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Friday, June 29, 2012

Waldo Canyon Fire - God is Still Here!

I normally keep all posts on this blog related to fiction authors, new fiction releases, industry news, and book reviews. But, the town where I live is currently enduring a firestorm that has destroyed over 340 homes, damaged hundreds more, shut down roads, caused businesses to be lost, and disrupted tens of thousands of lives.

As the fire continues to burn in wildland areas, people are faced with overwhelming tasks that include finding housing, repairing damages, cleaning up soot and ash -- and simply deciding what to do next.

So many are asking where God was in the midst of the fire when it jumped the ridge late Tuesday afternoon on June 26th and barreled down the mountain toward the Mountain Shadows subdivision. Thousands were and are wondering how God could allow something like this to happen. After all, isn't He a gracious and loving God who protects, not harms?
Yes, God is that, but one of the most difficult concepts for us in our finite minds to comprehend is while God *is* in control, we still live in a fallen, sinful world. And that means the results of sinful acts are still going to cause harm to both people and things. If God stopped all pain, all hurt, and all destruction from happening, He would also be eliminating our free will as humans. We'd be nothing more than puppets at the mercy of the Master's hand. And then our choice to follow God and accept Jesus' salvation would mean nothing. It wouldn't be a choice.

This firestorm, I believe, has woken up a lot of people. As one of the pastors of our church told me Tuesday, people are a great deal more receptive to hearing God's Word now. They are searching for something in the wake of this disaster, and the small seeds which have been planted are ready for the watering so the truth of God's love can grow on their hearts.

God promises in Isaiah 43:2, "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze." (NIV) Pay close attention to the word "through." This doesn't mean we won't face any tribulation or any harm in our lives. We *do* have to pass *through* the waters, the rivers, and the fire. But God is right there holding our hands, lifting us up, covering us, and providing for us, even when we face loss.

This loss has hit our town hard, but we're rallying around and taking care of our own. The outpouring of support, donations, and volunteering has been astounding. You ask where God was? He's been right here all along. And He's showing Himself through the generosity of all who are giving of their time, their money, their talents, and their homes, to help those in need. God hasn't gone anywhere. But is your heart open to seeing His handiwork?

(photos above copyright aerial photographer, John Wark. First photo is my personal one from the early hours of the fire breaking out, and the final photo is being circulated all over the Internet)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Guest Blogger Maureen Lang and Bees in the Butterfly Garden


MAUREEN LANG writes stories inspired by a love of history and romance. An avid reader herself, she’s figured out a way to write the stories she feels like reading. Maureen’s Inspirationals have earned various writing distinctions as a finalist for the Rita, Christy and Carol Awards, as well as garnering a Holt Medallion and winning the Inspirational Reader’s Choice Contest. In addition to investigating various eras in history (such as Victorian England, First World War, and America’s Gilded Age) Maureen loves taking research trips to get a feel for the settings of her novels. She lives in the Chicago area with her husband, children, and Labrador retriever.

by Maureen Lang
Published by Tyndale House


Ian Maguire is determined to stop Meg Davenport from following in her father’s footsteps. He was, after all, a thief. But considering Ian learned everything he knows from Meg’s father, he may not be able to convince her otherwise, not even when they both end up over their heads in the biggest heist of Ian’s unlawful career. In trying to gain everything, will they end up losing it all?

Readers, buy your copy of Bees in the Butterfly Garden today!


Is Reading A Good Book Like Falling In Love?

Not long ago I came across this quote on GoodReads:

There is no mistaking a real book when one meets it. It is like falling in love. —Christopher Morley

While that's no doubt a dramatic statement, to me it's at least slightly true. When I was falling in love with my husband, all I wanted to do was be with him (and I still count those as some of my best moments of the day!). Likewise, when I'm immersed in a good book, all I want to do is read.

When I'm reading a good book, everything around me fades into oblivion. I'm fascinated by getting to know the characters in a way that's reminiscent of when I was learning every little detail of my new love's life. When I'm reading a well-crafted book, I feel what the characters feel, I want what they want, I fear what they fear. If a novel captures my emotions, I'm there. Just as when I bonded with my husband: we took on the same or similar goals, we became a single unit.

Granted, some books that I've enjoyed over the years haven't lived up to this heart-stirring/wrenching/pulsating sensation. But enough of them have so that each time I start a new story, I hope for a repeat experience.

even read somewhere not long ago that when we're totally immersed in the experiences of a book, the effect on our brain is similar to actually having lived through such experiences. Perhaps that's why dreams sometimes take on details from the books we read.

This may be part of the reason I have something instantly in common with many other avid readers. Even if we don't like the same genre, we still have that basic understanding of what it's like to escape into another story world, a place that's separate from reality and yet believable enough to feel like we're living it.

I once read survey results that looked for personality differences between readers and nonreaders. Basically it concluded that nonreaders might be looking for higher stimulation activities, otherwise they wouldn't be reading about such things. They'd be doing them. On the other hand, avid readers tended to be the type looking for new ideas. They wanted to better understand the world and the people in it. Both are experiential, but one is obviously more hands-on than the other.

* * * * *

Thank you, Maureen, for sharing with us today.

Guest Question: What about you? Why do you love to read? Is your reading experience similar to mine, or do you have other reasons to love reading?

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 an 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 residents only.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Guest Blogger Jude Urbanski and Nurtured in Purple


Jude Urbanski writes women's fiction featuring strong inspirational romance elements. She invites you to stories of heroes and heroines who spin tragedy into triumph with help from God. First published in nonfiction, Jude now has two electronic novels, The Chronicles of Chanute Crossing Series, offered by Desert Breeze Publishing. She is a columnist for Maximum Living, a magazine focusing on spirituality and wellness for women. Jude has a Master’s Degree in Nursing. She is a member of national and area chapters of American Christian Fiction Writers and National League of American Pen Women. Jude and her husband live in Indiana.

by Jude Urbanski
Published by Desert Breeze Publishing


Nurtured in Purple, Book Two in The Chronicles of Chanute Crossing, continues the now-married love story of Seth Orbin and Kate Davidson of Joy Restored, Book One, but nemesis' Willard Wittenberg and Elizabeth Koger come center stage still pursuing personal vendettas against Seth and Kate.

Seth again faces potential loss of wife and child with Kate's life-threatening pregnancy complication, while Willard maneuvers to ruin Seth's business. Willard and Elizabeth, once lovers, engage and marry, but her flame for Seth has never died. Married life proves ragged.

Late-blooming love comes to Ninville Cornelius and Margie Craig and new characters of Ruby Moody, alcoholic wife of a deceased Vietnam vet, and her small son Bobo are introduced.

Can Seth and Kate, modeling God's grace and forgiveness, bring hope and light to Willard and Elizabeth and Ruby and Bobo, all so needy of God's redeeming love?

Readers, buy your copy of Nurtured in Purple today!


What a Writer Looks Like

Years ago, I remember a lovely friend who bopped into my house and announced she had just gotten her dream job in a doctor’s office and she asked me, in sincerity, how she could become a nurse in one easy lesson.

I just looked at her. It took me eight years after high school to earn my nurse practitioner credentials and she wanted me to tell her in K-mart terms and in one easy lesson how to be a nurse. I’ve never forgotten Irene’s request.

As much as we may want to, we cannot wish ourselves or beam ourselves up to be writers. We can’t learn all we need to know in one easy lesson. Yes, I know, we can debate whether the ability to write is a God-given gift, and hence, nothing else is needed. I won’t deny a few souls fit that category, whether God is the blame or the credit.

Some of us are more gifted or talented than others. All brains are not equal, but writing is a craft that can be learned. Whether we’re good or mediocre, we can hone our craft and become better, always better.

Why else, are there writing conferences, on-line classes, books written on the craft? Do they know something we do not? I don’t think so. They only know that to be better, we need to study our craft. Writers embrace this concept.

How do you feel when someone, who is not willing to invest in what it takes to learn writing skills, expects success overnight? A little charitable? Not charitable at all? Our best answer is that we should want to mentor them, to share what we’ve learned, to bring them along. They simply do not know the writing industry at this point in their journey.

This willing-to-share scene is just what I see in the writing loops to which I belong. It is really a precious thing. I see seasoned writers taking the time to respond, with infinite patience, to beginners’ questions. Before long, beginners realize their responsibility to dig into those books, to join groups and to educate themselves as much as possible on their chosen craft. Very soon, they know they can’t continue to be spoon fed, don’t even want to be, and instinctively learn to write from their own secret place, in their own voice and for their own reasons.

So, friends, here is what a writer looks like. Give me a little editorial liberty, please. A serious writer has made a decision to write. For whatever reason, they are committed. They learn everything they can about the field. They buy needed books or they use the library. They devote time each day or each week to this quest. They do as much as their life circumstances allow (if they are a young mother or father with heavy responsibilities, there is a special place in writer’s heaven for them!), but they desire to write. Quickly, they glean the point is not just to write, but to rewrite.

A writer never looks at a film or book in the same way again. Their mind studies not just films and books, but seizes every encounter with expectant eyes for writing snippets. One writer said she saw her hero at Wal-Mart. Love this! We always carry pen and paper. We even sleep close to it. Writers’ spirits resonate with one another.

Writers quit comparing their skills to others and write their best. They accept rejections as part of the game and learn all they can from them, knowing rejections mean activity. This is not to say writers can’t or don’t suffer self- doubt. We all do, but press forward. We all get writer’s block, but press forward. We know publication doesn’t validate who we are as a person.

We celebrate with one another, knowing our time is coming. Joy shared is joy doubled.

* * * * *

Thank you, Jude, for sharing with us today.

Guest Question: Have you ever thought an author leads a glorious life full of acclaim, abundant royalties and money, or fame? What led you this belief? Has any of your perception changed as a result of this blog post?

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 digital 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 residents only.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Guest Blogger Richard Mabry and Lethal Remedy


DR. RICHARD MABRY is the author of four published novels of medical suspense. His books have been finalists in competitions including ACFW’s Carol Award and Romantic Times’ Inspirational Book of the Year. His latest novel is Lethal Remedy. He currently serves as Vice-President of the American Christian Fiction Writers. You can learn more about him at his website: He blogs at

by Richard Mabry
Published by Abingdon Press


Dr. Sara Miles’ patient is on the threshold of death from an overwhelming, highly resistant infection with Staphylococcus luciferus, simply known to doctors as “the killer.” Only an experimental antibiotic, developed and administered by Sara’s ex-husband, Dr. Jack Ingersoll, can save the girl's life.

Dr. John Ramsey is seeking to put his life together after the death of his wife by joining the medical school faculty. But his decision could prove to be costly, even fatal.

Potentially lethal late effects from the experimental drug send Sara and her colleague, Dr. Rip Pearson, on a hunt for hidden critical data that will let them reverse the changes before it’s too late.

Lethal Remedy (Abingdon Press, 2011) is Dr. Mabry’s fourth novel of medical suspense. His next book will be released in early 2013.

Readers, buy your copy of Lethal Remedy today!


A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Fame And Fortune

There’s a wonderful line in The Muppet Movie. The Muppets have come to the big city looking for fame and fortune, and they encounter Orson Wells, playing a big-time producer. At the end of the scene, he tells his secretary to prepare the “standard rich and famous contract.” I guess that’s the kind of contract an author dreams about, but so far as I can tell, it only exists in the movies.

From the outside, being a writer seems exciting. At my first writer’s conference, I was awestruck by the published writers there. These were people whose names were household words—well, not in my household, but I was just getting started, so I could be excused for not knowing all of them. But surely they were celebrities in their hometowns. Most certainly they had to stop and give autographs in the grocery store or dry cleaners. And undoubtedly they lived in the lap of luxury. After all, they were published authors!

When my first novel was published, I’ll never forget the thrill of opening that box and seeing the cover with “Richard L. Mabry, MD” printed at the top. I listened carefully, but so far as I could tell, there were no cheering crowds outside my window, no marching bands in the street. I opened my Internet browser, but there was no headline about the book. What I did find, however, were a bunch of emails about interviews and guest blog posts that I’d lined up to get the word out. No matter that there were no cheering crowds yet. Surely these would do the trick.

Now, fast-forward about two years. That’s when I opened a carton and removed another book with my name on the cover above the title, Lethal Remedy. This was my fourth published novel, and by this time, reality has set in. I took a minute to thank God for having brought me this far. I showed the book to my wife, Kay, and gave her the personalized copy I wanted her to have. I pulled enough books out of the box to cover the give-aways I’d promised. I made sure I was current with the blog interviews and guest posts I’d set up. And then I got back to writing the proposal I hoped a publisher would accept. I didn’t take the time to listen for cheering crowds and marching bands.

At church, a few people know I’m an author, and we talk a bit about it. I’m sometimes asked to sign a book. I’ve been asked to share a little about the publishing industry with my home fellowship group. But that’s about it for the famous part. And as for rich, well that’s not going to happen, either.

Do I mind that I never got that “standard rich and famous contract?” Not at all. My words have been read by many more people than the population of the town where I grew up. If I’ve succeeded in my mission, when those readers turn the last page of my novel they find they’ve been left with a message—not a hard-sell of Christianity, because that’s just not my style, but rather a message that no matter how far we drift from God, we can always turn back to Him. I’ve been allowed to use the printed page as my pulpit. And that’s rich and famous enough for me.

* * * * *

Thank you, Doc, for sharing with us today.

Guest Question:  How about you? Which matters most to you—that the book you’re reading sold a million copies and garnered rave reviews, or that it speaks to you, even if no one else is talking about it? What do you say?

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 residents only.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Guest Blogger Carol Cox and Love In Disguise


CAROL COX is the author of nearly 30 novels and novellas. A third-generation Arizonan, Carol has a lifelong fascination with the Old West and hopes to make it live again in the hearts of her readers. She makes her home with her husband and daughter in northern Arizona, where the deer and the antelope really do play--within view of the family's front porch.

by Carol Cox
Published by Bethany House


Jobless and down to her last dime, Ellie Moore hears about a position with the Pinkerton Detective Agency and believes it's the perfect chance to put her acting skills and costumes to use. Reluctantly, the agency agrees to give her one assignment, one chance to prove herself. Disguised as Lavinia Stewart, a middle-aged widow, Ellie travels to Arizona to begin her investigation. When the need arises, she also transforms into the dazzling Jessie Monroe, whose vivacious personality encourages people to talk.

Mine owner Steven Pierce is going to lose his business if he can't figure out who's stealing his silver shipments. In his wildest dreams, he never expected to receive help from a gray-haired widow... or to fall in love with her beautiful niece.

Then the thieves come after Lavinia and Jessie. Ellie isn't safe no matter which character she plays! Should she give up and reveal her true identity? What will Steven do when he realizes the woman he's falling in love with doesn't really exist?

Enter the LOVE IN DISGUISE Giveaway!

Readers, buy your copy of Love in Disguise today!


One of the things I enjoy most about writing historical novels is the research that goes into them. Poring over musty old books and digging up tantalizing nuggets of information that add texture to a story is an adventure for me, not a chore.

My favorite form of research is making onsite visits to the location where a story is set to get a sense of the sights and sounds my characters would have experienced. It’s exhilarating to walk in the steps of those characters, even if getting inside their heads sometimes means getting odd looks from the people around me . . . and occasionally from my family.

Sometimes an actual town works perfectly for a story. At other times, creating a fictional setting serves the story best, and that was the case when I was writing Love in Disguise. While exploring the back roads of southern Arizona with my husband and daughter, we came upon the site of an old ghost town near the banks of the San Pedro River. The location was made to order for what I had in mind, and so the town of Pickford was born.

Now that I’d decided upon the town’s location, I needed to plan its layout. We were using Tombstone as our headquarters during that trip, and while we walked from our hotel to a restaurant for dinner one evening, it occurred to me that the way Tombstone’s streets are laid out was exactly what I needed for Pickford.

I picked up a local street map and spent the evening locating the points where different scenes would take in the book and marking them on the map. The church, the stage depot, the telegraph office . . . eventually I’d chosen places for them all. It was like creating my own little SimCity!

The next day we set out for the corner where my heroine’s house was situated. My breath caught as I realized that this was the perfect opportunity to experience what Ellie would as she went from one spot to another around Pickford.

“Let’s walk to the Grand Hotel.”

My husband and daughter peered over my shoulder at my revised street plan. “The Grand Hotel . . . which is actually The Bird Cage Theater?”

I nodded happily. It made perfect sense to me, and by now they’ve learned to recognize the signs when I start to slip from the real world into an alternate reality.

I heard faint sighs of resignation as they looked at each other. “Okay, let’s go.”

In no time at all, I felt as completely immersed in my role as Ellie as she was when she took on the roles of Lavinia Stewart and Jessie Monroe in her capacity as an undercover Pinkerton operative. Every step that echoed along the boardwalk seemed to anchor me more firmly in that earlier time as I strode along, nodding to the passersby.

My daughter nudged me. “Why are you holding your camera like that?”

I looked down at the camera, dangling by its strap from my wrist in front of my waist. “It isn’t a camera anymore. It’s my reticule.”

Was that a faint whimper I heard? I thought about reaching out to give her a comforting pat on the arm, but my other hand was busy holding up an imaginary parasol to protect my delicate complexion from the harsh Arizona sun.

As we passed the Pickford stage depot (or in Tombstone, the site of the Longhorn Restaurant), I stepped down off the boardwalk to cross the street, ready to investigate the Pickford Bakery.

A sharp yank on my arm jolted me from my reverie as my husband pulled me to a halt. I blinked and tried to get my bearings. Had the dear man just saved me from being trampled by a runaway horse?

Not exactly. A car was pulling up to the stop sign on the cross street, and he wanted to keep me from stepping out into its path. The realization brought me back to the 21st century with a thud.

That research trip turned out to be one of the most enjoyable I’ve had to date. I hope Pickford will become as real to my readers as it did to me . . . minus the runaway horses and oncoming cars.

* * * * *

Thank you, Carol, for sharing with us today.

Guest Question:  If you could step back in time, what period and place would you visit? Who would you be, and what would you experience there?

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 OR a heart-shaped pocket mirror with a sticker featuring the cover of the book above. Your choice if you win. 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.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

June 2012 New Releases in Christian Fiction

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Lily (Song of the River) by Diane Ashley and Aaron McCarver — Desperate for financial independence, Lily Anderson has embarked upon a riverboat venture. Will she learn to trust God’s leading or head into disaster? Lily’s partner, Blake Matthews, is initially stymied, then smitten by the Mississippi miss. Can he anchor her heart, or will Lily fall for another man’s wiles? (Historical from Barbour).

A Promise for Miriam by Vannetta Chapman — Miriam King loves the children of Pebble Creek and is content teaching in the one room schoolhouse, then Gabe Miller steps into her life and everything changes. (Contemporary Romance from Harvest House).

Sophie’s Daughters Trilogy by Mary Connealy — The little girls from Petticoat Ranch are all grown up with love stories of their own…you didn’t think Sophie’s Daughters would grow up to be quiet little things, did you? (Historical Romance from Barbour).

Love in Disguise by Carol Cox — When Ellie Moore wins a job as an undercover Pinkerton operative, she finds that playing a part in real life is far different than acting out a role onstage. Will the man who captures her heart still care for her when he learns the woman he’s fallen in love with doesn’t exist? (Historical Romance from Bethany House).

A Dream of His Own by Gail Gaymer Martin — Quinn O’Neill feels to blame for his family’s death and longs to release the guilt he feels, and when he meets Ava Darnell life takes a positive turn as he helps Ava earn his trust…but suspicion nearly undermines their relationship while he perseveres to encourage Ava to have faith that dreams of healing and family just might become reality. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired).

End of the Trail by Vickie McDonough — Brooks Morgan won Raven Creek Ranch in a poker game, but when he goes to claim what’s his, he finds a woman with a shotgun living in his house-and she claims she isn’t leaving. (Historical Romance from River North (Moody Publishers).

Proof by Jordyn Redwood — What does a victim do when DNA testing sets a guilty criminal free? (Medical Suspense from Kregel).

Walks Alone by Sandi G. Rog — A Cheyenne warrior bent on vengeance. A pioneer woman bent on fulfilling a dream. Until their paths collide. (Romance from White-Fire Publishing).

The Hidden Life by Adina Senft — An Amish spinster finds love where she had given up hope in the second book of the Amish Quilt trilogy. (Contemporary from Faith Words (Hachette).

Winning the Widow’s Heart by Sherri Shackelford — When Texas Ranger Jack Elder stormed the isolated Kansas homestead, he expected to find a band of outlaws. Instead, the only occupant is a heavily pregnant woman-and she’s just gone into labor. A loner uneasy with emotion, Jack helps deliver widow Elizabeth Cole’s baby girl and can’t get back on the trail fast enough. The robber and murderer he’s after killed one of Jack’s own, and he vows to catch the man. But when he returns to check on Elizabeth and her little one, he discovers that she may hold the key to his unsettled past-and his hoped-for future. (Historical Romance from Love Inspired).

Double Exposure by Susan Sleeman –When photographer Jennie Buchanan unknowingly captures a drug-cartel meeting on film and the cartel tries to kill her, her ex-boyfriend risks everything to expose the truth-about the drug smugglers, the past and the future together he still wants. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired).

The Director’s Cut by Janice Thompson– Full of the humor and crazy family dynamics Janice Thompson fans have come to love, this colorful story gives you an inside look at Hollywood and a healthy dose of romance. (Contemporary Romance from Revell).

Short-Straw Bride by Karen Witemeyer — All he ever cared about were his brothers and his land, but when a good deed goes awry, Travis Archer is stuck with a bride who endangers both. (Historical Romance from Bethany House).

Friday, June 01, 2012

Guest Blogger Allie Pleiter and Homefront Hero


An avid knitter, coffee junkie, and devoted chocoholic, ALLIE PLEITER writes both fiction and non-fiction. The enthusiastic but slightly untidy mother of two, Allie spends her days writing books, buying yarn, and finding new ways to avoid housework. Allie hails from Connecticut, moved to the midwest to attend Northwestern University, and currently lives outside Chicago, Illinois. The “dare from a friend” to begin writing has produced two parenting books, fourteen novels, and various national speaking engagements on faith, women’s issues, and writing. Visit her website at or her knitting blog at

by Allie Pleiter
Published by Love Inspired Historical


Dashing and valiantly wounded, Captain John Gallows could have stepped straight out of an army recruitment poster. Leanne Sample can't help being impressed—although the lovely Red Cross nurse tries to hide it. She knows better than to get attached to the daring captain who is only home to heal and help rally support for the war's final push. As soon as he's well enough, he'll rush back to Europe, back to war—and far away from South Carolina and Leanne. But when an epidemic strikes close to home, John comes to realize what it truly means to be a hero—Leanne's hero.

Readers, buy your copy of Homefront Hero today!


“I want to see the wound, not the weapon.”

This is the advice I give writers when they ask how to tackle difficult or uncomfortable topics, when they’re wondering which things should be left “offstage.” This was the challenge I faced when deciding how to tackle something so dark as the Spanish Flu epidemic in a romance novel. Let’s face it: people aren’t looking for CSI 1918 when they open up an inspirational historical romance.

I faced the same dilemma when I wrote Mission of Hope. I know my readers expect humor and a lighthearted world view from me. How do you remember that when you tackle the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake?

The answer is to focus on the wound but not so much on the weapon. It’s why I chose to set Mission of Hope in the months after the earthquake and fires. Things were a bit different when I needed to depict the Spanish Flu epidemic for Homefront Hero...all the drama there was before, in the pandemic’s early stages, in the build up. People simply couldn’t believe heathy young men and women were dying at the rates they were--and from influenza, which had never killed before! As a reader, I’m not a fan of grisly details. Give me enough to set the scene, but put your focus elsewhere or I’m likely to look away.

I’m delighted that readers have given me exactly that praise for both books: “I feel like I was there.” It means I’ve gotten the essence of the event. I’m always careful, however, not to let it get gruesome or to loose the touches of humor that keep the book’s uplifting spirit. I devote my descriptions to the human effect, not the disaster itself. I seek to portray what it felt like to survive, because as a reader, that’s where the empowerment and encouragement lie for me.

* * * * *

Thank you, Allie, for again sharing with us today.

Guest Question: Readers, what great challenges have you read about that have given you courage? Writers, where do you need to apply this tactic?

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.