Chasing Hope Sweepstakes


Yesterday I reviewed Chasing Hope by Kathryn Cushman, pictured above. As a reminder, here’s a quick summary of the story (no spoilers).

ChasingHopeSMBook Summary:

A talented runner fully committed to Olympic dreams, Sabrina Rice’s future was shattered. One forfeited scholarship and several years later, she has new goals and dreams that have nothing to do with running–something that’s become far too painful to think on.

Until the day she sees troubled Brandy Philip running across the community college campus. Sabrina immediately recognizes world-class speed.

When a chance encounter brings the two young women together, Sabrina becomes Brandy’s best hope for staying out of juvenile hall. Soon, Sabrina begins to feel an uncomfortable nudge that her new life is just about to be toppled–that God may be calling her to minister to this talented but troubled girl.

Intrigued? You can download a PDF of the prologue and first three chapters and find out for yourself how good the story is.

After my review, I promised to elaborate on the fantabulous (I’m sure it’s a word! 😉 ) sweepstakes author Katie Cushman and her publisher Bethany House are holding in conjunction with the book release.

Here’s the deal: the sweepstakes is already underway, but you still have time to get your name in the hat. In fact, you have until October 3 to enter.

And why would you want to? PRIZES, my friend. Six hundred dollars worth of PRIZES!! And all are related to Chasing Hope.

Check these out.



grandprizeNike’s motto is: Just Do It, and Sabrina Rice of Chasing Hope lives out this attitude despite tremendous obstacles. But chasing dreams is hard work, and every champion needs fuel for their journey.

To celebrate everyday champions like Sabrina, we’re offering our Grand Prize winner the chance to fuel up, and have some fun as they chase their dreams.

The winner of this package will receive a $200 shopping spree to the Nike Online Store, and a 1-Year subscription to Runner’s World Magazine.



In Chasing Hope, Brandy Philip has world-class talent, but she needs a fresh start, and a little extra help to get her on the right path. Just like Brandy, we all need a boost now and then, especially when it comes to our health and fitness goals!

While we can’t all have a personal trainer like Sabrina to help us meet those goals, our Second Prize winner will receive the next best thing: This prize includes a $175 value Nike + FuelBand accelerometer, which tracks each step taken and calories burned (and tells the time of day), and The Courage To Start running book, written by popular life coach and former self-proclaimed “couch potato”, John Bingham.

thirdprizeTHIRD PRIZE:


In Chasing Hope, Sabrina and Brandy find that even the strongest runners also need time to rest.

Whether you run marathons, a carpool, or just weekly trips to the grocery store, you can always use time to recharge!

Our third prize winner will get that chance with a $50 gift card to, plus an inside look at the life of Eric Liddell, (Sabrina’s hero and inspiration), through the Complete Surrender biography, and the Chariots of Fire DVD, featuring Ben Cross.

So now all you need to know is how to enter. Easy.


How to Enter:

Go to the sweepstakes page and complete the entry box, anytime between now and October 3.

Winners will be selected on Friday, October 4, 2013, and announced on Katie Cushman’s web site.

Might I also suggest you buy the book. This one is a keeper!

Mount Hermon Report 2008, Part 7

Saturday afternoon had two workshop slots, but I only attended the one. I planned to get coffee and figure out which seminar to attend next during the break, but instead ran into Debbie Thomas, a Mount Hermon writer friend who was in Randy Ingermanson’s Mentoring Clinic with me in 2005. We spent the hour talking writing, and it was time well spent.

Hanging out with other writers was definitely one of the great pluses of Mount Hermon. I was a little slow in getting pictures—I haven’t had a camera for a couple years, so it took me a few days to get into the swing of snapping all the people I wanted to blog about. Consequently, there are many, many omissions. But here are some notables, besides those I’ve already posted.

Katie Cushman at Mount HermonKatie Cushman, our carpool driver and author of A Promise to Remember (Bethany). You can read my review, which I posted a week ago, here. Besides being a brilliant writer, Katie is a kind, funny, interesting, organized, smart woman of faith. I would miss out on a lot if I didn’t get the travel time with Katie and the other carpoolers.

I wish I’d taken a picture of the four of us, especially because I don’t have any photos of Rich Bullock (one of the omissions I mentioned), my “twin” (we share the exact same birthday) and first carpool driver back in 2005. Just this last year we’ve also joined with a few other writers to form an online critique group. Rich has such great instincts and is a fantasy reader. Next year, I’ll make a point of getting his picture!

Caroleah JohnsonMy roommates, Caroleah Johnson and Sally Apokedak. Caroleah and I shared a cabin in 2006, one that was nearly at the top of the hill and about killed me off because after hiking the ten minutes up hill, there were some fifty stairs to climb. That was the year it rained non-stop, too. Still, it was a great cabin, with a fully outfitted kitchen, dining room, living room, separate bedrooms. During our stay, we had some time over late night cups of hot tea to get to know each other. Caroleah is an up-and-coming writer. She started in non-fiction, writing devotionals and producing a newsletter for her church. The 2006 conference gave her information about where to market her work and started her in fiction. Some time later, I came across her name in the list of Writer’s Digest Contest top one hundred. She placed there again in 2007.

Sally ApokedakI first met Sally online as the moderator of the critique group I joined. We actually met in 2004 at Mount Hermon. Since then we’ve become good friends and critique partners. She is another fantasy writer but targets children and YA. In fact, she recently became the Writing for Children editor at Bella Online.

Katy Popa/Sharon SouzaSome of these writers are ones I wish I could have hung out with. We’d see each other in passing and maybe have a meal together, but time was limited. Pictured here are Katy Popa, author of To Dance in the Desert (my review is here) and Sharon Suza, author of Every Good and Perfect Gift (my review is here). I knew Katy from her participation in Faith in Fiction but met both women in Gayle Roper’s mentoring clinic in 2006. Last year, when exchanging emails, I learned that Katy lived in a Victorian home. She gave me a fun story I was able to use to open the article I wrote for Victorian Homes magazine about blogging.

Becca/Susan JohnsonOne more picture for today. I met Becca Johnson, on the right, at a meal in 2006 when she came to Mount Hermon as a seventeen year old. Her mom, Susan, who accompanied her, claims not to be a writer, but during this past year she posted a review of one of the CSFF Blog Tour books for Becca and did a great job. Besides, since Becca is homeschooled, it’s apparent Susan knows more than she lets on. As we talked, she left the door open for writing some herself, but as it is, Becca, now nineteen and in college, is the writer of the family. I’m happy to say, she is a fantasy writer and well into her first novel.

More pics and reports next week.

Mount Hermon Report 2008, Part 2

Fun, exhausting, a lovely experience, and yet a blur. I agree completely with the four Mount Hermon Christian Writers conferees who commented on yesterday’s post.

Fun. I love hanging out with other writers, editors, and agents. The writing business is unique—creative, artistic, yet sales oriented; solitary, yet collaborative. And other writers know this, experience some of the same oddities I experience. Have some of the same questions I have—or had. Giving back by helping a newer writer is another part of the fun.

But so is reconnecting with writers I’ve met before, who I’ve stayed in touch with online.

For me the fun started on the trip up the coast to Mount Hermon on Thursday. For the last four years, I’ve carpooled, and each year that has been a memorable part of the conference experience.

This year I went with Sally Apokedak, 2007 ACFW Genesis winner in Fantasy, who is a good friend, from Whittier to Santa Barbara where we transferred into author (A Promise to Remember, Bethany, 2007) Katie Cushman‘s SUV and proceeded to Atascadero. There Genesis judge Rich Bullock joined us.

At each stage we had introductions to make and catching up to do. Katie, for instance, had just completed a book tour with three other writers, so there was lots to learn from her experience. She also had stories about the celebrity auction luncheon she attended earlier this month.

When we arrived, I no sooner stepped from the SUV and headed for the administration building than I heard someone call my name. There was LL Barkat, whom I had not met before. However, she recognized me from the picture you see in the right hand corner. As you may remember, she was to teach the blogging seminar in which I had a small part.

Soon to join us were Bryan Davis and his wife Susie, and before you knew it, there was a little group chatting away, while my carpool friends headed on up to register. When I saw them returning, I pulled myself away and scrambled along up to collect my key and name tag. Now I was officially there.

The rest of that first night is a blur. Really. At some point, Sally and I found our cabin, and I introduced her to our other roommate, Caroleah Johnson, a relatively new author (you can read one of her devotions for The Upper Room here. She’s a fast study and has already placed in the top 100 in the Writer’s Digest Competition the last two years).

I know I met Mark Goodyear, spent some time talking with him in Common Grounds (I think it used to be called Central Lounge) before a nice fire, as Sally and Katie checked their email. Then came dinner. I think we sat beside some interesting people, but I don’t remember who. I think we went back to the cabin and worked on mentoring clinic manuscripts, but maybe not. But for sure, the fun had begun.

– – –

CFBA is running a tour this week for the very same author CSFF Blog Tour is featuring next week: Andrew Peterson and his debut novel, On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness (WaterBrook, 2008). Obviously you’ll read more about the book starting on Monday, but if you’d like to check out my review, you can find it here on Spec Faith.

Published in: on March 21, 2008 at 12:31 pm  Comments (4)  
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Christian Fiction—Art or Tract?—Part 2

Author Gene Curtis made the comment to yesterday’s post that the premise of “Christian Fiction—Art or Tract?” is wrong, that there is no one way and that God can use a Christian’s work regardless if it was intended as “secular or evangelistic.”

In large part, I think Gene has it right, but I think there are a couple things that need to be cleared up.

First, preachiness is poor writing, but a novel with a clear Christian message is not necessarily preachy.

Somehow the idea has filtered into the Christian writing community that a solid, clear theme equates with preachy, and that just is not so.

“Preachy” is when the message comes directly from the author to the reader. I suppose it could even be from a character to the reader. The point is, if the message is delivered in such a way as to intrude upon the story and make the reader think, He’s telling me this, then it is preachy. It’s bad fiction. It’s the exact same thing authors do with background or setting if they don’t understand how to skillfully weave the information into the story. (Those are sometimes called info dumps and feel the same as preachiness—this information is in this part of the story because the author wants ME, the reader, to know this).

Having said that, I want to clearly state, I do not think fiction should be a tract. Tract writing is non-fiction writing and therefore governed by a different set of rules. To write fiction as a tract would mean the author is employing non-fiction rules for a story. That will inevitably end up with a story that is preachy.

Please hold off on the comments because there’s more. Writers can write compelling stories with overt Christian messages. Sharon Hinck‘s Becky Miller books come to mind, as does Julie Carobini’s Chocolate Beach. From what I’ve heard Katie Cushman‘s A Promise to Remember would fall into that category as well (it’s on my to be read pile—Christy Award winner John Olson called it “flat out brilliant.”) I’ve mentioned George Bryan Polivka‘s Trophy Chase Trilogy as examples of overt Christianity in the fantasy realm.

Fantasy authors can also write allegory, or stories with thinly-veiled representations of God and Jesus. If these are done well, just like stories with overt Christianity, they should not be denigrated because they contain a clear message consistent with the Christian message. They are not tracts. They are not preachy.

They also may or may not be art.

If an author aims to create art, I think there is a timeless and universal value to the work that he aims for. Can such a work include the Christian message?

What else is more timeless or universal?

The next question then is, how? I’ve already said, I think overt Christianity is one way—the story is about Christian characters acting as they do, with the struggles they face. I’ve also mentioned “allegory” (we call it that, but apart from John Bunyan in Pilgrim’s Progress, few stories are real allegories).

Then there are stories like Auralia’s Colors, simply a fairy tale with no intention of showing God, but authors say they believe the art itself reflects Him.

Yesterday I mentioned a third way—not overtly Christian in any of the ways I described above, but also more than just a beautiful story. This third method of writing is to weave the message below the surface, below the thin veil, far enough below that people may miss it or wonder if what they’re seeing is really there at all. These stories would aim to employ unexpected types, not allegorical representations. Things won’t “add up” in a neat and complete way, but there will be truth moments when the character learns or grows—and does not summarize what it is he’s learned for the benefit of the reader.

I know that isn’t particularly clear. I think an illustration or two will help. Look for that on Monday. Or more on Book Buzz. Or something about something else. 😉

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