May 15, 2013

Where is the new hero?

He's coming. And trust me, he is MORE than worth the wait. He is late for two reasons.
  1. Nancy Kimball was buried in a full-throttle edit of one of her own novels. (As documented on her Facebook Page)  
  2. His feature required a slew more permissions and more time to secure them than usual for reasons I can't yet explain. (Permissions and legality has always been and will always be important to me. Not only because I am an author, but because it is the right thing to do.)

So how am I making it up to you? With a GIVEAWAY!

Sorry, he is not the giveaway. But I spent a lot on that image for one of my earlier writer projects and I like to pull it out now and then just because and this seemed as good a time as any. He has a very good story I hope to get to tell you one day. ;-)

Leave a comment below with who YOU think the June 1st Fiction Hero is

including your e-mail address in a spam-fighting format like thesuspenseiskillingme (at) excusesexcuses (dot) com or be sure your profile lets me look up your e-mail so I can find you.

Every person who comments will be entered into a drawing for the BOOK OF THEIR CHOICE from this year's heroes. Click the Hero Roster and anything down to and including Unlikely Praise is eligible in the winner's choice of format (print or e-book).

BONUS: Every commenter that correctly guesses the identity of the June 1st hero will receive an extra entry into his drawing. It is seriously good and includes, as of now, the hero's novel, a tie-in DVD, a special keepsake item and a piece of jewelry. You will be really glad for that extra entry if you guess the hero correctly. Put the hero's name and his novel in your comment and you can guess up to five heroes. Winner will be announced on June 1st when the new mystery hero posts. You won't want to miss it!

May 1, 2013

Kellen Rossiter

If anyone had ever told me the day would come I would be featuring an unfaithful husband as an FHF hero, even the polar bears in the Arctic could have heard me laughing all the way from Texas. Then I met Kellen Rossiter in the pages of Devotion and as I witnessed the slow fade Christian group Casting Crowns sings about and Proverbs warns about... I was never thinking FHF material. But then there was "the letter" and in words lifted straight from the page--the proof of Christian character is how we rise after we fall. And the way Kellen rose made him as FHF worthy as they come.

About Devotion (released Oct. 2012):

Christian Music agent Kellen Rossiter has everything he ever wanted: A-list clients from coast to coast, a loving wife who honors and respects him, and a faith life that’s never wavered—until now.

Juliet Rossiter has the perfect life: a rewarding schedule serving the underprivileged, a husband who loves her as Christ loved the church, and a blessed future as a mother—at least that's what she thinks.

But what happens when their rock-solid marriage begins to crumble under the weight of an unexpected and powerful temptation? How does love survive when its foundation is shaken?

When human frailty and the allure of sin deal a harsh blow to their relationship, it will take more than love to mend the shattered trust and heartbreak. It will take a lifetime of devotion.

Excerpt from Devotion:

(Kellen has come to serve at the homeless shelter for the first time where Juliet is a regular volunteer.)

     "Hi." He tried not to sound tentative about breaking ground with this unkempt woman. "Would you mind if I sit with you?"
     Openly skeptical, Vanetta frowned. Her eyes moved from his face to the kitchen, where he could only assume she searched for Juliet. "I don' mind if you don' mind."
     For some reason, that response made Kellen smile. "I don't mind at all. I'm Kellen." Vanetta looked uncomfortably at Kellen's extended hand.
     "You don' gotta be all friendly like that. I'm filthy. You're a clean, good lookin' man. I don't want to get you dirty."
     Kellen sat down and bumped his shoulder against hers instead. "That doesn't matter to me." He tried again, and this time she accepted his hand. When their eyes met, he found gratitude and human dignity pushing to life.
     She smiled a great, gap-toothed smile. "Like the Good Book says, I guess there's nothin' so dirty God can't clean it up, right?"
     Kellen laughed warmly and squeezed her hand tight. "Amen, sister."
     All at once, he understood the rare and precious blessing of acceptance. Looking into the woman's face, he saw what Juliet saw. Beauty. As soft-hearted and sweet-natured as Vanetta was, there was no way Juliet would be able to refuse the needs of a soul like this. The epiphany left him in love with his wife all over again.
     Emboldened, Kellen continued. "I'm just like you. I'm dirty and in need of a thorough cleaning just like that scripture verse you quoted."
     In receipt of her grateful look, Kellen found it easy to ignore Vanetta's smell, the dirt, and water stains. He looked toward the kitchen area and saw Juliet in conversation with one of the other volunteers. Softness slipped through him. His heart tripped into a faster beat.
     "I'm Vanetta, by the way."
     Kellen jerked away from staring and directed his attention to his dinner companion. "I'm glad to meet you."
     They prayed over the offering then in unison they launched into their meal. At length, she chuckled, the sound coming out more like that of a rumbling train. "I like you. You're not one of them snooty types. You're OK."
     "Nah, I'm not OK, but I'm trying, just like you, Vanetta."
     She shrugged and they continued to eat in a companionable silence. Kellen's attention kept straying to Juliet. He noticed the way she glanced at him every once in a while.
     "You keep lookin' at her."
     "I'm sorry?" Kellen took a sip of coffee, delivering an inquiring look toward Vanetta.
     "Pretty lady. The one who came over here and talked to me a while ago." She pointed a long, shaky finger in Juliet's direction. "Her. You're staring at her."
     Kellen didn't go flush very often, but he did right now. "I guess I am. Can't seem to help it."
     "Don' blame ya.' She's something.' Can't 'member her name though." Vanetta released a frustrated sound. "I used to be so much sharper than this."
     Instead of leaving her to struggle for details, Kellen decided to fill them in. "Her name is Juliet."
     Vanetta slapped her knee. "That's right. Pretty name... for a pretty lady. I remember now." She looked at him hard. Then, her too-thin angular face split into a large grin. "You got a crush on her, don't you? I can tell. I can see it in your eyes."
     Kellen laughed, thoroughly enjoying this woman's company. "Since the first moment I saw her."

Excerpt used with permission. All rights reserved.

Gallant Score

Kellen made a mistake. A HUGE mistake but at the core of who he is stands an incredible man of God, broken before the Lord and his wife, doing his level best in God's strength and grace to weather the storm. And before you think I've lost it completely, Kellen could have continued down the sinful path. Could have abandoned his wife and his relationship with the Lord and given himself over completely to the dark side of infidelity. He didn't. He made some incredibly bad choices, bottomed out, and when the sin came to the light, as it always will, he started making better ones. Over and over he did everything he knew to do to win back the heart of his wife, knowing he could never win back her trust. And if you liked Caleb Holt in Fireproof at all, you are going to want to read this book.

Wounded Score

I won't ruin it for you but the moments immediately following Kellen's deepest transgression are incredibly powerful. Part of what endeared me to Kellen so strongly is the manner in which Kellen carried the double pain of what he'd done. Double because he had to deal with his own shame and regret and what his actions did to Juliet and their marriage. And Juliet, God bless her, had her woman scorned moments which you understood, as a reader and a woman, and Kellen bore it over and over again. There's a very powerful moment deep into the story when Kellen finally breaks. A door is slammed and a glass shattered against the wall and the power and beauty of that moment for me as a reader was tear-jerking. You understood and felt what Kellen was feeling and everything leading up to him being unable to bear the strain any longer. After Kellen's come to Jesus moment, I was never tempted to be anything but compassionate to Kellen's pain because even though he brought it on himself, no one knew that better than he did, or tried harder to make it right.

Softie Score

The scene with Vanetta gives you a taste but there are some beautiful tender moments, one involving coco butter and an unborn baby that are going to melt your heart. And the letter, OH THE LETTER. The letter was where I stumbled my way to the computer and looked up whoever wrote this book to pretty much demand I be allowed to feature Kellen. It was the first time I ever, ever reached out to the author before I was even done with the book. It was that powerful. Right up there with the half agony, half hope of Frederick Wentworth in Persuasion.

Stupid Strike

This is completely justified. The score I mean, not the actions by Kellen that earned it. Unfaithfulness to your spouse in any form is the ultimate got stupid. Had it not been for the way Kellen worked so hard to make it right, he wouldn't be here. (See first paragraph of feature.) 

Swoon Score

A lot of it was the letter. Some of it is on the outside, he's pretty attractive, but most of it is his heart for God and for his wife.

About the author Marianne Evans:
Marianne Evans is an award-winning author of Christian romance and fiction. Her hope is to spread the faith-affirming message of God’s love through the stories He prompts her to create. Readers laud her work as: ‘Riveting.’ ‘Realistic and true to heart.’ ‘Compelling.'

Evans’s novel, Hearts Communion, earned Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year honors in the Romance category as well as best inspirational romance of 2012 by ACRA, a chapter of the Romance Writers of America. Evans has also won acclaim in such RWA contests as The Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence where she has been a finalist twice, and the Colorado Romance Writers Award of Excellence contest.

A lifelong resident of Michigan, Evans is active in a number of a number of Romance Writers of America chapters, most notably the Greater Detroit Chapter where she served two terms as President. She’s also active in American Christian Fiction Writers and the Michigan Literary Network.

Connect with Marianne:
Facebook Reader Page:!/pages/Marianne-Evans/308711716744

The FHF exclusive directly from the author: 
Now, here's some 'insider' info about Devotion: 

At first, Kellen and Juliet's visit to his parents' home in California didn't involve their anniversary. Rather, it centered on a medical emergency suffered by his father. Here's an excerpt from what was trimmed:

                Juliet ticked off the minutes until she would have a chance to see Jack. When Kellen’s ten minutes elapsed, she made her way to recovery. Curtains cordoned off a half-dozen medical stations. May had already directed her to the third bed on the left of a wide-open space full of hustling staff, their movements accompanied by the blips and beeps of monitoring devices.
                Pushing back the curtain, she entered the station quietly, because she noticed two things right away—two things she didn’t want to disrupt. First, Kellen sat next to his father’s bed, leaning against the metal guardrail. Reaching across the bed, Kellen rested his hand atop Jack’s. Second, she noticed he spoke quietly.
                She held her breath, captured.
                “God, I’m so grateful,” he whispered. “Thank you for protecting him. I have trust and faith in You, but, You know me. You know my mom. We weren’t ready to give him back to You quite yet. Since Your purpose is served in the continuation of his life, please help us to appreciate every moment you give us with him, and to know, always, that life, and love, is Your most precious gift.”
                Kellen propped his elbows on his thighs. He raked his fingers through his hair then cradled his head in his open hand. Juliet noticed a finite trembling. On tiptoe, she moved toward Jack’s bedside.
                “Kel’n…” Jack’s raspy whisper stopped Juliet short; Kellen’s head snapped up and he stood, leaning over his father.
                “Right here, Dad. You did great. You’re going to be just great.”
                Heart torn, Juliet stepped to Kellen’s side, drawn by his image, and the sight of Jack Rossiter, his head thickly bandaged, his movements made sluggish by anesthesia. Jack licked his lips; without a word of prompting Kellen lifted a nearby water glass equipped with a flexible straw and carefully directed it to Jack’s mouth. “Here you go.”
                Jack drew in a swallow or two of water. He hardly moved his head, but his happy sigh filled the cramped space. “J’liet?”
                “Right here.”
                “On’y s’pposed t’ be one at a time…don’ get the nurses mad…” He sighed. Though his right hand—the hand closest to Kellen—trembled, he offered a thumbs up. “S’glad you’re t’gether. Love you guys…s’glad…”
                Words faded fast as he dozed off.
                Juliet fought tears. The feel of Kellen’s arm sliding around her waist felt so good, and judging by the way his shoulders shook, he was in the same predicament.
                “He’s glad you’re here, Juliet.”
                “I am, too, Kellen.” With a sense of ingrained familiarity, she aligned herself comfortably against his side. “In every way.”

Amazon    Barnes & Noble

The Giveaways 

One print or e-book copy of Devotion, winner's choice. Please let me know in the comments if you would like in the book drawing and leave your e-mail address or be sure I can find you through blogger. We like an anti-spam format like awe.inspiring.devotion (at) rossiter (dot) com

One $10 giftcard, winner's choice of Amazon or Barnes & Noble, to existing readers of Devotion. To enter that drawing, leave the name of a character not mentioned anywhere in the excerpt and once that character has been used, you'll need to choose another.

If this amazing hero isn't already enough to talk about, there is a passage from Devotion that really resonated with me.

Casual behavior towards love leads to neglect. Neglect leads to demise. And the slow, steady demise of an anointed marriage is a sin just as much as the ultimate betrayal of seeking the arms of another.

What do you think of that? What do you think of Kellen?
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