Thursday, November 29, 2007

Authentic Parenting

One of the questions author Mary DeMuth (Authentic Parenting in a Postmodern Culture) gets asked in radio interviews is this: What can a parent do to help kids filter their media intake? Her answer: Strategically engage. The following is five ways to help re-engage your kids in a media-saturated culture.

Bio: Mary E. DeMuth loves to help folks turn their trials into triumphs. Her books include Ordinary Mom, Extraordinary God (Harvest House, 2005), Building the Christian Family You Never Had (WaterBrook, 2006), Watching the Tree Limbs, Wishing on Dandelions (NavPress, 2006), and Authentic Parenting in a Postmodern Culture (Harvest House 2007). A mother of three, Mary lives with her husband Patrick and their three children in Texas. They recently returned from Southern France where they planted a church. Learn more at http://www.marydemuth.com/

Five Ways to Engage Disengaged Kids
By Mary E. DeMuth

In a world of Halo, iphones, and IM, how do parents strategically engage their tuned-out kids? How can we create the kinds of homes that are irresistible to our children, enticing enough to make them tune out from games, media and texting and tune in to the rhythms of family life? Five ways.

One: Offer ‘em Something Better

The most enticing thing to a kid is community—real, authentic, God-breathed community. To create this, learn to do the following:

Say you’re sorry when you’re wrong and ask forgiveness.
Strive to become the person you want your child to become. Practice reconciliation, open communication, and serving each other.
Listen, really listen to your kids. Give them eye-time. Don’t uh-huh their concerns, but strive to ask great questions to draw them out. Be willing to share your own struggles with your kids.
Plan meal times together. And when you do, talk! One way to foster great communication is to have questions already prepared.

For a sample, click here: http://www.marydemuth.com/files/Qsample.pdf. To purchase all 150, click here: http://www.marydemuth.com/store.php. To win them, click here: http://relevantblog.blogspot.com/2008/01/win-150-conversation-starters.html

Have an unplug day—no phones, TV, gaming systems, and return to old fashioned board games, taking walks outside, and reading together.
Resist DVDs in the minivan. Try books on tape instead—a wonderful way to engage your child’s mind. Discuss the book afterward.
Welcome others into your home. Be the house all the kids want to congregate in.

Two: If You Can’t Beat ‘em, Join ‘em

Our kids will see movies; they will watch TV shows. Instead of always pushing against that, sit down next to your child and watch shows and movies together. Then use the time afterwards to discuss these questions:

What is the worldview of this movie?
What kind of person is the main character? Is she someone you want to be like?
What lies does this movie perpetuate?
What does this show say about materialism?
What part of this movie showed God’s love?

Strategically engaging alongside our kids in the very thing we’re leery of does two things: It shows our kids we are willing to sacrifice our own desires to spend time with them. And it helps prepare them to better discern the movies and media they watch.

Three: Explore Different Ways to Celebrate Sabbath

Taking time away from the crazy rush-rush of a media saturated world is a counter-cultural move your family can take. Choose a day or afternoon for rest. Limit media that day. Choose to engage in artistic, creative endeavors together:

If a child loves music, encourage him to write a song or create an unusual soundtrack.
Supply kids with all sorts of visual arts tools: paint, brushes, magazines, pens, glue, and let them create. If you need focus, think of five families or friends who need to be encouraged, then create cards for each one.
Let your kids have free reign of the video camera. Encourage them to make a movie. Then watch it together as a family, complete with popcorn.
Pull out that karaoke machine.
Read together.
Do a puzzle or play board games.

Four: Go Outside

We are a disconnected culture, defining ourselves by the great indoors and cyberworlds. To combat that in your family, dare to open the front door and walk on out. Take strolls with your kids. Find a local park or wilderness preserve to poke around in. Hike together. Feed the ducks. Launch rockets. Play Frisbee. Kick the ball around. Ride bikes. Pick up garbage along the road. Skateboard. Make going outside as much of a habit as going outside.

Five: Focus Outward

Computers and movies and TV and phones focus us inward. Instead, seek to find ways to focus your family outward toward the needs of the world. Sponsor a child in a third world country. Go on a mission trip as a family and take a year together to plan it. Find a cause to support—like digging wells in Africa or alleviating AIDS. Volunteer at a nursing home. Muddying our feet and hands in the real needs of the world gives kids a greater picture of the world and pulls them away from the artificial, often narcissistic world they live in.

It is possible to re-engage your disengaged child. It takes effort, creativity and pluck, but it can be done. The reward? A rejuvenated, connected relationship with your child that no gadget can compare to.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing
AURALIA'S COLORS (WaterBrook Press September 4, 2007) byJeffrey Overstreet

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Jeffrey Overstreet lives in two worlds. By day, he writes about movies at LookingCloser.org and in notable publications like Christianity Today, Paste, and Image.His adventures in cinema are chronicled in his book Through a Screen Darkly. By night, he composes new stories found in fictional worlds of his own. Living in Shoreline, Washington, with his wife, Anne, a poet, he is a senior staff writer for Response Magazine at Seattle Pacific University.Auralia’s Colors is his first novel. He is now hard at work on many new stories, including three more strands of The Auralia Thread.
ABOUT THE BOOK:
As a baby, she was found in a footprint.As a girl, she was raised by thieves in a wilderness where savages lurk.As a young woman, she will risk her life to save the world with the only secret she knows.When thieves find an abandoned child lying in a monster’s footprint, they have no idea that their wilderness discovery will change the course of history.Cloaked in mystery, Auralia grows up among criminals outside the walls of House Abascar, where vicious beastmen lurk in shadow. There, she discovers an unsettling–and forbidden–talent for crafting colors that enchant all who behold them, including Abascar’s hard-hearted king, an exiled wizard, and a prince who keeps dangerous secrets.Auralia’s gift opens doors from the palace to the dungeons, setting the stage for violent and miraculous change in the great houses of the Expanse.Auralia’s Colors weaves literary fantasy together with poetic prose, a suspenseful plot, adrenaline-rush action, and unpredictable characters sure to enthrall ambitious imaginations.Visit the Website especially created for the book, Auralia's Colors. On the site, you can read the first chapter and listen to jeffrey's introduction of the book, plus a lit more!

PRAISE

"Film critic and author Overstreet (Through a Screen Darkly) offers a powerful myth for his first foray into fiction. Overstreet’s writing is precise and beautiful, and the story is masterfully told. Readers will be hungry for the next installment."--Publishers Weekly

“Through word, image, and color Jeffrey Overstreet has crafted a work of art. From first to final page this original fantasy is sure to draw readers in. Auralia's Colors sparkles.”-–Janet Lee Carey, award-winning author of The Beast ofNoor and Dragon's Keep

“Jeffrey Overstreet’s first fantasy, Auralia’s Colors, and its heroine’s cloak of wonders take their power from a vision of art that is auroral, looking to the return of beauty, and that intends to restore spirit and and mystery to the world. The book achieves its ends by the creation of a rich, complex universe and a series of dramatic, explosive events.”-–Marly Youmans, author of Ingledove and TheCurse of the Raven Mocker

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing THE YADA YADA PRAYER GROUP GETS DECKED OUT Thomas Nelson (October 2, 2007) by Neta Jackson

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Neta Jackson Neta Jackson's award-winning Yada books have sold more than 350,000 copies and are spawning prayer groups across the country. She and her husband, Dave, are also an award-winning husband/wife writing team, best known for the Trailblazer Books--a 40-volume series of historical fiction about great Christian heroes with 1.8 million in sales--and Hero Tales: A Family Treasury of True Stories from the Lives of Christian Heroes (vols 1-4). Dave and Neta live in Evanston, Illinois, where for twenty-seven years they were part of Reba Place Church, a Christian church community. They are now members of the Chicago Tabernacle, a multi-racial congregation that is a daughter church of the well-known Brooklyn Tabernacle.ABOUT THE BOOK:Turkey dinners, tree trimming, and decking the halls--it's that time of year again! And I Jodi Baxter, can't wait to celebrate. My kids are coming home for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and then all of us Yadas are getting decked out for a big New Year's party.But God's idea of "decked out" might just change the nature of our party plans. A perplexing encounter with a former student, a crime that literally knocks me off my feet, a hurry-up wedding, and a child who will forever change our family...it's times like these that I really need my prayer sisters.This holiday season, we Yada Yadas are learning that no one can out celebrate God. So let's get this party started!

THE YADA YADA PRAYER GROUP GETS DECKED OUT is a festive novella featuring America's favorite prayer group, the Yada Yadas!Sometimes dubbed "chick-lit" for their bright covers and catchy titles, this series provides far more depth than witty banter and wacky situations. Inspired by a prayer group of real women, each book will have you laughing, crying, and perhaps praying anew.In this highly anticipated installment, the Yada Yada sisters-a group of multi-cultural friends-and their families prepare for the event of the season.But yes, eager readers, this novella—which picks up a year and a half after the end of book #6 The Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Rolling concludes the series with some twists and turns that will amaze and encourage you. Plus, it sets the stage for Neta’s new series with new characters and new situations but also occasional roles for the beloved Yada Yada sisters in familiar Chicago neighborhoods with all their cultural richness.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing TRY DYING (Center Street October 24, 2007) by James Scott Bell

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
James Scott Bell is a former trial lawyer who now writes full time. He is also the fiction columnist for Writers Digest magazine and adjunct professor of writing at Pepperdine University.His book on writing, Plot and Structure is one of the most popular writing books available today. The national bestselling author of several novels of suspense, he grew up and still lives in Los Angeles, where he is at work on his next Buchanan thriller.

ABOUT THE BOOK:
On a wet Tuesday morning in December, Ernesto Bonilla, twenty-eight, shot his twenty-three-year-old wife, Alejandra, in the backyard of their West 45th Street home in South Los Angeles. As Alejandra lay bleeding to death, Ernesto drove their Ford Explorer to the westbound Century Freeway connector where it crossed over the Harbor Freeway and pulled to a stop on the shoulder.Bonilla stepped around the back of the SUV, ignoring the rain and the afternoon drivers on their way to LAX and the west side, placed the barrel of his .38 caliber pistol into his mouth, and fired.His body fell over the shoulder and plunged one hundred feet, hitting the roof of a Toyota Camry heading northbound on the harbor Freeway. The impact crushed the roof of the Camry. The driver, Jacqueline Dwyer, twenty-seven, an elementary schoolteacher from Reseda, died at the scene.This would have been simply another dark and strange coincidence, the sort of thing that shows up for a two-minute report on the local news--with live remote from the scene--and maybe gets a follow-up the next day. Eventually the story would go away, fading from the city's collective memory.But this story did not go away. Not for me. Because Jacqueline Dwyer was the woman I was going to marry. In Try Dying, this fast-paced thriller, lawyer Ty Buchanan must enter a world of evil to uncover the cause of his fiancee's death--even if he has to kill for the truth.

"Bell is one of the best writers out there...he creates characters readers care about...a story worth telling."~Library Review~

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Letter to an Editor

Recently a friend offered to write a review of my novel, One Smooth Stone, for a local Christian newspaper. They replied that they don't review "local authors." Since I've been regularly published in that paper, I thought that strange and asked why.
This is the reply the editor sent -

"When it comes to book and music reviews we try to choose the major releases, the cream of the crop if you will. If that’s a local band or author we’d consider it. One of the reasons is we are read online by people around the world. We only include one fiction release per issue, if any. That’s just 6 a year. I’m sure you can appreciate we get tons of books sent our way looking for a review. We have tended to choose books by people such as Frank Perretti, Davis Bunn, Anne Rice and Ted Dekker for two reasons: they have crossover appeal (i.e. of interest to non-Christians and sold in secular bookstores as well as Christian ones) and they are supposedly the very best writers. I know w that’s not always the case, and you are an award winning author, but that’s the way we’ve gone up till now (I see this as God’s paper and that’s how I feel led). Perhaps one day we’ll review one of your books, you never know. I certainly pray it does well."


And this is my reply to that editor -

Thanks for getting back to me with your explanation. It's an argument we Canadian writers hear a lot but I was quite surprised to hear it from you. You have been helpful in publicizing Inscribe in the past and seemed enthusiastic about helping to encourage the writers in this province and across the country. I have appreciated the opportunity to publish my column in your paper on a regular basis, knowing it is reaching many people with the hope of God's grace and mercy. That's why I have trouble understanding your reasoning about not reviewing books by "local" authors.

Frankly it's extremely frustrating - both to me and to my fellow Canadian authors who have won awards, been on T.V. and radio across the country, yet continually hear that we are "nobodies" and therefore not worthy of notice.

Yes, the argument that, "we go with the top names," is a common one. My response is, the "top names" do not live in this country. The "top names" do not minister in our communities and speak to the hearts of Canadians in a way only Canadians can. And the "top names" certainly don't need the exposure - their books are already being stocked by Walmart and Cosco.

I understand that you can cover only a minimal number of books in the paper and that many want the visibility. But I ask, why do you focus on books from the US when there is a burgeoning and exciting Canadian publishing industry growing in our own country? You said - "We have tended to choose books by people such as Frank Perretti, Davis Bunn, Anne Rice and Ted Dekker (because) they have crossover appeal" But those names would be no more familiar to unbelievers that names like Deborah Gyapong or Paul Boge or Nancy Lindquist - all award-winning Canadian authors whose books are, in my opinion, equal to or better than the names you mentioned.

You also mentioned that you have online readers from around the world. What about your Canadian readers in Alberta and Saskatchewan? Do they not deserve to know that God is doing a tremendous work in the Canadian Christian publishing industry by raising up authors of faith who are following God's call?

You said, "Perhaps one day we’ll review one of your books." Will that be when I become known in the United States? Why is that the criteria? Why is it that it is assumed that top selling American writers are the only authors who are being used by God to touch lives? I have a large file of reader responses that say otherwise. Why is it that just because a writer becomes well known within the Christian book industry in the US it is assumed God is blessing his/her work more than that of a writer who does not have that kind of notoriety? If I read my Bible correctly, God doesn't seem to see it that way.

The Canadian authors and publishers I know are committed to community - our own community - the towns, the provinces, the country where we live. We are doing what we can to help expand God's kingdom in those places. So it is very frustrating when people who are in a position to help that happen refuse to do so.

So, I have a suggestion - if you will not review our books, why not do a feature on Canadian authors? (I'd be happy to write it for you). Maybe some of those readers from around the world will even begin to see that God is at work in Canada, through little known writers who are trying to be obedient to Him and thereby make a difference for His kingdom.

Respectfully,
Marcia Laycock

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Deadfall by Robert Liparulo

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing DEADFALL (Thomas Nelson November 6, 2007) by Robert Liparulo

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:Robert is an award-winning author of over a thousand published articles and short stories. He is currently a contributing editor for New Man magazine. His work has appeared in Reader's Digest, Travel & Leisure, Modern Bride, Consumers Digest, Chief Executive, and The Arizona Daily Star, among other publications. In addition, he previously worked as a celebrity journalist, interviewing Stephen King, Tom Clancy, Charlton Heston, and others for magazines such as Rocky Road, Preview, and L.A. Weekly.
Robert is an avid scuba diver, swimmer, reader, traveler, and a law enforcement and military enthusiast. He lives in Colorado with his wife and four children.
Robert's first novel painted a scenario so frighteningly real that six Hollywood producers were bidding on movie rights before the novel was completed. His acclaimed debut novel, Comes A Horseman, is being made into a major motion picture by producer Mace Neufeld and his short story "Kill Zone" was featured in the anthology Thriller, edited by James Patterson.
Bob has sold the film rights to his second book, GERM. And he is writing the screenplay for a yet-to-be-written political thriller, which sold to Phoenix Pictures, for Andrew Davis (The Fugitive, The Guardian) to direct!
He is currently working on his fourth novel.

ABOUT THE BOOK:
Deep in the isolated Northwest Territories, four friends are on the trip of a lifetime. Dropped by helicopter into the Canadian wilderness, Hutch, Terry, Phil, and David are looking to escape the events of a tumultuous year for two weeks of hunting, fishing, and camping.
Armes with only a bow and arrow and the basics for survival, they've chosen a place far from civilization, a retreat from their turbulent lives. But they quickly discover that another group has targeted the remote region and the secluded hamlet of Fiddler Falls for a more menacing purpose: to field test the ultimate weapon.
With more than a week before the helicopter rendezvous and no satellite phone, Hutch, a skilled bow-hunter and outdoor-survivalist must help his friend elude their seemingly inescapable foes, as well as decide whether to run for their lives...or risk everything to help the townspeople who are being held hostage and terrorized.
An intense novel of character forged in the midst of struggle, survival, and sacrifice. Deadfall is highly-aclaimed author Robert Liparulo's latest rivetingly smart thriller.
Get Downloads and EXCERPTS at www.LIPARULO.com

"DEADFALL is drop-dead great!"-In The Library Reviews
"What if Mad Max, Rambo, and the Wild Bunch showed up-all packing Star Wars type weapons? You'd have Robert Liparulo's thrilling new adventure Deadfall."-Katherine Neville, best selling author of The Eight"A brilliantly crafted thriller with flawless execution. I loved it!"-Michael Palmer, best selling author of The Fifth Vial
"In Deadfall, Robert Liparulo gives us a fresh fast paced novel that instills a well founded fear of the villians and an admiration for the people who refuse to be victims. It truly deserves the name thriller.-Thomas Perry, best selling author of The Butcher's Boy and Silence
"Another brilliantly conceived premise from Robert Liparulo. Deadfall will leave you looking over your shoulder and begging for more."-DAve Dun, best selling author of The Black Silent
A NOTE from Bob: I’d like to give away five signed copies of Deadfall to readers of CFBA blogs during my tour. All they have to do is sign up for my e-mailing list (they won’t be inundated!) by going to my website (www.robertliparulo.com) and going to the “Mailing List” page. Or email me with “CFBA giveaway” in the subject line.
And a second NOTE from Bob: I wanted to let you know that I’m holding a contest on my site:
**one winner a week till the end of the year for a signed Deadfall**one winner a week till the end of the year for an unabridged audio MP3-CD of Deadfall***and on Dec. 31, I’m giving away an iPod Nano, pre-loaded with an unabridged audio recording of Deadfall
Winners are selected from my e-mailing list—sign up at my site. If a winner has already purchased what he/she wins, I will reimburse them for the purchase price (or give them another—whichever they choose), so they don’t need to wait to see if they win before buying Deadfall.