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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Welcome Cathy West and Yesterday's Tomorrow

Please interact with our guest authors by answering the question they provide. Your response will also enter you in the drawing for a free book.


CATHERINE WEST was educated in Bermuda, England and Canada, and she holds a degree in English from the University of Toronto. When she’s not at the computer working on her next story, you can find her taking her Border Collie for long walks or tending to her roses and orchids. Catherine and her husband live on the beautiful island of Bermuda, with their two college-aged children. Catherine is a member of Romance Writers of America, and American Christian Fiction Writers, and is a founding member of International Christian Fiction Writers. Catherine’s debut novel Yesterday’s Tomorrow, released March 15th, through OakTara Publishers.

OakTara Website:

by Catherine West
Published by OakTara Publishers


She's after the story that might get her the Pulitzer. He's determined to keep his secrets to himself. Vietnam, 1967. Independent, career-driven journalist Kristin Taylor wants two things: to honor her father's memory by becoming an award-winning overseas correspondent and to keep tabs on her only brother, Teddy, who signed up for the war against their mother's wishes. Brilliant photographer Luke Maddox, silent and brooding, exudes mystery. Kristin is convinced he's hiding something. Willing to risk it all for what they believe in, Kristin and Luke engage in their own tumultuous battle until, in an unexpected twist, they're forced to work together. Ambushed by love, they must decide whether or not to set aside their own private agendas for the hope of tomorrow that has captured their hearts.

Book Trailer:

Readers, buy your copy of Yesterday's Tomorrow today!


What I Learned Along The Way...

About a hundred years ago, I got this crazy idea that I should try to get published. Okay, so it was really only about twenty years ago, it just feels like a hundred.

I’ve always loved to write. I was notorious for daydreaming when I should have been paying attention in class, but everyone loved my stories. It seemed a natural fit that I should become a writer.

In college, I tried my hand at journalism. I enjoyed talking to people and writing down their stories, but it wasn’t something I saw myself doing forever. Made-up people are sometimes so much more interesting! Once I’d had my kids, I was a stay-at-home mom, and I began to make time to write.

Here’s the first thing I learned: Any idiot can write a book.

And this idiot wrote some pretty bad ones. Admittedly, I had some good storylines, I just had no idea how to put it all together. But I was willing to find out. So I’d like to share with you a few things I’ve learned along the way.

First, have a good heart-to-heart with yourself. Is this really what you want to do? Are you called to do it? Do you think you can handle it? If you’ve answered yes, then you proceed.

Where do I Start? – You’ll need to learn about plot, point of view, do you want to write in first or third? Characterization. Formatting. How to write a query letter. Who to send it to. The list is long. Very long. It can all be a little overwhelming. Do not travel alone.

Circle the Wagons - Writing is not for the faint of heart. The first thing you need to know, after you’ve made the decision to pursue publication, is that you will be rejected. Multiple times. Unless you are a literary genius, this is just fact. Nobody is intentionally trying to hurt your feelings, there are just way too many writers out there and agents editors only have so many slots to fill. You need to find yourself a community of fellow writers who will encourage you, support you, teach you and give you a good kick in the pants when you tell them you give up. There are lots of places to find these people. I found my community within American Christian Fiction Writers.

Join a Critique Group – Your writing community should also provide you with the tools you need to improve your craft. Unless you are the aforementioned literary genius, in which case you’re probably not reading this anyway, you have much to learn. Try to find a group that has writers at a variety of levels. You’ll want to make friends with those more seasoned authors, because they have information you don’t. You can learn from them. If you want to get anywhere in this business, you must have a teachable spirit. Learn to be okay with the fact that you don’t know anything! Later, if the larger group thing isn’t quite your cup of tea, stick with one or two critique partners. I like working with three or four max, if I can. You should always have a few extra pairs of (knowledgeable) eyes on hand to help you along the way.

Networking. The Internet Is Your Friend! – I’m not a very outgoing person, but I have to say I love socializing on the Internet. If you don’t Blog, start. Even if you think you have nothing to say, you probably do. Everybody has a story. Visit Blogs and comment on them – see Blogging as a way to make a whole bunch of new friends from around the world. Think of it this way – if you create a Blog that people start reading and you end up with a hundred or so followers, right there you have a hundred people you can talk to about your debut novel, who can potentially tell a hundred of their friends, and so on. Word of mouth is a wonderful tool. Use it wisely. Don’t be a pain. Nobody likes a whiner or an over-inflated ego! Likewise with Facebook and Twitter. You can definitely go overboard with the social networking thing, so I try to limit my time and make sure I get my writing done too!

Get An Agent!Do I really need one? Some publishing houses do not require you to submit through an agent, in which case, no you don’t need one. But most of the larger publishers definitely do want you to have an agent.

Once you have conquered the ins and outs of punctuation, plot and structure and head-hopping issues, and you have a completed manuscript with a killer synopsis, you are ready to start querying agents. Please do your homework. Do not waste their time or yours. Find out which agents represent the genre you write in. Address them by name. You can’t expect them to be interested in you if you haven’t even bothered to find out who they are. Then sit back and be prepared to wait A. Long. Time. Some agents are great about answering back in a timely manner, others not so much. Most will give you a time frame in which you can expect a response on their websites – if that time has elapsed, don’t be afraid to follow-up, but be polite.

When the Going Gets Tough – You Get Tougher! - Honestly, I can’t tell you how many times over the last few years I’ve wanted to give up. There were days I thought if I received one more rejection letter, I’d pack it all in and start selling Avon. That’s when you rely on that community I talked about earlier. They’ll get behind you and remind you that you are a good writer—you can do this—and you cannot give up!

Believe in yourself.

Yes, it is hard, but so is following after any dream, right? I can tell you, as I prepare for the release of my debut novel, it’s all worth it. But just because I have a book coming out doesn’t mean my journey is over. It’s really just beginning.

So I will take all these things I’ve learned along the way, no doubt add to them as I go, and plod on toward the next fork in the road. The best part of this adventure is that I know I’m not alone.

Thank you for traveling with me!

* * * * *

Thank you, Cathy, for sharing with us today.

Guest Question: If you are a writer, what life lessons have you learned along your journey? If you're a reader, what have you learned from the books you've read? Feel free to answer either or both questions.

ENTRY RULES Readers, leave your email address (name at domainname dot com/net) along with your answer to the question for your chance to win a FREE autographed copy of the book above. If you do not answer the question, and your email address isn't provided, you will not be entered.

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

Monday, March 28, 2011

Baby Stockton #2 Countdown - 38 Down, 2 to Go!

So, I reached week 38 this past Friday in terms of time, and I'm still 1 week ahead in fundal measurement. I have now gained 3-1/2 pounds from pre-pregnancy weight. We'll see what the final tally is on my son's birthday. Only gained 12 lbs. with my daughter.

Just a reminder, I have a "guessing game" online for folks to guess the length, weight, and actual birthday of our son. We will be awarding prizes (books, gift cards, and something else) to the top 3 with the closest guesses. So, get in there and have fun. :)

If you'd like to play, click the link below:

Now, we're at week 37.5, so here is the update:

I gotta say, I had my week 38 appointment last Friday, and it was with another doctor on staff with my doctor's team. He was on vacation. Well, that was the fastest I've ever gotten in and out of the office this entire pregnancy! By the time I updated my address with the front desk, the assistant called me back. I stepped on the scale, and then we went to the room where she took my blood pressure. She left to let me prepare for the doctor, and by the time I sat on the examination table, he was knocking on the door. He brought the nurse back in, did his standard checks, spread the goo on my belly to get my son's heartbeat, asked me if I had any questions, told me everything's looking great, and said fare-thee-well.

From the time I arrived to the time I left, it was about 20 minutes. I was shocked! It usually takes me an hour from arrival to when the appointment is done. This includes about 20 minutes in the waiting room and 10-15 minutes waiting for my doctor. I might just have to tease him this Friday at my week 39 appointment. It *will* be April Fool's after all. :)

Anyway, the other stats in measurement are as follows:

Dilated to 2 cm
Effaced at 50%
Baby weight estimate at 7-1/2 pounds
Baby's heartbeat was 153 (because the doctor had just nudged his head)
My blood pressure and weight are looking good, no issues

The final details are being rounded off before my rocket-baby's big launch into the world. For one, my adorable poop-factory's meconium stockpile is growing (time to get ready for that historical first tarry black poo!) as his baby fat stores continue to increase. Most importantly, my wee genius' rapidly developing super-brain is abuzz with new brain cells that'll be growing for years to come.


Whether I give birth tomorrow (yes!) or next week (aw), my fantastic baby is pretty much 100% ready to face the world outside of your womb. And by "ready", that means weak, helpless and unable to do anything other than cry, pee, poop, and eat. :)

And now some words from the little acrobat inside me:

Not much new to report here, although that experience with Mama and the new doctor sure did set me on edge. He pushed on my head, my back, my rump, and even my feet, then told Mama I weighed about 7-1/2 pounds. I guess that's good, but what do I know? I'm tucked in this warm and snug little home and know I'm either getting bigger or my home is getting smaller. Whichever it is, at least I'm warm.

Last night, that big sister of mine was at it again with her screaming and stubbornness. I can't tell time right now, but I heard Mama say something about not letting her nap late anymore. Guess she didn't want to go to bed and kept coming out of her room. Then, at some point, I think she came to sleep with Mama and Daddy. Don't think they got much sleep.

She better start behaving, because when I arrive, I am going to need more of Mama's time, and she won't be the center of attention anymore. I sure hope Mama is ready for both of us. And I think she has help coming each week, but leaves a lot of time where it'll just be the two of us and her. Guess that means sleep won't be in abundance...for her anyway. Won't be long now. We'll see how things go.

It's me again. The mama. :) That's it for now. Tune in each week for the latest. If this little boy shows up early, I'll be sure to post an announcement...or my husband will. :) And if you want to receive an email each time I post an update, subscribe using the form over there at the top right.

Thanks for coming along this journey with me...some of you for the second time.

Friday, March 25, 2011

2011 RITA Finalists Announced - Book Awards

I'm thrilled to come here today and share the list of finalists whose books were nominated in the inspirational category of the RITA Award. This is a prestigious award sponsored by RWA (Romance Writers of America) and features not only a solid, top quality, golden statue, but a plaque as well for the winner in each category. I've had the opportunity to see and hold this award, even though I haven't yet had the privilege of being nominated. Perhaps one day down the line.

But, here are the finalists for the inspirational category:
  • A Convenient Wife by Anna Schmidt (Steeple Hill Love Inspired Historical; Tina James, editor)
  • Doctor in Petticoats by Mary Connealy (Barbour Publishing; Rebecca Germany, editor)
  • Finding Her Way Home by Linda Goodnight (Steeple Hill Love Inspired; Allison Lyons, editor)
  • In Harm's Way by Irene Hannon (Revell; Jennifer Leep, editor)
  • Maid to Match by Deeanne Gist (Bethany House Publishers; David Long and Julie Klassen, editors)
  • Shades of Morning by Marlo M. Schalesky (WaterBrook Multnomah; Shannon Marchese, editor)
  • The Wedding Garden by Linda Goodnight (Steeple Hill Love Inspired; Allison Lyons, editor)
  • Whisper on the Wind by Maureen Lang (Tyndale House Publishers; Stephanie Broene, editor)
  • Within My Heart by Tamera Alexander (Bethany House Publishers; Karen Schurrer and Charlene Patterson, editors)
And there are 2 inspirational authors who were nominated in the Debut Novel category:
  • Firestorm by Kelly Ann Riley (Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense; Tina James, editor)
  • A Tailor-Made Bride by Karen Witemeyer (Bethany House Publishers; Karen Schurrer, editor)
Congratulations to the nominees! I love seeing so many familiar names and friends listed.

    Wednesday, March 23, 2011

    Welcome Amanda Cabot and Mastering Deadlines

    Please interact with our guest authors by answering the question they provide.


    AMANDA CABOT has always been a dreamer, and so it’s no coincidence that her first books for the CBA market are called Texas Dreams. Set in the Hill Country beginning in 1856, these deeply emotional historical romances showcase God’s love as well as that between a man and a woman. The first in the trilogy, Paper Roses, was a finalist for the Carol Award. Scattered Petals received critical acclaim, and the final Texas Dreams book, Tomorrow’s Garden, has just been released. A former director of Information Technology, Amanda has written everything from technical books and articles for IT professionals to mysteries for teenagers and romances for all ages. She’s delighted to now be a fulltime writer living in Cheyenne, WY with her high school sweetheart/husband of many years.

    TOMORROW'S GARDEN (Texas Dreams)
    by Amanda Cabot
    Published by Revell


    As the seed awaits the spring sunshine, so one young woman hopes for a brighter tomorrow.

    Harriet Kirk is certain that becoming the new schoolteacher in Ladreville, Texas is just what she needs—a chance to put the past behind her and give her younger siblings a brighter tomorrow. What she didn’t count on was the presence of handsome former Texas Ranger Lawrence Wood—or the way he affects her fragile heart. But can Harriet and Lawrence ever truly conquer the past in order to find happiness? Book 3 in the Texas Dreams series, Tomorrow’s Garden is a powerful story of overcoming the odds and grabbing hold of happiness.

    Readers, buy your copy of Tomorrow's Garden today!


    Mastering Those Dreaded Deadlines

    Do you hate deadlines as much as I do? I think part of the problem is the word. According to my dictionary, a deadline is "a line drawn within or around a prison that a prisoner passes at the risk of being shot." What an image! No wonder I don’t like deadlines. In fact, I prefer not to use the word at all.

    Instead, I refer to them as due dates. Using a term that frequently describes the projected birthdate of a child seems much more appropriate. After all, what’s due on the date formerly called a deadline is another form of creation, a manuscript.

    Whether you call them deadlines or due dates, they’re important parts of a writer’s life. Consistently meeting due dates is the hallmark of a professional writer. Whether the due date is for the entry of a manuscript into a contest or its delivery to an editor as part of a contract, it’s important – I’d even say vital – that the date be met. I won’t claim that it’s easy, but I offer four techniques that can improve the probability of meeting your due dates.

    1. Set a realistic date.

    If it’s already the end of March and you want to enter a completed manuscript in a contest on April 15 but you haven’t started writing, odds are that that particular date isn’t realistic. Don’t set yourself up for failure. Instead, plan to enter the contest next year. Similarly, if an editor calls to say she loves your proposal and wonders how soon you can have the completed manuscript to her, take a deep breath before you answer. Even better, tell her you need to work out the schedule and you’ll call her back. Then figure out how long it will take, realizing that it’s impractical to think you’ll work eight hours every day. When you’ve created what seems like an achievable schedule, add in a couple weeks for contingencies. Trust me, you’ll need them.

    2. Create a picture of your goal.

    Mental images are great, but I’m talking about a physical picture, one that’ll help motivate you. If your goal is to enter a contest, create a picture of a blue ribbon or a statue with your title on it. If your goal is to send a completed manuscript to your editor, create a picture of a book cover with your name and title on it. Once the picture is complete, make a number of copies. One goes on the refrigerator, another one on the phone, still another on the TV remote. The purpose is to remind you that your goal is your highest priority and that snacking, calling a friend or watching a must-see TV show are keeping you from meeting that goal.

    3. Divide and conquer.

    By that I mean, divide your project into small, manageable tasks, ideally ones that require no longer than a day or two to complete. By doing that, you’ll be able to determine whether or not you’re on schedule. Like the picture, it’s important to have more than a mental plan. You need a written schedule, showing when each chapter (or scene, if you break it down to that level) must be finished. The critical point here is to know whether or not you’re on schedule, and if you’re not, to take corrective action immediately. That leads to the last point.

    4. Just say 'no.'

    If you’re going to meet your due date, it’s almost inevitable that you’ll need to make some sacrifices. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: writing needs to be your highest priority. That means that email, Facebook and all the other things that take time away from writing need to be put in second place. And, if your schedule has slipped, that afternoon at the mall may need to be postponed until you’ve met your due date.

    There’s no doubt about it. Meeting due dates is hard work. It requires determination and discipline. But you can do it. I know you can, because you’re a writer, and that’s what writers do.

    * * * * *

    Thank you, Amanda, for sharing with us today.

    Guest Question: What are some tricks you use to meet deadlines, or due dates? How do you stay on top of things or keep track?

    Monday, March 21, 2011

    Baby Stockton #2 Countdown - 37 Down, 3 to Go!

    Well, I might have reached week 37 this past Friday in terms of time, but I'm now measuring at 38 weeks. So, my son is still about 1 week ahead in fundal measurement, but that can change depending upon where he shifts or how he's laying. I am back up 1 pound from pre-pregnancy weight. We'll see what the final tally is on my son's birthday. Only gained 12 lbs. with my daughter.

    Just a reminder, I have a "guessing game" online for folks to guess the length, weight, and actual birthday of our son. We will be awarding prizes (books, gift cards, and something else) to the top 3 with the closest guesses. So, get in there and have fun. :)

    If you'd like to play, click the link below:

    Now, we're at week 37.5, so here is the update:

    At this point, I'm monitoring my body for those first Early Labor symptoms and wondering what I've forgotten. Hubby keeps reminding me we need to pack our hospital bag, but with recently moving into a new house and our daughter's 2nd birthday coming up on April 2nd, there is so much else on my mind. I'm doing what I can to take it easy, though. I promise. :)

    My smooshed-up baby is weighing in at around 6.9 lbs and 19 inches. As far as his internal organs go, my adorable poop and blood factory has reached "term" - a medical term that means this sweet little bun is birth-ready and labor is welcome and normal at this point.

    Despite being physically ready to land on planet Earth, my baby's immune system is quite weak and will continue to be that way for their first years of life. Thankfully, my breast milk (aka "boob medicine") protects my child via protective antibodies that are present in my breast milk. Worked great for our daughter, as my immune system is rather strong. So, I'll be able to pass on my immunities to my son as well. Can't beat that!

    And now some words from the tiny roly-poly inside me:

    Despite Mama hearing or reading that my movements are going to decrease as I get closer to my birthday, I'm still able to move and shift and find ways to get comfortable. I heard her remark to Daddy the other day about not being concerned for the 10 movements in 2 hours once a day thing her doctor told her. Yeah, I'm far more active. But with all that outside noise and the screeching from that big sister of mine, who can sleep?

    Besides, Mama has been active, even though Daddy has told her to take it easy. Most of it feels like up and down, and I have noticed her movements aren't as jerky. I guess if I don't feel any discomfort or pain, she's doing all right. But with my lungs fully developed, I have to admit, I'm getting excited about seeing her face to face. Can't wait to have her hold me close and kiss my face. It's going to be great! Until then, I'll keep getting ready and wait until God tells me to come out. After all, He knows best.

    It's me again. The mama. :) That's it for now. Tune in each week for the latest. And if you want to receive an email each time I post an update, subscribe using the form over there at the top right.

    Thanks for coming along this journey with me...some of you for the second time.

    Friday, March 18, 2011

    Welcome Brandy Bruce and Looks Like Love

    Please interact with our guest authors by answering the question they provide. Your response will also enter you in the drawing for a free book.


    BRANDY BRUCE holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Liberty University. She’s been a nonfiction developmental book editor for Focus on the Family more than six years, and she’s the author of the newly released novel Looks Like Love. Brandy makes her home in Colorado with her husband, Jeff, and her daughter, Ashtyn.

    by Brandy Bruce
    Published by WestBow Press, a division of Thomas Nelson


    Following a break-up with her boyfriend, an unfulfilling career, and a general bad taste in clothes, Kasey Addison feels lost in her own life. With the help of her best friend, Amanda, Kasey embarks on an unexpected journey to rediscover life and love, starting with a whirlwind London jaunt. Surrounded by red telephone booths, double-decker buses, and men in fuzzy black hats, Kasey falls in love with mud baths, Jane Austen, and stone cathedrals. And in the middle of London she meets Lincoln Davis, a Texan with a really great tan, and her life gets even more unrecognizable. When her spur-of-the-moment vacation is over, Kasey, a junior marketing consultant, finds herself on the marketing team for LETA, a growing cosmetics company. Kasey's thrown into the fast-paced world of promotional galas, photo shoots, and magazine interviews. When the owners of LETA decide to release their very first fragrance, Kasey's new assignment is to find out what love looks like and then find a way to sell it. With the help of Amanda and a few new friends, and with a rekindled relationship with the Lover of her soul, Kasey discovers that sometimes love looks like what we least expect.


    Readers, buy your copy of Looks Like Love today!


    Thinking in Words

    I fell in love with fiction at a really early age. It was Amelia Bedelia, then the Babysitter’s Club, then the Christy Miller series, and on it went. I started scribbling my own stories once I entered the sixth grade, and by the time I went to college, I knew I wanted books to be a part of my career. So I became a book editor. There was, and continues to be, something so fascinating to me about taking a rough manuscript and then shaping and polishing it until it becomes what it was always meant to be.

    To me, editing is like working a puzzle. Despite the fact that I’m a fiction reader and writer, after college I began working as a non-fiction editor for a publishing house. And to this day, I love my work. When an author first sends me his or her book, I look at all the possibilities. Would something flow better at the beginning instead of the ending? Is this part really necessary to the overall message? Could we somehow make this section more inspiring? What’s missing? It’s very much a puzzle that I have to put together.

    But in my personal life, fiction has remained my passion, and I’ve never given up that habit of scribbling stories of my own. Sometimes I think that my thoughts come out in story form. Do you know what I mean? I think in words and pictures, of course, but I also think in story. I’m a character living out her destiny and God is my author. Or I’m the author and my imagination runs wild as I create characters of my own.

    Several years ago I went on a European tour, visiting Ireland, Scotland, England, and France. It was an amazing journey, and I came home with all kinds of inspiration for stories. A few years later, I accepted an editor’s position at Focus on the Family, and my husband and I moved from Virginia to Colorado. And as we settled into our new home and new jobs, a story started forming in my mind. A story of a young woman, Kasey Addison, who was starting over and in desperate need of hope and adventure and inspiration. I began her journey by sending her to England, and everything just unfolded from there. The end result was my novel Looks Like Love.

    While I was writing Looks Like Love, I pulled out my journal that I’d taken on my trip overseas to remind myself of all the little details I’d forgotten. I opened all my photo albums from that trip, and I surrounded myself with the souvenirs I’d bought. I drew inspiration from my own journey as I dived into Kasey’s story. I hope you’ll check out Looks Like Love and then let me know what you think! I love hearing from my readers.

    When I think of the beauty and power of story, I think of the best storyteller of all time—Jesus. I like to think of Him sitting and sharing parables with an engaged audience. He knew the value in a well-told story. A good fiction story stays with us and inspires us. It captures our attention and keeps us turning pages. Any book-lover can think of a book that made a huge impact on his or her life. What’s yours?

    * * * * *

    Thank you, Brandy, for sharing with us today.

    Guest Question: Any book-lover can think of a book that made a huge impact on his or her life. What’s yours?

    ENTRY RULES Readers, leave your email address (name at domainname dot com/net) along with your answer to the question(s) for your chance to win a FREE autographed copy of the book above. If you do not answer the question, and your email address isn't provided, you will not be entered.

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

    Wednesday, March 16, 2011

    Welcome Maureen Lang and Springtime of the Spirit

    Please interact with our guest authors by answering the question they provide. IF there is a book giveaway, your response will also enter you in the drawing for a free book.


    MAUREEN LANG is the bestselling author of eleven books, many of which have earned various writing distinctions including RWAs Inspirational Reader's Choice Award, A Holt Award of Merit and finaling in the Christies. She is also a four-time finalist in ACFWs Carol Awards. Her titles The Oak Leaves, On Sparrow Hill, My Sister Dilly and most recently her three-book Great War Series, all published by Tyndale House, have consistently received positive reviews from such places as Publisher's Weekly and Romantic Times. Her website is and her Facebook page can be found at

    by Maureen Lang
    Published by Tyndale House


    The winter of an unjust war is over. A springtime of the spirit awaits.

    Germany, 1918

    Four years of fighting have finally come to an end, and though there is little to celebrate in Germany, an undercurrent of hope swells in the bustling streets of Munich. Hope for peace, fairness-the possibility of a new and better tomorrow.

    It's a dream come true for Annaliese Düray. Young and idealistic, she's fighting on the front lines of Munich's political scene to give women and working-class citizens a voice in the new government. But she's caught off guard by the arrival of Christophe Brecht-a family friend, recently returned from the war, who's been sent to bring her home.

    It's the last place she wants to go.

    Christophe admires Annaliese's passion, unable to remember the last time he believed in something so deeply. Though he knows some things are worth fighting for, he questions the cost to Annaliese and to the faith she once cherished. Especially when her party begins to take its agenda to new extremes.

    As the political upheaval ignites in Munich, so does the attraction between Annaliese and Christophe. When an army from Berlin threatens everything Annaliese has worked for, both she and Christophe face choices that may jeopardize their love, their loyalty, and their very lives.

    Readers, buy your copy of Springtime of the Spirit (The Great War) today!


    Five Writing Myths Exploded

    Facing 5 writing myths and staying realistic about getting published.

    Since I’ve wanted to be a writer nearly my entire life, I’ve heard a lot of myths about the writing industry along the way. Thanks to Tiff’s invitation, I can share my thoughts here with you. Thanks for having me, Tiff!

    (My pleasure, Maureen. And I LOVE the first myth...especially since I sold my first novel before I was 30 years old! I've since sold 11 novels and 1 novella, and I won't be 35 until August. Been receiving a lot of flack and scorn for it, though.)

    Writing Myth #1 - You must be “mature” (i.e. old) to write a book.

    While I do believe age enhances our experience level and can give us a broader perspective, I heartily disagree that one has to be over 35 to write a book and to do it well. What a writer needs is a perception radar system, one that picks up on what’s going on around them. Someone who can separate the chaff from the wheat of everyday life. An observant writer is one who is curious to know the reasons behind real-life activity, so they can add authenticity to their stories by understanding motivations and actions on a personal, universal level. If someone has this power of observation, this curiosity to understand the underlying reasons and can transfer this knowledge to create believable, interesting plots and characters, this kind of perspective can make up for years of experience.

    Writing Myth #2 - Write What You Know.

    When I was a young, aspiring writer this myth depressed me every time I heard it. I just wanted to tell an entertaining story, I didn’t have anything to say or an underlying agenda. Little did I know that in creating my entertaining stories, I was saying something anyway. I didn’t need to travel to ancient history to write about it, to feel first hand what it was like—but I did have to research my subjects, and learn to research thoroughly. As alluded to in Myth #1, the power of observation is vital to writers, so if we’re in tune to why people behave the way they do, or why certain things happen, coupled with a willingness to investigate everything that pertains to your novel, all of that equals writing what you know.

    Writing Myth #3 - Writers can’t get published without an agent, and can’t find an agent without being published.

    It seems like a catch-22, doesn’t it? But the truth is first-time authors break in somehow. A few gain writing credentials through writing articles, some create their own following by working to establish a popular blog or build a network around them that will allow them to get their work on an editor’s desk. All of that can work, but there are other ways of attracting agents and editors. Entering contests is relatively inexpensive, if you keep in mind the results are so subjective it may take as much persistence to gain notoriety through this route as it’ll take to get published. Going to conferences is another way to connect face-to-face with agents and editors, although it’ll take time out of your schedule and often cost more than a bit, particularly if there are travel and hotel fees added to the cost of the conference. I’ve heard of some success through The Writer’s Edge or online services like that, as well as the tried-and-true, old-fashioned way of a completely unpublished aspiring writer contacting agent after agent until finding a good fit. It can happen, just not overnight.

    Writing Myth #4 - Writers make a lot of money.

    There are just enough successful books out there to make everyone think all writers make a lot of money. The truth is, some polls suggest less than 10% of writers can even make a living at writing and as few as 1% make what is considered “a lot” of money. So don’t go into publishing for the love of money, but do go into it for the love of storytelling.

    Writing Myth #5 - Being published will make you happy.

    While having a dream come true does seem as though it should be fodder for happiness, happiness is a temporary feeling even when connected to long-held dreams. It’s true there are few more thrilling things than to hold your own book in your hands, but it’s also true that the publishing world is just unpredictable enough to bring challenges of its own. Between bad reviews, competition in the market place and worries over burnout, a wandering muse and sustaining or increasing sales there is still a hefty dose of reality connected even to this dream. But then, if this were the answer to happiness we really wouldn’t need God, would we?

    So those are just a few of the writing myths I’ve come across. Have you heard any other myths associated with the publishing world you’d like to share? Or have you had experience with any of these you’d like to add?

    * * * * *

    Thank you, Maureen, for sharing with us today.

    Guest Question: Have you heard any other myths associated with the publishing world you’d like to share? Or have you had experience with any of these you’d like to add?

    ENTRY RULES Readers, leave your email address (name at domainname dot com/net) along with your answer to the question(s) for your chance to win a FREE autographed copy of the book above. If you do not answer the question, and your email address isn't provided, you will not be entered.

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

    Monday, March 14, 2011

    Baby Stockton #2 Countdown - 36 Down, 4 to Go!

    Well, I might have reached week 36 this past Friday in terms of time, but I'm now measuring at 37 weeks. So, my son has gained a few days and put on some extra weight recently. I haven't gained any weight, though. Well, I did gain 3 lbs. at one point, but I've since lost that. We'll see what the final tally is on my son's birthday. Only gained 12 lbs. with my daughter.

    Just a reminder, I have a "guessing game" online for folks to guess the length, weight, and actual birthday of our son. We will be awarding prizes (books, gift cards, and something else) to the top 3 with the closest guesses. So, get in there and have fun. :)

    If you'd like to play, click the link below:

    Now, we're at week 36.5, so here is the update:

    The countdown to my sweet lil' womb hi-jacker's eviction is closing in!

    In fetal developments: most of the bones (soft skull aside) in his little body are now completely hardened, providing a solid structure from which he can now make his grand debut into the world.

    In physical fitness news: my mini-champ's muscle tone is improving, and I look forward to his steel-like Ulnar grasp (a newborn reflex that will occur when I lay my finger in his palm). It's amazing and sigh-inducing at the same time. Provides a great deal of pleasure, as well as a smile. Just one more way you can see immediate evidence of the little baby needing you.

    For our lives, it's been a bit crazy the past week. We just signed the papers on our new house this past Thursday. Talk about a whirlwind of activity and a long list of things to do. We got our daughter's room painted, some cosmetic fixes completed on the house, and we managed to get an accent wall done in the main living area. But last night, we arrived at the house to discover a leak in the ceiling of our daughter's room. Bubbled ceiling, drips, and all. Praise God it wasn't as bad as it could have been, and we managed to get it under control. Also glad it happened before we moved in.

    Still, with this move, a baby coming in 3-5 weeks, a book due to my editor by April 1st, and trying to take it easy, I'm feeling the strain. Praying for a ton of help this week from friends and family to finish packing, get us moved, and allow me to rest. Definitely don't want to cause any premature labor or issues for my baby boy.

    And now some words from the tiny spaz-man inside me:

    Ok, I'm still running out of room to move, and I'm getting those annoying things Mama calls "hiccups." They sure do make staying comfortable a difficult thing.

    This past week, I've noticed a lot of increased movement, and it's felt as if I've been put on a rollercoaster of ups and downs, side to side, and waving motions. It's comforting, sometimes rocking me to sleep, but other times, it's hard to get to sleep with how fast Mommy is moving. I've also been picking up on some stress with Mommy. Sure hope she's doing all right. I know she's anxious to meet me and hold me. I'm just as anxious to meet her for the first time. Still not too sure about that little screamer who likes to bump against me or push on me. She has her loving moments, though, and I can feel it when she kisses Mama's belly or rubs the belly to be nice to me. I don't know. Maybe she's not so bad. Will have to wait and see.

    Other than that, I'm just trying to figure out when I'm ready to make my appearance outside of Mommy's belly. It's so warm in here, even if it IS getting rather cramped. I have no doubt I'll be just as warm on the outside, wrapped in Mommy's or Daddy's arms. Looking forward to that day.

    It's me again. The mama. :) That's it for now. Tune in each week for the latest. And if you want to receive an email each time I post an update, subscribe using the form over there at the top right.

    Thanks for coming along this journey with me...some of you for the second time.

    Friday, March 11, 2011

    Little Golden Books - Trip Down Nostalgia Lane

    All right, life is super hectic now with buying a new house, a book deadline for April 1st, and a new baby due in 4 weeks. So, Lorna Seilstad over on Inspirational Messages gave permission for one of her recent blogs to be reposted. I enjoyed it so much, and she graciously agreed for it to be shared.

    Growing up, I think all of us had favorite books. Some of Lorna’s—and mine—were Little Golden Books. In honor of those wondrous little books, I wanted to share the quiz Lorna posted on her blog not long ago. Grab a sheet of paper and write down your answers. You can check them because the answers are at the end. Let me know how you did.

    1. In what year did Little Golden Books first hit the shelves?

    a.) 1936
    b.) 1942
    c.) 1950

    2. Who published Little Golden Books?

    a.) Simon & Schuster
    b.) Scholastic
    c.) Penquin

    3. Which of the following books were one of the original twelve titles released?

    a.) The Poky Little Puppy
    b.) Old McDonald’s Farm
    c.) The Three Bears

    4. How much did Little Golden Books originally cost?

    a.) 25 cents
    b.) 50 cents
    c.) $1.00

    5. Which Little Golden Book came with a bandage glued to the right side of the title page?

    a.) The Good Samaritan
    b.) Nurse Betty and the Hospital Visit
    c.) Dr. Dan, The Bandage Man

    6. In the 1950’s, many top-selling Little Golden Books centered around what topic?

    a.) The space program
    b.) Popular television shows
    c.) Disney characters

    7. In what year was a permanent exhibit created for Little Golden Books at the Smithsonian

    a.) 1982
    b.) 1992
    c.) 2002

    8. Which Little Golden book has become controversial and is also one of the most valuable to collectors?

    a.) The Tawny Scrawny Lion
    b.) My Little Golden Book About God
    c.) Little Black Sambo

    9. How can you tell if your Little Golden Book is a valuable first edition?

    a.) A letter “A” at the end of the string of letters on the books first two pages
    b.) A Roman numeral on the title page shows the printing date
    c.) The letter “R” appears on the back of cover

    10. A vintage colourtone copy of Little Golden Book’s Madeline is for sale on E-bay right now for how much?

    a.) $79
    b.) $125
    c.) $228


    1. Little Golden Books were first sold in 1942 (b) in department stores.

    2. Simon & Schuster (a) , along with Western Printing, published the titles. In just five short months, they’d sold 1.5 million copies.

    3. One of the original 12 titles was The Poky Little Puppy (a). Today nearly 15 million copies of the book have been sold.

    4. Little Golden Books originally cost just 25 cents (a). This was a great bargain for families as most children’s books were $2 to $3 at the time. Today, a little Golden Book costs $2.99.

    5. Dr. Dan, The Bandage man (c) came with the Johnson & Johnson Band-aid glued on the title page. Its first printing was 1.75 million—the largest first printing of any Little Golden Book up to 1951.

    6. In the mid-1950’s, Little Golden Books centered around children’s television shows (b) like “The Roy Rogers Show, Howdy Doody, The Lone Rangers, and Captain Kangaroo.)

    7. Little Golden Books received a permanent exhibit at the Smithsonian in 1992 (b). It was the year of their “golden” anniversary—50 years!

    8. The most controversial Little Golden Books was Little Black Sambo. I had a copy of it as a child and it was one of my favorites. However, the word “sambo” is considered a racial slur in some countries and the book has been one of the most controversial books in existence. In 2004, Little Golden Books released a new version titled The Boy and the Tigers. The boy in it is called Little Ranjani. Today, a first edition regularly brings values of $150 or more.

    9. You can often tell if your Little Golden Book is a first edition by checking the first two pages for a series of letters. If that series ends in “A”, it’s a first edition, a “B” it’s a second, and so on. In 1991, they began using Roman numerals.

    10. The copy of Madeleine on E-bay is listed at $228 and you can buy it now!

    What made these books so popular?

    1. Cost. Moms could pop in for them at the grocery or department store and bring home a surprise.
    2. Collectible. Let’s face it. We all love a collection, especially when we’re kids.
    3. Length. They were short. Moms would take the time to read them to their children and when kids began reading themselves, they could easily master them.
    4. Timeless. They told timeless stories, and story is the most powerful tool in the world.

    So, which Little Golden Books do you recall? Which little golden treasures lined your shelves? How’d you do on the quiz? Curious minds want to know, and I’m very curious.

    Wednesday, March 09, 2011

    Welcome Liz Johnson and A Travel-Filled Life

    Please interact with our guest authors by answering the question they provide. Your response will also enter you in the drawing for a free book.


    LIZ JOHNSON grew up reading Christian fiction, and always dreamed of being part of the publishing industry. In 2006 she got her wish when she accepted a publicity position at a major trade book publisher. While working as a publicist in the industry, she decided to pursue her other dream-becoming an author. Her first novel, The Kidnapping of Kenzie Thorn, released in 2009. Liz makes her home in Nashville, TN, where she enjoys theater, exploring the local music scene, and making frequent trips to Arizona to dote on her two nephews and three nieces. Keep up with Liz's adventures in writing at

    by Liz Johnson
    Published by Love Inspired Suspense


    "Follow the drugs."

    Her sister's last words shake FBI agent Heather Sloan to the core. They also convince her that the helicopter crash only Heather survived wasn't an accident. Sheriff's deputy Jeremy Latham is assigned the case—he's the one who can help Heather find the person responsible…once she convinces him they should work together. As they dig for the truth, they learn to trust and care for each other. Will they lose it all when the killer targets Heather? She's willing to risk her life to find her sister's killer—but her code of justice could cost her the chance to win Jeremy's love.

    Readers, buy your copy of Code of Justice today!


    For Me a Fiction-filled Life is a Travel-filled Life...
    by Liz Johnson

    Traveling is one of my favorite parts about being a writer. I’m a big fan of visiting the cities where I set my stories—whether the town is real or fictional. My first book, The Kidnapping of Kenzie Thorn, was set in a small town in Oregon called Evergreen. While it was definitely fictional, I drew on my experiences living in another small town in central Oregon. And Crescent City, Colorado, from my second novel was based on Flagstaff, Arizona, where I went to college.

    But writing my most recent romantic suspense, Code of Justice, was a test of my memory. Set in Portland, a city I visited only once nearly four years ago, this story takes place among the lush trees and verdant parks that stuck in my mind. I tried to include things like the rain and the humidity of the coast. But I admit that I had to look up more than one map of the city to figure out major thoroughfares and the location of the Portland FBI office. As I wrote my first three books, I discovered that visits and maps are essential to adding details to the story, but I hadn’t yet realized what travel could mean to the basic development of a story idea.

    Then I saw a map of historical places in a little town called Franklin, Tennessee. About a twenty mile trip from my current home, Franklin is home to some amazing pieces of history, including Carnton, a plantation that served as a field hospital following the Battle of Franklin during the Civil War.

    As I explored the history just down the road, my mind exploded with story ideas, which grew exponentially when I visited the white columns and sweeping veranda of the nearly 200-year-old home. Those story ideas blossomed into the synopsis for a novella that will release as part of a Christmas collection from Barbour in September.

    On my second visit to Carnton, I nearly missed the tour of the house, as I was so caught up with the view from the front walkway, over the same fields that my characters walked. It’s amazing how location can inspire stories.

    To date my favorite story-inspiring trip has been one that my mom and I took last fall to Prince Edward Island. It started as a promise to my mom that I would take her to Anne’s Land when I sold my first book. No one told me I wouldn’t make any money on my first book. So just after my second book released, we set off for the Gentle Island.

    I went with the hope of exploring the island setting of Anne of Green Gables and instead discovered a book I didn’t even know I had always wanted to write. I just couldn’t stop thinking about the rolling green hills, red beaches, and clapping waves of PEI, and from that grew a story that I love. Now I just have to find a publisher who loves it as much as I do.

    Traveling to new and historic places inspires me and brings to life stories and characters that would have remained hidden. Do you have a favorite travel destination? What types of places do you like to explore? Where do you go to find inspiration and discover new story ideas?

    Leave a comment by the end of day on Sunday answering one or more of these questions for a random chance to win a copy of my latest release, Code of Justice.

    * * * * *

    Thank you, Liz, for sharing with us today.

    Guest Questions: Do you have a favorite travel destination? What types of places do you like to explore? Where do you go to find inspiration and discover new story ideas?

    ENTRY RULES Readers, leave your email address (name at domainname dot com/net) along with your answer to one of the questions for your chance to win a FREE autographed copy of the book above. If you do not answer a question, and your email address isn't provided, you will not be entered.

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

    Tuesday, March 08, 2011

    CFBA Blog Tour - Tracie Peterson and Hearts Aglow

    This week, the
    Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
    is introducing
    Hearts Aglow
    Bethany House (February 1, 2011)
    by Tracie Peterson


    is the bestselling, award-winning author of more than 85 novels.
    She received her first book contract in November, 1992 and saw A Place To Belong published in February 1993 with Barbour Publishing's Heartsong Presents. She wrote exclusively with Heartsong for the next two years, receiving their readership's vote for Favorite Author of the Year for three years in a row.

    In December, 1995 she signed a contract with Bethany House Publishers to co-write a series with author Judith Pella. Tracie now writes exclusively for Bethany House Publishers.

    She teaches writing workshops at a variety of conferences on subjects such as inspirational romance and historical research.

    Tracie was awarded the Romantic Times Career Achievement Award for 2007 Inspirational Fiction and her books have won numerous awards for favorite books in a variety of contests.

    Making her home in Montana, this Kansas native enjoys spending time with family--especially her three grandchildren--Rainy, Fox and Max. She's active in her church as the Director of Women's Ministries, coordinates a yearly writer's retreat for published authors, and travels, as time permits, to research her books.

    by Tracie Peterson
    Published by Bethany House


    The future should be bright for Deborah Vandermark, who is now pursuing her interest in medicine alongside Dr. Christopher Clayton, who is courting her. But the lumber town is resistant to the idea of a woman physician, and she feels thwarted at every turn.

    A more devastating blow occurs, however, when Christopher breaks off their relationship to return home to his troubled family. Despite her own love life going awry, Deborah is still intent to be a matchmaker for both her widowed mother and her brother, who has caught the eye of the spit-fire daughter of the local pastor.

    But what will Deborah do when faced with the truth about Christopher's family? Is there hope for the two of them...or will Jake Wyeth's attentions finally catch Deborah's eye instead?

    If you would like to read the first chapter of Hearts Aglow, go HERE.


    Greetings from snowy Montana.

    For most of the month of February I was in Texas speaking and signing books. I left Belgrade at -21 degrees on February 9th and arrived in Houston where it was 21 above. It felt like a heat wave. It was a great reminder that all things are subjective.

    The book tour was great and people were so kind. I love meeting with folks and enjoy hearing how God used the books to draw them closer to Him.

    My Striking a Match series is set in East Texas during the 1880's and deals with the logging industry there. When I first started researching a storyline for Texas, I was amazed by the fact that they had, and still have, a large logging industry. Yellow pine was often overlooked in the early years because it has a high resin content, but as logging industries cleared the country of white pine, it became increasingly important to use yellow pine and Texas was more than happy to deliver.

    Saw mill towns sprang up overnight and disappeared just as quickly, but the concepts were often different than those of saw mill towns in other parts of the country. Texas mill towns and logging industries tended to be family focused. In much of the country, loggers were encouraged to be bachelors and live in camps. In Texas the concept of family men being more reliable caused mill owners to encourage family lifestyles.

    With few laws in place pertaining to education, saw mill owners would often set up their own schools for worker's children, as well as churches and stores. Workers were encouraged to be well-grounded with the idea being that these "family" men would drink and fight less, be more faithful to show up and earn their living, and be more responsible to the community.

    Other issues that drew me to this time period and setting were post-Civil War racial issues, educational problems and the overall picture of life in Texas. The people then, as now, had to be hearty and strong, generous and helpful to one another, as well as firm in their faith. I hope you'll enjoy the series and see for yourself this fascinating slice of Texas frontier life.

    Tracie Peterson

    * * * * *


    I've read so many of Tracie's novels, I can begin to predict certain aspects and formulas she employs during her writing. In this book, she inserted a bit more historical and medical knowledge, which I found quite enjoyable. Seeing a heroine struggling against society mores to practice medicine when the woman's place was in the home appealed to me in the same way the TV show, Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman, did.

    And although some might be taken back by the violence or the level of prejudice, or even the "white pride" portrayed, it is very true to the times. It's not easy removing your 21st century ideals and understandings when you read historical novels, but you can't apply them. Otherwise, you risk viewing those people in a far more negative light than is appropriate for the time in which they lived.

    That being said, I did find the cast of characters to be in line with most of Tracie's recent novels. The only problem with that is if you haven't read book 1 in this series, you'll likely get lost and confused. References are made, but there isn't enough to clarify some of them. And of course, this book ends with a cliffhanger of sorts that leads into book 3. Depending upon how anxious you are to find out what happens, you might want to wait until book 3 is released, then read all 3 in a row.

    All in all, this book is what I've come to expect from Tracie. It's an enjoyable read, and her writing is what you can count on for a comfort read. You know you'll get a thorough, well-researched story.

    * * * * *

    Monday, March 07, 2011

    Baby Stockton #2 Countdown - 35 Down, 5 to Go!

    Wow, down to a single-hand countdown. And since we're so close, I have a "guessing game" online for folks to guess the length, weight, and actual birthday of our son. If you'd like to play, click the link below:

    We will be awarding prizes (books, gift card, and something else) to the top 3 with the closest guesses. So, get in there and have fun. :)

    Now, we're at week 35.5, so here is the update:

    Yippee! I'm now carrying over 5 pounds of baby-goodness - not counting his amniotic fluid, the umbilical cord, or the placenta itself. And I've only gained 3 pounds this entire pregnancy, so that means I've lost at least 2 lbs. (more since the rest of the weight isn't factored here). Works for me! Just like with my daughter, it means I'll likely leave the hospital weighing less than I did pre-pregnancy. Amazing weight-loss plan. :)

    Developmentally, my wee womb-tenant has the fat-factory running at full tilt while his digestive system puts the finishing touches on critical organs in preparation for his first meal (remember - before birth, all of his nutrition was blood via the umbilical cord).

    With his first meal in mind, it's time to look forward to one of the most important things I'll do for my infant -  keeping him alive with nothing more than the milk from nursing. I was able to nurse my daughter for 13 months, and she thrived tremendously. I hope I can go that long with my son. We'll see how voracious of an appetite he has and if I can keep up. From all indications, I don't foresee a problem.

    The other new development is we just bought a house, so now we have to move this month along with being less than 5 weeks from delivery. Praise God for friends and church family who have all told me they won't let me lift boxes or send myself into early labor due to stress or strain. Phew! We are so tremendously blessed!

    In baby movement, Richard isn't kicking hardly at all anymore. He does get what feels like the shivers once in a while, still hiccups a lot, and rolls around quite often. Once in a while, he attempts to stretch and I feel the pain in my lower ribs or on my bladder. But on the whole, he's making do with the room he has left. Gaining about 1/2 to 1 lb. each week from here to end. We'll see how big he ends up being when he's born.

    And now some words from the rolly-polly inside me:

    Not much to report here. Life is getting more cramped by the day, but it's still warm and cozy in here. I am getting a bit lightheaded from being upside down, but it's not too bad. And I've noticed that big sister out there seems to prefer kissing my mama's belly or rubbing it instead of head-butting it like she used to do. I prefer that much better than the former. She might actually not be all that bad once I get to meet her. But I'm more excited to meet Mama and Daddy first. The rest of those people called "family" can wait.

    I'm also picking up some excitement and tension and anticipation from Mama in here. Seems she's got a lot of things happening this month, so I think it's best if I do what I can to let her get some sleep and not be in pain. It's hard, since I don't know what hurts her and what doesn't, but I hope I can sense that and shift if she needs me to move so she can be more comfortable.

    Not too long now, and I'll be able to see her or feel her myself. I'm looking forward to that day!

    It's me again. The mama. :) That's it for now. Tune in each week for the latest. I'll get those new pix as soon as I can. And if you want to receive an email each time I post an update, subscribe using the form over there at the top right.

    Thanks for coming along this journey with me...some of you for the second time.

    Friday, March 04, 2011

    Welcome Max Elliott Anderson and How to Avoid Writer's Block

    Please interact with our guest authors by answering the question they provide. IF there is a book giveaway, your response will also enter you in the drawing for a free book.


    MAX ELLIOTT ANDERSON grew up as a struggling, reluctant reader. Using his extensive experience in the production of motion pictures, videos, and television commercials, he brings the same visual excitement and heart-pounding action to his adventure and mystery stories, written especially for boys. Both boys and girls have said reading one of his books is like being in an exciting movie.

    Books For Boys Blog -
    Author Web Site -

    by Max Elliott Anderson
    Published by Comfort Publishing


    Barney and the Runaway tells the story of Michael Ellis, who has recently told his parents to start calling him Mike from now on. He especially hated the way they were always telling him what to do. Mike decides to teach his parents a lesson by pretending to run away for a day with his dog Barney.

    The plan of running away gets a bit more complicated than planned when Mike and Barney hide in a railroad box car, fall asleep, and end up in Georgia with a circus in the middle of the night. Luckily for the runaways, Big Bob the Clown takes Mike and Barney to safety in his wagon. Mike decides that living and performing with the circus might be a good idea until Big Bob opens Mike’s eyes to his tragic past.

    Mike’s encounter with this grown up runaway, in the circus, helps him to understand that his parents truly love him. Then Mike and Barney save the circus. Through it all, Mike learns the importance of family.

    Readers, buy your copy of Barney and the Runaway today!


    How to Avoid Writer’s Block

    I have to say that writer’s block, or blank-screen-itis has never visited my writing. And this is true after completing 36 manuscripts. But maybe I cheat the system a little. Here’s how.

    I write action-adventures & mysteries especially for boys 8 and up. Before I begin writing a story, it’s been percolating in my mind for a couple of weeks at least. Finally the whole thing comes crashing in all at once. It’s at this time that I stop what I’m doing, pick up a recorder, and briefly tell myself the story, just as if I were telling it to a group of kids, or to my own children when they were young. After doing this, I know the beginning, the middle, and the end.

    This gets typed and usually runs 8 – 10, single-spaced pages. The notes are put into a file and set aside. I don’t look at those notes again until the first draft is finished. I write as I go when it comes to the manuscript. It is only after that first draft is finished that I ever look at it or the original notes. I’m always amazed to see that all of the elements of the original story have found their way into the first draft. That has never failed yet.

    Then, to get myself into the mood to write, I make sure to do a few things. Around my computer I place several photographs and any props that will help me think about the story and characters. Once I was writing about the Pacific Northwest, and logging. I went out and caught chipmunk in a drain spout and placed him in a small cage with cedar chips. At the end of the day I let him go but I wasn’t finished with the sequences in the woods. So the next day, I went out and caught another one. The sight of the chipmunk and the scent of the cedar helped set the mood.

    The next thing I do is to always burn a candle next to the computer. I ONLY do this while writing. I never do it during brainstorming, editing, research, or reading a draft. The candle helps to take me to a different place.

    Finally, I play mood appropriate music for the scene I’m writing. If it’s a funny scene I play comedy. A sad scene requires a single piano or violin. The music brings specific images into my mind as I write.

    One more thing.

    If I’m writing about a hot place, I like to write in the summer with the air off. If it’s a winter scene, I try to do those when it’s actually winter. I have written hot scenes in the winter, but that’s when I crank the heat way up high. I may have to stop doing that with the economy getting so shaky.

    All of these elements, working together, go a long way toward setting the mood, conjuring up the proper images, suggesting dialog, and preparing the way to write. And using them, I have never faced a block of any kind. Not yet anyway.

    * * * * *

    Thank you, Max, for sharing with us today.

    Guest Question: Do you ever experience writer's block? If so, what steps do you take to get past it? If not, how do you avoid it in your writing?

    ENTRY RULES Readers, leave your email address (name at domainname dot com/net) along with your answer to the question for your chance to win a FREE autographed copy of the book featured above. If you do not answer the question, and your email address isn't provided, you will not be entered.

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

    Wednesday, March 02, 2011

    CFBA Blog Tour - Janelle Mowery and When All My Dreams Come True

    This week, the
    Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
    is introducing
    When All My Dreams Come True
    Harvest House (February 1, 2011)
    by Janelle Mowery


    Beginning in 1998, Janelle Mowery coordinated and wrote for the Children’s Ministry of a Christian website called The Invisible Connection. When the holder of that site discontinued the ministry and website in the year 2000, she began writing inspirational fiction romance novels.

    Janelle became a member of American Christian Fiction Writers in the year 2002 and is an active member and leader in one of their critique groups, which has provided many opportunities for growth and development. In 2003, she entered her first novel in the Noble Theme contest and was named one of the top ten finalists in the historical category. In 2004, she had a short story titled ‘A Fair Chance’ published in the e-magazine, Romancing the Christian Heart. In 2005, her third novel, entered in the San Gabriel Writers’ League ‘Writing Smarter’ Contest, won first place. Also, Janelle’s fifth novel made it to the top ten finalists in the Noble Theme contest.

    In 2006, she signed her first contract with Barbour Publishing in their Heartsong Presents Mysteries line. The novel, Where the Truth Lies, which she co-authored with Elizabeth Ludwig, released in spring of 2008. The second and third mysteries of the series, Died in the Wool and A Black Die Affair, is set for release in 2011.

    Janelle has signed with Harvest House for a historical series set in Colorado. Release of the first book is set for early 2011. She has also signed with Summerside Press. Her novel, Love Finds You in Silver City, Idaho, released in October 2010.

    Janelle has been married twenty-one years and is the mother of two sons. She is a member of Sandy Point Bible Church and serves as Treasurer. She also assists in the church’s teen program.

    When All My Dreams Come True (Colorado Runaway Series)
    by Janelle Mowery
    Published by Harvest House


    Bobbie McIntyre dreams of running a ranch of her own. Raised without a mother and having spent most of her time around men, she knows more about wrangling than acting like a lady. The friendship of her new employer awakens a desire to learn more about presenting her feminine side, but ranch life keeps getting in the way.

    Ranch owner Jace Kincaid figures the Lord is testing his faith when a female wrangler shows up looking for work. Bobbie has an uncanny way of getting under his skin, though, and he’s surprised when she finds a home next to his heart. But when his cattle begin to go missing and his wranglers are in danger from some low-down cattle thief, can Jace trust God, even if it may mean giving up on his dreams?

    An adventurous novel of faith, hope, and love in the Wild West.

    If you would like to read the first chapter of When All My Dreams Come True, go HERE.

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    I was excited to see my friend's book come out, and even moreso when I saw the setting in Colorado. As a resident of this magnificent state, books set here (especially historical) always appeal to me. I love reading how different authors cover the amazing history of Colorado. I am also a sucker for a good western, and this book has it!

    It's a fast-paced book with action that never stops. Bobbie is shoved off a cliff, held at gunpoint, and accused of bank robbery. Talk about exciting! Throw in ranch troubles, a cowboy who isn't looking for love, and a persistent heroine who can out-shoot, out-ride, and out-wrangle any cowpoke on the ranch, and you've got an action/adventure worth reading. But hold on tight, because you're going to be taken on a wild ride. Amazing to see a heroine who wears pants and straps a gun to her hip. :)

    Janelle was one of my first readers back when I began my publishing career. Her encouragement went a long way toward helping me keep moving forward. I love being able to read and review one of her new books, and I'm happy to support her in any way I can. Of course, with her skill in writing both the action and the romance, it's easy to lend my support.

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