In honor of my latest release, I've compiled a list of 15 Christian Fiction books that have a form of the words "song" or "sing" in the title, and I talk about a few of them below. Here they are!
So many of these books have excellent reviews! I wish I had time to read them all.
Two of the titles that really stand out to me are Song of Silence by Cynthia Ruchti and Sing in the Sunlight by Kathleen Denly, in part because these are so similar to my title, Songs for a Sunday. I love the alliteration!
The Songs that Could Have Been by Amanda Wen is a fantastic book! When I read it, I knew I wanted Amanda to consider endorsing Songs for a Sunday, because I admired her work so much, and because her book has a strong music theme like mine. She was so gracious to oblige.
When Silence Sings by Sarah Loudin Thomas is on my TBR list (to be read.) Last year, I read The Finder of Forgotten Things by her, and I really enjoyed it. I also love that she writes about the state she grew up in--West Virginia--the same way I write about North Carolina (where I think Sarah actually lives now!)
Now that I've thought about it more, I should probably read Song of Silence and When Silence Sings back-to-back. I'd love to find out what they might have in common!
Which of these "singing" books have you read? What are other similar titles?
Songs for a Sunday Around the Web
I'm using this post to track all the blogs, video interviews, and radio interviews/podcasts about Songs for a Sunday, in one place.
A Modern Day Fairy Tale
Happily Managing a Household of Boys
At Home: where life happens
Reading, Writing & Stitch-Metic
The Adventures of a Travelers Wife
Busy Moms Read Too
Reading Is My SuperPower
The Life We Build
Older and Smarter
My husband is using Vanna White hands at the top of the unboxing video (no offense to Ms. White,) and I made a ridiculous kind of squeak/snort sound when I saw the book, but I’m happy to share my first look with you all. (The ta-da is him.)
You can order Songs for a Sunday now.
My writing tends to have one overarching theme, found in Romans 8:28: "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose." All story has conflict, but within that conflict, I aim to weave the truth that God can make good out of every situation. My work of Southern Fiction/Women's Fiction, Songs for a Sunday, includes many themes under this umbrella.
The main character in the present-day story, Missy, sees herself as a wife and stay-at-home mother of four. As a daughter and a granddaughter. But is there more to who she is? Does she want to be more? In the 1960s, Missy's grandmother, Annie, saw herself as a dancer. But who did she become when that was taken away from her? When the other dreams she held so dear were no longer possible? Ultimately, Songs for a Sunday is about the peace of finding our identity in Christ.
Family is a central topic in Songs for a Sunday. It follows the stories of two sets of sisters in different generations and also explores the dynamics between husband and wife, father and daughter, grandmother and granddaughter, and mother and children. The book focuses on the importance of family and the value of being loyal.
3. Faith vs. Doubt:
In the story, the main character in the present day experienced a hurt that she allowed to pull her away from God. As a teenager, Missy felt rejected by a fellow believer, someone she loved, and that rejection caused her faith to crumble. To describe her pain, I gleaned from some very personal experiences. Fortunately, my outcome was that only my faith in people suffered, not my faith in God. But faith versus doubt is a major theme of the story. I hope readers that identify with this struggle will resolve their own debate on the side of faith.
4. Sacrificial Love:
One of my favorite themes in any story is sacrificial love. It's the way we're called to live as Christians--counter to our human nature. How powerful is the kind of love that makes us prefer others wants and needs above our own! The theme of sacrificial love is most on display in the 1960s storyline and is demonstrated by an older sister willing to give put her life on hold and give up her dreams, to face ridicule and uncertainty to help her younger sister. And both sisters sacrifice for the sake of an unexpected baby.
Without giving too much away, Songs for a Sunday carries a clear, distinct message of redemption. All of us need redemption, so the theme is universal. I my story, the character who had abandoned her faith for many years is confronted with the idea of belief again. Like all of us, she has a choice to make: Accept or reject the free gift of redemption.
I'm sure there are other themes we could discuss, but I hope this look at five of the major themes of the story has piqued your interest. Songs for a Sunday is available at Amazon and other retailers.
I love split-time books. I think I was first introduced to that writing mechanism by Fannie Flagg, who is one of my favorite authors. But writing split-time means a historical timeline in addition to the contemporary, which, in my opinion, means more research.
In writing Songs for a Sunday, I relied heavily on two resources: the Winston-Salem Time Traveler website, owned by Molly Rawls, and the North Carolina Collection of the Forsyth County Central Library. There is an amazing wealth of information in both places. I had articles and photographs right at my fingertips to help in constructing a 1960s story.
Ms. Rawls is the author of five books about Winston-Salem, including Winston-Salem: From the Collection of Frank B. Jones, Jr. Mr. Jones was a photographer for the Winston-Salem Journal and Twin City Sentinel newspapers. He captured the city in photos from the 1930s to the early 1970s.
While doing research for the book, I discovered that Winston-Salem celebrated its bicentennial in one of the years in which the story is set. Though Winston and Salem actually merged in 1913, the oldest of the two cities is Salem, which was founded in 1766. In 1966, the city had a year-long celebration to celebrate its 200th birthday, which included hosting Billy Graham at the Festival of Thanksgiving in November of that year. In December, The Nutcracker was first performed by students from North Carolina School of the Arts, which is mentioned in the book.
Somewhere along the way, my research landed me on eBay, where I discovered the juice glasses pictured below. These glasses were made to commemorate the birthday, and they are in great condition. Of course, I had to buy them for inspiration. Having these in my home, something Annie might have owned and passed down to Missy, helped me feel closer to the characters I was writing about.
I hope readers learn a few things about Winston-Salem and enjoy the history sprinkled throughout Songs for a Sunday.
The book releases 2/7/23 and is available for pre-order now:
My obsession with audiobooks probably started last year when I listened to the three books in "The Broken Road" series by Richard Paul Evans. I listen to audiobooks primarily through the subscription service Sribd, and I almost always have a book playing while I'm driving. I even bought a Bluetooth speaker so I can connect my phone and listen to audiobooks in the shower. I listened to some fantastic stories this year, and I'm excited to share the list with you.
The following are in no particular order, and there's a chance that I actually listened to some of them late last year. (I didn't track the dates and time is running together.) I'm also quite sure I'm forgetting some. But all of the books listed below are wonderful.
Now that I've shared some great books with you, I feel it's time to share my shameful secret. I've been dreading this for a while.
I wasn't a reader of Christian Fiction before I started writing Christian Fiction. To be fair, I didn't set out to write a book, either. When a story struck me one day back in 2017, and I felt compelled (obsessed) to write it, I was excited that I could create a piece of fiction and tell people about Jesus at the same time, It was only after I dove headfirst into writing and publishing Grace & Lavender that I realized there are thousands of brilliant people with the same goal.
I actually was not a big reader when I started writing, which I felt guilty about. I had read everything written by Fannie Flagg (except the most famous one made into a movie) and I had been enamored for years with Gone with the Wind and To Kill a Mockingbird. I really enjoyed Robert Beatty's Serafina series, too. But how could I love writing so much and not be passionate about reading? It made me feel like an imposter.
I quickly learned that, along with studying writing through conferences, craft books, blogs, and podcasts, I needed to study other writer's works, too. For a long time, that made reading even harder because I analyzed everything I read, rather than simply enjoying it. That, combined with my lack of time to sit down and read, is one of the reasons I love audiobooks so much. Having someone read to me takes away some of the inclination to analyze sentence structure and verb choices. Plus, I can listen while I do so many other things. Some of the books I listed above have sparked a renewed passion for reading. Now I can't seem to get enough. Maybe audiobooks would be a good choice for you, too.
I truly hope Songs for a Sunday will be released as an audiobook, but I won't know that for a while. Three of my books are available on audio now, though. (Where I Was Planted is my favorite.)
Happy reading and listening in 2023!
Bible Story Adventures for Grown-Ups
The Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword. (Hebrews 4:12) So, when someone says that a movie, book, or sermon "brings the Bible to life," it doesn't mean the Bible needs reviving. At least, it shouldn't. But as fans of the wildly popular television series "The Chosen" attest, retellings of Bible stories can help us understand and relate to those historical events in a new and powerful way.
In Bible story books for children, the thoughts and feelings of Biblical characters are often imagined, and details extraneous to the Biblical account are included to help the reader visualize what the scene might have looked like. Biblical Fiction for adults does the same thing, but often with plotlines and character arcs that go much further into the "what might have happened" realm while staying true to Biblical information and the overall theme of Scripture. My dad, Bobby W. Norman's, first published book, In the Days When Judges Ruled, is a bit of a mix between the two. While you won't find the story of Jael driving a tent peg through Sisera's head in most Bible story books, it is included in his anthology about the judges of Israel, though in a standalone story about Deborah and not a novelized account of the Biblical period.
As a devoted pastor for over forty-five years, my father has spent countless hours studying the Bible. His studies, combined with his love of story and his creative imagination, resulted in TWO books released this year, both Biblical Fiction with some very unique elements, and I was honored to assist him with editing and publication.
Before the time of the judges, the nation of Israel had strayed from her godly heritage and into idolatry, and God had allowed them to be sold into the hands of their enemies as punishment. When the people repented, God sent judges to rescue them from bondage and restore their land. In the Days When Judges Ruled, which released in April 2022, is a retelling of the stories of those sixteen men and one woman, based on the record of Scripture. The unique part of the anthology is the Biblical commentary weaved into the creative writing. The stories of the judges reveal life-changing lessons for us today.
My dad's second book, The Generations of Adam, released in October 2022, and the imagination involved in the telling of the creation account is spectacular. The book takes us from the beginning of the world and Adam's fall, all the way to Adam's being redeemed from sin by the resurrected Messiah, with many thought-provoking scenes along the way. Have you ever wondered if Adam might have had a special pet in the Garden of Eden? What if it was a pet dinosaur? How perplexing it must have been when Adam and Eve realized their child had a belly button and they did not. What if Adam kept a diary of the first human experience? Told in a narrative style, this Biblical Fiction work also has a good bit of sound Biblical commentary interspersed. The first and last chapters of the book are my favorite, and the powerful message of the Gospel is brought full circle.
My dad has always been the most enthusiastic supporter of my writing career, and I am so proud he's now realized his dream of being a published author. There is much more on the way from him. Follow Bobby W. Norman on Amazon to learn more.
As the name suggests, music is an important theme in my upcoming novel, Songs for a Sunday (available for pre-order now.)
THREE SONGS, in particular, play very important roles in the story.
1.) Amazing Grace, by John Newton
Written in 1772, this beloved anthem of the church is very important to the plot of the story. After not singing in public for many years, a character in the book is encouraged to perform at a party. But the song she’s asked to sing isn’t a “party song”. It’s Amazing Grace. How can she possibly sing about a grace she gave up on a long time ago?
One of the hardest parts of writing the book was imagining that someone could sing Amazing Grace without being moved by the words. But certainly, many of us have different hurts and circumstances that, at one time or another, have hardened our hearts to truth. The beautiful thing is that grace is still alive and available, no matter what we’ve been through.
I love singing and leading others in singing Amazing Grace. After the last verse in the hymnal, at my church we often sing "Praise God" over and over to the melody.
2.) O Holy Night, by Adolphe Adam
Although not a "Christmas book," a large part of the present-day timeline in Songs for a Sunday takes place at Christmastime, and "O Holy Night" plays a MAJOR role. Don't you love this song? It has to be one of my favorites. I think my favorite line is:
"The King of Kings lay thus in lowly manger;
In all our trials born to be our friend.
3.) Peace in the Valley, by Thomas A. Dorsey, performed by Elvis Presley
I absolutely love the video of Elvis Presley singing Peace in the Valley on the Ed Sullivan Show. Something about it moves me to tears. It's been said that Ed Sullivan was hesitant to let Elvis sing a gospel song on his show and that Elvis responded, “But Mr. Sullivan, I promised my Mama.”
I'm not going to spoil how this song is used in my upcoming novel, Songs for a Sunday, but it's very important to one character in the 1960s timeline!
So far, in looking at real locations in Songs for a Sunday, we've talked about University of North Carolina School of the Arts and Reynolds Auditorium. This next location is somewhere very special and is the setting of the entire second chapter of the book.
Hanging Rock State Park is located about 30 miles north of Winston-Salem in Stokes County and was started as a project of the Civilian Conservation Corps. It was completed in 1942. The father of the two fictional sisters in my 1960s timeline was a member of the CCC and helped build the park.
The 9,011-acre park gets its name from the rock formation pictured and is a fantastic place for hiking, swimming, biking, climbing, and just enjoying nature.
My children and I spent a wonderful day at Hanging Rock State Park in May of 2019 that doubled as book research. I didn't get to visit the specific waterfall used in the story on that day, so I had to rely on pictures, but my family did hike to it on a return trip in 2021.
Songs for a Sunday releases 2/7/23, but you can pre-order now: https://www.amazon.com/Songs-Sunday-Heather.../dp/1563096137
(Image: Brett van Beynum/Google)
North Carolina School of the Arts plays a major role in my next novel, Songs for a Sunday (releasing 2/7/23.) I thoroughly enjoyed my research of the school's amazing history.
The idea of North Carolina becoming the home of the first public arts conservatory in the United States was conceived in 1962, and a state committee was established that would eventually make North Carolina School of the Arts a reality. The school opened in Winston-Salem in September of 1965.
From the school's website: "The school’s location was determined when the citizens of Winston-Salem, known as the “City of Arts and Innovation” and home of the first municipal arts council in the nation, raised nearly a million dollars in a two-day telephone campaign to win the school for the city."
In 1972, the school joined the University of North Carolina system, and in 2008, the name was officially changed to University of North Carolina School of the Arts.
The institution trains students at high school, undergraduate, graduate, and post-master's levels and consists of professional schools of Dance, Design & Production, Drama, Filmmaking, and Music.
The school is well-known for their annual production of The Nutcracker, which is referenced in Songs for a Sunday. The first performance, which two of my characters would have attended, was on December 10, 1966 at Reynolds Auditorium, a venue that's the setting of two major scenes in the book. The picture below of that performance is from the school's online digital archive: https://digitalcollections.uncsa.edu/islandora/object/uncsa%3A266
Another fun fact: The school's mascot is The Fighting Pickle.
Songs for a Sunday is available for pre-order now.
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Thank you for visiting my blog. I share devotional articles and musings about life, parenting, and the writing journey, as well as important news about my books. I hope you find something of interest here!
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