Saturday, January 10, 2009

The 3rd Most Life Changing Book of 2008 is...

The 3rd Most Life Changing Book of 2008 is...
The Listener
by Terri Blackstock

I happened upon this book by accident and am so glad that I did. It is a true gem. It is simple, easy to read and short, but it is packed with so much amazing food for thought that is will make your mind swirl... What if I could hear the deepest cry of a person's heart? What if I could automatically know what lies within everyone else's smiles? What if I started looking at people like God looks at them? What is the deepest need in everyone's lives?

"The Listener" by Terri Blackstock will answer many of those questions and more - and in such a way that you won't want to put this book down until its done. Well written, great characters and a mind blowing storyline. This is a book that is fiction but you'll wish wasn't. Allow God to blow the doors off your mindset and read this book!

Now let's meet Terri...

1) Sometimes people think of authors as being bigger than life and not "real", so I thought we would start off with a very important question, one that will show people just how real you are! "What dessert can you not resist when it is time to indulge?"

Cheesecake! If it has strawberry topping, I'm a goner.

2) In your book "The Listener", Sam has a dream one night and when he wakes up he discovers that he has been given a gift - he can hear the deepest need in the hearts of the people around him. It is a little different than Sam being a mind reader, he is a heart reader (the original title of the book) - how did you come up with this premise for a book?

I was sitting in a special church service one day and the program had really moved me. The worship leader asked us to kneel at our pews and ask God if there was anything that I needed to repent of. I knelt and did that, and God reminded me that I'd made my writing about money lately. It wasn't that I was greedy, but my husband and I were trying to implement the Dave Ramsey method of paying off debts, and in an attempt to be more responsible, we'd gotten very focused on money. I would soon have two children in college and another coming up behind them, so we were trying to prepare. None of that was a bad thing, except that my work was supposed to be about glorifying God. So I repented there on my knees, and told God I would re-focus and make it about Him again. The moment I sat back in my seat, God gave me this story, fully formed. The idea--What if you could hear what God hears?--seemed like such a good one, that I wanted to shout. Silently, I rejoiced, thanking God for it. And then He said, in that still, small voice, "You can't take any money for this." It seemed like a perfect way for me to show that my repentance was real. I went home and stopped writing the book I was contracted for already, and in two weeks, I wrote this story. I gave all the proceeds to Samaritan's Purse for this book and its youth version, The Heart Reader of Franklin High, and I decided to write and market it anonymously. I thought that would make it less about me and more about God. Eventually, I began putting my name on it, because it wasn't selling that well with Anonymous on the byline. But it's gone through several evolutions. The Heart Reader's title has been changed to The Listener, and recently it was repackaged with its sequel, The Gifted, into a two-volume book called Miracles.

3) I was really moved by this book to the realization that people are hurting on a deeper level all around us. What do you hope that people take away from reading your book?

I hope people will realize that there's work to do. Jesus said, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few." We do so little for Christ's kingdom because we don't hear what God hears. We don't even act on the things we do hear. But if we're walking in the Spirit, then we'll be more attuned to the harvest around us. We are here for the purpose of bearing fruit and meeting the needs of others. That's what Sam learns to do in the book.

4) When I met you at the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) Conference in Minneapolis this year you said that this book was a labor of love for you. And I see in the forward that all royalties from this book go to Samaritan's Purse. What led you to do that?

When God told me I couldn't take money for this idea, I began looking around for a Christian charity that meets the needs of people, but also leads them to Christ, as Sam did in the book. Samaritan's Purse takes the message of Jesus all over the world, and meets their needs in many ways. I thought they would be a quite worthy recipient of the proceeds of this book. They're still getting them.

5) Through the course of the book Sam comes to a realization that people all need one thing - no matter what their heart is crying out for it all boils down to this - we all need Jesus. If Christians could grasp this it would change the world today. It is not about denominations, religions or doctrines - it is about Jesus. This is what really stuck out to me, do you think enough people today really understand this?

No, they don't. We spend more time worrying about what color the church carpet is or what they're serving for Wednesday night supper than we do about meeting the deepest needs of a dying world. We don't think like we should if we're walking closely with Christ. And frankly, I'm guilty myself. I need to read the book every year to remind myself of that message.

6) You are known for the series of books that you write like - the Cape Refuge series and the Newpointe 911 series and more recently the Restoration series. But The Listener was recently repackaged with another little gem - The Gifted - and rereleased. I am looking forward to reading The Gifted as well. Your newest book out is actually book #4 in the Restoration series isn't it? What do you have coming out next?

Yes, Dawn's Light is book 4 in the Restoration Series. It brings my global crisis to an end, and ties up the story of the Branning family, as God does a further "stripping-away" in them. I explored the subject of unanswered prayer in this book. Not the prayers that are answered "Maybe" or "Wait," but the ones in which God is silent. Haven't we all had times when we wondered if God was even listening? I thought this was something that needed to be addressed and explored. I'm not afraid to ask hard questions of God, because He can handle it. So I let my characters ask them, and my readers who've finished the series seem very satisfied with the way I brought it to an end.
My next book, Double Mind, will be shipping January 23rd, and should show up in stores around the first week in February. It's a stand-alone set in Nashville, about a singer/songwriter trying to make her way in Christian music, when she gets caught up in a murder that changes the way she sees everything. I'm very attached to my quirky character, Parker James. She's been floating around in my head for several years, so it was fun to actually bring her to life.

7) Where can readers find you online?

At, or on Face Book.

Terri has just recently had "The Listener" repackaged with its 'sequel' "The Gifted" so that is what she has agreed to giveaway! I'm so excited for all of you to have the chance to win this - I really have to get a copy of "The Gifted" for myself! If we get 35 comments or more then I will add a copy of the original "Heart Reader" as a 2nd prize! Here is what you do...

1) Leave a comment telling me what you think the deepest heart cry of everyone is (just a guess) with your email address and you get 1 entry

2) Blog about this giveaway yourself and leave another comment here and get 2 entries

3) Tell someone else about this interview with Terri and when they leave a comment with your name in it you will receive 3 entries

4) Become a blog follower (on the left of my blog you can do that) and receive 1 extra entry

Good luck!!!


ddurance said...

Hmmm.....deepest heart cry, maybe to be loved and accepted. After all, I think that's what all living beings, plant or animal really want.

deidre_durance at hotmail dot com

Stacie said...

I think its just to feel like you belong somewhere and can feel truly at home and at peace.

Stacie said...

I follow.

AmandaSue said...

To be loved.. I think we all want that in life. Thanks for entering me.
unforgetable_dreamer_always AT hotmail DOT com

windycindy said...

Hi! To be accepted for who they are!
That is my guess! Like the author, cheesecake with strawberry topping is wonderful. Please enter me in your drawing. Many thanks, Cindi

Carole said...

To be loved for who you are, exactly the way you are.

Thank you for this and all your great giveaways!

cjarvis [at] bellsouth [dot] net

Anonymous said...

We all need acceptance, affection and affirmation-The things God said to Jesus "You are my son, whom I love, in whom I am well pleased."


Mary said...

Unconditional love.


Lora Lease said...

I agree... LOVE.

Anna W. said...

It may look like I'm copying, but I believe it's unconditional love, too. This sounds like a great book; even if it wasn't, I'd read it because Terri's interview was so inspiring! Thanks for the giveaway!

writer_weaver at yahoo dot com

MJ said...

Love! This sounds like a great book. I loved the interview!

Cara Putman said...

Oh, please enter me. this book sounds wonderful. If I don't win, I think I'll have to go get it anyway. How cool that Terri is giving the royalties to Samaritan's Purse!

hippmom said...

I recently purchased this book - so don't enter my name. I jsut get excited when I see you giving away a book I already have. Now I may have to move up higher in my to be read pile!

Anonymous said...

I think the deepest heart cry of everyone is love :) *Thanks* for the giveaway!


Anonymous said...

I blogged about the giveaway :

Anonymous said...

I'm following you on Blogger :)

darbyscloset said...

Oh I love this post, her story about how this book came about!!!
My husband and I did the Dave Ramsey course as well and I can totally understand her drive to get her finances in line. What is in everyone's heart? My answer is "Love" or "to love and be loved".
Thanks so much,
darbyscloset at yahoo dot com

darbyscloset said...

I am a follower!
darbyscloset at yahoo dot com

Susan Stitch said...

I think that people need to feel loved and appreciated first and foremost. But this seems to be closely followed by a need to make a have a positive impact on the world, a reason for having been put on this earth.

I am a big fan of Teri's, and I'm excited about the concept of this book! Please include me in the drawing.

Abi said...

I would say deepest heart cry of people would be to be loved and understood.

ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

PS just signed up to be a follower.

Abi said...

blabbed about your give away on my blog.

ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

Gin said...

deepest heart cry is to belong-to be loved. Jesus meets that need.

Linda said...

I would say the deepest heart's cry is to be loved and accepted. God does both. Loneliness and rejection are so heartbreaking.


Jo said...

To be loved and accepted is what I think we all feel that we want and need. Otherwise, will feel very lonely and secluded from the world.


mez said...

I follow your blog.

lovedandamazed said...

I've never heard of this book before, but WOW what a concept! Sounds amazing.

If I were to guess what the deepest heart cry of people is, I'd say to know and be known. We all want to have deep fellowship with someone that loves us and accepts us while knowing every single thing about us. Jesus can be that person!


Carolynn W. said...

The deepest heart cry of everyone os to be loved. Everybody wants to know that there is someone in the world who loves them and cares what is going on in their lives.
Thanks for the chance to win!
carolynnwald at hotmail dot com

Becky C. said...

I think the deepest heart of cry of peope today, is the need to feel love, and to be loved uncondtinally, and to not feel alone. To have someone that cares for them no matter what! I know this is my deepest heart cry.

I am a blog follower

Please enter me in the contest.

Becky C.


Sarah said...

I think the deepest heart cry is to know that those closest to you really love you and will stick by you no matter what.

Please enter me

Janna said...

And the winner is...