Tuesday, March 27, 2012


Science fiction buffs, today I am happy to welcome a fellow educator and OakTara author, Kevin Thompson, who hails from sunny Florida.  He's written his first sci fi book, THE SERPENT'S GRASP, which was just released in January, and he's going to tell us about that in a moment.  Welcome, Kevin--tell us a little about yourself.

With Ramona Tucker,
Editorial Director, Oaktara
I’ve been married to my wonderful wife, Cindy, for over 30 years now. I live in Central Florida, actually in the same house where I was raised since I was three (I was born in a different house in town that has since been torn down). I graduated high school “Summa Cum Later” as I wasn’t the world’s best student (and we’ll just leave it at that). I now have a B.A. in Bible from Houghton College (Houghton, NY), an M.A. in Christian Studies from Wesley Biblical Seminary (Jackson, MS), and an M.Ed. in Educational Leadership from National-Louis University (Wheeling, IL – Tampa, FL Campus). Not bad for a kid who finished 87th out of 200 something. Just goes to show that not everyone blooms when they walk across the stage, shake the hand of the principal, and receive that high school diploma.

I like your candid approach, Kevin.  My own husband, Clark, didn't enjoy school, either.  In fact, he never planned on going to college--ever.  Ten years after high school, the Lord had other plans for him, and now he's a teacher with more than thirty years of experience!
I also play the drums (self-taught) in our Church’s Praise Band. I speak in churches on occasion, and hope to do more of that as the book catches on (hint, hint, nudge, nudge).

Perhaps someone out there will pick up on your hint.  I'll help you along:  KEVIN IS AVAILABLE TO SPEAK IN CHURCHES. 

Sunday, March 25, 2012


I am very pleased to interview Sylvia Stewart today!  A godly woman who has led an interesting life with so many wonderful experiences, I know readers will love her new book, KONDI'S QUEST.  Let's begin with her bio:
Sylvia Stewart grew up in the (then) Belgian Congo. She spent 21 years as an Assemblies of God missionary in Malawi, East Africa, with her husband, Duane. In 1992 they were asked to go to Ethiopia to found a Bible College. They spent 11 years in Ethiopia doing mostly Bible College ministry. She taught college-level English to students who had never taken a grammar class before.

Sylvia has been published in Assemblies of God denominational magazines: The Pentecostal Evangel (now Today’s Pentecostal Evangel); Advance (now Enrichment); Woman’s Touch, and their missions magazine, Mountain Movers, which is no longer in print. She has also been published in WASI Writer, a writer’s magazine published under the auspices of the University of Malawi.  She wrote under contract with Network211.com, a Christian website, for a year and a half.
Sylvia’s book, Kondi’s Quest, was published in August 2011, after she worked on it for 24 years.  Kondi’s Quest is a novel for middle-school readers.  It shows that God’s love and presence is with us, even in very hard times.
Welcome, Sylvia.  What are some things you enjoy doing when you're not writing?  
I crochet, needle-point, and do hand crafts.

When did you decide that you wanted to be a writer?  
The first sample of my writing that is still intact was from the 6th grade.  I’ve always loved a good story and read a lot.  Our tiny town library was great fodder for my hunger for a good book.  I think the desire to write starts with a fascination with reading a great story.

I agree with that sentiment.  In order to be a good writer, one probably has to enjoy reading!  By the way, how many books have you written, and what are their titles? 
KONDI’S QUEST is my first book.  However, I’ve written numbers of articles in Assemblies of God periodicals.  Also, for a year and a half I wrote under contract for Network211.com, the A/G’s website.

Why do you write the type of books that you do?  
They say, “Write what you know.”  I lived and worked in Malawi for 21 years, so it seemed natural to produce a novel set in Malawi.
I received that same advice, so when I began writing, I wrote about my family as well.

One question I like to ask other authors is: What was your greatest obstacle in writing, and how did you rise above it?  
My greatest obstacle in finishing KONDI’S QUEST was the distance between where I lived in Africa and the U.S. publishers I wanted to accept my book.  Back then, when everything was sent by mail, sending return postage from a small African country was almost impossible. 

How has writing changed your life? 
My house isn’t nearly as clean as I would like it to be!  Also, I’d rather interact with family and friends more than I do – if I just didn’t have to spend so much time at the computer.

Oh, I know whereof you speak!  We seem to have the desire for a cleaner house and more time with family and friends in common, I see.  

What Bible scripture has impacted your life the most?  
I couldn’t say just one scripture text.  I was raised in a godly home where scripture was read and prayers were said on a daily basis.  I’ve loved and memorized scripture texts since I was small.  My life verse is:  “You . . .  are a letter from Christ, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts,” (II Cor. 3:3 NIV).

Do you have a favorite song and/or movie?  
There would be too many songs to count.  I love the old hymns.  Probably my favorite hymn, though, would be, “Great is Thy Faithfulness.”  God has been very good to me.

As to movies, I love the Jane Austen movies:  Pride and Prejudice, Emma, and Persuasion.  She knew how to write a great romance story.

Who is your favorite author?  
Again, there are many.  I love D.E. Stevenson’s novels.  Also Miss Read’s books about English country life.  Mary Stewart, another English writer, writes a wonderful suspense novel.  (The English writers were easily accessible in Africa.)  We have a collection of Louis L’Amour books – saving them for our son.  As for favorite current writers:  Angela Elwell Hunt and Francine Rivers.  Also, our daughter, Lynnette Bonner, is an up-and-coming new writer.  Her historical romance series, The Shepherd’s Heart series, is just coming out with OakTara.  ROCKY MOUNTAIN OASIS is already in print.  HIGH DESERT HAVEN will come out in a few days.  Hopefully, FAIR VALLEY REFUGE and SPRING MEADOW SANCTUARY will be in print by Mother’s Day.

What are some interesting places you’ve lived/visited?  
We’ve been privileged to travel quite a bit, mostly between Africa and home.  However, our travels in Africa have to be the most memorable.  We’ve been in Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Swaziland.

What’s one zany thing you’ve ever done?  
I’ve ridden a camel a couple of times; once when I visited in Egypt with my parents when I was a girl, and once in Ethiopia, where we worked for 11 years.  And anyone who’s lived in Africa for very long will have eaten some strange things:  fried flying ants, wild African game meat, sun-dried fish, etc.
I'm sure our readers will find those things quite out of the ordinary.  I am fascinated :).

Since you've written your book about Africa, please tell us about the featured book.  
KONDI’S QUEST is a story for pre-teens.  It tells the story of a young Malawian girl who has one desire – to win the love of her alcoholic father.  She has many adventures in her quest, and also finds out, in the midst of all her troubles, that her heavenly Father loves her. The story was told as true to the culture as I could make it, so adults find the glimpse of an African culture and way of life interesting, too.

Here is your golden opportunity: what would you wish to say to your readers?  
God loves you!  Others may seem not to, but He loves you.  No matter what you’re going through, no matter what wickedness you may have done, He’s with you, loving you and helping you each day.
Wonderful advice, Sylvia.

Include your links so readers can find you on the internet.  

I urge everyone to get a copy of KONDI'S QUEST!  Thank you for being here today, Sylvia.  It has truly been my pleasure.

Friday, March 23, 2012


Today I am pleased to welcome a guest blogger, Larry Landin, who also happens to be a friend.  My husband and I worked with him in a Christian school several years ago when we all lived in Maryland, just outside of DC. 
Dear “Christianaphobic,”

We Christians do not threaten your lack of belief; why do you act as if we do? We do not call you names; why do you feel the need to do so? We do not work to take away your freedom of speech, even when we disagree; why do you desire to take away ours? We do not work to force things upon you that go against your principles; why is it right to force things upon us that go against our moral code?

 We do not condemn you for holding other beliefs, though we may in private pray for you to the God we believe is gracious and loving. Is that something you find especially egregious?

We Christians are often taunted with claims that because we have faith, we have no intellect, are second-class citizens, or worse, are intolerant or “haters.” Does that make you somehow feel superior? If so, that is okay with us. We know who we are, where we have been, and the positive affect faith in God has brought us.
We do not condemn. We do not hate. We are not intolerant. No, we are followers of Jesus of Nazareth, who did not condemn, who ate and socialized with sinners, who forgave and healed and loved. He was called a fool, His sanity questioned and His actions attributed to demons. He was considered a rebel and a threat to the status quo. He was unjustly tried, undeservedly ridiculed and mocked, inhumanely beaten, tortured and killed by the most horrific death. That is, however, just the beginning of the story!

 Why are you “Christianaphobic”? Is such a reaction natural? The answer is a resounding yes. You see, it is not about us, it is about the natural man’s reaction to Christ, just as it was over 2000 years ago. Jesus said, “. . .and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake.” (Matthew 10:22)

Thursday, March 22, 2012


I am happy to interview Laura Josephsen today and feature her latest release, RISING.  Welcome, Laura!
Let's jump right in so you can tell us a little about yourself. Thanks for having me on your blog, Mavis!  I'm a wife, homeschooling mother, freelance editor, and beginner student of Taekwondo. I live in Tennessee with my family, plus two cats and a dog.

You certainly have varied activities, Laura.  What do you enjoy doing when you're not writing (and in all that "spare time" that I'm certain you have)? Hanging with my family, reading when I have time, watching favorite TVshows, editing (I work as an editor, and I enjoy editing for other people very much).

When did you decide that you wanted to be a writer? I don't think I ever really decided. I've been writing for as long as I can remember.
How many books have you written, and what are their titles? Well, I've written four books and I'm working on a fifth, and I've co-written another four books. Out of those eight and a half books, I have three published. Restoration Book 1: Awakenings (co-written with Faith King), Confessions from the Realm of the Underworld (Also Known as High School), and Rising Book 1: Resistance (which is only a two-book series; I'm currently writing book 2).

Why do you write the type of books that you do? I don't have a particular genre or age group that I write. I have a tendency to write YA fantasy, because I love writing it, but I've written contemporary, adult, and science fiction, too. If I had to pinpoint a "type," I'd say I write about finding hope and light and life at the end of the dark tunnel. Some of my characters go through horrible things before they get there, but that's probably the overall theme in my writing.

What was your greatest obstacle in writing, and how did you rise above it? Finishing a book was probably my greatest obstacle. I rose above it by just learning how to get through the tough parts and keep going.

I can certainly commiserate with you on that.  There are just so many other things competing for your time.

What Bible scripture has impacted your life the most? Well, all of Psalm 91. But if I had to give one verse, the first one that comes to mind is Zephaniah 3:17.

Do you have a favorite song and/or movie? "Dare You to Move" by Switchfoot remains my favorite song after twelve and a half years. It meant a lot to me in the time of my life when I first heard it and has stuck with me ever since. My favorite movie would probably, overall, be Serenity, the tie-up to the show Firefly.

Please tell us about the featured book. Rising Book 1: Resistance is the first of two books. It was supposed to be one book, but it got too long and I had to divide it into two. Overall, these two books are probably the darkest I've ever written. They're technically science fiction, though they're not futuristic at all. They take place in a world with limited technology, where trains are the fastest means of transportation. I dealt with some really heavy issues and took my characters to some hard and painful places. This story has pushed me outside of my comfort zones and showed me that I need to go to some difficult places to do justice to the characters and their story.

It sounds as though you've really grown in depth as a writer in creating these two books.  I'm intrigued, and I'm sure readers are as well.

Here's the blurb for the first book:

All Alphonse wants is a quiet summer at home before his final months at university. What he gets is a half-dead stranger on his doorstep and the task of delivering a package to the leader of his home country. Not long after he boards a train toward the capital, he's attacked by knights, elite soldiers of the neighboring king.

Alphonse is temporarily rescued by Mairwyn, a mechanic with a haunted past and a deep hatred of knights. Together, they attempt to carry out Alphonse's urgent errand, only to learn that if they fail, countless people will die.

And even if they succeed, they may not be able to prevent the war that lurks on the horizon.


You can find me at:

My blog – http://laurajosephsen.blogspot.com/
Goodreads – http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4403495.Laura_Josephsen
Twitter – https://twitter.com/#!/LauraJosephsen

It was a pleasure having you today, Laura.  Now everyone check out her links, then go out and buy her new book!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

"E" . . . IS FOR EASTER!

Bunnies and chocolate eggs aside, Easter is the most important event in Christianity and in the history of the world.  Folks love their Easter egg hunts for the children, giving of Easter baskets with all sorts of goodies, and waiting for the Easter bunny.  I want to state the obvious:  as a Christian, Easter is definitely not about ANY of those things.  It is a celebration of our Lord's Resurrection from the tomb . . . He arose on the third day, and lives forevermore!

Christmas is also a milestone in history for the Christian,  the day we celebrate our Lord's birth.  Of course, there would be no Easter celebration if there had been no Christmas.  In my mind, that Star that shone over Bethlehem is irrevocably linked to the Cross of Calvary.  Christ alone of all mankind conquered death and the grave.  He chose to die on that cross for all  who accept Him as their Savior, suffering a terrible death in MY place. 

Therefore, as Easter approaches, with spring putting forth its beautiful bounty of lilies, roses, daffodils, irises, cherry blossoms, and many other beautiful examples of God's creation, I often think about how glorious that first Easter morning must have been, especially when it was discovered that He was no longer in that grave--and then He later appeared to some of His disciples! 

The record of this event is detailed fully in the Gospels, but the most meaningful scriptures to me are in Matthew 28:1-10: 

After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the bomb.  There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it.  His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow.  The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. 

The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified.  He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.  Then go quickly and tell his disciples: 'He has risen from the dead is going ahead of you into Galilee.  There you will see him.'  Now I have told you." 

So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples.  Suddenly Jesus met them.  "Greetings," he said.  they came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him.  Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid.  Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me."

Oh, how wonderful it must have been to see Jesus after His resurrection.  He fulfilled the prophecy, and they were eyewitnesses to it.    

I am so thankful for His blessed sacrifice for me and this world of other unworthy sinners.  In light of that, everything else on this earth pales in comparison!  Nothing else is important enough to worry over.  As undeserving as I am, I have eternal life when I leave this world.  Not because of myself or anything I have accomplished, but because of His sacrifice:  "For God so loved the world that He gave one and only Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him."  John 3:16-17

Easter is about the Resurrection, the historical event that eclipses anything else that has ever occurred.  It is far more than a pretty basket, a new outfit, or chocolate eggs.  It is the cornerstone to eternity. 

Monday, March 19, 2012


I am pleased to welcome fellow author, Shawn Lamb, and today we are featuring her latest release, The Huguenot Sword.  Shawn, please tell us about yourself and your books.   

I’m the author of the Christian historical fiction The Huguenot Sword. I’m a former scriptwriter for children’s television. I worked on the series BraveStarr, which was produced by the same studio responsible for He-Man and She-Ra.  I’m also the author of the YA allegorical series Allon.

I currently live in Nashville with Rob, my husband of 27 years, and our daughter Briana. She is a film artist doing storyboards and costume design. She drew the characters for Allon included on the website and in the videos. Unconditional is the Christian feature film she worked on and will be released this year.  It’s based on true story and a cross between The Blind Side and Courageous.

Saturday, March 17, 2012


In my attempt at writing articles with the alphabet,  this one is in honor of the letter D.  There were quite a few things that I could have written about, such as dirt, dragons, desserts, or dishwashers, but I kept coming back to my favorite dog, the dachshund.

My family first owned a dachshund when we lived in Bremerhaven, Germany, and her name was Elia.  She was a red standard, smooth coat, and although I was only nine or ten at the time, I agreed with my parents that she was quite stubborn--a doxie trait.  In an attempt to housebreak her, my parents left newspapers down for her to use:  that seemed to be the method of housebreaking dogs back then. After all, we lived in a third-floor apartment with no elevator, so it wasn't always convenient to take Elia out when necessary.  There were sixty-four steps up to our apartment--I know, because I often counted them when I came home from school in the afternoons.  A lot of stairs.   Well, Elia would "hold it" for hours and hours when my mother would put her out on the balcony, then when Mom took pity on the poor dog and let her in, that's when Elia decided it was time to go potty--right there in the middle of the living room floor.  My mother was not happy, to say the least.  I don't recall what happened to this stubborn-but-loving doxie.  We left Germany for the States when I was twelve, so I suppose we foisted her off on another family.  I believe by then that she was housebroken, though.

Friday, March 16, 2012


I think most dachshund lovers/owners feel just this way . . . I certainly do.  Although I love most dogs, there's just something about our doxies, right?  Perhaps it's their innate ability to be comical (and they'll really ham it up if you laugh at them).  Or maybe it's their multiple facial expressions--whatever that doxie essence is, this breed is a fabulous dog, a furry friend, and wonderful companion.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


Well, friends, I'm not doing very well in keeping this alphabet thingy going, am I?  Seems it was weeks ago when I started with "A," and now I'm just down to the letter C.  I really must do better!

I've chosen my C is for comedy because I just seem to have a knack for spilling, dropping, or spraying food items!  I am normally not a klutz at all, but over the years, if I'm gonna drop anything, it will be something to eat or drink.  Now, let me make one thing clear:  these so-called humorous  incidents were not humorous to me at the time, but everyone else sure thought they were funny, as evidenced by their guffaws.  Cases in point:

1) Years ago when we lived in Lynchburg, Virginia, our family was at a seafood restaurant.  All was going well until I tried to open the little pouch of sour cream for my baked potato.  I tore off the end, but somehow that sour cream managed to land onto my face--even covering one eye!  Well, our two daughters, who were about four and eight at the time, did quite well holding back their laughter, because they could see I was put out with the situation!  I noticed that my hubby had also developed a sudden desire to drink his iced tea, gulping it down and coughing (only later did I learn that he was trying to cover his laughter).

So, I made my way into the ladies' room to wash my face, and a young girl sitting across the restaurant decided to follow me in there!  She stood staring while I attempted to clean my face without disturbing my makeup, no mean feat.  I could see her behind me in the mirror, so I turned around and asked in as kind a voice as I could muster at the time:  "May I help you??"  She silently nodded no, but kept on staring.  Our daughters had also followed me into the restroom, and when I said that, they ran back out.  I later learned that Clark and the girls were out there, convulsed with laughter, which they wiped off their faces the moment I came out of the restroom.  I wasn't laughing, though.  It's funny now, of course, because comedy = tragedy + time.

2) We were eating dinner with my parents, also years ago, having steaks that only my dad, a grill master extraordinaire, could produce.  I reached for the steak sauce on the dining table, deciding to shake it a bit to loosen it up and thus flow out quickly.  WRONG.  Someone (who, to this day, has remained nameless) had loosened the container lid and merely set it back on top without screwing it closed.  HOW WAS I TO KNOW THAT?  It looked closed.  Anyway, when I proceeded to shake the bottle, the lid immediately came off and steak sauce was flung across the room to my mom's dining room curtain, on the floor, my clothes, and a dollop here and there across the table.  Why me??

3) When Holly and Philip had been married only a short time, we invited them over for a spaghetti dinner.  No problem.  How could anything actually go wrong with spaghetti and garlic bread, especially when I didn't plan on shaking the sauce, the pasta, or throwing the bread, right?  We were all seated at the dining table, plates filled with pasta and sauce, and Clark had said grace.  So far, so good.  I picked up the Parmesan cheese, and since we all know it has a tendency to stick together, I decided to give it a few good shakes.  You guessed it.  In Holly's words:  "It was like watching a movie in slow motion . . . as you shook the cheese container three or four times, I could see the grated cheese arcing  over your head, going everywhere!  We yelled, 'NO!' but it was already too late."  My, what a poetic description.  Once again, I plead innocence.  The blamed thing looked closed, but obviously wasn't.  I am cursed, I believe, when it comes to food!

4) Just last week at our grandson Asher's second birthday party, I was attempting to assist our guests with their beverages.  One mom requested Dr. Pepper, which had not yet been opened.  This two-liter bottle had been sitting on the counter for hours, along with its neighbors of other soft drinks, and hadn't been moved at all.  So, in my innocence, I proceeded to open the bottle:  well, it erupted like Mt. Vesuvius!  Dr. Pepper spewed out all over the counter and onto the floor, but wonder of wonders, I didn't get a speck of it on my clothing.  My daughter Holly came to the rescue with some paper towels, commenting that I needed to write a blog post about my difficulties with food and drink.  So, here we are.

Hopefully, my "run" of bad luck is at its end, although it was spread over several decades.  I really am careful and observant, you know.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


View Authorshot.jpg in slide showToday I am pleased to feature a fellow Oaktara author, Eileen Hinkle Rife, as well as her latest release, SECOND CHANCE.  Check out her books and links below!  Welcome, Eileen!

About the Author:
An alumna of Christian Writers Guild and member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Eileen has published several non-fiction books, written newsletters, a marriage column, and over ten church dramas. Her byline has appeared in magazines such as Discipleship Journal, Marriage Partnership, Mature Living, Christian Home & School, Drama Ministry, and ParentLife, as well as other print and online publications. Her fiction works include Journey to Judah, Restored Hearts, and Chosen Ones in the Born for India trilogy, and a stand-alone novel, Second Chance.  She and husband, Chuck, conduct marriage seminars in the States and overseas. Her favorite pastime in this season of life is dancing with hubby, spending time with her daughters and sons-in-law, and playing with her six grandchildren.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


Our grandson Asher was two years old yesterday, but we had his Mickey Mouse themed party on Saturday at our house.  His family had come home for a few days, so we had a jam-packed time--it was fabulous!  Below are some pics of his party (and I'll try to limit them, but you know how difficult that will be for a grandma!).

Excited for his party to begin!

Dachshund Books for Dog Lovers!

Dachshund Books for Dog Lovers!
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