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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Cool stories for parents and kids!

I'd like to introduce you all to an author whose website is as cool as his books. My kiddos have yet to make it through a Narnia book, but when they do I'll be heading to the store for the books highlighted below...

Christian parents are finally offered a true Potter alternative...All the adventure of Harry Potter...None of the sorcery!

Landon Snow and The Island of Arcanum
by R.K.Mortenson, published by Barbour Publishing (October 2006).

About the AUTHOR:
R.K.Mortenson is an ordained minister with the Church of the Lutheran Brethren. He has been writing devotional and inspirational articles since 1995. He currently serves as a navy chaplain in Florida and lives with his wife, daughter and son in Jacksonville.

Randy got the idea for this series one late night, when flute music woke him from a sound sleep. As he stood at his window, trying to locate the source of the sound, he spied a library across the lawn. Suddenly, he envisioned an eleven-year-old sneaking out of his bed and stealing to the library in the dead of night...And thus Landon Snow was born.

In the latest adventure of Landon Snow And the Island of Arcanum, Landon, once again visits his grandparents in Button Up, Minnesota. If your familiar with the first two books, Landon Snow and the Auctor's Riddle, and Landon Snow and The Shadows of Malus Quidam, you'll know that Landon's adventures always start at the Library in Button Up.

This time, Landon's most dangerous journey yet, begins in a rowboat-shaped tombstone that floats. And it's lucky for him that it floats because a few drips from the library ceiling turns into a powerful waterfall.

The stone turns into wood. The stone book propped up in the prow of the boat turns to paper. The left page says "ANCHOR". The right page says "AWEIGH".

"Anchor aweigh?" said Landon.

Holly whispered, "Did you hear that?"

No one has time to respond, however. The next instant saw the water before them dropping away as the water behind them grew into a giant swell, pitching them headlong into the abyss.

Landon will have to protect his two younger sisters, Holly and Bridget, who wind up in the boat with him headed towards The Island of Arcanum. On the Island, the animals of Wonderwood are imprisoned and the evil shadows of Landon's nemesis, Malus Quidam lurk!

With the help of some old friends, a horse named Melech, an odd fellow named Hardy, a girl named Ditty, and the poet/prophet Vates--Landon seeks to unlock the island's dark secrets and escape with the animals intact.

But first, he must navigate his way through unchartered waters and battle the villainous Archans...Can Landon and his friends rescue the animals from deep within the island's stronghold?

Cool author tidbit...

Landon Snow short story is appearing in Focus on the Family's Clubhouse magazine for kids in December. The story is already online at their R.K.Mortenson will be talking about his adoption experiences at Heather Ivester's mom2momconnection blog next week. It's not about the books, but something even more important: kids.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

And the winner is...

Hope you all enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving!!! Ours was very nice and very quiet...well as quiet as a house with three little ones can be. ;-)

Now that I have all my decorations up and gifts wrapped... (Please don't throw rotten tomatoes at the screen! It's self-preservation and protection of all mankind that I do not go into a Mall during the holidays.)

I'm kicking off December by giving some cool stuff away.

First up is Rachel Hauck's blog tour book Lost in NashVegas. Deborah was the blessed and happy winner of Rachel's new book.

We'll be doing more blog tours in the coming months, so keep checking back for those.

Next up are some fun Defenders of Hope items that we're giving away monthly and then some will be included in the Grand Prizes that will be given away in February on my website and in April at my book launch party.

We just ordered these way cool puzzles with the Ransomed Dreams full cover on them. Talk about amazing what they can do with a puzzle. We now have some yummy chocolate bars with a Ransomed Dreams wrapper, and those are over the top cool! My incredible web designer had a blast working on the wrappers with some fun stats on the back. The third DOH item is a Ransomed Dreams mug with a hard-for-me-to-give-away Starbucks gift card inside.

So how do you put your hands on these things???

Come visit the Defenders of Hope website and the Heart Chocolate site and sign up for the DOH newsletter.

Okay, now I'm done with the self-promotion stuff. Those of you who know me know how yucky it feels for me to say, "Hey, go buy my book!" At the same time, I hope you all know some of the why behind it. If not, here it is in a nutshell...

I write because God gave me the stories and nudged me little by little down this particular path. That's the (sometimes) easy part. It's the promotion that's far harder because so much seems like hawking wares. But the reality is my publisher, a Christian business, took a chance on me because they believed in the story I had to tell. The story I believe in or I wouldn't have told it in the first place.

So for me, promotion is my way of giving back to a publisher I believe in too. They will spend upwards of $50,000 just putting one novel out there. I want to be a good steward of both God and my publisher's money and their belief in me.

I also want to see Ransomed Dreams do well because God changed me in the writing of it and I pray He will use the reading of it to draw hearts closer to Him.

Do I hope to make money in promotion? I'd be lying if I said no. Yes, I would love to earn royalties and see Ransomed Dreams sell well so that I'll be offered another contract. But another reality of working in Christian industry is that I won't be earning money for exotic vacations or to have towel warmers in my bathroom (people really have those, but I'm not one of them). More like I'll put braces on my kids without going into debt, help my husband go back to school for his Masters, save for three little ones' college education, and help keep our used cars repaired and running.

Even after all that reality, my goal is that there are other winners in the promotion game. Who?

My hope and prayer is it's you all.

Deep down the reason I keep coming back to in why I do what I do is sheer obedience and the heart desire that God use me to serve and encourage you.

Please pray that I hit that mark with a bull’s-eye. Because in doing so, that brings glory to our loving heavenly Daddy.

And in the end, that’s what it’s all about.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

I'm giving thanks today in a writerly way while my kiddos are resting up for more fun this afternoon. This is a day where nostalgia meets the present. Last year I introduced my little ones to one of my family's traditions: watching the "Macy's Day Parade." My husband insists on calling it by its full name, "The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade."

Either one works for me. ;-)

I wax nostalgic thinking back on all the years I watched this parade with my Gram and family while the turkey cooked and the pies were cooling on the back porch.

But today I smile and get misty eyed watching my three year old dance to "Cooby Doo" (Scooby Doo for those without the 3 year old dictionary translation) and remember this is the same balloon I watched growing up.

Then after we've waved to all the balloons and danced with all the marching bands and singers, we head upstairs and my husband does the honors and places the big bird into the oven. Then we do my favorite Thanksgiving thing...

We dance to Christmas music on the radio.

We laugh and twirl and have a blast. And by the time my kids are tired, my husband and I are ready for a nap too.

Before that nap, I'll close with my top ten list for Thanksgiving…

Amy's Top Ten Reasons for Giving Thanks

1) I'm thankful I can call God Daddy.

2) I'm thankful I have a family who loves me and who I adore and enjoy.

3) I'm thankful I can walk. (Did I mention I'm in a cast again after yet another foot surgery? Trust me, walking is a big thing to be thankful for!)

4)I'm thankful for the gift of sight~ both to see the world God has made and for the spiritual gift of seeing deeper with discernment.

5) I'm thankful for heart healing.

6) I'm thankful that God says I'm beautiful.

He says you're beautiful too!

7) I'm thankful for little kids' prayers and that I get to hear them every day.

8) I'm thankful that my husband and I have careers where we use the gifts and talents God has given us for His glory.

9) I'm thankful for an inner circle of friends who love me anyway and always point me to Jesus.

10) I'm thankful for blogs. ;-) And I'm thankful for the ability to make online friends and enjoy the community offered here.

What about you? What are you thankful for?

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

You are Beautiful

Happy Thanksgiving Eve!!!

What are you going to say tomorrow when someone asks why you're thankful? With my family, we’ll go around the table as we eat and name blessings we remember from this past year. My children will go far beyond their five pieces of corn we give to each person to name one blessing per kernel. My husband and I will too. But for me it wasn't always that way.

So today I wanted to share a little about a reason to praise I wonder if you've thought of~ because God says you are beautiful.

Do you believe that? Do you thank God for that? Most people don't.

I didn't for years and years. I grew up in a painful home and jumped into a relationship as a teen that I knew I shouldn't be in. But I did it anyway because he said I was beautiful.

Then he raped me.

I didn't feel beautiful anymore. I felt like trash. And I spent the better part of my young adult years knowing God loved me, but feeling that I was "less than" everyone else. Ugly. Used goods.

My story in God Allows U-Turns for Teens is about how I went from saying "If Only I Were Beautiful" to knowing and receiving what God says is truth. I'd like to share two quotes and what made my U-Turn happen.

"No love of the natural heart is safe unless the human heart has been satisfied by God first." (Oswald Chambers)

"We are not wrong to think we desperately need to be loved. We do. Our need does not constitute anyone else's call but God's" (Beth Moore)

So how did God make those two statements “real” to me? He had me teach them to a group of young ladies who didn’t believe God said they were beautiful either. I looked deep into their gorgeous eyes and into their even more stunning souls and caught a glimpse of the beauty God sees.

Then God led me to the mirror and said the same about me.

I wanted to turn away because I still didn’t see what God saw. But He kept speaking to my heart over the next few weeks. I became convinced that my bottomless need to be loved, to be seen as beautiful, would be satisfied first in God.

Or it wouldn’t be satisfied at all.

So I stopped saying, “If only I could lose a few pounds” or “I would be beautiful if only _____ changed."

We can all fill in that blank, can’t we?

What I started saying instead were the words God had spoken to me. “I see you. You are beautiful. You are loved and you are Mine.”

I still don’t always believe that. But those times are far less frequent. What happens more often now are the times I look in the mirror and smile simply because that’s what my heavenly Daddy does.

So this Thanksgiving I’ll enjoy some turkey and pumpkin pie and I will not step on the scale later. Instead, I’ll look in the mirror and smile.

I’ll listen to the words God says. Will you join me?

Take a good look in the mirror. God has much to say about what He sees there. Listen closely. He is enthralled with your beauty. (Psalm 45:11)

The King is enthralled with you. Enjoy Him.

Happy Thanksgiving y’all!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

What about when you don't want to praise?

This week I'm guest blogging over at God Allows U-Turns. Please come check out Allison's site or blog and leave a comment. ;-)

What about when you don't want to praise?

Yesterday we talked a little about what we're thankful for, but the thought God gave me this morning centered on when I'm not thankful.

Have you ever felt that way?

Everyone around you has hands lifted in praise at church, or every friend has great stuff happening and you feel any thing but grateful.

Yep, me too.

I wish I had written a great U-Turns story detailing an about-face from overwhelming sadness, depression, or dare I say anger at things not going the way I'd prayed. My story "For This Child" in God Answers Mom’s Prayers deals with hearing God say "No" to a prayer and how I learned to trust Him and be thankful even when I didn't understand.

But truth be told I still struggle with praise and thanksgiving at times. Life is never just what I want it to be. It's hard. It's more work than I thought I signed up for and more often than not, it just plain hurts.

So God had me doing Thanksgiving cards with my kiddos this morning. I was so NOT in the right frame of mind.

But God's funny like that.

So I went through the motions until I read this quote from Francis Schaeffer, "We are not only to sing the doxology, but to be the doxology."

Praise God from whom all blessings flow
Praise Him all creatures here below
Praise Him above ye heavenly hosts
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost

The book I was reading aloud went on to talk about the birds, how they throw their whole being into singing and that being an example of how we’re to praise God.

Now that set my mind spinning. Birds sing because that’s what God created them to do. They don’t analyze it, argue with it, or decide they don’t want to sing. They just do.

So can I in terms of praising God simply because that’s what I was created to do: to glorify God by enjoying Him forever and singing the song that is my life. Sad notes and all.

So can you.

I’m not suggesting we ignore depression nor am I saying we should “put on a happy face.” There are reasons behind why we don’t feel like praising that we need to explore with God.

I’m praying as I write this that you’ll hear the Father call you to come talk and listen to Him and discuss those very things going on in your heart. He cares. He loves you. And He wants you to come real.

At the same time, I think there is much wisdom to be gained in doing what Job and King David did in their dark nights…

Praise Him anyway.

Turn to Him and just talk to Him, remember who He is. That simple act, however hard it may be at times, is praise.

Instead of recalling all the hurt, remember the times God Himself—with nail-scarred hands—carried you through.

Instead of focusing on what isn’t right, praise God for the little things that are right and consider that your journey through pain and joy is working in you something good.

Also, instead of trying to “be the doxology” consider that you already are. And God welcomes the words or groans of your life song as He sings right along with you.

Praise Him.

Tomorrow, I’ll share my continuing U-Turn toward praise in the form of my story in God Allows U-Turns for Teens about date rape and my healing almost two decades later.

“Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him” (Job 13:15)

Trusting and praising anyway,

Monday, November 20, 2006

What are you thankful for?

This week I'm guest blogging over at God Allows U-Turns. Please come check out Allison's site or blog and leave a comment. ;-)

We'll be talking about a few of my U-turns stories, but even more importantly as we prepare our hearts for Thanksgiving it's my prayer we'll delve a little beyond our blessings to learning more of God's character.

Here's my first guest blog...

What are you thankful for?

I'm thankful for ripped tendons and scars. Why? Because almost five years ago I took my eighteen-month-old daughter's place in the ER and learned that when God said "No" to my request for protection, what He was really saying was "I have something better."

For me God's "better" meant a painful surgery and six weeks in a cast. Those six weeks of having my wonderful husband take care of our children, cook, clean, and do all my mom duties plus his allowed me to write my very first fiction novel, Ransomed Dreams. Plus, my surgery left me with a scar that I look at now and remember that God's "best" is often difficult to comprehend, but in the end it is always GOOD.

You can read more about this experience in "For This Child," my very first U-Turns story in God Answers Mom's Prayers.

Welcome to Thanksgiving week at God Allows U-Turns! I hope you'll join me again tomorrow as we look at more of the myriad reasons we have to give thanks.

Abundant blessings!!!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Awesome interview with Rachel Hauck

This is my good friend and a fantastic writer, Rachel Hauck and her new book Lost in NashVegas.

Rachel is a multi-published author living in sunny and sometimes hurricane plagued, central Florida with her husband and ornery pets. She is a graduate of The Ohio State University with a BA in Journalism. Visit her blog and web site at

I REALLY encourage you all to check out Rachel's site. It's fun and full of the depth of character and love for Jesus that radiates from Rachel.

Now we're in for a real treat today...

Besides learning about Rachel's new release Lost in NashVegas We'll be learning a little more about Rachel and some about "the writing life."

Here goes...

Amy: What is Lost in NashVegas first line?

RH: Good question! "How I let Daddy and Granddaddy Lukeman talk me into singing a 'couple' of my songs at the Spring Sing, again, is beyond me."

Amy: What fun things did you do to research Lost in NashVegas?

RH: I went to Nashville, visited the Bluebird Café, talked to songwriters, toured the Country Music Hall of Fame, sang on the steps of the Ryman stage, hung out with my editor and another WestBow staffer, Lisa Young. Very fun. Toured around the city with Rebeca Seitz and Kaye Dacus.

Amy: What prompted you to begin writing?

RH: I always wanted to write. My dad spoke destiny over my from the time I was ten until I published my first book at 43. You’re a writer, Rachel, he would always say.

Amy: Is there such a thing as a “normal” writing day? If so, what does it look like for you?

RH: I’ve been thinking a lot about this and am about to change my schedule so I have a normal writing day. Not every day will work out like I planned, but I believe we need scheduled lives to a high degree (flexibility allowed) but writing and creativity doesn’t happen in a vacuum. I need to be in my office, at my desk, writing. I usually write during the day, but get so interrupted with other busyness. I’d like to get up early and use that quiet time of the day to get writing done.

Amy: What’s the highest praise you could receive for your writing?

RH: I think just hearing people love the story, related to the characters, found some sort of renewed hope.

Amy: Best writing moment?

RH: Making the first sale. Always thrilling.

Amy: Worst writing moment?

RH: Missing my first deadline by 12 days. Yuck.

Amy: Advice for those interested in writing?

RH: Join a writers group like American Christian Fiction Writers or RWA, and read, read, read, then write, write, write, then read some more. Also, schedule time to write and don’t let anything but emergencies get in the way. Learn to say no.

Amy: Favorite scripture and why?

RH: Song of Solomon 4:9. It shows how pure in love Jesus is with us!

Amy: What's one thing about you that no one’s asked, but you wish they would?

RH: “Can we make your book into a Broadway play?”

Here's a blurb from Lost in NashVegas...

Last week, I stocked groceries in Freedom, Alabama. This week, I live in Nashville, Tennessee about to take the stage at the famous Bluebird Café.

Sounds fantastic, doesn’t it? Only one problem. I’m terrified to sing in front of people.

But after twenty-five years of being ruled by fear, hiding from my dream, I confronted my limited reality and left home. Forget the hometown hunk who wants to make me queen of his doublewide. Forget Momma’s doubt-inspiring tirade. I can make it in Music City… Can’t I?

God put the longing to write songs in my heart. If He’s for me, who can be against me? Not even my own fear can overshadow His love. So, I gathered my old guitar, my notebook full of songs and packed up my ’69 Chevy pickup. Look out NashVegas, the next hit songwriter is coming to town.

With the help of my cousin, and a few new friends, especially handsome contractor, Lee Rivers, my dream finds the light of day. As I face my first night at the Bluebird Café, I realize… I might just do what comes naturally. Look for the nearest exit, and run!

Doesn't that sound awesome?! This is a story for everyone longing to live a dream but not sure how to jump that doubt hurdle and go for it.

Have you ever had a dream burn inside but you weren't sure how to let it come alive? Leave me a note in the comments about your dream. Not only will I pray with you about that dream, but I'll draw a name and send you a copy of Rachel's book Lost in Nashvagas.

I'm looking forward to praying and watching to see what God is up to in your life!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Launching a Dream

At this very moment I'm feeling pretty on top of the world! I just turned in one of two last round edits on my almost ready-to-go debut novel. Boy does that feel great! And my wonderful webmaster hubby has done it again, creating a book series site I'm proud to call mine.

Please come check out the Defenders of Hope website and let me know what you think! Also, if you're a fan of great fiction be sure to check out the newsletter sign up page for your chance to win an amazing grand prize gift pack of 22 top fiction novels, Godiva chocolate, a Starbucks gift card, and some other fun things.

As excited as I am to share all this, I'm praying what people see in all that I do is Jesus. I wrote in the last post about how God is searing my heart with 2 Samuel 24:24~ True worship is costly. These books, this website, living a dream come true have all been costly acts of worship. So much so that many times I've wanted to walk away. Why don't I? At the core it's simple obedience. Writing these books, sharing my heart, and inviting people deeper into Christ are what drive me to keep on taking one more step in this dream journey.

Please pray for me! I'd so appreciate your prayers that in all I do it's Christ who is glorified.

Launching a dream is a frighteningly incredible thing. For me this means giving my all, my best, and then leaving it at the foot of the cross, trusting my Daddy to do with it as He pleases.

Thanks for walking this road with me. You are true gold to this writer's heart.
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