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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Guest Blogger Liz Johnson and A Promise to Protect


LIZ JOHNSON graduated from Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff with a degree in public relations and works as an editorial and marketing manager at a Christian publisher. She is a two-time ACFW Carol Award finalist, and A Promise to Protect is her fourth novel with Love Inspired Suspense. 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. She loves stories of true love with happy endings. Keep up with Liz's adventures in writing at, Twitter @LizJohnsonBooks, or Facebook.

by Liz Johnson
Published by Love Inspired Suspense


Navy SEAL Matt Waterstone knows about keeping people safe. When his best friend’s sister is attacked, Matt promises no harm will come to Ashley Sawyer–not on his watch. But Matt’s not the only protective one. Ashley will do anything to safeguard the residents of the battered women’s shelter she runs. She’s sure she can handle the threats she gets in return. What she can’t handle is the way Matt scales the walls around her heart. Yet when she falls prey to a crime web more sinister than she’d realized, trusting Matt could be the only way to survive.

Readers, buy your copy of A Promise to Protect today!


Characters in the Flesh by Liz Johnson

There I was, minding my own business, running—well, actually, strolling—on the treadmill at the Y when I glanced at the teenage kid running on the treadmill next to mine. I gasped. My toe caught on the track. And I nearly flew backward. A firm grip on the handrails was the only thing that kept me upright.

What surprised me so much that I nearly biffed on the treadmill in front of a room of would-be-athletes?

I’d just laid eyes on the character from the book I was reading. There, right next to me, was twelve-year-old Morris from Allison Pittman’s Stealing Home. An African-American baseball prodigy from 1905—albeit in modern gym attire and sneakers—was pumping his arms and legs like he’d just leaped from the pages of the book I was reading into my world.

Running into characters in real life. It’s a hazard fiction readers—and writers—take.

For writers, sometimes that real face to go along with a name comes before the character isn’t much more than a name. That is not how it was for me with Matt Waterstone, the hero in my newest book, A Promise to Protect. Matt had a name and an occupation. He’s a U.S. Navy SEAL. He even had a best friend—Tristan. But I couldn’t find a face for him.

I’m often guilty of making a SEAL in my mind look more Rambo than regular guy. More Stallone than standard. But the truth is that most SEALs fall into a “normal” appearance. They have to be able to blend into a crowd, have to be able to move without notice. Their training, strength, and endurance set SEALs apart. But you might not be able to pick those traits out just by looking at them.

So when I set out to find a face for my hero, Matt, I looked for someone who could blend in and yet still stand out. He needed unique features, and more importantly the attitude and assurance of a SEAL. That’s when I found Matt Wertz—an indie musician with curly, light brown hair, a slim, powerful build and eyes that convey just enough personality for my own Matt.

I’ve seen Matt Wertz perform live, and while he’s a wonderful artist, sometimes he grins and moves the very opposite of any SEAL I’ve ever imagined, all gangly limbs and adorable dance moves. But sometimes—every now and then—he smiles that lopsided smirk and he transforms into the Matt of my book, into my Matt.

It’s the risk of loving fiction. Seeing a character in person. It’s also one of the great rewards. For me, it adds another—a special—dimension to a story that I clearly loved so much.

Reader Question: Have you ever seen a character in the flesh? Who was it, and what did you do? Here’s hoping you managed to stay on your feet better than I did when I saw Morris on the treadmill.

* * * * *

Thank you, Liz, for sharing with us today.

ENTRY RULES Readers, leave your email address (name [at] domainname [dot] com) 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 drawing is open to US/Canada residents only.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Next Big Thing

All right, so I'm still trying to play catch-up and get back into the swing of things with my weekly author guest blog posts. I'm woefully behind. (sigh)

As I'm getting my schedule lined up, though, I'll get this blog hop tour posted so all y'all will at least have something to read in the interim. :)

Credit for this "tag" goes to my friend, Shannon McNear, who signed her very first book contract in Dallas, Texas, in September last year at the annual ACFW Conference. I was there to witness this amazing experience with her and share in her joys. So I suppose I can humor her and participate in this blog hop. :)

The rules of the blog hop:
  1. Mention who tagged you, and link to their post.
  2. Give the rules.
  3. Answer the ten questions below.
  4. Link to at least 3 other people.
And now, here we go!

1) What is the title of your next book?
Antique Dreams

2) Where did the idea come from for the book?
This is book 3 in my Brandywine Brides series. I had already established the connection between the 3 novels to be a family heirloom book that first appeared in Promises, Promises, book 1 in my Liberty’s Promise series. The book was read by the heroine of that story to the hero, and it was passed down through the generations. Along the way, however, it was lost, and the heroine in Bound by Grace (book 1 in Brandywine Brides) located it again. In book 2, Stealing Hearts, the hero stole the book from the heroine's home then was sentenced to work for her family as penance. For book 3, I needed another way for that book to play an integral role in the meeting of the hero and heroine, and what better way than to have the hero acquire the book from the heroine's brother along with a promise to take care of his sister? The story took off from there.

3) What genre does your book fall under?
Historical Romance

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
Oh, wow. I almost never like answering this question, because I often can't think of anyone to fill the roles. So, instead of me stressing over it, I'm going to leave it to you. I'm including the cover, so you can see the characters how I wrote them. Click on it to see the full-size version. Who do YOU think would be good cast in the two lead roles?

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Aaron Stone never imagined the depth of his commitment to fulfill the dying wish of his best friend until he meets his friend's sister, the lovely Lillian Bradenton, and his life takes an unexpected turn.

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
My agent is Sandra Bishop with MacGregor Literary, so I suppose this means the book will be represented by them.

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
This is where most other writers want to wring my neck. I wrote this book from start to finish (including revisions) in three weeks. Of course, this doesn't include the copy edit and content revisions from the editor at my publishing house. It's only what it took me to get the book ready to submit to my editor.

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Any historical titles in the Heartsong Presents line, along with the books in the Love Inspired Historical line. I'm not sure I can narrow down the focus to actual titles.

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I came up with the premise a few years before the contract came, and when it came time to write the book, I had no idea I'd be writing it IN the month (April 2012) that was the 100th anniversary of the Titanic sinking back in 1912. The inspiration came as a result of research done on the setting and the initial premise of the series, but when all the news came out about the anniversary, my interest doubled, making it a lot of fun to show what happened AFTER the tragedy and that life could still be fulfilling beyond the loss.

10) What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
Although the focus isn't on The Titanic itself, it's a story of a Titanic survivor, so for those who enjoy stories about the one who lived to tell about that experience, this might be an enjoyable read.

Those I've chosen for the next next big thing:
Carla Laureano
Kelli Hughett
Jen Turner Turano

Let's get rolling!

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Guest Blogger Margaret Brownley and Waiting for Morning


MARGARET BROWNLEY, a New York Times bestselling author, has penned more than twenty-five historical and contemporary novels. Her books have won numerous awards, including Reader’s Choice. She has published the Rocky Creek series, and A Lady like Sarah was a Romance Writers of America RITA© finalist. Happily married to her real life hero, Margaret and her husband have three grown children and live in Southern California.

by Margaret Brownley
Published by Thomas Nelson

by Margaret Brownley
Published by Thomas Nelson


More Love and Laughter from N.Y. Times Bestselling Author, Margaret Brownley

Waiting for Morning

Molly Hatfield comes to Arizona Territory seeking stability and security. But living in Cactus Patch provides her with more than she ever dreamed of.

There is nothing Molly wouldn’t do for her teenaged brother, Donny. Blaming herself for the accident that left him wheel-chair bound, Molly has dedicated her life to his care. But in 1896, gainful employment for a woman is hard to come by. So when Molly learns that an eccentric rancher in Cactus Patch, Arizona, is looking for an heiress--someone to take over management of the ranch in exchange for future ownership--she jumps at the chance to provide a real home for her brother.

If she proves to have a knack for ranching and agrees to remain single for life, the ranch can be hers. Neither stipulation worries Molly. She’s resourceful and hardworking. And she gave up dreams of marriage long ago when she dedicated her life to her brother’s well-being.

However, Molly didn’t bank on meeting Dr. Caleb Fairbanks, the town’s handsome and charismatic young doctor. Caleb has a way with Molly that makes her nervous. But it’s how he is with her brother that really alarms her. Caleb sees past the wheelchair and genuinely likes Donny, but Molly fears he’s putting unrealistic ideas into her brother’s head. Falling in love with Caleb would threaten everything she’s worked for, even her brother’s future happiness.

But it could be the very reason God brought her to Last Chance Ranch.

Readers, buy your copy of Waiting for Morning today!

Dawn Comes Early

Looking for a woman of good character and pleasant disposition willing to learn the ranching business in Arizona territory. Must be SINGLE and prepared to remain so now and forever more. Will be given ownership of ranch. —Eleanor Walker

Disgraced dime novelist Kate Tenney fled the city that banned her latest book for a fresh start at a cattle ranch in the Arizona Territory. She hopes ranching turns out to be as romantic as she portrayed it in her novels.

But what awaits her is a much harder life. There is no room for mistakes on a working cattle ranch in 1895, and Kate is ill-prepared for her new life. She quickly learns that dawn comes early . . . every day. But she is tenacious.

Having been abandoned by a string of men, Kate has no intention of ever marrying. But she didn’t expect to meet Luke Adams either. Luke awakens feelings inside Kate she doesn’t recognize, and his steady presence is a constant distraction. She has only written about love in the past, never known it herself. But her feelings for Luke stand in the way of all she has to gain if she is chosen as the heir.

Perhaps God brought Kate to the barrenness of the desert to give new life to her jaded heart.

Readers, buy your copy of Dawn Comes Early today!


Kate Whittaker will never get a husband
as long as she keeps shocking
the town with her newfangled inventions.

The recent eBook release of one of my earlier books, Head Over Heels, brought back a lot of memories: some good; some bad.

While I was madly trying to meet my deadline, the Northridge earthquake struck and my house was practically destroyed. Even worse, my son's apartment slid off its foundation and he and his wife and baby barely got out alive. Though many roads were closed, they were able to make it safely to us.

We set up a crib on the front lawn and that's where we lived while waiting for the city inspector to tell us if the house was safe enough to enter. One thing worked in our favor; though the earthquake struck in January the weather was sunny and warm. I don't know what we would have done otherwise.

If having your roof practically cave in while on deadline isn't bad enough, the earthquake occurred five days before my daughter's wedding. Out of town guests who had already arrived pretty much had to fend for themselves. I was too busy trying to find an open store so we could purchase diapers.

When phone service resumed, we tried rescheduling the wedding, but reception halls were booked for a year and my daughter didn't want to wait that long. So, we set up "wedding central" on the front lawn next to the baby crib and got busy.

People bent over backward to help us. The church had suffered damages but we were assured it would be ready to go by that Saturday. Same for the country club where the reception was scheduled.

The news wasn't so good for the severly damaged mall where the wedding rings waited to be sized. Fortunately, management worked with us and we were able to retrieve the rings just in the nick of time. The photographer had set up shop on a sidewalk, but he assured as he was good to go. Ditto for the caterers and musicians. Many roads and freeways were closed and one of the hardest chores was rerouting guests.

On the third day of living on the lawn, the UPS man drove up to deliver a wedding gift, and we were able to toast our good fortune with the only unbroken drinking glasses for miles around.

With the help of friends and family, the wedding went off without a hitch, I wish I could say the same about the house renovations. I called my editor and got a two week extension on my deadline (which made me wonder what would have to happen to get, say, a month.) All local hotels were filled, so we had to stay in the house while workers sawed, drilled and hammered. I lived in a dust cloud for weeks.

While in the middle of writing a scene, I looked down to find a man under my desk pouring silicone into foundation cracks. The smell alone nearly knocked me out, but it was the aftershocks that bothered me the most.

When my heroine Kate in Head Over Heels blows up something in the book with one of her inventions, you can be sure that this writer was a-rocking and a-rolling when she wrote it. Now you know the story behind the story.

* * * * *

Thank you, Margaret, for sharing with us today.

Reader Question: Anyone have a disaster story to share? You might win a copy of Dawn Comes Early if you do.

ENTRY RULES Readers, leave your email address (name [at] domainname [dot] com) along with your answer to the question for your chance to win a free autographed copy of Dawn Comes Early. If you do not answer the question, and your email address isn't provided, you will not be entered.

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

Thursday, January 03, 2013

January 2013 New Releases in Christian Fiction

I have fallen behind in my weekly author spotlights, but I'll be resuming tomorrow to get caught up. In the meantime...

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

Mind of Her Own by Diana Lesire Brandmeyer — Who knew making dinner could change your life? (Contemporary Women’s Fiction from Tyndale House).

Waiting for Morning by Margaret Brownley — If Molly’s purple attire doesn’t blind you, her dazzling smile will. She doesn’t just sing to cattle, she puts on a whole show with dancing and all. If only she wasn’t so stubborn about her brother’s care. Or so suspicious of a certain handsome doctor… (Historical Romance from Thomas Nelson).

Waiting for Spring by Amanda Cabot — In the second of the Westward Winds series, a young widow discovers danger and love in 1886 Cheyenne. (Historical Romance from Revell).

A Daughter’s Redemption by Georgiana Daniels — Inheriting her estranged father’s property isn’t the reason Robyn Warner wanted to come back to Pine Hollow. She thought she’d make amends with her father-but his sudden death made that impossible. And when she learns the identity of the handyman fixing the run-down cabins, Robyn is ready to flee Pine Hollow again. (Romance from Love Inspired).

Where Treasure Hides by Johnnie Alexander Donley — Gifted artist Alison Schuyler and British officer Ian Devlin fall in love on the eve of war. But Alison’s spurned Nazi suitor has his own plans for her future. Will Alison and Ian hold onto their love despite the forces against them, or is it their fate to be separated forever? (Historical Romance from Tyndale House).

Choices of the Heart by Laurie Alice Eakes — In this gripping story of trust, deception, and bittersweet loss, you’ll discover the true meaning of choices of the heart. (Historical Romance from Revell).

Vanished by Irene Hannon — A tenacious reporter… A dubious PI… A secret that will shatter lives…. (Romantic Suspense from Revell).

Claiming Mariah by Pam Hillman — In light of her father’s death, Mariah Malone sends a letter that will forever alter the lives of her family. When Slade Donovan, strong willed and eager for vengeance, shows up on her front porch, Mariah is not ready to hear his truths: her father’s farm, the only home she’s ever known, was bought with stolen gold.. Though Mr. Frederick Cooper, a local landowner, promises to answer her financial woes if she agrees to be his bride, Mariah finds herself drawn instead to the angry young man demanding her home. (Historical Romance from Tyndale House).

A Horseman’s Hope by Myra Johnson — Four years after his girlfriend, Shana, became pregnant, Ryan still can’t believe he’s a father . . . and can’t imagine being anything else. His daughter is the light of his life. Now if only Shana could embrace motherhood and the three become a real family. . . . (Contemporary Romance from Heartsong Presents).

Denali Dreams by Ronie Kendig and Kimberley Woodhouse — Vast and rugged, Denali National Park brings adventure and love into the lives of four courageous women. Will cancer survivor Karon reach Mt. McKinley’s summit? Will heiress Jolie survive against the terrain and an assassin? Will flightseeing tour guide Deline save her stalling business? Will love conquer all for ranger Deanna? (Romantic Suspense from Barbour Publishing).

Lily’s Plight by Sally Laity and Dianna Crawford– Amid threats of impending Indian attacks, two people find themselves facing an entirely different challenge…forbidden love. (General Historical from Barbour Publishing).

A Mother’s Promise by Anna Schmidt — The third and final book in the Women of Pinecraft series. Set in the Amish/Mennonite community of Pinecraft on the Gulf Coast of Florida readers have fallen in love with these strong women who meet life’s challenges with faith and courage. (General Contemporary from Barbour Publishing).

Path of Freedom by Jennifer Hudson Taylor — 1850 – When Quakers Flora Saferight and Bruce Millikan embark on the Underground Railroad, they agree to put their differences aside to save the lives of a pregnant slave couple. With only her mother’s quilt as a secret guide, the foursome follows the stitches through unknown treachery. As they begin their perilous journey, they hope and pray that their path is one of promise where love sustains them, courage builds faith, and forgiveness leads to freedom. (Historical Romance from Abingdon Press).

Doctor to the Rescue by Cheryl Wyatt — A former Air Force combat doctor and single dad returns from deployment to raise his daughter and enters a childcare barter with a neighbor that lends to unexpected blessings. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired).