Archive for July, 2010

>Author Christina Berry’s Take on ICRS 2010

>Today we welcome Christina Berry, author of The Familiar Stranger, in the following guest post. Congratulations Christina for winning a Christy Awards nomination in the debut novel category, and becoming a finalist for the Carol Awards in the long comtemporary fiction category! Check out her book synopsis at the bottom of this post!

Having never been to ICRS (International Christian Retail Show), I had no idea what to expect in the opening gathering and PaceSetter ceremony. What a treat! Worship led by Jeremy Camp and The Museum, a Q&A with Randy Alcorn, quartets in abundance, and a moving speech by Facing the Giants co-writer and producer, Stephen Kendrick.

A secretive appearance by Mosab Hassan Yousef, author of Son of Hamas, quickened the audience’s collective breath as he shared about being a double agent, seeming to work for the terrorist group Hamas, while really feeding information to the Israeli Shin Bet. As he spoke about turning to Christ, being disinherited, abandoning fortune and status, and fighting US deportation, I was not the only one to feel I was seeing a Saul-to-Paul transformed man. (Yousef has since been granted political asylum.)

With such a historic, important presentation captured at a retail show, it seemed that this was not an ICRS of years past.

How right my feelings were. Out of all the speakers that evening, it is the wisdom uttered by Bob the Tomato that sticks with me most. Okay, perhaps it was Phil Vischer in a Bob-like voice. He painted the picture of conventions in the 90s, money rolling into the Christian market, everyone wanting a piece of the profit, excessive parties (alcohol-free), and wooing of major Hollywood players. And then came Big Ideas Productions bankruptcy and Phil’s soul searching, his decision to return to the roots of teaching children about God’s Word.

Once home, verses from Proverbs (30:7-9, NIV) jumped out at me:

“Two things I ask of you, O Lord; do not refuse me before I die: keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.”

Phil commented, and the audience agreed, that God’s Spirit could clearly be felt in the theater that night. Without the clamor and chaos of parties and starlets, God could be heard more clearly. Business might be conducted with more focus on accomplishing His purposes.

Sure, the show might be smaller, some publishing houses no longer attending, but the feel on the floor was respectful, excited, and anticipatory of what God might do.

Our own lives perhaps mirror ICRS. A smaller gathering. Less money spent. Less business done. Yet perhaps a greater sense of God’s purpose. A calm devotion to following Him. An assurance that despite unprecedented change, the best is still ahead of us.

“Better one handful with tranquility than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind.” (Eccl. 4:6)

Maybe less really is more.

A mother and foster parent, Christina Berry carves time out of her busy schedule to write about the heart and soul of life. The Familiar Stranger is her first novel. She lives with her family in rural Oregon. You can visit her at http://authorchristinaberry.blogspot.com/ .

Craig Littleton’s decision to end his marriage would shock his wife, Denise…if she knew what he was up to. When an accident lands Craig in the ICU, badly burned, with fuzzy memories of his own life and plans, Denise rushes to his side, ready to care for him. They embark on a quest to help Craig remember who he is and, in the process, they discover dark secrets. An affair? An emptied bank account? A hidden identity? An illegitimate child? But what will she do when she realizes he’s not the man she thought he was? Is this trauma a blessing in disguise, a chance for a fresh start? Or will his secrets destroy the life they built together?

>My Life as a Bookworm

>By: Stephanie S. Smith, blog editor

As a work-at-home freelancer, I spend a lot of time haunting bookstores.  Barnes and Noble, the little independent shop on the corner, Borders, the local Christian bookstore with overstuffed chairs, the city library.  And if they serve coffee, all the better.

Last Saturday my husband kidnapped me by taking me to the nearest bookstore and forcing me to pick out a book to buy–which turns out, in my mind, to be an A-rate date.  We browsed the shelves, brought our selections to the cafe where we read on tall bistro stools, and then amused ourselves people-watching.

Random observations of a bookstore…
*****

An elderly man holds up a book so his wife walking up the table can read the cover. With a million dollar grin, he shows it to her: How to Retire in Europe. I am charmed and jealous 🙂

*****

There seems to be a new trend of “re-writing” old classics, some of which I am sorry to say I cannot take seriously.  Not when Anna Karenina is suddenly a cyborg, or Jo March from Little Women romps through the night as a werewolf. I kid you not: Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters promises “romance, heartbreak, and tentacled mayhem” from its back cover.

*****

Speaking of monsters…vampirism has launched an epidemic in the Young Adult section, with every other book cover featuring a surly-looking, red-lipped youth retreating into shadows.

*****

A few weeks ago I visited Panera to be greeted by a new policy: only 30 minute free wi-fi intervals during their “peak period”. Meanwhile, Starbucks is putting out little notices on their tables saying, “We no offer free wi-fi!” Barnes and Noble has now followed suit. Back at Panera this week, the new policy has gone out the window. Thank goodness.

*****

At libraries, people respect the silence.  At bookstores, people talk on their cell phones, laugh loudly, order cappucinnos and even read books aloud sitting in the middle of the stacks. Why is that?

>Christy Awards

>Last month the Christy Award ceremony took place in St. Louis, where readers and their beloved authors gathered to celebrate high-quality fiction and the minds that created it.  Books are divided into different categories, and can receive a winning award or a nomination. 

The purpose of the Christy Awards, according to their website, is to:

“Nurture and encourage creativity and quality in the writing and publishing of fiction written from a Christian worldview.

Bring a new awareness of the breadth and depth of fiction choices available, helping to broaden the readership.

Provide opportunity to recognize novelists whose work may not have reached bestseller status.”
 
Here’s a peek at where Moody Fiction has showed up in the Christy Awards:
 
2010 Christy Awards

Christina Berry, author of The Familiar Stranger, received a nomation for the “First Book” category
 
Craig Littleton’s decision to end his marriage would shock his wife, Denise…if she knew what he was up to. When an accident lands Craig in the ICU, badly burned, with fuzzy memories of his own life and plans, Denise rushes to his side, ready to care for him. They embark on a quest to help Craig remember who he is and, in the process, they discover dark secrets. An affair? An emptied bank account? A hidden identity? An illegitimate child? But what will she do when she realizes he’s not the man she thought he was? Is this trauma a blessing in disguise, a chance for a fresh start? Or will his secrets destroy the life they built together? 
 
2009 Christy Awards

Cathy Gohlke, author of I Have Seen Him in the Watchfires, won the award for the “Young Adult” category
 
Robert Glover, who first appeared in the Christy Award-winning William Henry is a Fine Name, is now seventeen years old and the Civil War has begun. When Robert’s father leaves to help the Union, Robert reluctantly promises not to enlist until he turns eighteen. But soon his cousin Emily asks him in a letter to help his estranged, ailing mother, as well as Emily’s father Albert, who has been wounded and imprisoned at Fort Delaware. In his attempt to help Albert, Robert unwittingly becomes a pawn of a Confederate escape plan. Angry and ashamed, he works his way south to his mother and Emily, only to discover that his mother has become mentally unstable. But time is short as Sherman’s march of destruction through the Carolinas promises to bring Union troops directly to their door. As Robert leads the group toward safety, the bonds between Emily and himself are strengthened. Robert must come to terms with his mother and his own responsibilities before God.

2008 Christy Awards 

Lisa McKay, author of My Hands Came Away Red, received a nomination for her book in the “Suspense” category
 
Cori signs up for a mission trip to Indonesia during the summer after her senior year of high school. Inspired by happy visions of building churches and seeing beautiful beaches, she gladly escapes her complicated love life back home. Six weeks into the trip, a conflict that has been simmering for years flames to deadly life on the nearby island of Ambon. Before they can leave, Cori and her teammates find themselves caught up in the destructive wave of violence washing over the Christian and Muslim villages in the area. Within days the church they helped build is a smoldering pile of ashes, its pastor and many of the villagers are dead, and the six teenagers are forced to flee into the hazardous refuge of the jungle with only the pastor’s son to guide them.

>Hollow: An Unpolished Tale

>By: Stephanie S. Smith, blog editor

As for now and the foreseeable future, I will never tire of memoirs.  People tell their own stories best, and I cherish the opportunity to peek into their lives and learn from their experiences.  Hello, I Love You was a great memoir about an adoption story, I am currently reading Mary Karr’s The Liar’s Club (Penguin Books,1995), and I can’t wait to start reading this one…

 Twenty nine years, 7 months, 14 days and the battle still rages…

Jena Morrow has an eating disorder. It can kill her. Jena Morrow has a Savior. He came to give her abundant life.

This is not a polished tale of victory but an honest, true story of fragility. Hollow recounts Jena’s daily struggle with anorexia and the God who is able and willing to reach down into the dirt. A central theme of Hollow is the surrender of control to Jesus Christ. His Word is interwoven throughout the story as rebuttals to the lies that besiege those engaged in any addiction.

In addition to her point of view, Jena includes those of her friends, family, and former therapists providing an undercurrent of hope.
Written in an easy conversational voice, Hollow will resonate with those in the midst of a struggle and those who stand beside them.

Click here to read an excerpt!

Jena Morrow chronicles her journey with an eating disorder in her debut book, Hollow (May 2010). She studied music education at North Central College in Naperville, Illinois, and currently makes her home in Crest Hill, Illinois with her son. For more information, visit jenamorrow.blogspot.com.




>Giveaway Winners!

>

I just want to thank everyone who posted on the giveaway contest for Hello, I Love You. I am encouraged to hear the stories of those who are in the process of adoption, have adopted, rejoice in their adopted status because of their Heavenly Father…truly thank you for sharing! It is a rich spiritual concept as well and check back here on the blog soon for my own review of this memoir.

Now for the winners!

1) Christi
2) Ashley
3) EJ
4) Kristen

Thank you all again! Check back this summer for more giveaways!

Stephanie S. Smith
Moody Publishers