Monday, November 30, 2009

Pumping Up the Holidays with the 12 Days of Christms Virtual Book Tour '09

Pump Up Your Book Announces 12 Days of Christmas Virtual Book Tour ‘09

Join a talented and diverse group of 28 authors who are touring with Pump Up Your Book Promotion during “The 12 Days of Christmas Virtual Book Tour ‘09”!

Follow these authors as they travel the blogosphere for the first 12 weekdays of December (December 1st – December 16th) to discuss their books. You’ll find everything from tween fiction to memoirs, horror and suspense novels to historical romances, children’s books to self-help and so much more!

Michael Anthony, David Berner, Hope Edelman, and Ingrid King tour with their memoirs. Learn more about short story collections from Barbora Knobova and J.W. Nicklaus. Michael Estepa and Larry Sweitzer travel the blogosphere with their young adult fiction books, while Bernadine Feagins, Dixie Philips, and Victoria Simcox are children’s authors. Tween/teen fiction books are being promoted by Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein and Beverly Stowe McClure, and historical novels from authors J.M. Hochstetler, Dot Ryan, and Cindy Vallar will also be touring. Nonfiction books on a variety of topics come to you from Malana Ashlie, James Burns, James Diehl, Jacqueline Klosek, Pat Snyder, John Tippets, and Sophia White.

Also touring in December are Joy DeKok with her contemporary novel, Gale Laure and Stephen Masse with their suspense novels, horror author Maryann Paige, and romance author Bill Walker.

Check out our special “The 12 Days of Christmas Virtual Book Tour ‘09” video trailer featuring each author:

To follow these authors during “The 12 Days of Christmas Virtual Book Tour ‘09” visit the official Pump Up Your Book Promotion Virtual Book Tour site at or

Pump Up Your Book Promotion Virtual Book Tours is a virtual book tour agency for authors who want quality service at an affordable price. More information can be found on their website at

Sunday, November 29, 2009

12 Days of Christmas Tour Special

Pump Up Your Book Promotion is running on a reduced schedule in December. Our clients will be touring weekdays from December 1st through December 16th. You can check out The Book Connection to see our entire list of authors and be sure to check in at during those first 12 weekdays in December to see where these authors will be stopping so that you can learn more about their books.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Mary Balogh and A Precious Jewel

She was unlike any woman he’d ever met in the ton or the demimonde. But Sir Gerald Stapleton frequented Mrs. Blyth’s euphemistically dubbed “finishing school” for pure, uncomplicated pleasure—and nothing else. So why was this confirmed bachelor so thoroughly captivated by one woman in particular? Why did he find himself wondering how such a rare jewel of grace, beauty, and refinement as Priss had ended up a courtesan? And when she needed protection, why did Gerald, who’d sworn he’d never get entangled in affairs of the heart, hasten to set her up as his own pampered mistress to ensure her safety—and have her all to himself?

For Priscilla Wentworth, the path leading to Sir Gerald’s bed had been as filled with misfortune as it suddenly seemed charmed. But Priss couldn’t allow herself to believe she’d ever be more to a man like Sir Gerald than a well-cared-for object of pleasure. Now, despite Gerald’s deep distrust of marriage, neither scandal nor society’s censure can keep them apart—only the fear of trusting their hearts.

Chapter One

“I am afraid Sonia is indisposed today, Sir Gerald,” Miss Katherine Blythe told the young man when he was shown into her private sitting room instead of being admitted to one of the downstairs salons, as usual. “She has taken a chill from walking in the park yesterday without adequate protection from the cold wind. I would scold her roundly if she were not feeling so miserable, poor girl.”

“It was a chilly day yesterday,” Sir Gerald Stapleton agreed. “I am sorry to hear that Sonia is not well, ma’am. Will you give her my regards? May I see her three days from now if she is recovered?”

Miss Blythe sat back in her chair and looked assessingly at the young man who stood before her. He was of average height, slim and well-formed, fashionably dressed. His face was pleasant even if not startlingly handsome. His fair hair curled into no particular style, but it was soft and clean. She appeared to come to a decision.

“I have one girl who is unexpectedly free for the next hour,” she said. “Prissy has been with me for almost two months and is proving to be very satisfactory. Would you care to see her instead of Sonia for this evening, Sir Gerald?”

The young gentleman pursed his lips and considered for a moment. “I am afraid I am a creature of habit, ma’am,” he said. “I have been seeing Sonia for three months.”

“As you wish, sir,” she said. “I am sure Sonia will be recovered in three days’ time. I shall make the appointment for your usual time?”

He bowed. But he hesitated as he turned to leave. “Of course,” he said, “I have no other plans for this evening.”

Miss Blythe smiled at him. “Why don’t you go down to the blue salon, Sir Gerald?” she said. “I shall send Prissy to you there and you may talk with her for a while. If you do not wish to stay after seeing her, you need not feel obliged to do so. If you do, well then, she is free.”

He bowed again after nodding an assent, left the sitting room, and went downstairs to the blue salon, where a cheerful fire crackled in the hearth and took the chill from the March evening. He held his hands out to the blaze.

Perhaps it was time he tried someone new, he thought. He was indeed a creature of habit—he had told the truth in saying that. But he was also a man who feared commitment or obligation. He had avoided long-term relationships for all of his twenty-nine years and intended to do so for the rest of his life. Even his family relationships had never lasted long. Self-reliance was the only safe way to live, he had concluded long ago.

Yes, perhaps it was as well that Sonia was ill. Three months was quite long enough. Too long, perhaps. And when he thought carefully about the girl, he had to admit that there was nothing about her that he would miss.

He turned when the salon door opened. The young lady who stepped inside and closed the door quietly behind her seemed strangely out of place in Kit’s house. She was small and dainty and dressed in a pretty green muslin dress, the neckline in a high frill beneath her chin, the sleeves puffed at the shoulders and then extending straight to the wrists. Her face beneath her short dark brown curls was pleasant and smiling, her gray eyes candid. She was pretty in a wholesome way. Her skin was creamy with a blush of color high on her cheekbones. She wore no cosmetics.

“Sir Gerald Stapleton?” she said. Her voice was light and musical, another discordant detail in the house. “I am sorry for your disappointment, sir, but Sonia really is dreadfully ill. Would you like me to entertain you for this evening?”

“Prissy?” he said, bowing to her. He did not usually think of bowing to any of Kit’s girls. “It seems like a good idea, since I do not have any other plans for the evening.”

She smiled, revealing to him white and even teeth. The smile extended all the way to her eyes, so that he was given the feeling that she really was pleased.

“I am glad,” she said. “Will you come up to my room, sir? There is a fire there, too. It is a chilly evening, is it not?”

“Deuced depressing weather for March,” he said, following her from the room and up the stairs, and wishing for some unfathomable reason that he had omitted the “deuced.” The top of her head reached barely above his shoulders, he noticed.

“But how lovely to know that it is March,” she said, “and that summer is to come. And how lovely it is to see all the spring flowers in bloom when one steps out of doors. Daffodils are my very favorites. We used to pick them by the armful when I was a girl.”

She looked scarcely more than a girl now, he thought. She spoke in refined accents. But then all of Kit’s girls did. She trained them to lose their regional accents and coarse vocabulary and to give the illusion of being ladies. Kit’s house had a reputation for refinement.

The girl’s room suited her, Sir Gerald thought when she opened the door and preceded him inside. It was decorated all in shades of blue. It was pretty and comfortable without in any way being either fussy or oversensuous. Plain mid-blue curtains were looped back from the bed, which was turned down neatly, ready for use, to reveal crisp white bedsheets and pillowcases.

She closed the door as quietly as she had the salon door earlier. She turned to him with a warm smile.

“How may I please you, sir?” she asked.

Her breasts looked small beneath the high bodice of her dress. So did her waist. Her hips looked as if they might be shapely enough, though it was difficult to know what exactly lay beneath the loose skirt of her dress, which fell from a fashionably high waistline.

“Would you like me to undress?” she asked.

“Yes,” he said.

She turned her back on him, presenting him with the long line of buttons that extended from the neck of her dress to the hips. “Will you, please?” she said.

As he opened the buttons, he could see that she wore nothing beneath. She turned when he had completed his task, drew the dress off her shoulders and down her arms, let it fall to the floor, and stepped out of it.

Yes. Small breasts, but they were firm and uptilted. As he had suspected, her waist was small, her hips shapely. Her legs were slim, her stomach flat. There was none of the voluptuousness he normally expected of a whore. And none of the wiles, either—at least, not yet. She stood quietly for his inspection, her arms at her sides.

“Do you wish me to unclothe you, sir?” she asked.

He shook his head. “No.” He shrugged out of his coat and raised his hands to his neckcloth. “Lie down on the bed.”

She did so and lay quietly on her back there, watching him as he undressed. She did not cover herself.

“I don’t like any tricks,” he told her when he was almost ready to join her. “None of the little arts you girls know to make things proceed faster. I like to take it slowly at my own speed. All I want you to do is lie still.”

Of course, none of them ever did. They seemed to feel that they were not doing their job if they did not use at least some of their considerable arsenal of arts until his control deserted him. Or perhaps it was in their own interests to make their encounters as brief as possible.

She smiled that warm smile again as he climbed onto the bed and on top of her, reaching up her arms for him, accommodating her body to fit comfortably around his, easing up her hips so that he could slide his hands beneath her.

“It shall be exactly as you wish, sir,” she said. “I am here to give you pleasure.”

He pushed himself inside her, and she raised her knees to hug his hips.

And she was as good as her word. Blessedly, during all the minutes that followed, she kept herself still, though she was relaxed and warm and yielding, very softly feminine. There were no tricks either with hands or hips or inner muscles. She allowed him to satisfy his appetite in the way he most liked to do it.

He sighed against her soft curls eventually and relaxed his full weight onto her. After a few minutes, when he was still hovering in the blissful state between waking and sleeping, he felt her lift one foot and reach down with one hand. A smooth sheet and warm blankets were drawn up about his shoulders. He sighed again and slept.

Fingers smoothing through his hair woke him. He did not know how long he had slept. He was warm and comfortable. Her hair smelled good. She smelled good and felt good beneath him.

“My time is up?” he said.

“Yes, sir,” she said. “Almost.”

When he turned to her after dressing, she was sitting on the edge of the bed, dressed in a modest pale blue dressing gown. She smiled at him.

“You are good, Prissy,” he said. “There are not many . . . girls who are willing to do exactly as I ask.”

“But it is my job and my pleasure to please you, sir,” she said.

“I will be visiting you again,” he said, one hand on the knob of the door.

“I shall look forward to it,” she said.

He almost believed her as he let himself out of the room, so warm was her smile. She was a good actress as well as being very good at her profession.

He tapped on Kit’s door.

“Ah,” she said after summoning him inside. She set aside her book and removed the spectacles she was wearing. “You decided to stay, then, Sir Gerald? I thought you would once you had seen Prissy.”

“I want her again,” he said, “in three days’ time. Is she much in demand?”

“Indeed she is,” Miss Blythe said. “Almost all of her clients return and become regulars. You were fortunate that one of them was out of town this evening.”

“Yes,” he said. “Three days’ time?”

She drew an appointment book toward her from a table at her elbow. “Four is the best I can do, I am afraid, Sir Gerald,” she said. “Of course, Sonia will be free.”

“Four days will do,” he said. “The usual time?”

“I shall record it,” she said. “I am glad that Prissy pleased you so well, Sir Gerald.”

“Good night, ma’am,” he said. He nodded to her and took his leave.

He did not, as he usually did when he left Kit’s, go to White’s in search of a card game and congenial company. He returned to his bachelor rooms and was in bed before midnight. He had a relaxed feeling of well-being and thought he would sleep well without the drugs of liquor and cards and male conversation until the early hours of the morning. He was not normally a good sleeper.

A Precious Jewel is available at in a trade paperback and a Kindle edition.

MARY BALOGH is the New York Times bestselling author of the acclaimed Slightly series and Simply quartet of novels set at Miss Martin’s School for Girls, as well as many other beloved novels. She is also the author of First Comes Marriage, Then Comes Seduction, At Last Comes Love, and Seducing An Angel, all featuring the Huxtable family. A former teacher, she grew up in Wales and now lives in Canada. To learn more, visit the author's website at

Visit to see where Mary's virtual book tour stops next.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

J.M. Hochstetler and One Holy Night

An unforgettable story of forgiveness and reconciliation, One Holy Night retells the Christmas story in a strikingly original way—through the discovery of a baby abandoned in the manger of a church’s nativity scene. Destined to become a classic for all seasons, One Holy Night deals compassionately with the gritty issues of life—war and violence, devastating illness, intergenerational conflict, addictions, and broken relationships. This moving, inspirational story will warm readers’ hearts with hope and joy long after they finish reading.


November 19, 1966

Mike McRae dropped his battered duffel bag on the concrete floor and glanced through the bank of windows to where the wide-bodied army transport sat waiting on the snow-dusted tarmac. Waiting to take him and his buddies halfway around the world to war.

Viet Nam.

The name hung between him and his family as they gathered in the spare, unadorned military terminal, trying to pretend that this trip was nothing out of the ordinary. But it seemed to Mike almost as if he were gone already, that he had moved beyond the point where he could reach out to touch them. Their faces, loved and familiar, blurred before his eyes as though he looked at them through a mist.

His father cleared his throat before shoving a dog-eared, plain, tan paperback book into Mike’s hands. “Thought you might be able to use this sometime,” he said, his voice hoarse. “You and Julie used to like to sing some of these old songs when you were kids. Remember?”

Mike looked down at the book he held. It was his father’s old service hymnbook that he’d gotten as a young Marine at Sunday worship aboard a ship headed out to the South Pacific during World War II. Frank McRae wasn’t much of one to attend church, and the gift surprised Mike. Maybe spiritual things meant more to his father than he had thought.

It evidently surprised his mother too. “Oh, Frank, I didn’t think you paid any attention. Julie taught you those songs when you were just a toddler,” she added, lightly touching Mike’s shoulder. “The two of you sounded like little angels” She stopped, her voice choking.

Mike could feel the heat rising to his face. To cover his embarrassment, he flipped open the worn cover and stared down at the inscription on the title page. No date, just the owner’s name: Frank McRae.

It was Mike’s turn to clear his throat. There was suddenly a lump in it despite his skepticism about anything that had to do with faith or religion.

“Well . . . cool. Thanks.”

Blinking back an unexpected prickle of tears, he glanced over at his mother, Maggie, who was thin and wan from surgery and chemotherapy for ovarian cancer. His sister, Julie, hovered near her, still in her white nurse’s uniform after coming straight to the airport from the hospital where she worked. Behind her stood her husband, Dan, holding their daughter, Amy.

“I know you’ve got a lot to carry already, but”

Mike waved his father’s words away. “It isn’t heavy, Dad, and who knows. You lugged it through all those battlefields, and you made it home. Maybe it’ll bring me good luck too.”

On impulse, he pulled a pen out of the breast pocket of his fatigues, clicked it open and added his name below his father’s, added the date too. Squatting down, he zipped open his bag and squeezed the hymnal in among his clothing.

When he straightened, his mother stepped forward to give him a fierce hug. “When you get there let us know you’re okay and what unit you’re assigned to. Write as often as you can.”

“I will, Mom.” He struggled to keep his voice from choking up. “Love you.”

“Love you too.”

“You get well, okay?” he whispered in her ear.

“I will. I’m going to beat this cancer, God willing.”

Inwardly Mike sighed, though for her sake he managed not to grimace. He and his mom had always been close, but he got awfully tired of all this God talk. On the other hand, if there really was a benign force somewhere out there in the universe, he supposed prayers couldn’t hurt.

Julie crowded in to put her arms around him as well. “I’m sure going to miss you, little brother.” She was crying openly, not making any attempt to brush away her tears.

“Aw, you’re going to be too busy with this little princess to think about me,” Mike returned awkwardly, reaching over to tickle three-year-old Amy under the chin.

She leaned out from her father’s arms, reaching for him. Dan surrendered the child, and she wound her arms around Mike’s neck, nestled her golden head against his shoulder, giggling, as he tugged on her braid.

Mike was relieved to see that Amy, at least, seemed not to comprehend the dangers he was heading toward or the length of the separation that lay before them. He turned to clasp Dan’s hand in a handshake he hoped would say everything he couldn’t.

Dan pushed his hand away and embraced him without speaking, pounding him on the back at the same time. Only Frank held back, frowning, as he stared through the windows at the plane.

Outside Mike could hear the engines revving up, signaling that it was time to board. The last of his buddies were heading outside. Hastily handing Amy back to Dan, Mike kissed his sister and mother, shook his father’s hand, then zipped up his parka and grabbed his duffel bag.

“Thirteen months,” he said, forcing a grin. “See you all back here next Christmas.”

“Don’t forget to tell Terry hello from all of us. Remind him Angie and the kids want him to stay safe and to hurry home. Give him a kiss from Angie,” Julie added with a wicked grin.

“Yeah, right!” Mike chuckled in spite of himself, then hefted his bag. “It sure will be good to see a friendly face when I get there. With luck, I’ll end up in Terry’s platoon.”

“It’ll be more than luck,” his mother said. “I’m going to pray about it. And we’ll be praying every minute until you’re home safe with us again.”

Mike gave her a crooked smile, then with a quick wave to all of them, turned and strode out the door and across the tarmac. By sheer willpower he kept his stride steady, refusing to let himself turn to look back at them. He knew that if he did, he’d never make it to the plane.

Every step of the way he could sense their eyes following him, and their love. When he reached the stairs, he ran up them, not letting himself think about what he was leaving behind or what lay before him.

Hurriedly he moved through the open door into the plane’s dim interior, feeling, like the severing of an embrace, the moment when he disappeared from their sight.


One Holy Night is J.M. Hochstetler’s fourth novel, and within its pages you will discover the most beautiful modern-day essence of Christ’s nativity, mercy, and grace you’ve read in a very long while!...She richly captures the turmoil surrounding the lives of those affected by the Viet Nam War, and the many emotional conflicts that raged on as a result of that war. I look forward to reading her other books, and I highly recommend this one to you!Kim Ford, Window to My World

If you want to experience the true meaning of Christmas, buy this book. I can't recommend it highly enough. Joan Hochstetler has gained a fan for life! -The Book Connection

J. M. Hochstetler writes stories that always involve some element of the past and of finding home. Born in central Indiana, the daughter of Mennonite farmers, she graduated from Indiana University with a degree in Germanic languages. She was an editor with Abingdon Press for twelve years and has published four novels. Daughter of Liberty (2004), Native Son (2005), and Wind of the Spirit (March 2009), the first three books of the critically acclaimed American Patriot Series, are set during the American Revolution. One Holy Night, a retelling of the Christmas story set in modern times, is the 2009 Christian Small Publishers Fiction Book of the Year and a finalist for the 2009 American Christian Fiction Writers Long Contemporary Book of the Year.

Hochstetler is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Christian Authors Network, Middle Tennessee Christian Writers, Nashville Christian Writers Association, and Historical Novels Society. She and her husband live near Nashville, Tennessee.

You can find Joan online at or at this book’s blog

This book is available at, and through the publisher's website. It is also available in a Kindle edition.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Shakespeare Ashes by Chris Debrie

Donna wonders how she can forgive and forget.

Charlene doesn’t quite know what she wants.

Robbie is usually thinking about which honey he plans to bag.

And Erven just does his best to obliterate the world…

Their lives and histories interconnecting, these characters navigate that uncertain time between classrooms and the wide-open world.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?

A: I started writing and drawing as soon as I could hold a pencil. Since then, most everything in my life has revolved around art. When adults would ask what I wanted to be, I remember saying 'veterinarian'. That love for animals is still in me, but I knew I was headed in this direction.

Can you please tell us about your book and why you wrote it?

A: There's never any 'why' in what I do; I'm just following my nose. Shakespeare Ashes is about four young people. They're leaving school and are up against the so-called real world. Their lives intersect in varied ways, and they're very aware of what's going on around them. But in some ways, these characters are still discovering who they are. I got a nice, comfortable spot in their heads and transcribed the thoughts. It's written in alternating first-person, and very unfiltered. Maybe a PG-13 sticker was needed.

What kind of research was involved in writing Shakespeare Ashes?

A: Not so much. I depended more on my observations of everyday life. That's always true as I write. Even when a story has sci-fi elements, character arrives first; the big explanations and technical talk are last.

Where can readers find you online?

A: At


Chris DeBrie has written a highly-entertaining, fast-paced book for readers. We follow the lives of four individuals through trials and tribulations of finding the right love; addressing gender issues and the all-encompassing racial issues.

The book is somewhat like letters and conversations exchanged between friends. With the elaborate descriptions of the characters readers will feel they know each one individually. The language is completely today’s language that you would hear anyone speak. In his writing he starts each sentence with small letters instead of the usual capital letters, which I found intriguing. I might even compare this to a journal one would write.

Readers will find themselves rooting for each of the characters and disliking other minor characters in the book. From the very first page readers will be captivated by the writing style and language. This book is everything we experience in our daily lives, right down to the elderly lady with an open umbrella and cane trying to maneuver getting on public transportation.

The author has written two other books, neither of which I have had the pleasure of reading. If they are anything like “Shakespeare Ashes”- they are a must read for all. –

Shakespeare Ashes is available at!

Chris DeBrie was born in North Carolina, creating comics and stories as soon as he could hold a pencil. He wrote the millennial love story As Is as a ninth grader, publishing it a decade later. Selective Focus was the result of those homemade comic screenplays. With Shakespeare Ashes, he pulls the reader into the raw thoughts of four very different characters. DeBrie is a fan of photography, learning languages, and clean water. He lives in Virginia.

Book Review: Learn to Study the Bible by Andy Deane

If you've ever wanted to study the Bible, but...

* aren't sure how to get started
* feel overwhelmed at the thought of tackling such a large project
* don't know which method would work best for you
* are afraid you might not have enough time to squeeze it in

Then you need to pick up a copy of Learn to the Study the Bible by Andy Deane.

In a little over 245 pages, Deane has managed to make Bible study easy and manageable by providing 40 methods to help you ", apply, and enjoy God's Word."

Deane starts off with defining the key components found in every Bible study, then breaks the study methods down into sections: Basic Bible Study Methods, Major Bible Study Methods, Creative Bible Study Methods, Studying Specific Passages, and Study Methods for Younger Students. The author brings you step-by-step through each method and then provides an example. Also included is a chapter on building a reference library.

In the past I have been hesitant to try and tackle a Bible study program, but now I feel I have the tools to select the right method for me that will help me to apply God's Word to my daily living.

Learn to Study the Bible by Andy Deane would make an excellent Christmas gift and would also help those who set learning more of God's Word as a goal for the New Year; but it is also for any Christian who desires to be closer to God and to understand His Word.

I highly recommend this book and hope that my pastor will consider stocking a few copies at our church.

Title: Learn to Study the Bible
Author: Andy Deane
Publisher: Xulon Press
ISBN: 978-1-60791-576-8
SRP: $15.99

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Colonel Trash Truck by Kathleen Crawley

Kids love trucks and are most familiar with the truck that visits their house every week – the garbage truck. So, there is no better way to teach them to respect the environment than to introduce them to Colonel Trash Truck - a likable, fun-loving hero who is extremely focused about his mission to win the garbage war. He sees the world and nature as a beautiful gift that we all need to appreciate and protect. Colonel Trash Truck believes cleaning up trash and recycling is something we all must do and he wants nothing more than to have kids join him in his quest. Now’s the time to become a member of his Clean and Green Team! KARUNCH!


“From street to street, he sweeps and sweeps to keep our neighborhood clean. From dawn to dusk, clean up he must to make our world stay green.”


“An excellent storybook to help get young people (especially young truck lovers!) enthusiastic about recycling and keeping America beautiful, highly recommended.” — Midwest Book Reviews

"Every parent, grandparent, care giver, Preschool or Kindergarten teacher who wants to encourage young children to 'Go Green' will want to pick up a copy of Colonel Trash Truck by Kathleen Crawley." - The Kid's Book Connection

Kathleen Crawley has been an advertising executive for over fifteen years. She resides with her husband Ronald Thomson in Redondo Beach, California. She is a native Californian having graduated from UCLA with a B.A in sociology. Colonel Trash Truck is her first book. About writing for children, Kathy says, “I have a number of books I want to write for kids because I think children are fascinating. They are open, creative, and interested in everything; they bring out the kid in me.”

You can visit Kathleen online at

You can visit Kathleen’s blog stops at during the month of November to find out more about this great book and talented author and to learn how to win a free copy of Colonel Trash Truck.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Guest Blogger: Joan Hochstetler, Author of One Holy Night

We are thrilled to have with us today, Joan Hochstetler, a multi-published author who is also the Publisher and Editorial Director of Sheaf House.
An unforgettable story of forgiveness and reconciliation, One Holy Night retells the Christmas story in a strikingly original way—through the discovery of a baby abandoned in the manger of a church’s nativity scene. Destined to become a classic for all seasons, One Holy Night deals compassionately with the gritty issues of life—war and violence, devastating illness, intergenerational conflict, addictions, and broken relationships. This moving, inspirational story will warm readers’ hearts with hope and joy long after they finish reading.

Finding God in a Troubled World By J. M. Hochstetler

The old saying goes that the only sure things in life are death and taxes, and sometimes that feels all too true. It’s hard to hold onto faith when all around us we see wars, natural and man-made disasters, hardships, broken families, major illnesses, substance addictions, abuse of all kinds—and the list goes on. We all know families or individuals going through difficult times, and we’ve encountered our own personal times of brokenness as well. I certainly have. The truth is it’s hard not to become disillusioned and cynical when faced with these things.

Over the years I’ve questioned how we can find purpose, strength, and healing when it feels like our world is out of control. One of the main ways I try to make sense of life is to write stories about it. That’s what led me to write my contemporary novel One Holy Night, which grew out of my wrestling with the kinds of gritty issues that impact our lives every day. At one point my character Julie asks: “Why don’t we have a God who always answers our prayers, especially if it concerns the welfare of someone we love, especially someone who also happens to be a believer?” That’s truly one of the hardest questions we have to deal with. If there is a God and He is good, why does He allow suffering?

We tend to blame God for evil things that happen when, except for natural disasters that are a part of our world, these things are all caused by human beings, whether intentionally or not. Obviously God didn’t cause the suffering in these cases. People do things that hurt others and themselves. But time and again we see God repairing what people have destroyed. We pollute the earth and divert natural resources in ways that harm the environment, but God set in place natural processes that cleanse the earth and restore it to its natural state once pollution ceases. People do things that violate others and break relationships, but reconciliation and healing take place in situations where pride and anger and willfulness stand in the way. Against all odds, hearts change.

That still leaves the question of why God allows suffering, however. Why did God give humans free will, which allows us to do evil things, when He could have made us to be good? The hard truth remains that we don’t know the answer because God doesn’t choose to reveal it to us—and our human minds couldn’t encompass it even if He did. So at the end of the day, the will and ways of the Creator remain inscrutable. We’re left with the choice to have faith, to trust the Giver of Life and His ability to use every circumstance for our good—or not.

In Mark 4:35-41 Jesus’ disciples are out on the sea with Him. That alone should have given them supreme confidence when a raging storm threatened to swamp their small boat. After all, they had watched Jesus heal the lame, sick, blind, and deaf and even raise the dead. They had all the evidence they needed to be confident that Jesus was in control! But when the winds suddenly beat down on their boat, they did exactly what most of us do when a crisis threatens our well-ordered lives. They panicked! “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” they demanded. So he raised his hand and said to the storm: “Peace, be still.” Instantly the gale dissipated and the waves became smooth as glass. An unearthly calm possessed the once troubled sea.

When we’re overcome by trouble and distress, we can find peace in the assurance that in the midst of our stormy seas we also have Jesus in the boat with us. Although we do not know the way ahead and where unseen dangers lie, God does. And our heavenly Father, more than any other, cares deeply that we are perishing and reaches out to save us. In John 16:33, Jesus says, “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”

When we face devastating situations, the cross is our assurance that Jesus has been where we are and that God sees our circumstances and is working on our behalf. The only one who can overcome the tribulation we experience is the One who set the universe in place and still holds it in His hand.

J. M. Hochstetler writes stories that always involve some element of the past and of finding home. Born in central Indiana, the daughter of Mennonite farmers, she graduated from Indiana University with a degree in Germanic languages. She was an editor with Abingdon Press for twelve years and has published four novels. Daughter of Liberty (2004), Native Son (2005), and Wind of the Spirit (March 2009), the first three books of the critically acclaimed American Patriot Series, are set during the American Revolution. One Holy Night, a retelling of the Christmas story set in modern times, is the 2009 Christian Small Publishers Fiction Book of the Year and a finalist for the 2009 American Christian Fiction Writers Long Contemporary Book of the Year.

Hochstetler is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Christian Authors Network, Middle Tennessee Christian Writers, Nashville Christian Writers Association, and Historical Novels Society. She and her husband live near Nashville, Tennessee.

You can find Joan online at or at this book’s blog

One Holy Night is available at as a trade paperback or in a Kindle edition. You can also purchase it directly from Sheaf House or at

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

For the Love of St. Nick by Garasamo Maccagnone

Two California boys, coping with the loss of their mother, find themselves uprooted when their father, a Navy Commander, is transferred to a base in Northern Michigan. With the youngest boy continuously sick, the family must survive military life and the northern elements as they dwell in their little hunter’s cabin on Lake Huron. When the boys’ father must leave prior to Christmas to fulfill his secret mission for the United States Military, the boys are surprised by a chance encounter that saves a life, and reunites a family.


Typically, when Johnny wasn’t feeling well, I tried to lift his spirits by telling him stories about mom and dad. The commander, vigilant in his hope to preserve mother’s memory, told many of the tales to me. In our old home, I sat on his lap on many nights while he showed old photographs of their courtship days or read me letters mother had written when the two were briefly apart.

Johnny’s favorite story was about the little game mom and the commander played on me on Saturday mornings – the mornings I knew cartoons were on. Since the television sat up high on top of a dresser, they were the only two who could turn it on. To wake them, I stood at the end of their bed and tickled their feet with a wild turkey feather. When I tickled the commander’s big ugly calloused foot my mother laughed. When I tickled my mother’s smooth petite foot the commander laughed. Every time I told Johnny that story he smiled, even if he had a high temperature.

Before falling asleep, Johnny often asked me about our mother. One time, using my nickname, he said, “Tiger, tell me how purdy mommy was.”

Our favorite photograph of mother was placed on the fireplace mantel. We called it the “Big Rock Picture” since she was standing on a giant rock while taking a break from a hiking expedition in New England. From my viewpoint, Mother was looking directly into my soul. The autumn wind played with her long blonde hair and she was smiling, smiling like she was so sure of herself, so confident, so healthy and vibrant. It was a smile I kissed a thousand times during the tender moments of my dreams.

“See Johnny, see how pretty she was?” Johnny took the picture from me and kissed and held it to his chest.

“Mommy will protect me tonight,” he said to me. Then he added, “Love you Tiger.”

“I love you more ya big dope,” I retorted back.

“You think mommy got on that big rock with a hoptacopter?”

By the time I got around to explaining how mother ended up on the giant rock, Johnny was fast asleep.


“‘For the Love of St. Nick’ may be short, but it is huge on impact. The power of love and wonder of miracles are front and center in this delightful and heartwarming tale.” – April Pohren, CafĂ© of Dreams

“This Christmas season, as the snow falls casually outside your front room window, sit in a rocking chair near a fireplace in a lamp lit room and read, ‘For the Love of St. Nick’. It truly will become a memorable and magical experience for yourself, and all those you read it to. – Annette Fielding, Reviewer

“A truly remarkable Christmas tale, ‘For the Love of St. Nick’ is a must read for those who hold family and Christmas close to their hearts.” – The Book Connection

Buy For the Love of St. Nick at today!

Garasamo Maccagnone studied creative writing and literature under noted American writers Sam Astrachan and Stuart Dybek at Wayne State University and Western Michigan University. He is the author of the children’s book “The Suburban Dragon” and a collection of short stories and poetry entitled, The Affliction of Dreams. His literary novel, “St. John of the Midfield” was published in 2007, followed by his “For the Love of St. Nick”, which was released in 2008. Maccagnone expanded the original version of “For the Love of St. Nick” and had the book illustrated for a new release in June 2009.

Garasamo “Gary” Maccagnone lives in Shelby Township, Michigan, with his wife Vicki and three children. You can visit Gary online at

To see where Gary stops next on his virtual book tour, visit Follow his book tour and be on the lookout for ways you can win a free copy of For the Love of St. Nick.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Evolution Conspiracy by Lisa A. Shiel

Evolution. One word, deceptive in its simplicity, has transformed the way we look at ourselves and everything around us. Once thought of as unique, man has become one of the animals with no special claim on the planet. As children, few of us question what we learn in biology class about the origins of life and the position man holds in the hierarchy. Science textbooks present evolution as fact–indisputable, inevitable, and incomprehensible to everyone outside the exalted few with PhDs in the appropriate fields.

Yet this book promotes one key premise–anyone can understand evolution.

Evolutionists focus their defensive efforts on Creationist claims, giving the impression that nobody except religious zealots disputes evolution. Shiel approaches the subject from a different perspective. Instead of criticizing evolution in an effort to promote my personal beliefs, I’ve chosen to critique evolutionary theories and the evidence attached to them through a secular lens.

Read. Think. Decide for yourself.


In the 150 years since Darwin first posited the theory that species develop out of natural selection, his disciples have endeavored to confirm the theory. In the process, Darwin has become a god among the godless, a messiah to those who refute the idea that a divine being had a hand in creating living things on earth. Evolutionists who believe in the Christian God avoid the problem by saying He observes as evolution does His dirty work. Many evolutionists denounce God altogether, celebrating atheism as the only logical option for intellectuals and alienating hundreds of millions of people around the world who believe in one deity or another.

The evolutionists’ zeal to admonish disbelievers spills over into another kind of zealotry, the kind that makes anyone who questions evolution into an ignorant fool. Evolutionists frequently use terms like “extremist” or “fringe” when talking about their critics, and often state that anybody who doubts evolution must know nothing about the topic because anyone knowledgeable about evolution could never question it. The third prong in the attack shoots down disbelievers because they lack PhDs, yet even a PhD leaves the critic open to ridicule unless he has a PhD in an “appropriate” field, such as biology or paleontology. Despite how evolutionists bemoan the lack of credentialed critics, when a disbeliever possesses an “appropriate” degree that fact fails to satisfy the evolutionists.

No one can win a game where not only the rules keep changing, but also the laws of physics. That’s the secret weapon in the evolutionists’ arsenal. They control every aspect of the game.

Consider the words evolutionists use to ridicule disbelievers. The word extremist is usually reserved for suicide bombers and their terrorist kin. An extremist is uncompromising, fanatical, and unwilling to see other points of view. An extremist takes his beliefs beyond the reasonable, beyond propriety. In most people’s rule books labeling anyone who disagrees with our beliefs an extremist, a lunatic, a fringe wacko, ignorant, or just plain stupid qualifies as beyond reason and propriety.

Like true zealots, evolutionists insist that no one with a brain, no true intellectual, can possibly question any part of the theory of evolution. The attacks on objectors revolve around the presumption that evolution has a solitary opponent—Creationism. Evolutionists can easily dismiss anyone who doubts evolution as a religious nut. Never mind that plenty of religious non-Christians question evolution, and that plenty of nonreligious people do the same.

The contradictions in evolutionary theory begin with the attitudes of the evolutionists. With one hand they slap down critics by declaring them religious zealots. With the other hand they clutch a picture of Darwin to offer prayers to his image.

Lisa A. Shiel researches and writes about everything strange, from Bigfoot and UFOs to alternative history. She has been interviewed for big-city newspapers, national magazines, drive-time talk radio shows, and TV news. Lisa has a master’s degree in library science and was previously the chief investigator for Michigan’s chapter of the Mutual UFO Network.

As a fiction writer, Lisa developed the Human Origins Series—which includes the novels The Hunt for Bigfoot and Lord of the Dead. Lisa’s other nonfiction books are Backyard Bigfoot: The True Story of Stick Signs, UFOs & the Sasquatch and Strange Michigan. This book, The Evolution Conspiracy, Vol. 1, marks the initial release in a planned three-book series.


“Shiel is consistently convincing…evolutionary scientists have circumvented the true scientific method.”--Dr. Quinton R. Rogers, Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Dept of Molecular Biosciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California Davis

“A decidedly irreverent view of evolution…[Shiel] translates the off-putting jargon while outlining some major scientific hypotheses, warts and all.”--Tyler A. Kokjohn, PhD, professor of microbiology, Midwestern University

“This book takes a fresh look at evolution, time, and human origins… I do completely agree that the evolutionary presuppositions of our age stand in dire need of a thorough scientific reevaluation.”--Paul Abramson, editor,

The Evolution Conspiracy is available at!

To see where Lisa stops next on her virtual book tour, please visit