Monday, November 30, 2009

Blog Tour and Giveaway: Squeezing the Good Out of Bad by James N. Watkins

Publisher: XarisCom
ISBN: 978-0-578-01006-9
Retail: $12.96

About the Book:

Sour circumstances left you feeling down? Unemployment, foreclosures, divorce, bankruptcy and cancer don't even begin to peel the skin off all the bad news in our world today. At a time in history when the evening news contains more bad than good, people wonder if sweeter days will ever come. In steps James (Jim) Watkins. With a fresh perspective on life, love and the pursuit of happiness, Watkins serves readers a refreshing cup of encouragement and hope.

Written from his own experiences with cancer, unemployment and other life-puckering crises, Jim prompts readers to look at the cup of suffering with eyes focused on the true thirst quencher--Jesus Christ. Readers will be pleasantly surprised at the balance of readability and deep wisdom offered within the pages of Squeezing Good Out Of Bad. With scripture references, humor-filled lists, and a creative manuscript, Watkins brings the bitterness of hard times and blends it with the sweetness of God's presence. He's been there. His transparency is as refreshing as, you guessed it, a tall, cool glass of lemonade.

NOTE: I received a complimentary copy of Squeezing Good Out Of Bad via Kathy Carlton Willis Communications, gifted to all participants in this blog tour.  I will be posting a review later in December.


James N. Watkins is the author of sixteen books and over two thousand articles. He is the acquisition editor for Wesleyan Publishing House, an editorial advisor for ACW Press, instructor at Taylor University and a sought-after conference speaker. He’s won Campus Life’s Book of the Year award and various other awards for writing and editing. He’s married to Lois. They have two children and four grandchildren. His family is the lemonade in his life. 

Blog Tour Interview:

1. You've been in the literary world for a while, give us a quick recap of how you got started to where you are today.

By second grade, I knew I wanted to be a writer. I felt the suspension of disbelief was stretched too thin when the real-live puppet Pinocchio became a real live boy. So I rewrote the ending having the wooden puppet die a painful, prolonged death of Dutch elm disease. (At that point, I'm sure my parents and teachers weren't sure if I'd become a writer or a life-long patient at a psychiatric hospital.) I later went on to become the editor of my high school paper, worked at a Christian publishing house as an editor during college, and then dabbled in writing while holding down a real job. Since 1988 I've been writing and speaking full-time.

2. In Squeezing Good Out Of Bad you give many insightful tips on how to turn around sour circumstances. Share a practical way we can be encouraged during tough times.

My "top ten list" of chapter titles 10-4 provide practical steps for dealing with lemons, but the real secrets are found in chapters 3-1. (Yes, like a true top ten list, the chapters are numbered backward.) Romans 8:28 promises that that God is working all things out for our good to accomplish His purpose in our lives. But we have to read on to verse 29 to find that purpose: "to be conformed to the image of His Son."

3. No life is perfect. Can you give us an example of how you got through a challenging situation and were able to use these principles to see the good in it?

I think it's so important that we take our faith seriously, but I certainly don't want to take my situation or myself too seriously. So I create a mental "top ten" list of what good can come about in this situation. For instance, last year I had radiation for cancer and it totally depleted me physically and mentally. My family dubbed it "radiation retardation." Because of that, I was fired from a wonderful part-time job because I just couldn't do it. So, "Top Ten Great Things about Losing My Job": 10. I'll be paying less taxes next year. 9. I've got twenty hours a week of free time. 8. . . .

Our family is going through something right now that is far worse than cancer, and I can't see a single good thing that can come out of it. So, at those times, you just keep hanging on--with white knuckles--to the fact that God loves you and the Romans 8:28 is still in effect.

4. What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

Spare time? What's that? I'm a firm believer in "redeeming the time" so I try to keep busy doing things that matter for the Kingdom. But after my little brain is worn out--usually around 7 pm--nothing beats a session of "Freecell."

5. What's the last book you read and why?

Strength to Love by Martin Luther King, Jr. Unfortunately, the only real reading for pleasure is on airline flights. The King book is research for a book I'm proposing as we approach the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act.

6. What do you hope readers will gain by reading your book?

I wrote the first draft nine years ago, and even though I have a great agent, we just couldn't find a publisher. That was before cancer, family crisis, unemployment. . . . So it's a much more comforting, honest book. And it forced me to not be so flippant and casual about the serious issues people are dealing with. Henri Nouwen talks about "wounded healers." I think, because of the lemons that have piled up in my life, I can more compassionately offer comfort to those buried under a pile of lemons.

Blog Tour Giveaway:

The blog host with the most comments will have the opportunity to send in one commentor's name for the grand prize giveaway. Here's what they'll win:

First prize: Jim will stop by your house with fresh-baked lemon cake and hot lemon tea. (Disclaimer: Offer available only to residents of Corn Borer, Indiana. Alternate prize includes a copy of Sqeezing Good Out Of Bad, mixes for lemon tea, lemon cake, lemonade and assorted lemon candies. Not available where taxed or licensed. Winner responsible for safe and proper use of products.)

If Jim's disclaimer isn't enough humor for you, read on:

When life gives you lemons . . .

10. Don't confuse them with hand grenades (Identify the problem)

9. Check the delivery slip (Determine if it's your problem)

8. Sell them on eBay  (Profit from the problem)

7. Paint smiley faces on them (Laugh at the problem)

6. Join a citrus support group (Share your problem)

5. Use as an all-natural, organic astringent (Grow from the problem)

4. Don't shoot the delivery driver (Forgive the problem-maker)

3. Graft to a lime tree for a refreshing, low-calorie soft drink (Take the problem to a higher level)

2. Grow your own orchard (Live a fruitful life despite—or because of—the problem)

1. Give off a refreshing fragrance (Live a lemon-fresh life)


Virtual Book Tour: Dear Coach: Letters from Home by Lois Herr

Author Lois Herr has stopped by to share with us the profile of an athlete turned pilot featured in her new book “Dear Coach: Letters Home from WWII.” Please join me in welcoming Lois Herr.

Thank you for having me! In “Dear Coach: Letters Home from WWII” I’ve compiled together a variety of the letters mom and I stumbled across in the attic written to dad, Elizabethtown College coach Ira Herr, by his athletes during WWII, with pictures, scrapbook clippings, newspaper articles and a wide variety of historical information from the time to paint a picture of what life must have been like for these small-town college men and women as not only their country went into war, but so did their friends and family. I hope you enjoy the following profile of letter writer and pilot Wib Raffensperger (featured on the cover of “Dear Coach”).

W.Wilbur (Wib) (Raffy) Raffensperger ‘43

Baseball, basketball and soccer player, Raffensperger was into every sport and would have played football too, if the college had a team. Growing up, he lived near pilots who worked at Olmsted Air Base and that may have sparked his early interest in flying. Raffensperger started flying the BT 13A – The Flying Vulture—in training, moved on to the North American AT-6 and 6A, then the B-17. He flew “Roughneck,” his B-17 across the Atlantic and then on 50 combat missions in North Africa and the Mediterranean. He served in the Tunisian and Sicilian Campaigns and participated in the first heavy bombing on Rome. Later, he would fly test missions and train pilots back in the US on the B-17 and B-24. During one intense period in North Africa, he brought Roughneck back with only one engine. He received the Distinguished Flying Cross; but wouldn’t take the offered time off in England, preferring to stay with his crew. As soon as he came home from the 50th mission, he married Marian Sipling, known as Motz. After the war, Raffensperger joined his father-in-law’s business – Sipling Brothers Garage, a Studebaker and Allis-Chalmers dealership, later buying the dealership with a friend. In the late 50s, Raffensperger entered the insurance and financial services industry as an underwriter and financial planner for Connecticut General Insurance. He then joined the trust department of Farmers First National bank, retiring in 1975.

 Wib Raffensberger with crew of Roughneck located in the first row left hand side.

On a previous virtual book tour stop at I was able to share a letter written by Wib to my father in 1943 in which he responds to my dad’s “fatherly advice” and shares a glimpse of what life is like for him in North Africa. For more exclusive “Dear Coach: Letters Home from WWII” material stop by the official tour blog to visit both upcoming tour stops as well as past stops. Already we’ve been able to give away an excerpt, share letters, explore the importance that the “team” dynamic and much, much more!

I hope you have as enlightening of a time reading “Dear Coach” as I did writing it. Thank you again to Crystal’s Reading Room for having me!

Follow the rest of Lois Herr’s virtual book tour by stopping by her official blog to see where she’s headed next!

What Are You Reading Monday - November 30

Come post weekly and see what others are reading too just so you can add to your tbr - I always do! For more information see J.Kaye's Book Blog and join in!

Books Completed Last Week:
  • Sins of the Flesh by Caridad Pineiro
  • 13 1/2 by Nevada Barr
  • One False Note (39 Clues) by Gordon Korman
Reading Now:
  • Once a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough (review)
  • The Pretty Committee Strikes Back by Lisi Harrison (library)
  • The Sound of Sleigh Bells by Cindy Woodsmall

Reviews Completed Last Week
  • One Simple Act by Debbie Macomber
  • The Christmas Kitchen
  • Essie in Progress by 
  • Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging by 
  • Tempted by P.C. and Kristin Cast
  • Kissing Games of the World by Sandi Kahn Shelton
  • The Silent Gift by Michael Landon and Cindy Kelley
Reviews to do:
  • 13 1/2 by Nevada Barr
  • One False Note (39 Clues) by Gordon Korman
  • Sole Survivor by Dean Koontz
  • Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
  • Only In Your Dreams by Cecily von Ziegesar
  • Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Summary -

A slower reading week, but I just found out I am going to have a repeat brain surgery this week (Thursday) so I have been busy trying to get things ready for my husband and I to travel for the surgery and making arrangements and packing my children.  Add in a holiday week and it's been crazy.  I am still keeping up with my reviews and have several posts ready to go to fulfill my commitments while I am in the hospital (which will hopefully only be a few days - I was only in 1 1/2 days in addition to surgery day last time).  So I may miss a day or two, but hopefully not too much more and hopefully this surgery will fix the problems I am having for good.

So if I miss next weeks post think good thoughts about me and I'll be back as soon as possible.