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Friday, November 28, 2008

Spotlight on Robin Bayne and Words to Write By

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

ROBIN BAYNE is the award-winning author of five novels and four novellas, and is a columnist for the "Spirit Led Writer" ezine and "The Examiner.com." Her essays, articles and devotionals have been published in the God's Way Book series, Cup of Comfort Devotionals, The Secret Place, Christian Communicator, Writer's Journal and many other publications. She has given workshops at regional and online romance writing conferences and the Writer's Digest World's Largest Writing Workshop. She lives in Maryland with her husband, and works a "day job" as a mortgage underwriter (at a very stable, small community bank!). Visit her at www.robinbayne.com.

WORDS TO WRITE BY
by Robin Bayne
Published by Treble Heart Books (MountainView Division)

ABOUT THE BOOK

Join a variety of well-known authors as they share the Scripture or quotations they find inspiring to their writing. The devotionals they've contributed reflect all aspects of the writing life: basic motivation, rejection, publishing and succeeding. Spend some time with the writers you love and discover what words they write by.

Buy Your Copy of Words to Write By Today!

AUTHOR INTERVIEW

1. What gave you the inspiration for this book?

I enjoy reading daily devotionals and I also enjoy reading advice for writers. So I decided to put them together and provide a book of devotionals for writers. When I started asking authors I know to participate, I was overwhelmed and grateful by their response. This book wouldn't have been possible without so many wonderful writers sharing their experiences.

2. How much of your own experiences influenced your selection in this book? How much came from outside sources?

My piece included in the book is actually fairly short, and inspired by one of my favorite Bible verses. Originally I wanted to use a piece I wrote that was based on Beth Moore's "Believing God" workshop, but decided against it due to the amount of time/permission that would be needed.

As I assembled the book, creating chapters and deciding on which pieces fit the best, I definitely relied on outside experience. This came in the form of books I've read over the years and comments/questions I've fielded from writers. And of course I was inspired by the Bible to put these devotionals together--so many of them feature Scripture as their inspiration.

3. Are there any humorous stories to be found tucked between the pages?

Although the devotionals aren't ha-ha laugh-out-loud funny, many of them have amusing elements that will make the reader smile.

4. What types of themes exist in Words to Write By that you hope the reader gleans from reading?

Patience, persistance, garnering motivation from Scripture and from other writers who are further along on the journey.

5. What was the most difficult part about assembling this compilation?

It was very hard to decline some of the submissions--all of them had some type of value, but might not have fit the rest of the project.

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

I don't have anything scheduled at this point, but I am working on a new novel. I am also writing a column for the Baltimore Examiner.com--I am the "Book and Blog" examiner for the Baltimore area.

Thanks so much for this opportunity!

* * * * *

Thank you, Robin, for being in the spotlight with us.

Readers, leave a comment for your chance to win a FREE autographed copy of Words to Write By.

If you wish to comment but don't want to be entered, say so when you post. Make sure you also leave your email address (name at domainname dot.com/net). Wouldn't want you to miss out on winning a book. :)

And if you want to make certain you don't miss anything, check the box that says 'email follow-up comments to:' when you leave a comment and they'll be sent to the email address associated with your blogging account. That way you'll be notified of any comments and will know when I announce the winner.

This week, the contest is open to residents in the US only. International residents can enter for a chance to win an electronic copy of the book.

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Spotlight on Candice Speare and Kitty Litter Killer

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

CANDICE MILLER SPEARE lives with Mr. Winston Churchill the African Gray Parrot and Jack Pup in the countryside of Maryland. She writes for Heartsong Presents--Mysteries! Her first two books, Murder in the Milk Case and Band Room Bash, were released earlier this year. Her third, Kitty Litter Killer, will be released in December. Candice is a freelance content reviewer for Heartsong's cozy mystery line, working closely with associate editor Susan Downs. Please visit Candice at www.candicemillerspeare.com where you can read her blog and learn more about her.

KITTY LITTER KILLER
by Candice Miller Speare
Published by Heartsong Presents Mysteries/Barbour Publishing

ABOUT THE BOOK

Amateur sleuth Trish Cunningham has retired from her short-lived foray into crime solving. No more walking deliberately into danger. Her short-term goal is to see her best friend Abbie marry fiancé Eric Scott in three weeks. But the brutal murder of Abbie's ex-husband could ruin the nuptials, especially since Abbie was the last one seen with him—when they had a hostile argument at a local convenience store. With evidence pointing at Abbie and the possibility of jail instead of a walk down the aisle, Trish comes out of self-imposed sleuth retirement. And as the clock ticks down to the wedding date, Trish once again puts herself in reach of the claws of a murderer—this time to protect her best friend.

Buy Your Copy of Kitty Litter Killer by contacting Candice at her web site today!

AUTHOR INTERVIEW

1. What gave you the inspiration for this story?

Now there's a good question. And I don't really have a good answer for you. This is the third in a three-book series, so I had to follow up on relationship threads I'd started in the previous books. I also wanted to end with a bang. Make it a bit more emotional. As far as the name, I was just goofing around one day and thought of it and decided it would be cool to build a story around it. I'm not rational. I'm a writer.

2. How much of your own experiences influenced your characters? What aspects became traits that are theirs and theirs alone?

Probably a bit of me influenced most of my characters. Everything I put down on paper comes through me from my own experiences or what I've observed in other people. The farm stuff is part of my life—my folks raise beef cattle. One of my minor characters is a writer. She's probably more like me than any other character in the book. Although, this is funny...I've had some people tell me my heroine isn't anything like me, and others have said she reminds them of me. Go figure.

3. If one of your characters were an ice cream flavor, what he/she be and why?

Rocky Road. Because she's hard and soft at the same time. She's also a little bit nuts.

4. Are there any themes in Kitty Litter Killer that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the story progressed?

The overall theme of the book is forgiveness. I've tried to represent that in a number of the characters and their conflicts and relationships. I didn't purposely add any other themes to the book, so if they're there, I haven't seen them.

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

The emotional scenes with the heroine's best friend. I had to dig inside of me for the pain. My favourite parts to write, just like in the first two Trish Cunningham books, were the scenes between Trish and her mother. It's full of conflict and just fun create. People have asked me if that relationship has any basis in fact—me and my own mother. It doesn't. My mom and I never bicker. But I've seen other people act this way.

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

I am scheduled for another cozy next year with a new heroine and new characters. This heroine is retired Navy, so I'll be exploring a totally new character.

* * * * *

Thank you, Candice, for being in the spotlight with us.

Readers, leave a comment for your chance to win a FREE autographed copy of Kitty Litter Killer.

If you wish to comment but don't want to be entered, say so when you post. Make sure you also leave your email address (name at domainname dot.com/net). Wouldn't want you to miss out on winning a book. :)

And if you want to make certain you don't miss anything, check the box that says 'email follow-up comments to:' when you leave a comment and they'll be sent to the email address associated with your blogging account. That way you'll be notified of any comments and will know when I announce the winner.

This week, the contest is open to anyone worldwide.

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Friday, November 21, 2008

Spotlight on Nancy Moser and John 3:16

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

NANCY MOSER is is the award-winning author of nineteen inspirational novels that focus on discovering our unique purpose, including Solemnly Swear, Time Lottery, a Christy Award winner, and her latest historical, Washington's Lady, which is one in a line of novels that allow real women-of-history to share their life stories

Nancy and her husband Mark live in the Midwest. She's earned a degree in architecture, traveled extensively in Europe, and has performed in numerous theaters,symphonies, and choirs. She gives Said So Sister Seminars around the country, helping women identify their gifts as they celebrate their sisterhood. She is a fan of anything antique—humans included.

Find out more at Nancy Moser.com and Sister Circles.com

JOHN 3:16
by Nancy Moser
Published by Tyndale House

ABOUT THE BOOK

Five people looking for a reason to keep living are about to find it in the last place they expect... In my usual "big cast" style comes a story of what happens when one man puts his faith on the line and holds up a John 3:16 sign at a sporting event. Roman Paulson's life revolves around his son, Billy, a University of Nebraska football hero with a promising life ahead of him. But when Billy's coach encroaches on Roman's relationship with his son, Roman fears he'll lose Billy forever. Roman isn't the only one whose world turns upside down. He's one of five unsuspecting people whose lives intersect on a bright fall day, when one of them will hold up a sign at a football game with a short message: John 3:16. This simple act of faith will have the power to change lives forever.

Buy Your Copy of John 3:16 Today!

AUTHOR INTERVIEW

1. What gave you the inspiration for this story?

Years ago, before I was a strong Christian, I saw such someone hold up a "John 3:16" sign at a football game. That intrigued me. My first reaction was, "Huh?" My second reaction was to figure the verse had something to do with victory. Only years later did I actually read the verse and remember the sign and go, "Oh…that kind of victory." Better late than never.

In this book I wanted to showcase characters who were given multiple chances to say yes to God, but for a variety of reasons told him "No" or, "Not now." We all have a tendency to believe there's always another day to dig deeper into our souls and commit. We can pray a little harder later, when we have more time. Like Scarlett O'Hara always said, "I'll think of that tomorrow...after all, tomorrow is another day."

Sometimes. But not always. Because time does run out.

2. How much of your own experiences influenced your characters? What aspects became traits that are theirs and theirs alone?

Although the exact situations the characters have to deal with are foreign to me (thank you, Jesus!) the emotions behind them are not: pride, passivity, being a people-pleaser, doubt, confusion, grief, arrogance, forgiveness, hope, being broken to the Lord...

3. If one of your characters were an ice cream flavor, what he/she be and why?

I have four main characters, each with their own storyline:
* Velvet Cotton would be pistachio nut because she's a little out-there, a unique personality who thrives on being different.
* Roman Paulson would be French vanilla because he thinks a lot of himself (hence the "French", not settling for just vanilla) but he's actually more basic than he'd like to admit.
* Maya Morano would be Rocky Road because she does everything the hard way, taking the rocky road through life...
* Peter McLean would be chocolate peanut butter because he's basically a down-home young man who is most happy with the basics of life: peanut butter and chocolate! (this is my favorite flavor.)

4. What themes exist in John 3:16 that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the story progressed?

I want to remind the reader of the most pivotal verse in all of Scripture: John 3:16. It's the essence of why we are here and what the future holds. We need to get back to this basic core.

The rest of the themes developed as the story progressed, as each character came to the verse from their own unique situation:

* Roman is a bitter man with a large chip on his shoulder (actually, it's more of a log.) He wants nothing to do with God. But God wants something to do with him.
* Velvet carries baggage from the past that makes her think her life (such as it is) is as good as it gets. She expects little of life until the verse reveals amazing possibilities.
* Maya and her husband are desperate for a child, and (like Sarah in the Bible) she gets in trouble by taking matters into her own hands. God needs to show her that His way is the best way.
* Peter has been raised in the church, but is tempted away—with strong consequences. He needs to find his way back...

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

Most difficult: the grief. As I get into the characters' heads, I hurt too.

My favorite: I took great care (and joy) in making the characters' lives intersect in surprising ways. It's like a puzzle. Also, I've tried to make the characters flawed and real, so readers can relate and be inspired by how they grow.

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

It's a biographical novel on the love story of Elizabeth Barrett Browning. It's called "How Do I Love Thee?" and comes out in June 2009. Here's a blurb: The year is 1845. Elizabeth Barrett is a published poet - and a virtual prisoner in her own home. Blind family loyalty ties her to a tyrannical father who forbids any of his children to marry. She has resigned herself to simply existing. That is, until the letter arrives... I love your verses with all my heart', writes Robert Browning, an admiring fellow poet. And as friendly correspondence gives way to something more, Elizabeth discovers that Robert's love is not for her words alone. Could it be that God might grant her more than mere existence? And can she risk defying her father in pursuit of true happiness?

And here's a bonus: in the back of the book will be the sonnets that EBB made famous: The Sonnets from the Portuguese. They are quite lovely.

* * * * *

Thank you, Nancy, for being in the spotlight with us.

Readers, leave a comment for your chance to win a FREE autographed copy of John 3:16.

If you wish to comment but don't want to be entered, say so when you post. Make sure you also leave your email address (name at domainname dot.com/net). Wouldn't want you to miss out on winning a book. :)

And if you want to make certain you don't miss anything, check the box that says 'email follow-up comments to:' when you leave a comment and they'll be sent to the email address associated with your blogging account. That way you'll be notified of any comments and will know when I announce the winner.

This week, the contest is open to anyone worldwide.

* * * * *

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Spotlight on Dennis Bates and Under the Burr Oak Tree

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

DENNIS BATES - "Getting older but feeling younger by the minute." That’s how Dennis Bates describes himself since he retired from his job as a government attorney. And this father of two daughters and husband of 39 years, credits following his dream to write with a good part of that. This is his second publication following "Under the Burr Oak Tree" which was released earlier this year by Spirit Light Publishing.

All his stories involve three things: a Christian world view, although admittedly from the edges sometimes, where he feels real people live; one or more love stories at least partially from a male perspective, and some tie to his home state of Iowa, where he and his wife live.

With an undergraduate degree in journalism from the University of Iowa, he frequently uses Iowa City as a setting and a source of inspiration and almost always has something to say about the small Iowa towns that he both loves and can't resist poking fun at on a regular basis. "Iowans are special people to me," he says, "but we have our quirks, and I'm thankful for all of them because they give me an endless supply of things to write about."

His Second Calling Author website can be found at dennisbates.com, which features a page about his latest books and a link to a blog at www.spirtlightbooks, where he writes about whatever happens to come into his mind every Tuesday and Wednesday. He invites you to visit his website and the blog site often.

UNDER THE BURR OAK TREE
by Dennis Bates
Published by Spirit Light Publishing

ABOUT THE BOOK

Under the Burr Oak Tree is a story of forgiveness, the grace that allows it, and the love that can grow out of it. Full of the hope and strength of a young woman who dares to dream of a better life, and laced with the humor she uses as both a sword and a shield to rescue her sister, her mother and ultimately herself, the story argues that good guys still exist, and the don't always finish last.

Buy Your Copy of Under the Burr Oak Tree Today!

AUTHOR INTERVIEW

1. What gave you the inspiration for this story?

Originally it was a reaction to a book written by Susan Meissner. I didn't like the way she left one of her characters at the end of the story, so I was going to give a similar character a better fate. However, as most of my stories do, it morphed into something very different and that character ended up being Lindsey.

2. How much of your own experiences influenced your characters? What aspects became traits that are theirs and theirs alone?

Most of my stories take place at least partially in Iowa, which is my home state and where I live now. For that reason, most of my settings are very familiar to me. There are elements in all my characters that are based to some degree on my experiences, but a good part of everything I write deals more with themes that interest me and I let the characters talk about how they feel. I use a very limited outline and write to a large degree from the seat of my pants, recording the situations and conversations wherever the characters take me. All of my characters seem to develop unique traits because of that.

3. If one of your characters were an ice cream flavor, what he/she be and why?

Ice cream? There's a whimsical question. I like it. There are two heroines (sisters) and two heroes. Lindsey is a dreamer so she would be whatever flavor you dream about whenever you think of ice cream, but she would be the purest variety and definitely homemade. Candy would be quite different and definitely covered with hot fudge, but underneath she would be pure and rich. Hank goes with Lindsey but he is definitely vanilla, pure and everybody's favorite. William, a former attorney, would be something that started as Praline Pecan because it's pretentious, but ended up being fairly basic and solid like butter pecan.

4. What themes exist in Under the Burr Oak Tree that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the story progressed?

Ice cream? There's a whimsical question. I like it. There are two heroines (sisters) and two heroes. Lindsey is a dreamer so she would be whatever flavor you dream about whenever you think of ice cream, but she would be the purest variety and definitely homemade. Candy would be quite different and definitely covered with hot fudge, but underneath she would be pure and rich. Hank goes with Lindsey but he is definitely vanilla, pure and everybody's favorite. William, a former attorney, would be something that started as Praline Pecan because it's pretentious, but ended up being fairly basic and solid like butter pecan.

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

I know that this sounds strange, but this story almost wrote itself after I turned it over to the Holy Spirit and really listened. Before that I ran into one road block after another. The credit for turning it over really belongs to Staci Stallings, who liked the basic story and told me to listen to the story that had already been written in heaven and write it down. That doesn't mean I don't get choked up sometimes when I see what I was been given. My two favorite scenes: William's proposal to Candy under the burr oak tree in Door County, Wisconsin, and the group prayer Candy, William, Lindsey and Hank have under the burr oak tree in Iowa. I don't want to say more than that or it will ruin the scenes.

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

My next book is coming out within the next month again through Spirit Light Publishing and the title is Sharon's Song. Here is blurb from the back cover.

With a blizzard making all roads impassable, all Sharon Winston wants is for her brother to be safe.. Sharing a prayer with a simple truck driver and a group of his friends at a truck stop, she gets an answer that is much more than she asks for, and it involves her brother, the woman who finds him, dozens of local residents, the truck driver and Sharon herself. However, God's answer to that simple prayer reveals mysteries of the past mingled with miracles of the present and future in an hundred year old love song written just for her. All she has to do is listen to it play in her heart forever.

* * * * *

Thank you, Dennis, for being in the spotlight with us.

Readers, leave a comment for your chance to win a FREE autographed copy of Under the Burr Oak Tree.

If you wish to comment but don't want to be entered, say so when you post. Make sure you also leave your email address (name at domainname dot.com/net). Wouldn't want you to miss out on winning a book. :)

And if you want to make certain you don't miss anything, check the box that says 'email follow-up comments to:' when you leave a comment and they'll be sent to the email address associated with your blogging account. That way you'll be notified of any comments and will know when I announce the winner.

This week, the contest is open to anyone worldwide.

* * * * *

Monday, November 17, 2008

Baby Update -- Week 22, 18 Weeks to Go!

Wow! When I type out that post title, it makes everything hit home real hard! I can't believe I'm already past the halfway point and only have 4 months left. It's amazing to even think that in just 4 short months, I'll be holding my very first baby and falling in love all over again. :)

Oh, and for those who hadn't heard or read it yet....SURPRISE! I'm pregnant and expecting a wee one on March 23rd. It's posted all over this blog and my web site, but easy to miss if you're not looking for it.

Anyway, if you were around last year, you know on Mondays I posted weekly updates toward the countdown of my wedding last July. Well, I heard so many great comments and received so much feedback, I figured it'd be a great idea to do that for the Baby Countdown.

And as of week 22, here is the update:

We had our first ultrasound 1 week ago on the 10th. It went extremely well. Praise God! Did wonders for helping reassure me that all is well with the baby, the baby is growing great, and there really is a baby in there. LOL! I just started feeling movement that night and have been feeling flutters or bubbles every day since. Guess those sonar pulses from the sonogram jarred the baby into action....or at least heightened action that I can feel. :) Doc said I should definitely experience my first real kick before my next appt. on December 9th.

Let's see. All of the brain, bones, organs are growing great. Baby measured at 21 weeks, 1 day last week, so I'm right on target with original due date. Also weighs exactly 1 pound, is 8 inches crown to rump or about 12 inches head to toe. They couldn't get a suitable spine shot, as baby was turning and twisting throughout the whole thing. So, I'm going back on Dec. 9th for a follow-up to look at the spine, one vein to the heart and the kidneys. Baby kept hiding them. *winks*

That picture might be a little dark, but baby's head is over there to the left and there's an arm near the top with a hand touching the head. Guess baby is thinking about when to kick me next!

Other than that, we're doing great. I finally have a belly to show, at least a little bit and by Christmas, I'll "pop" to the point of no return and no more hiding. For now, I can still conceal it most times beneath baggy clothes. :)

Tune in next week for the latest. And if you want to receive an email each time I post an update, subscribe using the form over there at the top right.

Thanks for coming along this journey with me.

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Friday, November 14, 2008

CFBA Blog Tour - J. M. Hochstetler and One Holy Night

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
One Holy Night
Sheaf House Publishers - April 1, 2008)
by J. M. Hochstetler


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

J. M. HOCHSTETLER writes stories that always involve some element of the past and of finding home. Born in central Indiana, the daughter of Mennonite farmers, she graduated from Indiana University with a degree in Germanic languages. She was an editor with Abingdon Press for twelve years and has published three novels.

One Holy Night, a contemporary miracle story for all seasons, released in April 2008. Daughter of Liberty (2004) and Native Son (2005), books 1 and 2 of the American Patriot Series are set during the American Revolution. Book 3, Wind of the Spirit, is scheduled for release in March 2009. Hochstetler is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Christian Authors Network, Middle Tennessee Christian Writers, and Historical Novels Society.

ABOUT THE BOOK

In 1967 the military build-up in Viet Nam is undergoing a dramatic surge. The resulting explosion of anti-war sentiment tears the country apart, slicing through generations and shattering families. In the quiet bedroom community of Shepherdsville, Minnesota, the war comes home to Frank and Maggie McRae, whose only son, Mike, is serving as a grunt in Viet Nam.

Frank despises all Asians because of what he witnessed as a young soldier fighting the Japanese in the south Pacific during WWII. The news that his son has fallen in love with and married Thi Nhuong, a young Vietnamese woman, shocks him. To Frank all Asians are enemies of his country, his family, and himself. A Buddhist, Thi Nhuong represents everything he despises. So he cuts Mike out of his life despite the pleas of his wife, Maggie; daughter, Julie; and Julie s husband, Dan, the pastor of a growing congregation.

Maggie is fighting her own battle--against cancer. Convinced that God is going to heal her, Frank plays the part of a model Christian. Her death on Thanksgiving Day devastates him. Worse, as they arrive home from the gravesite, the family receives news of Mike s death in battle. Embittered, Frank stops attending church and cuts off family and friends.

By the time a very pregnant Thi Nhuong arrives on his doorstep on a stormy Christmas Eve, Frank is so filled with hate that he slams the door in her face, shutting her out in the bitter cold. Finally, overcome by guilt, he tries to go after her, but driving wind and snow force him back inside. With the storm rising to blizzard strength, he confronts the wrenching truth that what hate has driven him to do is as evil as what the Japanese did all those years earlier, and that he needs forgiveness as desperately as they did...

Frank doesn't know that what God has in mind this night is a miracle. As on that holy night so many years ago, a baby will be born and laid in a manger--a baby who will bring forgiveness, reconciliation, and healing to a family that has suffered heart-wrenching loss.

If you would like to read an excerpt, go HERE.

Buy your copy of One Holy Night Today!

AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT

1. What gave you the inspiration for this story?

Observing and trying to make sense of the brokenness of our lives is really what led me to write One Holy Night. We all know families or individuals who have gone through difficult times, and we've all encountered our own personal times of brokenness. I know I have. And over the years I've questioned how we can make sense of our lives and find purpose, strength, and healing.

One of the main ways I try to make sense of life is to write stories about it. So One Holy Night grew out of my wrestling with the kinds of gritty issues that impact our lives every day—intergenerational and interracial conflict, addictions, war, illness, death, and divorce. I first started tinkering with the idea for this story back in the late 1980s when I was working with another author on a book of short stories that revolved around Christmas. I was assigned to write a miracle story. So it started out as a short story, and when the project got shelved, I put it aside and forgot all about it for a number of years.

Around 1998 or 1999, I got it out again and started tinkering with it. I didn't make much progress, but then 9-11 happened, and right around the same time a young mother in our church was diagnosed with intestinal cancer, and then died within a year. The following year my parents both died as the result of a car accident. The wars in Afghanistan, and then Iraq, were in all the headlines, and opposition kept on growing, along with the casualty count. Commentators were beginning to compare the war in Iraq with the quagmire of Viet Nam—a conflict I was well acquainted with since I was in high school and college during those years.

So all these things started to find their way into this story set in 1967 about a family in a small town in Minnesota that is faced with these kinds of issues while the son is away, serving in Vietnam.

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

Although I was raised as a non-resistant Mennonite, my father actually served in the army in WWII and was stationed in the South Pacific as Frank was in the story. My father fought his own spiritual battles after he came home and married my mother, and I remember a lot of conversations around the dinner table and other private ones partially overheard over the years. But he became a staunch Mennonite over time and a completely committed believer in Jesus Christ who left a tremendous testimony at his death. So in a lot of ways Frank is based on my father. Maggie has a lot of elements of my mother too, but she's to some extent also based on the young woman I mentioned above who died of intestinal cancer.

I was in college during a good part of the Vietnam War, especially during the height of the military buildup and the resultant anti-war protests. The Civil Rights Movement was also going on at the time. So my personal experiences during the 1960s heavily influenced One Holy Night. Julie is probably the closest to me in personality and experience, and Mike has some elements of my brother, who also served in Vietnam. Terry is heavily based on a young man I was good friends with in college. I developed Thi Nhuong from a Vietnamese exchange student who was a member of my high school graduating class. And my youngest daughter is named Katie, like Julie and Dan’s little daughter. So a lot of my own life leaked in as I wrote.

But as every writer can testify, all of the characters developed their own individual personalities while I was writing them. They ended up being uniquely themselves, and sometimes they acted in completely unexpected ways, like when Dan confronted the woman in his office who intended to seduce him and Terry had a meltdown when he learned about the accidental bombing that wiped out his entire platoon.

3. If your hero/heroine were an ice cream flavor, what would he/she be and why?

Well, Frank would most likely be Rocky Road because he's pretty hard headed. Maggie would probably be strawberry cheesecake—sweet on the surface, but with unexpected depths. Julie would be a luscious vanilla with lots of subtle nuances, while Mike would be peppermint—a lot of personality, a little hard to take at times, but in the end strong and soothing as needed. I'm positive Thi Nhuong would be green tea—haunting, inscrutable, but with a delightful, lingering coolness.

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

One of my goals in writing this was to retell the story of Jesus' birth in a contemporary setting, and I hope readers will make that connection. A powerful message that developed as I wrote the story is that we can find hope and healing for ourselves and our relationships only in a source greater than ourselves, in a beneficent being who has a purpose and plan for our lives and will carry us through when our own strength and understanding fail.

As believers, we're called to be ambassadors of reconciliation to the world. Our ministry is to reconcile those who are lost to God. In telling the story of how this broken family finds healing in their relationships with one another and with the Lord, I hope readers will claim as their own the good news of Jesus' reconciling work through his life, death, and resurrection.

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

These are some minor spoilers, so be forewarned. :) The most difficult scenes to write also became my favorites: the scene of Maggie's death, when Frank and Julie learn of Mike's death in battle, and when Frank turns Thi Nhuong out into the blizzard, only to come face to face with the depth of evil in his own heart. I also love the scene on Christmas morning where Katie is trying to convince the grown-ups she's found baby Jesus in the manger, and when they finally go to check it out, they find a real baby. And the epilogue is definitely my very favorite because God has brought so much joy from all the characters have suffered.

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

My next book, Wind of the Spirit, releases in March 2009. It's the third book of my American Patriot Series set during the American Revolution, and it continues the story of Elizabeth Howard and Jonathan Carleton that began with Daughter of Liberty and continued in Native Son. In this volume the Battle of Brooklyn takes place, the Battle of Trenton is looming, Charles Andrews' life takes a steep, 90 degree turn, and Elizabeth and Jonathan finally get back together after almost a year and a half apart. Needless to say, there are a lot of fireworks on a number of different levels. I really think this is the best volume in the series. Of course, it does end on another cliffhanger, but then what would you expect?

BLURB:

The fateful confrontation between the untried Continental Army under General George Washington and an overwhelming invasion force commanded by British General William Howe explodes at the Battle of Brooklyn. With the patriot cause on the brink of ruin, Elizabeth Howard scrambles for critical intelligence—and her life. Meanwhile, far out on the western borders, Brigadier General Jonathan Carleton, as the Shawnee war chief White Eagle, succeeds in driving white settlers from Ohio territory through a series of lightning raids. At the same time Blue Sky's seductive charms and the rapidly escalating conflict with Wolfslayer force White Eagle to walk a treacherous tightrope between the beautiful widow and the shaman.

As the British close in on Carleton's whereabouts, and with Washington poised to make a desperate, last-ditch gamble to save the American cause at Trenton, Elizabeth rejoins Colonel Charles Andrews on a desperate journey to find Carleton before the British can capture and execute him for treason. Can her love bridge the miles that separate them—and the savage bonds that threaten to tear him forever from her arms?

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Thank you, Joan, for being in the spotlight with us.

Readers, leave a comment for your chance to win a FREE autographed copy of One Holy Night.

If you wish to comment but don't want to be entered, say so when you post. Make sure you leave your email address (name [at] domainname [dot] com/net) or that there's a way to contact you. Otherwise, you won't be entered. Wouldn't want you to miss out on winning a book. :)

And if you want to make certain you don't miss anything, check the box that says 'email follow-up comments to:' when you leave a comment and they'll be sent to the email address associated with your blogging account. That way you'll be notified of any comments and will know when I announce the winner.

This week, the contest is open to anyone worldwide.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Spotlight on Robert Elmer and The Owling

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

ROBERT ELMER has 28 years of experience as a news editor and reporter, freelance writer and advertising copywriter, technical writer, assistant pastor, workshop leader and novelist. During this time he has written, co-written, edited and collaborated on everything from trade articles and corporate brochures to radio scripts, biographies, appeal letters, ad campaigns, policy and procedure manuals, and full-length novels.

He has written and published more than 50 books under his own name, including youth and YA series like Shadowside and The Wall (for Zondervan/HarperCollins), The Young Underground, Adventures Down Under, Promise of Zion, AstroKids (all for Bethany House/Baker) and HyperLinkz (for WaterBrook/Random House) along with several novels for adults, including The Duet, The Celebrity, The Recital and Like Always (all for WaterBrook/Random House).

Robert also recently updated the devotional classic Practicing God�s Presence (NavPress) and co-authored Off My Case for Kids (Zondervan/HarperCollins) with national speaker Lee Strobel. He is a graduate of Simpson College and St. Mary's College in California, with a B.A. degree in communications and Bible, as well as an elementary teaching credential. When he's not writing (or sailing), he often speaks to young audiences across North America, encouraging them to develop their own writing skills. He's a mentor and board member for the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild in Colorado Springs. Robert and his wife Ronda are the parents of three young adults and live in the panhandle of Idaho.

THE OWLING
by Robert Elmer
Published by Zondervan

ABOUT THE BOOK

Life gets even more confusing for fifteen-year-old Oriannon when her former music mentor, Jesmet, miraculously returns from the dead and promises his students a special power called Numa. But he's not the only one offering hope. Sola, Corista's charismatic head of Security, proposes the Ultimate Solution for peace and recruits Oriannon to help her carry out the plan. But Oriannon's friends are skeptical and try to convince her that the plan brutalizes the once-peaceful Owling people. Will Oriannon embrace Sola's solution as the answer to Corista's ancient dilemma? Or will she instead believe the untested promises of a mystical holy man?

Here's a link to YouTube, where Robert posted a trailer of the Owling --

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5_uKaO0n8hg

Buy Your Copy of The Owling Today!

AUTHOR INTERVIEW

1. What gave you the inspiration for this story?

The Owling is the continuation, the second installment in the "Shadowside" trilogy. Since I love all kinds of space and sci-fi stories, but don't particularly like the darkness or hopelessness of that genre, I wanted to present an exciting story with Biblical undertones that pointed to hope. Readers will see the parallels, even though it's an original story and doesn't attempt to be a full-on Biblical allegory. But the parallels are there.

2. How much of your own experiences influenced your characters? What aspects became traits that are theirs and theirs alone?

Oriannon--the main character--is brave, original, courageous, and flawed. Her friend Margus is creative, loyal, constant, at times cautious and other times reckless, and often bumbling. I don't usually model my characters 100-percent on anyone I know, or even after myself. At the same time, I love to build characters that we can all identify with, even a little bit.

But as far as experiences that influenced my characters, well... I haven't yet been to space, but that would be cool!

3. If one of your characters were an ice cream flavor, what he/she be and why?

Oriannon would be Rocky Road, because she has chunks of greatness mixed in with the ordinary vanilla. Though she's a girl who lives on another planet, and she gets roped into some of the most incredible adventures, we see that she's just like us, too! That's why I've enjoyed writing this character, and her best friend Margus. It's sci-fi for the rest of us, fantasy for people who might not otherwise pick up a fantasy. That's what I set out to write. And by the way, I also set out to write characters who would resonate with both boy and girl readers, teens and even older. So this is an ice cream flavor that everyone should enjoy. And in these stories, Oriannon is on a figurative rocky road, as well.

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

Among other things, readers will pick out themes of loyalty and faith, betrayal and love. Because Shadowside is inspired by themes and stories found in the Gospels and the Book of Acts, these kinds of themes are hard to miss. I wouldn't say that added themes popped up as the story progressed, but I saw the characters deepen with time. I hope readers enjoy that aspect as much as I enjoyed writing it.

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

The hardest parts to write were the ones that mirrored the toughest parts of the Gospel narratives. When you read Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, what are the parts that bring tears to your eyes? When they made it into the Shadowside drama, those are the very same parts that were toughest for me to write. And this is the cool part�they were also my favorite. For example, there's a scene where Oriannon and her friends are preparing for a concert, and one of her friends falls from the top of a ladder. Their music mentor, Jesmet, shows up just then, and... Hey, I'm not giving it away! You'll have to read the first book, Trion Rising, to find out what happened there. In The Owling, however, some of the most difficult scenes were those where Oriannon is trapped and helpless, and there's no way out of the mess she's in. I don't want to explain too much... again, not to give it away. :)

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

Book 3 in the trilogy, called Beyond Corista, is set to release next May. It's the conclusion of events set into motion in both TRION RISING and THE OWLING. You've got to read it, if you read the first two.

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Thank you, Bob, for being in the spotlight with us.

Readers, leave a comment for your chance to win a FREE autographed copy of The Owling.

If you wish to comment but don't want to be entered, say so when you post. Make sure you also leave your email address (name at domainname dot.com/net). Wouldn't want you to miss out on winning a book. :)

And if you want to make certain you don't miss anything, check the box that says 'email follow-up comments to:' when you leave a comment and they'll be sent to the email address associated with your blogging account. That way you'll be notified of any comments and will know when I announce the winner.

This week, the contest is open to anyone worldwide.

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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

CFBA Blog Tour - Megan DiMaria and Out of Her Hands

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Out of Her Hands
Tyndale House - September 22, 2008)
by Megan DiMaria


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

MEGAN DIMARIA -- I was born and raised in New York State and have since lived in Maine, Florida, Pennsylvania, Texas, New Jersey, and now I lives in Colorado. My husband and I have three delightful, adult children and an old Jack Russell Terrier named Belle who seems to find her way into my novels. My resume will tell you I graduated from SUNY Plattsburgh with a degree in Communications, and after graduation I worked as a radio and television reporter, freelance writer, editor and marketing professional.

I'm a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and am assistant director of Words For The Journey, Rocky Mountain Region.

But what's most important to know about me is that I am a follower of Jesus, wife, mother, friend, reader and writer.

Life's a journey, enjoy the adventures!

ABOUT THE BOOK

In this second novel by Megan DiMaria, Linda Revere is back and continuing to struggle with the turmoil of contemporary life. Linda has been praying for her children's future spouses since they were very small. Confident that her prayers will be answered, Linda is not prepared for the young woman her son brings home. But Linda soon learns that while everything she once controlled is out of her hands, God is still in control. Megan uses her trademark humor while dealing with issues to which her readers will relate.

"No sophomore slump for DiMaria! This novel (Out of Her Hands) is as engaging and meaningful as her first, Searching for Spice. Her realistic portrayal of the characters' lives should endear them to readers and help Christians to feel less alone in their daily trials."
~Romantic Times Magazine, 4½ stars TOP PICK!

"Life in Linda's world is messy...but filled with love, laughter, struggle and faith. Megan has created a most real heroine for us to love...and I adore her!"
~Deena Peterson, reviewer: A Peek at my Bookshelf

"Megan DiMaria crafts a novel so compelling, so real, you forget you're reading fiction."
~Darcie Gudger, reviewer: TitleTrakk

"This is a great read for a quiet afternoon or in those times when you feel your own life spinning out of control and need the reality check of knowing you're not in it alone."
~Amazon reviewer

If you would like to read an excerpt, go HERE.

Buy your copy of Out of Her Hands Today!

AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT

1. What gave you the inspiration for this story?

I'd be lying if I didn't say life. But the book's not autobiographical, it's inspired by a mother's dreams and fears for her children. Fortunately, I haven't had to live the experience my character has, although I know it's not uncommon to find your young adult children making choices you don't agree with.

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

My character has a similar experience as I do because she lives in my town and goes to the stores and restaurants I frequent. A big difference between my main character and myself is that Linda tends to "go over the edge" emotionally on issues more than I do.

3. If your hero/heroine were an ice cream flavor, what would he/she be and why?

Hmm, if Linda were an ice cream flavor I think she would be rocky road because she has to deal with difficult issues but still keep on truckin'.

4. What themes exist in Out of Her Hands that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the story progressed?

I hope that readers discover the theme of loving. Sometimes there are people in our lives that we don't naturally love, but still, we're called on to love. A theme that developed with the story is one that shows we much be accepting of the changes that occur in life, even if we aren't the one making the choices that precipitate those changes.

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

The most difficult parts to write were always the ones that put my characters in emotional pain. To use a cliché, I feel their pain. My favorite parts to write were when I could let loose with heavy descriptions of a home or a scene that Linda's experiencing. I love to pain vivid word pictures.

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Thank you, Megan, for being in the spotlight with us.

Readers, leave a comment for your chance to win a FREE autographed copy of Out of Her Hands.

If you wish to comment but don't want to be entered, say so when you post. Make sure you leave your email address (name [at] domainname [dot] com/net) or that there's a way to contact you. Otherwise, you won't be entered. Wouldn't want you to miss out on winning a book. :)

And if you want to make certain you don't miss anything, check the box that says 'email follow-up comments to:' when you leave a comment and they'll be sent to the email address associated with your blogging account. That way you'll be notified of any comments and will know when I announce the winner.

This week, the contest is open to anyone worldwide.

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