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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Spotlight on Amanda Cabot and Paper Roses

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

With both parents avid readers, it's no surprise that AMANDA CABOT learned to read at an early age. From there it was only a small step to deciding to become a writer. Of course, deciding and becoming are two different things, as she soon discovered. Fortunately for the world, her first attempts at fiction were not published, but she did meet her goal of selling a novel by her thirtieth birthday. Since then she's sold more than twenty novels under a variety of pseudonyms. Paper Roses is her first book for the CBA market. When she's not writing, Amanda enjoys sewing, cooking and – of course – reading.

PAPER ROSES
by Amanda Cabot
Published by Revell

ABOUT THE BOOK

Her future stretched out like the clear blue Texas sky.

But a storm is coming.

Leaving the past behind in Philadelphia, mail-order bride Sarah Dobbs arrives in San Antonio ready to greet her groom—a man she has never met but whose letters, her paper roses, have won her heart from afar. But there is a problem—Austin Canfield is dead, and Sarah cannot go back East.

As Sarah tries to reconcile herself to a future that is drastically changed, Austin's brother Clay wants nothing more than to shake the Texas dust from his boots, but first he must find his brother’s killer. And then there's Sarah.

Something is blooming out in the vast Texas landscape that neither Clay nor Sarah is ready to admit, and the promise of redemption blows like a gentle breeze through the prairie grasses.

This Book One of the Texas Dreams series will sweep you away with a tale of love, loss, and tantalizing possibilities.

Buy Your Copy of Paper Roses today!

AUTHOR INTERVIEW

1. What gave you the inspiration for this story?

I never thought of myself as a slow learner, but that was the case with writing for the Christian market. For over ten years, readers have suggested that I write for inspirational romance, but I demurred, not believing it was right for me. It took the death of a dear friend to convince me that it was time to write about God's love as well as that between a man and a woman. Watching her during her final months and seeing how her faith strengthened her was the turning point for me. In many ways, I consider Paper Roses part of her legacy – living proof that we never know how our words and actions may influence another.

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

I'd like to say "nothing at all," but that's not true. Like most authors, I know that part of me creeps into each book. While my characters are never based on real people (including myself), my heroes and heroines frequently embody my personal values. Because I believe in justice and happy endings, readers will find that my protagonists do, too. They'll also find the recurring theme of the healing power of love, since that's something I believe in. As for my villains, they tend to be the antithesis of the heroes and heroines, and I'd certainly like to think they're not based on me.

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

I really don't know, so I'm leaving this one blank. :)

4. Are there any themes in Paper Roses that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the stories progressed?

The primary theme is forgiveness, but the book has many other aspects to it – the mystery of who killed Austin, Sarah's struggle to overcome her handicap, Clay's frustration with his inability to heal his father, the thefts and ancient hostilities that divide the town. It's one of the most complex books I've written, but – judging from the initial reader reaction – that's just what readers are looking for.

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

I imagine that most authors who answer this question can pinpoint a scene or a chapter. For me, the most difficult part is always the first draft. I write a synopsis, a chapter-by-chapter outline of the book and then two drafts. Although I love the whole writing process, my least favorite part is the first draft. I describe it as a skeleton – absolutely necessary but not very pretty. Ugly, in fact. I'm always relieved when that's done and I can start the second draft – the flesh and blood part. That's my favorite time.

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

The second Texas Dreams book is scheduled to be released next January. At this point, it's still going through the titling process and I don't know whether Revell will keep my working title of Scattered Petals. As part of the titling process, Revell asked me to describe the book in two sentences. For someone who's hard-pressed to stay within word count limits, that was a challenge, but here’s what I wrote for them.

All her life, Priscilla Morton has longed for adventure, and so she heads for Texas, never dreaming that the adventure will leave her alone, badly injured and dependent on a handsome rancher who reminds her of her worst nightmare. Zachary Webster knows he'll never marry, for that would involve admitting the biggest mistake of his life, but how can he refuse to help Priscilla, even if she's a reminder of his sin?

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

Readers, leave a comment for your chance to win a FREE copy of Paper Roses.

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 US/Canada residents only.

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Monday, January 26, 2009

Baby Update -- Week 32, 8 Weeks to Go!

Here we are at week 32, and if I go to full-term, I've got 8 weeks to go. To accommodate me and my baby's growing needs, my blood volume has increased 40 to 50 percent since I got pregnant. And I'm feeling it mostly in my nose when I sleep as the vessels are ever-expanding. I can only sleep on my right side to keep things clear. With my uterus pushing up near my diaphragm and crowding my stomach, I've noticed more shortness of breath and LOT of heartburn. I've had to sleep propped up with pillows and start eating smaller meals more often.

So far, the lower-back pain hasn't started, but I'm sure it will. However, if it's too bad, I'll call my doctor. I don't want it to be a sign of preterm labor.

My expanding uterus shifts my center of gravity and stretches out and weakens my abdominal muscles, changing my posture and putting a strain on my back. I'm doing my best to keep good posture, though. It's working, as far as I know. Still, there are a lot of hormonal changes that are loosening my joints and the ligaments that attach my pelvic bones to my spine. This is making me feel less stable and once in a while, I have some pain when I walk, stand, sit for long periods, roll over in bed, bend, or lift things.

Other than that, my trips to the bathroom have increased tenfold. Guess this baby is liking my bladder as a footstool or headrest. Since I don't know baby's position, I can't say for certain. I only know my bladder is nearing nonexistent land!

All right, all right. I'll concede the floor to my little angel...



...You know, I'm feeling a whole lot heavier these days. I believe I heard I weigh about 4 pounds and am about 16.8 inches long. That means I'm taking up a lot of space in Mommy's tummy. And it's getting cramped in here. She's gaining about a pound a week and half of that goes right to me. The doctor told her last week that I'm going to gain a third to half of my birth weight during the next 7 weeks as I fatten up for survival outside the womb. Ahhh! The outside. That's a scary thought! So glad to know I'm going to have Mommy and Daddy to comfort me and keep me warm and safe.

Speaking of warmth, I have recently discovered a sensitivity to temperature! And I think Mommy knows it too, because I've kicked her when she's placed her warm hands on her belly or when Daddy's cold hands have touched the skin on the outside.

I have toenails, fingernails, and real hair (all right, so at least it's respectable peach fuzz). My skin is becoming soft and smooth as I plump up in preparation for birth. Oh, and I have blue eyes for now. Don't know if I'll be keeping them. I know Daddy has blue eyes, but Mommy has green. It's anybody's guess at this point.

But it's been a long day, and I'm rather tired, so not much to say this time...




I'm feeling the same as baby right now. But, I do have a treat for you. I've uploaded pictures from my first baby shower along with some shots of what our baby's area looks like right now. The walls aren't done and we're still awaiting a 2nd shower here, but things are shaping up!

Take a look! There should be a full album.

Other than that, I did a little nesting in the kitchen today and picked up a special addition. Look over there to the right to see. :) My brand-new canisters for flour, sugar, tea, whatever. I think I did pretty good with the color blend to the cabinets and countertops. Finally, the cabinets above will be free of half-empty bags and tupperware containers. I have space again!

That's all for now...

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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Amber Miller Stockton Talking on Dreams Fulfilled!

Hi to my readers! Just a quick note to let y'all know that I was invited to be a guest blogger last week on a friend's blog. She has a theme she began in early January on the topic of dreams. Many other writers and authors and folks she knew were invited to be guest bloggers. My post went up on Thursday, the 22nd.

Here is a link:
http://jenniferallee.blogspot.com/2009/01/dreaming-with-amber-stockton-win-her.html

In the post, I share all about the many dreams in my life that have come true in recent years, as well as the years spent waiting for "my ship to come in" so to speak.

I'm also giving away a FREE autographed copy of my next book (Copper and Candles) to be released in April for anyone who leaves a comment on that guest blog post.

But, here's an added bonus. If you'd like to be entered in a SECOND drawing, post a comment here sharing about a dream that came true for you as well. I'll pick a winner on February 2nd.

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Friday, January 23, 2009

Spotlight on Susan Page Davis and Inside Story

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

SUSAN PAGE DAVIS is the author of 20 novels in the historical, mystery, and suspense genres. She is a Maine native, and uses her home state as the location for many of her stories. She's the mother of six and grandmother of five adorable children.

INSIDE STORY
by Susan Page Davis
Published by Harvest House

ABOUT THE BOOK

Claudia Gillette is a prize-winning journalist at a high-profile magazine. She prides herself in her cool independence—traveling the globe, beating the deadline. Landing the interview with Heidi Taber, the only female in an elite U.S. Navy special operations unit, is yet another rung on her ladder of career successes.

Lieutenant Bill White is not happy about the journalist standing in front of him in the midst of the Philippine jungle. He has no time for public relations campaigns—certainly not during a covert mission to rescue a well-known aerophysicist from terrorists.

As shells explode and tracer fire streaks the air, Claudia finds herself caught up in a danger she never expected...or wanted. With lives at stake, she fears her presence in the unit is their greatest detriment to survival. Will she find the strength to live through the nightmare…or has her ambition cost her her life?

Buy Your Copy of Inside Story today!

AUTHOR INTERVIEW

1. What gave you the inspiration for this story?

Readers begged to hear more about Pierre's family, and I decided to bring Marie's sister Claudia (book 2) together with Rachel's friend Bill (book 1). I'd also been reading about the communist and Muslim terrorism in the Philippines and decided it was a good location for a military adventure.

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

Well, I have sisters...Actually, Inside Story is pretty far from my actual experience, though I worked several years as a journalist (not nearly as upscale as what Claudia does, though).

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

Claudia would be Rocky Road, all the way.

4. Are there any themes in Inside Story that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the stories progressed?

Forgiveness is a big element here. Claudia not only seeks God's forgiveness, but must forgive herself for all the trouble she's caused. Bill, too, takes on a share of the guilt, especially for Stu's situation. Both must deal with those problems and set things straight with God.

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

Most difficult was putting a face to the villain, Cabaya. My favorite was Pierre's wrangling with Claudia.

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

On Feb. 1, On a Killer's Trail will release in the Love Inspired Suspense line. In this book, Detective Neil Alexander, in the Portland, Maine, P.D., investigates a Christmas Day murder. The girl who broke up with him six months ago shows up to cover the story for the local newspaper. Neil broke Kate's heart, but he's become a Christian since then. Will she—and her brother-in-law, who happens to be his boss—give Neil a second chance? And when a second murder occurs, will Kate's ideas blow their investigation and put her in danger?

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

Readers, leave a comment for your chance to win a FREE autographed copy of Inside Story.

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, January 21, 2009

CFBA Blog Tour - Kaye Dacus and Stand-In Groom

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Stand-In Groom
Barbour Publishing - January 1, 2009)
by Kaye Dacus


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

KAYE DACUS is an author and editor who has been writing fiction for more than twenty years. A former Vice President of American Christian Fiction Writers, Kaye enjoys being an active ACFW member and the fellowship and community of hundreds of other writers from across the country and around the world that she finds there.

She currently serves as President of Middle Tennessee Christian Writers, which she co-founded in 2003 with three other writers. Each month, she teaches a two-hour workshop on an aspect of the craft of writing at the MTCW monthly meeting. But her greatest joy comes from mentoring new writers through her website and seeing them experience those “aha” moments when a tricky concept becomes clear.

ABOUT THE BOOK

When wedding planner Anne Hawthorne meets George Laurence, she thinks she's found the man of her dreams. But when he turns out to be a client, her "dream" quickly turns into a nightmare. Will Anne risk her heart and career on this engaging Englishman?

George came to Louisiana to plan his employer's wedding and pose as the groom. But how can he feign affection for a supposed fiancee when he's so achingly attracted to the wedding planner? And what will happen when Anne discovers his role has been Stand-In Groom only? Will she ever trust George again? Can God help these two believers find a happy ending?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Stand-In Groom, go HERE.

What They're Saying About It:

"Dacus pulls off a delightful story that places readers in the heart of the South with the debut of the Brides of Bonneterre series. Readers will enjoy this look at how lives are transformed through devastating events and how forgiveness is the key to a promising future. Nothing is as it seems in this heartwarming story."
Romantic Times, 4-Star Review

"Absolutely delightful! I enjoyed Stand-In Groom from cover to cover! Ms. Dacus's clever story and wonderful prose will draw you away to a place deep in the heart of Louisiana, surrounding you with the scents, sounds, and sights of the deep south. A story filled with romance and intrigue, betrayal and forgiveness, I found myself laughing, crying and rejoicing right along with the characters."
M.L. Tyndall, author of The Falcon and the Sparrow and the award-winning Legacy of the King's Pirates series

"Stand-In Groom is as sweet, beautiful, and chaotic as a perfectly planned wedding. Anne is a bright and wounded heroine you're going to care about for a long time. George is a hero to capture your heart. Kaye Dacus will take you along for a fun, poignent ride in Stand-In Groom."
Mary Connealy, author of the Lassoed in Texas series and Of Mice...and Murder

Buy your copy of Stand-In Groom Today!

AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT

1. What gave you the inspiration for this story?

As many people have probably guessed, the inspiration for this book came to me after watching the movie The Wedding Planner. I wasn't happy with the way that the romance in that story revolved around the breakup of an engagement. As a writer, most of my ideas come from asking "what if" questions. What if a wedding planner thought she was falling in love with the groom of the biggest wedding she's ever planned...but then he turned out not to be the groom? And the story grew from there.

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

I would say that the main trait that Anne and George both have that I don't necessarily share with them is their selflessness. They're so willing to put everything aside to make their clients happy---without doing it grudgingly or complaining about it. I wish I were that good of a person! There's a lot of me in every character I write. Anne is more self-confident than I am. While I do enjoy being self-employed (as a freelance editor), I don't know that I'd be as brave as she was in going out and starting my own business. I also would never last as a wedding planner---I watched a lot of Whose Wedding Is It Anyway and Bridezillas when writing this book, and I would have been out of business when the first difficult bride came along! When I worked in the newspaper advertising industry, I did a lot of event planning, so those experiences came in quite handy when writing both this novel and the follow-up, Menu for Romance.

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

I think most people George meets would immediately label him as vanilla, simply because he plays everything so close to the vest. But deep down, we all know that he's Caramel-English Walnut---a hard nut to crack, but sweet and gooey as well. Anne, well, she's obviously Southern Praline Pecan.

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

There are several themes in this book, and I hope that different readers will be touched in whatever way they need to be encouraged through the story, whether it's remembering that compromising our Christian ethics leads to pain-for us and others around us-and that until we're willing to face our pasts, to forgive those who've wronged us and stop holding grudges, we're never going to be able to move forward into the happy endings God has prepared for us.

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

I went through a major transition as a writer while writing this book, as I started it before I began graduate school, then spent the next two years working on it intensively as my master's thesis. When I first started writing it, the two hardest aspects for me were putting my characters into believable conflicts on the page (instead of taking the easy way out and resolving things off page) and keeping it light hearted. Believe it or not, I used to take my writing very seriously and thought that because I saw myself as a serious person, my writing needed to be serious as well. Once my grad-school mentors convinced me that I needed to let my real voice---those little sarcastic asides I have a tendency to make all the time---come out on the page, I finally hit my stride with this story, and everything that's followed.

My favorite scene that I wrote is the one in which Anne relives the accident from her childhood that left her orphaned. I wrote that scene during a 74-hour weekend sprint to get the first draft finished by the end of my second semester of grad school. I had no idea I was going to write it, and it just flowed out of me. It's the only scene I've ever written that's brought me to tears.

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

I have two books coming out this summer. The first is Menu for Romance, book two in the Brides of Bonneterre series from Barbour. Menu takes us back to Bonneterre five months after the end of Groom, and picks up the characters of Meredith Guidry and Major O'Hara from Groom. Here's the blurb:

After eight years of unrequited love, Meredith Guidry makes a New Year's resolution to find someone new and end her single status before the year’s over. Executive Chef Major O'Hara has foresworn relationships, knowing he could never saddle the woman he loves with a family situation like his. But when it seems he's about to lose Meredith Guidry to another man, he realizes he must concoct a MENU FOR ROMANCE to win her back.
The other book coming out is the first book in my historical series with Harvest House, Ransome's Honor. The year is 1814, and the war with France has ended. Royal Navy Captain William Ransome has returned to Portsmouth to receive new orders, all the while hoping not to run into the woman he fell in love with but walked away from twelve years ago: his admiral's daughter. Julia Witherington swore she would never forgive William when he made her believe he was in love with her, but then never proposed. But when her conniving aunts let slip their plans for her---and her inheritance---she is forced to choose between the man she swore she'd never forgive and a wastrel cousin who will gamble away her father's hard-earned fortune.

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

Readers, leave a comment for your chance to win a FREE copy of Stand-In Groom.

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 US/Canada residents only.

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Monday, January 19, 2009

Baby Update -- Week 31, 9 Weeks to Go!

Today marks week 31, which means there are just 9 weeks left. Of course, as babies go, they make up their minds when they want to come into this world. So, this countdown could be right on target, too far away or too soon. It all depends on when this little when decides it's time to make an appearance.

Tonight, hubby and I had our very first birthing class. There were 12 pregnant mamas (me included) with their hubbies or birthing partners. With 1 group of 3, that meant we had 25 in the class, so it was rather full. We'll be going for 3 more weeks, and I'm looking forward to sharing the experience with hubby. I know he'll be eagerly engaged and helpful. I've got myself such a keeper!

As for how I'm feeling, as my little miracle is taking up more and more real-estate in my belly, I'm doing my best to sit back, relax, and deal with the heartburn and increased lower back pain. I've started eating less with each meal, and instead am opting for smaller more frequent meals to help. When I can, I get off my feet and elevate them above my heart. Should would be nice if we had room for a recliner. :)

Now it's time for another entertaining entry from baby Stockton...



Ok, so here's the 4-1-1 for ya. By the way, that's me waving over there. First, I sensed a little sarcasm from Mommy up there, and that's all right with me. She does that a lot, and it often causes others to laugh. If I understood what she was saying, I might laugh too. Guess I'll have to wait until I'm on the outside for that.

Anyway, I'm growing a lot these days. This week, I've reached about 16-17 inches in length from the top of my head to the tips of my toes. I believe I'm somewhere between 3-1/2 and 4 pounds too, or I could be more. There isn't a scale in here, so it's hard to tell. My arms, legs, and body are beginning to plump out with all that fat under my skin. As long as it's not too much and helps keep me warm, I'll be fine. It also means I'll be adding about a 1/2 pound of weight each week until I'm born. I'll try not to be too big, but considering the family I come from and all those tall or plump folks, who knows!

Oh yeah, and I've figured out how to turn my head from side to side. Again, not much to see in here. It's often rather dark. From what I hear, it's beautiful where I'll be living, so I can hardly wait to get out there and see it for myself, once my eyes adjust to everything. My fingernails are growing in too. It's a good thing I have all this liquid and padding around me, or Mommy might feel like I'm trying to claw my way out of here. :)

Mommy said she's been feeling stronger kicks. Whoops. Guess I've been kicking or punching a little too hard. But it's getting cramped in here. I'm running out of room. At least I'm not keeping her awake...at least I don't think I am. She seems to be taking it all in stride, and that's good, because all of this is a sign that I'm active and healthy.

Hmm, I have also been getting strong in my immune system. Mommy has a great one, I hear, and she's kind enough to share it with me. Don't want to be getting sick as soon as I'm born, and I know Mommy and Daddy don't want that either, so I'll do everything I can to help my system get even stronger. Oh, and although I'm sure this will change after I'm born, no one can accuse me of being a "hard-head" since the skull bones haven't fused together yet. That's only to help make my arrival into the world easier on Mommy. She's been so nice to provide this warm home for me, I don't want to hurt her coming out.

Lots of folks have a "soft spot" for babies. And I get to have a soft spot on my head for a little while at least. Now, if only I could see if I have a head of hair or just peach fuzz...




Mama is back. You know, tonight brought up a question in my mind. I've been blessed with a relatively easy pregnancy to this point. (Thanks, Mom, for the excellent genes!) I never had morning sickness, and even when I'm not pregnant, I only get cramps 2, maybe 3 times a year.

Hearing about the possibility of preterm labor pains both in the class tonight and from the other pregnant mamas on a forum I frequent, it's made me wonder when or if I'll recognize those contractions most books say are painless. I mean, so far, I haven't felt the tightening of the uterus or those things called Braxton Hicks contractions at all.

The closest thing I've felt is an introduction to my round ligament when I've twisted or turned too quickly. That sharp pain was easily noticeable. What about the preterm contractions or Braxton Hicks, though? If I can't feel those, will I feel them for the early stage of labor before getting into active labor? It'd be nice if labor didn't all of a sudden take me by surprise.

Guess I'll have to ask my doctor this week at my appointment.

The only other thing that's excited me is knowing I'll soon be a milk machine for my baby. In fact, it's already started, although I haven't noticed much. I'm sure that will change in the coming weeks.

Now, I'm off to work on my hospital bag list and "goodie bag" to start prepping ahead of time. We'll be getting some boxes of baby stuff from my shower back east, so it'll be exciting to open everything again and do some more nesting.

That's all for now...

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, January 16, 2009

Spotlight on Michelle Stimpson and Trouble in My Way

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

MICHELLE STIMPSON, a bestselling author, has penned several works, including Boaz Brown, Divas of Damascus Road (Essence® Bestseller), Breaking Bondage to Biscuits, and her young adult novel, Trouble In My Way. She also publishes short stories through her educational publishing company, Right Track Academic Support Services, LLC. Michelle serves in the Creative Tyme Ministry at her home church, Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship, and is currently pursing her ministerial license. She ministers to women through her online newsletter: www.womengrowinginchrist.com. Michelle lives near Dallas with her husband and their two teenage children.

TROUBLE IN MY WAY
by Michelle Stimpson
Published by Pocket Books (Simon & Schuster)

THE GOOD STUFF
by Michelle Stimpson
Published by Pocket Books (Simon & Schuster)

ABOUT THE BOOKS

Trouble in My Way - It's all Karis's mom's fault.

If she hadn't snooped into Karis's diary, she never would have known about Karis's unauthorized activies. Now, Karis is grounded indefinitely with no modem, no iPOD...and no cell phone. There's just no way Karis can survive being cut off from the world. Add a "shiesty" potential stepmother, a dangerous relationship with a self-proclaimed bad boy, and the constant pressure to cover her sneaky tracks – the combination makes a perfect recipe for high drama. Will faith in God help Karis get through, or has she pushed grace, and her mother, too far?

The Good Stuff - Sonia and Kennard have the "perfect" life: they both have successful careers, beautiful twins, and a charming house. But despite the fact that Kennard is a faithful breadwinner, his emotional distance from the family makes Sonia believe that a good marriage must be more than in name only.

Adrian couldn't love her husband, Darryl, more if she tried. He's the one person who's shown her what real love means. But when it seems that Darryl's more interested in making money than making babies, Adrian wonders what marriage is for? And when a devastating secret from Darryl's past emerges, it seems that their vows may truly break.

The two women are heartbroken and on the verge of divorce when a common friend, Miss Erma, invites them to a prayer group. Between the prayers come stories of marriage - the good and the bad, the happy and the sad. Sonia and Adrian discover that marriage is more than wedding dresses and happily ever after. It is compromise, sacrifice, and patience - the good stuff.

Buy Your Copy of Trouble in My Way and The Good Stuff today!

AUTHOR INTERVIEW

1. What gave you the inspiration for this story?

Trouble in My Way was inspired by my experiences as a teen. I've been keeping a diary since I was twelve, and the stuff recorded on those hundreds of pages is hilarious - to say the least. I remember feeling like my mother totally against me, my friendships were the most important thing in my life, and every cute boy held promise. I just wanted to share some of the lessons I learned the hard way with readers.

For The Good Stuff, I wanted to encourage husbands and wives to work through their issues rather than run at the first - or even the second - sign of trouble. This is somewhat of a testimony of what God did in my own 15-year marriage.

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

I'm a little ashamed to admit that there's a "whole lotta" teenage-me in the main character of Trouble In My Way - Karis Reed. She's fun, she's naive, and she has a way of twisting everything to make herself look good. What separates her from me, however, is that Karis has the added issue of being the daughter of a single mother who doesn't want her Karis to make the same mistake of getting pregnant at 16.

The wives in The Good Stuff (Sonia and Adrian) are different from me because of their family dynamics (one is the mother of twins, the other has no children). But we have the same heart. We both wanted our families to "work" but wondered if it was worth all the work.

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

Karis would be sweet cream with nuts. She's mostly nice and sweet, but she's also crunchy sometimes.

Sonia would be Rocky Road because she a tough one.

4. Are there any themes in Trouble in My Way and The Good Stuff that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the stories progressed?

Trouble In My Way is all about integrity. Karis is growing into the knowledge of what it means to be a godly young lady, and that's what I hope readers will take from this novel. One thing that kind of "jumped out" with this story as I wrote it was how Karis felt about being the big "oops!" in her mom's life. Though her mother loved Karis, she wasn't aware of how it made Karis feel when the mother referred to the pregnancy as a "mistake."

The theme of The Good Stuff has to be surrender. Marriage is tough, and it calls for a complete surrender to God's sovereignty. It calls for great faith in yourself, in your mate, and most importantly in God. Marriage is where 1 Corinthians 13 comes to life.

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

The most difficult parts for Trouble In My Way was the ending. I wasn't quite sure how to end it so that I could resolve a sub-plot between Karis and one of her best friends - Tamisha. Karis was dishonest about a romantic relationship, which caused tension in this friendship. I wasn't really sure about how I wanted it to end. I wrote 2 different endings and picked the one I thought worked best.

The toughest thing with The Good Stuff was how to totally "write" the miracle that God performed in these marriages. But when I looked back on things, I realized that the miracle was in the process of surrender. It wasn't a big one-time event, it came as they walked. This was something that I had to really work with because novels always have a climax. It was a tough thing.

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

I'm working on a fun, light book that I believe will encourage newer Christians to keep growing in their walk with God. No publication date - just writing it now!

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

Readers, leave a comment for your chance to win a FREE autographed copy of Trouble in My Way or the Good Stuff. Your choice.

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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Monday, January 12, 2009

Baby Update -- Week 30, 10 Weeks to Go!

Here we are. Week 30. That means, 3/4 of the way there with just 1/4 left to complete. If they measured pregnancy in quarters, I'd be starting my 4th. But they measure in trimesters instead, and I'm 3 weeks into that one. :)

Some of my not-so-fun symptoms are just intensifying this week. I wish I could slow down a bit and focus on myself, but I've got a book deadline this Friday and have to get finished. I've been feeling extra fatigued, I've joined the "sleeping shouldn’t be this tough when I'm this tired" club, and I'm experiencing a lot of back pain and general discomfort. Doctor tells me this is the time to cut down on the physical activities and focus more on getting proper sleep. I've had a few good nights, but I've found it depends on hubby and how he sleeps, since he likes to flop around like a fish out of water on the deck of a boat. I tried to duct tape thing, but it didn't work.

Oh and all that moodiness they say mommies-to-be get? Yeah, I haven't had any of those symptoms or syndromes. Hubby just says he loves that I'm so easygoing with this pregnancy. He's heard the horror stories. I'm sure there is increased adrenaline thanks indirectly to hormonal swings—but so far, nothing has made me any nore dramatic that I normally am and nothing has merited an adult temper tantrums. Shucks! *winks*

And now baby Stockton is asking for the floor...



The light is visible at the end of the tunnel! Me, the amazing growing baby has finally reached the single digits (in terms of weeks till birth)! Well, ok, so the count up there says 10 weeks, but I don't know if I'm going to stay in here that long. All that fine lanugo hair that has been growing all over my little monkey-like body is going to start falling off this week in preparation for my big day.

And I've heard daddy call me his little porker when mommy said I've grown a lot in the past month. Well this little porker is getting even cuter (as if that's even possible) with pudgier arms and legs this week thanks to the ever-growing layers of fat I'm accumuulating. That's right, all that baby fat that women love to pinch and coo about. Doesn't make any sense to me, but if it makes them smile, I guess it's all right.

My eyesight continues to develop, though it's not very keen; even after I'm born, I'll keep my eyes closed for a good part of the day. When I do open them, I'll respond to changes in light but will have 20/400 vision — which means I can only make out objects a few inches from her face. So, you'll have to get REAL close to me if you want me to see you.

In terms of numbers, I weigh around 3 pounds 12 ounces and I'm nearly 16 inches long. I haven't decided yet how much I'll weigh or how long I'll be when I finally decide to make an appearance, but I'm having fun in here kicking around, trying to stretch and getting the hiccups. Ok, those aren't fun, but mommy seems to like it when I get them. Yeah, let her have them for more than a few minutes and see how she feels.

Oh yeah, and the leakage, pain and fake contractions? That's just me getting mommy ready for the real deal! I'm 30 weeks old. Only 70 days to go!




Ha! Preparing me for the real deal. Actually, I haven't had any fake contractions, although I've heard from other mommies-to-be who have. Not too much discomfort either other than my hips and some minor sciatica when sleeping or lying on my side.

One thing I have noticed is I've been feeling clumsier than normal. Not only am I heavier (although I've only gained 7 pounds so far), but the concentration of weight in my pregnant belly is causing a shift in my center of gravity. Plus, thanks to hormonal changes, my ligaments are more lax, so my joints are looser, which I'm told is contributing to my balance being a bit off. And this relaxation can cause my feet to spread permanently, but so far, I haven't had any swelling or expansion. And since I already wear a 9-1/2 shoe, I don't need to shop for anything larger!

Other than that, I've got the normal worries about what my labor will be like or whether I'll be a good parent. But, I've also got a lot of support and plenty of encouragement. I haven't met a parent yet who has claimed to be "ready" or "skilled" at the time of baby's birth. Guess we'll just roll with the punches as they come.

That's about all for now.

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, January 09, 2009

Spotlight on Ann Shorey and The Edge of Light

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

ANN SHOREY has been writing for over fifteen years. She's been published in the Adams Media Cup of Comfort series, and had one of her stories included in Chicken Soup for the Grandma's Soul. Ann has also written articles for various local and regional publications. After completing a narrative family history in 1998, she realized she had uncovered a treasure trove of inspiration, and turned to fiction as a way to put that inspiration to good use.

Ann teaches classes on historical research, story arc, and other fiction fundamentals at regional conferences. She works in Sutherlin, Oregon, where she lives with her husband, Richard. The Edge of Light is her first novel.

Ann may be contacted through her website at http://www.annshorey.com/.

She is currently running a contest through Valentine's Day (February 14th): Contact me through my website and answer this question: "Parts of The Edge of Light are true, but most is fiction. Name a scene you think might really have happened." I'll let you know whether you guessed correctly. Either way, your name will be entered in the drawing for a copy of the book plus a $10 Starbucks gift certificate.

THE EDGE OF LIGHT
by Ann Shorey
Published by Revell

ABOUT THE BOOK

The Edge of Light is Book One in the At Home in Beldon Grove series.

It is the summer of 1838 in St. Lawrenceville, Missouri, and Molly McGarvie's life is about to change forever. When her beloved Samuel succumbs to cholera, Molly is heartbroken but resolves to take care of herself and her children. When Samuel's unscrupulous brother takes over the family business and leaves Molly to fend for herself, she know she must head out on her own. It is a dangerous journey, and along the way she must face the loss of another family member. Somehow she must find a way to make a living, restore her family, and fend off some overeager suitors.

Buy Your Copy of The Edge of Light today!

AUTHOR INTERVIEW

1. This is your debut novel. Congratulations! What gave you the inspiration for this story?

I wrote a family history based on ancestor's memoirs dating back to pre-Revolutionary times and continuing through the Oregon Trail years. All the memoirs were written by men, which got me to wondering what the women's lives were like. My novel, and the ones to follow, are inspired by my female ancestors. This is loosely based on the life of one of my great-great aunts.

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

I was able to use my experiences of hunting and camping in a canvas field tent to draw on in imagining some of Molly McGarvie's experiences. The personality traits in my characters are theirs. I'm nowhere near as spunky as Molly is, nor am I as cranky as Aunt Ruby, I hope.

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

Molly would be Rocky Road. She has soft spots for her children, but if you bite too deep she's as firm as frozen almonds.

4. Are there any themes in The Edge of Light that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the stories progressed?

I hope the reader sees that God gives to us exceedingly abundantly more than we could ever ask or think. When He gives us a word, we need to hold fast to His promises. That theme developed as I wrote--I didn't have a specific theme when I started.

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

I don't want to be a spoiler here. There is a scene in Chapter 7 involving one of her children that was terribly intense to write. My favorite, again not to be a spoiler, was the ending. I loved it.

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

The next book in the series, tentatively entitled Toward the Sunrise, is due out in January 2010. The story focuses on Molly McGarvie's brother and his wife, Matthew and Ellie Craig. Matthew is the pastor of the church in Beldon Grove. When a stranger comes to their community he turns the townspeople against Matthew. What happens to them next is the storyline.

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

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

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, January 07, 2009

CFBA Blog Tour - Susan May Warren and The Perfect Match

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Perfect Match
Tyndale House - January 1, 2009)
by Susan May Warren


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

SUSAN MAY WARREN grew up in Wayzata, a suburb of Minneapolis, and became an avid camper from an early age. Her favorite fir-lined spot is the north shore of Minnesota is where she met her husband, honeymooned and dreamed of living.

The north woods easily became the foundation for her first series, The Deep Haven series, based on a little tourist town along the shores of Lake Superior. Her first full-length book, Happily Ever After, became a Christy Award Finalist published in 2004 with Tyndale/Heartquest.

As an award winning author, Susan returned home in 2004, to her native Minnesota after serving for eight years with her husband and four children as missionaries with SEND International in Far East Russia. She now writes full time from Minnesota's north woods and the beautiful town that she always dreamed of living in.

You can sample a chapter of each and every one of Susan's novels, on her website, HERE.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Ellie Karlson is new to Deep Haven. As the town’s interim fire chief, she is determined to lead the local macho fire crew in spite of their misconceptions about her. But when someone begins setting deadly fires, Ellie faces the biggest challenge of her life. Especially when sparks fly with one of the volunteers on her crew: Pastor Dan Matthews. As Ellie battles to do her job and win the respect of her crew, she finds that there is one fire she can’t fight—the one Dan has set in her heart. (This book is the repackaged edition published in 2004)

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Perfect Match, go HERE.

Awards:

2004 American Christian Fiction Writer's Book of the Year
A Romantic Times Magazine TOP PICK – 4½ stars

Review:

Romantic Times Magazine:
Vibrant characters and vivid language zoom this action-packed romance to the top of the charts. This is a one-sitting read –once you pick it up, you won't want to put it down.

Buy your copy of The Perfect Match Today!

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Readers, leave a comment for your chance to win a FREE copy of The Perfect Match.

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 US/Canada residents only.

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Monday, January 05, 2009

Baby Update -- Week 29, 11 Weeks to Go!

Here we are. First post of the new year. It's week 29 and I've got 11 weeks to go on the full estimate. But as babies go, this little one could make an appearance in as little as 8 weeks or as many as 13. It all depends. I don't feel like I've grown much and this picture seems to make me look smaller than last week, but must be the sweater.

How's Mama doing? Let's see. Heartburn has become an almost constant companion, but it's manageable with Tums so far. Sciatica is something I had before pregnancy, but it hits anytime I lie on either side. Praise God for a body pillow that alleviates that. Just doesn't help when I'm on the couch. :) I've increased the trips to the bathroom, which means 2x in the middle of the night. Praying I won't increase much more at night, or I'll never get any sleep. I'm already waking every 1 to 1-1/2 hours as it is.

I do get headaches once in a while, but they're minor. And if I stand too quickly, I get a sharp pain for a few seconds, so I'm moving a bit slower these days. Hubby also tells me I have a "cute waddle." LOL! I can only imagine what I'll be like in March. The only other thing that bugs me a little is the blood vessels in my nose that expand at night when I sleep. At first, nose strips worked, but now they don't. Might have to switch to a saline nasal spray. I can still breathe, but it's tight and not comfortable.

Other than those minor things that are manageable, I'm doing great. Next appointment is this coming Thursday and then I start going every 2 weeks. We'll see how I'm progressing with results from the appointment.

And now for a few words from baby Stockton...



Ok, I heard mommy say something recently that is rather disturbing. I've been peeing into my amniotic sac for a little while now and mommy said I actually swallow it along with the rest of the amniotic fluid. Eww! That's just gross. Mommy says it's all right, though, that it's all sterile and is replaced several times throughout the day. But just thinking about that makes me cringe. What am I going to tell people when I'm older? That I drank my pee when I was growing in the womb? Icky! Although, if I'm doing this, then so did everyone else. Guess it's not so bad if everyone else had to endure it too!

Another not so fun experience is something called hiccups. I've just been doing my job practicing my breathing, when all of a sudden, out of nowhere, these hiccups strike! Talk about feeling like an earthquake. It feels like when mommy presses on her tummy to get me to move, only I end up shaking much harder. I bet mommy can feel it too, since my kicks and punches are usually less regular.

On the good side, I have managed to accumulate enough baby fat to account for nearly 3.5% of my overall body weight. That's great compared to what I hear some folks have for a percentage. :) My bones, brain, organs and other parts account for the rest of what I weigh now, which is a just about 3 pounds. Yeah, I know, compared to you adults out there, it's not that much, but when you're little like me—it's a healthy accomplishment. Oh, and my spleen is now in charge of the building up of certain important blood components. I have no idea what they are, but it sounds like I need it.

I'm done for this week. Time to get some rest. I've been doing my jazzercise in here all morning. I bet mommy would like a break from all the kicks and punches. I can't help it, though. There is less and less room in here. Mommy helps though by sitting up straight. I heard the doctor say that good posture will help mommy's back pain, if you ask me, I think me being born will help that.




Ok, that's enough from the little one. It's me again, the mommy.

Last week, I mentioned that hubby and I did some nesting. On top of that, we also updated our baby registries and removed items we've already received. We did some minor browsing and swapped out some items, then discussed baby shower stuff with my sister-in-law, who is throwing one for me on March 1st out here.

Here are 2 pictures from our nesting experience. And here is one that resulted from my "playing" with Photoshop.

As you can see, the crib changed, since I couldn't get the bedding set to work with our crib, but it's a close resemblance. And the colors are obviously not blended, since it's a work of cut and paste. But, you can get the general idea, right? I fiddled a bit just to see what the ideas in my head might look like in an actual photo. Not bad...even if I do say so myself. :) Now, we just have to wait and see if we get all of the items we really want. If not, there are always gift cards.

Oh, and the blank space next to the closet and to the left of the crib will be where the baby's wooden name blocks will go, surrounded by animals from Noah's Ark. We don't know what we're having, so we can't buy the letters just yet. That will happen in a few weeks.

That's about all for now.

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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