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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Spotlight on Lisa Harris and A Matter of Trust


Lisa Harris and her husband, along with their three children, have been working the past four years in Southern Africa as church planters. She speaks French and is currently learning Portuguese for their move into Mozambique next spring. Life is busy between ministry and home-schooling, but she loves her time to escape into another world and write, and sees this work as an extension of her ministry. She's currently working on an international suspense series set in Africa that mixes suspense and romance into a fast-paced adventure across Africa.

Besides writing, Lisa loves to travel. She and her husband have visited over twenty countries throughout Europe and Africa. She's also spent time in Japan and Brazil. One of her favorite pastimes is learning to cook different exotic dishes from around the world.

By Lisa Harris
Published by Heartsong Presents


1. Your hero has lost his love and now has to win her back. What gave you the inspiration for this story?

I wanted to have a story where the hero and heroine had a past that they had to work through, and Ty and Kayla definitely have some serious matters to work through. Once engaged to be married, Kayla found out that Ty wasn't the person she thought he was. Then a year later, he returns to her home town claiming to be a changed man wanting to win her back. But when the law steps in and fraud charges are brought up, Kayla has to decide who's telling the truth.

This was actually one of the first stories I ever wrote, and DiAnn Mills graciously helped me. As a new writer, though, I still had so many things to learn. A few years later, Lena Dooley, Beth Goddard, and I decided to turn in a proposal to Barbour's Heartsong Presents line. I still loved this story line and decided to rework the story for the proposal. I added a stronger suspense line and strengthened the story over all.

2. How much of your own experiences influenced the characters of Kayla and Ty?

I think it's impossible not to put some of who I am into a story, but I work hard to make each character unique. I've never gone through what Ty and Kayla experience, but I have had to come to the point where, like Ty, I had to make a conscious decision of whether or not I truly believed that God was in control of every part of my life. Even when things went very wrong.

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

Like the title suggests, for both Ty and Kayla, it becomes a matter of trust for them. Spiritually, the stakes are high as well. When Ty's life begins to unravel, he's forced to question his faith like I mentioned above. We all have had to wonder at some point why bad things happen to good people. And why God allows these things to happen.

I want the reader to walk away from the book with a deeper assurance that God is in control no matter what is happening to them around them. It's a matter of faith. Of trusting God no matter what happens. A tough lesson sometimes to learn, but one I know is crucial.

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

Writing is a lot of work, there's no way around it. But as I work to put down on paper the story and characters that are running through my mind, the difficult process becomes worth it. I love the happy ever after endings, the spiritual victories, and simply trying to write an unforgettable story that impacts the reader long after the book is put away.

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

My next book is titled Recipe for Murder, a cozy mystery coming out with Barbour's new line. In this new series, Pricilla Crumb's guest list has just turned into a suspect list...for murder. Pricilla never expected to be involved in a real life mystery, but that's exactly where she finds herself when she joins her son at his hunting lodge in the beautiful Colorado mountains. Laced with a spiritual message and a sprinkle of romance, Pricilla follows one lead after another, dishing up laughter and suspense along the way.

This is book one in a three books series. I also have a Love Inspired Suspense coming out later in the year about internet scams.

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Thank you, Lisa, for being in the spotlight. Readers, leave a comment for your chance to be entered in the drawing for a FREE copy of A Matter of Trust. If you don't wish to be entered, but still wish to comment, say so when you post. This week, the contest is open to anyone worldwide.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Spotlight on Jennifer AlLee and The Love of His Brother

Today, I have yet another debut novelist with her first novel. The end of this year has been a big time for new authors. Enjoy learning about this one as well.


Jennifer AlLee was born and raised in the heart of Hollywood, California. Never one to be too normal for too long, she now lives in Las Vegas, Nevada with her husband and teenage son. Jennifer has done considerable contract work for Concordia Publishing House, most notably through her numerous contributions to their popular "My Devotions" series.

By Jennifer AlLee
Published by Five Star Expressions (Harcover)


1. In your debut novel, you have a brother returning home to care for his sister-in-law and finding his brotherly love turning into something much deeper. What gave you the inspiration for this story?

I knew I wanted to set the story in Montana because it's beautiful, and at the time it was the only place in the country I'd visited outside of my native Southern California. Then I started thinking about my characters, and what kind of conflict would keep the two of them apart. The idea of a young, pregnant widow falling in love with her brother-in-law gave me a lot of conflict to work with.

2. How much of your own experiences influenced the characters of Whitney and Doug?

Whitney is a self-reliant person who doesn't like to ask for help. I tend to operate that way, too. Although years of trying to do it all myself have finally proven to me that it's impossible! I'm much better at delegating, now. Doug is a horseman and I love horses, so that's what we have in common. Other than that, the characters really are unique to themselves. I try not to put too much of me into a character, because that would just bore me. I want to get to know new people, even if they do come out of my own head.

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

The main theme is that God loves us and never leaves us, even when the circumstances of life might indicate otherwise. Another theme that really developed as the story moved along relates to dealing with loss. Obviously, Whitney has lost her husband, but I never intended to delve too deeply into those feelings since I thought Whitney had addressed them before the book began. But as I got farther into it, it became clear that dealing with loss is really an integral part of this story.

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

The middle was hard! I've always fancied myself to be an intuitive writer. The idea of writing an outline made me cringe. I knew my beginning, and I knew my ending, so the rest of it should be a piece of cake, right? HA! Let's just say I struggled through the middle. Now, I make a brief chapter outline before I start writing, just enough to plan out where I want to go and how to get there.

My favorite part of the process is when I write something I never saw coming. You know how writers say that the characters take over and go off on their own? It sounds crazy, but it does happen. For me, those are the times when I know I've finally let go of the reigns and let God take the story where He wants it. For example, in the last third of The Love of His Brother, four teenage characters showed up that I'd never planned on... they hadn't entered my mind at all. Not only were these characters fun, but they really strengthened the theme of dealing with loss. To me, that’s a God thing.

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

My next book, The Pastor's Wife (or Yesterday's Love...I can't decide) is currently looking for a home. It's about a woman who has to return to a small town three years after she left both it and her pastor husband. I'm really excited about it because I've had a lot of those "wow" moments where God moved it into a direction I didn't see coming (even with my outline). Hopefully, I'll have good news about it soon!

Thanks so much for the opportunity to be interviewed. I've really enjoyed it. If you'd like to find out what's going on with me, please check out my web site. While you're there, sign up for my newsletter to be entered in the current contest.

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Thank you, Jennifer, for being in the spotlight. Readers, leave a comment for your chance to be entered in the drawing for a FREE, autographed copy of The Love of His Brother. If you don't wish to be entered, but still wish to comment, say so when you post. This week, the contest is open to anyone worldwide.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Blog Tour for Tricia Goyer and Shadow of Treason


Tricia Goyer has published over 300 articles for national publications such as Today's Christian Woman, Guideposts for Kids, and Focus on the Family, and is the co-author of Meal Time Moments (Focus on the Family). She has led numerous Bible Studies, and her study notes appear in the Women of Faith Study Bible (Zondervan).

She has written seven novels for Moody Publishing: From Dust and Ashes (2003), Night Song (2004), Dawn of a Thousand Nights (2005), Arms of Deliverance (2006), A Valley of Betrayal (2007), A Shadow of Treason (Fall 2007), A Whisper of Freedom (February 2008). Night Song was awarded American Christian Fiction Writer's 2005 Book of the Year for Best Long Historical. Dawn of a Thousand Nights won the same award in 2006.

Tricia has also written Life Interrupted: The Scoop on Being a Young Mom (Zondervan, 2004), 10 Minutes to Showtime (Thomas Nelson, 2004), and Generation NeXt Parenting (Multnomah, 2006). Life Interrupted was a 2005 Gold Medallion finalist in the Youth Category.

Also, coming out in the next year are: My Life, Unscripted (Thomas Nelson, 2007), Generation NeXt Marriage (Multnomah, Spring 2008), and 3:16-the teen version of the a book by Max Lucado (Thomas Nelson, Spring 2008).

Tricia and her husband John live with their three children in Kalispell, Montana. Tricia's grandmother also lives with them, and Tricia volunteers mentoring teen moms and leading children's church. Although Tricia doesn't live on a farm, she can hit one with a rock by standing on her back porch and giving it a good throw.

By Tricia Goyer


Book 2 in the Chronicles of the Spanish Civil War series

Sophie discovers that nothing is as she first imagined. When Walt, the reporter who helped her over the border, shows up again after Guernica is bombed, Sophie is given an impossible mission. She must leave behind the man she's fallen in love with and return to the person who betrayed her. Another layer of the war in Spain is revealed as Sophie is drawn into the international espionage schemes that could turn the tide of the war and help protect the soldiers from the International Brigade ... she must find a way to get a critical piece of information to Walt in time.


1. A Shadow of Treason follows A Valley of Betrayal. This is the first time you've written books as a series instead of stand alone. Which way do you like better?

I love writing in series. It was great to continue with the same characters. In my stand-alone books I fell in love with these people and then I had to say good-bye after one book. It was wonderful to be able to continue on.

2. In A Shadow of Treason Sophie must return to the person who betrayed her in an effort to help the Spanish people. It makes the book hard to put down because the reader has to know how Sophie's heart will deal with it. What gave you the inspiration for this element in your story?

There are very few of us who go through life without giving away a part of our hearts to someone who didn't deserve it. Even though Sophie had the best intentions, she gave away her heart and she was hurt-not only that she must revisit those emotions. I wanted to include this element-to delve into the topic that emotions are sometimes as big of a trap as any physical cage. Emotions are real and they guide us -- even when we don't want to admit it. Poor Sophie, not only does she have to deal with a war around her -- she also has to deal with a war within herself. It's something I've battled, and mostly likely others have too.

3. Spanish Gold is an interesting element that arises in this book. Without spoiling the story, can you give a brief history of this gold?

Sure. When I was researching I came upon something interesting. The Spaniards, as we know, had taken much Aztec and Inca gold during the time of the conquistadors. Well, at the start of The Spanish Civil War much of this gold was still held in Madrid. In fact Spain had the fourth largest gold reserves in the world at that time. The Republican government was afraid Franco would take the city and the gold. They had to get it out of Madrid and this included transporting priceless artifacts. The element of gold does make its way into my story. It was great to include this little-known (and true!) element into my story.

4. Another historical fact involved the Nazi involvement during this time: not only were the Germans active in Spain, but they had spy networks busy around the world. How did you find out about this?

I love reading tons of research books. Usually I find one little element that I dig out and turn into a plot line. This is what happened with my plot-line for the Nazi pilot, Ritter. I dug up this bit of research of Nazi involvement in Spain -- and the United States -- because a lot of people aren't aware of the Nazi involvement prior to WWII. The truth is they were busy at work getting the land, information, and resources they needed far before they threatened the nations around them. The Germans knew what they wanted and how to get it. And most of the time they succeeded!

5. A Shadow of Treason is Book Two. When will Book Three be out? Can you give a hint of how the story continues?

Book Three is A Whisper of Freedom. It will be out February 2008. The characters that we love are all still in the midst of danger at the end of Book Two. Book Three continues their stories as we follow their journeys in -- and (for a few) out -- of Spain. It's an exciting conclusion to the series!

6. Are you working on any non-fiction?

Yes, I have two non-fiction books that will be out the early part of 2008. Generation NeXt Marriage is a marriage book for today's couples. It talks about our marriage role models, our struggles, and what we're doing right as a generation. It also gives advice for holding it together.

I've also been privileged to work on the teen edition of Max Lucado's book 3:16. It was a great project to work on. What an honor!

Important Links!

First Chapter

Book 1, A Valley of Betrayal

Tricia's Website

Tricia's blogs:
Gen X Parents
My Writing Mentor
Shout Life

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Thank you, Tricia, for being in the spotlight. Readers, leave a comment for your chance to be entered in the drawing for a FREE book. If you don't wish to be entered, say so when you post. The contest is open to US/Canada residents only, but anyone may comment.

Friday, November 16, 2007

CFBA Blog Tour - Try Dying by James Scott Bell




by James Scott Bell

I had the privilege of recently attending a national conference in Dallas, Texas, where Jim Bell was the keynote speaker. Full of fun, engaging anecdotes and lighthearted banter, Jim was also knowledgeable about the world of writing and had fantastic advice to share along with his personal life story and entertaining keynote addresses. His books sold out in the conference bookstore before the end of the conference. You won't want to miss this newest book!


James Scott Bell is a former trial lawyer who now writes full time. He is also the fiction columnist for Writers Digest magazine and adjunct professor of writing at Pepperdine University.

His book on writing, Plot and Structure, is one of the most popular writing books available today. The national bestselling author of several novels of suspense, he grew up and still lives in Los Angeles, where he is at work on his next Buchanan thriller.


On a wet Tuesday morning in December, Ernesto Bonilla, twenty-eight, shot his twenty-three-year-old wife, Alejandra, in the backyard of their West 45th Street home in South Los Angeles. As Alejandra lay bleeding to death, Ernesto drove their Ford Explorer to the westbound Century Freeway connector where it crossed over the Harbor Freeway and pulled to a stop on the shoulder.

Bonilla stepped around the back of the SUV, ignoring the rain and the afternoon drivers on their way to LAX and the west side, placed the barrel of his .38 caliber pistol into his mouth, and fired.

His body fell over the shoulder and plunged one hundred feet, hitting the roof of a Toyota Camry heading northbound on the harbor Freeway. The impact crushed the roof of the Camry. The driver, Jacqueline Dwyer, twenty-seven, an elementary schoolteacher from Reseda, died at the scene.

This would have been simply another dark and strange coincidence, the sort of thing that shows up for a two-minute report on the local news--with live remote from the scene--and maybe gets a follow-up the next day. Eventually the story would go away, fading from the city's collective memory.

But this story did not go away. Not for me. Because Jacqueline Dwyer was the woman I was going to marry.

In Try Dying, this fast-paced thriller, lawyer Ty Buchanan must enter a world of evil to uncover the cause of his fiancee's death--even if he has to kill for the truth.

"Bell is one of the best writers out there...he creates characters readers care about...a story worth telling."
~~Library Review

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In addition, you can post a comment for your chance to win a FREE copy of this book. US/Canada residents only. Drawing to be held on November 28th. That gives you almost two weeks to enter. Come back to this post that day to see if you've won.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Spotlight on Deb Raney and Within this Circle

If you have been an avid reader of contemporary fiction over the past decade, you know doubt would have heard about this author. Not only did her debut novel get selected to be made into a movie, but it had a worldwide release and DVD production followed recently by a republication of that first book. All of this in preparation for the sequel to that beloved novel, A Vow to Cherish. Now, Deb is back with another heartfelt story of love and commitment in today's spotlight.


Deborah Raney is at work on her seventeenth novel. Her books have won the RITA Award, the HOLT Medallion, the National Readers' Choice Award and the Silver Angel from Excellence in Media. Deborah's first novel, A Vow to Cherish, inspired the World Wide Pictures film of the same title. Deb also serves on the advisory board of American Christian Fiction Writers. She and her husband, Ken Raney, have four children and enjoy small-town life in Kansas.

By Deborah Raney
Published by Steeple Hill


1. This is the sequel to your much-loved debut novel, A Vow to Cherish, a book that went on to be made into a world-renowned beloved movie. Now, you've got John and Julia with a new lease on life. What gave you the inspiration for this story?

It's always hard to let my characters go, so as I near the end of a book I'm always thinking about where the characters will go after the epilogue. More than once, I've realized that my characters' story wasn't quite finished. That was the case with Within This Circle. I wanted to explore how Ellen's death from early-onset Alzheimer's disease might affect her daughter.

2. How much of your own experiences influenced the characters of John and Julia?

John and Julia's marriage is definitely very much like my husband and mine--the affectionate teasing and the enjoyment of each other. Even some of the things that cause tension in their marriage. But we've never dealt with many of the challenges my fictional couple deals with--loss of a spouse, a second marriage, raising grandchildren, etc.

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

Probably the main theme--the seed that inspired the story--was the issue of grandparents raising their grandchildren. It seemed that everywhere I turned I was reading an article, or hearing of a situation where couples were finding themselves--long after the empty nest--as guardians of their grandchildren. How difficult it would be, after you've raised your kids, to, in effect, start the parenting task all over again. The novel also explores depression, and how it can paralyze us. Other themes include workaholism and its effect on families, depression, and the importance of extended family.

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

Without giving too much away, the scenes of Jana in Colorado required the most research, and I'm not crazy about research. I drew from several vacations spent in an A-frame cabin in the Colorado mountains. That cabin was the model for the one in my book, but there were still many things I had to research to make those scenes credible. My favorite scene to write was the happy ending. It was so gratifying to walk my characters through their difficulties and bring their story to a satisfying resolution.

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

Coming December 1 is my novella "Finally Home" in the Missouri Memories anthology from Barbour, about a vietnam vet who falls in love with a war protester. My next full-length book is the second Clayburn novel coming in March from Howard/Simon & Schuster. Leaving November follows artist Jackson Linder (readers will remember him as the gallery owner from Remember to Forget). Jack is fresh out of rehab and determined to get his life back on track. But he hasn't counted on falling in love with Vienne Kenney, who's back in Clayburn after failing the bar exam--twice. I'm at work on the third Clayburn novel and thoroughly enjoying "living" in my fictional little Kansas town (which is much like the real Kansas town I live in.)

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Thank you, Deb, for being in the spotlight. Readers, leave a comment for your chance to be entered in the drawing for a FREE, autographed copy of Within this Circle. If you don't wish to be entered, but still wish to comment, say so when you post. This week, the contest is open to US/Canada residents only.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Spotlight on Writing the Christian Romance and Gail Gaymer Martin

Today is a special day. I know I normally only feature fiction books and authors here, and this author *does* write fiction. However, her book today is not fiction; rather, it's *about* writing fiction...about writing the Christian romance novel, to be precise. So, for anyone out there who would like to know more about this sometimes-shunned profession, this book's for you!

Gail will be giving away a copy of her August release, In His Dreams, for those who leave a comment and are entered in the drawing.


Growing up in Michigan and still living there with her husband Bob, award-winning novelist, Gail Gaymer Martin, writes Christian women's fiction, romance and suspense for Steeple Hill and Barbour Publishing. Selling her first novel in 1998 after writing fiction for one year, she has now signed forty fiction contracts with over one million books in print. Gail writes non-fiction worship resource books and and presently writes for the ezine, The Spirit-Led Writer. Gail is the author of Writer's Digest's, Writing The Christian Romance.

Gail's books have been awarded a National Readers Choice Award, two Booksellers Best, two Holt Medallions, a Winter Rose, ACFW 2002 Book of the Year for Short Inspirational, and the 2002 Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award.

Gail is a cofounder of American Christian Romance Writers and a member of the advisory board. A popular inspirational keynote speaker and workshop presenter, Gail has spoken at libraries and writer's conference across the country and in England, as well as a keynote speaker at women's business, civic and groups. Visit Gail's web site and click on her Speaker and For Writers pages. You can also check out her blog as well.

By Gail Gaymer Martin


1. This isn't your first foray into the realm of nonfiction, but this time you've got a book about writing romance, something a lot of fiction writers and readers would love to know. What inspired the idea for this book?

Yes, I've written 23 worship material books – which includes programs, plays, skits, with explanations to use them so this isn't my first non-fiction book, but it *is* the first book I've written on writing – and probably my last, but then who knows.

The idea was suggested to me by the editor of The Christian Communicator when I was writing a Christian romance column for the magazine. I had thought about writing this book briefly, but when Lyn Johnson suggested the idea, it made the idea doable. When mentoring writers, I looked for quality books on writing Christian romance and found none. Books are available on writing romance and on writing Christian fiction, but no book focuses totally on the Christian romance genre. I love mentoring new writers and because I don't have a lot of time to be involved in one on one mentoring, providing a book that would answer all of their questions seemed a great alternative. We all need to learn more about our genre, and I learned while writing the book.

2. How much of your own experiences influenced the content of this book?

I've taught writing at most of the major writing conferences across the country so naturally the content of my workshops gave me material to begin the writing of this book, but writing a lengthy book is much more challenging than presenting an hour workshop. My purpose for this book was to explain the differences between secular and Christian romance, but I also wanted to provide excellent examples to explain the concepts and I also wanted to provide quality "how-to" information to not only illustrate the differences but show how to write Christian romance effectively. Since I've written forty Christian romances, I was able to use my own expertise in the field as well as gathering ideas from other well-known Christian authors.

3. What sorts of topics are featured in your book? How can the advice and "how-to's" help an aspiring romance writer? An experienced or published one?

The book is broken into eleven chapters, dealing with understand the romance genre, creating characters, developing the hero and heroine whether Christian or non-Christian, understanding a variety of POV and how to use them effectively, creating real emotion and using the senses to enhance emotions and characterization, understanding the differences between sexuality and sensuality in Christian romance, techniques to present spirituality in Christian romance, dialogue, introspection, and preparing a book proposal. Each chapter ends with a set of exercises to help the writer practice what was learned.

These chapters provide all of the information new writers ask. As well it provides examples and instructions on how to accomplish it so an aspiring writer can gain valuable information and a published author who is writing outside the genre will learn what's expected in Christian romance. Even a published author can benefit by gaining some new insights into aspects of their writing that they want to more fully develop or change.

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

The most difficult part of writing the book is what information comes first. Each part seems to depend on another so deciding the order of the information took a great deal of time and thought. As well the "how-to" is complicated and took much time to present the techniques into understandable steps using the best language and examples possible.

The favorite part was having so many well-known Christian novelists volunteer to provide excerpts from the own writing so that I could have a variety of examples and explanatory quotes other than my own. I was very grateful for their participation.

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

My next novel is And Baby Makes Five, a Barbour Heartsong Presents book, and the first in a series set in the Monterey Peninsula. It was released in mid-October of this year. This book is set in Salinas and Corral de Tierra, California, a lush valley between Salinas and Monterey. This story revolves around a widowed and pregnant migrant worker and the wealthy owner of the lettuce ranch who's trying to raise two rambunctious twin daughters on his own, following the death of his wife. The story illustrates how power, poverty, wealth, or prejudice cannot destroy true love when it's blessed by God. The book can be ordered from It will hit the bookstores in a couple of months. My next Steeple Hill Love Inspired, Family In His Heart, will be released in January 2008. It's the last of the Michigan Island books.

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Thank you, Gail, for being in the spotlight. Readers, leave a comment for your chance to be entered in the drawing for a FREE, autographed copy of Gail's August Steeple Hill Love Inspired - In His Dreams, Top Pick in Romantic Times. If you don't wish to be entered, but still wish to comment, say so when you post. This week, the contest is open to US/Canada residents only.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Emergency Fundraiser for fellow designer Kelli Standish

For years, Kelli has worked tirelessly behind the scenes promoting, helping, and supporting Christian authors through her work on Focus on Fiction and more recently through her Web design business, PulsePoint Designs.

I haven't personally met Kelli, but our similar work crosses paths from time to time as we strive to serve in the same industry and bring blessings to the authors we love. Just learning so much about her recently makes me amazed at her tenacity and devotion. We're the same age, and yet I find myself feeling awed by all that's she's accomplished in her service.

What few know is that Kelli suffers from a back injury and is in need of urgent surgery to prevent the injury and pain from becoming permanent.

To read her story, follow the links below from top to bottom.

For additional reading, check out:

As stated in Kelli's last blog entry, Better to Give Than Receive, Kelli's literary agent, Janet Kobobel Grant, has started a huge fundraising drive to help Kelli get the surgery she desperately needs. Here is what Janet writes:

Word has come of an anonymous matching grant of $10,000 for all monies raised on Kelli's behalf by November 15. If you would like to contribute, you are welcome to send checks made out to me, Janet Grant, at my address. I will collect the monies, apply the matching grant and give Kelli one check.

Books & Such Literary Agency
52 Mission Circle, Suite 122, PMB 170
Santa Rosa, CA 95409-5370

PayPal contributions are now also accepted. Please send PayPal payments to Please put "For Kelli" in the subject line.

If you have just $5 or $20 to spare, please consider donating to this fundraiser. Kellie has given for years to help so many in the writing industry and those who love reading. Let's team up to help her now in her time of need.

Feel free to post this on your own blog or web space and forward it to anyone you feel might be interested. The reading/book world is vast. Surely, we can find enough to raise $10K by the 15th. That's one week from today. God created the world in that much time! $10K should be nothing for those of us who love Him. :)

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Spotlight on A Big Apple Christmas anthology

Today, I have the privilege of featuring not one but FOUR authors.

So... what do a Canadian, a Yankee transplant from Texas, a New Jersey lady, and a Latina from Manhattan have in common? A BIG APPLE CHRISTMAS. As we get into the Christmas season, may this book help encourage the festive thoughts. Enjoy!


Vasthi is a native New Yorker. she resides in the Washington Heights/Inwood neighborhood of Manhattan with her husband and two teenaged children. She is excited about writing stories that bring a message of hope through Latino characters.She wants readers to find themselves reflected in her work and to learn about her heritage and her hope, God. She wrote "Gifts from the Magi" in this anthology.

Gail is the author of over 30 books and, when she's not busy writing or doing Mom's taxi, is active in her church where she plays bass guitar (loud) for her worship team. Outside of church, she plays in a local Jazz band, and that's loud too. Gail Sattler lives in Vancouver, BC, where you don't have to shovel rain, with her husband, 3 sons, 2 dogs, and a lazy lizard named Draco, who is quite cuddly for a reptile.

Lynette works full-time as a medical transcriptionist for a large HMO. But that's just her day job. In her spare time, she loves to spin adventures for the characters who emerge from story ideas in her head. She hopes to spread the truth of God's love and person while taking readers on an entertaining journey. She's part of the on-line blog team at Keep Me In Suspense, and is a past Secretary of American Christian Fiction Writers. Lynette is a Massachusetts transplant, who makes her home in Texas with her husband, two kids by love and marriage (what's a step-kid?), and five cats who have their humans well-trained.

Carrie and her husband Scott have been married for thirty years and live in beautiful Central New Jersey. They have five grown children and two grandchildren. When she is not writing Carrie enjoys working in her flower gardens, cooking for friends, spending time with her family, and walking around the lake near her home. She also teaches women's Bible studies and has spoken for women's events. Carrie is an award-winning author of several novels and novellas.

By Vasthi Reyes Acosta, Gail Sattler, Lynette Sowell, Carrie Turansky

Video Link for the book
Boook Web Site


1. A Christmas-themed anthology set in New York City. Just in time for some enjoyable Christmas reading. What gave you the inspiration for this story?

Vasthi - Growing up in New York City, as a small Puerto Rican girl, I loved the fact that Christmas didn't end on Christmas Day. I still had El Dia de los Tres Reyes (Epiphany or Three Kings Day) to look forward to. We received gifts on that day too. The night before epiphany, tradition dictates that water and grass be left out to assist the wise men along their journeys to Bethlehem, to worship the new born King. In return the three Kings left a small gift. Curiously, I never worried about how they reached a fifth floor apartment. Santa Claus made it up there, why couldn't they?

Gail - As soon we began to talk about the theme of New York City, I immediately thought about what it was like to be shopping in New York, the busiest city in the world, during the busiest shopping time of the year, and imagined what it would be like to be lost in the crowd, and my story just happened.

Lynette - I think New York is a special place at Christmas time, and I'd always wanted to write a Christmas novella. Then one November, I saw a news clip of how the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center is selected. Enter my widowed heroine and her scheming children who surprise her with a trip to see her tree in Rockefeller Center.

Carrie - Lynette approached me with the idea of joining her to write a Christmas anthology after she saw a news story about how they select the Christmas tree for the Rockefeller Center. We know there is a very magical feeling you experience in New York City at Christmas time, and we thought our readers would enjoy stories set there.

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

Vasthi - Most of the traits are each character's own. The only similarity to me is that like Cecilia, the heroine, I was a graduate student at Columbia University and I lived in Washington Heights.

Gail - I love to get lost in the wonder of the sights and sounds of a place in which I don't live. I love being a tourist! I also love the techie toys that both my hero and heroine love. the traits that are theirs alone are how they chose to deal with finding themselves alone in a crowd during the most joyous time of the year.

Lynette - Like my heroine Gwynn, I have an art degree and I love to paint...but I haven't done it in years. I'm thinking of picking up my brushes again. When in college, like Gwynn, I went to New York but it was only for day trips. I went to most of the locations that my couple does in the story. I think Gwynn is a lot more nurturing than I am, but she's older than I am, and she's a widow at the beginning of the story, so I drew on others' experiences for that aspect of her character.

Like Theophilus Stellakis, I can get impatient with people. After a hard day, it's tempting to become a hermit. But like him, I know that the Lord uses people to work in our lives. We do need people. Unlike Theo, I am NOT an expert in Chemistry and got a C+ in the class in high school. No way did I take it in college, either. Blah!

Carrie - The heroine is a professional organizer who thinks she can maintain control of her life by organizing everyone and everything. I tend to be like that at times, and I've had to learn to relax, let it go, and enjoy my home and family. And since I homeschooled my five kids, it was either learn to relax and allow a little chaos or go crazy. So I am glad to say I have mellowed out over the years.

My hero is a successful children's poet who I modeled after Shel Silverstein. Our family loved reading his poetry as the kids were growing up. I imagined that a poet would have to be a very creative person who even woke up in the middle of the night with ideas that had to be written down. Of course his spontaneous, creative personality is a direct opposite to the heroine's, so I thought that would be a fun contrast.

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

Vasthi (Gift of the Magi) - The idea that one must trust in God for everything and not rely on your own strength or wisdom.

Gail - I hope the reader sees that God wants us to have the desires of our hearts, but they often don't happen the way we want them to, or the way we envision they will happen. I did have the theme in the background that even though the story was about shopping, both the hero and heroine hated shopping at the beginning of the story, but by the end, they couldn't do enough shopping, but only when they were together. The theme would be that having an open heart can change our outlook.

Lynette - This story is mostly about Gwynn's journey, and as I started it, I realized it didn't seem like she had any "issues" in her life. Isn't it tempting sometimes as a writer to go easy on our characters? But then her plans went awry and even her life at home started to change while she was in New York. She tore her focus from herself and determined to find a way to make Christmas special for the Stellakis family, a father and daughter living separate lives under the same roof.

Another theme that surprised me is the fact that God delights in us, and there are times He enjoys showing us how much He cherishes us. Gwynn wasn't needy in the sense that she "needed" someone to love again. Both she and Theo had loved and lost, and had full lives. But part of them did, very much, want someone to love again. So those aspects were fun to discover.

Carrie (Moonlight & Mistletoe) - Sarah realizes that behind her desire to control everything are fears she needs to resolve. Learning to live by faith and trusting God to guide and protect is an important lesson for Sarah and a meaningful theme. The importance of honesty in relationships is another theme that grew as the story progressed.

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

Vasthi - The most difficult parts to write were the romance scenes because I wanted them to feel real and not forced. My favorite scenes to write were the ones that involved Cecilia's crazy family.

Gail - I don't think I had a difficult part in this story. It was fun, and I enjoyed putting it together. My favorite would be in the subway, when Emily takes Bryan's picture when he doesn't expect it. I, too, am dangerous with a camera.

Lynette - Oh, ENDING the story was difficult. I fell in love with these characters and wanted to keep their story going. But the important thing to remember about a novella is that it's a tiny slice of a character's life, just a part of their bigger story to be told. My favorite part was the scene when Gwynn dragged Theo shopping on Canal Street and in Chinatown. Probably because I've done that myself! :)

Carrie - I think the most challenging part of the story to write was the ending. You want to tie all the threads together and be sure it is emotionally satisfying and leaves a lasting impression. My favorite parts to write are the funny scenes where the hero and heroine are wondering what the other is thinking. I like including some subtle humor in my stories.

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

Vasthi - My next book is a contemporary adaptation of the story of Ruth with Latino characters. I have three editors interested and I'm in the process of preparing the proposal.

Gail - My next book is actually already out right now. It's another novella anthology called Race to The Altar, and it's theme is love at NASCAR events.

Lynette - My next release is in March 2008 through Heartsong Presents: Mysteries. A Suspicion of Strawberries is my first novel, and it's a cozy mystery. My heroine runs a soap shop in a small Tennessee River town, and a bride-to-be dies my heroine’s store. Right now I'm working on book two which releases in fall 2008.

Carrie - I just sent a completed manuscript in to my editor at Steeple Hill. The working title is Surrendered Hearts. It is a sequel to my first Love Inspired novel Along Came Love. Here is the one sentence description: Scarred by an explosion and fire, a young actress seeks refuge in Vermont where she learns faith can overcome her fear and make her truly beautiful in God's eyes and in the eyes of the man she loves.

Thanks so much for doing this. God bless.

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Thank you, Vasthi, Gail, Lynette and Carrie, for being in the spotlight. Readers, leave a comment for your chance to be entered in the drawing for a FREE, autographed book. If you don't wish to be entered, but still wish to comment, say so when you post. This week, the contest is open to US/Canada residents only.

Monday, November 05, 2007

NaNoWriMo - National Novel Writing Month

Yes, I've done it. I've signed up this year for NaNoWriMo. And no, it's not a new twist on the Mork & Mindy show and his well-known other-worldly phrase. Here are the details:

National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing November 1. The goal is to write a 175-page (50,000-word) novel by midnight, November 30.

Valuing enthusiasm and perseverance over painstaking craft, NaNoWriMo is a novel-writing program for everyone who has thought fleetingly about writing a novel but has been scared away by the time and effort involved.

Because of the limited writing window, the ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It's all about quantity, not quality. The kamikaze approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly.

Make no mistake: You will be writing a lot of crap. And that's a good thing. By forcing yourself to write so intensely, you are giving yourself permission to make mistakes. To forgo the endless tweaking and editing and just create. To build without tearing down.

As you spend November writing, you can draw comfort from the fact that, all around the world, other National Novel Writing Month participants are going through the same joys and sorrows of producing the Great Frantic Novel. Wrimos meet throughout the month to offer encouragement, commiseration, and—when the thing is done—the kind of raucous celebrations that tend to frighten animals and small children.

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So, am I crazy? Wait a minute. Some of you don't answer that. :) I already know what you're going to say. But, considering that I wrote book 2 in 30 days and that was about 50,000 words *with* edits, I'd say I can write fluff and bad prose and make that goal.

But I can't do it alone, so I'm posting it here for everyone to see. Check in with me, encourage me, give me a good whack if you find out I'm slacking. LOL!

Is anyone else out there joining in the craziness? Let me know!

And now, I'm off to write!

Friday, November 02, 2007

CFBA Blog Tour - Denise Hunter and Surrender Bay

Note to past commenters. I have not heard from several winners of free books from October. If you visited and left a comment but haven't checked to see if you've won, you might want to go to October in the Archives and look. I wouldn't want to see you miss your free book!





by Denise Hunter


Denise Hunter lives in Indiana with her husband Kevin and their three sons. In 1996, Denise began her first book, a Christian romance novel, writing while her children napped.

Two years later it was published, and she's been writing ever since. Her books often contain a strong romantic element, and her husband Kevin says he provides all her romantic material, but Denise insists a good imagination helps too!

In addition to Surrender Bay, the second Nantucket book releases in April 2008. The title is The Convenient Groom and features Kate Lawrence, a relationship advice columnist, whose groom dumps her on her wedding day. Denise is currently at work on the third Nantucket book (Oct 2008) which is untitled so far.


When Sam's estranged step-father dies, she inherits his ocean-front cottage in Nantucket--not because he kindly bequeathed it to her, but because he neglected to ever create a will. Sam returns to the island she left 11 years ago with her daughter Caden to fix up the house and sell it, but she isn't counting on is the fact that Landon Reed still lives two doors down from her childhood home.

As their long-dormant romance begins to bud again, Sam must face the fact that Landon still doesn't know why she really left the island. Will the secrets she's hidden all these years tear them apart? Or is Landon's love really as unconditional as he claims?

"I've always thought Denise Hunter was an amazing writer but this wonderful story sets her firmly at the forefront of compelling love stories. How Landon breaks down Samantha's determination that she is unworthy of love kept me glued to the pages. An amazing story!"
--Colleen Coble, author of Fire Dancer (Smoke Jumper Series)

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In addition, you can post a comment for your chance to win a FREE copy of this book. US/Canada residents only. Drawing to be held on November 9th. Come back to this post to see if you've won.