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Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Spotlight on Terry Burns -- Westerns King

In a world where the 'lit' books and mystery/suspense seem to be grabbing hold of the general readership at large, today's spotlight author manages to maintain a stronghold in what some might consider a "bygone" genre. However, just like the "good old days" when a handshake was all you needed to seal a deal, Terry Burns' books take you into a world of adventure that makes it difficult to break away and return to real life.

Terry is a 5th generation Irish storyteller who is a 4th generation Texas bullshipper. His Mysterious Ways Series from River Oak Publishing began with the book that bears that name. The second, Brothers Keeper came out Feb 1 and Shepherd's Son just came out. That gives him 24 books in print counting the nonfiction and short story collections plus Mysterious Ways which was just published in Russian. Other fiction includes Trails of the Dime Novel, a trade paperback from Echelon Press and in audio from JBS Publishing. To Keep a Promise and, Don't I Know You? trade paperbacks from The Fiction Works are both scheduled for audio books this year. He has published over 200 articles and short stories, is in a short story collection Coastal Villages Press entitled "Straight from the heart - stories of love and friendship," the second volume entitled "More stories of love and friendship", one entitled "Living by Faith" from Obidiah Press, in Heartwarming Christmas Stories from River Oak in November as is Cup of Comfort for Weddings, and he has a story in Soul Matters for Men from Thomas Nelson. Terry has published four nonfiction books and has a small book of cowboy poetry entitled Cowboys Don't Read Poetry. His available works as well as a daily blog can be found at

Make sure you comment on this post for a chance to win a FREE AUTOGRAPHED COPY of Terry's latest book, SHEPHERD'S SON.

1. Book three in your Mysterious Ways series successfully captures the essence of the cowboy life. An age-old dilemma of a shepherd clashing with cattle ranchers, and you pull it off with wit, wisdom, adventure and a dose of reality. Where did you get the inspiration for this particular story?

My daughter came in from a women's retreat and she was really enthused about a message comparing sheep to a spiritual flock. She knew the Bible did that a lot but she had never really grasped the full impact of it, that sheep are one of the few animals who are completely helpless without their shepherd. Even a rabbit has some defense, but not a sheep. I caught her enthusiasm and wanted to use it, but it also occurred to me what a totally different story being a shepherd was in the late 1800's when sheep were introduced to cow country. Mixing the themes produced quite an interesting story.

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

I know all of my characters come from deep inside of me and embody much of what I think and feel, but once they start becoming real they take on lives of their own. I often have characters think and know things that I did not know before I started thinking with their head. They fight me for control of the story and generally win. I never write my faith into my stories, the characters have or don't have faith and just as God works in the lives of living beings causing them to interact and serve his purposes, I know he is causing interaction between the characters, and that interaction is what brings any faith content to my stories.

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

A theme that no one is beyond redemption. The part that developed as the story went along is the fact that I thought the redemption was going to occur to somebody else. The person I intended it to happen to proved to be completely unreachable. I had no idea it was going to happen as it did, but it seemed the Lord began to work on one of the least likely people in the book with amazing results.

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

This story flowed so easily and so naturally that I hardly seemed to have any control over it at all so I would be hard pressed to pick a difficult part. My favorite part is when Jay gets the opportunity to tell the story of David as the shepherd boy who took on Goliath to some very young mexican shepherd boys who had never heard it, and the completely different way they looked at the story. It was delightful the way I watched that story unfold.

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

I'm writing a mystery now. I thought it was a cozy, but it appears the concensus is that it isn't. I've got the first draft done and I'm ready to go back and work on it. It's the story of a missing person, a woman, and a rather unorthodox love triangle that develops around it. I haven't been working on it as much as I should. Joyce Hart recruited me to work with her as an agent at Hartline Literary, and I've been spending time getting up to speed in that capacity. I still intend to keep writing too, of course. Next out is actually a short story collection that I contributed to, A Cup of Comfort for Weddings, if you can believe an old cowboy would have something to contribute to that.

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Actually, Terry, I think a "cowboy" would have a lot to contribute. Thank you for being in the spotlight.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Spotlight on...Judith McCoy Miller

I first "met" this week's spotlight author through one of my favorite authors, Tracie Peterson, and discovered yet another talented writer with the ability to portray characters that stayed with you long after you finished the book. Now, it's my distinct pleasure to feature her here.

Let's hear more from her:

Thanks so much for inviting me to be your spotlight author today, Amber. I am an author of historical fiction and live in Topeka, Kansas. My husband and I are the parents of four children, but we're now empty-nesters. I'm the author of fifteen novels, several novellas and one book for children. I began my writing career with Heartsong Presents. I co-authored both the Bells of Lowell and Lights of Lowell series with Tracie Peterson before writing the Freedom's Path series. I'm currently working on a new series, Postcards from Pullman, and Tracie and I have another series we are co-authoring with the first book due to release next year. If you've visited my website, you know that scrapbooking is my hobby of choice, but I do enjoy crafts of all sorts when time permits. I love the Lord, my family, hazelnut coffee, chocolate, and cranberry tea—in that order.

Don't forget to post a comment for your chance to win a FREE AUTOGRAPHED COPY of DAYLIGHT COMES.

1. Daylight Comes is the 3rd book in your Freedom's Path series. Where did you get the inspiration behind this particular story? How is this one connected to the other 2?

Part of the inspiration came through researching the elected Kansas officials during that time period. Truth's husband, Moses Wyman, is loosely based upon E. P. McCabe, who lived in Nicodemus, Kansas, and was elected to the position of Kansas State Auditor. He was the highest-ranking African-American official in the West during the early 1880's. I was both pleased and surprised to discover the state had elected an African-American to a high-ranking office at that point in time. After learning about Mr. McCabe, I wondered about the difficulties his wife might have faced as she attempted to adjust to the changes his election would cause in their lives.

The Freedom's Path series is a continuing saga of two families, the Harbans of Nicodemus and the Boyles of Hill City. These two towns are approximately eighteen miles apart and were settled by the same town company: Nicodemus for the African-Americans and Hill City for Caucasians. The families are fictional, but the setting is historical. Nicodemus is the only remaining community that was settled by African-Americans in the west. There are many people who have never heard of these pioneers and I wanted to incorporate some of their history into this series.

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

I'm old, but not quite old enough to have experienced some of the trials and tribulations my characters experienced. :) On the other hand, characteristics and flaws do span generations. I married and moved away from my family many years ago, and I still remember the transition and difficulties I faced not having the immediate support of my parents and siblings. Some of those memories played into Truth's fear of leaving home.

Both Truth and Macia must come to grips with bouts of selfishness and self pity. Unfortunately, I was able to draw upon some of my own actions and reactions to challenges I've faced in my past. However, like Macia and Truth, I think I've managed to outgrow some of those character flaws—at least most of the time. :) Having his parents die has caused Jeb to become protective of both his own feelings and his little sister. He doesn't want to experience further emotional pain so he's built a wall of protection. I think many of us do that very thing in our own lives, but unless we're willing to knock down that wall, we can't experience the pleasure of genuine love and relationship.

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

Trust is the primary theme throughout the entire series. Of course, I also want the reader to experience the intestinal fortitude and faith these settlers exhibited in order to settle their land and begin new lives in a very harsh environment. Some of the characters exhibit that same tenacity in their personal trials. Nowadays, many of us give up too easily, we don't commit for the long haul. You see both types in the series: Those who had the resolve to fight the elements and trust in God and those who turned back.

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

Macia's character was the most difficult. She's not a very likable character in the beginning of the series. She needed to be very selfish and yet have enough endearing qualities that the reader would be willing to follow her throughout the series. My favorite character changed as the series progressed. Other than my protagonists, I truly enjoy having a feisty secondary character. In First Dawn I enjoyed writing Miss Hattie. In Morning Sky and Daylight Comes, I enjoyed writing Lilly's character.

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

My next book will release in April 2007 and is titled In the Company of Secrets. It is the first book in the Postcards from Pullman series. This series is set in the town of Pullman, Illinois, a company town built by George M. Pullman, the man who made an empire out of his Pullman railroad cars. The story is about two young women who flee England in 1892—one of noble birth, the other a scullery maid. The story deals with the lies and deceit they create as their lives intersect and they settle in the town of Pullman.

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Judy, thank you for joining us in the spotlight. Everyone else, hope you enjoyed the interview.

Monday, October 23, 2006

WINNERS -- Feather & Then Came Faith

All right, 2 more winners to announce! I might just take to announcing these on the actual thread rather than making a post because it's getting repetitive. If anyone has a more creative way of doing this, by all means, let me know.

The winner of an autographed copy of Susan Page Davis' Feather is....

Cherie Japp

The winner of an autographed copy of Louise Gouge's Then Came Faith is....


Congratulations, Cheri and Shauna! Email me privately with your contact information, so I can notify the authors. Thank you to everyone for your support.

Up next...Judith McCoy Miller with her historical fiction, Daylight Comes.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Spotlight on Louise Gouge

Thank you to everyone for your patience while waiting for this postponed spotlight feature. For those who asked, life for me hasn't really settled, but I'm working through it one day at a time. It'll make a great inclusion in one of my books some day. :) If you want to know what happened, read the post right before this one.

Anyway, enough about me. Today is all about our spotlight guest...Louise Gouge. She splashed onto the CBA scene with a riveting novel entitled, Ahab's Bride, which went on to win awards and become highly recommended. Now, she's back with a new book that is sure to have as much impact in today's world as the historical time period in which its written.

Louise M. Gouge is the author of seven novels. She earned her master of liberal studies degree from Rollins College and earned her bachelor’s degree in creative writing from the University of Central Florida. Married to David H. Gouge for 41 years, the mother of four grown children, and grandmother of five, Louise has made her home in Central Florida for twenty-seven years. Currently, she teaches writing, literature, and humanities at Valencia Community College in Kissimmee, Florida.

Let's hear more from her, but don't forget to post a comment for your chance to win a FREE AUTOGRAPHED COPY of THEN CAME FAITH.

1. You seem to have tackled an issue that was not only key during the Civil War, but one that can be quite applicable today. Where did you get the inspiration behind this particular story?

Because I was a child in the Civil Rights era, I've always wondered why things did not turn out better for this nation after the Civil War and why the Civil Rights movement was even necessary. I have come to understand that national identities are formed through the choices that individual people make. In this country, the generation after the Civil War failed to take up the torch and "fix" the racial divide, failed to bring African-Americans fully into American society, so that all of us could work together to build the greatest nation this world has ever known. We are still suffering because of that. We had a chance to become a beacon to a world where tribal and ethnic identities often wreak havoc and destruction. But we failed. By placing my characters in the post-Civil War, I show that many Americans had great hope for a better world, and there is still a chance we can overcome that failure.

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

I can't really say that Juliana and André came from my own experiences or anyone I know personally. I was not old enough or brave enough to participate in the Civil Right movement, and by the time it came about, I didn't even live in the South. My characters come from studies that I have done about the pre-Civil War attitudes among dedicated abolitionists who risked their lives to end slavery and slave-holders who believed slavery was God's will. Juliana's and André's actions are simply characteristic of the passionate people on both sides of the issue. But any time you have an issue this controversial, you will find complicated people on both sides. These two characters are complex and realistic.

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

André Beauchamp, a Christian who deeply believes in the southern cause, has fought valiantly in the Confederate Navy. At war's end, he wonders why God abandoned His people. André also has lost personal property, all of his slaves, and most of his family, causing him to question his faith and surrender to bitterness. Then he meets Juliana Harris, a do-gooder Yankee woman, who not only has been a staunch abolitionist, but who also believes God has punished the South for perpetuating the evil institution of slavery. They both fight their mutual attraction, but ultimately cannot resist God’s clear direction.

When I first conceived this story idea, it was pretty clear-cut and simple: the southern cause versus the northern cause, with my hero and heroine exemplifying the extremes of each one. That's what passion is all about.

However, my research brought about one heartbreaking fact: Southerners were so determined that Reconstruction should fail that they "culled out" the leaders among the Negro communities and murdered many of them. Sadly, this kind of ignorance and hatred still exists today, and countless communities, large and small, across the country suffer both from those overt actions and the reactionary response from those whose ancestors were persecuted.

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

The part I enjoyed most was the irresistible attraction that Juliana and André felt. As the old saying goes, "Something's gotta give" when two such opposites are attracted to each other. As for the most difficult part, I would have to give away some important plot points to answer that!

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

My next book is entitled Then Came Hope, Book Two in my post-Civil War series. It will be published in the early spring 2007. In keeping with my series theme of men returning from the war, Then Came Hope tells the story of Ezra Johns, a corporal in the 54th Massachusetts Negro Regiment, and Delia Young, a South Carolina slave girl who finally finds the courage to escape her bonds just days before the war ends. When these two travelers join a band of former slaves, they meet many obstacles as they head North to find better lives.

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Thank you, Louise, for joining us in the spotlight. Hope sales for this book soar!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Spotlight Delay -- Personal Theft

Sorry to do this, but this week's spotlight will be featured on Thursday instead of Tuesday. The spotlight author is on a deadline, and I've been swamped today dealing with my wallet and cell phone getting stolen.

Thankfully, only minimal items were in there, but it's still a hassle to backtrack and file a police report, then follow-up with places where the card was used checking for security cameras, etc.

Needless to say, my time has been otherwise usurped...which works out good for the author being featured. I'll be back on Thursday with the winner from last week's spotlight and the new interview.

If you haven't posted a comment from last week, now's your chance. You have 2 extra days!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Spotlight on....Susan Page Davis (Feather)

Before we begin, I wanted to share that our spotlight guest has recently lost a loved one, but our Heavenly Father has given her the strength to still be with us here this week. Prayers are definitely with Susan Page Davis.

The last time she was with us, we highlighted her historical romances. This week, we are spotlighting her brand new children's fantasy, Feather. It releases later this month, but you can read a sneak summary here.

Don't forget to leave a comment for the chance to win a FREE AUTOGRAPHED COPY from the author. Whether you enjoy fantasy or know a young reader who will, this is the perfect opportunity to get a unique gift.

Now, on with the interview:

1. You've established yourself as an historical romance author with Heartsong Presents. Now, you shift into children's fantasy. What inspired you to take on this project and where do you feel it will take your career?

This was a story that had been on my heart for some time. It developed in my mind, and I felt I should write it.

2. Feather releases later this month. Tell us more about the book and the story.

Feather is a 12-year-old girl who is captured by a hostile tribe and forced to work for them. When the Blens discover she is skilled at making arrows, they put her to work doing that, but Feather soon learns her arrows will be used against her own people. She and her new friend, Tag, plan to escape from the Blens and try to warn her people.

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

The most difficult parts were those where Feather is threatened and injured. My favorite was the battle scene near the end.

4. The fantasy genre seems to be 'taboo' in certain circles of the Christian world. How do you feel your reception has been or will be for this book?

The publisher (JourneyForth) has committed itself to developing a fantasy line for children that does not include magic. I hope this book is unobjectionable to all Christians, and I think it will make a wonderful addition to any home, school, or public library.

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

My next Heartsong is also coming out in late November. In it, a young woman in 1858 Virginia is caught up in a lie that she detests.

My next children’s book will come out in 2007 with JourneyForth, and it is the story of Sarah Piper, who loves long-distance horse riding. When her mother dies, she goes to live on her uncle’s ranch. Will Sarah be able to continue competing in the sport she loves?

Thank you, Susan, for being in the spotlight again.

Monday, October 09, 2006

WINNER - Wishing on Dandelions

You'd think I could find a more creative way of announcing this each week. Using the same words is getting boring. Maybe I should hold a contest for most creative winner post idea. :)

Hmm, let me think on that.

In the meantime, I have another winner to announce. The winner of an autographed copy of Mary DeMuth's Wishing on Dandelions is....

Shannon McNear

Congratulations, Shannon! You'll be hearing from me and Mary shortly. Thank you to everyone for your support.

Up next? Susan Page Davis with her premiere release of a children's fantasy.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Spotlight on....Mary DeMuth

This week's spotlight author was a recent "hit" at the national ACFW Conference in Dallas. Everyone who attended her continuing session came out inspired and encouraged. I'm honored to feature her here so you can learn more about her and her latest book too.

And as always, post a comment for a chance to win an autographed copy of Mary's latest release...Wishing on Dandelions. Please also tell your friends and other fiction readers about this blog. The more the merrier! :)

From Mary: I'm so thankful to be a part of Amber's blog today. Thanks to all of you who've stopped by. I am a nonfiction and fiction author, writing from the south of France where my family and three other families are endeavoring to plant a church. My books include Ordinary Mom, Extraordinary God (Harvest House, 2005), Building the Christian Family You Never Had (WaterBrook, 2006), Watching the Tree Limbs and Wishing on Dandelions (NavPress, 2006). When I'm not writing or church planting or cooking or helping my kids with homework, I enjoy hiking, running, making small-scale art projects, and leading worship. My life's message is that God's redemption shines brighter in impossible situations.

1. You once again crafted a moving tale and emotional follow-up to your previous book, Watching the Tree Limbs. In Wishing on Dandelions, Maranatha's longing for the reassurance of God's love--while she sorts through her understanding of other kinds of love--resonated from page 1 to the last. Were there any of your experiences which helped craft Natha's character? What aspects of Natha became traits that were hers and hers alone?

I have struggled my life through trying to understand and feel God's love, so in that sense, I have walked this same path with Natha. Having grown up in a difficult home, I often felt like I deserved what came my way, as did Maranatha. That bred in me a keen need to understand (and often to disbelieve) God’s love for me. What's different about Natha is that she had more folks in her life really trying to help her see God's love. She had a posse of people who made it their aim to help her.

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

Shame and guilt evolved over the manuscript. Initially, Uncle Zane did NOT have a stroke, but adding that helped solidify Maranatha's struggle with overwhelming guilt, feeling like the stroke was her fault. So that one evolved. I also want the reader to see how fear prevents us from really living life, how it keeps us living half-dead. And of course, I want readers to see God's relentless pursuit of love for His children and how He often uses unlikely characters to show us that love in surprising ways.

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

The most difficult was Georgeanne. I wanted to make her really heinous, but as I kept writing her, she started endearing herself to me. Isn't that how our "enemies" are? We try to make them out to be villains, only to see spots and pieces of redemption sticking out from their prickly facades. My favorite part was writing the love story. I have always shied away from writing romance, but I found I really enjoyed setting Maranatha's love story to words.

4. Describe your writing space and schedule. How many words per day do you write? Do you have a minimum goal you hope to reach before you push away your keyboard?

I'm attaching a picture here. I write in my bedroom. We live in this little three story villa, with our bedroom tucked under the eaves of the third story. There is a five foot by five foot nook in one corner where I have my desk crammed, along with lots of pictures, a filing cabinet and a printer. It's pretty cramped, and I long for my own office someday.

When I'm on fiction deadline, I write about 2000 words a day. On non-fiction, about 1500 words. I tend to see my goals in weekly increments, though, so for fiction, by the end of the week I will have made myself type 10,000 words.

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

The next book coming out is tentatively titled Postmodern Parenting. It releases next July. It's a book for parents who are trying to raise their kids in this postmodern world. In a sense, it's a response to so many of those do-these-ten-steps-to-raise-godly-kids books. Sometimes formulas fall short. My main premise in that book is that what is inside us as parents (our hearts) is what we will duplicate in our children. We go full-bent superimposing methods upon ourselves, but we neglect to let Jesus change our hearts.

I also have a novel releasing sometime in 2008, but it's not written yet so I can't tell the story.

Thank you, Mary, for joining me in the spotlight.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Winners -- 2 Weeks' Worth

Sorry for not posting the winners from the past 2 spotlight interviews. I have an excellent excuse though -- the annual ACFW conference. Needless to say, I was might bit preoccupied before *and* during. :)

But, now I'm getting caught up again and before tomorrow's spotlight, I'm announcing the winners to date:

Kiss the Bride
Winner: Lillian A. Byrd

The Gathering Storm
Winner: Shauna

If you both can contact me with your mailing addresses, I'll make sure the authors get your autographed books out to you.

The winner of Violet Dawn will wait until the end of the week to give others a chance to read and respond.