Friday, July 1, 2011

Blitzing and Baking in the Oklahoma Sun

Happy July! I hope you’re all managing to stay reasonably cool, having at least some fun, and finding lots of great books to read. I could recommend a few… :) Keeping cool here in Oklahoma is a challenge - one too daunting for me at the moment, so I get around it by staying inside as much as possible. I'm pretty sure I can get adequate Vitamin D in a bottle...

I’ve just finished a huge promotion for Kylie’s Kiss (Book Two in the Solomon’s Gate Series). It was a one-day blog blitz, in which I visited 26 blogs in one day. My goal was to saturate the web with information about Kylie’s Kiss and the Solomon’s Gate Series. (That was June 27th, which was also my birthday. The blitz kept me so busy I didn’t have time to think about the swift passage of yet another year!) :). I wrote guest posts for some of the blogs and was interviewed on others. Gave away a couple of very nice gifts, and some books. If you missed the blitz and want to see what it was all about, you’ll find a list of my blog stops here.

The third Solomon’s Gate book, Gypsy’s Game, should release sometime around September. I’m eagerly anticipating the receipt of an actual release date. It shouldn’t be long before I hear something, and of course I’ll post that info for all of you. (Keep an eye on my blog and my Facebook reader page for announcements.)

While I wait for news about Gypsy's Game, I’m working on a couple of novellas and a novel that will use characters from both Yesterday’s Promise and Goldeneyes. Needless to say, I’m burning both ends of the candle trying to get it all done. Such fun!

I hope you enjoy the July/August edition of the Bookshelf. Content includes:

·         Spotlight author:  Anita Mellott, talking about her new non-fiction book, School is Where the Home Is

·         Devotion: Courtesy of Melissa K. Norris, who assures us that we are not alone
 
·         Book review: My personal take on Tender Touch by Tanya Stowe

·         Morning Rendezvous: Introduction to my newest book, a collection of devotions and inspirational musings from my heart to yours

·         Contest:  Announcing the winner from the last Bookshelf and introducing the new contest.

·         Something extra: A short story for your reading pleasure

I hope you enjoy the Bookshelf this time around. Feel free to leave comments on the articles you especially enjoy…or the ones you don’t, of course. Just remember to be kind – we can disagree, as long as we do it amicably. :)

Until next time…have a fun, fantastic, fabulous summer you’ll never forget!

Blessings,


Notes of Devotion: Melissa K. Norris



You Are Not Alone
Have you ever stood in a crowded room and felt completely alone? Have you ever sat in the car with your family and wondered why not one of them could see your pain?
These moments are far harder for me than the ones where I’m simply waiting for someone and I truly am by myself. No one wants to feel invisible. We all want to feel valued and loved.
You are never invisible to God. You might not always feel like He is there, but He is. Do you realize God has been with you from the moment you were conceived? Before you even drew your first breath, God was with you.
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart.” Jeremiah 1:5
Isn’t that amazing? Before you were born God set you apart to be His child.
There are times in life when we wonder if God loves us.
Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.” John 14:23-24
During the times when we doubt God’s love, we need to look at ourselves. Are we obeying the Bible? Are we doing as Jesus instructed us to?
If the answer is no, then we know what we need to do. It’s quite clear. If we obey God, He will be with us. And that obedience is not one of duty, it is one of love. If our hearts aren’t in the right place, we won’t want to do God’s work. He knows the difference.
In our struggles we feel alone, forsaken.
God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5
God doesn’t break promises. He does what he says. Always.
He set you apart before you were born. He makes His home with you. He will never leave you.
You are never alone with Jesus Christ as your Savior. Doesn’t that make you smile?

About Melissa:
Melissa K. Norris is an inspirational romance author. You can read the first page of her historical romance, Mercy Trail, at www.melissaknorris.com She loves to chat so “like” her author Facebook page and find her on Twitter. You can find God in everyday life at her group blog Faith, Friends, and Frappucinnos.

Author of Note: Anita Mellott

 
Welcome to The Bookshelf Newsletter, Anita. Please tell us a little about yourself, outside the realm of writing and publishing. Who is Anita Mellott, the gal next door?

First, thanks so much for having me, Delia.

I’m a wife and mom, who has good and not-so-good homeschooling days. Life errs on the crazy side with an ultra-energetic three-year-old who never stops from the time her feet hit the floor at 6 am, a teen and a mom whose memory isn’t as good as it used to be. I love classical music, reading, and eating mangoes!

Well, it sounds like you have a very full life, to say the least! :) Congratulations on your new devotional, which I understand releases August 1st. Tell us about it.

Thanks, Delia. School Is where the Home Is: 180 Devotions for Parents actually released on June 15 instead! That sort of took me by surprise.

Early release is a nice surprise! Tell us a little about your journey from original idea to publication of this book.

About five years ago, I felt prompted to start writing. I thought it a bit odd since I was working as a writer/editor with Habitat for Humanity International. The difference, though, was “write to encourage others.” I ignored the nudge, wondering what encouragement I had to offer. In the following year and a half, I lost my job of 13 years, and faced a high-risk pregnancy. That’s when I decided it was time to obey.

Since I homeschool and lead an encouragement group, I know that homeschooling can, at times be challenging. I wondered what it would be like to have a daily reminder of God’s presence with us as we homeschool—that’s what birthed this book.

I sent out 30 queries, and received 27 rejections, and three acceptances. To be honest, the contract from Judson Press sat on my desk for several weeks because I was afraid of signing it…What if the book didn’t sell? Was I really the one to write this book? Until a critique partner gently reminded me that God was in the journey. As far as I’m concerned, this book is a testimony to God’s power to open a door no one can close.

If God is in it, it’s definitely right. What’s your favorite devotion from this book? Can you share it with us?

Wow…several are special to me, but here goes:

“Never Give Up!”

You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. (Hebrews 10:36)

On the first day of our homeschooling adventure, five-year-old Lisa and I walked toward our schoolroom, hand in hand. When she noticed something on the desk, she pulled away and ran ahead.

“Mama, Daddy wrote us letters,” she greeted me as I entered the room. Then she pushed her note into my hands. “What’s it say, Mama?”

I read it to her. As I ended with “never give up,” she chuckled.

Since then, Jim’s notes have been the highlight of every first school day. Without fail, the notes to Lisa end with “never give up.”

None of us ever imagined how special those words would become in our lives.

On the days when Lisa gets frustrated with schoolwork or struggles in an area of character development, I gently ask, “What would Daddy say?” Sometimes she rolls her eyes. Other times she smiles and says, “Never give up.” On the not-so-easy homeschool days when I wonder what I’m doing and if it’s worth it, I remember never to give up.

The year I felt God leading me to write again, rejection after rejection piled up. Every time I opened an envelope only to read, “We’re sorry. . . ,” doubts would cloud my mind. Am I supposed to be doing this? Did God lead me to write? But Lisa would come up to me, put her arms around me, and whisper, “Never give up, Mama.”

The Hebrew root from which the word perseverance comes means to remain steadfast despite obstacles. Never give up. Those words have become our whisper of hope in challenging times.

Digging deeper: What is your family’s whisper of hope?

Excerpted from School Is Where the Home Is by Anita Mellott, copyright © 2011 by Anita Mellott. Used by permission of Judson Press, www.judsonpress.com. 


I love it! Actually, my favorite inspiration quote from Og Mandino is, “Never, never, never, never, never, never, NEVER give up!” What one piece of writing advice has been most beneficial in developing your writing career?

“Just write.” If I don’t, I have nothing.

Great advice! I understand (from my peek at your website) that you have some serious and very painful health issues to deal with. How do you handle writing through the pain?

That’s a tough one, Delia. I ended up writing most of the book through pain—physical  because of health issues, and emotional, due to something that happened to our family. I didn’t want to write during that time, but I had a tight deadline. I experienced something wonderful though—when I am weak, then He is strong. That time sent me to my knees as never before, because I knew I was in no state to write. 

These days, I still deal with health issues and a treatment that leaves me fatigued. Though I don’t have as tight a deadline, I still have to push myself to write. The thought that God can use a flawed, broken vessel like me to write words of encouragement and hope, keeps me going.

That’s what keeps me going, as well. I love knowing that “when I am weak, then He is strong”! Do you have a favorite verse of scripture? If so, what makes it special to you?

I love Psalm 30: 5b, “…weeping may remain for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” It reminds me that storms and sunshine are part of life. Though there may be pain and sorrow, and though the night may sometimes be long…joy will come in the morning! (Because of Jesus and the hope He gives.) Hallelujah!

Wonderful scripture! Just for fun…if you could be gifted with your choice of one super power, what would it be?

To clean my house in a secondJ…just kidding. To remove pain from people’s lives.

Oooh! Great choice! Where can readers find your books? Do you have a website, blog, etc.?

Amazon, CBD, Barnes and Noble, Lifeway carry School Is Where the Home Is. For other books, feel free to stop by my website at www.anitamellott.com, where I also blog. 

Thank you for hanging out at My Book Bag, Anita! It’s been a pleasure chatting with you.

Thank you for having me.

About Anita:
A homeschooling mom since 2003, Anita Mellott lives its joys and challenges. With post-graduate degrees in Communications and Journalism, she worked as an editor with Habitat for Humanity International, headed the Department of Journalism at Mt. Carmel College, Bangalore, India, and did a stint in public relations and advertising. Her articles have appeared in various publications including Homeschool Enrichment, Novel Journey, Crosswalk.com, The Christian Post, and magazines in India. When she's not homeschooling, she blogs at From the Mango Tree: www.anitamellott.com.

Notes in Review: Tender Touch


Tender Touch offers a sweet love story as well as a thought-provoking look at the impact a divine gift might cause in the life of an ordinary person. Lacy Butler’s ability to heal feels like anything but a gift to the young girl, who uses every means at her disposal to pretend it doesn’t exist.

Royce Darnell’s appearance in Lacy’s reclusive world sets off a chain of events that will change the girl’s life and capsize Royce’s well-ordered, carefully planned existence. How can he make Lacy see God in her gift? How can he convince her the healing in her hands is, indeed, a gift—not a curse?

There’s not a single dull moment as Royce is caught up in desperate measures to save the mining town he loves, the people who live there…and the beautiful mountain girl who has captured his heart. When God reveals to him a solution to Harperville’s impending demise, Royce knows he must obey God’s gentle nudging, even though that obedience will almost certainly destroy any chance of a relationship with Lacy.

Tanya Stowe has created an absolutely believable world peopled with amazing, true-to-life characters who seem almost capable of walking off the page and into a reader’s life. She handles the existence of the spiritual gifts with bold faith, calm assurance, and a tender touch of her own. Lacy’s struggle to accept her ability as a gift God expects her to give back to Him by using it His way will undoubtedly raise a number of questions in the minds of readers who might never before have considered the possibility of divine gifts being bestowed upon mere human beings.

I loved this book, and can say in all honesty that it is one of the best I’ve read in the past year…and possibly longer. Stirring and thought-provoking, it also contains a sprinkle of humor and a dusting of fun. Truly inspired writing! I wholeheartedly recommend Tender Touch, and look forward to my next chance to enjoy the work of this talented author.

Notes on Writing: Lisa Lickel


A Writer Reads and Reviews
by Lisa Lickel

Part of being a writer means reading. A Lot. Put all that reading to good use – get your name out in the cyberworld when you write book reviews. How do you go about the task, you ask? Here are my best tips.

A good book review can be a few sentences of what you thought, or it can be more professional and include the following.

General information title, author, copyright date, ISBN, publisher and price. If you are putting this review on a personal site, you may want to include purchase links. If the author or publisher has not supplied them, you can go to an online retail site, look up the product and copy the code at the top of the screen.

The review is written in present tense throughout, except when referring to past events in the story. This is a reflection of your own writing, so make it clear, concise and use your best skills.

Start with a killer hook bottom line, what did the book do for you?

Short summary of the story often the back or inside sleeve contains a teaser, but this summary should reflect the fact that you have read the book and may have a few personal observations. If you like the book, you want to entice potential readers to buy it; if you didn’t like it, you can be neutral or matter of fact. The summary includes setting and plot and what happens without giving away the ending or major twists.

Comments regarding the quality of writing, style, flow, characters, appropriate research or believability, what kind of emotions it evoked from you. If you like the book, you can say so here, or let a ratings system reflect this. If you did not care for the book, you should say why. Remember, the author has put time into this work and unless entirely self-published, and also has relied on a publisher or editor to stamp the final product. The author doesn’t always have final control of everything about the book, sometimes including editing, cover and design.

Summary statement that may include a comment about who would like this book.

General, reasonable lengths for reviews run 250-500 words, but thats simply my suggestion.

So, write your review including the basic information, a summary, and comments that are meant to show the potential reader what kind of book you've read, and be honest in a helpful way.

Lisa Lickel – www.lisalickel.com; the Sunday Book Review at Reflections InHindsight.wordpress.com; Affictionado, Title Trakk, Revell and Thomas Nelson reviewer

Morning Rendezvous: Announcement


Have I told you about Morning Rendezvous? It's my newest book: a short collection of devotions and inspirational musings. I gathered them up from where I'd posted them all over the web and put them in a book - much easier to access! 

You'll find Morning Rendezvous on Amazon.com in both print and Kindle formats. It's also available on Createspace.com. Here's a blurb:

A short collection of devotions and random musings by Inspirational Romance Author Delia Latham. Within its pages is a heaping heartful of love, hope, faith, encouragement...even a bit of humor. Grab your Bible and a cup of something warm and soothing. Make yourself comfortable, and come on in. Prepare to be blessed...

 

Contest Notes

The drawing for this edition (July/August) of The Bookshelf will be held on the last day of August. Winner will be announced in the September/October 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.

The July/August winner will receive a copy of my self-published book of devotions and inspirational thoughts, Morning Rendezvous, and a $5 gift certificate to White Rose Publishing.



The May/June winner of Second-Chance Brides and Finally a Bride by Vickie McDonough is:

Ann Freier

CONGRATULATIONS,
Ann!

 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. Subscribe here. This 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.

Something Extra: Short Romance


New Girl in Town
 
by Delia Latham
© 2011

New town. New home. New job. And now a new church. All of the new in Taylor’s life was starting to get old.

A dozen or so steps led up to double oak doors under a stained glass cross. Pulling in a deep breath, she took the first step…and then the next. The story of her life for the past few weeks.

One hand on the massive pull handle, she lifted her chin, heaved the heavy door open, and slipped into a large foyer.

“Well, good morning!”

Taylor’s head snapped up in response to the pleasant greeting, and she swallowed hard. Church greeters should not look so sinfully delicious.

He wore a gray suit and a silver tie with some kind of geometric pattern that matched the teal shirt beneath it. Dark blond hair brushed his collar, glinting with gold lights where the sun’s rays caressed it through an overhead skylight. Warm hazel eyes crinkled at the corners when he gave her a welcoming smile.

He held out a hand, and she took it, shocked when the touch…well, shocked her. A little burst of electricity zipped from his hand to hers, and he laughed. “Sorry about that. I could blame it on my electric personality, but the truth is, this carpet and my shoes seem to create some kind of static. I’ve added a little spark to almost everyone I’ve touched this morning.” He narrowed his eyes. “You’re new, aren’t you? I know I would have remembered if I’d seen you before.”

“You haven’t.” She shook her head and managed a shy smile. “I’m new in town.”

“Well, I’d say this old town has just been improved upon.” His gaze drifted to her ringless left hand and he gave her a friendly wink, along with a bulletin he grabbed from a stack on a nearby table. He then offered a mocking bow and a grin. “I’m Everett, and it is my duty—and my pleasure—to make sure everyone feels welcome. Especially first-time visitors who are new in town.”

“Thank you.” Taylor chuckled, trying to keep up with his steady stream of conversation, obviously meant to put her at ease. And it was working. “I’m Taylor.”

He snapped his fingers and made a wry face. “You look like a Taylor.”

“I guess that’s good, since it is my name.”

Everett offered his elbow. “May I?”

She tucked her hand through his arm and he escorted her into the sanctuary.

“Where would you like to sit? Front, back…somewhere in between?”

“Closer to the back, please.” She drew a shaky breath. “Until I get my bearings.”

“You got it.” He led her to an empty pew and made sure she was comfortable. “Enjoy the service.”

He returned to his post, and Taylor gazed around the mid-sized room. Little groups of parishioners visited quietly as they waited for the service to start. Several made their way to where she sat and welcomed her.

By the time the pastor approached the pulpit and the praise team began singing a familiar worship song, she had begun to relax. Everett took a seat across the aisle and smiled when their eyes met, then he focused his attention on the service.

Afterward, she gathered her purse and Bible and looked up to find the handsome usher standing beside her. “Thank you for making me feel so welcome, Everett.” She smiled. “I always hate being the new person in the crowd, and feeling alone.”

“Alone?” He grinned. “Not while I’m around.” He walked with her through the mass of departing churchgoers. “I hope you’ll be back.”

“I will.”

He held the door open for her, but before she could walk outside, a woman’s voice rang out across the foyer. “Everett, will you be joining us today?”

“You know it!” He answered, then turned back to Taylor. “Several of us always have lunch down the street at the Corner CafĂ© on Sundays. I don’t suppose I could talk you into coming along?”

When she hesitated, he jostled her arm and gave her a lop-sided grin that revealed a single dimple in his right cheek. The jolt of electricity that traveled down her spine this time had nothing to do with Everett’s shoes. “Say yes.” He didn’t quite beg, but his eyes said he’d really like her to agree. “You’ll have a chance to meet a few of the ladies. Besides, I’d like to know you a little better myself. We might even find that the two of us have last names.”

“That’s the best idea I’ve heard all day.” Returning his smile, she took the arm he offered, and they walked down the steps together.

Twelve of them—Taylor counted. They seemed somehow less intimidating now. More like the pathway to a new beginning.