Saturday, December 29, 2007

Author Susan Page Davis - Free Book

I'm happy to introduce you to my dear friend Susan Page Davis. I've loved reading her books. And the featured book Frasier Island is her first trade paperback. If you want to read a review of the book, check out either the recent newsletters on my web site ( ) or my blogs on my shoutlife site. ( )

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

None, but I put my sisters into them. No, just kidding. My characters’ temperaments, opinions and emotions are of course colored by my own. Most of the heroines are younger than I am. One exception is Janet Borden, heroine of Breaking News, a mystery I haven’t sold yet. She and her husband are in their early 50s, and she is a lot like me. I have actually put a few personal incidents into my books, but these are usually changed in some way. My husband is another story. All of my heroes have some of his qualities.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

Uh, swallowed a battery? No joke. I had a Metformin pill in one pocket to take with breakfast (it evens out the blood sugar) and a button battery I was supposed to replace when I went to town in another. They were about the same size, and when I reached for that pill and popped it in my mouth and swallowed, it hit me that it tasted a little strange. So I reached in my other pocket to check on the battery, and pulled out the pill. We won’t go into the x-rays and other indignities that followed. It’s humbling when you hear your doctor offstage asking the nurse, “And WHY did she do this?”

When did you first discover that you were a writer?

I was an early reader. In fifth grade or so, I started writing long stories. I still have a few of those early efforts, and my kids find them hilarious.

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

I’m an eclectic reader. I just finished a fantasy and a legal thriller. I also read a lot of history, both true and fictional. I’ve always loved reading about the past, especially medieval times and colonial America. Captivity narratives are favorites (true stories of colonial and frontier people captured by Indians), and other escapist literature—castaways, survival stories, that sort of thing. I try to vary the genres I’m reading and go outside my comfort zone now and then.

What other books have you written, whether published or not?
Well, if you’re going to include non-published, it’s a long list!

I’ve published seven historical romances with Heartsong, and a cozy mystery (written with my daughter Megan) with HP Mysteries. My children’s fantasy, Feather, is published by JourneyForth.

Unpublished books at this point include more mysteries and suspense. The first books I every wrote were about a Maine police detective. That’s a series I’d still love to sell (I’ve rewritten it since the original). I also have a few contemporary and historical romances unpublished as yet.

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

It’s like pacing a novel. You have to schedule in some down time. Every day I ask God not just to help me get done what needs to be done, but to prioritize and know what’s really important. One thing I’m still struggling with is learning to space out the deadlines. At one point I had only one book contracted, so I put out a lot of proposals. Then several were bought at once, and I found myself in a frenzy to meet deadlines. Now I’m sending out fewer proposals at once, but taking on the projects I want to do most. I also gave up a part time contracted job with a newspaper. This allows me to save time for family and other commitments.

How do you choose your characters’ names?

One of my favorite ways is from the court news. For years I typed court news, honor rolls, and other tedious list-type data for a newspaper, and found many interesting names. I keep a computer file just for names I might want to use. Of course, I try not to use the first-last name combination of a real person if I can help it. But I also use baby name books and U.S. census lists of “most popular baby names” for different decades. For instance, if I have a 40-year-old character, I’ll check what names were most popular for babies in the 1960s. I also use first names of people I know and love a lot. I have to be careful about that, though. At one point I realized all my heroines were named Rebecca. When I finally sold a “Rebecca” story, I quit using it.

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?

I’d have to say my family. Jim and I have six children, ages 12 to 29, and four grandchildren so far. We’re proud of them all! That’s our masterwork.

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

Is this a trick question? I can interpret it two ways: what animal would I like to be, or what animal am I most like. I’ll take the first option and say a horse. Thanks to plantar fascitis and foot surgery, I haven’t been able to run for almost ten years, and I’d love to be able to do that again.

What is your favorite food?

There’s not much I don’t like. I have to pick? Okay, blackberries.

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

In Frasier Island, Ensign Rachel Whitney lands the assignment she’s dreamed of, working with legendary Navy lieutenant George Hudson on a remote island outpost. But when she arrives, George seems rather unhappy with his new subordinate. Before long, he has her furious. Her anger and George's grief keep them apart until crisis hits. Rachel struggles with her new faith, but George has turned away from God. When the island is attacked, Rachel learns that George kept crucial information about their mission from her. They must fight to survive and protect the precious secret they are guarding.
Writing Frasier Island was a lot of fun. My son Jim challenged me to write a science fiction book, and it came out romantic suspense. This is the closest I ever came, but no, it’s not sci-fi. It’s set a little bit in the future, maybe two or three years from now. When the enemy continues to harry the defenders on Frasier Island, it’s Rachel, George, and God against the world. Guess who wins.

Thank you, Susan, for spending this time with us.

Readers, you'll love this book, so leave a comment for a chance to win a copy. After you leave a comment, be sure to come back to see if you won. An easy way to keep from missing any of the announcements is to sign up for Feedblitz (in the right hand column under my profile).

You'll want to check out all Susan's books on her web page:

There's still time to leave a comment on Gail Gaymer Martin's interview for a chance to win her book.

Three More Winners!!!

Laura@LauraWilliams'Musings is the winner of A tendering in the Storm by Jane Kirkpatrick.

Thom Allen is the winner of The Restorer's Son by Sharon Hinck.

Norma is the winner of The Amen Sisters by Angela Benson.

An extra gift for the holidays!!

Remember, I need for you to email me your mailing address so we can get the books to you. There's a link under my profile.

Happy New Year to all!!!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Author Gail Gaymer Martin - Free Book

Gail is a longtime novelist friend of mine. She's multi-published with several publishers. Today, we're introducing her newest non-fiction book

Gail, welcome to my blog. This book is nonfition. Do you also write fiction?

I write both fiction and non-fiction. My first sale in 1995 was a book of four Christmas worship services which included short plays, monologues and skits. To date, I have written twenty-three of these program books for various publishers. Then, with a twenty-three year career in counseling, I began writing parenting and articles for teens dealing with serious teen and family issues, such as: self-esteem, suicide, drugs, communication, blended families, grief, and divorcing parents. But fiction was my childhood dream, and in 1997, I began writing novels. I sold my first novel to Barbour Publishing in 1998, and since that time, I have over one million books in print and have sold forty novels/novellas to Steeple Hill and Barbour Publishing primarily.

2. What would you like our readers to know about you personally?

I have lived in Michigan all my life and use the state often for my fiction. My husband and I are both active in our church, both of us lifelong Christians. I have served in many capacities in my church from congregational president to puppet ministry, strategic planning committee, newsletter committee, to music where I am a soloist, member of the choir and ringer in both handbell and handchime choirs.

Several years ago, I also sang in the choir and played in the handbell choir. Tell us about your family.

My husband and I have been married for twenty-two years. I have two adult step-children and one granddaughter. Our daughter Brenda died of ovarian cancer last year at age thirty-seven. Both of the kids are/were musical and play(ed) a variety of instruments. My husband is a tuba player and is our handchime director at church. He also plays with two handbell groups. Dave, our son, played the French horn in school, and continues to play organ and guitar. He has a band, writes music, and performs solo at a coffee house in Detroit. My parents are deceased, as well as my stepfather. I have a younger sister and brother, both married with children and grandchildren, and we are very close family.

There are a lot of musicians in my family, too. Have you written other nonficton books?

As I mentioned above, I have written a lot of non-fiction for churches and magazine articles, but my book for Writers Digest, WRITING THE CHRISTIAN ROMANCE, released in December 2007, was a new experience. It's a long book that not only explains the difference between secular and Christian romance, but it provides the how-to techniques along with examples and exercises. I was thrilled that the book sold so quickly and the editors have been very excited about the book. It has chapters on characterization, POV, emotion and the senses, sexuality, spirituality plotting, and selling the book.

What other books have your written and where can thereaders of the blog find them.

My most recent novel from Steeple Hill Love Inspired, IN HIS DREAMS, is an August release and the third book in my Michigan Island series. It's set on Beaver Island in Lake Michigan and was a Top Pick in the Romantic Times. When my books are released they can be found at all major bookstores, K-Mart, Target, Walmart, some grocery stores and other stores that carry category romance. My October release, AND BABY MAKES FIVE IS from Barbour's Heartsong Presents, an October, release. My novels and church resource materials are all available on as well as other on-line bookstores. WRITING THE CHRISTIAN ROMANCE can be pre-ordered on Amazon. My next fiction release in January 2008 will be the last Michigan Island book, FAMILY IN HIS HEART, set on Drummond and the Les Cheneaux Islands in Michigan's upper peninsula.

Do you have any other books in the works right now?

Presently I'm writing a three book series for Barbour Publishing. GARLIC AND ROSES is the second book set in the Monterey Peninsula and will be released in August 2008 and I am writing the third book, THE BUTTERFLY TREES, set in the same location. As well, I'm hoping to sell a long single title, SECRET PLACES, which is a book of my heart, and I'm working on a four book proposal for Steeple Hill Love Inspired, a series called Friends Forever. Four books related to four women who were high school friends.

I'm sure all the readers will be on the lookout for these books. Where on the Internet can the readers find you.

My website is and besides book covers and excerpts, people will find pages called For Writers which has many articles, workshop logs, and Frequently Asked Questions about writing and getting published. If you enjoy cooking, I have a section called Gail's Kitchen. My blog site which focuses on my life, career and faith is I also am part of the Christian Author Network and write a marketing blog each Monday, and I have a website and blog on ShoutLife at

What kind of hobbies and leisure activities do you enjoy?

I previously mentioned my music activities at church, but as well, I'm a member of the Detroit Lutheran Singers which is a well-known chorale in the Detroit area and we perform three or four series of concerts each year—fall, Christmas, Easter and spring—as well as record CDs. Besides music, I love to travel and have been in every state in the U.S. including Alaska and Hawaii, and traveling to other countries is one of my favorite vacations. We have been to many European countries as well as Great Britain (England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland). We just visited Greece and Turkey in October. I also enjoy spending time with family and friends.

Why did you write the featured book, WRITING THE CHRISTIAN ROMANCE.

I wrote WRITING THE CHRISTIAN ROMANCE for two reasons. For years, I've been a columnist with either The Christian Communicator (TCC) or Spirit-Led Writing, an ezine, with a romance writing column. Lyn Johnson, editor of the TCC, suggested a few years ago that I consider writing a book on Christian romance. I tucked that in my mind, but not until three years later, as I mentored writers, was I struck by the need for a book on writing Christian romance. No book exists that deals with this specific genre in full-book length, although you can find numerous books on writing secular romance and some on writing Christian fiction. Since the genre is very different from secular romance, I wrote a proposal and my agent sent it to Writers Digest, the biggest publisher of how-to books on writing.

What do you want the reader to take away from the book?

I hope the book WRITING THE CHRISTIAN ROMANCE will provide writers with a better understanding of the nuances of the genre and specific reader and publisher expectations in Christian romance. I hope that writers will grasp the importance of three-dimensional characterization brought to life with realistic emotion, meaningful dialogue that moves the story forward, hooks that turn the book into a page-turner, an understanding of the elements of sexuality and spirituality expected in Christian romance, and ideas on networking and connecting with fellow authors, as well as finding an agent and publisher. If they gain this kind of information from excerpts of well-known Christian author and the examples and exercises I provide, I will feel very blessed.

Thank you, Gail, for spending this time with us.

Readers, as usual, we're giving away a copy of the book to a winner chosen from those who leave comment. So maybe this is your chane to win one.

There's also time to leave comments on these interviews:

Christa Ann Banister - Around the World in 80 Dates
Jane Kirkpatrick - A Tendering in the Storm
Sharon Hinck - The Restorer's Son

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Author Christa Ann Banister - Free Book

I first heard about Christa when her publisher sent me a copy of this book. I loved the title and premise, so I contacted her for an interview.

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

Some of the best writing advice I ever received was back in high school when my English teacher told me that the best writers “write what they know.” So I’ve always been a big believer in the connection between authenticity and the writer’s own experiences, traits, etc. And in my novel, Around the World in 80 Dates, Sydney and I share a few common traits. But because it’s fiction and not a memoir, we have our share of differences, too.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

What can I say? I’m a quirky girl, it may be difficult to narrow it down to just one. But back in my college years, I always thought it was pretty funny to switch everyone’s welcome mats around. The alterna-punk girl on our floor had a mat in front of her door that said “Go Away” on it, so I thought it would be fun to switch hers with another girl’s fluffy pink one with kittens on it. My favorite part was seeing their faces when they’d realized what happened. I’d get to watch their confused looks while they had no idea that I was the one who’d switched everything around. This was also fun to do with Christmas wreaths and decorations, too.

I love quirky. It makes life more interesting. When did you first discover that you were a writer?

As long as I can remember, I’ve always had a vivid imagination. And for some reason, I always liked inventing new stories more than playing with Barbies or jump roping. I was always the kid with the pen and paper. But when I read Judy Blume’s Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, that sealed the deal. I figured if she could make up stories like that for a living, well, that’s what I wanted to do.

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

I love everything from Hemmingway’s A Moveable Feast to chick lit like Sophie Kinsella’s “Shopaholic” series. Sometimes I’m in the mood for a biography; other times, it’s a book with a pop culture tie-in. Basically, I like just about anything.

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

When I was a kid, I wrote a 15-page book about a turtle going to a birthday party. Surprisingly, it didn’t hit the New York Times bestseller list. Aside from that, I had a devotional book published back in 2003 with Integrity called Hungry: An Ultra-Vertical Devotional Adventure and the sequel to Around the World in 80 Dates titled Blessed Be the Meddlers will hit store shelves in June 2008.

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

It may sound cliché, but I pray a lot! My husband and I start almost every day with a time of prayer, and that provides a lot of peace in our crazy, run-run-run world. I also watch The Food Network when I need a break…it’s my new guilty pleasure.

How do you choose your characters’ names?

What a fun question. I wish there was a method to my madness, but there’s usually not. I just try and pick names I think fit the character. My protagonist’s name, however, was the first and only pen name I’ve ever used: Sydney Alexander. That name just seemed to fit her.

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?

Being a girl from a small town in Wisconsin, it still blows my mind that I get to write novels and magazine articles for a living! That’s an accomplishment that continues to make me proud.

As well it should. If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?

A penguin because they’re cool.

What is your favorite food?

I could write you an exhaustive list of just desserts alone. But if I had to pick one, I’d say the kung pao shrimp from P.F. Chang’s. Yummy.

What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?

When I first moved to Nashville after college to pursue my dream of writing for CCM Magazine, my greatest roadblock was just waiting, waiting and waiting. After working a series of odd jobs and taking free internships to gain writing experience, I finally was hired for my dream job. But it wasn’t always easy being persistent when things were difficult financially, etc.

What advice would you give to an author just starting out?

Write a little bit every day and make sure it’s something you’re passionate about. And if your manuscript is rejected the first time, the third time or for the fortieth and you think it’s a story worth telling, tweak and try, try again.

Very good advice.

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

Around the World in 80 Dates is one travel writer’s hilarious but very bumpy journey on the road to Mr. Right. I was really intentional about wanting to tell a story that singles, married people, grandmothers, etc. could relate to, while offering a surprise element to prevent it from being the same ol’, predictable chick-lit story.

How can readers find you on the Internet?

They can check out my personal Website (where there is a sample chapter) at I also have a MySpace page at And if you want a recommendation of a good movie to see or the ones to avoid, check out my reviews at

Christa, thank you for spending this time with us. I'll be reading and reviewing your book soon. And when the new one comes out, we'll want another interview.

Readers, leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Around the World in 80 Dates.

There's still time to leave comments on these interviews:

Jane Kirkpatrick - A Tendering in the Storm
Sharon Hinck - The Restorer's Son

Be sure to sign up for FeedBlitz, under my profile in the right hand column, so you won't miss a single interview or announcement.

And a Very Merry Christmas to all my readers!!!!!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Holiday Winners!!! We LOVE Winners!!!!!

Italian Woman is the winner of Demon by Tosca Lee. Dodo also wins a copy of Demon. The first one of you who sends me their address will receive the one signed by the author.

Stacey is the winner of The Tree Nobody Wanted by Tom McCann.

Pamela J wins The Meeting of Annie Adams by Lonnie D. Story.

Each of you must email me your mailing address so I can forward it to the correct person. Just click on the email link under my profile in the right hand column.

And to be sure you don't miss a single interview or announcement, sign up for FeedBlitz under my profile.

We'll have one more interview before Christmas.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Author Jane Kirkpatrick - Free Book

I'm pleased to feature Jane Kirkpatrick on the blog today. I was in a book club with several friends. We shared other books besides the ones we were reading. One friend introduced me to the works of one of her favorite authors--Jane Kirkpatrick. Several months later, I went to my agent's web site looking for some information and found that Jane and I share the same agent.

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

Like most writers, there’s a bit of me in all my characters. I have some of their quirks and foibles but I hope I have some of their strengths as well. Even the antagonists have a bit of me in them…it’s a great place to put my dark side and hope it never shows up anywhere but in the manuscript. But because many of my characters are based on real, ordinary people, I also try to get into their heads and make them real given the historical record and what their descendants say about them through their stories.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

When I was 16 at a music camp I pretended to be someone I wasn’t for an entire week. It was a practical joke but I was surprised how easy the lies came and I did tell people in the end my “real” story. A little scary, too; but it taught me how close to the edge one can be with the truth and how important integrity really is. I also spent a day with a bee handler wearing bee handling clothes, gathering honey, talking to the bees. That was a delight! He said I was good with them and that the bees can tell a person who is authentic. I was pleased given my first example of quirky!

When did you first discover that you were a writer?

I always loved words and wrote little poems when I was young. But I didn’t call myself a writer until well after my first book (nonfiction) was published and I’d had several articles published. It was when I chose to listen to the story that had been calling my name and to write it even though I’d never written fiction and wasn’t sure I could. That’s the day that when someone asked what I did I answered, “I’m a writer.” I was nearly 50 years old at the time :-) A late bloomer indeed.

Actually, my first book was published when I was 50 years old. Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.

I read everything! I love creative nonfiction such as The Devil in the White City by Eric Larsen and Barbara Kingsolver’s nonfiction. I love her fiction as well. Molly Gloss, a National Book Award finalist some years back, is a superb writer. She has a book coming out set in WWI in the west that is fabulous. (I’ve had a peek preview). I like Laurie R. King’s and P.D. James’s mysteries along with Sue Grafton. Marilyn Robinson’s Gilead was stunning. Historical novels are a favorite especially during the mid-1800s. I like Irene Bennet Brown, B.J. Hoff. I just finished reading The Memory Keeper’s Daughter and Water for Elephants. Both were fabulous but I have to say the writing in Memory Keeper’s was outstanding. It reminded me of Three Junes another book I really loved. There are about fourteen books stacked up next to my bed. But I can only read about three paragraphs before I’m sound asleep!

My to-be-read pile is really tall, even though I read a lot. What other books have you written, whether published or not?

I’ve written thirteen published novels and two non-fiction books. A fourteenth novel will be out in the spring. And I have a novel in my drawer called Oprah Doesn’t Know My Name. It’s my whining book I call it. It’s a story of a woman trying to get Oprah to look at her manuscript --because people are always saying to me, “You should get Oprah to choose your books” as though I had any control over that :-) So I thought I’d write a book about the antics of someone hoping to be discovered and the lengths she goes to be noticed. Bad book. But it was fun to write.

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

T. S. Elliot said we must all find “a still place in a turning world.” For me that’s prayer. It’s exercise. It’s finding reasons to laugh every day. It’s breathing deeply and reminding myself that what I do is a gift I’ve been given and gifts are best if received, witnessed to, honored and then passed on. I have a supportive family, wonderful friends. I honor the Sabbath even with a deadline looming.

How do you choose your characters’ names?

Most of my books are based on the lives of real people so I use their actual names. Because people had large families in the 19th century, and often named their daughters and sons for their parents, I often have lots of characters with the same names! So I have a character list in the front of each book for readers. And I’ll use nicknames. For my fictional characters I use names from old diaries, from journals, from historical accounts I’ve read so I have authentic names. And sometimes I just use my friends' names.

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?

I’ve really been trying to figure this out since I first read the question. I think it is being flexible enough and willing to live with ambivalence enough to quit my job as a mental health director 22 years ago and move with my husband to rattlesnake and rock ranch (actually it’s called Chukar Ridge Ranch, named for a small partridge-like bird that roams the rimrocks and breaks of the John Day River that we live on) because we believed it was something we were called to do. Because of that I began writing. And because we’re here, we had a place to bring our grandchild on two occasions to help raise her while her parents were impaired. They are in recovery and she is in college and I think being able to use resources to make that happen for her life and for theirs is an accomplishment I’m most proud of.

I agree. My husband and I often help our kids or grandkids. If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?

This is easy. A porpoise. Because they’re graceful (I’m not! I still can’t wear white without getting dirty and I stumble on rocks and am just plain awkward!) and because they’re really curious and they’re friendly and compassionate and they enjoy playing for playing’s sake and they are helpers without being asked. And they’re beautiful.

What is your favorite food?

Oh so hard. I’d say dark chocolate.

There's a basket of dark chocolate on my coffee table for the people who attend the critique group that meets in my home. Of course, now we have someone who likes milk chocolate, so we have a bowl of that, too. What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?

It was telling myself that I could not write a story I wanted to write because it was a story about someone else’s family; it would have to be fictionalized and I hadn’t ever written fiction; and it needed historical research and I wasn’t a historian. So the story languished for several years living in my head but going nowhere. Then one day as I lamented that SOMEONE should tell that story, my husband said if I thought it was a great story I should just write it down and see what happened. I was working and commuting two hours one way and away from home three days a week so committed to God that I would show up at the computer by 5:00 AM each day and write for three hours then go to “work” until the story was written and that whatever happened when I arrived at 5:00 AM, I’d leave to him. The amazing thing is that even though at 4 AM when the alarm went off I thought I could never get up (I wasn’t a morning person), but having made that commitment got me to show up. I discovered that showing up is really what it means to be a writer. That novel, my first, won a national award and two years ago won a statewide award after 10 years in print. It wasn’t me; it was the story that touched people. I just showed up to tell it.

What advice would you give to an author just starting out?

Sometimes we have to live the story and write about it later. So don’t be hard on yourself if you aren’t able to write every day or if you keep getting rejecting letters. A wise person suggested to me that when I finished a piece to make a list of ten markets I thought would be good and to send it out to number one and date it. When the rejection letter comes back, read it ONCE and within 24 hours, send it the second market on the list. I did this and I rarely got to #10 before the story sold. I think because when I was feeling good about the work I found the markets and keeping the work out there is the only way to find a publisher. So I’d recommend something like that to trick ourselves into not listening to the harpies that tell us what we wrote is trash.

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

This is the second book in a trilogy A Tendering in the Storm is based on the life of a real family, an actual historical woman and the Christian communal society she lived in during the 1850s-1870s. It’s a story about grief to some extent and how grief has many siblings: guilt, rejection, isolation, anger, putting ourselves into exile. The main character is Emma Wager Giesy, a German-American who wanted what each of us wants, to be heard, to have her voice honored; and to do the best she could for her family without losing herself in the process. What she learns about receiving help I think speaks to many of us who are strong-willed and think we must do all things ourselves without help. I just learned that the first book in the series, A Clearing in the Wild, earned the Finalist award as part of theWILLA Literary Awards for Historical fiction so that’s cool. The WILLAs are in honor of Willa Cather, a 19th century editor, essayist, children’s writer, poet and novelist.

How can readers find you on the Internet?

My website is My blog is I also contributed to the Chi Libris blog for a number of years with contributions about writing. and contribute to the Women Writing the West blog at I have a Shoutlife! Page, My books are available in lots of places on the internet and hopefully at your nearest local bookstore (but I am realistic about that so hopefully you’ll find me somewhere, maybe even in the library). Thanks for letting me spend time with you.

And thank you, Jane, for spending this time with us.

Readers, be sure and leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of A Tendering in the Storm.

There's still time to leave a comment on these interviews:

Sharon Hinck - The Restorer's Son
Lonnie D. Story - The Meeting of Anni Adams
Tom McCann - The Tree Nobody Wanted
Tosca Lee - Demon

Three winners will be chosen tomorrow.

FeedBlitz can be your friend. Sign up in the right hand column under my profile to receive notification when a new post appears on this blog.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Author Angela Benson - Free Book

I'm happy to introduce you to Christy Award Finalist, Angela Benson. This interview is part of a blog tour. You'll find a schedule of the other stops on the tour at the bottom of the interview. Feel free to visit all of them to get a larger perspective of Angela and her talent.

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

My life experience shows up in every book I write. It’s there in the characters’ emotions, not necessarily their actions. I make an effort though to make sure that my characters aren’t me. They have their own identity. While I understand their motivation for doing and saying the things they do, those actions and thoughts are theirs, not mine. As a new author, I often asked the question: What would I do or say in this situation? Now I ask the question: What would this character do or say?

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

My mom called it crazy, but I guess it’ll fit as quirky. I’d say the quirkiest decision I ever made was deciding to quit my day job after seeing my first book in bookstores. I waited until three years later after I had five book on the shelves and contracts with two publishers before I did it, but I did quit my day job and much too early. I say it was too early because as soon I quit, I changed genres, to writing Christian fiction. My last romance was published in 1997. My first Christian romance was published in 2000. That’s a long-time for a self-supporting writing to be without a book and a new advance. The good news is that now I have a day job I love and a fulfilling writing career.

When did you first discover that you were a writer?

Ms. Milazo’s sixth grade writing class. We wrote short stories each week and read them aloud to the class. My classmates loved my stories and always clapped after I finished reading them, which made me feel really good about myself and what I’d written. The story that made me the all-time class favorite was, “My Interview with the Jackson Five.” This was a pretty special story for me, since I had a very strong crush on Jermaine Jackson at the time. That was more than 30 years ago.

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

I read widely, but if you’ll look across my bookshelf what you’ll see most is women’s fiction, stories centered around women living life to the fullest, or trying to. I make an effort to read new authors. My last read was Guilty of Love, Pat Simmons’ debut Christian romance. It was a great read and I look forward to more work from her.

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

I’ve written five romances, two Christian romances, one romance novella, and a nonfiction writing book. The Amen Sisters is my first mainstream Christian novel. My first Christian romance, Awakening Mercy (Tyndale House Publishers, 2000) was a finalist for both the RITA Award for Excellence in Romance Fiction and the Christy Award for Excellence in Christian Fiction. The second, Abiding Hope (Tyndale House Publishers, 2001), won the EMMA Award for Excellence in Inspirational Fiction.

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

I think sanity is over-rated. Honestly, I don’t have an answer for this question. I do think the key to living a happy and contented life is having the ability to recognize what’s most important at any given time. When I was younger, everything seemed equally important so I felt the tug to do more, be more, get more. As I’ve grown older, it’s become easier for me to sort through the noise to get to what’s important.

Very wise counsel. How do you choose your characters’ names?

There is no method to my madness when it comes to character names. For example, the twin sisters in The Amen Sisters initially had the surname Thompson. Their surname changed to Amen after my publisher came up with the great title.

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?

Staying published for more than a decade. Building a readership takes time and planning. While some writers "pop" with their first or second book, most writers build their readership slowly one book at a time. I’m in the later category, still building a readership.

I know what you mean. If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?

Turtle. Slow but sure.

What is your favorite food?

My mom’s macaroni and cheese.

Mmmm, sounds yummy. What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?

Writing romance fiction with African-American characters before those stories gained the interest of mainstream publishers. Fortunately, I finished my first book around the time that Kensington Books began Pinnacle Arabesque, their line of romances featuring African-American characters. My first five books found a home there. Since then, African-American romance has joined the mainstream. In 1997, I published two romances with Silhouette Special Education, followed by two Christian romances with Tyndale House in 2000 and 2001. The Amen Sisters (2005/2007) was published through a joint publishing venture between Walk Worthy Press and Warner Books (now Grand Central Publishing). My next book, Up Pops the Devil, will be published by HarperCollins in September 2008.

What advice would you give to an author just starting out?

Keep writing. I have a stack of revision letters from publishing houses and agents. Every time I’d get a rejection, I’d sent out another proposal or query letter. Remember, “the race doesn’t go to the swiftest, but to him who endures to the end.”

Angela, what would you like to tell us about the featured book?

The Amen Sisters is a story of recovery from an abusive church situation. The main character, Francine Amen, left her home and her family to follow a ministry that she believed was doing the work of God, only to find that the pastor and the church had secrets that would lead to the death of one of her closest friends. In her recovery, Francine has to return home and mend fences with her sister, Dawn (who’s now married to Francine’s ex-fiancé), the church family she left behind, and the family of her dead friend. Francine finds the world she left behind in a bit of turmoil and she can’t help but blame herself for some of the problems. As she tries to make things right in the present, she finds she must first make peace with what happened in the past.

While the story deals with the sensational topic of sexual predators in the church, I didn't want to write a story that focused on the bad acts of some preacher. I wanted to write a story that honored those who were, and are, preyed upon. So The Amen Sisters does not take the reader into the bad acts of pastors and ministry leaders; it shows the far-reaching impact of those acts on the parishioners who sit in the pews and the struggle those parishioners face as to recover from the blow.

How can readers find you on the Internet?

You can reach my blog and website on the web at and

I also have pages at MySpace (, Shelfari ( and Shoutlife (

Angela, thank you for spending this time with us.

Readers, you'll want to visit all the sites on the blog tour.

Dec 3
Dec 4
Dec 5
Dec 6
Dec 7
Dec 10
Dec 11
Dec 12
Dec 13
Dec 14
Dec 17 and
Dec 18
Dec 19
Dec 20
Dec 21
Dec 26
Dec 28
Dec 31 Giveaway Day
Jan 8
Jan 9

You can see that there is a Giveaway day on the blog tour. In addition to whatever they're giving away at that time, we'll also give away a free copy of Angela's book on this blog. Be sure and leave a comment for a chance to win that book.

If you don't want to miss any of the interviews or giveaways on this blog, sign up for FeedBlitz in the right hand column under my profile.

Author Sharon Hinck - Free Book

I'm pleased to welcome author Sharon Hinck back to the blog. I just loved her book The Restorer. Now we'll be introducing The Restorer's Son.

Welcome, Sharon. God has really been moving in your writing life. What do you see on the horizon?

My biggest goal for the coming year is to learn skills at balance. With lots of books releasing in a tight timeframe, I’ve felt swamped with rewrites, edits, galley proofs, marketing, promoting, doing events. Also, because I’m so grateful that I’ve had this opportunity, I’ve wanted to be a help and encouragement to other writers who ask me for assistance – but have had a hard time setting limits for myself. It’s strange how peripheral elements of the writing life can take on a life of their own and squeeze out time for actual writing. I’m excited to get back into a rhythm of writing a new story, even though it’s very tough for me to cut back on all the other things. It’s not about choosing between good and bad ways to spend my time. It’s about choosing between the good and the best.

So far, I THINK God has stirred me to write more novels. However, I want to be careful not to settle too comfortably into that assumption. I hope my heart is surrendered enough that if He calls me to a new path, I wouldn’t kick and scream too much. I count it as an extraordinary privilege that I was able to write the novels I already have, and don’t take it for granted that anyone will want to read future ones. That remains to be seen. :-)

I, for one, will want to read future books by you. I'm sure most of the readers of this blog will want to as well. Tell us a little about your family.

I have an amazing husband. We were high school sweethearts, and have been married 28 years. He is so calm and strong, it’s a wonderful stabilizing influence on the crazy artist side of me. We have four brilliant, talented kids (no I’m not biased at all) ages 24, 22, 17, and 15. They are all artists, writers, actor, musicians, poets…so my poor husband is surrounded with creative types. There have been times that a walk through our house would include someone belting out Gershwin at the piano, someone else practicing a Shakespearean death scene, someone composing a moody piece on electric guitar, and another in the back yard with friends shooting a movie.

Has your writing changed your reading habits? If so, how?

Yes. But I hope to change back soon. I’ve always been a voracious reader in a variety of genres. Once I started writing under contract, I had much less time to read. On top of that, I had to be careful to not read things in voices that would intrude in my own work – I’m so easily influenced. Basically, I find it easier to not read at all while I’m in the intense phase of writing. But I have a huge “to be read” pile and plan to dive back in as I get my schedule back into a healthier balance.

What are you working on right now?

Just exploring a new story idea. It’s too tender and green to talk about yet. I’m a discovery writer, so I love the process of following a character and seeing what secrets she reveals.

What outside interests do you have?

I love music, and often spend time at my piano to calm my spirit when it’s feeling a little achy. I garden (though Minnesota’s growing season is way too short). I scrapbook and create cards and crafts using rubber stamps. It’s my mind-soothing hobby (as an alternative to basket-weaving or beating my head against a padded cell). I love hiking – especially with my hubby and in remote areas when we get away for a day or two. And I love attending the concerts, plays, and recitals of my children.

I know what you mean. I went to my youngest grandchild's first band concert last night. What new lessons is the Lord teaching you right now?

This morning I was reading Ezekiel 47:12, and it gave a beautiful word-picture for something God’s been showing me. It described water pouring out and over the threshold of the temple.

“Fruit trees of all kinds will grow on both banks of the river. Their leaves will not wither, nor will their fruit fail. Every month they will bear, because the water from the sanctuary flows to them. Their fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing.”

I long for my stories to bear fruit, and their pages and leaves to bring healing. But I need to be watered from His sanctuary for that to happen.

Tell us about the featured book.

The Restorer’s Son (NavPress, 2007) is the second in the Sword of Lyric series. In the first book, a modern American woman is pulled through a portal to a world waiting for a promised Restorer and struggles to rise to a heroic role for the sake of the people who need her.

Plunged again into the gray world of Lyric and Hazor, Susan and Mark search frantically for their teenage son, Jake. All signs hint that a trusted ally has betrayed them and threatens their son. A target of assassins and more political intrigue, false leads and near misses beset their path, which leads them into the dark prisons of Hazor before the One’s purpose is revealed.

Cast out by those he trusts, the new reluctant Restorer prefers to cross swords with the One rather than submit to His will. Pursued by his calling, he journeys to Sidian, where he finds a boy without a home, a king with burning questions, and a nation torn by darkness. As he embraces the tasks the One has set before him, this new Restorer learns that the One requires his all—perhaps even his life.

How can readers find you on the Internet?

My website has pages with resources of encouragement for faith, for writing, and for parenting, as well as info and updates about my books, and some “just for fun” features.
There’s also a spot for folks to email me on the “contact Sharon” page.

My blog provides a place for me to post devotional musings, tidbits from inside the author journey, and visits from friends.
and it’s also a great place for interaction, as people can leave comments and join the discussion.

Thank you, Sharon, for another interesting interview.

Readers, leave comments for a chance to win a copy of The Restorer's Son.

There's still time to leave comments on these interviews:
Lonnie D. Story - The Meeting of Anni Adams
Tom McCann - The Tree Nobody Wanted
Tosca Lee - Demon

Remember, if you don't want to miss a single interview or announcement, sign up with FeedBlitz in the right hand column under my profile.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Lonnie D. Story/Anni Adams - Free Book

Today's book is non-fiction. I'll be introducing you to Lonnie D. Story, who is the biographer for Anni Adams, the Butterfly of Luxemburg. I think you'll find them fascinating.

Lonnie and Anni

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

Very little, since I write biographies mostly. However, I do visualize myself in the place of my subject. I feel that God has given me, through my extremely varied life experiences, the ability to be compassionate towards the person I am writing about and to feel their feelings, both high and low, joyful and painful with great clarity.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

That is a tough one! Anyone who knows me, knows that I am about one of the quirkiest people one could meet. I guess my quickest answer or example would be an act or event from several years ago. I was driving in heavy traffic flowing on a major thoroughfare into Daytona Beach, Florida, when I began to focus on the car in front of me. I had been praying while driving and the car struck me deep inside. It was a fairly worn-down car. I noticed the driver was an older woman maybe in her late 50's to early 60's. There were two young children crawling around at the back window and the windows were rolled down. It was a hot summer day.

What struck me was a bumper sticker on the driver's side on the rear bumper which read "I love Jesus." I felt compelled to be a blessing to that woman. I started talking to God and said "Ok, Lord how am I going to do this?" The more I followed the more I was afraid I would miss the opportunity until we rolled into the same turn lane and up to a light that just turned red. By this time I had already pulled a $20 bill from my wallet and had it in my hand. As the woman stopped her car, I stopped immediately behind her in line with other cars behind us. Without waiting, I threw my car into park, jumped out and quickly walked up to her open window.

At first, I don't think she even noticed until I said "Do you?" And she looked at me quite shocked. The kids in the back suddenly looked at me. Here was this young guy of a different race with long hair standing by their car in traffic at a red light.

She said, "what?"

I said, "Do you, do you love Jesus?"

Without hesitation she said "Yes."

I thrust out my hand into the car window and handed her the $20 bill, said, "God bless you" and hurried back to my Jeep, not even giving her time to respond. As the light turned green and we proceeded on our way, I stayed back in traffic so as not to frighten her. I did see her ahead for a few minutes and the last thing I saw, with God as my witness, I could see her raising her right hand in what had to be praise. I will never be able to describe what I felt. My wife of four months can tell you, I do quirky things ALL the time.

I don't find that quirky. I think it is wonderful. When did you first discover that you were a writer?

I think it really came as quite a surprise. I think I was 13 or 14 years old and attending a private, Christian Academy. My English teacher had given the class an assignment to write a short story with lots of strict guidelines and deadline. I have always been a natural procrastinator and true to form, I waited until the night before the three-week project was due and hurriedly thought up a storyline and wrote the whole thing down in about 8-10 pages.

I turned my story in like the rest of the class on the last day. A couple days later, the last day of the week, the teacher returned our graded papers. She stopped at my desk and put it down in front of me, much to my astonishment it had an A-minus on it in red with red marks around spelling errors. She told me to write it again with the corrections and she would give me an A-plus. I thought that was strange because she was very well known for her strictness and much disliked by most of her students, me included. She wanted it the following day, so I did what she expected and gave it back to her.

She never said a thing about it after that until several weeks later. She called me up when class ended and handed me back the paper with the A+ on it and then she told me to type it and put it into a clear, plastic folder and stated, "You are going to the literary fair in Atlanta next week."

My jaw dropped but I was happy to get away from school for a whole day and go to Atlanta. Long story short, I was out goofing off and failed to be present when the short stories were judged until someone ran up to me and said the teacher was looking for me and that I had won 1st place! It was such a strange thing, I mostly passed it off as a fluke and did write a lot more as a teenager but kept it all to myself. It remained untapped until I started my legal career many, many years later.

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

At a much younger age (my 20's), I enjoyed Sidney Sheldon's books and the Noble House series. Later, I turned more to books about people, biographies and enjoyed non-fiction the most. As a young boy, I was very outdoorsy growing up next to a farm and deep woods and water. I enjoyed reading the newspaper and that was about it. The book that opened my eyes to reading came when I was about 17, the book was Robinson Crusoe and it remains my most favorite of all.

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

Only the one I am working on now, Without A Shot Fired: The Dustin Brim Story.

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

Fortunately and unfortunately, at times, I am blessed enough to have been able to work from home over the past four years. I have lived these years sequestered in my little one room at my sister's house in the beginning and for the past year and a half, in my one-room apartment. I live day and night in front of my computer, constantly reading, researching and networking.

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?

There have been many through my military work, my legal career and a host of other things. But, the most important to me is my only son, that I raised alone through some very hard, trying, difficult and poor years. He survived my faults as a parent, I finished several degrees while raising him, and he is a very solid young man that I am very proud of.

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

I guess I would have to say a gorilla. They are extremely impressive in size and strength, very family oriented, have the ability to be alone when they want and socialize when they want. They are very protective of the ones they love, nobody in their right mind would want to mess with it and yet, it can interact with humans as it pleases.

What is your favorite food?

Hands down, anything that is HOT!! I love sushi, Thai food, Vietnamese, Mexican, etc.

What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?

Getting it organized. There are some things I am very good at once I get started but in the beginning I am always terrified. It takes a lot of willpower and discipline to make myself get things done the way I want them and then to organize it and put it all together so that it flows. I write with a very big shotgun scatter style.

What advice would you give to an author just starting out?

God help you! Grow very thick skin, blow off the praise and the criticisms to the extent that you do NOT let them change you or your style. Be who you are, be yourself and give it everything you've got.

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

Gosh, that would take a very long time because it has so many facets and has morphed so much over the past couple of years. It has impacted a lot of lives, and I never cease to be amazed at what praise people give the writing and the life story of Mrs. Adams. I can only explain it this way, as often as I do, "God gave me the words, I just typed." And I mean that with my whole heart, soul, and being.

How can readers find you on the Internet?

That is an easy one! Google my name, Lonnie D. Story or "Dustin Brim." Then just follow one clue or link after the other. Ta Da!!

Thank you, Lonnie, for spending time with us. I look forward to reading about Mrs. Adams.

Readers, leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book.

The best way to keep up with what's going on with this blog, sign up for FeedBlitz in the right hand column under my profile. Each post will come to your Inbox.

We Really Like Winners!!!

Sara is the winner of Joy the Jellyfish by Kristen Collier. She'll also receive a signed original illustration by Kristen's husband, Kevin.

Ausjenny is the winner of A Matter of Trust by Lisa Harris.

Click on the email button under my profile and send me your mailing address.

Next weekend, we'll be drawing the winner for Tosca Lee's book. Since it's Christmas, Tosca has decided to give an extra copy, so we'll have two winners.

There's still time to leave a comment on these interviews:

Tom McCann - The Tree Nobody Wanted
Tosca Lee - Demon

And another interview will go up later today.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Author Tom McCann - Free Book

Here's another Christmas story and it's author, Tom McCann.

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

In the case of THE TREE NOBODY WANTED, the character Thomas is ALL me. Ditto for the Nanny character--ALL my grandmother. That story is based on an actual happening--a Christmas we spent right after WW II in Brooklyn. In the case of my previous novel EARTH ANGEL, none of those characters have much of me in them. However, I did draw on my experiences and knowledge of certain things (like flying for example) to carry the story along.

I also have a collection of short stories, which, like TREE, are all based on my early days in Brooklyn and deal with real people, places and events

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

The quirkiest thing I have ever done is a book I wrote about twenty years ago titled WHY I DON'T JOG...Play Tennis, Bicycle, Swim, Row or Dance. It has an opening chapter about why I wrote the book and what followed was a collection of real obits of people who died in the act of doing those things. On the back cover was my own obituary. I am very "big" on obits. It is the first thing I turn to every day. The publisher insisted I devote a couple of pages to a medical perspective written by a physician. I sometimes think God punished me for writing this anti-exercise book -- two weeks after it was published, I was diagnosed with a heart problem. The book was a big success.

When did you first discover that you were a writer?

My mother taught me to read a couple of years before I started school and as soon as I could read, I wanted to write stories. I began by telling her stories and then writing them down. I think that's why my style is conversational. And at an early age I went to the library and began to read good books and tried to figure out how they were put together.

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

I read mostly nonfiction. I selectively read fiction. I find I am disappointed in most new fiction. I love the NEWYORKER and in fact, I am addicted to magazines and newspapers. My favorite trade pub is PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.

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

My first book and most successful was written in the mid-seventies, Published by Crown and titled AN AMERICAN COMPANY, The Tragedy of United Fruit. It went into nine languages including Russian and Japanese and was well reviewed and sold well. It was kept in print and published in many editions and formats. It changed my life. Because it was about real people, places and events and was a "tell all" book I lost some friends but gained some new ones. Then I experimented with other forms--humor (JOG), fiction/fable (EARTH ANGEL), a collection of short stories, a play, and most recently the semi-autobiographical TREE.

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

Yes, it is hard to keep my sanity in this world and some people think I am losing the battle.

Many people who are around writers think we all are. How do you choose your characters’ names?

Most of the names in my books are people I know but I change the facts of their lives so that they can't say "that's me," Even if they did it would be okay because all the characters in my stories are good people--there are no bad people in my stories.

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?

The accomplishment I am most proud of is the founding of a program that started out being called the Hood Samaritan that put ex-criminal offenders in a panel truck and sent them out on the streets and highways just looking for ways to help people. It provided employment for people who had a hard time finding a decent job and over the more than thirty years it has been in existence, had helped millions of people. It has saved lives, delivered babies, gotten cats out of trees, helped old ladies across the street and up stairs with bundles, and got disabled cars going again or pushed them to safety. The "hood" was a double entendre because the company's name was Hood and we were putting former "hoods" in the trucks.

I also feel good about a line of compliance training films I produced that keep people in compliance with the laws of antitrust, environmental, product safety, etc. And, some of my TV productions have been educational and worthwhile.

Some very worthy accomplishments. No wonder you're proud of them. If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?

I would definitely like to be a black cat. Smart, self sufficient, handsome, self assured, independent, naturally clean, keen senses, fearless, and so much more. And, I would work overtime to rid the world of rats and mice. Yes, a cat.

What is your favorite food?

My favorite food is junk food of course. It's so good.

What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?

My greatest writing roadblock has been finding the time to do it. For years I had to do it nights and weekends, and there wasn't much energy left. That is still my problem. What I do when I feel the need to write something is simply put everything else aside and dig in and do it. That works for short pieces like TREE and even EARTH ANGEL but the real problems come when I have a longer form piece like my play DEMONS where I have to lay it down not knowing when I can pick it up again. I wish I could write full time but I can't.

Yes, when I was able to stop other work adn write full time was a wonderful day. What advice would you give to an author just starting out?

Advice: If you are certain you have something to say and the talent to say it, keep at it. Keep trying. Don't let the rejection stop you.

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

I am amazed at the response to it. There has not been one negative comment from anyone who has read it from the people who read the manuscript in the test phase to professional reviewers. Readers seem to take away different things from the book depending upon their POV or their own area of interest. One woman reader has a child with learning disabilities, and she said the book "touched her heart" and she ordered forty copies of it. This, despite the fact that the book has nothing to do with her child's specific problem. People take away positive messages from the book--I like that. I also like the fact that the book makes people think of a higher power.

How can readers find you on the Internet?

Readers can find me on the Internet at or through the publisher's website at . And, of course at and the Barnes & Noble web site.

Thank you, Tom, for spending this time with us.

Readers, leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of this book.

There's still time to leave comments on these interviews, too:

Tosca Lee - Demon
Lisa Harris - A Matter of Trust
Kristen Collier - Joy the Jellyfish

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: Because of your wonderful response to her interview, Tosca Lee has decided to give away one more copy of her book. This one will be signed by the author.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Author Tosca Lee - Free Book

I first heard about Tosca Lee and her book, Demon, when one of the women in the critique group that meets in my home told me I had to get her on my blog. So I contacted the literary PR company that is featuring her book. She was at the American Christian Fiction Writers national conference, but I didn't get to meet her. Being a wheelchair at that event limited my access to some places. I do, however, have a picture of her in my slide show of the conference on my other blog. Dawn Morton Nelson had my camera during the public book signing, and she got a picture with Tosca. I hope to meet her face to face at the next national conference. Until then, I have this interview with her.

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

My friends always say they can see a lot of me in my characters, which sort of freaks me out because, you know, one of my characters is a demon.

There are little bits and pieces of my characters that come from me or people in my life—observations, mannerisms, things they eat. A couple of Lucian’s guises are based on people in my life. My sister and I have a cameo in the story—did you see us?

I'll have to look for the two of you. What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

I entered a beauty pageant. I walked on a stage in a swimsuit and five-inch heels. And then I did it again.

I was in a beauty pageant when I was in college, so I understand. However, no five-inch heels. When did you first discover that you were a writer?

When I wrote an article on the death of my bulldog, Oliver, and it was published in a pet lover’s newsletter. I was in fourth grade.

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

I love reading about interesting women characters. From Margaret George’s Cleopatra character to Anita Diamant’s Dinah. I love Anne Rice. I love quirky Anne Lamott. I blog a lot of my travels as a consultant and because I love the format, Anthony Bourdain’s books (A Cook’s Tour, Kitchen Confidential) are a lot of fun. Steven Pressfield. He’s brilliant. I saw the movie “300” twice in the first two days it was out because of having read his Gates of Fire.

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

My first novel was about the Stonehenge people of Salisbury Plain, England. It’s buried in a closet somewhere. It’s so embarrassing. And then I wrote a couple computer books in the early 90s when I was still writing on the staff of PC Novice (now Smart Computing) magazine.

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


How do you choose your characters’ names?

I go a lot by the way things sound—sentence rhythm, syntax, and name choice. A lot of times a character just sounds like that name to me. Whatever name comes to the tip of my tongue when I picture that person, that’s the name they get.

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?

I worked very hard at my marriage. I can honestly say I gave it everything. And though I got divorced last year, I’m proud to say I don’t look at those 14 years as lost or wasted. And I’m proud now of all the work I’m doing to become a stronger and more independent woman.

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

You know, they asked me this when I ran for Mrs. Nebraska in 1996. I said, “a lizard.” I think the only reason I said that is that I had a pet lizard at the time.

The real answer is that if I believed in reincarnation, I’m pretty sure I was a monkey in a former life. A very Curious George kind of monkey.

What is your favorite food?

Buttered movie popcorn with extra buttery topping.

What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?

Because of my work schedule and procrastination skills, my writing days are long and hard—often 12-14 hours. When I was writing Demon, my back hurt so bad sometimes I cried. I was always hungry but didn’t have time to cook.

I took 10 weeks off this summer to work on Havah: The Story of Eve. And invested in a new office chair. Right now I’m looking into the services of one of those chefs that makes meals that you can heat up later.

When I'm on deadline, my husband knows we'll be eating a lot of the gourmet frozen meals available. What advice would you give to an author just starting out?

Make yourself finish. Done is better than perfect.

Excellent advice.

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

About Demon: that you won’t see the world the same afterward.
About Havah: you’ll see Eve in a whole new light. Check out a sample on my website.

How can readers find you on the Internet?

Drop me a note! Let me know what you think about my books. (Unless you don’t like them.)

Tosca, I've only heard raves about Demon. It's near the top of my to-be-read pile. I wil be reviewing it when I'm finished. Thank you for spending this time with us.

Readers, you won't want to miss a chance to win a free copy of Demon. Leave a comment on this interview.

And so you won't miss a single interview, sign up for FeedBlitz in the right hand column under my profile.

There's still time to leave comments on these interviews:

Lisa Harris - A Matter of Trust
Kristen Collier - Joy the Jellyfish

Saturday, December 08, 2007

A Winner Bonanza!!!

Okay, if you have Feedblitz and received the last post, I apologize. I have a really bad backache, and I'm not thinking straight. I gave away two books that had already been given away.

Tetewa, since I made that mistake and don't have another book to give at this point, email me your address, and I'll send you a copy of one of my books.

Here are the real winners:

Cheriej is the winner of Bluegrass Peril by Virginia Smith.

The winners for all the giveaways from Susan Wales and Robin Shope.

Lilo's mom is the winner of all three books.

Audra Marie wins The Chase.

Maryann wins The Replacement.

Scaramooche999 wins The Candidate.

Windycindy will receive the movie Amazing Grace.

Wow! That's 6 winners all at once!!!

Congratulations to each of you. Now you must send me your mailing address to receive your prize. There's a link to my email address under my profile in the right hand column. Please when you send me your address, tell me what you won, so I won't have to look it up.

Readers, you, too, could be a winner on this blog. These interviews are still open:

Lisa Harris - A Matter of Trust
Kristen Collier - Joy the Jellyfish
Virginia Smith - Bluegrass Peril

If you don't want to miss a single interview or winner announcement, sign up for Feedblitz in the right hand column under my email link.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Author Lisa Harris - Free Book

Once again I'm interviewing my friend Lisa Harris. This time with a Heartsong book, instead of a novella collection. Lisa and her husband are missionaries to Africa, but right now she and her family are in Brazil in language school before they go to Mozambique.

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

Probably more than I realize. :-) I think it’s natural for your characters to be a part of who you are to a certain degree. I try to draw on as many different aspects of a character and push myself to go beyond ‘what I would do’ so they stay true to themselves. Otherwise my characters from one book to the next would all be the same.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

Yikes, that’s a tough one. I suppose some people would think carrying buckets on my head, cooking over a fire, and eating fish heads was odd behavior, though to others, it’s perfectly natural.

I'm glad it's you and not me. When did you first discover that you were a writer?

My mother tells me that I used to dictate stories to her when I was about four. I always loved to read, and by the time I was ten or eleven, I was writing stories. One in particular I remember was about a girl escaping from the Nazis during WWII. It wasn’t until I was in my late twenties, though, that I actually took the plunge and finished my first book.

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

It’s pretty broad. I love romances with a mystery or suspense line, international thrillers, some fantasy, historicals, political/spy stories, cozy mysteries. . .is there anything left? LOL

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

I recently sold my twelfth book, which is exciting. I have a historical series set in Massachusetts with Heartsong Presents. Michaela’s Choice, Rebecca’s Heart, and Adam’s Bride. This collection was repackaged and released this August as Massachusetts Brides. Two other of my Heartsongs released this year, Tara’s Gold (July) and A Matter of Trust (November) Besides Montana Mistletoe, I’ve enjoyed being a part of three other novella collections, To Catch A Thief, Cowboy Christmas, and Sweet Home Alabama. I’m also thrilled to be a part of Barbour’s upcoming mystery line. Recipe for Murder comes out in February, while Baker’s Fatal Dozen debuts next August.

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

I try very hard to take one day at a time and not worry about tomorrow. We are facing a lot of major changes with our ministry that will effect my life dramatically. If I sat down and thought out all that I was going to have to do, I’d probably panic. Taking things one day at time, dealing with what has to be dealt with on that day and leaving the rest to God is all I can do.

How do you choose your characters’ names?

I have two baby name books I use a lot. For me, when the name is right, I know it. Though sometimes I don’t get it quite right. I picked out a name recently that I loved. It was absolutely perfect for my character--until one of my crit partners informed me that it was the name of her heroine in one of the stories I’d been critiquing for her!

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?

Having books published might fulfill a life-long dream, but never as important as being a mom and working hard everyday to ensure my three kids grow up to be well-rounded adults who are on fire for God.

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

Living in Africa has given me a huge appreciation for wild life. I think I’d be a cheetah. They’re strong, fast, and simply stunning.

What is your favorite food?

Tex-mex. I can’t get enough of it, and miss the real stuff here.

What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?

Rejection is one of the toughest things for a writer to handle I think. You hold that form rejection letter in your hand and wonder why that editor didn’t see the brilliance of your story. It often hurts so bad, all you want to do is quit. I finally came to the point where I took those rejection letters as motivation not to give up. I was going to work hard, learn my craft, and prove to the editors (really to myself) that I could write. I kept studying and writing everyday. With that, improvement followed and before long another letter stating “We want to buy your book!” It’s a mental battle on a lot of levels, but you can overcome!

What advice would you give to an author just starting out?

Keep writing. It’s a long and often difficult journey, but you’ll never make it if you don’t keep at it. DON’T QUIT!

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

This book is special to me because it was one of the first stories I ever wrote. I took the proposal with me to a writer’s conference back in 2001 where I met DiAnn Mills. The story was nowhere near being ready to be published, but DiAnn took me under her wing and gave me confidence to keep at it. I completely rewrote the story for Heartsong, but will never forget the encouragement DiAnn gave me as a newby author.

How can readers find you on the Internet?

You can check out my blog at or my website at I have a newsletter you can sign up for at Those signed up are automatically entered into my contests for free books and other great prizes.

Thank you for spending this time with us, Lisa.

Readers, A Matter of Trust, is book two in a contemporary Massachusetts series. My book Who am I? was book one in the series.

We will be giving away a copy of Lisa's book to someone who leaves a comment on the interview.

Don't forget to sign up for FeedBlitz (in the right hand column under my profile) so you won't miss a single interview on this blog.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Kristen and Kevin Collier - Children's Book

Today, we're going to talk to Kristen Collier. She's written a children's book, and her husband Kevin has illustrated it.

Kristen, what has drawn you to writing for children?

I started by writing a picture book about the Second Coming as told through a child’s eyes. I want to help children and teach them about their Lord.

What is the quirkiest think you have ever done?

Nothing. I’m the most sane, rational person you’ll ever meet ;-)

Actually, no writer is completely sane. When did you first discover that you were a writer?

I don’t think of myself as a writer. I’m really a horse person. But five years ago God gave me a story, and I’ve been working ever since to get it out. That led to the other books, the children’s books. And best of all, it led me to my wonderful hubby.

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

Not to be a sycophant, but my favorite books are my husband’s ( ). He’s a literary genius and he’s as sweet as can be (except when he’s being naughty). But Kevy’s an incredible poet. Just blows me away. And he’s so emotional that his books just rip your heart out. It’s crazy to think of when he’s being a rascal, that I’m married to this amazing author, but he’s an exciting person to live with. Never boring. He teases those he loves, just like a little boy who dips the girl’s pigtails in the ink.

From a purely entertainment point of view I love Christian sci-fi. Can’t get enough of it and am always looking for more. That’s a growing field, which I’m really happy about, because there’s very little of it. I love Shane Johnson’s The Guardian. Reminds me a bit of Alduous Huxley’s Brave New World. Also, Bill Myers and Alton Gansky are great Christian sci-fi writers.

But the best book I’ve ever read besides the Bible was Blessed Child, by the late Bill Bright (founder of Campus Crusade for Christ) and Ted Dekker. It was the most inspired book besides the Bible I’ve ever read. Just incredible.

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

My favorite book I’ve written is Heaven Quest, a YA book I wrote with Kevin. It’s not published yet. Heaven Quest is about an alien that comes to earth in search of heaven. What I like about it is that it’s really funny. There are a lot of quirky ;-) things in that book, like, for example, when Izzy first eats a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and thinks it’s this gourmet delicacy.

I have an e-book, also written with Kevin, called Dreamchaser (Guardian Angel Publishing, fall ’07). It’s about an urban teen, destined to become the next LeBron James, who learns that the greatest life is one that serves others. But the book closest to my heart is King of Glory, a novel in which Jesus walks invisibly with the characters. That’s the book God gave me to write one morning. I have some other YA books and picture books as well, none published. And I’m a feature writer for The Chronicle of the Horse. That I enjoy because I used to do dressage and eventing.

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

I was a single mom for nine years, so I’m used to life working nonstop. Now that I’m married, I don’t run myself into the ground anymore. I still work hard on the writing when it demands my time, but my focus is on finding a job and taking care of my family. Kevin and Jarod come first.

How do you work together as a team?

Well. We both work incredibly fast, we’re used to working hard, so we work great together. And from a literary standpoint, our strengths are complimentary: Kevy’s strength is dialogue, and mine is narrative, so what more do you have than that? It’s a beautiful compilation.

I started writing with Kevin two years ago, after we’d met in a Christian e-authors group online. We wrote two books together before we’d even met! What a crazy world this is, that you can write a book with someone you’ve never even met!!

Kevy would email me the chapters and I’d add to them. One day I was working on Natalie’s Ark, a story about a girl who gets caught in a deluge and God sends a magical rowboat and talking animals to help her find her way home. I added something and was stunned to find that Kevin had written the same thing just a few lines later! I remember calling him and telling him how freaky that was! It was like ESP or something, it was way weird! Now that happens and I just laugh. But that tells me we’re on the same wavelength, so the stories only have more symmetry. And he’s always said we write better together than we do apart, so in the long run it only helps the readers, because they get a more enjoyable story.

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of, besides family?

King of Glory. It’s gotten some good comments and has moved people to go back to church.

That's wonderful. If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?

A beautiful, winged golden unicorn. Because I love horses, and a winged unicorn is so beautiful. I actually have a beautiful golden winged unicorn in a YA chap book I’m writing called The Fairy Princess. It’s a deliberately transparent allegory for prayer, but I like it because it’s for girls, young and old, who find themselves in a scary world but still say, “Here am I. Send me, send me.”

What is your favorite food?

Milk Duds.

Is it hard to break into the children’s market?

Not if you’re married to Kevin Collier, ha ha! No, but seriously, he’s gotten about 60 books published by now, either as author or illustrator, so he’s helped me a lot. But it is phenomenally hard to break into any writing market. I know that God brought Kevin to me to help me get the stories that He’s given me to the world. And Kevy’s the best husband and father that any woman or child could ever ask for. He’s a wonderful man. The most generous, selfless person I’ve ever met.

What advice would you give to an author wanting to break into the choldren's market?

I have a lot of periodicals under my belt, which looks great on a resume and gives me credibility. So I would start by writing for as many different periodicals as you can. Don’t just stick with one. If you have just one article for a periodical you can put them on your resume. And that looks great. And it doesn’t have to be for pay—Kevin’s gotten as far as he has by doing a lot for free. What impresses a publisher is a resume. It doesn’t matter if it’s for e-books, online magazines, or your local paper. That looks great when they see it and then they pay more attention to you.

Also, get online. Do a blog. There are so many ways to market your writing for free now, with blogs, online groups, etc. It’s a great way to promote your writing and it really has worked for us. Also, join some writing groups and Yahoo groups to promote your writing. From a writing standpoint, learn the craft well so that you can give the world something of quality to read.

Copyright 2007 - Kristen and Kevin Collier

Here's an illustration of Joy the jellyfish with seahorses. Isn't it beautiful?

How can readers find you on the internet?

I’m on Shout Life (, Kevy’s website (, and the Joy page( All of these are free pages, so we’ve been able to market a lot for free.

You can also do free merchandise at Café Press (, so in conjunction with our publisher, we’ve been able to sell Joy merchandise before the book’s even out, at no cost to us or the publisher! And they’re making the book available for pre-order, so there is a lot you can do if you just take charge, be aggressive, and get online!

Kristen, thank you for spending this time with us.

Readers, you can leave a comment on the interview for a chance to win a free copy of Joy the Jellyfish.