Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Hello, I Love You Giveaway!

Hello Readers! Today and tomorrow the Moody Fiction Blog is hosting a giveaway for the June release Hello, I Love You: Adventures in Adoptive Fatherhood by Ted Kluck! Comment below with your email address for your chance to win 1 of 4 free copies! Winners will be chosen and posted Friday on the blog and emailed for their mailing address. Good luck!

When the Future of Your Family is at the Mercy of Strangers...

There is perhaps no feeling lonelier than that of being a stranger in a strange land -- an experience many adoptive parents know well. Touching down in a crowded airport, with tens of thousands of dollars in cash strapped around your waist, to pay people you've never met for a baby you've never seen . . . . You might have prayed for months, even years, about that moment, but it still often feels like the foreign country is a region God has forgotten, and that He has sent you there in vain.

For the young Christian couple, perhaps the only feeling more paralyzing and lonely than the one just described is that of infertility. There are pregnancy announcements nearly every week in the church bulletin, and not wanting to "rain on your friends' parade," you suffer and grieve together in silence.

Hello, I Love You tells one couple's story dealing with these feelings of loneliness, as well as the long-time fulfillment that can come from adopting internationally. Through narrative and letters written to each of his children-to-be, Ted Kluck takes readers through the many phases, decisions, and experiences that adoptive couples make.

From trekking across the globe with piles for cash, to airport con-men, electrocution, and Ukrainian cops on the doorstep with guns, it's all part of the wild ride that is international adoption. But so is God's faithfulness taking new forms each day through the love of friends, the support of family, the comfort of Scripture, and the fellowship of a new church family in a foreign land. And so is the joy of meeting two boys who will soon become part of your family -- the sensation of walking down narrow hallways through dark orphanages to say "hello" to your children for the first time.

TED KLUCK is co-author of Why We're Not Emergent and author of Facing Tyson, 15 Stories, Paper Tiger and Game Time. His award-winning writing has also appeared in ESPN Magazine, Sports Spectrum Magazine and on's Page 2. An avid sports fan, he has played professional indoor football, coached high school football, trained as a professional wrestler, served as a missionary, and has also taught writing courses at the college level. He currently lives in Michigan with his wife and two sons.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Laughing Out Loud!

By: Stephanie S. Smith, staff writer for the Moody Fiction Blog

I recently finished reading Hello, I Love You: Adventures in Adoptive Fatherhood by Ted Kluck and one of his marks of writing, I was pleased to discover, is humor.  Kluck has professional wrestling and indoor football on his resume, and looks the part! Yet in his true story of the adoption process he openly admits, “There’s nothing like adoption to make a grown man cry. Repeatedly."

His story, of he and his wife's journey to the Ukraine to bring home two boys, is peppered with laughable one-liners and amusing incidents.  In his introduction he writes, "[In this book] you'll also notice lots of frank, often sarcastic prose about cultural differences--usually with the author as the punch line, as it was my inability to deal with these differences that provided a lot of humor (in retrospect) and anger (at the time)."

I suppose that humor is a good way to cope with an adoption process so complicted and full of setbacks even the agency had never seen anything like it. (P.S. Check back at the blog later in the week for giveaways of this book!)

On a broader note, I think humor can indeed play a redemptive role in story.  I will not call it "holy humor" which sounds too hoky to me, like Christian pick-up lines or church bulletin typos.  Neither am I talking about "holy laughter", which I just learned via GoogleSearch today refers to a Charismatic phenemonen.

I am talking about laughter as a sign of triumph.

In Genesis, Sarah names her child Isaac, meaning "Laughter", rejoicing in an occassion that was as joyous as it was ridiculous: a post-menopausal woman bearing a son that would become the father of many.  It was, in other words, a miracle.  Holy hilarity.  The Old Testament frequently demonstrates laughter as the response of the saved, and the New Testament links comedy to eschatological victory.  The great joke is this: the grave that swallowed its victims (Ps. 55:15; 69:15; Prov. 1:12) is now "swallowed in victory" (1 Cor. 15:54)!

Dante developed this theme imaginatively in The Divine Comedy.  After he has risen from his agonizing experience in hell and approaches the heavenly realm he hears a glorious sound, "It sounded like the laughter of the universe."

May we rejoice in the Victory of Christ with sincerity, but also revelry, as we rejoice in the Resurrection as the Last Laugh in our fallen world.

Friday, June 25, 2010

From Our Bookshelf...

From Shelfari...hover over the cover image to read a summary of the novel or check out a review!

Shelfari: Book reviews on your book blog

Monday, June 21, 2010

What's in a Word?

By: Stephanie S. Smith, staff writer for Moody Fiction Blog

Here is something that has been knocking around in my head lately: How can a Christian writer be authentic while not appearing sanitized?

Christian writers, publishers, and readers alike all run into this dilemma at some point or another: the balance between gritty, real-to-the-raw literature and clean, family-friendly reading.  It goes without saying that while the redemption in Graham Greene's The End of the Affair may be profound, it would never be read in a children's classroom because of its adult themes.  On the other hand, some Christian novels go to the extreme to be "above reproach", yet the story falls flat because it does not resonate with the tragedies and bitterness of our real life experiences.

There are some issues we experience in life that are very real to us, but they may or may not make their way into a Christian novel.  This is not to say that Christians are not writing about these topics, but usually they are more implied than depicted. I find two things typically at the top of this list: sexuality and profanity. Is the depiction of these things in literature desecration or authentication?

I'd like to take a look at the stewardship of language in Christian fiction.  The Incarnation of our Lord in the Word made flesh sets the paradigm for all Christian writers: we must understand that words have the power to grow into action, and as such we have a weight of responsibility with our work.  We want to be true to the story, the reality of human nature, yet our words have the power to uplift or make others stumble.  It's a fine line to tread.

There are various approaches.  One thing I admire about Moody Publishers is their policy to always capitolize the name of God in their books, including personal pronouns such as "He" or "His."  This carries a reverence, I think, to the readers and demonstrates an understanding of the weight of language for better or for worse.

Some other examples: Anne Lammott, in her memoir Traveling Mercies, colors her salvation prayer with the "f" word, while some publishers substitute dashes for letters in swear words or omit them altogether.  Christa Parish, in her novel Home Another Way, makes sexual promiscuity central to her main character's story, though there is never an objectionable scene in the book.  Devoted Catholic Mary Karr peppers her prose in The Liars' Club with expletives, and author Ted Dekker sparks controversy in the Christian realm over his dark thrillers.

I'd love to hear your thoughts! What do you think: is redemption in fiction more real or felt when the author openly addresses some of life's more difficult issues or does this taint the novel with questionable content? Where do we, as Christians, draw the line?

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Missionary: A Book Review

Thanks to everyone who participated in the giveaway contest for Tessa Afshar's Pearl in the Sand! Congratulations to Karen Lange, the winner of this new novel :) Check back with us for new giveaways throughout the summer and thank you all for sharing your summer reading picks! ~Stephanie S. Smith, MP

By: Christy Lockstein, originally posted at
Christy blogs at and reviews books for Amazon,, Barnes & Noble,, Shelfari, GoodReads, and more.

The Missionary
Yesterday David Eller was an American missionary serving the poor in Venezuela. Today he is an international fugitive.

David Eller rescues impoverished children in Caracas, Venezuela, with his wife, Christie. But for David, that isn’t enough. The supply of homeless children is endless because of the massive poverty and the oppressive policies of the Venezuelan government. When the CIA gives David an opportunity to do something more—to heal the disease rather than working on the symptoms—he decides to go for it. But little by little, he falls into an unimaginable nightmare of espionage, ending in a desperate, life-or-death gamble to flee the country with his wife and son.

Christy's Review

The Missionary by William Carmichael & David Lambert is a pulse-pounding thriller about how an innocent man's actions can shake an entire nation.

David Eller loves his job as a missionary at the Hope Village in Caracas, Venezuela working alongside his wife Christie and their young son Davy. But he's angered by the children who are devastated by poverty and neglect on the city's streets, and he doesn't always keep his comments quiet in a country run by a megalomaniacal dictator.

His political views bring him to the attention of a man who asks David to do just a couple of small, simple tasks, but when the country suddenly faces an attempted coup and David can't contact the mystery man, he and his family are on a race to save their lives.

The authors really keep the pages turning through shady alliances and non-stop action. The reader wants to shake David repeatedly as he acts without thinking, but it's an integral part of the character and a vital plot element.

My only complaint is with the character of Davy. Early in the story, he is described as having ADHD; David even calls him a hummingbird on steroids, but never once in the story do we see Davy showing any symptoms of ADHD. Not through running for his life, capture for the government, and other traumas does he display any of those characteristics. If the writers had left out that description at the beginning, Davy would be portrayed well. If they had thrown in a few scenes of him acting out to his mother's terror, it would have been powerfully moving, but as it is, that part just doesn't work. Davy is, however, only a minor character, so this small flaw does not detract from the thrilling action.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Win a Copy of Pearl in the Sand !

Anyone remember this friendly feline? Sneaks, the mascot of the public library summer reading program, was essential to my childhood summers.  Sneaks motivated me (via unbeatable prizes such as frog-green silly putty and clown noses) to spend my summer in stories. 

Alas, I have no magic erasers or squirt gun prizes for you marathon readers.

BUT...I have something even better.

Tell me what is on your summer reading list for your chance to win a FREE ADVANCE COPY of Pearl in the Sand, Tessa Afshar's new novel coming out in September 2010. The presses have only just begun to print this book, so I only have ONE copy to give away to someone very lucky!

WARNING: Pearl in the Sand is a pageturner! And as such, may not be advisable for leisurely beach reading...unless the reader wants sunburn. 

It's simple to enter to win:

1) Comment below with a book on your summer reading list and please include your EMAIL

2) I will contact the winner (selected at random) via email tomorrow!

Watch the Trailer!

Book Description: Can a Canaanite harlot who has made her livelihood by looking desirable to men make a fitting wife for one of the leaders of Israel? Shockingly, the Bible’s answer is yes. Pearl in the Sand tells Rahab’s untold story. Rahab lives in a wall; her house is built into the defensive walls of the City of Jericho. Other walls surround her as well—walls of fear, rejection, unworthiness. A woman with a wrecked past; a man of success, of faith …of pride; a marriage only God would conceive! Through the heartaches of a stormy relationship, Rahab and Salmone learn the true source of one another’s worth and find healing in God.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Narrative Retellings of Bible Stories

By: Stephanie Duncan

Recently here on the Moody Fiction Blog, I've been telling you about Tessa Afshar's upcoming novel Pearl in the Sand, released this September.  This book falls into an intriguing genre, merging creative fiction and biblical history as Afshar tells the story of Rahab through a narrative lens.  Think Prince of Egypt: the popular film which entranced audiences with its drama of Moses and the Israelites.  Francine Rivers has also written a series titled The Lineage of Grace in which she elaborates on the lives of Bathsheba, Ruth, Tamar, and more.

We've heard these Bible stories before...why then do we gravitate towards them yet again when they get new cover art? It seems dangerous, too..."re-writing" Scripture and filling in details that are not in the text.  How does an author, thousands of years after the character actually lived, write about their words, motives, and actions with integrity?

Yet I believe these stories stir our imaginations, offering fresh perspective and personalizing the saints of the past.  Narrative retellings of Scripture can bring life to the Old Story, brightening and bringing color to the events that seemed perhaps distant before.  New dynamics are introduced.  Fictional description can give Jonah a face, translate the culture of the days of David, and illuminate the mannerisms of Rachel. 

A few other titles of note in this genre:

The Brother's Keeper by Tracy Groot

His name is James. He was the brother of Jesus Christ. The Brother's Keeper is a story imagined from the few known facts of the life of a real man. The book tells the story of the latter part of Jesus' ministry, up through his death and resurrection, as seen through the eyes of His own family. Tracy Groot takes readers, with James, on a journey from unbelief to belief as James grapples with the question of who Jesus is.

A Tale of Three Kings: A Study in Brokenness by Gene Edwards

This best-selling tale is based on the biblical figures of David, Saul, and Absalom. For the many Christians who have experienced pain, loss, and heartache at the hands of other believers, this compelling story offers comfort, healing, and hope.

I would like to hear from you! Does this type of literature appeal to you? Why or why not? Do you have a favorite novel based on biblical events?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Your Heartache, Your Story

By: Author Tricia Goyer

The themes for my novels have a common thread. They center around ordinary people plopped into extraordinary situations (mostly centered around war), and with the guidance of God these people rise above ... and help and save others in the process.

Also, all my novels have some level of abandonment by a parent that leads to internal struggles. I never planned this, but looking back it's in all my books! Even my third (and final) novel in my Spanish Civil War series.

As I was writing book #3 a light clicked on and suddenly every element of the story came together as it was revealed to me that one of my main characters was abandoned by a parent ... and WHO he really is.

I didn't plan that in Book #1, but it seems as if I did. It makes the whole story work and takes the whole series to a deeper level than I anticipated.

Hmmm ... as someone who didn't meet my biological dad until my late 20s and who got pregnant and was abandoned by my boyfriend as a teen I WONDER why I keep writing about this issue?!

This reminds me about something I read this morning from the book Loving God by Chuck Colson:

One Easter morning, as I sat in the chapel at the Delaware State Prison waiting to preach, my mind drifted back in time ... to scholarships and honors earned, cases argued and won, great decisions made from lofty government offices. My life had been the perfect success story, the great American dream fulfilled.

But all at once I realized that it was not my success God had used to enable me to help those in this prison, or in hundreds others like it. My life of success was not what made this morning so glorious--all my achievements meant nothing in God's economy. No, the real legacy of my life was my biggest failure--that I was an ex-convict. My greatest humiliation--being sent to prison--was the beginning of God's greatest use of my life; he chose the one experience in which I could not glory for his glory.

Confronted with this staggering truth, I understood with a jolt that I had been looking at life backward. But now I could see: Only when I lost everything that I thought made Charles Colson a great guy had I found the true self God intended me to be and the true purpose of my life.

It is not what we do that matters, but what a sovereign God chooses to do through us.

Consider this in your own writing. Do your historical novels have elements of your greatest loss and humiliation? If not, my suggestion is that you prayerfully mine those areas, because it is there you can write with passion, pain and conviction. It is from those hurt places that you will touch the soul of a reader in ways you never expected.

Tricia Goyer

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