Archive for June, 2011

A Note from Linda Lee Chaikin, Discussion Questions for Hawaiian Crosswinds, and A Giveaway

Greetings dear Reader: you probably know that a “motif” is a reoccurring thematic element in a story. A reoccurring theme in Spoils of Eden and Hawaiian Crosswinds, books 1 and 2 of the Dawn of Hawaii trilogy, is the motif of an absent father-image. This “absence” is meant to represent a spiritual need in the story people who will find satisfaction in either reconciliation or personal fellowship with God as Abba Father. Can the disturbed hear the true voice of God, who calls them in the cool of the evening to walk with Him as Father in a renewed spiritual paradise of faith and redemption?

“I ascend to my Father and ( because of Christ’s death and resurrection) your Father.” “….And I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to Me, says the Lord Almighty.” 2 Corinthians. 6: 17, 18.

How does this theme apply in varying and differing degrees to: Eden Derrington and Rafe Easton, to Eden’s cousins, Zachary, Silas, and Candace Derrington, and to Rafe’s close friend, Keno Hunnewell?

Rafe Easton:

1. Rafe Easton’s father was deliberately left to die after an accident, and his gentle mother unwisely married Townsend Derrington, the man Rafe suspected of murder. As a boy, Rafe could never prove his suspicions. He was bullied by his step-father and watched Townsend manipulate his helpless mother. When Rafe grew into his late teens he suddenly left Hawaii on his first youthful voyage to French Guiana searching for the famous but illusive pineapple slips. Do you think he actually knew about the pineapples to introduce on the islands? Or was he running from the growing hatred simmering in his heart for Townsend, who’d robbed him of the father he’d loved and respected and also controlled his future inheritance. Was Rafe fleeing the desire to kill Townsend and reap revenge? How do you think Rafe was able to handle his hatred for such injustice and robbery?

2. Later, with pineapple success in Honolulu, Rafe Easton began to reestablish Matt Easton’s name on the Big Island. Did he do this to goad Townsend and his other competitors in the Derrington family?

3. What do you think actually motivated Rafe to save baby Kip on the shores of Molokai and adopt him? Do you think Rafe’s own experience as a helpless boy may have motivated Rafe to want to protect Kip and even adopt him? Do our sufferings have a spiritual harvest of good and evil? Who decides the outcome of the fruit of our experiences?

4. Do you think Rafe is suspicious about who may be the true biological parents of Kip? Is he uneasy? Do you think this is the reason why he wants to adopt Kip as soon as possible?

5. In Spoils of Eden, Rafe was determined to stop Eden Derrington from going to the leper colony to work with her father. In Hawaiian Crosswinds Rafe has come to an agreement with Eden to support her desire for a time. Why do you think he changed? Or did he? Does he now understand the emotional need Eden has in gaining her father’s acceptance?

6. When Eden is abducted and her death apparently imminent, Rafe apparently lost control of his hatred for Townsend. He said he would kill him if Townsend took the last thing in his life he loved. What do you think? How evil is the sin nature? Why do we need to be filled with God’s Word and His Spirit?

7. Do you think Rafe will actually grant his friend Keno his share in Hawaiiana pineapple plantation so Keno will have an inheritance with which to marry Candace Derrington?

Eden Derrington:

8. Is Eden Derrington finally coming to see the emotional dangers in her father’s naïve insistence that he can save his wife Rebecca from her fate of leprosy? Then why does she still feel committed to work at his side on Molokai?

9. Why was Eden so afraid to tell Rafe who it was she saw in Hunnewell’s garden the night a spy for Queen Liliuokalani prowled? Important papers were stolen identifying those who were working to make Hawaii a part of the United States. What was Eden’s motive for refusing to cooperate with Rafe? When she had to choose whether or not to fully trust him with her fears, what obstacle do you think was finally removed between her and Rafe?

10. What will it take to convince Eden to marry Rafe before she goes to Molokai with Dr. Jerome? What did she discover the night of the fire when Rafe’s beloved Hanalei plantation was burning? Can any good emerge from the dying ashes of dreams and the hate of others heaped upon us? Is it ever so dark in our lives that God cannot deliver?

Keno P. Hunnewell:

11. Keno Hunnewell is Rafe Easton’s closest friend. They are like brothers. Keno suffers from a feeling of rejection by the big haole planters because of his lack of a legal “birthright.” But what all important birthright means the most to the woman who loves Keno, Candace Derrington?

12. Keno’s lack of a personal father and denied rights of birth in the wealthy Hunnewell family seem huge to him. In contrast, Keno can point to the spiritual realization that all of us can become legitimate children of Father God through His Beloved Son, Jesus Who is Heir of all things. Who would you rather be, a child of the richest oil sheik in the Middle East or a joint heir with Christ for all eternity?

Zachary and Silas Derrington:

13. What is the cause for cousin Zach’s anger and jealousy toward the arrival of his halfbrother Silas Derrington? Do you think Zach is insecure? If so, why do you think so? Does his need for acceptance from his father Townsend justify resentment and jealousy toward Silas?

14. Why is Silas resentful and cynical toward the while Derrington family? Does he want to make a rift between Zach and their father Townsend?

15. Zachary and Silas are jealous of each other. They are at odds, trying to win first place with their bullying father, Townsend Derrington. What are they looking for in the relationship with Townsend? Will they find it in the godless symbol of Cain? (Townsend)?

16. Why is Townsend so hard on his son, Zach? Why does he prefer Silas? What does this say about his role as a father? Should a father ever show favoritism to his sons and daughters? Why? Why not?

Candace Derrington:

17. How is Eden’s cousin Candace different from the other Derrington cousins when it comes to her deceased father whom she never knew? Could it have anything to do with the privileged relationship she has enjoyed with Grandfather Ainsworth? Did Eden and Zachary have this privilege?

18. The glorious hymn “Abba, Father!” would send the souls of Eden, Rafe, Keno and the others in Hawaiian Crosswinds to the spiritual heights if they heard it! Do you know why it would thrill them? Have you ever heard this song? If so, what does it mean to you?

Last thought from the author:

Through Christ, God is now our Father. We are members of God’s household. Home is where God is. The Lord Jesus made all this possible for each one of us who trust Him as our one and only Redeemer. For the joy that was set before Him, He endured the cross to bring many sons home to the Father. Isn’t the love of God awesome? His loving arms are outstretched to you. Come, Home awaits us. Abba Father.

Respond with a thought or two and you will be entered to win both Spoils of Eden and Hawaiian Crosswinds. The winner will be announced on Tuesday the 5th.


A Tale and A Treat

This is a new segment for us here at River North Fiction. Our “A Tale and A Treat” blog series will highlight one of our titles and pair it with a tasty recipe. Today’s pairing is Hawaiian Crosswinds by Linda Lee Chaikin and Hawaiian Butter Cookies by Brittany Biggs.


Sandy Beaches Beckon

Being a life-long suburbanite, I’ve spent most of my days in or around a city—Chicago in particular. My husband and I live hectic lives with work, children, school, church, and the average amount of crazy busyness that most contemporary families face today. Once a year in the summer we take a week-long vacation. In my world the new year begins about the first of August, with the close of our summer vacation. My husband is an academic so this schedule is as natural to our family as the rhythm of the tide.

I was reading Linda Chaikin’s second installment of The Dawn of Hawaii Series, Hawaiian Crosswinds, when there was still snow on the ground. I enjoyed scenes of sandy beaches not unlike summers at the beach home of my husband’s bother, Linc and his wife Jule’ (although the fringed coconut trees would need to be replaced with powerful oaks).  In the opening scene I was transported. Linda writes:

The ocean murmured restlessly. Silhouettes of fringed coconut trees bent into the rising wind, their tall, slim trunks standing stark against the deepening skyline. Clouds tumbled along as if in a race for time.

She builds a colorful world with the historic backdrop of Hawaii as it develops into a state. With layers of intrigue, treachery, murder, and conspiracy, Rafe and Eden try to hang on to the love they share as political tensions mount. The story transported me to  the warm shores of 1890’s Pacific Ocean islands and kept me wondering if the family and political secrets would pull the pair apart.  

To read more of the story check out the excerpt of Hawaiian Crosswinds under “New.” Then enjoy reading the rest of Rafe and Eden’s story during your summer vacation—hopefully on any beach you can find. Even if it isn’t the beautiful shores of the Hawaiian Islands, you will feel as if you’re there.

–Deb Keiser

Acquisitions Editor


Hawaiian Coconut Butter Cookies

When I was in culinary school, one of the first desserts we made was coconut macaroons. I decided to step outside of the box and added chocolate chips to mine. There was a young man in my class who kept telling everyone how allergic he was to coconut. Well, you can imagine how surprised I was when this same guy popped on of my cookies into his mouth once they were done. I about had a heart attack, as did he, when I yelled, “Hey, those have coconut, you might die!” He immediately spit it out and only puffed up a little bit around his mouth. It turns out he saw me add the chocolate chips, and thought I didn’t add the coconut. I learned my lesson that day, people are not always as bright as you hope they will be (coconut is pretty distinct visually), and baking can be a weapon! People are allergic to many different things out there and a lot of them can be found in innocent cookies. Please warn your friends of the coconut and Macadamia nuts if you should use them. No one needs to have a heart attack. With that all said, these cookies were very well received at Moody Publishers where we had a little taste test. Here are some pictures of people trying the cookies and a few of the quoted responses:


“OHHHHHHHHHHHHH, these are REALLY good.”–Deb 

“Perfect balance—not too coconut-ty or pineapple-ly. The texture is incredible! Paradise in my mouth.”–Holly 

“MMMMM….This is serious business! So good!”–Adam 

“MMMM…Almond! I love almond!”–Judy

“Really good but I prefer them without the coconut.”–Ann

(There’s one in every bunch who doesn’t enjoy the taste of coconut. The recipe can be made without it.)

Here are the ingredients:

  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup canned pineapple juice
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • Pineapple, papaya, or mango preserves
  • Shredded coconut

Simply combine the butter and sugar with a mixer until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add in the egg and mix well. Mix in the pineapple juice and almond extract. In a separate bowl, combine the flour and baking powder. Add the flour mixture to the butter and sugar mixture and mix until combined. Drop the dough by the teaspoonful onto a baking sheet and create a small divot in the dough to place a dime size amount of the preserves right before baking. Bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Top with coconut (optional) once cookies are removed from the oven and are still warm. Here is a side note, we were discussing these cookies and thought that the addition of about 1/2 cup of chopped Macadamia nuts would really add a great flavor and crunchy texture to these cookies. They also add a bite more of a Hawaiian flavor and vibe.

These cookies turned out to be light and perfectly sweet. They taste tropical and make a great treat to eat while you are reading Hawaiian Crosswinds.

–Brittany Biggs

Know, Love, Serve

We went to Starbucks for our River North Fiction team meeting. This Starbucks location is an oasis in the city—tucked under the elevated commuter train and all too conveniently located close to our offices. Only two blocks away I can easily find an excuse to stop in: it’s rainy or snowy, too hot, I’m tired, it’s Monday . . . or Friday, the team finished our business plan, or we just need to catch up. With the constant flow of caffeine addicts (me included) and soft playing music, the team reconnects around our common mission: to produce fiction that will help our readers to know, love, and serve Jesus which goes hand-in-hand with our mission which is to know, love, and serve our readers.

What does this mean for Moody Publishers’s River North Fiction?

For one, we will only produce fiction that has a redemptive message. After all, isn’t that what Christ was doing when he told stories? He pointed to His Father and His Father’s kingdom. Often God was not in the story at all. Jesus used common everyday occurrences as illustrations that were understood by the audience—or should have been! Stories they could identity with and stories they could place themselves in. With characters who were often searching—longing for something lost like a son, or a coin, used as a parallel for His kingdom.

Next, we hope to provide a community around the love of Christian fiction. I stood on the train platform this morning and surveyed the community of commuters collected there. Weekday mornings I join the population of people gathered around the common experience of riding the train to work. You can tell who the daily commuters are. They crowd together at evenly spaced intervals in anticipation of the train doors opening in the same spot like it does every weekday morning when the commuter rail line pulls into the station. And everyone looks to the west in anticipation. Most regular commuters have a favorite car and line up waiting together. We might make eye contact and smile, some even say “hello” and may chat a while. We come together around a common goal. That is what we are attempting to do with our novels and here at our blog. But unlike the fleeting community that gathers for a few minutes every morning and disbands, we hope to establish a relationship with those of us gathered around a fondness for Christian fiction.
So, we want to hear from you. What do you like about reading novels? What kinds of stories do you long to engage with? Who are your favorite authors? Why read fiction, anyway? Is fiction true?
Please join us. We would love to have you as part of the River North Fiction community.


Deb Keiser
Acquisitions Editor

When is it best to “off” a character?

The email I sent to one of our fiction authors yesterday was hard for her to hear. (Let’s call the author Margo to protect her identity. I’m sensitive to giving away a plot-twist in her upcoming book).

I thought that the death of one of Margo’s characters was the best way to shape the story. One of Margo’s characters must die. It was a beloved friend of the main character, Susan, when any friend was hard for her to come by. But the story needed it; the reader would be served better by the loss; then Susan would grow stronger in Christ because He was all she had left. Margo must “off” the beloved friend.

Margo protested. Although the character was deathly ill she could not bear the thought of it. Here is the email exchange as we toyed with the life of the character.


Don’t you think the readers will hate it if we kill him off?


Yes, I think they will feel the pain. 

But I also think it will make a more convincing story. Plus we have women readers who can identify with horrendous loss and need to know that God is there with them in it. Like Christ sacrificed his life for Susan; through her loss Susan gained a new heart for God. 

If you feel strongly about the loss so will your readers. That is a good thing. 

So, do you think you can do it? Wish I could be there for moral support! 🙂


We’ll “off” him, no problem.

 Isn’t that what we love about fiction? Great characters we feel passionately about. Characters we adore—or loathe. Well-developed characters that make us feel their longing, pain and joy. Characters we hate to see come to an untimely end. Then there is the dark side of every story and the characters that are so evil that we cheer when justice is done. This is what makes a good tale a memorable one.

At Moody publisher’s new fiction line, River North Fiction, we plan to serve you, the Christian fiction reader, by bringing you stories replete with engaging characters that will encourage and inspire you as well as challenge you to see the invisible, living God. You will glimpse love, pain, joy, heartbreak, and through it all grasp the enduring love that our God has for His creation: you.

So over the course of our blog posts Brittany and I will be sharing life, love, fiction and faith. We hope to hear what you think, what you like, and what you want to see.


Deb Keiser

Acquisitions Editor


Ever wonder what an editorial assistant

Ever wonder what an editorial assistant does? This blog posting should help!