not right.”

“What’s not right?”

Will looked up at Mama Regina, who stood by the table with a strange expression. He pointed to the newspaper and shook his head. “This isn’t right. It’s not right at all!”

She took a seat beside him and picked up the paper. As she read the article, her lips compressed into a thin line, causing tiny wrinkles to form around her mouth. “It’s always a sad thing when a child is abandoned,” she murmured.

Will nodded. “I was doing fine until I read that story. I was content, ready to marry Karen, and thought I had put my past to rest. The newspaper article made me think—made me remember things from my past that I’d rather forget.” He groaned. “I don’t want to remember the past. It’s the future that counts—the future with Karen as my wife.”

Mama Regina leaned closer to Will and rested her hand on his arm. “The plans you’ve made for the future are important, but as I’ve told you many times before, you don’t want to forget your past.”

“What would you have me remember—the fact that my real mamm died when I was only five, leaving Pop alone to raise me? Or am I supposed to remember how it felt when I woke up nearly sixteen years ago on the day after Christmas and discovered that Pop had left me at your house and never said good-bye?” As the words rolled off Will’s tongue, he couldn’t keep the bitterness out of his tone or the tears from pooling in his eyes.

“I don’t know the reason your daed didn’t leave you a note when he left that day, and I don’t know why he never came back to get you.” Tears shimmered in Mama Regina’s eyes as she pushed a wisp of dark hair under the side of her white cone-shaped head covering. “There is one thing I do know, however.”

“What’s that?”

“Every day of the sixteen years you’ve lived with us, I have thanked God that your daed read one of the letters I had written to your mamm when she was still alive. I’m also thankful that your daed brought you to us during his time of need and that Mark and I were given the chance to raise you as if you were our own son.” She smiled as she patted Will’s arm in her motherly way. “We’ve had some wonderful times since you came to live with us. I hope you have many pleasant memories of your growing-up years.”

“Jah, of course I do.”

Mama Regina glanced down at Sandy and smiled. “Think of all the fun times you had, first with Penny and now with Sandy.”

Will nodded.

“And think about the time your daed built you a tree house and how the two of you used to sit up there and visit while you munched on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and sipped fresh milk from our dairy cows.”

Will clasped her hand. “You and Papa Mark have been good parents to me, and I want you to know that I appreciate all you’ve done.”

“We know you do, and we’ve been glad to do it.”

“Even so, it was Pop’s responsibility to raise me. The least he could have done was to send you some money to help with my expenses.”

Mama Regina shook her head. “We’ve never cared about that. All we’ve ever wanted is for you to be happy.”

“I know.” Will slid his chair away from the table and stood. “I think I’ll get my horse and buggy ready and take a ride over to see Karen. Unless you’re going to need my help in the store, that is.”

Mama Regina shook her head. “An order of vitamins was delivered yesterday afternoon, so it needs to be put on the shelves. But Mary Jane Lambright’s working today, and she can help with that.”

“Guess I’d better check with Papa Mark and see if he needs me for anything before I take off.”

“I think he plans to build some bins for storing bulk food items, but he’ll be fine on his own with that.” Mama Regina smiled. “You go ahead and see Karen. Maybe spending a little time with your bride-to-be will brighten your spirits.”

“Jah, that’s what I’m hoping.”

“Don’t forget your zipple cap,” she called as he grabbed his jacket and headed for the door.

“I won’t.” Will smiled as he pulled the cap from the wall peg. He was glad he and Mama Regina had talked—it had made him feel a little better about things. He figured he would feel even better after he spent some time with Karen.

Monday, September 22, 2008

A View From Tamara Leigh's Window!

Tamara Leigh writes about characters that all of us can easily relate to. In Faking Grace, Maizy is not the perfect Christian gal she claims to be! It is my honor to welcome Tamara to my Window for a look behind the gritty characters in her work. Please, welcome Tamara Leigh!

Do you think there is a bit of Maizy Grace in all of us? Why are we so afraid to be ourselves?

There’s certainly some of Maizy Grace in me, and I venture there are bits of her in other Christians. It’s not easy to just be yourself, especially when others are watching and you can feel the breath of their judgment on the back of your neck. I believe God created in us a need to belong, and when that need is threatened by an inability to conform to acceptable behaviors, the temptation to “fake it” is overwhelming. And so we give in. In the case of Maizy Grace, she turns to “Jesus junk”—bumper stickers, fish emblems, etc.—and educates herself on “Christian speak” in order to make it appear she is a mature Christian. Thus, she fits right in, with no one the wiser. Well, no one but God. And a suspicious hero-to-be.

Do you think harsh judgment and unloving attitudes are the things that drive people away from Christ (i.e. Maizy’s grandmother)? How can we overcome this?

Harsh judgment and unloving attitudes can build a wall between a person and Christ. If the love of Christ can’t be seen in one who professes to be a follower, it may be asked: Why would I want to become a Christian…someone like that? That’s the question I asked as I was growing up in a household where the Bible was thumped, but the behavior was to thump—verbally and physically. As we are all flawed, sometimes we say and do things that aren’t in line with what Christ asks of us, but I believe that we should pick ourselves up, dust ourselves, and remind ourselves of the ultimate goal—to become like Him. And, of course, this may mean humbling ourselves and apologizing.

There is a fine balance in telling people that their actions are wrong/sinful and still loving them and showing Christ’s mercy. Do you think Christians are afraid to caution others because they hide similar sin in their own hearts?

I struggle with confronting others about wrong/sinful actions, not only for fear of sounding judgmental and driving someone away from Christ, but for fear of being a hypocrite (yes, “you-know-whats” can be found in my own eye). I believe many of us face this dilemma, and some of us solve it by simply being silent. However, if the person whose actions are wrong or sinful is a fellow Christian, they need to be held accountable. Who should do this? The answer is in the question—someone who will love them in spite of the sin and show them Christ’s mercy.

Staying in God’s word is a pivotal point for Maizy’s growth in Christ (not to mention the “Dumb Blonde’s Guide to Christianity”). How do you encourage others to stay in the word? What makes time in God’s word meaningful to you as you write?

Gently, is how I encourage others to stay in the word. In my family, I do this by example, making the reading of the Bible a regular part of my day. When my sons are confronted with problems or adversity, I often refer to the Bible to help guide them. With my older son, I gently point him in the right direction, and it isn’t unusual for him to search the Bible himself.

With regards to my writing, time in God’s word not only inspires me, but keeps me focused on how to resolve my characters’ conflicts in Godly ways that speak to readers and draw them closer to God.

Was Maizy Grace a fictionalization of someone you know or a hodge-podge of characteristics you have met along life’s way?

Hodge-podge—I like that. Maizy Grace is definitely a “hodge-podge.” She has a little of me in her, my sisters, my mother, my friends, and others who have caught my eye and imagination along the way.

What are you currently working on? When will we see another Tamara Leigh character come to life?

In the works is my Southern Discomfort series from Multnomah. The first book, Paying Piper, is due out in May, 2009 and introduces readers to Piper Wick, one of three cousins from little Pickwick, North Carolina. Here’s a blurb:

The last thing image consultant Piper Wick needs is to be exposed as “one of those

Pickwicks,” especially the one who pulled the Lady Godiva stunt that made

national news twelve years ago. But if she’s going to keep it under wraps, she may

have to compromise her beliefs to clean up the latest in a long string of “Pickwick


What exciting things is God doing in your life right now?

Family-wise, this year I have a son beginning middle school and a son beginning high school. Lots of excitement there…and homework…and angst… But with God’s help, we’re finding our way.

Writing-wise, it’s exciting how well Faking Grace is being received. The letters that have come in from readers have confirmed that I am where God wants me to be.

Parting words of encouragement for your readers?

Make it real. You don’t need a bumper sticker or to learn “Christian speak” to be

a Christian. All you need is a love of Jesus and the determination to show that