Review of Rooms by James L. Rubart

James Rubart

Author James Rubart

Rooms is not James Rubart’s first book, but it is the first one I’ve had the privilege of reading as it filtered to the top of my knee-high stack.

Moreover, having met Jim at a writer’s conference then having interviewed him on my blog last year, I had some insights into this man whose passion flows across the pages of his novels. (You can check out Jim’s website and learn more about him and his best-selling books, too.)

As a former graphic designer, I found the cover of Rooms compellingly beautiful in concept and execution. It certainly conveyed the mood of the contents inside. Further, the inside was just as thoughtfully designed as the cover. The font and leading made it easy so the eyes didn’t tire–urging me to keep reading. The tag line reached right out and grabbed me by the chin.“What would you find if you walked into the rooms of your soul?” Who could resist wanting to read that story?

Rooms flows easily and logically from chapter to chapter

For me, Jim’s book was a lively read because the prose flowed with smart character development and interesting story structure.

Rooms, by James L. RubartIn fact, at times I felt as if Jim were sitting in my living room telling me this personally—that is how strong and individual his writing voice is. His vibrant personality spills out of Micah, the protagonist, like water over a ledge. While I didn’t feel that Micah’s story was necessarily Jim’s allegory, I did surmise that he seeded some re-invented personal experiences here and there, done with appropriateness and intelligence.

That’s okay. The pepper adds flavor. There are some really neat turns of phrase to be appreciated. Not the average renderings.

But the story is truly Micah’s: his personal,… Continue reading

Pure Genius Series Book Three: A Story with the Subject of Human Trafficking

Harry Wegley, Author

Harry Wegley and Moon Over Maalaea Bay, Book 3 of the Pure Genius Series

We talked with suspense author Harry Wegley last year about Hide and Seek his first fiction work (Harbourlight Books, Pelican Book Group), in the Pure Genius series on cyber-terrorists. Today, we’re learning more about the series and discussing the sequels, book two, On the Pineapple Express, and book three, Moon Over Maalaea Bay.

Q. Harry, book two deals with a very difficult subject, human trafficking. Would you share what led you to choose this subject?

A. Book 2, On the Pineapple Express, was drafted in 2010. At that time, there were few Christian novels dealing with the trafficking of children in America. But child trafficking was already rampant in our society.

Four years later, we are seeing more stories and more awareness of this danger to our kids. Besides wanting to expose this evil and the danger it presents, I wanted to write a story showing how God-given courage and strength prevail over any obstacle or danger, no matter how large or frightening. If God calls you to a task, He will enable you do accomplish it. Having my heroine take on organized crime—human traffickers—with hardly more than her wits, gave me the backdrop needed for this illustration.

Q. Things have develop further in the relationship between Lee and Jennifer. Are wedding bells ringing for them?

A. Lee and Jennifer were tailor made for each other. I know because I crafted them.

At the end of book 1, Hide and Seek, they knew what direction their relationship was headed, and at the beginning of book 2, 7 ½ months later, they’re wondering why they’ve waited so long to marry. Since the back cover blurb for book 3 has them leaving on a Maui honeymoon,… Continue reading

From Happy Bones, A Dog-Themed Devotional: Growing Jack

Writer, Andy Lee jackpuppyGuest post by Andy Lee

But you, O Lord, are a God of compassion and mercy, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness. Psalm 86:15

I experienced a moment of pure insanity.

I never planned to adopt a dog. For good reasons. My son is allergic to most. Besides, I had finally organized my days now that my kids are older. But when my daughter brought home a puppy, cuteness gave way to reason, and Jack entered our lives.

That’s when my serenity became chaos and my days fell to disorder once more. I felt thrown back into time when my children were babies. Early morning waking, potty training, the terrible twos, unscheduled demands.

Oh, to endure when difficult “Jack Attack” moments occur, when nothing will stop him from growling and biting my shoe strings as I try to walk, to forgive those gifts of large puddles strung a mile through the kitchen, to lovingly teach what is okay to chew and what isn’t.

When exasperating mistakes happen, I have to remind myself that he will not always be this way. He is a pup. He is learning. Growing. I need to be patient and compassionate, not angry.

Despite the hardships, Jack is growing on me.

With each day of improvement, growth and, sometimes even regression, I am falling in love.

I wonder if this is how God feels about us as we grow in Christ?

Does He get frustrated with our slow learning? Do our repetitive prayers and complaints nip at His feet and make it almost impossible for Him to walk with us? Do our insecurities and selfish habits leave a mess in our wake that He cleans up? When we “chew” on things that could harm us, how rebellious are we when he… Continue reading

From Happy Bones, A Dog-Themed Devotional: The Story of Daisy and Jasper

Daisy and Jasper: a dog-themed devotional

(photo courtesy of

By Nancy Sample

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:32 NIV

Cats had claws which they produced at unexpected times; so, Daisy, our fawn-colored, Beagle-mix puppy, was mistrustful of them. Since our house was cat-free, she regarded it as a perfect sanctuary.

 It was also why we were reluctant to say yes when a friend asked us to shelter a cat he had rescued. Disturb Daisy’s security? Well, the cat would have to be an amazing feline for Daisy to accept it. Honestly, we never thought our dog would ever befriend a cat. 

However, our friend counted on us for help; so, we agreed to take the cat overnight to see how the two animals would interact. It seemed reasonable to at least try it for a few hours. We expected to supervise and prepared to intervene should we be needed.

Jasper, white, gray, and enormous strutted into the house and zoned in on Daisy. He sat directly in front of her. Daisy wagged her tail and tentatively leaned forward while we held our breath.

With sure aim, Jasper gave Daisy two swift bats on the nose.

Daisy backed up, blinking her eyes. She didn’t retaliate. I started to intervene but my husband put a hand on my arm. “Wait,” he said. “Watch.”

Jasper was declawed!

Daisy realized the same thing. Jasper’s swat hadn’t hurt! She jumped up, tongue hanging out and tail wagging, and engaged Jasper in a game of tag. The large cat wasn’t really excited about playing, but Daisy sure enjoyed it.

From that moment on, Daisy adopted Jasper as her companion.

As the years went by, Jasper tolerated Daisy. After all, a cat’s manner is to… Continue reading

The Real Hero

Lehigh Labrador and Border Collie

Our rescued Lab/Border Collie Lehigh relaxing after a day of…relaxing

Guest post by Bob Jacoby 

You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings…Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. 2 Timothy 3:10

 I always wanted to be a hero.

Growing up, I read about heroes in comic books, watched them in movies and on TV.  To me, heroes were rescuers. When I think about rescuing someone, calamity, distress, and trouble automatically come to mind—the stuff that heroes overcome, the stuff that makes heroes…well, heroes.  

My wife will often honor me as her hero, and our two grown children also will name me theirs as well. I admit it is gratifying when they look to me for more than approval and occasional “donations.”

I had the occasion to be a hero to our dog, Lehigh.

Rescuing our sweet Lab/Border Collie mix has been one of the greatest experiences of my life. We give her a home and meet her physical needs, and in turn, she fills our lives with love.

When I am sad, she makes me smile. She tucks her nose under my wrist to tell me when she desires attention. A scratch behind the ear, a belly rub: anything that lets her know I understand her need, appreciate and love her.

Lehigh often brings me her tug toy, ready to play. She lifts her muzzle, daring me to capture it from her while she utters funny vocalizations. Her groans and funny “words” are music to our ears. We have come to understand her moods by them.

She will stare at me with raised eyebrows and wagging tail to urge me to feed her. After six years, I remain amazed she can remind… Continue reading

Parenting for the Launch: Raising Teens to Succeed in the Real World

Parenting for the Launch

Parenting for the Launch

When Icon Media Group asked if I would write a review of Dennis Trittin and Arlyn Lawrence’s new book, Parenting for the Launch: Raising Teens to Succeed in the Real World, I agreed because I have some background in emotional and relational health for teens due to working in the field of alternative education and professional development.

The nonprofit I work with, Lakeside Educational Network, has a brilliant curriculum (developed by award-winning Diane Wagenhals) which has been taught to family service agency professionals for  years in the Philadelphia area (with some sponsorship from Southeastern Pennsylvania United Way). Hundreds of lives have been changed for the better, especially for children and teens in the city. Knowing this curriculum’s impact and outcomes and the instructors and the research behind it, I knew I would compare this material to what the authors present.

So, I wondered if my review would be impartial?

Then I considered several things about the book which, in my opinion, make it a success and help for parents whose children are young or young adults. In fact, I would recommend parents buy this book BEFORE their children turn 13.

The book is a reference–a tool to provide insight and assist parents who wish their child to have a successful future. (Shouldn’t this be every parent?) What makes this a good reference? First, it is an easy and comfortable book to read because of its conversational style. Second, the structure of the book makes it simple to find sections of interest. Third, pertinent questions to guide parents and help them model needed changes end every chapter. And, last, appendices with checklists and charts help parents to apply and practice new tools.

The book is empowering–It… Continue reading

Angie Brashear Tells How Christian Fantasy Is A Life-Saving Genre

Christian fantasy author Angie Brashear guest post

Christian fantasy author Angie Brashear


Definitions of literary genres can be…well, complex. Even tricky. Attempts to define Christian fantasy vary; though I’ve spent little time fretting over an official definition. I mean, Christian fiction typically illustrates a Christian world view within its plot, characters, or both. And the fantasy genre commonly uses myths and legends as a primary plot element, theme, or setting. So, in my opinion, Christian fantasy embodies fantastical elements in an internally consistent setting—all the while reflecting aspects of the Christian world view.

But the debate (at least for some) surrounds who writes Christian fantasy…

Writers who are Christians, writers who claim to be Christians, or writers who believe Christianity is a fantasy to begin with? It’s not a debate I choose to enter, for the truth lies outside the discussion: the genre influences nonbelievers. In fact, my path to salvation began with a classic fantasy told to me in the midst of my secular world.

When I was in the fifth grade, my teacher read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis aloud to my class.

She opened my eyes to adventure and possibilities, all the while helping me escape a world of darkness for a short time. At its conclusion, I wondered, Is God real? He couldn’t be, right? For if He existed, innocent young girls wouldn’t suffer the wrath of drunken addicts, or the torment of abandonment.

I continued to speculate. Each time God placed believers in my path—a high school teacher, a college friend, and a college coach. My fascination with the possibility of God grew stronger until the truth stunned me like a slap to the face. God indeed lives in the form of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. He rescues. He saves.… Continue reading

A Casual Interview with Devotional Author Cheri Swalwell

Self-published devotional author Cheri Swalwell

Self-published devotional author Cheri Swalwell

Seven years ago, when Cheri prayed that God would use her life to make a difference in her family and community, she felt He opened the door to writing. Since then, Cheri found her passion. She has contributed regularly to and LIFE TO THE FULLEST as well as is a contributing author to 31 Devotions for Writers.

God has called Cheri to pursue self-publishing and as a result, the Spoken from the Heart series was born, with the first book, Spoken from the Heart: Journey from Fear to Faith, released in December 2013. These books are compilations from her blog on a variety of topics meant to encourage, challenge, inspire, and most of all, bring a person closer to their Heavenly Father, or introduce one to God, possibly for the first time.

Q. Cheri, writers who specialize in devotionals often discover the mini-stories help hone their writing skills. Do you agree?

A.  I would have to agree.  Looking at my writing from two years ago to date, it’s quite a bit different.  I am more comfortable with the writing process, although, I have always had a more laidback, casual writing style than some.  That aspect hasn’t changed, I’m just comfortable with being who I am.

Digging Deeper Cover

Digging Deeper Cover

Q. Would you share how your devotional books differ from others?

A. My devotions come from my blog.  When it was suggested to me to start a blog by a very wise man, I wasn’t sure what direction I wanted to go with my blog content.  I have always had a passion for relationships – friendships, marriage, and parenting and cannot talk about any of those topics without God and His truths blending right in.

I’ll never forget my very… Continue reading

The Shepherd’s Song, the First Adult Book by Children’s Authors Betsy Duffey and Laurie Myers

The Writing Sisters: Betsy Duffey and Laurie Myers

The Writing Sisters: Betsy Duffey and Laurie Myers

I first met Betsy and Laurie at The Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writer’s Conference in Asheville, NC. Both of these women exude a sense of joy and calm. It was a pleasure to have a few moments to share a meal with them and to stay in contact. I am happy to have the opportunity to present an interview with them about their premier adult fiction book. 

 The Writing Sisters, Betsy Duffey and Laurie Myers were born into a writing family, and began critiquing manuscripts at an early age for their mother, Newbery winner Betsy Byars.  They went on to become authors of more than thirty-five children’s novels. Their first book for adults is  The Shepherd’s Song,  Howard Books.

Q. After writing so many children’s books, what challenges or learning opportunities did you encounter in writing your first adult fiction book?

A. The shift from children’s books to adult books brought a lot of surprises. One came when we thought we were finished with the book and realized that a novel for adults had to be longer than 35,000 words.

Our style was influenced by years of writing for children. An agent sat down with us at a conference and read the first page pointing out that we were still writing a children’s book. The tags and beats were off. Adults don’t need as many clues about who is speaking as children do.

The whole concept of social media was a surprise. Children don’t Tweet or use Facebook. Now that we were writing for adults we needed a blog, Facebook fan page and Twitter account. That was a big change and challenge for us.

Bio of the Writing Sisters: Betsy Duffey and Laurie Myers

The Shepherd’s Song by Betsy… Continue reading

Lillian Duncan Writes Stories of Faith…Mingled With Murder and Mayhem

Lillian Duncan

Lillian Duncan

Really? Christian Fiction and murder/suspense novels? On the surface the two don’t seem to go together. After all, how can a book in which murders, mayhem, and bad guys abound promote Christian values?

Can a writer of suspense novels make a difference in a life? Surely not, you say. It might be good entertainment but that’s where it ends. Not so, I say.

Jesus used stories to teach a point—He called them parables.

People love stories.

Stories can touch our hearts, stir our imagination, and teach us. Stories allow us to see the truth without the actual experience. Stories give us the opportunity to learn, change, and grow without all the growing pains.

As a writer of Christian fiction, I have two goals with every story I write. The first goal is to create an entertaining story. And the second goal is to further God’s Kingdom in some way. It may be as simple as portraying Christian characters in a positive light to an all out salvation scene. It varies from book to book depending on where the story leads.

My latest release, BETRAYED, is the second in my Sisters By Choice series. In DECEPTION (the first in the series), there is a terrorist. I kept wondering what kind of woman could be married to a terrorist and not know it.

BETRAYED is the answer.

It’s not a secret so I can tell you, my main character—Maria and her daughter—are in the witness protection program because Maria was betrayed by her husband in the most horrible of ways. (you’ll have to read the story to find out the details!)

Beauty for ashes!

This phrase comes up several times in BETRAYED. In fact, I would even go out on a limb and say it’s one of the themes of… Continue reading