Welcome to the blog of author Marlo Schalesky!

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Shape of Mercy by Susan Meissner

Hi Friends!

Got a new book to tell you about this week. It's THE SHAPE OF MERCY by Susan Meissner. This one sounds really fascinating. Check it out! Here's more about it:

Susan Meissner’s newest book, The Shape of Mercy, is a blend of contemporary and historical fiction, mystery and romance. Set in present day Santa Barbara and also in colonial America during the Salem Witch Trials, the book follows a young college student as she transcribes the diary of a young woman falsely accused of witchcraft in 1692.

“The story in a nutshell is this,” Susan says. “Lauren Durough is a West Coast English major at the proverbial age of discovery. Sheltered in her growing up years by family wealth, she is just beginning to grasp how people judge other people by what they want to believe about them, and particularly for her, how the poor view the wealthy. When she opts out of her family’s financial support, she takes on a job as a literary assistant to Abigail Boyles, an 83-year-old reclusive East Coast transplant. Abigail tasks Lauren with transcribing the diary of her ancestor, Mercy Hayworth, hanged for witchcraft in 17th-century Massachusetts. The lives of these two very different women converge as they jointly piece together the life — and death — of a third woman, Mercy Hayworth, who lived three hundred years earlier, and who also struggled against undeserved cultural stigmatization, but lost.”

Susan says the title has dual meaning. “Those who testified against the accused in Salem in 1692 often claimed their tormentors “took shape” in their bedrooms and tortured them as they slept. My fictional character Mercy was also accused of taking shape and torturing another young girl of the Village. She was innocent of course, as all those accused were, but in her last act before death, she shows that love has a shape. And its shape is mercy.”

Publishers Weekly gave the book a starred review and offered these insights. "Meissner's newest novel is potentially life-changing, the kind of inspirational fiction that prompts readers to call up old friends, lost loves or fallen-away family members to tell them that all is forgiven and that life is too short for holding grudges. Achingly romantic, the novel features the legacy of Mercy Hayworth—a young woman convicted during the Salem witch trials—whose words reach out from the past to forever transform the lives of two present-day women. These book lovers—Abigail Boyles, elderly, bitter and frail, and Lauren “Lars” Durough, wealthy, earnest and young—become unlikely friends, drawn together over the untimely death of Mercy, whose precious diary is all that remains of her too short life. And what a diary! Mercy's words not only beguile but help Abigail and Lars together face life's hardest struggles about where true meaning is found, which dreams are worth chasing and which only lead to emptiness, and why faith and hope are essential on life's difficult path. Meissner's prose is exquisite and she is a stunning storyteller.”

Susan says the concept behind The Shape of Mercy stayed with her long after she finished it. “I know I am often guilty of the same weakness my protagonist had to discover - and admit - about herself. She, like me, like so many, judge better than we love. And we let fear dictate how much love we will extend and to whom we will extend it. Not always, not in every circumstance. But it happens often enough to know I might have easily kept my quivering mouth shut had I lived in Salem in 1692. I might've said nothing when the Village marched to Gallows Hill to watch the accused hang. We tend to fear what we can't comprehend. And we tend to understand only what we want to. There is a shimmering ray of hope, however. And it actually permeated all of 1692 Salem, though it hasn't garnered the same spotlight as the delusions of frightened and empowered people. The innocents who were hanged as witches refused to confess an allegiance to the Devil. Refused to the point of death. I find that remarkable and magnificent. It fills me with hope to consider that while we have the capacity to judge when we should show mercy, we also have the capacity to embrace Truth for all we're worth - even if it means we give up everything for it. It wasn't all darkness and deception in 1692 Salem. There was light there, too. It flickered every time the noose was pulled tight on the throat of one who would not give up on God and everything holy and good.”

You can learn more about Susan and her books at http://www.susanmeissner.com/. The book is available at bookstores everywhere and online.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

New News! And When God Says No

Hi Friends,

Thanks for stopping by my blog! I really appreciate it. First, I've got contest news to share. Last week ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) held their annual conference in Minneapolis, and I couldn't go being 7 months pregnant now (wow, am I tired!). But Veil of Fire had been named a finalist in ACFW's Book of the Year contest for the Long Historical Category. And guess what - it won first place! Yay! So, here are the official standings:

Long Historical
1. Veil of Fire (Marlo Schalesky) RiverOak, editors Jeff Dunn/Jon Woodhams
Where Willows Grow (Kim Vogel Sawyer) Bethany House, editor Charlene Patterson
2. Fancy Pants (Cathy Marie Hake) & Then Came Hope (Louise Gouge)
3. Courting Trouble (Deeanne Gist)

Also, I wanted to share a link with you for an article that just went live on The High Calling website - a website about the high calling of our everyday work. This is just the type of thing I like to share on my blog, so instead of repeating the info here, I thought I'd just post the link and hope you click on over there, give it a read (it's short!) and leave a comment.

Here's the first couple lines:
"I hate it when God says no. And that day, He said "No" with an exclamation point."

So, if God's said "No" to you lately, or if the topic interests you, check out the article at:



Monday, September 22, 2008

The Encore Effect by Mark Sanborn

Hi Friends,

I wanted to tell you about a nonfiction book, new from my publisher. Sounds interesting. Check it out:

Title: The Encore Effect
Author: Mark Sanborn

Summary: Everyone wants to make a difference in the world, but most have no idea how to maximize their impact. In The Encore Effect, best-selling author and leadership expert Mark Sanborn provides the answer. He leads readers in six practices that will move them beyond excellence to distinction and from mundane to memorable. These principles guide readers to draw on their passion and devote themselves to preparation, practice, presentation, polishing, and finally, avoiding pitfalls. When readers follow these principles they will find that people are attracted to them. More importantly, they’ll find that they now have an influence over others that can impact lives for eternity.

By following the six principles of The Encore Effect, readers can:

Deliver a remarkable performance in everything they do
Elevate the performance of the people they lead and influence
Extend and deepen the impact they have on others—even for eternity.

This special edition, distributed through the CBA, will include unique content such as scripture verses, biblical illustrations, and discussion questions.

Author Bio: Mark Sanborn is the best-selling author of The Fred Factor and You Don’t Need a Title to Be a Leader. An internationally acclaimed motivational speaker, Sanborn is president of Sanborn & Associates, Inc., an idea studio for leadership development. Having served as president of two national organizations, he regularly keynotes meetings in the United States and abroad—speaking on leadership, team building, customer service, and mastering change. He and his family live near Denver, Colorado.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

NEW COVER -- Check It Out!!

Hi Friends!

The cover came in for IF TOMORROW NEVER COMES, due out in March. Yay! So here it is - whaddaya think?

And here's the Back Cover Copy, to give you a hint on what the story's about:

They say you should reach for your dreams.
This time, they’re wrong…

Childhood sweethearts Kinna and Jimmy Henley had simple dreams—marriage, children, a house by the sea…everything they needed for happily ever after. What they didn’t plan on was years of infertility, stealing those dreams, crushing their hopes.

Now, all that’s left is the memory of young love, and the desperate need for a child to erase the pain. Until…

Kinna rescues an elderly woman from the sea, and the threads of the past, present, and future weave together to reveal the wonder of one final hope. One final chance to follow not their dreams, but God’s.

Can they embrace the redemptive power of love before it’s too late? Or will their love be washed away like the castles they once built upon the sand? The past whispers to the present. And the future shivers. What if tomorrow never comes?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Road to Lost Innocence by Somaly Mam

Hi Friends,

Got a new book to tell you about today. It's THE ROAD TO LOST INNOCENCE by Somaly Mam.

Here's the summary: Born in Cambodia and orphaned at an early age, Somaly Mam, a Buddhist sex trade survivor, grew up never knowing her real name or birthday.

As a teenager, Somaly Mam was sold into prostitution and spent years in the brothels of Cambodia where she witnessed and experienced the full-blown horrors of the human sex trade – rape, torture, and nearly unfathomable abuse. After her eventual escape, she could not forget the young girls (some as young as 5) left behind in the brothels, and so she returned to serve them. Her new book, "The Road of Lost Innocence," is her newest means of advocacy. It tells her personal story, ultimately inviting people of conscious, such as our Christian community, to become involved (or to continue involvement) in this war against an epic evil, a modern battle for "the least of these." Truly, not only is this book worth reading, it's worth sharing.

And here's a link to the book on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0385526210

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Booksigning at B Dalton

Hi Friends!

This past Saturday I had a fun booksigning at B Dalton in Salinas (in the Northridge Mall). (Also check out the link at the bottom of this post!)

I wanted to share some photos of some new reader friends I met there.

So, here they are!
This reader was buying signed copies of books as a Christmas gift. Yay!

This reader already read Beyond the Night and came in for a signed copy.

And here I am with Ruth from B Dalton who set up the signing. Thanks, Ruth!

And finally, The Salinas Californian did a nice article on me that ran on Friday. If you'd like to check it out, click here:


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Signing, Phantom, & the Greek on Discerning God's Will

Hi Friends,

First, if you're in the Salinas, CA area this weekend, I wanted to let you know I'll be signing copies of Beyond the Night and Veil of Fire at the B Dalton Bookstore in the Northridge Mall on Saturday from 1-3pm. So, if you're around, drop by! I'd love to see you!

Next, last week Bryan and I took a fun trip to Las Vegas with our friends, Bill & Patti Risinger. I was celebrating my birthday (I won't tell ya which ;-)), and they were celebrating their anniversary. LOTS of fun! My favorite part, besides the great company, was seeing THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA production at the Venetian. I'm a huge Phantom fan, so that was especially fun. It's a great production, in a theater designed specially for the Phantom, so if you get to Vegas, I highly recommend seeing the show!

We also did some shopping in various malls. Here's a picture of Bryan and I picking out some fun gifts for our girls at the Fao Schwarz toy store in the Caesar's Palace Mall. (Thank you to Grandma & Grandpa for taking care of the girls while we were away!)

And lastly, Bill introduced me to a neat Greek word that's found in Acts 16:10. Oh, how I love the Greek! In Acts 16, Paul and his group are going around the region of Phrygia and Galatia, while finding some places open to them and others that the Spirit is not allowing them to visit. Basically, Paul is trying to figure out where he should go and what he should do. Sound familiar? Don't we all need to figure out where God wants us to go and what He wants us to do?

Well, in Acts 16:10, it says that Paul "sumbibazontes" (you've got to say that one out loud! :-)) that God had called them to preach the good news in Macedonia. Sumbibazw (that's the simple verb form) doesn't just mean to decide on the one hand, or to "hear and obey" on the other. What it means is to "unite, bring together, hold together" to come to a conclusion.

As I heard that word, I realized that much of life following Jesus involves sumbibazw - it's not about just making your own decisions, but nor is it about waiting for a direct command from God. It's about recognizing the things that God is doing in your life and bringing them together to determine the next step. It's about pulling together God's actions in all the parts of life and seeing how He is guiding you through it all. It's about being wise and discerning. It's about seeing the hand of God not just in prayer or Bible reading or church attendance, but in every aspect of your life.

So, as you go about seeking God's will for you in your everyday life, may you remember to sumbibazw! God is at work ... see Him. And in seeing Him, you'll sumbibazw what to do.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

More Thoughts on HOW TO SEE . . .

Hi Friends!

First, I recent wrote an "Author by Night" column for the new Christian Fiction Online Magazine that talks about balancing "other life"and writing. So many have asked "how can you write too?" and this is my partial answer. So, for any who are interested, you can check it out at:

Now, some more thoughts on how to SEE . . .

I was in the seventh grade the first time I looked through a microscope at a drop of pond water. It was a required part of my science class, one that I needed to pass. I still remember my amazement at all that I could see through the microscope – a million little amoeba, paramecium, and specks of who-knew-what. The water teemed with life and activity that had been invisible to my naked eye.

Since then, I’ve come to realize that trust is a lot like that microscope. It, too, is required, and it, too, shows me what I cannot see without it. Without trust, God’s hand in my life, his workings, his glory, are all invisible to me. Instead, feelings take over - today God is good because I feel good, but tomorrow God may be not-so-good if I'm having a bad day. Today I believe He's involved in my life because it makes sense, but tomorrow I may feel He's distant because things don't go as I expect. Trust changes that - knowing that God's character and goals in my life remain constant despite my circumstances or my feelings.

So, even though God is nothing like an amoeba in a petri dish, if I want to truly see what he is up to, if I want to see Him in my life, I must look through the “microscope” of what I know to be true, however I may be feeling. Without it, I see nothing but a drop of murky pond water.

So for me, the key is knowing that God is who He says He is in the Bible, believing that He really is up to something in my life, and trusting that He knows what He's doing through all the ins and outs of what happens to me and around me. That trust that God is determined about His plan to change and perfect me, to make me into the vision He has for me, to form me into a reflection of His Son, helps me to see the beauty in the muddy waters of life.