Thursday, March 3, 2011

2011…and Still No Jetson-esque Existence!

It’s hard to believe we’re living in 2011. Mind boggling, isn’t it? It doesn’t seem that long ago when 1999 seemed so far in the future. Remember the TV show, “Space 1999”? At the time it was filmed, 1999 seemed like such a distant time, and we were all sure we’d be flying our cars around like George Jetson by the time it arrived.

Well, our vehicles are still earthbound (though some people wing it a little too close to the ground…). Nineteen ninety-nine has come and gone, and another decade— plus—has passed. Our cars still don’t fold up into our briefcases. Nor do they fly, but time sure does!

Speaking of which…last time I posted a newsletter, I was anticipating the release of Destiny’s Dream, Book One in the Solomon’s Gate Series. I had to take a brief hiatus and get some other things accomplished, so October was the last newsletter you saw.

Since then, Destiny’s Dream has become a reality, and now I’m awaiting a release date for Book Two—Kylie’s Kiss. I’ve finished the third book, Gypsy’s Game, and submitted it to my editor. Of course, now I’ll have to do all the edits and rewrites…but that’s actually kind of fun. I enjoy the editing process. (In case you're curious, these books are available on Kindle and Nook, as well as in paperback.)


I've also released a children's picture book. Mine! is a fun, rhymed story about a little girl who falls face-first into her own selfishness and learns an important lesson about sharing...and about friendship. It's available at a number of online booksellers, including Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble.com, and, of course, through Vinspire Publishing. If you're in Bakersfield, California, check with Russo's Books. I believe they were planning to stock it.

I’m trying to decide what’s next. What is it about finishing a huge project that leaves one feeling at a loss?

On to the newsletter. I’m thrilled to offer some truly wonderful content this edition. Liz Johnson is our spotlight author. I’ve just finished her new book, Code of Justice. Good stuff! (See my review in this Bookshelf edition.) Trish Perry co-authored a new devotional book with four other authors. It released March 1st, and I’m honored and excited to bring one of those devotionals to Bookshelf readers. Do NOT miss this devotional...it's an amazing testimony to God's mysterious ways of answering prayer - and one woman's unbelievable ability to obey that gentle nudge from the Savior. Our writing tips come from Love Inspired author Winnie Griggs, and I know you’ll find something beneficial in her article on transitions.


I hope you enjoy this month’s edition of the Bookshelf Newsletter. I’m excited to be “back in the saddle.” I missed all of you! Be sure to leave your comments on the articles you particularly like…or don’t. It lets me know someone’s reading the newsletter, and makes all the hassles so much more worth it.

Many blessings to each of you!






Notes of Devotion: Trish Perry

Our devotion for this edition is taken from
Delight Yourself in the Lord...Even on Bad Hair Days, a March 1 release
from Summerside Press. A collection of devotions by: Sandra D. Bricker,
Kristin Billerbeck, Diann Hunt, Debby Mayne and Trish Perry,
it is available everywhere books are sold.

I’ll Be a Fool for You
by Trish Perry

“Fear of man will prove to be a snare,
but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.”
Proverbs 29:25

Several years ago, a friend of mine had just heard from her sister-in-law, Kerry, who was absolutely floored. She had been running errands when she stopped at a convenience store for a soda. As she walked in, she felt the profound presence of God and was certain she heard Him instruct her to go to the back of the store and stand on her head.

I’m not making this up. But, honestly, what would you have done? I’m not sure I’m coordinated enough to even attempt a headstand, let alone worry about how foolish I’d look.

This dear sister in Christ, though, fought the fear of what others would think, and in total trust of God’s will, did exactly as she felt she was divinely instructed. Within seconds, a female employee walked out of the store’s back room, took one look at Kerry, screamed, and started babbling nearly incoherently.

Kerry immediately righted herself and took the crying woman in hand. Apparently the employee, a borderline atheist, had given up on her lonely, difficult life. She was in the back room, crying and contemplating the worst. In the midst of her depression, she called out to God. She had never been able to accept His existence or believe He loved her, because the pain in her life seemed too bad to co-exist with a loving God. Still, in her desperation she shared her anger with Him.

“I’ll tell you what,” she cried, “I’ll believe you exist when I walk out of here and see someone standing on their head.” Then she walked out of the back room and into the Kingdom.

Now, if God put it in my head that there was someone contemplating suicide who would change her mind about Him and about life if I would only stand on my head in the middle of a convenience store, I’d surely put aside my fear of what others might think. I’d probably even recruit someone to help me get myself upside down. But to “hear” the instructions Kerry heard and obey without knowing why? I think I’d have to hear them like Charlton Heston heard the burning bush. I’d need to be very certain before I’d trust that what I “heard” was the Lord, before I’d set aside the possible embarrassment of misunderstanding. That’s the “fear of man” referred to in today’s verse.

Joshua marched around Jericho. Gideon dismissed all but 300 men before taking on the Midianite hordes. Jesus’ adoptive father, Joseph, married a girl his contemporaries might have stoned. How loudly would you need to hear His voice before it would drown out the judgment of your fellow man?

Today’s Prayer: Lord, help me to hear Your voice today and always. Help me to fear and trust You more than I fear what people will think because I obeyed You. Amen. —tp


About Trish:
Award-winning novelist Trish Perry has written eight inspirational romances for Harvest House Publishers, Summerside Press, and Barbour Publishing, as well as two devotionals for Summerside Press. She has served as a columnist and as a newsletter editor over the years, as well as a 1980s stockbroker and a board member of the Capital Christian Writers organization in Washington, D.C. She holds a degree in Psychology.
Trish’s latest novel, Unforgettable, releases in March, and Tea for Two releases in April. She invites you to visit her at http://www.trishperry.com/.

Author of Note: Liz Johnson

1. It’s a delight to have you as a guest on My Book Bag, Liz! I’m eager to get acquainted with Liz Johnson, author extraordinaire. :) But before we get started with that, my readers and I would like to know about you. Who is Liz Johnson, the gal next door?

Thanks so much for having me! It’s such an honor to be interviewed here. Well, I’m a pretty regular gal. I work full-time in marketing for a Christian publisher, spend time with my family and friends, and love to read. And somewhere in there, I try to find time to write down the stories that are forever swirling in my mind. I’m the youngest of three kids in my family and the aunt to five of the cutest kids ever.

2. I love authors who are "ordinary gals." Makes it so much easier to relate to them as a person, don't you think? I loved your debut novel, The Kidnapping of Kenzie Thorn, so I was excited to learn about your new release. Tell us about Code of Justice.

Code of Justice is a story of a sister’s love. FBI agent Heather Sloan—who works with Myles and Nate, the heroes from my first two books—is broken when her sister Kit dies in a helicopter crash, and Heather vows to figure out who’s responsible. Her love for her sister leaves Heather willing to risk her own life to find the killer. But that drive also risks her budding romance with sheriff’s deputy Jeremy Latham, who’s assigned to investigate the crash. Heather must discover if justice and mercy can go hand in hand.

3. What was your inspiration for this book? Is there a message you hope your readers will glean from the storyline?

I always planned to tell Heather’s story, and I was especially inspired by my own close relationship with my sister. And I hope that readers will walk away with a reminder that God is just and merciful to all.

4. Nothing quite compares to the love between sisters. Please share your favorite scene from Code of Justice.

My favorite scene from the book is one of the last ones, so I can’t tell you too much about it without giving away the ending. I will say that Heather comes to a moment when she must make the most important decision of her life. As I wrote it, Heather’s struggle felt so real to me—so true to the human condition.

5. What can we expect from you next?

My next book is a novella called A Star in the Night, which is part of A Log Cabin Christmas Collection, releasing from Barbour in September. It’s an historical romance set near Franklin, TN, at the end of the Civil War. All the stories in this collection are set in log cabins at Christmas-time, and I’m so excited to read all the stories in the collection. After that I’ll be working on more romantic suspense novels as well as a contemporary romance.

6. Those Barbour collections are so much fun! As a reader, do you have a favorite author? What three books are next in your TBR queue?

I have lots of favorite authors, including Jenny B. Jones, Meg Cabot, Francine Rivers, and more. Right now I’m reading Delirium by Lauren Oliver for a book club. Next up will be Head in the Clouds by Karen Witemeyer and Making Waves by Lorna Seilstad.

7. Who (what human being) has been the greatest influence on your life, and why?

Of course, my parents have both been hugely influential, showing me what it means to love and serve God daily. The person who has most influenced my writing has to be Kelly Blewett. Kelly and I worked together several years ago, and she’s the one who encouraged me to write The Kidnapping of Kenzie Thorn. She kept me accountable to keep working on my first book and encouraged me through every round of revisions. Good friends like Kelly helped me use my talents and brought out the best in me.

8. Do you have a favorite verse of scripture? If so, what makes it special?

Romans 5:5 has become one of my favorites. “And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” I think I love this verse so much because of the verses before it, which say that we rejoice in our sufferings because suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And that hope doesn’t disappoint us. What an amazing promise as we go through hard times.

9. What would readers be surprised to know about you?

I haven’t read more than half of the books on my shelves. I LOVE the look and smell of books, and I buy them all the time. But there’s never enough time to read them all.

10. What one piece of writing advice has most benefited you in your career?

A speaker at a writers conference once said that anything worth starting is worth starting poorly. He used an example of a cleaning company that was going under, until new management came in and reworked it. That company become Merry Maids, a wildly successful company. The point is that it was a good idea that just needed to be fixed. Stories are often the same way. It’s okay to start a story poorly. It can be fixed. The point is: start it.

11. That is excellent advice! Where can readers find your books? Do you have a website, blog, etc.?

My books are available on amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, cbd.com. During the month of March, Code of Justice will be available in stores including Wal-mart and many other retailers. I have links to locations where the books are for sale on my website at http://www.lizjohnsonbooks.com/, where I also blog about my misadventures in writing.

About Liz Johnson:

Liz Johnson grew up reading Christian fiction, and always dreamed of being part of the publishing industry. In 2006 she got her wish when she accepted a publicity position at a major trade book publisher. While working in the industry, she decided to pursue her other dream—becoming an author. Liz makes her home in Nashville , TN , where she enjoys theater, exploring the local music scene, and making frequent trips to Arizona to dote on her two nephews and three nieces.

Notes on Writing: Winnie Griggs



Getting From Here To There: Transitions
by Winnie Griggs

When writing your story, you don’t want to include a detailed account of every action taken by every character in your story, nor do you always want to tell the story linearly. Instead, a good writer will select those scenes that are not only of interest but that also progress the plot in some way. Which means, by necessity, gaps will occur: gaps in time, in movement from one location to another, in point of view, in scene focus.

Transitions are those small but oh-so-important words or phrases that help guide your reader across these story gaps smoothly and while still remaining grounded in your story. There are several techniques or devices that you can utilize to do this effectively. Some of them are:

The Direct Method or ‘Clean Break’- Simply tell the reader what change has taken place:

Early the following Monday, Michael... (Time change)

Once he reached the parking garage... (Location change)

Mood - Use feelings, emotions, atmosphere to help convey the change:

As Stan pulled out of the company garage onto the congested highway, his hands clutched the wheel in a death grip and the cords in his neck tightened. It would take forever to get out of this tangle of traffic...
Once the city was behind him, however, the tension drained away and he breezed down the open road that led to his summer cabin. (Time and Location change)

The Five Senses - Use sound, sight, touch, taste and/or smell to bridge a story gap:

Margie hummed as she applied an extra spray of her favorite cologne, enjoying the light floral scent.
Andy’s nose started to twitch before Margie even entered the room. Why did she insist on using that nasty flowery perfume that always made him sneeze?
(POV change)

Cassie heard a distant grumble of thunder off to the east as she closed her book. Maybe Allan was finally getting some of that rain he’d been hoping for.
Allan squinted through the windshield, looking for a safe place to pull over and wait out the violent storm. This wasn’t what he’d had in mind when he’d prayed for a ‘bit of rain’.
(POV and location change)

An Event - Use an ongoing, recent or anticipated event to unify your scenes:

Hesitating for only a heartbeat, Lynda dropped the letter into the mail slot, determined to make the first move toward reconciliation. When a week passed without a response, however, she began to wonder if contacting her grandfather had been such a wise move after all. (Time change)

The near-crash triggered a memory, one she’d rather not dwell on. But there it was, full blown and swooshing in like an avalanche. That other crash had happened six years ago. Her mom was driving her and her friends to the airport... (Time change - flashback)

A Character (whether human or otherwise) - Use the mention of a character to guide us through a story shift:

Stacey pulled into her driveway on Friday afternoon, wondering how she’d let her sister talk her into dog-sitting their troublesome mutt for the weekend. She really wasn’t big into the whole pet scene.
But by Sunday evening, Rufus had wormed his shaggy way right into her heart.
(Time change)


An Object - Use an object or activity to move from one scene to another without jarring the reader:

Roger halted mid-sentence as a baseball came crashing through the window. Blast it all, he’d told Jimmy not to play ball in the yard.
He picked up the ball and marched to the door. Jimmy was going to pay to fix this, even if it meant he had to mow every yard in town to do it.
(Change in scene focus)

The Environment- Use weather, terrain, scenery, seasons to depict change:

The autumn seemed long that year. Perhaps it was because she was so homesick for the Ozarks, where nature painted the mountainsides with magnificent blazes of color. Winter was easier, and by spring, the Texas gulf coast was beginning to feel, if not like home, at least less alien to her. (Time change - extended period)

These are just a sampling. There are, of course, other ways to handle transitions. Just keep in mind - your main goal in using transitions is to keep your reader grounded and oriented in the who, what, where, and when of your story without their having to reread passages to figure it out.


About Winnie:
Winnie Griggs is a multi-published romance author who currently writes for Harlequin’s Love Inspired and Love Inspired Historical lines. In addition to her March release, The Proper Wife, Winnie will have two additional books hit the shelves in 2011, Second Chance Family in July and Home for Thanksgiving, a novella in the Once Upon a Thanksgiving anthology in October. Readers can learn more about Winnie and her books at www.winniegriggs.com or connect with her on Facebook.


Note from Delia: Watch for my interview with Winnie on My Book Bag, on Monday, March 7.

Notes in Review: Code of Justice


Special Agent Heather Sloan’s sister is killed in a helicopter crash that leaves Heather injured but alive. Kit manages to tell Heather to “follow the drugs” before she dies, which raises an alert in Heather’s mind. When investigation proves the copter was sabotaged, she’s determined to see justice for her sister’s death.

Heather sets out to track down Kit’s killer, along with Sheriff’s Deputy Jeremy Latham. But despite their best efforts, the two of them continue to come up against dead ends. And someone wants Heather as dead as her sister, so Jeremy finds himself in the position of protecting the feisty but incapacitated FBI agent while guarding his own heart and a guilty secret from his past.

With just enough clues to leave them clueless, emotions run high, and Heather and Jeremy find themselves at counterpoints—even as they deal with an undeniable attraction to each other. Heather decides on a dangerous course of action to draw out the murderer. Meanwhile, Jeremy discovers the killers identity, and must take desperate action to save Heather from a killer who’s closer than she realizes.

Code of Justice is a riveting read. The message of God’s ultimate control over every situation is woven seamlessly into the fabric of the story, and never feels preachy or overdone. The author knows how to create a three-dimensional character, and does so with amazing skill in this romantic suspense. The hero and heroine make no claims to perfection, but possess massive amounts of heart and humanity. A gripping story, well told.

Contest Notes


The drawing for this edition of The Bookshelf will be held on the last day of April. Winner will be announced in the May/June edition of The Bookshelf. I will also contact the winner via e-mail. If I do not receive a response, and a mailing address, by the time I post the next edition of The Bookshelf, the winner will have forfeited their prize.

No winner was announced after the October/November edition, so I’m carrying that same contest over to this edition.

The March/April winner will receive Valeria’s Cross by Kathi Macias & Susan Wales, AND a $10 e-gift certificate to White Rose Publishing.



(Click on the cover to read my review of this book)

Note: You don’t need to “do” anything to enter the newsletter drawing each month. If you are subscribed to The Bookshelf, you will be automatically entered. Here’s how to subscribe: Use the icon on my website’s Home page (or the link in the navigation bar), which will put you on my e-mailing list. You will then receive an e-mail link every other month when the newsletter posts, as well as occasional updates or announcements between posts.

Note: The books given away in these drawings are in excellent condition, but most have been read once for review purposes. Some may be Advance Reader Copies, sent to me for review before their final edit, so you might come across typos or formatting errors, and the covers may be different than those shown. They are handled carefully and you will receive them in great condition.