Friday, November 25, 2011

Weekend Peek In #16

Week 16 of my Share the Gift Double Kindle 3G Giveaway is here! In fewer than three weeks, one person will win a Kindle 3G and choose a second Kindle 3G recipient. The contest closes to entries at midnight (CST) on December 14, 2011, so if you haven't already entered, now is the perfect time.

Amid all the holiday bustle, this week's reader's question helps put our focus on the reason for the Christmas season.

What is your favorite hymn?

Psalm 96:1 says, "Sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth." With an abundance of contemporary Christian music being produced these days, we now have more beautiful songs than ever to sing to the Lord, but no matter how many new lyrics come along, I will always love traditional hymns.

Songs like "Amazing Grace," "It is Well with My Soul," and "How Great Thou Art" make me all teary-eyed and goose-bumpy for God. One hymn in particular has been my favorite since adolescence: "Because He Lives" by Bill and Gloria Gaither. I am hooked from the first verse:

"God sent His son, they called Him Jesus;
He came to love, heal, and forgive.
He lived and died to buy my pardon,
An empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives!"

The chorus alone helps me get through whatever trials life throws my way.

"Because He lives, I can face tomorrow,
Because He lives, all fear is gone;
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living,
Just because He lives!"

By now, this poignant hymn has grabbed my heart, and it gives another squeeze during the second verse. I often sang it while rocking my own babes.

"How sweet to hold a newborn baby,
And feel the pride and joy he gives;
But greater still the calm assurance:
This child can face uncertain days because He lives!"

By the final verse, I'm breaking out the tissues:

"And then one day, I'll cross the river,
I'll fight life's final war with pain;
And then, as death gives way to vict'ry
I'll see the lights of glory and I'll know He lives!"

From birth to death and everything in between, this hymn reminds us we can endure it all "Because He Lives." No wonder it's my favorite!

Now it's YOUR turn. What hymn stirs your heart and soul? Help us sing to the Lord today by sharing your answer in the comment section below.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Weekend Peek In #15

Welcome to week 15 of my Share the Gift Double Kindle 3G Giveaway. I'll draw the winning name in just four weeks. Keep those entries coming, folks!

This week's reader's question is one I am asked often.

When can we expect a sequel to Delivery or any other books?

At a writers conference, Karen Kingsbury once told me she writes a novel in six weeks. What? At first, I thought I had misheard her. No! She explained that her books usually play like movies in her head, and she just writes them down.

Excuse me while I pick my chin up off the floor.

I'll admit that when I'm writing a scene, it often plays like a movie in my head; however, a scene flowing is far different than an entire story magically unfolding before me.

Unless God performs a miracle on me, I'll never churn out a novel in only six weeks, but I am hard at work on ideas for my next book. When can readers expect it? Since I'm not Karen Kingsbury, only God knows the answer.

But you can help! Please pray that God will put stories on my heart that readers will connect with and be touched by.

I would also love your input. What kind of novels do YOU like to read? What types of stories leave hand prints on YOUR heart? I'll be looking for your answers in the comment section below.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Weekend Peek In #14

Welcome to week 14 of my Share the Gift Double Kindle 3G Giveaway. I'll draw the winning name in just five weeks. Have you entered yet?

Now, for this week's reader's question:

What is your favorite verse?

Assuming this reader is referring to a Bible verse, I'm not sure I could isolate one as my favorite, but with Thanksgiving upon us, the scripture most on my mind is, "Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus" (1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18 NIV).

Sure, it's easy to be thankful for the blessings in my life. A warm home. Clean water. Plentiful food. Good health. Great friends. A loving family. And the list goes on.

But to give thanks in all circumstances--even during times of sorrow and suffering? Seriously, God, is this possible?

Even when my youngest son barely survived a fiery car crash?

When my eldest son suffered a brain hemorrhage requiring brain surgery?

When my eldest granddaughter narrowly escaped an apartment fire?

When my mom battles cancer after my grandmother, grandfather, father, father-in-law, and step-father-in-law lost that fight?

When my precious eight-year-old niece died after a double-lung transplant failed? Even then?

God's answer is yes, even then!

But how?

Am I to be thankful for car crashes, surgeries, devastation, illnesses, and death? No! God doesn't ask us to give thanks for all circumstances. He asks us to give thanks in all circumstances. Ah, there's the key!

In crushing circumstances, I learned some life-changing lessons. I learned to stop taking life for granted because each day, each hour, each minute is a gift. Every opportunity to spend time with loved ones is a blessing. We are never guaranteed another breath, and neither are those dear to us.

Through brokenness, I better grasped who God really is. Through suffering, I gained a new understanding of the sacrifice Christ made on that cross. Through heartbreak, I learned the truth of God's promise that if I turn to Him, He will carry me through situations I could never endure alone. More fully than ever, I realized that through Christ, death is merely the beginning of eternal life.

In short, these hardships and tragedies taught me to be thankful in all circumstances. And for that, I am . . . well, thankful.

Now, it's YOUR turn. What is your favorite Bible verse . . . and what are you thankful for? I'll be looking for your answers in the comment section below.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Weekend Peek In #13

Welcome to Week 13 of my Share the Gift Double Kindle 3G Giveaway. Only six weeks left until we find out who wins, but it's not too late to enter. Are you ready for this week's reader's question? I am!

What author/authors are your go-to when you are looking for something new to read?

Two of my favorite authors who work hard to bring new books to readers are Patti Lacy and Candace Calvert.

Imagine my excitement when I visited with these wonderful writers in person at the 2011 American Christian Fiction Writers conference.

Are you ready to be excited too? Both ladies are taking a short break from their busy writing schedules to pop in for a visit today--right here!

First, let's welcome Patti Lacy, a dear author friend who invited me to room with her at the ACFW conference and to dine with her and writer Britt Sanchez at a St. Louis cafe.

Patti, I adore you AND your talented, skillful writing. Please tell us about the driving force in your fiction.

Through my work, I try to fictionally depict Romans 8:28, God working for good in all things, even those that are dark, hidden, and scary. When brought to light by the love of Christ, all things can be made possible!

Thanks for letting me visit, Diana! It was great rooming with you in St. Louis!

Hanging out with you was one of the highlights of ACFW for me, Patti. You excel in depicting Romans 8:28 in your novels. That's one of many reasons I love your books so much. Thanks for dropping in today!

So what books has Patti written, and where does she get her unique story ideas?

Snippets of secrets, newspaper clippings, a teary, long-suppressed memory grab Patti Lacy's heart, then beg to be written. In An Irishwoman's Tale, Patti shared the story of a best friend, torn from her beloved Irish coast and dumped into a dysfunctional home in Lisle, Illinois.

What the Bayou Saw explores a blood oath made down by a Louisiana bayou on the day Kennedy was killed. A Chicago Tribune article about a mother's first...and ride with her baby compelled Patti to contact a Minnesota woman and pen her story in The Rhythm of Secrets, one of my favorite Patti Lacy books.

Patti's fourth book, Reclaiming Lily, explores the lives of two women from two cultures...and the child that divides them. Reclaiming Lily springboards off the memory of a brave Chinese doctor, determined to save her family. But from who...and what?

I recently finished reading Reclaiming Lily, and what a story of love, faith, and sacrifice it is! See a book trailer for this captivating novel, and learn more about Patti on her website here.

As Patti dashes off to write more novels, here comes another dear writer friend, Candace Calvert. She's the author of the page-turner Mercy Hospital series: Critical Care, Disaster Status, and Code Triage.

Candace, welcome to Weekend Peek In. I loved our visit at ACFW, and you know I'm a fan of your novels. Please tell us more about your writing.

Because I'm a former ER nurse, I like to think that my stories offer a "prescription for hope." And that readers who "scrub in" will find pulse-pounding action, charismatic characters, and warm romance. Think: Grey's Anatomy finds its soul!

Not only is action in your stories pulse-pounding, your handsome book covers are too. I'm so glad you dropped in today. I can't wait to read your next book--and to see its cover!

While Candace's book covers ARE terrific, the quality of her writing speaks for itself. In fact, Critical Care is a 2010 Carol Award finalist.

And Code Triage is currently on the ECPA BestSeller list with books written by the likes of Francine Rivers, Karen Kingsbury, and Jerry B. Jenkins!

If you start reading Candace's Mercy Hospital series now, you'll finish in time for her new Grace Medical series to debut in May. The first book, Trauma Plan, is set in San Antonio. Get your heart set on reading this one:

"Sidelined by injuries from a vicious assault, nurse chaplain Riley Hale is determined to return to ER duties. But how can she show she’s competent when the hospital won’t let her attempt even simple tasks? Determined to prove herself, Riley volunteers at a controversial urban free clinic despite her fears about the maverick doctor in charge.

Dr. Jack Travis defends his clinic like he’s commander of the Alamo. He’ll fight the community’s efforts to shut its doors, even if he must use Riley Hale’s influential family name to make it happen.

As Riley strives to regain her skills, Jack finds that she shares his compassion—and stirs his lonely heart. Riley senses that beneath Jack’s rough exterior is a man she can believe in. But when clinic protests escalate and questions surface about his past, Jack goes into battle mode, and Riley wonders if it’s dangerous to trust him with her heart."

Who can wait for May after reading THAT book description? To keep up with Grace Medical series progress, "scrub in" with Candace on her website here.

Like my novel Delivery, Patti and Candace's books can be downloaded on your ereader. Print editions are also available.

You could begin compiling your digital library with these fine novels if you win my Share the Gift Double Kindle 3G Giveaway. December 16, 2011, is coming soon. The winner could be YOU, so send your entry now!