Friday, October 1, 2010

LitFuse Publicity Blog Tour: A Friend in the Storm

Here's a description of the book: "This ninety-six page gift-book combines heartfelt poetry with powerful quotes and Scripture verses to speak to the heart and soul of anyone going through difficult times. The beautiful fabric binding with foil stamping makes this the perfect gift for anyone seeking comfort.

Author Cheryl Ricker reaches into the depths of human suffering from the perspective of Christ speaking to the reader in soothing poetic words.

This elegant gift book will reach the heart and soul of anyone facing difficult circumstances, leading them through their suffering into the arms of a faithful loving God.

Each two-page spread includes a poem, as well as reflections written by Christian leaders, along with healing Scripture verses.

My Review:

As is probably the case with many poetry book/anthologies, not all of the poems are going to be equally meaningful to the reader. I found some of these poems to be very intriguing and encouraging, and I found others to be a bit forced. The hard thing with rhyming in poetry is that sometimes it works wonderfully, and other times it just doesn’t seem to fit. This is what my mom and I discussed when I read her some of the pages from this book.

I must say that the book itself is lovely—the layout, along with the use of quotes, Bible verses, and poems together. The nature images in the book are both pretty and calming, in a sense.

Reading all the way through the poems is vital to really getting the full effect of the book. I was pleasantly surprised by the “twist” at the end, and the order of the poems took on more significance as I neared the end.

In all, I do think that some of these poems would be a comfort to those who are going through hard times, and many of the poems toward the end of the book are quite hopeful. However, I also feel that some of these poems and their unconventional analogies (which aren’t always a bad thing in poetry in general) might serve to confuse the reader, even if they do help the reader to think a little more deeply about what it is they believe. So, I might recommend reading this book first before giving it to someone else.

*With thanks to the publisher for my free copy of the book in exchange for my honest review, to be given during the LitFuse Publicity blog tour.*

About the Author: Cheryl Ricker has a degree in creative writing and has written columns and articles for various magazines and newspapers. She's been writing poetry all her life and her poems have won awards in fine arts and literary magazines. Cheryl lives with her husband and two sons in Rochester, Minnesota.

Please check out Cheryl's amazing website for more information.

The Book Trailer:

To Buy the Book: click HERE

Contest Information: All of the fun contest information can be found HERE!

Blog Tour Schedule: Check out all the other reviews scheduled by clicking HERE and scrolling down.

Q & A with the Author:

Question: What do you love the most about poetry? Do you feel that poetry elicits (and expresses) certain feelings that no other form of literature can elicit?

Answer: I love poetry because of its compact musicality and mystery. Using sound and rhythmic language it plays on our imaginative awareness to evoke the most emotional responses.

Poems are sacred trusts. They’re songs of sorts. We all know how music reaches the heart like nothing else. Poems move people to change. They play with words, sculpting them to help people to see differently.

Other forms of literature lack their quality of creative distillations of truth. Poems are shiny golden nuggets you can repeatedly turn in your mind to catch different angles of light.

Question: Do you have a favorite poem from A Friend in the Storm—one that is especially meaningful to you?


Your Advocate

Don’t worry when they judge you;
Only I can judge a heart.
As the Christ who crossed each crisis,
I will barricade each dart.

They misjudged Me for a devil,
peering gravely through pinched eyes,
but I gave beyond the grave
so I could save and make you wise.

Many of my poems connect people’s pain with Christ’s. As someone who has been misjudged in the past, the one helps me remember that not only am I sharing in the sufferings of Christ, but my sufferings also have a redemptive purpose. “All things work together for good to those that love the Lord and are called according to His purpose.”

Question: For those people who are perhaps perplexed/confused by poetry, do you have any thoughts you can share that might spark more appreciation for this writing form?

Answer: I get confused by a lot of poetry myself. When I write poetry I want to make people think, but I don’t want them to give them a headache trying to figure things out.

If you’re perplexed and confused by certain poetry, maybe that’s not the kind for you. As in all writing, there are many different types. Try something that works, but don’t give up so easily.

If you can’t find the kind of poetry you like to read, try writing it yourself. It’ll give you a new appreciation for poetry as a whole. Who knows; you might even start a new style that somebody (like yourself) has been hoping to find.

Take a chance.

Question: Do you have any tips you can give us on the craft of writing poetry?

Answer: I can tell you one of my techniques for writing rhyming poetry.

Jot down a provocative word, then start writing all the words you can think of related to it, and keep branching out. It’s a great brain-storming technique. Then start circling the best of the best key words.

As they’re spot-lighted, you may get an idea what you want to write about. Try to nail down your main point into a single sentence. Look at your circled words and next start brain-storm rhyming from them. Look at it like you’re building and piecing together an intricate puzzle.

Don’t be afraid to radically change things around. I work on paper so I can see what I’m doing. I have lines going in every which way, but they all help me map out my progress.

Stay prayerful, and keep writing until it sings. Read it aloud, and have someone else read it. Ask a teenager if they can understand it. Put it through the ninth degree. That’s what I do. I hope this helps.


Julia M. Reffner said...

I agree with you, Amber. Rhyming poems can definitely be forced at times. My family picks on me because I am known for not giving cards...because I can never find ones that I like.

Amber S. said...


Picking just the right card can be difficult indeed. ;) Do you make your own?

Anyway, thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts! I hope I didn't sound too harsh on this book, because it would certainly be hard to compile a whole book of poetry all under the same theme. I'm in a poetry writing class right now, and there's not much rhyming going on...I guess they consider it too risky. ;) I feel bad because the poems I write for that class aren't necessarily the poems of my heart. The poems I love to write are ones like "Seasons of Humility."

Sorry I talked your ear off!


Julia M. Reffner said...


No, I don't. Usually I just buy pretty notecards and write my own message.

I wish I had the opportunity to take a poetry writing class. Most of my poetry is unrhymed. I love your Seasons of Humility poem and poetry is one part of the writing craft that is just for "me" (if that makes sense). My poems are some of my most personal writing and it doesn't seem there is as much call for poetry.

Hope you're feeling better :)

Amber S. said...


I love pretty blank notecards! My mom sent me a package the other day, and she included some of those, with colors that fit with fall. :)

Poetry is very personal, isn't it? I think that's why I don't write from my heart for my poetry writing class--since we do editing and make comments on each other's work, it seems like it would be too hard to have someone judge the work you love, you know? I prefer simply going off of the prompts they give me and trying my hand at various types of poetry that I normally wouldn't experiment with. :)

Thank you for the kind sentiments! I am feeling better, but I think I'm just going to take the whole day off if I can. I'm still somewhat congested, so it's really nice just hanging out in my room with my laptop, my books, and tissues handy when I need them. ;) And then I'll have the weekend to try to regain my energy!


apple blossom said...

I have an award for you on my blog.

thanks for blogging

Amber S. said...

Apple Blossom,

Thank you so much! :D I really appreciate your kindness in sharing this award with me!


Vince said...

Hi Amber:

I am never comfortable with any book in which the author purports to be speaking for or as God – especially where quotes are used.
No one is that smart! But a lot of people are that pretentious. I just won’t read them.

I like poems that rhyme but with these poems you really have to know what you are doing. You also need a lot of talent. You need to be a poet. I think rhyming poems are to free verse as realistic painting is to abstract art. But don’t tell you teacher this. : )


Amber S. said...


That is definitely a hard thing to get around. I signed up to review this book because I enjoy poetry and it looked very sweet. But yes, it is difficult to know that the author is trying to speak from God's perspective. I think, however, that she was simply trying to share the comfort and hope in general that we know God offers us. Thank you for sharing your perspective; it's definitely an important thing to consider!

I enjoy rhyming poems, too, and while I like some that don't rhyme, in some of my more personal ones I think I do tend to enjoy writing rhyming poems. I guess it depends on what mood I'm in. ;)

Oh, I know what you mean when you say "I think rhyming poems are to free verse as realistic painting is to abstract art"! Like I said, sometimes free verse can flow and fit really well, but sometimes you read it and you're...confused. I don't think it's that my teacher doesn't approve of rhyming at all, but I think she would prefer we use it very cautiously and sparingly. I think we have somewhat different views on poetry, because it seems that nowadays using "poetic" language is considered using "archaic" language, which is apparently hard to relate to and not very authentic to actual emotions.

My teacher wants me to write a rant poem to her about my frustration with some of this. ;) It's nice to try out different styles of poetry writing in class, but I just don't think the kind of poetry I write for class will be my first love, if that makes sense.

Sorry I ended up rambling! Thank you for sharing your thoughts!


Vince said...

Hi Amber:

I love the idea of a rant poem. So I just had a satori. : )

To rant or not to rant
That is the question…
Is a salesman an it that stinks to please
Do the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo
I could rant
But no I can’t
What would I say
“Et tu Brute”
It’s all clich├ęs
cummings, eliot, shakespeare
names just names
that students fear
a rant is a rant is a rant
and licquor is quicker
and Gertrude Stein
now looks like Picasso
this much I know
Vivamus – Let us live
forget the rants
like Zorba
let’s dance

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your comments everybody.

Amber, I agree with what you said: "Poetry is very personal, isn't it? I think that's why I don't write from my heart for my poetry writing class--since we do editing and make comments on each other's work, it seems like it would be too hard to have someone judge the work you love, you know?"

Yes, Amber. I know. I wrote inspirational poetry for my a secular college class and felt like I was thrown in a lion's den. A lady who was in the Wicca religion sent me a hate letter and the teacher called me jaded in front of the class when, among many other things, I refused to participate in a New Age activity "mind-opening" activity . God just told me to love them.

Your comments are heavenly in comparison to theirs.

Amber, as you know from my interview, I started writing these poems for a friend dying of cancer. I didn't have a clue at the time that God was going to open an amazing door with Zondervan. It's been a five year publishing journey and I've sought God's voice every step of the way.

A Friend in the Storm isn't about me, an imperfect author, it's about Him and how He can Sovereignly use anybody, even me, to speak to a hurting world.

I've sought Him with all my heart, and now I'm celebrating the news of lives that have been changed through A Friend in the Storm.

It helped one lady start communicating with God again. She even went back to church.

I hope Christians reading your post will join me in praying that many more lives will be touched and transformed
by the power of the Living God!

Thank you.

Cheryl Ricker

Amber S. said...


What can I say? ... Thank you! Nice rhyming, by the way. ;)


Amber S. said...


Thank you so much for taking the time to stop by and leave a comment! :) It's so nice to actually be able to "meet" you after participating in the LitFuse Publicity Blog Tour.

I really appreciate your understanding when it comes to writing poetry for classes. I can't imagine how hard it must have been for you, and I'm so sorry you had to go through that. I have been very privileged to go to a wonderful Christian school, so while my preferences for poetry might not be the same as my teacher, I have never been put down for my faith here. Now, I have been told that some of my poetry is too sentimental...but I guess that isn't too bad. ;)

I really hope that my review did not discourage you at all from writing for the Lord. I wanted to share my honest opinion, but the last thing I would want to do is be brutal--I know critical words are not enjoyable to hear! Your book was very sweet and I am thankful I had the chance to read it. Some of the poems seemed a little force, but poetry really is quite subjective. However, I did want to let my readers know that some of the poems might be confusing, since the analogies you use at times are a bit unconventional.

In any case, I hope you continue to seek God's will, and may He use you to reach out to others and share His love! :) Thank you for sharing your heart with us!