Christian Retailing

Fiction File March 2013 Print Email
Written by Leslie Santamaria   
Tuesday, 11 February 2014 04:01 PM America/New_York

BodieBrockThoeneTakeThisCupLATEST PROJECT: Take This Cup (9780310335986, $14.99, March 25).

PUBLISHER: Zondervan

This is the second book in “The Jerusalem Chronicles” series. How does Take This Cup follow on from the first title, When Jesus Wept?  All of the “Jerusalem Chronicles” are written in first person, in form as if drawn from a diary or a journal. Each (When Jesus Wept, Take This Cup and the just completed Behold the Man) focuses on a character and his or her encounter with Jesus. Just as happens in real life, some events will overlap between stories, and some will be unique to each story. Throughout our first-century stories of the life of Jesus, we have been marching toward the Passion Week events. Each story advances that timeline, and Take This Cup moves readers up to the night of the Last Supper.

What research went into creating Take This Cup?  We use Scripture accounts as the outline of events. From there, as in all of the first-century accounts, our research is divided between learning the historical details and finding all the prophetic references to events in Jesus’ life so readers can “connect the dots.”

What are the main factual portions of this book?  All the geographical elements (like caravan routes) and archaeological details and historical references are as accurate as we can possibly make them. Scripture references may be paraphrased, but they are true to the spirit and intent of the originals. Our operating guide is “Do no violence to Scripture.” 

Who is Nehemiah and what type of character is he?  Nehemiah is a child, and as such, he brings a unique perspective and unique needs. Besides that, he is the child of the Jewish families in exile and gives readers the chance to learn about those circumstances.

What must Nehemiah do in this novel?  Nehemiah has two tasks. One is to survive a difficult journey to join his grandparents in Jerusalem. The other is a spiritual task. He is to examine the claims of Jesus of Nazareth to be the Messiah and, if found to be valid, to deliver something of importance to Jesus.

What are some of the obstacles he faces along the way?  All the dangers of a first-century caravan trip that covered hundreds of miles: robbers, thirst, the first-century equivalent of terrorists. Plus, as soon as Nehemiah is aligned with Jesus, he is also in danger from Jesus’ opponents: Romans, temple authorities, Herod and the Pharisees.

Were there any specific challenges or rewards in writing this story from a boy’s perspective?  Bodie has had lots of experience writing believable and entertaining children [characters in their books], from Yacov in The Gates of Zion through the true story of Tommy and Bobby Tucker in the “Shiloh [Legacy]” books, to the Jerusalem sparrows. Nehemiah is just the latest in a long line of child protagonists.

What do you hope readers take away from reading Take This Cup?  As always, we want readers of our work to be driven back to Scripture, not only to verify what we write, but also to dig deeper and learn more. Besides that, Take This Cup emphasizes that all of us, no matter how ill-equipped we may feel, are selected by God to do great things!

You mentioned the next book in “The Jerusalem Chronicles” series. When will it be released, and what other stories are you planning to work on?  Behold the Man is due out in 2015. We will be continuing more first-century accounts of those who met and interacted with Jesus.


New Fiction Coming in April

The Fearful Gates, Ross Lawhead (Thomas Nelson)

Visible Threat, Janice Cantore (Tyndale House Publishers)

What Follows After, Dan Walsh (Revell/Baker Publishing Group)

Helping couples find an uncommon marriage Print Email
Written by Leslie Santamaria   
Thursday, 16 January 2014 09:18 AM America/New_York

Former pro football coach Tony Dungy and wife Lauren share their secrets to marital bliss in new book

UncommonMarriageThrough more than 30 years of marriage, former Super Bowl-winning NFL coach Tony Dungy and his wife, Lauren, have experienced great joys and successes as well as tremendous setbacks and personal tragedy. 

In Uncommon Marriage: Learning About Lasting Love and Overcoming Life’s Obstacles Together, they tell their love story and share the secrets that continue to keep their marriage strong. Tyndale Momentum, an imprint of Tyndale House Publishers, releases the Dungys’ book Feb. 4.

In Uncommon Marriage (hardcover, $24.99), the Dungys partnered once again with Nathan Whitaker, who has co-authored several New York Times best-sellers, and reveal what they have learned about building and nurturing a strong, faith-filled marriage even through pain and difficulty. 

The Dungys’ life together has been filled with job changes, moves between major U.S. cities and extended times apart. They attribute their relationship’s success to the regular practice of communication and prayer. This foundation held them together in the toughest times, especially when they faced the loss of their oldest son, Jamie. 

“The pain and sorrow were indescribable,” they write, “but because of our faith in God, we were able to hold on to our foundation—communication and prayer—through a very dark time.”

They add that “an uncommon marriage isn’t a perfect one; it’s simply the union of a man and a woman who commit to staying together and to following God’s leading as He shows them how to love and serve one another a little better every day.”

Uncommon Marriage is the first in a series of marriage products, which will be followed by a devotional and a DVD curriculum. The audio edition will release simultaneously wtih the trade book.

Officials at Tyndale indicate that Dungy’s products with Tyndale Momentum have sold more than 2.5 million units. His 2007 memoir, Quiet Strength—also written with Whitaker—became one of the best-selling sports titles in history with sales topping 1.2 million copies.

Retailers also will know Tony’s New York Times best-sellers Quiet Strength, Uncommon and Mentor Leader. Lauren, who is also a New York Times best-selling author, has written several children’s books. 

While Tony is seen on NBC’s Football Night in America, Lauren is a frequent speaker, serving as vice president of the Dungy Family Foundation and as an early childhood educational specialist. The Dungys are the parents of nine children.

To order, call Tyndale at 800-323-9400 or visit

Pastor encourages ‘living incarnationally’ Print Email
Written by Leslie Santamaria   
Thursday, 16 January 2014 09:25 AM America/New_York

FleshWhen Hugh Halter, pastor of Adullam Church in Denver, and his wife, Cheryl, became empty-nesters, he looked forward to finally pursuing some of his dreams. Yet he was quickly swayed by Cheryl’s reminder that now they would have the time to help people even more, maximizing how they live in imitation of the life of Christ.

Halter examines this type of living in Flesh: Bringing the Incarnation Down to Earth (9780781409971, $14.99, David C Cook) releasing Feb. 1.

Flesh is built upon the foundation of John 1:14: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (ESV). Halter points out that while Jesus came to Earth to die for our sins, he also came “to live a life” and “to model a new way to be human.”

Halter asserts that Christians come in two types. “First-decision Christians,” as he calls them, believe in Jesus as the Son of God. They may attend church, but they remain only at the level of belief. Others make a second decision to live as Jesus lived. He calls this “living incarnationally.”

In the most basic sense, living incarnationally, Halter writes, is to “invite the Holy Spirit to interrupt your day, and then ask for wisdom in how to follow.”

Living this way does not come easily, Halter admits; it must be learned and Satan will oppose such efforts. Therefore, Halter gives practical examples of trading one’s life for that of Christ. A key component is interacting with the world and being continually mission-minded. However, he cautions readers that the goal is not to appear godly, as many Pharisees in the New Testament desired. Rather, living incarnationally is “ultimately and beautifully about displaying God’s glory to the world.”

To illustrate his points, Halter uses the metaphor of a ladder with the rungs being incarnation, reputation, conversation, confrontation and transformation. He explains these in the book’s five sections.

To order, call 800-323-7543, or visit

Close Up: Tricia Lott Williford Print Email
Written by Leslie Santamaria   
Thursday, 16 January 2014 09:47 AM America/New_York

TriciaLottWillifordAndLifeComesBackLATEST PROJECT: And Life Comes Back: A Wife’s Story of Love, Loss, and Hope Reclaimed (9780307731982, $14.99, WaterBrook Press).

When you were suddenly widowed with two small boys at age 31, you wrote and blogged through your grief. How helpful was that to you? In that first year, my writing was helpful because it was a consistent piece of my life. This part of my day that I had claimed before Robb died was now something that still belonged to me when I felt like so very little was left. When there was nothing else I could do, I could write. And it became medicine for my soul. In the years since then, it has been a sacred place to return to since all of those memories have virtually disappeared from my mind. I can’t access that place anymore. If I had not written in those days and in those moments, then that season would be lost completely. I couldn’t go back and rewrite it now. It was raw and true then, and it was only mine to write in that season, in that year.

Did you have any particular readers in mind as you wrote And Life Comes Back? This book tells the story of what happens on the next morning, when the bottom has fallen out of your world, but the sun somehow rises the next day and you must go on. And the days keep coming, one after another, and you must continue. Such crises happen to people all the time: the death of someone they love or a diagnosis, a divorce, unemployment, broken dreams—and the world keeps spinning, the sun keeps shining, and we must each decide what to do next. This isn’t a “widow’s book.” This is a book for anyone who has looked into a mirror and thought with helplessness, “What on earth am I going to do now?”

What were some of the challenges in writing this book? There were three main challenges. The writing process required a lot of remembering: the greatest days of our marriage, the deepest struggles of our broken relationship, the honest journey through crippling depression, and even the details of watching his spirit slip through my fingers while I tried to save his life. My mind connects completely to whatever I am writing about, and sometimes it was very difficult to navigate the back-and-forth between remembering those days and living this one. Also, I couldn’t write the depth of the sadness I had felt because it’s an unspeakable, indescribable place. It’s too dark and too much, and nobody would want to read that book. Once I came to terms with the fact that the book would be lighter than the journey, once I had the freedom to not write to those depths, then I had an easier time telling the story. Third, the nature of writing a memoir is telling one’s own story, but this story belongs to so many people besides me. I scrutinized every word of each sentence to be sure that it honored Robb, portrayed my children safely and honestly, and told the truth the way I remembered it. That’s a lot of filters and calls for a lot of careful editing.

What helped you during the most difficult days following your husband’s death? A friend said to me, “Tricia, let’s set a date six months from now. Until that day, nobody is going to ask anything from you. You have no expectations to meet. Not a single one. Nowhere you have to be, nothing you have to do except take care of yourself and love your children. When that date arrives, then you can decide what you can do. Just know, right now all you need to do is take care of yourself and love your kids.” There was tremendous freedom in that gift. I went to Starbucks every morning, and I immersed myself in the book of Psalms. I read them and wrote them—verses or passages or whole chapters at a time. When I could not think, the psalms gave me words. When I could not pray, the psalms prayed for me. 

Who are “The Tuesdays” and what did they mean to your journey? The Tuesdays are four girlfriends who kept me from falling to pieces. They very truly saved my life. Jenno, Melody, Lisa and Melissa rallied together immediately, creating systems for groceries, housecleaning, childcare and meals. They knew that just because a girl wants to be alone doesn’t mean she should be, so they came to my house every Tuesday night. They brought coffee and dessert, laughter and joy, prayer and support, and they tucked me into bed before they left. Those are my girls. Forever, my girls.

What do you hope readers will gain from reading And Life Comes Back? Very truly, I hope you will find permission to feel however you feel, and especially the freedom to laugh. I hope you will find comfort in the truth and courage in the journey. Just take one more step. Just do the next thing that’s in front of you. Each day is only 24 hours long, and you can do this.

Fiction File February 2014 Print Email
Written by Leslie Santamaria   
Thursday, 16 January 2014 10:12 AM America/New_York

JanetteAndLaurel_OkeASK THE AUTHORS:  Janette Oke and Laurel Oke Logan

WhereCourageCallsLATEST PROJECT: Where Courage Calls, “When Calls the Heart” series (9780764212314, $14.99, softcover; 9780764212321, $19.99, hardcover; 9780764212338, $17.99, large print; February).

PUBLISHER: Bethany House (Baker Publishing Group).

(Oke) What motivated you to write prairie romances after 14 years?  I was asked by Michael Landon Jr. and his filming partner, Brian Bird, if I would be interested in writing another series. I first said “no,” then they suggested I co-write. I knew our daughter Laurel was in a space where she was free to pursue writing once again, so [I] asked her if she was interested in the project.

(Oke) How is Where Courage Calls related to When Calls the Heart, the book and Hallmark Channel movie?  The film released in October dealt with two sets of characters. Elizabeth Thatcher, a schoolteacher who went west to teach, and Wynn Delaney of the RCMP [Royal Canadian Mounted Police] were the first set. These characters were taken from the novel, When Calls the Heart. The second group, included a younger Elizabeth (Beth) Thatcher, relative of the first Elizabeth, who also chose to be a teacher, and who also went west. Where Courage Calls introduces the reading audience to the new set of characters.

(Oke) What type of character is Beth Thatcher and how does she change?  Beth Thatcher grew up in a wealthy home with two loving parents who rather pampered her. She had been ill as a child, so her mother was very protective of her, which caused her to feel a bit smothered and held back from independence. Leaving her secure home and venturing west to a quite primitive town was a stretch. Beth’s sensitive and caring side developed as she realized how blessed she had been and how needy were some people in her world. She discovered that she could not only cope, [but] she could also reach out to others. She also discovered that these people of little means had much to offer to her. She learned appreciation of persons, apart from status. 

(Oke) What other themes are explored in Where Courage Calls?  When Beth left home, her father sent her off with a Bible verse which he recommended she make a daily part of her life, Phil. 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” He knew Beth had always been told that she was not physically strong. He did not wish her to judge what she was capable of accomplishing because of her perceived weakness. If God gives one a task, a mission, then by faith we can depend on Him to also give the strength and wisdom needed to perform that task. We do not depend upon our own strength, but His. At times, we also need to seek counsel from others before rushing ahead with new ideas. Beth could have caused unintended hurts had she not sought advice from those who knew the people of the community far better than she. In the process, she gained much in down-to-earth wisdom and earned love and acceptance.

(Oke) Are there more titles to come in this series?  That is still pending. We have talked of further novels, but have agreed with Bethany House that we would wait to see if the readership is interested in more about Beth, her adventures and relationships.

(Logan) This is your second collaboration with your mother. How does your partnership work?  For this project, we were able to get together several times to work on the planning and writing, even during family visits. That was a huge benefit. But we also worked together online and spent quite some time on the phone. In an ideal world, Mom would be my neighbor, but we’ve been able to collaborate on this despite the miles.

(Logan) What research did you conduct for writing your first prairie romance?  I grew up on the Alberta prairie. Where Courage Calls is primarily set in a fictitious mountain town southwest of where we lived, an area similar to where we spent many family vacations. Mom had done quite a bit of reading about the Frank slide [a 1903 rock slide] referred to in the novel. Most of my research had more to do with the time period of the novel, which was required to be the early 1920s so that it would follow Aunt Elizabeth’s story [from When Calls the Heart] well, so I delved into the specifics of things like inventions and songs and fashion.

(Logan) Do you have other collaborations planned with your mother? How about writing projects on your own?  There seems to be interest in hearing more about the new Elizabeth Thatcher. I am also working on some homeschool-related materials and another novel.


ONLINE EXTRA: Learn how a devout Muslim became a Christian in Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus by Nabeel Qureshi (Zondervan). See our online bonus content at


Fiction File January 2014 Print Email
Written by Leslie Santamaria   
Monday, 23 December 2013 01:12 PM America/New_York

ASK THE AUTHOR TheDancingMaster

JulieKlassen-GingerMurrayPhotographyJulie Klassen

LATEST PROJECT: The Dancing Master (9780764210709, $14.99, January).

Publisher: Bethany House (Baker Publishing Group)

What draws you to the Regency era?

I have loved all-things-British ever since I read The Secret Garden and Jane Eyre as a young girl. But later, Jane Austen’s novels—and the miniseries based on them— cemented my love of the Regency era in particular. ... As a Christian author, I’m also drawn to the era because it was a time when church attendance and family prayers were commonplace.

Is the village of Beaworthy real?  It is a fictional village based on a composite of three real villages in Southwest England.

What type of character is Julia Midwinter? Is she a typical character for you?  Julia is a different character for me in that she is not the typical sweet, self-sacrificing heroine. Early on, she is a bit reckless, flirtatious and difficult. But like many people in real life, there is more going on beneath the surface—and in her past—that has made her who she is. As the story unfolds and secrets are revealed, I hope readers, like the hero, will come to understand her, and perhaps even become fond of her, especially as she begins to grow and change.

How did you research the dances and dancing instructors of this era?  I read the diary of the dancing master to Queen Victoria’s children as well as dance instructions from the 18th and 19th centuries. My husband and I went English country dancing several times, and this fall I attended dance classes at the annual meeting of the Jane Austen Society of North America. Research has never been so enjoyable! 

What themes are explored in this work?  The main themes are love and grace—contrasted with the foolish things we sometimes do to try to fill the void in our hearts that only our heavenly Father’s love can fill. I enjoyed weaving in grace in its many forms—social graces, grace in dancing and, most importantly of course, God’s grace. 

Why did you include the Byranites?  I came across the name in an old Cornish newspaper that described the Bryanites worshipping in a large loft over a stable with great fervor in imitation of David’s dancing before the ark. The beams suddenly gave way, and “the minister and his dancing congregation” fell to the stable beneath. How could I resist mentioning them in a book about a dancing teacher? Further research revealed the Bryanites (or Bible Christians) were an offshoot of Wesleyan Methodists, founded by a man named O’Bryan (originally Bryant).

What else should retailers know about this novel?  The Dancing Master is a stand-alone novel. [Also] the English country dancing described in the novel is akin to, say, square dancing or the old-time waltz here in America. In 19th-century England, dancing at a ball under the watchful eyes of chaperones was the primary way young people met and courted. It was considered so vital that parents hired dancing masters to teach their sons and daughters this important social skill. I sincerely appreciate everything retailers do to bring good books—and The Good Book—to readers!