4/23/2015

CROSSROADS A Miller's Creek Novel Blog Tour



CROSSROADS Facebook Launch Party  Kindle Fire HD6 Giveaway!




YOU'RE INVITED!

What: CROSSROADS Book Launch Party

Where: Facebook (from the comfort & convenience of your own home)

When: April 30, 2015 ~ 7:00-8:30 p.m. (Central time)

Why: To celebrate the book launch of CROSSROADS (a Miller's Creek novel and Christian Romance by Cathy Bryant)

LOTS of Fun, Games and Prizes!

Prizes Include: Miller's Creek pens, tote bags, t-shirts, mugs, digital books, autographed print books, Amazon gift cards, and
an Amazon Kindle Fire HD6!
CROSSROADS: The Story Behind the Story


By far, the question I receive most often when it comes to writing fiction is: What's the story behind the story? In other words, people want to know my motivation and inspiration for writing the book.

With CROSSROADS, the sixth Miller's Creek novel and a Christian contemporary romance, the original germ of an idea actually came as I watched the movie, God's Not Dead. The thought occurred to me that each of us knows someone who has either defected from the faith or altogether refuses to acknowledge the existence of God. It might be a friend, co-worker, or even a family member.

All fiction writers are taught to ask the question, 'what if?' So for me, my 'what if?' became this story question: What if an ex-military man and Christian found himself involved in the life of a bitter atheist and single mom who wanted nothing to do with his God?

Once that question was in place, other questions popped up. What happened to the female lead in the story to make her antagonistic toward the faith? What questions and arguments would she have? How would our ex-military hero--a man who sees himself as a defender--go to battle in a spiritual sense? What internal dilemma would he have to overcome to defend his faith? And most importantly, what would it take to turn our heroine around?


In the book, I sought to explore this spiritual topic, not just for the sake of the storyline, but also for each of us as believers. I wanted to know how I could best handle the objections of those opposed to faith in Christ. I wanted to be prepared to answer the tough questions these folks often have. And I hoped in the process to also help others in their own defense of the faith.

Some of the questions non-believers tend to have are: If God is so good and loving, then why does He allow evil? If God cares about me, then why have so many bad things happened to me? How do you know the Bible is true? What if the people who wrote the Bible made it up? How do you know that Jesus is really who He claims to be? What if He was just a delusional man with dubious motivies?

Can you think of other tough questions often
levied at Christians by non-believers?

I've been confronted by all these questions at one time or another, but suddenly it became personal for me. How did God want me to respond to these people? What could I do to make a difference for Christ and His Kingdom when it came to answering their questions? And how could I incorporate all this in the story of CROSSROADS?

Here's what the process involved for me: I devoured my Bible and books on apologetics to find answers for tough questions. I wrote the PROOF blog post series about what I'd learned. Next, I turned some of these posts into videos. And of course, I included it all in the storyline of the book.

As I wrote the story, a few things crystallized in my mind.

1) In the end, it all comes down to faith, and that's a decision each person must make for themselves. While we can hope and pray for others to turn to God, ultimately the decision is theirs. Faith is something we can't force on others.
2) Based on 1 Peter 3:15, we need to be prepared to answer the tough questions that come our way from those who don't believe.
3) And above all, our response should be one of unconditional love and persistent prayer. No one is a lost cause or beyond the power of God.

I pray we'll all be prepared to give a defense to those who ask about the reason for our hope.


About the Book

CROSSROADS

a Miller's Creek novel and Christian contemporary romance

A former soldier battles for the soul of a prodigal...

After a devastating divorce, a bitter single mom and atheist starts her own real estate company in the nostalgic and picturesque town of Miller’s Creek, Texas. Then her young daughter’s disturbing symptoms lead doctors to discover that her leukemia has relapsed. With her new life now turned upside down, Mara Hedwig struggles to keep her business afloat. And her daughter’s worsening condition forces her to rethink her beliefs about Carter Callahan and his God. Will Mara make the return to Christian faith in the face of life’s greatest challenge?
An ex-military operative struggles with the return to civilian life while coping with his rebellious teen-aged daughter. During a house-search, Carter meets Mara, a headstrong Realtor who wants nothing to do with his God. But when Mara’s little girl is diagnosed with leukemia, the clock begins ticking for him to convince Mara to return to a life of faith. Just as he seems to be making headway, circumstances beyond his control throw his efforts into a tailspin. Can Carter learn to rest in the sovereignty of God?

About Cathy Bryant
Amazon best-selling author Cathy Bryant writes Christian fiction set in the heart of Texas. Her popular romance and romantic suspense novels take place in the fictional town of Miller's Creek, where folks are friendly, the iced tea is sweet, and Mama Beth's front porch beckons. All the Miller's Creek novels have been on the Amazon Best-Seller list and are rated at 4.5 stars or higher on Amazon. Her debut novel, TEXAS ROADS, was a 2009 ACFW Genesis finalist. Since then five other stand-alone novels have been added to the series, one of which was a reader-nominated 2013 Grace Award nominee (PILGRIMAGE OF PROMISE). Readers have compared her work to that of Karen Kingsbury and Nicholas Sparks. 
A native Texan, Cathy currently resides in the beautiful Sangre de Cristo mountains of northern New Mexico with her minister husband of over thirty years. She's written devotions for The Upper Room devotional magazine, two devotional books in collaboration with other Christian authors, and for online sites. She also has released a Bible study book, THE FRAGRANCE OF CRUSHED VIOLETS. In addition to her writing, she enjoys thrift store shopping, romping in the great outdoors, and mini-farming. To learn more about Cathy and her books, visit her website at www.CatBryant.com or make contact with her in these places:

Download a free PDF of the first chapter of Crossroads


Order CROSSROADS here: http://bit.ly/CRKAA
(You can also snag a free digital copy of TEXAS ROADS by subscribing to Cathy's monthly newsletter. Your e-mail will be kept confidential, and you can unsubscribe at any time.)

Interview With Cathy Bryant


Tell us about yourself.
I’m a Christ-follower, wife, mom, Nana, daughter, mini-farmer, and Christian writer. I enjoy just about anything outdoors, including hiking, canoeing, camping, and gardening. I also enjoy creative activities—home improvement projects, scrap-booking, painting, composing, and of course, writing. I love to watch movies and read, though since becoming a writer, I can’t stop analyzing what I’m watching and reading. I’m a big reality TV fan, my favorites being Survivor and The Amazing Race–both great material for analyzing human behavior for my books! In addition to fiction, I also write Bible studies and devotionals.
Where do you write?
We currently live in the lovely Sangre de Cristo mountains of northern New Mexico, but will soon be making the move eastward to get closer to our family. Our current home has an upstairs sleeping loft that has served as my writing space. It’s one large open room with the best view in the entire house. My writing desk is there, but I force myself to write in a corner facing a wall to keep myself from being distracted. (It works most of the time…)
What are you writing now?
I just finished writing Crossroads, the sixth book in the Miller’s Creek novels. The book tells the story of a bitter single mom and atheist and the former soldier who battles for her soul. Her little girl’s life-threatening illness forces her to re-think her beliefs of Carter Callahan and his God. Will she return to Christian faith in the face of life’s greatest challenge?
What inspired you to write CROSSROADS? All of the Miller’s Creek Novels feature a spiritual theme that is relevant to me for different seasons in my life. In Texas Roads it was Christ being our home rather than placing our security in a place or building. A Path Less Traveled was about finding enough faith to follow God even when it doesn’t seem to make sense. (Boy, has He used that lesson in my life, and proven His faithfulness through it all!) The Way of Grace was my spiritual journey of learning how perfectionist tendencies can be a real hindrance to spiritual progress. The spiritual theme of Pilgrimage of Promise followed right along with my hubby and I stepping out in faith in a bad economy and high unemployment rates to do what we sensed God telling us to do, and the resulting joy and peace spurred on by the Lord’s faithfulness. A Bridge Unbroken follows my own quest to be obedient to Christ in the matter of forgiveness. The spiritual theme of Crossroads came from watching the movie God’s Not Dead and realizing that we all know someone who has defected from the faith. As believers, we need to love them unconditionally, pray for them consistently, and never give up in our efforts to lead them back to God.
What do you want readers to take away from this book in particular? I hope that readers will realize the importance of living out the faith we profess. My prayer is that God will embolden us and make us ready to give a defense for the hope that is in us (1 Peter 3:15), so that we can win back these prodigals from the faith.
Tell us how you come up with characters. The characters actually introduce themselves to me. (I know, I know, they’re not real. I promise I’m not certifiable…) After they make their appearance, I fill out extensive character charts, including taking online personality tests for them! (Hmm, maybe I am certifiable…) But no matter how much preparation I put into the characters in the pre-writing process, they always reveal another facet of their personality during the actual writing of the book.
Of all the characters you’ve created, which is your favorite and why?
Without a doubt the answer would have to be Mama Beth, the wise woman/matriarch of Miller’s Creek who makes an appearance in all the books. She’s also the main character in the fourth book of the series, Pilgrimage of Promise. She is everything I want to be when I grow up—wise, kind, and loving. Just so you know, I’m not alone in choosing her as the favorite character. When I asked this question to the Miller’s Creek Reader’s Group on Facebook, the majority’s answer was Mama Beth, followed closely by Matt Tyler, the hero from The Way of Grace.
Have the books received any special recognition or awards? I’ve been blessed to have all the Miller’s Creek novels make the Amazon Kindle Best-Sellers list. The first book Texas Roads was an American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis finalist. The fourth book Pilgrimage of Promise was reader-nominated for the 2013 Grace Award.
What do you hope to accomplish through your writing? I want my writing to honor and glorify God. If only one person is touched and moved closer to God as a result of my writing, then the hours of hard labor (and numb backside!) are worth it. One early reader of Texas Roads (the first book in the series) told me the story brought healing to her life. I can think of no higher compliment.

Which CROSSROADS Character Are You?
by Cathy Bryant
Before I write one word of a new story, I spend a LOT of time getting to know my main characters. I fill out lengthy character charts for each of them, which includes every aspect of their background--childhood, relationships, jobs, personality traits, tough life situations, etc. I also subject them to a battery of online personality tests.
Why do I go to all this trouble? Because if my characters aren't 'real' people to me, I stand no chance of writing them well enough to convince savvy readers that they are 'real.'
Anyway, without further ado, please allow me the privilege of introducing you to the characters of the latest Miller's Creek novel, CROSSROADS.

Meet Mara, the Heroine of CROSSROADS

With each character I create for a novel, I find a picture (usually of an actor or actress) that helps me visualize the character as I write. This unusual picture of actress Julia Roberts was the perfect picture for the character of Mara Hedwig, the heroine of CROSSROADS.
To me this photo shows strength of character as well as a just-beneath-the-surface vulnerability and kindness, all of which describes Mara. She's also maternal, driven, motivated by her desire to provide stability for her little girl, lonely, cynical (especially when it comes to matters of faith), a survivor, and distrusting.
Her public persona is very different from her private persona. In public, she's all about appearances for the sake of her business, so she dresses to the hilt in business attire (yes, even in the back-roads Texas town of Miller's Creek) and drives a Cadillac Escalade to have the appearance of success.
In private, she's much more relaxed and casual in her dress, preferring to let her hair down, wear sweats or blue jeans, and to shuck her shoes. In her not-working hours, her life centers around being a mama to her little girl, Ashton.
Meet Carter, the Hero of CROSSROADS
I used this photograph of actor Geoff Stultz as inspiration for Carter Callahan. Carter is a former soldier, now serving on the police force of Miller's Creek, who is strong in his faith and struggling to raise his teen-age daughter Chloe on his own. The one word that best describes him (as confirmed by his family, the infamous Callahan clan) is protector. When he meets the vulnerable and cynical Mara and her little girl, his life is literally turned upside down.
Why? Because as a protector/defender, he sees it as his job to win Mara back to faith in God. The only problem? He has bought the enemy's lie that he's not smart enough to win a war of words. All his previous battles have been fought with brawn and training, so how could he possibly win the battle of defending the faith to Mara?
Other words that describe Carter are: thrill-seeker, action-oriented, outdoors-man, caring, compassionate, and tender-hearted.
Meet Ashton, Mara's Daughter in CROSSROADS
What is it about kids that tend to steal the spotlight in a book or movie? That definitely holds true for the character of Ashton, Mara's little girl in CROSSROADS.
To play the part, I chose this picture of actress Dakota Fanning. Isn't she cheek-pinching cute???
Words that describe Ashton are: precocious, sweet, smart, charming, and funny. She's one of those kids that has a vocabulary of a thirty-year-old. I derived a lot of inspiration for this character from the role of the little girl Susan in the remake of the movie, Miracle on 34th Street (played by actress Mara Wilson).
In the story of CROSSROADS, Ashton faces a life-threatening illness. Once Carter and his teen-aged daughter Chloe enter her life, she is impacted for the faith. There's nothing like that sweet, child-like faith to serve as the perfect picture of what faith in Christ should be like.
Meet Chloe, Carter's Daughter in CROSSROADS
There is always at least one character in any story I write that ends up surprising me. Chloe was that character for me in writing CROSSROADS. This photo of actress Spencer Lacey Ganus served as my visual inspiration for the character of Chloe.
Honestly, I think the reason Chloe's character surprised me so much is because teenagers are not normally my favorite people. To me, they tend to be self-centered, rebellious, and smart-mouthed.
Not that Chloe isn't those things. She totally is. But throughout the story she grows into a mini-adult, overcoming some of her own personal hang-ups and obstacles to become a compassion-filled cheerleader and champion for Ashton.
Other words that describe Chloe are: bouncy, moody, searching, and strong-willed. Of all people, Mara becomes the voice of reason for Chloe.
Which CROSSROADS Character Are You?
Now that you've met each of the main characters in CROSSROADS, I hope it makes this little quiz all the more fun. Please let us know in the comments which character you are the most like!
A Healthy Serving of ???
by Cathy Bryant
Not only am I a foodie, but I married a foodie. And as a self-confessed foodie, I see it as my responsibility to tantalize my reader's taste buds with lots of food descriptions in the course of the Miller's Creek novels. (In writer's lingo, it's called sensory detail.) ;)
Anyway, I thought you might enjoy some of the recipes that the characters in the latest stand-alone book CROSSROADS enjoy. Bon appetit!
Carter's Crab Dip
(Carter, the brawny soldier-turned-policeman and hero of CROSSROADS, uncovers the heroine's penchant for seafood. He creates this special seafood dip for a picnic lunch the two share.)
INGREDIENTS:
1 8-oz. cream cheese and 1 3-oz. cream cheese, softened
1 T. Worcestershire sauce
1 T. lemon juice
2 T. mayonnaise
1/2 small finely chopped white onion
garlic powder and salt to taste
1/2 bottle of cocktail sauce on top (can substitute Tabasco sauce if you want the heat)
1 7-oz. can of crab meat
fresh or dried parsley
cocktail crackers
DIRECTIONS:
1. Blend the first six ingredients together well, and spread thin on a serving dish.
2. Spread the cocktail sauce on top as a sort of icing.
3. Garnish with fresh or dried parsley.
4. Chill in the refrigerator, and serve with cocktail crackers.
* * *
Mara's Roast Beef
(Mara, the bitter single mom, cynic, and heroine from CROSSROADS, knows full well that Carter Callahan is a meat-and-potatoes kinda guy. She fixes this meal when he and his daughter Chloe come over for dinner.)
INGREDIENTS:
1 (3-1/2- to 4-pound) boneless chuck roast, trimmed
1/2 c. soy sauce
1 can beef broth
1 bay leaf
3 to 4 peppercorns
1 t. dried and crushed rosemary
1 t. dried thyme
1 t. garlic powder
12 French sandwich rolls, split
Provolone cheese
sautéed onion (if desired)
DIRECTIONS:
1. Place trimmed roast in a 5-quart slow cooker. Combine soy sauce and next six ingredients; pour over roast. Add water to slow cooker until roast is almost covered.
2. Cook, covered, on LOW for 7 hours or until very tender. Remove roast and reserve the broth for dipping, if desired. Shred roast with a fork.
3. Can be eaten alone or with sandwich rolls. If eaten with rolls, place the roast on the open-faced rolls, add sautéed onions (if desired), and Provolone cheese. Place in your oven on high broil, until bread is toasty and cheese is bubbly.
Yield: 12 servings (or one hungry policeman).
* * *
Hope you enjoy these delightful delicacies from Mara and Carter, the hero and heroine of CROSSROADS (a Miller's Creek novel and Christian romance by Cathy Bryant). To find out more about the book, please visit: http://www.CatBryant.com/Crossroads.
For more mouth-watering recipes from the back-roads Texas town of Miller's Creek--where folks are friendly, the iced tea is sweet, and Mama Beth's front porch beckons--snag this free PDF download of the Miller's Creek Cookbook: http://www.catbryant.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Millers-Creek-Cookbook-1.pdf


CROSSROADS Facebook Launch Party  Kindle Fire HD6 Giveaway!




YOU'RE INVITED!

What: CROSSROADS Book Launch Party

Where: Facebook (from the comfort & convenience of your own home)

When: April 30, 2015 ~ 7:00-8:30 p.m. (Central time)

Why: To celebrate the book launch of CROSSROADS (a Miller's Creek novel and Christian Romance by Cathy Bryant)

LOTS of Fun, Games and Prizes!

Prizes Include: Miller's Creek pens, tote bags, t-shirts, mugs, digital books, autographed print books, Amazon gift cards, and
an Amazon Kindle Fire HD6!



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