Monday, February 27, 2012

BOOK REVIEW and AUTHOR INTERVIEW: From Darkness to Light

From Darkness to Light

Francine Gilchrist

Word Alive Press, 2010; 110 pages

My Review 

by Carley Cooper

How many people have you met in your life that you can say their lives truly could be; or should be, a movie?  Francine is one of those people.  The further I read into her story in From Darkness to Light, the more my mouth dropped open in shock.  I found myself shaking my head in disbelief and even, at times, crying over what she had suffered. 

Francine comes from a very large family in a small town in Quebec.  She found herself on the streets at a young age after having been through some terrible childhood traumas.  From there she would experience a string of bad relationships; and be taken to various parts of the country as drugs, alcohol and crime took over her life.  However, that wasn’t the worst.  She would also end up in and out of jail.  Not to mention, having to live through a horror that most of us could not imagine, let alone survive.  Life made her very hard and bitter. 

What she didn’t know though, was that God was taking care of her.  He brought a couple of people n into Francine’s life who would show her a kind of love that she never knew existed before.  It was a love that led her to a whole new world where she would have an important impact on many lives. 

Pick up Francine’s book, From Darkness to Light and see for yourself the whole story of just what she endured.  Her life provides the rest of us with a great example of how much Light that God can shine into one life when things look their darkest.  Because of her courage, alone, to step out and share this story, I give her 5 stars.

My Over-all Rating

Author Interview

Author, Francine Gilchrist
WM:  In the publishing world, you are still considered a new author.  Tell the world a little about yourself.
FG:  I am French, and was involved in underworld; crime, drugs , alcohol. jail.

WM:  Tell me about your book, From Darkness to Light, and what inspired you to write it?
FG:  From my past, one day someone said to me "Why don't you write your story?".  Then I started writing, after some praying and asking God if it was ok with Him.

WM:  What is your favorite part of From Darkness to Light?
FG:  When I accepted Jesus in my life.

WM:  What was the hardest part to write in From Darkness to Light?
 FG:  When I wrote about the beating and gang rape

WM:  Is there anything that you wish was different about the book? 
FG:  Maybe more story about 20 years later.

WM:  What’s the best thing about being an author?
FG:  That you can influence someone life to change, because you doing the real message.

WM:  What advice would you give aspiring writers?
FG:  If God put on your heart to share, go for it.

WM:  How did you come up with the title, From Darkness to Light?
FG:  I been speaking since I got saved 35 years ago.  So I had a brochure made to introduce myself, and truly I was in the dark before I meet Jesus.
WM:  What is the main message in your book that you want readers to grasp?
FG:  That we are to forgive the one that hurts us, so God can used you for His Glory

WM:  What book(s) are you reading now?
FG:  I read Christian Romance, Biography of peoples that served God. Beverley Lewis and Francine Rivers are my favorite authors.

WM:  Do you have any plans for future projects?
FG:  At the moment I am translating my story in French, and it will also be released in Spanish.  I am hoping to find a producer to do a movie on my life story.  My next book will be called Real People Real Stories, that's next year.

WM:  Who do you feel supported you the most, outside of family members?  
FG:  Different individuals, Christians, and street people.

WM:  Who designed the cover?
FG:  Word Alive Press in Winnipeg

WM:  Did you learn anything from writing your book, or about the writing or publishing processes, and what was it?
FG:  First, that it takes a lot of courage to reveal your past history; especially the hurt and pain.  Next, is that you need help from your publisher, who should never let you down.  I had great support from a lady name Jen from Word Alive Press.

About Francine Gilchrist

Book Synopsis:  
Francine Gilchrist was born into a family of thirteen children in Mont-Jolie, Quebec.  At far too young an age, she found herself living alone on the streets-a life that would lead her to be raped, addicted to drugs and alcohol, and involved in crime.  Hardened and bitter Francine thought there was nothing more to life.  Until a dear woman cared enough to take her in, give her a chance, and help her to turn everything around.  These days Francine's life and ministry are dedicated to helping others find a second chance.

Her life currently:  
Author, Francine Gilchrist &
husband, Pastor Bill Gilchrist
Francine and her husband, Bill, reside in Barrie, Ontario.  Since 1991, they have pastored and operated the Upper Room Outreach Ministry, as well as serving numerous ministry-related service agencies throughout the area.

Francine also conducts weekly Bible Studies, and is involved extensively in street ministry and one-on-one evangelism, both individually and as Chaplain of ‘The David Busby Street Centre’ in downtown Barrie.  Francine has hosted the annual ‘Upper Room Outreach Ministries’ Ladies Retreat in Central Ontario since 1997, which has grown each year since its inception.

To this day, she and Bill remain active in the ministry of the Salvation Army in Barrie.  Her bubbly and loving personality, along with her sensitivity to both God and the needs of others, have made her very effective in sharing Christ’s love to those she comes in contact with, and has allowed her to become a popular speaker wherever she ministers. 

Connect with Francine if you are in the Barrie area and:
  • are in need of help
  • are in need of counseling
  • you would like to attend a weekly bible study group
  • would like to attend the Upper Room Annual Fall Weekend Women's Retreat,  and / or
  • need a guest speaker at a Christian function. 

Monday, February 20, 2012


The Big Red Chair

Brenda J. Wood

Alloway’s Printing and Publishing, 2011, 31 pages

My Review

Grief can be disabling for the strongest of those among us.  Understanding and dealing with the loss of a loved one is something that each one of us will have to deal with at some point in our lives.  It can send a person into a complete and uncontrollable tail spin  if you don’t have the right tools to learn to move on. 

For children, it can be even more difficult because they just don’t have the life experience, mental or emotional growth to comprehend what’s happened.  If you have a child that is dealing with grief over the loss of someone important in their lives, The Big Red chair is a great stepping stone to helping them adjust in a story format that they can identify with. 

Brenda Wood, who just lost her husband, Ron, last year, has lovingly shared her memories, and photos, of her family; in a wonderful story that centers around a big red chair that didn’t start out to be so loved.  Then, Afi (Icelandic for Grandpa) gets sick goes to heaven.  Her Grandchildren, though, can still remember Afi with all the love and laughter they shared with him, by still using his Big Red Chair.

A loved one may have left your life and gone to Heaven; but their love has not.  It still lives on inside you.  Understanding that we need to hold on to the happy memories, so we can still feel that love, is an important part of the grieving process.  This book will help your child learn to start doing just that.

The Big Red Chair also comes with an audio CD of the story; with Brenda, herself, doing the narrating. 
My Over-all Rating

Author Interview

Author, Brenda J. Wood
WM:  You wrote The Big Red Chair, to help grieving children; and were obviously inspired by the need to help your own Grandchildren.  How were you able to write during such a difficult time?
BW:  Writing helps me face life's pain. I write day in and day out about everything.  Somehow that Big Red Chair got into all our pictures. I should have called the book the Big Red Ham!  I'd been working on a funnier version but when my husband died, I had to change the ending.

WM:  What was your favorite part of The Big Red Chair?
BW:  I love that the chair journals our life.

WM:  What was the hardest part to write in The Big Red Chair?
BW:  The hardest pages for me are the ones when Ron looked so ill.

WM:  Do you think you will write more children’s books?
BW:  Yes I have one with an illustrator right now...its called Dishing Up.

WM:  What’s the best thing about being an author?
BW:  The best thing about being an author is that you are your own boss. The worst thing about being an  author is that you are your own boss!

WM:  Is there something different about being a children’s author over your other works?
BW:  In some ways it is harder to write for children. They know what they want and they expect that you do too.

WM:  How did you start writing?
BW:  I've always written but I got serious about it when I heard that journalling helped you recover from sexual abuse.(P.S. -it does!)

WM:  What are you working on now?
BW:  Meeting Myself, Snippets from a Binging and Bulging Mind, is due out in a few weeks. It’s a rather funny, sad book about my eating disorders. I'm very excited because it will be in multiple formats. Next years book is about my journey through grief.

WM:  What advice would you give aspiring writers, especially those who may want to write for children?
BW:  There's tons of advice for wanna be writers. My favourite is this. If you never ever write, you will never ever be read.

WM:  Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
BW:  God is my greatest supporter.

WM:  Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
BW:  The biggest writing challenge for anybody is to sit yourself down on a chair and write.

WM:  Did you learn anything from writing The Big Red Chair and what was it?
BW:  God reminded me how much he loved me.

WM:  Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers; either the children or the parents?
BW:  Don't forget the answer to the last question. He loves you too....

About the Author, Brenda J. Wood
Brenda is a popular motivational speaker; noted for her common sense wisdom, sense of humour and quirky comments.

A prolific author, her other books include:
  • Meeting Myself: Snippets from a Binging and Bulging Mind
  • Heartfelt: 366 Devotions for Common Sense Living
Follow Brenda at:
and connect with her on Facebook at: 

Brenda also contributes daily devotionals to Everyday Christian

Monday, February 13, 2012




Paul Duarte

First Amendment Publishing, 2012, 135 pages

My Review

As a friend of Paul Duarte, I can say that he has never done anything small.  He pushes the boundaries beyond expectation in everything he does.  Even his physical disability hasn’t slowed him down.  Shakedown, is no exception.  This is a book that will, no doubt, cause a lot controversy.  Duarte is a newbie in the book writing world, but shares his own incredible true story very well.  It is a tale of one man’s strength through the overwhelming trauma and aftermath of the murder of a dear friend.  The story leads you through, as the cover says; murder, police deceptions, lies and extortion.  You will get a glimpse of what it feels like to see an investigation from the inside view of a murder suspect.  It’s a view of authorities who will stop at nothing, including the law to get their man; except it’s the wrong man!  You will be left with your mouth dropped open in shock at the lengths some will go to in order to make a situation turn out the way they want it to.  Shakedown is exciting and will leave your heart thumping!  The most incredible part is that Paul Duarte comes through it all still holding onto his faith.

My Over-all Rating

Author Interview

Author, Paul Duarte

WM:  In the publishing world, you are still considered a new author.  Tell the world a little about yourself; and about your Christian background.

PD:  Yes, I am new in this business, however sheer determination and will power keeps me motivated and moving forward.  I am a perpetual student of life, theology and human behaviour.  I have studied at such Institutions as the University of Toronto, Humber College, Canada Christian College and Hope for Tomorrow Theological Studies (where I taught theology for two years).  I was born a Catholic, but evolved into a Pentecostal and eventually into the Church of Philadelphia. 

WM:  Tell me about your book.  How did you come up with that story?

PD:  Shake down is a story of a real life drama, which took place in the summer of 2009 / 2010.  A story of the brutal murder of a friend and neighbor in Opasatika, ON, Canada.  It is a story of a vicious, cold and calculated murder of a man trying to make a living as a taxi driver.  It is a story of highly illegal shenanigans the police are capable of in order to get answers.  In this day and age of High Speed Internet and High Tech Forensics, a murderer walks free.  The story takes place within an approximate radius of a thousand kilometer or so.  Ranging from its centre of Kapuskasing ON to Toronto and as far as Kitchener, ON.  This is a story of entrapment (a highly illegal activity used by the police), where the police will pose as the Mafia, vigilantes and your friends.  A story of betrayal by close friends and people you thought were close to you.  People you socialized with party with and never thought that they would sell you out.  A story of how the police ruin one’s own life without cause or evidence, and how friends will easily turn against you.  A story of how someone’s life gets turned upside down, simply by being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Someone perhaps like you!

WM:  Your book is very controversial.  So much that you started your own publishing company to publish it because other  companies will not take the risk.  Why are you willing to take the personal risk associated with this book?

PD:  I am willing to take the risk, because stories like these need to told.  The public has a right to know, what goes on behind the scenes of law enforcement and those who are suppose to uphold justice, freedom and liberty for its citizens.  I am willing to take the risk because the story hits home and people need to know that my story could just as easily happen to them or anyone else. 

WM:  How will you avoid law suits for things such as deformation of character, infringement on privacy, or worse?

PD:  By faith! and because I have nothing to lose if you read the book, you will know why.

WM:  Many will question portions of this book.  How much of the book is fact?  Have you embellished any of the facts?

PD:  It is ALL fact.  Some of it is clear, some of it by deduction.

WM:  Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

PD:  I want my readers to know that what they are reading, could of just as easily be them they are reading about. 

WM:  Who has supported you the most through this project?

PD:  I would have to say my ex, Tammie; since, even though she was not involved in any way, the police made it their business to put her life through hell as well.

WM:  What do you wish was different about the book?

PD:  Nothing!  I am telling it like it is.  How it happened to the best of my recollection. 

WM:  What is the hardest part of writing for you?  The hardest part of writing this particular book?

PD:  The hardest part was reliving the story over and over. 

WM:  What was your favorite part of the book?

PD:  I really don't have a favorite part, however the sting operations were definitely the most interesting.  

WM:  How did you come up with the title?

PD:  "Shakedown" is a term used by the police when they try to rattle a suspect for answers.

WM:  What are some of your best discoveries as you lived this story?  As you wrote the book?

PD:  I discovered how the police can stoop to illegal activities such as entrapment to try to get answers and that those who have swore to protect us can't always be trusted. 

WM:  What discoveries did you make about his writing process and the publishing world?

PD:  The publishing world will not publish anything unless it is sugar coated even if the story takes place in a different country.  Thereby censoring freedom of speech and in the US, their first amendment.  They want to play it safe even though, it is not their words and they did not write the book!

WM:  Tell us your latest news?

PD:  We have started our own publishing company, We believe that censorship is an infringement to the first amendment in the US and freedom of speech in Canada.  So this is why we do not have a legal department as most conventional publishing companies do. We believe that "we" the people need to take back responsibility for our own actions and our own freedoms.  Without "Freedom" there is no "Liberty." Without liberty there is no freedom. 

WM:  What are you working on now?

PD:  I am working on a romance novel of a man that traveled halfway around the globe in search of true love and happiness but never quite reaching it.  The name of the novel is "On The Edge Of Paradise." 

WM:  What book(s) are you reading now?

PD:  I haven't had much time to read lately with all these projects on the go, but I am trying to read a book by David C Pack entitled "Where Is The True Church

WM:  Where can people purchase your book?

PD:  At this moment the book is only available on line on our website, however when the book goes live probably late March, 2012 it will be available at: 

Monday, February 6, 2012


Letters to Ethan

Tom McQueen

Seraphina Press, 2010, 154 pages

My Review

I am sitting in front of my laptop trying to think of what I should say about this book.  The only words that keep flashing in my mind’s eye are “Wow” and “AWESOME”.

Ethan is one incredibly blessed young man to have someone so loving in his life as his Grandpa Tom!  He’s also blessed to have someone who is so aware; and so in touch with, both, God and the makings of the human spirit.  This book will bless not only Ethan, but it will bless you too.  If only each one of us, could have started out life, and continued on through life with such fantastic support, advice, lessons, and guidance as Ethan; the world would, literally, be a different place.  We would all have close relationships with Jesus and with each other. 

 My Over-all Rating

Author Interview

Author, Tom McQueen
& Ethan

What sparked the idea to write Letters to Ethan?
One day I started thinking about my own mortality and how I would want to be remembered by my children and grandchildren. I just didn’t want to die and leave them a memory, although positive memories are certainly important and valuable. I wanted them to know that they’re here for a purpose, that God loves them; that I love them; and I wanted to share the mistakes and miracles of my own life with the hope that it would be of some benefit to them as they encountered their own challenges and opportunities in the future.

Why do you think it’s important for letters to be left behind?

I believe that it’s important to leave letters for your children and grandchildren to give them a perspective on life in general, your family traditions, the role that faith has played in your family as well as the wisdom that you’ve acquired over the years. In addition, each letter is a ray of hope in that it communicates to the recipient that we all face challenges and obstacles in our lives and that with patience, persistence, passion, and purpose those challenges and obstacles can be overcome and result in a meaningful life.

Do you really think letters can have an impact on young people?

Absolutely. I’ve seen the results first-hand in adult children whose parents left legacy letters for them. In addition, when parents have shared letters with their adult children, the feelings of joy, contentment, and satisfaction have strengthened the bond between them immensely. In addition, when a young person realizes that a grandparent took the time to write them a legacy letter, it has a definite impact upon their sense of self-esteem and self-worth.

What inspired you to start Legacy Nation? (

Two events triggered my passion for Legacy Nation. First of all, I had two sets of grandparents --- one that I lived with growing up in a two-story flat in upstate New York and knew as well as my parents, and the other set of grandparents that I never met. I still remember the happiness that I enjoyed with the grandparents that lived upstairs and the sadness that I felt at now knowing anything about my paternal grandparents.

I saw Legacy Nation as an opportunity to bridge two worlds. Parents and grandparents could write letters to their children and grandchildren on an ongoing basis while they are alive, sharing their wisdom, experiences, trials and tribulations, joys as well as the faith, hope, and love that they have in their kids and grandkids. Their children and grandchildren then would have those letters as a legacy that they could learn from and continue to build for their children and grandchildren as well.

At the same time, our nation is hurting. We need a re-energized faith, a new hope, and a return to that family foundation of love and respect that our forefathers relied upon to build these United States of America.

Progress is wonderful, technology is great, and the speed of change is a fact of life. Unfortunately, traditional family values are feeling the pinch from our current economic crisis and the demands placed upon our time result in less meaningful interaction with our kids and grandkids. I’m worried about the future of my children and grandchildren.

I founded Legacy Nation as a means to return to those values that made our nation great as well as an admired and respected people, a beacon of hope to mankind, and a blessing to our children and grandchildren.

If you could offer just one piece of advice to the next generation, what would it be?

God gave you three priceless gifts: your emotions, your intellect, and your will. And if you remember this thought you’ll know what to do with them: “God said, ‘Let’s build a better world.’ And I said, ‘How? The world is such a cold, dark place and so complicated now that there’s nothing I can do.’ God in all His wisdom said, ‘Just build a better you.’”  

Where can we find out about more opportunities for a free copy of this book? 

Follow @ChristianSpkrs on Twitter. 

I was given a complimentary copy of this book from the author in exchange for posting the author’s interview on my blog. This blog tour is managed by Christian Speakers Services (

Check out the Letters to Ethan virtual book tour on the Christian Speaker Services Facebook page (click here on the CSS Virtual Book Tour photo)


Author Tom McQueen, America's Grandpa
on The Balancing Act - Lifetime TV