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Monday, November 12, 2012

ASHTON PARK ON ITS WAY!

PUBLISHERS WEEKLY "The first installment of Pura’s (The Wings of Morning) the Danforths of Lancashire series introduces the inhabitants of Ashton Park, a centuries-old manor near the shores of northwest England. Tensions of the early 20th century, including WWI and unrest in Ireland and Palestine, create a backdrop for a tale rife with suspense and emotional twists as the large extended Danforth family encounters its share of romance, human tragedy, and skullduggery. Sir William and Lady Elizabeth and their brood of independent-minded daughters and gallant sons have their honor tested, the bonds of family strained, and the goodness of God questioned. Amid trials and treachery, Pura draws poignant exhibitions of integrity, staunch lessons in forgiveness, and tender pictures of love and devotion. Pura excessively entwines the lives of the aristocratic Danforths with those of significantly lower stations, muddling the line between upstairs and downstairs in an apparent disregard for the strict class distinctions that would have been observed during the period covered by this book. Still, a most enjoyable introduction to an intriguing family saga. Agent: Les Stobbe, the Leslie H. Stobbe Literary Agency."

Friday, November 09, 2012

LINCOLN MEMORIAL EDITION

IF you would like the opportunity to win an autographed copy of The LINCOLN MEMORIAL EDITION of the novel THE FACE OF HEAVEN please enter a comment here. ALL THE BEST!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

WINNERS!

JODY RIGLE IS THE WINNER OF THE CIVIL WAR ART PRINT! CONGRATULATIONS, JODY! THERE ARE ALSO FIVE RUNNERS UP WHO WILL BE RECEIVING 4x6 INCH REPLICAS OF THE COVER OF THE FACE OF HEAVEN. THANKS TO EVERYONE WHO ENTERED. OUR NEXT CONTEST WILL BE IN EARLY NOVEMBER!

Monday, October 15, 2012

FACE OF HEAVEN/CIVIL WAR ART/CONTEST

WELCOME TO THE SITE FOR THE FACE OF HEAVEN/CIVIL WAR ART CONTEST! If you wish to enter the contest for an artist-signed print of Mike Thorson's painting of the 7th Wisconsin of the Iron Brigade at the Battle of Brawner's Farm please post a comment below. Contest will run for one week until next Monday the 22nd. Print is 2' x 3' (approximately), on heavy stock, glossy, and one of only 750 signed prints. It will be mailed to the winner in a non-crush tube. The print is suitable for framing. PLEASE BE SURE YOU HAVE LIKED BOTH MURRAY PURA WRITING & 19TH INDIANA IRON BRIGADE BEFORE YOU POST A COMMENT. THANK YOU!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

VAN DER GROEF'S REVIEW OF THE WINGS OF MORNING

This book is a definite must people! The best book of 2012! My review of THE WINGS OF MORNING by Murray Pura. (*Translated from the Dutch by BING) The year is 1917. The Amish have no decision taken yet concerning the use of aircraft. Jude Whetstone is a convert of the Lapp Amish community. He is fond of aircraft and has taken flying lessons. Some people in the community do not agree with the fly – including Lynndaya Kurtz ' parents. Jude and Lyyndaya grew up together and were slowly but surely falling in love. Lyyndaya's parents that they now want to Jude sees no more. This breaks her heart, but as a good Amish daughter obeys her parents. In Europe is the first world war broke out. The Amish don't fight in the war. The u.s. military discovered what a good pilot is trying to force him and Jude in Europe to go fight. Jude and some other guys from his Amish community be jailed. The guys are treated badly. Jude pray for a way out and realizes that the only way to come out of prison is to sign to go fly in Europe. Jude decides to do this and the other young men be freed and return to their community. Jude's decision is not understood by his community and he is exiled. Jude knows, however, that he is in the will of God and asks God to guide him in the fighting. He learns to fight against the Germans without someone having to kill. It is not permitted to send letters to Jude Lyyndaya. She decides however to write letters and keep them in a safe place, so that he can read them later when he comes back from Europe and his exile is over. Jude sends weekly letters to Lyyndaya, but they may not read them. The Amish are informed about what Jude is doing things in France, but the question why Jude ever register has to fight, remains unanswered. Then comes the message within that Jude's plane has crashed and that he is missing and presumably dead. Meanwhile, in Pennsylvania, the Spanish flu breaks out. Lyyndaya has signed up as a volunteer to care for the sick. And then if they one day at work, her name is whispered by an unknown man ... I am very excited about this book. It is difficult to find the right words to describe how good this book is. Murray Pura is a great and fascinating writer. Normally I don't read many Amish books, but the way this writer Amish combines with history is simply fantastic! I can hardly wait to Pura's next book to read! (Translated by Bing)

MARIAN BAAY'S REVIEW OF THE ROSE

This is definitely a Murray Pura book! The writing is superb--just like I have become to expect from this author. The characters of Rose and Lydia are so real and feminine, that it put a smile on my face - excellent job, Murray! I thoroughly enjoyed this first installment of ebooks of The Rose of Lancaster County. I'm eagerly awaiting the next! Marian Baay, Holland

HELEN HEVENER'S REVIEW OF THE ROSE

THE ROSE OF LANCASTER COUNTY - VOL. 1 - THE ROSE GARDEN 5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Excellent Excellent by Helen Hevener When I heard Murray Pura was writing a kindle book in installments I couldn't have been more thrilled- I have loved every story he has written up to date!!! I sat down to read the first installment this morning of The Rose of Lancaster County and I couldnt put it down. Murray has a way of combining a story with history that will leave you breathless and waiting for more. This particular story dealt with two young ladies- Rose Lantz and Lydia Byler- they had come to the Pennsylvania Colony 10 years before and were still struggling to put aside the persecution they went through in Germany. Compelling story and history involved all in one story- a real attention getter!!! Now I can hardly wait for the next installment- Murray Pura just makes you want to keep on reading and reading and reading!!! Defintely a 5 star book in my opinion!!!!

KAREN ANNA VOGEL'S REVIEWS OF THE ROSE

THE ROSE OF LANCASTER COUNTY - VOLUME 1 - THE ROSE GARDEN 5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful new series that draws you in with wonderful, vivid writing When I heard Murray Pura was writing a continuing short series, I knew it would be good. Murray's writing is rich in imagery, and the first scene, set in a rose garden, makes you see and smell the flowers. Characters are realistic as is the setting. Little has been written in a Amish fiction genre about their life in Colonial America, and being a history buff, I'm fascinated and look forward to reading the next in the series. Karen Anna Vogel Amish Knitting Circle Series

MORE REVIEWS OF THE FACE OF HEAVEN

This book truly is a page turner & a masterpiece. Marian Baay, Holland, editor & reviewer What I loved most about this book wasn't the emotionally heightened romance or the portrayal of an Amish man's desire to fight slavery. It was the way in which Murray brought the battles of the US Civil War to life on the page. Murray brought realism to these ordeals and humanized them. Rachel Brand, UK, editor & reviewer

REVIEWS OF THE FACE OF HEAVEN

THAT THIS NATION UNDER GOD SHALL NOT PERISH FROM THE EARTH. "A powerful literary masterpiece. A brilliant novel, destined to become a classic." Diana Flowers, OTT "Pura's action-packed attention to military detail pulls the reader directly into the mechanics & the atrocities of a war that divided the nation." Publishers Weekly "I didn’t realise quite how enraptured I’d become with Lyndel and Nathaniel’s relationship until Lyndel went searching for Nathaniel after the battle of Gettysburg. I’m not going to deny it; there were tears in my eyes as Lyndel searched for her beau." Rachel Brand, Christian Manifesto

SARAH MEYERS' REVIEW OF THE WINGS OF MORNING

The Wings of Morning takes place in an Amish Community. Lyyndaya Kurtz and Jude Whetstone’s Family have only been part of the community for a few years, but already, their families are well loved. Lyyndaya and Jude grew up as childhood friends, but have begun to realize that their feelings are running deeper. Jude also discovered a love of flying, which, strangely, his Amish community allowed. When flying for an Amish celebration, members of the US Military see Jude in action. To force him to join up for the fighting in World War I, the military takes Jude and some of his friends captive and makes their lives miserable in order to force Jude into flying. Eventually, he agrees, though he had sworn to his community that he would not fight as it went against their beliefs. What no one but one of his friends knew was that he joined to save the other boys’ lives. In doing so, he risked being shunned. However, Jude began to become a hero, as he not only saved his own men with his flying abilities, but he purposefully did what he could to save the enemy as well, whether by flying circles around them, or purposefully shooting not to kill. In the meantime, Lyyndaya is struggling as she has fallen in love with Jude, but is not allowed to communicate with him. This is one of the top Amish stories I’ve read, I think. I really loved Jude’s character, and how he used the abilities that the Lord gave him to save lives on both sides, instead of being vengeful. This was a great story line, one I never would have thought of for an Amish setting, but it was well written. Reviewed by:Sarah Meyers

SARAH PRICE'S REVIEW OF THE WINGS OF MORNING

SARAH PRICE'S REVIEW - FIVE STARS Besides the fact that I simply adore Murray Pura as a colleague and now friend, this was the first of his books that I have read. After reading this one, I can assure everyone that ALL of his books will adorn my bookshelves! I will read all of his Amish books. There were two unique things that set this apart from other Amish books that I have read. First, the setting is in the past. Murray Pura is quite the historian and I love books that provide detailed insight into history. He is a masterful writer and knows how to weave the story around history. Bravo! The second thing was the detailed character development of BOTH the female and the male character. I really like books that provide well-written insight into both the female AND male protagonists. I look forward to reading many more books from Murray Pura. My next one will be the Rose of Lancaster.

MARY FIELDS JACKSON'S REVIEW OF THE WINGS OF MORNING

The Wings of Morning was the first book I read by Mr. Pura, but not my last. I love Amish books and this one was by far different then most Amish books. It is Amish with a history lesson and romance all wrapped up in one great read, it was really unique and I like that. This was a wonderful journey to watch unfold. I really think, if you are looking for the same old Christan romance this is not the book for you. But if you are looking for an exciting Historical Christan Romance, then this book is for you! Mary Fields Jackson

Monday, September 24, 2012

Review of The Face of Heaven

A portion of Rachel Brand's review of The Face of Heaven - see the full review at Christian Manifesto - thanks, Rachel! REVIEW As tension is building in the South in 1861, Lyndel Keim and Nathaniel King couldn’t be more detached from the conflict in their Amish community in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. While they debate the evils of slavery and whether the confederate states really pose a threat to the union, all of these thoughts are purely theoretical until Lyndel discovers two runaway slaves in her family’s barn. The reality of slavery is suddenly made apparent to Lyndel, Nathaniel and their families, and when the slaves are recaptured by their master, Nathaniel cannot help but wish he had done more to protect them. Under the guise of visiting another Amish community in Indiana, Nathaniel signs on to fight for the Union army, leaving his blossoming relationship with Lyndel behind in Pennsylvania. But Lyndel understands Nathaniel’s desire to fight the battle against slavery, and quickly volunteers as a nurse in a hospital in Washington. War cannot keep them apart for long, and Lyndel finds herself closer and closer to the battlefield every day, witnessing the true horror of war as she treats men who have been pulled from the fields of battle only moments before. Like her family back home in Lancaster, Lyndel longs for the fighting to end, but until then, she will nurse as many men as possible – Union and Confederate alike. But her family doesn’t understand her desire to help, and interprets her work as aiding the war efforts rather than diminishing it. How can Lyndel and Nathaniel, raised as pacifists but now living in the midst of a raging war, explain to their families that war may be the only way to put an end to the evils of slavery? When I began to read The Face of Heaven, I couldn’t help but find a few similarities to the first book in the Snapshots in History series, The Wings of Morning. As in the first in the series, an Amish man bears arms in a war that the rest of his Amish community opposes, and his beau takes to nursing, also bearing scrutiny from her friends and family. Considering how quickly the roles of soldier and nurse fell into place for Nathaniel and Lyndel in The Face of Heaven, I was a little worried that I was reading a repeat of the storyline from The Wings of Morning, simply set during a different war. But as I got further into the novel, it became clear that Murray was going to take Nathaniel and Lyndel’s story on an entirely different route from the protagonists in the first book in the series, and their involvement in the war against the wishes of their pacifist Amish community really were the only similarities they bore to the characters in The Wings of Morning. When discussing pacifism with friends or family, the same statement is bound to be made at some point during the conversation: “Pacifism just isn’t practical.” While reading The Face of Heaven, I got the impression that this was how Nathaniel felt about the Civil War and the fight against slavery. He could not sit idly by and wait for the Englishers to settle the matter on their own, as he may have done if the conflict were over any other matter. I doubt that Nathaniel, or any of the other Amish men who fought in the Civil War, would have been so eager to take arms if this had been a war about ownership of land. Their belief that God created all men equal, even those of a different race from themselves, was what propelled them into bearing arms despite their previous convictions on the matter. Continually throughout this novel I got a sense of the conflict of interests regarding war and taking another man’s life in battle. Was it right to kill if you were saving someone else’s life? Setting someone else free from the chains of slavery? Fighting for what you knew was right according to God’s Word? As someone with serious pacifist leanings, I could really sympathise with Nathaniel’s internal conflict, and I’m sure other readers will find themselves similarly wrapped up in it. While the romance in The Wings of Morning was rather minimal, since Lyyndaya and Jude were in separate countries for a large portion of the book, the relationship between Lyndel and Nathaniel in The Face of Heaven was definitely more to my liking. Although their courtship was only beginning when Nathaniel decided to join the Union army, it was kept alive by letters and brief encounters when Lyndel was allowed to nurse at the front lines of the battle. The growth of their relationship seemed very realistic, considering the conflict, and I was rooting for them to stay together despite all that was conspiring to keep them apart. I can see why wartime romances are among the most popular, with every moment the hero and heroine spend together having a heightened sense of importance, since it may very well be the last time they see each other. I didn’t realise quite how enraptured I’d become with Lyndel and Nathaniel’s relationship until Lyndel went searching for Nathaniel after the battle of Gettysburg. I’m not going to deny it; there were tears in my eyes as Lyndel searched for her beau. What I loved most about this book wasn’t the emotionally heightened romance or the portrayal of an Amish man’s desire to fight against slavery. In all honesty, it was the way in which Murray brought the battles of the US Civil War to life on the page. When I studied this war in my final year of high school, I enjoyed learning about the run up to the war, the aftermath and the end of slavery, but the facts about the battles themselves genuinely bored me to sleep. But Murray brought realism to these ordeals and humanised them, making me care about how the war progressed, in a way that I hadn’t cared when I was in high school. I can appreciate this book for making me take an interest in whether Lyndel would ever see Nathaniel again, and for helping me to understand the internal conflict that the characters felt about their pacifist upbringing, but what has remained with me after finishing this book is the level of realism I felt in each and every one of the battle scenes. Even if you’re normally put off by bonnets, buggies or any form of romance, The Face of Heaven is worth reading purely for the way in which it brings the US Civil War to life. I have high hopes for the third and final book in the Snapshots in History series and can’t wait to read Murray’s take on the Second World War. Rachel Brand, The Christian Manifesto

Saturday, August 18, 2012

5 STAR REVIEW OF A BRIDE'S FLIGHT - TERSA MATHEWS

A BRIDE'S FLIGHT FROM VIRGINIA CITY, MONTANA 5 Stars***** Reviewed by Teresa Mathews In this exciting tale Murray Pura takes us on an adventurous although perilous journey that starts in February 1875 in Virginia City, Montana and goes all the way to Bird-In-Hand, Pennsylvania. During this time we are introduced to Charlotte Spence, and Zephaniah Parker, both ranchers in Montana. The day Zephaniah is out riding the range and stumbles upon two very frightened young children, will be the day that will forever change his life. The boy and girl are both too frightened to tell their names so Zeph calls them Cheyenne and Cody Wyoming. Little does he know they have just witnessed the horrendous slaughter of their parents and friends. They are the lone survivors of “The Angel of Death’s” visit. Charlotte Spence is the sole owner of the Sweet Blue Meadows Ranch now that her brother Ricky has passed away, another delayed casualty of the war. Charlotte is a strong, brave woman running a ranch with ten men that obey her every command, which is a tad out of the ordinary in 1875. To anyone looking at the outside all they see is the beauty of Charlotte but if they could look on the inside they would see the secrets she harbors and she is so afraid no one would like what they find out. When Zephaniah talks with his brother Matt, the local lawman, and finds out why the children are frightened, both men realize they need to get the children to safety because the Angel of Death will never let them live as soon as he hears they are alive. Matt suggests to Zeph that the children might do well staying at Charlotte’s ranch. Charlotte is delighted to take the children in; she wants to ease the pain they are going through. When Matt receives a telegram from the Angel saying he is coming to kill the children and the woman hiding them, Zeph and Matt insist that Charlotte take the kids by train to their relatives in Pennsylvania. But the only way Charlotte agrees to the plan is for Zephaniah to accompany them as her husband! Charlotte explains that they will blend in better if they travel under the guise of a man and his wife with their children. Zephaniah could see the wisdom of the plan and he really didn’t like the idea of her and the children traveling alone, so he agrees. Will they make it safely? Or will they have an untimely appointment with "death"? I cannot begin to tell you how much I enjoyed this, from the first page right up until the last. It took me through a whole gamut of emotions, joy at the beautiful scenery that Murray described so well, excitement and fear knowing they are running from a man that seems subhuman with one goal in mind; killing them. And complete overwhelming satisfaction when it was all said and done. I will tell you that I’m sure you will find yourself reading late into the night like I did. Don’t be surprised if you are shocked into a wide awake state just when you think you might be getting a little sleepy, I know I was!! Had anyone else been awake in my house they would have seen my mouth hanging open because that is how shocked I was at one point!! Job Well Done, Mr. Pura!

5 STAR REVIEW OF THE FACE OF HEAVEN - DIANA FLOWERS

Reviewed by Diana Flowers 5 stars~***** Not Your Typical Amish Fiction! In The Face of Heaven, Murray Pura has penned a powerful, literary masterpiece, set during one of the most tumultuous, heartbreaking times in our country's history--the Civil War. The whipping and hanging of an innocent man near an Amish farmhouse forever changes the course of three young Amish people's lives; Lyndel Keim, her brother Levi, and her beau, Nathaniel King. In spite of being pacifists, they remain haunted by what they have witnessed, and feel compelled to follow the call to join the Union forces. Lyndel obtains permission to work in the midst of the battlefield, nursing the wounded before they are taken to the hospital, and finds herself serving both the fallen Union and Confederate soldiers. Nathaniel King serves in one of the most courageous regiments in the Union army, the 19th Indiana Brigade, and Lyndel finds her way to him which results in a bittersweet reunion for the two. Separated by the horrific battle of Gettysburg, Nathaniel is severely wounded, and Lyndel must call upon her faith in God; not knowing whether the love of her life is dead or alive. Will she have the strength and the courage to keep nursing the wounded?...when her beloved is lying out there somewhere; possibly dead? Murray Pura has written a brilliant novel; destined to become a classic. This book evoked so many intense emotions in me-heartbreak, horror, elation, and most of all pride...pride in this great country of ours, and of the men and women who gave their lives to truly make it "the land of the free and the home of the brave." At times my emotions were at such a peak, I had to place the book down, only to find myself picking it right back up--truly a page turner. *WARNING* This novel relives the battles of the Civil War and may not be suitable for more genteel readers. War is not pretty, and there is a lot of carnage, violence, and the harsh realities of war in this book. Though an intense novel, the love story within its pages is timeless and beautiful, and with a strong, spiritual thread throughout this is a definite must read for history/romance lovers everywhere! Very nicely done, Mr. Pura!

5 star review of The Face of Heaven - Marian Baay

Reviewed by Marian Baay 5 stars~***** Truly A Masterpiece! During the Civil War The main characters Lyndel Keim and Nathaniel King are Amish. After they witnessed the brutal treatment of runaway slaves, their lives are changed forever. They are just starting to fall in love when Nathaniel joins the Army. Some time later Lyndel follows him as an Army nurse. After about a year they finally see each other again. Now that both have become a part of the war effort, they are banished from their Amish community. Despite of the war their love grows. And despite of they're being banished they still live up to their faith. Nathaniel fights in several well known battles. It's nice to read about the camaraderie among Nathaniel's platoon. I almost felt a part of them and could imagine the bullets whistling around my head. Lyndel cares for the many wounded soldiers. It's not always pleasant to read about the battle injuries, but it was reality back then. When loved ones get seriously injured, will Lyndel be able to nurse them back to health? This book truly is a page turner and a masterpiece! Awesome job, Murray!

Monday, July 16, 2012

THE FACE OF HEAVEN REVIEWED IN PUBLISHER'S WEEKLY

The Face of Heaven Murray Pura. Harvest House, $13.99 trade paper (352p) ISBN 978-0-7369-4949-1 For the second book in his Snapshots of History series, Pura (The Wings of Morning) sends a quintet of Amish young people into the midst of some of the most charged battles of the American Civil War. Invoking the biblical edict, “Thou shalt not kill,” their families and community shun them. None abandon the pacifist beliefs of their faith easily. Despite their passions for peace, the five set out for the front lines, believing slavery to be a sin so egregious it cannot be ignored. Heroine Lyndel Keim tends to the wounded under the tutelage of Clara Barton and then on her own in makeshift field hospitals. Her brother Levi, beau Nathaniel King, his brother Corinth, and Joshua Yoder serve with determination and character that is a testimony not only to their belief in God but their trust in Him as well. Pura’s action-packed attention to military detail pulls the reader directly into the mechanics and the atrocities of a war that divided the nation. Still, the war is merely a backdrop to the personal conflicts of these young Christians who feel compelled to follow their convictions despite the impending consequences. Agent: Les Stobbe. (Aug.)

USA TODAY INTERVIEW

Follow the link below to an interview with myself and three other guy writers. It's a fun talk. http://books.usatoday.com/happyeverafter/post/2012-07-11/men-who-write-inspirational-romance/801732/1

Monday, June 18, 2012

THE WHITE BIRDS OF MORNING GIVEAWAY!

In celebration of The White Birds of Morning's win in the historical novel category at the Word Guild Awards in Toronto I am doing a giveaway to introduce my readers to the series. Now the writing is smooth and clean and tight and both novels published in the series have been finalists for literary awards (with White Birds winning the award). Both are shot through with God and faith. But they are not Amish and they are not your typical fiction. While the first one in the series (Zo)is under 50,000 words and can be read in one extended sitting, the second in the series (White Birds) is 300,000 words and is very in-depth. Both novels are highly readable and entertaining but both are very intense and complex and challenging as well. Is the series your cup of tea? Well, if you can handle books that are a cross between the Bible + Saving Private Ryan + All Quiet on the Western Front + Message in a Bottle + War and Peace + Of Gods and Men then you will love the series. Also check on the reviews for both books on Amazon. Feel adventurous? Ready to take the ride? Then post a comment under this blog and you're in. I'll pick the winners July 15th! God bless & all the best! The prize includes Zo and The White Birds of Morning. There are 2 more books to come in the series. CONTEST DEADLINE EXTENDED TO JULY 31ST MIDNIGHT PACIFIC! CHEERS!

Monday, June 04, 2012

WIN VACATION PACKAGE! FACE OF HEAVEN LAUNCH!

WIN A VACATION PACKAGE TO MAJESTIC DC & BEAUTIFUL MARYLAND! THE FACE OF HEAVEN LAUNCH BEGINS! CLICK ON THE LINK BELOW TO ENTER THE CONTEST! http://www.christianbook.com/Christian/Books/giveaway?code=949491

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

newest review of wings of morning

This is my first foray into Amish fiction—and because of Murray Pura’s storytelling magic, certainly not my last. It is my privilege to teach both English Literature and History of Western Civilization at a local college, and the Great War setting of The Wings of Morning gripped me from page one. The details of the authentic World War One aircraft and the life and death struggles for victory in the sky keep the reader right on the battlefront with the main characters, Lyyndya and Jude, alongside their families and friends. It is easy to express enthusiasm for a work that combines romance and history with everyday spirituality (and not a hint of preaching or pedagogy). Despite the predominantly bucolic Amish setting, the plot is compelling, the wartime action is rapid-fire (especially once the blacksmith-pilot takes to the air), and the characters are beautifully believable. (After turning the last page, I reread chapter one for the pure pleasure of meeting the main characters again for the first time. Mr. Murray, please tell us there’s a sequel!) What a delight it was picking up an action-packed, historically informative and romantic novel as family-friendly as this one. The language is often lyrical, the images fresh and clean. I would recommend this book to all who enjoy well-penned prose; the story is a read-aloud feast. A copy of The Wings of Morning was sent to us by Harvest House Publishers for an honest review. It is suitable for readers of all ages. Both my history-loving husband and I (the high-flyer in the family) appreciated the way romance and history were woven together, stressing the importance of community in times of crisis. Murray Pura did an admirable job highlighting the war and peace paradox. We enthusiastically give this book a five-star rating. Robin and Elaine Phillips, Adjunct college instructors, Cochrane, Alberta, Canada

Saturday, May 05, 2012

interview with an Irish woman

If You Love Amish Fiction read Murray Pura’s The Wings of Morning May 1, 2012 by Connie Cavanaugh So here I am in Millbank Ontario, in the heart of “horse and buggy” Mennonite and Canadian Amish country, eating a home cooked dinner of liver and onions at Anna Mae’s diner and what do I see on the top shelf of a Living Books spinner? Murray Pura’s newest release, The Wings of Morning! “I know Murray!” I bragged to my friends, Dianne and John Haupert, the couple who are graciously hosting me this week in their home in Hawkesville. “He is a terrific writer,” I say. “And this book is his first foray into the Amish genre. It’s a great read too!” I whip out the i-phone, snap a photo of Murray’s book alongside Beverly Lewis’ books — Beverly is the reigning queen of Amish fiction — and email it to Murray. He replies immediately asking my whereabouts and why-abouts. I tell my friends that I recently read this book and wrote a glowing review of it for the publisher’s website. Murray was good enough to consent to a blog interview about this book as well as give a sneak preview of his future projects. You can read his comments here: 1. This is your first novel about the Amish and quite a stretch from your previous work? What is it that attracted you to this genre? Amish fiction and works about the Amish that are not fiction are very popular right now, both in Christian & nonChristian circles. My editor challenged me to write a story that was engaging along Amish lines. At first, I wasn’t interested. But after some research I realized the Amish were more than butter churns, barns, buggies & the color black. They are quite a counter-cultural force in Canadian & American society in their quiet way. Not only because of their stance on technology. They have a very nonviolent approach to life. 2. You set the novel during a window of time where the Lapp Amish had not yet settled on their official position regarding “flying machines” even though they had already spurned the ownership of automobiles and telephones. What is their current position on flying and when was that decision reached? The Amish may use a plane for short flights but not own or pilot one. There are variations on this rule from one Amish community to the other. Their decision against electricity was made in 1919 when it was possible to get hooked up to the grid for the first time in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. By this time the plane had become more common and was considered out of bounds about the same time, 1919/1920. 3. The book’s hero, Jude Whetstone, is a man of courage, honor and principal. Did you base his persona on anyone you know? I think in Jude’s case I had him do what I hoped I would do if I were Amish and found myself in a situation like his. 4. The heroine, Lyyndaya Kurtz — by the way, how do you pronounce that? — is a complex mixture of submissive Amish girl and daredevil high flier. How believable is this kind of woman? Is there someone you know who inspired this character? Lyyndaya = Lin – day – ah. You have to bear in mind that her family converted to The Amish Way. They’ve only been Amish for a decade. Half her life she may well have been Christian but she was certainly not Amish. So the daredevil not-so-submissive streak would have developed then. As a young woman she has to try to reconcile this part of her with what is demanded of her by the Amish. That’s the struggle, that’s the tension. Her character is believable for this reason – she’s half Amish and half not Amish. I suppose every character is based a bit on someone you’ve met and her daredevil side is certainly inspired by some of the young women I’ve met who are downhill racers or skydivers. 5. This is not your first book about war. What is it that compels you to set your stories in wartime? I suppose because it requires people to make life or death choices and other hard decisions not usually required in peacetime. Under such circumstances, people are tested in a way that reveals what really matters to them and, in essence, who they are and whether or not God has truly affected their lives in a way that determines their actions. 6. Jude’s decision to go to war in the face of almost certain shunning from his Amish people even though he claims he is following God’s will illustrates the tension between an individual’s relationship with God and his relationship with his Christian community. The two don’t always line up. Can you think of a modern day example that would place us in a similar position, ie: standing alone for our faith and possibly rejected or judged by our church? I think if you gave blood to specifically help gay people with AIDS there might be church communities that condemned you, even though you did it in love for the person, not necessarily in support of a gay lifestyle. I think if you supported euthanasia for those in great pain with terminal illness you might get attacked as well. Certainly if you came out and said abortion was a national tragedy but it needed to be legal and it needed to be safe a number of church groups would be very upset with you, even though you acted out of love and compassion for the women and not in total support of abortion itself. 7. I love the way you weave a lot of Scripture into the body of the work in such a natural way. The bible passages don’t break up the flow of the story but rather add depth to it. This is something new in your writing. How difficult was it for you to do this? It’s new because I’m with a very good Christian publisher when it comes to Harvest House in Eugene, Oregon. Secular publishing firms would never give me that sort of freedom. In addition, I’ve permitted myself that artistic license since I know I’m writing for a largely Christian audience and not so much a seeking one or one that might react negatively to the use of Scripture. Writing in this genre is a breath of fresh air. It was very easy to do because that is how I weave Scripture into my own thoughts and life and now in Christian fiction I am free to express it. 8. Do you have any more Amish fiction in the works? Can you give us a sneak preview? I have all kinds of Christian fiction in the works now, some Amish, some not. The next book that will be released is the second in the series that began with The Wings of Morning and it is definitely Amish. The series is about Americans and Amish and is called Snapshots in History. The same characters don’t carry over – though we do see the ones from The Wings of Morning return in the third book in the series – because the second book takes place during the American Civil War, 1861-1865. Here we see a conflict in the young people of an Amish community when they experience the harsh work of slavetraders first hand and agonize over whether to break ties with their families and church and take up arms against slavery. Amish farmer Nathaniel King is deeply in love with a young woman named Lyndel Keim, the scrawny sister of his best friend who has grown into a flaming beauty. She returns his love, surprised by his affection and also by her own feelings towards him. But while their relationship develops the war looms larger and larger and they both struggle with how they should respond to to a Confederate nation that enshrines slavery in its Constitution. Then the day comes that some told them would never come – the battle between North and South and Slavery or Freedom crosses the border into Pennsylvania in July of 1863. The Face of Heaven hits the bookstores, online sites, and Kindle on August 1st.

Friday, April 13, 2012

new WINGS interview

Murray Pura's first foray into Amish fiction does not disappoint. As a novelist of some distinction, Pura has already established himself in other genres and his ability to tell a great story is as evident in this book as in his others. Pura weaves romance as well as spiritual depth into a challenging plot that will keep readers turning pages and leave them sweetly satisfied when all is said and done.

Most of the story in The Wings of Morning takes place in a a peaceful Amish community aptly named Paradise, Pennsylvania in the last years of the Great War, WWI. The hero, Jude Whetstone, a blacksmith by trade -- as was my own dear dad a lifetime ago -- learns to fly. The Amish have already spurned the ownership of automobiles and telephones but have not yet made a decision regarding this new invention -- the aeroplane. Into this brief window of opportunity, Jude Whetstone finds his passion and hones his giftedness for all things aeronautical.

Jude's budding romance with Lyyndya Kurtz barely gets off the ground, pun intended, when the war in Europe intensifies and America gets involved. Jude is swept into the conflict as a flying ace in a most unlikely way, causing his Amish brethren to officially shun him since the Amish do not believe in bearing arms. The letters that Jude and Lyyndya write to one another but which they are not allowed to read bring the reader into their vastly different daily lives, their personal spiritual journeys and their growing love. However, the weight of a very uncertain future is always hanging over their heads and threatening to mar their future happiness.

Jude's plane is shot down over enemy territory and he is presumed dead. As if things weren't bad enough an outbreak of Spanish flu sweeps through their community, leaving no family untouched. When things are at their darkest Pura masterfully ties the threads of this rich tapestry together in a way that is artful, believable and a bit magical. You won't be able to wipe the grin off your face when the last page is turned.

Harvest House Publishers sent me a copy of The Wings of Morning for an honest review. I give this book five stars out of five. It is suitable for readers of all ages and has elements that appeal to both genders: war, romance, history, amish culture, aviation and community dynamics to name a few.

Connie Cavanaugh Ministries
Cochrane, Alberta, Canada.

Friday, April 06, 2012

interview about the wings of morning & much more

INTERVIEWED BY LAURA VERNET PRICE HILTON


Why do you write the kind of books you do?
*So far as fiction goes, ordinary people caught up in extraordinary circumstances & times has always been my favorite theme. Perhaps it’s a way of wondering, in print, what I would do in the same situations. And also a way of challenging my readers to to think about how they themselves might react.

Besides when you came to know the Lord, what is the happiest day in your life?
*And you probably need to count out falling in love with the woman who became my wife or the birth of my children as well. Other than that? Probably the day an editor phoned from Toronto to tell me they wanted to publish my first novel and were offering me a contract. I was ten feet off the ground all week!

How has being published changed your life?
*Eventually it led me into full-time writing which has utterly changed my schedule and my focus and how I spend my months and years. Formerly I was a pastor working with local congregations. Now I write books that people read in the US, Canada, the UK, Australia, even Israel. I chat back and forth with my readers, sometimes about quite serious matters. Publishing completely opened up my world & my ability to interact with others internationally.

What is your current work in progress?
*A story for Harvest House that takes place overseas in the United Kingdom.

What would be your dream vacation?
*Southern France, italy, Greece with acres of sunlight and old stone houses. Other than that? I’d kind of like to hang out at a monastery in the American desert and write something. I wouldn’t say no to Australia or New Zealand or the US Virgin Islands either. But I need a pen and paper wherever I go.

How do you choose your settings for each book?
*I think the idea for the story comes first. That usually sorts out the locations pretty quickly. You know, if I have a story about the American Civil War, a romance, that narrows down my choice of settings. Or of I want to write something with a snowy winter in it because the story needs a snowy winter, well, it’s not going to happen in Hawaii or Florida or Spain. The story idea comes first.

If you could spend an evening with one person who is currently alive, who would it be and why?
*I’d actually like to talk with Toni Morrison about life and faith and writing. If she’s not available, then I’d like to spend the evening with Ayaan Hirsi Ali, author of Infidel and Nomad.

What three things about you would surprise readers?
*I’ve never owned a laptop. I’ve never tasted Amish food – yet! (But I’ve enjoyed lots of Mennonite food, which is close.) And although I use a desktop most of the time I still write some chapters in longhand, using pen and paper.

What are your hobbies, besides writing and reading?
*Hiking, wilderness camping, guitar, weight training, star gazing. I want to learn to fly fish this summer as Alberta and Montana are prime fly fishing country.


What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it
*When I’m exhausted & physically incapable of writing more that day but still have ideas flowing – what do I do with the hot lava of story that’s still erupting within my mind? That’s when I use pen and paper (because I’m weary of the computer screen by that point) and scribble all the ideas down, even snatches of dialogue and portions of scenes. Then it’s there to consult & get the flow going again the next day.

What are you reading?
*An anthology of poetry from Britain, America and Canada. Poetic images enrich my writing as much as anything else. I’m also reading a book by the English pastor John Stott called The Cross of Christ.

What advice would you give to a beginning author?
*Make sure you write what gives you pleasure. You can switch genres for a publisher or change titles or alter locations but you still have to take pleasure in what you create. Once you start writing only for others, and begin to detest going to the keyboard every day due to that, your days are numbered. Don’t let it happen. If you write well enough they will let you be you. So do that.


Tell us about the book.
*It’s 1917 and it’s a turning point for the Amish. The things that will define them in the 20th and 21st centuries are being decided upon – telephones, electricity, mtorcars, airplanes, modern technology. A young Amish man loves flying and, because his bishop has not yet said no to planes, is given freedom to pursue his dream. His girlfriend loves to fly with him but her parents are against it and work to end the relationship between the two. At the same time, America enters World War One and the Amish are persecuted for not enlisting. The young Amish flier has an opportunity to spare his community further persecution and follows through – he joins the American pilots going to France to fight the air war against Germany. Immediately the Amish, who are pacifists, cut him off, further separating the two lovers. The story is about how they fight to keep their love alive in the midst of war and shunning.

What do you want readers to take away from the book?
*Those who fight for their country’s freedoms by refusing to go to war or rely on violence but choose prayer and worship and love instead are as much patriots as those who bear arms. Such a stance takes real courage just like being a soldier does, especially if society turns against you. In the story, a military unit salutes the Amish community because the soldiers have come to realize this truth.

What one question would you like us to ask your readers?
*What one thing would you really enjoy about being Amish? And what is the biggest thing keeping you back from joining the Amish faith? (so two questions joined at the hip)


TO ENTER A DRAW FOR A FREE COPY & TO SEE COMMENTS POSTED IN RESPONSE TO THE INTERVIEW GO TO > http://lighthouse-academy.blogspot.ca/2012/03/interview-with-murray-pura-and-giveaway.html

review of A Bride's Flight from Virginia City

A NEW REVIEW BY JUDYANN LORENZ

@Murray Pura Writing: A review reflecting TWO reads --I and my husband enjoyed reading "A BRIDE'S FLIGHT". The detailed story takes readers right into the 1870s and the heart breaking pain of Civil War memories combined with the pain inflicted by doctrines. Murray Pura blends cultures to bring peace of mind, Christian love and forgiveness to characters while romantic love and devotion grows between the two main characters. He uses words to paint a picture of a few months of lives -- the natural world is tough, but strength comes from a mighty God.

A Bride's Flight carries a distinct Christian story line with a refreshing romance plot that takes a reader into the history of the Old West. The Civil War, Westward movement, Amish culture, and the bright hope for the country's future are all woven into a very good book. I don't want to tell you more because I won't spoil the story.

My personal measure of a good book: I always read awhile, then go to the end to see "who done it". I can still enjoy the middle of a very good book, while some books get laid aside. This book is one of the Very Good Books!

Saturday, March 31, 2012

free copies of WINGS

THREE FREE autographed copies of The Wings of Morning, the book Publisher's Weekly called "meaty", "masterful", and "intriguing" are up for grabs. Follow this link if you don't have a copy yet!

http://lighthouse-academy.blogspot.com/2012/03/interview-with-murray-pura-and-giveaway.html

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

100 years ago - what kind of world?

Cheers. Welcome to my guest blog for freshfiction. If you'd like to leave a comment after reading the blog, please go ahead. This will automatically enter you into a giveaway for an autographed copy of my new novel THE WINGS OF MORNING. All the best!

This winter saw the film War Horse coming to our local cinemas, a story about a boy and his horse set during World War One. At the same time, the popular British series Downtown Abbey was sweeping an ever-growing number of fans into its embrace on Sunday evenings in Canada and the US. Part of Season 2's story in Downtown Abbey was World War One. But the series also takes a look at the coming of the motorcar and electricity.

The first decades of the 20th century were a period of momentous change. The motorcar and electricity were part of that. But so were the telephone and the airplane. Try to put yourself in your grandparents' and great-grandparents' place. For hundreds of years, thousands of years, you use a horse and a cart. Suddenly people are driving past you in a car. It's never happened before. You always needed a horse. At the same time, except for going up in hot air balloons, flying was unheard of – who could even think of ever really flying up with the hawks and starlings? Yet it happened and by 1914 airplanes were buzzing over people's heads in ever increasing numbers. Flying! How incredible was that? Toss in flicking a switch for your house lights, instead of lighting candles and oil lamps, along with talking with your brother or sister in Denver while you were living in Boston, and the first years of the 20th century made most people's heads and brains spin.

Then there was the lethal aspect of those years – a world war for the first time, unprecedented in its scale of destruction and loss of human life. And right on its heals, the horseman of disease and pestilence – The Spanish Influenza, the first modern pandemic, rivaling the Middle Ages' Black Death in terms of its global scope and the numbers slain. More died from the pandemic than died in the trenches and skies of Europe's war. Imagine all that loss of human life taking place in a short span of five years, 1914-1919. It must have staggered families in every country affected – and almost every country was affected.

So in this mix we see the Amish of the United Stares trying to hold onto their distinctive take on the Christian faith and their distinctive lifestyle. A lifestyle that wasn't really that distinctive until 1900-1920 came along. For it was when they said no to telephones when everyone else was saying yes, no to motorcars, no to electricity, no to airplanes, that they began to look different, even odd. But the oddness was nothing to how they looked when they refused to fight for America in the first global conflict – then they looked like bad neighbors and unpatriotic. In fact, with their German language and accent, they looked a lot like the enemy American boys were being killed by in France and Belgium. So people took it upon themselves to burn down their churches, vandalize their homes and farms and crops. And some people in the government and the military took it upon themselves to imprison and even kill those Amish-and Hutterites, Quakers, and Mennonites.

Which is where my early 20th century story comes in. Not like War Horse or Downtown Abbey. But with a young man who is a whiz at flying and a young woman who loves to go up with him into the heaps of white cumulus and golden sun. With a military who sees how brilliantly he flies and manipulates him into enlisting and fighting in the sky over France, even though the Amish are against war and will cut him off once he climbs into a cockpit. With a woman who loves him and believes in him despite all those around her who scorn and reject him for what he is doing. With bloody warfare that the Amish youth swears he will not take part in, choosing to force planes down without killing their pilots, until the day comes when so many of his own men have been shot down his fingers turn in rage towards the machine guns mounted on the fuselage of his plane.

That's THE WINGS OF MORNING. I invite you to pick up a copy and get into its world with that young man and woman and find out what happens in the years 1917, 1918, and 1919 to them, their love, their people, their nation, and their faith.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

the day I gave up writing forever!

from the CBD.com website:


Murray Pura earned his Master of Divinity degree from Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia and his ThM degree in theology and interdisciplinary studies from Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia. For more than twenty-five years, in addition to his writing, he has pastored churches in Nova Scotia, British Columbia and Alberta. Murray’s writings have been shortlisted for the Dartmouth Book Award, the John Spencer Hill Literary Award, the Paraclete Fiction Award, and Toronto's Kobzar Literary Award. Murray pastors and writes in southern Alberta near the Rocky Mountains. He and his wife Linda have a son and a daughter.

Favorite Verse: Psalm 27:1a – “Light, space, zest – that’s God!”


The Day I Gave Up Writing: by Murray Pura



My first novel was published in 1988. It received some decent critical attention and was short-listed for a couple of notable awards. Over the next ten years I also published several dozen short stories. It looked to me as if everything was beginning to come together for my life as a Christian who wrote books.

Then everything dried up. The novel went out of print. Publishers who said they would put out a second edition reneged on their promises. I had a second novel that was looking for a home but no one was opening the door for the book or me.

Meanwhile I had two toddlers and was trying to pastor a church while my wife nursed as an RN and the pressure of trying to find time to write books and stories no one seemed to want got to be too much. One morning I hatched a plan while my wife was at the hospital, the kids were playing, and I was sitting in the basement office in our house – be done with it! Be done with writing and submitting manuscripts and bearing editors’ rejections and broken promises! End the suffering quickly and effortlessly! Crumple all plot notes, delete all links, trash all computer files, get rid of anything and everything that had to do with creative writing.

So I did. I erased a number of links to publishers and editors, moved files to the virtual wastebasket, deleted emails that had to do with my “dried up as a wine skin in the smoke” writing career, and placed everything that was on paper – and this was more than ten years ago so there was more paper correspondence then –straight into the fireplace. It took several hours but soon I was happy to see my bridges back into a life of writing had all been burned – except for setting a match to the mounds of paper in the fireplace and permanently removing the contents of my computer trash can (I rubbed my hands with glee at the header in the trash menu that read: DELETE FOREVER).

I can honestly say I felt like a new man. No more worries about badgering editors regarding the manuscripts I’d sent them. No more hours spent pounding away at the keyboard when I was already dead tired from fathering and pastoring. No more looking in the mail for an acceptance letter or scanning emails for names like Zondervan, Baker, Barbour, or Harvest House. No more longing for royalty checks that had at least four or five figures instead of two. I felt like dancing. Imagine all the extra time I’d have again just to live and pray and play and – read! It was a good feeling. The cross of trying to be a Christian author no longer had to be borne.

The first glitch in my plan was the early return of my RN wife to the house. I knew she would never agree to my torching of ten years of plots and book ideas and semi-promising correspondence. So I didn’t tell her. I just drew thick metal curtains over the mouth of the fireplace so an interior crammed with white sheets of paper could not be seen. And waited for nightfall when she would be fast asleep in the bedroom, door tightly closed.

The second glitch was worse and, in a way, I am still not over it. I went to the mailbox in the afternoon sun. We were living in the Rockies, literally right in them in a mountain town, and I crunched my way light-heartedly over a snow-packed back lane to get to what we called a superbox. Here boxes for dozens of residences were located. I opened our box, tugged out our envelopes, and headed home, dreaming of matches, and combustible paper, and the removal of a 16 ton weight from my back and mind. All remained well until I sorted through the mail. One letter jumped out at me.

Ah, you will think it was the publishing offer from Alfred A. Knopf & Sons, or Harper & Row, or an announcement from the Pulitzer Prize Committee. But my story did not take that twist. Instead, what jumped out at me was a letter with the massive seal of the US government on it – it practically covered the face of the envelope –and an address that included words like US Consulate, Istanbul, Turkey. And I thought: Oh, great! Now what have I done?



I opened it. It was a letter from a person on the consulate staff, a US citizen. He told me what a difference a story I had written had meant to him. It was a long ago story in a long ago magazine but somehow he had gotten his hands on it, read it through several times, and realized that God was, somehow, speaking to him through it. He’d thought about it, prayed about it, and realized an embassy career was not for him. He was going to be a pastor, the best pastor he could be, and love God, love people, and love the human race with all his heart, mind, soul, and strength.

Then came the curve ball. It seemed to come from this young man but I knew, by its sheer power and velocity, who it had really come from, who had really pitched it. Thank you for what God has done through you, the young man wrote. I pray he will continue to use your writing to bless, challenge, encourage, and refresh. The Lord be with you and in all the stories you put on paper.

I was out. I sat stunned in my chair, one part of my mind trying to calculate when the letter had been written and posted, how long it had been in transit across the Atlantic, how it could have arrived at our mailbox on this very day above all other days. But it didn’t matter, in the end. There it was. I had no arguments left. I pulled the sheaves of paper out of the fireplace and tidied them. Brought my files out of the virtual wastebasket and never clicked on DELETE FOREVER.

Published or unpublished, famous or infamous, for richer or poorer, I was a writer, a Christian who told stories, a man selected by God to be an author whether I liked it or not, through thick and thin, dark or light, good times and bad times. Whatever else I might do in my lifetime, I was a writer, a God writer, and that was now settled, period, end of sentence, world without end, amen.

So what happened next? Well, I hugged and kissed my children, loved my wife, served the people in the church God had called me to, and kept writing. A couple of years later my first novel was republished. Then, because the short stories were somewhat popular, a volume of them was put together and launched. Followed by a second volume. Then a man who liked the stories told Harper One San Francisco I would be a good candidate to write commentary in a study Bible they were putting out. Then the man who republished my first novel and my two books of short stories told a man in the USA about me and he soon became my literary agent. And because of him, and my work with Harper One, and a zealous editor at Zondervan, two inspirational books called Rooted and Streams were published. And because an editor at another publishing house liked Rooted I was invited to submit a proposal for a book in the same vein and in a few months a contract was offered.



Then, due to a challenge by my agent to write a piece of popular fiction set in America, a contract from Barbour popped up a year after finishing the book that met my agent’s challenge. Another editor from another firm had seen the manuscript and, too late to pick up on what Barbour had picked up on, waited for my next manuscript, pounced on it, and I had an offer from Harvest House in Oregon six weeks later. Then another offer.And another offer.And another offer.

My head spun on its axis. In 2010 I had left my church in the hands of another and committed myself to doing more writing, with not a single contract on the horizon, other than having two volumes coming out with Zondervan. Then came the contracts from Barbour and Harvest House and Baker. A trickle became a flood. In 2012, three or four books I’ve written will be published. In 2013, it will be five or six.When people ask what I do now, I tell them the truth: I’m a full time writer. I couldn’t do what publishers and editors are asking me to do without being anything less.

I kid you not. God, after pitching me out at home plate with a letter from Istanbul, set me up with bases loaded a little over a decade later and gave me a Grand Slam. I’m still astonished at the turnaround in my fortunes. It did not happen overnight. But happen it did.

So this is my roundabout way of telling you that if you feel it in you to be a writer, and you really can’t get away from wanting to create and publish what you create, if it’s in your heart and mind and soul and you know God is in it somehow or other, then go ahead and make the time and write. Write and never give up. Never. Never. Never. Never.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

is there a future for the amish?

Is There a Future for the Amish?

If you watched the show on the Amish on PBS last week you will know the greatest challenge facing followers of The Amish Way is the fact that half of their members – so over 100,000 people – have outside jobs. (It is reckoned that there are about 250,000 Amish in the US today – the only other Amish churches are in Ontario, Canada.) There are no farms for half their people. Many work in “English” factories all day and return to their rural homes at night.

The Amish are not dying off as some thought they would in the 20th century. In fact, they are growing. But land in traditional Amish regions like Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana, to take just three examples, is simply too expensive to permit the Amish to keep buying up acreages for their offspring. So there are only a few options: stay with Mom and Dad’s farm, if that’s possible for all the grown children with families; move to other regions of the US and Canada in a hunt for less expensive land; move away from farming as a source of income altogether.

Most of us are aware that Amish have opened businesses selling homemade Amish furniture. You can go online and find the information. Other Amish sell the beautiful handmade quilts. Again, you can go online and find them. But not all the Amish can make a living on selling traditional Amish arts and crafts. That is why so many are working for non-Amish employers and companies.

What will this do to shape the Amish over the next 10-20 years? Since the early 1700s they have always lived off the land and have built their lifestyle around farming and agriculture. They have worked side-by-side growing crops and raising cattle and hogs and caring for dairy herds. They haven’t punched clocks.They have been their own masters, moving in rhythm with the seasons. What happens to The Amish Way if half of them do not farm like the other half do? Or do not spend their days in the Amish communities but miles away doing all kinds of other work in order to earn a paycheck? Will The Amish Way eventually fall apart?

Where I live the Hutterites live in colonies on the land, are prosperous (though they live simply enough) and, so far as I know, don’t have to seek employment outside their communities or farms to survive. The Holdeman Mennonites, on the other hand, who have distinctive dress like the Hutterites and Amish, don’t live off the land primarily, but have their own businesses among the “English” and often seek employment in non-Mennonite stores and firms. The Holdeman have their own churches and schools and lifestyle and none of it seems to have been threatened or compromised by working apart from other Holdeman Mennonites. Indeed, they have their own private residences like the rest of us do and live miles apart from one another, often in urban or town settings. Yet their distinctive approach to the Christian faith thrives.

It is because I have seen the Holdeman Mennonites making their way successfully “in the world” that I believe the Amish will do just fine. Of course there will be a period of adjustment, something they are already going through with 100,000 of them employed away from the farm. But I think they will find that, as connected as they have been to agriculture, what really makes them who they are as a people of faith is how closely bonded they are to The Ordnung and how closely bonded they are to God. While they may have found that farming as a lifestyle assists that bonding I think they will also find that it is not the real glue that holds them together. The Holdeman are bound by their common faith, prayers, and worship of Jesus Christ, regardless of where they live or what work they do or who they work for. I believe the Amish will also find that what truly matters is their common faith, prayers, and worship of Jesus Christ, regardless of where they live or what work they do or who they work for.

The Amish may choose to live in colonies or in close proximity to one another, no matter where they work during the day, and not dwell far apart. The goal for many may continue to be to earn enough money to purchase an acreage. But I don’t think it will be long before they come to fully appreciate that they are Amish even if they work in factories or don’t own a barn or teams of horses and oxen. That they are Amish because of what they believe and hold in common no matter if one is a grain farmer and another builds motor homes and another nails down roofs in the suburbs of a nearby city. That they are Amish because they feel called by God to worship in a certain way, live simply and plainly and abstain from violence. That more so than being tied to the land for their identity, it is being tied to God that makes them who they are.

That will be a good thing for them to realize afresh. And I believe they will thrive, because of this realization, throughout the 21st century.





Last 5 posts by murray

* what our Amish friends fear - February 14th, 2012
* Are the Amish Quaint? - January 17th, 2012
* Reader's Review from New Mexico - January 4th, 2012
* Virginia City Released - January 1st, 2012
* RT Reviews Top Pick - December 21st, 2011

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

genre & gender happenings

Murray Pura was born and raised in Manitoba, just north of Minnesota and the Dakotas. He has published several novels and short story collections in Canada, and has been short-listed for a number of awards. His first books to be published in the United States are the inspirational works Rooted and Streams (both by Zondervan in 2010). His first novel to debut in the USA is A Bride’s Flight from Virginia City, Montana (Barbour), which was released January 2012. The second, The Wings of Morning, will be published by Harvest House on February 1. Both of these novels center around the Amish of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

Genre Happenings
Men and Amish Fiction

In 2009 I was asked by my agent to consider writing a work of Amish fiction. My concern was that I would write about the Amish as real people with real-life struggles and real faith concerns. I did not want to glamorize them or paint a fantasy in words that made them figures out of a fairy tale. I never looked to see who was or wasn’t writing Amish fiction at the time, so I never knew how many men were or weren’t writing in that genre. I just focused on telling a story and telling it as well as I could, Amish fiction or not.

I know about the Amish, of course. A large population of Mennonites live in southern Manitoba, where I grew up, and they share common roots with the Amish. They also hold some of the same beliefs, including a pacifist approach to war and peacefulness in their daily interactions. A number have connections to the Amish communities in Ontario, just north of those in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan. I was a member of a Mennonite church for several years. So early on I gained some understanding of the Amish and Mennonite approaches to the Christian faith.

But writing Amish fiction didn’t just mean writing about Amish beliefs and lifestyle. It meant writing about Amish men and women falling in love. It also meant being sensitive to the woman’s point of view in such romances. Fortunately, I have a mother, sister, wife, and daughter, so I know something about the woman’s world. And I had fallen in love myself and know about wooing my beloved and carrying her away in my arms.

At this time, I was working on a series of novels in Canada based on the lives of two of my aunts. Even though a brother tells the story, the tale is mostly about the two sisters. And when the story moved from Canada and America to Ukraine, two more sisters enter the story as well. So when I tried my hand at Amish fiction, I came fresh from writing hundreds of pages about four sisters and a romantic relationship with the woman who became my wife. I felt I could approach the story from both the male and female points of view.

To my surprise, when I began to pen the first chapters, I enjoyed writing the romantic sequences as much or more than I did the action sequences. Something about reliving the pleasant experiences of falling in love and holding the woman of your desires in your arms and telling her how beautiful she was struck a chord within me. I grew more and more enthusiastic about creating a good work of Amish writing.

My first effort was picked up by Barbour in 2010. In it, a young woman is forced to return to her Amish roots in Pennsylvania to save two orphans from a murderer. The only one who will help her is a young rancher who refuses to carry a gun. When Barbour made a contract offer, it inspired me to write a second piece of Amish fiction. This was completed in 2011 and picked up by Harvest House.

Whereas the first story took place in 1875 United States, the second occurred in 1917, also set in the United States. At the beginning of the twentieth century, the Amish are challenged to adopt the technologies that will eventually define them by their very absence from Amish communities: the telephone, the motorcar, public electricity, and the airplane. It is while they are still debating the role of the airplane that my story begins with a young Amish man who wants to fly and the beautiful young Amish woman who wants to fly by his side. This story, The Wings of Morning, became the second work of Amish fiction from my hand to receive a contract.



Since then I have written a third Amish novel and have been contracted to write two more. I try to tell the stories as beautifully, dramatically, and, yes, and romantically as I can. I strive to make my characters real people, not cardboard cutouts of Amish men and women from Pennsylvania or Indiana or Ohio―not that anyone I know writes about the Amish that way, it’s just that I was worried I might have to do so to make a sale to a publisher. The publishers were looking for Amish romance all right, but they were looking for good stories that were also well written, with flesh-and-blood heroes and heroines that are attractive and inspiring. Being able to write authentic and true-to-life Amish fiction turned out to be far easier than I thought. In fact, it became enjoyable. It was like describing one beautiful sunrise after another as my characters found faith and love together in the midst of perilous and challenging circumstances.

The romantic aspect has never been an issue with me. I still love to court my wife, so it is easy to put romance in the words of my heroes and heroines. I would give my life for my wife and family, so it is not hard to put that same attitude in the hearts of my heroes. In fact, it is not difficult to imagine being the hero in my bride’s eyes, and doing the courageous and Christ-like things that need to be done, so there are no obstacles to putting all that in the good men of my Amish novels. Nor is it problematic for me to write about the strength and depth and heart of women when I admire so much the women of my world.

Although I write for a predominately female audience, I also endeavor to write in such a way that is not only attractive to the women of America but to the men of their lives as well―sons, brothers, husbands, and fathers. I want to create books a woman can read with pleasure and satisfaction, then turn around and give my books to the men of her world and say: “You’ll like this too. It’s a good read for men as well as women. Really. Give it a try.”

are the Amish technophobes?

are the Amish technophobes?

In my research on another subject a writer called the Amish technophobes and I paused to consider this. The word was used derogatorily and, as a writer of Amish fiction, I felt a bit defensive.

Possibly the writer who flung out this remark didn’t know the Amish had used Alexander Graham Bell’s invention for a decade before dissing it because it was being used as a means of talking about others behind their backs. He likely also didn’t know that many Amish communities keep a phone booth on site in case of emergencies. (The school teacher who alerted the police to the Nickel Mines shootings used such a phone.)

I doubt he was aware that the Amish use modern medical facilities, surgeries, and medicines to care for their sick when necessary. Nor did he stop to consider that, in their time, horses and buggies and well-made wheels were the modern technology of the day. Nor had he investigated and discovered that the Amish will fly on planes, take trains, and sit as passengers in cars and trucks. They aren’t permitted to own or pilot planes. Or own and drive cars. But they make use of them.

This involvement with modern technologies of the past and present hardly makes them technophobes.

But unquestionably the Amish have a healthy fear of modern technology. They are afraid it may destroy their families and churches and communities. Not because all technology is bad – as I’ve mentioned, they use modern pharmaceuticals and treatments. Simply because all technology is a two-edged sword.

One man uses the internet to look up Bible verses or even research Amish beliefs. Another uses it for the purpose of sexual trafficking. Nuclear energy can light up cities or blow up cities. Smart phones can help people communicate or help isolate them from others nearby they are too preoccupied to speak with face-to-face. If there are cyber blessings there is also cyber bullying. Cars take people to family and friends and on Christian missions. They also pollute the air of our large cities and make it almost impossible for certain people to go outdoors and get a breath of air.

So perhaps the correct terms to use to describe our Amish friends when it comes to modern technology are aware or cautious. As in techno aware or techno cautious. Or techno restrained. They are not knee-jerk afraid of technology nor are they against all technology. However they are very much aware of the harm technology can do and so are cautious of implementing all technologies that show up each year into their communities and homes without discussion and debate. Most of the rest of us just grab all the modern technologies that show up without a second’s thought.

It is the Amish who are techno wise. They reject much but they accept some.

It is a practice many of us could benefit from. Not every device that shows up on the shelves at Wal-Mart is a blessing or enhancement to the Christian lifestyle.

Or any human’s lifestyle.


Last 5 posts by murray

* Are the Amish Quaint? - January 17th, 2012
* Reader's Review from New Mexico - January 4th, 2012
* Virginia City Released - January 1st, 2012
* RT Reviews Top Pick - December 21st, 2011
* Before Amish were Amish - December 18th, 2011

Monday, February 13, 2012

a review by christian manifesto

Here's a cool book review of The Wings of Morning by Christian Manifesto:

The Wings Of Morning

Book Overview
Genre: Amish, Books: Fiction, Historical, Romance
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers
Author: Murray Pura

Pros:
Well-researched historical detail; encouraging presentation of the Amish; gets the reader emotionally invested in the story

Cons:
None!

Our Review:
5 / 5 - Near Perfect

2012 Lime Award Nominee


Reviewed by: Rachel Ropper

Share


Review

PUBLICATION DATE: FEBRUARY 01, 2012

It is 1917 and the Amish have not yet decided whether to ban the flying machines that are taking the country by storm. While they abhor the use of them as a weapon of war across on the frontlines of France, Jude Whetstone has been allowed to take flying lessons in Philadelphia and members of the Lapp Amish community are amazed at the tricks that his plane can do. But Jude is only intent on impressing one person – Lyyndaya Kurtz, a childhood friend whose parents do not approve of his flying. Being banned from spending time with Jude is bad enough for Lyyndaya, but when Jude and several other young men from their community are imprisoned for refusing to fight in the war taking place in Europe, Lyyndaya wonders if she’ll ever get to see Jude again. When Jude’s friends are mysteriously released from military prison on the same day that he volunteers to fly on behalf of the United States Air Force, Lyyndaya’s fears are confirmed as Jude is placed under the bann. But soon she has matters closer to home to worry about, as her sister and various other members of the community fall ill with the Spanish Flu. While continuing to write letters to Jude that she knows he won’t be able to read until he returns home, Lyyndaya helps the local doctor nurse her friends and family back to health. Meanwhile, Jude is quickly being lifted up in the ranks of aviation as members of the Air Force witness his flying abilities. But can he bring himself to kill? And even if he manages to survive the war without taking another man’s life, will he ever be accepted back into his community? And will they ever understand why he felt called to sign up?

Just as with Ruth Reid’s The Promise of an Angel, I was doubtful as to whether this unusual blend of genres would work. And just as I was completely won over by the angelic characters in Ruth’s novel, I completely fell in love with Murray Pura’s take on the Amish during the First World War. The Wings of Morning wasn’t simply an attempt to break out of the typical mould of Amish romances by sticking the story in front of the backdrop of WWI. Murray’s writing showed that he’d researched not only military camps and bases, the treatment of conscientious objectors and the role that aeroplanes played in WWI, but the actual flying of these planes. I don’t claim to be an expert on early twentieth century flying machines but I’ve visited the Museum of Flight in East Fortune and listened to my dad talking about aviation enough to figure out that the descriptions given in this novel had to be based on research. I never thought I’d enjoy reading flight sequences but Jude and Lyyndaya’s descriptions of their experiences surprised me and made me think about what it would have been like to fly in one of the open-cockpit planes that were flown in this period.

Murray presents us with a view of the Amish that hasn’t been overly explored before. Nowadays, we think of them as a religious group who have rejected many modern conveniences. But The Wings of Morning visits the Amish while they’re still trying to figure out whether or not to permit the use of electricity and aeroplanes, having recently banned the telephone and ownership of motorcars. The picture presented in this novel is not of religious leaders who wish to make life hard for their followers by rejecting the use of certain technologies, but of a group determined to preserve the bonds of family and community over convenience. The leaders of Jude’s community struggle to come to an agreement over how they should deal with his interest in flying and are unhappy when they feel they must shun him when he agrees to use his flying skills in the war in Europe. Murray definitely seems to have captured the essence of what we “Englishers” admire about the Amish, and while he doesn’t openly endorse their way of life, he presents the dilemmas and struggles that made them into the iconic people we see them as today.

The biggest issue surrounding the shunning of aeroplanes is that they can be used as a weapon of warfare, and although the Lapp Amish community may be joyful when watching Jude flying his plane at their Fourth of July picnic, they are acutely aware that the aeroplane is a force that can be used for good and evil. Jude struggles with this dilemma also when he finds himself based in France. He does not want to kill, but how can he sit by idly as his friends are shot down by enemy planes? Murray does not condemn nor endorse pacifism, and I appreciated that he didn’t take sides on this issue. I found myself becoming increasingly wrapped up in Jude’s struggle and wondered how I would react in a similar situation. While ideologically I oppose to the concept of war, I don’t think I could suggest that my country should not defend itself if it were attacked. The Wings of Morning subtly discussed this idea, as both Jude and Lyyndaya serve their countrymen and without compromising their beliefs.

I would class The Wings of Morning as a historical novel, but it does contain a romantic aspect to it. But because Jude and Lyyndaya are kept apart for the majority of the story it does not take on the conventional romantic structure that readers of Amish fiction will be familiar with. Jude and Lyyndaya are unable to receive letters from each other, but continue to write in the hope that when Jude returns from war he will be accepted back into the community and then they can read each others’ letters. I loved this device, as it kept the reader aware of the characters’ emotions regarding their relationship and gave them each a place to express their feelings about the wider situation of the war and the Spanish Flu. Of course, Jude and Lyyndaya get their happy ending eventually, but I felt it appropriate that the novel ended on a positive note considering all that they had suffered over the course of the book.

The Wings of Morning crosses the genres of historical, Amish and romantic fiction and will hopefully appeal to readers of each of these groups. Murray Pura shows the beginnings of being a popular voice in inspirational fiction and I look forward to reading more emotionally stirring and well-researched depictions of history in the next volume in his Snapshots in History series.

contest giveaway!

How about a free copy of the World War One novel The Wings of Morning? Check out this contest below:


http://thechristianmanifesto.com/giveaways/the-wings-of-morning-giveaway.

The contest ends on February 19th and the winner will be announced Monday the 20th.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

what's in a genre?

Lots of writers wrote genre pieces that became literature & lots of writers did and do both (John Grisham, for instance, if you'd like to consider a contemporary). Here's one of my takes on trying to do genre writing well.

http://www.christianfictiononlinemagazine.com/brilliant_genre.html

Thursday, January 19, 2012

happy endings or sad endings?

I can tell you this: in Toronto they'll get you to re-write happy endings so they are sad or just plain dark. No happy endings in literary fiction, that is seen as the domain of pop fiction, so it doesn't surprise me the reverse is true for popular fiction. Zo and White Birds both have sad endings. Though I am going to make the ending of the third in the series upbeat no matter Toronto says. But that is the way of things.

For me, I have written enough sad endings in novels and in almost 50 short stories (not all sad endings, just enough) that I find having the freedom to write endings that come together more pleasantly something of a novelty. I'm not in any hurry to write another sad ending & have no sense of need, calling or urgency to do so. I've done enough. Nothing to prove. I'll stick with sunshine for a while.

I've written about this many times and spoken about it at writers' gatherings, even secular ones - another ingredient: religious people must be dysfunctional if they're Christian - unless they're old & toothless and then you can write benevolently about them.

When I was writing in my 20s and 30s I was iconoclastic & I wanted to show Christians there were sad and tragic occurrences in life, that not everything could be turned into Cheez Whiz with a few Bible verses - I also wanted to show non-Christians a believer could write hard and true - with White birds, even though a main character dies at the end, I made more of an effort, an effort that began with Zo, to show a fullness of life: dark and light, bitter and sweet, happy and sad - life has both - Christians can't rejoice in or understand everything that goes wrong - but non-Christians can't say there is no happiness or forgiveness or hope - even in what I'm doing with you I want that fullness - so Wings has an upbeat ending - but as you know good people die in the book from war and disease and that shows the inescapable dark shadow that sticks with us in this life - see Psalm 88, Job, Jonah's prayer, Ecclesiastes, etc. - but definitely as a young writer I reacted to Christians dolling everything up & my first novel (Mizzly Fitch)was as dark as Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio in its way, and got me in a lot of trouble, though it's no different, really, than a text from the first part of Psalm 73 or any portion of Psalm 88. But few people know the Bible anymore except for a few favorite passages and books they continually re-read.

I think many Christians who want to write sad endings are simply trying to be honest about life experience and faithful to God in telling such tales - the difference between us is I got to do that years ago and don't feel the need to make the point anymore - but then I was not denied the opportunity as they are being denied the opportunity - but, as you say, I can't see Christian fiction becoming literary fiction so they will have to go to small publishing houses and low advances if they want to publish their tragedies - I suspect most won't do that.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

how do I start writing a novel?

It doesn't happen until I start the real writing. But it's like something pent up has been let loose, I can feel the opening inside of me, and there is a strong and steady flow that can cut through rock and earth that bursts forth and begins to go steady and sure. It carries me with it to places and scenes and characters I did not always anticipate or plan for and it is irresistible and unstoppable. It can be like a fire too and hurt & burn if I do not let it out and hurt & burn even if I do. I am swept away with it until we empty into the great sea of the ending. This very much happened with Wings and Heaven.


. . . .


I do bare bones plotting and envisage what needs to happen with each chapter (as well as one can knowing the plot will take twists and turns you didn't plan on) - but I most certainly don't nail everything down tight before starting - however I have a strong sense of direction and beginning and that propels me out of the blocks - then it's a matter of thinking and evaluating day by day as you write and things take on shape - I would never presume to nail everything down before writing began because the act of writing changes everything since it brings the ideas to life & anything can happen once you have life force.

writing about women

I was privileged to be interviewed by California author Keli Gwyn online. Here is an excerpt from that interview which has to do with me writing in a genre that is normally reserved for female authors. Keli's first novel will be published by Barbour in July at which time I hope to return the favor and interview her on my blog.

Keli: The stereotypical romance writer is female, so I’m impressed when I find a man who has embraced the genre. What do you see as the challenges and benefits of being a male romance writer?

Murray: I have a mother, a sister, a wife, and a daughter, and I have worked alongside female colleagues since I was young. So as a male romance writer my challenge is to reflect what I have seen and learned of the wonderful women in my life in the female characters I portray, especially the heroine. The advantage is, as someone looking in on the female heart and spirit from the outside, I see and value and highlight things that women writers might overlook or take for granted and so not portray. Women, in their strength and depth and mind and soul, are fascinating and I want to express as much of that as I can in my writing.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

are the amish quaint or relevant?

Are the Amish quaint?

Many people think so. They travel to Amish regions in the US and Canada, cameras ready, to take pictures of people who don’t want to be photographed just because those people look quaint or old-fashioned.

Quite apart from not wanting to be photographed, I doubt the Amish want to be thought of as quaint, especially when it comes to their Christian faith and Christian lifestyle. I know I wouldn’t be. Quaint makes you sound cute, sweet and out-of-date, and I wouldn’t want my Christian faith to be described using any of those terms. I’m pretty sure the Amish wouldn’t like those words applied to their faith either.

The Amish take their faith seriously – it is the reason they live and dress as they do. It is the reason they still use horses and buggies, the reason they meet in homes and not church buildings, the reason the women have their hair up under prayer kapps. They are what people call quaint because it is their way of following Christ. But to them their faith is alive and vibrant and has a lot to say to the modern people and modern times that swirl around them. Theirs is not a dead faith or an antiquated faith or a fossilized faith, as far as they are concerned. It is brimming with Jesus in 2012 – not just 1912 or 1812.

This is one of the challenges for both the writers and readers of Amish fiction – to make the Amish real in their minds and hearts and imaginations, not quaint, not dated, not precious throwbacks to another era that have nothing much to say about real life and a real God to this one. Yes, the Amish live in many ways as if it is still the late 1800s. But why they do it and what they believe has a lot to say to anyone seeking Christ or following him in the 2100s. So the writer and reader need to work together to make sure that the charm of an 1800s way of life the world left behind in a hurry in the 1920s and 30s is not the only takeaway from Amish fiction.

The commitment to one another and to community is important. Seeking God’s will and not the world’s is also crucial. The value of humility, quietness, peace, and self-sacrifice are right up there. So are avoidance of war, rejecting conflict with your neighbors, forgiveness, and deep and abiding relationships. There is much more, as careful writers, readers, and researchers know.

The challenge is to say with Amish fiction that there is a beauty to the Amish ways but not just because they drive buggies and plow with oxen and make butter with butter churns. The beauty is they do all that and remain absolutely relevant to the people of the 21st century. Especially those who are seekers after God, followers of Christ, and men and women lost in the maelstrom of modern life who wish there was another way, even a better way, for them to raise their families and live out the threescore and ten years God has allotted them.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

the wings of morning trailer

THE WINGS OF MORNING OPENS IN THREE WEEKS. HERE IS A TRAILER FOR THE BOOK. (YES, JUST LIKE A MOVIE TRAILER EXCEPT IT USES MORE STILLS.) ENJOY.



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iDTA6NuQCLs

Sunday, January 01, 2012

virginia city released

Virginia City Released

January 1st marks the release date of A Bride’s Flight From Virginia City, Montana. It will be in the brick and mortar stores when they open again Monday or Tuesday and available online right now.

A friend contacted me on Facebook this morning to tell me the ecopy she had pre-ordered showed up on Kindle early this morning and she had already started reading it. A ranching couple I had given a printed copy to for Christmas contacted me to say they had dug right into it and had had a great read over the holidays. So that’s a nice beginning for which I’m grateful.

The bare bones plot (if you didn’t pick up on it from earlier posts): A young woman attempts to keep two children safe from a murderer by fleeing east to her old home in Pennsylvania’s Amish country, a region she vowed never to return to. Now she must not only do everything in her power to ward off the killer who stalks them, but deal with the people, personalities, and issues that made her leave the Amish faith to begin with. One man tries to help her, but he is a man haunted by his own past – the slaughters of the Civil War made him vow never to fight or use a gun again. The killer, known as The Angel of Death, has no such qualms.

A surprise romance between the woman and man binds them closer to each other and to the two children. It even brings them closer to the Amish of Bird in Hand and closer to God. But from the killer’s point of view, the four of them don’t have a prayer . . .

I hope you pick up a copy and enjoy the ride!