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Friday, October 31, 2008

Heartsong Presents -- Vote for 2008 Annual Favorites

Do you know about the Heartsong Presents book club and Annual Reader Poll? Have you voted yet? If not, it's easy. And if you want to join, your first month is free. After that, for just $10.99 each shipment, you get 4 new books every 4 weeks, several months before they're released to the bookstores or online. If you have read any of the HP books this year and haven't voted, don't wait too long. Voting ends December 1st!

The 2008 Annual Reader's Poll is underway. You can cast your vote here for your favorite historical, favorite contemporary, favorite covers for both historical and contemporary, favorite author (me! *winks*), favorite new author (me! *winks*), and favorite overall theme included in the books.

I have been entered with the following options for me and my books:

Historical book: Promises, Promises and Quills & Promises
Historical cover: Promises, Promises and Quills & Promises
Author: Amber Miller
New Author: Amber Miller

Book 3 didn't make it, as they cut off this year's releases with the 4 right before the 4 where my 3rd book is included. Well, it'll be on next year's with the first 2 in my new series as well. :)

I'll confess. It's been a dream of mine for years to even be published with HP, and now that I am, I'm aiming for my next dream---to be voted a favorite new author and to one day be added to the Heartsong Hall of Fame after 3 years of being named a favorite author. We'll see if I can continue with the book releases to last that long. LOL!

If you'd like to help me get there, click here to vote. You can simply leave your name and email address. You don't need a member # unless you already have one and wish to be entered to win a free year's worth of books.

I'd greatly appreciate your help in this. The more votes received in general, the more Heartsong will know it still has a strong audience who loves their books. But, obviously, I'd love to see my name "in lights" as a winner, either as an author or for one of my books. :)

And after you vote, come back here and leave a comment, telling me that you did. I'll do a drawing from all comments left for the choice of 1 of my 3 books released so far. The drawing will take place on December 3rd -- as the voting closes on December 1st and I'll be out of town until the 2nd. :)

Spread the word to anyone else you know who reads these books. I'm sure I'm not alone in my desire to see them continue to be published.

Thank you so much for your help!

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Spotlight on Sally John and A Time to Gather

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

SALLY JOHN is the author of twelve novels, including the three popular series: The Other Way Home, In a Heartbeat, and The Beach House. Her stories run the gamut from small-town dynamics to Chicago emergency personnel to Pacific beach epiphanies. Initially inspired to write after penning a computer software manual, Sally has also published nonfiction articles, and she speaks at workshops and conferences about writing and family issues. Three-time finalist for The Christy Award, former teacher, and Illinois native, she lives in Southern California with her husband Tim (married 1973). Writing fiction takes a backseat only to her cherished roles of wife, mom, mom-in-law, and grandma. She is the vice president of The Sedona Group, a nationwide staffing firm. Children: daughter, son, daughter-in-law, two granddaughters.

A TIME TO GATHER
by Sally John
Published by Thomas Nelson

ABOUT THE BOOK

Never before has a family so desperately needed to gather..." While Max and Claire Beaumont blissfully plan their re-wedding event, the lives of son Erik and daughter Lexi begin to fall apart. Two strangers step into the midst of the family drama, both offering unseen healing paths. Will the Beaumonts embrace or reject the gifts they bring? "A Time to Gather" is the second novel in the Safe Harbor series. Drawing on the insights of best-selling marriage expert Gary Smalley, the series explores the joys and struggles of marriage, family and faith.

Buy Your Copy of A Time to Gather Today!

AUTHOR INTERVIEW

1. What gave you the inspiration for this story?

It began several years ago with the idea for the Safe Harbors series when I simply strung together three random thoughts: 1) A retreat center. (I was intrigued with it because my son and daughter-in-law worked at one at that time.) 2) Southern California. (Always a favorite locale of mine.) 3.) Family relationships. (Writing about them is my passion.) This all translated into a story about a family who owns a retreat center in a fictitious San Diego County area. Not my most aha! of inspirational moments, but it worked. Gary Smalley liked the idea of exploring relationships and was a big help in aspects of relational dynamics in A TIME TO MEND, A TIME TO GATHER, and A TIME TO SURRENDER ('09).

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

Not much of my own experience influenced these particular characters – Lexi and Erik – beyond the fact that I have adult children and a daughter-in-law who are 20-30somethings. What I wanted to do – and which I probably do much of the time in my fiction – was to examine how unhealed wounds manifest themselves in different ways in different people. Siblings Lexi and Erik were set up in MEND: Erik the hotshot tv news guy and quiet Lexi both had major unresolved issues with their dad. In GATHER we see their coping mechanisms in full swing.

My own experience in God]s healing of childhood wounds comes into play with Lexi and Erik as it does in many of my stories. I don't portray my real-life experiences, but I do incorporate what I've known of the hope, healing, and forgiveness that God offers.

Many readers ask me how I know their life's story. Of course I don't. I think it's the universality of some story situations that speak to them. We've all struggled in family relationships. In GATHER as in MEND we see parents who made mistakes in parenting (okay, who hasn't done that or been the recipient of that?) and adult children who have not forgiven their parents (been there too, right?). We also see problems within couples (touch a sore spot yet?)

Claire's heart through all three stories is another example of a common attribute we women who are wives and mothers have. Again, she doesn't experience my experiences except in the heart realm: we have similar hopes, pain, and prayers as wife and mom.

3. If one of your characters were an ice cream flavor, what he/she be and why?

LOL! I have no clue! Erik would be something luscious but not quite satisfying to the palate because he's awfully good looking and charming but without much interior substance (at first). Lexi's artistic eye points to colors, a rainbow of flavors, maybe sprinkles on top or perhaps sherbet instead of ice cream. Rosie's personality makes me think of an ice cream bar with a hard coat of chocolate on the outside and soft creamy tart fruit flavor on the inside, definitely not a bland vanilla. Tuyen would be a combination of flavors not usually combined because her background is most difficult to relate to.

4. What themes exist in A Time to Gather that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the story progressed?

I pull my themes from Scripture and note them on the first page. This one is Galatians 6:7: "A man reaps what he sows." I wanted to examine that truth as a reaping of good and bad. It's pure grace watching my Father enter into the natural process of my reaping. He extra blesses the healthy plants and turns around the sick ones for His glory and my benefit.

GATHER is all about gathering in what has been growing for a long time. Max, the dad, blames himself for his kids' bad choices; he wasn't there for them through the years as he should have been. Erik and Lexi both reach the end of their self-destructive ways which has led to physical, mental, and emotional breakdowns. Ben and Indio see the end of their son's MIA years when Tuyen arrives. For Claire, the mom, it's also a time of gathering her family into the safe harbor she's creating at the retreat center in hopes they can recover there.

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

Both MEND and GATHER were written before my husband and I lost our house in the 2007 San Diego wildfires. Two months after that happened, it was time to edit GATHER. Hm. I rewrote the first chapter. This meant I had to get back into Lexi's head, a character who had experienced similar things as to what I had just lived through in a wildfire. Whew. That was a bit much.

If I wanted to write today what I wrote back then in MEND and GATHER about surviving a wildfire and losing material things, I don't think I could do it, not yet anyway. It was much easier to imagine the scene of driving through horrific winds and fire racing through a neighborhood than it was to actually live it in real life. I remember during the writing of MEND that I wanted to push Indio beyond her limits; she lost photographs and mementoes. My editor asked if that had to happen; I said yes. Today I probably wouldn't have the heart to do that to the poor Indio!

Tuyen's meeting of the Beaumonts was difficult and a favorite at the same time. It overwhelmed me. First of all was Tuyen growing up unloved, unwanted in Vietnam. Then there was Indio and Ben's situation of having a son as MIA for the past thirty-some years. How does one live with that? And now they meet his daughter, their granddaughter whom they had no idea existed until that moment and learn that their son is dead—well, there's so much emotion, so much pain. And then, in the middle of that pain comes the most exquisite picture of love and grace in Indio's response.

I had fun with Rosie and Erik's dialogues. Nathan totally took me by surprise. My most favorite scene was with Lexi when she finally receives God's love and healing at the moment she's ready to destroy one of her paintings. Technically the most difficult to write was when the bad guy attacks Lexi. Trying to get a picture of how that happened took some work; watching such a thing in a movie is one thing, to break it down into descriptive sentences is quite another.

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

July 2009. A TIME TO SURRENDER. The story follows the other two Beaumont siblings, Danny and Jenna, who both are forced to surrender long-held attitudes about life and God. In GATHER, Jenna's husband went off to war. In SURRENDER she copes with his absence, rebelling against and eventually coming to terms with her role as military wife. Again, new characters enter the scene, slipping into the Beaumonts' safe harbor. Danny meets Skylar, a quirky young woman who challenges his faith and his love and finds both for herself.

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

Readers, leave a comment for your chance to win a FREE autographed copy of A Time to Gather.

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 dot.com/net). 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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Friday, October 24, 2008

Spotlight on Donn Taylor and Rhapsody in Red

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

DONN TAYLOR led an Infantry rifle platoon in the Korean War, served with Army aviation in Vietnam, and worked with air reconnaissance in Europe and Asia. Afterwards, he completed a PhD at The University of Texas and taught English literature at two liberal arts colleges. He is the author of two novels, The Lazarus File and Rhapsody in Red, as well as a book of poetry, Dust and Diamond: Poems of Earth and Beyond. He is a frequent speaker for writers' groups and conferences. He and his wife live and attend church near Houston, Texas, where he writes fiction, poetry, and articles on current topics.

RHAPSODY IN RED
by Donn Taylor
Published by Moody Publishers

ABOUT THE BOOK

"That Wednesday, two weeks before Thanksgiving, was a bad day to find a corpse on campus." Preston Barclay is a self-made recluse (and he likes it that way). Teaching college history allows him time to grieve the loss of his pianist wife and find relief from the musical hallucinations that have been playing in his head since her death. But when he and a headstrong colleague, Mara Thorn, discover the body of another instructor on campus, Press's monotonous solitude is destroyed.

When the preliminary evidence singles out Press and Mara, they must take some chances (including trusting each other) to build their own defense---by bending the rules just a little bit.

They choose to form an unlikely alliance to stay ahead of the police, the college's wary and incompetent administration, and whoever is trying to get away with murder. Otherwise, they both might end up unemployed, behind bars, or worse...

Buy Your Copy of Rhapsody in Red Today!

AUTHOR INTERVIEW

1. What gave you the inspiration for this story?

Several things. This didn't happen in a hurry. I liked Raymond Chandler mysteries and thought I'd try my hand at a mystery with a cranky protagonist. I'd taught twenty years in small denominational colleges, so I set this one on a college campus. That gave the opportunity for light satire of college life. Then I read a newspaper article on musical hallucinations: a few people have a constant torrent of music in their minds, and they can't turn it off. (It's said that Beethoven and Schumann had these.) So I made my protagonist a history professor with musical hallucinations. For the faith theme, I've long been fascinated by the problem of evil in the world. How do we explain it? So all of that gradually coalesced into the premise for "Rhapsody in Red."

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

First of all, I don't put any personal experience or anyone I've ever met into a story. The college and its faculty are entirely fictitious, and my former colleagues can read it without fear of finding themselves there. But I did put in the conflicts that I'd seen exist on college campuses. I gave my protagonist the characteristic of actually saying what many faculty wish they could say but don’t dare. That's why he stays in trouble. The only thing that translates more or less directly from me is that my professor's specialty is Renaissance history of ideas. My specialty was Renaissance literature, but viewed from the perspective of history of ideas. Other than that, the characters' traits are completely their own.

3. If one of your characters were an ice cream flavor, what he/she be and why?

The hero, if you can call him that, would be Neopolitan—a mixture of many flavors. As a history professor, he accepts Matthew Arnold's view of culture—the best that has been thought or said in all ages. The heroine would be Homemade Vanilla that's been frozen with a hard exterior. After a bad teenage marriage, she's clawed her way up to a PhD in comparative religion and is determined to continue succeeding on her own with no help from anyone. But she has sweetness under the icy exterior.

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

First of all, I have a problem with people who write fiction to prove a point. If that's the objective, they should write nonfiction and make their point through evidence and reasoned argument. Fiction proves nothing: it can only illustrate. That said, there are some realistic themes in Rhapsody. The college does accurately illustrate the usual conflicts of commercialism vs. academic standards, education vs. indoctrination, and secularism vs. religious orientation. And there’s a straightforward treatment of the problem of evil. I don't think the book contains any other—except possibly the inadvisability of always saying what you think.

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

The most difficult part was chapters two through about five. That's where a lot of essential information and backstory had to be worked in, but it had to be balanced with moving the story forward. I must have blocked those out four or five times and rewritten them more than that. My favorite part? There's a chapter where a suspect tries to bribe the hero with a kiss. He gets lipstick on his teeth, and that gets him in trouble with the heroine, who thinks he's been playing around while she took dangerous risks in their investigation. They have an encounter with a lot of wordplay: "She burns incense." "In what sense was she burning?" Etc.

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

It's not contracted yet, but it's a sequel to Rhapsody in Red. It's another murder mystery with the same hero and heroine. It's set on the same campus but with a very different crime problem. Thematically, it deals with the problematic relationship of imagination to reality and with the problem of slander. But it's also light-hearted, with a good bit of comedy.

* * * * *

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

Readers, leave a comment for your chance to win a FREE autographed copy of Rhapsody in Red.

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 dot.com/net). 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.

* * * * *

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Books for Sale! -- Fiction Lovers, Take a Look!

Does anyone here read Christian fiction? :) I know, rhetorical question, right?

Fiction is an absolute favorite of mine, and as most of you know, I'm multi-published in it. But that's not why I'm writing.

I have listed 30 books on Amazon to sell to try to help with our financial situation. If you read these books or know someone who does, feel free to check out my seller listing and browse. Never know. Might find a book there you'll want.Or you can share the link with anyone you know who might read these books.

http://www.amazon.com/shops/tiffany_amber_stockton

There is a wide variety, from historical to contemporary, from suspense to legal thriller. And everything in-between. So, if you love fiction...drop on by my storefront.

Hubby and I are also going to sift through our DVDs and sell them to a local used retailer that pays cash for DVDs they accept. It'll hopefully get us through to the next paycheck. One paycheck at a time, and praying we can get out of this slump.

A new web client or two wouldn't hurt either! Haven't had a new one in 4 months, and it's depleting all of our funds. (sigh) If we can at least sell these books, we'll be appreciative. Thanks for looking!

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Spotlight on Maureen Lang and My Sister Dilly

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

MAUREEN LANG has always had a passion for writing. She wrote her first novel longhand around the age of ten, put the pages into a notebook she covered with soft deerskin (nothing but the best!), then passed it around the neighborhood to rave reviews. It was so much fun she's been writing ever since.

Eventually Maureen became the recipient of a Golden Heart Award from Romance Writers of America, followed by the publication of three secular romance novels. Life took some turns after that, and she gave up writing for fifteen years, until the Lord claimed her to write for Him. Soon she won a Noble Theme Award from American Christian Fiction Writers and has since published several novels, including Pieces of Silver (a 2007 Christy Award finalist), Remember Me, The Oak Leaves, and On Sparrow Hill. Her most recent release is My Sister Dilly, a contemporary women's fiction (with a touch of romance!.

Maureen lives in the Midwest with her husband, her two sons, and their much loved Lab, Susie. Visit her Web site at www.maureenlang.com.

MY SISTER DILLY
by Maureen Lang
Published by Tyndale House

ABOUT THE BOOK

Hannah Williams couldn't get out of her small hometown fast enough, preferring the faster pace, trendy lifestyle and beauty of California's Pacific Ocean coast.

But when her sister makes a desperate choice that lands her in prison, Hannah knows she never should have left her younger sister behind.

She learns she can never really go back, only to accept the forgiveness God has already extended —to both her and her sister. She only hopes she hasn't learned it too late to keep the love of the man she risked leaving behind.

Buy Your Copy of My Sister Dilly Today!

AUTHOR INTERVIEW

1. What gave you the inspiration for this story?

My sister-in-law told me about a friend of hers who had recently been sentenced to a number of years in prison for trying to take her disabled daughter's life—and then trying taking her own life as well. She failed on both attempts.

I was horrified, as anyone would be, especially since this woman was someone my sister-in-law knew personally. A nice person, she said, so helpful to others, and above all such a good mother. So how could something like this happen? Since my sister-in-law and I both have children with disabilities, we experience on a deeper level some of the elements involved with such families—how hard it is on the primary caregiver, usually the mother. Still, how could a mom let herself get so desperate as to try such a thing?

As my sister-in-law told me some of the details, I recall thinking almost immediately that this could be developed into a compelling novel. Not one that I wanted to write, though. The idea absolutely scared me. But the longer I thought about it, the more I felt God nudging me. Maybe, since I'm also a mom to a handicapped child, I was supposed to write it.

But I didn't want to tell such a serious, depressing story. I realized almost immediately that I needed a buffer—another main character without such a dark past. That's how the sister element entered. And of course a romance would have to play a part. Romance can lighten just about anything, and my core belief in that notion didn't let me down.

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

As I mentioned, I'm the parent of a child with a disability (Fragile X Syndrome) so I came to this story with my own experiences in that arena. The child in My Sister Dilly suffers from a seizure disorder and cerebral palsy, more medically challenging than my own son. Still, I know how easy it is to isolate, to stay home, not to burden our friends or family with our child's unpredictable behavior.

I also have two sisters, so I know little about how sisters can be. The best intentions of helping can sometimes feel like a battle for control, even when there's a solid foundation of love and affection.

But I'm the youngest of the sisters in my family, so Hannah as the oldest and the main protagonist really is her own character. As far as Dilly's experiences, I've never known the kind of desperation she must have felt (praise God for that!). So while everything my characters think, say and do is filtered through my experiences, their stories are definitely their own.

3. If one of your characters were an ice cream flavor, what he/she be and why?

Oooh, what a fun question. And I just found a new flavor by Edy's that I think would fit Dilly. She sweet, a little naive, and wishes she could please others. So her flavor would be Take The Cake, with vanilla because she's a down-home sort of girl, but with the added sweetness and youth of cake, frosting and multi-colored sprinkles.

Now Hannah, the older sister, is a little trickier. She's not so sweet, because she carries a chip on her shoulder. So I guess she would be chocolate chip ice cream.

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

There are two main themes I hope to convey—the most important being that Christ's work on the cross covers every sin, no matter how heinous. God loves us no matter what we've done, what we've been tempted to do, or mistakes we've made. And two: isolation is never a good thing, and we shouldn't be afraid to ask for help. Or afraid to give it. We were made to live in community with others.

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

There were actually a number of things I found difficult to write in this book. Right off, I wondered if I could sympathetically portray a character who'd tried to kill her precious child. I didn't even want to visit that part of her life, let alone take my readers there. And even though I knew it would be backstory, it's still part of who this character is. Bringing out a sense of guilt would help, but there had to be more. That's when it seemed obvious to me that the thing she wanted most—to be reunited with her daughter—couldn't happen, at least not very easily.

Another thing that was difficult might not seem like it should have been. This story is set in a small town. I've never lived in a small town. However, my husband grew up in such a setting, and even though it made research easy because I get to visit such places when we see his family, it was intimidating to think about getting the details right. I didn't want to let my suburban upbringing show by getting the small town tone wrong. Plus Hannah had intentionally left behind the small town life. So how could I portray her character's disdain for rural Illinois without offending everyone who lives in a small town (including so many people I love)? It was a balancing act, that's for sure.

As far as my favorite parts...well, true to my romance-writing heart, any scene with Mac was just downright fun.

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

My next book will release next year around September (also from Tyndale) and is the beginning of a series taking me back to the First World War. This time the setting is a small town in Northern France. I'm having so much fun with it, mainly because there is plenty of angst and conflict. I'm actually just starting the revision stage, which is a favorite part of the writing process for me.

To give you an idea of the storyline, the hero is a wealthy young adventurer of the early 1900's who decides it's time to grow up and become responsible—and quite possibly a hero—now that war embroils his chosen home in Europe. But when Belgium and Northern France are overrun by the German Imperial Army, he discovers he's too late to volunteer his services. The reality is he must either hide or be captured—or even killed as an enemy combatant.

When he takes refuge in a small town church, he knows he must find a way to escape occupied territory and stop endangering the people who've been hiding him—especially the woman he's grown to love. Yep, there's definitely a romance in there!

Thanks for having me, Tiff!

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Thank *you*, Maureen, for being in the spotlight with us.

Readers, leave a comment for your chance to win a FREE autographed copy of My Sister Dilly or any other book of Maureen's. If you prefer one other than the one featured, please state that with your comment.

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 dot.com/net). 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.

* * * * *

Monday, October 20, 2008

Spotlight on Virginia Smith and A Taste of Murder

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

VIRGINIA SMITH left her job as a corporate director to become a full-time writer and speaker with the release of her first novel Just As I Am. Since then she has contracted ten novels and published numerous articles and short stories. She writes novels about women with a little bit of sass and a whole lot of heart, including Sincerely, Mayla, Stuck in the Middle, and her newest release, A Taste of Murder. An energetic speaker, she loves to exemplify God's truth by comparing real-life situations to well-known works of fiction, such as her popular talk, "Biblical Truths in Star Trek."

A TASTE OF MURDER
by Virginia Smith
Published by Steeple Hill / Love Inspired Suspense

ABOUT THE BOOK

When classical music lover Jasmine Delaney accepts a gig to play her violin in a small town, she arrives in time to join in the festivities of the local Bar-B-Q Festival. But when she checks into the hotel, Jazzy is in for a few unpleasant surprises--like a body in the bathtub covered in barbeque sauce. Not even the soothing strains of Mozart can still her jangled nerves--especially when it seems the killer is intent on making her the next victim!

Buy Your Copy of A Taste of Murder Today!

AUTHOR INTERVIEW

1. What gave you the inspiration for this story?

Almost twenty years ago my husband and I first attended the annual International Bar-B-Q Festival in Owensboro, Kentucky, and we've returned as often as our schedules allowed. I love the smells, the tastes, the wonderful small-town atmosphere. When it was time to pitch a new book, I knew it was the perfect setting for a murder mystery.

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

The main character is probably the least like me of any I've written so far. That's what made her so much fun to write. Jazzy is a clean freak, and is constantly worrying about the germ potential of anything she touches. I firmly believe in the 5-second rule, as long as whatever drops to the ground isn't sticky and dirt-covered when I pick it up. Jazzy has a severe case of stage fright, whereas I am completely at home in front of a crowd. But she does have a few of my qualities, like her ultra-stubborn independence that gets her into trouble. And she overcomes her stage fright by applying a rule I learned when I first started singing in public – close your eyes and focus on performing for an audience of One.

3. If one of your characters were an ice cream flavor, what he/she be and why?

If you let Jazzy choose, she'd definitely be Vanilla. She likes things clean and fresh and uncluttered, so anything mixed in with the Vanilla would drive her nuts. Sprinkles? She'd go crazy trying to 'clean' them off. But she'd be double-churned, extra creamy, delicious Vanilla, because there's nothing plain about her.

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

The main theme is a subtle one. Sometimes God's plans for us are different than our plans for ourselves, and they can take us by surprise. But when we pry our stubborn fingers loose from the future we had planned for ourselves, He can delight us with something far, far better than we ever imagined. That theme developed as the story progressed, because it grew organically from Jazzy's character.

The Bible verse quoted in the front of the book relates to Jazzy's music -- "It is good to praise the LORD and make music to your name, O Most High." (Psalm 92:1, NIV) That was the verse I had in mind when I started writing, and it is appropriate because it relates to Jazzy overcoming her stage fright by dedicating her music to praising God instead of performing for the people in front of her.

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

The hardest part of writing this story actually took place before the real writing started. I wrote the proposal, which included the first three chapters and a synopsis. Then I got the contract, and started working on the plot outline. (Yes, I outline my mysteries – not so much my contemporary novels, though.) The main plot was spelled out in the synopsis, of course, but I had to come up with enough sub-plots to fill out a full novel. I don't want to give anything away, but to put it in vague terms, I really struggled to come up with a plausible motive for one of the suspects. I couldn't think of any reason Jazzy and Derrick would suspect this person of murder. But eventually, I uncovered this person’s true motive, and it worked. What a relief!

My favorite parts to write were the scenes where Jazzy interacts with Old Sue. My father had a smelly old bird dog years ago named Old Sue, and she was the model for the dog in this story. There's no delicate way to put this – that dog stank. But she had a great personality and a heart of gold, and she was super smart. When I thought about super-clean-freak Jazzy having to pet smelly Old Sue, it made me laugh every time.

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

My next book will be out in February 2009. Age before Beauty is the second book in the Sister-to-Sister Series. (Book one was Stuck in the Middle.) Here's the blurb:

Desperate to stay home with her new baby, Allie Harrod launches a new career. Sure, she dropped out of Girl Scouts because she was lousy at cookie sales, but makeup is different, right? She'll do anything to make enough money to cover her share of the household bills, but how can she focus on her business when her list of problems is growing? None of her pre-baby clothes fit, her checking account is dwindling, and her mother-in-law has decided to move in! To top it off, her husband's attractive coworker suddenly needs his help every weekend. Middle sister Joan insists that God has the answers to all her problems, but Allie isn't so sure. Can she really trust him?

I also have two more romantic suspense novels coming out next year, sequels to A Taste of Murder. In April 2009 Murder at Eagle Summit will be released, which takes place in Park City, Utah, my first novel that isn't set in my home state of Kentucky. And following that in June 2009 comes Scent of Murder, which is set in an artist colony in the Blue Hills of Indiana. I'm super excited about both of these. Each one is more suspenseful than the last!

* * * * *

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

Readers, leave a comment for your chance to win a FREE autographed copy of A Taste of Murder.

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 dot.com/net). 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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Friday, October 17, 2008

Spotlight on Andrea Boeshaar and Love Finds You in Miracle, Kentucky

Today, I'm honored to feature the second of the 2 debut authors selected to launch the brand-new romance line for Summerside Press. The "Love Finds You" books specialize in unique towns across America and include a romance that you're sure to love...all the while learning about a unique small town. You just never know. It could be yours!

Andrea Boeshaar has been chosen as the other of two authors to launch the new Love Finds You line of inspirational romance for Summerside Press this month, and she's here today to "chat" with you.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

ANDREA BOESHAAR is a published author, speaker, and Certified Christian Life Coach (CCLC).

The author of over 31 novels and novellas, Andrea also enjoys writing articles on the craft and business of writing. She considers it one of her life's passions to "see others glorify the Lord Jesus Christ with their work."

Andrea has taught workshops at such writers conferences as: Write-To-Publish; American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW); Oregon Christian Writers Conference; Mount Hermon Writers Conference and many local writers conferences. She also speaks at various churches and women’s groups.

As a Certified Christian Life Coach, Andrea also enjoys encouraging others to use their God-given talents and gifts to their fullest.

LOVE FINDS YOU IN MIRACLE, KENTUCKY
by Andrea Boeshaar
Published by Summerside Press

ABOUT THE BOOK

Anything can happen when you live in Miracle!

After her life in Chicago falls apart, Meg Jorgenson arrives in the rural area near Stanford, Kentucky known as "Miracle." with plans to start over. She moves in with a grandmother she barely knows and takes a teaching position at the local elementary school. Meg soon garners the interest of the local eligible bachelors, but its eight-year-old Cammy Bayer who instantly wins her heart. Cammy has spent most of her young life in a wheelchair, but she firmly believes that God will miraculously allow her to walk again someday. Although Meg admires the girls optimism, she pities Cammy for believing something so impossible.

Vance Bayer has always made Cammy his first priority. Though delighted by the attention his daughter receives from her pretty new teacher, the shy widower is embarrassed by Cammy's not-so-subtle attempts to play matchmaker.

Both Meg and Vance want the best for Cammy, but will they see eye-to-eye when it comes to an experimental procedure that might grant Cammy the use of her legs? Will they open their minds to the miracle of healing and their hearts to the miracle of love?

Buy Your Copy of Love Finds You in Miracle, Kentucky Today!

AUTHOR INTERVIEW

1. You are helping to launch a brand new line for a new publishing house in Summerside Press. Tell us a little about the experience and the line.

It all happened so fast, but I'm honored and humbled to be one of the launch authors for Summerside's new "Love Finds You" romance line. My editor, Rachel Meisel has been amazingly encouraging as we worked on a very tight deadline. I'm pleased with the finished product: my novel "Love Finds You in Miracle, Kentucky."

2. What gave you the inspiration for this story?

I actually began writing "Miracle" in 2005. It took three years for the Lord to find a the perfect fit for it. But my inspiration for the story -- and for all my books -- comes from Jesus Christ. He gives me little glimpses along life's road and I turn them into novels.

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

God truly saved me out of a "horrible pit and miry clay" (Psalm 40:2). The Lord saved my marriage, too, and showed me that no matter what the circumstances, there's always hope, because there is Him. So what I experienced in those trials and the miracles that followed are reflected in my books. I write healing fiction for hurting hearts, because I know what it's like to feel wounded and hopeless but I also know what it's like to be delivered.

4. If one of your characters were an ice cream flavor, what would he/she be and why?

I think the main character, Meg, would be Rocky Road because her life has had its ups and downs. Her grandmother, Loretta, would be Butter Pecan, traditional, smooth, yet a little nutty. Vance would be French Vanilla, a little old fashioned by generally loved by all, and his little girl, Cammy, would be Pink Cotton Candy.

5. What themes exist in Love Finds You in Miracle, Kentucky that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the story progressed?

This story's main theme is good decisions always lead to happy endings. Sometimes good decisions, those which line up with God's Word, take courage to make and carry out. But once followed through upon, blessings await.

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

One of the most difficult characters to write was Kent. On the surface he's likeable, even noble, but when his true colors surface, he's...well, when you read my book you'll find out.

My favorite parts to write were Cammy's scenes. She's eight years old and I modeled her personality after some of the third graders I used to teach in Sunday school and also after my niece Madeline. Maddie proved most helpful in informing me about Hannah Montana and other things girls her age enjoy these days.

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

My next release is titled Dixie Hearts (Barbour Publishing). The collection features my novel "Southern Sympathies."

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

Readers, leave a comment for your chance to win a FREE autographed copy of Love Finds You in Miracle, Kentucky.

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 dot.com/net). 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 only.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Spotlight on Sandra D. Bricker and Love Finds You in Snowball, Arkansas

Today, I'm honored to feature the first of the 2 debut authors selected to launch the brand-new romance line for Summerside Press. The "Love Finds You" books specialize in unique towns across America and include a romance that you're sure to love...all the while learning about a unique small town. You just never know. It could be yours!

Sandra D. Bricker has been chosen one of two authors to launch the new Love Finds You line of inspirational romance for Summerside Press this month, and she's here today to "chat" with you.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

SANDRA D. BRICKER declared the words, "I'm going to be a writer when I grow up," to her father on a Sunday afternoon in Slidell, Louisiana. She was 5 years old, and was referring to being able to string her cursive letters together to write her full name for the first time, but the declaration proved somewhat prophetic. By the time she reached high school and her first article was published in The Cincinnati Enquirer, Sandie knew writing was what she wanted to do. For more than a decade, Sandie lived in Los Angeles and, while writing in every spare moment, worked as a personal assistant and publicist to some of daytime television's hottest stars. When her mother became ill in Florida, she walked away from that segment of her life and moved cross-country to take on a new role: Caregiver.

Sandie's interest in telling a story knows no boundaries. Three novels for middle readers carved out the beginning of the journey; then Avalon Books followed up with two hardbound romance novels in 2001: unWANTED: Husband (romantic comedy) and Change of Heart (romantic suspense). The response was tremendous, and Sandie was asked to pen a sequel ... and so Sins of the Past was released in December 2003. Next up was another romantic comedy; Wish I Weren't Here was released in February 2005.

After spending nearly 15 years dealing with her celebrity clients' fans, Sandie finds it amusing that she is suddenly the one getting fan mail! "When people were actually buying my books at a recent signing, I found myself wanting to go around and invite them all to dinner or offer to bake them cookies. Hey! In fact ... maybe I'll do that very soon."

LOVE FINDS YOU IN SNOWBALL, ARKANSAS
by Sandra D. Bricker
Published by Summerside Press

ABOUT THE BOOK

Lucy Binoche is not an outdoorsy kind of girl! In fact, her idea of "roughing it" is suffering through a long line at Starbucks. But will she pretend to be someone she's not just to snag the guy? Or will she discover someone who loves her just the way she is?

Laugh-out-loud romantic comedy for the inspirational market.

Buy Your Copy of Love Finds You in Snowball, Arkansas Today!

AUTHOR INTERVIEW

1. You are helping to launch a brand new line for a new publishing house in Summerside Press. Tell us a little about the experience and the line.

When I first read about Summerside Press and the line of inspirational romance they were starting, it seemed like a perfect next step for me. I'd been publishing for several years with Avalon Books, doing sweet romance. As a Christian, I'd been trying to break into the inspirational market for years but never quite found the right fit. Summerside's whole outlook was just what I was looking for.

I submitted several proposals, and always got a positive response, but ultimately every one of them was rejected. Then one day, Rachel Meisel emailed me and asked if we could have a conference call. The first thing she said when we started the call was that she wouldn't be buying any of the manuscripts I'd proposed! I thought, "Hmph. You're calling to reject me a second time? That's different." But then she went on to tell me that the Summerside staff had a meeting to talk about what they really wanted for the two launch spots, and for one of the two of them they wanted something light and funny ... and they felt like I was just the author to deliver it.

This came as a pretty big surprise since everything I'd sent them was pretty serious. The great thing was that she said it was my emails that convinced them. Apparently, I'm funnier than I thought! Three days after I turned in the proposal, I heard from the creative director who wrote, "Sandie, you nailed it! I knew you would."

2. What gave you the inspiration for this story?

A lot of inspiration came from the setting. Summerside's Love Finds You line is all centered around unique rural towns across the country, and I'd spent some time in Arkansas when I was a publicist. When Rachel said they wanted something for Snowball, Arkansas, I was thrilled. I'd been so moved by the area of the Ozarks around the Buffalo National River that I'd talked often about retiring there one day, and suddenly I had crystal-clear 20/20 about the purpose of that trip and falling in love with the area.

Additional inspiration came with the freedom handed to me when they asked me to write something funny. Once I created Lucy and set her down into a couple of funny situations, the story kind of wrote itself. I fell in love with the hero of the story right along with her, and enjoyed the lessons about trusting God with our future.

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

A little piece of me is in all of my characters, but Lucy has my goofiness. I am not an outdoorsy kind of girl by any stretch of the imagination. When other people go camping, I head for the nearest hotel with movie channels and room service. There are several situations in the book that are taken from real life, I'm sorry to report. For instance, when claustrophobic Lucy goes on a tour of underground caverns, she is hit in the head by a flying bat. That idea came from a 4th of July I spent in the mountains in California. The sun had just gone down, and while we were waiting for the fireworks all these birds (well, what I thought were birds!) were flying around overhead. I was just in the middle of asking someone what kind of birds they were when one of them flew right into my forehead with a thud. I'd always heard that bats have a built-in radar to keep things like that from happening, so during my research for the book I asked one of the cavern guides if that could happen inside their caves. He laughed and said, "It's unlikely, but not unheard of." Then he snorted and said, "Some people just attract those kind of things." He said a mouthful there. Lucy and I share that unfortunate magnetic something!

4. If one of your characters were an ice cream flavor, what would he/she be and why?

Well, Lucy would absolutely be Rocky Road. Her journey is full of bumps and tumbles ... but it's worth it to her because the outcome is that she finds yummy true love.

Matt, on the other hand, would be a beautiful, sweet, creamy vanilla that seems plain at first glance, but contains so many unexpected nuances. And oh-so delicious. :)

5. What themes exist in Love Finds You in Snowball, Arkansas that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the story progressed?

Destiny and the hand of God guiding us through life is a universal theme in all of my books. I'm a true believer. The theme of this particular book, however, is more about who we were created to be. Lucy is a very unique girl, but she gets this idea in her head that she has to be someone completely different in order to snag the guy she thinks she wants. The underlying message of her story is that we don't have to make ourselves over to fit with the right person; the right person finds their way to us because of who we are at the core.

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

I can honestly tell you that, outside of a very strict tiimeline in turning in the manuscript, there wasn't any portion of this book that was difficult to write. It was a whirlwind adventure, and I really loved taking the ride with Lucy and Matt and their friends. My favorite parts to write were the mishaps, like her encounter with the bat, or when she tries to catch a fish and then gets freaked out when she sees it up close. I found myself laughing out loud as I was writing. Once when I was a kid, I saw a chicken close up and my mom said I tried to be a vegetarian for the next year of my life.

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

I'm not sure about the next book, actually. My agent is handling negotiations on a couple of projects, but there's nothing in stone that I can talk about yet. I do hope to do another Love Finds You book or two for Summerside, though. I think this line is the combination of all the best parts of the inspirational market, and I'm really eager to see what the public thinks of what we've tried to do.

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

Readers, leave a comment for your chance to win a FREE autographed copy of Love Finds You in Snowball, Arkansas.

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 dot.com/net). 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.

* * * * *

Monday, October 13, 2008

Spotlight on Golden Keyes Parsons and In the Shadow of the Sun King

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

GOLDEN KEYES PARSONS is a speaker and author who issues the challenge: dare to take God seriously! In her deep plowing of the heart, moving from tears one moment to laughter the next, Golden will touch your heart with her dynamic writing, combined with her vivid character experiences. If deep story-telling that brings the book alive is what you want, Golden and her debut novel, In the Shadow of the Sun King, is the author you need.

IN THE SHADOW OF THE SUN KING
by Golden Keyes Parson
Published by Thomas Nelson Publishers

ABOUT THE BOOK

Seventeenth-century France is a dangerous time and place for a Huguenot. One woman risks it all to save her family and to fight for the freedom to practice their faith.

Because of their Protestant faith in Catholic France during the 17th century, Huguenots Francois and Madeleine Clavell's estate is overtaken by King Louis XIV's dragoons. Madeleine takes it upon herself to save her family by calling on her past love affair with the king. This is a desperate and risky decision, and one that forever changes her family's future.

Features the following bonus materials: a map, author and historical notes, and a reading group guide, making it a perfect selection for book clubs.

Buy Your Copy of In the Shadow of the Sun King Today!

AUTHOR INTERVIEW

1. What gave you the inspiration for this story?

I came into possession of my family's genealogy from 1695 and decided that our family's story needed to be told. Of course, the final result is highly fictionalized, but the facts surrounding the persecution of the Huguenots in 17th century France are true.

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

I found that I draw heavily upon my own experiences, especially in the ups and downs of my faith walk. My heroine, Madeleine Clavell, stands strong for her faith, but finds that her knees grow feeble when her family is threatened. She puts herself on the line to save them. Sometimes that looks like she may have to compromise her faith.

3. If one of your characters were an ice cream flavor, what he/she be and why?

Interesting question. Certainly not vanilla. Maybe something like Rocky Road ... she's strong, sweet at times, but the way is rocky for her.

4. What themes exist in In the Shadow of the Sun King that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the story progressed?

I hope the reader will appreciate, maybe for the first time, the price that was paid for the freedom to worship as we please by so many of our ancestors. The theme that is not so "in-your-face" is the cord running through the story that who and how we love can have long-reaching effects -- even down through history.

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

The most difficult parts to write were trying to describe the palace at Versailles, which I've never seen. The action scenes, the love scenes, the death scenes seemed to just fly off my fingers, but when it came to describing an historical place accurately, I had trouble with that. I do hope to go there someday, but it wasn't in time for my first book.

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

Book #2, "A Prisoner At Versailles," will come out in the Fall of '09, and is the sequel to this first book. The story picks up where Sun King ends and deals with King Louis' pursuit of Madeleine. When she tries to escape to the New World, he brings her back to Versailles to try to persuade her to become his official mistress, because he suspects that her oldest son is his. I'll leave it at that :)

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

Readers, leave a comment for your chance to win a FREE autographed copy of In the Shadow of the Sun King.

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 dot.com/net). 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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Friday, October 10, 2008

Spotlight on Leanna Ellis and Lookin' Back, Texas

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

LEANNA ELLIS formerly known to readers as Leanna Wilson, sold more than one million romance books and won numerous awards before taking a new creative direction with her much-acclaimed 2007 novel, Elvis Takes a Back Seat. She lives with her family in Texas. She is the winner of the National Readers' Choice Award and Romance Writers of America's Golden Heart Award. She writes women's fiction for B&H Publishing. Her latest book, Lookin' Back, Texas released September 2008. Visit her website at http://www.leannaellis.com.

LOOKIN' BACK, TEXAS
by Leanna Ellis
Published by B&H Publishing

ABOUT THE BOOK

Betty Lynne Davidson is planning her husband's funeral while overlooking one thing: he's not dead.

When Suzanne Mullins (42) gets the call from her father to come back home to Texas because her mother has gone off the deep end, she knows it will mean having to look at the faulty foundations of their marriage as well as her own. Betty Lynne has always upheld a perfect facade of home and family, and Suzanne has followed suit. But her life with husband Mike and son Oliver is cracking under the pressure of its own unspoken history.

Looking her past in the eye once and for all, Suzanne hopes that trusting in God's love and mercy will set all of this craziness straight—even if it does mean having to watch her father give the eulogy at his own funeral.

Buy Your Copy of Lookin' Back, Texas Today!

AUTHOR INTERVIEW

1. What gave you the inspiration for this story?

Explaining the way my mind works is not easy. But basically, one day an idea popped into my head about a woman who returned to her hometown only to figure out as she spoke to neighbors that they believed her father was dead due to a story her own mother created. That intrigued me. What would make a woman pretend her husband has died? What would that daughter do? And what if that woman had a secret of her own? It took a while to massage the story idea to make it all work but that's usually my process.

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

Experiences are filtered through me and refracted in some way into my work. But still, the characters are total figments of my imagination.

3. If one of your characters were an ice cream flavor, what he/she be and why?

Oh, Suzanne would probably like a peach flavor. Being from peach country around Luckenbach. She's probably like something mellow like mango too.

4. What themes exist in Lookin' Back, Texas that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the story progressed?

Forgiveness is the main theme of the book, but another theme that I enjoyed exploring was perfectionism. In case you can't tell, the mother of my heroine is a perfect example of perfectionism gone amok.

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

The beginning was probably the most difficult part for me. But that's usually true until I hit my stride. I really enjoyed writing scenes with Betty Lynne because I never knew what she would do. She suprised me constantly.

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

My next book is Ruby's Slippers. It comes out April 2009. When Dottie Meyers (44) loses her 'somewhere over the rainbow' after a devastating tornado, she must find a new yellow brick road to travel. Wanting to cling to her past, she sets off with a new set of friends on her journey to find the faded ruby slippers that belonged to her mother. But her sister who seems more like the Wicked Witch of the West wants to find them first. Did she steal them out of the Judy Garland museum? Will she sell them and keep the money? Their journey leads them to their long lost father. But he's no wizard who can solve their family problems. Only the love of a heavenly father can heal the wounds and form a bond between them.

Thanks so much, Tiff, for having me here on your blog! It's been a lot of fun! Blessings, Leanna.

* * * * *

Thank 8you*, Leanna, for being in the spotlight with us.

Readers, leave a comment for your chance to win a FREE autographed copy of Lookin' Back, Texas.

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 dot.com/net). 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.

* * * * *

Thursday, October 09, 2008

I've Been Tagged! Wanna Play?

I've moved this to today from the previous post date of September 27th as I'll be doing the drawing from the comments left on the 15th. So, if you'd like to leave a comment for a chance to win an autographed copy of one of my books, you have 7 more days.

Kim over a Window to my World and Stormi over at Mystery, Suspense and God, Oh My! have both tagged my window to play! Remember how much fun that was when you were a kid? Always wanted to run away or tempt the person who was "it" or wanting to be "it" yourself. :) So, here goes a good new-fashioned game of tag, folks!

Feel free to copy this game and tag friends of yours, or post a comment to be entered in a drawing to receive a FREE autographed copy of one of my books. And if you're really adventurous, try to trace this game back to the first person who started it. LOL!

Here are the rules for those I'm tagging. Check the list after my 6 THINGS to see if you're it then:

1. Link to the person who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Write six random things about yourself.
4. Tag six people at the end of your post.
5. Let each person know he or she has been tagged.
6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

6 Random THINGS about me:

1. Before I got married, I was the only living female "Miller" in my family. The rest were all boys, as the women all married into the name.

2. My great-grandfather's cousin married President Woodrow Wilson during his presidency, so I'm somewhat related to American "royalty." :) Edith Galt was from the side of my family who founded Galt & Bros. Jewelers in Washington, D.C., a very elite jewelry company. What a shame none of the "luxury" passed down to me.

3. I've lived in 5 different states and traveled to 3 foreign countries; plus, by the time I was 14, I had moved 9 times. Now, that count is up to 15 times in 32 years. Let's just say when we get a house, now, I want it to be a place where we can settle for a while. And if it's just a starter home, we'll hang in there for 5 years then get our long-term home where I hope to raise our children and give them the stability I never had growing up.

4. My husband and his writing influenced a character in Brandilyn Collins' Kanner Lake book series, and he even wrote blog posts on the Kanner Lake blog, Scenes and Beans. Oh, and he even autographed books with Brandilyn at the 2006 ACFW conference, signing his character name of Ted "S-Man" Dawson.

5. I got my big start in web site design when I was hired to design and run actress Jane Seymour's web site in 2000, although I'd been working in design since 1997.

6. I've visited all but 12 of the 50 states in the U.S. and I have a goal to visit those 12 as well before my life on earth comes to an end, so I can mark them off my unofficial list. :)

Now, you're it!

Kim Woodhouse
Trish Perry
Stuart Stockton
Deeanne Gist
Shannon McNear
Kaye Dacus

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Wednesday, October 08, 2008

CFBA Blog Tour - Siri Mitchell and A Constant Heart

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
A Constant Heart
Bethany House - October 1, 2008)
by Siri Mitchell


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

SIRI MITCHELL graduated from the University of Washington with a business degree and worked in various levels of government. As a military spouse, she has lived all over the world, including in Paris and Tokyo. Siri enjoys observing and learning from different cultures. She is fluent in French and loves sushi.

But she is also a member of a strange breed of people called novelists. When they’re listening to a sermon and taking notes, chances are, they’ve just had a great idea for a plot or a dialogue. If they nod in response to a really profound statement, they’re probably thinking, “Yes. Right. That’s exactly what my character needs to hear.” When they edit their manuscripts, they laugh at the funny parts. And cry at the sad parts. Sometimes they even talk to their characters.

Siri wrote 4 books and accumulated 153 rejections before signing with a publisher. In the process, she saw the bottoms of more pints of Ben & Jerry’s than she cares to admit. At various times she has vowed never to write another word again. Ever. She has gone on writing strikes and even stooped to threatening her manuscripts with the shredder.

A Constant Heart is her sixth novel. Two of her novels, Chateau of Echoes and The Cubicle Next Door were Christy Award finalists. She has been called one of the clearest, most original voices in the CBA.

ABOUT THE BOOK

In a world of wealth, power, and privilege...love is the only forbidden luxury.

"Trust was a valuable commodity at court. Traded by everyone, but possessed by no one. Its rarity was surpassed only by love. Love implied commitment and how could any of us commit ourselves to any but the Queen? Love implied singularity and how could any of us benefit another if our affections were bound to one in exclusivity? Love was never looked for and rarely found. When it was, it always ended badly."

In Queen Elizabeth's court where men and women willingly trade virtue for power, is it possible for Marget to obtain her heart’s desire or is the promise of love only an illusion?

A riveting glimpse into Queen Elizabeth's Court...

Born with the face of an angel, Marget Barnardsen is blessed. Her father is a knight, and now she is to be married to the Earl of Lytham. Her destiny is guaranteed ... at least, it would seem so. But when her introduction to court goes awry and Queen Elizabeth despises her, Marget fears she's lost her husband forever. Desperate to win him back, she'll do whatever it takes to discover how she failed and capture again the love of a man bound to the queen.

If you would like to read an excerpt, go HERE.

Buy your copy of A Constant Heart Today!

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MY REVIEW

At first, it took me a while to become engaged in this story, but that wasn't because of the historical detail. Siri effectively transports the reader to another time and another place, and her vivid descriptions give you a clear glimpse of life during the Elizabethean age and a window into British history. However, the jarring point of view shifts sometimes had me re-reading to catch where it occurred, and when that happened, I was taken out of the story for a moment.

I'm a big fan of historical fiction, and this book is excellent for history and discussion and depiction of the culture of England. But, I would have to say I much prefer Siri's romantic comedy voice. As this is the first historical for her, perhaps with time, she'll find her unique voice here too. I hope she does! There is a lot of talent flowing from her fingers and keyboard.

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Readers, leave a comment for your chance to win a FREE copy of A Constant Heart.

If you wish to comment but don't want to be entered, say so when you post. Make sure you leave your email address (name [at] domainname [dot] com/net) or that there's a way to contact you. Otherwise, you won't be entered. 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, October 06, 2008

Spotlight on Cathy Gohlke and I Have Seen Him in the Watchfires

I had the distinct pleasure of meeting today's author in the bookstore where I worked at the time and introducing her to ACFW. Now, she's won a Christy Award for her debut novel and is seeing her 2nd book released. It's exciting to share in the successes of friends.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

CATHY GOHLKE'S first novel, "William Henry is a Fine Name," won the Christy Award. She has worked as a school librarian, drama director for adults and young people, and as a director of children's and education ministries. Cathy lives with her husband in Elkton, Maryland.

I HAVE SEEN HIM IN THE WATCHFIRES
by Cathy Gohlke
Published by Moody Publishers

ABOUT THE BOOK

As Civil War rends his family and the nation, seventeen-year-old Robert vows to rescue his estranged mother and the girl he loves from behind enemy lines. Unwittingly entangled in a prison escape, left for dead and charged as a spy, Robert must forge his anger and shame into a renewed determination to rescue his family. Confronted by an enemy and a war he no longer understands, Robert finds that the rescue, and its results, may not be up to him.

Buy Your Copy of I Have Seen Him in the Watchfires Today!

AUTHOR INTERVIEW

1. What gave you the inspiration for this story?

This is a stand-alone sequel to my first novel, William Henry is a Fine Name (which took place in 1859 and dealt with thirteen-year-old Robert's involvement in the Underground Railroad). So, it was natural to ask what became of those characters, of that family, so torn and divided on the issue of slavery, once the Civil War (1861-1865) began.

I've always wondered where God is in the midst of war—a question as relevant today as it was in 1861, and that, along with questions of "who is my neighbor and who is my enemy" are issues with which Robert struggles.

I've also long known a story handed down in my step-mother's family: an aristocratic Confederate lady met and challenged the dreaded Union General Sherman as he burned his way through South Carolina. This ancestor was a feisty lady, and although my story is not the same as the actual occurrence, I certainly received inspiration there.

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

Like Robert, I've struggled with questions regarding war and politics—which side is God on? Does He take sides? Am I seeing the big picture—the picture that God sees? What does He know that I don't know and what does God grieve over? How do I respond when the law of the land acts outside of God's law? And most importantly, am I on God's side? Like Robert, I have had to learn to surrender my plans and determinations to the Lord, knowing that He knows—everything—far better than I, and peace exists only when I let His will prevail.

I think I had more in common with Robert in my younger years than I do now. When the story begins Robert sees everything in absolute terms—no shades of gray: He believes that the Union is completely right and that God is fighting on its behalf. He becomes disillusioned when he visits Fort Delaware and finds that Union soldiers are men and boys, with all the faults and failings, the good and bad of regular men. He is astonished when he finds both cruelty and compassion among Confederate soldiers and civilians. Robert struggles with separating the idea of war and the issues fought about with the people living through the chaos and carnage. This is an "education" that continues for Robert throughout the war—on both sides, north and south.

3. If one of your characters were an ice cream flavor, what he/she be and why?

Maybe lime sherbet—with a bite—that goes down smoothly at last. Robert is a natural, but young and na├»ve—a little like the green of lime sherbet—but he has some sharp edges that surprise. In the end he is renewed, somewhat mellowed, and the palate is refreshed.

4. What themes exist in I Have Seen Him in the Watchfires that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the story progressed?

"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."--It is what Jesus did for us, and it happens a number of times in different ways in this book. The theme is also very strong that God has a plan and a purpose far greater than what we can see in front of us, and only when we release ourselves and surrender our plans to Him can we find peace and the fulfillment of His love and plan for us. That surrender may be a "growing thing" or the realization for its need may flash upon us suddenly. And finally, the thing that changes us forever—consecration to the Lord—to be forever His and to know we belong to Him. I hope the reader sees these things.

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

The most difficult part for me to write was Col. Mitchell's recounting of the battle of Gettysburg. The research was heart wrenching. The carnage and mass waste of human life angered and grieved my heart so writing became difficult for a time.

There were many parts I loved writing. One of my favorites was the exchange between young Hezekiah, on the floor, and Robert as Robert lay, hidden, face down between mattress and bed ropes. Hezekiah also helped Robert escape the Home Guard determined to catch him by telling him to hide in a giant coffee pot outside the tinsmith's shop. I'd grown up on a legend that a Civil War soldier had hidden in that 12 foot coffee pot. It was great fun to write it into this story. And, of course, I loved writing the epilogue—which you'll have to read on your own. I dare not give away the ending!

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

I'm researching a new novel with new characters, set in England, America, and France in the years just prior to and including WWI. I spent two weeks researching in England this spring—mainly in war and maritime museums and cemeteries—with a day trip to Calais, France, "getting to know" my characters, their history, falling in love with their story, culture and setting. This is Michael's story, a survivor of Titanic, who is given a life, a hope and a future through the sacrifice of a friend. And it is Annie's story, who struggles with bitter loss of someone dear to her, the challenge to forgive, and to love as Christ loves us. How will they respond to such amazing grace? And when the Great War calls on them to sacrifice, how will they respond?

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

Readers, leave a comment for your chance to win a FREE autographed copy of I Have Seen Him in the Watchfires.

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 dot.com/net). 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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Friday, October 03, 2008

Spotlight on A.K. Arenz and the Case of the Bouncing Grandma

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

A.K. ARENZ is the mother of two grown daughters and grandmother of three, plus she has a two year degree in Office Information Systems from Northwest Missouri State University, where she also worked for several years. While with the College of Education, A.K. assisted with the college accreditation both at the national (NCATE) and state (DESE) levels. She's found this experience and that of being Administrative Assistant to the Chair of the Department of Computer Science and Information Systems to be invaluable tools for her writing.

Since reading Walter Farley's Black Stallion series as a child, A.K. has been creating her own stories. Her earliest publication was in the small, family-owned newspaper where her articles, essays, and poems were frequently included. From this early beginning, she honed her skills through university courses, studying Writer's Digest, how-to books on the craft, and through frequent submissions. In the mid-nineties, her writing earned her a stint with a well-known New York literary agency, and, although it failed to produce the hoped-for results, her determination to press forward eventually led her to Sheaf House.

A.K. has had poetry accepted for inclusion in various anthologies, as well as in the Maryville Daily Forum newspaper. She won an honorable mention and publication in the chapbook Look Who's Writing in Northwest Missouri, had a small article published in Family Safety & Health, and was the creator, editor, and head writer for a nationally registered fanzine.

As a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, A.K. has found the fellowship of both published and non-published members an inspiration. She has been a judge in the ACFW Book of the Year contest since 2005 and participated in judging ACFW's 2007 Genesis contest for unpublished authors.

She lives in Missouri with her husband and two Himalayan cats.

THE CASE OF THE BOUNCING GRANDMA
by A.K. Arenz
Published by Sheaf House Publishers

ABOUT THE BOOK

Reduced to watching new neighbors move in as a form of amusement, Glory Harper is stuck in a wheelchair with a broken leg, bored and itching for excitement. She just doesn't expect it to come in the form of a foot dangling out the back of a carpet as it's carried into her new neighbor's house.

Buy Your Copy of The Case of the Bouncing Grandma Today!

AUTHOR INTERVIEW

1. What gave you the inspiration for this story?

The inspiration for the story came from the desire to try something different. I've always written mystery/suspense, but when Heartsong Mysteries was announced a couple years ago, the idea really intrigued me. I was fortunate to read an author's manuscript that had just been accepted for the line, and it was so much fun, that I wanted to try it. The problem was that I wasn't feeling very well at the time, and was having difficulty typing.

I remember sitting in front of the computer one day, my fingers poised over the keyboard, and praying, "If You want me to do this..." My eyes were closed and when I finally opened them, I had most of the first two chapters. THAT was inspiration!

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

Glory is employed at a local college – after I got my Office Information Systems 2-year degree, I worked at Northwest Missouri State University for several years.
Glory has an insatiable curiosity – I do, too, though I'm better at holding mine in check. Glory and I are both extremely introverted.

The rest of Glory's character is all Glory – like her penchant for doing things like skateboarding, jumping on trampolines, and such. Her sister Jane is the perfect match for Glory, calm, cool, outgoing – and totally her own person. She kept surprising me!

3. If one of your characters were an ice cream flavor, what he/she be and why?

I don't know a lot about ice cream flavors, so I'll compare her to, um, cereal. Glory is like a lot of the cereal out there – a little flaky, a little nutty, but with just the right about a sweet.

4. What themes exist in The Case of the Bouncing Grandma that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the story progressed?

That God's love never fails – from the passage of Isaiah 1:14 through Glory's revelation of the awesome meaning of 1 Corinthians 13:12, one can see the steadfastness of our Father's love – no matter what.

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

This would be having to go back and add to the manuscript the second time. That wasn't easy.

My first favorite is in the first chapter when Glory and her sister Jane are "discussing" the folly of Glory's skateboarding attempt. They're talking at the same time with Seth, Glory's grandson, adding his two cents, while Andi, Glory's daughter, is trying to get them to stop. It sounds like a real family!

My other favorite would be the "cookies" chapter – and, of course, I loved the ending.

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

The second in the Bouncing Grandma Mystery Series, The Case of the Mystified M.D., is scheduled for October 2009. This time Glory and Jane discover the hand of a missing professor near a walking trail.

Thanks for having me here today, Tiff!

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

Readers, leave a comment for your chance to win a FREE autographed copy of The Case of the Bouncing Grandma.

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 dot.com/net). 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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