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FICTION FILE December 2014 Print Email
Written by Leslie Santamaria   
Wednesday, 05 November 2014 11:15 AM America/New_York


[ ASK THE AUTHOR ] Dorothy Love

Latest project: The Bracelet (9781401687601, $15.99, Dec. 9).

Thomas Nelson.

How would you summarize your new novel, The Bracelet?

When newly engaged Celia Browning receives a bracelet that spells out a deadly message, she sets out to uncover the truth about her family’s tragic past before long-buried secrets ruin her brilliant future.

What is the setting of the story?

The story takes place in Savannah, Georgia, in 1858-1859.

What are some of the actual events that inspired this book?

In Victorian times, gentlemen would sometimes send messages to their sweethearts through precious jewels. This charming custom first inspired the story. Later, I learned of the tragic death by suicide of a young Savannah matron and of the myths surrounding her death that still persist in Savannah today. Combining the two gave me the complete story of a young woman about to become engaged who finds her happiness threatened by old secrets she does not understand.

Tell us about your main character, Celia Browning.

Celia is privileged, but far from spoiled. She lost her mother at a young age and adores her father, who is a prominent shipping magnate in Savannah. She is highly loyal to her city and to those she loves. She is generous, sometimes impulsive, but unwavering in her quest to protect her family’s name from an unscrupulous newspaper reporter.

What are some of the themes you explore in this story?

I was interested in writing about the limits of loyalty, the effects of secrets, the way in which secrets change us, how little we sometimes know the people we think we know best, the pressures of notoriety and the power of forgiveness.

What topics did you research to write The Bracelet?

TheBraceletI read at least a dozen books on various aspects of Savannah’s history, both antebellum and postbellum. I studied the history of the Sorrel-Weed House, which served as the model for Celia’s fictional home. I studied dressmaking, ship building, blockade runners, 19th-century medicine, antique weapons, the Chatham Artillery, shipping routes, the transatlantic cable, baseball, the slave ship Wanderer and horse breeding in Jamaica, among other topics. That’s one reason I love writing historical fiction. I love learning about this stuff and sharing it with my readers.

Is this novel similar to and/or different from your previous works?

All of my novels are about strong fictional women inspired by real-life events or real-life women. Last year’s novel, for example, was inspired by the life of Elizabeth Allston Pringle, a woman rice planter in the South Carolina low country. I relied on her journals and numerous biographies of her family to tell my story. The Bracelet is inspired by actual events in the Sorrel family of Savannah and by the custom of the jewels described above.

The Bracelet is a stand-alone novel, but will readers have an opportunity to see the main character, Celia, again?

Celia has an important secondary role in my 2015 novel tentatively titled Indigo Point. In Indigo Point, Celia comes to the aid of my lead character, India Hartley, a beautiful young actress unjustly accused of shooting her leading man during a performance at a Savannah theater. I had so much fun reuniting with Celia. I grew to love her during the writing of The Bracelet.

What else should Christian retailers know about The Bracelet?

In the 19th century, a large number of the most prominent families throughout the South belonged to the Episcopal Church. Church members were highly engaged with their communities and involved in numerous charitable activities. In Savannah, many Episcopal ladies supported orphanages, hospitals, libraries and the arts, just as I have described them in The Bracelet. Faith was considered personal and private. Though some wrote about their faith in private diaries, journals and letters, they didn’t often speak of it in public.

As an author of historical fiction I take seriously my responsibility to portray the past as accurately as I can. This includes matters of faith and the way faith was expressed in that time. To insert overt messages into the mouths of these characters would not be accurate. Instead I have created characters who, when confronted with moral decisions, choose to act in ways consistent with their religious values and consistent with their understanding of what it meant to be Christian. This is the context in which the story should be read and, I hope, enjoyed.

Bookbeat December 2014 Print Email
Written by Leslie Santamaria   
Wednesday, 05 November 2014 10:47 AM America/New_York


Former U.S. Army Green Berets Jerry Boykin and Stu Weber teamed up to write The Warrior’s Soul: 5 Powerful Principles to Make You a Stronger Man of God ($15.99, softcover). Among the five principles, the authors propound the reasons to engage in spiritual battle and the personal intensity needed to do battle. Weber is also an author and founding pastor of Good Shepherd Community Church in Boring, Oregon, and Boykin is founder of Kingdom Warriors Ministry and executive vice president of Family Research Council. Charisma House releases their book Jan. 6.



Chosen (Baker Publishing Group) releases Kris Vallotton’s guide to the prophetic next month entitled School of the Prophets: Advanced Training for Prophetic Ministry ($15.99, softcover). The best-selling author of Spirit Wars and The Supernatural Ways, Vallotton has served with Bill Johnson at Bethel Church in Redding, California, for 30 years. School of the Prophets outlines foundational truths about prophecy, including how to discern a calling and grow in the gift.



Too Many to Jail: The Story of Iran’s New Christians ($14.99, softcover) chronicles the growth of Christianity in Iran—despite persecution. The author, Mark Bradley, is a researcher specializing in Middle Eastern Christianity. Releasing Jan. 27 from Kregel Publications, Too Many to Jail focuses on the years of Iranian President Ahmadinejad’s reign, showing how the religious violence of his tenure actually opened doors for faiths other than Islam. Bradley includes individual stories of faith that show God at work in Iran.



Perry Stone’s Deciphering End-Time Prophetic Codes: Cyclical and Historical Biblical Patterns Reveal America’s Past, Present, and Future Events, Including Warnings and Patterns to Leaders (Charisma House) releases Jan. 6. The author of more than 40 books and director of Voice of Evangelism, Stone appears weekly on his television broadcast Manna-Fest, shown internationally via cable and satellite systems. In this release, he lays out the end-times events unfolding in the world today and the historical patterns leading to them. Available in softcover, the book retails for $16.99.


LifeTogetherInChristExamining the story of the two disciples who met Christ on the Emmaus Road, Ruth Haley Barton offers an interactive guide for small groups ready to experience life change in the context of community. Life Together in Christ: Experiencing Transformation in Community (Formatio/IVP Books/InterVarsity Press) releases this month in hardcover ($18). Barton is the author of several books, including Sacred Rhythms, and founder and president of the Transforming Center, a ministry equipping church leaders to cultivate communities of spiritual transformation.


SkinInTheGameBy posing eight key questions and reflecting on how Jesus related to people in the Bible, Rick Lawrence explores the idea that risk is required in the believer’s walk of faith. In Skin in the Game: Living an Epic, Jesus-Centered Life (Kregel Publications), Lawrence encourages readers to give their all for Christ, thereby finding the lives they really want. This title releases in softcover ($13.99) Jan. 27. Lawrence is executive editor of Group Magazine.


MotheringFromScratchMothering From Scratch: Finding the Best Parenting Style for You and Your Family shows moms how to set aside fear, allow for grace in their mothering and develop their own optimal parenting style. Bethany House (Baker Publishing Group) releases this softcover ($14.99) in January. The authors, Melinda Means and Kathy Helgemo, founded the Mothering From Scratch blog and co-led an online group of moms on DaySpring’s (in)courage website.


TheGrandParadoxKen Wytsma, president of Kilns College and founder of The Justice Conference, addresses the issue of paradoxes in the Bible and in living out one’s faith in The Grand Paradox: The Messiness of Life, the Mystery of God and the Necessity of Faith. Drawing on the work of Soren Kierkegaard, the author explains how the unknown and uncertainty are essential parts of the faith journey. Thomas Nelson releases Wytsma’s book in hardcover ($22.99) Jan. 27.

Pastor advocates ‘ordinary Christianity’ Print Email
Written by Leslie Santamaria   
Wednesday, 05 November 2014 10:43 AM America/New_York

Tony Merida became a Christian in college, went to seminary, led a church in New Orleans and then joined the faculty of the seminary he had attended. Occasionally he ministered to the poor, but he identified most with his roles as pastor, preacher and professor.

It wasn’t until later that he became passionate about mercy-and-justice ministries. At a student camp, he was asked to lead a daily Bible study on the poor. Merida tells how that experience changed his life in Ordinary: How to Turn the World Upside Down (9781433684166, $12.99), releasing Jan. 1 from B&H Books (B&H Publishing Group).

Ordinary“I began to see afresh God’s concern for the poor,” he writes. The Bible’s repeated emphasis on what he calls the “trio of the vulnerable: the widow, the orphan and the sojourner” particularly captured his attention.

Merida then considered how his life might better reflect what God’s Word says about mercy and justice. Soon he and his wife made great changes in their lives, including adopting five children and joining the fight against human trafficking.

Merida is founding pastor of Imago Dei Church in Raleigh, North Carolina, as well as author of Faithful Preaching, co-author of Orphanology and general editor of the “Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary” series along with David Platt and Danny Akin.

His new book is a call to care about what God cares about, and highlights ordinary actions that “can make an extraordinary impact.”

“I want to push back against sensationalism and ‘rock-star Christianity,’ and help people understand that they can make a powerful impact by practicing ordinary Christianity,” Merida writes.

The chapters examine how to love one’s neighbor, show hospitality, care for the fatherless, advocate for the voiceless, and walk with God in humility. Merida points out the motivations for doing justice as a Christian: We are made in the image of God, we have been redeemed, and our Redeemer will return to restore this world.

Positing love as the basis for service, Merida insists that love always includes action.

“To embrace mercy ministry under the shadow of the cross means to get involved personally,” he writes.

He also emphasizes prayer, referring to it as not merely preparation for the work, but often the work itself.

Throughout the book, Merida examines the life of abolitionist William Wilberforce, whom he finds worthy of emulation. Along with various Scripture passages, Wilberforce’s example is a reminder of God’s delight in using ordinary people to reflect His justice in the world.

Merida tells readers: “You are a great candidate for such usefulness.”

To order, visit

Helping couples navigate dating to lifelong marriage Print Email
Written by Leslie Santamaria   
Wednesday, 05 November 2014 10:38 AM America/New_York

Pastor Matt Chandler examines the wisdom of Solomon as a biblical model for relationships

TheMinglingOfSoulsPastor Matt Chandler is continually asked about how dating should work. The questions often reveal a desire for godly relationships, he says, but also a lack of wisdom and practical knowledge. His own courtship with his wife suffered early on, he admits, because he didn’t have a full biblical understanding of conflict.

Chandler leads The Village Church, a multi-campus congregation in Dallas with attendance topping 10,000. He is president of Acts 29, a network of churches planting churches, and author of several books, including The Explicit Gospel and To Live Is Christ, To Die Is Gain, both written with Jared C. Wilson.

Chandler and Wilson have partnered again on a book that David C Cook releases Jan. 1. The Mingling of Souls: God’s Design for Love, Sex, Marriage and Redemption is for singles and marrieds and relies on the wisdom in the Old Testament’s Song of Songs.

Solomon’s love story shows a couple pursuing romance, yet refraining from physical intimacy until marriage, then wholly celebrating their union and nurturing their relationship into old age. It is, Chandler asserts, a biblical model pointing to the hope of the gospel.

In The Mingling of Souls, Chandler states that love, marriage and sex were created and designed by God for His glory and our good.

“In a gospel-centered marriage, when two souls are mingled together with the Holy Spirit’s leading, we find confirmation after confirmation that grace is true, that grace is real—that we can be really, truly, deeply known and at the same time really, truly, deeply loved.”

Chandler warns against worldly approaches to dating, which, he says, seek to hide one’s true self and stir up love too soon. He believes “there are few things as damaging to the human soul as casual sexual encounters.”

Often, Chandler reminds readers that the God-given desire for physical intimacy is not inherently bad. However, he adds: “It must be held in check until marriage.”

He defines courtship as the stage where couples consider weightier issues. The point, he writes, is to determine “if the attraction is evidencing real love, the kind of selfless love the Bible calls married couples to embrace.” He stresses judging a prospective spouse’s character with help from godly counsel. Chandler also gives suggestions for conflict resolution, emphasizing forgiveness and the wisdom of responding rather than reacting.

Chandler speaks against all kinds of potentially abusive relationships—physical, verbal, sexual and spiritual—advising victims to “get out and get help.”

The final chapter of the book discusses fueling a healthy lifelong marriage. Chandler acknowledges that marriage often seems mysterious, yet adds: “What a great reassurance it is to know that God … knows exactly what he’s doing.”

To order, visit

Practicing good stewardship Print Email
Written by Deonne Lindsey   
Wednesday, 05 November 2014 09:31 AM America/New_York

Readers of personal finance books find renewed focus in new year



With each new year comes a fresh start. The end of January also brings the first round of bills for Christmas purchases and the first set of tax documents from financial institutions and employers, all reminders of what’s already been done—and, in some cases, what we shouldn’t have done. In short, it’s the ideal time of year to set some financial resolutions or simply to push our financial restart button.

For customers looking for a new way forward with their finances, publishers are supplying a number of new titles in the category to help them chart a path to better stewardship.



TheLeap-MoodyThe latest round of finance releases shows that authors who have personal experience—sometimes with understanding intimately how someone can end up having done it all wrong—appeal to the everyday reader.

One such author, Cheri Lowe, wrote Slaying the Debt Dragon (Tyndale Momentum/Tyndale House Publishers, January) after racking up more than $127,000 worth of debt, mostly in student loans, and then paying it all off.

Lowe, who blogs at, shares that even though her family’s debt left them in a difficult situation, the experience of fighting for financial freedom together not only strengthened her marriage and taught her children money-management skills but also brought her family closer to each other and to God.

TheFinanciallyConfidentWoman-RevellMary Hunt’s The Financially Confident Woman will be re-released in January, and her classic Debt-Proof Living was re-released in July, both from the Revell imprint of Baker Publishing Group. Hunt says that for many women, limited financial knowledge is less the issue than a lack of confidence. As someone who also has first-hand experience getting out of debt and following a successful financial strategy for the future, Hunt is well-positioned to encourage readers.SlayingTheDebtDragon-Tyndale

Revell Executive Editor Vicki Crumpton says that personal experience, along with years of research and reader feedback through Hunt’s Debt-Proof Living company, are the factors that have given Hunt’s books a high profile in the marketplace.

“She knows how to explain finances in a way that everyone can understand,” Crumpton said. “But most importantly, she’s a coach and encourager, coming alongside her readers and saying, ‘You can do this! I’ll show you what to do, step by step. Now let’s get going.’ ”

Sandra Vander Zicht, associate publisher and executive editor of trade books at Zondervan, agreed that shifts in the category show a greater affinity among readers for books by authors who have lived the questions at hand.

“I do think there has been a movement away from financial entrepreneurs, such as Ron Blue (Master Your Money) and Larry Burkett (How to Manage Your Money) to books that have been birthed out of personal experience, such as Mary Hunt (Debt-Proof Living) and now to books by bloggers and others that were a response to the recent recession, such as Living Well, Spending Less by Ruth Soukup and The Money Saving Mom’s Budget by Crystal Paine,” Vander Zicht said.


The conversation about personal finance also has become broader, including many who have found themselves on far less secure economic footing than they thought they were when the recession hit—and that trend hasn’t escaped notice.

“Due to the changing economy over the last several years, many ordinary people who never anticipated financial worry to be part of their future have found themselves in the midst of it and are now speaking out to share how they made it through,” said Sarah Atkinson, associate acquisitions director for Tyndale Momentum.




Many financial experts have said that getting out of debt and becoming financially secure require some sacrifice. But with the economic difficulties that many families have been through in the last decade, a new attitude has emerged, particularly so among the rising corps of women bloggers. For these writers, living with less has become part art form and part spiritual practice.

Ruth Soukup’s Living Well, Spending Less (Zondervan, January) mirrors not only the author’s blog of the same name but also the growing trend among readers who are realizing that having it all is not only practically impossible but also mostly unnecessary. Instead, Soukup focuses on creative ideas and practical advice that empower moms to create a life where their homes and finances reflect their true personal goals. The readers she appeals to favor capsule wardrobes, meal planning and do-it-yourself refreshes rather than buying more.

Another of the early-in-the-year releases will be You Can Adopt Without Debt by Julie Gumm (Abingdon Press, January). Gumm knows the financial pressures that adoptive families face first-hand. She and her husband added two siblings from Ethiopia to their family of two biological children in 2008. With the large amount of money required by private adoption agencies, many families either give up discouraged or take out large loans, adding to their financial stress.

Yet, as the Gumms prove by their own example of adopting without debt, creative families can cover the cost by applying for grants, doing some strategic budgeting and even personal fundraising.

Marketing Manager Cat Hoort said that Abingdon plans to support the release with “exclusive content that includes checklists, worksheets, reference recommendations, workshops and unprecedented [author] access.”

In addition, they’ll be reaching out to adoption organizations, family ministries and church communities to create awareness for the book.

Authors Scott and Bethany Palmer realized early on through their work in the financial field that family dynamics are impacted greatly by money matters. The Palmers, each of whom has more than 20 years of experience in financial planning, began to realize that they were increasingly seeing marriages end in divorce because of money issues. This observation prompted them to develop The Money Personality Assessment and write The 5 Money Personalities (2013). At the end of December, the pair will release The 5 Money Conversations to Have With Your Kids at Every Age and Stage (W Publishing Group).

“We believe that Scott and Bethany Palmer provide a very important contribution to this genre because of their focus on personality alongside money management,” said Matt Baugher, senior vice president and publisher, W Publishing Group. “Finding these traits and managing them as we relate to others is just as important as the money management itself. And kids are no exception to the rule. In fact, as parents, we have a unique opportunity to identify a child’s money personality early on and then parent toward that personality, just as in every other area.”

As the kids get older and consider how to prepare for their careers, they and their parents will be hit with the reality that the world has changed. Robert Dickie, president of Crown Financial Ministries, advises the new generation in The Leap: Launching Your Full-Time Career in Our Part-Time Economy (Moody Publishers) on how to navigate an economy that no longer seems to encourage lifetime careers with one company. In this January release, he outlines seven proven strategies for operating in today’s job landscape, discussing the value of considering various education options, the creation of multiple income streams and compensation areas to negotiate, among other key topics.



TheGreatTransferofWealthTwo January releases will be of particular interest to charismatic or Pentecostal readers. The latest from author C. Peter Wagner, The Great Transfer of Wealth (Whitaker House), focuses on the prophecy of Isaiah 60:11: “Your gates shall be open continually; they shall not be shut day or night, that men may bring to you the wealth of the Gentiles.”

Wagner tells readers that the Bible proclaims a coming day when God will release a great transfer of the world’s wealth into the hands of His people and shows how He will bring about a miraculous, worldwide financial transformation so that the Great Commission will be fulfilled and His kingdom will be established on Earth. He describes the proper uses of this wealth, the goals it is intended to achieve and how the newly financed church will use its “seven mountains of influence” to change the world.

C. Thomas Anderson also delivers the Harrison House book Becoming a Millionaire God’s Way, Part II, a follow-up to part one of the book of the same name from FaithWords.

“God has a plan for us to be prosperous so that His will can be done on earth as it is in heaven,” Anderson said.

Best-selling author and radio personality Dave Ramsey also brought a fresh perspective on wealth with his October release, The Legacy Journey, published by Ramsey Press and distributed by Thomas Nelson. Ramsey’s April release, Smart Money, Smart Kids, co-authored with daughter Rachel Cruze, has sold more than 100,000 copies. Known for his practical approach to getting out of debt, budgeting and investing, Ramsey heads a different direction with The Legacy Journey, examining what Scripture says about the financial legacy an individual leaves upon death.

Brian Hampton, senior vice president and publisher, Nelson Books, sees this as part of a trend in the category.

“In the future, we see potential for books that take readers to that next step—the significance level—by helping them understand how to use money to make a difference,” Hampton said.



Hampton also cites People Over Profit, the May 2015 book by Dale Partridge, founder of the socially conscious e-commerce company, as part of the trend toward using money to make a difference. Partridge says that established corporations have begun re-evaluating the quality of their products, the ethics of their supply chain and how they can give back. Meanwhile, millions of entrepreneurs who want a more responsible and compassionate marketplace have launched a new breed of socially focused business models.

Partridge uncovers seven core beliefs behind this transformation, believing they are the secret to creating a sustainable world that values honesty over deception, transparency over secrecy, authenticity over hype and, ultimately, people over profit. In less than two years, Sevenly has donated more than $3 million to charities across the globe. He has been featured on the cover of Entrepreneur magazine, in INC magazine and on FOX News.

And with the church more aware of social justice, the biggest shift may be how Christians talk about and handle money-related decisions. In addition to discussing good saving, giving and investing habits, the conversation has grown to include a key question: “How much is enough?” While financial planning for retirement and future concerns is still important, the concept of stewardship is taking hold in a greater way.



Retailers can help meet the felt need for books in the category by similarly broadening their thinking. Rather than simply allowing best-sellers or books by known names to fill product displays at the first of the year, capitalize on fresh thinking by creating other clusters of books that speak to related topics such as living with less, handling everyday life on the cheap or developing better disciplines in several areas of life, including financial stewardship.

Books like Spiritually Strong by Kristen Feola (Zondervan, January) reflect that “wise financial stewardship is an act of surrender and worship, just as much as Bible study and prayer,” said Vander Zicht, the book’s acquiring editor.

Feola takes a whole-person approach that puts financial health in the context of all of the resources God gives.

Similarly, relatively recent books like Say Goodbye to Survival Mode by Crystal Paine (Thomas Nelson, 2014), founder of, tap into an audience familiar with her work and primed for larger discussions about developing better stewardship of not just money but, along with it, time and other resources.

In this social media era, stores also have the ability to connect customers with authors to share quotes or articles and then link them to books available in-store.

The Bookery Parable Christian Store in Mansfield, Ohio, makes good use of business relationships by hosting Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University classes taught by one of the financial-services companies they work with in the store’s conference room. The store’s marketing manager, Heather Stofer, said the classes have created a win-win situation by allowing the store to partner with another company to create an event with added customer value.

Alternatives for stores with less space might be working with business partners to host these types of classes and providing discount coupons for related resources. Christian retailers also might consider inviting speakers from the community to address specific topics just before or after regular store hours to maximize the number of people who can attend the event.

Steve Storey, music and book buyer at The Open Door in Terre Haute, Indiana, said his store has the most success with well-established authors like Dave Ramsey and Larry Burkett. The Blessed Life: Unlocking the Rewards of Generous Living by Robert Morris (Bethany House/Baker Publishing Group) also is selling well.  

As is common practice, The Open Door features finance books in January.  

“We do an endcap featuring titles about finance,” Storey said. “The titles that are featured in the Covenant catalog will also be featured on sale on our website.”

Overall, personal finance is a category that continues to get attention in the marketplace.

However, Hampton of Nelson Books sees the category as still largely belonging to the more established voices.

“It seems to us the category is a difficult one to crack for new authors—more difficult than many other categories we publish to,” he said. “Money issues are always important and often emotional. My sense is that readers demand not just sound advice and lots of inspiration, but also an author who has a long track record of helping people win in this area. They tend to return to authors such as Dave Ramsey again and again rather than seek out new voices.”

W Publishing Group’s Baugher, on the other hand, sees new authors in this genre as important and believes they should be welcomed.

“I believe that there will always be a place for strong content in this area because the principles of good stewardship apply to any generation at any time,” he said. “New voices are important because they allow us to see a particular issue in a fresh new way, and each author’s examples are unique to both them and the reader.”