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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Spotlight on Linda Windsor and Wedding Bell Blues

Today is quite special! Not only do I have the opportunity to feature a fantastic author who has made a name for herself in the "romantic comedy" genre, but I also get to introduce you to a friend, mentor and sister in Christ. She stuck with me from page 1 to the end of my first novel (Promises, Promises), and without her, that book would never have sold. Thanks to her, I have since sold 3 books and received instruction that has set me on the path toward my own writing career.

It is with honor and privilege that I now present Linda Windsor:

Maryland author Linda Windsor has written twenty-nine historical and contemporary novels for both the secular and inspirational markets, but she is most noted for delivering "The LIFT of Laughter and Spirit" in her modern inspirational romances. A Christy finalist and winner of numerous industry awards, Linda has written for Kensington Publishing/NY, Multnomah Publishing/Random House, Barbour Publishing, Westbow Press/Thomas Nelson Publishing and is now contracted to launch Harper Collins' Avon Inspire contemporary romance line with The Piper Cove Chronicles.

Linda chose a local setting, basing the fictitious Piper Cove on nearby Ocean Pines & Berlin, MD. It's first book, WEDDING BELL BLUES, is due out in June 2007. In addition to writing and speaking across the country, Linda continues a local music and lay speaking ministry started by her and her late husband. She also works on home improvement projects on the 18th century-plus house that she and her husband began restoring in 1986 on an "as desperately needed" basis. Wallpaper and paint are definitely in her near future.

Order your copy of Wedding Bell Blues today!


1. This is your first book in the Piper Cove Chronicles, introducing what is sure to be a fun-loving cast of characters for your subsequent books. What gave you the inspiration for this story?

I know the heroines and I certainly know Piper Cove and it's many characters. I grew up in the area upon which this fictional town is based. That's what makes this series so dear to my heart.

It's the stories of four best friends, who were determined to leave the hick town of Piper Cove in their dust on high school graduation day. Yet, years later, here they are, back in Piper Cove, which has changed from sleepy seaside village to a resort. Alex, Ellen, Jan and Sue Ann have changed too, but their friendship has not. They are closer than ever. It's one for all and all for one, especially when it comes to finding love.

2. This is also the first with your new publisher, Harper Collins SF, in their new line Avon Inspire. Share a little about the experience of being one of two authors selected to launch this new line.

To say it's thrilling is an understatement. I am enjoying working with the Harper-Collins/Avon Inspire staff and being a part of the launch. It's real teamwork on every level from the writing itself to the packaging and the mysterious world of marketing.

3. How much of your own experiences influenced the characters of Alex and Josh. What aspects became traits that were theirs and theirs alone?

Well, who doesn't like to be in control, especially when we are younger? Being a little more spiritually mature now, I've learned to let go and let God easier than in the past. That's not to say that God's finished with me in that arena. Oh, and I am deathly afraid of crabs. Snakes or spiders I can handle, but don't even put a dead blue crab near me. I only trust those tasty crustacians if they are steamed orange and sprinkled with Old Bay.

As for Josh, I never went big time with music, nor did I put it ahead of my family; but, having performed in a band for ten years, I do share his love of it and can see how it can become a god of sorts. Anything we are passionate about can become a god and put us on a self-destructive path, if we are not careful.

4a. What themes exist in Wedding Bell Blues that you hope the reader sees?

It's a good thing that we are NOT in control and that God is. So letting go and letting God in order to forgive and move on is the big one for Alex. Otherwise we are stuck in the past with our bitterness. I read once that clinging to the past paralizes today and bankrupts the future. I wish I could say who the author of that truth is.

For Josh, it's a test of his new-found faith to put revenge aside and really forgive one's transgressor, even when that transgressor is still a major pain and can't simply be avoided. While forgiving and forgetting is the right thing to do, it's doesn't come easy. Only God can help us swallow our urge for revenge and move on.

4b. Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the story progressed?

Absolutely. That of the parent who loves too much, to the point of insensitivity. And of the child who mistakes the disapproval as a lack of love. Alex's dad is the controlling parent to the extreme. He's horrible to Alex when she doesn't do as he expects her to for her own good. He's judgemental with a plank in his eye. But his motivation? Love, protection. At least in part. The rest, our wily B.J. has to work on with lots of divine intervention.

Unfortunately, Alex thinks her father disapproves of her and can't possibly love her, making her all the more rebellious. Both father and daughter are wrong.

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

I loved writing the scenes where the four bosom buddies were together. It reminded me just how blessed I am to have friends who love me, warts and all, and to rejoice in our differences as well as in what we have in common. I am thrilled when the chemistry sparks between my hero and heroine and overwhelmed when the Spirit takes over when they have an epiphany.

All that said, this was still the most difficult book I've ever written as it was the first one since my husband died. I felt as if my emotional plug had been pulled, or I'd turned that switch off. So it was hard for me as a writer to get in there and "feel" what my characters were feeling without exposing my own raw and healing ones. I had to keep going back into those scenes until they were right.

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

I can hardly wait! FOR PETE'S SAKE is about Alex's Harley-riding friend Ellen. There much more of me in Ellen than Alex--sans the Harley, that is. Having been raised with horses, I was into real horse-power.

Unlike her bosom buddies, the outspoken Ellen is willing to wait for love and not going to settle for anything less than the right one. So when a handsome and sophisticated security systems expert moves in next door with his son Pete, Ellen just can't see how this could be THE one. Not only is Adrian a prince charming to her leather and wheels, but he has a feminine siren on his arm. No way this suddenly tongue-tied tomboy can compete! But a troubled boy and the sense that our hero isn't quite as happy as a prince charming should be draw the big-hearted heroine into a web of intrigue where love and faith will be her only hope.

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Thanks, Linda, for being in the spotlight today. Readers, leave your comment for your chance to win a FREE autographed copy of this fantastic book sure to get you laughing and touch your heart all the way to the last page. Check back here next week for the winner.

Monday, May 28, 2007

11 Weeks Down; 9 to Go!

And now we're on the other side of the halfway mark. Only 8 weeks until Stuart's here again and another 5 days after that until the wedding. Of course, the flip side of that is it's only been a week since I saw him last, and it feels like more than a month! (sigh)

Like we agreed the other night, though. There's no sense in sitting around waxing melancholia or getting down in the doldrums. The wheels are in motion, and things are progressing smoothly for the most part toward the BIG DAY. Allowing the sadness of not being together to overshadow the joy and excitement of what we'll have in just a few short weeks will only make it more difficult.

So, with that said, I have the next set of what's been accomplished this week along with a link to some pictures for you to enjoy:

* Received some songs favorites from Stuart's side of the family for the DJ to play at the reception. We want others to enjoy the music as much as we will and not only have songs we like, but ones they select as well.
* Started making plans for wedding party transporation and polled family members on their preferences.
* Edited some of our registries and had a brief moment of uncertainty about all the places we've registered, then realized it's our wedding and having fun is the most important part. We've had a lot of fun, so our list of 10 places is staying. :)
* Emailed out best man, bridesmaid, matron of honor duties to key players in the wedding, just in case they wanted to have a list to make sure they've got everything covered. This was more of a humorous find than anything, and everyone got a kick out of reading the list. You can find it on
* Sent a list to our soloists of the top 5 songs we want sung at our wedding. Working on putting them all on one CD so the couple can choose:

1. When I Said I Do (Clint Black & Lisa Hartman Black)
2. I See Jesus In You (Billy Gaines)
3. You Light Up My Life (Debby Boone)
4. Love Moves in Mysterious Ways
5. Other Side of Me (Michael W. Smith)

I've selected my worship leader from church and her husband. Their musical talent is amazing, and I know whatever they do will be fantastic!
* Went shopping with matron of honor and mom to pick up the rest of the decorations for my bridal shower this coming Saturday; also purchased the food items and made plans for a pre-shower preparation time Friday after work and Saturday morning. Yes, I'm involved in the planning of my shower. With the time constraints and having bridesmaids all over the country, a surprise wasn't possible.
* Received engagement photos and selected out the favorites. Still have to narrow it down more for the high-res prints and determine where we'll be using them, but will discuss that with Stuart this week.
* Completed "homework" for our 2nd premarital counseling session this coming Wednesday.
* Determined the pre-wedding schedule for decorating, final tux-fitting, rehearsal and bachelorette party. Going to be a jam-packed Friday!
* Determined the wedding day timing and realized I have to be at the church at 8am for the 11am ceremony. After the bachelorette party the night before, and my own excitement, I wonder if I'll get any sleep! LOL!
* Put my matron of honor, mom and good friend on alert to keep me "busy" and "distracted" so I don't slip into melancholy mode; also warned them they'd need to keep my head out of "la-la land" too. :)

I think that's all from last week. Coming back from Colorado and realizing there were only 9 weeks left got me in gear, full speed ahead! And now, here are the pictures I promised above:

Colorado Vacation
Engagement Photo Shoot


Friday, May 25, 2007

Spotlight on Marlo Schalesky and Veil of Fire

Marlo Schalesky is the award-winning author of five books, including her latest novel VEIL OF FIRE, which explores the great Minnesota firestorm of 1894 and the mysterious figure who appeared in the hills afterward. She has also had over 500 articles published in various magazines, had her work included in compilations such as Dr. Dobson's Night Light Devotional for Couples, and is a regular columnist for Power for Living. Marlo recently earned her Masters degree in Theology from Fuller Theological Seminary and is currently working on three contemporary novels for Multnomah-Waterbrook Publishers, a division of Random House. She lives in Salinas, California with her husband and four daughters.

Order your copy of Veil of Fire today!


1. You've used the mystery behind the Minnesota Firestorm of 1894 as your motivating plot. What inspired you to write this story?

The idea for Veil of Fire was birthed at my favorite Mexican restaurant in the mission town of San Juan Bautista. There I was, sitting with my family, nibbling chips and salsa, when a wedding party came by. The bridesmaids were dressed in beautiful turn-of-the-century style gowns. As they passed, my mother-in-law began to tell me of the dresses that her great grandmother, who lived in Hinckley, used to sew for the rich ladies in Minneapolis and St. Paul. From there, came the story of the great Hinckley fire and the rebuilding that this woman, my husband’s great-great-grandmother, was a part of. And finally, I heard the tale of the mystery figure in the hills, a person burned beyond recognition. A person never identified, living as a hermit until one day he just disappeared.

At that moment, the first inklings of the story that would become Veil of Fire were born in my heart. Who was the hermit in the hills? What happened to him? And how would I solve the mystery if I could? As I pondered those questions, I knew that I had to write the hermit's story. Had to explore what it would be like to lose everything, even your identity. Had to hear the hermit's voice in my mind, and hear the story for myself.

So, the writing of the book became for me a process of discovery, as I hope it will be for my readers. I hope that as the mystery of the hermit drew me, so too it will draw others to this story of how fire can change you, take from you, and in the end, may just set you free.

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

Even though I base no character on myself, they all reflect a little of me – my questions, my struggles, the issues that have shaped and molded me. In Veil of Fire, this is particularly true for the hermit in the hills. Just as the hermit questions God's love, believes "I am Esau, unchosen, unloved," so I too have struggled with those same feelings, doubts, and questions. I too have cried out to God, "Why don't you love me?" For the hermit, it was a question born out of fire, abuse, and disfigurement. For me, it was a question that came out of failure, infertility, and miscarriage. So, in many ways, the hermit's questions were my own, the answers mine, the external scars reflections of my internal ones, and in turn, I think, symbols of the scars of us all.

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

The basic theme grows out of the Greek word for truth: Alethia (uh-lay-thee-uh). Alethia, when broken down to its root, literally means "unhidden." So, at its heart, Veil of Fire reveals that we can only be healed when we live in the truth, and we can only live in the truth if we become unhidden, unveiled.

I've found somewhere, somehow, life burns us all. Failure, discouragement, pain, loss. We all face firestorms in life. And when we do, we realize that this life we live is not the one we once dreamed. The realities of life scar us. Doubts rise. Fear whispers that hope is gone. And what was once a simple faith can fail in the face of that fear.

In the midst of life's disillusionment, choices appear. Do we retreat? Hide our hurts far from probing eyes? Do we embrace bitterness and cynicism? Blame God? Shake our fist at heaven? Or do we use deceit to try to obtain our goals? Do we give up, give in, forget that we ever dared to dream?

Or is it possible to reach the high places of faith in the low valleys of life's reality? Can we still live a life of bold faith, of fierce hope, when fairy tales don't come true? How do we live this life that God has given us when it's not the life we dreamed?

These are the questions I wanted to explore in Veil of Fire. These are the questions which underlie each character's journey in the aftermath of the great fire of 1894.

So, for those burned by life, for those who carry scars that cannot be seen, for those who have retreated for fear of more pain, this story is for you, this journey from the hidden places of pain to a new hope in the unhidden truth of Christ's love.

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

For me, the first few chapters are always the most difficult to write of any book. It's then that I'm getting used to the characters, and the pathways to get into their minds and hearts are not so established or well-worn. So, it's harder to get into their skins right away. It takes more time and effort to see the story through their eyes. Conversely, as the book progresses, seeing and writing the story from the character’s perspectives becomes easier and easier, faster and faster.

For Veil of Fire, I used multiple POV's. Scenes from the hermit's POV were done in first person present tense, while all the rest are in third person past tense. By far my favorite parts to write were the hermit's scenes. They just flowed from my heart to the page. So, whenever I got stuck, I just skipped ahead to a hermit scene and let the words come out.

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

After Veil of Fire, I'm writing 3 contemporary novels for Waterbrook-Multnomah. All of them are "Love Stories with a Twist!"--a new type of story that I think will knock readers' socks off.

The first, Beyond the Night, releases in May 2008. With groovy 70's trivia and a whopper of an ending twist, this one was as fun to write as it will be to read. Here's a blurb about it:

They say love is blind. This time, they're right.

A poignant love story...

A shocking twist...

Come, experience a love that will not die.

Nicolas Sparks (The Notebook) meets M. Night Shymalan (The Sixth Sense) in this moving story of two people trying to find love in the dark. A woman going blind, a man who loves her but can't tell her so, a car crash, a hospital room, and an ending that has to be experienced to be believed. Watch for it next May!

That's it, Tiff. Thanks for this opportunity to "talk" to your blog readers. I very much appreciate it.

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And we loved having you here, Marlo. Readers, post your comments for Marlo to read and you'll be entered in a drawing for a FREE book. It won't be autographed this time, but it's still a free book. :) Check back here next week for the winner.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Spotlight on Shelley Bates and Over Her Head

Whether producing search warrants and making undercover phone calls as an admin for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, or editing marketing material for the high-tech industry in Silicon Valley, Shelley Bates has found that everyone has a story. Most people have stopped telling her theirs in case she puts them in her books. Shelley holds an M.A. in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University in Pennsylvania. Grounds to Believe, her debut novel, won the 2005 RITA Award for Best Inspirational Novel of the Year from the Romance Writers of America. The sequel, Pocketful of Pearls, was a RITA Award finalist the following year. Between books, Shelley enjoys playing the piano and Celtic harp, making period costumes, and spoiling her flock of rescue chickens rotten.

"Readers will be lost in the vivid world that Shelley Bates paints with incredible detail and masterful storytelling." --W. Terry Whalin,

"Shelley Bates is a brave and talented author who looks at the darkness as well as the light." --bestselling author Mary Jo Putney

Order your copy of Over Her Head today!


1. Murder, intrigue, suspense, family drama. You've got it all in this
book. What gave you the inspiration for this story?

People say "write what you know," but I say, "write what you like!" And I like domestic suspense. :)

The inspiration for the story came from a newspaper article my mom sent me several years ago. A swarm of teenagers at my old junior high school had gotten out of control when an unpopular girl tried to join their clique, and they'd drowned her under the bridge that I used to cross every day to go to school. The story made the hair stand up on the back of my neck--both from horror and from the knowledge that I would write about it someday. The story percolated for ten years as I thought, what if a Christian mom found out her daughter was in a similar swarm? What would it do to their relationship? To the family? To their ties in their church and community? And Over Her Head was born.

2. How much of your own experiences influenced the character of Laurie?
What aspects became traits that were hers and hers alone?

Well, since I don't have kids, the whole aspect of a mother dealing with a teenager was Laurie's alone. She's a big-picture person, a take-charge community leader from a family who has led the community for generations, which are qualities I don't possess. But she struggles with her weight like me, and she's very attached to her home and the life she's created, so we share that too.

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

I had a good time with theme and metaphor in this book. The major theme starts with the cover, which the FaithWords art department totally nailed. I adore this cover! Laurie looks as though she's swimming toward the light, doesn't she? She spends the whole book doing that--and it ain't easy :) The Biblical theme underlying her experience is from Psalm 124, about the waters going over the soul. The book is full of images of bridges and water. As the story progressed, I realized that bridges are supposed to connect, but they can also divide--and hide :)

4. You are a previous winner of the RITA, one of the most prestigious book awards in the industry. Tell us about it.

Talk about a mountain experience! It was almost as good as getting married, except I had to make a speech ::LOL:: The award was for GROUNDS TO BELIEVE, the "book of my heart." I wrote it as I was struggling to exit an underground church movement in which four generations of my family had lived. I used the heroine's character as an avatar, to see what the end result of her behaviors would be as she tried to deal with a religious community that was works-based and unbiblical, but that she had been taught had been established by God. We both wound up leaving the toxic church by the end of the novel :) I think the judges responded to an experience that was a little unusual but that was very real. For which I'm grateful!

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

In May 2008, I'll be taking a pseudonym and moving to teen chick lit with a six-book series. Stay tuned to my web site for more information.

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Thank you, Shelley, for being in the spotlight. Readers, don't forget to comment for your chance to win a FREE copy of Shelley's latest book. Check back here next week for the winner.

Monday, May 21, 2007

10 Weeks Down; 10 to Go!

FINALLY! We're at the halfway point. :) Seems like it's been forever since the first countdown week, but we're just over the midway hump and now it's gonna fly. This past week has been fantastic, but today is met with a mixture of excitement and melancholy knowing I'm going home. Excitement because I know the final weeks will zoom past and it's only 9 weeks until I see Stuart again. Melancholy because it's 9 weeks until I see him again. (sigh)

I know I'll have a lot to keep me busy, but this past week has given us both a glimpse into what our lives will be like together, sharing each day and doing so many things together. Even just sitting and doing nothing has been a treat.

Alas, our time together has come to a close, but it ends with the knowledge of great accomplishment and anticipation for our new life to come.

So, with that said, here's what we did this week:

* finished our premarital counseling book and discussion (Before You Say I Do)
* visited stores and had fun walking through the aisles to complete our registry lists -- amazing when you put two NON-shoppers together with a mistaken sense of timing; yeah, we underestimated how long this would take. Thank God for online shopping and browsing!
* completed the list of registry locations for the Tiffany Miller/Stuart Stockton wedding -- Kohls, Mikasa, Bed Bath & Beyond, Linens 'n' Things, Target, Walmart, Pier 1 Imports,, Macy's and Pampered Chef -- and set delivery address for online items to here in Colorado to save me from having to lug additional items to my new home in August
* met all the outlaws...I mean inlaws (winks) and was adequately initiated or "broken in" to my new family -- sorry, no wackos with eccentric behaviors or clothing...yet. :)
* picked out and purchased the wedding bands; had to order big-hand Stuart's since they didn't have one in his size there (btw, he went to Jared's!)
* oh! and finally got the sparkly thing on my finger too

Stuart's such a romantic, completely surprised me the first night. After we went horseback riding, we saw Superman 3 and dropped by his sister's so I could leave my luggage there, then we went back to his condo. He disappeared for a moment and when I came back down the hallway, all of the lights were off and there were 3 candles glowing on the back porch. I followed the trail and the moment I stepped onto the porch, it was illuminated by a strand of Christmas lights strung around the edge. I was so wowed by the view, that it took me a few moments before I looked to my right and realized that Stuart was down on one knee holding a rather important box in his right hand. The lilting strains of soft music added a special effect, and I let out a soft gasp as I walked toward him.

Standing in front of Stuart with one hand lightly touching my lips and trying hard not to cry, I listened to him speak words of love to me that went straight to my heart. When he finished, I was still waiting for the actual question, so I said, "Well...are you gonna ask?" to which he grinned and said, "Will you marry me?" I paused for a moment, but couldn't help but giggle as I said, "Obviously." I think I did manage an actual "yes" but I can't be certain. :) He slipped the ring on my finger and then kissed my fingertips. I leaned over while he was still kneeling to seal our promise with a kiss, then we sat on the porch loveseat with our dinner for a peaceful evening, basking in the joy of the moment together.

Amazing how easily the ring takes residence on the finger and feels bare without it. Only had it off for a couple hours to be resized and missed its presence. All right, now y'all can sigh and daydream and share in our happiness.

Until next week....

Friday, May 18, 2007

Spotlight on Margaret Daly and Vanished!

Margaret is an award winning, multi-published author with over fifty books to her credit. She is writing for Steeple Hill Love Inspired and Love Inspired Suspense. This year she has seven books coming out, four Love Inspired Suspense, two Love Inspired, and one Classic Love Inspired. Margaret has been writing for twenty-seven years and recently completed her fifth book. In 2000 she sold her first inspirational romance to Harlequin's Steeple Hill and hasn't looked back. She has found an area where she can combine her family related stories with her love of suspense and mysteries. When she isn't writing she is teaching high school students with learning disabilities. She has a wonderful, real hero, her husband Mike and they have one son. She loves to travel, read, especially adventures and suspense books, and going to lunch with her friends.

You can visit her web site to read excerpts from her latest books and sign her guest book for a chance to win an autographed book. She also has a blog.

Order your copy of Vanished! today!


1. Child abductions. A universal threat affecting families of all walks
of life. What inspired you to write this story?

I'm a parent and a grandparent and I think that would be one of the worst things that could happen to a parent. Taking that premise, I wanted to take it one step farther where a law officer has to deal with both sides of it. It was a very emotional book for me to write.

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

I think there probably is a little of me in a lot of my characters. But my characters are uniquely their own. When I'm writing them, they take over and have their own voice. That's one of the things I love about writing.

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

Fear is a major theme in this story. J.T. faces the fear of losing one or more of his children. Ashley faces the fear of being a captive. Even Neil and Kim must face their fears concerning someone targeting their family. Two other themes are forgiveness and guilt. Guilt is a powerful motivator for people in their lives. J.T. has a past that comes back to haunt him, and he has to turn to his faith to make it through. I wanted to show someone dealing with a horrible event relying on the Lord in the end.

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

Writing Ashley's viewpoint when she was kidnapped was the hardest. My favorite was the end when the story was resolved.

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

Vanished is a Love Inspired May 2007 book. It should be out right now.

As a detective in Chicago, J.T. Logan had put away a lot of criminals--and had made a lot of enemies. However, the last thing the widowed father and current small-town sheriff expected was crime in his own backyard. Until his young daughter was kidnapped. FBI agent Madison Spencer found herself working with J.T. again, on a case painfully different from their previous one. She could only watch as he struggled to remain coldly professional while his heart was in anguish. And what of her own heart? Romance should be the furthest thing from their minds. All she could do was hope--and pray--for them all.

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Thank you, Margaret, for being in the spotlight. Readers, don't forget to comment for your chance to win a FREE copy of Margaret's latest book. Check back here next week for the winner.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Spotlight on Nikki Arana and As I Have Loved You

Nikki Arana is an award-winning author of women's fiction, essays, poetry, and magazine articles whose work has been published in the United States and Canada. She has won several national awards, including the American Christian Fiction Book of the Year for Women's Fiction, and the Beacon Award. Her book, The Winds of Sonoma was named One of the Top 20 Books of the Year by Nikki is also the recipient of the 2007 Excellence in Media Silver Angel Award, the Jessie Cameron Alison Writer of the Year Award. She is a member of the Idaho Writers League, American Christian Fiction Writers, and Romance Writers of America.

Nikki and her husband, Antonio, live in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. They have two grown sons, Esteban and Aristo. When she's not plotting novels or giving workshops, Nikki speaks about her other passion, loving Muslims into the Kingdom of God. You can visit her website at:

Order your copy of As I Have Loved You today!


1. You've got a multi-layered, emotional family saga with this book. What gave you the inspiration for this story?

This story was inspired by a true story. The characters and their backgrounds, jobs, family situation, etc. are totally fictitious. But I saw the underlying love story between Jeff and Jessica lived out between a young couple I know well. When you see how true love suffers long, thinks no evil, bears all things, hopes all things, endures all things, it humbles you. You realize love really is the greatest gift. It is a story worth telling.

2. How much of your own experiences influenced the character of Leigh? What aspects became traits that were hers and hers alone?

I drew heavily from my own experiences to create Jeff's mother, Leigh. Like all mothers I want the best for my children. My son has a disability that makes certain aspects of life difficult for him. I felt it was my responsibility to give him all the support I could to help him reach his full potential. In some ways I became so focused on my objective, I lost sight of God's plans for his life. So I came to the story with a clear idea of who Leigh was. However, as I wrote she did indeed become her own person. I think that was partly because she was a single mom who had experienced a bad marriage. Those who have read The Winds of Sonoma, my first book, know that nothing could be further from my own story. Leigh's son was all she had. She had invested her whole life in him. Also, she did not have a personal relationship with the Lord as she struggled with her situation, and that made it very difficult for her. Praise God, I have had Him and a supportive, loving husband all my adult life.

3. What themes exist in As I Have Loved You that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the story progressed?

The title of the book, As I Have Loved You, was drawn from the scripture: "This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you" (John 15:12 NKJV). The primary theme of the book is expressed in that verse. But a secondary theme is that of judging others. How we sometimes look at the outward appearance instead of at the heart. I do hope those who read the book will take away a conviction to love the unlovely.

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

The most difficult part to write was the love scene between the young couple. Jeff was a devout Christian who was saving himself for marriage. It took deep characterization of Jeff for the reader to believe he would do what he did. It was extremely difficult to layer all the emotions that brought the characters to that moment. I can’t give any specifics because I want those who buy the book to fully enjoy the journey and all of the twists and turns.

My favorite part was the scene where Leigh takes her father fishing. The father came to me fully fleshed out. He knew who he was, and he flowed from my fingers to the page. I loved bringing him to life. And of course, as in all my books there are lots of symbols. I love the buck whose appearance in the story always signals the reader God is acting in the lives of the characters.

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

My agent is currently negotiating with publishers on both of the books I am working on. One is fiction, working title, Fear No Evil. It is about the need for safe houses to protect Muslims who convert to Christianity. The other book is non-fiction, Through the Eyes of Christ, Loving Muslims into the Kingdom of God. I believe God has called me to minister to Muslims. I feel this so strongly that I am moving my writing career in that direction. I am beginning to speak to Christian audiences on the subject of Muslims in America and the need for Christians to evangelize those who live among us. It is being done. But there is so much more we all can do.

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Thank you, Nikki, for sharing with us your passion and calling...and for being in the spotlight. Readers, don't forget to comment for your chance to win a FREE copy of Nikki's latest book. Check back here next week for the winner.

Monday, May 14, 2007

9 Weeks Down; 11 to Go!

This is it. Today's the BIG day. The day I fly away from the East Coast and soar across the country to see my beloved fiance. Stuart and I are both anxious and excited. We've got a great week planned spending time together and taking time for some wedding details we can't easily do while we're apart.

I'll be chiming in from Colorado next Monday with a report from the week and the next countdown. The rest of this week I have 2 spotlights planned for Wednesday and Friday. The winner from last week's might have to wait until I return.

But enough about that. Let's get to what happened last week with the wedding plans. Hmm...

* Finished inventory here at home and got everything organized into going, selling or yard sale piles. Whatever doesn't go this time around will get donated somewhere.
* Had an annual physical to make sure I'm still healthy and everything's ticking the way it should. :) You know how blood pressure can skyrocket at times like this, but mine was fantastic. Phew!
* Received the invitations, napkins, ribbons and toasting glasses.
* Decided to go with the "planner" at church who works with couples using the church for weddings. She merely works with the sound and A/V folks to coordinate and helps with decorations. Since she's been doing this for years and considers it a ministry, it worked out great for us.
* Followed up with last bridesmaid on ordering her dress. All bridesmaids have their dresses ordered and alterations appointments.
* Reminded dad and older brother to get their measurements done this week. We'll see if they do it. :)
* Packed for my trip to Colorado!

That's about it for now. This week will be full of other little things, and that report will come next week...along with pictures of THE SPARKLY THING. Stuart and I both would appreciate your prayers for us. The separation has been difficult and saying goodbye this time will be doubly hard. God's stronger than us, though, and we'll make it.

See you next week!

Friday, May 11, 2007

I've Been Tagged!

On Wednesday, I was tagged by two of my friends, Kaye and Cindy for 8 Random Things. Here are the rules:

1. Each player starts with 8 random facts/habits about themselves.
2. People who are tagged write a blog post about their own 8 random things and post these rules.
3. At the end of your blog you need to tag 8 people and post their names (links to their blogs or web sites if they have one).
4. Don't forget to leave them a comment and tell them they're tagged, and to read your blog.

I always have fun with these, so here goes! However, thanks to a great idea from someone else, I'm making *one* of the following facts false. It's YOUR job to figure out which one. Remember, the entire fact doesn't have to be false for it to be incorrect. It could be just one piece. *winks* Good luck!

Post your guess in the comments. I'll come back and respond next week to announce the winner. And if you've been "tagged" by me, post your list of 8 in the comments or on your own blog with a comment here to let everyone else know where to find yours.

1. I am the only living female "Miller" on my Dad's side of the family. Mom doesn't count because she married into the name. Before that, there was my great-aunt Rita. Males are much more popular on that side (case-in-point, I have 3 brothers). Of course, that will change once I'm married this year. :)

2. Until this year, I had made it to age 30 and never been kissed.

3. While attending a church of over 1500 members, I once sang in a 100+ member choir and recorded a CD with them, going through 4 nights of recording sessions to complete all of the songs.

4. I played the viola for 8 years in school, sat first chair in 8th grade and even had a few solos as a senior in high school.

5. I have stopped in or visited 35 out of the 50 states in the US, as well as 4 other countries.

6. I do not like coffee or any rendition of it. I'm not even a big tea drinker, although herbal teas are a definite weakness.

7. An internationally-known Hollywood celebrity knows me by name, and I can pick up the phone to reach her or her director-husband any time I have the need via phone, email, fax, cell phone, etc.

8. I once spent time on the set of a popular TV show for a week and mingled with the cast.

There you have them! Have fun with your guesses. I look forward to reading what y'all pick.

Now for the others I'm tagging:

Jill N.
Jill J.

And if you've already done this because someone else tagged you, just post a link to your blog entry. :)

CFBA Blog Tour -- Amy Wallace and Ransomed Dreams

I'm skipping my Friday journal entry once again. :) Raelene will return again soon with more tales from life in Colonial Delaware.

Instead, this week is the CFBA tour of Amy Wallace's Ransomed Dreams. Since I featured an interview with her earlier this month, I'm going to link to the spotlight I had with her and include some brief information here.

Spotlight Feature Here


Amy Wallace is a member of the CFBA and an avid Blogger. A self-confessed chocoholic, this freelance writer is a graduate of the Gwinnett County Citizens Police Academy and serves as the liaison for the training division of the county police department. Amy is a contributing author of God Answers Moms' Prayers, God Allows U-Turns for Teens, Chicken Soup for the Soul Healthy Living Series: Diabetes, and A Cup of Comfort for Expectant Mothers. She lives in Georgia with her husband and three daughters.


Drama. Tragedy. Thriller. Romance. Can these four actually go together? Amy Wallace's meaty first book of the Defenders of Hope Series, RANSOMED DREAMS, has successfully united these genres.

It is one of those books that after you read a little and put it down, the desire to see what will happen next is so strong that it will occupy your thoughts, compelling you to make the time to finish. But watch out! It is best consumed where no one will hear you cry because, if you have children, it will hit you like a stab in the gut and wrench you with a twist of the knife.

Although the subject at first depresses, the characters are so real and likable that you need to see what will become of them.

This book will NOT bore you.

Order Your Copy Today!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Spotlight on Martha Rogers and Not on the Menu

Although Martha's primary writing experience is in non-fiction, she has been writing fiction for a number of years. She has written for Gospel Light, and several articles Christian magazines. Her first novel, Not on the Menu, appears in the novella collection, Sugar and Grits. She serves as the director for the annual Texas Christian Writer's Conference and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers for whom she writes a devotional every week. Her background includes teaching high school and college English, and she has a Master's degree in education. She sings in the choir at her church and is a substitute Sunday school teacher for the adult department. She is also on the steering committee for a cancer support group at her church, and teaches a weekly class for First Place, a Christian weight loss program. Her fiction has been the recipient of several awards including a Fourth Place in the 2002 Noble Theme Contest for Contemporary Romance and has placed in the top ten finalists in the same contest in 2003 and 2004. Her novel, A Time for Change placed third in the Lone Star Northwest RWA competition.

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1. This is your very first novella, one that's full of fun, laughter, and southern charm. What gave you the inspiration for this story?

The four of us were sitting around lunch one day and started talking about southern women and came up with the premise for the story.

2. How much of your own experiences influenced the character of Dottie Jean? What aspects became traits that were hers and hers alone?

Some of me is in Dottie Jean as I am also unorganized, and I'm known for my pecan pies. However, Dottie Jean’s romance experiences were hers and hers alone.

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

In my story, I want the reader to see the importance of trust as well as see how God gives us second chances at happiness and everything will work for our good when we trust everything to Him.

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

There were no really difficult parts to write. This story really came easily. The most fun parts were when the women were together.

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

I don't have another contract as yet. I'm working on a full manuscript requested by an editor. It's a historical set in 1896-97 Oklahoma.

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Martha, thank you for being in the spotlight this week. Readers, be sure to comment for your chance at a FREE copy of Martha's first novella!

Monday, May 07, 2007

8 Weeks Down; 12 to Go!

That's right. Only 3 more months. Better yet, just ONE WEEK until I see my beloved fiance again. Feel like doing a happy dance right now. :) If only you could see me. You know that saying "a picture is worth a thousand words"? Right now, it's so true.

Of course, with the excitement comes a little bit of stress or head-butting with my immediately family, but thankfully, the storm blows over quickly. I have to make sure I'm not being overbearing or unreasonable when it comes to requests or reactions to circumstances and situations. Certainly had my fair share of them so far. And there are bound to be more. At least I can rely on my overall relaxed nature to help me, as well as my calming-antidote fiance. *winks* Always get an outside opinion. Works wonders!

Now, for what happened last week:

* met with an event planner, but have a strong feeling we won't be hiring her due to the cost when we can gather friends and other detail-oriented folks to help.
* met with a videographer, but again, while the fancy options might be unique, we don't feel it's worth the high cost, when we can have 3 video cameras set up on tripods to record and ask someone attending the wedding to capture the big moments.
* finalized the rehearsal dinner locations and sent off the top 5 choices/options to my fiance's family for their decision; hoping to have a pick by the end of this week.
* received my "bride name change kit" in the mail and cringed at all the paperwork I have to file in order to take care of the legal part of getting married. :)
* welcomed a friend to help me inventory what I have here at home, so I can know what I'm leaving behind and what I'm taking when I move; this will also enable me to go out to visit my fiance with a list where we can decide what of mine I'm bringing and what of his we're keeping; once we figure that out, I will probably call home and tell my family what they can remove and sell at the community yard sale while I'm gone.
* cleared out the storage locker of my items and inventoried everything.
* finalized the order for the invitations and few extra accessories; they should be in here in about 5 days.
* had our first premarital counseling session last week via phone with my fiance while I sat in the room with the pastor (I felt it went well and we even shared a few laughs).
* scheduled our next session for after I return from Colorado

I believe that's everything...I think. Maybe I should start coming here after each thing and jotting it down then saving the draft so I don't leave anything out. For all I know, I could be forgetting something very important. Oh well. If I do, I'll come back and add it. :)

This week, we have a meeting with another planner from my church who helps with weddings taking place there. We'll see what that brings for cost.

I also have to chat with my fiance about what I'm packing and bringing with me for my trip. Hard to believe it's almost here! I'll have another post next Monday and will try to post from out there the week after, as I'll still be in Colorado then.

Thanks for continuing to hang with me as we travel this adventure together. See you next week!

Friday, May 04, 2007

Journal Entry -- Raelene Strattford (Promises, Promises)

Before I share more from Raelene's journal, I want to do a little recap for those of you who might not be familiar with Raelene. She is the main character in my upcoming novel, to be released in January 2008. Earlier this year, after a challenge from another fellow author to "get into your character's head," I decided it might be fun to see where Raelene would take me if I did that.

So, her journal entries were born.

I haven't stuck with it every Friday, as there are times when other topics arise or bonus spotlights, etc. However, if you go back through the archives from the past 4 months and check the Friday postings, you'll be able to catch up on everything to this point.

Perhaps reading more about her will peak your interest to pick up the book come January and finish her story. :)

With that said, the next entry:

Today, Mar showed me how to blend the wax we dip to allow for a multi-color display when the cooled wax candle is carved. The entire process fascinates me. There are a certain number of dips that must be made in each color for the blend to be completed successfully. Then, the wax has to cool to a certain temperature in order for the second color to be added without melting the previous layer.

Kaariana came calling after she had completed her studies for the day. When she observed the work Mar and I were doing, she wished to assist as well. Together, we accomplished three times more than I had alone. Papa took our cooled wax to another table in the back of the shop for carving. Kaariana and I were both fascinated by the result when Papa put his knife to the soft wax.

The curls began at the top as he sliced through the various layers, shaping and molding the carvings back against the original wax piece. Sometimes, the curls would be a completely different color. Other times, it would be a mixture of several colors. Each candle was unique, and we received the highest payment for these.

It is a good thing Papa selected this shop location. The front window is protected from the sun's heat by the large maple tree in front. Because of that, we are able to display our finer candles for all to see. Townsfolk come at all times of the day and early evening, and we have had some requests for specific needs.

I love this work, but I admit. Kaariana makes everything more enjoyable. She cannot replace my dear cousins, but her smile and mischievous nature are a welcome respite against the young gentleman who come calling or the pretentious boars who attempt to impress me with tales of their accolades. Thanks be to God I am not yet of the age where I need be considering this, but Mar tells me it will not be too much longer.

Pray, that times passes slowly, for if the young men here are any indication of my options, I would prefer to remain with Mar and Papa.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Spotlight on Toni V. Lee and Expectations

Joining us today is Toni V. Lee, telling us about her book, Expectations.

I'm a former Sunday school teacher who loves to curl up with a good romance novel. I'm committed to communicating the message of Christ through my novels and plays; hence my motto: Spreading Truth Through Fiction. Just prior to my work on Expectations, I published my first play, The Crown Mystery. I have a BSBA degree from the University of Central Florida and live in Central Florida with my family. I'm a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers Association, and I'm a member of the leadership team of the CIC (Complete in Christ) Singles' Ministry of my church.

Order your copy today!

1. This is your first full novel, and reader feedback thus far has been encouraging. What gave you the inspiration for this story?

Many Christians are harboring unforgiveness. We are careful to stay away from what we consider the big sins—-lying, stealing, murder, etc. Ah, but unforgiveness is another matter. We hold on to it tightly, nurturing and stoking it with remembered hurts. We allow it to poison our souls and relationship with Christ.

Some believers are depressed and angry with God, because they've been praying for a long time, and haven't received any answers. Or haven't received the answers they expect. There are folks out there just like the hero in my novel, Michael Greer. They are in a backslidden state and are miserable, because they feel God drawing them back to Him, yet they are resisting.

Christians know that pre-marital sex is not permitted. But it's not an easy thing to love someone and not enter into that arena.

I wanted to address all of these issues. Not just address them, but offer solutions to the struggles using recognizable characters, situations, and comedic views of dramatic events.

I wanted to spread truth through fiction with a liberal coating of laughter.

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

Daria's main struggle was my own—unforgiveness. I experienced firsthand its stagnating and destructive force. Like Daria, I also experienced Christ's liberating power in this area.

As the story unfolded, Michael and Daria became "real people" that I cared about and grew to love. I laughed, cried, and rejoiced with them as they traveled on their journey of laughter, drama, self-discovery, spiritual renewal, and love.

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

Expectations has many interrelated themes. I would like readers to see the following:

The truth that God loves them and is concerned about every facet of their lives.

Sometimes the answer we expect from God is not the answer we receive, but it will be the right answer for us. The timing of that answer will be perfect.

Unforgiveness is a destructive force.

Time for us here on earth is finite. Don’t put off having an honest and intimate relationship with Christ until tomorrow, because tomorrow may never come.

It's important to stay pure before God in thought and deed.

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

The most difficult parts for me to write were the dramatic scenes. I experienced the same emotions that the characters did throughout the story. When they experienced highly charged emotional drama, so did I. Some of the scenes really put me through the wringer. LOL!

My favorite parts to write were the comedy scenes. I especially enjoyed writing the funny scenes that included the Aunties.

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

I am currently working on my second novel, Even Then (working title). It contains some of the lovable and hilarious characters from Expectations. Even Then is a romantic comedy-drama about two women whose hearts are sent into a tailspin when they're broadsided by the love of men they thought they knew very well.

Thank you so much for allowing me to visit with you. May God bless you indeed!

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Thank *you*, Toni, for being in the spotlight. Hope you drop by to comment. And readers, don't forget to leave your own comment for your chance to win a FREE copy of Toni's feature book.