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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Blog Tour - Amy Wallace and Healing Promises

Today, I have the privilege of wrapping up the month-long blog tour for Amy Wallace. We'll be revisiting this post again in May as part of CFBA, so you'll have *TWO* chances to win a copy of her book. Be sure and leave a comment to enter.


Amy Wallace is the author of Ransomed Dreams and Healing Promises, a wife, homeschool mom of three, speaker, Bible study leader, and avid chocoholic. She loves crafting high-action suspense that delves deep into heart issues, but who she really is can be summed up in a few short words: Amy is a daughter of the King learning to live and love with laughter. Please visit her at Sign up for her Dark Chocolate Suspense Newsletter and stay up to date on all of Amy's latest news.

And don't forget to visit the Defenders of Hope web site for more information about these books and the themes of inspiration behind them.

by Amy Wallace
Published by Multnomah Books


Chained To Yesterday
When tragedy struck and Gracie Lang lost everything, her faith crumbled, and nothing but the drive for justice propelled her forward. But after two years of dead-end searching, the truth Gracie seeks is the very thing her stalker will stop at nothing to hide.

Forgiveness Unlocks the Future
An FBI agent in the Crimes Against Children Unit, Steven Kessler spends his days rescuing other people’s children and nights caring for his son. He’s through with God, embittered by his ex-wife who abandoned them both, and definitely doesn’t expect what’s coming next.

The Past Is the Key
A plot to kidnap a British ambassador’s daughter dangerously intersects Steven and Gracie’s worlds–a collision that demands a decision. But are they willing to pay the high ransom required to redeem dreams and reignite hope?

Read the first chapter here.

Buy your copy of Healing Promises today!

Ransomed Dreams is the first book in this Defenders of Hope series. It's important to read this prior to reading Healing Promises. Healing Promises won't lose you as it can stand alone, but there are some spoilers in the first chapter and Amy would hate to ruin Ransomed Dreams for you if you haven't read it first.

Facing a new threat.
When FBI Agent Clint Rollins takes a bullet during a standoff, it might just save his life. But not even the ugly things he’s seen during his years working in the Crimes Against Children Unit could prepare him for the overwhelming powerlessness of hospital tests revealing an unexpected diagnosis. If only Sara weren’t retreating into doctor mode…he needs his wife now more than ever.

Frozen in fear.
Sara Rollins is an oncologist with a mission–beating cancer when she can, easing her patients’ suffering at the very least. Now the life of her tall Texan husband is at stake. She never let the odds steal her hope before, but in this case, the question of God’s healing promises is personal. Can she hold on to the truth she claimed to believe?

Faith under fire.
As Clint continues to track down a serial kidnapper despite his illness, former investigations haunt his nightmares, pushing him beyond solving the case into risking his life and career. Clint struggles to believe God is still the God of miracles. Especially when he needs not one, but two. Everything in his life is reduced to one all-important question: Can God be trusted?

Read the first chapter here.

Buy your copy of Healing Promises today!


1. Healing Promises is book 2 in your Defenders of Hope series. What gave you the inspiration for this story?

One of the major storylines for Healing Promises came from a question I posed to the federal agent I interviewed before writing Ransomed Dreams. I had the seed of an idea about FBI Agent Clint Rollins's emotion journey, so I asked, "What would a federal agent do if he was diagnosed with a life-threatening illness?" My expert advisor said that many agents would end the battle fast. I knew then I wanted to explore how a Christian federal agent would handle a life-altering medical diagnosis.

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

I didn't realize until writing the end of Healing Promises how much of my recent journey through intense physical pain from a shoulder injury and my faith struggles were woven into the characters and their experiences. All I was aware of doing was pouring my soul into the pages. My writing mentor calls this "bleeding into your work." The process is painful, and yet it's one of the best ways to bring stories to life.

But the characters in Healing Promises are far less me and more composites of real-life heroes and heroines who've faced life-threatening illnesses and held onto Jesus. At the same time, Clint, Michael and Steven along with Sara, Hanna and Gracie have their own unique quirks and ways of approaching life. The result of taking different personality elements and blending them in various ways provides one of the most fun parts of writing.

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

My prayer is that readers will experience a deeper sense of the goodness and trustworthiness of God, even when life doesn’t go according to plan. I also hope readers will see that at the end of ourselves only one truth remains—God is good. What we do with that fact changes everything.

The theme of weaknesses and how we deal with them grew as I dug into the story and got to know the characters better.

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

The hardest parts to write were the scenes in the killer's POV. But I longed to write them well so parents could see some of the "tricks of the trade" kidnappers use and be a little more informed about keeping their children safe.

The best parts to write were at the end, so I can't really elaborate on them. :) But there are two scenes that still make me cry—even after editing them over and over and over again. I can say that I loved writing the depth of relationship that exists between various characters: Clint and Sara, Steven and his sister, Hanna, and the friendship between Clint and Steven and Lee and Michael. Writing those character's interactions were usually a great deal of fun.

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

Enduring Justice, the third book in the Defenders of Hope series, releases in spring of 2009. This is Michael and Hanna's story and focuses on a painful secret and a racially motivated killer. When circumstances simplify the options to fight or fear, Michael and Hanna learn that the difference between executing vengeance and pursuing justice is their choice to heal.

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Thank you, Amy, for being in the spotlight with us.

Readers, leave a comment for your chance to win a FREE copy of Healing Promises.

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, check the box that says 'email follow-up comments to:' when you leave a comment and they'll be sent to the email address associated with your blogging account. 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.

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Blog Tour - Jane Kirkpatrick and A Mending at the Edge

Today, I'm joining a multi-site blog tour already in progress and arranged through Waterbrook Press/Random House publishers. As you'll see when you get to the end of the spotlight interview, there are TWO chances to win something this week. So, be sure and leave a comment to enter.


Jane Kirkpatrick is the best-selling author of two nonfiction books and fourteen historical novels, including the popular Kinship and Courage series. Her award-winning writing has appeared in more than fifty publications, including Sports Afield and Decision. She's won the coveted Western Heritage Wrangler Award, an honor shared by such writers as Larry McMurtry and Barbara Kingsolver. Jane is a licensed clinical social worker as well as an internationally recognized speaker. She and her husband, Jerry, ranch 160 acres in eastern Oregon.

by Jane Kirkpatrick
Published by Waterbrook Press/Random House


A Mending at the Edge
"Of all the things I left in Willapa, hope is what I missed the most."

So begins this story of one woman's restoration from personal grief to the meaning of community. Based on the life of German-American Emma Wagner Giesy, the only woman sent to the Oregon Territory in the 1850s to help found a communal society, award-winning author Jane Kirkpatrick shows how landscape, relationships, spirituality and artistry poignantly reflect a woman's desire to weave a unique and meaningful legacy from the threads of an ordinary life. While set in the historical past, it's a story for our own time answering the question: Can threads of an isolated life weave a legacy of purpose in community?

This richly textured novel, the third in the acclaimed Change and Cherish series, follows the historical figure of Emma Wagner Giesy, who chafes under the restrictions of her 1860s religious colony. When her bid to belong in her unique way unravels her most precious relationships, she seeks new ways to stitch meaning into her life.

A Clearing in the Wild
Spirited young Emma Wagner chafes at the constraints of her 1850s religious community, which values conformity over independent thought, especially in women. Skeptical of the colony's growing emphasis on preparing for "the last days," Emma clashes with their increasingly autocratic leader—and faces the unexpected consequences of pursuing independence.

A Tendering in the Storm
This lyrical novel, based on an historical figure of the 1800s, follows the spirited and intelligent Emma Giesy, who achieves her goal of separating her family from the repressive religious community in which she grew up. But unexpected and dire consequences leave her family—and her faith—struggling to survive.

Buy Your Copy of A Mending at the Edge Today!


1. This is book 3 in your Change and Cherish series. What gave you the inspiration for this story?

I was invited to a quilters retreat weekend to talk about stories because two of my novels had been "quilted" by Northwest quilting groups. I'm not a quilter, by the way, but quilters are story-tellers, too. Anyway, while there, I perused a book by Mary ByWater Cross about quilts of the Oregon Trail and there was one made by Emma Wagner Giesy. It said she'd come west with nine men to help start a new Christian community. I was intrigued. First, often women's artifacts are lost or remain nameless and here was a beautiful quilt that had the story of the maker still with it. Then I was intrigued by this lone woman traveling west. What might she have been thinking? What was her desire? How did she adapt? I learned she was pregnant when she left and that when this colony had begun other colonies, no woman had ever been sent. That's what got my juices flowing and before long I had begun my research to see what this woman might have to say to us today all these 150 plus years later.

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

Someone more skilled (and famous) than I once wrote that most writers are destined to use people from their own lives to help form their characters and I imagine I do that too though sometimes I can't tell! I'm a terrible eavesdropper at restaurants and often pick up wonderful phrases or speech patterns that I incorporate.

In this series, I really found Emma to be both different and alike from me. We share being stubborn (I'm of German descent and so was Emma and that may be a given with German women :) ) but the other side of stubborn is perseverance. We both share a questioning of issues of faith especially in how we draw on faith during times of trial and that sometimes I (we) wait too long before surrendering and realizing we simply must step into the wilderness and trust. Her ability to withstand the patriarchal colony leadership is unique to her, I think. I have stood up to power but it takes me a long time to process whether I should, whether there's another way besides confrontation, etc. Emma stood up directly and I think that was a unique and admirable quality though she paid a terrible price for it too.

I worked hard to create male characters who were both strong and sympathetic; who were benevolent and yet sometimes were condescending but who would be men that strong women like Emma would love. My own husband is such a sweetheart AND he can drive me to distraction! So I worked at making male characters that are believable. A man at a signing once told me he read my books to discover more about himself through the male characters and that I'd given him a "community of strong, good men."

I didn't want to impose 21st Century values onto these people but at the same time I think some emotions and experiences transcend time. Those are the ones I hope help readers relate to the characters regardless of whether the traits are mine or uniquely the character's.

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

I hope more than anything that readers will see that communities have ebbs and flows to them and that as participants we sometimes are actively engaged and sometimes we step away and allow others to be more upfront. That this moving in and out is healthy and normal in any community and that coming back after being separated is a strength that enriches the community and our own lives.

Secondly, I hoped to convey a story of a strong woman who did not always get what she wanted in life but who learned how to find meaning within the rhythm of ordinary days. So often, especially as we grow older, into our 40s and 50s and 60s even, we realize we may not do anything "amazing" or "noteworthy" in the record or history books. But each of us does amazing and noteworthy acts everyday in how we relate to our children, our neighbors, our communities and I wanted to honor that and encourage people of all ages that their lives are worthy of remembering.

A theme that came out of the story, one that surprised me, was when I discovered that an earlier colony with which Emma's parents had been associated, had labyrinths. I read more about labyrinths and the practice of their use in contemplative prayer and thought it would add to Emma's journey to contentment and it's made me want to engage more in labyrinth walks for my own prayer life.

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

The most difficult was the part about the relationship between Emma and her sons and what happened to their relationship by the edict of the leader. I just felt so sad for her! I based that material on the historical record of where the boys lived in the colony and when that happened. It's pure speculation about the why but I hope I created a reasonable explanation.

My favorite? I think the scenes with all the women together as they "hatched" up the romance between Matilda and Jacob and how Emma used her skills to form bonds with women who she had once seen as very different from herself.

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

The next book is actually a kind of epilogue to the entire Change and Cherish series. It's called Aurora: An American Experience in Quilt and Craft. And it is about the actual colony in Oregon, and the story is told through the quilts and crafts for which the colonists were known in the region. There'll be lots of pictures, both historical and of the more than 80 quilts in the museum collection and many of the unique artifacts such as the tin work they did, turned furniture, colorful textiles, etc.

The publisher is also sponsoring a drawing of a replica of Emma's quilt, the one I saw a picture of those years ago that set me on my journey. People can sign up for the drawing at and click on the "Contests" link. That book will be out in October.

Then in April of 2009 I have a new series beginning called "Portrait of a Woman." The first novel is called The Flickering Light and the story is based on my grandmother who was a photographer at the turn of the century in Minnesota. It's been a great journey for me personally to research and to write my version of her story. I heard Author Rudy Weib, a Canadian award-winner, speak at Write! Canada where I'd been asked to reach some courses last year and he told the crowd to "write your own people." I loved that and so decided now was the time to tell The Flickering Light. I'm hoping others will find it a good story as well and maybe be inspired to write their "own people" too.

* * * * *

Thank you, Jane, for being in the spotlight with us.

Readers, leave a comment for your chance to win a FREE copy of Mending at the Edge AND a free copy of all THREE books in the Change and Cherish series. There will be TWO random drawings with this spotlight.

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, check the box that says 'email follow-up comments to:' when you leave a comment and they'll be sent to the email address associated with your blogging account. 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, April 21, 2008

Humor in Life -- Science Fiction and Fantasy

On Saturday, my husband and I met a few friends and drove up to Denver to attend one day of StarFest 2008. This was my first one, but my dh and his friends have been attending this for a few years. They 'lovingly' refer to it as "Geek Fest." When my hubby said I had to go...if for no other reason than to see how *non*-Geek he is, I figured it'd be worth it for that. :)

Of course, I'm a quasi sci-fi chic anyway. But let me tell you. If I had any doubts whatsoever about my husband's level of geekness, they were all obliterated and blown to smithereens from the moment we set foot inside the hotel. We had arranged to meet the other group who had driven in the second car in the atrium area near the hotel's cafe. So, after purchasing our tickets and attaching our ribbons as proof of registration, we headed in that direction--encountering Storm Troopers, Pirates, Star Trek and Enterprise fleet members, StarGate teams and bar wenches along the way.

As soon as we entered the atrium, the 5 stories of balconies which flanked the atrium on 3 sides immediately caught my eye. My husband had told me (and one of his coworkers who was also attending for the first time) of these, but you just have to see it to believe it. Some folks went all out to decorate the balconies of their hotel rooms. Many who attend the entire StarFest weekend register early and request these rooms with the express purpose of having something in store for the decoration. Of course, there is a prize awards Saturday night for the room with the best balcony decoration. So, perhaps it's worthwhile. They certainly were a sight to behold.

Once all 6 of us were together, we wandered around (waiting for things to get started at 10am), checking out the art room where artwork, sculptures, models, clay figures, paintings, photos and much more were on display and for sale or auction bidding. We moved from there to the "toy" room as this group calls it, where collectibles, movie posters, DVDs, VHS tapes, CD's, action figures, decorative plates, swords, light sabers, and everything else was available for sale. Both of these rooms were jam-packed with booths, vendors and displays. And some of this stuff...well, it would make kindergarten artwork look like masterpieces.

More booths and vendors lined the hallways and main traffic areas, hawking books, munchies, autographed photos, movie promotions, event announcements and much more. There was even a booth called "The Brig" where you could pay to have someone from the event thrown in there amidst a lot of fanfare. I joked about "nominating" a member of *our* group, but it never happened. The rest of the morning passed with what I would call a "snooze fest" main event, in which a computer graphics and CGI designer took 2 hours to present the history of computer animation. It didn't get interesting until the final 20 minutes when he used the example of the "Rock Monster" from Galaxy Quest to show what computers can do.

After this, we headed to lunch, looking for a Hawaiian Barbecue restaurant that one guy in our group said was close to the hotel. After walking for fifteen minutes and checking out the nearby eateries, we gave up and ate at the Chicken Kitchen. Decent food, but nothing compared to what I'm sure we would have sampled at the barbecue place. I tell ya, that's the list time we trust Nathan to lead us anywhere. At least the food was filling, and the walk was a good bit of exercise, as we had to walk back afterward. Although, I think I would have preferred to travel like R2D2 did. :)

The afternoon passed with panels featuring the key celebrity attendees -- Masi Oka (known for his role of Hiro on the TV show Heroes and now in his upcoming role in the film, Speed Racer) Anne Lockhart (who is primarily known for her work as Sheba on the original Battlestar Galactica); Adam Baldwin (who is known for his portrayal of Jayne from the short-lived but much-loved show, Firefly, as well as The Patriot and Independence Day and Serenity), and Zachary Quinto (known for his role as Sylar on Heroes as well as his upcoming portrayal of Spock in the new Star Trek movie releasing in 2009).

Other guests included authors (Dave McDonnell, Kevin Dilmore, Steven Fawcette, Christie Golden, Dayton Ward), artists (Ed Cramer, Jason and Heather Martin), other actors (Cliff Simon, Nate Torrence, Nana Visitor, Nichelle Nichols), and the master of ceremonies (Kevin Atkins), but they didn't have a main event Q&A session. Only their autograph booths and smaller venue presentations.

My favorite part, though, was getting the chance during the Trailer Park feature to slip out and chat with Anne Lockhart for about 15 minutes. She was sitting at her autograph booth but no one was there, so I walked on up and started a conversation. First, we chatted about the fact that she got her role on Battlestar Galactica when Jane Seymour (who played Serena in the pilot and first episode) didn't want to accept the full-time part. When I mentioned that I work with Jane on her web site and with fanmail, Anne said she starred with Jane in a 2-part episode of Dr. Quinn. It was one of my favorites from that TV show of Jane's, and I could feel my face warm as a blush crept into my cheeks when I didn't remember her playing that role. She forgave me, though, and we continued talking about TV today compared to what it used to be, as well as her upcoming work and life in Hollywood for a female actress with a career spanning over 30 years. She asked me to say "hello" to Jane for her, so I will be sure to do that at the first opportunity.

I managed to slip into the Trailer Park near the end in time to see the new trailers for Indiana Jones, Get Smart, Hellboy 2, Narnia: Prince Caspian, and many others I don't remember right now. Looks like this summer will be a good one! There was a short break followed by the Parody Play which combined several little skits in which combinations of well-known lines or spoofs are assembled to hopefully produce laughter. But, the set designs were rudimentary, the dialogue and banter were probably closer to third-rate, and their lapel microphones weren't fastened in the right places, lending to a production where we heard every other word and had to fill in the blanks on our own. Somehow, I believe our interpretations were better than what was on stage. :) Past years are said to have been better, but this year? It didn't seem to be a hit.

Finally, at 8pm, we come to the final main event -- Costume Parade. Here is where anyone who wishes to enter is involved in a parade of costumes in several categories: children, teen, fantasy/online gaming/sci-fi/other, and group. An overall category entitled "Best of Show" is awarded at the end. Last year, a group dressed as the cast from Space Balls, and when they didn't win the group category, a riot almost broke out. That was when the "best of show" category was created. It was back again this year, with fantastic results. By far, the best was a human Gundham character (entire suit hand-made) and the cast from Night at the Museum. They were both awarded "best of show" in a tie. The group might be the same as the Space Balls bunch from last year, and there were rumors or this group's connection to theatre with their intricate and amazing costumes, but nothing was confirmed.

However, it was the Lego Storm Troopers who stole the show. LOL!

After this, we headed with the masses for the exit and made our way to our cars, agreeing to meet at a Village Inn along the interstate, where we spent the next hour-and-a-half eating a near-midnight "snack" and rehashing the day's events. Despite assuring the waitress we had consumed absolutely NO alcohol, our laughter and silly antics were suspect during the entire time we were there.

Stu and I arrived home around 1am and barely managed to dump our things before falling into bed for much-needed sleep. I'm already thinking about what costume I can wear next year, and what I might be able to wrangle Stu into donning, but we both agreed we'd borrow our 6-year-old niece and dress her up as Pikachu. She'd steal the show!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Promises, Promises Blog Tour -- July 2008 -- Hosts Needed!


I'm thrilled to announce that Promises, Promises will hit, and other online retailers this coming July! I am prepared to send out copies of the book to influencers who will help me get the word out by posting reviews and/or hosting me on their blog. If you think you'll be able to assist me in promoting Promises, Promises, please send me an email letting me know what you’d like to do. I greatly appreciate any assistance. You’re all the best.

The tour will take place from Monday, July 7th through Saturday, July 26th (excluding Sundays), 2008. My book will also be part of the CFBA Tour during this time from Monday, July 21st through Wednesday, July 23rd. So, if you're a member of CFBA, you can request the book through that venue and still be part of the overall tour. If you wish an additional component to add to what CFBA provides, feel free to email me after finishing this invitation.

The theme of the book is the promise that God will never leave or forsake us, no matter what happens in life.

I would love for you to host me on your blog by featuring an:

  • an interview

  • a guest appearance

  • or a book review

Offer a free book as a prize to anyone who leaves a comment. Books will be provided for reviews and giveaways as needed, and I will mail the free copy to the winner so you don't have to incur the cost of shipping.

Email me with:

  • the date you prefer (Monday, July 7th through Saturday, July 26th -- excluding Sundays)

  • the URL of your blog (and title if applicable)

  • the type of feature(s) you will be doing (interview, guest blogger, book review)

  • your snail mail address, so I can mail your influencer copy to you

I prefer all interview questions to be sent no later than June 30th to allow me time to answer them. If you decide to have me as a guest on your blog and have a preference for a topic, please get that to me by June 30th as well.

If you know of someone else who might be interested in participating in this tour, feel free to let them know about it. The more, the merrier!

Now, thanks to my friend, fellow author and ACFW Advisor, Deb Raney, the following are a few influencer activities that I'd also love for you to do to help promote this book:

•Write a review for the book on online bookstores such as:

•Write a review at one of the many online book review sites, including:

•Using, recommend this book via an e-mail link that will take your friends right to the page featuring this book.

•If you have a unique perspective—for instance, personal experience with the book’s topic, etc.—offer your insights with your review.

*** For the above, even if you don't have a blog/web site or you don't wish to participate in the tour, I will provide 1 influencer copy that you are free to use as you wish. ***


•If you have a newsletter that goes out on a somewhat regular basis, consider promoting this book.

•Offer to write a book review for your church newsletter, neighborhood newspaper or any other printed source that might reach readers.

•Recommend this book as a featured title for a local book discussion group. Discussion questions can be provided if needed.

•When you’re finished with the book, tuck it into a gift basket for someone who is ill or in the hospital; or take it to your next dinner party as a hostess gift.

•Word-of-mouth is still probably the number one way books hit bestseller lists, so simply start conversations about the book. Tell your friends and family what you’ve been reading and why you enjoyed it so much.

Feel free to write to me and share your experiences after doing any of these things. I'd love to hear about your creative or unique ideas. Thank you for any and all assistance you can offer in helping me get the word out about this book. You truly are a blessing.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Spotlight on Janet Lee Barton and Mississippi Weddings


Janet Lee Barton has lived all over the southern U.S., but she and her husband plan to now stay put in Oklahoma. With three daughters and six grandchildren between them, they feel blessed to have at least one daughter and her family living in the same town. Janet loves being able to share her faith through her writing. Happily married to her very own hero, she is ever thankful that the Lord brought Dan into her life, and she wants to write stories that show that the love between a man and a woman is at its best when the relationship is built with God at the center. She's very happy that the kind of romances the Lord has called her to write can be read by and shared with women of all ages, from teenagers to grandmothers alike.

by Janet Lee Barton
Published by Barbour Publishing


Contemporary Romance: Once you reach the shores of Magnolia Bay, you'll never want to leave. Here you'll find Meagan Evans, a woman torn between her old flame, Nick Chambers, and the man who waits for her back in Texas; the recently widowed Ronni Melrose, whose determination never to open her heart again is tested by Cole Bannister; and Dani Phillips, who loves her job as city manager but begins to see red when Thad Cameron is hired to help save Magnolia Bay's flagging economy. Let yourself be swept away in these tales of three southern belles who take the "Miss" out of "Mississippi."

Buy Your Copy Today!


1. This is a compilation of your 3 contemporary Mississippi books. What gave you the inspiration for this story?

I fell in love with the quaintness of the Mississippi Gulf Coast long before Katrina devastated it, and I knew I wanted to set a series in that area. The inspiration for the series was about how a quaint small town could be in danger of having it's charm taken away if it let casinos in it's boundaries--and how it was in danger of dying if it did not. The series is about how one town chose to fight for it's life without giving away its soul. All the stories take place in the same fictional town of Magnolia Bay, MS and include characters from the other stories. They are stories are about friends and families who are there for each other and the town they love--and who turn to the Lord to guide them in their fight for right.

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

Hmm. I think our life experiences are always reflected in our writing because we draw from what we know. But there isn't any one thing about my life that is in these characters except to say that they sometimes struggle with things I, and most of us, have struggled with at times in our lives. They struggle with forgiving themselves and others at times. As they grow they learn that its in trusting the Lord to help us through life's ups and downs that we gain real contentment and peace.

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

In Unforgettable, Meagan must learn to forgive and trust in the Lord to guide her. She must put the past where it belongs so that she can look forward to the future.
In To Love Again, Ronni must let go of the pain of betrayal and learn to trust before she can give her heart to another.
In With Open Arms, A whole town learns to trust each other and especially the Lord to help them through a crisis

I believe the overall theme in the series is trusting in the Lord to help us do His will in all areas of our lives.

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

With Open Arms was very hard to write because it had been proposed before Katrina and had to be written after. I saw what the devastation was and knew that the town I'd fashioned Magnolia Bay after was almost wiped away. It is not Katrina's story, although I hope to write about that one day. But it is the story of what can happen along the Gulf Coast in any given year and how people live with the threat of hurricanes from June to November each and every year along the Gulf Coast and anywhere there are hurricanes.

My favorite part was in showing how depending and trusting in the Lord is what brings us peace and joy. And in showing how close friends and small towns come together to help each other in times of need.

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

The next book out is NEW MEXICO WEDDINGS: a compilation anthology of 3 of my contemporary New Mexico stories: Family Circle, Family Ties and Family Reunion.
These stories are what I refer to as my 'family series' because it's about one big loving family who is there to help each other when needed....and they LOVE to play matchmakers--even when not wanted!

It will be released in July. In September there will be a novella, The Cookie Jar, in Connecticut Christmas, a collection with Diane Ashley, Rhonda Gibson and Gail Sattler. In January 2009 look for the first book in the historical Arkansas series, called A Love for Keeps. It takes place in Eureka Springs in 1886.

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Thank you, Janet, for being in the spotlight with us.

Readers, leave a comment for your chance to win a FREE autographed copy of Mississippi Weddings.

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, check the box that says 'email follow-up comments to:' when you leave a comment and they'll be sent to the email address associated with your blogging account. That way you'll be notified of any comments and will know when I announce the winner.

This week, the contest is open to anyone worldwide.

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Monday, April 14, 2008

Humor in Life -- My First Book Is in Good Company...Then Again....

All right, for the past few weeks, I've been getting "Google Alerts" sent to my inbox each day to let me know when my name or book title or design business appeared in Blog posts or Web searches. Although I glanced at a few for my first book title, Promises, Promises, I didn't pay much attention to it beyond a simple look.

However, this past week, my husband went onto and did a search for my title. Boy, was HE surprised at what he found! And of course, he just *had* to share it with me.

The first result isn't bad at all...even if the premise isn't the best. It's an audio CD of the 1968 Original cast recording from the Broadway musical by the same title. And recent news has a revival in the works to bring this musical back to Broadway. That's a companion I don't mind being associated with my book. It'll mean some potential good press and publicity.

The play is based on the 1960 Billy Wilder film, The Apartment, written by Neil Simon, about a man who rents his apartment to the philandering upper-level executives at his job so they can bring their girlfriends there. The film was the winner of five 1960 Academy Awards® including Best Picture and starred Jack Lemmon, Shirley Maclaine and Bud Wilder. Some legendary names there! :)

The other one, however, isn't as flattering.

It's a DVD about a 1963 sexy shipboard romp featuring two women who are pregnant but don't know which of the husbands is the father. It resulted in a headline-grabbing photo spread in Playboy Magazine for the lead actress, Jayne Mansfield, who also directed the movie.

Ok, so I can guarantee that my book is NOT connected in any way to that 1960's romp. It isn't even connected to the famous film or play, but I wouldn't mind the added publicity from an Academy-award winning movie!

Now, we just need to get my book listed on Amazon, and that has to wait until my publisher submits the info. I'll be so glad when they do.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Spotlight on Delia Latham and Goldeneyes


Delia Latham is a former newspaper Staff Writer and an occasional contributor to her hometown’s regional publication, Bakersfield Magazine. She also writes greeting card verse, short stories, articles, and songs. Her editing and proofing skills have been utilized by numerous authors, including Dr. Chuck Wall, founder of the Random Acts of Kindness movement.

Her debut novel, Almost Like a Song, was released in June 2006; Goldeneyes will be released in March 2008 by Vintage Romance Publishing. Delia's work is also included in an upcoming short story anthology, The Shortstack: 20 Stories to Fill You Up.

The author lives in Bakersfield, California with her husband, Johnny, a Pentecostal minister. Her four adult children and four "beautiful, absolutely perfect" grandchildren daily light up her life. She loves to hear from her readers. Contact her through her website or her blog.

by Delia Latham
Published by Vintage Romance Publishing


A man's eyes are the windows to his soul . if he has one. Deep in the darkness of a Depression-era night, a man addicted to alcohol sells something precious to obtain it. His vile action impacts the lives of two entire families, and it will be over two decades before the horrible wrong begins to be made right again. Two young women - strangers to each other - unknowingly enmeshed in a Pandora's Box of secrets that could prevent them from finding happiness with the men they love. Two adoring mothers who know more than they are willing to say. A newsman with a story he cannot tell. What is their connection, and who is the golden-eyed stranger who moves in the shadows of their broken lives?

Buy Your Copy Today!


1. What gave you the inspiration for this story?

I grew up in a tiny California farming community called Weedpatch. I have always wanted to write something and set it in that locale. Believe it or not, I think I actually worked the story around the setting, rather than the other way around - which is by far more usual.

One aspect of my inspiration I can't share because it would give away an important twist in the book. Want to talk again a few months from now? :)

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

I may be wrong - God knows I have been before! - but I truly believe every author writes a bit of themselves into their characters. Sometimes we don't even know we're doing it. One of my heroines (there are two in Goldeneyes) shares a relationship with her father that mirrors my own with my Dad. Their manner of speaking and the honor they show their parents is most likely influenced by my own upbringing. I just wrote into them the kind of respect parental respect I feel a Christian should have.

I think that's probably the extent of it. Who knows, though? Both of my boys tell me the heroine in my first novel, Almost Like a Song, IS me! That was not my intention at all (and I don't think it's quite as definitive a resemblance as he thinks! LOL ), but it is easy for a writer to allow his/her characters to be influenced by their own upbringing, environment, personal beliefs, etc.

One of the Goldeneyes heroines has an extreme fear of the dark. That's entirely her own, not mine. She's also a good artist. Again, totally her - I can't draw a stick figure and make it straight. But the other twin is a writer. Okay, that's me. She's also kind of shy around people she doesn't know, and yeah, I can relate to that, too.

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

I just shared this theme with someone else this morning - and it did develop as the story progressed. It is simply this: Never stop believing that God has a reason for every incident in your life. He does, and His purpose will be manifested in time, always to your good and His glory.

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

I loved writing about the golden-eyed stranger who managed to bring to light the connection in the lives of my primary characters. Those parts just seemed to flow. I was so into this mysterious person, I could actually see him in my mind. Because he's not one of the characters we see on every page, I had to curb my enthusiasm and be careful not to paint him too prominently, allowing him to overshadow my heroines. Having him show up in odd places and times worked best - it made him more interesting to the reader.

To my surprise, writing about Weedpatch was difficult. As much as I wanted to use that setting, I found myself struggling to separate myself from the reality of the place enough to fictionalize it. I encountered a huge writer's block at one point that I feared would be insurmountable. But with many tears and a lot of prayer, God broke down the barrier. When He gave me that release, He also gave me the inspiration, and the rest of the story flowed well.

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

Whenever God wants it to happen. You can all help me pray that my manuscripts find favor with an editor and are contracted quickly!

I've completed a short novel called Karissa's Dream which is being pitched to several publishers now. Currently, I'm working on a storyline that (to my utter surprise!) will make a connection between Almost Like a Song and Goldeneyes.

* * * * *

Thank you, Delia, for being in the spotlight with us.

Readers, leave a comment for your chance to win a FREE autographed copy of Goldeneyes.

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, check the box that says 'email follow-up comments to:' when you leave a comment and they'll be sent to the email address associated with your blogging account. 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.

* * * * *

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

CFBA Blog Tour - Brandilyn Collins and Amber Morn

I have to confess. Every time I see this author's book title, I have to do a double-take. It's so similar to my writing name that catches my eye every time. I'd like to believe there was a smidgeon of partiality to her title choice, but that would be stretching things quite a bit. She IS a big fan of my husband's writing...and she even has a character in this series patterned after him. But, that's where the favoritism ends, I'm afraid.

Oh well, a gal can dream right?

Anyway, back to our spotlight guest. :) I am honored and pleased to share Brandilyn Collins with you as part of the CFBA blog tour:

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Amber Morn
Book Four of the Kanner Lake series
(Zondervan - April 1, 2008)
by Brandilyn Collins


Brandilyn Collins is a best-selling novelist known for her trademark Seatbelt Suspense™. These harrowing crime thrillers have earned her the tagline

“Don’t forget to b r e a t h e …®”

Brandilyn writes for Zondervan, the Christian division of HarperCollins Publishers, and is currently at work on her 19th book. Her first, A Question of Innocence, was a true crime published by Avon in 1995. Its promotion landed her on local and national TV and radio, including the Phil Donahue and Leeza talk shows.

She’s also known for her distinctive book on fiction-writing techniques, Getting Into Character: Seven Secrets a Novelist Can Learn From Actors (John Wiley & Sons), and often teaches at writers conferences.

Brandilyn blogs at Forensics and Faith. Visit her Website to read the first chapters of all her books.

Buy Your Copy Today!


The whole thing couldn't have taken more than sixty seconds.

Bailey hung on to the counter, dazed. If she let go, she'd collapse—and the twitching fingers of the gunman would pull the trigger. The rest of her group huddled in frozen shock.

Dear God, help us! Tell me this is a dream . . .

The shooter's teeth clenched. "Anybody who moves is dead."

On a beautiful Saturday morning the nationally read "Scenes and Beans" bloggers gather at Java Joint for a special celebration. Chaos erupts when three gunmen burst in and take them all hostage. One person is shot and dumped outside.

Police Chief Vince Edwards must negotiate with the desperate trio. The gunmen insist on communicating through the "comments" section of the blog—so all the world can hear their story. What they demand, Vince can't possibly provide. But if he doesn't, over a dozen beloved Kanner Lake citizens will die...

Amber Morn is the climactic finale to Collins' widely read Kanner Lake series. All first three titles in the series, Violet Dawn, Coral Moon, and Crimson Eve, were bestsellers. Library Journal placed Crimson Eve on its Best Books of 2007 list, and hailed it the "Best Christian suspense of 2007."

A few early reviews of Amber Morn:

"… essential reading … a harrowing hostage drama." – Library Journal

"… heart-pounding … breakneck pace … satisfying and meaningful ending." – RT Bookreviews

"This cataclysmic ending left me breathless … Kanner Lake is the Best Suspense Series of 2007/2008." –

"Collins has saved the best for a last .. a powerful ensemble performance." --

"… a staccato tempo … Sometimes you just have to close the book in order to come up for air." – Dale Lewis

"…a masterpiece of page-turning suspense with a cast of dozens." – Peg Phifer


1. This is the fourth book in your series, one that features a cast of characters that readers have come to love. What gave you the inspiration for this story?

Because books 1-3 feature different protagonists with the same set of supporting characters—the bloggers at Java Joint—I wanted the finale to feature all those characters. And I wanted the story to revolve around the real Scenes and Beans blog, which was started with the release of Violet Dawn. I thought it would be cool thing to combine fiction and reality like this.

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

There’s very little of me in these characters. As I was creating them for the first book in the series, I asked for suggestions for various quirks from my blog readers. I tried to incorporate as many of their ideas as possible. Old codger Wilbur, who’s always raising his shirt to show his scar from heart surgery—yup, that was a suggestion from one of my readers. I can’t imagine the series without that character.

And I wanted to feature a quirky science fiction writer. S-Man, as he’s called, is completely fictional, but as you know, Tiff, the manuscript he’s writing isn’t. One day we’re going to see Starfire, your husband’s novel, published.

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

I often have underlying symbolism in my suspense. Many readers don't see it because they're just caught up in the action of the surface story. And that's okay. But for those who want to think more about the story, or perhaps use the novel for a book club pick, I have discussion questions for the Kanner Lake series on my web site. These questions help lead the reader to some deeper thinking. For example, Violet Dawn is about a frightened young woman who has to make a terrible choice when she finds a body on her property. But that story's really about emotional scars, and how different people handle them. Wilbur, with the scar from heart surgery on his chest, is the overt symbolism. He deals with his physical scar by showing it off. He's proud of the trauma he's endured. Paige keeps her emotional scars totally secret, and thinks she can get away with that emotionally. That never works—not if you want to live a victorious life. Chief Edwards lives with his scars over the death of his son every day, going about his normal business, but dragging around this chain of grief. The ending scene between Wilbur and Paige is a subtexted scene that speaks to this symbolism. I didn't want it to be overt, and many readers may not have caught it. But of all the characters, crotchety old Wilbur was the one who addressed Paige's scars and how she should handle them.

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

The difficulty for Amber Morn came in handling so many points of view and keeping straight in my mind where every character was at any given moment. Also the time sequences. Things happen at a rapid pace at two main locations—Java Joint and the negotiation command post. Many times I needed to show what was happening at one location, then back up in time to show what happened at the other. This needed to be done without confusing the reader. The third difficulty was in concluding all the loose ends in the characters' personal lives. As the conclusion for the series, Amber Morn needs to leave the reader satisfied as to what happens to all these characters.

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

My next novel is a stand-alone titled Dark Pursuit. Here's the back cover copy:

Novelist Darell Brooke lived for his title as King of Suspense—until an auto accident left him unable to concentrate. Two years later, recluse and bitter, he wants one thing: to plot a new novel and regain his reputation.

Kaitlan Sering, his twenty-two-year-old granddaughter, once lived for drugs. After she stole from Darell, he cut her off. Now she's rebuilding her life.

In Kaitlan's town two women have been murdered. She is about to discover the third. The only possible culprit? Her boyfriend, Craig, son of the town's police chief.

Desperate, Kaitlan flees to her estranged grandfather. For over forty years, Darell Brooke has lived suspense. Surely he'll devise a plan to trap the cunning Craig.

But can Darell's muddled mind do it? And—if he tries—with what motivation? For Kaitlan's plight may be the stunning answer to the illusive plot he seeks ...

* * * * *

Thank you, Brandilyn, for being in the spotlight with us.

Readers, leave a comment for your chance to win a FREE copy of Amber Morn.

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, check the box that says 'email follow-up comments to:" when you leave a comment and type the email address where you'd like them sent. 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, April 07, 2008

Humor in Life -- Marital Communication and Raining Dip 'n' Dots

I'm a little late with this, but I'm glad. But I'll get to that after the first point.

Last year on this blog, I tracked the progress of my wedding plans. After getting engaged. I shared a special multimedia announcement my then-fiance and I created together to share the joy with others. And then came the wedding and the start of our marriage. So many people gave us helpful advice, and a lot of it fell into similar categories of how to avoid problems, how to resolve conflicts and how to stay happy in a marriage.

But one tip rang out loud and clear -- the importance of communication.

I can't tell you how often I meet a married couple and find myself amazed at their ability predict what the other one will say or anticipate each other's moves/actions/needs. People tell you that an earmark of a good relationship is when the two involved finish each other's sentences and talk without words.

Well, ESP, mind-reading and clairvoyance don't come with the ring.

In fact, it takes time and work to make it happen. Case and point. My car was having issues and had recently been serviced. But a week later, it was doing the same thing and I'd called the shop to have them look at it again. I was on my way toward taking it back. Only this time, the car would rev and not turn over. So, hubby had to come home from work and rescue me. I had gotten the car started but stopped to check the mail and got stuck in front of the mailboxes right at the entrance to our condo community.

It wouldn't start, so we had to push it. Well, I got in the driver's seat and he pushed. One problem. He wasn't talking to me as we moved it. So, I didn't know when and where he wanted me to steer. We were going in reverse so I was looking over my shoulder. I knew not to hit the brake but I also didn't want to hit anything, so when steering if we were getting close and I couldn't avoid it, I'd hit the break. We got to a point where we were trying to get it into a parking space and we were going to hit the car next to us. So, I hit the brakes and hubby got mad.

First, he asked me why I didn't steer. Then, he asked why I hit the brakes. Not long after that, he said "you're the driver." I knew that time wasn't the right time to jest, so I waited until he had cooled off to point out to him if he wanted me to go a certain way or do something, he needed to TELL me, not just think it. It took a little persuasion, but he eventually realized the folly in this experience. We both apologized for not thinking out the situation beforehand and made a pact to make sure we talked it out if it happened in the future.

Yeah, ESP doesn't come naturally. :)

Now, today, a few months later, we've gotten much better. Still have a long way to go, but it's a fun ride. Today, I joined hubby and our real estate agents for lunch. Without asking, he provided bread without me asking and second-guessed drink needs. He also seems to know when I could use a hug or loving touch.

We drove separate cars, so we left and headed in opposite directions...and I ran smack into blowing snow that turned into light hail. But this wasn't your standard-issue typical hail. This was soft, and resembled rain in how it fell, but it was solid enough to land with a soft thud on the car and the road. It accumulated on the windshield and gathered like ice pellets, but the pinging wasn't hard like ice. Added to that was getting closer to home and seeing blue skies with white, puffy clouds compared to the gray, overcast where the snow, rain and hail were. When hubby got home, he asked if I liked the weather. I told him, I loved it:

"It was raining Dip 'n' Dots!"

Friday, April 04, 2008

Spotlight on Michelle Cox, John Perrodin and Simple Little Words

Today, I am veering just a smidgeon off-course from featuring a fiction book. However, as my tagline is "Touching Hearts; Inspiring Lives" I figured this book would fit right in line with that. It's all about how the simple little words you speak can touch a life in ways you never imagined.


Michelle Cox is a speaker, co-author (with John Perrodin) of Simple Little Words: What You Say Can Change a Life, and the author of Mothers Who Made a Difference. She writes frequently for various publications at Focus on the Family, has written greeting card text, and recently taped a part of a DVD small group curriculum on parenting and marriage for Focus on the Family. She and her husband, Paul, live near Asheville, North Carolina.

John Perrodin is Senior Editor for the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild. He has written three YA novels with Jerry in the Renegade Spirit series. For 12-plus years, he worked at Focus on the Family and served as Special Assistant to Dr. James C. Dobson. He and his wife, Sue, live in Colorado Springs.

by Michelle Cox & John Perrodin
Published by David C. Cook


Words can inspire, encourage, and convey love. They can poke and prod and compel to action. Or they can wound, discourage, and criticize. And what is said or not said in the most mundane moment can alter the course of a life...forever.

Buy Your Copy Today!


1. You've compiled a collection of stories from a wide variety of authors and known names in the industry for this book. What gave you the inspiration for this story?

JP: Michelle Cox and I have been friends for years. When I saw some stunning samples of her article writing I knew it would be great to work on a book project together. So we did some brainstorming and pitched and pitched and pitched. Simple Little Words was Michelle's brainchild and appropriately leads off with her sharing a touching personal story. I think both of us try to share encouragement whenever we can – and we were thrilled to have the chance to put some of the exciting results of those "simple little words" in this special compilation.

MC: A special moment from my childhood was the inspiration for Simple Little Words. As a child from a dysfunctional home situation, I had no self-esteem and no self-confidence. On a class field trip one day, a classmate’s mom said, "You have the most beautiful green eyes I've ever seen." To her they were ten simple little words, but to a child who needed to hear there was something of beauty about her, they were life changing. This book is a beautiful reminder that our words are powerful tools.

2. Tell us one thing about this book that might not be obvious from reading it, or something special from the time it took to put it together.

JP: This project helped me to realize how everything – even a book – must be placed completely in God's hand. From the cover selection to the order of chapters, I had to let go and trust. And that was as fun as it was hard. Ultimately, it was exciting to see things shaped differently than I expected and yet clearly along the lines God had in mind. Both Michelle and I experienced email problems and computer "issues" and learned that "in everything we must give thanks." Maybe that's part of the reason we were so pleased to turn over the creation of the website,, to my teen son, Jace.

MC: John lives in Colorado and I live in North Carolina. I'm still amazed at how well our writing partnership works despite the distance. Writing with John is a joy and I know without a doubt that God put this team together. I think the thing that really surprised us as we worked on this book was that God’s vision for Simple Little Words was so much bigger than ours had been. We were awed by the heart-tugging stories He sent us. John and I split the submissions for editing so neither of us had read the entire manuscript from start to finish until several weeks before our deadline. When I read the complete book for the first time, the powerful stories God provided blew me away. I cry every time I read them.

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

JP: I hope the reader sees that our time on this spinning orb is short. We don't know how many more opportunities we'll have to look a loved one in the eye and say "I'm sorry." That's the beauty of Simple Little Words. We're not asking anyone to make fancy speeches or write eloquent tomes. All we're asking is that they take the time to speak life, hope, and love to those around them.

MC: I think one of the most important themes is that people need to say those simple little words to their loved ones while there's time. None of us has the guarantee of tomorrow. We all need to hear that we're special to someone or that we're loved. Children need to hear that they are of value to their parents—and they need to hear it often. I hope our readers will realize that the words they say today might be remembered for a lifetime.

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

JP: The hardest part of the job was making sure we were staying true to the heart of the each storyteller. Especially with the "as told to" chapters we wanted to allow the voice of the person to come through loud and clear. My favorite part of the process was waiting to see what stories God would send our way. That was sheer delight – to see Him deliver us the words He wanted us to share.

MC: One of our challenges was that we had a rather tight deadline to compile Simple Little Words. The publisher originally wanted the book in six weeks—and we only had two stories! Our first thought was panic and then we prayed. Two days later, I called John and said, "If God sent us the contract, He will send us the stories." We were amazed at how the stories came to us.

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

JP: I have two books coming out: Uncover Me and Surviving Me, the first two (of four) books in the Trio Plus series for teen girls. These Thomas Nelson releases will be available August 2008. Uncover Me and Surviving Me are co-authored with Susie Shellenberger, editor of Focus on the Family's Brio magazine.

MC: I just finished a 360-page cookbook as a gift to welcome my son's new bride to our family. John and I will begin working soon on a study guide/workbook about prayer for a large evangelistic ministry. We don't have a release date yet. We also have several projects under consideration at various publishing houses.

* * * * *

Thank you, Michelle and John, for being in the spotlight with us.

Readers, leave a comment for your chance to win a FREE autographed copy of Simple Little Words.

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, check the box that says 'email follow-up comments to:' when you leave a comment and they'll be sent to the email address associated with your blogging account. 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.

* * * * *

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Spotlight on Megan DiMaria and Searching for Spice

I am so happy today to spotlight, not only another friend, but also another fellow debut novelist AND an author who will be joining me for my very first book signing on April 12th! She's having a Book Launch party on the 10th then driving down here so she and I along with 2 other author friends can all sign together. We're looking forward to it!

Her book is so popular right from the start that there are only TWO left in stock at, with more coming. But that's a fantastic way of seeing what a great book this is.

And now, let's let you meet Megan (pronounced Mee-gan Dee-Ma-ree-a).


Megan DiMaria received her B.A. degree in Communications, with a specialization in Mass Media from the State University of New York at Plattsburgh. She has been a radio and television reporter, a Web content editor, a contributing writer for local newspapers and has worked for a weekly newspaper. Megan has sold magazine articles locally and nationally. She has been a member of American Christian Fiction Writers since January 2001, is a member of HIS Writers (Denver branch of ACFW) and is assistant director of Words for the Journey Rocky Mountain Region, a Denver-area writers group. She is an alumnus of the Colorado Christian Writers Conference, the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference and the Glen Eyrie Writers Conference.

In her day job, she works in the marketing department of an upscale Denver portrait photography studio. She is also a freelance writer, crafting magazine articles and advertising copy. Her second novel, Out of Her Hands, will release from Tyndale in October 2008.

Megan and her husband Carl currently live in suburban Denver near their three adult children. They often travel back to their roots in Long Island, NY to visit family and get their fill of delicious Italian food.

To learn more about Megan and her books, visit her website at or for more interactive information, stop by her blog at

by Megan DiMaria
Published by Tyndale House


In this debut novel, readers will meet Linda Revere, a woman who longs to experience true romance with her nerdy, practical husband of twenty-four years. Her desire to add a little pizzazz to her marriage only confuses her husband and frustrates her. Linda struggles to ignite romance and excitement into her marriage amid the turmoil of contemporary life.

From the Back Cover

Linda Revere longs to have a sizzling affair . . . with her husband--a practical, no-nonsense community college science teacher. Unfortunately, life isnt scripted, and nothing goes according to plan. From having a demanding boss and at times a frustrating job, to helping her family and friends with their troubles, life seems to be preventing Linda from achieving her goal of an exciting and passionate marriage. Linda hopes God will answer her prayers to jazz up her marriage, but is she ready for what happens next?

Buy Your Copy Today!


1. This is your debut novel. Congratulations! What gave you the inspiration for this story?

Thanks for hosting me, Tiff. Searching for Spice was written as a response to a running joke I had with some girlfriends. You know, despite being long married, women still want romance in their lives. God hard wired us to crave closeness and a special connection with the men we love. Unfortunately, some times we need to remind them of that. :)

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

My observations influenced my characters more than my own experiences. However, as far as the setting of Searching for Spice, anyone familiar with suburban Denver will recognize certain areas and establishments. My favorite local restaurant is in the book, but it's called the Gray Pony Inn. I've worked in two different photo studios and trained in a handful more. Dream Photography is 100% a figment of my imagination, and the references within the studio are industry-generic. In some ways I think we're all a little like my character, Linda. In our hearts we truly want to trust the Lord, but when difficulties arise we sometimes run ahead of our faith and try to "fix" things on our own. I've been told by some close friends that they believe my internal dialogue is similar to some of the things Linda thinks, although I've been told by many women my age that Linda's internal dialogue is similar to the way they think as well. What if very different between me and Linda is that she is a bit more patient than I am. I tend to speak my mind more quickly than she did in Searching for Spice.

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

Life is hard, and that’s a reality that must be accepted. We shouldn't be caught off guard when we hit a bump in the road. The biggest theme is to trust God despite what your circumstances look like. That was a lesson I had to learn during a difficult valley I walked through. At the time it looked like nothing good could come of that situation, but now I see the hand of God guided me. Equally important to me is the theme that marriage is valuable and precious and should not be lightly regarded. Another theme in the book shows that friendship is priceless and we should cherish the people in our lives.

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

I think the hardest parts to write were the ones that travelled toward deep emotions. I am too sympathetic toward the pain of others, and even though my characters are fictional, I felt sorry for the pain and trials they faced. My favorite parts of the story to write were the moments when Linda and Jerry really connected with one another.

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

My next book, Out of Her Hands, is scheduled to release this October. It has the same characters as Searching for Spice, but the focus is more on the relationships Linda and Jerry have with their children. Like many parents of young adults, the Reveres want their children to be careful about making decisions that will impact the rest of their lives. As usual, there is always more than one situation clamouring for Linda's attention. They're helping Jerry's father get on with life after he's widowed, Linda's best friend is moving out of state, and then their son decides he's falling in love, but the object of his affection doesn't share his Christian values.

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Thank you, Megan, for being in the spotlight with us.

Readers, leave a comment for your chance to win a FREE autographed copy of Searching for Spice.

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, check the box that says 'email follow-up comments to:' when you leave a comment and they'll be sent to the email address associated with your blogging account. That way you'll be notified of any comments and will know when I announce the winner.

This week, the contest is open to anyone worldwide.

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Tuesday, April 01, 2008

FIRST - Eric Reinhold and his book Ryan Watters and the King's Sword

I have recently joined a new alliance for promoting fiction. This one only posts on the first day of every month. There WILL be a book giveaway for the featured book. Drawings work the same as for the feature spotlights. Post a comment and you're entered. But make sure your email address (name [at] domainname [dot] com) is available either in your comment or via your blogger profile link. Otherwise, you won't be notified if you win.

Unfortunately, because I just joined, I won't be receiving a free copy for THIS book to give away. But you can still enjoy the first chapter excerpt.

Buy the Book Here

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It is April FIRST--no foolin'--, time for the FIRST Day Blog Tour! (Join our alliance! Click the button!) The FIRST day of every month we will feature an author and his/her latest book's FIRST chapter!

The special feature author is:

and his book:

Ryan Watters and the King's Sword
Creation House (May 2008)

Illustrated by: Corey Wolfe


Eric J. Reinhold is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. The former Naval officer writes extensively for a variety of national financial publications in his position as a Certified Financial Planner® and President of Academy Wealth Management. His passion for writing a youth fantasy novel was fueled by nightly impromptu storytelling to his children and actively serving in the middle and high school programs at First Baptist Sweetwater Church in Longwood, Florida.

Visit him at his website.


The Angel’s Visitation

It first appeared as a gentle glow, almost like a child’s night-light. Heavy shadows filled the room as the boy lay face up, covers tucked neatly under his arms. A slight smile on his face hinted that he was in the midst of a pleasant dream.

Ryann Watters, who had just celebrated his twelfth birthday, rolled lazily onto his side, his blond hair matted into the pillow, unaware of the glow as it began to intensify. Shadows searched for hiding places throughout the room as the glow transformed from a pale yellow hue to brilliant white.

Ryann’s eyelids fluttered briefly and then flickered at the glare reflecting off his pale blue bedroom walls. Drowsily, he turned toward the light expecting to see one of his parents coming in to check on him. “What’s going on?” his voice cracked as he reached up to rub the crusty sleep from his eyes.


Under a pale half-moon, Drake Dunfellow’s house looked just like any other. A closer inspection, however, would reveal its failing condition. Water oaks lining the side of the curved driveway hunched over haggardly, like old men struggling on canes. The lawn, which should have been a lively green for early spring, was withered and sandy. A few patches of grass were sprinkled here and there. Rust lines streaked down the one jagged peak atop the tin-roof house. The flimsy clapboard sides were outlined by fading white trim speckled with dried paint curls. Hanging baskets containing a variety of plants and weeds all struggling to stay alive shared the crowded front porch with two mildew-covered rocking chairs. Inside, magazines and newspaper clippings both old and new were carelessly strewn about. Encrusted dishes from the previous day’s meals battled each other for space in the bulging kitchen sink. In the garage, away from the usual living areas, was a boy’s room. Dull paneling outlined the bedroom, while equally dreary brown linoleum covered the floor. The bedroom must have been an afterthought because not much consideration had been given to the details. A bookcase cut from rough planks sat atop an old garage sale dresser.

Moonlight pressing through the dust-covered metal blinds tried to provide a sense of peacefulness. Instead it revealed bristly red hair atop a young boy’s head poking out from beneath a mushy feather pillow. His heavy breathing provided the only movement in the quiet room. Tiny droplets of perspiration lined his brow as he began jerking about under the thin cotton sheets.

Starting at the edge of the window, the blackness spread downward, transforming all traces of light to an oily dinginess. Drake was slowly surrounded and remained the only thing not saturated in the darkness. Bolting upright to a stiff-seated attention, Drake’s bloodshot eyes darted back and forth. He stared into the black nothingness shuddering and aware that the only thing visible in the room was his bed.

“Who . . . who’s there?” Drake cried out, puzzled by the hollow sound that didn’t seem to travel beyond the edge of his mattress. Beads of sweat trickled down his neck, connecting his numerous freckled dots. He strained, slightly tilting his head, ears perked. There was no reply.


Neatly manicured streets wandered through the Watters’s sleepy, rolling neighborhood. If someone had been walking along in the wee morning hours of March 15, they would have noticed the brilliant white light peeking out from around Ryann’s shade. Below his second-story window the normally darkened bed of pink, red, and white impatiens was lit up as in the noonday sun.

Ryann was fully awake now and quite positive that the dazzling aura facing him from in front of his window was not the hall light from his parents entering the bedroom. Golden hues flowed out of the whiteness, showering itself on everything in the room. It reminded Ryann of sprinkles of pixie dust in some of his favorite childhood books. His blue eyes grew wide trying to capture the unbelievable event unfolding before him.

“Fear not, Ryann,” a confident, yet kind, voice began. “I have come to do the bidding of one much greater than I and who you have found favor with.”

Rapid pulses in his chest gripped Ryann as he struggled to understand what was happening. Instinctively he grasped his navy blue bed sheets and pulled them up so that only his eyes and the top of his head peeked out from his self-made cocoon. Squinting to reduce the brilliance before him, Ryann stared into the light, trying to detect a form while questions scrambled around his mind. What had the voice meant by “finding favor,” and who had sent him? As Ryann struggled to work this out, the center of the whiteness began to take the shape of a man. Human in appearance, he looked powerful, but there was a calmness about his face, like that of an experienced commander before going into battle. Ryann recalled hearing about angels in his Sunday school class at church. He wondered if this could be one.

“Ryann, thou have found favor with the One who sent me. You will be given much and much will be required of you.”

Still shaking, Ryann was fairly certain he was safe. “S-s-s . . . sir, are you an angel?”

“You have perceived correctly.” “And . . . I’ve been chosen by someone . . . for something?” Ryann asked.

“The One who knows you better than you know yourself,” the angel answered.

Ryann knew he must be talking about God, but what could God possibly want with him?

“What am I supposed to do?”

“Thou must search out and put on the full armor of God so that you can take a stand against the devil’s schemes. For your struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the powers of this dark world and against the forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

“The devil? Forces of evil? I’m just a kid,” Ryann said. “What could I possibly have to do with all of this? You’ve got to be making a mistake.”

“There are no mistakes with God. Thou have heard of David?”

“You mean the David from David and Goliath?” Ryann asked.

The angel nodded. “He was also a boy chosen by God to accomplish great things. God chooses to show His power by using the powerless.”

Ryann tried to comprehend the magnitude of what this mighty being was saying to him. Realizing he was still sitting in his bed, covers bunched around him, he pulled them aside and swung his feet out, never taking his eyes off the angel. Landing firmly on the carpet, Ryann’s wobbly knees barely supported him, the bed acting as a wall between him and the angel.

“Who are you?”

“I am Gabriel and have come to give you insight and understanding.”

“Wow!” Ryann couldn’t believe this was the same angel who had appeared to Joseph and Mary in the Christmas story he heard every December. The lines of excitement on his face drooped as he fidgeted, thinking about the angel’s words. “I don’t want to . . . seem . . . ungrateful,” Ryann hesitated, “but . . . is there any way you can . . . ask someone else?”

“Only you have been given this trial, Ryann, yet you shall not be alone.”

“Who will help me?”

“As the young shepherd boy David spoke, ‘The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, and He delivers them. For He commands His angels to guard you in all your ways.’” Gabriel’s twinkling gaze rose as he stretched his arms heavenward, “And these will assist you along the way.”

Beckoning Ryann from behind the bed, the angel glided effortlessly forward to greet him. Walking to within a foot of Gabriel, Ryann bowed humbly, basking in the radiant glow that emanated all around him. Reaching out, the angel grasped Ryann’s left hand firmly and slipped a gold ring, topped by a clear bubble-like stone, onto his finger. Before he could inspect it, the angel took his other hand and placed a long metal pole in it. Ryann’s hand slid easily up and down the smooth metal finish. Its shape and size were similar to a pool cue. Bone-white buttons protruded from just below where he gripped the staff. They were numbered 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7. Mesmerized by the gifts that begged for more attention and questions, Ryann hardly noticed Gabriel loop a long leather cord through his arm and around his neck. From it a curved ivory horn hung loosely below his waist, resting on his hip.

As Gabriel finished and backed away, Ryann continued marveling at each of the gifts. Reaching down to inspect the horn, he ran his hands along its smooth, yet pitted surface, until he reached the small gold-tipped opening. He wondered how old the horn was and if it had been used before.

“What do I do with these? How do I use them?”

“It is not for me to reveal,” answered the angel calmly. “You shall find out in due time.”

“But what do I do now?”

“Thou must seek the King’s sword.”

“How? What King? Where do I look?” Ryann blurted out, panicking as questions continued to pop into his head.

“The Spirit will lead you, and the ring will open the way,” the angel replied as he began floating backwards, the light peeling away with him.

“Wait, wait! Don’t leave—I don’t know enough—where do I go now?”

“Remember,” Gabriel’s clear voice began to fade, “all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that you may be thoroughly equipped for all good works.”

Clutching the mysterious heavenly gifts he had been given, Ryann collapsed in a heap on his bed, body and mind drained from his supernatural encounter. He drifted into a welcomed sleep.


It seemed Drake’s bedroom no longer existed. Only his bed remained, an island floating in a sea of darkness that completely surrounded him. His eyes bulged, darting about for anything that would give him a hint of what was going on. A cool draft drifted down his neck, chilling him despite the safety of his covers. Caught between reality and a nightmare, he let loose a scream that normally would have been heard throughout the house and beyond, but now was absorbed into the heavy darkness enveloping him.

“Who’s there?” he said again. He pinched himself to see if he was dreaming.

With a loud swoooooooosh, huge wings shot out of the darkness surrounding his bed. Drake dove for the safety of his covers.

A thunderous, commanding voice ordered, “Come out from hiding and stand up!”

Drake hesitated, knuckles tense and white as they curled tightly around the edges of his blanket.

“Now!” the voice thundered.

Jerking his covers off, Drake scurried to the edge of the bed, lost his balance, and awkwardly fell face-first onto the cool floor. Petrified at what he might see, yet too scared to disobey, he raised his head slightly. Half expecting some hideous beast, Drake was surprised at what he was facing. The black-winged warrior towering over him was imposing enough to paralyze anyone with fear, but his face was what captivated Drake. Instead of a hideous three-eyed ghoul with fangs, like Drake imagined, he stared into one of the most ruggedly handsome faces he had ever seen. Drake froze, mesmerized.

“Sit up and listen closely, human,” the dark angel began, closing his wings in an effortless swish. Lowering his voice, he spoke in a precise, but less threatening tone. “I have chosen you to carry out my wishes.”

Drake raised himself to a clumsy crouch. The face he looked intently into was perfect in almost every way, except for a long thin scar that traveled from his left ear to his jaw. He was convinced now that this wasn’t a monster trying to devour him.

“Why me?”

The angel’s scar became more noticeable when he smiled at Drake. “I have been here before with great success and have reason to believe you will serve me well.”

“What do you want me to do?” Drake blurted.

“The one who seeks to bind me must be stopped!”

Drake stumbled backwards, putting a hand on the floor to keep from falling. Swallowing hard, he could feel the black, penetrating eyes staring deep into his.

“You are the one,” the creature said confidently.

No one had ever chosen Drake for anything, yet this powerful being wanted him. He didn’t know if he could trust the dark angel or not, but the chance for power excited Drake. “How do I do it?”

The dark angel continued to smile, sensing the blackness in Drake’s heart spreading murkily throughout his body.

“I will be your eyes and ears, a guide to lead you in the right direction, and,” he hesitated, “I will give you these.”

The dark-winged angel stretched out his hand, his index finger pointing toward the empty floor in front of him. Immediately three items appeared before Drake’s eyes. He blinked again. They were still there. Drake’s hand shot out in a blur to grab the closest item.


Drake froze, and then cowered, his eyes shifting back to the booming voice as he slowly retracted his hand. His eyes darted back and forth between the three items and the dark angel in the awkward silence.

“You move when I tell you to move. Now . . . kneel before me, child of the earth, while I make you ready for your task.”

Still hunched-over, Drake pitched forward onto his knees with his head bowed, eyes glancing upward in anticipation.

“My first gift to you is a cloak of darkness. It will provide you with cover at night. You and the night shall become one.”

Drake reached out his hands to receive the cloak. It felt smooth and slippery. Looking intently at it, the cloak seemed several feet thick, as if it was projecting darkness.

“My second gift to you is a ring of suggestion. With it you will have the ability to project persuasive thoughts to those who are weak-willed or in the midst of indecision.” Powerful hands with long curled fingers took hold of Drake’s hand, spreading an icy chill from the tip of his fingers to his wrist. As the creature slipped the black band onto his finger, Drake briefly noticed a red blotch on the top. His hand felt stiff, then the numbness traveled up his arm and throughout his body. Chattering clicks from his own teeth broke the silence as he awaited the angel’s next words. “Lastly, I provide you with a bow and arrows of fire. These arrows were formed in the lake of fire and will deliver physical and mental anguish to those they touch.”

“Thank you . . . uhh . . . what should I call you?” Drake asked.

“I am one of the stars that fell from heaven. My master is Shandago and I am his chief messenger. You may call me Lord Ekron.”

“Thank you, Lord Ekron, for these gifts. I may be young, but I’ll do as you ask to the best of my ability.”

“It is expected. Also, these items I have given to you are not for use in this world. When the time is right, you will find a passage into another land. There you will put these gifts to work.”

The darkness in the room began to rush toward Lord Ekron, as if he were absorbing it, except he wasn’t getting bigger—only darker. Drake kept staring at him, trying not to blink, so he wouldn’t miss anything. Despite his efforts, the dark angel began to fade, and Drake found himself peering into the darkness at the blank wall. When he was sure his eyes weren’t playing tricks on him and enough time passed so that he felt safe to move, he stood up.

Drake would have thought this was all a bad dream, but the items he held in his hand were proof that it was real. He ran his hands through the dense blackness of the slick cloak, wondering how he might use it. Drake was anxious to try the bow and arrows as well. He didn’t dare pull the arrows out of their quiver right now, but decided that he would have to buy a regular bow and quiver of arrows as soon as possible so that he could begin practicing. Looking down at his hand, he examined the unusual ring he now wore. The entire band was a glossy black, except for the unusual red marking on the top, which resembled a flying dragon.

Not much had gone right for Drake during the first thirteen years of his life. “Now things are going to be different,” he thought. The smile inching across his face looked evil. He knew with Lord Ekron at his side no one would be able to tell him what to do.