image: header
image: gownflare

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Spotlight on Debra Clopton and Next Door Daddy

Today, you'll meet an author who is writing a much-heralded series about small-town life in Texas with books 7, 8 and 9 releasing this year. You're going to love Debbie and her books as much as I do.


Debra Clopton is an award winning author of the Love Inspired ongoing MULE HOLLOW MATCHMAKERS SERIES about a small Texas town. She loves everything about small town life and believes that is why her readers are connecting with her books so well. She is currently working on book 10 in the series set to come out sometime in 2009. There are 3 books in the series coming out in 2008, NEXT DOOR DADDY, HER BABY DREAMS AND THE COWBOY TAKES A BRIDE. Debra writes full time. She has two sons and is grateful that they too love small town life and have chosen to make their homes in Madison County--although she is extremely fond of road trips traveling to see her sons was not something she wanted to have to do! Visit Debra on the web at

by Debra Clopton
Published by Steeple Hill/Love Inspired



Was There Room In Mule Hollow

For A Pollyanna?

When rancher Nate Talbert asked for a miracle to change his reclusive life, he wasn't sure he meant Pollyanna McDonald. The city woman, her eight-year-old daredevil and menagerie of unruly pets had moved next door, driving him crazy. But he was surprised to learn how much he and the widow had in common…and how much they were drawn to each other. Then, too, Pollyanna's son was sorely in need of a father figure. But Nate a dad? Pollyanna gave an enthusiastic thumbs-up, but proving it to Nate would take a real miracle!


1. You've got a widower looking for a way to change his reclusive life and in walks Pollyanna. But it's not the solution he thought he'd find. What gave you the inspiration for this story?

Sadly, my own life gave me inspiration for this story. I've been a widow for 5 years and decided that I was ready to write a book and tell some of my own story. I'd read many romances about widows and widowers but so many times the books always had some bad vibe between the main character and his/her dead spouse. This seemed to be the way to make it okay for the main character to fall in love and truly find his/her soul-mate in the book. I wanted to write a book about a widow and a widower who had both loved and lost their soul-mates and yet through God's wonderful grace found love again. It was very cathartic for me writing this story.

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

This interview on the surface may seem a little depressing but really the book is a beautiful story of hope and humor and love. On that note here goes. Much of me is in Pollyanna. I loved my husband with all my heart and the worries she has over her son are my very valid reasons for not dating since my husbands death. Also I was always a worrier and I found out when Wayne died that none of my worrying could have stopped it from happening. It doesn't stop there--this is the most personal book I've ever written I am in every aspect of both Nate and Pollyanna. I literally suffered as I wrote this book because I was so open and honest about my grief and thoughts. I felt God leading me to be this way in the hope that it would help other Christians who were grieving and struggling at the same time to be happy for their loved ones passage into Heaven. I have heard from so many widows and widowers who've read the book already and I praise the Lord for using me.

As far as what traits are truly the characters own in the book--honestly in this book truth and fiction are so merged that it's hard to differentiate.

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

Most of my books have the overriding theme that God is in control. He has been so in control of my life that it is a theme that is just always there. Also, that it is okay for Christian's to grieve in their own way, their own timetable. Pollyanna was so afraid that if she didn't grieve just the right way that she would be dishonoring God and all the blessings He'd given her in her life. I pretty much knew what all the themes were going to be going into this book. That doesn't always happen though.

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

The scenes of Pollyanna and Nate letting go of their dead spouses were horribly difficult for me. I know in my heart that moving on is what I must do--what they had to do--but it is so much easier to say than to actually do.

My favorite scenes were all the scenes with the animals. Bogie the Chinese Shar Pei in the book is actually my husbands actually. Wayne had a wonderful way of talking with animals so I used the animals to speak for Marc, Pollyanna's deceased husband. It was just so fun creating all the animals. As always my books are meant to make readers smile and end feeling happy I truly believe that this book, though sadder than my other books, will leave readers with a smile on their face and in their hearts.

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

This book NEXT DOOR DADDY hit shelves this month (Jan 2008) and is the 7th book in my Mule Hollow series in the Love Inspired line. I love writing these books and am thrilled that readers have fallen in love with the series. I have two more books set to come out in 2008, HER BABY DREAMS (March) and THE COWBOY TAKES A BRIDE (July). I'm currently working on book 10 in the series and having a blast! I hope that if you haven't been to MULE HOLLOW yet you will grab one of the books and come visit the wacky gang. You can find out what's happening with me and with MULE HOLLOW at my website and my blog

Thanks for having me, Tiff. I enjoyed it!

* * * * *

Thanks, Debbie, for being in the spotlight with us.

Readers, leave a comment for your chance to win a FREE copy of Next Door Daddy. If you wish to comment but don't want to be entered, say so when you post. Make sure you also leave your email address (name at domainname or that it's available for viewing in your blogger profile. Wouldn't want you to miss out on winning a book. :)

And if you want to make certain you don't miss anything, subscribe to the posts on this blog. That way you'll be notified of any comments and will know when I announce the winner.

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

* * * * *

Monday, January 28, 2008

My First Book - Hot off the Press & Cover Flats!!

I'm just dancing with joy today! All right, so I'm STILL dancing with joy after a great experience this past Tuesday.

A fellow newbie Heartsong Presents author, Deb Ullrick, shared with our ACFW email loop about receiving the PDF file of her cover for her first novel. In the midst of celebrating with her, I opened the mail Tuesday to find 45 cover flats of my VERY FIRST BOOK along with a 'hot-off-the-press' copy of MY VERY OWN!!

Oh, it thrills me to even say that, let alone to look at it. I wondered how I would ever get anything done that night. All I wanted to do was sit there and hold the book in my hand and stare at it. It's finally come true. It really is happening.

Now, I just have to wait for my author copies to arrive and figure out how I'm going to work my blog tour since there's a time lapse from book club release to online retailer and bookstore arrivals for my book. Been chatting with other HP authors to see how they've worked it in the past. Still working out a plan. So far, it'll be a small one in February and a full-scale one in late spring when it officially hits stores.

I had to share with all y'all who visit here and read my blog because I would never have reached this point had it not been for those who have encouraged me and supported me along the way. I only wish I could have gotten the dedication page to the publisher in time. :( Alas, it's nonexistent in the first book. I'm going to make double certain it gets into book 2, though. That comes out in July this year.

You can see the cover in the left column and read about the book on the books page. I'll have more information on ordering as soon as it's available, plus a sneak preview of chapter one very soon! Stay tuned.

Praise the Lord!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Spotlight on Sharon Souza and Every Good and Perfect Gift

Today is another day for a debut author. It's so much fun spotlighting first-timers as I'll be joining their ranks in just a month. So many new authors, so many great books, and I get the honor of introducing them to you. What a treat!


Sharon Souza and her husband Rick have been married 36 years. They live in northern California, and have three children and 6 grandchildren. Rick travels the world building churches, Bible schools and orphanages. Sharon travels with him on occasion, but while Rick lives the adventure, Sharon is more than happy to create her own through fiction.

by Sharon Souza
Published by NavPress



After thirty close years, Gabby and DeeDee's lifelong friendship holds no surprises. Except for one: Thirty-eight-year-old DeeDee and her husband have decided to conceive their first child. And despite their concerns and a struggle with infertility, DeeDee finally gives birth to a healthy baby. But while the friends believe they have faced their greatest challenge, an unexpected tragedy will alter their lives and relationship forever.

In the classic tradition of movies such as Beaches and Steel Magnolias, Every Good and Perfect Gift shares a heartwarming story of friendship that overcomes all odds. Filled with laughter, tears, and everything in between, Gabby and DeeDee's journey will strike a chord with female readers of all ages.

From the Back Cover

"I'm not the strong one. I've never been the strong one."

So believes Gabby Whitaker in her friendship with DeeDee McAllister. They've been best friends since sixth grade, when headstrong and courageous DeeDee began mapping out their lives. But after twenty years with her husband, DeeDee changes the plan. Nearing forty years old, she wants a baby--now! Two years of infertility, prayers, and outrageous behavior finally result in the birth of DeeDee's demand.

Gabby is present for all of it, noting the increasingly strange behavior of her lifelong friend after the baby's birth. Then comes a diagnosis that threatens to shatter their world. Now Gabby must find the strength and faith to carry DeeDee and herself through the dark unknown, but is she up for it?


1. What gave you the inspiration for this story?

After I graduated from high school I moved with my family from the town I'd grown up in -- away from the friends I'd had since grammar school, then within a little over a year I was married. Other than for a brief period in my mid-twenties, I didn't have a close friend until I was well into my thirties. There were some lonely times during those years when I longed for a close female friend. But I was very quiet, very shy, and wasn't the type to reach out, regardless of how desperate I was.

Eventually I went to work in the Christian high school located at our church, and within time, the Lord gave me two very close friends, Janice and Caroline, who also worked in the high school. The really neat thing is that the three of us were very close, as were our husbands, and, for the most part, even our children. I truly saw them as a gift from God, and appreciated the years we had together. Little by little I inched out of my shell, and it became easier to make friends -- though I'm still a very private person.

One of the friends I made later was the inspiration behind Every Good & Perfect Gift. This is not Evie's biography by any means, but the purpose of the story was to address an issue that arose in her life. She was diagnosed with a life-changing illness at the age of 42 and I decided to write a story that dealt with that illness. I chose to do it through the eyes of a best friend, rather than a spouse or other family member, maybe because we were such close friends at the time of the diagnosis.

I wanted to write a book about a "Jonathan and David" type friendship between two women, knowing that I was ultimately going to tell the story of a young woman who is diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer's. I have a close friend who, at the age of 42, began to exhibit many of the symptoms portrayed in the book. Since completing the book I've learned that another close friend has been diagnosed with EOA. What are the odds?

In determining what course the friendship between Gabby and DeeDee would take, I asked myself: What is the greatest way one woman can express friendship to another? The answer: By helping her have a child if she's unable to, which one character is willing to do if it comes to that.

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

It's funny because neither DeeDee nor Gabby is Evie or me. Okay, I can hear my husband and daughters laughing as they read this. "You're exactly like Gabby," is what they're saying, and in some ways that's true. But I was not the pattern for Gabby. She and DeeDee emerged looking remarkably like my daughters, Mindy and Deanne, and they both know exactly which character they are. Truly, it's what endeared those characters to me so much.

As far as traits that were "theirs and theirs alone," they quickly became so real to me that I didn't have to think about what they'd say or do -- it was just obvious. DeeDee was going to be obnoxious out of the gate every time -- only to redeem herself because there's so much goodness inside her. I wouldn't mind having a little bit of DeeDee in me.

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

Of course, the main theme is the thing we've been talking about: friendship. This story talks about the value and the cost. Another would be how fleeting the appeal of this life can be. Colossians 8:2 says, "Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth." The events of life have a way of helping us do just that. Sickness, divorce, loss of a loved one, and other calamaties loosen our grip on this world and make us hungry for the next. My husband and I lost our son as I was in the midst of final edits on Gift. That's given our family a connection to Heaven like nothing else has ever done. We're thankful for all the Lord has given us, and we try to make the most of every day, but things of this earth pale in comparison to what awaits.

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

This story really was a labor of love, so my favorite part to write was the whole story. In all honesty and candor -- and since it's just us I'll be candid -- the most difficult part came when I realized I had to rewrite the story from its original version and intent if I hoped to find a home for it in CBA, which is exactly what I wanted. The day I sat down to begin the story -- and I can recall the moment vividly -- I asked myself . . . okay, I think I need to back up a bit before I tell you what I asked myself.

My husband Rick went to high school with Evie and her husband Jon, then years later Rick and I ended up in the same church with them and the four of us became good friends. Once a year, whether they needed to or not, Rick and Jon got together to watch the maxi-series "Lonesome Dove" from start to finish. Evie and I would laugh at the guys, play cards, shop, come back and fix dinner, and laugh some more at the guys who were glued to the TV. A year or so after Evie became ill, I ended up watching "Lonesome Dove" with a solo Rick -- purely out of pity, and busily engaged in counted cross stitch -- and fell in love with the movie. Now, Rick and I watch it every year whether we need to or not. The thing I loved about the story, besides the interaction between Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones' characters, was the lengths to which Captain Call went to honor his friendship with Augustus McCrae.

So, knowing I was about to embark on a story about a strong friendship between two women, the question I asked myself was this: "What is the greatest way one woman could express her friendship with another woman?" The answer that immediately came to mind was, "Help her have a child if she's unable to." So infertility became the story line, with the life-changing illness looming large on the horizon. This book was originally about egg donation, and how one woman who chose not to have children became the surrogate mother for a child she helped create when her best friend became too ill to care for the child.

Except that, the idea seemed too controversial for CBA. An editor I respect failed to get it through committee and ultimately suggested I write out the egg donation part of the story, which, of course, was the main storyline. It was a difficult decision to make, but eventually, that's the route I chose to go.

So, that was the most difficult part of writing Gift. Oh, and having to change the name of one of the main characters to something other than what it had been for, oh, let's see, ten years.

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

My next book, Lying on Sunday, also from NavPress, will be released Sept. 1, '08. It's about Abigail Torrington, a happily married woman who, three days before her two daughters are leaving for college, gets a phone call saying her husband, Trey, has died in a San Diego hospital. Only Trey is supposed to be in Dallas.

This is the story of one woman's journey back from betrayal, on a road pitted with one crazy pothole after another.

* * * * *

Thanks, Sharon, for being in the spotlight with us.

Readers, leave a comment for your chance to win a FREE copy of Every Good and Perfect Gift. If you wish to comment but don't want to be entered, say so when you post. Make sure you also leave your email address (name at domainname or that it's available for viewing in your blogger profile. Wouldn't want you to miss out on winning a book. :)

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

* * * * *

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Spotlight on Cheryl Wyatt and A Soldier's Promise

Today, I have the privilege of introducing another brand new author to you, and be part of her multi-site blog tour during the month of January. She is also a client a mine, just like Jill from last week. It's great when our worlds intertwine like this and we can share our joys and successes in a variety of ways.

See the list of other places Cheryl will be stopping at the bottom of this spotlight.



Cheryl Wyatt's closest friends would never dream the mayhem she plots during announcements at church. An RN(registered nurse)-turned-SAHM (stay-at-home-mom), joyful chaos rules her home and she delights in the stealth moments God gives her to write. She stays active in her church and in her laundry room. She's convinced that having been born on a Naval base on Valentine's Day destined her to write military romance.

Prior to publication, Cheryl took courses through Christian Writers Guild. An active member of RWA, FHL and ACFW, she won numerous awards with multiple manuscripts. Visit her on the Web at Sign up for her newsletter for news and chances to enter contests with great prizes. Hang with her on the web at You can also find her skittering around Steeple Hill's message boards as "Squirl" at

by Cheryl Wyatt
Published by Steeple Hill, Love Inspired



"My name's Bradley. I'm eight and have cancer. I want to meet a Special Forces soldier more than anything. Well, almost anything. Having a family would be nice."

U.S. Air Force pararescue jumper Joel Montgomery promised to make a sick child's wish come true. Well, not the family part—not with Joel's past. And so despite vowing never to set foot back in Refuge, Illinois, Joel parachuted onto the boy's school lawn to a huge smile. But another smile unexpectedly stole Joel's heart: that of Bradley's beautiful teacher, Amber Stanton, who was trying to adopt the boy. And trying to show Joel it was time for new vows.


Romantic Times Review Quote


"Cheryl Wyatt infuses A Soldier's Promise (4.5) with kindness, compassion and love. Plus, each character in this strong story is multilayered. When young Bradley, a boy dying of cancer, writes to the Air Force Pararescue team, he gets to meet jumper Joel Montgomery, who connects with Bradley and feels an instant and shared attraction to the boy's teacher, Amber Stanton. This absolutely fantastic debut novel proves that while challenges and boundaries are not always easily resolved, they're definitely worth the work."

---Robin Taylor-Romantic Times Reviewer


"Wyatt pens a warm, romantic tale in which a USAF pararescue jumper teams with a special needs teacher in order to make a seriously ill child's wish come true. As they bond over the child's plight, they also find themselves falling in love."


1. You've chosen pararescue jumpers as the principle heroes in your new series. This is also your first book. Congratulations! What gave you the inspiration for this story?

I have been fascinated with pararescue jumpers (PJs) and what they do for years. When I heard Jason Cunningham's story, it inspired me to write about these brave men who risk their lives "So others may live.". He died trying to save other soldiers. I love the PJ creed because it reminds me (on a much smaller level) of what Jesus did for humanity in dying to save us. The fact that they are so elite and are required to go through rigorous Special Forces training and that not many make it through that, commanded my respect. Not many people have heard of PJs. So I wanted to feature them in a series. My only disappointment is that many of the rescue scenes have been cut on revisions because the high-action detracts from the romance. I'd wanted to show what PJs do and how they stand apart from other careers. My editor realizes this so the next book or two should have more actual rescue scenes in it so people can actually see what they do. I do alter some things for the protection of the Airmen, such as I intentionally describe aspects of their uniform wrong so they can't be duplicated by someone with ill intent who may happen across one of my books.

Also, this particular story line was inspired by two friends who lost their daughters to leukemia after valiant battles. The thing I kept thinking all through their heart-wrenching plight and flight was how incredibly courageous their little girls (ages 8 and 9) were, even up to the moments of their deaths.
Talking to their mothers, who were literally living every mother's nightmare, I realized one thing: If courage could cure cancer, these two girls' faith and fight alone would have eradicated it from this earth.

So, to honor these girls' memories and their courage in the face of this devastating illness, I decided to write about a little boy with cancer. Only in my story, I could control the outcome. You'll have to read the book to find out the ending, but suffice it to say that I'd hoped and prayed with everything in me that Brandy and Nanette's precious girls' story would have ended as happily as did Bradley's, Joel's, and Amber's in A Soldier's Promise. In fact in a sequel, I have a secondary character mention that very quote, only he says it in regards to Bradley, the child suffering cancer in the book.

If courage could cure cancer, that child's fight and faith alone would have eradicated it from the earth.

I wrote this book from my heart for every family and every child who has had to face childhood cancer.

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

The whole orphan aspect is definitely from my heart. The fact that Joel went on a humanitarian mission to Asia was based on my trip to south India in 2005 following the tsunami. Amber's trait of running every day is definitely hers. But since I was in a wheelchair and on a walker during much of the revision in this book, I made her be able to do things I couldn't and was frustrated about at the time. So she ran every evening at 6 and I got it out of my system, since I couldn't even bear weight on my operative leg to walk. LOL! The fact that Amber has a heart for abandoned things also comes from me. Joel's sense of loyalty and humor probably came from some aspects of my experience and character. But his bravery and struggles with unforgiveness toward his uncle, and his difficult childhood, as well as Amber's dad being gone all the time were completely foreign to me. It was hard to write about their pasts because my upbringing was far different. We had some tough times as any family does, but my parents pressed through it and we're still a family. A strong family at that. Amber's I portrayed them in Joel's eyes at the how my family is. Willing to champion one another's dreams and work at relationships, etc. You'll have to get the book to know the rest. LOL!

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

There was a whole theme with the yellow flowers that I hope people pick up on. They're prophetic perennials (LOL) in a sense because they wilt as Bradley gets sicker. None of the other children's flowers n the class are dying. Teacher Amber is distraught about this. Joel mentions to Amber in an early scene that she may want to transplant the flower in better soil and suggests that maybe it will thrive then. These flowers represent Bradley, and Joel's statement actually foreshadows something that happens later on in the book. Folks will have to read the book to find out what. Big grin.

The whole promise aspect was an accident. I didn't realize that theme until the vision team at Steeple Hill asked me what I'd think about A Soldier's Promise being the title. They summed it up better than I could. LOL!

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

Most difficult part is eeking out the mess draft. Getting the actual bones of the story down. And the synopsis. Once that part is finished, it's more enjoyable. But eeking that first draft out feels like torture by sugar sometimes. Reminds me of those old washing machines where the women had to push the clothes through these tight rollers and s-q-u-e-e-z-e the dirt out. It was hard work and time consuming and took a lot of effort. That's what pushing the rough draft out feels like to me. LOL!

My favorite part is the layering. Sharpening sensory perception. Deepening point of view. Thinking of hooks. Layering in a strong core of emotion. Finding just the right words for a particular scene or sentence. Creating vivid word pictures that are unique. I also love turning stereotypes on their heads and making the book be as anti-cliche as possible. I like to place my characters in comedic situations too or have them say unexpected things that will catch my reader off guard and help them genuinely laugh.

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

My next book comes out in March, 2008, and can be pre-orderd now on most online booksellers. It is book two in my "Wings of Refuge Series" and titled A Soldier's Family. Book two features another Airman on Joel's (hero in A Soldier's Promise-book one-Wings of Refuge) team named Manny. We also revisit the fictional town of Refuge, Illinois in the story. Celia, the best friend and co-teacher of Amber (heroine-book one) is the heroine. Manny is in Refuge to recover from a skydiving accident, and he befriends Celia and her troubled teenage son. This story is about second chances and about believing in God's goodness, and also about not letting fear or guilt rule our decisions and outlook. For more info on when the rest of the books will release, readers can visit my Web site and sign up where it says, "Join Cheryl Wyatt Author Mailing List."

* * * * *

Thanks, Cheryl, for being in the spotlight with us.

Readers, leave a comment for your chance to win a FREE copy of A Soldier's Promise. If you simply wish to comment but don't want to be entered, say so when you post. Make sure you also leave your email address (name at domainname or that it's available for viewing in your blogger profile. Wouldn't want you to miss out on winning a book. :)

This week, the contest is open to anyone worldwide.

* * * * *

Follow Cheryl on the rest of her blog tour:

Jan-23 Sally Bradley
Jan-24 Pattie Reitz, and her blog
Jan-25 Deena Peterson
Jan-26 Shauna Sturge
Jan-27 Dineen Miller
Jan-28 Marjorie Vawter
Jan-29 Donna Fleisher
Jan-30 Michelle Rodgers, and on ShoutLife
Feb-29 Margaret Daley

Monday, January 21, 2008

Family Photos, Christmas and Snow!

I know I'm a little late with these, but some folks are still feeling the leftover remnants of the Christmas spirit, so I'm going to share these while it's still timely.

My family visited last week for 5 days so some of these pix are of them. The others from Christmas are of my in-laws, or second family. Gotta admit, having an extended family here in Colorado has made the move and transition after marriage so much easier. It's like I didn't lose anything, only gained, when I moved.

Christmas this year was a WHITE one. The first white Christmas I've seen in probably 15 years. Sure, it's snowed near the day, but not ON the day. This year, we got about 6 inches and it fell at varying speeds almost all day. Provided some very nice pictures as you can see:

Here is the direct link to view the full album online:

Colorado Christmas 2007

For the family visit, we toured the Royal Gorge in Canon City, Colorado, spent time touring new homes as part of the search upon which Stuart and I are embarking, visited Denver to see Invesco Field at Mile-High as well as the Aquarium and took the Cog Railway to the top of Pike's Peak. Here are some pictures from those adventures.

Family Visits Colorado

I guess that's all for now. My first book releases in February, so I'm gearing up for a short blog tour on many other web sites. I'll also be starting monthly giveaways to those who enter the contests starting in February, so stay tuned for lots of new and exciting things coming down the addition to the continuation of weekly blog spotlights with FREE book giveaways.

Thanks for your continued support. I wouldn't be where I am without you!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Spotlight on Julie Lessman and A Passion Most Pure

*** Don't forget to read about Jill Elizabeth Nelson from Wednesday's spotlight. No comments yet. Wouldn't want y'all to miss out on a FREE book. :) Read below today's spotlight. ***

Today, I have the privilege of introducing a brand new author to you. She has a great story to tell and a fantastic book to share. As a new author myself with a book releasing in February, I'm honored to have Julie with us today.



Julie Lessman is a debut author who has already garnered writing acclaim, including ten Romance Writers of America awards. She is a commercial writer for Maritz Travel, a published poet and a Golden Heart Finalist. Julie has a heart to write "Mainstream Inspirational," reaching the 21st-century woman with compelling love stories laced with God's precepts. She resides in Missouri with her husband and their golden retriever, and has two grown children and a daughter-in-law. Her first book, A Passion Most Pure, was released January 2008. Visit her Web site at

by Julie Lessman
Published by Baker Publishing Group, Revell



Refusing to settle for anything less than a romantic relationship that pleases God, Faith O'Connor steels her heart against her desire for the roguish Collin McGuire. But when Collin tries to win her sister Charity's hand, Faith isn't sure she can handle the jealousy she feels. To further complicate matters, Faith finds herself the object of Collin's affections, even as he is courting her sister. The Great War is raging overseas, and a smaller war is brewing in the O'Connor household. Full of passion, romance, rivalry, and betrayal, A Passion Most Pure will captivate readers from the first page. Book 1 of the Daughters of Boston series.


1. This is your first novel. Congratulations! And what a cover! Already the buzz is zipping around the Internet and publicity airwaves. What gave you the inspiration for this story?

Initially my inspiration was Rhett Butler and Scarlett O'Hara, because from the moment I read Gone With the Wind, I was hooked on romance. So much so, that I immediately set out to write (along with thousands of other love-struck young girls, I'm sure), what I hoped would be "the great American novel." Obviously my dreams of grandeur didn't go anywhere (grin), but I did write 150 single-spaced pages of a story that is actually the basis for my debut novel, A Passion Most Pure. Unfortunately (or fortunately, however you look at it!), almost forty years passed before God breathed new life into that early attempt and inspired me to finish my childhood novel of passion—only this time the "passion" would be for Him!

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

With the heroine, Faith O'Connor, quite a bit. We both have hot tempers and get our "Irish" up more than we should. Also, you might say that Faith is my spiritual self. She has an intimate relationship with God—she talks and prays to Him as naturally as if He is her best friend, but she gets angry with Him too. I like to say that she (and I) are emotionally engaged with the God of the Universe—we laugh with Him, tear up at His goodness to us, and worship Him with all of our hearts. As a matter of fact, Faith and I are so much alike in the spiritual aspect, that a good friend once told me that reading A Passion Most Pure was "like going to lunch with me." I hope that's a good thing!

As far as the hero goes, Collin McGuire is shaped and molded by his anger toward God, much like I was before I came to the Lord. His bitterness changes him from a loving, caring human being into a womanizer who has a grudge against religion and morality, not unlike me as a wild child of the 70's. But God gripped my heart, just as He does Collin, in a way that changed both of our lives forever. Yeah, God!

As far as traits that were theirs alone, I can't really think of any. Mmm...apparently I'm writing about myself in these books … :)

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

Well, the most important theme I want readers to see is how natural and fulfilling an intimate relationship with God can and should be. Like breathing. He should be a first resort, not a last one, and a best friend as well as Lord of your life. That's how He is to Faith and to me, and eventually to Collin as well.

The main theme of the book is based on the original title, which was A Chasing After the Wind, from Ecclesiastes 2:26. For me, "wind" is symbolic of the Holy Spirit. Throughout the book, Faith is "chasing after the wind," that is, the Holy Spirit or God's leading in her life. Collin, too, is "chasing after the wind," but in his case, it is the wind of futility, chasing after his will (sin) rather than God's, which according to Solomon, is "meaningless" and nothing more than "a chasing after the wind."

The most powerful theme of the book, in my opinion, is the message of Deuteronomy 30—the choice between life and death, blessing and curse. Simple application of God's Word—choosing to do things His way rather than our own. Whether it's praying for someone who just cut you off on the road rather than flipping them off, or choosing to remain silent when a morsel of gossip is salivating in your mouth, a decision awaits each of us every minute of every day. But, oh my, the benefits attached to our obedience are PHENOMENAL!! Blessings will overtake you, which is a lesson my heroine in A Passion Most Pure learns, and eventually each of the sisters in the series as well.

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

Well, there weren't any "difficult" parts to write in this one (now book 3, A Passion Denied is another story altogether, but I digress), but there were parts that were easier and more fun to write, such as love scenes—my all-time favorite!! I like tension, lots and LOTS of romantic tension, so when I write those scenes, my keyboard is smoking because my fingers fly. In fact, one of my friends wanted to know why I couldn't just write a nice, "sweet" love scene. Duh, because I would fall asleep! :) Even my husband noticed the fast and furious pace of my love scenes—he said he would be meandering along in a nice, easy passage and then, bam! A love scene would hit, and before he knew it, he was 20 pages down the road! :)

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

Book 2, A Passion Redeemed, will be released in September 2008 (in time for the ACFW book signing at Mall of America, I hope!). Book 2 is Charity's story, a woman who puts her faith in her beauty rather than in God. It is a story of redemption and faith rising from the ashes of temptation, desire and shame. Here is a brief description:

Depth of beauty...shallow of heart, Charity O'Connor is a woman who gets what she wants. She sets her sights on a cantankerous Irishman who has stolen her heart. But although the sparks are there, he refuses to fan the coals of a potential relationship with a woman who ruined his life. She burned him once; he won't play with matches again. But Charity has a plan to turn up the heat, hoping to ignite the heart of the man she loves. And she always gets what she wants—one way or another.

Thank you, Tiff, for having me as your guest—it's been fun!

* * * * *

Thanks, Julie, for being in the spotlight with us.

Readers, leave a comment for your chance to win a FREE copy of A Passion Most Pure. If you don't wish to be entered, say so when you post. Make sure you also leave your email address (name at domainname or that it's available for viewing in your blogger profile, since many of you don't return to check the winner notification. Wouldn't want you to miss out on winning a book. :)

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

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Spotlight on Jill Elizabeth Nelson and Reluctant Smuggler

Today, I am happy and honored to host another one of my web site clients as a spotlight author. Jill has been a good friend and thanks to her husband, she provided me with my first real good picture of my husband and me before we were even involved in a romantic relationship. It's my pleasure to feature her latest book, the third in her To Catch a Thief series featuring the unique world of art thievery rings and detectives trying to stop them.



Jill Elizabeth Nelson writes what she likes to read—tales of adventure, pathos, and intrigue spiced with humor and faith. She and her husband of over 25 years live in rural Minnesota and have raised four children. They love to camp, hike, and participate in short term mission trips. They've been to Jamaica, New Orleans during Mardi Gras (a most bizarre and challenging mission field), and Thailand. For more about Jill, her books, and a chance to win a signed copy in a monthly contest, go to

by Jill Elizabeth Nelson
Published by Multnomah Publishers



They say keep your friends close and your enemies closer...but what if you can't tell the difference?

For security consultant Desiree Jacobs, the assignment is simple: make off with an ancient Mayan artifact, and hand it over to the good guys in time to plan her wedding to ultra-fine FBI agent, Tony Lucano.

Yet, in a world where no one is as they seem, Desi must decipher who the good guys are—before she ends up in the hands of a ruthless enemy.

Suddenly, artifact recovery turns into archaeological espionage, and the woman who finds all the answers must now ask questions. Who's looting priceless antiquities underneath the nose of the baffled Mexican government? And what does a violent gang of drug and human traffickers have to do with missing artifacts?

Even with Tony on her side, she'll need way more than luck to survive against the odds. She'll need the truth—not just to set her free, but to liberate many innocents caught in the snare of calculating evil.


1. This is book 3 in your To Catch a Thief series, and you continue with the story of Desi and Tony. What gave you the inspiration for this story?

Each book in the series stands alone as a complete story that will be understandable to readers starting anywhere in the series. The main characters and some of the secondary characters continue from book to book. Of course, relationships develop as each tale unfolds. In Smuggler, I drew together a number of on-going character threads, which was a lot of fun. The plot idea came from current concern in the news media regarding the spread of gangs and the tragic issue of slave trafficking, which can be a gang activity. I dedicated Reluctant Smuggler to the International Justice Mission (, a ministry that works tirelessly throughout the world on behalf of the captive and the helpless.

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

I share Desiree's task-oriented focus, but in many ways she's what I wish I was rather than what I am. Her quick wit and boldness in the face of opposition inspire me. Most of the time, the snappy come-back occurs to me after the fact, and I tend to avoid confrontation. In Tony, I worked to create a strong man with a deep faith that affects his daily life. Then I threw into the mix a poignant vulnerability that makes him human and relatable. My husband shares all these traits, plus he likes his easy chair in the living room. He is not, however, a martial arts expert and has never arrested a crook in his life.

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

The core theme in Smuggler is the vital role of hope in the health of an individual and society. Gangs develop as a false and negative answer to the hopelessness and powerlessness experienced by certain segments of society. I trust readers will see the ultimate hope anyone can have in Jesus Christ. Truth is also a theme in the book, because it will take Desi and Tony discovering the truth for any of them to survive and be free. Tony's search for personal identity after a crisis event was a theme that developed as the story unfolded. I hope readers will apply his new understanding of self-worth to themselves.

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

I struggled with Tony's medical crisis to give him believable and character-consistent reactions to his unaccustomed helplessness. Most guys make very bad patients, and Tony needed to be real in that way, while illustrating a healthy resolution to his issues. I loved writing a long-awaited culmination in Desi and Tony's relationship. I strove to achieve deep emotional resonance for the reader without dripping over into sappy. My readers will have to let me know if I succeeded.

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

I have a two book contract with Steeple Hill for their romantic suspense line. Evidence of Murder comes out in February 2009 and the second book in June of 2009. Here's a short summary for Evidence of Murder: When a new business owner discovers on her property photos of a decade-old mass murder, she and the surviving son of the massacre become the target of a powerful and desperate killer.

Thanks for hosting me on your blog, Tiffany. You ask great questions!

* * * * *

Thanks, Jill, for being in the spotlight with us.

Readers, leave a comment for your chance to win a FREE copy of Reluctant Smuggler. If you don't wish to be entered, say so when you post. Make sure you also leave your email address (name at domainname or that it's available for viewing in your blogger profile, since many of you don't return to check the winner notification. Wouldn't want you to miss out on winning a book. :)

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

Friday, January 11, 2008

Whodunnit, Anyone? Cozy Mysteries are Here!

Calling all Nancy Drew's, Doc Sloan's (Diagnosis Murder), Agatha Christie's and Jessica Fletcher's (Murder She Wrote). A brand new bookclub line has just released, and it's waiting for you to solve the crimes.

Barbour's new Heartsong Presents--MYSTERIES! book club is now accepting subscription orders, and the first books will ship to customers before January comes to an end.

Great books and a bargain to boot! Subscribers receive four FREE books in addition to the four they receive in their first month's shipment and there are no commitments to sign. You pay as you go on a monthly basis and can return any books at any time to cancel your subscription.

Check out the details and subscribe NOW at: Then, help spread the word!

Several of my writing buds have books coming out in this line. They've been waiting a long time, and their turn to see their name on the cover of a book is finally here. You'll even be seeing some of these books appear in spotlight features this year. So, stay tuned!

If you like cozies, join now, then share this news with any other readers you know who like to solve the crimes and play those guessing games.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Spotlight on Angela Benson and The Amen Sisters

Though Angela Benson began writing fiction in Miss Milizo's fifth grade English class, her first book was not published until 1994, more than twenty-five years later! Since then, Angela has published nine novels, one novella, and a nonfiction writing book. Her books have appeared on national, regional and local bestseller lists, and she has won several writing awards, including Best Multicultural Romance from Romantic Times magazine, and Best Contemporary Ethnic Romance from Affaire de Coeur magazine. She was a finalist for the 2000 Romantic Times Lifetime Achievement Award in Multicultural Romance.

Angela made a career move to Christian fiction in 2000 with the publication of Awakening Mercy, the first book in her Genesis House series from Tyndale House Publishers. Awakening Mercy was a finalist for both the RITA Award given by Romance Writers of America (RWA) and the Christy Award for Excellence in Christian Fiction. The second book in the Genesis House series, Abiding Hope, was published in September 2001. Abiding Hope was awarded the Emma Award for Best Inspirational Romance presented by the Romance Slam Jam. The third book and final book of the series, Enduring Love, is not yet scheduled.

Angela's tenth novel, Up Pops the Devil, will be published by HarperCollins in September 2008.

by Angela Benson
Published by WalkWorthy Press



After witnessing the suicide of a church sister, Minister Francine Amen is disgusted with herself for turning against the young woman and refusing to accept her claim of abuse by their pastor. Now, after a short stay in a psychiatric hospital, Francine is trying to pull her life and her ministry back together. But first she must face all of the people she has hurt so deeply—including her younger sister, Dawn. But can Dawn trust her? Francine used to date Dawn's husband, Sly—who now seems just a little too interested in Francine's recovery. As far as Dawn is concerned, Sly would be better off spending his time making amends to her for his own sins.

* * * * *

Thanks, Angela, for being in the spotlight and starting off 2008 with us.

Readers, leave a comment for your chance to win a FREE copy of The Amen Sisters. If you don't wish to be entered, say so when you post. Make sure you also leave your email address (name at domainname or that it's available for viewing in your blogger profile, since many of you don't return to check the winner notification. Wouldn't want you to miss out on winning a book. :)

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

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Spotlight on Tracey Bateman and Distant Heart

Tracey Bateman is an award-winning author of more than sixteen books. She lives in Missouri with her husband and four children where she is active in music ministry at her church. Tracey has been a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) since the early months of its inception and served as President for nearly two years.

In February 2003, her anthology Highland Legacy hit the CBA best seller list for three months in a row. She has been a long time favorite among Heartsong club members. In 2005 she was voted the club's fourth favorite author! Also in 2005 her book Color of the Soul was voted an editor's pick by Christian Book Distributors.

Tracey has approximately 900,000 books in print.

by Tracey Bateman
Published by Avon Inspire



Hopefully this is coming soon, and I can come back and add it, but the holidays got away from Tracey and she wasn't able to send the questions in time. At least her book and she can be featured. Check back again over the next week for the interview.

* * * * *

Thanks, Tracey, for being in the spotlight the day after New Year's and starting off 2008 with us.

Readers, leave a comment for your chance to win a FREE copy of Distant Heart. If you don't wish to be entered, say so when you post. Make sure you also leave your email address or that it's available for viewing in your blogger profile, since many of you don't return to check the winner notification. Wouldn't want you to miss out on winning a book. :)

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