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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Spotlight on Karen Witemeyer and A Tailor-Made Bride

Don't forget the new rules of the spotlights here. There will always be an extra question inserted in each spotlight for YOU to answer in the comments in order to be entered in the drawing. So, be on the lookout!

I'll also be announcing the winners from the past month of their spotlight book wins by Friday. Stay tuned.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


KAREN WITEMEYER is a deacon's wife who believes the world needs more happily-ever-afters. To that end, she combines her love of bygone eras with her passion for helping women mature in Christ to craft historical romance novels that lift the spirit and nurture the soul.

Karen holds a master's degree in Psychology from Abilene Christian University and is a member of ACFW, RWA, and her local writers' guild. She's an avid cross-stitcher, shower singer, and bakes a mean apple cobbler. Karen makes her home in Abilene, TX with her husband and three children.

A Tailor-Made Bride
by Karen Witemeyer
Published by Bethany House

ABOUT THE BOOK

When a dressmaker who values beauty tangles with a liveryman who condemns vanity, the sparks begin to fly!

Jericho "J.T." Tucker wants nothing to do with the new dressmaker in Coventry, Texas. He's all too familiar with her kind—shallow women more devoted to fashion than true beauty. Yet, except for her well-tailored clothes, this seamstress is not at all what he expected.

Hannah Richards is confounded by the man who runs the livery. The unsmiling fellow riles her with his arrogant assumptions and gruff manner, while at the same time stirring her heart with unexpected acts of kindness. Which side of Jericho Tucker reflects the real man?

When Hannah decides to help Jericho's sister catch a beau--leading to consequences neither could have forseen--will Jericho and Hannah find a way to bridge the gap between them?

Readers, buy your copy of A Tailor-Made Bride today!

AUTHOR INTERVIEW

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

You know how they say necessity is the mother of invention? Well that holds true for me with this story. I originally submitted a different manuscript to Bethany House. They requested the full but ended up rejecting it because they felt the plot wasn't quite original enough to launch a new author. However, they liked the writing enough to ask me to submit something else. They particularly liked the idea of the dress shop that I had presented in the first manuscript. Could I come up with a new story that incorporated this dress shop?

Now you have to understand, in the original book, the dress shop burned to the ground in the prologue. It didn't even survive into chapter one. But publishing with Bethany House was my dream, so I started brainstorming.

It all started to come together with a question: What happens when believers disagree about what the Christian life should look like? I wanted to show that it is possible for two devoted Christians to have different interpretations of scripture, and have them both be right. Since I knew my heroine was going to be a seamstress (in keeping with the dress shop idea the publisher wanted), I chose the issue of beauty. After all, it's not always the big doctrinal issues that divide people. Personal experiences can make even seemingly simple topics volatile.

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

My heroine's personality reflects aspects of my own. And not always the good ones! Hannah is independent, task-oriented, and likes to get the upper hand when dealing with Jericho. I am much the same. I love my husband, yet there is no one I enjoy defeating more when playing a game that requires skill and mental acuity. Those wins come rarely, but when they do, I feel like crowing in victory, much like Hannah felt when facing the challenge of making Jericho smile or beating him in a war of words. Also, when I wrote the scene where Hannah struggled to leave her shop with a customer's hem unfinished, I nearly laughed at how well that described me. I hate leaving a task undone. Having three kids has mellowed me out over the years and taught me to be more flexible, but I would still rather finish something than leave it for later.

Hannah, however, has a compassionate heart that I can only hope to emulate. She has the gift of seeing beneath a person's surface and has the heart to reach out to those most of us would ignore. She demonstrates this character trait with a man named Ezra who is so steeped in grief that his personal hygine has made him a pariah in town. I wish I was more like her in that regard.

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

My hero, Jericho, is a vanilla man. Classic, yummy, a man's man who likes to keep things simple. No frills, no fuss, just a tasty goodness that seems to get better the longer you savor it.

Hannah, on the other hand, is rainbow sherbet. Vibrant and full of life, she sees the word through eyes that drink in color and beauty. Depending on what bite you sample, she might be tart or sweet, but somehow when you take all of her together, she brings a flavor to the palate that makes everything brighter.

The fun comes when Hannah tries to throw rainbow sprinkles on Jericho's vanilla. Will he continue to grumble and pick them out, or will he finally open his mind to the possibility of trying something new?

4. Are there any themes in A Tailor-Made Bride that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the story progressed?

Being right is less important than living right. In John 17, Jesus prayed that his followers would all be one, so that the world might believe that he was indeed sent by the Father. Many times, we as Christians are quick to condemn other believers because they do not adhere to a doctrine identical to our own. However, if we wish to foster the spirit of unity that Christ desires, we must be less concerned with proving our arguments and more focused on loving our neighbor and extending grace in times of disagreement. Only then will we be a light to the world.

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

Even though I relate most to my heroine, what I enjoyed most was creating the perfect hero for her. Jericho is a hard-headed guy full of preconceived notions and arrogance that comes from thinking he has everything figured out. However, beneath this tough exterior is a tender heart that longs to honor his God, his family, and his community. No one works harder, gives more, or protects more fiercely than Jericho Tucker. His words might rile, but his actions speak with a deep eloquence that reflects the compassionate nature hidden in his soul. He is truly a man of contrasts.

What was most difficult to write? I'd have to say that the most challenging places were the transitions between the big events. It is easy to get on a roll when there is a flash flood or a villainous bad guy up to no good, but finding just the right words to create a seamless transition that flows between the events is a challenge.

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

My second release, Head in the Clouds, will be hitting the shelves in October. Since I enjoy Regency romances as well as those set in the American West, I thought it would be fun to blend the two by bringing an English nobleman to Texas. In this book, a recovering romantic takes a job as governess for the mute daughter of a sheep rancher and soon learns her heart is not the only thing in danger.

* * * * *

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

NEW!! Readers, read the question below associated with the spotlight and answer it in the comments, then leave your email address for your chance to win a FREE autographed copy of A Tailor-Made Bride. If you do not answer the question, you will not be entered.

Question: To be entered to win a copy of A Tailor-Made Bride, leave a comment about which of Hannah's character traits the author wishes she possessed in fuller measure. Also tell us about the character trait you most admire in your favorite novel heroines and whether or not that trait describes you as well.

Make sure you also leave your email address (name at domainname dot.com/net). You won't be entered in the drawing without it. If you wish to comment but don't want to be entered, say so when you post.

This week, the contest is open to US/Canada residents only.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Spotlight on Robert Elmer and Wildflowers of Terezin

Don't forget the new rules of the spotlights here. Random questions will be inserted in each spotlight for you to find and answer in the comments in order to be entered. So, be on the lookout!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


ROBERT (BOB) ELMER has written more than 50 books for youth and adults, building on his experience as a news editor and reporter, advertising copywriter, teacher, and assistant pastor. When he's not writing (or sailing) he's a mentor and editorial board member for the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild, and has spoken to young audiences across North America. Robert and his wife Ronda live in the Pacific Northwest.

WILDFLOWERS OF TEREZIN
by Robert Elmer
Published by Abingdon Press

ABOUT THE BOOK

Wildflowers of Terezin is a sweeping historical novel set against a backdrop of danger. A Danish Lutheran pastor's complacent faith is stretched to the breaking point during World War II when he meets a young Jewish nurse Hanne Abrahamsen and becomes deeply involved in Resistance efforts to save Denmark's Jews from the Nazi prison camp at Terezin, Czechoslovakia--also known as Theresienstadt.

Challenged by his activist brother and swayed by his own attraction to Hanne, Pastor Steffen abandons his formerly quiet, uninvolved life and hesitantly volunteers to help smuggle Denmark's Jews out of the country before a Nazi roundup. Steffen finds that helping his Jewish neighbors is the most decent, spiritual thing he has ever done. As he actually does God's work, rather than just talking about it, Steffen's faith deepens and he takes greater risks in his sermons.

When things go terribly wrong and Hanne is sent to Terezin, Steffen finds his heart fully engaged. He undertakes protests and rescues that are more and more dangerous, never imagining where it will lead him, or the ultimate cost of his decision to get directly involved.

Readers, buy your copy of Wildflowers of Terezin today!

AUTHOR INTERVIEW

1. What gave you the inspiration for this story?

My Danish heritage has flavored my interest in writing historical fiction, and I've always been interested in history. Perhaps it's that way with children of immigrants. There's a strong tie back to the old country, and when my parents and my grandmother told stories about their life in Denmark, I knew there were things there I had to pass along somehow. What was it like during the occupation years? What was it like to be a student back then, a kid? Were there lessons for us that we need to remember today? I wanted so much to tell these stories, both in the "Young Underground" novels for kids, and now in Wildflowers of Terezin.

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

You know, sometimes it's not obvious until a book is written. All fiction writers draw from their own experience, but seldom build characters that are too close to themselves--except perhaps by accident. In this story, I look back and see some of myself in the character of Steffen, one of the main characters.

3. Are there any themes in Wildflowers of Terezin that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the story progressed?

The story is about faith in the face of deadly opposition, about choosing the right thing and making love work when it's hard. It's a challenge to complacent faith, and a contrast between those who seek safety and those who just do the right thing, period. Where is the safest place, really? I think we can all relate to that kind of challenge, even if we're not living in a war zone or a prison camp.

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

Probably the most difficult parts were the bleakest days for Hanne in the Terezin death camp. I won't give it away, but I have to say these were scenes where Robert Frost's quote came to mind: "No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader." I have to say those were emotional scenes to write.

And it took tons and tons of research. All the months of preparation and writing that went into "The Young Underground" also went into this book. I've poured through stacks of old Danish books, looking for the best information from original sources. Good thing I read Danish!

Question: Do you read/speak a second language? If so, what?

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

Right now I'm immersed in my new position, serving as a writer/editor at a university. I'm working on helping edit a testimony/autobiography, and my idea file is percolating, so stay tuned!

* * * * *

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

NEW!! Readers, find the question associated with the spotlight and answer it in the comments, then leave your email address for your chance to win a FREE autographed copy of Wildflowers of Terezin. If you do not answer the question, you will not be entered.

Make sure you also leave your email address (name at domainname dot.com/net). You won't be entered in the drawing without it. If you wish to comment but don't want to be entered, say so when you post.

This week, the contest is open to US/Canada residents only.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

CFBA Blog Tour - DiAnn Mills and A Woman Called Sage

Don't forget the new rules of the spotlights here. Random questions will be inserted in each spotlight for you to find and answer in the comments in order to be entered. So, be on the lookout!

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
A Woman Called Sage
Zondervan (April 1, 2010)
by DiAnn Mills


ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Award-winning author DIANN MILLS launched her career in 1998 with the publication of her first book. Currently she has over forty books in print and has sold more than a million copies.

DiAnn believes her readers should “Expect an Adventure.” DiAnn Mills 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 – 2007, 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.

A WOMAN CALLED SAGE
by DiAnn Mills
Published by Zondervan

ABOUT THE BOOK

They took away everything she loved...now, she’s out for revenge.

Sage Morrow had it all: life on a beautiful Colorado ranch, a husband who adored her, and a baby on the way. Until five ruthless gunmen rode up to their ranch and changed her life forever. Now Sage is a bounty hunter bent on retribution.

Accompanied only by her majestic hawk, she travels throughout the Rocky Mountains in search of injustice, determined to stamp it out wherever it’s found. The stakes are raised when two young boys are kidnapped and Sage is forced to work with Marshall Parker Timmons to rescue them. But Sage may ultimately get more than she bargained for.

In this exciting historical romance set in the late 1800s, murder, intrigue, kidnapping, and questions of faith will keep you in suspense until the final pages.

If you would like to read the first chapter of A Woman Called Sage, go HERE.

Watch the Book Trailer here:



Readers, buy your copy of A Woman Called Sage today!

AUTHOR INTERVIEW

1. What gave you the inspiration for this story?

While vacationing in the Rocky Mountain National Park, and idea for a woman bounty hunter would not let me go. I could see her riding through valleys and over treacherous mountains. When we visited the tourist center right outside the park, I saw that the Ute Indians had once roamed there. The spark continued to grow until I had to write the story. She's a courageous woman with a tragic past.

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

I think my many trips into the Rocky Mountain National Park provided much of the setting and helped form Sage's character. It was easy to point out places where she could have camped and beautiful lakes she would have admired. I can't think of anything about Sage or Parker that resembled me. :) Sage has a kinship with animals, and I certainly do not. However, she did want to help those women who'd been hurt by outlaws and left as widows. And I do have a desire to help hurting women. Regarding Parker - he had interests in law and politics, which I do not!

Question: Do you have an animal you love (could be a pet or a wild animal)? What about that animal appeals to you?

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

Sage would have been Coffee Heath-Bar Crunch. That flavor would have provided the caffeine to keep her going, the chocolate to keep her sweet, and the crunch to keep her rugged in times of danger.

4. Are there any themes in A Woman Called Sage that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the story progressed?

My key theme in is dealing with bitterness. How do you purge it from your life when it walks and stalks you. Prejudice was a minor theme, as well as exploiting widows.

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

Weaving the thread of suspense that finally tied all the mystery and confusion in Sage's life to reality. My favorite parts were building the romance between Sage and Parker. And I loved Leah, who is more like me.

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

The Fire in Ember is about John Timmons, who is in the current book, and a young woman named Ember. I believe that will be released in January 2011.

* * * * *

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

NEW!! Readers, find the question buried somewhere in the spotlight and answer it in the comments, then leave your email address for your chance to win a FREE copy of A Woman Called Sage. If you do not answer the question, you will not be entered.

Make sure you also leave your email address (name at domainname dot.com/net). You won't be entered in the drawing without it. If you wish to comment but don't want to be entered, say so when you post.

This week, the contest is open to US/Canada residents only.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Spotlight on Deborah Vogts and Seeds of Summer

Happy Cinco de Mayo! I'm sitting here in the middle of Yellowstone National Park on vacation for 10 days. But I still have a blog post for you. Aren't you relieved? And maybe amazed at my commitment that I wouldn't leave y'all hanging high and dry? :)

Don't forget the new rules of the spotlights here. Random questions will be inserted in each spotlight for you to find and answer in the comments. So, be on the lookout!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


DEBORAH VOGTS and her husband have three daughters and make their home in Southeast Kansas where they raise and train American Quarter Horses. As a student at Emporia State University studying English and journalism, Deborah developed a love for the Flint Hills that has never faded. In writing this series, she hopes to share her passion for one of the last tallgrass prairie regions in the world, showing that God’s great beauty rests on the prairie and in the hearts of those who live there.

SEEDS OF SUMMER
by Deborah Vogts
Published by Zondervan

ABOUT THE BOOK

Releases May 25th!

Seeds of Summer is the second book in the Seasons of the Tallgrass series. A heart-warming contemporary romance set in the Flint Hills of Kansas where a former rodeo queen abandons her dreams in order to care for her deceased father’s ranch and her two half-siblings, only to realize with the help of a young new pastor that God can turn even the most dire circumstances into seeds of hope.

Readers, buy your copy of Seeds of Summer today!

AUTHOR INTERVIEW

1. What gave you the inspiration for this story?

Years ago, I took a Flint Hills Folklife summer course at Emporia State University that was taught by Dr. Jim Hoy. Along with classroom study, we took field trips into the heart of the Flint Hills and visited with old-time ranchers, schoolmarms and post-mistresses. It was such a delightful experience, especially our drives into the pastures. We would get on these back roads and drive over cattle guards into the open range. We would travel for miles without seeing another car or even an electric line—just pure, native prairie. That summer, I fell in love with the Flint Hills and it has stayed with me all this time.

For each of the seasonal books, I wanted to portray one aspect found in the Flint Hills—and I knew I had to include a story about a female rancher. Also because I have three daughters who are spread out in age, I started wondering what it would be like if something happened to my husband and I, and our oldest daughter was left to care for her sisters. It helped make the plot for Seeds of Summer real for me.

Question: Have you ever visited a location and fallen in love with it upon viewing or spending time there? If so, where? And did you move there? Answer in the comments.

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

I would have to say that Natalie is most like my oldest daughter, Samantha. Very strong, determined and dependable. So when I wrote this story, I would often think to myself, how would Sam have handled this. :)

A lot of the scenes in the story came from my own experience on the farm. Like Chelsey (Natalie’s sister), as a girl I did much of the cooking for the family, and took care of the house while my parents and brothers farmed. The haying scene in the book came directly from my own experience of raking hayfields and watching the crew stack the bales in the haymow. And Natalie’s horse Jackson was inspired by one of our own horses that is also a gallant protector. I believe some horses are extremely faithful creatures and can sense their owner’s emotions and will act accordingly.

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

I had to do a Google search for this on Baskin-Robbins, but here’s what I’ve decided. Natalie would be Gold-Medal Ribbon (a combination of vanilla and chocolate ice cream with a caramel ribbon) because she’s been a winner at most everything she’s tried. She’s dependable like vanilla, but is willing to add a little extra chocolate in her life to make things interesting. LOL

For Jared, I’m going to go with Black Walnut. Why? I have no clue. Maybe because he is old fashioned, but is just enough different to stand out in the crowd. OR, you have to be a certain kind of person to like him. LOL. No idea. :)

4. Are there any themes in Seeds of Summer that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the story progressed?

When the story begins, Natalie has lost both her parents, so obviously dealing with grief is one theme in the story. What surprised me is that Natalie needed to deal with her mother’s death, which happened when she was a little girl. It surprised me that she’d carried it for so long without coming to terms with it.

I hope readers will realize how important family relations are and that we can get through our difficulties if we remember to love and forgive each other. I also hope to give my readers a taste of the Flint Hills and of how God’s beauty rests on the prairie and in the hearts of those who live there.

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

For the longest time, I didn’t know how to end my story. Then about a month before my deadline, it came to me like a clanging cymbal. Also, there were a few plot twists created by my secondary characters—Libby and Tom—who never wanted to go in the direction I’d outlined for them. I don’t want to give away the story, so you’ll have to read the book to find out. :)

Favorite: I really enjoyed writing Natalie’s story and trying to get her through the difficult family problems she had to face. She is a very strong character with an interesting twist in her story—she’s a former Miss Rodeo Kansas AND the first runner up Miss Rodeo America. I don’t want to give away any of the plot line, but I can say that much of my research involved studying the rodeo queen pageants.

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

Blades of Autumn, the third book in the Seasons of the Tallgrass series, is set to release June 2011.

(Blurb for Book #3) With a café to run and three children to raise, Clara Lambert doesn’t have time for men or loneliness, despite what her heart might tell her. When two handsome cowboys vie for her attention, one of the brothers proves to be her soul mate, but at what cost? Will it tear the brothers’ relationship apart or is blood really thicker than water?

* * * * *

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

NEW!! Readers, find the question associated with the spotlight and answer it in the comments, then leave your email address (name at domainname dot.com/net) for your chance to win a FREE autographed copy of Seeds of Summer. If you do not answer the question, you will not be entered.

Make sure you also leave your email address (name at domainname dot.com/net). You won't be entered in the drawing without it. If you wish to comment but don't want to be entered, say so when you post.

This week, the contest is open to US/Canada residents only.

Note from Deb - Book Giveaway: Because the book doesn’t release until the end of May, I’m unable to offer a book until the end of the month. If you don't mind waiting, feel free to enter through this spotlight. HOWEVER, Country magazine (Reiman Publications) interviewed me for their April/May issue, which was an incredible blessing and honor, as I’ve been a huge fan of their publications for years. If you go to their site, you can read a sample from the first chapter of Seeds of Summer as well as enter your chance to win one of my books. This drawing ends May 31st.

http://www.country-magazine.com/