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Friday, September 29, 2006

CFBA Tour -- Violet Dawn

For my regular readers, and any others who missed me, I'm back from Dallas and one of the best writer's conference experiences thus far. But, I'll save the details for another post. Right now, I'm thrilled to shine the spotlight on an author who's become very special to me recently.

By the title of this post, you've probably deduced the book being featured. That's right. It's Violet Dawn, a brand new release from "Seatbelt Suspense" author, Brandilyn Collins.

I have an extra autographed copy that I'll be awarding to one lucky winner. Just leave a comment on this post for your chance to win.

Violet Dawn, which released in August of this year, is published by Zondervan and is part of Brandilyn's new Kanner Lake series. There are two other books to come...Coral Moon, releasing in March of '07, and Crimson Eve, releasing in September of '07.

You must also stop by and visit Scenes and Beans, the REAL blog for the fictional Java Joint coffehouse in Kanner Lake. This is a unique marketing tool for the series, involving about 30 other
writers and eventually involving readers of the series who want to audition posts.

A lot of my friends are featured on the book's blog site, but a great friend of mine is actually featured *in* the book. That's right. Brandilyn calls him "Ted Dawson." If you read the book or frequent Java Joint through Scenes & Beans, you'll also discover him to be "S-Man." He even has his own web site and blog where you can learn more about him and his writing.

What an honor. To be chosen as the prototype for an author's character. And not only that, but to be given the privilege of portraying that character on a book blog. You either have to have the "right stuff"...or be really strange. It's a toss-up. :)

Now, I confess. I would say this book is suspense at it's finest. However, Brandilyn has a group of friends that she affectionately calls the "Big Honkin' Chickens Club," because the women in the group are unnerved by Brandilyn's writing...and I'm a proud member. *grins*

I've read the beginning, and from what I've heard, this book is classic Brandilyn Collins "Seatbelt Suspense." It grabs you from the very beginning...

Something sinuous brushed against Paige's knee. She jerked her leg away.

What was that? She rose to a sitting position, groped around with her left hand.

Fine wisps wound themselves around her fingers.


She yanked backward, but the tendrils clung. something solid bumped her wrist. Paige gasped. With one frantic motion she shook her arm free, grabbed the side of the hot tub, and heaved herself out.

Paige Williams slips into her hot tub in the blackness of night...and finds herself face to face with death. Alone, terrified, fleeing a dark past, Paige must make an unthinkable choice.

In Violet Dawn, hurtling events and richly drawn characters collide in a breathless story of murder, the need to belong, and faith's first glimmer. One woman's secrets unleash an entire town's pursuit, and the truth proves as elusive as the killer in their midst.

You can go HERE to read a first chapter excerpt. But using Brandilyn's famous tagline....."Don't forget to b r e a t h e."

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Contest & Another FREE Book Giveaway

You read right. I have another contest to announce. This one is for my parallel blog that I cohost with 5 other historical fiction authors. I announced it here when it first launched, but I haven't done a good job in promoting it much. :(

However, to help drive traffic there and increase awareness of this fantastic blog for historical fiction writers or readers, I've announced a contest this morning. All you have to do is comment and send as many people as you can over there to comment on the post with the contest details.

The question: Why do you like historical fiction over the other genres? If you don't like it, why not and what genres are your favorite?

We're looking to attract both fans and non-fans of the genre to get a broad spectrum of answers. So, be sure to invite everyone you know.

The prize: Your choice of any historical fiction book on the bookshevles today. And if the author will be at the national ACFW conference next week, I'll even get it autographed!

Contest ends Sunday night at midnight EST. Winner will be announced on the Favorite Past Times blog.

Check it out!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Kiss the Cook...uh...BRIDE!

Yes, I know. I missed the author spotlight last week. Chalk it up to a long weekend for the holiday, a lot of real life happening, and an overly hectic week that didn't allow much time to post even a quick note much less interview anyone. However, I'm back this week and am more than making up for the lapse last week with not one, but *four* authors standing together in the spotlight.

That's right. You read correctly. This week, I'm featuring a brand-new anthology entitled, Kiss the Bride. For those unfamiliar with this type of book, it included four novellas written by four different authors all centered around a similar theme. Sometimes, the characters overlap and have other similarities, but it's the theme that generally ties together the stories into the anthology.

As for the prize for this week, the FREE BOOK will be autographed by at least THREE of the authors, possibly four, if we can arrange it. To enter, simply comment on this post or the author comment post below. The winner will be announced Monday evening, the 18th.

And off we go.....


Synopsis: Four young women meet at a restaurant owner's conference-Angel from Florida, Monica from Missouri, Haley from Oklahoma, and Allison from New Jersey-and discover they share the same faiths, fears, and hopes, including a lack of a love story in their lives. They vow to keep in touch, pray for one another, and meet again at next year's conference. What happens in between is an absolute smorgasbord of changed lives, challenged faiths, new dedications and directions, and romantic twists that turn next year's conference reunion plans into reservations for eight.

1. How did you come up with the idea for this anthology?

KRISTY DYKES: I was bred on Jesus and Nana's layer cakes in the Deep South (and not always in that order! WINK). I also love to cook and entertain. As a pastor's wife, I've often felt like I've run a B&B with all the people I've hosted, such as missionaries, evangelists, singing groups, etc. When I worked for a New York Times subsidiary, the editor said one day they needed a story about cooking. I casually commented, "I've cooked for 100 people in my home and love to cook. Last week, I had a dinner party for 22 people and had a ball." The editor said, "Write me a story. By tomorrow." So I did, and a weekly column entitled "Kristy's Kitchen" was born.

When I dreamed up Kiss the Bride, I envisioned four young women in the food business who love to cook. They all own restaurants, they meet at a restaurant convention, and they bemoan the lack of Mr. Right in their lives. Then, each novella tells their love stories. A fun addition to Kiss the Bride: they pass around an apron with the words "Kiss the Cook" on it. The last groom crosses out "Cook" and writes "Bride" because the girls have all become brides by the end of the book. Also, there's a recipe at the end of each novella.

2. It's often encouraged for writers to "write what you know." Your own location played an important role in the setting of your story. What aspects of where you live influenced your story? What is one unique thing about your location that added a unique flavor?

KRISTY: I'm a native Floridian and proud of it. We're rare birds these days, what with the tens of thousands moving into The Sunshine State each year. I love to set my stories in Florida. We have beautiful beaches and lakes and sunsets and sunrises and... :) In my novella, "Angel Food," the hero and heroine enjoy walks on the beach. And, he proposes there... kneeling in the sand...under a full romantic moon...ah...

AISHA FORD: Most of the books I've written are set in the city where I currently live or in a place I have previously lived. I didn't really get too much of an opportunity to focus on the location in Just Desserts…with a novella, the word limit is so tight that I didn't really get to use a lot of specific St. Louis flavor.

As I wrote, I set the story in my own neighborhood, so Monica and Gil drive down the same streets I drive and visit the same stores I visit. But because I wanted the focus to be on the plot, I tried to stay away from actual names of places and locations, and used generic names for as much as I could.

VICKIE MCDONOUGH I placed my fictional cafe on a real street in Tulsa and tried to give it the same look and feel as that part of town. I mentioned that that area of town was being revitalized in my story, and it is in real life too. I also had my characters visit the Pedestrian Bridge, which is a real place, and got the idea of using a soldier for the hero from my son, who was in the National Guard and was stationed in Iraq for a year.

CARRIE TURANSKY My novella is titled "Tea for Two" and is set in Princeton, New Jersey which is very close to where I live. Princeton is the home of Ivy League Princeton University, and it has a lovely downtown area centered on Nassau Street with many historic building and also great shopping and restaurants. I mention several romantic spots on campus, in Princeton, and the surrounding area in my story. The Sweet Something Tea Shop owned by the heroine in "Tea for Two" is fictional, but there was a lovely tea shop on Nassau Street that inspired the heroine's shop in my story. These characters and this type of restaurant fit this just wouldn't be the same if it took place anywhere else.

3. What was your most difficult part to write? Your favorite?

KRISTY: There weren't any difficult parts. It was a joy to write, all of it. I love putting in quirky characters in my stories, maybe because I run across so many in my life as a pastor's wife! :) Sister Wilkins was fun to write about. But my favorite parts to write were the romantic scenes. I'm a nostalgic romanticist. Or is that a romantic nostalgist? For inspiration, I always pull from my life with my husband Milton!

AISHA: The most difficult part was the moment when Monica and Gil first see each other again after so many years of not speaking. It wasn't a reunion where both parties were planning to see each other, and already knew what they would say to each other. Even though their families had this big rift years earlier, I wanted to let the genuine excitement of seeing each other overrule the apprehension about what their parents would say later.

My favorite part was when Monica went on the television show to demonstrate her wonderful pie recipe while Gil watches from his house. (There's a little surprise I don’t want to give away, but I hope it makes people laugh out loud!)

VICKIE: The emails from Scott(hero) were probably the hardest thing to write. I've never communicated much with a guy via email, and I wanted them to sound realistic and not like they were written by a female.

CARRIE: Here's a quick summary first: Tea for Two tells the story of Allison Bennett, owner of a financially strapped tea shop, who receives an anonymous check that saves her business. She suspects her secret benefactor is Peter Hillinger, a wealthy businessman, who has been pursuing her for several months. But then Tyler Lawrence, her old boyfriend, returns to town claiming a renewed faith and a changed life. Seeking her forgiveness, he offers to use his promotion skills to help her business. Allison doesn't know whom to trust. Should she follow her head or her heart?

The most challenging part to write was the interaction between Allison and her sister Tessa (the heroine of "Wherever Love Takes Us" in WEDDED BLISS). I wanted them to be close, but I wanted Tessa to place doubts in Allison's mind about Tyler's character, making Allison’s decisions more difficult. Finding that balance and making their dialogue realistic took a lot of rewriting.

The most enjoyable part to write was the cozy scene at Allison's house when Tyler came by to show her the designs he had created to help her promote her tea shop. There was a lot going on under the surface, and I wanted to show that and create some enjoyable romantic tension.

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

KRISTY: The scriptural theme of my novella is, "Though I speak with the tongues of men and angels but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or clanging cymbal...If I give all I possess to the poor...but have not love, I gain nothing" (1 Corinthians 13:1,3). Angel, my heroine, had a "me mentality" but didn't know it. She even donated her time to help rebuild an impoverished family's house. But she found out that wasn't enough--in God's eyes. I hope readers will clearly see this, and I hope it will affect their own lives.

AISHA: The main theme is forgiveness, of course. The secondary theme is trust, or in this case, re-trusting. Forgiveness can be tough, but once you get that part taken care of, it's an entirely new challenge to trust them again.

In some cases, you have the opportunity to truly forgive a person and walk away from them. In all honestly, it's much easier to forgive someone you don't have to see on a daily basis. In "Just Desserts," Monica and Gil had to exercise forgiveness, and then found themselves in circumstances where forgiveness itself wasn’t enough; they had to trust each other as well.

VICKIE: The theme is that sometimes we have to give our hopes and dreams to God before they become reality.

CARRIE: The theme verse for "Tea for Two" is "Love keeps no record of wrongs...It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres." I Corinthians 13: 5, 7.

This theme of discovering the true meaning of love is shown in the conflict between the hero and heroine. She must decide if she can let go of past hurts, forgive, and believe the changes the hero has made in his life are really going to last. She has very strong romantic feelings for the hero...but does she truly love him? The hero’s love for the heroine is also tested, and he has decisions to make as well.

The importance of Putting God first in our life is another theme that emerged as I was writing "Tea for Two". The heroine realizes she has invested so much time and effort into her business that she has let her relationship with the Lord slide way down the list of importance. Renewing her commitment to the Lord prepares her to face the other challenges in the story.

Author comments in the following post.

Kiss the Bride -- Author Comments

KRISTY: At one time, it was my dream to see my Christian fiction published (and I've now sold nine titles). I believe a dream is a God-ordained desire that He's put down in your heart, IF you're walking in His will and asking Him to direct your paths. Whatever your dream is, it's attainable, if you'll pay your do's (misspelling intended):

1. DO rest in your call. 1 Thessalonians 5:24 says, "He who calls is faithful, who also will do it." Be assured that the Lord will bring about His divine plan for you, even through the hard times (like rejections for writers!).

2. DO everything you know to do and do it diligently, according to Ecclesiastes 9:10. Apply yourself. Study in your field. Work hard. Don't slack. And then keep applying yourself. Keep studying in your field. Keep working hard. Keep determining not to slack.

3. DO not want "it" above the Lord. Matthew 6:33 says, "Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you." Put the Savior at the top of your list. Worship Him. Work for Him. Seek Him.
And then remember Habakkuk 2:3: "For the vision is yet for an appointed time. But at the end, it will speak and will not die. Though it tarries, wait for it. Because it will surely come."

Charles Colson said, "Stories change us because as we read we identify with characters who demonstrate courage and self-sacrifice, and in the process our own character is shaped." That's why I write Christian fiction. Through reader letters, I believe I'm doing this. One reader wrote, "I don't generally identify so strongly with stories, nor do they usually cause me to change the way I do things or think. Yours did (my novella in Room At the Inn). Your writing, and in turn, you, are a blessing to me, and I wanted you to know your work did some good." I pray I will always lift up the Lord and bless people's hearts with my fiction.

My dream came true, and your dream can come true too! I'd love to hear from you. Please visit my blog: and leave me a comment.

AISHA: For anyone interested in writing: Keep writing...even if you can only put a few words to paper at a given time, then that's a few more words than you'd previously written. A little on a consistent basis adds up pretty quickly. And don’t stop reading, because the joy of reading a good book transfers over to what you write and makes it even better.

For anyone interested in reading: Keep reading and let the authors know what you think about what they write. We really do listen!

VICKIE: I had the good fortune to be invited to join this anthology when someone else had to drop out, and I'm very grateful to the other team members for inviting me to join them. KISS THE BRIDE is extra special to me because it's my first contemporary sale.

I'd never planned to become a writer. It never even entered my mind until God started pushing in that direction. I admit that I asked Him many times if He was sure, and I still do on occasion. I'm telling you this to encourage you to keep your heart open to new things. I've made a ton of friends, gotten to travel, and had a lot of fun going to conferences, and hopefully have touched lives through my writing. This never would have happened if I hadn't allowed God to push me out of my comfort zone. I hope that you, too, will keep you heart open to the next thing God wants to do in your life.

Sign my guest book on my website for a chance to win a free book.

CARRIE: KISS THE BRIDE includes a unique traveling apron that unites these four friends and their stories. As each one falls in love, she passes the apron on to the next friend. Weaving our stories together and including a prologue and epilogue was a challenge, but I think this makes our collection even more enjoyable. We also each included a special recipe from our heroine's restaurant. These are delicious!

Please stop by my website for more information about KISS THE BRIDE and my other books: Thanks for inviting us to share about our story on your blog! We appreciate you, Tiff!