Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Wanda E. Brunstetter

Wanda has written many best-selling novels about the Amish. We're introducing her latest.

Wanda, why do you write the kind of books you do?

I write Amish-themed books because I have a heart for the Amish and want my readers to understand the Amish people better.

Besides when you came to know the Lord, what is the happiest day in your life?

Feb. 8, 1963, when I married my husband, Richard.

How has being published changed your life?

It’s given me many wonderful experiences, one of them being able to make so many new Amish friends.

What are you reading right now?

Freedom of the Soul by Tracey Bateman.

A wonderful book. I enjoyed it very much. What is your current work in progress?

I’m working on A Sister’s Hope, which is Book 3 in my Sisters of Holmes County series. I’m also revising and adding extended scenes to Dear to Me, which is Book 3 in my Brides of Webster County series.

What would be your dream vacation?

A trip to Hawaii with nothing to do but lie on the beach, soak up the sun, and visit all the tourist places on the island.

I'd love that, too. How do you choose your settings for each book?

By visiting various Amish communities and becoming fascinated with the area.

If you could spend an evening with one person who is currently alive, who would it be and why?

I think I would enjoy spending the evening with Janette Oke and talking to her about how she opened the door for Christian romance novels.

What are your hobbies, besides writing and reading?

My hobbies are photography, gardening, stamping, and ventriloquism.

I've been a professional clown, but not a ventriloquist. What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?

Writing that first draft, but I’m able to overcome it by making a detailed chapter by chapter outline before I begin the writing process.

What advice would you give to a beginning author?

Begin by learning as much as you can about writing, and then begin your writing process with short stories and articles. Once you’ve been published with those, you’ll have some writing credentials, and it will be easier to get longer pieces published.

Wanda, tell us about the featured book.

A Sister’s Secret is the first book in my Sisters of Holmes County series, set in Holmes County, Ohio. It’s the story of a woman (Grace Hostettler) who returned to her Amish family after her rumschpringe (running around years) with a secret she’s never told anyone. That secret, plus some startling attacks being made on Grace’s family, threaten to destroy not only Grace, but her entire Amish community. Will Grace’s love and faith triumph over her shame and deception?

Sounds intriguing. It's in my to-be-read pile. I'll have to move it closer to the top. How can readers find you on the Internet?

My Home page is:

I also have a new site promoting my upcoming children’s books:

Readers, be sure to leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of A Sister's Secret. Also check out Wanda's web sites for her other books.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Lisa Harris, Debby Mayne, Kim Sawyer, and Lena Nelson Dooley

I have had the honor and privilege to work together with a wonderful team of authors to produce a new book--Montana Mistletoe, which releases in September.

This blog is the first stop on the Montana Mistletoe blog tour. I'll have a list of the other stops at the bottom of this post. Lots of exciting things on this tour. Every tour will have different information from the rest of them, so you'll want to visit them all. Also we'll be giving away four books on this blog. The tour ends at the Montana Mistletoe blog. You'll want to leave comments both places. We'll be giving away three more books and a grand prize at the end of the tour.

Let me introduce you to the team.

Lisa Harris

Debby Mayne

Kim Sawyer

And of course, Lena Nelson Dooley

How did your story for the collection come about?

Lisa: I’d always wanted to do a Christmas novella, and the idea of a pact between four friends sounded fun. When Lena, Debbie and Kim jumped on board, we spend time brainstorming the idea until we were ready to send in a proposal to Barbour.

Debby: When Lena asked if anyone was interested in joining her in this anthology, I jumped on it because it sounded like fun. I thought about different story ideas in a town that celebrates Christmas year-round, and the concept of my heroine being a tourism director and the hero longing to return seemed natural.

Kim: I love Christmas stories, so when the opportunity to join a Christmas novella presented itself, I jumped. :o) My story is a springboard of two good friends, both named Kathy, and time I've spent with them. It was fun to weave some real "Kathy-Kim" events into the story.

Lena: Lisa first approached me and asked if I could find other authors to join us for a Christmas novella collection. I had been a part of several novella collections, but not a Christmas one. I really wanted to be in one. The rest, as they say, is history.

What are you reading right now?

Lisa: About a half dozen books. :-) The Last Days (Joel Rosenberg), Operation Firebrand (Jefferson Scott), The Measure of a Lady (Deeanne Gist), Gone with the Groom (Janice Thompson), Experiencing God (Blackaby & King) The Hobbit.

Debby: I have a stack of short Christian romances I’m working my way through, and I have home decorating magazines tagged with ideas I’m hoping will inspire me. I tend to go in many different directions at once, so what I’m reading today is likely to be completely different from what I’ll be reading tomorrow.

Kim: Jane Orcutt's All the Tea in China, a very intriguing story!

Lena: I'm about halfway through that book, too. I highly recommend it.

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

Lisa: 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 is being repackaged and released this August as Massachusetts Brides. Two other of my Heartsongs will be 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.

Like most authors, I also have several proposals floating around on editor’s desks. Most of these are either International suspense, or gothic historicals, both of which I love to write.

Debby: I’ve written a set of 3 Heartsong Presents set in Georgia: Love’s Image (Jan. 2005), Double Blessing (Oct. 2007), and If the Dress Fits (June 2008). 5 of my novellas have been in Barbour anthologies. I also have several books published by Avalon in hardcover.

Kim: If I were to start listing unpublished works, I'd take up too much space, because I'm always writing! But published...the Mt. Lake Series: A Seeking Heart, A Heart Surrenders, When A Heart Cries; Heartsong Presents novels: Dear John, That Wilder Boy, Promising Angela; the Sommerfeld Series: Bygones, Beginnings, Blessings; and historical novels: Waiting for Summer's Return, Where Willows Grow, My Heart Remembers. Eight more stories are contracted and slated for release by fall of 2010.

Lena: My 9th Heartsong will come out in October. Four of them were repackaged in a collection titled Minnesota Brothers. Pirate's Prize also released in an audio edition. I've been a part of these novella collections: Scraps of Love, Windswept Weddings, Spinster Brides of Cactus Corner, Carolina Carpenter Brides, Snowbound Colorado Christmas (which wil release in September 2008). You can check out all my books at:

What is the hardest thing about writing a part of a novella collection?

Lisa: Barbour likes collection that are tied together closely which means you must coordinate with the other members of the team. In Montana Mistletoe, for example, we made a map of the town, had to share character information, work on the timeline, and insure it all fit together seamlessly. It’s a lot of work, but worth it in the end.

Debby: The hardest thing for me was making sure the timeline worked so it wouldn’t conflict with the other stories. However, now that we’re through this, I feel that the book is one of my best.

Kim: I think trying to keep all the storylines flowing smoothly and keeping the characters consistent through all the stories. With four authors, it would be easy to get things mixed up, but working closely together helps smooth out the rough spots.

Lena: I agree with the rest of the team, but this we really worked well together.

How did collaborating with this team impact you?

Lisa: What I enjoy the most is making new friends as you email back and forth with ideas for the collection.

Debby: I got to know the other 3 fabulous authors in the collection. It’s almost like a sisterhood among the authors as the characters become real.

Kim: Writing can be a very isolating occupation, so having the opportunity to communicate on a project gives a splash of refreshing fellowship. I really enjoyed that and hope to do more novella sets in the future.

Lena: I knew each of these ladies before we started work on the collection, but I agree with them that we have a much deeper relationship since working together.

How do you choose your characters’ names?

Lisa: I have two baby name books I use a lot. For me, when the name is right, I know it.

Debby: I use a baby naming source book and try to pick names with meanings that fit my characters.

Kim: Usually the characters introduce themselves to me, as odd as that sounds. But this time I chose names significant to the aforementioned friendships.

Lena: My characters' names usually come with the story idea.

What did you want the reader to take away from your story?

Lisa: As with all my books, I pray that through the journey of the book, they not only enjoy a few hours escape into another world, but that something in the storyline will touch them so that they will be drawn closer to God.

Debby: When falling in love, it’s best to allow the Lord to be in charge. When we try to take matters into our own hands, things can get very complicated.

Kim: If the reader will grasp the importance of seeking God's will first rather than self-will, I will be happy. :o)

Lena: God gifted me with the ability to plan things out. That's a good thing, but sometimes I make plans without seeking what His will is in the matter. My heroine did that. I want the readers to know that God desires to be a part of everything in their lives.

Why are you a member of American Christian Fiction Writers?

Lisa: The resources are innumerable. From online classes, to critique groups, to mentors and contacts, to the annual conference. . .I could go on and on. In my opinion, if you are serious about writing, you need to join.

Debby: The ACFW provides a professional forum for learning craft, discovering publishing opportunities, and professional camaraderie.

Kim: ACFW has given me wonderful opportunities to learn and grow. Some of my dearest friends are among its membership, as well as prayer warriors, encouragers, and mentors.

Lena: I agree with everything my team members said. I want to add that we have a lot of fun!

Will you be at the conference in Dallas in September?

Lisa: Yes! I can’t wait!

Debby: Unfortunately, I have a couple of factors preventing my attending the conference this year: my husband’s health and a prior commitment in another part of the country. However, I don’t like missing this wonderful get-together, so I’ll do everything in my power to be there next year.

Kim: Yes, I will! And I'll be teaching a class for the first time. I'm very excited (and a little nervous lol) about that!

Lena: I haven't missed one of the conferences, even the two Texas regional ones before we grew large enough to have a national conference. I'm vice president of the Dallas-Fort Worth local chapter, so I'm involved with providing local support to those attending. Less than a month to go. Yippee!!!

What is the best piece of advice you received as an author?

Lisa: Write from your heart. Be patient in the waiting (the writing journey can be such a waiting game), and strive to grow in the craft. Getting involved with others who write is essential as well as writing can also be lonely.

Debby: Continue to learn and never stop writing.

Kim: PERSEVERANCE is key. Publishing is a slow-moving process and not for the impatient. So if this is your calling, persevere! The journey is well worth the end result.

Lena: I agree with everything they said, but another piece of valuable advice I received was that the only authors who get published are the ones who submit proposals. That's scare to many people.

Now for the Tour Schedule:

August 26th - Lena Nelson Dooley

September 3rd - Jackie Castle

September 5th - Ronie Kendig

September 7th - Lisa Harris

September 10th - Lynette Sowell

September 12th - Cecelia Dowdy

September 14th - Marjorie Vawter

September 24th - Debby Mayne

September 26th - Rhonda Gibson

September 28th - Beth Goddard

October 1st - Draw winners!

Visit each one to learn more about this novella collection. Leave comments on the first and last one for chances to win books or the Grand Prize. Of course, we welcome comments on all the other stops, too.

If you can't wait for the drawing, you can find the book in most retail book outlets and online at , ,, . They make really good Christmas presents for the readers on your list.

More Winners

Rhonda won a copy of Love Letters by Kathy Kovach.

Pam Meyers won a copy of Then Came Hope by Louise Gouge.

Since one of the winnners of Brothers of the Outlaw Trail didn't contact me with an address, I've chosen another winner. It's Cherie J.

All three of you need to email me your mailing address. You can click on the e-mail link under my picture in the right column.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Linda Windsor

I've already introduced you to my very good friend Linda Windsor. For those of you who have joined us since then, I've known Linda for a very long time. Her books are a delight to read. Her historicals are rich with authenticity, and her contemporaries are must read, too.

Linda, how fun to have you with us again. Why do you write the kind of books you do?

I love romance, stories about love, as do millions of other women, enough to make romance the bestselling fiction genre accounting for nearly 50% of bookstore sales. As I pondered that one day, it came to me that the reason is because we, women in particular, are designed by God to need love. Now let me take this one step further and suggest a reason that inspirational romance is so popular. The greatest love of all is God’s love. Ergo, stories that reflect that kind of love have a great appeal on both sides of the ABA and CBA border.

I totally agree. Besides when you came to know the Lord, what is the happiest day in your life?

I can’t honestly choose one. The day my children were born, the day I married the love of my life. Those three pop to the top of my mind.

How has being published changed your life?

Now there is a seesaw question with good and bad edges. When I was first published in the secular market, it almost became my god. In switching to Christian fiction, I began to grow closer to Him. He’s taught me how to live by faith when things looked bleak; how to look at changes I’d rather not make as opportunities…ah, so many lessons. My writing career has truly been a journey hand in hand with God. And that, in turn, has re-arranged my other priorities for the better with regard to my personal life as well.

What wonderful insight! What are you reading right now?

Thomas Cahill’s Sailing the Wine Dark Sea, as well as Sheila Walsh’s The Heartache No One Sees, and some devotionals. As for fiction, I’m on pause. My daughter just bought a home and I’ve donned my painting, sanding, filling hat for a while. No time for fun reading!

That Sheila Walsh book really ministered to my daughter. What is your current work in progress?

Thankfully, due to the new house, I am in between projects. Although I do have to come up with a proposal for the third of my Avon Inspire Piper Cove Chronicles. It’s titled Sweet Nothin’s and is about Jan, the shy girl from the wrong side of the tracks who always wants the kind of guy she shouldn’t have. Love and life have not been kind. But that’s about to change when she finds her prince charming has been right under her nose the whole time. Of course, her bosom buddies Alex, Ellen and Sue Ann will be there to make sure Jan wakes up and smells the coffee.

Sounds like a fun read. What would be your dream vacation?

Ireland. Didn’t have to think twice about that. I’d like to spend 2-3 weeks traveling around the Emerald Isle with perhaps a few days in Scotland and England. I’d go with my daughter and my mother, but alas, mom’s not up to the travel now. It had always been our dream trip. Kelly, however, is ready and willing.

I pray it happens soon. How do you choose your settings for each book?

I never thought about that! I suppose the setting follows the inkling of a story slowly as it slowly comes together in my mind. For Piper Cove Chronicles, it was easy. I was writing about friendships and characters I knew, so it was only natural to set the series in my area. And I love Ocean City and the bay area! It doesn’t have to be summer either. I love it all year round. I drive down to the ocean and find serenity and inspiration.

If you could spend an evening with one person who is currently alive, who would it be and why?

Morgan Llewelyn. Her fiction set in ancient Ireland fascinates me. I’d love to talk about the research she did and share our passion for that country and its history.

Linda, what are your hobbies, besides writing and reading?

I love to play music and sing. My late husband and I had a country and old Rock and Roll band for ten years, so it was only natural to develop a music ministry once the band years were behind us. I continue it and enjoy playing music with my friends as well.

What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?

Balancing writing and home life. When I overcome it, I’ll let you know.

What advice would you give to a beginning author?

It’s been said again and again, but my advice is to read. Read ALL kinds of genres. It truly broadens one’s experience and stimulates creativity. Secondly, do your research well. It can plot the book for you.

Tell us about the featured book.

Wedding Bell Blues is the first of four (I hope) romances set in my home area of the Eastern Shore of Maryland on the bay across from Ocean City, MD. The Piper Cove Chronicles series is about the friendship of four young women who swore to leave the hick town of Piper Cove on their graduation night and never return. But here it is years later and here they are…still friends and all having returned to Piper Cove. But enduring love has eluded them.

There’s Alex, self-made success and always in control; outspoken, Harley-riding tomboy Ellen; the shy, hopeless romantic Jan, and sassy socialite Sue Ellen—all for one and one for all in life and now in love.

Book two, For Pete's Sake, features Ellen in a Cinderella-like story—tomboy on Harley meets prince charming in his ‘Vette and love blooms for the sake of the hero’s small son.

In addition to love, laughter, enduring friendship and a spirit-lift, there is a dash of suspense for flavor in each of these four very different and very special women’s story.

In Wedding Bell Blues, interior designer Alex Butler is planning the wedding of the season for her little sister; but when the best man turns out to be her ex-husband, her tidy little world is turned upsides down. When Josh Turner left his young bride to pursue a successful career as a rock musician, he never anticipated the accident that would lead him to become a Christian, much less his return to Piper Cove. And the moment he sees Alex again, he knows it’s time to right all wrongs. Even if it means putting up with her overbearing father, forgiving the man who helped destroy their marriage. But will Alex forgive Josh? And will a blackmailer ruin the wedding and everyone’s chance at a happy-ever-after?

Filled with friendship, love, and laughter, Wedding Bell Blues also addresses the serious issues of an estranged father-daughter relationship, the difference between loving and interfering with one’s children, letting go and letting God, and, of course, forgiveness. Without it, lasting love is impossible.

How can readers find you on the Internet?

I am at and have just redecorated my website for spring and summer with a beach theme. My web-designer came up with the idea of having a small replica of my 18th century great room with the big cooking fireplace on the header and we’ve decided to decorate according to the season. So stop by and say hello. Take a sneak peek at the first chapter of Wedding Bell Blues, sign up for a contest. The door is always open.

Wedding Bell Blues just jumped to the top of my to-be-read pile, Linda. Thank you for spending this time with us.

Readers, leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Wedding Bell Blues. Also be sure to check out Linda's web site for more information about her and her other books. You'll probably find several you'll want to read.

Remember, if you sign up for Feed Blitz, you won't miss the announcement of any of the winners, and you won't miss any of the interesting interviews with some of today's best authors.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Don't Miss a Single Post - Especially the Announcement of Winners

At the top of the second lavender box in the right column of this blog, you'll find a place to sign up for FEED Blitz. You'll receive an email notification when anything is posted. It only takes a minute, and the signup will not be used for anything else.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Deborah Raney

I've known Deb Raney for a long time. I love her and respect her talent. So many of her books have touched my heart. Today, we're featuring the first book in a series set in Clayburn, Kansas, Deb's home state.

Deb, why do you write the kind of books you do?

I’ve always wanted to write the kind of books I like to read. While I have found several historical novels I enjoy, contemporary fiction about characters much like me, dealing with twenty-first century problems, has always been my first choice—for reading and writing.

Besides when you came to know the Lord, what is the happiest day in your life?

That’s a tough one. There have been so many. My wedding day was a very happy one, and the beginning of the best 32-plus years of my life. And of course the births of each of our four children were special days. I’d also have to cite the day I got the call that Bethany House wanted to buy my first two novels.

How has being published changed your life?

I was a stay-at-home mom for almost twenty years before I began writing. (“Mom” is one of the most fulfilling and rewarding jobs I’ve ever held, by the way.) It’s been an adjustment becoming a career woman with all the business decisions, travel, speaking and media that involves. But as our children quickly grow up and leave the nest, I’m so thrilled that God has given me this next thing to do. I love the writing life!

That's how I feel about my writing, which God also gave to me when my children were about to leave the nest. What are you reading right now?

At the Scent of Water by Linda Nichols, a novel sent to me as a gift from my very first editor at Bethany House Publishers. It’s my first time to read this author, but it won’t be the last. I’m thoroughly enjoying her very unique writing style.

What is your current work in progress?

Leaving November, which is the sequel to Remember to Forget. I have three books in the Clayburn Novels series for Howard Books/Simon & Schuster. Book two is set to come out in March 2008.

And we'll have you back to talk about that one. What would be your dream vacation?

Oh, what a fun question! I would love to spend several months touring Europe, starting in the English village where my great-grandparents were born. I really have no desire to see all the tourist sights, but would rather live like a commoner in the English and French countrysides.

Would you take me along with you? I could carry your luggage. :-) How do you choose your settings for each book?

Many of my books are set in Kansas or in small Midwestern towns. While every book requires a great deal of research, that’s never been my favorite part of the writing process, so I ascribe to the “write what you know” theory whenever I can. Small-town life has a wonderful warmth and charm to it—along with some comical problems—and thus it lends itself well to the kind of books I like to write.

If you could spend an evening with one person who is currently alive, who would it be and why?

That’s easy. It would be my husband. I honestly can’t think of anyone I’d rather spend time with. My children and my parents would be close seconds. I’m a very social person and love people, but my family means the world to me and they are my favorite people in the world to spend time with.

What are your hobbies, besides writing and reading?

I don’t have nearly as much time for hobbies as I used to, and in fact, even though reading is part of my work, I still consider it a favorite hobby. I also enjoy gardening with my husband. I care for a motley collection of houseplants, and love flea marketing and antiquing in my search for items to make our home cozy and interesting.

I'm not much of an antiquer, but I've recently started looking for novels published in the late 1800s and very early 1900s. I've also invested in a 1931 Sears catalog, which will be valuable for making my historical novels more authentic.
What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?
Procrastination and distraction. I am so easily pulled away from the work I should be doing. Sometimes it’s all I can do to overlook the laundry, the dust on the furniture and the fact that I haven’t cooked a homemade meal in weeks. I find myself doing anything but what I should be doing. How do I overcome it? Not sure I do. But I nearly always end up making my deadlines in the end, so I guess I finally just “buck up” and do the job.

Deb, tell us about the featured book.

Remember to Forget is an allegory of new life in Christ. Stranded a hundred miles away from her abusive New York City boyfriend after a terrifying car-jacking, graphic designer Maggie Anderson impulsively heads west. Stumbling upon tiny Clayburn, Kansas, she arrives without cash or a past––or so she thinks. As she begins a new relationship with Trevor Ashlock, will she be able to tell him the truth––before it tells on her? Remember to Forget explores how we are offered a chance to cast off our old self and become a brand new creation in Christ.
Thank you for spending this time with us, Deb. We'll be looking forward to your next release, too.
Readers, I've read this wonderful book, and you won't want to miss it. Be sure to leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy. If you don't win, look for it in your favorite Christian bookstore or online.
If you leave a comment, you need to come back in two weeks and see if you won. I'm still waiting to hear from one winner a couple of weeks ago.
Check out the other interviews where you can also sign up:
Louise Gouge - Then Came Hope
Kathy Kovach - Cookie Schemes ( Love Letters)

We Love Winners

Ladystorm won a copy of The Divine Appointment.

Kim won The Restorer.

Congratulations, Ladies. Click on the email link under my picture and send me your mailing address.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Louise M. Gouge

Louise has been a good friend of mine for a long time. I just loved her series on Captain Ahab's family. Now she has a new series, and we're featuring one of the books.

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

Nothing on purpose! Instead, I try to create interesting, compelling characters who learn how to overcome adversity with the help of God. I feel that is my writing “assignment” from the Lord.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

In 1964, I sneaked backstage at a Beatles’ concert at Red Rocks Amphitheater outside of Denver. I stood about an arm’s length from Ringo, my favorite. I got away with this bit of mischief because I knew a security guard, and he knew I was not a screamer.

What fun! When did you first discover that you were a writer?

As a child with a very active imagination, I always lived in the world of Pretend. When I was in high school, I loved writing stories for my English classes. Not meaning to brag, but I always got an A. Because I also loved singing and acting, those were the careers I studied for and dreamed about. Then I married my sweetheart, we began our family, and all three artistic endeavors were used to enhance my mothering and church service. Finally, in 1984, when my children reached middle and high school, I began writing novels. I knew that was what the Lord wanted me to do for the rest of my life. That’s when I began to call myself a writer.

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

I love historical romances like yours, Lena. I also love DiAnn Mills’ books. Francine Rivers really touches my soul in her books. And I always love to go back to the classics such at Jane Eyre or Pride and Prejudice. I’m crazy about the plays of Shakespeare, but he’s hard to read. I prefer watching a good performance of his works because of all the amazing insights into human nature. He wrote four hundred years ago, but at heart people are still the same as in his day.

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

My published titles are:
Then Came Hope, Emerald Pointe Books, 2007 (Word Weavers Second Place for Fiction)
Then Came Faith, Emerald Pointe Books, 2006 (Road to Romance Reviewer’s Choice Award)
Son of Perdition, Cook Communications, 2006
Hannah Rose, Cook Communications, 2005 (multi-award winner)
Ahab’s Bride, Cook Communications, 2004 (ACRW second place historical romance)
The Homecoming, Crossway Books, 1998
Once There Was a Way Back Home, 1994

I have two completed, unpublished books. One probably won’t ever be published, but I still have high hopes for Escape from Kikwit, based on my daughter’s true-life adventures as a missionary in Africa.

Sounds like I'd love to read it. How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?

Oh, I absolutely refuse to run! If I can’t keep a slow, steady pace, I won’t be able to do my best work either at my teaching or my writing. When my children were growing up, I did my share of running. As to the “sanity” part, I refuse to answer because I might incriminate myself! Is there a writer alive who’s actually sane? LOL!

Good point, and I won't answer either. You might ask my husband what he thinks about my sanity. One day at the dinner table, we were talking, and he said to me, "Writers just think wierd." How do you choose your characters’ names?

Sometimes I thumb through my book of names to find one that captures the character just right. Many times, though, the name just comes to me, as if the character walked up to me and said, “Hello, my name is…” (See the question above about writers and sanity.)

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?

I’m proudest of raising my four children to be honest, Christ-loving, responsible citizens. They aren’t perfect, but they’ve never given my husband or me a cause for shame.

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

I guess you could characterize me as a beaver. Just as a beaver builds a sturdy house in the middle of a stream, I work diligently to construct a solid creation that will stand up in the floods of perusal and criticism.

Good analogy. What is your favorite food?

Steak when my husband cooks it on the grill with Montreal Seasoning. Movie popcorn with all that greasy chemical butter substitute and loads of salt. Baby carrots. But not all at the same time!

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

After writing my first two books, I realized my worldview was too limited. I’d been a stay-at-home mother who rarely even read a newspaper, so I knew very little about history and human nature. I began to read and decided the only way to become a good writer was to return to college and complete my education, even going on to earn a master’s degree. I’m not saying that every writer should or must do this, but for me this was the right path to broaden myself as a writer and as a person.

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

Make a decision to learn about the craft. Many new writers feel that God has given them a story or message and that they should just be able to write it and have it published. But without learning the craft of writing, no one can be truly successful.

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

In this post-Civil War trilogy, I wanted to tell the stories of three very different men who returned home after fighting in the Civil War. In Then Came Faith, the hero is a southern naval officer. In my most recenlty released book, Then Came Hope, the hero is Ezra Johns, a Harvard educated Negro man from Boston who volunteered to fight in the first black Union regiment, the Fifty-Fourth Massachusetts Negro Regiment. The third story, Then Came Love, will be about a northern white man. Each had his own reasons for fighting in the war.

In Ezra’s case, he had a great deal to prove because the prevailing view of the day was that Negro men would not make good soldiers or good fighters. Ezra and his real-life counterparts put an end to such uninformed speculation. If not for their courageous service all over the South, the Union might not have been preserved. It is my goal to honor their remarkable legacy.

For my heroine in Then Came Hope, I created Delia, a young slave girl who has just found the courage to run away from her cruel mistress. In the forest, she meets up with a small band of former slaves and Ezra, the handsome soldier. Delia has been badly abused, and only through the kindness and support of her new friends does she come to realize her worth in the eyes of God and the man she loves.

How can readers find you on the Internet?

My web site is . I love to hear from my readers, and my website has an email link. My books are available through Family Christian Bookstores,,, and most other online bookstores.

Louise, thank you for spending this time with us, and thank you for mentioning my books. I'm glad you like them.

Readers, if you'd like the change to win a copy of Then Came Hope, leave a comment on this interview.

One other thing, you need to come back and see if you win. We still have a winner from last weekend who hasn't gotten in touch with me. There's an email link under my picture. When you contact me, be sure to give me your mailing address.

You can still leave comments on the interviews by Jerome Teel, Sharon Hinck, and Kathy Kovach.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Kathy Kovach

I've known Kathy Kovach for a longtime. We first became online friends. I'm happy to introduce you to her and the new novella collection she's in.

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

I never set out trying to write myself in, but occasionally I do see myself. When I do, I try to come up with something for that character is that is SO not me. Otherwise, I bore myself and find I can't live with that character for the duration of writing the book. In Cookie Schemes, Prudie Burke never had any of my traits. I made her a headstrong, thoroughly modern woman. Me? I'm not a feminist and never did have a passion to join the workforce.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

In Germany, I cleaned the inside of airplanes for spending money. These were long, international flights, and we never knew what time exactly they'd be coming in. So, I'd get a call from the boss in the wee hours of the morning that it was due in such-n-such minutes, and then I'd hop on my twelve speed bike and pedal to the flight line. I got paid in Deutschmarks, which weren't taxed. I'd pay our utility bill and the rest was mine to spend whenever we went shopping or touring.

When did you first discover that you were a writer?

I've known I was a writer ever since I could form letters in kindergarten. I've always written poems and skits. I even attempted a romance once, but I was only ten years old at the time. What did I know about romance? My first paid work was at the age of six when I wrote a poem about a fat cat in a top hat, drew a picture that looked like a black snowman with whiskers, and sold it to my friends for a nickel. I made 25 cents!

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

I like suspense, cozy, and romantic comedy. All fiction, of course!

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

My first finished manuscript was a suspense. It still may get published some day. I haven't given up on it totally. I was also a regular contributor to the e-zine "Romancing the Christian Heart." I wrote short romances, but the most popular was what I call the Odd Duck series, about an octogenarian, Aunt Molly, who teaches Biblical principles in unique ways. This series, as well as my other short stories and devotionals, can be found at My first published novel was Merely Players with Heartsong Presents. It came out in December 2006 and is still available at

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

Up until Oct 2006, my life was settled down. We are empty nesters, and I quit a supervising cashier job about five years ago to write full time. However, as I write this, I'm temporarily raising my three grandchildren, ages 4, 2, and 4 months. In fact, I keep getting interrupted while answering these questions! How do I keep my sanity? I just keep repeating, "God is in control." "Cast your anxiety on Him for He cares for you." "Lord, help me to endure my blessings!"

How do you choose your characters’ names?

I like for there to be some meaning behind the names. I'll go to baby naming sites on the Web to find a name that reflects my character. In the case of Prudie in Cookie Schemes, I chose to go opposite. While Prudence sounds prudish, I made her want to break from tradition and desire to compete in a man's world. Set in 1955, Prudie is far from prudish as she applies for a job with her college degree under her belt. Alex, though, is exactly what his name implies. He's a leader, although not so much in the business world as in spiritual things. He loves God, and will not marry without God's express permission.

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?

I suppose following through with my lifelong dream—writing—would be in the top ten. At my age, I don't consider my accomplishments as important as what God has been doing with me. It's more His accomplishments in me that have made me the person I am today. He gave me the longing for a family of my own, and I've used that by praying for the perfect mate and birthing two children. He gave me an ear for music, and I've used that by donating my time to the music ministry at church. He gave me an imagination, and I've used that by pursuing a career in Christian fiction.

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

Well, I've been compared to an owl—not because I'm wise, but because I'm nocturnal. But, I'd prefer to be compared to a cat. Also nocturnal, but cuddlier.

What is your favorite food?

Okay, I'm going to dispel a myth right here and now. Many of my friends think I'm a chocoholic, but if you give me the choice of an Almond Joy bar or Key Lime Pie (or any kind of cheesecake) I'll go for the pie every time! I also love Mexican food. My husband once complained that "nobody eats Mexican food three days a week." To which I replied, "The Mexicans do." He never complained again.

I love Mexican food, too. What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?

I joke that I never could have started writing if it hadn't been for Bill Gates. The computer (and Word in particular) changed my writing life. But I think the greatest roadblock was my mindset. I had to stop complaining that I had no time to write,and just do it. As I said before, I quit my job to write full time. I don't recommend that to everyone, but I prayed about it and received clear confirmation. It wasn't the highest paying job, but I really liked it. So I asked God to take away my desire for this job if he wanted me to write. He promoted me to supervisor which put me under an acerbic boss who made it difficult to want to go to work every day. I discussed it with the hubby, and he was very supportive. So my greatest roadblock was actually myself. I had to decide when it was time to stop talking about writing and just do it.

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

Cookie Schemes, which appears in the 4-in-1 Barbour anthology Love Letters, is a novella set in 1955, (the year I was born, incidentally.) It follows the second generation that started in the first story by Mary Davis. (The other authors are Sally Laity and Jeri Odell.)

Prudie Burke is a thoroughly modern woman who wants to make her mark in the world of business, but meets a traditional cookie maker who must find a wife to fulfill his grandfather's legacy. When I was approached to write a story about unconventional love letters, the slips of paper in fortune cookies popped in my mind. My research came up with an interesting fact. In 1920, a Cantonese immigrant in Los Angeles made cookies that contained words of encouragement to the poor and homeless. Other research indicated that scripture has been used in fortune cookies.

I pulled all of this together and wrote about a man, Alex Prescott, who, because his grandfather had been a homeless youth taken in by a Christian Chinese cook, now takes his grandfather's special recipe and ministers with the scripture in his fortune cookies. When Prudie enters his life, he woos her with scripture.

Prudie has issues with God, and resists the beautiful words she reads, but eventually is won over, by Alex and by God. I'm not revealing the ending, but every romance ends with the guy getting the girl. I hope readers enjoy this story. I don't usually write anything even remotely historical, but I had a blast doing research on this one. The year 1955 was a transition period between the Korean war and Vietnam. I managed to include the affluence of post-war society as well as the Beat generation. It's worth a read just to hear the brief beatnik talk from one of the minor characters! Don't be nowheresville, Clyde—lay on a read and be cool, daddy-o! And that's the word from the bird.

Check me out at

Kathy, thank you for spending time with us. I can hardly wait to read this book. I was in junior high school in 1955.

Readers, be sure to leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of the book. You also can still leave comments on Jerome Teel's and Sharon Hinck's interviews.

By the way, if you leave a comment, always check back in the next two weeks to see if you are a winner. We still have one winner from last weekend who hasn't sent me the mailing address. If I don't hear from this person this week, I'll choose another winner.

Two More Winners

Beth Goddard, you are the winner of The Reliance by MaryLu Tyndall.

Cheryl Shaw, you are the winner of Stranded by Lorena McCourtney.

Please email your mailing address to me.

I just love giving away free books. Don't youlove winning them? Don't miss your chance to be the next winner.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Sharon Hinck

Sharon Hinck has been with us before, and you learned to love her writing. The book we're featuring today is a departure from the other books we talked about.

Sharon, why do you write the kind of books you do?

I read in a huge variety of genres, and so I tend to blend favorite things from various genres in my stories. I write the kind of story I want to read.

Besides when you came to know the Lord, what is the happiest day in your life?

My wedding day, and the birth of each of my four children.

How has being published changed your life?

In the past year since my first book released, I’ve been incredibly blessed by letters from readers that have given me glimpses into how God can use our simple stories to encourage and uplift. I’ve met amazing people. I’ve also felt the pressures of my own expectations, the challenges of the industry, and the multitude of choices that need to be made… not just in the writing work, but in how a writer spends her time. It’s stretched me way past the point of comfort and kept me running into God’s arms each day asking, “are you sure you want me here?”

What are you reading right now?

Tears of the Giraffe by Alexander McCall Smith

What is your current work in progress?

Penny’s Project – a contemporary fiction about a woman’s path toward healing from the anxiety created by her experience with violent crime while her Navy chaplain husband is away on his first deployment.

What would be your dream vacation?

Snorkeling in Hawaii.

I'd take anything in Hawaii, wouldn't you?

Sharon, tell us about the featured book.

The Restorer (NavPress, 2007) is a blend of women’s fiction with fantasy/adventure. Susan, a modern-day soccer mom, is pulled through a portal into another world, where a nation grappling for its soul waits for a promised Restorer to save their people. Can she fill that role? While she struggles to adapt to a foreign culture, she tackles an enemy that is poisoning the minds of the people, uncovers a corrupt ruling Council, and learns that God can use even her floundering attempts at service in surprising ways.

Link to amazon:

What was the inspiration for The Restorer?

I’ve always been fascinated by the story of Deborah in the book of Judges, and wondered what a modern woman would look like in that role. The fantasy genre provides a powerful way to look at a familiar story in a new way. I loved the challenge of creating a completely relatable character, and then inviting the reader to follow her into an imaginative journey.

What kind of reader did you have in mind as you wrote the book?

I wrote this story for my friends – ordinary women who are sometimes called on to fill extraordinary roles that they don’t feel prepared for. We may not be literally yanked into an alternate universe, but the idea of being pulled into an unexpected challenge is very real to most of the people I know. I wrote this book for my friends who receive a diagnosis of cancer, or the news that their child has a learning disability, or their parent is battling Alzheimers, or their spouse has lost their job. They suddenly find themselves in a foreign world, facing new rules, and being asked to fill a role they don’t feel ready for. My prayer is that as well as being entertaining, this novel can inspire courage and determination for those facing daily battles.

How can readers find you on the Internet?

I LOVE for folks to visit my website and blog –

Sharon, thank you for spending time with us again. The Restorer is near the top of my to-be-read pile. Unfortunately, my reading has had to take a back seat to speaking engagements and the birth of my first great grandchild.

Readers, leave a comment on the interview for a chance to win a copy of The Restorer. Also, check out our other interviews with pending drawings.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Jerome Teel

I just love thrillers, don't you? Jerome Teel has written a fast-paced political thriller - The Divine Appointment. Meet Jerome Teel.

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

My first novel, The Election, had more of myself in it than The Divine Appointment. The lawyer and his family in The Election resembled my own family. There really isn’t a character in The Divine Appointment that has me in him or her. I guess the closest one would be Porter McIntosh, the president’s chief of staff. He really is a get-it-done type of guy.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

I went parasailing last week. Most people wouldn’t find that quirky but it was pretty adventurous for me.

It would be for me, too. When did you first discover that you were a writer?

Some would say that I still haven’t made that discovery. Seriously, I had some friends and family read the initial drafts of The Election and I received very positive comments. That encouragement told me that I at least had the possibility of becoming a writer. I guess when I signed my first publishing contract was really the moment I realized that I had become a writer.

That first contract is a sweet moment. Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.

I like reading suspense novels from writers like Tom Clancy, Robert Ludlum and John Grisham. I also enjoy reading biographies written by David McCullough.

I'm a fan of Clancy and Grisham, too. What other books have you written, whether published or not?

The two books I have published, The Election and The Divine Appointment are the only books I have written.

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

This is a tough question because I really feel like I never slow down. My wife and I (more her than me) run like crazy with kids’ activities. I think between April 15 and July 31 we had about 100 baseball games between our two boys, not to mention all the activities in which our daughter was involved. Combine that with a full-time law practice, community responsibilities (I’m the current board president of the Exchange Club Carl Perkins Center for the Prevention of Child Abuse) and church responsibilities, and there simply aren’t enough hours in the day. As a family we go to the coast at least once a year for a week where I get away from the office and everything else. And my wife and I try to take a 3 or 4 day trip by ourselves about once a year.

You are busy. How do you choose your characters’ names?

The names come from many different sources. Newspaper articles, other books, etc. I make a list of first names and then make a list of last names. Then as I need a character I try to match a first name with a last name that would fit the character.

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?

Certainly being published ranks near the top but there isn’t one that I would say I’m most proud. I’m as proud of the success of our law firm that we started from scratch over 12 years ago and what we have been able to accomplish there.

Everyone needs more than one thing in their lives that they're proud of. If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?

This is a tough one and I’ve never thought about it. I guess a lion because it was the first thing that came to mind when I read this question. I like to think that I’m a good leader, not afraid of new challenges and determined to be successful.

All very good qualities. What is your favorite food?

Snow crab legs and I also love she-crab soup (particularly from Charlie’s Crab on Hilton Head Island!).

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

Most first time writers face the roadblock of being published. It took me three years of beating on the doors to finally break through and sign my first publishing contract. It took perseverance, determination and a never-give-up attitude.

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

Begin thinking about marketing opportunities and building a platform even before you find a publisher. First time authors will get little if any marketing support and you need to be building a marketing plan while you are writing your manuscript. Your submission to a potential publisher (or agent) will need to contain a comprehensive marketing plan.

That's very good advice. What would you like to tell us about the featured book?

The Divine Appointment is a political thriller that revolves around the battle over the senate confirmation of a newly appointed Supreme Court justice. It is fast paced and plot driven. It also contains a redemptive thread where some of the characters are faced with spiritual decisions.

How can readers find you on the Internet?

Thank you, Jerome, for letting us get acquainted with you and your work.

Now, Readers, be sure to leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of the book.

Five Winners This Week - Woo Hoo!!!

Rose McCauley, Ronie, Sue h, and Caroline are winners of Brothers of the Outlaw Trail.

Melanie Dickerson is the winner of Portrait of Marguerite.

All five of you need to email me your mailing address. Just click on the link under my picture.

Someone will win a book for each interview, so Readers, check out the others that haven't been given away.

A new interview will be posted later today or tomorrow.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Lorena McCourtney

If you like to read mysteries, you'll love meeting Lorena McCourtney.

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

There’s a smidgen of me in most of my heroines (and villainesses!), or I may give a person some characteristic, perhaps a physical trait or a belief, that is the entire opposite of my own. But Ivy Malone, in my current mystery series, probably has more of me in her than any other character ever has. The things Ivy knows are what I know. Her shortcomings are mine. We are both the Death Angel to innocent growing things. We have no talent for arts and craftsy things. And we both have this problem with invisibility, as begun in the first book in the series, Invisible.

I know what you mean about growing things. My husband says I have a black thumb. What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

I’m not sure it was the quirkiest thing, but it was surely the most foolish, or dumbest, and it has nothing to do with writing. But (in a world long ago and far away) my (former) husband and I, plus our two-year-old toddler, hitchhiked from Florida to Colorado. Although we met only very nice and helpful people along the way, I look back and wonder, What were we thinking? Never, never would I do such a thing again! (What’s that warning on TV? Do not try this at home.)

When did you first discover that you were a writer?

My first memory is of trying to write a story in about the 6th grade. A horse story, of course, since I was one of those crazy-over-horses girls. But as for first discovering that I was a writer, I just can’t say. There have been a good many times along the way, when I was discouraged with rejections, that I was pretty sure I wasn’t a writer. But I just kept plugging along, so now, after 38 published books, I’m thinking maybe I really am a writer.

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

I think I’ve read and enjoyed something in almost every genre. Any book can capture me if the big question in my mind at any given point as I’m reading is, What is going to happen next? Along with, How is this going to end? I’ll read through almost anything if those questions have somehow been aroused by the book.

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

I wrote 24 books in the secular romance area, under my own and 3 other names. But then, with a powerful nudge from the Lord, I turned to Christian fiction. I wrote six books in the old Palisades Romance line. One of them was as much mystery as romance, and I have now turned to books that are definitely mystery with just a smidgen of romance. I did three books in my Julesburg Mysteries series and have now done four in the Ivy Malone Mysteries series. And I also did one book in a Guideposts mystery series.

As for unpublished, I still have hidden away several manuscripts that just didn’t make it. One that got up to over 200,00 words and then just kind of imploded, like one of those buildings you see that just comes down in one big crash, another that got up to about 150,000 and just fizzled. Others that never really got off the ground. (I don’t want to talk about these any more. My head is starting to ache.)

I know what you mean. I have a couple of those, too. How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?

Well, I suppose the not-too-original answer to that question is, Who says I’m keeping it? But I live in a rural area, where the pace isn’t as fast as in some areas, which helps. My son is grown, so I’m no longer in the run-run-run era of child raising. And I have a solid grounding in the Lord to help me keep what’s really important in perspective.

How do you choose your characters’ names?

Sometimes characters just arrive with a name. In my Ivy Malone series, there’s a young woman named Abilene. I’d intended to call her Hannah, but when she showed up at Ivy’s motor home, and Ivy asked her name, she said it was Abilene. Which certainly surprised me.

Other times I have a terrible time with a name. Nothing seems to fit. Ivy’s name gave me a lot of difficulty, but when it came I couldn’t imagine calling her anything else.

I do try to pay some attention to generational differences in names.

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?

With writing, I think I’d have to say it isn’t any one accomplishment, it’s just the persistence that has kept me going through 38 published books. As for actual accomplishment, I’d have to say my 33 year marriage ranks up there, along with having a son and granddaughter. (Although I have to say those are really more gifts from God than any accomplishment of mine.)

Yes, James and I are awaiting the arrival of our first great grandson. If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?

An animal. What an interesting question. There’s a certain appeal to being a pampered cat or dog, but that makes you dependent on an owner’s whim or situation, and you might find yourself out in the cold. Also being a domestic creature grazing peacefully in green pasture has its attractions . . . until the owner decides you’d make a good entrée for dinner. No, I don’t want to be an animal with an owner.

So that leaves the wild. The freedom there is appealing. But every creature in the wild finds itself somewhere in the food chain, which is not somewhere I want to be.

So I think I’ll just thank the good Lord for choosing to make me a member of the human race.

Good answer. What is your favorite food?

Oh, I don’t think I can choose a favorite. That might imply I want to eat it all the time, and there’s nothing I want to eat exclusively. But I have a definite weakness for chocolate, in any form.

Chocolate is by far the most mentioned food by writers. What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?

One of my biggest roadblocks was making the jump from short-story lengths to book lengths. I wrote a lot of short stories for children, for the little publications that churches used to give out at Sunday School. (Do they even do that these days?) From there I went on to women’s short stories, and I simply didn’t seem to have a book-length idea in me. I overcame this mostly out of necessity, when the main genre of markets I’d been writing for simply collapsed. A friend told me her agent was looking for a romance writer, so I became a romance writer. I did this mostly by reading all the romances I could get my hands on, studying what was in them that made book rather than short-story material. Studying twists of plot, development of character, themes, satisfactory endings. Learning how to write on a larger scale, basically.

Now I look back and wonder how I ever managed to tell any kind of story in 1500-6000 words.

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

Stranded, Book #4 in my Ivy Malone Mysteries series, is the featured book. The basic premise of this series is that Ivy is dismayed to realize that she seems to have aged into invisibility, and this idea of “invisibility” carries throughout the series. This came from my own growing feeling of invisibility, the feeling that I could walk through any given crowd and be no more visible than some bird picking up crumbs on the sidewalk. (A feeling shared by a good many readers, not all of them older. “Invisibility” touches a hot button with many of us!)

While my general reaction personally is to laugh about this and ignore it, Ivy realizes invisibility can be a handy asset as a sleuth. She doesn’t seek out mysteries to solve, but they seem to find her quickly enough. In Stranded, it’s a case of being stuck in the small town of Hello, Colorado, because of problems with her motor home. Where, sure enough, she finds herself living in a house where a murder recently took place, with an abundance of suspects. There’s the situation with the mysterious carousel horses in the victim’s bedroom, Nutty Norman and his chickens, the local Ladies Hysterical Society and a Roaring ‘20s chorus line. Ivy may have to contend with invisibility, but she never lacks for excitement!

Thank you, Lorena. Stranded sounds like a fun mystery to read.

Readers, if you'd like more information on Lorena, visit her web site:

Also, leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of her book. Check out the other interviews, too.