Written by Leslie Santamaria
Monday, 09 June 2014 04:15 PM EDT
LATEST PROJECT: The Family of Jesus (9781476707372, $19.99, July 1).
PUBLISHER: Howard Books.
What inspired you to write this collection of fictional stories of six relatives of Jesus?
God created me to be a storyteller. I’ve always seen my fiction as a way through the back door of the heart, a way to help a reader experience a deeper walk with God and maybe a better understanding of love and faith and family. At the same time, I have a deep love for Scripture, for the power and authority of the Bible in my life. The question became: What if I wrote a dramatic version of the stories of the family members of Jesus? These real-life characters paid a great price for their connection to the Savior. My goal was clear from the beginning—that I might use my storytelling to make people think deeper about the Bible and that in the process, they would find a greater love for Scripture.
What was your approach to writing The Family of Jesus?
Scripture is absolute and unshakable. I started with the verses that tell us all we know about the family members of Jesus. Those were the tent poles, but between those poles, I painted a storytelling fabric that could billow a bit. I would ask myself and the theologians I consulted whether a certain scenario was possible. Cultural relevancy, time period details all played a part. Then, where it was possible, I told a story. An example is this: Did Joseph bring Mary wild orchids? They did indeed grow in the valleys around Nazareth, so in my storytelling, that’s exactly what Joseph does. It’s fiction, anchored in Scripture.
Keep in mind, these were real, breathing people. People with heartaches and hopes and dreams. People who struggled like you and me. The Bible says in Acts 17:11 the Bereans were of more noble character because they examined the Scriptures. That’s what I pray this Bible study does, that it might take the reader deeper to a place where they truly examine the Scriptures.
What was it like to imagine the thoughts, feelings, words and actions of these relatives of Jesus?
Deeply emotional. I found myself crying through much of the writing of The Family of Jesus. I tried to imagine the desperation in Joseph when he heard Mary’s news, the angst in Zechariah when he couldn’t speak after the visit from the angel, Elizabeth’s heartache at her inability to have a child, John the Baptist’s discouragement in prison the days before he was beheaded, James’s confusion over his brother’s claims of being the Messiah, and of course, Mary’s devastation at the foot of the cross. It wasn’t easy. But in many ways we’ve all been through moments that make us feel this way. As I wrote and cried and grew to love these characters, I could only dream of how the story would affect everyone who would read.
How is the Weekly Application and Group Discussion Guide organized?
The guide assumes the reader may be working alone or with a reader group. It allows and directs discussion to help differentiate between my storytelling and the absolutes of Scripture. It is organized by daily questions and group discussion questions. It leaves the readers the chance to choose how to use it and how deep they want to go.
What other products will be available?
LifeWay has done a beautiful job with The Family of Jesus Bible Study workbook. This workbook will be available in a kit for church groups or home groups, and included will be six DVD teaching videos from me, all filmed before a live audience. Those are very special 30-minute sessions where I tell the story of the character and then talk about the Bible’s teaching.
What are the other upcoming titles in this “Heart of the Story” collection?
Next year will be The Friends of Jesus. The year after that I’ll have The Followers of Jesus, and the fourth book will be The First-Hand Encounters of Jesus.
What else would help retailers inform their customers about this book?
My favorite comments so far have come from my editor and the team at LifeWay who have spent their lives studying the Bible and reading Bible studies. Several times those close friends and co-workers came to me separately and said, “I cried as I read The Family of Jesus. And you know what? I’ve never loved Jesus more.” One LifeWay editor said, “We need this desperately. May everyone read it and fall in love with the Bible all over again.”
Written by Christine D. Johnson
Monday, 09 June 2014 01:22 PM EDT
Charisma Media introduces new word-for-word translation to Christian retailers at special launch event
Charisma Media invited more than 20 key independent and chain-based Christian retailers to its Lake Mary, Fla., headquarters May 22-23 for an event launching its new Modern English Version (MEV). Send The Light Distribution, Anchor Distributors and Ingram also were represented at the launch of the most modern translation produced in the King James Version (KJV) tradition in the last 30 years.
Releasing this fall under Charisma House Book Group’s Passio imprint, this word-for-word translation maintains the beauty of the KJV language, yet provides fresh clarity for a new generation of Bible readers.
Retailers will have ample opportunity to become acquainted further with the MEV at the June 22-25 International Christian Retail Show in Atlanta. Samplers of selected MEV passages also will be distributed.
Charisma Media plans a significant promotional campaign around the new Bible, including CBA store promotions; trade and consumer advertising in major magazines; product seeding to key pastors and ministry leaders; social media giveaways, blog tours; and drivetime Christian radio and TV spots promoting biblical literacy and engagement. Devotionals also will be delivered via email to more than 200,000 consumers, and an MEV mobile app will be created for users on the go.
Charisma Media also is involved in a strategic partnership with Bible Gateway, which will add the MEV to its online translations. Part of HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Bible Gateway reaches more than 14 million unique visitors per month.
Several MEV editions are coming out this fall, including the SpiritLed Woman Bible in printed casebound ($44.99) and lavender leatherlike ($64.99), releasing Nov. 4; the MEV Thinline Reference Bible in jacketed hardcover ($19.99), black and cranberry leatherlike ($29.99), releasing Sept. 2; and the KJV-MEV Parallel Bible in jacketed hardcover ($39.99), releasing Oct. 7.
Written by Leslie Santamaria
Wednesday, 14 May 2014 09:33 AM EDT
LATEST PROJECT: The Fight (9781414389493, $14.99, May).
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers.
What is the premise of your first novel, The Fight?
The story is about a teenage boy called Sam, who suffers a life-shattering family tragedy. As a result, he becomes incredibly angry, fighting everything and everyone around him. One day, a street fight leads him to a boxing club run by a Christian boxing trainer called Jerry, who has dedicated himself to helping kids like Sam. But Jerry quickly realizes that Sam’s fighting talent, fueled by his anger, sets him apart as a potential champion boxer, leaving Jerry with a cruel dilemma. He wants to help Sam overcome his anger issues and discover God’s peace, yet he knows Sam’s anger could propel them both to the stardom and riches that Jerry himself had missed out on. It’s a tough, yet inspiring story, and one that I think makes most of us question what we would truly do in the same circumstances.
What types of characters are Sam and Jerry?
Sam is a wounded, angry, yet talented young man—like so many disadvantaged kids in our inner cities. Jerry is a man of God trying to do the right thing, but is deeply flawed, like most of us. I love them both as characters.
What research did you conduct for this story?
I grew up just outside London, so am familiar with where the story is set. I spent my teenage years following boxing, which gave me a background knowledge of the sport. The editor of the main U.K. boxing magazine helped me ensure the final draft was authentic.
How long did it take you to write The Fight, and what was its journey before it was scheduled for release in the U.S.?
The Fight actually took me 10 years to complete! I started in 2002, writing the first half whilst traveling overseas. Then the book was put away for seven years before I got it out and finished it.
Partly inspired by The Shack [by William P. Young] and also wanting to support prison ministry in the U.K., I decided to self-publish The Fight in early 2012. It was critically well-received and reached No. 2 on a U.K. Christian best-seller chart. I was introduced to an agent, Chip MacGregor by the novelist Davis Bunn, who had picked up a copy of The Fight whilst in the U.K. A few months later, I signed a deal with Tyndale House Publishers to help bring The Fight to a wider audience.
What has been the reception of your book in the U.K.?
Incredible. The Christian/inspiration fiction market in the U.K. is tiny compared to the U.S., and sometimes not taken very seriously as a genre—strange considering our spiritual fiction heritage with C.S. Lewis and John Bunyan. But The Fight is very different to most of the available Christian fiction over here and seems to have captured the imagination. It has also been used widely as an evangelistic tool and as a home and men’s group resource, which is why I have written some discussion points in the back of this edition. It is exciting and humbling to see God use something I have written to challenge people spiritually.
Since both main characters are male, do you see this as a book for men only?
Although I wrote the book with men and teenage boys in mind and the subject matter is quite masculine, still most of my readers have been women! I’ve had plenty of feedback starting, “I bought this for my husband and would never normally read a book about boxing, but. … ”
I’ve also loved hearing stories about how sons and husbands who would never normally read a Christian [novel] have been so intrigued to see Mum glued to a book with a boxer on the front cover that they have lined up to read it after her!
I understand that the book has been used as a tool in prison ministry. How did that come about?
When I first finished The Fight, I gave it to a friend involved in prison work. He loved the book and pressed upon me how valuable it could be in prison ministry. So when I self-published, I sold the book on a “Buy One, Give One Free” principle, with the free book going to prison ministry. We’ve now distributed around 1,000 copies of The Fight to around 80 prisons in the U.K., and I have had some amazing feedback about how prisoners have enjoyed the story and it has helped them on their journey of faith. To date, I have spent all my proceeds from the book, including my advance from Tyndale House Publishers, on giving books and developing this prison book ministry.
I pray this latest launch is just another step in getting appropriate books, including other people’s titles, into prisons in the U.K., the U.S. and elsewhere. I hope to be publishing how we are going to do this and how in the future booksellers might participate through my website at lukewordley.com.
What other information might assist Christian retailers in getting the word out to their customers about The Fight?
Although they must receive thousands of books, I hope and pray Christian retailing staff will find the time to read The Fight for themselves. In the U.K., we found that when staff read the book, they immediately began recommending it to men and women (often to buy for their men folk!), and it became one of their best-selling books.
Fiction Releases: June
CHILD OF MINE
David and Beverly Lewis
Bethany House (Baker
hardcover, 416 pages, $19.99
Flight instructor Jack Livingston has been raising his 8-year-old adopted niece, Natalie, since the accident that took her parents’ lives. When he travels, Natalie is cared for by her Amish nanny, Laura Mast, who loves the little girl as her own.
Eight years ago, Kelly Maines’ baby was kidnapped. Determined to find her child, Kelly has tirelessly pursued every lead to its bitter end. And now, with the clock ticking, one last clue from a private investigator ignites a tiny flame of hope: Just a few miles away lives a young girl who matches the profile. Can this be, at long last, Kelly’s beloved daughter?
Child of Mine is also released simultaneously in softcover and large print.
softcover, 368 pages, $14.99
Seventeen-year-old Nyah Parks is a genius hacker who makes a living by cracking the firewalls of the world’s largest corporations. But when the biggest job of her life goes wrong, she’s plunged into a desperate situation with only one way out: one last hack that will either save her or kill her. So begins Hacker, a modern-day parable that examines the seen and the unseen, and reminds the reader that there is far more to who we are than meets the eye.
THE LAST QUEEN OF SHEBA
Jill Francis Hudson
softcover, 384 pages, $14.99
Against all odds, Makeda, daughter of an obscure African chieftain, is chosen as queen of Sheba. Recognizing her inexperience, her cousin Tamrin, a wealthy merchant and narrator of the novel, persuades her to visit Solomon, king of Israel. Solomon falls in love with her and tricks her into sleeping with him. She becomes pregnant and bears a son Later, when he visits his father, Solomon is a broken man, and Israel is no longer the nation of his youth.
Tyndale House Publishers
softcover, 400 pages, $14.99
Since the day Rhoda Mummau was baptized into the Old Order Mennonite Church and became the head midwife of Hopen Haus, she’s been torn between the needs of the unwed mothers under her care and her desire to conceal the secrets of her past. Contact with the outside world could provide medical advantages, but remaining secluded in the community gives her the anonymity she craves.
Graduate student Beth Winslow is on a path she never would have chosen. Heartbroken after surrendering a baby to adoption, she devotes herself to her studies until she becomes pregnant again—this time as a surrogate. But when early tests indicate possible abnormalities, Beth is unprepared for the parents’ decision to end the pregnancy—and for the love she feels for this unborn child. Desperate, she flees the city and seeks refuge at Hopen House.
Past and present collide when a young woman named Amelia arrives to the countryside bearing secrets of her own. As Amelia’s due date draws near, Rhoda must face her past and those she thought she had left behind in order for the healing power of love and forgiveness to set them all free.
Written by Leslie Santamaria
Wednesday, 14 May 2014 08:32 AM EDT
T.D. Jakes, New York Times best-selling author of more than 30 books, explains how to rediscover one’s God-inspired instinct to be fruitful and multiply in Instinct: The Power to Unleash Your Inborn Drive ($25). Drawing from personal, historical and biblical insights, the founder and senior pastor of The Potter’s House church outlines what is needed to live one’s life successfully according to God’s design. FaithWords releases Instinct in hardcover on May 6.
Kyle Froman and Billy Mauldin, leaders of Motor Racing Outreach, share lessons they’ve learned as part of the NASCAR community about being faithful to one’s personal mission in life in The Race: Living Life on Track. NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Darrell Waltrip has contributed anecdotes to the book, which give insights into his career and faith. The Race is available May 15, retailing at $15.99 in softcover from B&H Books.
The 16th book from best-selling author Frank Viola releases May 1 from David C Cook. Jesus Now: Unveiling the Present-Day Ministry of Christ ($14.99, softcover) examines the impact of Jesus’ ministry throughout history and in the world today. Reflecting on Jesus’ incarnation in the new book, Viola continues the conversation he began in Jesus: A Theography, which he co-authored with Leonard Sweet.
For 30 years, the foundation of Ron Phillips’ ministry at Central Baptist Church (now Abba’s House) in Chattanooga, Tenn., has been believers coming into agreement with one another and building strong relationships. Phillips and his son, Ronnie Phillips Jr, who is also a pastor at the church, describe the type of harmony and unity that brings forth God’s kingdom in The Power of Agreement: God’s Secret for Your Successful Relationships With Friends and Family and in the Workplace (Charisma House). This softcover book ($15.99) is available in stores May 6.
Edgar Harrell, USMC, is one of the last survivors of the USS Indianapolis, which was struck by Japanese torpedoes in 1945 and sank in the Pacific. In Out of the Depths: An Unforgettable WWII Story of Survival, Courage, and the Sinking of the USS Indianapolis, Harrell tells his story, co-written with his son, David Harrell. His memoir describes the four days of dehydration, exposure and shark attacks before he was rescued against all odds. Out of the Depths (Bethany House/Baker Publishing Group) retails for $16.99 and releases in May.
Based on more than seven years of research and investigative reporting, best-selling author Shaunti Feldhahn (with Tally Whitehead) asserts that what most Christians believe about the divorce rate and marital happiness is inaccurate and destructive to marriages. Feldhahn’s Multnomah Books title The Good News About Marriage: Debunking Discouraging Myths About Marriage and Divorce ($15, hardcover) presents rigorously supported facts to set the record straight and change the cultural mind-set about marriage.
Written by well-known pastor and author Matt Chandler and counselor Michael Snetzer, both from The Village Church in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, Recovering Redemption: A Gospel-Saturated Perspective on How to Change (B&H Books) focuses readers squarely on the gospel not only for salvation, but also for sanctification and as the true means of personal change. The B&H Publishing Group title is available this month in softcover for $16.99.
Drew Dyck, managing editor of Leadership Journal and author, addresses the human hunger for transcendence in Yawning at Tigers (Thomas Nelson). Subtitled You Can’t Tame God, so Stop Trying, the book looks at the tendency to domesticate a holy, awe-inspiring God, but reveals that what people seek when they look for meaning in life is available by knowing and worshiping the dangerous God of Scripture. Releasing May 13, the book retails for $16.99.
Written by Leslie Santamaria
Wednesday, 14 May 2014 08:13 AM EDT
Before the U.S. Air Force deployed neurosurgeon W. Lee Warren to the largest theater hospital of the Iraq war, he was already burdened by heartbreaking personal struggles. In No Place to Hide: A Brain Surgeon’s Long Journey Home From the Iraq War, Warren recounts his experiences operating on soldiers, civilians and terrorists alike in a tent hospital with limited supplies, surviving more than 100 mortar attacks and finding meaning amidst the ravages of war.
Each day he treated numerous massive injuries, sometimes performing surgeries around the clock, whereas in his practice in the U.S., he might treat only a handful of such complex cases in a month. The job he had to do and the conditions in which he had to survive and save lives were impossible for him to imagine before going to Iraq.
In the book’s afterword, author Philip Yancey writes that Warren’s story is distinctive, offering the unique perspective of “a specialist who, devoted to healing, found himself plunked down in the vortex of destruction.”
Yet, early in his deployment, despite his habit of self-sufficiency, God began to change him.
“The war had taught me more about life in one week than I’d learned in thirty-five years before it,” he writes.
Warren chronicled his days and sent his writings via email to what started out as a small mailing list but which grew to thousands of readers each day. His book includes several of these emails.
The conditions wore on Warren: the never-ending stream of broken bodies, little sleep, nightmares and the constant barrage of mortar and rocket attacks.
Through assisting in the worship band on base and through his encounters with a variety of people along the way—both Christians and non-Christians—he felt something shifting inside and he knew he would never be the same.
“I began to see outside my own problems, outside myself,” he writes.
Toward the end of his 120 days in the war zone, he was caught crouched near a wall, unprotected and completely vulnerable during a particularly aggressive attack. It was a pivotal point in his spiritual development as he was learning to relinquish control and trust God.
Warren returned home with his faith strengthened to face not only the problems he had left behind, but also the re-entry into daily life and the demons of post-traumatic stress. Still, his story demonstrates how, through Christ, he moved from loss and despair to courage and victory.
To order, call 800-727-1309, or visit zondervan.com.
Written by DeWayne Hamby
Tuesday, 13 May 2014 01:27 PM EDT
Iconic artist Michael W. Smith brings his musical gifting to Sovereign, a collection of fresh worship songs, as well as a deluxe version CD-DVD with a concert featuring Kari Jobe and Leeland Mooring. Sparrow Records (Capitol Christian Distribution) releases both titles May 13. Smith recently told Christian Retailing about the process of putting the new record together.
When did you decide Sovereign would be a collection of original songs?
The plan was to do a record of worship around the world. I’ve been literally on five continents in the past few years. The favor of God blows my mind. I said to my team, “We have to record all these shows.” We captured some stunning moments, people worshipping, people in Brazil breaking into “Agnus Dei” in Portugese. That was what I was putting together with Capitol. I was working this song called “Miracle” with Chris York and said, “Maybe the ‘Worship Around the World’ record is for another time. Maybe we do an album of new songs.” He started flipping out. It’s not live, like what I’ve done in the past, and it’s not all corporate. Half of it is kind of anthemic.
Did having a new label change how you approached this record?
I think it was much more of a team record. I’ve always wanted to work with Bill Hearn at the people at Capitol. I felt like I needed to change it up. I talked to every major label and ended up at Capitol. I remember being in the room and saying, “Guys, let’s do this together. I don’t need a bunch of ‘yes men.’ I need some pushback.” I got out of my comfort zone and started writing with all these kids. I completely went the other direction and took a lot of risks. My faith had to increase a bit. We went through almost 120 songs to listen to, and it took that many to get to 12.
Who did you collaborate with for Sovereign?
“Miracle,” I wrote with Kyle Lee and Seth Moseley. It was a great collaboration, still one of my favorite songs on the album. We let that be the bar. It’s got to hit at least there. That’s just the beginning of it. I’m a little too close to it because I’ve been listening to it over and over again in the studio. You just want to go to an island and deflate a bit. “You Won’t Let Go” is another song with Seth Moseley. We were working on “Miracle,” and I said, “Let me hear what you’re writing. You got any ideas?” He played me the track and I picked up an acoustic guitar and started writing the melody. The song reminds me of Romans 8, “Nothing can separate.” We pulled Mia Fields in who’s a great songwriter. She came in and we bashed it out, and we all got excited.
With more Christian films releasing, any chance you will get in front of the camera again soon?
I’ve read so many scripts. I feel like there’s another film for me as an actor. It’s got to be the right story. I haven’t found anything. It’ll have to be right thing for me.