Sunday, October 29, 2006

Another of my Favorite People - Linda Windsor

Linda and I were longtime, online friends before we ever met. Now we're sisters of the heart. I love her humor and quirky way of looking at things. If you haven't read her any of her Moonstruck series, rush out and buy the first two in the series Paper Moon and Fiesta Moon. Although each book will stand alone, you'll want to read them in order, and when you've read one, you'll have to read them all. Linda is giving away an autographed copy to a winner chosen from the people who leave comments on the interview. You might win a copy of the third book in the series Blue Moon.

Look at this beautiful picture of Linda. I'm afraid it hides her fun, quirky side from you. Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters, Linda.

Most of my characters have my sense of humor, knack for misadventure, and my tendency to question God on occasion and/or complain a bit. Sometimes God and I aren’t always in sync on things.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

Okay, I looked up quirky in the dictionary to be certain that I answered this correctly. It says a quirk is an abrupt twist or turn. Hmm. Unless it’s following up on an impulse to play joke on or tease someone, I’m not really inclined to make sudden changes in direction. But I do have a quirky sense of humor…look out! You could be next.

Don't I know it? When did you first discover that you were a writer?

Writing was never a challenge in school, but I can’t say I enjoyed it, because I ‘had’ to do it. Yet, I was always making up stories in my mind. They rarely made to pen and paper, unless it was a free assignment where I could choose what I wanted to write about. It wasn’t until I began to read historical romance that I ever entertained any thought about writing a book. Upon reading one that I thought mediocre, I decided I could do that. And I did. Boy, did I write one…185,000 words worth. It was finally published at a pared down 140,000 words.

Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.

I enjoy books of all genres, from romance to futuristic to suspense and thrillers. And I like reading non-fiction, especially history, journals or biographies.

What other books have you written, whether published or not?

I’ve never written anything except romance. I did write sixteen secular romances for Zebra/Kensington and Meteor/Kismet Romances, prior to my first CBA book Hi Honey, I'm Home. That was followed by Not Exactly Eden, Unlikely Angels Anthology, It Had to be You, Along Came Jones for Multnomah Publishers, and my latest Moonstruck romcom trilogy for Thomas Nelson/Westbow Press—Paper Moon. Fiesta Moon, and Blue Moon. I also did an Irish Celtic historical series for Multnomah called The Fires of Gleannmara, which included Maire,Riona, and Dierdre.

How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?

I don’t. But by faith I cling to the world’s window like that stuffed Garfield one sees in cars. Somehow life hasn’t shaken me off yet. Tenacity, I think it’s called. God enables my tenacity...or in Garfield’s case, claws.

How do you choose your characters’ names?

My main characters’ names are the hardest. Most of the time I pour through name books until the right one with the right meaning jumps out at me. Sometimes I hear a name in a movie or on TV that suits the character forming in my mind. I honestly can’t begin a book until I have the names of my hero and heroine established. In only one of my twenty-eight books to date have I ever changed a main character name in mid-book. Along Came Jones’ Deanna was originally Dianna, but somehow she turned Italian and more gutsy than glamorous after I met a real Deanna at a party while writing the novel.

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?

That’s a hard one. I could say my kids or the way God has used my music and writing to touch others. But that’s not really pride. That’s humility...gratitude. I suppose I could say that I’m proud to still be hanging on to life’s window by His Grace. Nothing I’ve ever accomplished has been done without it.

If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?

A pampered house cat that doesn’t have to kill and eat living things and doesn’t know what’s in my crystal Fancy Feast bowl. Because of my chemical depression, which is always worse in winter, I’m solar-powered like cats. I love napping in the sun…by the sea. It’s the ultimate muscle relaxer to me. Hmm. Make that a pampered lighthouse keeper’s cat.

What is your favorite food?

Thin slick dumplings. For those of you who are not from the Eastern Shore of Maryland, those are little pasta-like squares cut from a thinly rolled dough of flour, water, and dash of salt; cooked in a well-seasoned chicken (or beef/duck/etc) broth to absorb the flavor; and then the broth is thickened to a gravy. Keep your chocolate, gals. Give me the starch.

What would you like to tell us about the featured book?

My featured book is Blue Moon, the last of the Moonstruck RomCom series about the Madison siblings. It’s about the baby sister and prodigy Dr. Jeanne Madison. Success and faith have always come easy to the young marine archaeologist, including receiving specific information as to the whereabouts of the sunken galleon Blue Moon. Until she meets Captain Gabe Avery of the Fallen Angel, the only boat her limited budget as a novice will afford. The name of Gabe’s boat says it all, challenging Jeanne to aim at salvaging more than sunken treasure in this adventure of a lifetime. If the incorrigible captain isn’t enough to fray Jeanne’s nerves, her eccentric crew is. Then, just as success is within their reach, Gabe’s dark past comes back to haunt them and Jeanne’s untested faith goes through the fire, as well as Gabe’s barely recovered one.

Writing about untested faith was new for me, but after hearing on the Minirth-Meyer Clinic radio show one day, how those who’ve never had their faith tested are more likely to cave in under life’s challenges, than those who’ve been through the fire time and again, I thought that would make an interesting spiritual conflict for Jeanne and a contrast to Gabe’s spirtual struggle. As in real life, God uses all degrees of faith to accomplish His will, even when it’s not all it should be. I guess one could say that a little faith goes a long way in His hands. Oh, and did I say God has a sense of humor?

And I'm glad He gave you one, Linda. Your posts often fill my office with laughter as I read them. Thank you for spending this time with us. I look forward to being with you again.

Remember readers, leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of the featured book. While you're at it, stop by on Kristy's interview and leave a comment there, too.

Todd is the Winner

. . .of Reluctant Burglar by Jill Elizabeth Nelson. Todd, please e-mail me with your mailing address so we can get the autographed copy out to you. A new interview will go up later today.

There's still time to leave a comment on my interview with Kristy Dykes for a chance to win an autographed copy of Kiss the Bride.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Another Member of the ACFW Short Redhead Club

Kristy Dykes is one of the prettiest members. I really missed her at the conference in Dallas this year. I've known Kristy for several years, and am glad to have her as my friend. If you're interested in seeing her other books, you can find them at That's where several of my books are, too. These books make excellent Christmas gifts. Just click on the link in the right hand column.

Kristy, tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.

Interesting question, Lena. Of all the interviews I've given, I've never been asked that, or at least in that way. Horace said, “Mutato nomine, de te fabula narrator." That's Latin for, "Change the name, and the story is told of yourself." Lots of novels are thinly disguised biographies, and that's okay, if that’s the story the author wants to tell. Sometimes there are disclaimers in the opening pages of novels saying none of the characters represent real people. That said, authors write from their worldview. Things are bound to come out of your heart and find their way onto your pages, such as characters or philosophies or ways of doing things, etc. I'd say a little bit of me is in all of my books so far (nine titles). In my first title, American Dream (Barbour historical 4-in-1), my heroine Corinn in "I Take Thee, A Stranger" relies on Matthew 6:33 to see her through dire circumstances including an arranged marriage. That's one of my life verses that I love and live by. In Wedded Bliss? (Barbour contemporary 4-in-1), my heroine Felicia is married to a sports nut and longs to be swept away by her husband, i.e. more romance and tenderness. Influenced by her feelings and her friend's misguided advice, she asks for a separation. Only when Hebrews 12:1, 3 NLT seeps deep into her heart does she come to know the answer to her dilemma. That, too, is a special verse in my life—and in my marriage!

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

Got an hour? Or more? GRIN I'm the queen of quirk, in that I've seen lots of quirkiness (I’m a pastor's wife, remember? I've met all kinds and breeds) and done quirky things. One quickly comes to mind. The B&B Caper. One after, we were passing through the Smoky Mountains coming home from a conference. I had an old issue of Southern Living I'd picked it up for a quarter at the library (think, old). It featured an article about a B&B in Tennessee that had a cave you could explore. I begged Milton (my husband) to stay there that night. It would be interesting, I reasoned. He had in mind a quick in-and-out at a Hampton Inn and said so. We might make some new friends, I cajoled. There are all kinds of interesting people at B&Bs. Or, we could pretend we were Tom and Becky in the cave, I said. No takers. Or, it might provide fodder for my writing (boy, did it ever! a part of the experience is in my novella in Room At the Inn!). Finally, he relented. Excited, I called the number, made the nonrefundable reservation through Master Card, and we set off, our plan being to check in then go to town and get a steak. We got lost myriads of times on those narrow curving roads high up in the mountains (think, irritable husband), but at last we arrived--about 8:30 p.m. We were starved (think, more irritable husband), and the dark two-story house was an apparition under a black, moonless sky (think, haunted house). Long story short, it was a DEFUNCT B&B. No people around anywhere, in the B&B or up or down the dark road (after the proprietor left us). Cob webs streaming from the chandelier in the living room onto the yellowed keys of the grand, (think more haunted house), no lock on the bedroom door, the bathroom down a long eerie hallway, sheets that had been slept on? (horrors, blech). And no nearby restaurant, the proprietor said, unless you went back to the Interstate two hours away. But our stay was paid for so there was no way Milton would leave. So we shared one of those tiny bags of potato chips and went to bed hungry and need I say disgruntled. Oh, and I was scared to death as my writer's mind imagined someone making their way up the dark staircase in the middle of the night and murdering us. I didn't sleep a wink. I declare I heard a wolf baying every time I checked on things out the window. He snored like all get out.

I assume by he, you mean Milton, the disgruntled husband, not the wolf. When did you first discover you were a writer?

These are great questions, Lena! I've always loved to write. Adored writing term papers, though I sometimes included drawings. Wrote newsy family letters and church bulletins. One day in my twenties, the Lord said deep in my heart, "I'm going to use you for My glory in writing." He might as well have said, "You're going to be an astronaut." It seemed that far-fetched to me. At the same time, the Lord said the same thing to Milton plus He said He would use us together in writing. Later, Milton told me about his experience, and I told him. What a confirmation. I didn't go noising it abroad though. I did what Mary, the mother of Jesus did. I pondered it in my heart. A strong desire surfaced in my heart to earn a degree in journalism, but my ministry duties didn't permit me to. So I did my own studies by checking out armloads of library books on how to write, how to get published, where to submit to, etc. Then I started writing articles, and they began to get published, soon by the hundreds. Too, Milton and I have written together, for instance, our article "How to Affair-Proof Your Marriage." Now I've written over 600 published articles and worked for two New York Times subsidiaries. Along the way, one of my dreams was fulfilled. I earned a degree in mass communications/journalism. In the 1990s, I had a strong desire to write and publish Christian fiction. I'd always loved fiction, since elementary school days. Victoria Holt. Willa Cather. Charlotte Bronte. Louisa Mae Alcott. And more. I had scads of favorite authors and books. When my mother put Christy by Catherine Marshall in my hands when I was a teenager, well, it was an epiphany moment, in that it was a gripping story that touched my heart. So in the 1990s, I started studying the craft of fiction diligently, attended a weekly fiction-writing course at the community college for four long years, and got a critique partner. Now I have nine titles with many more in my heart.

Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.

All kinds. Biographies. Fiction. How-tos. Autobiographies. Self-helps. I think a writer needs to be well-rounded in his/her reading.

What other books have you written, whether published or not?

Published novellas in: Kiss the Bride, Wedded Bliss? Room At the Inn, Holiday At the Inn, Church in the Wildwood, Sweet Liberty, American Dream. Published novel: The Tender Heart (Heartsong Presents). Contracted novel: Heart of the Matter (Heartsong Presents; pub date April, 2007). "Prepublished:" four long novels--two contemporaries and two historicals. They're women's fiction with a strong romantic element. I also have a few more novels in the works.

How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?

Going to church, church, church. I'm not kidding. In every service I attend, the Lord speaks to me. I go not because I'm the pastor's wife, but because it's a place where God speaks.

I'm with you, Kristy. I love to be in the Lord's house, worshiping Him with other believers, listening to the preacher, but more importantly, listing to the Lord speak to my heart. How do you choose your characters’ names?

They just come to me. I love old-fashioned names for my historicals and keep a list from my extensive reading. For contemporaries, I use contemporary names, of course. For all the names, I love it when the meaning of the name plays a significant part in the story. For instance, in Sweet Liberty (Barbour historical 4-in-1), my heroine Winkie in "Free Indeed" is an embittered former slave in the Civil War era. Trying to help her, her auntie tells her that her full name is Periwinkle, and that it'll be the key to her change of heart. Winkie looks in a lexicon and finds "periwinkle" means "a shrub that's a source of medicine." "It be a riddle," she tells her auntie. Her auntie explains that a medicine relieves pain and cures ills. She says the Good Book says God comforts us so we can comfort others. "Periwinkle," her auntie says, "the day I named you, I looked into your big brown eyes and said, 'One day you going to bring the healing touch of comfort to others.’" She says, "Don’t run from your destiny no longer, child." Later, through her auntie's wise instruction, Winkie comes to know the Lord, and her destiny becomes what her auntie said.

What is the accomplishment you are most proud of?

It's not when my novella in Church in the Wildwood won third place in the 2004 ACFW Book of the Year Contest (novella category). It's not when I was voted to the 2004 Favorite New Authors List by Heartsong Presents (Barbour) readers. It's not the other awards I've won. It's the times I received these three letters from readers: 1) "I'm sharing your books with some women in my neighborhood. One just renewed her faith in the Lord Jesus after reading your novella in Sweet Liberty." 2) "Are you black or do you have a special gift of empathy?" 3) Your story in Room At the Inn spoke straight to my heart. I don't generally identify so strongly with stories, nor do they cause me to change the way I do things or think. Yours did. Your writing, and in turn, you, are a blessing to me."

If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?

I don't know.

What is your favorite food?

I used to write a weekly food column, "Kristy's Kitchen," for a New York Times subsidiary. A better question would be, "What food do you not like?" The answer would be, "Nothing I can think of."

It's fitting that this book comes after that last question. What would you like to tell us about the featured book?

Kiss the Bride (Barbour contemporary 4-in-1; which came out in September. Coauthors: Kristy Dykes, Aisha Ford, Vickie McDonough, Carrie Turanksy. It was great fun to write because it was interactive. Four young restaurant owners meet at a restaurant convention and bemoan the lack of romance in their lives. One buys the last apron in a shop that says, "Kiss the Cook," and they agree to pass it around until each finds Mr. Right. The four novellas tell the romance of each couple. The last groom crosses out "Cook" and writes "Bride" on the apron and shows it to the other three couples when they all meet again. As of now, we coauthors are planning to sign Kiss the Bride at the book signing at the ACFW conference in Dallas in September, 2006. We just might have a Kiss the Cook/Bride apron with us!

Your coauthors did wear the apron. I loved it. Thank you for this fun interview, Kristy. I look forward to seeing you in Dallas next year.

Readers, you'll love Kristy's books. Be sure to leave a comment for a change to win a free one. If you don't win that one, you'll want to get one anyway. If you go to, you an get a personally autographed copy. You can still leave comments on Jill Nelson's interview, too.

Winner of Janice Thompson's Book

Sabrina L. Fox is the winner of The Wedding Caper. Please send me your mailing address, so I can forward it to Janice.

There's still time to leave a comment on Jill Nelson's interview for a chance to win Reluctant Burglar. And a new interview will go up later today. Don't you just love knowing about these authors and their books?

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Debut Author - Jill Elizabeth Nelson

Jill and I have been online friends for a long time. Of course, we gravitated toward each other because we share one name. Then we met at ACFW conferences. I'm very excited about her debut novel, a romantic suspense Reluctant Burglar.

You have a chance to win a copy of the novel when we choose two winners from those who leave comments in two weeks. However, if you don't win the free book, you'll want to get a copy. It's an excellent read. You can read my review of the novel in the September 2006 newsletter on my website:

Jill, Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.

Only bits and pieces, but I think it’s hard to escape putting something of yourself into the fictional characters you create. In Reluctant Burglar, my main female character, Desiree Jacobs, is one of those people so task-oriented and efficient she intimidates the socks off some folks, but she gets things done. Unfortunately, her drive and organizational gifts tend to make her more self-reliant than God-reliant. I like to think of myself as a “recovering Desiree.”

That could probably be said about many of us. What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

Not sharing that! But this quirky characteristic I have is a Muttley laugh. If anyone out there is from the generation that remembers Dick Dastardly and his dog Muttley from Hanna Barbera cartoons, you might remember that Muttley has this high-pitched, wheezy laugh. My regular laugh is pretty normal, but when I start hooting so hard I can scarcely breathe, I sound just like Dastardly’s dog. When my family hears it coming on, they look at me sideways and say to each other, “Here comes Muttley.” They love it! And I never mind the affectionate teasing because it’s fun to laugh that hard. Good for me, too, the book of Proverbs says.

When did you first discover that you were a writer?

Sixth grade. I wrote my first novel—novella-length actually—when I was eleven. It was never published, and the world is grateful. I never quit writing after that. I’ve done everything from journalism to poetry, with quite a bit published. God is good!

Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.

I find novels as thought-provoking, if not more so, than most non-fiction, but that’s just me. I’m an eclectic reader with a particular penchant for mystery, suspense, thriller, fantasy, or romantic adventure. And I don’t turn up my nose at romance, women’s fiction, or more literary ventures either. Get me emotionally involved, my interest piqued, and I won’t put it down.

A woman after my own heart. What other books have you written, whether published or not?

Kingmaker is book one in my fantasy series—not published yet. Sisters of Meribah is contemporary women’s fiction, also not published, but being looked at.

Be sure and let us know when anything happens woith them. How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?

I’m a writer; my sanity’s long gone! My mom and sisters and brother tease me about “voices in my head” ever since I confessed to them that my characters talk to me. I do run, run, run in the course of a day, but like I said earlier, I tend to be organized. The trick for me is to keep my cool when life discombobulates my best-laid plans. I hate that!

I know what you mean. See how much alike we are. How do you choose your characters’ names?

I have no clue. They just come to me, usually as soon as I start to understand their personalities. I’d probably need a shrink to help me understand why I pair certain names with certain personality types.

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?

Most recently, meeting my deadline for turning in the manuscript for Reluctant Runaway, the next installment in the To Catch a Thief series. Most far-reaching, raising four kids—but that’s an on-going project that never reaches official “completion.” Kind of maddening for this goal-oriented person, but I cope. Usually.

If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?

A horse. It’s a noble, beautiful beast . . . and useful, too. Horses are social animals with servants’ hearts.

What is your favorite food?

What isn’t? Seriously, that depends on my mood. Something with seafood in it like seafood Alfredo gets my juices flowing. Something Italian or Oriental generally hits the spot. The most zany food I like would probably be dill pickle potato chips.

Wow, I've never had those, but I do like fried dill pickles.

What would you like to tell us about the featured book?

Reluctant Burglar is fun! I hope my readers have a blast reading it and are eager for the sequels. I totally enjoy writing Desi and Tony. Des is as smart and sassy as they come. And Tony is an intense hunk with just enough issues to keep him human. I like to think Burglar is a gourmet blend of intrigue, humor, romance, and pathos. You can read more about the series, including an excerpt from Burglar, at my web site: Go to my To Catch a Thief Books page. I’m also running a contest for a signed copy on my Stealth and Wealth page.

Thank you for spending time with us, Jill. Remember, Readers, to leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Reluctant Burglar. (Two will be given away here.) And there's still time to leave a comment on Janice Thompson's interview for a chance to win The Wedding Caper.

I just love announcing winners!

Jennifer Y. is the winner of Barbara Warren's book The Gathering Storm. Please send me your mailing address, so we can get this right out to you.

There's still time to leave a comment on Janice Thompson's interview for a chance to win her book The Wedding Caper.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

I want you to meet my friend, Janice Thompson

Janice and I have been writing friends for a long time. Last year, she asked me to be a part of her Writer's A-D-V-A-N-C-E Retreat at Hidden Manna Campground north of Houston. We had a blessed time sharing with other writers. Now Janice's writing has taken another turn. Now we're introducing readers to her first cozy mystery. Her series will introduce the new Heartsong line of cozy mysteries. I'm excited about this new venture for Janice.

Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.

In my latest book (a mystery titled The Wedding Caper) the primary POV (point of view) character, Annie Peterson, is a woman about my age, going through pre-menopause, dealing with the impending marriages of her grown daughters. I’d have to say Annie and I have a lot in common. Two of my daughters married in ’04 within five months of one another. Writing like this isn’t the norm for me. I try to keep my personal life and my characters separate. Every now and again, however, someone I know will slip into one of my books unbeknownst to me.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

I recently sang in a karaoke “pop star” contest aboard a cruise ship. That was both terrifying and humorous. I should add that my daughter Megan actually won that contest (a week-long competition much like American Idol).

I would have liked to have seen that, Janice. When did you first discover that you were a writer?

In 6th grade. I ran out of Bobbsey Twins books to read, so I wrote one myself. I didn’t realize that “stealing” someone else’s characters was wrong. Just knew that I loved those characters and wanted to send them on a self-made adventure.

Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.

I love fast-paced novels (more lightweight/fun in nature). I also love great teaching books (non-fiction Christian books). I’m on such a learning curve (both as a writer and in my walk with the Lord) and need to glean all I can from those who have walked before me.

What other books have you written, whether published or not?

My published works include:
LIAR’S MOON – Hanna Productions/1982 (screenplay)
RE-THREADING THE NEEDLE: Mountainview/2000 (mainstream Christian novel)
A LINE IN THE SAND: Compradore/2001 (mainstream Christian novel)
DUTY TO DIE: Promise Press/2000 (mainstream Christian novel)
A CLASS OF HER OWN: Heartsong Presents/2002 (inspirational romance)
ANGEL INCOGNITO: Heartsong Presents/2004 (inspirational romance)
A CHORUS OF ONE: Heartsong Presents/2004 (inspirational romance)
SWEET CHARITY: Heartsong Presents/2004 (inspirational romance)
HURRICANE: River Oak/Cook/2004 (mainstream Christian novel)
PARENTING TEENS: A Field Guide – non-fiction/Cook/2005 (non-fiction)
BANKING ON LOVE: Heartsong Presents/2005 (inspirational romance)
I MUST DECREASE: Humorous Dieting Devotional - Barbour/2005
THE WEDDING CAPER: SpyGlass Lane Mysteries - Barbour/Fall of 2006
RED LIKE CRIMSON: Heartsong Presents/Spring of 2007
I have several more books contracted, including two non-fiction devotionals (one for brides-to-be and another for moms-to-be). I’m co-authoring these books with my twenty-six year old daughter, Randi, who is happily married about expecting her first baby (my first grandchild).

I remember the fun of anticipating my first grandchild. What fun! How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?

There’s really only one way – to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus, the author and finisher of my faith. If I lose my focus (and we all do at times) it shows in everything I try to do. I keep my eyes on Him (and my ears open to His voice) and things run so much smoother!

How do you choose your characters’ names?

I often ask people for help, particular if there are age/regional issues to consider. Sometimes I’ll have a particular name in mind for a character. Other times, I scratch my head for days, trying to figure out which name to assign.

That's a new method--scratching the head. What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?

My four daughters are (by far) my greatest accomplishment in this life. They are all in their twenties and all love and serve the Lord.

If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?

I’m enamored with my two dachshunds, Sasha and Copper. (In fact, Sasha appears in my book, The Wedding Caper.) These little mongrels have a perfect life – plenty to eat, someone to rub their bellies and scratch behind their ears, and lots of time to play in the yard outside. They get to sleep in a bed, nuzzle up against their owner when lonely, and offer lots of kisses to make “said owner” feel better when down. With that said, I’d take the life of a dachshund any day.

What is your favorite food?

Mmm. Fajitas. Chicken. Corn tortillas, please.

A true Texan answer.

What would you like to tell us about the featured book?
I'm so excited about the October release of my first-ever romantic mystery, The Wedding Caper (Barbour Publishing). The book's heroine, Annie Peterson, steps into the role of super-sleuth when she suspects her husband of stealing $25,000 from the bank where he works to pay for their daughters' weddings. (Their twins, Brandi and Candy, both receive proposals on the same night and their weddings are scheduled only four and a half months apart). The story is full of ups and downs, humorous moments and plenty of mystery, all with a touch of romance. And of course the faith elements are there as well. It's Annie's faith that gets her through the hard times, to be sure! (I should add that I had plenty of real-life experience to pull from. In 2004, two of my daughters married within five months of each other!) I've never had more fun working on a book, and I believe it really shows in the writing. Readers are bound to enjoy Annie's escapades!
I know I did. As you can see from the picture of the cover, we received a complimentary copy of the book at the American Christian Fiction Writers national conference in Dallas last month. But this is a book that I would have rushed out to buy. If you don't win the copy we're giving away, you'll want to do that. A review of the book is in my October newsletter, which should go up on my website sometime this week.
Be sure to leave a comment for a chance to win the book.

The winner of the Muncie Chapman book is

. . .Cherie Japp.

Cherie, please contact me with your contact information, so we can get the book to you.

Remember, readers, there's still time to leave comments on Barbara Warren's interview.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

I created a Slide Show! Check it out!

Barbara Warren, Author of The Gathering Storm

I met Barbara online and have become good friends with her. I'm happy to introduce her novel The Gathering Storm. Her work has been compared to the writing of Terri Blackstock, Victoria Holt, Phyllis Whitney, Mary Stewart, Hannah Alexander, and Colleen Coble. I'm sure you'll find this mystery intriguing.

Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.

Apparently quite a bit. The manuscript I’m working on now has a sarcastic, smart-mouthed, older woman my friends say reminds them of me. I think we all put some of ourselves into our characters. It’s only natural.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

Let Cheryl Hodde talk me into backpacking the Grand Canyon, not once, not twice, but three times, and all that, after I had promised God the first time if He got me out of that hole alive I would never do anything so stupid again. The last time I walked out I knew it would be my last trip down inside. I stopped at the top of every slope, looking back, trying to fix it in my memory.
When did you first discover that you were a writer?

I think I’ve always known. I’ve scribbled in notebooks for as long as I can remember, and I loved writing themes in school. I didn’t get serious about it until after Charlie and I were married and moved back to the farm. Now, it’s an obsession. If I don’t have time to write I get cranky.

Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.

Since I review books, I read almost every genre, but my personal choice for fiction is mysteries. For non-fiction I prefer history, politics, and religious. I’m so addicted to reading, lacking anything else I’d read the labels on my spice jars. I can’t imagine a world without something to read.

What other books have you written, whether published or not?

A ton of them. Four private eye novels, three romantic suspense, one humorous inspirational non-fiction, two women’s fiction, and my current manuscript about five older women who start a club to solve murders, just as soon as they can find one. If I sell them all, I’ll be rich. Jireh has my second romantic suspense under consideration, and I have an agent interested in the older women mystery.

Good. I'm sure we'll see more of these in print soon. How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?

I cherish the days I’m free to stay home, read, and work in my flowers. Unfortunately those days don’t come often enough. However my work as a freelance editor requires me to spend hours alone in front of my computer, and that helps. I need a lot of time by myself.

How do you choose your characters’ names?

I don’t deliberately choose them. The names just seem to be there when I need them and they seem to fit. I’m not sure how that works, but it does. I don’t understand a lot about how writing works. I don’t mean the mechanics, we can learn those; I mean the way we know our characters, the way we know the story, the way it comes alive in our minds. It has to be a gift from God, because there is no reasonable explanation for the way a writer’s mind works. It’s amazing.

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?

Teaching Sunday school in my church for forty consecutive years. It’s been a blessing and a privilege. The first lesson I taught, I was so nervous I had it memorized. If anyone had interrupted me I would have forgotten the whole thing. Now, of course, it’s much easier. I started out teaching women, then went to the young married class, then youth, and now am back teaching women. I have a wonderful class of sisters in Christ, and I love and appreciate them very much.

If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?

A puppy, of course, because I’m so cute and loveable, but there are times when I’m more like an old mama lion. I guess it depends on my mood.

What is your favorite food?

Fried chicken. That’s the way Cheryl got me out of the canyon the first time. I would stop after about twenty steps, sure I couldn’t go on and she would sing out, “Fried Chicken.” Got me going again every time. My motor doesn’t run on trail mix and Gatorade. It needs real food.

What would you like to tell us about the featured book?

The Gathering Storm is set in the beautiful Ozarks, where I live. Marty Walker, Stephanie’s famous songwriter father, hasn’t spent much time doing the Daddy bit. When someone murders him she becomes the prime suspect, simply because she was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Sheriff Rob Daughtery warns her not to leave Harrington Lodge without his permission. A half-sister she never knew she had shows up for the reading of the will, and the knife that killed Marty is planted in Stephanie’s room. Perhaps the most troubling of all, to man-shy Stephanie, is her growing attraction to Brad Wilson, ex-con, turned preacher. And then there’s God, who won’t leave her alone. Everyone at the lodge, except Stephanie, seems to be religious, but if her suspicions are right, one of those dedicated, church-going Christians murdered her father. Will she be next?

Lena, thank you for having me on your site for this interview. I’ve enjoyed it very much. I think it’s great all you do to promote Christian fiction and your fellow writers.

Thank you, Barbara. God encouraged me to dedicate my blog to giving exposure to other authors, and He has repaid my obedience many times over.

Remember, Readers, to leave a comment on this interview for a chance to win a copy of The Gathering Storm. Also, there's still time to leave a comment on Muncy's interview.

A 2-Book Winner

Terri Gillespie is the winner of two of Nikki Arana's books. Terri, Nikki will be getting in touch with you about this.

Winners! We have a winner every week, and everyone who leaves a comment on an author interview has an opportunity to be that winner.

There's still time to leave a comment on Muncy Chapman's interview.