Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Winners at the Barn Door Book Loft

Once again, we offer you a warm welcome to the Bookshelf of the Barn Door Book Loft.

And before we announce our three winners we’d like to offer a special thanks to:

JM Downey who offered her Historical Romance  A Time To Overcome.
Holly Michael who offered her Inspirational Fiction  Crooked Lines.
And Susan Anne Mason who offered her Contemporary Romance  Betrayed Hearts. 

 And now: We're pleased to announce this week’s winners:
Michelle Hamilton has won JM Downey’s Historical Romance  A Time To Overcome.
Karen G. has won Holly Michael’s Inspirational Fiction  Crooked Lines.
And Traveler has won Susan Anne Mason’s Contemporary Romance  Betrayed Hearts. 
Congratulations Winners! Remember, it's your responsibility to contact me  sharonalavy {at} gmail {dot} com) with your address so the author can send you a book. 

Be sure to check past winners posts. Subscribing by email will ensure you don't miss seeing the winners list.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Interview with Michigan Author Kathleen Rouser

Welcome to the Barn Door Book Loft Kathleen!
Is there a story behind the book, Brave New Century?

Lisa Lickel sent out an email to ACFW Midwest, and I believe some other loops, looking for authors who wanted to write romances set in urban areas around the year 1900, to put together an anthology. Since I had looked into Detroit’s history around that time for another story I had been working on, I thought it would be a good fit for me. I still had to do additional research, but I didn’t mind.

In Brave New Century the heroines in each of the four stories are facing the new challenges of changing times. Automobiles are rather new, electric lighting is available, people are communicating by telephone and women are asking for the vote. In the midst of such times, these young women are searching for an identity and how to make their way in the world. Each one of them has been orphaned or abandoned at some point. Unbeknownst to one another, we had written in this similar theme. That had to be orchestrated by the Lord, I’m sure!
Question: What started you on your writing journey?
When I was four years old, I loved stories. My mom read aloud to me quite a bit and I would try to memorize the stories, so I could “read” them too. I had a friend who taught me about having imaginary adventures and I was hooked on making up stories. I believe the Lord put the desire in my heart to write books before I could even read.

Question: What kind of books do you enjoy reading?
I enjoy the classics from 19th century English literature, especially anything Jane Austen, and Middlemarch, by George Eliot. Of today’s books, my tastes can be rather eclectic. I love historical and contemporary romance of the Christian genre. More recently, I read For Such a Time by Kate Breslin, which was a wonderful retelling of the story of Esther, set during World War II. I also enjoy biblical fiction, especially “The Wives of the Patriarchs” Series, by Jill Eileen Smith. Last, but not least, I enjoyed reading The Pastor’s Wife Wears Biker Boots, by Karla Akins, which is sort of a mid-life chicklit book.
Question: Which character in your new release most interested you while you wrote? Why?
Isabel Jones, is the heroine in my novella, The Pocket Watch. Someone very close to me had grown up in an orphanage in Detroit. Thinking about what she went through led me to develop Isabel’s character, though she is completely fictional. Isabel is very much her own person. She has new opportunities, which she never expected to have, but her unknown past haunts her. She wants to know who her parents were. Add to that, she is falling in love with someone she believes to be out of her reach. All of this is taking place within the parameters of the societal restrictions of the turn of the century. She was a really fun to write about.

Question: If you could paint or sculpt like a famous artist who would it be and why?
While I lfind the soft, colorful impressionist works of Monet and Renoir quite beautiful, I think I would like to paint like Mary Cassatt. While she was an impressionist at one time, she evolved into painting in a crisper, more vibrantly colored style. Some of her paintings are like softened photographs. Her subjects are often touching, such as the bond of mother and child.
Question: What is your favorite season of the year?
Autumn has always been my favorite season, but I’m starting to like spring better when we have it! (In Michigan it seems many years we’ve been going pracitcally from winter right into summer.) However, the beauty of the changing leaves, along with cool, but often sunny weather is a nice combination. I like the smell of woodsmoke in the air. Also, I always looked forward to starting a new school year as a child and when I homeschooled my children. It was a chance for a fresh start.

Question: What do you like most about the area where you live and/or grew up?
Probably that the old-fashioned homes have so much character and it was family friendly. There were many beautiful, old trees there too. It’s a lovely place to take a walk. I liked the neighborhood so much that we bought the house I grew up in from my parents and brought our children up there for eleven years! It’s a nice slice of mid-20th century American suburbia.

Question: Are there things you put off doing because you dread them?
Picking out shoes or frames for glasses! My right foot is at least a size bigger than my left, which presents a challenge for fitting a shoe that is comfortable for the right, yet not too big on the left, often something that ties or is adjustable. And since I can’t wear very high heels, it’a challenge to find something rather stylish, but quite flat. Yes, figuring all that out within a budget can be a challenge.
Glasses frames are a whole other story. Suffice to say I am picky and on a budget.

Question: Where is your favorite place to travel/vacation in?
Every summer my husband and I rent a cottage, for a week, on the Straits of Mackinac, about eleven miles to the west of Mackinaw City. There are plenty of things to do and see within driving distance, but I also enjoy just resting and reconnecting with the Lord as I am awed by His beautiful creation, whether looking out at Lake Michigan, walking in the woods or picking wildflowers by the side of the road.

Question: Share a verse or Scripture passage with us that is special to you. (and why it's special)  
The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease.
Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!”
(Lamentations 3:22-24, NLT)
It’s good for me to remember that whatever trials I’m faced with, each day I have a fresh start. The Lord wants us to hope in Him, to look forward and run the race, rather than look back on our past mistakes. I need to be reminded of that as a rather introverted person who thinks too much!

Question: What or who inspires you to keep writing?
I had to go through several chapters in my life before I understood that writing is a calling. I write, not just because I enjoy it, but because I believe the Lord has given me a job to do. I pray that my writing will touch others with whatever message or encouragement He has for readers. I must look to Jesus for the strength and inspiration to keep writing for His purposes!

Thank you so much for joining us today, Kathleen.

Readers: You may purchase Brave New Century at:

Or have your local library order it in for you!

KATHLEEN ROUSER is giving away a copy of BRAVE NEW CENTURYThe giveaway is only available to U.S. addresses.
To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You may enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post. (It's not too late to go back and leave a comment on yesterday's post)

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Pocket Watch by Kathleen Rouser

Back Cover Blurb:
Stories of four young women who are each braving challenges at the dawn of the 20th century in the big city. Will they overcome their hardships and find love?
Three Rings for Alice by Lisa Lickel
Love and respect in 1899 Milwaukee is as close as a phone call.
Forgiven by Paula Mowery
When Henry and Jessie meet it seems to be classic love at first sight until a shocking revelation tears them apart.
The Pocket Watch by Kathleen Rouser
Searching for the past an orphan and a young doctor find love for the future.
Flames of Hope by Teena Stewart
Love ignites in the midst of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire.

We are featuring The Pocket Watch: 

Isabel Jones, an orphan, receives a ruby ring left by the mother she never knew and wants more than ever to find her roots. When a young physician, Daniel Harper, rescues her from an oncoming automobile and she finds his pocket watch in a puddle, her circumstances take a turn. She begins to consider what life outside the orphanage could be like. Daniel’s heart has been broken before, but the attractive young lady who finds his treasured timepiece wouldn’t be deemed suitable by his social climbing parents.

When Isabel and Daniel work side by side, caring for the orphanage children during an influenza epidemic, she becomes gravely ill. He is compelled to redeem the time by helping her find the past. While his lost pocket watch intertwined their lives, the ruby ring threatens to tear them apart by revealing a dreadful truth. 

Book Excerpt:

By Kathleen Rouser

The winds and rains of October, 1899 seemed to conspire against Isabel Jones as she rushed to cross Jefferson Avenue. She squinted to avoid the cold stinging drops and strands of wet hair from whipping into her eyes. Isabel gripped the bottle of much-needed cough medicine in her pocket, which she had procured for the little ones at the orphanage. She hurried to get back to them before the croup worsened. Chugga, chugga, chugga... She looked up just in time to see one of those motor contraptions barreling around the corner.
“Miss! Watch out!” An iron grip on Isabel’s upper arm propelled her backward.
She didn’t see her rescuer until they had tumbled onto their backsides and both sat like children playing in a puddle on the side of the road. The bewildered look on her rescuer’s face chased away Isabel’s embarrassment. She bit her lips together in vain. Laughter bubbled out.
The glint in his sky-blue eyes belied his amusement, despite his serious expression. Then he smiled. “May I ascertain whether you’re well, miss?”
“I’m quite all right, but the bottle of medicine must have broken. What a mess!” She held up her gloved hand, sticky liquid dripping onto her navy woolen cloak. “It happened so fast.” Isabel blinked, then, much less amused.
The young man stood then and helped her to her feet. “I am so sorry. I’ll take care of it. What was the medicine for?” He reached for a black bag, which he’d dropped next to him and then rattled around in it.
“The little ones are sick with croup.”
He gave her a quizzical gaze.
“Oh, they’re not my children, but I help with them.”
“I see.” He handed her a small bottle. “Don’t worry. I’m the real thing, not part of a medicine man sideshow.” He grinned.
Isabel took the proffered medicine.
“Where do you live, miss?”
She swallowed. “I...”
“I’m terribly sorry. I don’t mean to be improper. I only want to make sure the druggist delivers more to you as soon as possible. I’ll be heading that way momentarily.”
She relaxed. “I’m Miss Isabel Jones.” She pulled off the soiled glove. Where could she tell him she lived? Isabel took in the strong chin, straight nose, the blond hair with a bit of curl in front and a moustache. He might as well be a handsome prince rescuing her on a steed. Perhaps the orphan asylum looked like a mansion, but living there wasn’t as impressive as abiding in the Gothic structures on Griswold. She stared down at her wet boots. “Over at Elmwood and Jefferson, at the Protestant Orphan Asylum of Detroit.”
He took her fingers lightly in his. “Delighted to meet you, Miss Jones. I’m Dr. Daniel Harper.”
“Pleased to meet you as well, Doctor.” Isabel pulled her hand away. “I must get back now. Thank you.” She held the bottle up, turned, looked both ways, and then ran across the street.
When she glanced over her shoulder and waved, the young man lifted his hat. “Good-bye.”
Isabel made it to the corner with her heart pounding and stopped. She had left the parcel with the broken bottle near the curb. It could be a danger to someone. She went back. Miss Crabtree would be furious she’d taken so long. She opened her cloak and untied her apron to wrap the sticky pieces of glass. Where rain collected just off the curb, something shone in the wan sunlight. She found a stick to hook the gold chain peeking out from the murky puddle. Along with it came a pocket watch.
Isabel grasped onto the dripping treasure. On the back she read the initials DJH. Daniel...something... Harper perhaps?
“Doctor!” she cried out, looking round for the gray tweed overcoat and matching newsboy cap. Passersby stared at her, but Dr. Harper was nowhere to be seen. She didn’t have time to check at the pharmacy, so she put it into her pocket, tucked next to the sample he’d given her, and picked up her garbage.
More of Isabel’s hair tumbled free from under the front brim of her hat. Her navy wool cloak and gloves were probably irreparably stained. She was Cinderella without glass slippers. No handsome prince would ever come to her rescue.
* * *
Daniel Harper, MD held tight to the handle of his black bag. The girl’s laughter had tickled him—no—it had gotten under his thick skin he’d carefully grown since the betrayal. But her chestnut hair had fallen out from under her hat in a most fetching way. The fact that she was more worried about getting medicine to her wards than the stains on her worn clothing pricked at his heart as though Cupid dared try to enter its chambers again with his deceptive arrows.
Daniel noticed the sun began shining like a golden smile between clouds. It must be at least mid-morning. He’d promised to stop at the pharmacy, but Mrs. Campbell would be pacing the floor with little Timmy, in quite a tizzy. If he didn’t get to his patient soon, he would have to medicate them both. Reaching into his waistcoat, he felt for his timepiece, but the spot was empty. He searched all around his feet. The pocket watch seemed to be long gone. Even the button he attached the chain to dangled by a thread. Had it happened when he fell? There wasn’t any time to look, but there certainly wasn’t time to buy a new one either.
* * *
Miss Crabtree stood waiting inside the door with arms folded. “What took you so long, young lady?”
Isabel felt six years old again as she stooped to remove her boots and bit her tongue against her impertinent reply.
“Just look at you! You’re an absolute mess! I send you on a simple errand, and you can’t even complete it.”
“Yes, ma’am. I do have the medicine, though.” She fished the small bottle from her pocket.
“What? This isn’t nearly enough. Didn’t you hear all of the children up there coughing the whole night, struggling for breath? And you bring me this?” Miss Crabtree snatched it from Isabel’s hand.
“But the wind blew my hair into my eyes, and I closed them against a sheet of rain for just a moment. And I didn’t see the automobile coming around the corner—”
“I don’t want excuses for your laziness!” Miss Crabtree began a new tirade.
“Is there a problem here, Biddy?” Mrs. Pleasance put a hand on Miss Crabtree’s shoulder, stopping her friend short.
“You handle this slothful child, Hope! I can’t do anything with her.” Miss Crabtree turned and stomped up the central stairway.
“I’m sorry Mrs. Pleasance, I know I must look frightfully unkempt, a terrible representative of the home.”
“Nonsense, dear, wherever you take your smile, you shine forth. Oh my, you must have had quite a run-in! Let’s get those wet things off of you. There’s nothing a little Fels Naphtha soap cannot handle in getting rid of tough stains.”
After Isabel changed her clothes, Mrs. Pleasance accompanied her to the laundry tub. They stood scrubbing her garments, side by side, while Isabel told the account of her savior-doctor and his kind offer of more medicine.
The orphanage director smiled. “Well, that was a double blessing for us, saving your life and being generous enough to replace the bottle of medication.”
Isabel nodded. Somehow, the young doctor appeared more than that. She kept thinking about the surprised amusement on his face, when she laughed about falling in the puddle. He looked jolly and boyish, not stern and tough like some of the doctors who’d visited the orphan asylum.
“Best stop daydreaming and get about your chores now, Isabel. Why don’t you stay on the first floor, and give Miss Crabtree a wide berth.” She smiled. “You could clean the office for me and be there in case anyone stops in.”
“Yes, Mrs. Pleasance.”
With so many children ill, the office had fallen quiet. Isabel filed papers as she’d been shown. Her humming filled the silence. Once everything was better organized, Isabel found the feather duster and went about her cleaning. The middle drawer was slightly ajar in a tall dark wood filing cabinet…not just in any cabinet, but in the forbidden cabinet…filled with the secrets of the children’s pasts. She should push it closed, search for the key, and lock it.
But a white corner of paper taunted her. It would be okay to look, if she tucked it back inside, right? Placing the duster on the shelf behind her, Isabel pulled the file out. Molly Duncan’s full name was written on it. Inside she found a birth certificate, complete with parents’ names and information about where she’d been born. It rang true with what she knew about little Molly. Both of her parents had died, and she had no kin close by. The distant relatives had never come for her, but occasionally Molly had a new Sunday dress she said her cousins sent.
Isabel tucked Molly’s file back where it belonged and began to push the drawer closed. But what about her own? There must be something in here about her past.
Whenever she asked, Mrs. Pleasance had changed the subject, telling her to think of the good things the future may hold, but she still wondered.
Who were her parents? All she knew is that she’d been dropped off at the orphanage in a little basket with Isabel printed on the paper pinned to her blanket.Mrs. Pleasance added Jones, rather than Smith, but there had been no other clues, according to the director.
Isabel’s hands grew sweaty, her heartbeat louder than the clock ticking in the room. She rifled through the folders, not even stopping to watch in case someone opened the door. Ah! There was the file she sought!
“Miss Isabel! What are you up to? Close that drawer immediately!” Miss Crabtree stood with arms akimbo, her eyebrows furrowed.
Isabel dropped the papers in her hands, pushing it shut onto her fingers. “Ow!” She pulled them away, feeling quite guilty. “I’m sorry. I don’t know what got into me. The drawer was open and I—”
“We have taught you honesty and to honor the rules of this home, but you simply act like a spoiled child. You will go to your room and wait until Mrs. Pleasance and I can deal with you.”
“Yes, Miss Crabtree.” Isabel bit her lip and held her throbbing fingers. She just wanted to know whose family she had come from, which the unfeeling woman probably couldn’t understand. “I just want to find out who I am.”
“What? Don’t raise your voice at me. You’re nothing but the child of some riff-raff off the street, no doubt, so don’t get any high-faluting ideas. Be thankful you still have a roof over your head.”
Isabel turned away, marching out the door and up the stairs to the room she shared with three other young women. Ginny Baker, who slept on the bottom bunk to the left of her, breezed in. A halo of ginger hair curled around her freckled face. “We’ll be serving lunch in a few minutes. What are you doing up here?”
“Haven’t you ever wanted to know more about your past?” Isabel stared into her friend’s blue eyes.
“Remember, silly? I was a little older when I came to the orphanage. I have some memory of my family.” Ginny placed a hand on her shoulder.
“I’m in trouble for looking in the forbidden files. Now I have to wait for Mrs. Pleasance.”
“I’ll save you something to eat. I just came up to put my sweater away. It’s warm by the ovens.” Her dear friend hugged her. She was like a sister. “Don’t worry. She’ll understand and go easy on you.” Ginny attempted to reassure her with a dimpled smile.
As Isabel watched her leave, Mrs. Pleasance appeared in the doorway with a small box under her arm. She bit her lower lip, and her eyes shown with a sympathetic light. “Isabel, I think it’s time we talk about something important to you.”
She nodded back at the orphanage director, moving up the edge of the bed to make room for Mrs. Pleasance, who sat down next to her. “I’m sorry I have had to put you off for a long time. Part of this is my fault.”
Isabel shook her head. “I got carried away, I—”
“No.” Mrs. Pleasance squeezed her hand. “You have asked me many times and I have avoided the whole story.” She pried the lid off the paperboard box. “These are yours, Isabel. Go ahead.”
She reached in to touch a white blanket, yellowed with time, and felt its softness, like a whisper of her mother’s love. Isabel held her breath. This little covering was a part of her life, her beginning. It smelled of attic dust and lost memories. “I came here wrapped in this blanket?” But there was more! An envelope lay in the bottom of the box with a lump in the middle. The yellowed paper crinkled at Isabel’s touch. “This is mine, too?”
The older woman nodded. “Yes, my dear.”
At nineteen, Isabel felt the odd wonderment of childhood, despite her age. She rubbed her fingers over the object in the envelope. Opening it, she then emptied the contents into her other hand. A petite red oval gemstone shone almost pink, catching the brief rays of sunlight. She sucked in her breath as she took in the gold filigree setting and two little diamonds, one on each side of the stone.
“Your mother likely came from a local mission for…women. She was ill when she rang the doorbell and tried to run, but we opened it quickly and implored her to come in. She would only say that she wanted you to have a better life than she could give you. Your eyes, for that was all we could see in the dark, are much like hers. It was winter and her scarf was wrapped close around her face. She refused any assistance from us, but she asked us to give you the ring when you grew up.”
Isabel slipped the piece of jewelry onto her right ring finger, which fit like it was made for her. She felt richer for it—not because of the gem or the precious metal—but because it had been a gift from the woman who had birthed her. The ring, next to her Bible, was her only other treasure.
“Thank you.” She could barely get the words out as she choked back a sob.
“One other thing, Isabel, it’s time for you to see more of the world outside of these walls.”
Isabel shook her head. “I’m happy helping with the children.”
“I understand, but I know just the job for you. A gentleman who needs a companion for his invalid wife called. I believe you’re a perfect fit. You have a gentle, helpful spirit.”
“I thought you needed me here.” Isabel couldn’t look into Mrs. Pleasance’s eyes.
“My dear, someday you may want a family of your own. Keeping you here until you become a spinster isn’t the job of the orphan asylum.” Mrs. Pleasance patted Isabel’s hand again.

Isabel’s gaze fastened on the ring as it glinted in the daylight. Her own family? If the good Lord gave her a family, she would never leave her children. But could she be the right kind of mother when she wasn’t able to even deliver a bottle of medicine to the orphanage in one piece?

Book Trailer: 


Author Bio:
Kathleen Rouser has loved making up stories since she was a little girl and wanted to be a writer before she could even read. The Pocket Watch is Kathleen’s debut novella. She has been published in Homeschool Digest and An Encouraging Word. She currently enjoys interviewing authors for the Novel PASTimes historical fiction blog. Her desire is to bring to life endearing characters who resonate with readers and realize the need for the transforming power of Jesus in their everyday lives. She lives in southeast Michigan with her spoiled cat, Lilybits, and her hero and husband of 32 years, Jack, who not only listens to her stories, but also cooks for her.

You can find her on the web  

You may purchase Brave New Century at:

Or have your local library order it in for you!

KATHLEEN ROUSER is giving away a copy of BRAVE NEW CENTURY. The giveaway is only available to U.S. addresses.
To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You may enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post. (It's not too late to go back and leave a comment on yesterday's post)

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Welcome to Author Chawna Schroeder

Hi Chawna! So nice to have you share with us today. Is there a story behind your series, Bearing the Sword? 

Bearing the Sword is a nonfiction book.

That obvious fact would seem less than noteworthy until you realize I consider myself a novelist first and foremost. Storytelling is my heart and fiction my passion. Writing nonfiction—that was something I did only when absolutely necessary.

But about six years ago, I started vending home educator conferences to promote a genre I love but many Christians find unsettling—science fiction and fantasy. As I vended and talked with both parents and students, I discovered a startling lack of discernment, especially concerning fiction. Many believed what they read and watched had no impact on them, and so they could enjoy anything out there. Even more believed in handling only explicitly Christian fiction, figuring that the label “Christian” guaranteed the material to be perfectly safe.

Both of these philosophies are fallacies. Every producer of fiction I know, Christian or non-Christian, works with the intention to impact, and they have often chosen fiction because of its ability to slip past our normal defenses. Likewise, while Christian material may be safer, you cannot accept what is written as true on that basis alone. Christians are human. We can and do make mistakes. We even sometimes promote ideas that directly contradict Scripture.

When I would point this out, many would wave off my words with some vague reference that the Holy Spirit would give them an instinctual knowing.

While I fully believe in the leading of the Holy Spirit and the spiritual gifting concerning the discernment of spirits, my studies have also lead me to believe that discernment is a spiritual discipline. For if discernment were a gift only, something given to a select few, why would Hebrews 5:14 tell us that the ability to distinguish good from evil is a mark of maturity—something God desires for all of us? And if it is only an instinct, why would that same verse tell us that the ability to distinguish comes from training?

So after hundreds of such conversations, I did what I do best: Write. And the Bearing the Sword curriculum was born.

What does this first part of Bearing the Sword cover?
Bearing the Sword is a curriculum designed for high school students to teach them the basics of discernment and critical thinking. Over fifteen weeks, this book lays the foundation of biblical discernment by looking at what is discernment, why it is important, how we can practice it, the biblical definition of what is good, and a word-by-word dissection of Philippians 4:8. As a result, although this study is intended to be the first in a series, this book can also easily stand on its own.

What makes this curriculum unique?

Rather than asking students to only answer a list of questions or to memorize a set of principles, Bearing the Sword synthesizes intense Bible study with the analysis of film clips. For a Bible study in of itself is good and necessary, but sometimes it is hard to go from being a hearer of the word to a doer of the word.

That’s where the film clips come in. Film (and story in general) mimics reality, but unlike with life, you can control, pause, rewind, and repeat a film clip. So once a week (as well for the entire fifteenth week), the student is asked to analyze a series of film clips related to what is being learned that week. This allows the student to immediately and consistently apply the principles he or she is learning in a controlled environment with plenty of time to discuss and wrestle through the issues before they are encountered in life.

What distracts you from writing the easiest?

That’s easy: another person’s story, whether a movie, book, television show or a conversation. As I said, fiction is a passion for me, and it’s easier to enjoy someone else’s work than write my own!

I agree! What kind of books do you enjoy reading? 

All kinds of fiction, though especially science fiction and fantasy! The works of Kathy Tyers (Firebird Trilogy), R. J. Anderson (Ultraviolet is my current favorite), Sharon Hinck (The Sword of Lyric), and Jenny L. Cote (Max & Liz/Epic Order of Seven) are the first that come to mind. I have also thoroughly enjoyed the Lunar Chronicles, a secular science-fiction series for young adults; how can I not be intrigued by a cyborg Cinderella!

Nor is any year complete without a re-reading of certain favorites: A Little Princess (by Frances Hodgson Burnett), A Wrinkle in Time (by Madeleine L’Engle) or The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew (by Margaret Sidney). I’ve also recently rediscovered delight in the works of Tomie dePaola (The Clown of God) and Robert McCloskey (Make Way for Ducklings). It’s really hard to beat a good children’s picture book.

I read less nonfiction, but I still enjoy a thought-provoking theology book or encouraging devotion book. Jonathan Edward’s essay, “The End for Which God Created the World,” has especially impacted my thinking.
What is a favorite memory from your childhood?

Listening to my dad make up bedtime stories. Each listener would give him one object or character, and then he would create off the top of his head a story around those things. “The Man-Eating Jelly Bean” story (yes, someone asked for a man-eating jelly bean) remains one of my favorite stories to this day.

Are there spiritual themes you like to write about? 
I don’t know if I would call it a spiritual theme, but I do love helping people safely stretch themselves, especially in their perspective of God. God is so vast, so majestic, so . . . glorious. Yet we often try to make Him after our image, which not only limits Him, but also restricts who we can be. Therefore, moments of awe, the wonder of God, pushing our faith to its logical end, discernment, and dealing with uniqueness all frequently resurface in my writing.

Could you share a verse or Scripture passage with us that is special to you?
Isaiah 40, especially verse 26. This verse, indeed the whole chapter, so beautifully captures the wonder and majesty of God side-by-side with His care and intimacy. So often like Peter when he walked on water, I find myself distracted by life’s storms. I haven’t forgotten Christ is there; I’m simply focused on the winds and the waves. These verses help me restore my perspective: Look around, look up; remember Who you serve and that He cares for you.
When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?

I’m currently working on the second part in the Bearing the Sword curriculum. Whereas the first part focused on the biblical foundation of discernment, this second part will tackle the effects of maturity and personal limitations on our discernment. An exact release date has not been set, but the second part should be out early next year, if not sooner.

Thanks for sharing with us today!

Connect with Chawna Schroeder at:


Chawna Schroeder is offering a complete pack of Bearing The Sword curriculum for the giveaway, including the manual (lesson book), student workbook, answer key, media log, and DVD set, worth $65. To be entered in the giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You can enter the book giveaway twice—once on each Spotlight post for the author. Please note: The giveaway is for U.S. addresses only.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Bearing The Sword by Chawna Schroeder

Sharpen your blade. You live in a gray-shaded world, a twilight realm where good and evil intertwine and mirages abound. The enemy lurks. The King is calling.

Your mission awaits. As a soldier in the army of God, you have been given everything you need to face these war zones of life. But owning the tools is not enough. You must train yourself to properly use them. Otherwise you might lop off your own hand rather than defeat the enemy.

So strap on your armor. Pick up your sword. Take a deep breath.

Basic training is about to begin.


As a curriculum designed for high school students, Bearing the Sword teaches the basics of discernment and critical thinking. This is done through intensive Bible study and the analysis of media, specifically pre-selected film clips.


(This excerpt is taken from both the manual and the workbook.)
Week 1, Day 1~Once Upon a Time
        Once upon a time in a strange land where mirages masqueraded as reality and substance was oft dismissed as shadow, a great famine beset the people of a mighty king. Vines withered.
Trees bore no fruit. The fields failed to produce anything but a few scraggly heads of grain that would be not worth harvesting except for the greatness of the famine. Bread became scarce and so did hope.
        Therefore, the mighty king prepared a special mission.
        This mission was of great importance, yet entirely unpredictable. It would require everything of the one upon whom it was bestowed.
        And whom did the mighty king choose? A great knight? A seasoned commander? No, the king chose to bestow this mission upon a gifted but unsuspecting young apprentice: You.
        Yes, you. God has prepared a special mission for you (Ephesians 2:10). What exactly this mission is I do not know, nor which gifts He has chosen to give you. Neither has He revealed to me where your journey will take you.
        But this I do know: the way will be fraught with peril. “In this world you will have trouble.” (John 16:33) For the enemy prowls around looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8) and will stoop to any means to catch his prey, even masquerading as something beautiful and good (2 Corinthians 11:14). So we must prepare ourselves to face it.
        Yet if we know not what form the danger will take, how can we prepare for it?
        Because the sword of truth can slay any foe we face, for the Word is living and active, sharper than any double-edged sword. It penetrates. It divides, even separating soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It slices through thoughts and attitudes, because everything is laid bare before the God of the word and the Word Who is with Him (Hebrews 4:12-13, Proverbs 15:11, Ecclesiastes 12:14, John 1:1). However, owning a sword is not enough. We must do something with it. We must learn how to wield the truth.
        So your mission awaits. Are your ready to start your training?

Sword Clash (Discussion Questions):
How does the thought of having a specific purpose make you feel?
What kind of mission might God be preparing you for?
What kind of dangers might you encounter?
What do you expect during the coming weeks of study?

Sharpening Your Sword (Bible Study):
This week’s memory verse is Hebrews 4:12. Take the time today to memorize it.

Read Ephesians 2:10 and 2 Peter 1:3. In light of having a mission to fulfill, what does this mean to you?

Read Ephesians 6:10-18. Beside each piece of armor, name what purpose that piece would serve in the physical realm. Then explain how that physical attribute applies to the spiritual parallel.

Does anything else stand out to you from Ephesians 6:10-18? If so, what and why?

Communicating With Your Commander (Prayer):
Thank God for equipping you for whatever work He may have for you. Ask Him for the faithfulness to fulfill that mission.

Additional excerpts can be found at

About the Author

Chawna Schroeder spends her days working as a professional liar, better known to most people as a novelist. She loves spinning stories and fabricating fantastical tales about characters caught between two worlds—not to mention fiction writing provides the easiest explanation for her imaginary friends. Otherwise, people tend to look strangely at an adult conversing with invisible people.

When Chawna isn’t working or meeting other novelists’ imaginary friends, you can usually find her poring over her studies in biblical Greek and Hebrew. She has studied both languages under a seminary-trained pastor for several years and has done some teaching of the Greek and Hebrew.

Since she doesn’t have a split-personality (despite what family members and friends may contend), these duel passions for fiction and Scripture must share the same mind and therefore often collide. Sometimes that’s not a problem; fiction and Scripture meet and part on congenial terms. But at other times they get into a fight. So what is a writer to do? Write, of course!

So Chawna is writing Bearing the Sword, a six-part curriculum teaching discernment through the study of Scripture and the application of principles to fiction. In addition to this, she vends at home-educator conferences and posts on her blog, Imagination Investigation (, where she explores the boundaries of fiction and faith, reviews books, and writes about the occupation of writing. 

Where to purchase Bearing The Sword

All books & Packs can be found on her website
Amazon Links:
        Training Notebook
        Sibling Pack (1 Manual, 2 Notebooks, 2Media Logs)                        

Chawna Schroeder is offering a complete pack of Bearing The Sword curriculum for the giveaway, including the manual (lesson book), student workbook, answer key, media log, and DVD set, worth $65. To be entered in the giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You can enter the book giveaway twice—once on each Spotlight post for the author. Please note: The giveaway is for U.S. addresses only.


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