The Christian Chick’s Guide to Surviving Divorce

The Christian Chick’s Guide to Surviving Divorce:
What your Girlfriends Would Tell You if They Knew What to Say

Imagine you are newly divorced, or have just been served papers. You are a solid Christian and never imagined you’d find yourself in this position. What do you do next? Where do you turn for help? Now, imagine you walk into a Christian bookstore hoping to find something that would help you. You hope no one sees the tears on your face, so you keep your head down. You don’t want the world’s version of coping with divorce, and you hope you can find something here…

This is exactly what happened to author Suzanne Reeves. She says she didn’t want “the usual version of surviving divorce—have a glass of wine, slash his tires, head to Jamaica, and party like you did in college. I needed godly advice from a woman who had walked in my shoes and lived to tell about it.”

Suzanne wants to share hope with other women who are just where she was. She’s lived to tell about it, and she wants to encourage other women going through divorce. The Christian Chick’s Guide to Surviving Divorce is the book to give a friend who needs help processing the pain, praising God in the midst of the storm, learning how to forgive, and moving forward. She addresses how to learn from the pain and grow into a better person from the experience of divorce. Instead of bitterness, she urges her readers to be teachable.

One of the most important topics this book addresses is that of children. Suzanne’s biggest piece of advice is, “You must love your children more than you hate your spouse.” Hurt, anger, bitterness, and sorrow over the betrayal doesn’t need to become the pain of the children as well.

The other important topic this book addresses that many won’t is how to reconcile divorce with being a Christian. Suzanne talks about going to Bible study and asking for prayer, and wondering in her heart if she would have to break her own beliefs about divorce. It wasn’t what she wanted, and she struggled with coming to terms with that loss. This book addresses divorce from a Christian perspective, with solid advice based on what scripture says about God’s love and mercy.

The book also addresses some practical questions that many hope they never have to face. What do you do with the rings? What happens with mutual friends? What happens when ‘your song’ comes on the radio?

The author’s raw honesty, conversational style, and her ability to find humor in her experiences make this book read like a letter from a dear friend who understands. Suzanne has repurposed her own pain into coaching other women through the emotional struggle, shame, and discouragement of divorce to find the courage to move forward.

Find Suzanne on Facebook.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author for my objective review. I also wrote an endorsement for the book. 

All My Belongings: A Book Review

Many Christian authors are off at the International Christian Retail Show (ICRS) this week, hobnobbing with all the names in Christian writing. Which means, it’s the perfect ‘cat’s away, mice will play’ opportunity for us to talk about their books, post a bunch of praise on social media, and stir up some new readers for them. Did I lose you at hobnob? Sorry. I love goofy words.

Author Cynthia Ruchti is among those happy ICRS hobnobbers, and I’d love to tell you about her new book, All My Belongings. It’s won a couple of awards recently, including a first place Golden Scroll Award from the Christian Author’s Network just this week. So, while she’s off collecting awards, let me tell you about her book.

Back Cover:

Where do you turn when changing your name doesn’t give you the anonymity you want? When running hundreds of miles away isn’t far enough? When you search for a place to belong lands you right back where you began? 

One phone call destroys all the hope Becca Morrow has for a life beyond the shame of her past. Further discredited by the death of her elderly, ailing patient—the mother of the influential businessman, Isaac Hughes—Becca’s new life is shattered and her longing for love slips away. Working to clear her name, Becca must learn to see the beauty in the ugliness of dying , to accept the tenderness in forgiveness, and—at last—discover that where she belongs isn’t as much about her family history as it is about her faith in the One to whom she’ll always belong.

My Review
All My Belongings is about forgiveness, the longing to belong, the beauty of being loved, and the wonder of godly friendships. But the thread that ties it all together is healing from a painful past. Becca, the main character has suffered from loneliness and rejection embodied by her comment, “Sometimes parents give you away, but they make you stay.” In the midst of loneliness from a painful relationship with her parents, and the fallout of her father’s “occupation” as a Kevorkian-like mercy killer, Becca has found a dear friend, Geneva, who has taken a mother-like role in her life.

As Becca’s friend Geneva helps her change her name, relocate, and find work caring for one of Geneva’s relatives, Becca begins to open up a little about the pain she has experienced. She carries few belongings, but much emotional baggage when she moves across the country to start over. Why the name change? She doesn’t want people to know of her connection to her now imprisoned father, a connection that stands in the way of her desire to become a nurse. Without giving away the plot, I can summarize the rest of the book by saying it’s an adventure in caretaking accompanied by new friendships, a shot at finding love—at last, and some bumps in the road to starting over.

How’s that for summarizing more than 300 pages in a paragraph or two? Speaking of plot, let me tell you what I liked without giving it away. When Geneva meets Geneva’s handsome nephew, Isaac, I had more than a sneaking suspicion of where the book was going, and I thought it odd that the foreshadowing of the ending would be so strong in the first third of the book.

Wrong! Just about the time I had the ending of the book all planned out, an unexpected twist caught me off guard. Halfway through the book, it seemed as if the whole story was wrapping up, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. Again.

A whole new development led to several additional twists that kept me riveted to the plot. And near the end, when I again figured the story was winding down, and additional twist made this stand out from other fiction. 

Many stories end with a happily ever after and leave readers with an unrealistic picture of life and relationships. In this book, the author ventures headfirst into confronting the pain of the past, rather than smoothing on some icing and calling it cake. Again, I can’t explain what exactly this means for Becca without giving away the plot, but let’s just say that she learns what real sacrifice and real forgiveness look like.

The realistic solutions to some of life’s nasty problems make this book stand out from other fluffy fiction. There’s nothing fluffy in true forgiveness and sweet freedom from regret. Ruchti engages the reader with a touch of humor and a delightful writing voice. Her unconventional—and not the least bit cliché—descriptions will satisfy the reader who enjoys a more literary style. I highly recommend the book, and Ruchti’s other books.

The Turning: a Review of Davis Bunn’s Latest Book

Have you ever had a sense you ought to do something, but didn’t know what it meant? Perhaps a pull to go somewhere or say something, but you weren’t sure if you should dismiss it, or listen to it. Was it the voice of God? Or another voice? How do you know?

In The Turning by Davis Bunn, five people from different place in the world come together when they sense a divine command. Once they “randomly” meet up, they realize they have a job to do. At the same time, one individual begins a media campaign to brainwash American young people into believing there is no hope. Together, the five individuals wage war against the forces of darkness to show America that there is still hope. As they obey God’s direction, they see the supernatural continuously at work as God proves that he prevails in their weakness.

I happened to read this book the same week I saw the movie “God’s Not Dead.” Both were powerful reminders that God is still at work. 

This book is different from Davis Bunn’s last few books in that there is less thriller action and more supernatural power at work. I enjoyed the book very much. There is plenty of action, but instead of violent physical attacks, the main characters experience more spiritual attack. When they do experience a physical attack, God proves he’s at work. 

There were so many themes underlying the story here, but one that I loved was seeing how obedience could lead to restoration. Obedience to God was the very thing that proved there was still hope. When the group listened to him, they saw miracles happen. 

The other theme that I loved was a parallel to the story of Moses. God gave him a message, but he had no confidence in his speaking ability. In the book, a character named John is given a big message to share, but he has no confidence in his ability to deliver. Until he surrenders to God. Where naysayers point out his lack of seminary training or speaking experience, God empowers John to carry out the task to which he called him. 

The only thing I didn’t like was that I felt like the book left me hanging at the end. Although there was some resolution to the plot, it left me wanting the rest of the story. I won’t spoil it, but something on the very last page tells me the author intended it this way, and I’ll have to wait and see.

Some aspects of the book remind me of the television show “24.” On the show, each episode is one hour of a day, and a whole season of the show is just 24 hours, one day. The whole book spans only 13 days. Chapters a grouped into sections that are subtitled for each day. The pacing of this intensifies the action, and I liked the technique. 

All in all, I found the story captivating and relevant to today. I highly recommend it to anyone who likes some mystery and adventure without all the violence and gore of some other genres. 

I received a copy of this book from the author’s publicist for review purposes. I was not compensated for my review, nor was I obligated to write a favorable review.

Want to know more about the author, Davis Bunn? Check out his website.  

Strait of Hormuz, a Tastefully Written Thriller

Are you looking for adventure?

I have followed fictional character Marc Royce through Iraq and Africa, and now through Switzerland, and in true Davis Bunn style, the journey didn’t disappoint. This just-released third book in the series continues with agent Marc Royce working on a covert mission for the U.S. State Department in Geneva, Switzerland. For readers who haven’t read the first two books, this one, titled Strait of Hormuz, contains enough back story to pick up without feeling lost, but I highly recommend the first two books, simply because it adds to the depth of the characters who reappear in this book. 

I’m a fan of Davis Bunn mostly because he has drawn me into a genre that isn’t typically my style. How? He does action, danger, and even violence so tastefully that my mind can fill in the details needed, without having every gory detail painted on the page. This book has its share of mystery, danger, gunfire, and betrayal, which kept a fast pace for readers who like action. It also has a softer, more relational theme, which brought balance to the plot. 

There are several threads that don’t seem to connect until near the end of the book. I enjoy that mystery. Royce is on assignment that begins with an explosion in an art gallery, and ends with, well, of course I won’t tell you how it ends. It had plenty of intrigue to keep me hooked all the way to the end. I like how Bunn weaves a faith element into the story line without it feeling pasted in. In this book, I learned something about Messianic believers without it seeming like a history lesson.

There were several aspects of this story that would make it suitable for the big screen, and I’d be thrilled to see that happen. The ongoing action, an attack from a mysterious motorcade, an assassination attempt, a chilling scene where Royce and his team encounter a vessel on the Red Sea, the multilayered relationships of Royce and his team, wondering if any of them was a mole, and much more. It was one of those books that played like a movie as I read. 

I love that this and Davis Bunn’s other books have the potential for a broad male and female audience.  The trilogy makes a great gift for the reader who likes a tastefully done thriller.

I received a complimentary copy of Strait of Hormuz from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.

An under-the-radar phone call from the U.S. State Department puts Marc Royce once again on assignment—ferreting out rumors of a clandestine operation stretching from Asia to the Mideast. At stake is Iran’s threat to blockade the narrow Strait of Hormuz, cutting off vital shipping routes and escalating global tensions beyond the breaking point.

Under the guise of investigating money laundering via high-end art purchases in Europe, Royce finds himself in Switzerland with only sketchy information, no backup, and without a single weapon other than his wits.

His appointment with a gallery owner in Geneva is a dead end–the man is on the floor with a bullet through his chest. But it turns out Royce does have backup. The Mossad has sent someone to keep an eye on this undercover op, which is of more than casual interest to the Israelis. And it’s someone Royce knows…

Want to know more about the author, Davis Bunn? Check back for tomorrow’s post with a question and answer session on how he came to write this book, and more.

Click this image to find out how to enter the to win.

Davis Bunn Releases New Book, ‘Unlimited’

Where would you turn if you were stuck in Mexico without a passport, your car burned up, and the one person you knew is missing? In Unlimited by Davis Bunn, Simon Orwell crosses the border into Mexico to meet up with a professor he knows well, but a simple presentation on a new energy machine turns into a nightmare. With past regrets and a hit man both on his tail, Simon has to decide whom he can trust, and figure out how to get to the bottom of the death of his friend.

‘Unlimited’ the movie releases October 16, and after reading the book, I’d really like to see it! Check tomorrow’s blog post for a movie trailer and an interview with Davis Bunn.

My Thoughts on the Book

The book is action-packed from beginning to end, and keeps the reader engaged. I like Davis Bunn’s writing style and I like the characters he creates. Even the “bad guys” have some redeeming qualities which I like. It keeps me connected to the story, and wondering who really are the good guys and bad guys. I like that the book has a lot of action, but it’s tastefully done in a way that keeps me hooked as a reader but not so freaked out that I can’t sleep at night. I also like the way the dialogue keeps the action moving forward.
Bunn’s characters are all multi-dimensional. Simon is processing some unfortunate circumstances from his past, as well as past indiscretions. The reader sees his journey and I felt his responses were realistic and not canned. Other characters are also processing emotional baggage: being orphaned, abandoned, afraid of the drug cartel, wounded and needing to forgive, trust issues, and more. I like that Bunn weaves in an element of faith without pasting in unrealistic conversions or preachy moments.
The book is well done, and I highly recommend it to both male and female readers who like a little action along with characters on a journey of self-discovery. My only drawback would be that about 3/4 of the way through, I figured out a significant part of the mystery.
I received a free review copy of the book from the publisher. I am not obligated to write a favorable review.
Simon Orwell is a brilliant student whose life has taken a series of wrong turns. At the point of giving up on his dreams, he gets a call from an old professor who has discovered a breakthrough in a device that would create unlimited energy. He needs Simon’s help.

Upon crossing the border, nothing goes as the young man planned. The professor has been killed and Simon is assaulted and nearly killed by members of a powerful drug cartel.

Now he must take refuge in the only place that will help him, a local orphanage. There, Simon meets Harold Finch, the orphanage proprietor who walked away from a lucrative career with NASA and consulting Fortune 500 companies to serve a higher cause.

With Harold’s help, Simon sets out on a quest to uncover who killed the professor and why. In due time, he will discover secrets to both the world-changing device and his own unlimited potential.

Want to read the first three chapters? Check Davis Bunn’s facebook page for how you can get them free.

Sweepstakes / Giveaway

You could win a $50 Fandango gift card plus UNLIMITED, Davis Bunn’s new suspense novel. Ten additional winners will receive a copy of UNLIMITED. Enter right now by clicking this link: 

Note: Pinning is NOT required to enter (the pins are just for fun). Simply enter your name and e-mail address in the form on Davis Bunn’s Facebook page. You can enter once per email address per day.

Rack up lots of bonus entries each day by sharing the contest with your Facebook and Twitter friends!

Book Review: The Blessed Woman

When Debbie Morris, a young wife of a minister wanted a mentor, she turned to the women of the Bible. Through the stories of these women, Morris says the Holy Spirit revealed how their lives weren’t that much different from women today in their joys and struggles. In The Blessed Woman: Learning about Grace from the Women of the Bible, Morris invites readers to discover what they can learn from the women of the Bible. The book includes the stories of Eve, Mary, Hannah, Jael, Hagar, Zipporah, Esther, Miriam, the Widow of Zarepath, Rebekah, the Samaritan Women, and Naomi.
I received a copy of The Blessed Woman from the Waterbrook Multhomah Blogging for Books program, and these are my thoughts on the book.
Morris tells her own story and is vulnerable enough to share some of her most disappointing moments. She has a very conversational style that helps the reader feel like she is a friend talking over coffee. Sometimes I felt as if despite the warmth in the conversation, something deeper is missing, like her she really felt when she discovered he husband’s affair. She shares her story of seeking God in that time, but I wonder if she had moments when she doubted? Moments when she was angry?
The book has a study guide at the back so that it can be used in a small group setting and the 12-week format works well for that. The guide includes some discussion questions and a good amount of scripture support and scripture study for the topic of the week.

I really wanted to love the book. My heart longs to give a fellow author high marks. I love the idea of the book, and the subject matter. But I came away without a real sense of connection with the material. Some parts I loved, but in other places, despite my efforts to really engage, my feelings were just…well, “meh.”
I guess I was a little turned off by the ongoing mention of the ministry of Gateway Church, the megachurch pastored by Morris’s husband. Of course, since this ministry is central in the author’s life, and she and her husband planted the church, I would expect it to be mentioned. But the book is full of examples from women at Gateway. I think it would have been just as powerful if it didn’t mention how the author was connected to the women she profiled. I felt like the story of the “success” of Gateway church from church plant to megachurch  of 24,000 in the context of a “dream life” distracted me.
My problem with the content mentioned above could all stem from some unidentified insecurity within myself, and perhaps another reader would have any trouble with it, so I hesitate to come across too harsh in my evaluation. Coming from a church of 200 people perhaps taints my perception of the megachurch environment.
This book reminds me a little of another book I review by Kathi Macias called “Mothers of the Bible Speak to Mothers Today” (2009) that has a similar premise. So, that may have also affected my perception of this book a bit, since I liked it very much and it set a high standard.
I think there will be many readers who really connect with this book and who find a heap of encouragement in the stories of the women of the Bible and in Morris’s story. Ultimately, how can any story with grace at the heart go wrong? The heart of the message is just what many women need to hear.

About the Author:
Debbie Morris is the executive pastor of women’s ministry at Gateway Church, a multi-campus church in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex. Since it began in 2000, the church has grown to more than 24,000 active members. Debbie has been married for more than thirty years to Gateway’s founding senior pastor, Robert Morris, and they have three grown children.

Review: How Many Lightbulbs Does it Take to Change a Person?

Have you ever thought about a friend wondering, “When will she ever learn?” How about yourself? Have you ever thought about how many times it takes for you to hear something before you apply it to your own life? Sometimes, we all need a lightbulb moment here and there.

I’d like to share a little about a book by Rhonda Rhea that I just finished reading. It’s called How Many Lightbulbs Does it Take to Change a Person? 

My Review

Scripture is full of references to light. But how often do we stop to think about what God means when he talks about light?  In How Many Lightbulbs Does it Take to Change a Person?, author Rhonda Rhea shares lightbulb moments—those times when truth from scripture clicks with our reality and we “get it.” Chock full of lighthearted stories alongside biblical wisdom, this book is the perfect combination for the soul seeking encouragement as well as enlightenment.

Rhea uses fun plays on words (such as the chapter title “Watt in the World?) that tie into the concept of light, making this a creative and fun book. Yet, it’s a serious look at what the Bible says about light. God is called light, Jesus is called light, and we are called light too. So how can we live in the light? Rhea helps the reader plug into the power of God and live in such a way that we stand out from the darkness in the world around us.

If you are looking for a transformation in your life, this is the book for you. Perhaps it’s the first time you’re seeking God’s light, or maybe you’ve been a Christian for a long time, but you’re longing for a fresh awakening to God’s light. The book takes a look at God’s attributes and also our attitudes. I found myself both convicted and uplifted as I read through. 

As an author, Rhonda Rhea has personality. She has a way with stories and words that make the lesson come alive without it being dry an academic. I enjoyed the book and I recommend it to anyone needing a fresh perspective and spiritual encouragement. Her wit and humor had me engaged from page one.

Each chapter ends with what Rhea calls “A Little Extra Light for the Path,” which is an excerpt from scripture. There is also a section at the back of the book for anyone using it for group discussion. The leader’s guide gives suggestions for how to make it work with a group, and suggested weekly homework. The chapters are short, so it would work for a daily meditation if the reader also studied some of the scriptures mentioned in each chapter in more depth.

Also available in Kindle version.

About Rhonda

Rhonda Rhea (pronounced RAY) is a pastor’s wife and mother of five. She is a radio personality living in the St. Louis area. In addition to regular radio features, Rhonda also appears on radio and TV programs throughout the country, as well as enjoying many appearances on Focus on the Family’s “Weekend Magazine” radio program.
Rhonda is a humor columnist for publications in the US and Canada. She has written hundreds of columns and articles for great publications such as Today’s Christian Woman, Christian Parenting Today, Marriage Partnership, SBC LIFE, HomeLife, ParentLife and dozens more. She is the author of eight books:

Rhonda has a bachelor’s degree in Biblical Counseling and in addition to speaking at special events, teaches at various writers’ conferences across the country. She is affiliated with many great organizations, including Christian Humor Writers, and is the Conference Chairperson for the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association and a board member of Right to the Heart ministries.

Spark: A Book Reivew

Have you ever participated in a 12-week group with the intent to change in some way? Perhaps it was a Bible study, or a new program. Have you ever noticed how few people really change by the end of such a program? The intent is there, but the change never happens.

In his book titled Spark, Jason Jaggard proposes that the reason the standard way we learn things leaves us unchanged is because we are not challenged to step out of our comfort zone and take risks. He says a spark is a choice, a small risk. Jaggard created what he calls “spark groups” that are risk-oriented rather than focused on information and teaching. Participants build a sense of community that creates accountability. Spark groups are made up of 10-15 people who meet once a week for five weeks. During their time together, each person chooses one risk that improves their life, or improves the world.It isn’t program based, or heavy on how-to content. Instead, it’s oriented around the group spurring and motivating one another.

Jaggard says, some people ask, “Why so light on content?” He answers, “you are the content.” The content isn’t in study resources but in the people who participate. It’s their dreams, fears, problems, hopes, risks, lives (p. 68). On one hand it seems oversimplified, but on the other, it makes sense. The risk is an action. It’s asking the participant to do something rather than think about doing something.

This book explains how to use the spark concept to motivate transformation. The book is a tool. Jaggard also has a website where individuals can register a Spark Group, and find resources and coaching.

Overall, the book is thought-inspiring. At times, it was a little repetitive, and I lost my momentum halfway through. However, the concept of a risk sparking change makes sense. I have an advance reader copy of the book, so it’s difficult to tell if it looks like the final product, but the layout is different from standard. Instead of indented paragraphs, it’s formatted in business style, left justified with spaces between paragraphs. It’s a little different, but maybe trendy?

Although this is a book from Waterbrook Press, a Christian publisher, readers shouldn’t expect this to be a deeply spiritual book. It contains illustrations from Scripture, and references to Bible passages, but it also contains expressions such as “hot dang” and I know some readers would be put off by something a little to “hip” for the conservative Christian crowd.

This book will give group leaders something to consider when leading a Bible study, starting an accountability group, or motivating a team. Those who add in the action step of taking a risk might be among the few who actually see change happen.

I received an advance reader copy of this book for review purposes from Waterbrook Press and the Blogging for Books program.

Book Review – Need You Now by Beth Wiseman

Did you know that Beth Wiseman doesn’t only write Amish fiction? It’s true. I just finished Need You Now, Wiseman’s latest contemporary novel. This is a story that touches the heart on many levels. It has all of the elements I love in a great book: intriguing characters, an element of suspense, real issues that give the reader something more than entertainment, and a emotional connection to the story and characters. Wiseman knows how to tell a story!

In the book, main character Darlene is at a place where many stay-at-home moms may find themselves. Wondering what her purpose is now that her children are older, and wondering how she can help the family budget, Darlene looks for a job outside of the home. She’s deeply in love with her husband of nearly 20 years, but she’s lonely after moving to a new town, and she spends a lot of time alone while Brad spends a lot of time at the office. Basically, she’s vulnerable. That vulnerability opens the doors for receiving attention from another very attentive male who listens and cares, and shows interest.

This story is so much like that of many women I know. That vulnerability plays tricks with their minds, and like many other women, Darlene begins suspecting her husband’s time at the office is about more than just work. I won’t give away the story, but it’s raw and real.

In the middle of all this, Darlene meets her neighbor, another woman who needs a friend. Layla, a glamorous cowgirl with loads of connections, is a vulnerable soul under the façade of movie star glamour. There are multilayered aspects to the story and the relationships and I had to force myself to get my work done when I wanted to be reading the book instead. Wiseman addresses the topic of teen cutting in the book, as well as the struggles of parenting teens. She addresses special needs children, the work versus stay at home struggle, and so much more. Like I said, it’s multilayered.

I really loved the book. I think if there is anything I’d change it’s part of Layla’s story. Some might consider it a spoiler, but since it’s in the middle of the book, I don’t think saying this next thing gives away too much (but avert your eyes if you don’t like to know ANYTHING about a story before reading it).  I thought it was very abrupt how quickly Layla went from hating God about a tragedy in her life to falling back in love with him and giving out spiritual advice. I think the book needed a little more length to allow this transition to happen in a more natural progression. It isn’t common for this to happen overnight for most people, and I think readers who want to know how they can get from the one point to the other would appreciate seeing Layla’s process. Other than that, this book is well done and I give it 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Wiseman has moved beyond bonnets, and I predict this is the beginning of another career explosion for her!

I received a complimentary Kindle version of this book for review from the Book Sneeze program from Thomas Nelson Publishers.

More about Rare Earth – and a Free Preview


Free preview of chapters 1-3 of Rare Earth Download Here

Q & A With Davis Bunn about his book Rare Earth
When you finished writing Lion of Babylon (book 1 in the Marc Royce series), did you just keep going with the storyline and wrote Rare Earth at the same time? Or was there a time gap in between?
Normally by the time I complete a story, I have been living with the characters and the tale for about a year. What I need more than anything just then is a break. I don’t need to stop writing; I just need to write about something else. The emotions for a new book have to be fresh. The characters are not just continuing on. They are starting over. The emotions and the concepts and the tension and the theme are all brand new. The names stay the same. The rest of the universe shifts on its axis.
Marc Royce is not your typical hero. Where did you find your inspiration for his character?
As I started researching the first book in this series, Lion of Babylon, I took a flight where I was seated next to this very remarkable woman, an amazing combination of hard intelligence and great gentleness. She was reading a pocket New Testament. We started talking, and it turned out that she was a special operative, formerly with the State Department intelligence division, and now working with the Department of Defense Intel. I found myself drawn by this incredible paradox of ruthless focus and very intense calm.
Soon after this flight, I had an opportunity to meet a senior figure in the CIA. I had never had any contact with the intelligence community, and all of a sudden I was finding one door after another being opened, because both of these people—the DOD Intel officer and the CIA agent—took it upon themselves to help introduce me to their worlds. I have found this happen on a number of occasions, and these ongoing miracles humble and astound me. I drew on these people as the basis for structuring my hero.
What kind of character is Marc Royce?
He carries his faith into a world that likes to think Jesus no longer plays a role. He sees himself as the ultimate outsider, wounded by the loss of his wife, searching for a place he can call home, and an ideal worth living for—or giving his life for.
What type of research did you do for this series?
I worked in Africa for four years early in my adult life. I was not a believer at that time. I came to faith four years later. I taught in Kenya last year, the first time I had been back to sub-Sahara Africa in almost twenty years. Going back to Africa now, as a believer, has opened my eyes to many things. Seeing with the compassion of sharing faith and seeking to serve means that I do not merely observe, I share with them. I hope this comes across in my story.
Research is a huge component of all of my stories. But with Lion of Babylon and Rare Earth, the situation was quite different. In both these Royce novels, I was combining knowledge gained in my previous business life with the perspective gained from my walk in faith. It has been quite a fulfilling experience, personally, to revisit these lands and see them through the eyes of our compassionate God.
What was your favorite scene to write in Rare Earth?
It is very rare that a first scene holds such a powerful connection for me. Generally it is one where there is a revelation between characters, or a defining moment when a person’s eyes are truly opened to the eternal for the first time.
But in Rare Earth, when I shut my eyes and envision the story, it is that first scene that blazes into light. Travelling on the UN chopper from Nairobi, watching the volcano take shape upon the horizon. Marc Royce has been sent out there to fail. And to die. I really am pleased with that opening sequence.
What’s next in your writing pipeline?
The film project Unlimited, for which I wrote the screenplay, has now ‘wrapped’, that is, filming has been completed. The producer and director are now deep into the editing process. Meanwhile, I must get busy and write the novel.
I had the whole thing backwards here, doing the script first, but it has been a lot of fun, and the concept remains very fresh. So hopefully it will come alive on the page as well as the screen. Both the film and the story are titled Unlimited, and are slated for release in September 2013.