Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Bound by Guilt by C.J. Darlington

TitleTrakk.com Blog Tours Presents:
Bound by Guilt
by C.J. Darlington
Published by Tyndale House

Roxi Gold is a throwaway, shuttled from one foster home to another for most of her life. She longs for a family and will do anything to fit in--even if it's against the law. Soon she's traveling the country stealing rare books from unsuspecting bookstores, until a first edition of The Great Gatsby catches up with her.

Police officer Abby Dawson has seen the worst of society, and not just at work. The job she once loved has become a chore, the world isn't any safer, and there's no joy in her life. One fateful night a man's innocent blood changes both Roxi's and Abby's lives forever.

One searches for justice; the other finds herself on the run. Will the power of forgiveness set them free, or will they both remain bound by guilt?

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Bound by Guilt is a book about what true love and happiness are. The world teaches us differently than Jesus does about those two things. Sometimes we think that love is about getting something from someone or being perfect to be loved. Jesus doesn't stop loving us when we mess up. We can be loved by someone for just being who we are. Sometimes we are our own worst critic. No one judges us as harshly as we judge ourselves. We need to stop being the judge and jury. God can see through all of our mess and loves us anyway. This is another wonderful book by C.J. Darlington. This is not a book you want to miss.

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C. J. Darlington won the 2008 Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild Operation First Novel contest with her first novel, Thicker Than Blood. She has been in the antiquarian bookselling business for over twelve years, scouting for stores similar to the ones described in her novels before cofounding her own online bookstore. In 2006 C. J. started the Christian entertainment Web site www.TitleTrakk.com with her sister, Tracy, and has been actively promoting Christian fiction through book reviews and author interviews. A homeschool graduate, she makes her home in Pennsylvania with her family and their menagerie of dogs and cats.

Today CJ joins us on her blog tour for the debut of her second novel, Bound by Guilt. CJ, thanks so much for taking the time to answer some questions about yourself. As a homeschool mom I am very interested in your personal story and your writing journey.



How old were you when you started writing?

I remember being eight or nine and sitting at my dad’s old word processor typing up a story. My first epic was called “The Horse’s Story” and was about Joshua of the Bible’s horse. It was going to follow him through the walls of Jericho falling down. When I was eleven or so I started my next epic called “Moby”. It was about a Labrador Retriever searching for his place in the world. As you can tell, I love animals, and most of my early stories revolved around them. My sister and I also had a newspaper we peddled around our neighborhood for 50 cents.

How did you realize that writing would be something you wanted to do as a career?

At first I didn’t. As a teenager I had all the usual, “What am I supposed to do with my life?” questions. I knew I liked to write, and even back as a kid I would dream about someday, maybe, having a book published. But my parents really encouraged me to pursue the things that interested me. Now as an adult I believe that God often plants desires in our hearts as children to guide us into our callings. I think the biggest clue for me was that only when I was writing was I truly content. Sure, it was hard work at times. It still is. But it’s as if something inside me only turned on when I was fulfilling what God had called me to do.

Tell us about your business you started with your sister and how old you were when you began that adventure.

This was something else that I think the Lord orchestrated in our lives. One of my favorite pastimes as a kid was going to the library. So it only made sense I’d start to haunt used bookstores as I got older. There is this amazing bookstore in West Chester, Pennsylvania called Baldwin’s Book Barn. It’s five stories tall and contains over 300,000 used and rare books. You can literally get lost in it. One day we were perusing the shelves and saw a book for $20 or $30, and something clicked. We’d seen the book before. Only it was $1 or $2 at a different used bookstore down the road from us. We asked ourselves, could we buy the cheaper book, sell it to them wholesale and make a profit?

It all started from there. We were seventeen years old, and we didn’t know our little idea was called book scouting. Soon we were scouting for several bookstores in our area and turning a small profit. But it was a lot of work. Within a year we realized we needed to cut out the middle man and sell the books directly to consumers ourselves. The internet was just taking off for used book dealers, and we jumped into the foray with both feet and started our own online bookstore.

We began traveling to used book sales all across the country, and the business quickly grew into something we couldn’t handle on our own. Mom was the first to join us, and then our dad followed suit. Now that little book business started by two ambitious teenagers is our entire family’s business.

I was able to incorporate a lot of what I learned about rare books and the book business in both my novels. A first edition of Ernest Hemingways’ For Whom the Bell Tolls plays an important role in the Thicker than Blood story, and a first edition of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby in Bound by Guilt.

How old were you when you started writing "Thicker Than Blood".

I was fifteen when I started the story that would become Thicker than Blood. I still have the notebook with those early writings.

I know you won an award for that book. Can you tell us about that and how that felt to be such a young author with such a great accomplishment?

It was truly an honor. It took almost fifteen years of hard work to learn the craft of writing well enough to complete Thicker than Blood. I’d actually submitted an early version of the novel to the 2004 Operation First Novel contest sponsored by the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild and Tyndale House. It placed as a semi-finalist but didn’t win. So I began to revise it and started submitting to publishers directly. I received many rejections but learned from them how I could improve the story. Even so, I became discouraged after four years passed and it hadn’t found a home yet. Then one night I had the thought . . . what if I submitted the revised story to that year’s Operation First Novel contest (it’s a yearly contest)? With only two weeks to spare, I did. It was such a blessing to win in 2008. A year later Thicker than Blood was published by Tyndale House.

Did it take you a shorter amount of time to write "Bound by Guilt"?

Yes, during the time I was submitting Thicker than Blood to publishers, I was writing Bound by Guilt. It took me about four years to complete. I hope to speed that process up with my future projects!

Is there a third book on the way?

I’m currently writing my third novel. I don’t have a contract for it yet, but we’ll see what happens in the future!

I am sure your family is very proud of you. What part have they played in your writing career?

My family is a HUGE encouragement to me. I wouldn’t be here talking to you today if it weren’t for them. Mom is my first editor and is incredible in helping me edit my stories and brainstorm possibilities. My dad is my first reader and often has great insights. Tracy, my twin sister, listens to me ramble on and on about my characters and plots and always asks great questions!

What advice would you offer those who have a desire to write and become published?

I think it’s important to go in knowing it can take time, often many years, to be published. And often our first novels are learning experiences and it’s the second or third or fourth book which is published. Writing is an apprenticeship in many ways. If we know that ahead of time it can help us not be discouraged when things take longer than we might want. I didn’t know it would take fifteen years for my first book to be published. But during that time I was learning so much and am glad I wasn’t published when I first wanted to be.

Is there any special advice for the young writer?

Write what interests you! That’s huge. Don’t worry about being published or markets and things like that in the early stages. Just write the story that’s in your heart to write. Your passion will come through on the page.

Do you have any other writing projects in the works

I have a story coming out in the compilation The Dog Next Door : And Other Stories of the Dogs We Love. It’s being published in June by Revell Books. My story is about my childhood dog named Cindy and how she impacted the life of my grandmother. I called it “The Purpose Driven Dog"!


Want More?





Thicker Than Blood: Her first book-see my post below.

Title Trakk Bound by Guilt Blog Tour:  http://www.titletrakkblogtours.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Thicker Than Blood by C.J. Darlington

Winner of the 2008 Christian Writers Guild Operation First Novel contest



Christy Williams finally has her life on track. She’s putting her past behind her and working hard to build a career as an antiquarian book buyer. But things begin to unravel when a stolen Hemingway first edition is found in her possession, framing her for a crime she didn’t commit. With no one to turn to, she yearns for her estranged, younger sister, May, who she abandoned in their childhood after their parents’ untimely deaths. Soon Christy’s fleeing from her shattered dreams, her ex-boyfriend, and God. May’s Triple Cross ranch could be the safe haven she’s searching for, but will the sisters realize that each possesses what the other desperately needs before it’s too late?

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Thicker Than Blood Book Trailer


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Thicker Than Blood

C.J. is one of those remarkable people who allows God to shape them at a very early age. She is a homeschool graduate and started a business when she was still in school. (We will learn more about that in an interview with her in a few days.) I knew she had to have talent in order to win the novel contest. But to be very honest, I had no idea she was as gifted a writer as she is. It didn't take long after I started reading Thicker Than Blood for me to see just how good she is at her craft.

Thicker Than Blood touches on some pretty difficult topics. I believe most people who do not know and understand the love of God feel the way Christy Williams does. She feels alone and like no one, not even God will care for her after the terrible things she has done and choices she has made in her life. Many feel they are unloveable because they can't even love themselves. Even Christians can be deceived into believing those lies when we are at our lowest point. God uses people to show us His love and that we really can be loved by Him and others despite our shortcomings.

This is a book of forgiveness and new beginnings. Sometimes we have to reach the very bottom before we can start to climb our way out. Christy hits rock bottom and is lead to the strongest connection she has to her past life, her sister May. When May lost her parents and then her sister fifteen years earlier she found someone who could get her through anything, Jesus. May thought she was over her pain of Christy leaving right after their parents funeral but as she spends time with her the pain comes back and makes her question herself and her sister. Can she show Christy the love she found in Christ or will her pain keep her from being what Christy needs most, a sister who loves her? Read Thicker Than Blood and find out. You won't want to miss this great book.

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Want More?





Bound By Guilt: Available Now! (My book review and an interview with CJ coming later this week. Check back!)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Freelance Writing Courses from Author Janice Thompson

Want to learn how to write? Interested in making money with your writing? Check out these work-at-your-own-pace courses from author Janice Thompson. Whether you're interested in fiction, non-fiction, magazine articles, public speaking, editing or teaching, these courses will meet your need. Best of all, you can make money doing the thing you love to do...writing!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Leaving by Karen Kingsbury

The Bailey Flanigan series begins with Bailey leaving Bloomington for the adventure of a lifetime. She has won an audition for the ensemble of a Broadway musical in New York City.

Bailey is determined to take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, but is she really ready to leave family and friends for the loneliness of the city? And what of Cody? His disappearance has her worried about their future and praying that their love can survive.

In order to be closer to his mother in jail, Cody takes a coaching job in a small community outside Indianapolis. New friends, distance, and circumstances expose cracks in his relationship with Bailey Flanigan.

Love, loneliness, big opportunities, and even bigger decisions highlight the first book in the new Bailey Flanigan series that features members of the popular Baxter family and finally completes the Bailey Flanigan/Cody Coleman story.
 
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Leaving Book Trailer



 
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The Bailey Flanigan Series Leaving


I have followed the story of Bailey Flannigan through so many of Karen's books. It is wonderful to see her with a series of her own. I can't wait to see how it all plays out. I was so excited to be picked to be one of the first to review Leaving. I told everyone. I have almost all of her books in my home library. I stayed up until two in the morning because I just had to know what happened next. One of the things that I love most about Karen's books is the fact that scripture is intertwined throughout the book. It helps the reader to see how God can speak to us in similar situations.
 
In Leaving there were many things that stood out to me. The biggest was the fact that life is precious. It passes too quickly and we should live each day to the fullest. We should never spend our days worrying about what is coming up but take that day to laugh and live. It also points out something we don't often think about, the lasts. We focus on our child's firsts, the first time they walk, the first time they play a ball game, etc. But what about the last time they crawl, the last day of elementary school, the last day of high school, the last ... you fill in the blank. There can be so many lasts. And sometimes we don't know they are the last one. So don't worry about your days, enjoy them to the fullest.
 
Cody shows respect to an authority figure even though that person isn't deserving of that respect. He prays for God to change things instead of him trying to change things himself. That spoke volumes to me. In this world where everyone is out to get what they deserve and wants justice no matter what, this was refreshing. He always keeps his example to the youth he works with pure.
 
It focused a lot on growing up and moving away from home. It changes for everyone not just the child that has grown up and is now ready to spread their wings in the world. The parents and children still at home have to readjust life as they know it. There is a change in the dynamics. We all have to grow up and move forward in life. The lesson I learned from this book (and the others that had this family in them) was to have no regrets because you spent the years building up to that, supplying them with what they needed to make it. To make sure they are grounded in their faith in God. To make sure your relationship with each other is strong. Then place them in God's hands and love them all the more.

The characters have had my heart from the beginning. I already knew them from previous books. I have walked with them through their ups and downs. Karen has a way of making her characters so real that you just have to know what they are doing. Even she can't stop writing about the Flanigan's and the Baxter's. I cried many times throughout this book. In some of her books I have had heart wrenching cries and others it is just a quiet time where the tears just roll down my face. God uses Karen to speak to my heart through so many situations. What a blessing that this lady is willing to allow God to speak through her writing.
 
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Want More?
 
Her website: http://karenkingsbury.com/
 
Her Facebook: Meet Karen Here
 
Bailey Flannigan's Facebook: Meet Bailey Here
 
Book 2: Learning June 2011

Friday, March 4, 2011

Driven by Shellie Neumeier

Robyn can’t help but notice the handsome new guy at her school. She ignores, however, the arrival of another being at Brookfield Central High School—a demon assigned to destroy her…

Robyn loves her friends, enjoys her youth group, and looks forward to meeting cute Caleb Montague. But when a caustic news reporter challenges her school’s prayer team, Robyn must choose: defend their right to meet on campus and pray for whomever they wish or back down at the principal’s request.

 

Now she must learn what God wants her to do. And she had better learn fast, because there’s a supernatural enemy in town whose sole mission is to stop her—no matter the cost.

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Driven Book Trailer
 
 
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Driven is YA fiction that takes us for a wild ride into the supernatural. No one knows for certain how that works but some authors have done a great job of giving us possibilities. Shellie Neumeier is one of them. We are introduced to Sebastian. He is the demon sent to bring Robyn's ministry down. There are demons in the story but there are also angels, called Heavenlies. Robyn is a caring and bright 17 year old who loves the Lord and her friends. She doesn't always have perfect thoughts but tries very hard to follow what God would have her do.


I love the fact that while she does show her weaknesses and her human thoughts, like pride, she also admits it and sees it for what it is, sin. She has a great relationship with her parents, youth leader and her prayer team. She can talk to them about the big issues and does. She isn't afraid to put herself in hard situations if she feels that is what God would have her do.

This book shows us how forgiveness is not just something we need from others but from ourselves as well. It allows us to understand that we are fighting things that are not of this world. We should have the full armor of God on daily so we are better equiped to fight the demons that desire to sift us like wheat. We need to be aware that the thoughts in our mind, if they do not line up to what God has told us in His Word, should be cast out of our mind. They are not truth. It also reminds us that we have power in the name of Jesus.

I think this is a great book for teens. If they are grounded in their faith then the talk of demons will not scare them. They will be encouraged to see how the power of God is there to protect them. They just need to call out to Him whenever the Spirit prompts them to. But we need to believe spiritual warfare is real because the Bible tells us it is. And that we fight against them daily. If we can ground our teens in this knowledge at an early age and teach them how to over come it, then they will have strength in that. It's also a lesson adults should learn.

It is an easy book to read and hard to put down. I am hopeful that these characters will live on in more books soon.
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The Wishing Ring: February 2012




Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Master's Wall by Sandi Rog

He fights for his freedom. She fights for her life. Together, they fight for each other.

After watching Roman soldiers drag his parents away to their death, David, a young Hebrew, is sold and enslaved to serve at a villa outside of Rome. As David trains to become a skilled fighter, he works hard to please his master and hopes to earn his freedom. However, an opportunity to escape tempts him with its whispering call. Freedom beckons, but invisible chains hold him captive to the master's granddaughter, an innocent girl with a fiery spirit. David vows to protect Alethea from his master, the murderous patriarch, and contrives a daring plan--sacrifice his own life to save hers.


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Iron and the Stone Series Book One


The Master's Wall


Historicals are a favorite of mine and I have been drawn to biblical fiction in the past year. Sandi Rog does an excellent job of describing the setting in which the book takes place. In The Master's Wall you meet the two main characters when they are young children. Some books do a great job of just giving you glimses of the characters past and that works out wonderfully for that book. I am so glad she started at the beginning of their story and worked her way through it. Each moment builds on the next and has such impact on their relationship and their actions. The book caught my attention from the very first page and didn't let go of me even at the last. It is a must read!

David is a strong young man of God. He is only 10 at the opening of the book but you see right away that his father has taught him the truths of the one true God. His mind echos his father's teachings when hard situations confront him. All through the book you see his faith winning out over his own human desires. As he grows he shares his faith with those around him. In a way he reminds me of Joseph because he went through many hardships and could have been angry with the Lord but chose to believe God had a purpose for where he was.

Alethea is a strong willed and adventurous little girl. She is a couple of years younger than David but right away is drawn to him and wants to be his friend. David believes in the God that her father believed in, before he was killed by her grandfather. She cannot look at her family in the same way since that day. Her grandfather is a cruel man who will punish even the ones he loves the most in a way that goes beyond abuse. While she spent the first years of her life learning about Jesus from her father she is still surrounded by the Roman gods that her family worships. She knows her father died because of his belief in the one true God. She lives with the fear that her grandfather will kill her too if he thought she believed in Him.

As they grow up together their lives take the different paths that their status demands. David is a slave but is trained to fight better than anyone in the household and those that visit there. Alethea is betrothed at the age of 11 to a man her grandfather chooses. She doesn't want to marry him and tries to find a way out of it before it is too late. She only has until she is 14. David vows to protect her from a very young age. It keeps him from running away when he has the chance.

Much happens between the two. For a time they are torn from each other because of a lie and unforgiveness. Will they find a way back to each other? Will he find a way to save her life and gain his freedom. Is there a way to gain both? Find out how they survive during a time that men wanted to harm but God used it for good.

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Want more?

Her website: http://www.sandirog.com/


Iron and the Stone Series Book Two

YAHSHUA'S BRIDGE coming Fall of 2011

An amethyst stone draws him to his past. An elusive maiden draws him to his future.

Alexander is born into slavery under an abusive master: a master of his own flesh and blood . . . a man he will never call Father. Determined to break away from his master’s hold, Alexander devises a plan to purchase his freedom. But what's he to do when he finds himself shipped off in shackles to Egypt, disappearing from the lives of everyone he knows and loves?