This week I travelled to Nashville to attend The Art of Writing Conference and the Christy Awards Gala, hosted on the campus of Lipscomb University. The last time one of my books was a Christy finalist was 2013, for Wedded to War, and I skipped the Gala so I could stay home and write. Afterward, even though my novel didn't win, I second-guessed my decision to forfeit the opportunity to gather with like-minded writers. For those who aren't familiar, The Christy Award™ is the foremost award honoring and promoting excellence in Christian fiction since 1999, and is named for Catherine Marshall’s novel, Christy, which has sold over 10 million copies since its publication in 1967. This year is the 50th anniversary of Christy, so it was pretty special to be part of the celebration. Here's a trailer for this classic book: I'm so glad I went to the Christy Awards this year. First of all, I got to read on the flights and during the layover on my way to Nashville, which was a treat. I finished Like a River From Its Course by Kelli Stuart, which was a Christy Finalist in the historical category, and the Carol Award winner this year in historical fiction. What an amazing book! It made me even more excited to meet Kelli in person in Nashville. The Art of Writing Conference was a great opportunity to learn, to be reminded of things I may have forgotten, and to chat with folks I usually only "see" on Facebook, many of whom I met for the first time in person that day. The afternoon was packed from 1-5pm, and then it was time to change from conference attire into our gala dresses. I settled in for the program between my editors Dave Long and Jessica Barnes, and enjoyed every segment of the evening. Though The Mark of the King was a finalist, I was planning on not winning. After all, Wedded to War had been a finalist in two categories, and it didn't win either one. I was just honored and happy to be a finalist, which was winning enough for me. So I didn't prepare an acceptance speech. One of the most moving aspects of the program was Andrew Peterson's music. This was my first exposure to his music and I was so impressed and touched. He played three or four songs, including one called To All the Poets, which was especially meaningful to a room full of writers, editors, publishers, and those who support the written word. If you'd like to take a listen, here you go: While Andrew was finishing up his songs, I had this niggling feeling that I ought to do the prudent thing and figure out something to say in the off chance I was called up soon. So I pulled out a single piece of notebook paper and my favorite purple pen, and scribbled down a few things. Not very long after that, my category was up. The way they announce the winners is by reading the first lines of the winning novel before saying the title and author. And...oh my word. The presenter, Liz Johnson (The Red Door Inn), read the first few lines of The Mark of the King, and I could not believe it. I took my purple scribbles up to the podium with me, but look at that hot mess. It's barely legible. So I didn't even look at it, I just talked. After thanking the team at Bethany House Publishers, here is what I think I said: With every book I write, I hope that it is adequate. I hope it's enough. I think of the five loaves and two fish, and how they fed the five thousand not because the food was enough, but because Christ is enough. So if my novel is enough, it's because Christ is enough. I don't think the people who ate the bread and fish remember the taste of the what they ate, but they did remember that they were filled. I don't know how many readers will remember that The Mark of the King won an award. But I hope that they will remember being filled by what they read. Every book represented here in this room is part of the work of filling souls through story. I am honored to be part of this community. I was so blessed to have so many team members from Bethany House Publishers attend! Below, from the top left and working clockwise: Amy Green, fiction publicist (and my B&B housemate for the trip, along with Carrie Booth Schmidt); Jessica Barnes, editor extraordinaire; fellow BHP authors Becky Wade (Her One and Only) and Tamera Alexander (A Note Yet Unsung); and Noelle Chew, fiction marketing manager. The 2017 Christy Award winners are: Book of the Year LONG WAY GONE by Charles Martin (Thomas Nelson) Contemporary Romance HER ONE AND ONLY by Becky Wade (Bethany House/ Baker Publishing Group) First Novel STARS IN THE GRASS by Ann Marie Stewart (Barbour Publishing) General Fiction THE PROMISE OF JESSE WOODS by Chris Fabry (Tyndale House Publishers) Historical Fiction THE MARK OF THE KING by Jocelyn Green (Bethany House/ Baker Publishing Group) Historical Romance (TIE) A NOTE YET UNSUNG by Tamera Alexander (Bethany House/ Baker Publishing Group) THE LADY AND THE LIONHEART by Joanne Bischof (Mason Jar Books) Mystery/Suspense/Thriller WHEN DEATH DRAWS NEAR by Carrie Stuart Parks (Thomas Nelson) Short Form LOOKING INTO YOU by Chris Fabry (Tyndale House Publishers) Visionary THE LONG JOURNEY TO JAKE PALMER by James Rubart (Thomas Nelson) Young Adult THE SILENT SONGBIRD by Melanie Dickerson (Thomas Nelson) You can find the complete list of finalists and winners here, along with their book covers. Below, the authors present to accept The Christy Award™, pictured with ECPA executive director Stan Jantz. (from left to right:) Chris Fabry, Tamera Alexander, Jocelyn Green, Becky Wade, Ann Marie Stewart, Melanie Dickerson, Stan Jantz (photo credit: Kristen Fields) Now I'm home again, and that dress I wore to the gala is in a plastic bag waiting to be taken to the dry cleaners. I'm back in my favorite flannel writing pants, staring at another blinking cursor on a new Chapter One. I'm starting the next novel. It's a long process, and it can be daunting, but I meant what I said on that stage. Every book is an offering that surely feels like it falls short. But with Christ, it is enough. For He finishes the story in the hearts of readers. He is the completion of the message. And so I plow ahead with my ears tuned to His leading, and pray that He will take my crust of bread and stinky fish, and use it to feed His people.
Two years ago this week, I attended a Christian fiction writers conference. Since my previous publisher for my Civil War novels had decided not to acquire more fiction, I was on the hunt for a new publisher. So with one-sheet in hand, I met with a few editors and pitched the story that later became The Mark of the King. Of course, I had no idea if the book would be published at all at that point. After meeting with the first editor, I thought maybe my publishing gig was all dried up. (You can read about that experience in my blog post, "On Terrible Advice from Really Successful People.") Thankfully, she wasn't the last editor I met with. I am so, so grateful that Bethany House took me in, and helped The Mark of the King become what it should be. So to learn today that The Mark of the King is a finalist for The Christy Awards is a very special honor. (The timing just slays me!) I'm so happy to see so many friends on this list, too! Join me in congratulating the following authors: Contemporary Romance: Her One and Only, Becky Wade (Bethany House/Baker Publishing Group) The Red Door Inn, Liz Johnson (Revell/Baker Publishing Group) Rescue Me, Susan May Warren (Revell/Baker Publishing Group) First Novel: Counted with the Stars, Connilyn Cossette (Bethany House/Baker Publishing Group) Like a River from Its Course, Kelli Stuart (Kregel Publications) Stars in the Grass, Ann Marie Stewart (Barbour Publishing) General Fiction: Long Way Gone, Charles Martin (Thomas Nelson) The Promise of Jesse Woods, Chris Fabry (Tyndale House Publishers) The Undoing of Saint Silvanus, Beth Moore (Tyndale House Publishers) Historical: Like a River from Its Course, Kelli Stuart (Kregel Publications) The Mark of the King, Jocelyn Green (Bethany House/Baker Publishing Group) Miriam, Mesu Andrews (WaterBrook) Historical Romance: A Note Yet Unsung, Tamera Alexander (Bethany House/Baker Publishing Group) From This Moment, Elizabeth Camden (Bethany House/Baker Publishing Group) The Lady and the Lionheart, Joanne Bischof (Mason Jar Books) Mystery/Suspense/Thriller: If I Run, Terri Blackstock (Zondervan) When Death Draws Near, Carrie Stuart Parks (Thomas Nelson) Without Warning, Joel C. Rosenberg (Tyndale House) Short Form: Looking into You, Chris Fabry (Tyndale House Publishers) Mirror Image, Laura Scott (Harlequin Love Inspired Suspense) Restoring Christmas: A Novella, Cynthia Ruchti (Worthy Inspired, an imprint of Worthy Publishing Group) Visionary: The Alliance, Jolina Petersheim (Tyndale House Publishers) King’s Folly, Jill Williamson, (Bethany House/Baker Publishing Group) The Long Journey to Jake Palmer, James Rubart (Thomas Nelson) Young Adult: If You’re Gone, Brittany Goodwin (Edge of 22 Publishing) The Silent Songbird, Melanie Dickerson (Thomas Nelson) Unblemished, Sara Ella (Thomas Nelson) Read the full news release here. Awards are subjective, aren't they? While I am humbled and honored to be among these other talented titles and authors, there are many other wonderful books out there. Here's an idea: if you have loved a book--any book, whether it's on this list or not--post an online review or at least mention it in your social media circles. Or request that your library order a copy for its circulation. Or go out and treat yourself by purchasing a new book by your favorite author. What have YOU enjoyed reading this year?
Just a quick post today to let you in on a nice surprise. Somehow, this blog right here was named in the Top 100 Military Wife Blogs on the planet! Wow! Check out the full list here. I see several worthy blogs that I have followed for years. Bravo! If you're stopping by this blog for the first time, let me give you the quick run-down. I've written or co-written several books for military wives/families, including: Faith Deployed: Daily Encouragement for Military Wives Faith Deployed . . .Again: More Daily Encouragement for Military Wives (pictured below with some milwives in Virginia!) Stories of Faith and Courage from the War in Iraq & Afghanistan Stories of Faith and Courage from the Home Front Military Wives' New Testament with Psalms & Proverbs The 5 Love Languages Military Edition (with Dr. Gary Chapman) My other nonfiction books, Refresh: Spiritual Nourishment for Parents of Children with Special Needs, and my new release, Free to Lean: Making Peace with Your Lopsided Life, both incorporate stories and examples from military and civilian women. Pictured below is military wife Natalie Walters with her copy. You can read her review on Goodreads here. Visit my nonfiction page to see a short summary of each book. But I also write American historical fiction set in the 1700s and 1800s, inspired by real people and events. And so far, every story has a main character with some connection to the military, whether it's soldier, surgeon, scout, chaplain, veteran, or spy. I'm not sure how long this trend will continue, but so far, it has been true for six novels (one to be published in February 2018) and one novella. As a former military wife, it's been fulfilling to bring military family dynamics and themes of freedom and liberty to life. See descriptions of my fiction here. For those of you who have been following the Faith Deployed or Jocelyn Green Facebook page for a while, were there any titles on this list you hadn't heard about already? Whether you're a fiction or nonfiction reader, I'm glad you're here! Take a look around, and if you like what you see, be sure to sign up for my e-newsletter in the footer below, to be notified of new releases. Thanks!
For the month of May, The Mark of the King is only $2.99 in ebook format at online retailers! "The 18th-century Old and New Worlds burst off the pages in the latest historical fiction treasure from Green. . . . Readers can only hope for more from this talented, spiritually insightful author."--Publishers Weekly starred review "Readers will be swept away by the themes of faith and redemption woven throughout the narrative as well as the alluring protagonists and setting. Fans of Beth White's Gulf Coast Chronicles, Lynn Austin, and Susan Meissner will enjoy."--Library Journal If you don't already have your copy, this is a great time to snag it. At this price, it's even cheaper than the average greeting card, so you might consider gifting it for someone else, too. (Mother's Day?) Find it at Amazon, ChristianBook, BarnesandNoble, KoboBooks, and others. But my book isn't the only ebook on sale right now. Baker Publishing is currently offering steeply discounted (and some free) fiction titles from authors Laura Frantz, Elizabeth Camden, Roseanne White, Sarah Sundin, Ronie Kendig, Dani Pettrey, Gilbert Morris, Ann Shorey, Regina Jennings, Suzanne Woods Fisher, Tamera Alexander, Karen Witemeyer, Jen Turano... WHEW! I'm not even done listing them all! Some of these sales and freebies last all month, but some expire earlier. Please, if you have an ereader, do yourself a favor and check this out for yourself. Personally, I feel a shopping spree coming on... one that certainly won't break the bank! Happy reading, everyone! (Ooh--and if you love a book, would you consider posting an honest, positive review at Goodreads and/or the online retailer(s) of your choice? Every review helps, even if it's only a sentence sharing why you liked it, or what kind of reader you think the book would appeal to. Thank you!)
If you missed the free ebook yesterday, you can still get Refresh: Spiritual Nourishment for Parents of Children with Special Needs for only $1.99 (ebook only) from now until the end of November 13! Find it at Amazon and BarnesandNoble. Read "Longing for Transformation," an excerpt from Refresh, here.
FLASH SALE! Today only, download your FREE ebook copy of Refresh: Spiritual Nourishment for Parents of Children with Special Needs. Find it FREE at Amazon and BarnesandNoble. . You can read more about the book here. Here's one reviewer's take on Refresh: Being a parent to a special needs child is challenging and exhausting. Not only physically, but emotionally, mentally, and even spiritually. In-between being mom, therapist, caregiver, and nurse, there's little time for anything else.But as a parent and a person, I need what everyone else does too... friendship, encouragement, inspiration, and a connection. That's why on this journey it's so important to continue to pursue a relationship with God, our Creator. We need that connection and relationship. We need to find hope and encouragement in His Word and that's why authors Kimberly Drew and Jocelyn Green wrote this devotional book. I love this devotional because it is written by and filled with encouragement and stories from real special needs parents that were interviewed before the book was even written. I can relate to so many of the devotionals and stories as a special needs parent and it's nice to feel like I'm not alone when reading along. It's hard for other parents to understand what we're going through, but none of this is a surprise to God. We only need to rely on Him to continue on. ~Kathryn Sneed Read "Crushed Spirit," an excerpt from Refresh, here. If you know someone who could use this resource, please let them know the ebook is free today only! Thank you!
Exciting news! But first, a bit of housekeeping: dear blog subscribers, I know we've had some formatting issues with the blog posts that arrive in your email inbox. We're working to resolve these. In the meantime, if the paragraph breaks aren't showing or the hyperlinks aren't working, please click the title of the blog post and read the content on my Web site--that should be a much less frustrating experience! Thanks for your patience! And now--hip hip hooray! The Message in a Bottle Romance Collection is now available for pre-order at Amazon, ChristianBook, and BarnesandNoble, AND for adding to your "want to read" list on Goodreads. (Psst, adding it on Goodreads is a big help for the book!) Here's the blurb: Join the journey as one word etched in Latin on an ancient bronze bottle travels through the centuries to reach five young women who are struggling to maintain their faith in God and love. An Irish princess, a Scottish story weaver, a Post-Colonial nurse, a cotton mill worker, and a maid who nearly drowned each receive a message from the bottle just when they need their hope restored. But will the bottle also bring them each to a man whose love will endure? I'm honored to be included in this collection along with four other fantastic storytellers: Joanne Bischof, Amanda Dykes, Heather Day Gilbert, and Maureen Lang. My particular novella, A River Between Us, will take you to Civil War Georgia as we explore the plight of a cotton mill worker evicted from her homeland when Union General William T. Sherman sweeps through on his way to Atlanta. The seed for this story was planted by Amy Reed, curator for the Marietta Museum of History, when I was visiting for a book signing of Yankee in Atlanta. (Thank you Amy!) Release date for this collection is March 2017!
Quick note for you bloggers out there! If you're interested in joining the blog tour for Refresh, register here by August 29. Those who are reviewing Refresh on the blog tour will receive their complimentary copies of the book by October 8, and the tour will run from November 7-11, 2016. (Read Kregel's Blog Tour Rules and Regulations here). For more information about Refresh: Spiritual Nourishment for Parents of Children with Special Needs, visit the book page here.
At long last, The Mark of the King is available for pre-order! The novel releases Jan. 3, 2017. Here's the book blurb! Sweeping Historical Fiction Set at the Edge of the Continent After being imprisoned and branded for the death of her client, twenty-five-year-old midwife Julianne Chevalier trades her life sentence for exile to the fledgling 1720s French colony of Louisiana, where she hopes to be reunited with her brother, serving there as a soldier. To make the journey, though, women must be married, and Julianne is forced to wed a fellow convict. When they arrive in New Orleans, there is no news of Benjamin, Julianne's brother, and searching for answers proves dangerous. What is behind the mystery, and does military officer Marc-Paul Girard know more than he is letting on? With her dreams of a new life shattered, Julianne must find her way in this dangerous, rugged land, despite never being able to escape the king's mark on her shoulder that brands her a criminal beyond redemption. I can't wait to share this story with you all! Pre-order at Amazon, ChristianBook,or BarnesandNoble. If you're on Goodreads, you can add it to your "Want to Read" list now (which would actually help a great deal!)--and you could also vote for The Mark of the King from a list of most anticipated 2017 titles right here. Or vote for other books on the list, that's fine too!
Drumroll please! I am so delighted to announce that I've signed a contract with Barbour Publishing, along with four other talented authors, for The Message in a Bottle Romance Collection! The five of us are currently hard at work writing our novellas, each from a different era and location, tied together with a single bottle that finds its way across the world and through generations to bring hope. My particular novella is set in one of my favorite periods: you guessed it, the Civil War. We've been sitting on this news for sooo long! Look, I'm wearing a turtleneck in that photo. It was February when we signed the contract! I'm so honored to be writing with these four ladies. If you're not familiar with them already, allow me to introduce you! HEATHER DAY GILBERT writes novels that capture life in all its messy, bittersweet, hope-filled glory. Born and raised in the West Virginia mountains, generational story-telling runs in her blood. Heather is a graduate of Bob Jones University and is married to her college sweetheart. Having recently returned to her roots, she and her husband are raising their three children in the same home in which Heather grew up. Heather's Viking historical novel, God's Daughter, is an Amazon Norse bestseller. She is also the author of Miranda Warning and Trial by Twelve, Books One and Two in the bestselling A Murder in the Mountains mystery series. She has also written the Indie Publishing Handbook: Four Key Elements for the Self-Publisher. Find Heather online at her Web site, on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads. AMANDA DYKES is the author of Bespoke: A Tiny Christmas Tale, the critically-acclaimed bicycle story that invited readers together to fund bicycles for missionaries in Asia. She is a drinker of tea, a dweller of Truth, and a spinner of hope-filled tales. With both Scottish and British heritage herself, writing A Song in the Night for the Message in a Bottle collection has been a very special journey for her. Amanda has a B.A. in English Education. She relishes connecting with readers online in an encouraging and heartfelt way. Delighting in a shared love of good books, she serves as the book club resource person for Novel Crossing. It’s also her joy to serve as Digital Coordinator for PulsePoint Design. Find Amanda online at her Web site, on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads. MAUREEN LANG is the author of thirteen novels and three novellas, with settings ranging from historical to contemporary, Europe to America. Her earlier work won RWA’s Golden Heart Award then ACFW’s Genesis, and published works went on to final in the Christy, Carol, Book Buyer’s Best, Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence and the Golden Quill. She’s won a HOLT Medallion, First Place in the Selah and RWA’s Inspirational Reader’s Choice Contest. A wife and mother of three, she is the primary caregiver to her adult son with Fragile X Syndrome and lives in the Chicago area. Find Maureen online at her Web site, on Facebook, on Goodreads, and in a group blog at Christians Read. JOANNE BISCHOF is a three-time Christy Award finalist in historical romance and young adult categories. Her titles include Be Still My Soul, This Quiet Sky, To Get to You and The Lady and the Lionheart (forthcoming). She has a deep passion for heartfelt tales and writing stories that shine light on God's grace and goodness. She lives in the mountains of Southern California with her husband and their three children and visits Coronado Island as often as she can. Find Joanne online at her website, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads. WOW! What a line-up. I'm so fortunate to be able to write with these authors. I can't wait to read the stories they are spinning. We are sharing glimpses with each other along the way, as we work out details of how the stories interlock, and I can tell you that you're in for a treat with this collection! This will be my first novella I've ever written. Let's see if I can squeeze a story into 30,000 words instead of 100,000! :) I'm up for the challenge! The next few weeks I'll be really digging into this story, so if it's quiet on the blog and social media, just know I'm busy in my writing cave, doing terrible things to my characters and then bringing them back from the brink. :)