First and Goal, with Holly Michael and Jake Byrne

“Maybe God wants me to have diabetes for a greater purpose.”

My son spoke those words to me more than ten years ago after getting diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.

I admired Jake for his faith and for his determination in not allowing diabetes to block him from his goals…and as a fourteen-year-old he had big ones, like getting to college on a football scholarship.

Jake reached that goal. He played football for the Wisconsin Badgers as a tight end for four years. While in college, he looked toward the next goal—the NFL—a long shot for a diabetic kid struggling to manage the disease along with football and college life.

With a lot of hard work and the grace of God, Jake accomplished that goal too, playing for the New Orleans Saints, the Houston Texans, the Kansas City Chiefs, and the San Diego Chargers.



FirsandGoal-Jake Byrne

Today, he has reached a new goal. Jake is an author! And this proud mom couldn’t be prouder.

Though I played a role in ghostwriting First and Goal, the words are all Jake’s and the Lord was definitely with us as we undertook this very fun and inspiring endeavor to share in devotional form Jake’s determination to never give up, no matter the obstacles.

Published by Harvest House, and released on August 1, First and Goal is already coming out as a bestseller in Teen & Young Adult Football.

A great gift for any teenager pushing toward goals, the devotional has also been read and reviewed from kids to grandmothers and has received rave reviews.


51P3l-0MnSL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_Book Blurb:

Jake Byrne dreamed of playing professional football. He had the size, the talent, the drive…but at age 14, he found out he also had type 1 diabetes.

Still, Jake was determined to reach his goal. And God was determined to guide and empower him all along the way.

Jake’s journey to the NFL is the backdrop for this collection of inspiring devotions based on nearly a hundred football terms. Jake takes you to the weight room, practice field, and even across the goal line. You’ll feel as if you’re lined up next to him, facing a very large defender you’re about to take down. He also includes Scripture and then ties up each story in a way that feels real and encouraging. You’ll discover…

• what to do when God calls an audible in your life

• how to respond when God puts you on special teams

• why prayer is never an incomplete pass

These quick daily readings will help you press through your own difficulties and experience God’s dream for you.


PhotoBio for Jake: Jake Byrne grew up in Rogers, Arkansas. A type 1 diabetic since the age of fourteen, he has since been proactive combating the disease and mentoring diabetic youth. He played football for the University of Wisconsin as a tight end, and went on to compete in the NFL. Originally an undrafted free agent who signed with the New Orleans Saints in 2012, he has also been a Houston Texan, Kansas City Chief, and San Diego Charger. Jake lives in Dallas with his wife, Emma, and two four-legged kids: Duke the Dogo Argentino and Yeti the Great Dane.

  • Jake blogs at
  • He can be reached through the following social media:
  • Facebook Page (Type Won):
  • Twitter: @sugarfreejb82
  • Instagram: Jakebyrne81
  • Email:


Bio for Holly Michael: Holly Michael has enjoyed a writing career as a journalist, features writer, and a regular ghostwriter for a Guideposts magazine before authoring novels and nonfiction books. Married to Anglican Bishop, Leo Michael, Holly has three grown children; daughter Betsy and football-playing sons—Jake (NFL) and Nick (University of Louisiana-Lafayette). Kansas City, Missouri is home and she blogs at

Contact her at or on Facebook @ or Twitter: @HollyMichael

IMG_1177First and Goal: What Football Taught Me About Never Giving Up

Holly Michael joins her NFL player son, Jake Byrne, in this football-themed devotional published by Harvest House August 1, 2015. First and Goal can be purchased at most book stores and online book sellers.

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We Have Winners!

Congratulations to:

Gail Kittleson


Terri Tiffany

Winners of Sally Chambers’ book “The Stonekeepers”

Many thanks to Sally for sharing her book with us and to all who entered.

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Monday Giggle

For those of you in the workplace:




Enjoy the day!


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COTT: Five Summertime Reads!

What a great bunch of books to take on vacation or read under a shady tree this summer. Selections include a Regency romance, a thriller, the story of an abandoned child found by the shore and two Westerns. Peruse below and let us know which one you’ll put on top of the stack in your beach bag. Scroll down and vote in the survey box. Then let your friends know about these interesting reads.

Unmasked Heart by Vanessa Riley
A young woman reconciling the lies of her birth must learn her true worth, unmasking her heart to true love, but will she find her soul mate in a duke running from scandal? With everything she knows to be true evaporating before her spectacles, can the mulatto passing for white survive being exposed and shunned by a powerful duke who has taken an interest in her?
Rodeo Reunion by Shannon Vannatter
Slade Walker, the bronco-riding rodeo chaplain breaks all of widowed Raquel’s rules—find a father for her son with a safe occupation, who’s home every night. He can’t turn his back on the cowboys who need him, but Raquel and her boy need him, too.
Two Days in Caracas by Luana Ehrlich
In this pulse-racing Christian thriller, Titus Ray, travels from Costa Rica to Venezuela in an effort to stop Ahmed, a Hezbollah assassin, from murdering a high-profile government official.
Finding Mia by Dianne J. Wilson
Isobel is on the beach hunting for her muse. What she finds is a toddler, sunburnt and close to death.
The Rancher Takes a Cook by Misty Beller
When their South Carolina home burns to the ground, Anna Stewart’s only choice is to move with her younger brother to the wilds of a Texas ranch. When danger escalates in the form of a band of cattle thieves with deadly intent, can Anna learn to release control to God’s capable hands…and those of the blue-eyed cowboy who’s stolen her heart?

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Amish Fiction from a Man’s Point of View: Patrick Craig w/Giveaway

Writing Amish Fiction from a Man’s Point of View, by Patrick Craig

PCraig2aWhen I first started writing Amish fiction, I had a short story in mind about a master quilter from Apple Creek, Ohio who found God, a little lost child, and a new life in the heart of a snowstorm. When I showed the story to my agent, he encouraged me to turn it into a full-length series of three books. Now, three years later, the last of those books, Jenny’s Choice, has been released and I am still telling the story of the Hershbergers and the Springers in The Amish Heiress. The setting has moved from Apple Creek to Paradise, Pennsylvania, but the characters and the stories are part of an ongoing thread that has captured my heart and kept me busy since 2010.

The interesting thing about my foray into Amish fiction is that before I started the Apple Creek Dreams series, I knew nothing about the Amish or about quilting—absolutely nothing. I had never read an Amish fiction novel, even though, as I discovered, Amish fiction was the largest selling Christian genre for years. And I think that this has been a good thing. I’m not exactly known in Amish circles as someone who writes a typical Amish novel. I think that’s because I read too many Zane Grey books when I was a kid. His books had adventure, mystery, and danger and, for those of you expecting a typical light-hearted romance dressed in Amish clothing when you read my books, you will certainly find far more than that. Adventure aside, Zane Grey was also one of the best romance writers that ever put pen to paper and, in the end, good Amish fiction has to have romance, and plenty of it.

I, along with most men, am a romantic at heart and as a Grey devotee, I know that two things captured the hearts of his readers: enduring male characters that were noble and strong, protected women, kept their word and were not afraid to face down evil even if it meant their death, and female characters that were pure, noble, capable, and worthy of the love that the men in his stories lavished upon them. So those are the men and women I try to bring to life in my stories.

Also, when I write, I try to keep in mind that there are certain archetypal themes—plots and conflicts— that the characters, both men and women, need to be set inside to cause their noble qualities to rise to the surface. Then the reader can have their own character changed for the better by identifying with the strength of my protagonists, be they men or women.

Another thing I always remember as I write: the written word is powerful in its capacity to pervade the mind and heart of those who read it. When someone picks up my book, there is an implied acceptance of the ideas I am trying to get across in my writing. The reader is thereby opened to my words and thoughts. Like a baby bird with its mouth gaping open waiting for mother to feed it, my reader has given me the right to speak into their lives. Because of this acceptance, my words can penetrate a resistant heart, simply because the choice to read my book opens the door to the truth it contains.

Because of that, as a Christian writer I always try to remember this: stories should be about love, deep abiding love—love between people and ultimately, they should be about the love our God had for us when He sent His own son to solve the dilemma of the ages and bring peace and joy to our hearts. And that is the greatest story ever told.

As a Christian, what are the qualities you look for in a book?

My Latest book, The Amish Heiress will be available in August on Amazon, B&N and GoodReads.

My Latest Book:

The-Amish-HeiressBook Title: The Amish Heiress

Author: Patrick E. Craig

Publisher: P&J Publishing, Caldwell Idaho

Release Date: August 5, 2015

Genre: Amish Fiction / Romance /Adventure

Book One in The Paradise Chronicles series

Click here to enter my book giveaway: A signed copy of one of my books!– one signed copy of The Amish Heiress

The Amish Heiress Back Cover Blurb

Rachel Hershberger’s life in Paradise, Pennsylvania is far from happy. Her papa struggles with a terrible event from the past, and his emotional instability has created an irreparable breach between them. Rachel’s one desire is to leave the Amish way of life and Paradise forever. Then her prayers are answered. Rachel discovers that the strange, key-shaped birthmark above her heart identifies her as the heir to a vast fortune left by her Englischer grandfather, Robert St. Clair. If Rachel will marry a suitable descendent of the St. Clair family, she will inherit an enormous sum of money. But Rachel does not know that behind the scenes is her long-dead grandfather’s sister-in-law, Augusta St. Clair, a vicious woman who will do anything to keep the fortune in her own hands. As the deceptions and intrigues of the St. Clair family bind her in their web, Rachel realizes that she has made a terrible mistake. But has her change of heart come too late?

Author Bio:

Patrick E. Craig is a lifelong writer and musician who left a successful songwriting and performance career in the music industry to follow Christ in 1984. He spent the next 26 years as a worship leader, seminar speaker, and pastor in churches, and at retreats, seminars and conferences all across the western United States. In 2011 he signed a three-book deal with Harvest House Publishers to publish his Apple Creek Dreams series. The books are historical Amish fiction and the first book, A Quilt for Jenna, was released February 1, 2013. The second book in the series, The Road Home, was released September 1, 2013. Book number three, Jenny’s Choice, came out February 1, 2014. His current series is The Paradise Chronicles and the first book, The Amish Heiress, will be out in August 2015. Patrick is represented by the Steve Laube Agency. Patrick and his wife Judy make their home in Idaho and are the parents of two adult children and have five grandchildren.

Where can readers find me online? (Webpage)

Where can readers purchase my books? (Amazon)

Attention Readers: Patrick is conducting his own giveaway. To enter, please click on the link provided above.


Thank you, Patrick, for being a guest on Whispers in Purple today. It’s been a pleasure to get to know you and your background into becoming a writer of Amish fiction. Fascinating.

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What’s in a Name? Part I

“That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet.”

William Shakespeare (1564-1616)
Romeo and Juliet (II.ii.43-44)


In the seemingly never-ending process of cleaning out old files, I came across and old article, with the same title, I wrote for Northwest Christian Author, a publication of the Northwestern Christian Writers Association which appeared in their 2001 November/December issue.

Of course, there my cleaning-out venture came to a halt as I read through it again, after almost 14 years.

I’ve updated the article a great deal and, with your indulgence, I’m sharing it here. Of course I had to find a purple rose!

Shakespeare had it right. But, suppose you’d never seen or heard of a rose, or smelled its heady fragrance, and someone pointed to it a said it was Skunk Cabbage, or Stinkweed. Would you be willing to bury your nose into its petals and discover that intoxicating scent?

Names are important, not only in naming babies , but giving our story characters the right name is extremely important. We have to get the right one to make them believable. And the name must match our characters’ basic makeup, behaviors, personalities characteristics, and so forth.

Character naming is a craft by itself. For example, you want to portray an honest person? Frank or Mary Candhor. Clever? Wiley. Courageous? Daniel Lyons. Insightful? Hawkeye Pierce. <Grin>

Choose a name with the right sound. Say it aloud. Many times the way a name strikes the ear will be a better choice than its meaning. Take Bond and Scaramanga. Any doubt as to who’s the bad guy? Next, make sure the name is easy to pronounce out loud. Some readers will just skim over a name like Pryzloskivitch, but others–like me–want to know how to say it. Yes, I’m aware there a many differing opinions on this. That’s just my opinion. And there are exceptions. Ethnic names, for example. You have to be true to your story and setting. In that case, you might want to find a way, perhaps through dialog, to let the reader ‘see’ how it’s pronounced. Then again, if you’re writing War and Peace, or Dr. Zhivago, unpronounceable names come with the character of the story. I’ve read both and I had to take the time to study the gender nomenclature.

As a writer, the task of naming the ‘child’ you have created is far more laborious than it would be for the ‘normal’ parent.

I’ve devoted a lot of time in studying names, their meanings, and am almost obsessive in naming my characters.

Come back next week, Wednesday, for more on this naming game.

Now, I have a question for you–IF you’re a writer . . . how do YOU go about naming YOUR characters? C’mon, join the conversation!


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Character Interview: Lexi Christensen, from Sally Chambers’ “The Stonekeepers” w/Giveaway

Welcome, readers! The other day, I had a golden opportunity to lure Lexi Christensen–the lead character in THE STONEKEEPERS–away from Sally’s office to ask her a few personal questions while Sally was away.  Shhh…don’t tell Sally, okay?



Hi, Lexi, thanks for coming over. To get started, tell me the most interesting thing about you.

Hello, Mrs. Phifer! Thank you for inviting me to visit with you and share a little about myself and of what’s happened in my life lately.

You asked what the most interesting thing about me is?

Well, right now my creator is kicking me under the table. ☺ She knows I’m bursting to tell you something that would be a spoiler for readers. So I’ll back off a little and tell you that I think my middle name is the most interesting thing about me (among a half-a-dozen other things she tells me are off limits!) Usually one spells Evangeline like this. Not my middle name. Mine is spelled Evengeline, and     E-ven means stone in Hebrew. I never paid much attention to it until recently when its Hebrew meaning was shown to me. In that moment, it became crystal clear how important stones are in my life.

Q. Your creator? You mean Sally found us out, after all? Oh, well, just shows what a close watch she keeps over you! Anyway, let’s continue. What’s your most favorite thing to do for fun?

Mmm—not an easy question—too many favorite things to choose from. Okay if I tell you about two favorites? I love being outdoors and I love horses, so when there’s time, horseback riding on the beach with my two best friends is the best! But one other favorite fun thing my best friend, Jenni, and I do is help with and read to kindergarteners and first graders once a week. They are totally adorable!

Q. What do you put off doing because you dread it?

Ever try to coax a stubborn 70 pound dog into a tub? I dread that scene! My dog has a paranoid aversion to water—but not just any water. He’s fine with the ocean, ponds, sprinklers, hoses, faucets, even swimming pools, but just mention the word bath and he’s on his back, whining for mercy, or halfway under my bed, probably thinking I can’t see him. He just hates getting a bath. But guess who stands still as a statue, loving it when the hair dryer flips on? The old guy’s a conundrum!

Q. I know you are still very young, but…what are you most afraid of?

Age is a state of mind for me—I feel at least 25 after all that’s happened so far this summer. I used to be pretty fearless. Now I suppose I’m most afraid of being in a crowd of noisy, pushy people. It’s a recent fear. I was at Boston’s Logan International Airport, and what should have been an uneventful boarding ended up terrifying instead. Keeping really busy is helping me work through it, and a few other borderline traumatic things I’ve had to confront.

Q. What do you want out of life? How do you envision your future?

Finishing college is primary. Career, marriage, children—and I’m not worried about in what order they occur. I know my life is in God’s hands and it will happen in His perfect timing.

I’m going for a degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science—focus on Computer Science. Since it looks as if I’ll be staying in Nantucket after college, I’ve decided to take Dad up on his offer to shadow him as he runs his company, sort of become his protégé. Who knows where that might lead? And all along the way, I pray I’ll make a difference in others’ lives.

Q. Name something that is the most important to you.

My relationships—with God, family and friends. They never walked away when I went through the most tumultuous few weeks of my life. They helped when they could and when they couldn’t they encouraged, supported, and loved me through it. I’ve found that there’s nothing, no one, in this world more valuable and irreplaceable than family and friends.

And I’m thankful for a deep, abiding, knowing, that God will never leave nor forsake me. He’s proved it over and over—like when I’d wake up panicked at choices I faced, as well as when I looked into the ugly blackness of mortal danger aimed in my direction.

Q. Do you read books? If so, what is your favorite type of book?

Yes, I love to read—always have. I grew up reading richly illustrated children’s books and wandered through the classics. I love reading anything that inspires, uplifts, stretches, or challenges me, whether it’s fiction or nonfiction, including suspense, mystery, adventure, intrigue, historical, and creative nonfiction. One author I like, Tom Clancy, challenged me in his first book with learning the anatomy of a submarine—just one of the types of books I enjoy.

Q. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I’d be much less of a perfectionist, which would make me more patient and understanding with others and with myself. (And I could reel off all the fruit of the Spirit from Galatians 5:22-23 right here!) My two best friends, Jenni and Ridge seem to always be running late and it drives me crazy!

Q. I know you have a dog that is precious to you. Tell me about him.

My McDuffy McGillicuddy McFee? I’d love to! We call him Gilly. He’s a gorgeous golden retriever with chestnut eyes. Hard for me to remember, but on my third birthday, Mom and Dad tell me he was one lively puppy when he was delivered in a big wicker basket. I’ll share a little scene from my story with you. He was in my bedroom while I was deciding what to take with me to college and I stooped to stroke his silky fur, thinking about him. My throat got tight and my eyes blurred with tears. Dogs should have a place in dorms. “I’m going to miss you so much, old guy,” I said to him. But my tears turned to laughter when his rough tongue started swiping away at my salty, wet cheeks. Love that dog!

He’s a dear old man now, and it’s a wonder he’s still alive after . . . well, that’s another scene for another day.

Q. You had a wonderful–but dangerous–opportunity to go to modern-day Israel. Have you ever thought you’d like to time-travel back to ancient Israel?

You must have been looking around in my dreams! Yes. I have wondered about what it would be like to be in ancient Israel. But I‘d like to drop into the days when Jerusalem was besieged by Babylon’s king, Nebuchadnezzar and the Lord allowed two kinds of treasures to be taken from the city.

The first of the treasures that were taken were some of the articles of the house of God, the temple. I want to see what those things were. Were they some of the gold and silver? Or maybe the even the Ark of the Covenant?

And then the second of the treasures that were taken were “some of the children of Israel,” in particular, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. Our children are our national treasure and these young men were Israel’s. I want to see how these four young men, exceptionally “good-looking, wise, knowledgeable and quick to understand, with the abilities to serve and teach language and literature,” reacted when they were first found, tested, and chosen by the marauding Babylonians.

And then—many generations later, I’d like to join the shepherds on the hillside near Bethlehem, hear the Good News from the lips of angels, and, with them, kneel beside Mary to praise God and touch the soft, precious hands that saved me. I want to run with them into Egypt, watch Jesus as he learned carpentry from his dad in Nazareth, and stand beside Him in awe at His first miracle of water into wine at a Cana wedding.

Those were all fun questions to answer! Thanks again for inviting me to share with your Whispers in Purple blog readers, Mrs. Phifer!

My pleasure! Thank you so much, Lexi, for sneaking away to help me out. Though I guess we weren’t as clever as we thought, huh?

  ~ ~ ~   ~ ~ ~  ~ ~ ~

GNow, about that giveaway mentioned aboveGIVEAWAY CLOSED

The Stonekeepers Cover 2Lexi and Sally are offering to give away TWO copies of THE STONEKEEPERS: one paperback (sorry, Lower 48 states only) AND one eBook copy, (KINDLE version only) to give our International readers a chance to win. All you need to do is leave a comment below with your email information so we can contact you if you win. To keep the ‘bots’ from stealing your email, disguise it. E.G: zippity [at] doodah [dot] com. Easy. Also be sure to tell us where you live (US or other) as there will be two (2) drawings.

Giveaway will run for two weeks, ending Tuesday, July 28, at Midnight Central Time.

Don’t have a Kindle? Amazon offers a free Kindle App you can download for your PC, MAC, or other Android tablet. Just go to:

Extra Incentive: Be sure to check out  the two previous posts about this book: Sneak Peek, and What Floats Sally’s Boat? and come back here and mention something from BOTH posts in the comment section and you will receive a second entry in the drawing. Invite a friend to visit and comment, have them mention you sent them. Your friend will get an entry, and you will get a THIRD entry. How ‘bout that?


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