LinkedinTwitterThe DetailsConnectBlog Facebook Meet the TherapistHome For Writers

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Fascination Trigger #4: Alarm

Sally Hogshead is the author of Fascinate: Your 7 Triggers to Persuasion and Captivation. In it, she talks about seven ways people can harness their natural personalities to be captivating to others. I've be going over these triggers on Wednesdays.

[If you missed the introduction to this series, click here. If you missed Power, the first trigger, click here. If you missed Passion, the second trigger, click here. If you missed Mystique, the third trigger, click here.]

With Halloween being today, I thought I'd go over Alarm, which is the fear that something really awful will happen. When the fear is bad enough, big enough, impending enough, it's truly fascinating to other people.

An example of how alarm can sell books would be the books on radical Jihad. Of course, these books soared after 9-11, as people were terrified of another attack or being caught unaware again. General alarm was like a siren call for books focused on Islam and the underlying tenants of their faith and connecting dots (whether real or not).

Individuals who have Alarm as their primary trigger are very detail-oriented, because in so doing, they can proactively identify and avoid problems. They have a lot in common with the Beaver personality, which you can find out more about here. I imagine LaHaye as meticulous in his research, making sure their depiction of the end times was as accurate as they could make it....even though know one knows for sure what will happen. 

According to Sally Hogshead, there are 5 defining characteristics of Alarm personalities:

1) Perfectionistic - Being flawless in their work and personal conduct is important to Alarms.

2) Reliable - Deadlines are no problem for Alarm personalities. They operate like clockwork.

3) Routine-Oriented - Having a predictable pattern is crucial for Alarms. If they have a well-oiled machine for their daily schedule, the likelihood of anything going wrong is greatly reduced.

4) Careful - Avoiding failure is the name of the game, and Alarm personalities will go to great lengths not to make mistakes, perceived or otherwise.

5) Rational - These folk tend to be very logical, and most of the times are unlikely to do or say anything others might perceive as controversial.

One author duo who has captured the use of Alarm in their writing is Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins. Their Left Behind series focuses on events during the end times. Using the book of Revelation as a guide, as well as other prophetic scripture for research, LaHaya and Jenkins made a best-guess at how things will go down after the Rapture. No one knows for sure, but the fascination about the alarming end of the world is great.

Let's Analyze

Who else has used Alarm? What about international thriller authors? Presidential re-election concerns? Any takers?

Happy Halloween everyone!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Review of Julie Lessman's Long-Awaited Prequel A Light in the Window!

I don't think I've ever waited so long for a prequel...ever. I've read and influenced for all six of Julie's books. Her voice is fresh, and her approach to passion with integrity exemplary. Definitely not "typical" Christian fiction in that category...and all the more reason to love it.

Getting to read A Light in the Window was such a treat, because it introduced us to Marcy and Patrick's story....where it all begins.

Here's a blurb from Julie's website:

One Woman. Two Men.
One stirs her pulse and the other her faith.
But who will win her heart?

Marceline Murphy is a gentle beauty with a well-founded aversion to rogues.
But when two of Boston's most notorious pursue her,
attraction, dreams and faith only muddle her mind.
Can the light in the window illuminate the path of true love?

A light in the window refers to an old tradition, mainly during Christmas time, in which a candle was placed in the window as a sign of welcome and a symbol of the warmth of home during the holidays.

Marcy, directing a Christmas production called A Light in the Window, is put into close proximity with Patrick O'Connor and Sam O'Rourke, both of whom were caught slipping a little communion wine after hours and have to pay penance.

Both boys are notorious rogues, and Marcy is not looking for anything with either of them, though she's had a crush on Sam, her childhood best friend's brother, for years. Unlucky for her, she sparks the interest of both men, and a merry chase ensues. 
Julie typing away at another bestseller.

To me, reading this book was akin to the satisfaction I feel when I slide in the last piece of a jigsaw puzzle. Everything fit perfectly and the entire picture could be seen all at once. Learning about Patrick was more eye-opening than I thought. His history as a player made me long to reread passages in previous books when he talked to his sons about their behavior. And learning about his family life--or lack thereof--made his desire for a strong, happy family all the more understandable. Marcy's strict expectations governing Faith and Charity made sense, given her values and morals. This book just made it all fit together so well. 

I wondered how Julie would draw us in to read a book for which we all knew the outcome. She did so be engendering that little girl crush Marcy had on Sam! I was reading and actually getting worried that she wasn't going to end up with Patrick...even though I knew better! So don't be fooled by a prequel written after the fact. It's as much a page-turner as the other ones. 

It releases November 9th and is available for pre-order now! Click here!

Let's Analyze

Have you, like Marcy, ever had a childhood crush spring back into your life? How did that previous connection help or hinder you?

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Weekend Funnies: Seeing Ghosts

Copyright Dan Reynolds

Happy Halloween weekend to you all!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Friday Free Association Chain

The word is....


RULES: First commenter free associates (writes the first word that comes to mind) with the above word. Second commenter free associates to the first commenter's word, and so on. Remember - the FIRST thing that comes to mind.


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Fascination Trigger #3: Mystique

Sally Hogshead is the author of Fascinate: Your 7 Triggers to Persuasion and Captivation. In it, she talks about seven ways people can harness their natural personalities to be captivating to others. Every Wednesday, I'll be going over one of these triggers.

[If you missed the introduction to this series, click here. If you missed Power, the first trigger, click here. If you missed Passion, the second trigger, click here.]

I like that Mystique comes after Passion, because the two are fairly opposite. Whereas Passion engages the audience, Mystique self-engages, editing their ideas and opinions so as to not over-communicate with others. Just by virtue of being less heard, their opinions are more influential.

Television series have this down pat. They throw enough out there to tease, but not enough to tell the story line. Even news anchors do this...setting up the audience to anticipate receiving the latest breaking news. Mystique is all about raising questions and then not answering them.

Was Lee Harvey Oswald part of a conspiracy theory? This debate still drives people insane. There are more questions than answers.

According to Sally Hogshead, there are 5 defining characteristics of Mystique personalities:

1) Understated - they often stay in the background, out of the limelight. They observe and plan before acting, an never without thoughtful deliberation.

2) Complex -  since the Mystique controls their expressions and emotions, they can be hard to figure out. You just don't "know where you stand" with a Mystique.

3) Rational - the decisions made are based on data and quantitative information, gathered and analyzed thoroughly.

4) Reserved - they are usually guarded, and they never want to reveal with they are truly upset or angry, because this would be admitting a vulnerability.

5) Deliberate - they do not act on impulse, but are usually a bit more self-conscious, and comb through their thoughts and actions so as to only share what it essential.

One author who has Mystique written all over him is Polish author Krystian Bala. He is a convicted murderer serving 25 years for planning and committing the murder of Dariusz Janiszewski in 2000. The police in his town were stumped as to whodunit, until clues were found in Bala's on novel Amok, written in 2003. Turns out, it was a fictional version of his real-life killing, complete with information on the killer could have known. WHAT THE HECK?? Why would he do this? Of course, sales skyrocketed as readers looked for other clues in the book. And yes, that's a picture of him behind bars. Not that many authors have that fresh, jailbird brand.

Let's Analyze

How can Passion learn from Mystique? Vice Versa? Do you know anyone who is a good mix? What other traits might a Mystique have that lends them that certain something we all wish we had? Know any other Mystiques?

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Psychology Behind Fiction/Film Reboots: Smart or Smarmy?

To reboot in fiction and film is to discard all previous continuity in a series and start anew. You rarely have rebooted character personalities, usually just a similar character placed in a different universe or updated time period. Sometimes everything is subject to change.

But TV series, comics, and books are being rebooted at a rapid rate. Here's a list of a few that I can think of off the top of my head:

Beauty and the Beast (2012) just kicked off it's first season, and it's nothing like good ol' Linda Hamilton and animal-human hybrid Vincent. Beauty's a kick-butt detective and Vincent (yes, name remains the same) is a former medical doctor-turned-soldier after 9-11 who was injected with something that makes him like the Incredible Hulk when he's mad.

Elementary (2012) might be the most interesting reboot Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has been through yet. Lucy Liu plays Watson, a surgeon-turned-"companion" to addicts, namely, one Sherlock Holmes. They live in New York, and he consults with the rather slow police detectives and wows them with his powers of observation, deduction, and reasoning. No doubt there will be romantic tension eventually between the two.

James Bonds is still alive and kicking, with Skyfall, the 23rd official movie, set to come out in November. Very similar to the reboot of Batman, starting with Batman Begins in 2005. I can't begin to recount the number of recent fairy tale remakings, but here's just a short list: Mirror, Mirror; Snow White and the Huntsman; Beastly; and Red Riding Hood for films and Grimm and Once Upon a Time for television series.

Comic reboots for both Marvel and DC have abounded with Man of Steele, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and Arrow.

And of course fiction utilizes plot conceptualizations all the time. Jane Austen's books have to have been the inspiration for more retellings than any other author alive. I just finished The Overnight Socialite by Bridie Clark, which was a fresh retake of My Fair Lady. Melanie Dickerson writes portrayals of fairy tales in her series, with her Snow White retelling set to release this December.

I've made my case for the vast amount of literature being regurgitated in various arenas and ways. It's not a question of whether it's smart or smarmy to reboot. The biggest advantage is that you have a built-in audience who will buy your work simply because they love the concept behind it. They are loyal to the origins of your inspiration, and are happy enough to pay homage to their heroes through reboots.

The real question is this: Is it smart or smarmy to reboot a classic the way YOU want to do?

The stakes are higher when rebooting due to the possibility of disappointed expectations. People expect a Pride & Prejudice retelling and that's what they better get, only in some infinitesimal way, it's got to exceed their expectations. No one truly thinks that the story can be told better than how Jane Austen if you're going to shoot for the stars, be prepared to land hard on your rump if you miss.

Let's Analyze

What reboots can you think of that landed on their rump? Fiction, film,'s the limit. Which reboots were exceptional? I'd like to offer Melanie Dickerson as a wonderful example of how to reboot and more than meet reader expectations.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Friday Free Association Chain

The word is....


RULES: First commenter free associates (writes the first word that comes to mind) with the above word. Second commenter free associates to the first commenter's word, and so on. Remember - the FIRST thing that comes to mind.


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Fascination Trigger #2: PASSION

Sally Hogshead wrote Fascinate: Your 7 Triggers to Persuasion and Captivation. In it, she talks about seven ways people can harness their natural personalities to be captivating to others. Every Wednesday, I'll be going over one of these triggers.

If you missed the introduction to this series, click here. If you missed Power, the first trigger, click here.

So....Passion. Don't think sex and romance, but do think emotional connection. Sally used to call this trigger Lust, and she changed it because Passion elicits more of the concept and is more broadly applicable. People with this gift can make very quick tie-ins with other people, and bring about an anticipation of their pleasure (whether naughty or nice).

One example of a company who utilizes Passion is Apple. Apple fans literally lust after the latest and greatest gadget. Each one is more beautiful and more functional (and more expensive) than the last. The Passion built up so much in people as they anticipated the iPhone 5 that cost doesn't matter. As Randy Ingermanson said, "Apple fans can't wait for the next cool thing that they never knew they needed."

According to Sally Hogshead, there are 5 defining characteristics of Passion personalities:

1) Expressive - no poker faces here! Facial expressions, body language, and vocal intonation communicate and add emphasis to a Passion's message. They engage others and keep their focus well.

2) Intuitive - Instinct plays a large role in how a Passion makes decisions. This is an emotional rather than rational approach, feeling rather than data. They can sense their audience's feelings and adjust their message to resonate accordingly.

3) Impulsive - as a result, Passion personalities react rather than respond to others and information. This can lead to backtracking later.

4) Social - this is your typical Otter/Sanguine-type personality trait. They have strong interpersonal skills and are very approachable. They build rapport like nobody's business.

5) Transparent - Masking emotions doesn't come easily for a Passion. If they have to "bluff" their way through a situation, that'll be difficult for them.

One author who exemplifies Passion is Sarah Palin. Every time she took the podium, she was engaging. Her smile, her wide eyes, her laugh....she had the audience eating out of her hand. I haven't read her book, Going Rogue: An American Life. I think we saw some impulsiveness in her campaign, and transparency. She related to mothers everywhere when she called herself a "mama grizzly," and she made these traits work for her so much, she hit the New York Times Bestseller list.

Let's Analyze

How might Passion play into author marketing? Since one-on-one connection is so important, likely the author would need to showcase their interpersonal skills by signings, speaking to book clubs, and conferences. What else?

Monday, October 15, 2012

Jurassic Park Sightings (AKA Characterization Inconsistencies)

If you haven't read Jeff Gerke's Plot versus Character: A Balanced Approach to Writing Great Fiction, I suggest you do so. It's what has inspired a new feature on my blog.

A Jurassic Park Sighting is a characterization inconsistency. Anytime a character does something out of character to simply move the plot forward, or if they behave in a way contrary to how they have already been portrayed....this is a Jurassic Park Sighting.

Why pick on Jurassic Park? Because in book The Lost World, Michael Crichton introduced a character named Richard Levine, a brilliant paleontologist and a man who was "fastidious," with "obsessive heart a man of detail." He goes on for pages about needing to keep a pristine environment, yet he drops the wrapper to a power bar on the ground. The purpose this served was for additional plot, namely for raptors to smell the candy wrapper and come after them.

This weekend I caught up on Season 4 of Glee, and I have a great example of this for you.

Season 4 opens with auditions for New Directions, given that seniors Rachel, Finn, Puck, Santana, Mercedes, Kurt, Gwen and Mike have departed (for the most part) for bigger and better things. We're treated to an American Idol-esque version of tryouts, and Puck's younger half-brother is the first decent singer we hear.

When he signs up, he clearly exerts an alpha male influence, prompting another Glee Club wannabe to quickly drop the pen and step away from the sign-up sheet. He then signs only "Jake," with no last name (as to avoid association with Noah Puckerman), but which is also a dominant, confident move.

At the tryout, he sings "Never Say Never" by The Fray. (click for lyrics) This is not a song that showcases his bad-boyness. It's a beautiful ballad, but I digress. He gets through the first verse and chorus before he's interrupted by Will Schuester, who already knows Jake's more than worthy of New Directions.

Jake gets huffy, and is like, "I don't get to finish?" Will tells them that they have plenty of others to listen to. Jake then says, "But I've been practicing." [Jurassic Park Sighting #1 - whiny bad boy? This smacks of desperation and above all is VERY uncool of His Coolness.] Will says they've seen enough and thanks him.  Jake then storms off, knocking over a music stand. Will asks him to pick it up, but Jake gives a mocking bow and walks off.

Later, Will summons Jake to talk to him about his audition. Jake swaggers in and says, "Do you have any idea how hard I worked on that song? I was up for three nights getting it right, and you didn't even let me finish." [Jurassic Park Sighting #2 - no tough-as-nails kid is going to admit this to a teacher whom he feels just rejected him.]

After some family tree exploration of Jake's connection with Noah, Will tells Jake that he knew after the first verse he wanted him in the club. He tells him he's "really good." Jake gets this hopeful expression and asks, "You really think I'm good?" (NOT a Jurassic Park Sighting - this is character layering). Will confirms that he does think that, but then Jake closes off his expression and rejects Will's offer to sing. He says he likes the chip on his shoulder that Will told him he needed to lose.

The Difference Between Character Inconsistency and Character Layering

Because there was nothing said at the audition to warrant that type of reaction from Jake...the producers needed him to show attitude, so he did, come hell or high water. It was over the top. His revelation that he "practiced," said in front of current Glee Club members in the auditorium, was completely out of character, but it was needed to amp the tension enough to provoke him to knock that music stand over. Come on! Who does that?

The third gives us a glimpse into Jake's inner world...the insecurity underneath the facade of his tough exterior. It was made even more poignant by him closing the audience (and Will) off by reverting to the badboy mask.

I'm open to accepting Jurassic Park Sightings (in film or fiction), anonymous or otherwise. You can email them to me at jeannie (at) charactertherapist (dot) com.

Let's Analyze

Do you watch Glee? Who's going to be your favorite newbie?

Friday, October 12, 2012

Friday Free Assocation Chain

The word is....


RULES: First commenter free associates (writes the first word that comes to mind) with the above word. Second commenter free associates to the first commenter's word, and so on. Remember - the FIRST thing that comes to mind.


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Fascination Trigger #1: POWER

This week we look at the first identified trigger to fascinate, and ultimately persuade, people. People who identify with the Power trigger will find themselves closely identifying with the character traits of the Lion/Choleric personality.

A person who uses Power to persuade is a natural leader and harnesses an ability to control. There is a certain confidence about these people that garners respect, even when given begrudgingly.

For example, whatever your opinions are politically, no one can deny that the President of the United States has power. I mean, he's got the proverbial (real?) red telephone that can launch missiles with the press of one button.

Google is another example of a company who harnesses Power. If applications and codes don't work on the Google platform, they will fall flat on their face. Search engine optimization is a course in its own right now, largely due to Google.

According to Sally Hogshead, there are 5 defining characteristics of Power personalities:

1) Confidence - goals aren't something to be feared, rather, these people rise to the challenge and rarely doubt their ability to get things done. Deadlines aren't a problem.

2) Goal-Oriented - these people like to take on big projects (like a novel!), and they are very focused on achievements, likely keeping a daily word count goal.

3) Influential - input from these people guide what others say and do. If you find yourself having a lot to say about your cover design and edits, this might be you.

Michael Hyatt at ACFW 2012
4) Opinionated - this can actually be separate from #3, but rarely so. Your opinions are strong, and if Power is your main trigger, you are likely very candid with how you present your views to others. Blogging probably fits you to a T, and you might even wiggle your fingers with glee if a debate starts in your comment section.

5) Decisive - these people are gifted in sizing up a situation and choosing a course of action. You don't mince words, analyze data, or necessarily poll others.

One author whose main source of fascination is Power (at least, in my opinion) is Michael Hyatt. As the former Chairman and CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, he already had a commanding platform, made even more so when he branched out on the web. Who doesn't want to listen to what he has to say? He has 265,000+ subscribers for his blog, which is noted as one of the top blogs in the world on leadership. What Hyatt suggests, others take note of and try to mimic. Just wait to see what happens when he launches his GetNoticed! premium WordPress theme.

That's Power in a nutshell.

Let's Analyze

Who else might fall into the Power category? Don't limit yourself to authors, but what public figures, sports legends, and media moguls?

Monday, October 8, 2012

Review and Giveaway of Julie Lessman's A Love Surrendered!

Oh lordy lordy. Julie Lessman. Her name is synonymous with passion with a purpose in the Christian romance world. Lucky me, I'm on the permanent influencer list, so I'll never miss a new release of hers! Her 3rd book in the Winds of Change series (and 6th book about the O'Connor family) is up for grabs for one lucky commenter!

Here's a blurb from Julie's website:

He broke her sister’s heart …
will she be next?

Orphaned in Iowa, Annie Kennedy moves to Boston to stay with her spinster aunt, longing for romance to fill the void of her parent’s death. But when she falls hard for Steven O’Connor, the man who broke an engagement to her sister, Annie is worried. Will he break her heart, too, when he discovers she’s Maggie’s sister?

With heart-pounding romance, intense family drama, and the emotional twists and turns Julie Lessman fans have come to expect, A Love Surrendered will ignite your senses and inspire your spirit.

This book was my favorite of the Winds of Change series, mainly because Steven is dealing with some serious emotional issues that cripple him in the present, and the secret of Annie's identity is one to keep you on the edge of your seat!

Steven's kind of been one of my fav O'Connors because Julie did a wonderful job of dropping little tidbits about him through the other books. We've gotten to watch him grow up from the sidelines, essentially, and come into a maturity that wasn't without it's scarring. Lessman fans have waited a long time for him to bite the romantic bullet!

I have to imagine that there are many, many young men out there with Steven's background...who have done things they aren't proud of, and carry around a load of guilt as a result. He's apprehensive about being around a certain type of girl (namely, one just like Annie!), though they are irresistible to him, and call to him like a Siren. Yet he's not able to trust himself with his passionate response to them.

Julie deals with passion in her books so well....I can rave on and on. It's God-given, nothing to be ashamed of....when in the confines of marriage. I so appreciate the family saga of Julie's series, because we get glimpses of Faith and Charity and Katie and Sean (and their parents, Marci and Patrick)...and various marital issues they now face, such as infertility, infidelity scares, and keeping secrets. These are marital issues everyone can relate to, and it's so refreshing that these couples live on in a fictional reality beyond the happily ever after we got in the books where they were featured.

Now I'm looking forward to the most-anticipated prequel in the history of the CBA, surely....the story of Marci and Patrick! A Light in the Window releases Nov. 9th, so GET READY!

Leave a comment below to be entered to win my review copy of Julie's book. Giveaways on my blog are perks for my readership, so please click "Follow" on my Google Friend Connect and then leave your email address below.

Available October 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, 
a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Let's Analyze

Julie's written 6 incredible books so far, featuring one O'Connor each. Which is your favorite and why?

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Weekend Funnies: Improving Marriages One Session at a Time

Since last week paid homage to all you men out there, this one's for the gals.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Friday Free Association Chain

The word is....


RULES: First commenter free associates (writes the first word that comes to mind) with the above word. Second commenter free associates to the first commenter's word, and so on. Remember - the FIRST thing that comes to mind.


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

How to Fascinate Others...and Why Authors Should Take Note

I've been reading through the book Fascinate, by Sally Hogshead. If you haven't heard of it, you should pick it up, as I've found it, well, fascinating.

Hogshead is a brand consultant and speaker. Her book has been endorsed by Seth Godin and Tom Peters. It's not small potatoes! She based her book on her studies of the psychology, neurology, economics, and history of fascination...and this rings my bell. :)

In today's fast-paced world, you need something to make you stand out. People only have NINE SECOND attention spans. You need something that makes you different and fascinating to others. Why are people going to talk about you? What do you have to bring to the table that's not already there in abundance? 

According to Hogshead (a last name which, before you giggle at it, Sally has totally embraced with a passion--check her website to see what I'm talking about), there are seven ways to "trigger" fascination:
These seven triggers are hardwired into the brain, and Sally says if you can trigger the part of the brain that makes a potential customer wonder if he or she should buy something, then you can shortcut to them actually buying something.

"Fascination is the shortcut to persuasion," Sally says. And persuading readers to buy your first book or subsequent books is exactly what authors need to be thinking about.

You don't learn how to be fascinating, you learn how to not be boring. This is good news for all of us! As I try to think about marketing my own business, I've found this to be encouraging and invaluable. As a result, I'm hoping to share what I'm learning with you all. So every Wednesday for the next seven weeks, I'm going to breakdown the 7 triggers.

If you're chomping at the bits and don't want to wait for my weekly breakdown of the 7 triggers, you can take Sally's trademarked personalty test, The Fascination Advantage ($37), to find out your primary and secondary triggers. From this information, you will be well on your way to determining your personality brand and the strengths that you bring to your own marketing.

It's a competitive environment, and the most fascinating option will always win, according to Sally. She says to "Stand out, or don't bother."

So join me on Wednesdays to see how you can stand out.

Let's Analyze

Have you ever heard of the book Fascinate? What's your best guess of your primary trigger?

If you haven't read my therapeutic review of Krista Phillip's Sandwich, With a Side of Romance, click here for a chance to win your own copy!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Review and Giveaway of Krista Phillips' Sandwich, With a Side of Romance!

I'm so pleased to host debut author and fellow blogging buddy Krista Phillips at my blog today. Her first novel, Sandwich, With a Side of Romance, launched September 1st from Abingdon Press.

Here's a blurb from Krista's website:

She moved to Sandwich, Illinois, in search of a new life, but ended up in a giant pickle.

Sandwich represents hope for twenty-year-old Maddie Buckner and Kyle, the eleven-year-old brother Maddie wants to spring out of foster care. Then she loses her new job after less than a day. It’s all Reuben-the-Jerk’s fault, and she’s determined to make him right the wrong.

He does so, reluctantly, by giving her a job at his restaurant, The Sandwich Emporium. Then crazy things start happening at the restaurant, and Kyle’s foster parents apply to adopt him. To stop it all, Maddie must learn the art of humbling herself and accepting the help God has arranged, risking her heart to Reuben in the process.

And she’d rather eat a million corned-beef on rye sandwiches than do that.

I devoured (gotta love puns....) Krista's book in a sum total of about four hours, and not just because I'm a fast reader. Krista's voice simply sparkles on the page, and Maddie was instantly endearing, humorous, and real. (Not unlike reading one of Krista's blog posts....if you aren't following her here, shame on you!)

I emailed Krista around chapter 13, stating that I couldn't wait to get to the bottom of the trauma from Maddie's well as some daddy issues Reuben has. I wasn't disappointed! We all go into our futures with baggage from the past, and many aren't able to get past it. Maddie's choices--her goals and motivations--were very clear given the tragic past she endured (and indeed, so many foster children still endure).

And then there are people who really didn't have a traumatic past, but who suffer from an event (like the passing of one's father) that ends up defining who they are today...and not in a good way. They can get "stuck," and unable to see the whole picture like God can.

I really liked Krista's book because it wasn't like some huge life or death question the heroine had to ponder. Instead, she has her wrestle with pride, and being humble enough to accept help from others when that help is needed. This is a universal tendency within humanity. We want to be self-sufficient, but God has other plans for us. It's through our weaknesses that his strength is made known. Krista's book really brings this home.

I'm offering a giveaway of Krista's book to one lucky commenter below. As I like for my giveaways to be a perk for my readership, please click "Follow" in the Google Friend Connect box, leave your email address (even if you think I have it), and I'll enter you in the drawing! Tweets and Facebook likes will get you extra entries. For the lower 48 states only, please!

Let's Analyze

Have you ever refused help that's been offered? Have you ever tried to offer the right hand of fellowship only to have it thrown back at you? How have you dealt with the issue of pride and humility in your own life?