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Monday, March 30, 2009

Baby Update -- Week 41, Any Day Now!

Yes, here I am again. I know so many of you are hoping you won't be reading a post from me unless it's with pictures of the little one I've been carrying for 9 months. Well, there are 2 pieces of good news this week, despite being overdue.

First, I have an induction date scheduled for April 2nd. That means no matter what, baby Stockton will be here by Thursday at the latest. Second, I have done my own calculations and discovered my original due date was actually off by 5-6 days. The actual date should have been the 28th or 29th, which means I'm only 1 or 2 days past due, instead of 7. Sounds much better and doesn't make me so anxious.

Babies born too far past due date are at higher risk for being overweight or suffering from other complications, even delivery complications for both mother and baby. I measured at 40cm last Thursday, so doc scheduled the induction because he didn't want to go more than 1 week beyond that measurement. Phew!

Now, will this little one choose to arrive before being forced out, or will we have to wait until Thursday. I jokingly said baby is waiting for April 1st just to be silly. Hmm...




...You know, I have no concept of time or dates inside here. I only know how cozy and comfortable it is, and how warm. So, I can't be blamed for waiting or for not coming on a specific date. I can't tell time or read a calendar yet. :) But, if I have to choose between coming on my own or being forced out, I'd prefer doing it myself.

Believe me, I'm not hanging out in here on purpose. But it's not easy getting ready when I'm not in control of everything. There's another body involved, and so many other factors in order for it all to work in tandem. I'm trying to do what I can to help get things rolling. And I know Mommy has done her part. Daddy too. I've felt those bumpy roads, tasted those spicy foods, and been jostled all around during all that cleaning of the house.

From what I can gather, there isn't much more time. I'm getting excited about meeting Mommy and Daddy and all these other people whose voices I've heard the past few months. It sounds like a real fun place out there. And who can beat all the love I know I'm going to get from everyone? I'll be making my appearance real soon. I promise...




...Baby Stockon is right. It won't be long. I've made it this far. I know I can make it another 3 days, if necessary. Just an update on last week, though.

As you know, we were in the hospital in the early AM to find out it was false labor contractions. We returned again at 2am Thursday morning due to decreased fetal movement. No clue why, but baby just didn't move much from supper time until late at night, despite my eating and drinking juice. I ended up with another glass of ice-cold apple juice and having monitors hooked up to me before the baby actually kicked. And since I had an appointment later that morning, they went ahead and sent me home. Otherwise, they would have kept me and had my doctor see me first thing.

At the appointment, I ended up having an ultrasound and NST performed. Everything looked great, so no risks right now. Fluid levels around the baby were right on target, and baby responded well to the NST, with one buzz from the stimulator. :) I go in again tomorrow for a repeat of those 2 tests, then the induction on Thursday if the baby decides to wait that long.

With the delivery date in solid sight, it feels surreal in some ways and scary in others. I have to say I would have been far worse without the support of so many of you here. It has meant so much to know you've been reading, praying, and encouraging. Finally, we have a date. This time next week, I'll have some pictures of our little miracle.

I just figure my baby is just perfecting those camera poses and brushing up on beauty or handsome sleep so as to be all that much cuter. :)

Thanks so much for coming along this journey with me. These are going to make a great inclusion in the baby's scrapbook. Signing off for my last pre-delivery update. Back in a week to let you meet baby Stockton.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Spotlight on DiAnn Mills and Breach of Trust

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

DIANN MILLS is an award-winning author who launched her career in 1998 with the publication of her first book. Currently she has over forty books in print and has sold a million and a half copies. DiAnn believes her readers should "Expect an Adventure." She is a fiction writer who combines an adventuresome spirit with unforgettable characters to create action-packed novels.

Six of her anthologies have appeared on the CBA Best Seller List. Three of her books have won the distinction of Best Historical of the Year by Heartsong Presents. Five of her books have won placements through American Christian Fiction Writer's Book of the Year Awards 2003–2008, and she is the recipient of the Inspirational Reader's Choice award for 2005 and 2007. She was a Christy Awards finalist in 2008.

DiAnn is a founding board member for American Christian Fiction Writers, a member of Inspirational Writers Alive, Romance Writers of America's Faith, Hope and Love, and Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country. DiAnn is also a mentor for Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writer's Guild.

She lives in sunny Houston, Texas. DiAnn and her husband have four adult sons and are active members of Metropolitan Baptist Church.

BREACH OF TRUST
by DiAnn Mills
Published by Tyndale House

ABOUT THE BOOK

Paige Rogers is a former CIA agent who lost all she treasured seven years ago when her entire team was killed in a covert mission. She blames their leader—Daniel Keary—whom Paige believes betrayed them. Disillusioned and afraid for her life, she disappeared and started a new life as a small-town librarian. But when Keary announces his candidacy for governor of her state, he comes after Paige to ensure that she won't ruin his bid for office. He threatens everything she holds dear, and Paige must choose between the life of hiding that has become her refuge...or risking everything in one last, desperate attempt to right old wrongs.

Buy Your Copy of Breach of Trust today!

AUTHOR INTERVIEW

1. What gave you the inspiration for this story?

While driving through rural Oklahoma, my "what-if" writer's mode kicked in. What if a CIA agent was forced to change identities and hide out in rural Oklahoma? What would she do? How would she change her looks? And more importantly, what would bring her out of hiding? I wanted my heroine to have found God among good people who showed her what following Jesus was all about. And I wanted her commitment to her new-found faith to guide her in all of the decisions she faced in bringing a corrupt politician to justice.

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

I'm not so sure anything prepared me for Paige's nightmare. What led me to research and write this story is that all of us have risky/unsafe dreams. Deep down, I would have loved to have been a part of the CIA. On the humorous side, I'm a church librarian and that part of Paige was fun. What aspects became traits that were theirs and theirs alone? The heroine's sixth sense and uncanny ability to detect signs that pointed to danger. Also, Paige is much smarter than I am. :) Miles gave the appearance of a good-old-boy: a high school football coach who had a crush on the local librarian. But he is so much more.

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

Once you read Breach of Trust, you will see that Paige is a vanilla gal. In fact, there is a scene with her preference for vanilla. Symbolically, she wanted the whole world to be a white/pure place for people to live, but she knew it wasn't possible.

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

All Christians are called to a purpose, a divine calling that others may not understand. The issue of trust is difficult topic for anyone who has ever been betrayed.

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

The most difficult was the research. I searched the CIA website, phoned the CIA in DC, read recommended books, and talked to others who were involved in other security organizations similar to the CIA. My favorite part was showing who Paige really was to Miles. Had to giggle through that. Of course there were some hard scenes between the two, and often the challenging scenes become my favorite.

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

Breach of Security is my next book in the Call of Duty series. Danika Morales is a Border Patrol Agent in McAllen, Texas. For two years she's looked for the murderer of her husband. What she discovers is a plot to destroy everything she believes in.

* * * * *

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

Readers, leave a comment for your chance to win a FREE copy of A Breach of Trust.

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.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Spotlight on Carol Cox and A Test of Faith

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

CAROL COX is the author of over 25 novels and novellas, both historical and contemporary. She lives with her husband and daughter in a rural area of northern Arizona, where they have an abundance of dirt roads, rolling hills, wide open spaces, and glorious views. Her husband pastors two churches and operates a saddle shop in what they laughingly call his "spare" time. In addition to writing, Carol homeschools her daughter and enjoys crocheting and gardening (especially when she manages to keep the local rancher's cattle from grazing in her flower bed).

A TEST OF FAITH
by Carol Cox
Published by Guideposts

ABOUT THE BOOK

When everything falls apart, can faith hold them together?

When a stolen car crashes through the front window of the Country Diner, Kate Hanlon vows to find the mysterious driver, who has somehow vanished into the night. But when Kate's wallet is discovered in the front seat of the car, she has a whole new reason to find the real culprit. How did it end up there? No one in town seems to believe that the pastor's wife is innocent, and with their whole ministry on the line, Kate sets out in search of answers. Meanwhile, Kate finds herself caring for her ailing husband after Paul breaks his ankle in a church basketball game, and the diner's owner Loretta isn't talking about when--or if--everyone's favorite restaurant will reopen. Is this all simply a test of faith, or is this a sign that the Hanlons' time in Copper Mill is coming to an end?

Buy Your Copy of A Test of Faith today!

AUTHOR INTERVIEW

1. What gave you the inspiration for this story?

A Test of Faith is the first book I did for the Mystery and the Minister's Wife series from Guideposts. This series is a bit different than most in that individual books are written by different authors. It's been a real blessing to be part of this team! With an ongoing series like this, the main characters and setting details were already established, but there was plenty of room to develop a story within that framework. Kate Hanlon, the heroine, is a small-town pastor's wife who is also a stained glass artist. Being a creative person, she looks at life in a different way than most people, and her unique perspective--plus her faith in the Lord--helps her to solve mysteries. I've loved being part of this series, because I can relate to Kate on a number of levels. My husband has pastored small-town churches for over 20 years, and I've experienced the joys and quirks of living in a tight-knit community. Kate's creativity is expressed in her stained glass art, and mine is expressed in my writing. Of course, there are differences, too. For instance, Kate is a fabulous cook who does some of her best thinking while baking. We won't go into details about my talents in the kitchen other than to say that I don't share that gift with her!

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

I think we've all experienced times when we've felt isolated, even in the midst of a crowd. I was able to draw on the times this has happened to me in writing about the way Kate felt ostracized when people in her own community were willing to believe she had been involved in a crime. Kate and I also share an inquisitive nature--a much nicer term than "nosiness," don't you think?

One of the characters I enjoyed writing about most was Avery Griffin, a man who is trying to overcome his past. I haven't experienced the same struggles he goes through, but I have a strong admiration for those who have the grit and tenacity to leave their old life behind and make a new start.

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

Kate is definitely not plain vanilla! Her deep faith and her dedication to seeking out the truth give her character a much richer flavor than that. Given her love for coffee, let's say she's cappuccino ice cream with a fudge swirl. (I'm sure chocolate must be good for the mental processes involved in all her sleuthing.) And since she's a stained glass artist, would it be too much to add some rainbow sprinkles on the top?

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

A theme of trust runs throughout the book, both trusting in the Lord and trusting other people. How do we trust God when things in our life turn upside down? And what do we do when people who ought to know better don't trust us?

Another theme that came up as the story progressed was how to handle being falsely accused. What happens when circumstances seem to point to us being guilty of something we didn't do? We expect people who know us to give us the benefit of the doubt, but sometimes no amount of explanation will convince others that we haven't done anything wrong. When that happens, there is little else we can do but hold our heads up and keep on going, trusting that the truth will eventually come out and remembering that the Lord already knows the truth and will sustain us no matter what. And that is much easier said than done!

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

For me, the first draft--all of it--is the hardest part of any book. After 25 titles, you'd think the process would get easier over time, but that hasn't been the case. It's always an uphill battle to get that rough draft down, but I feel a huge sense of relief once that's done and I can start refining the story.

The most enjoyable part of this book was writing the scene where the townspeople are picketing the diner. I wanted something to happen that was over the top in a goofy, yet lovable way. Quirky characters and scenes are always my favorites to write, and I treasure those offbeat moments in real life. They add the humor that lightens situations that would be pretty dismal otherwise.

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

I'm currently at work on my fourth book for the Mystery and the Minister's Wife series. It's still in the early stages--so early that I don't even have a definite title or release date yet! Since I don't want to give away the plot, I'll just say that in this one, Kate isn't able to go out and sleuth on her own, so she has to rely on her faith, her deductive abilities, and help from her friends more than ever. Readers can check my website at http://www.carolcoxbooks.com/ for updates as the book progresses!

Thank you so much for having me here today. Those were wonderful questions, and I've had a great time!

* * * * *

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

Readers, leave a comment for your chance to win a FREE copy of A Test of Faith.

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.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Baby Update -- Week 40, Any Day Now!

One more week, and I'm still here posting. (sigh) The good news is that I *am* in early labor. Been here since about 8:30pm last night. Pains started 11pm Saturday night and contractions followed with spikes in the baby's movement. After enduring most of Sunday and all night last night with everything, I called the Labor & Delivery Triage at 6:30am this morning.

Hubby and I headed into the hospital for a labor check only to find out the regular contractions that have been coming every 5 minutes since 8:30 last night were irritability (contractions only lasting 30-40 seconds in waves) in my uterus and not labor contractions. They *were* however right on par with early labor. I was 2cm dilated, with a very soft and anterior cervix, almost fully effaced, and the nurse felt the baby's head.

So, she said to go home and rest, then take a walk. The status quo could change in 2 hours or 2 days. I pray it's not days. Ack! It's an oh-so-maddening game of waiting for my baby, my body and my uterus to get all their ducks in line and start talking to each other at the same time. That's all we're waiting for. And since the baby plays a role in this, I'll surrender a little space to the tiny miracle inside me....





I'm here and I'm head-down. I'm trying my hardest to get into the right position, and I can hear the dejection in Mommy's voice when Daddy asks how things are going. I'm not doing it on purpose. Just proves, as Daddy said this morning, that I'm a true combination of the two of them. I started early like Daddy is always early, and I'm hanging on being stubborn, like Mommy.

I've already told Mommy's body that I'm ready to come out. It just doesn't seem to want to listen. It will be great to see Mommy and Daddy with my own eyes and get out of this dark, liquidy home I've had for 9 months. I know Mommy has reached the due date today, and I thought it might be fun to come today, but try telling that to this placenta thing and a body that's not your own.

So, I'm here and kicking and healthy. I promise I want to be on the outside as much as everyone else wants me there too. Sure wish I could give a solid indicator, though. For now, I'll wait with Mommy....





And wait I am. (sigh) Those irritability contractions are still going regular. I've taken a nap to get rested. Now, hubby and I are going to go grab some Chinese food and go walk the entire zoo. It's built into the side of a mountain with lots of climbing and hills. We're also going to find a bumpy road along the way.

They say early labor can last 12 hours for first-time moms. Well, it's been about 16 so far, with no real change. I've got to do something! I truly won't handle 3 more days of this until my appt. on the 26th.

Btw, on Saturday, I scrubbed the bathroom, ran the vacuum, cleaned the kitchen, cleared and straightened and even washed our deck doors last week from puppy nose art. The baby's area is ready, there is nothing left to buy, and there's nothing left to clean. If nothing happens during or after our walk, I'm coming home and doing laundry.

Perhaps I should give my friend a call and go make use of her trampoline in her back yard....

Friday, March 20, 2009

CFBA Blog Tour - Jill Eileen Smith and Michal

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Michal
Revell - March 1, 2009)
by Jill Eileen Smith


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

JILL EILEEN SMITH is the author of several articles, poems, and stories, and her unpublished novels have placed in five writing contests in the past five years. A children's story, which she wrote for her church led her youngest son to faith in Christ several years ago; much like a gospel tract led her to the Lord at a similar age.

That story, "Seeking Treasureland," is now available. Jill is a member of several online writing groups and helps promote fellow authors' works through monthly interviews on the "Spotlight" page of her website. She, along with her husband and children, are active members in their local church. A stay-at-home mom, she homeschooled the couple's three sons for twelve years through high school, seeing them go on to higher education.

In her spare time, Jill teaches piano, reads, does picture scrap-booking, and enjoys trying out new recipes, especially those that include dark chocolate. Jill and her family make their home in Southeastern Lower Michigan.

ABOUT THE BOOK

MICHAL
by Jill Eileen Smith
Published by Revell

Can their epic search for true love survive a father's fury?

The daughter of King Saul, Michal lives a life of privilege--but one that is haunted by her father's unpredictable moods and competition from her beautiful older sister.

As a girl, Michal quickly falls for the handsome young harpist David. But soon after their romance begins, David must flee for his life, leaving Michal at her father's mercy in the prison that is King Saul's palace.

Will Michal ever be reunited with David? Or is she doomed to remain separated from him forever?

Against the backdrop of opulent palace life, raging war, and daring desert escapes, Jill Eileen Smith takes you on an emotional journey as Michal deals with love, loss, and personal transformation as the first wife of King David. Jill Eileen Smith has more than twenty years of writing experience, and her writing has gathered acclaim in several contests. Her research into the lives of David's wives has taken her from the Bible to Israel, and she particularly enjoys learning how women lived in Old Testament times.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Michal, go HERE.

Buy Your Copy of Michal today!

AUTHOR INTERVIEW

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

Thanks! I co-taught a Bible study on the life of King David and fell in love with his story. I couldn't get past the question, "Why did a man after God's own heart need so many wives?" I searched for a novel on his life to take me there and to satisfy that nagging question but found none that satisfied. So I began to write the book I longed to read. I had no idea this project would take me on a 20-year journey to publishing a series about David's wives.

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

I've noticed that when I'm going through something, usually something really tough emotionally, it will occur to me at some point in the midst of the pain that perhaps this was how my characters felt at a particular time. I'm not so thrilled with the experiences on my end, but I think the emotion can be filtered into understanding the characters better. I kind of have those "ah ha" moments, like seeing the characters' situation with new eyes.

I project the emotion into the characters' experiences, but I can't say that my traits are theirs. Perhaps some of them are in a certain sort of way, because all authors draw from who they are and what they've lived through. But whereas my father never annulled my marriage or gave me to another man, I can imagine the hurt of betrayal because I've experienced the emotion of betrayal. My husband never fled through a window and didn't return, but I've felt the sting of rejection in relationships enough to infuse that emotion into what Michal might have been feeling.

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

Michal - chocolate - she's a woman and what woman doesn't love chocolate? (Yes, I know, there are a few.) Besides, the forbidden fruit was not likely an apple, but I can tell you what, if it was a chocolate coated strawberry, Eve's lack of resistance makes a lot more sense. :)

David - cafe mocha mint - (if it's not a flavor of ice cream, it should be) - because he's got energy, passion, and spice. :)

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

Themes of control issues, repentance, reconciliation, surrender all come through. I hope the reader sees Michal as a woman who wants to control her life and can relate to what it costs her in the process. Idols come into play in a way I didn't expect until I finished the book - it fit with the overall need to worship no one but Yahweh.

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

This book has been rewritten so many times, it's hard to say. There was one point when I was trying to cut 18k words that I grew weary of certain sections, but I don't remember what they were - probably because I cut them! :) My favorite parts were romantic scenes between David and Michal because I love romance and an especially poignant scene with Jonathan.

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

Book Two is Abigail - final title is yet to be determined. It should release next March 2010, but I don't have a firm date yet. Abigail is the third wife of David, first married to Nabal. Abigail wants peace and her life is filled with anything but!

Book Three is in the works right now - Bathsheba. Tentative release is March 2011.

For updates visit - www.thewivesofkingdavid.com

A new series on the Wives of the Patriarchs will follow this series.

Thanks for doing this, Tiff!

* * * * *

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

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

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.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Spotlight on Miralee Ferrell and Love Finds You in Last Chance California

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

MIRALEE FERRELL's debut novel, The Other Daughter, released in October 2007 with excellent reviews, and her second book, Love Finds You in Last Chance, CA, received 4.5 stars from Romantic Times Book Reviews magazine. Miralee lives in a rural community in Washington with Allen, her husband of over 35 years. Together they have two grown children. She serves on staff at her local church and is actively involved in ministry to women. Her hobbies include riding her horse with her daughter, working in her flower beds and garden, taking walks, reading, and sailing their boat with her husband.

Visit her blog: http://miraleesdesk.blogspot.com/

LOVE FINDS YOU IN LAST CHANCE CALIFORNIA
by Miralee Ferrell
Published by Summerside Press

ABOUT THE BOOK

It's 1877 and Alexia Travers is alone in the world. Her father has died unexpectedly, leaving her burdened with a heavily mortgaged horse ranch. Marrying one of the town's all-too-willing bachelors would offer an easy solution, but Alex has no interest in marriage. Instead, she dons men's trousers and rides the range, determined to make the ranch a success on her own.

But despite Alex's best efforts, everything seems to go wrong: ranch hands quit, horses are stolen, and her father's gold goes missing. Alex is at her wit's end when wrangler Justin Phillips arrives in Last Chance with his young son, looking for a job. But there seems to be more to Justin's story than he's willing to share. Will Alex ever be able to trust him? More importantly, will the independent woman finally learn to depend on God?

Buy Your Copy of Love Finds You in Last Chance California today!

AUTHOR INTERVIEW

1. What gave you the inspiration for this story?

Two different incidents helped shape my story. I was flipping channels one evening to find the news and caught a brief blurb near the end of a newscast. Something was mentioned about a man running from a church and being tackled on the lawn. I didn't find out if he was caught stealing, had mugged someone, or what. My mind started questioning, wondering why he'd run...maybe he was poor and needed help, but had given in to temptation and stolen something inside. I jotted the idea in my "might use someday" folder.

The second incident was researching the subject of women owning and running a horse ranch in the 1800's...my daughter worked on a cattle ranch as a horse/cattle wrangler, and I liked the idea of a woman trying to run a ranch alone. I found a historical woman, Kittie Wilkins, who was highly successful at doing so, and decided it was a workable theory. My original story line was going to be contemporary, then transitioned to a historical when we discovered Last Chance no longer exists. The scene with the man running from the church ended up being incorporated into the story line as part of the hero's thread.

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

Most of the material that concerns horses had to do with my experience (other than the horses being stolen). We've owned horses for over 35 yrs., and have done some breeding. We also owned two cougars (not taken from captivity)--we rescued one of them from an abusive home--so I understand some of the behavior of the big cats, hence the scene with the cougar. Hunter, the dog that Alexia owns, is patterned after my daughter Marnee's dog (also named Hunter), and Alexia shares some of the same traits as Marnee. The scene where Alexia almost faints while cutting bread in the kitchen happened to me in exactly the same way.

Justin is his own man...nothing was taken from real life (other than the scene where he runs from the church). He wasn't patterned from anyone I know, and each of his personality traits were his alone.

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

I think Alexia would be Rocky Road...wonderful flavor, but you have a few little chunks that need to be chewed before you can swallow it. Her independent spirit caused some 'bumps and chunks' along the way, but her acceptance of others gave her an amazing flavor!

Justin?...Hmm...a little harder....Maybe chocolate mocha. Stronger flavor than most ice cream, and a bit more rugged---I'm guessing that with the chocolate/coffee type combo, it might have some caffeine...which can give a burst of energy or will keep you awake at night. Justin had that effect on Alexia at times, LOL!

4. Are there any themes in Love Finds You in Last Chance California that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the stories progressed?

The theme of hope, that no matter how the odds are stacked against you, God can bring you through if you trust Him. Alexia didn’t appear to have much hope of success, and the townspeople and some of her own employees didn’t want her to make it. She had to discover that God is all she needed when people questioned her motives and refused to support her. I hope my reader will not only be entertained by a fast moving story set in the Old West, but will also come away with an understanding that God’s unconditional love and acceptance is always there, no matter the situation we find ourselves in.

Yes, a theme developed as I went along that I hadn't planned, and that was one of unconditional acceptance. I knew it was something Alex was searching for, but didn't realize the far reaching extent it would have when it encompassed Christy, a secondary character in deep need of love and acceptance. Alex was able to help meet that need, even when her own need was great. Oftentimes we find that our own wounds are healed when we reach out and help heal someone else.

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

I can't say that any particular part was difficult to write. Occasionally I hit a wall in my writing because I'm a seat of the pants writer...I do a very brief sketch of the book with the most crucial parts outlined, but I don't know the details of what will happen in between. In my first book I struggled with presenting the setting for the story, but had a much easier time with this one. My only real difficulty was filling in the spots between each 'crisis' with everyday type events.

There were two things I'd say were my favorite--the old west ranch setting--I grew up reading Zane Grey and loving horses, as well as watching all the old TV westerns, so this book was a joy to write. Also, I also loved creating the characters...especially Christy Grey. I'm always drawn to the underdog or the not so nicer people in my books, and enjoy seeing where they'll take me as the story progresses.

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

My next release is Finding Jeena, the sequel to The Other Daughter, and it should be releasing around the end of January, 2010, or possibly in Dec., 2009, not sure yet. Jeena was the not-so-nice friend of Susanne Carson who tried to push Susanne into leaving her husband after she discovered he'd been unfaithful prior to their marriage. Finding Jeena helps us see what made Jeena into the type of person she is. Here's a brief peek:

Jeena's new job with Browning and Thayer promised big things, and she intended to take full advantage in every way she could. New clothes, new townhouse, new car and new furniture were just the start. Rumors around town cast her new boss in a shady light, but she set aside her uneasy feelings…the money was good and his ethics weren't her concern.

A few weeks later her world began to shake. Her salary wasn't paid on time and things were happening in the office that didn’t bode well for her future. Money was disappearing and the investors were making trouble. Her boss disappeared and his partner was left to take the fall, along with anyone else associated with the company.

Jeena's carefully crafted world began to crumble and her struggle with alcohol began to rear its head again. Dragged into court to be interrogated was only the beginning...


* * * * *

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

Readers, leave a comment for your chance to win a FREE copy of Love Finds You in Last Chance California.

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.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Baby Update -- Week 39, 1 Week to Go!

Yes, I'm still here and still posting updates. :) And yes, I'm rather tired...in case you can't tell by that picture to the left. Yesterday was an eventful day with 7-8 regular contractions during church service and 2 more on the ride home. When we got home, I looked in my book and realized it was pre-labor contractions, since they didn't last more than 45 seconds and they went away. Shucks! I did go for a long walk with the dog yesterday and had another couple of contractions in the evening, but nothing steady.

So, we're back to the waiting game. I intend to go for walk this afternoon with my iPod, use my exercise ball for sitting and perhaps walk the stairs a few times. This morning, the baby shifted and caused some sharp pains in the lower pelvic area. So, I'm thinking this little one is getting ready. I just pray it's this week.

Oh, and I've created a baby guessing game where you can guess the gender, weight, length and birthday. Points are awarded based upon how close you get. Hubby and I have an EXTRA SPECIAL prize for the person who guesses the closest to the actual stats when they occur. Come on by!

http://www.expectnet.com/games/BabyStockton

Hubby thinks it will be tomorrow and that we'll have a little red-headed girl on St. Paddy's Day. Wouldn't that be amusing? :) I have a doctor's appointment on Wednesday to check progress if I haven't gone into labor by then. Doc said he is on call this coming weekend, and if all looks good, he'll be happy to offer induction if we wish. I'm just not sure I want to force the baby's hand. Then again, perhaps scheduling that will scare the baby into coming on his/her own. LOL! I'm still measuring a few days ahead, so perhaps this little one will come this week anyway.

As for the rest of the appointment last week, my blood pressure was 114/79, which is great. Numbers-wise, doc says I'm doing fantastic. The baby's heartbeat was 145. I only gained 1 more pound (for a total of 12 lbs. overall), and there was no real progress on the dilation or effacement. But I have been having the pre-labor contractions, and doc said the dilation isn't an indication of imminent labor. He said there were women who weren't dilated at all and went into labor. So, it's anybody's guess.

I've been talking to the baby and trying to encourage an appearance. We're getting anxious to meet this little one face to face. Perhaps the baby can share more...






Hmm, I don't know what I should say today. It's been interesting in here lately, that's for sure. With the muscles moving and tightening on me a lot more, I'm finding it difficult to remain comfortable. When those walls close in on me, I can't do anything but curl into a ball and wait it out. Thankfully, they don't last long, but yesterday, they were one right after another. I wonder if someone or something is trying to tell me something.

Whether I decide to make an appearance tomorrow or next week, it's pretty much all the same to me. I am truly R-E-A-D-Y to face the big bright world outside of Mommy's tummy...at least I think I am. My home here is getting ready too. Since I'm well stocked up on fat and all of my organs have put on the finishing touches, I'm just chilling here, getting into final position and "hanging out" waiting for that elusive moment when all systems synchronize in my body and Mommy's to get things moving. I've been feeling the urge a little but not fully. I know Mommy is getting anxious. I've heard her say so. Wish I could do more to help, but I don't think it's up to me.

One thing is certain. I feel all squished in here most days and it's not easy to move anymore. Mommy told me yesterday that I'll have lots of room to stretch and move and wiggle if I come out. That sounds good to me, but it also means I have to leave the warm comfort of this little home. It's the only home I've ever known. That's scary to think of changing. I do want to meet Mommy and Daddy though. And there's someone else they call Roxie. I'm not sure who or what that is, but I think it's going to be fun meeting her.

I'm 39 weeks with 7 days to go...IF I stay in here that long...






All right, so I know my little angel is ready. Now, what about me? Am I truly ready to embark on the oh-so-fun adventures of labor? I sure hope so! I know the end result will be more than worth any pain.

Our bags are packed with the exception of electronics that we still use daily and the final toiletry items. But we have the bag ready for all of that to be added in those final moments before we walk out the door. Also just arranged to have my SIL or nephew check on our dog once we go into the hospital, so that's all set. I'll be completing the paperwork for a birth certificate and social security card for the baby today and placing it with the baby book in the baby's bag.

The back-facing infant seat is installed and tight and ready for the ride home. The baby's adorable "first outfit" is packed with an extra one and some socks and a hat. We've got the phone tree list and names for those people to call so we have everyone covered. Our birth plan has been ironed out and discussed, and it's tucked away in my admission files at the hospital.

That's all for today. Back to finishing laundry and the paperwork to take with us to the hospital for the birth certificate and social security card for the baby.

If you wish to be notified of updates each week, subscribe over there on the right and receive an email each time I post. Thanks for coming along on this journey with me.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Spotlight on J.M. Hochstetler and Wind of the Spirit

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 four novels. One Holy Night, a contemporary miracle story for all seasons, released in April 2008. Daughter of Liberty (2004), Native Son (2005), and Wind of the Spirit (March 2009), the first three books of the American Patriot Series are set during the American Revolution.

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. She and her husband live near Nashville, Tennessee, and spend much of the winter in Perry, Georgia.


WIND OF THE SPIRIT
by J.M. Hochstetler
Published by Sheaf House Publishers

ABOUT THE BOOK

Can Elizabeth's love bridge the miles between her and Jonathan—and the savage bonds that threaten to tear him forever from her arms?

Buy Your Copy of Wind of the Spirit today!

AUTHOR INTERVIEW

1. What gave you the inspiration for this story?

Book 2. LOL! Seriously, Wind of the Spirit started out as the last third of Native Son that got lopped off when my publisher at the time demanded that their authors keep their word counts below 90,000. I was already above 120,000. The publisher did concede that I could go a bit higher than 100,000 words since historicals are generally longer. So after much agonizing, I cut the back end of the story off, and voilĂ ! Wind of the Spirit was born. Of course, I subsequently added a whole lot more to it to make it a full-length novel. In the end, what initially seemed like a disaster turned out to be the best that could happen as far as the story was concerned. It's a whole lot stronger than the original version. God works in mysterious ways!

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

For a writer, everything you've experienced and people you've encountered become grist for the mill. It all inevitably shows up in what you write, though it may be so disguised that even you don't recognize it. The heroine of this series, Elizabeth Howard, does incorporate much of my personality—maybe even more than I think she does. She's very adventurous, and I am also, though I've been too timid to put much of that trait into practice. So I have her doing things I'd love to but don't have the courage to try. In that way she's her own person. She's very courageous and also more impulsive than I am. And she's beautiful. I don't claim that characteristic!

Elizabeth is very like me in that she's a people pleaser. That's showing more and more in this story through her relationship with Charles Andrews and Pieter Vander Groot. She's very drawn to both of them and cherishes their good opinion and their love. So she allows herself to be sucked into a tender relationship with each of these men that can only end up hurting them, and her too, because her deepest heart belongs to Carleton. I've found myself in similar situations—wanting to please someone and hold their good opinion, but knowing I ultimately couldn't go where they wanted the relationship to go.

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

Ummmm...well, I think Elizabeth Howard is dark chocolate raspberry truffle. And Jonathan Carleton would most likely be Bear Claw.

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

A major theme that spans the entire series is that we are aliens and strangers in this world. Our citizenship is in God's kingdom, not in any earthly kingdom. Each volume also includes strong themes of redemption, submission to God's will, and reliance on God's power to accomplish his purposes instead of trusting in our own abilities and understanding and running after our own will.

One theme that developed, to my surprise, while I was writing this was that often we judge someone without knowing the things that affected and motivated them to act or think as they did. When Elizabeth and Charles learn that Jonathan has become the Shawnee war chief, the accounts they've heard of White Eagle's actions shock them. They judge him as having become a savage, and they believe they need to save him from the Shawnee. It isn't until they find him and become acquainted with his Shawnee kindred that they learn the whole story. And that changes their perspective completely.

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

The most difficult parts in this series are the battles because of all the logistics involved and trying to believably cover an entire battlefield with only one or two characters. In this one it's the Battle of Brooklyn, which was a total mess. Lexington and Concord was nice and linear, and I had both Elizabeth and Carleton present to cover different parts of it. I was also able to figure out a workable linear treatment of the Battle of Bunker Hill using only Elizabeth.

But this battle morphed all across the western part of Long Island, with hot spots developing at different times and places. I had to chart it out and create a timeline of the various troop movements and individual clashes within the greater battle, and figure out how to place Elizabeth at all the critical points. It about drove me crazy! It's a real upper, though, that the consensus of those who critiqued this sequence was that it's compelling and flows really well and carries the reader along in a headlong rush, so it was worth all the head banging I did in writing it.

My favorite part is the chapter that includes the Shawnee adoption scene and the love scene. And that's all I'm tellin'! You'll have to read the book to find out what that's all about!

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

The next book is either going to be Northkill, a fictionalized account of the true story of my ancestors' massacre during the French and Indian War or book 4 of the American Patriot Series, Crucible of War. A lot of family members are asking for Northkill—the story is well known in the Amish and Mennonite community—and I have more of it finished than I do Crucible of War. So I'll probably focus on completing it first. I'm hoping to have the first draft finished and ready to edit by the beginning of next year. Then I'll dive into Crucible.

To learn more about Northkill, go to my Web site at www.jmhochstetler.com and click on the Hochstetler Family link. I have a Northkill blog (northkill.blogspot.com) that desperately needs to be updated. As I make more progress on the story, I promise to post more often. And you can follow progress on the American Patriot Series at americanpatriotseries.blogspot.com.

* * * * *

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

Readers, leave a comment for your chance to win a FREE autographed copy of Wind of the Spirit.

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.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Baby Update -- Week 38, 2 Weeks to Go!

All right, so we're truly into a waiting game now. I have a few more days with just a small number of things on my "to do" list. After that, this little one can come out any time. In fact, any day after the 12th, and the eviction notice can be answered free and clear. :) Of course, I'm not sure I'd want Friday, the 13th, but if it happens, oh well.

Last week, I had another weekly appointment. No change in dilation or effacement. Baby's heartbeat began at 180 after an active spout in the waiting room, then went down to normal around 150. That's where it's been for the past month or so. I measured at 38 weeks, so still a few days ahead, but pretty much on target. I haven't gained any weight in about 6 weeks and am maintaining fairly well. My blood pressure was 120/69, so still going great. My next appointment is this coming Thursday.

After that day, I'll be using the exercise ball, walking, going up and down the stairs, looking to eat some fresh pineapple and trying to persuade hubby to take me for a really nice meal at Red Lobster for fresh lobster, since it will likely be our last one alone for quite a while. Not that I mind. I'm getting quite anxious to meet this little one. Being an incubator is special, but it's time for baby to meet the world...






Wow, I've really plumped up. I now weigh somewhere between 6-8 pounds and I'm between 19-21 inches long (like a leek). I have a firm grasp, which Mommy and Daddy and everyone will soon be able to test when they hold my hand for the first time! My organ systems have matured and are ready for life outside the womb.

Wondering what color my eyes will be? You may not be able to tell right away. If I'm born with brown eyes, they'll likely stay brown. If I'm born with steel gray or dark blue eyes, they may stay gray or blue or turn green, hazel, or brown by the time I'm 9 months old. That's because these things called irises may gain more pigment in the months after I'm born, but they usually won't get "lighter" or more blue. Hmm...Mommy has hazel green and Daddy has blue. Wonder what I'll get.

I've got my meconium stockpile building up (that's the first poo), lots of healthy baby fat, a super intelligent brain that'll keep growing with me for years to come, and I've more or less reached official baby status -- all I need to do is "head out" and say hello to the rest of the world and especially my ready-to-pop momma. She says she feels like she's as big as a house and is making frequent visits to the bathroom because I'm sitting on something called a bladder. That must be the pillow I'm using. It's so comfy!

I'm 38 weeks with 14 days to go...IF I stay in here that long...





Back to the "big-as-a-house" Momma. :) Today, we had our carpets treated and cleaned, so I did some pick-up and straightening this morning. Well, I ran the vacuum and moved a few pieces of furniture and definitely overdid it. The pain in lower abdomen right where the thighs connect to the torso makes it hard to go from sitting to standing position. Once I'm there, though, I'm good. It's just the transition that gets me. Hubby is insisting I take it easy and is watching me like a hawk. So, guess it's more sitting and resting as much as possible. At least the baby wasn't affected at all. Still moving and kicking and healthy as can be in there. Right on schedule.

In the meantime, I'll be using this time to put the final touches on the baby's nursery and take care of necessary tasks I may not get around to for a while after this little one is born. I'll try to take naps since I'm not sleeping well at all, catch up on your reading, and spend uninterrupted time with hubby while I can.

Oh, and I've included some fun pictures of a couple new things we got last week and a little something I did last Friday at my nail appointment.

That's all for today. Back to taking it easy to hubby doesn't yell at me. Looks like he'll be guilted into helping with the rest of the laundry then. :)

If you wish to be notified of updates each week, subscribe over there on the right and receive an email each time I post. Thanks for coming along on this journey with me.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Spotlight on Adam Blumer and Fatal Illusions

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

ADAM BLUMER lives in Michigan's Upper Peninsula with his wife, Kim, and his daughters, Laura and Julia. He works full-time as a freelance writer and editor. A print journalism graduate of Bob Jones University (Greenville, SC), he served in editorial roles for fourteen years at Northland Baptist Bible College (Dunbar, WI) and Awana Clubs International Headquarters (Streamwood, IL). He has published numerous short stories and articles. Kregel Publications (Grand Rapids, MI) plans to release his first novel, Fatal Illusions, on March 31, 2009.

FATAL ILLUSIONS
by Adam Blumer
Published by Kregel

ABOUT THE BOOK

Gillian Thayer's calligraphy business helps to keep her mind off two small headstones in the cemetery. Still healing from the death of her twins during birth, Gillian absorbs another emotional blow when she finds a love letter addressed to her husband Marc, a pastor and counselor. But before Gillian can confront him, a gunshot shatters her already fragile world. Gillian's family is forced to leave Chicago to escape the eye of the media. Together they seek refuge in Whistler's Point, a historic lighthouse on Lake Superior near the tiny town of Newberry, Michigan. But they are not the only new arrivals looking for a place to lay low. Haydon Owens, an amateur magician and accomplished killer, has also come to Newberry hoping to start a new life, but he isn't there long before he spots another potential victim.

Buy Your Copy of Fatal Illusions today!

AUTHOR INTERVIEW

1. What gave you the inspiration for this story?

Frank Peretti's earliest supernatural thrillers taught me that Christian novels can do more than entertain. I wanted to write something not only suspenseful but also meaningful. My prayer is that the message will resonate with readers and maybe even challenge their spiritual thinking a little bit.

The novels of Mary Higgins Clark also inspired me. I studied the organization and plot lines of her novels and wondering if I could write something as good. I also like her shifting points of view and her short, numerous chapters. (Readers might notice a resemblance.) Her novel You Belong to Me especially inspired me to try my own hand at a serial killer, "female in jeopardy" suspense tale. Because most Christian readers are women, I decided to make my main protagonist female—in fact, a pastor's wife, a protagonist you don't read about very often. Add to that my love of true crime and forensic science, and I was on my way.

A past experience also provided a creative springboard. A church voted to remove from membership a believer who was sincerely repentant of immorality. I began to play the "what if" game in my mind. What if the person who was disciplined got really ticked? What if he or she became mad enough to kill? I thought a church discipline scenario created an unusual motive for murder—hence one of the subplots in Fatal Illusions. I also read Ruth Brandon's The Life and Many Deaths of Harry Houdini. This biography of the famous illusionist fascinated me and helped me develop the characterization of my serial killer. In fact, readers will discover an important plot clue connected to Houdini.

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

To some degree, my life experiences are always going to factor into how I create my characters. I made a special effort not to make the main protagonists just like me, though there are a few similarities. My female lead, Gillian Thayer, for example, works a part-time job as a calligrapher. In high school, I dabbled in calligraphy and won a few small awards. Gillian also loves solo piano music and Earl Grey tea—two of my favorite things. I'm also melancholy like Gillian. On the other hand, Gillian's pastor husband, Marc, isn't at all like me. He's an aggressive extrovert and natural speaker who played professional basketball for the Chicago Bull’s before God used a car accident to save his soul and change his life. I don't play a lick of basketball and know next to nothing about professional basketball, so I had some research to do.

Several traits belong only to my characters. Gillian has a habit of tracing imaginary calligraphy letters with her finger when she's tense. Marc struggles with a basketball addiction, but refrains from playing the sport due to anger issues. His daughter, Crystal, has been taking voice lessons since she was six and gets the lead role in a small-town musical. My serial killer, who enjoys listening to Broadway musical soundtracks, drives his fingernails into his palms when he's enraged. Chuck Riley, the retired homicide detective who helps the Thayers catch the killer, is addicted to Juicy Fruit gum.

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

Because Gillian is an artistic, literary type who scripts famous poems and quotations in calligraphy, she would be a classic, refined flavor like orange sherbet or French vanilla. She wouldn't be chocolate ice cream because she's allergic to chocolate. If there's such a thing as Earl Grey-flavored ice cream, that would fit her nicely. Because of his professional basketball background, Marc would be a bold, sporty flavor—maybe coffee, Mackinac fudge, or mint chocolate chip. If there's such a thing as Juicy Fruit-flavored ice cream, that would be Chuck Riley. Mocha latte-flavored ice cream would fit Chuck, too.

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

Mainly I probe the themes of secrets and deception (or "illusions" as my title suggests, though on a secondary level). As believers, how do we lie to ourselves and to others? Do we try to hide who we really are inside? What happens if we try to live a lie? Should spouses ever keep secrets from one another? What can happen if they do? I also encourage readers to think about how they would protect their families if they faced the same type of evil the Thayer family must confront. (My serial killer cyber-stalks his victims weeks before he makes his move.) Many of the novel's themes are areas I've had to work through in my own thinking. When life doesn't make sense, how do I respond? Do I trust God, even when His ways are difficult to understand?

One minor character, Stacey James, developed in unexpected ways during revisions. She's obsessed with Marc Thayer, a married man, and can't seem to let him go. At one point in the story, she recalls that her own father, a pastor, abandoned his family and the ministry for another woman. God opens her eyes to the fact that by pursuing Marc she is essentially repeating the past and taking on the role of this "other woman." But with God's help she can break the cycle and walk away. In many ways, all of us have past experiences that can lead us down the wrong path if we let them. This theme naturally emerged as the novel evolved toward its final form.

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

Like a Mary Higgins Clark novel, I chose a female protagonist. I believe this was the right choice, but it created challenges in making Gillian a three-dimensional character who doesn't think like me. Among several issues, she struggles with private grief and needs a godly female mentor in her life. Describing her struggles as a woman with unique emotional needs and insecurities was often challenging. Entering the killer's head was also sometimes difficult because of the darkness he had welcomed into his soul. Hands down, my favorite parts to write were the creepy cat-and-mouse scenes at Whistler's Point, a historic lighthouse where the Thayers live. When a snow storm cuts off the power, Gillian find herself being hunted by the killer in the dark without a weapon and miles from help. I loved writing that part.

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

I work on the sequel, tentatively called Plagues, after my day job as a freelance editor. I can't say for sure when the novel will be coming out. I'll just work on it as the Lord leads and leave the rest in His hands. Readers may not realize that publication of a second novel often depends on how well the first novel does first.

In Plagues, the main characters from Fatal Illusions are reunited, this time at a Christian conference center in Michigan's north woods, which is where all novels in my hoped-for series will be set. Marc and Gillian Thayer think they are getting away for some much-needed R&R, but protestors with placards and bullhorns shatter the otherwise-peaceful surroundings. A Bible translation committee is holding its regional meeting, and a mob is protesting the committee's efforts to create a new controversial parallel Bible. While the protestors call down God's wrath, an apparent plague of blood strikes the facility. Is God displeased with the committee? Are the protestors somehow to blame? When a committee member turns up dead in a pile of frogs, Marc and Gillian put their vacation on hold, enlist the help of retired homicide detective Chuck Riley, and take a closer look at the bizarre plagues as they escalate in intensity. Mix in a true-but-fictionalized account of a mine disaster and an autistic boy who can apparently see the future, and you've got the gist.

I'm having fun planning and writing the sequel's twists and turns, and I hope readers will enjoy reading it, too.

Thanks, Tiff, for giving me the first interview of my hopefully long writing career.

* * * * *

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

Readers, leave a comment for your chance to win a FREE copy of Fatal Illusions.

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.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

CFBA Blog Tour - Anita Higman and Love Finds You in Humble Texas

Today, I am honored to feature an author who is not only touring with CFBA this week, but she's also a web design client of mine. We just finished launching a brand new web site for her. Make sure you visit and take a look. :)


This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Love Finds You in Humble Texas
Summerside Press - February 1, 2009)
by Anita Higman


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

ANITA HIGMAN is the author of 24 books including fiction, nonfiction, childrens books and plays. Among her published romance titles are Larkspur Dreams, The Love Song and Castles in the Air, all coauthored with Janice A. Thompson. Her mysteries include Another Stab at Life and Another Hour to Kill. Anita is a member of ACFW and the Christian Humor Writers Group and she has been recognized for her involvement in literacy programs. A Texan for the past 24 years, Anita has coauthored an awardwinning book about her home state, A Tribute to Early Texas. She lives with her family near Houston.

Other books by Anita are Another Hour To Kill and Another Stab At Life.

ABOUT THE BOOK

LOVE FINDS YOU IN HUMBLE TEXAS
by Anita Higman
Published by Summerside Press

The Abernathy sisters. One is bright, one is beautiful, but both are in love with the same man. One sister will let go of love, and like a kite string untethering in the wind, the choice will undo each of their lives. What will it take to heal their hearts, for love to find them in a place called Humble, Texas?

Trudie Abernathy is a little inelegant, and she's never had much luck in love. To make matters worse, her thirtieth birthday is fast approaching and her sister, Lane, has decided to treat her to a makeover and a few blind dates. Trudie is about to protest, but then she meets the kind and handsome Mason Williamson. In spite of her humble manner, Mason finds her attractive, funny and smart. But Lane inexplicably pushes Trudie away from Mason and toward the other willing suitors. The makeover has transformed Trudie from ordinary into stunning, but she isnt sure how she feels about all the attention from men. Can Trudie stay true to her humble self and find her hearts desire in the process?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Love Finds You In Humble Texas, go HERE.

Buy Your Copy of Love Finds You in Humble Texas today!

AUTHOR INTERVIEW

1. What gave you the inspiration for this story?

I have a friend who’s an image coach, and I’ve always been intrigued with her career. So, that got the little wheels turning in my head. Then I came up with a very simple concept—two sisters who were very different. One would be an image coach and the other would be in desperate need of an image coach. Then I thought, "What if both sisters fall in love with the same man?" Now that seemed like an interesting concept since it would have a lot of natural built-in conflict, especially if the sisters were close. I wrote an opening scene, and then my fingers began to fly. Even though I generally know where the novel is going, many times the story reveals itself as I go along.

By the way, I hired the amazing Circle of Seven Productions to do a book trailer for Love Finds You in Humble Texas. Visit my web site to see. Hope you enjoy it!

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

The heroine, Trudie Abernathy, gradually reveals her passion for art. I took art in college, and even though I don’t have a lot of talent in that area, I do appreciate the artistic gifts of others. Another life experience that influenced my characters was the fact that I grew up on a farm in Oklahoma. My heroine grew up on a farm in Oklahoma. So, much of my own life does seep into my characters and into the plot. It’s impossible not to have our work influenced by where we’ve been, what we’ve done, or who we’ve met. All of it is reflected in our art, whether it’s fine art or music or creative writing.

You also asked what aspects of my characters were theirs alone? Well, Trudie’s sister, Lane Abernathy, is an image coach. Lane is elegant in every way. I’m not. I try, mind you, but in my opinion, I never quite hit the mark. So, that is a character trait I created that I can only dream about. :)

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

Since Trudie is an artist at heart, she thinks of life events in colors. And without giving too much away, rainbows become an important symbol in the novel. So I would say that the heroine, Trudie Abernathy, is a big earthen bowl of rainbow sherbet.

4. Are there any themes in Love Finds You in Humble Texas that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the stories progressed?

Even though the name of the town is pronounced, "Umble," I made the main theme about humility. A secondary theme is how God can redeem all things, turning impossible situations into miracles. Here is a tiny excerpt from the book. "Life can be a collage of pretty pictures as well as a thousand shattered moments, but God can bring marvel to it all as He takes those broken pieces and, with the light of His grace shining through them, makes something beautiful, something treasured." I hope the themes are an encouragement to readers.

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

The romantic scenes are a lot of work, because I want to keep them fresh. I don’t want readers to groan, thinking that my falling-in-love scenes seem familiar with hackneyed terminology and overused descriptions. I strive to keep them full of surprise and fascinating enough so that readers keep turning those pages. The easiest and most fun parts to write were those with the character, Wiley Flat. He just sort of showed up, and introduced himself to me. And he was a delight. I hope readers enjoy him too. It was always fun for me as a writer when Wiley came back on the scene.

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

I'd love for folks to drop my site at www.anitahigman.com to see all of my books. Thanks for inviting me to your blog, Tiff!

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

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Monday, March 02, 2009

Baby Update -- Week 37, 3 Weeks to Go!

I'll try to hit the highlights today. Been feeling so drained and tired lately, and I have SO much to do before this little one arrives.

First, I'm officially full term today, so if labor starts, the doctor won't do anything to stop it. That's exciting! The contractions are occurring, with some cramps and sharp aches for the past 2 weeks, but these are the Braxton Hicks ones with my uterus preparing, not the labor ones that will be sending me to the hospital. Thankfully, there have been only minimal aches and pains, and nothing in the back which might signal a potential for back labor. Praise God!

Oh, and my appointment last week went great. Only gained 1 lb. from the previous week, my blood pressure was a little higher but still normal, baby's heartbeat was a strong 149, and I measured about 5 days ahead at 37 weeks. I was 1-1/2 cm dilated and 70% effaced, but that could remain the same for weeks.

It's harder than ever to reach my feet to put on socks or even get my legs into pants. And I feel like I'm never getting enough sleep. Too uncomfortable at night. It's also difficult getting in and out of cars, but I manage. I have no reason to complain at all, especially compared to the stories I hear from other women. Thank God for my mother and her mother and the "good stock" from which I come. :)

It will be interesting to adapt to the changes once my baby arrives. Just like anything else, I know it will take time, but I'm confident all will go just fine. And now, for a few words from the little acrobat inside...






All right, my weight has leveled off with only a few ounces of fat added this past week. I'm sure Mommy's happy about that, although I've heard her mention her big belly several times. I'm sorry, Mommy! I don't have a scale in here, but Mommy has read that I should weigh in at around 7 lbs and be about 20 inches long. I still find ways to flex my legs and arms in here, so I'm not fighting as much as others inside those Mommies that are nothing more than stick figures. :)

Happily, my internal organs are now developed enough to function in the outside world. I can breathe on my own too! It will be fun to not have this liquidy stuff in my mouth all the time. My immune system though is still developing. That will continue even after I'm born, and when I get that yummy milk from Mommy, I'll get lots and lots of antibodies too, which will help keep me and her healthy.

I can't tell if I have hair or not, as everything feels close to the same in here. From what I hear, Daddy has dark hair and Mommy is a redhead. Hmm...wonder what I'll end up being.

I'm 37 weeks with 21 days to go...





Ok, back to me for a brief bit of closure.

I had my Group B strep test 1-1/2 weeks ago and it came back negative. That was the last test during my prenatal appointments. Now, it's a true waiting game. I just have to keep in mind that only 4-5% of women actual deliver on their predicted due date. And since this is my first pregnancy, I am told I can expect to be anywhere from two days to two weeks late. Praying that doesn't happen, as I want a March baby. I've officially delivered the eviction notice to this little angel. Baby has a month to make a decision on his/her birthday. :)

Yesterday, I had a baby shower and here's the link to the pictures.

It's finally feeling close to complete. We have all of the big ticket items and even some "fun" ones like a bouncer, doorway jumper, swing and exersaucer. We have a lot of diapers now thanks to a diaper raffle at the shower, many many washcloths and blankets, and 4 hooded bath towel sets. This baby will be squeaky clean and toasty warm. LOL!

Finally, I'm not sure if you have heard of spitting in Drain-O and having it predict the gender of your baby, but my family made me do it, so they could find out. I didn't look, but they were more than happy to tell anyone who wanted to know. Now, they just have to keep it a secret from me and Stu for another few weeks. My cousin said her chiropractor does it for every expectant mother who comes into the office, and it's had 100% accuracy so far. Guess we'll see if it was right for me.

That's all for today. Back to finishing up laundry and other items on my "to-do" list.

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