Thursday, December 15, 2011

Forgiveness Formula - “C” students vs. “A” students

Today's guest post is by CJ Hitz, co-author of the bestselling book Forgiveness Formula: Finding Lasting Freedom in Christ.

“C” students vs. “A” students
(Matthew 4:18-22)

Up until the second quarter of my 8th grade year, I garnered my fair share of “Cs” in school.  My grade point average went from 2.7 the first quarter to 3.63 the second quarter.  Why the sudden improvement?  My mom motivated me more than she ever could have imagined by telling me that college basketball scouts looked at the grades of players all the way back to the middle school years.  This wasn’t completely accurate information but it worked.  Though I still had a “C” from time to time, they came fewer and further between.  Back in those days, I ate, drank and slept basketball and my dream was to play in college and eventually the NBA.  My grades weren’t going to stand in the way of that dream.

It was similar for teens back when Jesus was alive. Jewish boys & girls would often attend school until age 10 where they would literally memorize the Torah which is the first five books of the Old Testament.  From this point only the best and brightest boys would go to the next level where they would study the rest of the Old Testament Scriptures until age 13 or 14.  And finally, only the cream of the crop would be chosen to “follow” the local rabbi. This elite group of disciples would go where he went and eat what he ate—modeling their lives after the rabbi. Those who didn’t make the previous cuts would pick up the trade of their mother & father like carpentry, sheep-herding, or fishing.

Guys like Simon, Andrew, James, and John hadn’t made the cut. So instead of following the local rabbi, they were down by the docks, working the family business.  It’s interesting that Jesus went after men the local rabbi had rejected. Instead of targeting the cream of the crop straight “A” students, Jesus offered His invitation, “Follow Me,” to former “C” students.  They would become followers of the ultimate Rabbi.

Can you imagine schools like Harvard or Yale going after “C” students?  Once again, this sort of ‘math’ wouldn’t fly in today’s competitive, dog-eat-dog society. 

No wonder Matthew 4:20 says these guys ‘left their nets at once and followed Him.’  They were being given an opportunity they thought was lost.  To follow a rabbi in Jewish society was the greatest of honors. 

The qualifications for Jesus’ honor society are different…boy am I grateful!

CJ Hitz is the co-author of Forgiveness Formula: Finding Lasting Freedom in Christ, along with his wife Shelley.  Visit their book website to check out the full virtual book tour schedule and special gifts with purchase at:

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Warring Spirits

There’s a party going on!!

Historical fiction author April W Gardner is celebrating the release of Warring Spirits, the second book in her Creek Country Saga! Everyone who purchases Warring Spirits on Amazon today, Thursday, December 15, 2011, will be entered into SIX different drawings for some cool and unique prizes. That’s right—ONE purchase. SIX chances to win. 


She’s also giving away personalized, signed book plates (labels for the inside cover). One for every book you purchase. That’s a lot of bang for your buck. Order today and cross a few names off your Christmas list!

So what’s this book about? Warring Spirits is the sequel to Wounded Spirits, April’s Grace Award winning debut novel. Here’s a bit about today’s featured novel: 

Where blood is spilt, unexpected love may bloom.

In 1816 Georgia, escaped slaves control the land just beyond the American border in Las Floridas. Lost somewhere between white and black worlds, Milly follows hope to the only place that can offer her refuge—the place Georgians are calling Negro Fort. The first, sweet taste of freedom convinces Milly that surrender is not an option. Death would be more welcome.

Major Phillip Bailey has orders to subdue the uprising and return the runaways to their masters. Forced to fight alongside Creek warriors—the same who etched the scars into his mind and flesh—Phillip primes himself for battle.  But inside, a war already rages—return for the woman he thought lost to him or concede her to the enemy she loves; follow orders or follow his heart.

Sound intriguing? Head over to APRIL'S PLACE to learn more! Or go straight to AMAZON to get your copy.

Books excerpts are a great way to get a feel for the author’s writing style, so I asked April to share a scene with us. Here’s a taste of chapter one when we’re introduced to the hero, Major Phillip Bailey.


Phillip knew it was a dream. He told himself again, though it did little good. The children’s shrieks grew louder. The flaming pickets roared with new life, as though fueled by his denial of their existence.
His legs churned, but he couldn’t free his mind of the constant nightmare. At least this time, he reasoned, he wasn’t awake. Small blessings.
And then, he saw her.
Arms dangling at her sides and skirt undulating in the waves of heat, she stood across the compound. Her lips were motionless, but her voice echoed through his mind. “Phillip.”
He rushed toward the vision, and she reached for him. “Phillip, love, you must wake up.”
With a cry, he bolted upright.
The silhouette of a woman hovered over him. He stared at her, unblinking, afraid to move and frighten her away.
Sweat poured down his chest—sweat as real as the shadow seemed.
“That’s better,” she whispered. “You’ll be alright.”
He disagreed, but if he spoke, he might shatter her. He’d done it before.
Her loose hair swayed as she moved so near, he should feel her heat.
Taking in the comfort of her presence, he held his breath until his lungs burned with need. Refusing to be contained any longer, air exploded from his mouth. The sound ripped through the cabin, and in one blink, Adela vanished.
A moan built in Phillip’s throat, and he buried his head in his trembling palms. When his fingers collided with the jagged flesh on his face, he recalled again why Adela was no more to him than a mocking shadow, a figment of his deluded, half-crazed mind.
She had turned him down.
Familiar nausea haunted his gut. With a growl, he threw his damp pillow across the room. The sound of splintering glass sent him scrambling for the musket by his bed. He had the unsteady barrel aimed toward the source before he realized he’d been the cause of the commotion.
He dropped the weapon and backed away from it as though it were a copperhead. Blood pounded in his throat. He swallowed hard, terrified of his own mind.
It had been nearly two years. One more night of this and he would prove the gossip correct. He would go mad.
There had to be a better way. 
“Help me.” His voice shivered, and for once, he was thankful to be alone. “Sweet Jesus, show me a better way.”


Get on over to APRIL'S PLACE to see what all the hoopla's about! Or go straight to AMAZON to get your copy.

About April:
April W Gardner resides in Georgia with her USAF husband and two sweet kiddos. She is the author of the historical romance series, the Creek Country Saga, as well as the children’s adventure series, the Channel Islands Resistance. She is the founder and senior editor of the fun literary website, Clash of the Titles. In her free time, April enjoys reading, organizing, and DIY. In no particular order, she dreams of owning a horse, visiting all the national parks, and speaking Italian.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Journey From Boy to Man

Getting kids to enjoy reading can be difficult, especially if you have sons. I've found my boys enjoy stories of adventure. They love to read about how other boys have overcome and triumphed in life. My oldest is in second grade and loves to read anything with a hint of mystery! Today I am hosting an author of youth/teen fiction: Tom Blubaugh, who has written a historical fiction book titled Night of the Cossack. If you are like me you are probably wandering "What is a Cossack?"  A Cossack is a group of Russian cavalrymen. Their abrupt entry into Nathan's world forces him to grow up quickly.

Excerpt from Chapter 1:
Before he reached the barn a woman’s scream ran a chill up his spine. The sound was cut short, followed by an ominous silence. Nathan felt sick. Momma?
 He glanced toward the cellar. He couldn’t see Momma or Israel. Fearing the worst, he turned and stumbled toward the underground room. His eyes still stinging, he stumbled to the entrance, using his rifle as a crutch to keep him upright.
 “Momma?” he whispered.
 Silence. His heart stopped.
 “I hear you, Nathan. We’re all right.”
 Nathan staggered down the steps with relief. His mind swirled with images and terrible sounds. His thoughts returned to Aza. He turned back to the steps.
 “Nathan, stay here!”
 “I must go to Aza, Momma. I heard him scream. He’s panicked, he could hurt himself.”
 “What can you do for him, Nathan?”
 “I can calm him down and turn him loose into the woods. If they set the barn on fire, he’ll die. He’ll be safe in the woods. I must go!”
 “You’re more important than your horse. I, we need you here with us. Stay, Nathan. I couldn't bear to lose you.”
Nathan was torn. Breathing a heavy sigh in resignation as he pulled the cellar door shut, he let his eyes adjust to the dark. He leaned his rifle against the wall.
 Momma wrapped her arms around her older son. Nathan felt her shiver. He knew she was more afraid than cold. Had she heard the scream?
 She sank to her knees, pulling Nathan down. “I know you’re afraid,” she whispered.
 Nathan tensed. “I’m not afraid. I’m a man—the man of the house. You’ve said this yourself.” He pulled away from her. “You say I’m brave and strong. You tell me I’m like Papa, but you treat me like a little boy.”
 “Nathan, you’re both. You’re my little boy, but at the same time you’re a man. Can you understand?”
 Ignoring her question he said, “Papa should be here to protect us. I didn’t even get to tell him good-bye.”
“Don’t be angry, Nathan. He loved you very much. He loved all of us.” She slipped her arms around him again saying, “It was an accident. There was no chance for anyone to say good-bye. Dying wasn’t his choice. You’re a man, Nathan. You look just like him—tall and strong, yet gentle. You have his black, wavy hair, hazel eyes, even his strong chin. What would I do without you?”
 Nathan didn’t say anything. He couldn’t stay mad at her. Her soft voice melted his heart. Even when she’s afraid, she comforts me. Momma’s right. About all of it. It isn’t her fault Papa died.
 His anger, no longer directed at her, receded.
  “Momma, are we going to be all right?” asked Israel.
 “I pray we will, son. Who can know with certainty?”
 “I’m scared, Momma,” Israel said.
 “I know, son, I know.”
 Nathan felt her arms leave him. In a few seconds, he felt her rocking against him. He knew she was holding Israel.
~ Read the entire Chapter 1 of Night of the Cossack by clicking here.

Tom Blubaugh is a freelance writer living in Southwest Missouri with Barbara, his wife.  They have six children and fourteen grandchildren. Tom’s first novel is Night of the Cossack He considers writing to be a God-given talent and feels led to develop it. His first novel was published at his age of 69. Tom says it’s never too late. He is now writing a sequel. 

Tom is celebrating his first novel on December 8th with an official book launch. Visit Tom's blog at: The Write Trail Blog for additional details.