Heart of David

He only lived seventy years, but David made a lasting impression for generations to come. Giant killer, check. King of a nation, check. Man after God’s own heart, check. Let’s not forget he is the father of the wisest man in history and a great, great etc…grandfather of the Messiah. Athough David did some not so note-worthy things, he always rebounded. It was always about his heart. A heart attuned to God.

Psalm quote (250x185)After David sinned horribly and tried to cover it up, (which, come on David, did you really think you were going to get away with it, King or not?) he still found his way back into the shelter of God’s love and grace. Not only did manage to pour his heart into his Psalms, they have encouraged and helped millions of people since they were written. Isn’t that a writer’s dream? To have their writing last for centuries and still be viable and inspiring?

So, for my Biblical figure to have a conversation with, it would have to be David. I’d ask him what in the world possessed him, meager though he was, to go before a giant and his army. How did he draw on the strength of God’s love, even when he was running for his life? How did he face Nathan’s rebuke of his and Bathsheba’s affair and his hand in Uriah’s death? Did your son Solomon ever act like he knew more than you?

These and more questions would fill a notebook that I would ask if I could.

Are You in a Reader Rut?

Have you ever felt like you were in a reader rut? Like you read so many books in one sub-genre that they almost start sounding similar?

In this section, the Inkspiratonal Messagers want to share how they have tried a new genre or sub-genre or want to introduce you to some books you may not have considered reading. I’m thrilled to get to go first—even if I may be cheating a bit.

Biblical fiction is sub-genre that has opened up to me in the last year or so. I’ve haven’t read a great deal of Biblical fiction, but the book I most recently finished is in that group, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to recommend it!

Bathsheba by my friend and fellow Revell author, Jill Eileen Smith, is a truly amazing book. It is the third book in her Wives of King David series, and it was on the CBA Bestseller list this month! Jill even received a starred review for it from Booklist, which is no easy fete. Here is what they said:

When King David’s beloved wife dies in childbirth, it seems that nothing can break through his cloak of grief until he sees the legendary beauty, Bathsheba. Their affair, as well as David’s ruthless disposal of Uriah the Hittite, Bathsheba’s husband and one of David’s loyal officers, are among the Bible’s biggest scandals.

Smith puts a refreshingly different spin on this familiar tale of adultery, delving into the motivations and feelings behind Bathsheba’s and David’s actions within the context of the customs and religious expectations of the times. There’s plenty of suspense, court intrigue, and excitement in Smith’s rendering, especially when David’s other sons, worried that his child by Bathsheba, Solomon, will be king, lead a revolt against their father.

Smith has a strong voice, and her seamless blending of David’s words from the Psalms with her narrative adds to the novel’s authenticity. Bathsheba will appeal to a wide variety of readers, including fans of Anita Diamant’s The Red Tent (1997). The third novel in Smith’s splendid Wives of King David series (Michal, 2009; Abigail, 2010), this works as a standalone, but libraries will want all three books. –Shelley Mosley

I have loved all three books in this series. Jill is able to take the Biblical accounts and bring them to life, filling in the blanks with plausible possibilities. Her study of the time period and Jewish traditions makes the story incredibly rich. After reading these books, and especially Bathsheba, I feel like I have a better understanding of David’s life, his heart, the choices he made, and the consequences of those choices. The Biblical characters have come alive in my mind and are no longer flannel graph figures. (Anyone remember those?) I had never considered all of the difficulties that would involved with being one of many wives.

Biblical fiction has to be one of the most difficult genres to write because you are taking something that people already feel so strongly about, the Word of God, and creating a fictional world around a few verses. Jill treats the story with reverence and a beautiful grasp of David and Bathsheba’s flaws, strengths, and need for forgiveness.

Jill is not only a talented author, she’s a sweet, humble, and beautiful person. If you haven’t dipped your toe in the waters of Biblical fiction, try her newest release Bathsheba. You won’t be disappointed.

Her next series, the Wives of the Patriarchs, is coming in 2012. It includes the lives of Sarai, Rebekah, and Rachel. You can check out Jill’s website/blog at http://www.jilleileensmith.com/. You can purchase her book here.

Have you discovered Biblical fiction yet? If so, which titles? What do you think would be the greatest challenges in writing Biblical fiction?

Books are a Bubblin’ Over

Happy New Year to all our Inkspirational Messages friends!

Because we like to keep things lively and to challenge our reader’s minds, let’s start this year off with a puzzle.  The list below is a Top 10 list. What do you think it’s a Top 10 list for?

  1. In bed
  2. At the park
  3. In a library
  4. On a couch
  5. In a tent
  6. In a tree house
  7. In the bathtub
  8. At a friend’s house
  9. In the car
  10. By the pool

According to the blog, Literature Young Adult Fiction, the above is the Top 10 Places to Read a Book.  Did your favorite places make the list?

Now, you might be wondering what bubbles, books, and a top 10 list have in common. Let me add one more clue. Does the date January 8 mean anything to you?

It should. It’s National Bubble Bath Day and we’re celebrating it during the next two weeks. After all, reading in the bathtub did make the best places to read list. And what better way to celebrate, than to share the books we are looking forward to reading in 2011.

Oh, and did I mention that one lucky commenter during this series will receive a bubble bath gift pack? Every time you comment during the next two weeks, your name will be entered. You’ll get everything you need to relax in a bath with a good book except the water—and the tub, of course.

So, here are four books am I most looking forward to holding in my hands in 2011. (There are so many books I can’t wait to read, so I picked ones with a common thread—blue covers.)

Col LadyThe Colonel’s Lady by Laura Frantz releases in August.  Yes, you will have to wait for eight months to hold what I’m sure will be another treasure in your hands. I can’t wait to curl up and lose myself in the world Laura creates.

Here’s the synopsis for this book:

“In 1779, when genteel Virginia spinster Roxanna Rowan arrives at the Kentucky fort commanded by Colonel Cassius McLinn, she finds that her officer father has died. Penniless and destitute, Roxanna is forced to take her father’s place as scrivener. Before long, it’s clear that the colonel himself is attracted to her. But she soon realizes the colonel has grave secrets of his own–some of which have to do with her father’s sudden death. Can she ever truly love him?

bethshebaBathsheba: A Novel  is the third book in Jill Eileen Smith’s The Wives of King David series. I loved the other two and can’t wait to see how Jill handles this conflicting and emotional Biblical story.  I know that I haven’t seen David the same after the first two, and I’m sure book three will be just as enlightening.                                       

“This well-researched and beautifully crafted story will resonate in your heart and mind long after you’ve read the final page, “ said Judith Miller, author of the Daughters of Amana series, “With beauty and truth, Jill Eileen Smith will take you back in time to reveal the consequences of sin coupled with the depth of God’s grace and forgiveness. An excellent read with a message that transcends time.”

 Bathsheba releases in March.

Lady of Bolton Hill The Lady of Bolton Hill is the debut novel for author Elizabeth Camden which releases in June.  Elizabeth is a research librarian and an associate professor, so you know her research is going to excellent.

“Something that was very important for me is that both my characters be very passionate people, but who are still fiercely intelligent and sensible,” Elizabeth said at http://www.myfriendamysblog.com/2010/11/meet-elizabeth-camden.html. “Have you ever read a book where the conflict between the hero and heroine could be solved by a simple, honest conversation? There was no way I was going to let Daniel and Clara off the hook so easily! Although it is clear they are madly in love, they will be put through the wringer before they can get to a happy ending. I love a good turbulent story with love, betrayal, heartbreak, all punctuated with periods of soaring joy and utter delight. That is what I aimed for with The Lady of Bolton Hill. I’ll be curious to hear from folks if they think I got it in the ballpark.”

A Great Catch coverSince she used the term ballpark, that leads me to my selection. One more book I can’t wait to hold, and that’s a copy of my own A Great Catch.  This book was so much fun to write, and I hope readers will enjoy it as much as I did. It releases in May.

Here’s the back cover copy:

 “She wants to change the world. He wants to change her mind.

It is the beginning of a new century at Lake Manawa Resort in Iowa, but some things never change. When 22-year-old Emily Graham’s meddlesome aunts and grandmother take it upon themselves to find her a husband among the resort guests, the spunky suffragist is determined to politely decline each and every suitor. She has neither the time nor the need for a man in her busy life.

Carter Stockton, a recent college graduate and pitcher for the Manawa Owls baseball team, intends to enjoy every minute of the summer at Lake Manawa, Iowa, before he is forced into the straitlaced business world of his father.

When Emily crashes into Carter at a roller skating rink, neither could guess what would come next. Will Carter strike out? Or will Emily cast her vote for a love that might cost her dreams?”

So, are you a bubble bath reader or do you prefer to read somewhere else? And which of these books will you be putting on your bubble bath reading list? Do any of the covers strike you as especially eye catching? Remember, leave a comment for a chance to enter.

P.S. It’s also National Hot Tea Month. Make sure you pour a cup to enjoy in your bath.