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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Blog Tour Spotlight on Rene Gutteridge and Boo! Humbug

Here is spotlight #2 for this week. And remember, there are 3 previous ones before this one with chances still to win. I'll choose a winner for Miralee's book tonight. So check that post for the announcement.

Lots of chances for FREE books. Don't miss out.

Today, despite my lack of interest in even recognizing Halloween, I figured at least featuring a book with "scary" elements and Christian spiritual threads would supercede the evil that occurs today...even if the subject matter is more Christmas-related. :) Enjoy!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rene Gutteridge is the author of 10 novels, including the Boo series, the Storm series, The Occupational Hazards series and My Life as a Doormat, a Women of Faith selection for 2006. She has been published over 30 times as a playwright, and holds a degree in screenwriting, graduating magna cum laude from Oklahoma State University. Rene is married to Sean, a musician, and they have two young children. They make their home in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

BOO! HUMBUG
By Rene Gutteridge
BUY YOUR COPY TODAY

ABOUT THE BOOK

Readers have come to love the eccentric characters from Skary, Indiana, in Rene Gutteridge's popular Boo! series. Now, in Boo, Humbug! they're back – and they're stirring up a large amount of holiday havoc.

It's Christmastime in Skary, and the town is planning an original production of A Christmas Carol with a horror spin. As showtime approaches, things go very awry for director Lois Stepaphanopolis. She panics when she discovers that her marketing director loathes Christmas and that the audience has been promised not Dickens' A Christmas Carol, but the real Christmas story. Can the actors pull off the improv of all improvs and convince their community to embrace the true meaning of the Christmas season?

Boo, Humbug! offers readers a delightful glimpse into small town, community life with heartwarming humor and winsome characters. And in the end, the true meaning of Christmas shines out bright and clear, in a decidedly un-Skary way.

SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEW

1. This is book 4 in your Boo! series, and it features the same eccentric, zany characters from Skary that have been spotlighted in your previous books. What gave you the inspiration for this story?

I'd told everyone I wasn't doing anymore Boo books. I felt like I had a good finish with Boo Hiss and didn't want to force a plot just for the sake of getting another book out there. At Christmas dinner my sister asked if I was going to write another one and I joked, "No. I don't have a good title." And she said, "Boo Humbug." My eyes widened and instantly I knew I had to write another one. It was a very smooth writing process. It flowed easily. The theme was apparent from the start. I was very happy to do this book. It brought a lot of joy the entire time I was writing it.

2. How much of your own experiences influenced the character of Lois? What aspects became traits that were hers and hers alone?

Ha! Well, Lois is a very strange, delicate, eccentric character. Since the moment she was born into Skary, she fit right in and added so much delight. I don't know that I'm like Lois at all. I think I wish I were a little more like her, actually. She drives people nuts but she doesn't know it and that's got to be a good thing in life! (At least for her!)

3. What themes exist in Boo! Humbug that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the story progressed?

The themes aren't unexpected. Since I'm dealing with Dickens and A Christmas Carol I don't think readers will be surprised by the theme necessarily, but I think will be delighted at how the theme is delivered. It's a unique spin on a familiar but life changing idea we continue to struggle with in our country: the true meaning of Christmas.

4. What were your most difficult parts to write? Your favorite?

The difficult part was picking the passages from Dickens and correlating that with my book. But every time I found the exact right passage, it guided me in that chapter, which then made it easier to write. My favorite part was the end. I think once people read it, they'll know why.

5. When is your next book coming out and what is the story?

My next book is Skid, which is the third book in The Occupational Hazards series, featuring Hank. Nearly the entire story takes place on an airplane!

Thank you so much! It means a lot that you would take the time to set up the interview. God bless you and your blog!

Warmly,
Rene

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Thank you, Rene, for being in the spotlight. Readers, leave a comment for your chance to be entered in the drawing for a FREE, autographed book. If you don't wish to be entered, say so when you post. This week, the contest is open to US/Canada residents only.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Spotlight on Kathryn Cushman and A Promise to Remember

Another day, another spotlight. I have THREE this week. But don't forget to post comments on the 2 from last week. We only had 1 or 2, and that's highly unusual for this blog. Lots of chances for FREE books. Don't miss out.

Today, I have the privilege of featuring yet another debut author with her first book. Already, she's received excellent reviews and accolades. Enjoy!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Katie Cushman is a graduate of Samford University with a degree in pharmacy. After practicing as a pharmacist, she left her career to stay home with her family and has since pursued her dream of writing. A Promise to Remember is her first novel. Katie and her family currently live in Santa Barbara, California.

A PROMISE TO REMEMBER
By Kathryn Cushman
BUY YOUR COPY TODAY

SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEW

1. This is your very first book! Congratulations! You've got two different women headed for a collision with each other and the impact that changes everything. What gave you the inspiration for this story?

There was a car accident near Santa Barbara a few years ago. It also involved teenagers and a legal case—although the rest of the circumstances were very different. Any time they talked about the story in the news, I always felt such great empathy for both mothers. Writing this story gave me a way to explore both sides a little deeper.

2. How much of your own experiences influenced the characters of Andie and Melanie? What aspects became traits that were theirs and theirs alone?

I had originally planned to loosely base Melanie's personality on a good friend of mine, but from the very first scene, Melanie went her own direction. Andie's personality I based quite a bit on myself, which made it especially painful when the first critiques came back. "I hate Andie, she's such a spineless wimp." Ouch!

3. What themes exist in A Promise to Remember that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the story progressed?

The major theme doesn't really become apparent until pretty close to the end, so in the interest of not creating a spoiler, I won't mention that one. Some other issues addressed are parental liability, self-preservation, and standing up for what's right.

4. What were your most difficult parts to write? Your favorite?

The most difficult scenes were the ones where either mother was remembering her son. Especially hard were the scenes where Melanie was at the graveyard. I always gave my daughters an extra big hug after writing those parts.

5. When is your next book coming out and what is the story?

My next book is coming out Fall 2008. The story is about a young pharmacist who must decide whether to reveal a co-worker's negligence or preserve what's left of her family after their own tragedies.

Thank you so much, Tiff!

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Thank you, Katie, for being in the spotlight. Readers, leave a comment for your chance to be entered in the drawing for a FREE, autographed book. If you don't wish to be entered, say so when you post. This week, the contest is open to US/Canada residents only.

Friday, October 26, 2007

CFBA Blog Tour - Matt Bronleewe and Illuminated

Well, this is a first in the history of my blog and the weekly spotlights I do here. On Wednesday, I spotlighted a debut author, Miralee Ferrell, and not a single post or comment has been made. Not one. That has never happened. Makes me wonder if everyone is preoccupied elsewhere or if other things are happening this week to keep folks away. It's part of a large blog tour, and the other blogs don't have many comments either.

But you don't want to miss this book. It's an excellent one. You have until Wednesday, October 31, to comment for your chance to win. BUT, you also can leave a comment on any other blog on the tour. For each comment, your name is entered for *another* chance to win a FREE autographed book. So don't delay. Scroll to the next post and leave a comment here.

Now...

CHRISTIAN FICTION BLOG ALLIANCE

introduces

ILLUMINATED

by Matt Bronleewe
BUY YOUR COPY TODAY!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Matt Bronleewe is a recognized producer, songwriter and author. The former member of the band Jars of Clay, has earned numerous awards producing and co-writing albums that have sold a combined total of over 20 million copies. His songs have recently been recorded by Disney pop sensations Aly & AJ, American Idol finalist Kimberley Locke, and more. Bronleewe has worked with Grammy Award-winning artists such as Michael W. Smith, International pop singer Natalie Imbruglia and Heroes star Hayden Panettiere.

Born in Dallas, Texas, Bronleewe was raised on a farm in Kansas, where he lived until he left for college in 1992. At Greenville College in Illinois, Bronleewe formed the band Jars of Clay with his dorm roommate and two neighbors, and the group soon found success. Though Bronleewe opted to leave Jars of Clay early on to pursue an academic career, he soon found himself in Nashville, co-writing, producing, and playing music professionally.

To add to his list of accomplishments, Bronleewe has expanded his love of story telling beyond music into authorship. He is currently penning a 5 book series for Thomas Nelson Fiction. Illuminated, in stores now, begins the adventurous series about rare manuscripts and the mysteries within.

Bronleewe currently resides in Brentwood, Tennessee with his wife and three children. He continues to write and produce music, and he also volunteers through his church to help disadvantaged youth in the community. Bronleewe enjoys reading, taste-testing good food and watching sports, as well as indulging his interests in art, architecture, design and science.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

IT'S BEEN 500 YEARS IN THE MAKING...PREPARE TO BE ILLUMINATED...

August Adams has failed his family before. He's sacrificed relationships in pursuit of adventure, fame, and money. Now the very lives of those he loves depend on his ability to decipher a centuries-old puzzle encrypted in the colorful hand-painted illuminations that adorn three rare Gutenberg Bibles.

It's a secret that could yield unimaginable wealth, undermine two major religions, and change the course of Western civilization. Two ruthless, ancient organizations are willing to do anything to get their hands on it. And August has the span of one transatlantic flight to figure it out.

If he fails, those he holds most dear will die. If he succeeds, he'll destroy a national treasure.

The clock ticks, the suspense mounts, and the body count rises as August pits his knowledge and his love for his family against the clock, secret societies, and even Johannes Gutenberg himself.

"...this rare breed of suspense thriller combines mysterious hidden clues, secret societies, buried treasure, double agents, and the Knights Templar...if you turned National Treasure into international treasure, traded DaVinci codes for Gutenberg Bibles, married it to Indiana Jones, and added the pacing of 24 you'd be in the neighborhood of Illuminated...on a scale of one to 10, this one goes to 11."
-Aspiring Retail Magazine

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In addition, you can post a comment for your chance to win a FREE copy of this book. US/Canada residents only. Drawing to be held on November 2nd. Come back to this post to see if you've won.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Spotlight on Miralee Ferrell and The Other Daughter

Today, I am one stop on a long blog tour of others who are also featuring this book. Find the complete list at the bottom of this interview. AND, Miralee will be doing a BONUS drawing for a FREE book from ALL of the comments left on ALL of the blogs on her tour. So, the more comments you leave on every blog, the more chances you'll have to enter. Visit them all and follow the tour. You'll not only learn a lot about Miralee, but you'll gain a LOT of chances to win.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

I'm over 50, married for 35 years, and have two wonderful children, Marnee and Steven. I'm active at our small church, serving on staff with my ministerial license and working with women in a counseling/ministering capacity. My husband and I are looking forward to full retirement soon and taking off for a few months at a time on our 51' sailboat, where my writing will take on an entirely new creativity. We have a horse, a dog and two cats that my daughter and her husband will inherit while we're gone. Thankfully, they live on the adjoining property and are animals lovers, too. Visit my blog and my web site.

THE OTHER DAUGHTER
By Miralee Ferrell
Four-star Review from Romantic Times
Available Now!
BUY YOUR COPY TODAY

The girl standing at the door took a deep breath, pulling her suitcase a little closer to her trembling legs. "My mama's dead. He's my daddy."

Susanne Carson knew that she could trust the love of her life—her husband, David—until she discovered a strange, unkempt young girl on their doorstep, claiming to be David's daughter.

Not that their marriage had ever been perfect—David's decision to embrace the Christian faith had strained their relationship. Susanne may not have agreed with his beliefs, but at least she trusted him. Had David been hiding this not-so-little secret from his past? He wanted Susanne to believe in his God, but believing hadn't done much to keep David out of another woman's arms.

As David confronts the truth of his past, Susanne must face her own moment of truth as her marriage is taken to the breaking point and the life of one young girl is left in her hands.


Read the entire opening scene at Miralee's web site.

SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEW

1. You have a book about forgiveness, secrets, healing and faith. What gave you the inspiration for this story?

Great question and one has a very personal answer. I was brainstorming with a friend who suggested I use an experience from my life as the basis or theme for my first novel. I ran through several scenarios in my head, as we've had many interesting things happen in our marriage...some great, some not. This personal incident did indeed capture the essense of secrets, forgiveness and healing...not as much in my life as in our marriage and the life of an 18-year-old girl. About 17 years ago my husband received a letter stating a young woman believed him to be her biological father she'd never met. We agreed to meet and hear her story, and after some investigation came to believe he probably was her dad. The episode was similar to that of David in the book...a one-night-stand prior to his becoming a Christian, but that's where the similarity stops. He was not dating me at the time, and I had a strong relationship with the Lord and didn't have a problem accepting Trish into our lives.

2. How much of your own experiences influenced the characters of Susanne and David? What aspects became traits that were theirs and theirs alone?

David's character and responses are much more me than my husband, and the way Susanne deals with stress depicted my husband in the earlier years of marriage. He struggled with alcohol and 'kicked against the pricks' to use a biblical term....or just plain fought against anyone's authority being above his, including God. That's since changed and our marriage is strong and stable, but it wasn't always. We did have a divided household where the aspect of our faith was involved and many times it was tough. Very tough. Some of David's frustrations with Susanne and her way of dealing with life came from my memories of the same type of circumstances.

3. What themes exist in The Other Daughter that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the story progressed?

The most important theme to me is the one of releasing control of your life to your Heavenly Father, and seeing that He cares more about your future than you ever can. Until a person bows their will to His and falls into His arms, there will be no true, lasting peace....and it's tough to find real forgiveness, or give it to others.

The character of Grandfather, a part Native American relative of David's, didn't exist in the first rough draft, but came quite some time after. He was brought into the picture to help both David and Susanne examine their motives and reactions to one another and to Brianna on a deeper level. He's a picture of unconditional love that we all wish for in our lives and the type of person we could all use, when we're heading the wrong direction.

4. What were your most difficult parts to write? Your favorite?

The most difficult parts were the revising. I didn't really experience any struggles in the initial writing...it flew from my fingers and mind onto the computer screen as fast as I was able to type. I did the initial rough draft in five weeks, but the revising and editing and additional scenes took several times that long, as I had so much to learn. I found it difficult to tone down a couple of people who needed to be rude and or snotty, but also had to do so in a believable way. My first attempt was very sad....they were straight out of a Grade B movie, LOL!

My favorite parts I think, were developing the characters....especially the children and Grandfather. They came alive for me. Of course, the two younger kids, Josh and Megan, were very similar to my kids, Steven and Marnee at that age, so they sprang to life with little effort. There are no similarities to anyone else real besides those two people, and David and Susanne. But characterization comes easy to me, regardless and my greatest joy is working to develop characters the reader will feel they know. That's what I look for in a book and what I'm trying to give to my readers.

5. When is your next book coming out and what is the story?

That's up to Kregel and my readers, quite literally. They choose not to give multiple book contracts to a new author, with good reason....they'd like to see some sales figures from book 1 before signing for book 2. So far I've had pretty good results, with my ranking steadily rising on CBD, but the jury's still out.

The second book is nearly finished and ready to present to Kregel and my editor there is excited about the story line. It follows a secondary character in The Other Daughter named Jeena....pronounced Gina.... She's a bit of a pill---not a Christian, a bit worldly and very career minded, but has had some very hard knocks growing up and a couple of devastating ones as an adult. So far my advance readers have wanted to spank her, hug her, cry with her and shake her....but the few that I've allowed to see it so far have been rooting for her to make it through the dark shadows that are rolling in around her. Sorry, wish I could tell you more, but don’t want to spoil it! Not sure of the title yet...but I'm considering Past Shadows or Sheltered...again, that will ultimately be Kregel's decision.

Thanks so much for having me here, it's been a lot of fun talking about some things that I'm not often asked.

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Thank you, Miralee, for being in the spotlight. Readers, leave a comment for your chance to be entered in the drawing for a FREE, autographed book. If you don't wish to be entered, say so when you post. This week, the contest is open to US/Canada residents only.

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BLOG TOUR DETAILS, DATES AND BLOG NAMES

OCTOBER

20th - Karen Phillips---Sky-High View
LaShaunda Hoffman and See Ya On The Net

21st - Angie Arndt---The Road I'm Traveling

22nd - Deena Peterson---Deena's Books

22nd - Teresa Morgan---Teresa Morgan's Blog

23rd - Rose McCauley---Stories of Faith, Hope and Love

23rd - Pattie Reitz and Fresh Brewed Writer

24th - Cecelia Dowdy---New Christian Fiction Reviews

Tiffany Amber Stockton--A Fiction-Filled Life (You're HERE already!)

25th - Bonnie Way---The Koala Bear Writer

Stormi Johnson---Write Thoughts

26th - Robin Grant---Queen Of Perseverance

27th - Delia Latham---The Melody Within

28th - Jennie McGhan and Jen's Life Journey

29th - Susan Lohrer ---Inspirational Editor

30th - Carla Stewart---Carla’s Writing Café

31st - Christina Berry--- Posting with Purpose

November

1st - Bonnie Leon---Bonnie's Blog

2nd - Jan Parrish---Bold and Free

3rd - Tina Helmuth---The Ink's Not Dry

4th - Teresa Slack and ShoutLife Blog

5th - Pam Meyers---A Writer’s Journey

6th - Betsy St. Amant---Betsy Ann's Blog

7th - Megan DiMaria---A Prisoner of Hope

8th - Christa Allan---CBAllan WordPress

9th - Susan Marlow---Suzy Scribbles---Homeschool Blogger

10th - Jamie Driggers---Surviving the Chaos

11th - Cindy Bauer----Christian Fiction Author & Speaker

12th - Angie Breidenbach---God Uses Broken Vessels

13th - Patricia Carroll---Patricia PacJac Carroll

14th - Toni V. Lee---Spreading Truth Through Fiction

15th - Camille Eide---Faith Inspiring Fiction

16th Lisa Jordan---Musings

Monday, October 22, 2007

Colorado Springs' First Snow!

Well, it's official. Winter is on its way. And the first warning came yesterday in the form of Colorado Springs' first snowstorm of the season. Three years ago when I met my husband in Denver at an annual writer's conference, Colorado saw its first snowstorm during the last week of September! So, this year it's a little later. :)

We awoke early to take Roxie out for a walk, then I came back and tried to go back to sleep for a bit more. I only ended up resting for about an hour. My dear hubby came in around 8:30 and said, "You will probably want to see this." See what? I'd like to see the back side of my eyelids for a few more winks. But when he raised the window shade, I knew that possibility was a lost cause. I squinted at the brightness then gasped.

Snowflakes! Outside the window and coming down in a fury! When we had taken Roxie out, there were just a few drifting down from the sky. I figured it was a result of the cold temperatures and the slight moisture in the air. The weather forecast had predicted snow in the mountains...but in Colorado Springs? We're several thousand feet below the peaks and ranges. Then again, it *was* only 32 degrees. Just cold enough for the moisture to become flakes.

Oh, how exciting! I jumped out of bed and raced to the office to grab my camera. Ironic that just 2 weeks ago, I was taking pictures of Autumn in Colorado Springs. Now, I'm snapping shots of white-capped mountains and snow-covered landscapes. Unfortunately, several of the pictures only came out in a blur because the snow was coming down so hard and the wind was blowing so much, that the flakes blurred the image. I managed to snap a few though that worked.

The best part about this delightful surprise is that each week I wonder what I'm going to post on my normal Monday blog. For so many months, I had the wedding and receptions to occupy my time and provide excellent material for weekly updates. Now that they're behind us, I had moments where I wondered if I'd be able to continue. So far, so good. Each week, something happens that I feel is worth sharing with you. I know a lot of my family and friends read this...even if they don't post a comment. *winks* Maybe someday they'll get brave enough to do so. Until then, I'll keep writing!

And here are the rest for your viewing pleasure.

Enjoy!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Spotlight on Amy Grant and Mosaic

This is spotlight #2 for today, a DOUBLE BONUS for you regular blog readers who might catch both of these posts on my "off" day. :) This one is a true pleasure to spotlight because it's a book written by my all-time favorite Christian music recording artist, a woman whose songs have shaped a good portion of my Christian faith and walk throughout the almost 30 years of her career. I hope you enjoy learning about her as much as I did!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Amy Grant is the best-selling Christian music artist of all time and the first to garner the number one spot on Billboard's chart. Since beginning her career at age 17, she has earned six Grammy Awards and twenty-five Dove Awards, and last year she received her own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Grant's numerous television appearances include Oprah; Good Morning, America; and Late Night with David Letterman. In 2007 she'll tour nationwide, performing with local symphonies in Atlanta, Minneapolis, Kansas City, and elsewhere.

MOSAIC: PIECES OF MY LIFE SO FAR
By Amy Grant
Waterbrook Press
BUY YOUR COPY TODAY

SPOTLIGHT REVIEW

Grammy Award–winning artist Amy Grant has lived in the spotlight since bursting onto the Christian music scene as a teenager thirty years ago. In that time her work, marriage, and spiritual life have been subject to varying degrees of adulation and criticism.

Now, in her first autobiographical book, Grant bares her heart and soul, giving readers an intimate glimpse into her everyday life and the lessons she's learning along the way. From lighthearted reminiscences of her Tennessee childhood to painfully honest reflections on the journey of faith, her vivid writing draws readers into her world while simultaneously creating space for them to rethink their own perspectives on life.

With honesty and depth, Grant offers poignant and often startling insights on motherhood, marriage, friendship, faith, loss, forgiveness, and redemption. Never-before-shared stories about her husband, country music star Vince Gill, provide a look into her life as a celebrity, while intimate portraits of her mother and musings on the past reveal the various pieces of a life blessed with jagged edges as well as vivid colors. Readers will find their preconceived notions of this music icon stripped away as they settle in for a warmly satisfying conversation with a gracious and wise friend.


From —MICHAEL W. SMITH, singer/songwriter
"Amy Grant is simply one of the most gifted communicators I have ever known. I've been on stage with her in front of thousands of people—and I've been with her in quiet private moments when she's offered hope and healing to someone in need. In either situation, and in everything in between, I've been moved by her subtle strength and her ability to say the right thing at the right time. In the lyric of a song and now in this book, Amy can turn a phrase like no other. I'm so blessed to know her and so glad that she's sharing part of her life in these pages."

I was truly delighted when I first learned that Amy was writing this book. It is a rather unique twist on the often-mocked autobiographies that lack the true personality of the book's subject or that seem to be a self-promoting lackluster diary of sorts that holds little interest for the reader.

Mosaic departs from that in spades. It is fresh, insightful, humorous, and a true reflection of the beautiful and multi-faceted woman that Amy is. She often writes songs about struggling to balance the many roles of her life: as a singer, she feels compelled to create amid the chaos ("Hats!"), as a mom she wants to spend time with her family, as a Christian she longs for a deep connection with God ("Moonlight Conversation").

Having met her on several occasions and given the opportunity to speak with her at those events, I have found nothing but a warm, caring and truly gifted woman underneath the public image that everyone else sees. This book, in my opinion, reflects everything I've come to love about Amy and more!

Amy has been an inspiration to me for almost my entire life. I began listening to her when she began her career at age 17, and I was 5. She perservered despite many obstacles, twists, turns, mountains, valleys and everything else life could throw her way. One of my favorite quotes in her book is:

"This is trust: doing what you believe you are called to do and trusting that God will provide." p. 120

She maintained her trust and her faith, even when the task in front of her seemed insurmountable. And most of all, despite the ever-present scorn she sometimes faces in the Christian community (a fact that still surprises me when we're supposed to be the first to forgive), she has excelled and achieved the greatest success of any Christian artist.

I am honored to have this opportunity and look forward to awarding THREE of you with FREE books of your own so you can come to love Amy as I do.

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Readers, leave a comment for your chance to be entered in the drawing for ONE OF THREE FREE books. If you don't wish to be entered, say so when you post. The contest is open to US/Canada residents only. Winners will be announced here on the 26th. Come back to this post to see if you've won.

CFBA Blog Tour - Brandilyn Collins and Crimson Eve

I have the pleasure of featuring a book by an author who is not only a good friend, but who also put my husband in her current series, of which this is #3. If you've read any of these books, you'll know my husband by the character of Ted Dawson, the sci-fi writer working on his novel. :) If you haven't ready any of these books, and you love suspense, this is the series for you!

CHRISTIAN FICTION BLOG ALLIANCE

introduces

CRIMSON EVE

Zondervan (September, 2007)
by Brandilyn Collins
BUY YOUR COPY TODAY!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Brandilyn Collins is a best-selling novelist known for her trademark Seatbelt Suspense™. These harrowing crime thrillers have earned her the tagline "Don't forget to b r e a t h e…® " She's so well known in the industry there's actually a club for her non-readers. That's right. The Big Honkin' Chickens Club (BHCC) members are proud of the fact that they're too wimpy to read Brandilyn's intense fiction. Now and then one of them tries. Bribing works pretty well. (Just ask Deb Raney.) Somehow they live to tell the tale.

Brandilyn writes for Zondervan, the Christian division of HarperCollins Publishers, and is currently at work on her 17th book. Her first book, A Question of Innocence, was a true crime published by Avon in 1995. Its promotion landed her on local and national TV and radio, including the Phil Donahue and Leeza talk shows.

She’s also known for her distinctive book on fiction-writing techniques, Getting Into Character: Seven Secrets a Novelist Can Learn From Actors (John Wiley & Sons), and often teaches at writers conferences. Brandilyn blogs at Forensics and Faith.

Visit her website to read the first chapters of all her books.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Carla stared at the gun and David Thornby—or whatever his name was. Her mind split in two, one side pleading this was some sick joke, the other screaming it was all too real.

"Please. You must have the wrong person. There's no reason for someone to want me dead. I don't have any enemies."

"Then you'd best rethink your friends."


Realtor Carla Radling shows an "English gentleman" a lakeside estate—and finds herself facing a gun. Who has hired this assassin to kill her, and why?

Forced on the run, Carla must uncover the scathing secrets of her past. Secrets that could destroy some very powerful people...

Brandilyn Collins fans and reviewers are saying Crimson Eve is her best book yet:

"Collins tops herself by creating a suspenseful nonstop thrill ride … Truly the best Christian Fiction suspense title so far this year." – Library Journal, starred review

"Crimson Eve is Collins at her very best. It left me feeling as if I'd climbed Mount Everest without oxygen … I didn't think Brandilyn could outdo herself after reading Coral Moon. She did." –TitleTrakk.com

"I've never edited a more tightly crafted, deftly woven, compellingly written book." –a Crimson Eve editor, with 20 years experience

"This is your best book! I could not stop reading!" – one of many readers with similar responses

Read about Violet Dawn and Coral Moon, books one and two in the Kanner Lake series.

Do you know someone who's never read a Brandilyn Collins novel? Surely no such person exists. However, should you scrounge up such a friend—someone who enjoys suspense—here's a special offer from Brandilyn. Be among the first 50 people between now and October 21, 2007 to e-mail her assistant at gayle.brandilyncollins@gmail.com with the person's name, e-mail address and street address. (Due to exorbitant overseas mailing costs, United States residents only, please).

A signed copy of Crimson Eve will be sent to your friend—free—along with an e-mail from Brandilyn announcing the book is on its way, courtesy of you. (Don't worry. Brandilyn won't spam these email addresses. She just wants your friend to know who to thank.) No worries that this story is third in the Kanner Lake series. Each book stands alone. Brandilyn is convinced your friend will so love Crimson Eve, he/she will surely reciprocate with expensive chocolate.

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In addition, you can post a comment for your chance to win a FREE copy of this book. US/Canada residents only. Drawing to be held on the 26th. Come back to this post to see if you've won.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Spotlight on Robin Carroll and Bayou Justice

Today, I have the pleasure of not only wrapping up a blog tour for this author but also of featuring the illustrious president of ACFW with the debut release of her very FIRST novel. How exciting!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Born and raised in Louisiana, Robin Caroll is a Southern belle right down to her "hey y'all." Her passion has always been to tell stories to entertain others. Robin's mother, bless her heart, is a genealogist who instilled in Robin the deep love of family and pride of heritage—two aspects Robin weaves into each of her books. When she isn't writing, Robin spends time with her husband, her three beautiful daughters, and their four character-filled cats at home—in the South, where else? She gives back to the writing community by serving as President of ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) for 2007-2008. An avid reader herself, Robin loves hearing from and chatting with other readers. Although her favorite genre to read is mystery/suspense, of course, she'll read just about any good story. Except historicals! To learn more about this author of deep South mysteries of suspense to inspire your heart, visit Robin's website at www.robincaroll.com.

BAYOU JUSTICE
By Robin Caroll
BUY YOUR COPY TODAY

SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEW

This is your very first book! Congratulations! You've delved deep into the heart of Cajun Country with murder, voodoo, suspects and vendettas. What gave you the inspiration for this story?

When my mentor and I began trying to find my personal "hook"....within my genre, what about ME made me stand out and realized it's my southern roots. Once we nailed that, it was understood that I'd write about deep south characters. And writing this series has been like going "home" for me, as I'm born and raised in Louisiana, just transplanted out 9 nine years ago! Still trying to figure out how THAT happened! LOL

2. How much of your own experiences influenced the characters of CoCo and Luc? What aspects became traits that were theirs and theirs alone?

There's a LOT of my personality in CoCo, and quite a bit of my hubby's in Luc. CoCo and I share the deep love of family and heritage, the strong emotions (yeah, and temperment-lol), and love of nature. But CoCo's troubles with her sisters was unique, as my two sisters, and my sister-in-law, are my bestest friends. CoCo's career path is definitely her own--I don't find alligators at all appealing.

3. What themes exist in Bayou Justice that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the story progressed?

I hope they see the spiritual arc that I didn't realize until just recently are my own spiritual lessons learned...that of waiting on God's timing.

4. What were your most difficult parts to write? Your favorite?

Difficult was writing the romance thread. The pull/push back and forth between CoCo and Luc. I've not had that with my hubby, so I had to draw a lot on imagination. And it was hard for me to write the conflicts between the LeBlanc sisters. My favorites? The murder and suspense scenes, of course! LOL!

5. When is your next book coming out and what is the story?

Book 2 in the series, Bayou Corruption, is Alyssa's story--CoCo's middle sister. It releases in February 2008.

Thanks, Tiff! This has been fun!

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Thank you, Robin, for being in the spotlight. Readers, leave a comment for your chance to be entered in the drawing for a FREE, autographed book. If you don't wish to be entered, say so when you post. This week, the contest is open to US/Canada residents only.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Blog Tour - Kathy Herman and Never Look Back

Today, we have a BONUS spotlight and a BONUS THREE-BOOK GIVEAWAY! That's right. Not just 1, but 3 FREE books will be awarded to those who leave comments and wish to be entered into the drawing.

For those of you looking for my personal Monday blog post, it's below this bonus spotlight. So, scroll down. :)

And now, on with the show:

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Award-winning author Kathy Herman has been on staff at the Christian Booksellers Association (CBA) and at Better Books Christian Center in Texas. She has conducted educational seminars at CBA conventions in the U.S. and Canada, served as a judge for the Gold Medallion Book Awards, and worked as an independent product/marketing consultant to the CBA market. She is the author of twelve novels, including the bestsellers Tested by Fire and All Things Hidden. Kathy and her husband, Paul, live in Tyler, Texas.

NEVER LOOK BACK
By Kathy Herman
BUY YOUR COPY TODAY

SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEW

1. This is Book 2 in your Phantom Hollow series, and you’ve got Ivy out of jail ready for a fresh start. What gave you the inspiration for this book?

As you pointed out, Never Look Back is the second book in the series, so much of the inspiration for this story evolved out of what took place in the first book. I'm a seat of the pants writer who doesn't follow an outline. My stories evolve naturally as I get inside the heads of my characters. But before I write each story, I choose a Scripture I can build a story around—something relevant that also lends itself to creating suspense. In this case, Psalm 103:12, "As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us," lent itself perfectly to Ivy, who has just been released from jail after serving six months for covering up the strangulation death of a high school classmate ten years earlier. She's paid her debt to society. Kicked her decade-long drug habit. And recommitted her life to Christ. But she hasn't even begun to deal with the judgmental attitudes of other people. Or her own haunting doubts that God no longer holds her past sins against her.

2. How much of your own experiences influenced the character of Ivy? What aspects became traits that were hers and hers alone?

That's an interesting question. I never consciously create characters based on personal experience or people I know, though I've got fifty-eight years of data stored in my brain that's bound to get recycled through my characters. But given Ivy's key role in this series, you would think that I know someone who has dealt with drug addiction and jail time. I don't! The truth is I'm highly intuitive and seem to have an innate understanding of what makes people "tick." That's proven to be invaluable when it comes to creating believable characters. It wasn't difficult to do research on drug addiction and how it affects the addict. But the part of Ivy I wanted my readers to relate to was her struggle to believe that God no longer held her past sins against her. I think a surprising number of believers struggle with guilt they can't seem to let go of. Ivy's drug addiction and dark history set the stage for what I really wanted my readers to think about: the truth of Psalm 103:12.

As for which traits were Ivy's alone, I'm not sure I'm the best judge of that. I see a little of myself in all my characters, yet none is like me. When I'm writing, I honestly never think about whether a character is like someone I know or have met—or even like me. I just work to make them as genuine as possible. My husband and I fell in love with Montana, the little boy in this story. He's so real to us that we've joked about adopting him as our grandson. And yet he's not like any of our five grandchildren.

3. What themes exist in Never Look Back that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the story progressed?

The most obvious theme was Psalm 103:12. It's my desire that this truth will come to life in the heart of every reader, and that not one will be left carrying guilt Jesus died to remove.

Another theme the reader won't miss is the need for reconciliation and forgiveness. Ivy's only sibling, her brother Rusty, won't forgive her for the way she treated her parents when she was a drug addict. Ivy's father is still at odds with the sheriff (his closest friend) for allowing Ivy to be questioned without an attorney present when she wound up in the middle of a murder investigation.

Another theme that was hard to miss was the importance of weighing the advice of those who love you against your own good judgment. Ivy was cautioned by her parents and her best friend not to pursue a relationship with a man who had the same bent for addiction as she. Everything about it felt right. It was a huge step for her to make up her own mind.

A less obvious theme was the foolishness of judging a person by outward appearances. The villain in this story turned out to be a surprise to the characters (and I hope to many readers!) and was certainly not sporting the image of a brutal murderer. Looks can be deceiving.

I can't honestly say that any themes went undeveloped. I always start with the spiritual theme and let the others build around it.

4. What were your most difficult parts to write? Your favorite?

The most difficult part to write was actually the revision I made to the villain after my editor suggested he should be less obvious. It's surprising how much of the story is affected by having to make changes to just one key character.

As for my favorite, I find dialog the most fun to write, especially when it creates electrifying tension. What comes out of my characters often surprises me and opens the door to twists and turns I never planned. For some reason, dialog isn't difficult for me, especially when I really get to know my characters. I'm a talker by nature and have no trouble creating natural dialog between my characters.

5. When is your next book coming out and what is the story?

The third and final book in the Phantom Hollow Series, The Grand Scheme, will release in April of 2008. This story deals with envy and is based on James 3:16, "For when you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice." It picks up where this one leaves off. I don't want to tell you too much, lest I spoil the surprises, but I will say that it has the most intricately woven suspense plot I've ever written and is a very satisfying ending to the series.

* * * * *

Thank you, Kathy, for being in the spotlight. Readers, leave a comment for your chance to be entered in the drawing for a FREE, autographed book. If you don't wish to be entered, say so when you post. This week, the contest is open to US/Canada residents only.

And introducing....ROXIE!

Some of you who read this have already heard the news, but now I'm sharing it with everyone who comes to this site. I've only recently learned that's quite a lot!

As is typical when you first marry, you receive many hints and questions about when you're going to start a family. My husband and I decided from the start to wait at least a year so we have time to get settled and adjusted to this new life...especially with me moving across the country as I changed my circle of friends, job, family, church and altitude!

Now, 2-1/2 months into the marriage, we started feeling like we needed an addition to our lives. Since a baby isn't forthcoming this year, we decided on the next best thing!

A puppy!

That's right. We are now the proud parents of our little girl, Roxie. Only, she won't be a "little" girl for very long. She's an Australian Shepherd mixed with what we believe to be a Retriever. Already, she's mastered 3 commands/tricks (sit, stay, fetch) and we've only had her since Wednesday.

We'd been talking about it for several weeks and decided we'd start looking in October. After perusing the dogs available for adoption on the Humane Society web site, we agreed to meet after work and walk through the kennels. My first choice was too "vocal" for our condo living, so we went with Stuart's first choice. And it turned out to be a fantastic pick!

Roxie is quite intelligent and very eager to please us. She'll play with her toys and chew on her ropes as long as we're in the same room. If we move, so does she. In each room, she has her favorite "spots" and for the most part stays out of mischief. Although, like all puppies, if you take your eyes off of her for too long, she's bound to get into something!

Nevertheless, I know adopting Roxie was an excellent decision and I don't regret it one bit. She does have a touch of kennel cough, so we've got antibiotics in her and are keeping her pretty much indoors with minimal running around to allow the medicine to work and the cough to make its way through her system. In another week, she'll be back to her bouncy and adorable self.

So, Roxie is our "baby" for now. Hope you enjoy the pictures!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Spotlight on Erynn Mangum and ReMatch

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Erynn Mangum is the author of Miss Match and ReMatch. She's twentysomething, single, and works as a youth intern at her church. She's very involved with her college Bible study. Erynn has completed both of the Christian Writer's Guild's Apprentice and Journeyman courses. These books are direct results of too many mochas and chick-flicks.

REMATCH
By Erynn Mangum
BUY YOUR COPY TODAY

SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEW

1. This is book 2 in your Lauren Holbrook series and it sees the return of Laurent at it again with her matching mayhem. What gave you the inspiration for this book?

Mostly, I got inspiration from the first story - I had so much fun playing with these characters, I couldn’t wait to see what happened to Lauren next! As for the inspiration for different scenes in the book, I get a lot from my own life. I should probably be sending out apology notes to friends and family for using them as fodder in these books. Ah, well! They do say to write what you know. :)

2. How much of your own experiences influenced the character of Lauren? What aspects became traits that were hers and hers alone?

Her coffee addiction is all mine, and the college Bible study group I was involved with at the time influenced a lot of the Wednesday night scenes in the book. Her dad, though, is nothing like my father. Her honest-but-often-tactless speech is completely hers – I wrote things that I wish I were brave enough to say! Lauren is much more carefree than I am too – she doesn’t worry about what people think. I like that about her.

3. What themes exist in ReMatch that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the story progressed?

The main theme in ReMatch is Lauren learning to delight in God. She starts discovering this as she goes through her nightly devotional time. One subtle theme that just developed is trust – when I read back through ReMatch, I noticed how much Lauren learned in that area. Definitely did not plan for that theme to be in there!

4. What were your most difficult parts to write? Your favorite?

The scenes with Laney's pregnancy and then with the babies were hard to write (my copyeditor will agree!), just because I have no experience with births and so I didn't know a lot. Kathy Moiser, my copyeditor, and I spent many long conversations about exactly how long a woman would be pregnant with her second set of twins. Actually, it's pretty neat – Kathy had just given birth to her gorgeous twin girls right before we edited this book!

I have a lot of favorite scenes – I loved watching Lauren's dad fall in love. So much fun! Also, any scene that involves Laurie scheming about matchmaking became favorite scenes to write just because of the dialogue.

5. When is your next book coming out and what is the story?

The next book is scheduled for a June 1st release and it's the third and final installment in the Lauren Holbrook series. Lauren has always been the matchmaker, but in this story, the tables are turned and those she's set up start matchmaking her!

Thanks Tiff! I enjoyed reading your wedding story – congratulations! :)

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Thank you, Erynn, for being in the spotlight. Readers, leave a comment for your chance to be entered in the drawing for a FREE, autographed book. If you don't wish to be entered, say so when you post. This week, the contest is open to US/Canada residents only.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Extreme Makeover: Home Edition in Colorado Springs!

I announced it last week, but yesterday we had the opportunity to holler "Move That Bus!" as the bus pulled away to reveal the brand new home for the Woodhouse family. Here are some photos for you to view of the event:

Extreme Makeover Gives a Home to the Woodhouses!

Enjoy!

The day started early for my husband and me. After coordinating with the others from ACFW, some from our church home group, and my sister-in-law and her family, we decided we'd be the ones to get there early and save spots for everyone who might come. So, we went to the early service at church, grabbed an early lunch afterward and headed to the new home site. After parking and walking to the spectator area, we were in place around 11am. Not long after, the crew asked all of us to move closer to get everyone on camera. Then again around 12:30, we were asked to move a second time. We ended up with decent spots just off the western front corner of the house.

The one BIG miracle of the day was the weather. For the entire week leading up to the reveal, temperatures had been in the 70's with clear skies. Perfect for the round-the-clock construction, but not so perfect for Kayla (the daughter in the family) who suffers from Hereditary Sensory Autonomic Disorder. Her body can't regulate its own temperature, and she has no sensory feeling. She can even pass out walking from the house to the car if circumstances aren't just right. Temperatures inside and out can be no higher than 62 degrees for Kayla.

But this day? It was a cool 56 degrees with an overcast, which hid the sun. This meant Kayla didn't need an umbrella to keep the sun off of her; nor did she need her cooling pack to keep her at the required temperature. Today? Temperatures are back in the 70's. God is awesome!

In typical "TV" fashion, there were a lot of test runs, a ton of standing around and waiting, and quite a bit of retakes. They even had a "fake family" stand in for the Woodhouses so the media and film crews could block the shots. A boom camera was set up over the crowd and periodically went into action. I have no idea how much of these shots will be included in the actual show, but it was fun cheering and waving for the camera. :)

The "reveal" was set for 2pm, but the house had to be cooled down to 60 degrees before the family could enter. The crew had to tote in 6-8 portable AC units to speed up the process. Ty Pennington came out, but soon went back in after several shout-outs from the crowd called for his attention. He returned again a little later holding a giant thermometer above his head in a "success" pumping motion with his arms before winging the thermometer frisbee-like off into a clear area. The house was finally ready!

The family arrived on site around 10am and were herded off to a blacked-out trailer to prevent them from seeing anything beforehand. EMHE sent the Woodhouse family to Breckenridge, CO, where they received free ice skating lessons and the royal treatment at the resort there. They came home Sunday and waited for their shining moment.

That happened a little after 3pm. The bus moved into place blocking the view of the house. After a test run with an empty limo, the driver returned to get the family. Ty Pennington had been inside with the crew and designers doing a final check, and the crew outside made the grounds look spotless. They also primed the crowd, placed the VIP folks in their special section, then arranged the designers and EMHE team of volunteers and others who had worked around the clock for the past week to get this house finished.

Finally, the time came! Whoops and cheers sounded as the limo came driving down the road and stopped with the bus between the limo and the house. The family exited and was greeted by Ty, who spent a few minutes chatting with them, as he does on every show. I had a fairly good position, so I held up my camera and zoomed in to snap several shots. You'll see from the photos posted that they came out pretty good...even if I DO say so myself. :)

Oh, and before I forget--for those of you who are familiar with the metal divider barracades often used at public events to section off areas or close in specific areas for media, VIPs, etc.--I straddled one of those for about 2-1/2 hours on and off so I could get a view above all the heads. My husband could see fine, but he's 6'3". I don't have that luxury at a full foot shorter. So, I had to take drastic measures. My legs are blaming me for it. LOL!

Ok, back to the story. After a chat with the family, Ty and the crowd hollered, "Driver! Move That Bus!" and off it went!

As predicted, Kim (mom) and Kayla both cried at the sight of their new house. Joshua (son) made faces at the crowd and cameras, and Jeremy (dad) remained stoically impressed. They moved toward the driveway, where they were greeted by EMHE crew and finally the design team. After a round of hugs, several conversations (which we'll hear when the show airs in January) and more instructions, the family walked up the driveway and stood at the edge of the walkway to their front door.

They moved toward the front door, then stepped aside to allow the media to precede them inside. The crew them moved them to stand in front of the dining room window on the porch so they could look out at the crowd and wave, posing for photo ops. I have a great one in the mix that I'll be sure to send to Kim for her scrapbook. Finally, around 3:30, the family checked out their new house!

Ty stood outside, looking over a script or something, waiting for the family to go from room to room and allow the camera crews to record their initial reactions. Stuart and I didn't stay and wait for them to come back out again, but after the family was inside, their brand new car was backed into the driveway to await their exit. EMHE always does something extra special that no one knows about beforehand. This car was one of them.

It's a 2009 Ford Edge, a prototype that no one in the world owns yet, and they won't for another year. You can see it here. Awesome car, inside and out, and perfect for this family.

Some of the ACFW folks stuck around, so I'm able to continue with this story. About 30 minutes later, the Woodhouses came back out with Ty, who had gone in to reveal Kayla's room--his special assignment for the week. It took them three run-throughs of revealing the car to the family to get it on film. They did a fantastic job of acting surprised the second time equal to the first, but by the third time, they all found it quite humorous. Still, the joy of the car took precedence.

Once that surprise was revealed, everyone pretty much disbursed. Other filming and final details were wrapped up today with EMHE and the Woodhouse family. I can hardly wait until Kim invites us to her home so we can see it in person, close-up. From what I've heard, it's similar in layout to the home they were "renting" after losing their home to foreclosure last year when Kayla required brain surgery and the medical bills prevented them from paying their mortgage.

The new house is a 4200 square-foot stucco home with a duo-tone exterior, 2-car garage and spacious back yard. The 3 bedrooms are on the west side of the house with the living room and dining room in the center and the kitchen on the east side. The basement has a bowling alley, ice cream parlor, and a home theater styled after a drive-in, with seats from a 1964 Mustang convertible. A wall-size aquarium is in Kayla's room. And, of course, each room is custom-designed with the family's needs and wishes in mind. It'll be exciting to see it from the inside once all the hoopla settles down.

Please continue to keep the Woodhouse family in your prayers. A local bank and several other organizations have set up donation accounts and resources to help the Woodhouses with future utility costs and other expenses. There was even a charity event Friday and Saturday where money was raised to cover the $500,000 in medical bills that have accumulated just in the past year. One place you can help with finances is: BIGG City. We won't know until the show airs whether or not there were any announcements of checks given to the family as have been on other EMHE shows. I do know hundreds of thousands were raised.

This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I'm so glad I had the chance to be involved, even in such a small way. How awesome to say I actually know a family from EMHE. :)

Friday, October 05, 2007

CFBA Blog Tour - Kristen Billerbeck and Trophy Wives Club

CHRISTIAN FICTION BLOG ALLIANCE

introduces

THE TROPHY WIVES CLUB

Avon Inspire (September, 2007)
by Kristin Billerbeck
BUY YOUR COPY TODAY!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Kristin Billerbeck was born in Redwood City, California. She went to San Jose State University and majored in Advertising, then worked at the Fairmont Hotel in PR, a small ad agency as an account exec, and then, she was thrust into the exciting world of shopping mall marketing. She got married, had four kids, and started writing romance novels until she found her passion: Chick Lit. She is a CBA bestselling author and two-time winner of the ACFW Book of the Year. Featured in the New York Times and USA Today, Kristin has appeared on the Today Show for her pioneering role in Christian chick lit.

Her last three books were:

Split Ends: Sometimes the End is Really the Beginning (April, 2007)
She's Out of Control (Ashley Stockingdale Series #1) (November, 2006)
Calm, Cool & Adjusted (Spa Girls Series #3) (October, 2006)

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Haley Cutler is the consummate trophy wife. Perhaps "was" is the more accurate term. Haley married Prince Charming when she was only twenty years old – back in the day when highlights came from an afternoon at the beach, not three hours in the salon.

When Jay first turned his eye to Haley, she was putty in his slender, graceful hands. No one ever treated her like she was important, and on the arm of Jay Cutler, she became someone people listened to and admired. Unfortunately, after seven years of marriage, her Prince Charming seems to belong to the Henry the XIII line of royalty. When Haley loses Jay, she not only loses her husband, she loses her identity.

With her first independent decision, Haley leaves LA and moves home to Northern California. Feeling freedom just within her grasp, Haley learns that her settlement payments must go through one of Jay's financial advisors, Hamilton Lowe. Haley believes he's nothing more than a spy. And the feelings of distrust are mutual. Yet somehow, Hamilton finds himself handing over the monthly checks in person, and Haley can't deny that there's a kind of tenderness and protectiveness in Hamilton that she's never experienced in a man before.

But before Haley can even consider another relationship, she must learn to accept her inherent worth, and what it is to be loved for who she is, not what's on the outside.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Spotlight on Cara Putman and Canteen Dreams - FIRST NOVEL!

Ok, so I never got around to announcing winners. That means FOUR of you will be announced today. So, check the past 4 Wednesday spotlights to see if you won!

Today's spotlight author is not only the ACFW Publicity Officer, and the original writer for character, Jake Tremaine, on Brandilyn Collins' Scenes and Beans Blog, but she's also a friend and fellow Barbour/Heartsong author. She received her first contract at the Dallas ACFW Conference in 2006, and we all rejoiced with her, sharing in her surprise and glee. Now, you can learn a little more about this bubbling dynamo.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Since the time she could read Nancy Drew, Cara has wanted to write mysteries. For years she asked God if this dream was from Him. Her life was full. She graduated with honors from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (Go Huskers!), moved to the Washington, DC area, married the man of her dreams, worked in the non-profit world, went to George Mason Law School at night while working, and then started having children. While her life was far from empty, the dream wouldn't die. Then she followed her husband to Indiana. Talk about starting over!

In 2005 she attended a book signing at her local Christian bookstore. The rest, as they say, was history. There she met Colleen Coble. With prompting from her husband, Cara shared her dream with Colleen. Since those infamous words, Cara's been writing books. Heartsong Presents is publishing a three book series of World War Two romances: Canteen Dreams (October 2007), Sandhill Dreams (May 2008), and Captive Dreams (September 2008). And she is thrilled that Love Inspired Suspense chose to publish her first romantic suspense, releasing in June 2008. Cara is also an attorney, women's ministry leader, and all around crazy woman. Crazy about God, her husband and her kids that is.

CANTEEN DREAMS
By Cara Putman
BUY YOUR COPY TODAY

SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEW

1. This is your very first book! Congratulations! You've got a 3-book series set in Nebraska during World War II, the first taking place in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor. What gave you the inspiration for this book?

The first idea came because of the way my hometown, North Platte, responded to the countless troop trains traveling through. North Platte is a Union Pacific hub to this day, and during the war 8 and more trains a day would run through town. Each train between December 25, 1941 and April 1946 was met by volunteers armed with coffee, food, and appreciation. Over time the offerings grew, and North Platte became a place the soldiers anticipated. I read Bob Greene's short book on the topic and wondered if Americans would ever band together again like they did back then. The story gets me so excited and passionate. Out of that sprang an interest for other World War Two stories set in Nebraska. Sandhill Dreams highlights the K-9 training that occurred at Fort Robinson during the war, and Captive Dreams will have one of the many POW camps that dotted Nebraska as the backdrop.

2. How much of your own experiences influenced the characters of Audrey and Willard? What aspects became traits that were theirs and theirs alone?

Audrey and Willard are loosely based on my mother's parents. I have been blessed to have a wonderful relationship with them and am absolutely thrilled that when this book releases they are both still alive. My grandfather was the only son of a farmer and so could not serve becuase of his essential occupation. He also played baseball. My grandmother taught -- but in a one-room schoolhouse. The opening scene is loosely based on how they met. My grandmother is not shy like Audrey, but the appearance is similar. I would love to highlight my other grandparents' story in another book, but haven't found the right one yet. He served for awhile at the Pentagon while my grandmother remained in Nebraska with their oldest son.

It was interesting as I wrote to watch the characters take on lives of their own -- even though they were based on people I love dearly. Characters have a way of doing that though!

3. What themes exist in Canteen Dreams that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the story progressed?

Canteen Dreams is about the reality that we can lay down our lives for others in a multitude of ways. For example, Willard thought the only way he could serve was by joining the military. Audrey was desperate to find a way to participate in the effort. And the residents of the 125 towns in Nebraska, Kansas and Colorado that supported the Canteen during the 5+ years it was open demonstrated laying down their lives by saving the best for the soldiers. So many food items were rationed, yet they saved the sugar, butter, etc, for the food and cakes for the soldiers. I would love to get to a place where I live my life like that.

4. What were your most difficult parts to write? Your favorite?

Hmmm. This book was really easy to write. It sprang from my passion and was written in about three weeks. My favorite parts included the scenes at the Canteen and bringing details to life. The hardest was probably the scene where Willard fights with a soldier.

5. When is your next book coming out and what is the story?

Sandhill Dreams releases in May 2008 followed by Deadly Expectations in June 2008 and Captive Dreams in September 2008. It's going to be a busy year! Sandhill Dreams is set in the beautiful, but remote, sandhills of northwestern Nebraska. Fort Robinson became one of a handful of locations that trained the dogs used during World War II. I also got to highlight some of the war games that were played there in preparation for D-Day. I was blessed to spend an entire day with the museum curator at Fort Robinson who literally opened his files to me and gave me tours of the K-9 facility and POW camp there.

* * * * *

Thank you, Cara, for being in the spotlight. Readers, leave a comment for your chance to be entered in the drawing for a FREE, autographed book. If you don't wish to be entered, say so when you post. This week, the contest is open to US/Canada residents only.

Monday, October 01, 2007

My Book is Done! PLUS...Exciting News!

Yes, I know I'm late again, but I have an excuse. I received some FANTASTIC news yesterday morning and I'm still reeling from the effects of it. I was also finishing my book for a deadline set for today.

But, first the news.

For anyone who is familiar with Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, you know they travel the country looking for families who are in need of a new home. Dozens of factors are taken into consideration, and 5 finalists are narrowed from nearly thousands of nominations.

Well, I'm pleased to announce that the EMHE bus pulled up in front of a friend of mine's house Sunday morning!! They were one of the finalists, and EMHE chose them! Land has been donated just 5 miles south of where I live, and the EMHE team is there this week to build this family a new home. Some of us who know her are going to head over there one or two mornings this week and volunteer, and we'll be there Sunday for the unveiling so we can shout..."MOVE THAT BUS!"

No airdate yet, but I'm just tickled pink and praising God that this family is going to get their home. They are technically homeless right now living in a temporary home built for owners who aren't taking residence yet. Now, after losing their home last year because of medical bills for their daughter, they will finally have a new home, custom-designed for their every need. God is awesome!




Now, for my book update.

But, before I forget, I have photos from the ACFW Conference. Take a look:

ACFW Dallas Conference 2007

When I sat down Friday to finish, I realized I had duplicated two entire chapters in my word count, so I had 7,000 more words to write than I had thought. YIKES!

But, I sat down at my computer and prayed, then the words flew my fingers. By the time I ended for the night, I had over 8,000 words!! That's the most I've ever written in one day. But I was still 10,000 away from my needed word count, so after a good night's sleep, I was up and back at it the next day.

My husband left me alone all day with the exception of a break in the evening so we could go out to dinner. Final word count report = 8,500 words! I only needed 2,000 more to reach goal.

Sunday was church, and I don't normally work on those days, but I was up against a brick wall. So, after church and lunch and a break for a movie, I again sat to write the final chapter. By 9:30pm, I had finished the book at 2,000 OVER my needed count. This morning, I did a final read-through for typos and edits, then put it in a file and sent it to my editor.

PHEW! What a relief. That, along with the cover information and my headshots, and it's really starting to feel like it's going to happen. Amazing how dream-like it's been to this point. With book 1 coming out in February or March, I'll soon begin my marketing campaign. That'll include a web site update with new pages and minor changes.