Mary's World

Welcome to my bookshelf.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Moving Day!

The time has come to say goodbye to blogspot! C'mon over to the new home for Mary's World which is now a website. You will find all of the same features you have grown to count on here at blogspot-interviews, reviews, press releases on new releases, and more-in a user friendly format.

Please join me at marysworld411.com and bookmark the page for future reference!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

New Site Under Construction!

Mary's World has outgrown blog status! What a great problem, right? Over the next couple of weeks, I will be moving this blog over to the new site and will then make the final unveiling by the end of the month. I am excited about the change! It is user friendly for both myself as a writer and for you, the reader.

Can't wait? Visit marysworld411.com and follow the progress!

Friday, March 16, 2012

A Friday Funny

Lifeway's A Novel Bookshelf asks "What is the most interesting experience you’ve had while doing research for a novel?"

When I was working on the Courageous novel, I spent some time at a local bookstore writing and doing research. At one point I was standing in a low traffic area, thinking no one was nearby who could hear me. But I turned around and saw this woman six feet away staring at me just after I had asked my police friend on the phone this exact question (no kidding): “So since I can’t use a heroin overdose to kill him, and I have to go with either crystal meth or powder cocaine, which would you advise that I use?”

The woman then pretended she hadn’t heard me, and quickly disappeared. (I just hope she doesn’t attend my church!) An hour later, and no cop had showed up to arrest me. I’m kind of amazed that this woman didn’t call in my description to the police when she got home, after wrestling with her conscience or talking to her husband. In which case, this story would have been entered as evidence.
- Randy Alcorn, author of Courageous Novelization

Visit A Novel Bookshelf to see the article in its entirety.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Is Your Finished Product Worthy of His Endorsement?

I love to read, this is no great mystery. I am fortunate to have many genres from countless gifted authors constantly at my disposal. I can afford to be picky, choosing only those that resonate a longing to know what happens between the artistic and colorful front and back covers. If you would have told me many years ago that my passion to read would one day turn into a career that offered the luxury and availability of the best in the business, I wouldn't have believed it. Lucky? Blessed? Beyond my wildest imagination!

Which is why this morning's devotion caught my eye:
And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon. ~Revelation 5:4

I can't imagine a book being so holy, so pure, so consecrated that no man was found worthy to open, let alone read the book. I forget sometimes how ceremonial God is. He is precise. He is calculated. He is renowned. This book is so sacred to Him that only one-Jesus Christ himself-is deserving of the honor to touch, open, and read it.

As an editor, reader, reviewer, interviewer and lover of the written word, I realize words are profound and meaningful. As Christian authors and publishers, we need to constantly be reminded of our ministry as it applies to publications. Our motive should not be to merely entertain, neither should the prime objective be to move books and generate a bulging net figure.

If God has given you the gift of communication, never forget the enormous responsibility you owe your readers as a Christian author. You can be entertaining but your priority should begin and end with the desire to lead your readers to the Him. Forget trying to court a cross over audience or appeal to a certain market. If God has given you a vision for a book, write it and He will take care of the rest. Yes, I am simplistic and completely trust in His ability to manage the details. I believe that if He calls us to fulfill a certain ministry, He has already taken care of those details.

As much as I love reading novels, I appreciate the authors that work tirelessly to bring their characters to life and the publishers that utilize their team of experts to get those books to various outlets. I am in awe of the process and work diligently to assist in multiple capacities from editing manuscripts to the publicity of the finished product. Perhaps my devotion to this industry causes me to be passionate about what we do, how we do it, and why we do it. Let us always keep in mind that our work should mirror God himself: calculated, precise, ceremonial. Our challenge should be to truly represent who He is in everything we do, especially the work of our hands. Make every word count, every character's struggle worthy of black ink, and the outcome a testimony to the power of God.

The Berenstain Bears-All Things Bright and Beautiful

Press Release

The Bear Cubs learn from their Sunday school teacher that God's Earth is precious and will stay that way only if we care for it.

Missus Ursula, the Sunday school teacher, takes her Sunday school class on a nature walk to appreciate God’s bright and beautiful creation. Includes a sheet of colorful stickers!

The Berenstain Bears are celebrating their 50th Anniversary in 2012.

Stan and Jan Berenstain were already successful cartoonists for magazines and adult humor books when they began writing children's books. The first story starring the bear family, The Big Honey Hunt, appeared in 1962. Since then, more than 340 Berenstain Bears books have been published, and more than 260 million copies have been sold. What began as an idea sparked by their young sons' love of reading has become over the years arguably the best-selling children's book series ever.

Since their inception, the Berenstain Bears stories have expanded to include picture books, beginning readers, and chapter books--even a hit TV show on PBS. Writing and illustrating the books has become a Berenstain family affair. Mike joined with his parents as a creative team in the late 1980s. The Bear family has expanded over the years as well. Sister Bear arrived in 1974, and baby Honey joined the family in 2000.

Reading level: Ages 4 and up

Paperback: 32 pages
Publisher: Zonderkidz (January 10, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0310720885
ISBN-13: 978-0310720881
Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 7.8 x 0.1 inches

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Perfect Christian Woman According to Christian Publishing

This lady…

Lives a Purpose Driven Life and knows the Power of a Praying Wife.

She practices Five Love Languages and will not be Left Behind.

She spent 90 Minutes in Heaven and is convinced that Heaven is for Real.

She is both Captivating and Radical because she Kissed Dating Goodbye and has developed a Mary Heart in a Martha World.

She wears Blue Like Jazz and keeps The Shack spotless while making a Case for Christ.

She secured Dinner with a Perfect Stranger and appreciates a man who is Wild at Heart and More Than a Carpenter.

But ultimately the Christian Publisher is most attracted to and admires the perfect Christian woman because she is......Amish.

~composed with tongue in cheek by Steve Laube

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Vow by Kim Carpenter, Krickett Carpenter, and Dana Wilkerson

Press Release

When you marry another person, you make a vow to love and cherish your spouse through thick and thin, as long as you both shall live. But what if that commitment is tested by serious illness, or financial difficulty? Would you stay together? Are there limits on how far love can go?

Kim and Krickitt Carpenter never expected their commitment to each other to be tested so early, when 2 months after their wedding, a car accident left Krickett with a traumatic head injury and in a coma. When she awoke several weeks later, her rehabilitation began, but Krickitt had no memory of her husband. The previous 18 months when they had met, fallen in love, and been married were completely erased. Kim and Krickitt had to start all over again with the stress of physical rehabilitation, mounting medical bills and amnesia against them.

In The Vow, the Carpenters share their story of how, against enormous odds, they stuck together, fell in love again, and kept the marriage vows they'd made to each other. They also share their Christian faith, and how it sustained them through their most difficult times. In this volume, you'll read about the true events that inspired the February 2012 movie starring Rachel McAdams and Channing Tatum, and see personal photos from Kim and Krickitt.

Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: B&H Books; Mti edition (February 10, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 143367579X
ISBN-13: 978-1433675799
Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.4 x 0.7 inches

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Meet Michael White-Author, Entrepreneur, Minister, Chaplain

Interview by ~Mary as it appears in this month's edition of The Wordsmith Journal.

Last month, we were introduced to Michael White, author of A Time For Everything, a book detailing the incredible story of Kevin Zimmerman. Although the process was difficult, he admits that “The finished product bears true witness and evidence that God was indeed involved every step of the way.” As we continue our interview with White, it is evident that his ambition is motivated by an energy common among leaders. His influence is far reaching, impacting a broader audience than just his readers. Although founder and editor of Parson Place Press, Chaplain for the Alabama Army National Guard, and preacher of the gospel for nearly 34 years, his effectiveness does not reside in those titles alone. He is driven with the predictability that with God, all things are possible.

MN-As founder and managing editor of Parson Place Press, what does your company have to offer authors that other publishers lack?

MW-As the sole proprietor of Parson Place Press, I offer first-time authors, in particular, the opportunity to have their work considered for publication, although I will certainly consider previously published authors’ work, too. I established Parson Place Press back in April 2006 for a couple of reasons. First, I was tired of receiving rejection slips of my own, and second, after I browsed a number of other Christian publishers’ Web sites, I learned that they had effectively shut the door in the face of first-time authors by limiting the proposals they would consider to those who were either current clients or recommended by a current client or represented by an agent! That for me was kind of “the last straw,” so to speak. Therefore, I wanted to restore the freedom and hope of unknown and/or first-time authors to at least have their work considered before they were turned away from their dream of being published. However, I’ve spent so much time publishing other authors’ works that I haven’t spent very much time writing my own books!

MN-I noticed that you have created a website for Perry Thomas. Is this service something you offer your authors or a separate business all together?

MW-HTML programming is a self-taught skill I learned back in 1995. I have created several sites both for myself and for others over the years. I’m not exactly an expert, but I am somewhere in the mid- to upper-intermediate level, I think. Since Perry Thomas didn’t have a Web site, I offered to create a somewhat simple one for him, as a personal favor, you might say.

Referring back to your previous question, the personal touch (like this) is another benefit authors can expect from Parson Place Press. However, if more authors request my help with this in the future, I may begin to charge a nominal fee to offset my time expenditure. Though I don’t have a separate business for this, it is something I might consider starting.

MN-As a homeschooling Mom looking over the website, it appears as if a lot of the books that have been published by PPP would be ideal for homeschoolers since they are based on the biographies of Christians, or accurately depict history. Would you consider the books published by PPP to be family oriented and possibly advise using them for schooling or family devotional purposes?

MW-Some of Parson Place Press’ published titles most definitely lend themselves very easily to the academic setting, including homeschooling. In fact, Louisa, the very first book I published (initially in hard cover, and then in paperback a year later) has an accompanying teacher’s guide called The Resource Book for Louisa: A Guide for Teachers. I even have a special order page for educators. It has been recommended by Bethany LeBedz, a homeschooling Mom, who also blogged about it on her blog. She helped me make a couple of other homeschool periodical and review contacts. Before that, I had purchased an ad spot in The 2011 Home School Magazine Business Directory.

I’m currently urging Perry Thomas to write a teacher’s guide for his recent publication, From Slave to Governor: the Unlikely Life of Lott Cary. Furthermore, Louisa and The Resource Book for Louisa are currently under consideration by the Board of Education for the State of Alabama and by the Director of Education for Catholic Schools in Hawaii as a potential curriculum for middle school students. Say a prayer that these will be approved, because that will open the door for others to do the same!

MN-Tell me about your military career and how it led to your service as an Army chaplain.

MW-I publicly answered God’s call upon my life to preach the Gospel just two days before I turned 17 years old. I enlisted in the Army as a Chaplain’s Assistant in 1981 at 20 years old, and then I got married as soon as I finished all my initial entry training. Basically, since I needed two more years to complete my undergraduate degree at the time, and I didn’t want to wait to get married, I joined the Army to support my new wife (who is also an “Army brat,” by the way). While serving as a Chaplain’s Assistant, I got to observe firsthand what chaplains do. After some thought and prayer, I sensed God leading me into a career in the Army as a chaplain. I have spent the next 27 years since then either preparing for service or actively serving in both the active duty component and in the Alabama Army National Guard (and even six months in the Army Reserve) as a chaplain. It has been a lifelong journey, but I will be officially retired from the Alabama Army National Guard with just under 31 years of service as of 28 February 2012.

MN-Many believe that unless you are on the front lines, military life isn’t all that stressful. True or false in your experience?

MW-Naturally, stress can come from a variety of sources. While combat stress and post-traumatic stress may be more intense than other sources, it does not negate the effects of stress in other areas. I have both counseled Soldiers and personally experienced stress from a wide variety of causes ranging from meeting physical training requirements to meeting other regulatory standards and trying to keep your superiors satisfied with your job performance. It’s also somewhat stressful just knowing that you’re at the beck and call of your country every time a new hot spot opens up in the world. In all my years of military service, I have somehow missed being deployed to a combat zone, but I have experienced other stresses of training for combat and, once I became a chaplain, of counseling Soldiers who had participated in combat.

I would say that military life is stressful in general, and that stress just increases exponentially in preparation for, participating in, and recovery from combat service, whether you actually have to engage the enemy personally or not. It’s very hard on families of troops, too, because of long separations and missed holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, etc. Military service as a career requires a special dedication and commitment by both the service member and his or her family to see it through to the end.

MN-You have been a minister for over thirty years now. How have social situations and family issues changed over the course of three decades?

MW-It seems to me that families have gradually grown less cohesive over the past three decades, with everyone pretty much doing his or her own thing. Parental discipline of children is much different now than 30 years ago, too. I’m still a firm believer in carefully controlled and measured corporal punishment as outlined in the Scriptures (Proverbs 22:15; 23:13-14; and 29:15), both at home and in school, but parents are afraid to do that nowadays lest someone report them and have their children taken away from them. As a result, children are far less well-behaved and self-disciplined now than in previous generations. Even God chastens those He loves (Hebrews 12:5-11).

Social situations have changed even more noticeably. Crude, obscene and profane language and gestures that used to be reserved for “R” and “X” rated movies have crept further and further into the protected realm of “family-friendly” viewing, both at the theater and on television. It’s sometimes a challenge nowadays to watch even a newscast without being subjected to at least one of these assaults on sensibility. In fact, even the annual Super Bowl has to deal with this threat every year during its infamous half-time show. While most Americans, and that certainly includes a large chunk of the 75% of Americans who claim to be Christian, have grown so accustomed to hearing/seeing these things that they don’t even notice or flinch, the few of us who are still insulted and offended by it must continue to suffer through it. Moreover, the sensitive issues discussed in commercials for everything from certain pharmaceuticals to personal hygiene products makes watching them in mixed company quite uncomfortable. Therefore, I’ve quit watching anything on secular TV except the news and an occasional home improvement show, which my wife enjoys and invites me to watch with her. Even then, you’re likely to hear certain profane words that are now considered socially acceptable on TV. I watch mostly Christian TV programming now, or else I just turn off the TV altogether. This is only scratching the surface of both social and family cultural changes in my lifetime, of course, but these are the first things that come to my mind in response to your question.

MN-I have noticed just over the last twenty years that a major problem the church faces is in teaching morality to the youth. Society dictates morality is a personal choice and because it imposes tolerance, unless you break the law of the land, morality is an option instead of a mandatory code of ethics. What can parents and church leaders do to instill a strong sense of morality in the next generation when they are bombarded with the message that it does not matter and is not relevant in the real world?

MW-The people of God have faced this onslaught against their religious and moral underpinnings since the earliest biblical times, because our enemy remains the same. Satan is our enemy because he is God’s enemy. We shouldn’t be so surprised at this. The only antidote to the social pressure to relax personal moral standards is the Word of God. While social norms strain away from the standard of conduct God has outlined in the Scriptures, godly Christian people, both in the home and in the church, will continue pointing to and using the Bible as the moral standard for living, not only for the children they train up (Proverbs 22:6), but for their own lives, too. If we ever leave off the continual reading and obeying of God’s Word, more than just our religious and moral convictions will fall by the wayside. The reason both our Christian homes and our churches are falling apart or drifting away from God’s standard these days is because we as a Christian culture have abandoned the Word of God as our fundamental standard for living.

MN-Not only are you the founder of a successful publisher, minister, and former servant to our country, you are also an author. Tell our readers about your books.

MW-I have longed to be a published author almost my entire life. I remember reading books as a young elementary-age student and being so drawn into the fictional and biographical stories I read that I wanted to participate in writing stories of my own. I have yet to publish a fictional work of my own, though I am presently working on a collection of my poetry for release later this year.

As I grew older and became a minister, I have felt drawn more towards non-fiction writing. I have thus far published one non-fiction book titled Digital Evangelism: You Can Do It, Too! (self-published first in 2004, then revised and expanded and republished in a second edition by Parson Place Press in April 2011); one biography of a living retired Army medic titled A Time for Everything: the Kevin Zimmerman Story (published first in 2008 by Parson Place Press and then updated for a second edition and republished by Parson Place Press in January 2012); and my latest non-fiction book, Seven Keys to Effective Prayer, which I will be releasing in March 2012. I am very excited over each of my published books, and I have high hopes to write and publish even more books in the future, in addition to continuing to offer other authors the same joy of being published by Parson Place Press.

Besides these books, I have also authored a number of articles and devotional thoughts through the years, which I’ve collected and published on my personal web site. Also, one happy spin-off from one of my books is a monthly column I now write for Christian Computing Magazine, in which I address a variety of ways to do digital evangelism. The column is titled, aptly enough, Digital Evangelism.

MN-I laughed when someone once told me that being a writer was a job for lazy people. Their perception of a writer’s life was that you sit at the computer drinking coffee and eating junk food while words flow effortless on screen, and the manuscript is always picked up by the first publisher. Tell the truth. What is the life of a writer really like?

MW-I’m sure the experience is both different and alike for every writer. By that I mean that it is different for every writer because each writer has his or her own style and approach to the writing process. It is alike for every writer in that every writer must wrestle at some time or other with writer’s block, the distracting demands of life (such as paying bills, raising children, acceding to the wishes of family and friends, and so forth), and rewriting, rewriting, and rewriting until the words sound “right.” After you feel you finally have the writing right, the next step may prove to be the hardest of all: finding a willing publisher. Unless or until a writer lands a contract with a publisher which has global clout with the reading public, to include the media (and that usually requires several years and plenty of marketing savvy to build), and unless or until that renowned publisher happens to succeed at getting the cooperation of the media in promoting this newly published work, so that it funnels in tons of cash in sales, writing is likely to be a fairly low-key, low-paid proposition/profession, assuming the writer can even land a decent job (usually in journalism) which pays enough that he or she can actually rely upon it as an income-producing profession.

Writing sounds glamorous, but that is true only, and I do mean only, if the writer lands that one-in-a-million success story, like J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. I use her as an example of surprising financial and media success only, however, and by no means do I condone either her stories or her lifestyle. Truly, the life of a writer is most often anything but glamorous and hugely profitable. It may permit you to pay your bills, but it likely won’t enable you to live lavishly. It’s very hard work, and those who think it’s a lazy person’s profession should simply try their hand at making a living at it for just six months or a year. That should disabuse them of such a ludicrous notion!

MN-We have now entered the season of Lent-the time period leading up to the crucifixion of Christ. Do you have any personal Lent traditions you follow annually?

MW-In years past, when I was the full-time pastor of a United Methodist congregation, I usually conducted an Ash Wednesday Service and encouraged my people to join me in both solemn reflection upon the passion and sacrifice of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and in the practice of fasting. If they were unable or unwilling to fast, I encouraged them to give up something important to them for the duration of Lent. I would then conclude the Season of Lent with a Good Friday Tenebrae Service, which included commenting on the seven last sayings of Jesus on the cross, singing a correlated hymn for each saying, and nailing with small spikes our personal (anonymous) confessions to a full-sized wooden cross. I removed the confessions immediately after the service, prayed over them collectively, and shredded them into the trash. Then on Resurrection Sunday, I conducted a Sunrise Service and a regular worship service which included flowering of the cross (the same cross that bore our sins just two days earlier).

Since I retired from the United Methodist Church in December 2011, with the intent of establishing a new non-denominational ministry at God’s behest, I am presently waiting for the Lord to reveal to me the location here in Mobile, Alabama, for this new ministry. As I respond to your questions, today is Ash Wednesday 2012, though I have done a little revising on the next couple of days following. Nevertheless, I started Ash Wednesday with prayer and Scripture reading, as I do nearly every day, and I spent the remainder of the day in fasting and carrying on my normal routine, as Jesus charged us to do when we fast in Matthew 6:16-18. I will probably choose at least day one per week during Lent to fast as a personal sacrifice in acknowledgement of the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross for me. That is pretty much my personal tradition.

MN-Complete this sentence. Without God......

MW-Without God nothing would exist, because God is the Source of all things. It goes without saying then that I would have no hope, joy, or peace, since I would not exist either.