Monday, November 30, 2009

More Blog Tour Sites

More bloggers participating in the Christmas Blog Tour went "live" today, posting reviews and interviews about The Unfinished Gift. I've been told different ones will be posting at different times throughout the week.

Thought I'd list of some of them, in case anyone is curious about what others are saying. It has been extremely satisfying and, at times humbling, for me to read how the book is affecting people.

Click here to read Buuklvr81's blog (you'll have to scroll down a bit).

Click here
to read Booking Mama's blog.

Click here for Thoughts of a Sojourner's blog.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Blog Tour Begins

A month ago, I posted about an upcoming blog tour for the book. Well, it begins today and runs all this week. I don't know all of the sites participating (over 100 were invited), but a number of them have contacted me over the last 2 weeks for interviews and such. As I become aware of them I'll post them here, in case anyone wants to look them over.

The first one is already up, called "My Scrappy Life" by Kaylea Hutson. Kaylea wrote an excellent interview, then a review of the book, and even a preview of The Homecoming (including the cover).

Click here to check it out.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

New Cover for New Book

My 2nd novel, The Homecoming, is due out June 1st. In almost every bit of feedback I've received for The Unfinished Gift, people end up saying, "Can't wait for the sequel!" That could be folks just being polite, but I'm hoping it's more than that.

Well, plans for The Homecoming just got a little more solid this week. My publisher, Revell, sent me the final artwork for the cover. Click on the pic to see it better. I really like it. It borrows enough from the first book to tie them together but has brand new colors and graphics.

Just as the graphics for The Unfinished Gift hinted at the story inside, they've done the same with this cover. The antique watch and old train ticket point to a significant part of the story, which takes place on a train transporting a USO War Bond tour in 1944. 'Nuff said, for now.

The Homecoming is actually already available for pre-order on Amazon.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

New 3-Book Deal!

Two years ago, we were in Texas visiting family around Thanksgiving when my agent called me saying my first book was sold. It was such an exciting moment, to know I would actually be published. Well, we are now in Texas again, visiting family around Thanksgiving, and on Friday I received another call from my agent. This time saying, Revell is offering me a contract to write 3 more books for them!

Thank you Lord for such a wonderful blessing, to be allowed to keep doing something I love to do and to actually be paid to do it.

This contract actually brings the count to 5 books. In between The Unfinished Gift and this new contract, Revell bought my 2nd book, due out this June, called The Homecoming. With this new contract, I'll be writing for them through the spring of 2012.

Here's how the contract looks. They are buying my 3rd book, already finished, called The Deepest Waters. And buying my 4th book, another Christmas novel tentively titled The Book Nook (only 20% complete). And buying a 5th stand-alone novel I haven't even started (we haven't even talked about a possible storyline yet).

It's very humbling to consider the confidence they have to make such an offer. Only God could have made such a thing possible. My confidence is that He will continue to help me in the future as He has helped me in the past, as He is helping me even now.

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Idiot's Joy - A Reflection

As I was, yet again, wrestling with a certain anxiety in my life (a brand new one), I pondered the question: Why is it so easy for me to worry? I have now over 35 years of history with God, where I’ve gotten into one kind of trouble after another, only to find He has faithfully delivered me out of them all. This is what the Word says He will do, and it is what He has done so many times in my life. Yet a new uncertainty presents itself, a new dilemma with no quick solution, and I slip into the well-worn rut I’ve slipped into, lo these many years, and worry once more.

In this latest round, I found myself reading Psalm 40 in my quiet time and paused as I read verses 4-5:

“Blessed is the man who makes the LORD his trust, who does not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after a lie! You have multiplied, O LORD my God, your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us; none can compare with you! I will proclaim and tell of them, yet they are more than can be told.”

I realized my happiest times are not really when my circumstances are all to my liking, but when I am trusting in God, regardless of my circumstances. There is one level of joy when things are going my way (and I do enjoy these rare moments), but it’s an even greater level of joy to have joy when you have no idea what’s going on…and you don’t care in the least, because you know you are loved and cared for by God. To be free of worry and care in those moments―because you have made the Lord your trust and because you know He is worthy of that trust―this is a far greater joy.

Why? Because joy that comes from faith and that certain, quiet trust in the Lord cannot be moved. It flows from faith not from sight. It transcends circumstantial joy, flies far above it. And because it does, shifting circumstances have no power to bring it down. Now to the unbelieving eye, it appears to be the joy of an imbecile. Only an idiot laughs when his life is in shambles. But even if this were so, should we not envy the idiot who could know such joy? Would not such joy be preferable to the misery of dwelling on the harsh realities of life?

But as it turns out, this is not the idiot’s joy. There is a God in heaven. He beckons us to deliberately look away from our troubles and contemplate His perspective. David sees this and says what we need to consider. He says the God of Heaven has multiplied His thoughts toward us. He says, “I will proclaim and tell of them, yet they are more than can be told.”

Charles Spurgeon, my favorite theologian living or dead, said this about this text: “Could we see all the mercies of God to us and His wonderful work wrought for us individually, they would be countless as the sands, and all these countless mercies represent countless thoughts in the mind and heart of God to each one of his people.”

Is this not the rut for me? The reason I slip so easily into worry? I imagine in my mind that God has forgotten about me. That He is not thinking about me now. How could He be? If He were, this situation would never have happened. Once these thoughts settle in, it follows that I must fix the situation somehow; it’s all up to me. My mind, independent of faith and trust, kicks into gear. Worry flows from fear, the fear that I am alone. Since I am alone, I must fend for myself.

Then God’s Spirit gently interrupts my drift with the astounding truth of God’s Word. God has not stopped thinking about me for a moment. Not a single moment. Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust…who does not go astray after a lie! What lie? That I am alone, that God has forgotten about me. And what is the truth? His thoughts toward me (about me) are more numerous than can be counted. He has, perhaps, dozens of thoughts regarding the very situation that perplexes me now. A plan, God’s plan, is underway, even as we speak. And the end result of this plan, when fully unfolded, will be to the praise of His glory. And I will approve of it, every single part. The knowledge of these things gives me all the reason I need to let go of my worries now, and let the joy of the Lord renew my strength.

Is this the idiot’s joy? Then so be it. But I have 35 years of stories just like this. And they all tell me that God is behind it all.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A Remarkable Week

This has been quite a week.

I spent Tuesday interacting with the writers and readers on the Seekersville Blog. So far, my most rewarding interview experience. Chatting with about 50 people off and on all day. On Wednesday, we taped the radio interview for "Family Today with Beth Warden." Beth said she'll be replaying it over 5 days in early December. Her show reaches 4 million listeners in Canada. A really nice lady.

On Thursday and Friday I began responding to interview emails from a number of bloggers participating in Revell's Christmas Blog Tour. They'll be promoting The Unfinished Gift the week after Thanksgiving. Some will post interviews, some will review the book and some will reprint the first chapter. I have no idea what to expect, but I'm humbled by all this activity done on my behalf.

Saturday was my final booksigning (for now). We were at the Family Christian Stores in my hometown of Daytona Beach. Janelle, the store manager, was extremely enthusiastic about the book and did a great job talking it up with her customers, in the days leading up to the signing. And it showed. I stayed busy signing books the entire time.

Near the end, I experienced a wonderful surprise.

I looked up to see 4 men, about my age, walk through the door. They stood in front of the table and smiled. I looked up to greet them and, shock of shocks, I couldn't believe my eyes. My four best pals from high school, standing right there. I hadn't seen two of them since my wedding day...33 years ago. One I had seen only once, 9 nears ago. They got together and decided to stop by and buy a book...and honor an old friend.

That's us together in the picture. Standing left to right: Wayne Sobien (attorney), David Dunlop (professional photographer), Vic Watson (attorney) and Dave Ferguson (attorney). That's me sitting dumbfounded in the chair. In high school we were all non-contributing zeroes, surf bums all. If you click on the pic it will get bigger (but a little blurry).

As a pastor and author, I get way more than my share of encouragement, but this was a kindness of a different kind. Words fail me (and that's hard to do). We exchanged numbers, because we're not even close to getting caught up. Turns out, we don't live all that far away from each other, so we're going to meet again. Hopefully real soon.

Like I said, a remarkable week.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Come Join Me As I Visit the Seekers

This Tuesday, off and on throughout the day, I'll be visiting a very active writers blog called "Seekerville." The blog was created by a number of Christian fiction writers, who were all "seeking" to become published. Two years later, some have become published and some are still seeking.

But the blog has grown to include several hundred followers who visit regularly just to learn and laugh at the posts and comments provided. One of the Seekers is Julie Lessman, a fellow Revell author. Last September when Cindi and I were in Denver, many of the Seekers attended the same writer's conference and spent an evening out together downtown. Julie was kind enough to include us in their group and we had the best time.

Shortly after we got back, they emailed and asked me to schedule a day to visit their group and allow their folks to ask me questions. To get things started, they asked me to write a post about whatever God put on my heart. What I wrote has everything to do with this picture of a turtle on a fencepost. To find out what, you'll have to visit the Seekerville Blog, any time of the day this Tuesday.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Big Radio Interview Canada

I received an interesting email yesterday from a firm in Canada that handles publicity for Baker Publishing. It seems one of the top Christian radio outlets in Canada wants to interview me about The Unfinished Gift. Sounds very exciting.

The show is called "Today's Family With Beth Warden." Beth will call me next week and tape the interview. It will run in December (exact date is not set). Her radio show reaches 4 million listeners in places like Alberta, Calgary, Edmonton, Ottowa, Ontario and Nova Scotia.

I'm guessing you won't be able to hear the interview unless you live in Canada. I'll ask Beth if there's any way to pick it up on the internet and let you know the actual air date. Oh...I almost forgot...they plan to do a week-long promotion of the book before the show airs.

What an amazing opportunity for people to hear about the book (thank you, Lord).

Monday, November 2, 2009

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

The Christmas season has officially arrived. When I was a kid, it began on Thanksgiving Day, the moment you saw Santa riding by on the last float at the Macy's Thanksgiving parade. But that was the 20th century.

Now the holiday clock begins ticking, at least for me, when Starbucks starts serving Egg Nog latte's. Can there be a finer holiday drink than Egg Nog? I know not one. Before the egg nog latte, I had to wait much longer to indulge in this delightful beverage. Weeks, sometimes all the way till Christmas Day.

It's not like I could just stop by a convenience store and pick up a quart. How would that look? But now I'm just a respectable Starbucks customer, stopping by for a hot coffee drink. No one gives me a second look.

Now, some of you know I live in Florida. It can actually be warm enough for shorts and flip flops most days, even in November. But see, that's not really a problem for me. Just around the corner McD's will bring out their own holiday offering...the egg nog shake.

It really is the most wonderful time of the year.