Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ash Wednesday Today

Lent and Easter are somewhat early this year. Ash Wednesday is following on the heels of St. Valentine's Day. I know that not all churches observe the season of Lent, so for those who may not be familiar, here is a bit of the Wikipedia article on Lent:

Lent, in Christian tradition, is the period of the liturgical year leading up to Easter. The traditional purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer — through prayer, penitence, almsgiving and self-denial — for the annual commemoration during Holy Week of the Death and Resurrection of Jesus, which recalls the events linked to the Passion of Christ and culminates in Easter, the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Conventionally, it is described as being forty days long, though different denominations calculate the forty days differently. The forty days represent the time that, according to the Bible, Jesus spent in the wilderness before the beginning of his public ministry, where he endured temptation by Satan.[1]

Many people choose to give up something they enjoy, like chocolate, for the season, as a sign of self-discipline and penance. I once gave up fiction for Lent. I had gotten in the habit of reading novels when I should have been attending to other things, such as housekeeping and parenting. So I read nothing but good wholesome nonfiction for that Lenten season. Not as fun or as easy as zipping through a novel, but it definitely helped me to get my priorities back in order.

Since then, I've tried to choose a book to read for Lent that will make me think about my faith and my relation to God. These are not necessarily devotionals or theological books, but most often my favorite type of reading - novels. Here are three of my favorites:

Byzantium by Stephen R. Lawhead - Excellent for exploring our expectations of God and other questions of faith. Plus, it is an incredible story written by an author with great talent.

Small Gods by Terry Pratchett I know Pratchett is an atheist, but this book raised some good questions on true faith vs. following social custom, and on the way that religion influences society.

Mister Monday, book 1 in the Keys to the Kingdom series by Garth Nix - While I would not say there is a Christian or any kind of religious message in this book, Christian myth and imagery is used very effectively throughout. The thing about this book that makes it suitable for my Lenten read is the hero - his choices, the responsibilities he chooses to shoulder and the sacrifices he makes.

I have not yet decided what my Lenten read for this year will be. I've been reading David Crowder's Praise Habit but since I'm already about halfway through I don't think it can count as my Lenten read.

Can anyone suggest a book that inspires the reader to really think about faith issues? White Rose authors, do you think one of your books may be a good Lenten read?

(Photo above by Roland Ally. See more of his work at Public Domain Pictures.)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Valentine Reads

One of the best things about Valentine's Day is reading Valentine romances. And I think I have done my share in contributing to White Rose Publishing's offerings for this holiday. Orchard Hill Romance #2, Entertaining Angel, is a Valentine's story. Here's the blurb:

Artist Angel Marcell is on her own for the first time in her life. If only her brother would stop treating her like a child! He’s asked one of his college friends to watch over her while she’s in Orchard Hill visiting cousin Misty Green. Jeff Bradley is working day and night to make his real estate business a success. He doesn’t have time to entertain his friend’s little sister – no matter how cute she is when she blushes. Besides when she’s around, his life turns into chaos and he starts longing for things that aren’t compatible with his business plan. When Angel stands in for a Valentine’s Day date, will he change his mind about what he wants?

I have a funny story about this story. Last year I read another White Rose release called The Valentine Edition and got quite a surprise. It's by Robin Shope and a great read!

Both Robin's story and mine are set in a small Wisconsin town and feature petite, redheaded heroines who are new in town. Both heroines are involved in an accident that results in an injured stray dog. Both vets are tall, handsome men. Of course, both heroines adopted the poor dogs. Robin's heroine named hers Cupid and my heroine named hers...Cherub. Not quite the same.

I was a bit worried by this time but the plots diverged from there and developed very differently. My vet may have been tall and handsome, but he wasn't the hero. Robin's vet ended up with the girl - and the dog. But don't feel too bad for my poor vet. He got his own story and his own girl in Considering Lily.

I guess that's a case of great minds thinking alike. (Humor me, okay.)

I also have a free Valentine's read on my website. It's sort of a mini-sequel to Saving Gracie. I promise I'll write something that's not set in Orchard Hill someday. But for now there may possibly be one more Orchard Hill Valentine's story on the way. Stay tuned.

I was surprised to find those were the only Valentine stories I found in the White Rose catalog. If I missed some, someone please correct me. I hope there are more coming this year. Writers, I challenge you to add your own Valentine story to the White Rose catalog - or even a free read to your website. Readers, what do you want to see in a Valentine story?