Monday, December 28, 2015

Wakulla Book Review: First and Goal by Jake Bryne


FIRST AND GOAL is a football-themed devotional. By using terminology from the game, the author is able to use his personal experiences as a football player and relate them to scripture in order to teach and encourage the reader. 

The author’s love and devotion to God shows as he gives the reader insight in the lessons the author has leaned throughout his life. 

Sports fans and non-sports fans alike will find this book enjoyable as there are many personal applications to be learned from FIRST AND GOAL. There is something for everyone, but I would especially recommend this book to those who love God as well as the game of football.  

Wakulla Book Review: In peace, Nathan J.


*~*~*~*


I want to personally thank all the men who are reviewing the books written by JOHN 3:16 AUTHORS. I am thankful that we are able to bless them and appreciate the encouragement given to us by their reviews. 



Each WEEK (usually on Tuesday), we are posting reviews from 
Wakulla Correctional inmates of John 3:16 books. 





Inmates are loving the new books from John 3:16 authors. 
Chaplain Steve Fox is adding the new books to the prison library in this initiative to "change lives to ensure a safer Florida."

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Ordinary Women - Extraordinary God, by Sandra Julian Barker


What do we do when life throws us a curve? How do we react? Does our view of God change? What is the secret to surviving crushing loss or sorrowful circumstances and still praising God?  

This book contains stories of 14 ordinary women (and one ordinary man) who have gone through various degrees of difficulty or tragedy. These women have come through their trial (or in some cases, are still going through the trial) with a prayer on their lips and praise to our extraordinary God in their hearts.

Along with these present-day sisters in Christ, there are enlightening stories from a few Biblical sisters in the faith.  There are also messages from God’s word on such topics as fear, tears, His all-sufficient grace, and beauty from ashes.

Read the stories and see the pictures of ordinary women like you and me.  You’ll cry over their pain and loss, laugh at their humorous tidbits, rejoice in their victories and, hopefully, whisper a prayer for those who are still going through the floodwaters.

“Yet I will rejoice in the Lord…” Habakkuk 3:18

EXCERPT – taken from chapter entitled, “Gretchen”

Gretchen was 44-years old when it happened.  She'd been married 13 years and long ago been told she could not have a baby.  Although she'd always longed to be a mother, over the years she’d developed peace about her childlessness and accepted her situation as part of God's plan.

As a leader in the children's ministries at her church, she'd become like a second mother to many of her friends’ children.  One of her joys was having "Princess" retreats for the young girls and encouraging them to grow in the beauty and grace of our Lord.

So -- it was a huge surprise when Gretchen discovered she was pregnant.  It was a surprise and joy that a dream she'd given up on was at last coming true!  She would be a mother with a precious baby of her very own -- praise God from who all blessings flow!

No sooner had Gretchen shared her exciting news with family and friends than word came from her doctors that the pregnancy was in trouble.  The baby boy she was carrying had a condition known as Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR) which meant that abnormalities in the placenta restricted the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the baby.  It was then they told her and her husband Shawn that their son might "pass away at any time."

How do expectant parents cope with such news?  Gretchen's life had seemed like a placid stream before she'd been placed on a roller coaster that started off with joyous promise, but was now plunging into a dark and fearful place.

Her first reaction was quite natural -- tears, an overwhelming sorrow and her heart's cry, "Lord, please no!  This cannot be happening!"

Almost immediately, hope eased the sorrow.  She said, "For a while, it was hope that conquered my sadness -- the hope that the Lord would heal my son and that what they'd predicted would be wrong -- that he would be born a miracle....a complete miracle."

Months passed and the roller coaster continued its twisting journey of ups and downs -- sometimes hopeful, but more often news they did not want to hear.  It was a frightening ride for Gretchen and Shawn.  Early in her pregnancy she was admitted to the hospital and placed on bed rest.  This tiny baby boy, whom they'd named Shawn Austin, was a little fighter, and he'd surprised the doctors by refusing to quietly "pass away" as they'd predicted.  The expectant mother was full of hope as she wrote, "We are still praying, and not giving up on this miracle baby."

As a friend watching this heart-wrenching situation unfold from a distance, what touched my heart most deeply was Gretchen's firm and unwavering statement:  "I still will love and serve Him - no matter what!"  This was not just something she said to sound spiritual.  Even through tears and sorrow, Gretchen meant what she said from the bottom of her broken heart.  That was powerful to me -- and still is as she reaffirms her love for God every day.

On the morning of July 1, 2011, Shawn Austin came into the world with eyes wide open and a strong yet gentle cry.  There was joy at his birth and a continued hope that this sick 'lil warrior, as Gretchen calls him, would survive and be a testament to God's miraculous grace.

Gretchen and her son in the NICU


But, it was not to be.  This beautiful baby boy with dark hair and a sweet smile spent the entire 2-1/2 months of his life in the intensive care unit at the Children's Hospital.  His Mommy and Daddy loved him and loved on him as much as they possibly could.  Gretchen said, "Shawn was a fighter until the end of his precious but brief life when he went home to be with Jesus."

How did Gretchen cope with such loss?

When a woman loses her precious baby, it is heart-rending, but it seemed like Gretchen's loss had an extra twist that made it even worse.

During moments of weakness, you can imagine satanic influences whispering in her ear, "What kind of God would dangle the carrot of motherhood in front of you like that?  After you'd long ago accepted your childlessness, why would He set you up for a fall by giving you the joy of pregnancy and a glimpse of your baby, only to dash your hopes and joys with pain and a sorrow like you'd never known before?  What kind of God does that?"

These are the thoughts and feelings of the natural self -- which is still part of all of us, but such thoughts and feelings are destructive to every part of who we are -- and unfair to every part of who God is.  Gretchen knows this and refused to let Satan bait her into blaming God, or letting bitterness cloud her world.

Gretchen explains, "My peace with God is knowing that His ways are perfect; that He chose me to parent that Lil Warrior and Blessing that he was.  There's no recurring bitterness or anger with the Lord.  My pain now is to have had a child that was taken back to heaven so quickly, missing him and just what he would have added to our lives; feeling emptiness in my arms though my heart is full of the love that I felt for him.  My healing is a work in progress, but He that has begun a good work in me shall complete it to the end!"


*~*~*~*



Sandra Julian Barker is the author of a number of novels, a children’s book, and now a Christian inspirational book.  She has written numerous newspaper and magazine articles, and has a story in the best-selling Chicken Soup for the Mother’s Soul.

Monday, December 21, 2015

"He's Looking for a Bride" by Elizabeth Paige - New Book About the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus

"It is His love that drives Him. Love is the chariot that brought Him from the highest heights of heaven into the filthy stall of a manger. And it is that same chariot that drove Him to the cross. 

Don't forget, Jesus didn't want to do it, but it was His love that carried Him up Calvary's hill, and love was the nails that held Him to our only chance at redemption. It is that same love that beckons you closer, into the very intimate presence of the Lord. For it is for the promise of His Bride that He suffered so.

It is His love that stretches us and calls us ever higher into His presence. It is His love that can accept nothing less than a Bride without spot or wrinkle, and it is His love that removes our stains with His own precious blood. 

And it is His love right now that asks you to walk this steep and narrow path. The road that leads to the most intimate presence of the Lamb is paved with repentant hearts, humility, and reverent obedience. The road is long and narrow and steep, but the chariot in which we ride is Love."



*~*~*~*



Elizabeth Paige is a Christian and children's author, speaker, ordained minister, and homeschool teacher with a powerful testimony. 

She is co-founder of In His Hands International Ministries, co-founder of Hope's House Foundation Kenya, president of Moldable Clay Publishing, and a featured writer for Treasures Magazine. 

She lives a life of extreme faith, love, and obedience to God's will with her husband and four miracle children in the mountains of Colorado. For more information, please visit www.moldableclay.com.




Wakulla Book Review: Seventh Dimension - The Castle, by Lorilyn Roberts

Summary: Now we go on with Daniel's journey to find the castle and to fall in love in more ways than one. Will Daniel past the test or hold on to his many Jewish beliefs and customs?  Only the illusion of time will tell here in the seventh dimension. Hold on tight, this is no ordinary read.

Purpose: I could name a hundred and not even begin, yet I can sum them all up with one:  To illustrate the passion of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, in a way that even gives "The Passion of Christ" produced by Mel Gibson a run for detail. 

Theme: The Lord of God for all His creation and the greatest demonstration of such love in the ultimate salvation message.

Thesis: Choices and how we sometimes must make many choices to prepare us for the most important one(s) 

Controversial issues: Carnal mindedness, selfishness, and bitterness. Most importantly, the greatest sin of many ‑ unbelief. 

Enjoy: Tell you after I read The City, December 2016. 

Reviewed by Jackson P. 


Note from Lorilyn:  I've already written the first draft of "The City," so it should be out around mid‑March. In time hopefully for Passover.



*~*~*


I want to personally thank all the men who are reviewing the books written by JOHN 3:16 AUTHORS. I am thankful that we are able to bless them and appreciate the encouragement given to us by their reviews. 



Each WEEK (usually on Tuesday), we are posting reviews from 
Wakulla Correctional inmates of John 3:16 books. 





Inmates are loving the new books from John 3:16 authors. 
Chaplain Steve Fox is adding the new books to the prison library in this initiative to "change lives to ensure a safer Florida."

Friday, December 18, 2015

John 3:16 Book Review: Lisa Lickel reviews "Sassy Pants" by Carole Brown


Sassy Pants learns about Strange Creatures, third in the series
By Carol Brown

November 2015
Summer Island Press, Alaska

ISBN 978-0996495356
Children’s lit
Price paperback $11.99
Buy on Amazon US
Amazon Canada


From the Publisher:
Strange creatures are popping up all over the place on Farmer White's farm! What is a little pig supposed to do? Does she have to be polite? Should she just ignore them? And what if they're scary? How can you tell the difference between dangerous, or just different? That's what Sassy Pants has to learn when she wanders off by herself in places she isn't supposed to. But sometimes she learns the easy way, and sometimes the hard way. Which one will it be this time? And will she learn what's right in time to stay safe? Follow along with Sassy Pants and Friends, as they try to figure things out.

Lisa's review:
Delightful addition to the Sassy Pants middle grade readers. Sassy Pants is a little pig, a runt raised by the farm family and then returned to the pigpen where she has a lot to learn. In this tale, Sassy Pants learns from Old Clyde the horse that a strange new creature has come to Farmer White’s farm. He’s a llama with a big long name, but Sassy Pants calls him Mister One. None of the other animals want to disturb Mister One with his terrible nightmares and strange spitting ways, but Sassy Pants is determined to help the llama. She learns how when another strange creature shows up—an English bulldog and his captain, come for a visit. While none of the other animals want to even get close to the stinky bulldog, Sassy Pants persists and learns a valuable lesson about not just getting along, but helping each other even when we make mistakes.


Lovingly crafted illustrations and humor will add to the enjoyment of the these stories told by Sassy Pants herself.




Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Wakulla Book Review: Children of Dreams by Lorilyn Roberts



Winston Churchill's famous quote of World War II "We will never give up" appears to be the standard of how Ms. Roberts lives her life. 

Children of Dreams is a book of nonfiction that follows the author's dream of becoming a mother. What she has to go through to fulfill her dreams is an inspiring story of courage, determination, and faith when confronted with the many obstacles along this journey. 

We get a glimpse into the author's past and her struggles to come to terms with divorce, being unable to bare children, and herself. During this time of searching, she turns to risk‑taking activities, such as traveling to areas of the world known for unrest and extreme sports ‑ downhill skiing and scuba diving, calculated dangers, yes, but still risk is involved. 

The uncertainty of traveling by yourself to Nepal, man or woman ‑ this time the risk was worth it. To become a mother to give another human in need a fresh start in life. With all the adventures, the Western world has to offer. 

So much we take for granted, clean water, education, toilet paper [read the book], three meals a day, and much more. 

It's not enough she does this once. She does it a second time with a new set of obstacles to overcome. Again, she is guided by her faith in God. It's a lesson we can all learn from. I know I did. 


Wakulla Book Review by Christopher.


*~*~*


I want to personally thank all the men who are reviewing the books written by JOHN 3:16 AUTHORS. I am thankful that we are able to bless them and appreciate the encouragement given to us by their reviews. 



Each WEEK (usually on Tuesday), we are posting reviews from 
Wakulla Correctional inmates of John 3:16 books. 





Inmates are loving the new books from John 3:16 authors. 
Chaplain Steve Fox is adding the new books to the prison library in this initiative to "change lives to ensure a safer Florida."

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Win a Kindle for Christmas in a Raffle Drawing - Review Seventh Dimension - The King on Amazon

Win a Kindle for Christmas. All you have to do is post a review of Seventh Dimension - The King on Amazon by 12-24 and you will be entered into a raffle. Here is the link for a free copy and the code is ZM78A. http://bit.ly/The_King_S

Here is a list of all the awards The King has won: Won gold in the 2014 Literary Classics Book Awards for faith-based YA fiction, finalist in the 2014 USA Book Awards for religious fiction, winner in the 9th Annual National Indie Excellence Awards for spirituality, silver winner in the 2015 Readers' Favorite Book Awards for YA Coming of Age, finalist in the 2015 Best Indie Book Award for YA fiction, and finalist in the visionary category for the 2015 International Book Awards.


Friday, December 11, 2015

Carole Brown and Bat Crazy Giveaway!


Carole is offering a copy of Bat Crazy to one randomly drawn commenter! Comment by Sunday night, December 13, midnight EST, for a chance to win. Winner announced Monday, December 14.

About the Book:
Red-eyed Monster Bats that attack humans?

Denton doesn’t think so and Alex hopes not, but who are they to quibble with the local gossip?

Transmission problems and a blown tire land Denton and Alex Davies right in the middle of a dilapidated, unfriendly town that’s welcoming no strangers, least of all nosy ones with a bent toward solving mysteries.

But with support from the town detective--an admirer of the Davies--and their own tenacious personalities, Denton and Alex aren’t easily scared off. Not when warnings in the form of painted bats show up on the porch of their rented cabin, not when the mayor threatens to run them out of town and not even when Denton finds the bones . . .

An ancient story, a bit of a map, a lost jewel and even a bat clan serve to provide the Davies and their sidekick, Taffy, the dog, their hardest case so far.

Kindle: $2.99
Print: $11.99 
Buy the book here

Review for BAT CRAZY:
A terrific cozy mystery. Carole does a great job of developing her characters. I just love the couple in this series and the way they always seem to land in the middle of trouble. I loved Hog Insane, book one and was not disappointed in this book. I look forward to more adventures with Denton and Alex.

What do you love about this book?
I love Denton and Alex Davies, their personalities and their small squabbles and real love for each other. Relationships have to be worked at to survive and Denton and Alex, although they strongly disagree on a variety of subjects, work at theirs.

There’s also the fact that the first five months of this year, saw us facing five deaths. It was a particularly hard time for me when I couldn’t focus on writing. BUT God and my hubby helped me through it and eventually I was inspired once again to write. It was with  a special satisfaction that I was able to write “The End.”

Introduce us to a sidekick character.
I suppose one that I was drawn to was my detective: Tomas Brody. It was his first real job, an easy one, he thought when he accepted it. He’s young, inexperienced but smart enough to accept help when needed. I loved being able to create him as a sympathetic law officer who admires the Davies and who is not afraid to seek the help he knows they can give.

What did you learn while writing this book?
I always enjoy research, so it wasn’t entirely a chore to learn more about bats. Yes, the truth is, I’ve never been a big fan of them. But after studying them, I’ve learned that they are fairly harmless and beneficial to the environment. That boosts their value in my eyes.

I also wavered for quite awhile on which bat specie to use. Eventually, I went for a large one from Australia (that is stolen from a local zoo in the book) as an interesting tidbit in the book. On the interviews I’ve done so far, I hoped I’ve convinced several that they have no need to fear from the bats in BAT CRAZY!


Are there spiritual aspects in this book? A theme? Can you share a review or feedback from readers?
My Denton and Alex Davies series is written with a very light spiritual touch. I like to show the results of a good life and doing the right thing. And, as always, in this series, one of the minor threads in relationships.

In BAT CRAZY, there are TWO relationships:
1.      One is the new, young love of a couple who are trying to hard to protect the other, but in their innocence and selfless love, it all works out.
2.      The other is more of a sad situation. Two people who have had it all in the past, are so focused on what they want, how they can better their own careers/lives that they do not appreciate all the privileges they have. Because of their selfish love of self, their marriage fails and both go on to seeming failures.


What’s next?
The third book in this series should release sometime in 2016. It’s called DAFFY’S DUCK and is set in Colorado in the ski country. I’m so excited about this book because a Down’s Syndrome woman plays a big part in the plot. Blackmail, ducks, art and skiing are all involved to make it another exciting mystery.

About the Author:
Brown not only has her award winning (Winner of the 2015 Christian Small Publisher Award in General Fiction, nominated for an Epic Award, RWA International Digital Awards finalist in Inspiration, Laurel Award finalist, Selah finalist; Genesis semi-finalist) debut novel, The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman, available for purchase now, but a companion book called West Virginia Scrapbook: From the Life of Caralynne Hayman, filled with tidbits of information about West Virginia.

A fun, lighthearted mystery series began with the first book: Hog Insane, introducing Denton and Alex Davies and now her second book in this series, Bat Crazy. Her WWII romantic suspense Spies series began with With Music In Their Hearts, featuring the first of three red-headed sisters, three spies, and three stories.

Now, releasing November, 2015, is the first book in a new series: The Appleton, WV Romantic Mysteries, called Sabotaged Christmas.

Besides being a member and active participant of many writing groups, Carole Brown enjoys mentoring beginning writers. She loves to weave suspense and tough topics into her books, along with a touch of romance and whimsy, and is always on the lookout for outstanding titles and catchy ideas. She and her husband reside in SE Ohio but have ministered and counseled nationally and internationally. Together, they enjoy their grandsons, traveling, gardening, good food, the simple life, and did she mention their grandsons?

Catch up with Carole:
Barn Door Book Loft: http://www.barndoorbookloft.net/

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Latest Advice by Lorilyn Roberts on Book Marketing December 2015


In the future, I predict publishing books will take on the business model of commercially produced products:  The public will buy the books they like regardless of how they are published. As a popular commercial sums it up, it’s not complicated.

While many rules have changed, others are nonnegotiable. You better write a good book, hire a top-notch editor, and grace the front of your book with an outstanding cover. You will need a rocket full of energy to launch it and not enough hours in the day to promote it. Otherwise, your book may end up in the slush pile of broken dreams.

In spite of the challenges, the new norm is a win-win for both the producer and the consumer (the author and the reader). But for the uninformed, it has also created a void that needs to be filled. The biggest problem with this new norm is the lack of training for self-published authors. As the founder of a network of authors (John 3:16 Marketing Network), the lack of training in what it takes to market and the unrealistic expectations of what can be achieved is legend. I could give you many stories, including my own. While consumers will slap down a debit card for a Starbucks latte without a second thought (including me), ask someone to spend 99 cents on a book from you, an unknown author, and you will feel the parting of the Red Sea. You wonder if you have B.O. or bad breath.

As a self-published author, I have made my share of mistakes. One of my books had an amateurish book cover and a well-known author told me so. I quickly learned that I can’t sacrifice quality to save money. I grew up a lot that day—people notice the good, the bad and the ugly in books. If I am in this for the long haul, I better not be looking for a quick buck or I will be disappointed.

To that end, I would encourage writers and hopeful authors to think of writing as a business endeavor—approach it with that attitude. It’s not a hobby, it’s a job. Talent and willingness to learn will serve the serious writer well, along with some good business savvy.

The goal should be to build a platform and seek out readers who will fall in love with your book this year and come back and read future books—and share your books with friends and family. That mindset will serve those authors well who are serious about writing and marketing. It’s a business. The industry deserves that kind of quality.




Despite the challenges, I am glad the publishing world of the future won’t be controlled by a few highly successful companies. In the past, those publishers held a monopoly on the market. If I were a betting woman, I’d say they missed some real gems. What other answer is there for why some authors had so many rejections for excellent books? No wonder many writers gave up. The world will never know what books they didn’t get to enjoy. Not every wannabe author has the gumption to keep knocking on closed doors.

I can tell you that traditional publishers have never looked twice at me. I am too old for them to invest their cash in but too young (or stupid) to believe I can’t start another career. When I crawl into bed at 4 a.m. or 5 a.m. in the morning, after writing a few words on the computer following several hours of broadcast captioning, I sometimes wonder if I am insane. Still, I wouldn't trade what I’ve learned for any contract from any publisher.

Why? Because knowledge is power. While some information just doesn’t stick in this old brain of mine like I wish, that doesn’t mean I am going to give up. After all, we live in a world of information overload. I sometimes tell my daughters the C-drive in my brain is full. I need to delete something before I can take in any more information.



But with that power come opportunities. Today is a readers’ world in spite of television and computers and smartphones and tablets. In fact, it’s because of the plethora of these gadgets that more people are reading. Perhaps we make our hopes and dreams too small—too many rejection slips have convinced some they can’t make it at all. The journey is what it’s all about. And for me at least, I know the outcome is in God’s hands.

***

I published the above article a couple of years ago and my reflections on this topic are the same, actually more true now than back then. However, I want to add a few more practical suggestions. 

Save your money and don't spend a lot on advertising. Build your twitter following, blog regularly, and grow your email list.  

The KDP Lending Library has hurt all authors, and I don't think it's a viable business model over the long haul. Authors will eventually figure out that readers aren't stupid. Why should consumers buy your book when they can borrow it from Amazon for free? 

My advice: Take your book out of KDP Select and make your book available all over the web; and write more books. Eventually, if you are patient and your books are good, you will build a following of loyal readers, not just Amazon fans who want YOUR books for free. 

Give readers one or at most two free books, and sell the rest. Consumers appreciate quality, and if they like your books, they will buy them. 

Be as free as the water - and let God take you along.
Three more suggestions for marketing: Don't write books to sell - write books that make a statement about what you are passionate about. Success shouldn't be construed only in terms of numbers. Authors can't make people buy their books. Success should be about writing them. Focus on the process, not the outcome. Leave the result with God. Ultimately, your real success should be measured in what you have given back to God with the gifts He's given you. Whatever rewards He's laid up for you in heaven will far surpass anything monetarily you might receive here.



Enter book contests. Whatever you can do to draw attention to your book will help your book to get noticed. Don't know what good contests to enter? Here is a link to get you started:  http://www.selfpublishingadvice.org/50-book-awards/



Turn your books into audio books. See my recent blog post about how to do this at the following link: http://john316mn.blogspot.com/2015/11/audiobook-narrator-rebecca-roberts.html



Join a small community of writers - like Word Weavers, a Facebook group. the John 3:16 Marketing Network (we will open back up in the summer), the Author Independent Network, or some other group where you can be encouraged. Don't be a loner. Become part of a "tribe." And learn as much as you can about writing and marketing. 


My Word Weavers Group in Gainesville, Florida


***

Lorilyn Roberts is a Christian author who writes children's picture books, adult nonfiction, memoirs, and a young adult Christian fantasy series, Seventh Dimension. 

Lorilyn with her two daughters at Disney World 2015


Lorilyn graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Alabama, which included international study in Israel and England. She received her Masters in Creative Writing from Perelandra College and is a graduate of the Institute of Children's Literature.

Lorilyn is the founder of the John 316 Marketing Network, a network of Christian authors who are passionate about promoting books with a Christian worldview.



To learn more about Lorilyn, please visit her website at http://lorilynroberts.com or blog at http://lorilynroberts.blogspot.com. You can follow her on twitter at http://twitter.com/lorilynroberts. To connect with her personally, you can contact her by email at authorLorilynRoberts@gmail.com