January Character Profiles: Gage McKenna

(The fourth in a series of posts highlighting some fictional characters who I want to be more like during the new year. Check out past spotlights on Charlotte Graham, Brandy Phillip, and Poppy Martin.)

Gage McKenna
From Dani Pettrey’s Stranded

“Sometimes there is nothing you can do, no matter how earnestly you ache to. Not even if you’re willing to give your life in place of theirs . . . I know how it feels to be helpless, to want to save someone so badly you’d die to do so and it still doesn’t make a difference.”

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Character Description: Gage McKenna is a man with a broken heart. He lost his son mere days after birth and the boy’s mother mere days later. The first woman to kindle his heart in nearly a decade is Darcy St. James, but she’s working a case that may get her killed. Fortunately for her, Gage is passionate about everything he does, whether it’s protecting the woman he loves from danger, honoring his son’s memory, being there for his family, or simply extreme kayaking. Every endeavor he pursues, he pursues with passion and his whole heart.

Noteable Character Quality: Passionate

Dani’s Reaction: I long to be more like Gage—to do everything with passion, including loving my God. Psalm 42:1-2 says, “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, the living God. When can I go and meet with God?” and Isaiah 26:9 says, “My soul yearns for you in the night; in the morning my spirit longs for you.” What these verses have in common is that they are cries from a heart that is passionate for God. That describes Gage when he comes to know the Lord. I pray that describes me as well.

Amy’s Reaction: In some ways, I identified with Gage—like him, I went through a time where I asked some difficult questions about God and his justice in letting bad things happen.  In other ways, I was challenged by Gage, especially when it came to his passionate faith. It can be easy to let my belief in God be passive and lukewarm . . . but this generation needs believers like Gage who have been changed by God’s love and are passionate about sharing it with others.

Related Scripture:
“I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other!” —Revelation 3:15 (NIV)

About the Author:

Pettrey_DaniDani Pettrey is a wife, homeschooling mom, and author. She feels blessed to write inspirational romantic suspense because it incorporates so many things she loves–the thrill of adventure, nail biting suspense, the deepening of her characters’ faith, and plenty of romance. She and her husband reside in Maryland with their two teenage daughters. Visit her website at www.danipettrey.com.

Is there someone you know who could be described as passionate about his or her relationship with God? Tell us about that person.

January Character Profiles: Poppy Martin

(The third in a series of posts highlighting some fictional characters who I want to be more like during the new year. Check out past spotlights on Gage McKenna and Brandy Phillip.)

Poppy Martin
from Todd M. Johnson’s Critical Reaction

“Look, son,” his father said to Poppy before she could take him away. “When you reach my age, you sit here waiting for the Lord to take you, and you look back on your life. It’s all you’ve still got—and you count yourself lucky if you can do that
. . . . Don’t let ‘em make you do something you’ll sit here and regret.”

Critical Reaction
Character Description: Hanford security guard Patrick “Poppy” Martin is a man of modest size but solid stature. He is “grounded,” both in faith and personality; the kind of man who puts principle and truth ahead of expediency. It is a quality in people, men or women, that quietly but naturally garners love and respect. In the book, that respect and affection are evident in Poppy’s relationship with his children, his wife, his colleagues on the job and in the union, and eventually the lawyers who come to represent him.

Notable Character Quality: Integrity

Todd’s Reaction: Poppy was particularly patterned after a man with whom I worked on a street crew during the summers when in college. He was universally liked and respected for the “Poppy” qualities he brought to the job every day, including serving as a mentor for an orphaned worker who was under him.

Amy’s Reaction: I absolutely loved the character of Poppy. He’s an average working-class guy who would rather just go about his life in a familiar routine . . . but when that doesn’t happen, he certainly rises to the occasion. Without going into much detail and spoiling the plot, I will say that I actually cheered out loud for him during the final chapters. I’d love to be more like him, especially in his stubborn refusal to compromise his principles.

Related Scripture:
“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.”
1 Corinthians 16:13 (NIV)

About the Author:

Johnson_ToddTodd M. Johnson has practiced as an attorney for over 30 years, specializing as a trial lawyer. A graduate of Princeton University and the University of Minnesota Law School, he also taught for two years as adjunct professor of International Law and served as a US diplomat in Hong Kong. He lives outside Minneapolis, Minnesota, with his wife and daughter. Visit his website at www.authortoddjohnson.com.

Who is (or was) an older person in your life who served as a mentor or an example of who you wanted to be someday?

January Character Profiles: Brandy Phillip

(The second in a series of posts highlighting some fictional characters who I want to be more like during the new year. Check out last week’s spotlight on Charlotte Graham.)

Brandy Phillip
From Kathryn Cushman’s Chasing Hope

This was the type of training where, in the past, Brandy had been most prone to cheat. Push not quite as hard as she could during the first half, try to save a little something for later. . . . Not today. Today she was going to give everything she had. Maybe if she endured enough pain she could at some point forgive herself, at some point quit kicking herself for throwing away the closest thing she’d had to a friend in a long time.

Chasing Hope

Character Description: Brandy is a troublemaking teenager from the get-go. She also has an absurd natural talent for running . . . and a childhood that no one would envy. She makes mistakes over and over, and yet she keeps getting up off the ground and trying again.

Notable Character Quality: Perseverance

Kathryn’s Reaction: I admire Brandy because she has some compelling excuses to quit, and although she plans to quit on several occasions, she never does. In spite of the fact that “life has been completely unfair,” she’s still pressing forward. She makes some wrong decisions, and she has unknowingly let bitterness take root deep inside her, but she perseveres. She inspires me to keep going—even after I’ve blown it. Again. And again. And again.

Amy’s Reaction: Even though Brandy started out in the story as a tough girl who couldn’t care less what anyone thought of her, I liked her from the start. I could see that she was a fighter coming from a difficult background, and that what she really needed was someone to look up to. And it made me wonder: how many people around me are like Brandy? How many people do I judge by appearances without really getting to know them?

Related Scripture:
“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” —Romans 5:3-4 (NIV)

About the Author:

Cushman_Katie1Kathryn Cushman is a graduate of Samford University with a degree in pharmacy. She is the author of five novels, including Leaving Yesterday and A Promise to Remember, which were both finalists for the Carol Award in Women’s Fiction. She is also the co-author of Angel Song with Sheila Walsh. Kathryn and her family currently live in Santa Barbara, California. Visit her website at www.kathryncushman.com.

Who comes to mind first when you think of someone who you’d like to imitate in the coming year (fictional, historical, or someone you know personally)?

January Character Profiles: Charlotte Graham

(The first in a series of posts highlighting some fictional characters who I want to be more like during the new year. Check back every Wednesday of this month for more!)

Charlotte Graham
From Dee Henderson’s Unspoken

“That’s the problem. God is too good. He’s too willing to forgive. He would have forgiven the men who hurt me.”

Unspoken
Character Description:  Charlotte Graham is confident in business but extremely cautious when it comes to people—and she has every reason to be. As a teenager, Charlotte was the victim of one of the most famous kidnappings in Chicago history. She’s changed her name and built a new life for herself since then, but she’s never fully recovered from what happened. The one thing she’s sure of is that she’s single for life. When she’s left a sizable family legacy, however, the quiet life she’s built for herself is about to be turned upside down.

Notable Character Quality: Trust

Dee’s Reaction: Charlotte Graham hit a personal chord with me. God was reaching down to help her put the pieces of her life together and used Bryce to glue some of those pieces back in place. This is a relationship you want to see thrive. I listened to their story and I could see God’s hand at work. A woman with a dark past. And a man who loves her—who loves her so deeply and well she can heal.

Amy’s Reaction: Like so many of us, Charlotte found it easy to give and hard to take. She cared about using her money to help others, but didn’t want to be helped, because opening herself up to love meant she would have to risk being hurt. That’s a fear that all of us have, to different degrees, deep down, and one that made Charlotte’s character very relatable to me. Just as she has to learn to trust Bryce, she has to learn to trust God as well . . . and so do I.

Related Scripture:
“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” —Isaiah 26:3 (NIV)

About the Author:
Dee Henderson is the author of eighteen novels, including Jennifer: An O’Malley Love Story, New York Times bestseller Full Disclosure, the acclaimed O’Malley series, and the Uncommon Heroes series. Her books have won or been nominated for several prestigious industry awards, such as the RITA Award, the Christy Award, and the ECPA Gold Medallion. Dee is a lifelong resident of Illinois. Learn more at deehenderson.com or unspokennovel.com.

What verse has been meaningful to you in hard times?

Prayer for Authors: January 2014

Happy January, everyone! Today we’re starting a new Bethany House Fiction tradition: taking time on the first week of every month to pray for authors who have new releases coming out. I’m Amy Green, the fiction publicist here, and these authors mean a lot to me. I appreciate you joining me to pray for them. To read more about the reasons behind this time of prayer, go to this post.

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Authors with Books Releasing in January:

Mary Connealy
Carol Cox
Regina Jennings
Julie Klassen
Tracie Peterson
Karen Witemeyer
Kimberley Woodhouse

Verse of the Month: Feel free to use the text of this verse to guide your prayers for these authors, as well as other people in your life who you want to remember in prayer today.

“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ.” Philippians 1:9-10, NIV

General Suggestions for Prayer

  • For readers to find the authors’ books at just the right time for God to use the books’ messages in their lives.
  • For peace and focus during release month (often a busy and stressful time for authors).
  • For God to give clarity and endurance to the authors as many begin new projects.
  • For freedom from comparison, worry, and pride—that the authors will be able to put their identity in God and not in their writing.

If you have a prayer request on your mind, for yourself or for someone you care about, share it below. I’ll read through every comment and pray for your requests as well. Thanks for joining us!

Why a Monthly Prayer Time for Authors?

As I explained to our authors when announcing this program, this is not a publicity event. It’s something that focuses my attention back on the purpose behind all of my marketing efforts. Here are three reasons to join us in praying for our Bethany House authors:

Because stories have power. Novels are not a collection of entertaining lies. They are deeply true, sometimes truer than nonfiction can be. Not in the sense that their events actually happened or that the people in them are real, but in the sense that they can make us understand faith and life and love in new ways. God works through fiction. I’ve seen it happen in others, and I’ve seen it in my own life. Our authors have a unique opportunity to reach people with truth about God.

Because prayer has power. I’ll be the first to say that I can’t diagram the specific “hows” and “whens” of the way prayer to a God outside of time influences the world. What I do know is that the Bible says that our prayers matter. I know all of our authors appreciate knowing that we’re praying for them, too.

Because joining together with other believers has power. Through these days of prayer, you have a wonderful opportunity to come together with Christians from around the world to pray. Unity was very important to Jesus—just check out his final prayer for the church—and this is a great way to demonstrate that.

Remember that even though this day of prayer is for our authors, it isn’t just for them. I’d encourage you to use these monthly prayer reminders to think of friends, family members, and coworkers to pray for as well.

Pray for people by name. Have your kids join you in praying for others. Pick something—a sound, a time of day, a particular object—that reminds you of a friend or family member and use it as a reminder to send up a quick prayer for them. Let people know you prayed for them—even non-Christians often find this encouraging because it shows them that you care.

And thank you for joining with me in this. I’m excited to see how God will work through your prayers—although often the biggest impact happens in ways we can’t see: through changes of the heart.

Our Authors’ New Year’s Resolutions

Happy 2014, everyone! In the spirit of New Year’s resolutions, I sent to following question to several of our fiction authors:

If you had to pick one fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control) to work on in 2014, which would it be?

tablespoon.com fruit

For me, of course, the answer was simple. I mean there’s . . . but also . . . and what about . . . hmm. Maybe all of them?

To help me narrow down my choices, I read what our authors had to say. Here is how they responded:

Janette Oke

Oke_Janette

All needed. All should be developing daily. I would love to see each one of them in my own life: plump, and rich in color, and ripened to the tastiness they were meant to be. To pick one—it would be love. Because love is needed for each of the others to develop to full potential. Delicious possibilities!

Siri Mitchell

Mitchell_Siri

Patience. I think that as a fruit of the Spirit, it’s highly underrated. Mostly people just kind of skip over it for the more “righteous” gifts, but we live in such an impatient world. It’s easy to get caught up in the “right-now” culture, but really, impatience is making yourself and your needs more important than everyone else’s. So patience is what I’ll be working on this year.

Lisa Wingate

Wingate_Lisa

This being the empty nest year of my life, I think mine would be joy. As a mom who always loved being a mom and loved all the routines that go with being a mom, I’m working on finding joy as life turns a corner. When one (dorm room) door closes, another door opens.

Kathryn Cushman

Cushman_Katie1

Self-control. It’s a constant struggle in almost every area of my life. It’s the main reason my favorite verse is Psalm 9:10, “And those who know Your name put their trust in You. For You, O Lord, have not abandoned those who seek You.”

Laurel Oke Logan

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I tend to be a passion-driven person, so I would like to balance that with more self-control.

Melissa Tagg

Tagg_Melissa1

I think faithfulness—although, let’s be honest, I really could stand to use some work on patience and self-control, too. But I feel like in the past year or so, God has constantly been reminding me of His faithfulness . . . there is something so amazing about that constancy. It makes him dependable and trustworthy. I would like to be that way as much as possible in my own life: faithful, dependable, constant.

Leslie Gould

GOULD_Leslie1crop

I’d pick joy! We live in a broken world, but God’s redemption is evident everywhere. In nature. In humans. In art. In stories. I want to be aware of that redemptive work and rejoice in that beauty. I want to delight in creation and relationships and knowing God is ultimately in control.

Victoria Bylin

Bylin_Victoria1

Kindness, definitely. I work part-time in a doctor’s office. Every day I see people going through hard times. A little extra consideration—opening a door, getting someone a tissue—goes a long way to brightening that person’s day. It brightens my day too! We all need help now and then. It’s a fact of life.

Karen Witemeyer

Witemeyer_Karen1

Self-control. That sweet tooth of mine just keeps insisting on having its own way, and I give in far too often.

Kate Breslin

Breslin_Kate1

I could certainly work on them all, but I’ll choose faithfulness. As a new author, I’ve experienced a lot of “firsts” in publishing, both exciting and challenging; to keep my faith constant that all will work according to God’s plan is a blessing to strive for!

Lynn Austin

Austin_Lynn1

Peace. I would like to get to the place where all of the disturbances in life, major and minor, don’t ruffle my composure or make me lose sleep.

Dani Pettrey

Pettrey_Dani

Joy. It’s been a difficult couple of years with a lot of loss, but also with a ton of good. Isn’t it funny how God brings joy in the midst of heartache? This year, I’d love to dwell on the joy and praising God for it.

Melissa Jagears

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Love—I’m really busy at the moment and my kids and husband and other loved ones need to know that I love them. God too. And so I need to make sure I carve out enough time to show them in 2014.

Patrick Carr

Carr_Patrick

I’d choose them all! If I could only choose one, it would be self-control. This last year with work (I’m a teacher) has been such an eye-opener, and the change in perspective has been difficult but very worthwhile.

Anne Mateer

Mateer_DAnn

Definitely joy. I have a tendency to get bogged down in all I have to do or things that are going on in my life and forget that the joy of the Lord isn’t dependent on my circumstances but on what He has done for and in me.

R. J. Larson

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I would choose love. I hope to reflect true and boundless love for everyone in this fallen world, even when some people challenge ideals I cherish, or threaten those who are vulnerable. Practicing and reflecting love also helps me as I pursue the other fruits of the Spirit.

Elizabeth Ludwig

Ludwig_Elizabeth1

Patience. No doubt. I am not a patient person, and reminding me of that only makes me more impatient. Thank goodness the Lord does not grow weary with me. He’s got to shake his head every time I forget to put on the fruits of the Spirit.

How about you? Pick a fruit, and tell us a little bit about why you chose it.