Blog / Recent Posts

Explaining The Loves of King Solomon Series

May 20, 2015

Smith_Shepherdess_EB CoverYesterday I was allowed to do a “cover reveal” for the newest upcoming book in The Loves of King Solomon series. The book is the second e-book short about Abishag the Shunammite called The Shepherdess. (I always love the covers Revell does for my books! Don’t they do a great job?)

Inevitably, when one of these short stories releases, I am asked if it is available in paperback. So I thought perhaps it was time to explain what this series is and how it came about.

The Loves of King Solomon began with a question from me to my agent and then morphed into an idea in the mind of one of the great women at Revell. At the time, I was just finishing Rachel’s story and thinking ahead to The Crimson Cord. The question had nothing to do with Solomon, but a mention of his name came up in the discussion and thus, The Loves of King Solomon was born!

But what is this series about? And what is an e-book short?

The series is a set of four short stories about four individual women that it is presumed Solomon married or possibly loved. The first is The Desert Princess about Solomon’s first wife Naamah. She is the mother of Solomon’s heir Rehoboam. The second, The Shepherdess, is about King David’s last wife Abishag, who remained a virgin and passed into Solomon’s court when King David died. The third is not yet titled, but is about Solomon’s Egyptian wife. And the fourth, which I plan to write this year, is about the Queen of Sheba, who visited Solomon during the height of his reign.

Each story is between 25,000 and 27,000 words long, and with this series, I decided to write each story from just that woman’s point of view. In other words, they are each written in first person, unlike my full-length novels, which are written in third person.

The Shepherdess will release in August 2015. The Egyptian wife’s story in August 2016. The Queen of Sheba’s story in August 2017 according to the current plan.

Each one of these stories will only be available in e-book format. That means there are no print copies to sell. If readers want to read them, they can be found wherever e-books are sold. If you don’t have an e-book reader but have an iPad or a computer, Kindle offers free apps for their e-book reader, and if you own an iPhone or an Apple computer, the stories are available through iBooks. They are also available for Nook and other e-readers.

Now that said…whew!…when all four short stories are completed, I will spend the following year reworking this whole Loves of King Solomon series into a new book. I am not yet certain how I’m going to handle this as it is a type of story I’ve never done before, but my current plan is to rework the four short stories (so you won’t feel like you have already read it and it’s just a repeat) into third person accounts and include Solomon’s point of view. I may also add in the points of view of a few other people. For now, these plans are still in the works, so please don’t hold me to them. That is, the point of view may remain first person but I think I will enjoy telling the story better if I change it up.

For now, all I know is that my goal is to give readers a new experience when the final compilation of short stories releases. THAT book (and only that book in this series) will be available in print form as well as ebook. If you miss the ebook versions, you will not be reading the exact same story in print when it finally releases as a complete book. So if you want to read these first person accounts, I would suggest finding a way as mentioned above, to read them on a computer, etc. They are short, so reading them should not take too long.

I hope that all makes sense and answers the questions of where to find a copy of this digital short story in print. It’s just not going to happen at this point as the first four short stories in the series were designed to be e-book only.

I’ve also noticed that some people seemed unhappy with the fact that the first in the series The Desert Princess is too short. I imagine that is because they were expecting a longer, fleshed-out story like my full-length novels. But these short stories don’t allow for that as my full-lengths are at least 90,000 words vs. the 25,000 for the short stories. I hope that does not disappoint.

I’ve had a lot of fun writing these first person accounts of some of the women in Solomon’s life. It helps me to understand him better and perhaps grasp why he did the things he did and account for the choices he made along life’s way. Stay tuned for things from his point of view in a few years.

Shalom and blessings~

 

Girls Lives Matter

May 19, 2015

I write about women of the Bible. Women who were once young girls and grew into strong, usually faith-filled women. Women who did some amazing things because of their faith in God, and others who made some bad choices for lack of faith or in disobedience to what they knew was true.

As often as the Bible is maligned for being patriarchal, and people think it anti-woman, I would suggest they read the text in greater depth. Because the Bible elevates women. It offers protection for the widow, the orphan, the foreigner. It does not celebrate the mistreatment of any person, male or female. Even in the submission texts of the New Testament, the Bible does not advocate male dominance over women. Submission and respect are gifts a woman gives to her own husband, just as love and sacrifice are gifts a man gives freely to his wife.

Some cultures or people groups today take the verses out of context, misuse them, and women are often mistreated in the process. But God loves all people and created them male and female, and He offers salvation to all.

Its-a-Girl-promo-2-990x500In today’s world, you would think these ancient truths would be obvious. But the human heart has not changed since the fall of Adam and the entrance of sin into society. Even with the rise of feminism, we see little change in many cultures, even religions around the world. The lives of girls, of women, hold no value. But they should. Because they matter to God.

Our church showed a documentary last night about the plight of girls in India and China, two cultures whose ingrained thinking devalues the lives of women. To hear the words, “It’s a girl” are the three worst words a husband or wife could hear. Sons are wanted and praised. Daughters are just a burden. One woman had killed eight babies after they were born for the simple fact that they were female. She wanted a son. Then she would have value.

The reality left me troubled.

Then today on Facebook, I read an article about how little girls in Iraq – nine years old – are being taken by terrorists and sold into “marriage”, not just once, but over and over again. Mothers watch as their men are executed and their girls are kidnapped. They are ill-equipped to flee, and if they do, their futures are bleak. They are uneducated because girls are not allowed an education.

In China, according to the documentary, there is a shortage of women to marry because of the one-child policy and the forced abortions of baby girls. Well, duh. If you kill the girls, there won’t be women to become wives to the sons and have more babies. I fail to see any logic in this system.

In India in particular, there is a dowry system (which is supposedly outlawed, but no one enforces it), that causes families financial hardship if they bear girls. Thus the desire for sons. In both China and India they have “folk sayings” that devalue the lives of their women from birth on.

This should not be.

Girls lives matter.

The cultures in India and China and the religions that oppress women in untold number of countries around the world need to recognize that they would snuff out the very people that give them great good. In Bible times men paid the father of the bride a bride price (dowry) because for the father to lose a daughter was a great loss and the family needed compensation. Why do you think Jacob worked fourteen years for Rachel? To pay the bride price for her and for Leah. It was no hardship to have a daughter. It was a hardship to lose her and all the blessing and help she provided for the family.

Where did things get so twisted from that time until now? When did it become okay to kidnap a whole school full of girls and force them into marriage when they are still children? When did it become okay to exploit women of any age?

I write about biblical woman for many reasons, but one is to show how their lives might have been. Did they suffer like some women do today? Yes. Some did. But that was never ever God’s intent.

God cares about women.

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” He didn’t say just little boys and not the girls. He included all.

If God cares so much for these little ones, then shouldn’t we do the same?

Selah~

(For more information on how to help, click here. More information will soon be forthcoming on the church website.)

by jill at 8:58 pm in ,

Will You Pray?

May 14, 2015

abc04May 15-23, 2015 are the dates for a prayer initiative hosted by Anne Graham Lotz – a call for our nation, our world, to cry out to God for mercy and grace. (To sign up for this initiative, click here.)

Anne refers to this as a distress call. She says,

“In these days of desperation and confusion, hopelessness and helplessness, when mountains are collapsing, nations are warring, people are rioting, the earth is quaking, and the enemy is threatening, it’s time to cry out to the Lord! Now!

The nine days between the day of the Ascension of Jesus and the Day of Pentecost have Biblically and traditionally been days of prayer and fasting for an outpouring of God’s Spirit. This year those days fall on May 15-23. On each of those 9 days, join Anne Graham Lotz and thousands of other followers of Jesus Christ, as together we implore God to save us from our distress. Before Jesus comes and judgment falls.

Pray one hour each day for 9 days, May 15-23.”

prayer-1-1031070-mWhen King Solomon dedicated the temple he built to God’s great Name, he mentioned a number of reasons the nation would one day need to repent. When “anyone wrongs their neighbor”, when “the heavens are shut up and there is no rain because your people have sinned against you”, when “famine or plague comes to the land, or blight or mildew, locusts or grasshoppers, or when an enemy besieges them in any of their cities, whatever disaster or disease may come…” to name a few.

Solomon knew bad things would happen even to God’s chosen people not IF they strayed from obedience to the Lord, but WHEN they strayed. No one can say they are without sin before a holy God. I know this only too well.

And that’s where repentance begins, doesn’t it? We can’t look at our nation and point fingers at others when repentance is a matter of each individual heart. It starts with me. With Christians. Yes, with all of God’s people.

So I would urge you, my dear readers to consider joining Anne in her call to prayer. It’s a one-hour-a-day commitment for nine days. Will you join me in joining her?

prayer-and-devotion---hands-2-992378-sI will leave you with this thought from King Solomon’s prayer:

“When they sin against you—for there is no one who does not sin—…and if they have a change of heart…and say, ‘We have sinned, we have done wrong, we have acted wickedly’; and if they turn back to you with all their heart and soul…and pray to you…then from heaven, your dwelling place, hear their prayer and their plea, and uphold their cause. And forgive your people, who have sinned against you; forgive all the offenses they have committed against you…for they are your people and your inheritance…” (Parts of 1 Kings 8:46-51 -emphasis and ellipses mine)

Selah

by jill at 4:42 pm in

May 2015 Christian Fiction Releases

May 14, 2015

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Contemporary Romance:

Seaside Proposal by Narelle Atkins — Billie Radcliffe is only staying in the close-knit beach community until she finds the man who is the key to her rejection-riddled history. Her growing relationship with good-looking banker and youth leader Zach Montford could crumble when her deepest secret is revealed. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Bachelor to the Rescue by Lorraine Beatty — He made her a widow. Now she and her little girls need his help. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Firefly Valley by Amanda Cabot — Marisa St. George has lost her dream job and come home to manage the struggling Rainbow’s End resort in the small Texas town where she grew up. The only silver lining is Blake Kendall, a new guest who is making her believe in love at first sight. But is he really who she thinks he is? (Contemporary Romance from Revell [Baker Publishing Group])

Summer Brides: A Year of Weddings Novella Collection by Debra Clopton, Marybeth Whalen and Beth Wiseman — A June Bride by Marybeth Whalen: Wynne Hardy says “yes” to the perfect man on a reality TV show, then her ex-boyfriend walks back into her life. A July Bride by Beth Wiseman: Brendan Myers left Alyssa Pennington at the altar. Winning back his bride might prove much more difficult than he can imagine. An August Bride by Debra Clopton: Cousin to the bride, Kelsey Wilcox meets groomsman Brent Corbin at a Texas beach wedding. Brent is determined to change the pretty bistro owner’s mind about cowboys. (Contemporary Romance from Zondervan)

Whenever You Come Around (A King’s Meadow Romance) by Robin Lee Hatcher — Best-selling author Charity Anderson returns home to King’s Meadow to defeat a bad case of writer’s block. Then her dog causes an accident where longtime crush Buck Malone breaks his wrist and ankle. Charity finds herself caring for the handsome wilderness guide, since this calamity will keep him off the trail for weeks during prime tourist-season. Buck finds himself hoping to change this city girl’s mind about small town living. (Contemporary Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing [Thomas Nelson and Zondervan])

Safe in the Fireman’s Arms by Tina Radcliffe — Neither Maggie Jones nor widowed fire chief Jake MacLaughlin are interested in finding love. When they team up as a fake couple to avoid potential dates, sparks kindle and they might just find trouble in Paradise, Colorado. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

The Doctor’s Second Chance by Missy Tippens — When a bachelor’s wayward cousin leaves him with her baby to raise, he’s forced to seek help from the one woman he can’t trust, the town’s new pediatrician. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Can’t Buy Me Love by Beth K. Vogt — A bride-to-be discovers the true cost of love as she plans her uptown destination wedding using Pinterest. (Contemporary Romance from Howard [Simon & Schuster])

A Love Like Ours by Becky Wade — A scarred Texas marine and his vivacious childhood best friend find love and healing while training thoroughbred horses. (Contemporary Romance from Bethany House [Baker Publishing])

General Fiction:

As Waters Gone By by Cynthia Ruchti — Can a marriage survive when separated by hundred of miles and impenetrable prison walls? (General Fiction from Abingdon Press)

Historical Romance:

The Most Eligible Bachelor Romance Collection by Amanda Barratt, Susanne Dietze, Cynthia Hickey, Shannon McNear, Gabrielle Meyer, Connie Stevens, Erica Vetsch, Gina Welborn, Kathleen Y’Barbo, and Jennifer Uhlarik – Nine historical romance novellas where love comes to the most eligible bachelor in town. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

Love by Design (The Dressmaker’s Daughters #3) by Christine Johnson — Jen Fox won’t let anyone keep her from joining the first flight expedition to the North Pole. Even if the person trying to take her seat is the dashing, world-famous stunt pilot Dan Wagner. Their strictly business relationship hits turbulence when both begin to wish for something more personal. (Historical Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Until the Harvest by Sarah Loudin Thomas — When family tragedy derails Henry Phillips’s college studies, he consoles himself with his fiddle and the family farm. His grandmother’s helper, Margaret Hoffman, is always around, ready to push his buttons, and it seems she doesn’t care about his troubles. But Margaret has her own problems. Henry and Margaret soon find themselves relying on each other as they face potential loss and find healing in the most surprising places. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker Publishing])

Medical Suspense:

Fatal Trauma by Richard L. Mabry — It began with Dr. Mark Baker facing a gunman who had nothing to lose, and it could end with him behind bars. (Medical Suspense from Abingdon Press)

Romantic Suspense:

Falcon by Ronie Kendig — When a deadly bombing separates Staff Sergeant Brian “Hawk” Bledsoe, from his team, he must make a choice: save his brothers-in-arms, or save the woman and children depending on him to survive a brutal snowstorm. (Romantic Suspense from Barbour Publishing)

Young Adult:

See No Evil (Rustic Knoll Bible Camp Book 3) by Mary L. Hamilton — Blindness didn’t keep Steven Miller from getting sucked into pornography, and with Dad’s death compounding his guilt, can he atone for his sin by keeping his friend from traveling the same path? (Young Adult Fiction, Independently Published)

by jill at 11:10 am in

A frosted chocolate brownie

May 3, 2015

…that’s what I feel like eating right now. Weird desire because I’ve had a rotten appetite since our last night in California when I came down with a lovely case of food poisoning. Thankfully, it had left me well enough to fly home, but I haven’t felt much like eating since.

IMG_2318So I’m eating vanilla ice cream and one of Randy’s cookies (vanilla) instead while I listen to Randy continue to work on the bathroom tile. (I’d help, but the space is too cramped.) We left the work behind for a wondrous week in California to watch our son marry his lovely bride in Los Olivos, a little vineyard town not far from Solvang. The trip was rather whirlwind with bridal shower, rehearsal, wedding, a visit to see where our son works, and then Randy and I spent a few days touring San Luis Obispo or SLO as the natives call it and area cities. We chased a few sunsets and enjoyed exploring the sites…until we got back to L.A. and I got sick. Six nights later and I still don’t feel great. But thankfully, Randy does and he’s been painting and tiling and we are on track to finish soon, I think.

It’s interesting the things God teaches us while we are struggling with feeling sick or sad even going through happy life changes – they are all adjustments and they put us through a gamut of emotions. And yes, I will admit, sometimes those emotions are crabby ones (when I’m sick). (Poor Randy.) I tend to vent to him, my friends, and yes, to God. (He knows anyway, so I figure it’s better to be honest, even though I end up apologizing for being too snarky sometimes. He does deserve our respect, after all.).

In my crabbiness tonight, it occurred to me that it might help if I actually listened to His response. I mean, if we’re going to tell Him how we feel, it might be wise to hear from Him in return. (No one really likes to just listen to someone talk and never get a word in edgewise.) So since I’m reading in Matthew and was beginning chapter 4, I started reading, “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.” Wait. What?

IMG_2414Stop and reread that.

Then Jesus was led up by the Spiritto be tempted by the devil.

From what I know of Scripture (James) God does not tempt any man. But right here it said that the Spirit led Jesus to be tempted. And then I remembered the prayer Jesus taught to His disciples. “And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one.” Hmm…

God does not tempt us. But He allows His Spirit to lead us into it. Perhaps to test us? To see how we will respond to it? To teach us? To strengthen us? To know what is in our hearts? (I’m pretty sure you can find these reasons mentioned in various places in Scripture.) That’s a really sobering thought. And it makes “The Lord’s Prayer” make a LOT more sense in that one spot. “Lead us not into temptation.” Wow.

Wilderness of Judah 5Now I’m not saying that a frosted chocolate brownie is temptation led by the Spirit. But what I did realize is that Jesus taught us to PRAY that the Spirit NOT lead us into temptation but deliver us from evil or the evil one. Jesus knew what it was like to be in that wilderness and face the enemy head on. He knew temptation in the form of hunger and pride and greed and just giving up and take the easy way out. The devil came at Jesus with a LOT during those 40 days. Maybe that’s why it was one of the main things He added to our prayers, right after requesting daily bread and forgiving those who sin against us.

In any case, it got my attention. And I’ve been praying it during my crabbiness this afternoon ever since.

Selah~

 

by jill at 9:17 pm in