Saturday, January 30, 2010

Please welcome Mary DeMuth!

When I think of Mary, I think of a woman who not only has a bright, beautiful smile, a smile that can light up a page--literally--I think of an encourager, of someone who inspires others to be all they can be, of someone who is honest and true to herself, of someone who is real with others. That's why it's an honor to have Mary as a guest on my blog. So, please welcome author MARY DEMUTH!

I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to do a giveaway of her book here on my blog. Please leave a comment below with your email address and you'll be entered to win a signed copy of her latest release Thin Places.

Mary E. DeMuth is an author and speaker who helps people to turn their trials into triumph.

Her parenting books include:

Authentic Parenting in a Postmodern Culture
Building the Christian Family You Never Had
Ordinary Mom, Extraordinary God

Her novels include:

Watching the Tree Limbs
Wishing on Dandelions
Daisy Chain
A Slow Burn

She will release her memoir, Thin Places, February first. Mary’s had the privilege of speaking around the US, Europe and West Africa. She’s given hundreds of radio interviews and appeared on TV. Mary and her husband live in Rockwall, Texas with their three children. They recently returned from Southern France, where they planted a church.

Thin Places Interview

By Mary DeMuth

What trials did you face as a child?

• Childhood sexual abuse at five
• Parents with addictions
• Feelings of being unwanted
• An unsafe home
• Neglect
• Death of a parent
• Loneliness
• Suicidal thoughts
• Three divorces

It’s hard to write all that out and not feel bad for little me. But even in the recounting, I’ve been able to see the thin places in my life, those snatches of moments where God came near. That’s the message and hope of Thin Places, being able to see the nearness of God amidst heartache.

What compelled you to write Thin Places?

I felt sufficiently healed from my past, which had been a long, long journey. And in that healing, I knew I had the perspective I needed to be able to communicate my story with hope. In the past, I’d vomit my story of sexual abuse and neglect on any poor soul who’d listen, not with the intention to help her grow through her story, but to gain empathy.

But now I marvel at the path God’s brought me on, how gently He’s led me to this place of wholeness. From that abundance, I share my story. Why? Because I believe sharing the truth about our stories helps others see their own stories.

While I recorded the audio book for Thin Places, the producer asked me why I’d splay my life out this way.

“Because I don’t want folks to feel alone,” I told him.

“You’ve given a gift,” he said.

I sure hope so.

In this memoir you give readers a candid glimpse into your upbringing. Was it hard to share particular parts of your story?

In some ways, it was easy. I’ve shared my story over a decade now. What was hard was giving myself permission to say it all, to not hold back, to explore the emotions I experienced during the rapes, the drug parties, the feelings of loneliness.

Oddly, though, it was harder for me to share what I’m dealing with now as a result of my upbringing than the actual initial trauma. It’s hard to admit that I’m still so needy, so insecure. After reading the book aloud, I saw I still had areas of growth, particularly in being so hard on myself.

What do you hope readers gain from reading your memoir?

I hope they see hope.

I hope they realize how profound and surprising and radical God’s redemption is.

I hope they’ll see the irresistibility of Jesus.

Some folks wait until grandparents and parents are deceased until they write a memoir, but you wrote yours with some still alive. Was that difficult?

Extremely. In many ways, agonizing. You can be assured that I prayed through every word. I’m thankful for my critique group who walked me through the writing and my stellar editor who helped shape the manuscript into a redemptive story. My goal was not to impugn or point the finger at what went wrong way back when, but to shout about God’s ability to transform a needy, incomplete girl.

It’s never easy to tell the truth, and I know my words may hurt some. But, thankfully, I’ve sought God’s heart in this and I can rest peacefully in knowing that.

Anne Lamott says, “Risk being unliked. Tell the truth as you understand it. If you're a writer, you have a moral obligation to do this. And it is a revolutionary act—truth is always subversive."

Thin Places is my answer to her quote.

But why go there? Why examine the past? Hasn’t the old passed away?

Yes, of course we must move forward. We must move beyond our pasts. But in order to do that, we must mourn the reality of what happened, not bury it under a rug. I love what Sam says in The Two Towers movie about the importance of telling our stories, no matter how dark: “It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad has happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you.”

It’s my sincere hope that my story will stay with readers, not because of its sordidness, but because the Light of Jesus has shined so brightly upon it.

What encouragement or cautions do you have for those wanting to write their story?

First, prayerfully consider if this is something you need to do for therapy rather than publication. It’s very exposing to write a memoir. And sometimes we mistake the compelling feeling we have with publication. God sometimes calls us to write unpublished words, to get everything out on the page for the sake of our own personal healing.

Many of you have read memoirs that are self-indulgent or a poor-me fest. You need to evaluate whether you’re at a good place of healing before you embark on writing your story for everyone to read.

Do you worry that writing a memoir makes you out to be narcissistic?

Of course. Because I’m the main character! As I’ve edited, read and re-read the book, I’ve agonized over that. Now that the book’s released, I am resting. What’s done is done. And I honestly believe that the story isn’t about me. It’s about a rejuvenating God who stooped to rescue a needy, frail girl.

What fears have you battled as this book released?

Because this is such a personal book, I’ve worried about negative reviews. In some ways that’s good because it will force me to find my security and love from the One who made me, rather than the opinions of others. I’ve received some great endorsements, but also some harsh reviews. And those are the ones that knife me! Because the book’s about me!

I worry that I’ll be misunderstood. Or that telling the truth will hurt others. I’ve made a point to disguise nearly everyone and everything in the book, but of course the potential for hurt feelings is high.

I fear opposition by the father of lies. Since this is a truth-filled book, displaying authentic struggle, I have a feeling he won’t like it. I’m thankful for a specific, targeted prayer team around me to pray for protection regarding the release of this book. It’s humbling, actually, to see how God brought those pray-ers together.

Mary, thank you so much for being my guest this week. I pray your book will touch many lives for the better.

For those who would like to win a signed copy of Thin Places, please leave a comment with your email address written out like this: sandirog 7 at aol dot com. The winner will be announced on Friday.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Do You Love Jesus?

One of my favorite songs is My Savior, My God by Aaron Shust. I can listen to it over and over again all day long—literally. Just ask my kids. :-)

Well, today as I was listening to it, I thought: Wow, Jesus. You died for me. I love You so much!

Then it hit me. I can say how much I love Jesus till I'm blue in the face. I can sing songs and get all warm and fuzzy inside. All that's nice, but when it comes right down to it, I show Jesus my love for Him by how I treat those around me. And I'd just barked at one of my kids, and likely my husband as well! E-hem.

On the other hand, I've had one who claims to love Jesus tell me that I have MS because I didn't send him enough money (I sent 50 bucks but that wasn't enough) to support his "ministry." I had another tell me that if I had enough faith I would be healed. And now, I've heard from the rumor mill what Pat Robertson has recently said of Haiti (I didn't even know Pat Robertson existed until this happened; that's how out of touch I am).

Anyway, all of this comes from people who claim to LOVE JESUS!

Well, I'm saddened because it's this kind of behavior—by folks who are supposed to reflect our Savior—that gives God a bad name.

Listen folks. Christ DIED for YOU while you were STILL a SINNER. That right there says a lot, and it's found in John 3:16, in case you want to look it up. Something I highly recommend. Interesting that it doesn't say, Christ came and wiped us all out because we were STILL SINNERS! That's really what we deserved. Ugh. No. It says HE DIED. He left His place of glory and came down to this wicked earth TO DIE.

So, what does a Person who does such a thing, like sacrificing Himself for the entire human race, think of this kind of talk?

Let's get to know God a little and see what He has to say:

Job's friends told him that he and his family were suffering because of their wrongdoing. Eliphaz the Temanite told Job that his suffering was because of his iniquity and that his family members came to an end because of the "blast of God's anger" in Job 4:7-8. And Bildad said that Job's sons died because of their transgressions in Job 8:4-6. Zophar the Naamathite told Job that he should put iniquity out of his hand and get rid of the wickedness in his tent, so that God would forgive him and he would be able to lift up his face without moral defect and not have to fear any more in Job 11:11-15.

After they had their word, this is what God answered Eliphaz: "My wrath is kindled against you and against your two friends, because you have not spoken of Me what is right as My servant Job has. Now therefore, take for yourselves seven bulls and seven rams, and go to My servant Job, and offer up a burnt offering for yourselves, and My servant Job will pray for you. For I will accept him so that I may not do with you according to your folly, because you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has." So Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite went and did as the LORD told them; and the LORD accepted Job (Job 42:7-9).

As for faith and not having enough to be healed, guys, sometimes it's not God's will for us to be healed. Remember Paul and the thorn in his side? See 2 Corinthians 12: 7-10. It's good that we're never told what that thorn was because it can represent so many things. Such as our illnesses.

It's important to have faith, strong faith, but despite this father's lack of faith, Jesus still healed his son (Mark 9: 17-25).

In regards to Haiti and what Pat Robertson said, check out Luke 13:4 where eighteen people died because of the collapse of the Tower of Siloam. I won't quote it. I think it'd be good for folks to whip out their own Bibles and look it up. And all of what was said in Job pretty much covered that as well.

So folks, let's be careful with what we say. I'd hate to have the wrath of God kindled against me. And if we have screwed up (because I know I've had my many moments), then let's repent and apologize to the ones we've harmed. Reconciliation is so simple, but our pride makes it so difficult.

Remember, if we want to love Jesus, we should treat those around us as if they were Christ in the flesh.

... I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me. ~Jesus Christ~ (Matt. 25:40)

Thanks for listening.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Oh, God. Won't You Ride Your Bike?

I've been chatting with God a lot lately. Where my writing is concerned, the main subject of conversation has been about His gift. Remember my post below: His Gift, Not Mine? Remember, I'd decided to let go of the gift (the story I wrote for Him), hand it over, and let Him do with it as He sees fit? After all, He knows what's best, and I wrote my story for Him in hopes that it would touch lives.

Well, now I'm waiting for Him to do something. Which means, I'm waiting to hear back from two publishers, trusting that God will pick one of these and that He'll pick the best one for my (His) story.

Honestly . . . the waiting has been painful.

So, I thought it'd be good to open up a conversation about what I've given Him. I decided to compare my gift to receiving a bicycle. I suggested that if one is given a bike, it's best to ride it instead of locking it up in the garage to collect dust. You see, I thought the comparison of a bike was quite clever on my part. After all, a bike gets you places, but it's also beneficial to ride (it keeps you healthy because you're getting a fair amount of exercise). My hope is when folks read my story that they will be moved, that they will want to open their Bibles and learn more about their Creator, that eventually (if they haven't already) they will turn their lives over to our Lord and Master, or simply grow closer to Him if they already do have a relationship with God. But that can't happen if the story stays in my computer to collect dust and never gets read. Wouldn't you agree?

Well, I'm hoping the Lord agrees. It IS His gift, to do with as He pleases, but I hope He keeps me (the giver) in mind. After all, it'd be rather disappointing if you gave someone a bike and never had the pleasure of seeing him ride it. Right? That's partly where the joy comes from with giving. Don’t you think?

Aaahhh, yes. This is my logic, the logic I use when trying to convince my Father of something I so desperately want. My fear is, He won't ride his new bike until I'm dead and having a grand ole time in Heaven and I have more magnificent matters before me. You see, I'm writing my stories whether they get published or not. If they're only meant for my children and my children's children to read, so be it. But I was hoping to reach a much larger audience.

This brings me back to the days when I've taken my Father by the hand every time we'd enter the grocery store together. I'd say with a thrill of excitement in my voice (of course, this was all internal; on the outside, I looked like an ordinary shopper--with either a flare of intelligence or a just-got-out-of-bed-look--but no different than anyone else around me). Anyway, like most kids do to their parents while in the grocery store, I'd say, "Come with me, Papa. I have something to show You." Clapping my internal hands with glee, I'd lead Him to the extended bestseller bookshelf (not the bestseller bookshelf, the EXTENDED bestseller bookshelf). I'd point to it with my eyes and say, "Will you please put my book there? Pleeeease? Pretty pleeeease? Pretty pleeeease with sugar on top?"

When I shared this ritual with my husband, he laughed and said he imagined God would, with His sense of humor, have my book land on that shelf by accident, by someone misplacing it, or something like that. Well, I "humphed" and made it clear I didn't appreciate my HUSBAND'S sense of humor on the subject one bit! Of course, after that I made sure to pray in EVERY store I entered from that point on. I'm sure the Lord really "appreciated" THAT outcome.

I'm not the greatest writer on the planet, and honestly, I'm ashamed to say where I think my writing abilities rank (this doesn't mean I don't try to do my absolute BEST). But I've seen average writers land on that bookshelf, so why not one of my stories? Right? Besides, I also firmly believe, since God can part the Red Sea, getting my book on the extended bestseller bookshelf, for Him, would be a piece of cake.

Alas I wonder . . . is this all about pride, or is it a strong desire to reach those who are lost and searching? My answer: both. Wish I could say it was only the latter. Pride can't be a good thing. Yet, don't we all take pride in the gifts we offer? Especially those gifts we've created?

Friday, January 15, 2010

And the winner of A STRAY DROP OF BLOOD is . . . .

*~*~*drum roll please*~*~*


CONGRATULATIONS on winning Roseanna White's debut novel! Whooo, hoooo!!!!

For those that didn't win, click on the book below or to the side, and it'll take you to a link where you can buy it. Don't forget about the coupon Roseanna shared with you in the comments below.


Sunday, January 10, 2010


Allow me to introduce a writer who has passion: ROSEANNA WHITE. A Stray Drop of Blood has been close to Roseanna's heart since she was fifteen. Writers should write what they're passionate about, not just for the market. You see, passion shows. When a reader picks up a book written from the heart, they see, hear, feel, touch and taste the believability of the characters, the intricacies of the setting, the depth of the story. What the writer puts down on the page becomes an intimate part of the reader. And that's how Roseanna writes!

The following review for A Stray Drop of Blood took my breath away. After reading this, tell me this author wasn't touched by Roseanna's passion.

"Haunting and powerful are two words that come to mind at the close of reading Roseanna M. White’s debut novel, A Stray Drop of Blood. Not since Francine Rivers’ Mark of the Lion trilogy has a book and its characters captured me so completely. From its rich, historical prose that depicts the era of Christ with startling reality, to a compelling love story that will both jolt and seize your heart, this is one of those rare novels that haunts you centuries beyond the last page. Amid the seething unrest of Roman tyranny and Hebrew uprising, a spell-binding saga unfolds, unleashing startling twists of both fate and heart that will leave you utterly breathless." ~Julie Lessman, author of A Passion Most Pure


Beautiful is a dangerous thing to be when one is unprotected.

For seven years, Abigail has been a slave in the visibullis house. With a Hebrew mistress and a Roman master, she has always been more family than servant . . . until their son returns to Jerusalem after his years in Rome. Within a few months Jason has taken her to his bed and turned her world upsidedown. Maybe, given time, she can come to love him as he says he loves her. But how does she open her heart to the man who ruined her?

Israel's unrest finds a home in her bosom, but their rebellion tears apart her world. Death descends with Barabbas's sword, and Abigail is determined to be there when the criminal is punished. But when she ventures to the trial, Barabbas is not the one the crowd calls to crucify. Instead, it is the teacher her master and Jason had begun to follow, the man from Nazareth that some call the Son of God . . .

Born free, made a slave, married out of her bonds, Abigail never knows freedom until she feels the fire of a stray drop of blood from a Jewish carpenter. Disowned by Israel, despised by Rome, desired by all, she never knows love until she receives the smile of a stoic Roman noble.


Roseanna, thank you so much for joining us! So, tell us, what do you want readers to walk away with after reading A Stray Drop of Blood?

In a story as complex as this one, there are a lot of different things readers can take away–and one of the major blessings thus far has been hearing how each reader focuses on the aspects that touch them most. Some comment on the spiritual themes, others on the intellectualism, others on the romance, or the history. All of those are elements I put much thought and prayer into, so this feedback is so edifying.

More than any of that, though, I hope that readers of A Stray Drop of Blood walk away with a deeper understanding of the sacrifice Jesus made for them, of the power in the blood he shed–and of their own faith. As I wrote this book, I had to question my beliefs so that I could get at the foundation of them. I had to read the accounts in the Gospels as if I’d never heard them before, as a skeptic. Doing that made it real to me–not just a story I’d been raised on, but one that I could explore on so many levels.

And that’s what I hope my novel helps readers do too: to look at a familiar story from a new perspective. To look inside themselves, into the depths of their heart, where their faith springs up. I hope they get so immersed in the time, in the culture, in the unchanging heart of humanity that they’re struck anew by the amazing events that have become the cornerstone of Christianity. I hope they run smack into the reminder of how awesome is our God.

Like me, I hope they question . . . and that the answers bring them closer to the Lord.

Roseanna, thank you so much for those wise words. Yes, we should always question what we're told or what we think we remember. That's what the Bereans did, and because of their daily search through scriptures, they were called "noble" (Acts 17:11).

If you would like to enter your name in a drawing to win a free signed copy of A Stray Drop of Blood, be sure to leave a comment with your email address typed like so: sandirog7[at]aol[dot]com.

The winner will be announced on Friday. Good luck to those who enter!

Friday, January 8, 2010

I'm going to be honest here . . .

MaryLu Tyndall completely changed my view of Christian Fiction. I used to dislike it immensely (and that's a polite way of putting it, e-hem). Have you ever felt like drop-kicking a book? When you live in a foreign country and you're desperate to get your hands on something written in English, you'll go to extreme measures to satisfy that craving.

We made a rare trip back to the States one year, and even though we were pinching pennies, I got my hands on a 500 page Christian novel (which wasn't cheap), EAGERLY brought it back to Holland with me--this was before books could be ordered online--and after wading through sermon after sermon and borrrrrrring description after borrrrrring description, the story finally got going in the LAST chapter, and it was THEN that I discovered it was the FIRST in a series! I think I tossed the book across the room (so I didn't drop-kick it or burn it like I wanted to), but after that, I decided Christian fiction was NOT for me.

I had trudged through numerous books (the 500-page one being the last straw) and found Christian Fiction too predictable, borrrring, and preachy. I'd completely given up on it and couldn't discuss it without spitting fire (yes, that 500-page disaster was a traumatic experience).

Well then along came M.L. Tyndall and my whole Christian reading world was turned upside down. Much like her heroines win over the hardened heroes, her books won me over. I was sceptical at first. I just happened to win her book The Blue Enchantress on a blog tour, similar to this one. When I got her book, I wasn't terribly impressed with the cover (The Raven Saint's cover is the best of them all, IMO) and I thought, "We'll see if I like it, humph." I had a spark of hope, but it was just a spark, nothing terribly significant, I'm afraid to say. This is coming from someone who not only loves rich historicals, but who also loves unpredictable love stories, and who's read A LOT of secular romances to find that "escape." Well, I've now found that escape in MaryLu's books! I've even ordered her books that are no longer on the shelves and have enjoyed those as much as the ones that are out now. And I have NOT been disappointed. If you like unpredictable, adventurous romances, you won't be disappointed either.

I have to say, I'm glad I didn't discover her sooner, along with the other new and great authors now out there. Had I discovered her work years earlier, I might not have become a writer--after all, there wouldn't have been a need to create something "better." But I'm in so deep, there's no stopping me now. I just hope that I'll be able to capture readers and entertain and inspire them as well as MaryLu does.

And now . . . it's time for what you've all been waiting for . . . the winner of THE RAVEN SAINT!

And the winner is . . . mommaof_3k at yahoo dot com!!! You're the lucky winner of THE RAVEN SAINT! You're going to love MaryLu's book. She writes awesome historical romance! For those that didn't win, I'm sorry! Please go to your local bookstore and BUY it. It's not that expensive, and you won't regret it.


Sunday, January 3, 2010

MaryLu Tyndall is BACK!

I'm excited to announce the latest release of MaryLu Tyndall's third book in the Charles Towne Belles' series THE RAVEN SAINT!

When Grace Westcott is kidnapped by a French mercenary, tossed aboard his ship, and told she will be sold to a Spanish Don in Columbia, she cannot imagine what she has done to deserve such a horrid fate. She has spent her entire life serving God and helping the poor, not to mention trying to save the souls of her two wayward sisters. Thinking perhaps God has sent her to preach to the vile captain and his crew, Grace's every attempt to correct their sinful ways is rewarded with only mockery. When Grace's situation grows far worse than she could imagine, she is forced to face her own human weaknesses. But she isn't prepared to face her biggest weakness of all-falling in love with the nefarious captain, Rafe Dubois.

By leaving a comment and your email address below, you'll be entered to win a signed copy of this wonderful book! Sign your email like so: sandirog7 at aol dot com

Because MaryLu was kind enough to return for another giveaway, I decided to do something a little different and focus more on the book. However, if you'd like to get to know this talented author (one of my favorite authors), you can go to the link to see our September INTERVIEW.

MaryLu's publisher, Barbour, asks:

What do you hope your readers learn from The Raven Saint, especially from both Rafe and Grace’s characters?

Grace is such a perfect example of many Christians today. She loves the Lord and she’s busy about His work. The problem is, she’s so busy doing what she thinks He wants her to do, that she’s lost sight of who He really is. In other words, she has become entangled in good works and has forsaken her first Love. Because she measures her own worthiness on her good works, she measures others on theirs, and when she finds them lacking, she judges them. My hope through Grace’s story is that people will stop and take a good long look at their own hearts and ask themselves if perhaps they have fallen into the same trap as Grace. Do they have a heart like Jesus had, that loves everyone and doesn’t judge those who come to Him with open hearts? Or do they avoid and even snub those whose sins are out in the open? Now, I’m not talking about accepting sin. I’m talking about loving the sinner and by doing so, showing them who Jesus is so they’ll want to follow Him with all their heart. Jesus was able to separate the sin from the sinner and see the root cause of it in a person’s life. We can do that too, by getting to know someone and loving them, regardless of their sin. In reality, Grace’s sin of a judgmental heart was far worse in God’s eyes than the sins of those she judged. (The thieves, adulterers, murderers) Don’t believe me? Just read what Jesus had to say to the Pharisees of his day.

Rafe turned his back on God at an early age due to the bad example of his so-called Christian father. Rejected by the pious man as well as by a woman he loved, Rafe is filled with heartache and rage. I believe rejection is one of our culture’s biggest problems. Rejection by a parent or by a close friend or spouse wounds the heart like nothing else can. It causes insecurity and rage and sets a person on a very dangerous path. The last thing Rafe should have done is reject God based on the example of Christians. Never base your faith on the actions of so called godly people. You must seek God on your own and seek Him with all your heart. By rejecting God, Rafe ran away from the only One who could truly heal his own rejection. Through Rafe’s story, I hope people who suffer from deep-seated rejection can see a bit of themselves in Rafe, and like him, go to the only One whose love can heal that painful wound.

MaryLu, thank you for dropping by and sharing your talent and insights with us!


Folks, don't forget to leave a comment with your email address if you want to be entered into the drawing. Winner will be announced on Friday.

Good luck!