Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Today is the last day to enter "The Perfect Summer Read" contest! You have until midnight MST - good luck to all who enter!

Use the form at the very bottom of the page, or click here to enter! The grand prize includes:
  • Beach bag
  • Beach towel
  • Stainless steel water bottle
  • Red flip-flops
  • Flip-flop key chain
  • Framed picture of the "Kindred Spirit" mailbox
  • Copies of: Healer, by Linda Windsor, The Mailbox, by Marybeth Whalen, Priceless, by Tom Davis, and Claim, by Lisa T. Bergren.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Mailbox, By Marybeth Whalen (Chapter One)
Take a look at this week's featured book:
The Mailbox, by Marybeth Whalen!

Scroll down for a chat with the author, as well as discussion questions for the book. Also, be sure to enter the weekly contest for a chance to win this book, and to also be entered to win our GRAND PRIZE for the month of June!

Enter the contest here.

Thanks to all who entered last week - the winner has already been notified. Keep entering!

An Interview with Marybeth Whalen

Q: How much of this novel is actually true?

A: The assumption is that a first novel is going to be autobiographical, but in this case it’s not true. While there might be brief references within the novel to things that happened to me or feelings I have had—especially as a mom, friend, wife, etc.—the overall story and situation is completely made up. But the setting … that’s entirely true. There really is a Sunset Beach, North Carolina, and it’s my most favorite place in the world. So it makes sense that I would set my first novel there. I have been visiting the mailbox for years and believe that it is a special place. A place where, as the photographer Lindsey meets says in the book, God hears you better.

Another true aspect about the novel is that I did first visit Sunset Beach, like Lindsey, at fifteen years old in 1985 (telling my age). I have very vivid memories of that trip to this day, which is how I was able to recall the details, the music, etc., of that time. In the acknowledgments, I thanked an old friend of mine, Holly, who took me with her on that trip. I also named the character of Holly after her as a little tribute. She couldn’t have known then that that trip sparked a lifelong love of Sunset Beach for me. When we left that year, I vowed I would come back when I was a grown-up. And I do go back every summer. I also named the characters of Uncle Bob, Aunt Frances, and cousins Bobby and Stephanie after my real aunt, uncle, and cousins, as it is their beach house we stay in every summer. That was my way of giving them a little shout-out.

Q: So the mailbox is real? Do you know who the Kindred Spirit is?

A: Yes, the mailbox is real, but I don’t know who the Kindred Spirit is. No one does. That’s part of the mystery and folklore of the mailbox. If you are ever in North Carolina, I highly recommend a visit.

Q: You have said that the book changed quite a bit from the original to the version we see. How so?

A: In the original, there was a letter to the Kindred Spirit for every year from 1985 to 2004. My editor didn’t feel we needed a letter for every year—that the letters were slowing down the flow of the story, which was true. So we left a few in so that the reader would know that Lindsey was writing letters every year, but not get mired down in every detail of every year as I originally planned. I think we have a happy medium now, a better mix between narrative and the glimpses into Lindsey’s past via the letters.

Also, in the original, Holly died. That seems so weird now because she became so much a part of the story, helping Lindsey process what’s happening to her like good friends do. The story of Holly’s death was told through the letters, so when we pulled those out, we had to figure out what that did to the storyline. I ended up adding her back and I am so glad I did! Oh, and in the very first manuscript, Lindsey’s name was Lucy, but I quickly discerned that she was so not a Lucy. Lindsey suits her much better!

Q: Did you experience a powerful summer romance like Lindsey and Campbell’s that you drew from for this story?

A: No. I had a few summer romances, but none that were enduring like you see in this story. Regardless of whether we’ve had a great summer love, I think it’s a notion that resonates with all women: this idea that we are unforgettable, that we are worth pursuing at all costs. God puts that in our hearts because ultimately He is the great Pursuer, the One who never forgets us. I liked that in this story, Lindsey discovers that about Him first, then finds it in Campbell. She was never forgotten. None of us are.

Q: You deal with a tough subject in this book: a Christian woman in the midst of a divorce and rebuilding her life. What made you decide to focus on this?

A: Honestly, it’s just how the story came to me. I didn’t really think about the aspect of her being divorced until I was well into the first draft and a friend of mine had pretty much the exact same thing happen to her that was happening to Lindsey. What was so interesting is that I went back and read what I had written from Lindsey’s point of view and it was nearly verbatim what I heard my friend saying. I knew then I was on the right track of tapping into the feelings and emotions of what Lindsey was going through in a way that would ring true. We have had so many friends go through this; I know there are women everywhere facing what Lindsey faced. And I often think, But by the grace of God, go I.

Q: You dedicated this book to a friend, Ariel Allison Lawhon, saying that this book wouldn’t exist without her. Why is that?

A: For most of my life I have had story ideas pop into my head. I would see something happen and think, What if …? So when I met Ariel, I was chewing on this idea for The Mailbox, and had been for some time. At that point she was trying to find a publisher for her novel, eye of the god, and she really encouraged me to try writing fiction. I was so nervous about it—I didn’t know if I had the stick-to-itiveness to actually finish a novel. With her continued encouragement, I kept putting words down—though I knew next to nothing about what I was doing. Finally I got about sixty thousand words in and quit. I had written myself into a corner and couldn’t get out. So I closed that file and moved on to other projects. A few months later I received this random email from Ariel encouraging me not to quit and begging me to just finish it. She said, “No one writes sixty thousand words and quits. You have to finish this book.” So I did. If she hadn’t persisted, I am convinced the book would still be sitting in a forgotten file with sixty thousand words written. So that (and her continued friendship and listening to my rambling on a daily basis) earns her a dedication for this book. I also dedicated it to my husband, who puts up with a whole lot when I am writing and deserves a dedication too!

Q: Now that you have written one novel, do you think you will write more novels?

A: Yes, I plan to write more novels. I keep a running list of ideas and add to it often, so I hope that list will keep me going for quite some time. I am working on a new novel that comes out next year and is totally different from The Mailbox. One thing I have learned through this experience is, I will always have more to learn about the craft of writing. I will continue to learn for the rest of my career as a novelist, and my hope is my work will reflect what I am learning with each successive book. That’s the plan at least.

Discussion Questions for :The Mailbox"

1. Lindsey is recently divorced. If you have been through a divorce and have kids, do you sympathize with her feelings as a newly single mom? If not, did seeing her character struggle affect how you view divorced women?

2. Lindsey struggles with her role as a mom, especially in light of the new dynamic of her family and her daughter’s transformation into a preteen. Campbell struggles with staying connected to his daughter from a distance. They each make efforts to connect with their children. Why do their efforts work or not work? Are they doing all they can as parents? Why is God’s grace so important to both of them?

3. At the beginning of the story, Campbell discovers his daughter has passed out at work. His mind goes down paths of worry even though he tries not to be irrational. Have you ever experienced that happening? How did you control your tendency to worry?

4. Lindsey’s daughter, Anna, says to her, “If Dad loves me like you say, he wouldn’t hurt me like this. I don’t think that he really loves any of us. I think that he loves himself and doing what he wants is all that matters now. But that’s not what real love is. If he loved me, he wouldn’t make me feel this bad. ’Cause when you love someone, you care about how they feel too.” Why is this true of Grant, and what does it say about his character?

5. What are some of the things Lindsey learns to appreciate about her new life as a single mom while she is at the beach? How do these little realizations affect her perspective and influence her

6. Ellie shocks Campbell by telling him that he can take Nikki with him to Sunset Beach. Why does she allow him to? Is Campbell prepared to be a father to a teenage girl with issues? Does he think he is? Does Ellie?

7. Both Holly and Grant’s mother, Jane, encourage Lindsey to move on with her life. Do you think that encouragement has something to do with Lindsey’s decision to take Minerva up on her offer to walk by Campbell’s house? If you were Lindsey, would you have done what Minerva suggested?

8. Running is a great outlet for Lindsey. How does it help her heal? Is there a physical activity or hobby that helps you like that? If not, are you inspired to find one?

9. All Lindsey wanted her whole life was a hands-on, involved mom. How do you think that lack affects her mothering?

10. Lindsey and Campbell leave the crowded restaurant and end up at the pier. Why do you think they both agreed to do that?

11. The photographer Lindsey meets at the mailbox plays a role in both her and Campbell’s lives. Do you believe God puts people in our lives to accomplish His purposes? Have you ever had an encounter that could have been orchestrated only by God?

12. What do the red shoes symbolize to Campbell? What does it mean to him when Nikki decides to wear the flip-flops he buys her?

13. How would you describe Campbell’s journey as a father? As a child of God?

14. How would you describe Lindsey’s spiritual journey? What does she learn about herself by the end of the book?

15. Would you have been able to trust Campbell after you found the letters? Would you have been able to forgive him? Why does Lindsey?

16. Why does Lindsey make Grant leave? Was she right to do so? Did he deserve a second chance? Why, or why not?

17. Holly prays for Lindsey to see Grant and Campbell for who they really are. Was her prayer answered?

18. What do you think happens between Lindsey and her mom after the wedding? Was Lindsey right to stay and deal with her situation with Grant and Campbell, or should she have gone to her mother’s bedside?

19. Forgiveness and second chances are big themes in this story. The saying goes that unforgiveness is like eating poison while waiting for the other person to die. To whom do you need to ask forgiveness and a second chance? To whom do you need to offer your forgiveness?

20. Do you know who the Kindred Spirit is whom we see in the beginning and ending of the book? At what point in the story did you figure out her identity?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Take a look at this week's featured book:
Claim, by Lisa T. Bergren!

Scroll down for a chat with the author, as well as discussion questions for the book. Also, be sure to enter the weekly contest for a chance to win this book, and to also be entered to win our GRAND PRIZE for the month of June!

Enter the contest here.

Thanks to all who entered last week - the winner has already been notified. Keep entering!

A Chat with Lisa T. Bergren

Q: How did it feel to wrap up this series?

A: Very gratifying. These characters have gone through so much, I was eager to see them through to a sense of peace. I got all teary with Nic and Moira in several scenes, which is always a good thing. If I’m moved, hopefully my readers will be too. But then, these days, I cry during commercials and Extreme Home Makeover. I swear that by the time I’m sixty, I’ll just have to be tucking a handkerchief in my bra like my granny used to.…

Q: Odessa and Bryce really take a backseat in this novel. Why did you not write more about them?

A: In my first draft, they actually had a stronger presence in the first third of the book. But their scenes felt flat against all that was happening for Moira and Nic. I decided that in my mind, they were really on a good track now—that the focus really had to be on getting my two prodigals back home. And I think there was more than enough to take in between those two troublemakers, don’t you? Odessa and Bryce are present—just more of the “supporting cast members” at this point. And Odessa became my personification of “home” for both Nic and Moira, so I thought it appropriate that she was a bit more in the background.…

Q: What motivated you to write about prodigals?

A: I think we’re all prodigals, in some fashion. After college, I had my own prodigal experience, during which I was actually bartending on Sundays instead of doing anything that my God would be proud of. I grew deeply depressed, had a come-to-Jesus experience, and left for the Holy Land. Literally. I went from bartending to Jerusalem, to visit my cousin who was studying the life journeys of Paul. After a few weeks in Israel and Egypt, I returned home—physically and spiritually. And went to work in an industry that had helped call me home— Christian music and books.

Q: What’s next for you?

A: I’m about to dive into a teen time-travel series, which will take me back to a time period I love—medieval Italy. Or perhaps Renaissance Italy. I haven’t quite decided on the year. But I was moved by the passion I saw among teen girls reading the Twilight series, and since I have a teen and tween, I wanted to write something for them. I long for them to read about heroines they can emulate—and heroes that would die trying to save them (not battling against the desire to take their lives as the vampire heroes do in Twilight). So this River of Time series is my attempt to cover those bases.

Q: What about on the home front?

A: We’re currently considering a year away as a family. We’re passionate about travel and after I finish the River of Time series, I’m scheduled to begin a series based on characters taking the Grand Tour of Europe. We’re wondering if we should take our own Grand Tour … we’ll see! Lots of unanswered questions on that front, but we’re leaning pretty hard in that direction. It’s exciting to dream about, even if it never comes to fruition.

Q: Anything else you want to say to readers? Where can they find out more about you?

A: The best places are my Web sites: and I really appreciate my readers and love to hear from them. They can email me at I also have eNewsletters on both sites that people can subscribe to, that will give you the lowdown each month. Lastly, I’m on Facebook and Twitter as @LisaTBergren and @TheWorldCalls. Connect with me via any of those portals—I’ll look forward to it!

Discussion Questions for "Claim"

1. It takes Nic a long time to come around to God’s way of thinking. What do you think were the most important factors for him?

2. Moira suffers from scars, outward and inward. Which do you think are worse? Why?

3. Moira and Nic are both drawn to their old ways and places where they once found comfort. Have you ever done the same? Discuss why we’re drawn to our old ways, even if we know a
new way is better.

4. How were Moira and Nic’s “prodigal stories” different? And how were they the same?

5. Wealth comes and goes in this series. Both prodigals (Nic and Moira) spend all they inherit, then gain it back in two very different (and sometimes excruciating!) ways. Discuss this factor in their lives—and how it impacts you in your life too.

6. What do you think was the pivotal change moment for Nic?

7. What is it about Sabine that helps Nic get over the threshold to happiness and love?

8. What role did Everett play in doing the same?

9. What was the most moving scene in this book for you? Why?

10. Do you believe that God is calling each of us “home”? What does that look like? Is it internal or external?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

This week's featured book is Healer, by Linda Windsor.

Scroll down for a glossary of Arthurian characters, as well as an "About the Author" feature. Also, be sure to enter the weekly contest, for a chance to win this book, and to also be entered to win our GRAND PRIZE for the month of June!

Enter the contest here.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Arthurian Characters

Most scholars agree that Arthur, Guinevere, and Merlin were titles shared by various personas throughout the late fifth and sixth centuries. These are the late sixth-century characters. Because of inconsistent dating, multiple persons sharing the same titles and/or names, and place names as well as texts recorded in at least six languages, I again quote Nenius: “I’ve made a heap of all I could find.”

* historically documented individuals

*Arthur—Prince of Dalraida, Dux Bellorum (Duke of War) or Pendragon/High King of Britain, although he held no land of his own. He is a king of landed kings, their battle leader. A Pendragon at this time can have no kingdom of his own to avoid conflict of interest. Hence, Gwenhyfar is rightful queen of her lands, Prince Arthur’s through marriage. Arthur is the historic son of Aedan of Dalraida/Scotland, descended from royal Irish of the Davidic blood- line preserved by the marriage of Zedekiah’s daughter Tamar to the Milesian king of Ireland Eoghan in 587 BC. Ironically the Milesians are descended from the bloodline of Zarah, the “Red Hand” twin of Pharez (David and Jesus’ ancestor) in the book of Genesis. Thus the breach of Judah prophesied in Isaiah was mended by this marriage of very distant cousins.

*Aedan of Dalraida—Arthur’s father, Aedan, was Pendragon of Britain for a short time and prince of Manau Gododdin by his mother’s Pictish blood (like Arthur was prince of Dalraida because of his marriage to Gwenhyfar). When Aedan’s father, the king ofDalraida, died, Aedan became king of the more powerful kingdom, and he abandoned Manau Gododdin. For that abandonment, he is oft referred to as Uther Pendragon, uther meaning “the terrible.” He sent his son Arthur to take his place as Pendragon and Manau’s protector.

Angus—the Lance of Lothian. Although this Dalraida Arthur had no Lancelot as his predecessor did, Angus is the appointed king of Stirlingshire and protector of his Pictish Queen Gwenhyfar and her land of Strighlagh. Like his ancestral namesake Lancelot, his land of Berwick in Lothian now belongs to Cennalot, who is defeated by Arthur. (See Cennalot and Brude.) Angus is Arthur’s head of artillery. It is thought he was raised at the Grail Castle and was about ten or so years younger than his lady Gwenhyfar. Scholar/researcher Norma Lorre Goodrich suggests he may have been a fraternal twin to Modred or Metcault. In that case it would explain Lance not knowing who he really was until he came of age, as women who bore twins were usually executed. The second child was thought to be spawn of the Devil. Naturally Morgause would have hidden the twins’ birth by casting one out, only to have him rescued by her sister, the Lady of the Lake, or Vivianne Del Acqs. This scenario happened as well in many of the saints’ lives, such as St. Kentigern. Their mothers were condemned to death for consorting with the Devil and begetting a second child. Yet miraculously these women lived and the cast-off child became a saint.

*Brude/Bridei—see Cennalot/Cennalath/Lot of Lothian.

*Cennalot/Cennalath/Lot of Lothian—Arthur’s uncle by marriage to Morgause. This king of eastern Pictland and the Orkneys was all that stood between his Pictish cousin Brude reigning over all of Pictland. Was it coincidence that Arthur, whose younger brother, Gairtnat, married Brude’s daughter and became king of the Picts at Brude’s death, decided to take out this Cennalot while Brude looked the other way? Add that to the fact that Cennalot was rubbing elbows with the Saxons and looking greedily at Manau Gododdin, and it was just a matter of time before either Brude or Arthur got rid of him.

*Dupric, Bishop of Llandalf—wants to start a monastery on land where Brother Martin lives (a historical bishop who may also be Merlin Emrys per Norma Goodrich).

Gawain—son of Cennalot/Cennalath and Morgause, brother to Modred/Metcault, and cousin to Arthur; Arthur’s right-hand man on the battlefield and much older than Angus/Lancelot.

*Gwendoleu—kingdom between Strathclyde and Rheged invaded by Riderch of Alclyd/Strathclyde.

Gwenhyfar/Guinevere—High Queen of Britain. This particular Gwen’s Pictish name is Anora. She is of apostolic line and a high priestess in the Celtic Church. She is buried in Fife. Her marriage brought under Arthur the lands of Stirlingshire, or Strighlagh. Her offspring are its heirs, as the Pictish rule is inherited from the mother’s side. There were two abductions of the Gwenhyfars. In one she was rescued. In the other she slept, meaning she died (allegedly from snakebite), precipitating the fairy tale of Sleeping Beauty. Both in Gwenhyfar’s abduction and in that of Sleeping Beauty, thorns surrounded the castle, thorns being as common a defense in those days as moats were. Also note the similarities of names, even if the definitions are different—Anora (grace), Aurora (dawn).

*Merlin Emrys of Powys—a Christian druidic-educated bishop of the Celtic Church, protoscientist, advisor to the king, prophet after the Old Testament prophets, and possibly a Grail King or Joseph. Emrys is of the Irish Davidic/Romano-British bloodline as son of Ambrosius Aurelius and uncle to Aedan, Arthur’s father. Merlin Emrys retired as advisor during Arthur’s later reign, per- haps to pursue his beloved science or perhaps as the Grail King. In either case he would not have condoned Arthur’s leaning toward the Roman Church’s agenda. Later the Roman Church and Irish Celtic Church priests would convert the Saxons to Christianity, but the British Celtic Church suffered too much at pagan hands to offer the good news to their pagan invaders. (See Dupric, Myrddyn, and Ninian.)

*Myrddyn (also known as Merlin Sylvester or Merlin Wilt, meaning “wild”)—a pagan druidic bard of Gwendoleu, often confused with Arthur’s Merlin. (See Merlin Emrys of Powys.)

*Riderch Haol of Alcut or Alclyd in Strathclyde—historic Coeling king. His relationship with Arthur, Urien, and the other kings of the North was tenuous. Arthur punished him for invading Gwendoleu to avenge his ambitious brother’s death. Yet he rode later on with Arthur, his father, Aedan of Dalraida, Urien, Gwendoleu, the deposed Morcant Bulc of Bryneich (now Saxon Bernicia), and others against the Picts and Saxons in the Battle of Camlan.

*Vivianne Del Acqs—sister to Ygerna and Morgause of Lothian, she is Arthur’s aunt and Lady of the Lake. Vivianne is a high priest- ess and tutor at the Grail Castle. It’s thought that she raised both Gwenhyfar and Angus/Lance of Lothian, all direct descendants of the Arimathean priestly lines.

*Ygerna—Arthur’s mother and a direct descendant of Joseph of Arimathea, was matched as a widow of a British duke and High Queen of the Celtic Church to Aedan of Dalraida by Merlin Emrys to produce an heir with both royal and priestly bloodlines. It is thought her castle was at Caerlaverock.

About the Author: Linda Windsor

With an estimated million books in print, Linda Windsor is an award-winning author of sixteen secular historical and contemporary romances and thirteen romantic comedies and historical fiction for the inspirational market. Her switch to inspirational fiction in 1999 was more like Jonah going to Ninevah than a flash of enlightenment. Linda claims God pushed her, kicking and screaming all the way. In retrospect the author can see how God prepared her for His writing in her early publishing years and then claimed not just her music but also her writing when she was ready. At that point He brushed away all her reservations regarding inspirational fiction, and she took the leap of faith. Windsor has never looked back.

While all of Linda’s inspirational novels have been recognized with awards and rave reviews in both the ABA and CBA markets, she is most blessed by the 2002 Christy finalist award for Riona and the numerous National Readers Choice Awards for Best Inspirational that her historicals and contemporaries have won. Riona actually astonished everyone when it won against the worldly competition in the RWA Laurel Wreath’s Best Foreign Historical Category.
To Linda’s delight, Maire, Book One of the Fires of Gleannmara Irish Celtic series, was rereleased by Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers with a gorgeous new warrior queen cover in 2009.

Christy finalist Riona will be rereleased with its heroine on an all- new cover in summer 2010. Another of her novels, For Pete’s Sake, Book Two in the Piper Cove Chronicles, is winner of the 2009 National Reader’s Choice Award—Best Inspirational, the Golden Quill Award—Best Inspirational, the Best Book of 2008 Award—Inspirational (Long & Short Reviews), and Best Book of the Year—Inspirational (Romance Reviews Today). For Pete’s Sake also finaled in the Colorado RWA 2009 Award of Excellence and the Southern Magic RWA Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence.

Linda’s research for the early Celtic Gleannmara series resulted in a personal mission dear to her heart: to provide Christians with an effective witness to reach their New Age and unbelieving family and friends. Her goal continues with Healer of The Brides of Alba series, which reveals early church history, much of which has been lost or neglected due to intentional and/or inadvertent error by its chroniclers. This knowledge of early church history enabled Linda to reach her daughter, who became involved in Wicca after being stalked and assaulted in college and blaming the God of her childhood faith—a witness that continues to others at medieval fair signings or wherever these books take Windsor.

Windsor is convinced that, had her daughter known the struggle and witness of the early Christians beyond the apostles’ time and before Christianity earned a black name in the Crusades and Inquisition, she could not have been swayed from her early faith. Nor would Linda herself have been lured away from her faith in Christ in college by a liberal agenda.

Linda’s testimony that Christ is her Druid (Master/Teacher) opens wary hearts wounded by harsh Christian condemnation. Through her witness, admitted Wiccans and pagans have become intrigued by the tidbits of history and tradition pointing to the how and why druids accepted Him. She not only sells these non-believers copies of her books, but she also outsells the occult titles surrounding her inspirational ones.

When Linda isn’t writing in the restored eighteenth-century home that she and her late husband restored, she’s busy speaking and/or playing music for writing workshops, faith seminars, libraries, and civic and church groups. She and her husband were professional musicians and singers in their country and old rock-and-roll band, Homespun. She also plays organ for her little country church in the wildwood. Presently she’s trying to work in some painting, wallpa- pering, and other house projects that are begging to be done. That is, when she’s not Red-Hatting or, better yet, playing mom-mom to her grandchildren—her favorite role in life.

Visit Linda Windsor at her Web site:

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Perfect Summer Read!

We have a special contest up for the month of June! Each week, use the new form (at the very bottom of the page, or click here) to enter to win the weekly featured book, PLUS be entered to win the grand prize at the end of the month! The grand prize includes:
  • Beach bag
  • Beach towel
  • Stainless steel water bottle
  • Red flip-flops
  • Flip-flop key chain
  • Framed picture of the "Kindred Spirit" mailbox
  • Copies of: Healer, by Linda Windsor, The Mailbox, by Marybeth Whalen, Priceless, by Tom Davis, and Claim, by Lisa T. Bergren.
Good luck to all who enter!