Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Other Side Of Darkness

by Melody Carlson
About the author:
Melody Carlson is the award-winning author of over 200 books for children, teens, and adults.

Her young-adult titles include "Jessica," The Allison O'Brian Chronicles, "Letters from God for Teens," and "Diary of a Teenage Girl."

Her fiction books include The Whispering Pine series, "Isaac's Angel," "Awakening Heart," "Heartland Skies," "The Wise Man's House," and "Homeward."

Melody also published the nonfiction title "How to Start a Quality Child Care Business in Your Home."

Melody has enjoyed careers as a preschool teacher, political activist, and senior editor; she currently writes full-time from her home. She lives in Sisters, Oregon, with her husband and two teenage sons. The family enjoys skiing, hiking, biking, and boating in the beautiful Cascade Mountains.

Find out more about Melody here.

The Blurb:
As a wife and mother, Ruth knows her prayers are crucial to her family's spiritual welfare. She stands between her precious children and the evil one, doing battle in prayer. She can't afford to be careless. Thankfully, she has powerful allies: Pastor Glenn, New Life Christian School where her daughters Mary and Sarah attend, and the inner circle at Arbor Drive Fellowship. They all reinforce her careful nurturance of her children.

If only her husband, Rick, understood that. He's exasperated about the money Ruth keeps spending for the church and school. Doesn't he see that these are their best defenses in shielding their children from the dangers of the world?

But the forces that threaten Ruth's faith, her family-her very life-are not the ones she expects. Ruth doesn't realize that her heartfelt desire to obey God is mingled with dangerous currents of OCD-Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Her own strategies for protecting her family may be the very thing that tears them apart.

What Others Say:
"Ruth loves her husband and children, but fears for them. She doesn't want them tricked by the machinations of the evil devil. She prays for them and does everything to prevent Satan from tricking any of her loved ons into sinning.

However her husband Rick resents how much money and time she spends on the Valley Bridge Fellowship Church and it's New Life Christian School. Her children Mary and Sarah resent her pushing religion down their throat as they have enough at school. Worse her hero Pastor Glenn has been fired by the congregation either because they were fooled by Satan or jealous of how good he is. Ruth feels her world imploding as the more she prays the more things go bad and the more they go bad the more she prays especially when she follows her idol Pastor Glenn to his new church; her family refuses to go with her.

This is a refreshing very intense inspirational Christian tale in which the main character suffers from a serious mental illness, obsessive compulsive disorder. Ruth is unique protagonist as the more time she gives, the more troubled she becomes. Interestingly several deeply religious individuals selfishly and knowingly take advantage of her time and money. Although seeing demons seems unnecessary, Melody Carlson leaves the audience with a deep poignant thriller in which accepting psychological treatment is just one tool provided by God to help his flock with free will. " ~~Harriet Klausner

"Hold on to your heart when you read this gut-wrenching real situation in which Melody Carlson describes how someone could easily find themselves in a cult. I think the circumstances of this situation makes it scary and real when you see how the little things that grab the main character Ruth at first. It's the little things - like words said, things prayed about that prick her spirit and weigh heavy on her heart. But she brushes them off as nonsense in the beginning, when she finds herself in the middle of a church split. She's confused about what to do.

It's not something that Ruth intentionally seeks out to be a part of; "they" draw her into one of the churches that split. Ruth likes Pastor Glenn, who left and went to start his own church. The members that stay behind try to warn Ruth of Pastor Glenn's questionable behavior. 'Things aren't what they appear to be', they tell her. But Cynthia, the new church secretary, starts befriending Ruth. Cynthia has answers to the accusations and starts grooming Ruth for a good position in the new church. They "need" Ruth - and her money.
Oh, it's not said like that; it's more subtle. They start building Ruth up by telling her she was made for this position, and Ruth likes the attention and responsibility.

Pastor Glenn's assistant and worship leader at the new church, Bronte, heads up the prayer meeting where Ruth discovers some pretty disturbing things from her past - things she doesn't remember but the "new" church members tell her she has experienced. "Ruth you just have to trust God" they tell her. Fellow members of the new church set out to train Ruth to do 'Spiritual Warfare' to fight the enemy. It's the only way the demons will leave her and her family alone. Ruth must trust them because she needs to be set free from this horrible event in her past - she can't remember. Ruth has unsettling feelings about all this. The Holy Spirit is trying to rear it's head in Ruth's reality but she chalks it up to being a child of the faith and weak in character. Ruth was determined to learn to be like the others and become a strong warrior in this battle she signed up to fight against the devil.

"God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of love, power and a sound mind." Cynthia and Bronte don't lead Ruth to this scriptural passage -- that's for sure -- the very passage Ruth needs to be free. They feed her a bunch of half truths and twisted scripture to back up the lies. And, since Ruth was not a self-thinker, she believed everything they told her.

Ruth's husband, Rick, tries to tell her these "new" church people are filling her up with fear so they can control her. Rick says, "I'm not a theologian Ruth, but the Jesus I know is about love and forgiveness. Your church gives more glory to Satan than it does to God." Ruth doesn't listen to him because he doesn't go to her church. "What does he know?", she asks herself. The others warned her not to listen to Rick and what he had to say. She had to fight the good fight.

I truly felt for Ruth and her family in this story. Melody Carlson does such an amazing job of portraying Ruth getting drawn into this cult hook, line and sinker. She also describes what Ruth's immediate family does to help her as they see her getting in deeper and deeper into the "new" church, being driven far away from them all.

Melody Carlson tells the story from a first person point of view which made it read as if you were in Ruth's head as she struggles with her inner turmoil. This story is all too real!! Cults are popping up everywhere and I've always wondered how someone would get into one in the first place. Melody Carlson delivers a story of hope, forgiveness and redemption. It was difficult to read in some parts because I wasn't sure how far Ruth would be lead down the wrong path with this "new" church. I think this book is a must read for everyone. Melody Carlson gives us a glimpse into the world around us. You will never forget Ruth and her struggles. It's haunting.

Finding Hope Through Fiction "~~Nora St. Laurent

My Take:
As a person who belonged to a cult for twelve years, this is a story that must be told.

My church and situation were different and for years after I left it I could not see that it was really a cult.

But just as the situation in THE OTHER SIDE OF DARKNESS, the church members were considered more important than family. I left the church I was born and raised in to follow "The One True Church."

When my husband tried to keep me home, I left him and my children "For God."  After all, I must obey God rather than man.

Our family got back together on the promise that my husband would not keep me from my church.

After twelve years the Lord brought me out of that church and back under the spiritual leadership  of my husband.

The Other Side Of Darkness is a novel that serves as a warning.

Do your church leaders lead and keep you in the church by fear? Do they talk down other churches? And your other family members and friends?

Purchase The Book At:


Barnes and Noble:


Or Ask Your Local Library To Order The Book In For You!

God Bless your day and thanks for stopping by.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Marketing Yourself In Every Moment

We were offered so many choices at every class time slot, that it was hard to choose.

I had to pass up many classes I would love to take.

Of the classes I was able to attend, Jim Rubart's class on Marketing.was a highlight. And not just because he made me stand up in class and commented on the way I dress. Which is different than the usual woman at the conference.

We should all dress and act different to stand out and  "Shock BROCA" to be remembered from all the other author's and speakers out there. For more information on Jim's business: Barefoot Marketing go here.

At the very next meal I noticed Sue. I had met her on the loop before the conference and she told us she always wears a hat and wears green and turquoise. So I recognized her the very first day. "Simply Sue" fit the lesson Jim had taught just minutes before.

She had a logo made up and has a magnetic banner she can use even on a rental car:

Simply Sue's own car is not red. But is either turquoise or lime green to match her color scheme.

Sue describes herself as a speaker who writes. She has a slogan of Touching Lives and Changing Hearts; and has this message on a bookmark she gave me:

Do You Need H.E.L.P?

Hope--- Sue shares 7 steps to face and overcome your fears. Develop your vision and live your dreams.

Encouragement---Sue will help you learn what it will take for you to be living your dreams now!

Life Direction---Are you Living Recession-Proof? Sue shares how to be debt free and love it"

Purpose---Are you at a fork in the road? Have you come to a point where you cannot choose the path for the journey? Sue can help put you back on the right road of life.

The back cover of her book reads: A spirit of fear can take over life and dominate us in a way God never intended. It is a proven fact that fear is at the root of stress, and 75 to 90 percent of visits to primary-care physicians result from stress-related disorders. Is this God's plan for us? Never!

Drawing from her own fearful past Sue Falcone points a way to triumph and hope, showing that it truly is possible to fear not.

Sue make the point that God did not give us a Spirit of Fear.

She teaches how to keep healthy fear from growing into permanent entrapment.

How to recognize your fears and conquer them---God's Way!

To learn more about "Simply Sue" go here. 

What are some of your fears?

The point of Jim's class was this: There can only be one Simply Sue and there can only be one you.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Friendships Formed and Re-connected At Blue Ridge

My BFF Rosanna Huffman drove me to the Christian Writers Conference in Blue Ridge
Soon after we arrived at the conference we met Nancy Truitt Blosser from Columbus. We made plans for Nancy to drive to Blue Ridge with Rosanna and I next year!
Reconnected with fellow ACFW Board Member Ane Mulligan

And Patti Hall. 
New friend Hope on my right was sitting at a table with ladies I met last year. How cool is that!
Edie Melson
DiAnn Mills

Vonda Skelton
My soul sister Donna Rhodes and I learned we were in the same cult for years. The Worldwide Church of God was a cult when we belonged.
Andy Lee stayed on the same floor as Rosanna and I. But we three had a terrible time finding our room. This is the first year I didn't forget our room number.
Connected with Simply Sue. 
Eva Marie Everson and her mother. This was just hours before Eva's mother had her stroke that took her home to glory today.

If you are a Christian who writes I recommend you check out this conference

Monday, May 24, 2010


by Kathryn Cushman
A member of American Christian Fiction Writers since 2004.

A Message From The Author:
Hi! I’m Kathryn Cushman, but my friends call me Katie. I hope you will too. (I’ve reserved “Kathryn” for my Mom when she’s mad…and those pesky telemarketers.)

I am a wife, softball and theater mom, avid reader, part southerner / part California girl, and “retired” pharmacist. You can visit my bio page to find out more about me and my writing life.

Besides my love for family, California, and reading, I’ve also loved writing for as long as I can remember.  Checking out my book page.

If you’re part of a reading group, or your book club has selected one of my books for discussion, I’m offering fifteen-minute BookTalk phone calls just for you. BookTalk calls provide a way for your group to ask questions and hear the story behind the story. It also enables us to meet, even if we live on opposite sides of the planet. Isn’t technology great?! You can learn more, and send me an e-mail to schedule a live chat for your group, through my contact page.

Another way we can stay in touch is through my blog. Like most moms, my life keeps me too busy for daily blogging, but I do post semi-regular updates about what’s going on with my book, my writing, and life in general, plus answer reader questions. Check out my Katie’s Chronicles blog for more information.

The Blurb:
Andie Phelps is the envy of Santa Barbara. A devoted mother with a loving son and a successful husband, her greatest joy comes from reaching out to others.

Melanie Johnston is the envy of no one. A single mom who works long hours to pay the bills, and her greatest joys relate to her teen daughter and son.

Then the accident that changes everything. When opposite worlds collide, the impact reaches far beyond these mothers’ personal losses.

Two wounded women…Two families seeking hope…A community torn apart… How far will they go to fulfill A Promise to Remember?

What Others Say:
"Kathryn Cushman has done an incredible job. She somehow finds a way to tell both sides of this tragic story and make you both angry AND sympathetic to each mother. Choosing to show both Andie and Melanie as flawed human beings reacting to death in their own way, Cushman allows the reader to decide who is right and wrong here.

I was amazed at how detailed Cushman's story was. She introduced both mothers in the midst of the most horrible moment in their lives, and had each reacting in a logical way. The women never became stereotypical or cookie-cutter characters in any way. To be honest, I still don't know who I felt more sympathetic toward, and that's the sign of a powerful writer. Ultimately, she delivers a strong ending (it's hard to say "upbeat" when dealing with a story like this) that really ties everything up nicely.

Kathryn Cushman is a writer to watch. I'm usually pulled more toward the suspense/thriller genre, but I'm glad I took a chance on this talented writer and entered her literary world for a little while. Looking forward to the next one!" ~~Brian Reaves

"Kathryn Cushman's debut is wonderful, but it's not a light read. My heart ached for Melanie, who was compelled to visit the cemetery every day because she was afraid Jeff was lonely and because she'd made a promise never to abandon her children. I longed to comfort Andie, who was drowning in guilt that she wasn't a good enough wife and mother. The ending isn't "happy", though I was at peace with it. Still, I was left wondering how both families would move on after surviving such loss. I thought of friends who've lost children, and grieved anew for them.

This soul-stirring novel will stay with me for a long time." ~Melissa@breath of life

My Take:
I Love A Novel That Makes Me Stop And Think.

When I read A PROMISE TO REMEMBER I did not know it was a debut novel. Wow. If this is Kathryn's first published book I will have to read the others!

When Chad Phelps is killed in a car wreck, also killing the driver of another vehicle, The Phelps family is torn apart as each thinks the other blames them for Chad's death.

 A lawyer gets hold of Melanie Johnson and feeds on her longing to have a legacy of her dead son. The friends and relatives of Andie Phelps mean well, but they do not help the situation when they boycott the store where Melanie Johnson works

The story kept me riveted to my kindle until the last page.

Purchase The Book At:


Barnes and Noble:

Or Ask Your Local Library To Order The Book In For You!

Book Contest: 

This week we are featuring ONCE IN A BLUE MOON by Leanna Ellis.

Leave a comment on any of my blog my posts this week along with information how to get hold of you if you are the winner. Posts on facebook do not count. We only check the messages on the blog to pick a winner.

We will send one blessed person a copy of ONCE IN A BLUE MOON.

God Bless your day and thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, May 23, 2010


by Leanna Ellis

About the author:
I'm a writer of quirky women's fiction. I live in Texas with my husband and kids, along with our menagerie of critters -- two dogs, two cats and a beta fish named Bobby. All the animals come to our homeschool, except for the fish and he just hasn't learned to swim upstairs. I spend most of my days carting children to fencing, basketball, dance and soccer. It's no wonder I escape periodically to the land of make believe -- my imagination.

Learn more about Leanna here.

The Blurb:
Bryn Seymour was nine years old when her mother died under mysterious circumstances on the same day Apollo 11 made its historic lunar landing. Forty years later—divorced, working as an obituary writer, and duly cynical—she meets Howard, a conspiracy theorist who knew her mom and believes a small Texas town may hold clues to what really fueled her demise. Seeking closure, Bryn goes along for this men-in-black ride. But upon meeting Howard’s son Sam, an outspoken Christian, she can’t decide whose beliefs are more pie-in-the-sky.

Despite death defying feats, guilt has always pulled Bryn down time and again. But a perfect love shows her taking a leap of faith is the first step to soaring. But it only happens … once in a blue moon.

What Others Say:
"Sci-fi meets conspiracy theory gone wild, NASA, the moon walk, and reporters, all abound in Once in a Blue Moon.

Brynda Seymour is an obituary writer and a inspirational stories reporter, but she is on a personal journey. A quest to learn more about her mother who died when Bryn was only 9. However this journey is perhaps more than Bryn expected and can deal with. She will face her fears of being alone, and of being the one responsible for her mom's death.

When an old aquaintance of her moms appears with an explanation that "they" were the ones who killed her mom Bryn grabs ahold of this, and leans on it like a life preserver. Who are "they"? Why would they want her mom dead? An attraction to the son of her mom's friend will distract Brynda and have her exploring why romance has not been successful for her.

A book that will take time to digest as you sort out the story, but a story worth reading. Love, excitement, danger and mystery all in one book. " ~~Cindy Loven

"I've just finished reading, Once in a Blue Moon and have the biggest smile on my face and a warm feeling in my heart. This story is fun, fun, fun. I'm so thankful to receive a review copy of this book.

At first I didn't understand where Leanna Ellis was going with her story. When Byrnda Seymour meets Howard Walters, I realize then that Leanna uses the beginning to set up their strange encounter. Howard calls Miss Seymour to request she write his memoir, Bryn writes obituaries for a living - not books - but she's willing to give it a shot for a chance to find out about her mother's life. Bryn's life changes forever when she meets Howard. It's bizarre and she writes this, "One small step for man, one giant leap off the cliff of sanity."

Because of this encounter, I immerse myself into the story and Leanna Ellis's endearing characters make a way into my heart. Howard thinks someone is trying to kill him because of the NASA conspiracy theory he's researching and goes out of his way to stay safe, he says this to Bryn, "These precautions are paramount, for your safety as well as my own."

I love the relationship Bryn develops with Howard's son, Sam. Sam becomes her protector and friend. I really enjoyed their interaction. It's honest, real and fun to read. Sam says this about himself, "Even though I was going about doing good so to speak, I was putting myself in charge, not God. I decided what needed to get done....and sacrifice time with my own family for God's good--when He wasn't asking that of me at all."

Bryn questions everything," What could Howard know about my mother? And why do I care? Would I believe anything he might say anyway? I don't actually know why I felt compelled to come here to talk with Howard. Maybe it's just that I miss my mother."

Sam is trying to make light of their situation when they suspect someone is following them. He says, "And its Bond...James Bond to you, ma'am."

"Terrific. You're living out your adolescent fantasy." Bryn says.

`Who said it's my adolescent fantasy? It could be my current one.' He winks."

I enjoy Sam, a man after God's own heart, trying to help his Dad, be there for his boys and live the best he can for Christ. He's an outspoken and sincere man who can see through to the heart of Bryn. She is a woman haunted by a childhood secret, affecting every area of her life. I love the gentle, caring way Sam deals with Bryn and her secret. He wants to open her eyes so she could see for herself the light and make a choice to share with him what scares her. I love their flirting, fun and honest conversations.

I totally enjoyed every word of this book; I hated to see it end. I can't wait to see what adventure Leanna takes us on next." Nora St.Laurent ~~ACFW Book Club Coordinator

My Take:
ONCE IN A BLUE MOON is the first of Leanna Ellis's novels I have read. It took me a few pages to understand where the book was headed. But I read it in parts of two days and am really glad I read it.

I like Sam, and his pure but relaxed view of God. And how he draws out Brynda Seymour's long held secret, and helps her heal.

It was a nice paced novel to read after finishing THE OTHER SIDE OF DARKNESS. (I will post the review of that book next week.)

Leanna is a master storyteller and I am eager to read her next book.

Purchase The Book At:

Barnes and Noble:

Or Ask Your Local Library To Order The Book In For You!

Book Contest: 

Book Contest weeks are from Sunday through Saturday. A new book review is posted each Sunday which may or may not have a contest connected with it. See the Book contest information on the side bar.

Leave a comment on any of my blog my posts this week along with information how to get hold of you if you are the winner. Posts on facebook do not count. We only check the messages on the blog to pick a winner.

We will send one blessed person a copy of ONCE IN A BLUE MOON.

God Bless your day and thanks for stopping by.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Awards Night At Ridgecrest

The beautiful banquet table prepared for our pleasure.
Ann Tatlock  and Terry Whalin
Karen Schurrer and Debbie Marrie
Angela Hunt takes a picture.
Ron Benrey and Ane Mulligan
Sharon Lavy and Rosanna Huffman

The Main Course and dessert
I don't know why this picture is turned. It wasn't this way from the camera. Guess I need a computer expert to help me change it. Meanwhile let me say this was a wonderful night.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Beauty of Ridgecrest

The  wonderful Johnson Spring Building

And the lovely covered walkway from Mt Laurel where Rosanna and I stayed.

Looking back toward Mt. Laurel from the covered walkway.

The Gorgeous View from the Conference Level of the Johnson Building
And more pictures of the esteemed faculty.

Jim wrote the best selling book ROOMS which I have on my Kindle.
I purchased Steven James book A HEART EXPOSED . . .Talking to God with Nothing to Hide.
Rosanna bought Todd Starnes book They Popped My Hood and Found Gravy on the Dipstick
And Eva Marie Everson's book THIS FINE LIFE
Bethany House Editor Karen Schurrer
Debbie Marrie, editor from Strang Communications 
Agent Less Stobbe gives advice.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

We Went To Learn, They Went To Teach

Waiting in the food line and wondering who will be at our table tonight. Many in the Faculty at Blue Ridge are accessible at meal times.
Deb Raney talks to my new friend Marilyn.
Steven James~~Master Story Teller is the Steven King of Christian Fiction.

Janet Benrey makes a new friend.
Ron Benrey~~another accessible Agent.
Edie Melson shares information with a writer.
Yvonne Lehman listens.
I'm in Angie Hunt's Advanced Fiction Class. She waves.
Susan King listening.
Vonda Skelton
Ann Tatlock

I'm having a wonderful time here in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Wish you were here.