Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Author Wendy Lawton - THE CAPTIVE PRINCESS - Free book

Today we're visiting with a multi-talented lady. I first knew about Wendy as a literary agent. Now I find she is the author of a middle school aged series about historical girls. And she creates dolls for each character.

Wendy, I'm very glad to have you with us today. What has drawn you to writing for children?

I love children’s books. I often say that the finest literature has been written for children—think Sarah, Plain and Tall; Because of Winn Dixie; Little Women; Chronicles of Narnia; Lord of the Rings; Walk Two Moons; The Witch of Blackbird Pond.

My whole professional life has been tied to children’s books. As a dollmaker, over the last thirty years, much of my doll inspiration was drawn from children’s literature. I’ve licensed and produced dolls inspired by Anne of Geen Gables, Raggedy Ann, Mirette on the High Wire, Mailing May and hundreds of others. www.lawtondolls.com

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

I’ve done a lot of out-there things in my life. It’s hard to name the quirkiest. Perhaps it would be appearing a number of times on QVC. Oh wait, that was the most terrifying.

When did you first discover that you were a writer or illustrator?

I wrote and illustrated my first book when I was five. Titled Skunky’s Baby Book, it came out in a very limited edition of one.

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

I love books—it’s hard to narrow it down. In my current job as a literary agent I try to read bestsellers to keep on top of the current zeitgeist. I’m fond of mystery writers like Anne Perry, Elizabeth Peters, Laurie R. King. I’ve been an avid reader of C. S. Lewis and the Christian Classics. I love the gothic romances by Victoria Holt and have reread them many a time. I love character-driven women’s fiction, but I also devour historicals. I like gentle reads and I’m always catching up on the classic writers I missed.

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

I’ve written a total of twelve books so far—Seven in my Daughters of the Faith series, four in a teen series called Real TV, and a nonfiction. Here’s are the titles:

The Tinker’s Daughter
Courage to Run
Almost Home
Ransom’s Mark
Hallelujah Lass
Shadow of His Hand
The Captive Princess

Changing Faces
Flip Flop
Less is More
Dating Do-Over

Impressions in Clay

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

Sanity? We’re supposed to keep that? Seriously, I’m great at compartmentalizing. When I write, I block out time and give it 100%. When I sculpt or design—same thing. I’m there in the moment. My job as an agent is my fulltime job, and I keep the blinders on for 40 or 50 hours a week.

How do you work together as a team?

I have a great team of people in my life, but most of my work is solitary.

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

I have had so many wonderful things happen in my life. I received a Lifetime Achievement award for doll design in 2006; I was granted an honorary Doctorate from Wilmington University in 2004 for my work as a dollmaker and author; Last year ACFW awarded me their debut Agent of the Year award. I guess I’m proudest of the fact that God has blessed the work of my hands, whether as a sculptor/designer, a writer, or now, as an agent serving other authors.

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

I happen to be madly in love with a certain golden retriever so I can’t imagine anything better in the animal kingdom.

What is your favorite food?

Great crusty homemade bread. (Oh yeah, I’m gluten intolerant, so when I eat aforementioned great crusty homemade bread it brings on swelling and arthritis-like symptoms. I hobble like an octogenarian. But I do imbibe and hobble all too often.)

I can almost smell the wonderful aroma of homemade bread right now. Is it hard to break into the children’s market?

At this time in publishing, it is very difficult, especially if you are a picture book author. Middle grade is a little better, but it takes stellar writing.

What advice would you give to an author wanting to do that?

Be persistent. Join SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) for the inside information. Keep honing your craft. Write the book today’s children want to read, not the book you loved to read.

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

The story of Pocahontas is one we’ve all heard— of course many of the tales have been pure fabrication— but I’ll bet you didn’t know that her life was a journey to faith in the one living God. Writing this book at the 400th anniversary of the founding of the Jamestown Colony was wonderful because recent archeological findings on the grounds of Pocahontas’ village, Werewocomoco, yielded all sorts of information we just didn’t have before. Since the whole story is told through her eyes, it made her setting come alive.

It sounds interesting, Wendy. How can readers find you on the Internet?


Thank you for spending this time with us, Wendy.

Readers, check out her doll site and her personal web site. And for a chance to win a copy of The Captive Princess, leave a comment.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Author Julie Carobini - TRUFFLES BY THE SEA - Free Book

I can't think of anything better than two of my favorite things together--chocolate and a large body of salt water with a nice beach. That's why Julie Carobini's books caught my attention.

Welcome, Julie. Why do you write the kind of books you do?

Life is tough, so I like to write books that incorporate aspects of humor and faith into trials. Frankly, this is how God has worked in my life.

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

Marrying my husband Dan because that set the stage for many other happy days, like giving birth to my kids—and my books :-)

How has being published changed your life?

Finally seeing my books in print is a dream come true, but I have found that there’s less time to write because of all the marketing that is required—ha! Yet ‘getting the word out’ is important so that readers can find my books, so I’m learning ways to balance it all. Sometimes, though, I just chuck the work and go to the beach ;)

What are you reading right now?

Jane Austen’s Emma.

What is your current work in progress?

I’m working on the story of a woman’s quest to honor her father’s memory by talking her sisters into moving back to their small, coastal hometown. Once there, she uncovers secrets that destroy the fairy tale life she believed they all had once lived.

Sounds interesting. What would be your dream vacation?

I long to relax on a sunny beach in a swimsuit that’s kind to me, hee-hee! Seriously, I’m not someone who likes to fill every minute of vacation with stuff to do. Instead, I’d love to wander and linger and not have to set foot in a kitchen.

My kind of vacation, too. How do you choose your settings for each book?

I set my books in coastal areas as a way to point readers to God’s infinite creativity. I also choose places that have quirky, interesting qualities, so that the setting is almost a character in itself.

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

Wow, what a fun question! I’d probably hang out with Brittany Spears and tell her about Jesus.

Interesting that you should say that. I've prayed for her salvation and for Paris Hilton's for years. What are your hobbies, besides writing and reading?

With three kiddos and a career, there’s not a whole lot of extra time for hobbies, however, in spring and summer, my husband and I love to kayak in local waters. And my teen daughter and I regularly watch chick-flicks together—bonding time, you know.

I often take my daughter and granddaughters to chick clicks. What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?

Focus. My mind works fast—too fast sometimes, and I’ve got to work hard to rein it in and finish the task at hand. I give myself treats, like a dog, to stay motivated (although my treat of choice is a hunk of chocolate as opposed to a bone ;).

What advice would you give to a beginning author?

Surrender the career stuff to God through prayer, and learn the craft because strong writing draws interest. Some ways to do this: take an editing or journalism class at your local college (I did this as a refresher and learned a ton), attend writing conferences and practice what you’re taught, and study books on craft, such as Jim Bell’s Plot and Structure.

Now, Julie, tell us about the featured book.

Sure! Truffles by the Sea is the story of Gaby Flores, a gal with a penchant for disaster. After breaking off another relationship, watching her apartment building burn to the ground, and discovering that her dippy delivery guy has run off with most of her business, our heroine decides it’s time to turn things around.

So she moves to a tiny waterfront loft and takes on a new motto: “Be gullible no more!” But when legal troubles and quirky neighbors and two surprising romances enter her beachy world, Gaby’s motto and fledgling faith are put to the test.

And, of course, there are the truffles…

How can readers find you on the Internet?

Thanks so much for having me here today Lena! Readers, for more info please stop by my website at www.juliecarobini.com or blog, where I occasionally give away chocolates ;): www.juliecarobini.blogspot.com

Thank you, Julie, we'll all have to check out your web site and blog. Who wouldn't want to win chocolate.

Readers, want to win a free copy of Truffles by the Sea? Leave a comment.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Winners!!! . . Winners!!! . . Winners!!!

I just love to give away good books.

Abi is the winner of Every Good and Perfect Gift by Sharon Souza.

Missy Tippens is the winner of Embrace Me by Lisa Samson.

ChristyJan is the winner of Generation NeXt Marriage by Tricia Goyer.

Please email me your mailing address. The link to my email is in my profile.

There's still time to leave comments on these interviews:
Melody Carlson - I Heart Bloomberg
Jill Elizabeth Nelson - Reluctant Smuggler
Robin Caroll - Bayou Judgment

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Author Melody Carlson - I HEART BLOOMBERG - Free Book

We're talking to Melody Carlson about her book I Heart Bloomberg. What an intriguing title!

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

I think it’s impossible not to put a little of myself into most of my main characters. But I doubt that anyone (not even my mother) can always pick out which part is from me. I think using “stuff” from my own life is what makes characters feel more realistic.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

Quirky, as in weird or strange or unbelievable? Well, I lived in Papua New Guinea for a year as a young adult. That in itself was pretty weird. But while there I spent two weeks in the jungle, helping a Bible translator who liked to swim across the river each day. Naturally, I joined her. What makes this quirky/weird/unbelievable is that the river had crocodiles—and even the locals didn’t swim in it. Would I do that again today? No way!

I have good friends who spent years with Wycliffe Bible Translators in Papua New Guinea. When did you first discover that you were a writer?

As soon as I could hold a pencil, I began “drawing” stories, then I added words, then I stapled them together into “books.” In other words, I always loved writing. And although my teachers always told me I was good at it, I took it for granted. It wasn’t until my mid thirties that I realized I had to write—that I couldn’t not write. So, without even knowing what I was getting into, I jumped in with both feet.

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

I mostly enjoy fiction, and particularly contemporary fiction. I like well crafted stories involving realistic characters with true-to-life problems. I particularly like authors like Elizabeth Berg, Anne Tyler, Barbara Kingsolver, and Rosamunde Pilcher.

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

Too many to list here. But in the chick lit genre…These Boots Weren’t Made for Walking came out last year, and A Mile in My Flip-flops releases this June. I’ve also done more serious women’s fiction like Finding Alice and soon-to-release The Other Side of Darkness. But I may be best known for my teen series like Diary of a Teenage Girl and TrueColors and soon-to-release The Carter House Girls.

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

Thankfully, I don’t have to do too much running these days. With grown kids and working at home, I mostly run because I want to get away and do something fun. But I do feel for those who are balancing careers and family and all the other demands. I know what that’s like. The good news is that it doesn’t last forever.

How do you choose your characters’ names?

After around 200 books and more than a thousand characters, it can be a challenge. Sometimes a name will just hit me—it will fit the character and I’m on my way. Other times I go through name after name. Sometimes I use an Internet site with names organized by popularity within the birth year. That can be helpful.

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?

Personally, it would be remaining tight with God for all these years. Although I think God had more to do with that than me. Then it would be celebrating 30 years of marriage this year. Also, sticking with my grown sons through thick and thin—it hasn’t been easy.

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

I think it’d be fun to be a bird and able to fly on my own power.

What is your favorite food?

It kind of depends. Sometimes it’s anything Italian. But when I’m being more sensible it can be anything involving salmon or spinach.
What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?

Like all writers who are starting out, the roadblock seemed to be getting a book contract. But my solution was to keep trying, not get discouraged, do my marketing research, and to continue writing. Eventually that ball started to roll…and thankfully it just keeps going.

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

It’s simple. Read lots of good books in the genre you wish to write for. Then go ahead and write-write-write. Allow yourself to make mistakes, but get the words down, because that’s how you learn and improve. Classes, how-to books, conferences, critique groups…are all helpful too. But unless you sit down and actually write, you’ll never be a writer. Get your story down and the editing can come later.

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

86 Bloomberg Place is a new series for twenty-something readers, featuring four young career women sharing a house. The first book I heart Bloomberg introduces the unique characters and how they adjust (or don’t) to each other and this new stage of their lives. The question is: Can four very diverse young women really live together under one roof? The answer is: Not without a few problems.

How can readers find you on the Internet?


Melody, thank you for spending this time with us.

Readers, check out her web site to learn about other books she's written.

Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of I Heart Bloomberg.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Author Jill Elizabeth Nelson - RELUCTANT SMUGGLER - Free Book

We're talking to Jill about her third book in the To Catch a Thief series--Reluctant Smuggler, a truly wonderful read!

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

I’m so thankful for all the great things the Lord has done and is doing with the gifts and talents He’s given me in the area of writing. For most of my life, my ultimate goal was to be a published novelist. That has happened, praise God! On speaking engagements, I like to tell my audience that if God can bring a dream to pass for this nobody-in-particular from nowhere special, He can and will do it for them too. Now I’ve had to set a new goal—to reach that “tipping point” in readership where I begin to have regular bestsellers. I don’t desire such a thing for my glory at all, but so that the truths He flows through me into entertaining stories reach the most people possible.

I know what you mean. That's what I want as well. Tell us a little about your family.

My first and only marriage to a great guy is going stronger than ever. We’ve been husband and wife for almost 27 years, and have raised four children—two boys, two girls. The eldest (a son) is married, but no children yet. Three of my four kids have dogs, so they tease us that we have “grand-dogs.” The canines may be cute and friendly, but they are so not the same thing as grandchildren! LOL.

That's the truth. Grandchildren are God's reward for not killing your teenagers. Has your writing changed your reading habits? If so, how?

I’ve been an avid reader all my life. Immediately prior to getting my first book contract, I was the “Senior Inspirational Reviewer” for Romantic Times magazine. As such, I read and reviewed 12 – 15 books per month. However, book deadlines have seriously curtailed that aspect of my life. I’m lucky to read one book a month strictly for pleasure, and when I’m hot and heavy into a manuscript, I actually avoid reading other authors’ work so as to keep my “voice” pure. I just turned a manuscript in, and as a reward to myself, I’m taking the next ten days or so to read and enjoy some of those books on my TBR (to-be-read) pile. Then it’ll be back in the swing with the book that’s due September 1.

What are you working on right now?

I just turned in Evidence of Murder to Steeple Hill romantic suspense. Here’s a teaser: When a new business owner discovers on her property photos of a decade-old mass murder, she and the surviving son of the massacre become the targets of a desperate and powerful killer. I hope that whets your appetite!

Next is a project tentatively entitled, Witness to Murder. One of the secondary characters from Evidence becomes the central character in a nail-biter about a TV news reporter who walks in on a murder scene with the killer still standing over the body. Or is he the killer after all? She reluctantly teams up with the sportscaster from her station, a man she has reason to detest, in order to discover the truth, and they both step into danger more grave than they had guessed.

Wow! Bring them on. You'll have to come back for an interveiw when they release. What outside interests do you have?

My church, of course, as well as a weekly prayer meeting at our house. We’re reaching unexpected people in our community! For recreation, our family loves to camp during the summer. Of course, at our age, my husband’s and my idea of “roughing it” is our elderly but well-preserved motorhome. I adore waking up in the morning to birdsong in the peaceful woodlands. We also like to take walks at home and when we are camping. Other interests include working puzzles of many varieties and outdoor grilling. In my family, I’m the griller. I particularly enjoy putting together a good shish-kabob.

Yum! How do you choose your settings for each book?

The criteria are different for every story. Generally, I start a story idea with a character in a certain situation. The setting is an outgrowth of whatever works best to place that character in the needed predicament and to carry them through the story.

For my latest release, Reluctant Smuggler, I was looking for an exotic location that wasn’t too far out of the United States, so my main characters could travel in and out of the country with relative speed. Mexico worked wonderfully in that aspect, as well as providing a spooky backdrop in the Mayan ruins. Human trafficking between the U.S. and Mexico and South America is rampant, so Mexico worked well in that regard also.

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

Well, I’d say Jesus Christ, except He’s not a historical person, He’s a NOW person.
Possibly the Apostle John, the revelator and apostle of love. The love-walk is probably the most vital component in our Christian witness, as well as our success in life. I actually do expect to spend time with John in eternity.

As do I. What is the one thing you wish you had known before you started writing novels?

I would have liked a more realistic expectation of how long it takes to break in. This is not a moment that comes fast or easy, but with perseverance, determination, and patience, it does come!

What new lessons is the Lord teaching you right now?

Rest. To “labor” to enter into His rest and stay there, regardless of what occurs in the natural realm. When I walk in that “rest,” I allow the fullest scope of His working in and through my life. Our worry-prone flesh and the perilous times we live in work against our walking in the peace of the Lord, but it IS doable, or He wouldn’t command us to do it. Stay in the Word, stay vitally connected to a healthy body of believers, and spend time in His presence. Those are my keys to maintaining rest.

What are the three best things you can tell other authors to do to be successful?

1. Write—a lot! Write—regularly! Write—even when you don’t feel like it!
2. Get connected with other likeminded writers through online and in-person groups.
3. Don’t despise the day of small things. Get published in shorter pieces, even if it’s just regular blogging online to start with. Build writing credits and creditability in the industry as someone who can complete a project and do it on time.
4. Attend conferences to meet writers, agents, and editors. Oops! That was four. But I can’t see leaving any of those components out.

Tell us about the featured book.

Reluctant Smuggler is my personal favorite of the To Catch a Thief series, and I hear that a lot from readers too. Many things that have been building in Reluctant Burglar and Reluctant Runaway come to culmination in Reluctant Smuggler. Also, as I mentioned in an earlier answer, I chose an exotic setting that was quite fun to write, as well as an issue of human trafficking that I care a lot about. I dedicated Reluctant Smuggler to the International Justice Mission, an organization that battles slavery and exploitation of the helpless throughout the world. You can check them out at http://www.ijm.org.

How can readers find you on the Internet?

That’s easy. Just hop on over to http://www.jillelizabethnelson.com. I’ve got some cool stuff on the site. My Stealth and Wealth page contains an art matching game. Playing the game will get a person’s name in the hat for a monthly drawing for a signing copy of Reluctant Smuggler. Also, my TCAT Books page has a variety of fun features. My publisher came up with an awesome animated ad for Smuggler that’s posted there. I also recorded myself reading the first chapter of Smuggler. At the click of a button, anyone can satisfy their multi-tasking little heart, and fold the laundry or do the dishes while listening to Chapter One. There are also traditional print excerpts of the other novels, as well as a video trailer for Reluctant Runaway. Those are just a few highlights of my web site.

Also, for anyone looking for signed copies of any of the series for themselves or as gifts, my books are listed with Signed by the Author. Go to http://www.signedbytheauthor.com, plug in one of the titles in the search bar, and voila!

I, too, have books on Signed by the Author.

Thanks, Jill, for spending time with us again. It's always a joy to have you.

Readers, now you have two chances to win a copy of Reluctant Smuggler. One on her site and one on this blog. Just leave a comment to be in the drawing.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Author Robin Caroll - BAYOU JUDGMENT - Free Book

We're talking to Robin Caroll today about the third book in her Bayou series. Here's a picture of Robin (in black) with her agent Kelly Mortimer.

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

I haven’t a clue, and that’s part of the fun. Seeing where He leads. It’s never boring, that’s for sure! LOL

Tell us a little about your family.

I’ve been married for over 18 years to the same man! We have three beautiful daughters, 17, 8, and 5. I’m blessed by their love and support of what I do.

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

Actually, I’ve “dissected” books for years, but I just didn’t realize that’s what I was doing until I became a writer. LOL Reading now, poor writing jumps out at me. If that happens, the author must be a great storyteller for me to keep reading. There’s an ABA author who I’ve loved for years….the writing isn’t all that great, but she’s a master storyteller!

What are you working on right now?

Proposals, of course! LOL

Don't we all? What outside interests do you have?

Aside from church, I try to be very accessible and visible at my children’s school. I go up and have lunch with them (the school food has gotten worse than the horrid I remember, BTW), I attend all functions, and I’m a co-room mother for the two youngest class. My husband and I take the girls fishing in our community pond at least weekly when weather permits.

How do you choose your settings for each book?

Being born and raised in the South, it’s what’s natural to me. The weather, foliage, dialect…. I set all my books in the South.

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

Egads—HISTORICAL? LOL Hmmm…. Kennedy….so I could find out what REALLY happened! LOL Seriously, I don’t dwell in the past too much.

What is the one thing you wish you had known before you started writing novels?

That it’s HARD WORK. LOL It’s funny, now when my husband tells people I’m an author, the most common response, other than “what of yours is in bookstores” is “You know, one day, when I have time, I’m going to write a book.” I bite my tongue not to laugh because I used to think it was just a matter of actually doing it. The process and learning curve is so much more. So, in response, I just smile and reply with, “Good luck with that.” :D

What new lessons is the Lord teaching you right now?

When is He not teaching me a million things? LOL I’m not one of those people who can hear His still, small voice. Nope, I’m one that He pulls out the 2 X 4 on and smacks me upside the head. LOL And it works for us. That’s our relationship. But, to answer your question more specifically, He’s been working with me on total trust in Him in every aspect of my life. Just because I think something’s a minor thing in the big scheme, doesn’t mean He doesn’t intend to use it for a bigger something later. So instead of trying to “handle” the little issues myself, He’s teaching me to seek His direction even with the small stuff. :D

What are the three best things you can tell other authors to do to be successful?

As if I know? LOL I don’t think any of us are ever successful. I mean, sure, authors can hit the bestseller lists (I wish! LOL) and win awards (I wish! LOL) and make a lot of money (I wish! LOL) but I personally don’t believe any of us on earth can be successful because this is not our home. Okay, to answer your question and get off my soapbox…..three things I’ve learned…..

1-have critique partners and/or mentor you trust to look at your work and give you honest and helpful feedback.

2-enjoy what you do, even on the days you HAVE to get down so many words.

3-surround yourself with other writers because, trust me on this, only other writers will “get” you sometimes.

And sometimes, even they won't. 1Tell us about the featured book.

Bayou Judgment was challenging to write, yet tugged most at my heartstrings. My heroine has cerebral palsy, but is so strong in faith. I used a lot of my niece’s characteristics in creating this character because my niece has cp, and the research into the treatment and surgeries of cp were easily accessible through my niece’s time with Shriner’s Hospital. Creating a mystery/suspense for the heroine really stretched me as a writer, and my hero? Well, I fell a little in love with him, too. I tend to do that…fall in love a bit with each of my heroes. But isn’t that the fun part of writing?

How can readers find you on the Internet?


Robin, thank you for spending this time with us.

Readers, check out her web site. Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of this wonderful book. For a review, read the newsletter on my web site:


Saturday, April 19, 2008

A Lovely Spring Day for Winners!!

. . .at least in Texas.

Tara is the winner of Better Than Gold by Laurie Alice Eakes.

Ruth Dell is the winner of Searching for Spice by Megan DiMaria.

Windycindy is the winner of Dark Well of Decision by Anne Kimberly.

All winners need to send me their snail mail address, so we can get the books to you. See the email link in my profile.

Look for another interview sometime tomorrow.

Visit my web site www.lenanelsondooley.com for more information about what's going on in my world. Check out the recent newsletter on the site for reviews of many of the books we feature.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Author Tricia Goyer - Generation NeXt Marriage - Free Book

We've enjoyed a lot of interviews with Tricia about her fiction. Today, we'll be talking about her newest nonfiction release.
Welcome back, Tricia. We're going to do a preview of chapter one.

Preview Chapter One! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

You Might Think

Before we got married, John and I spent hours and hours talking. We discussed our growing-up years, our hopes and dreams, our likes and dislikes. We literally spent every free moment together. I thought I knew him pretty well. After four months of dating we were engaged, and we married five months later. I'd found the man for me. For life.

Even though I didn't realize it at the time, I had expectations of what life would be like after we were married. Very unrealistic expectations, I soon discovered. For example, I'd visited John's apartment on many occasions, and I could tell he was a neat freak. His bed was always made. The dishes were washed and put away. He did his own laundry and ironed his own clothes. What a guy! I was just the opposite. In fact, one thing my mother repeatedly told me when I was growing up was, "I'd hate to see what your house will be like when I'm not around to pick up after you." Cool, I thought. John will do all the housecleaning -- this will work out perfectly.

Okay, let's stop right here. I'll wait while you finish laughing.

You see, John had his own expectations. Great, John thought. Once we get married Trish will be around, so I won't have to do all the housecleaning.

As you can imagine, we both had unrealistic expectations. And we were both hugely disappointed! Now, if those had been the only expectations we had for each other, then married life would have been fairly manageable. But they weren't. In fact, our expectations were just one drop in the tidal wave. Our differing thoughts on issues like money, child-rearing, sex, and our extended families soon created waves, as deepseated emotions, past experiences, and firm opinions stirred the sandy beaches of our honeymoon paradise.

Ohmigosh! Who is this person I married? I wondered, my chin set and my arms firmly crossed over my chest. When did he get so opinionated and stubborn?

Book Description

Do you still find yourself humming the love songs of the 80s and 90s?

Do you still believe that every marriage should be between soul mates?

But -- do you wonder how you can succeed at love and marriage when the generation you grew up in didn't?

Marriage isn't what it used to be-it can be better than ever.

If you are a Gen Xer, your marriage has challenges and potentials that no other generation has known. A Gen Xer herself, Tricia Goyer offers realistic help to achieve the God-honoring marriage you long for.

She includes:

·Ways to protect your marriage despite the broken relationships modeled in your youth·Stories, suggestions, and confessions from fellow Gen Xers facing the "What now?" question of real-life marriage
·Advice from the ultimate marriage survival guide: the Bible·Stats, quizzes, sidebars, and study questions related to this "relationally challenged" time in history
·Practical helps for negotiating kids, work, sex, money, and dirty laundry-sometimes all in the same eveningIf you are part of a generation of adults who don't want to bow to their culture or live and love like their parents did -- this book is for you.

Here are what a few people had to say:

"Where do Gen Xers find the priceless principles to make a marriage work? Most didn't get them in the homes they grew up in, and they didn't get them from the TV or movies they watched or music lyrics they listened to. But Tricia Goyer, an Xer herself, offers real help and real hope for the Gen X marriage and insightful truths for all who work or minister to those in the Gen X age group."-Pam Farrel, best-selling author of Men Are Like Waffles-Women Are Like Spaghetti, Red-Hot Monogamy, and The First Five Years

"Generation NeXt Marriage is a much-needed marriage manual for a generation ready to make the most of marriage. Thoughtful, interactive, well researched, and exceptionally relevant for couples who want to thrive in their marriages, this book is a must for beginning and continuing young couples."-Elisa Morgan, CEO, MOPS International and publisher, FullFill magazine

"Tricia Goyer refuses to play the 'blame game.' This extraordinary Gen Xer, raised in a blended family, steps up to the plate and speaks to ALL generations -- but especially to her own. She is gifted and blunt. She shares that it's time to really LIVE and LOVE YOUR HUSBAND GOD'S WAY -- and tells the reader just how to do that. Tricia is young enough to be my daughter and wise enough to be my mentor. This book is GenXcellent!"-Nancy Cobb, author of How to Get Your Husband to Listen to You

read more here

Okay, Readers, check out these links, and leave a comment on this post for a chance to win a free copy of the book.

There's still time to leave comments on these interviews (Winners will be chosen tomorrow):

Laurie Alice Eakes - Better Than Gold
Megan DiMaria - Searching for Spice
Anne Kimberly - Dark Well of Decision

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Author Lisa Samson - EMBRACE ME - Free Book

Lisa, welcome to my blog. I have readers waiting to get to know you.

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

They ask a lot of the same questions I do, but normally, I try to steer away from writing about myself! However, I'm sure there are pieces of me in every character.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

I cut my hair with clippers a few years ago. It was about an inch and a half long on top and and inch on the sides. Needless to say, it wasn't the most attractive hairdo I've ever had! I used to write in a cigar shop near my home as well. Oh yes! When the DC Sniper was on the loose (we lived in Maryland at the time) I set up a card table in the walk-in closet of our guest bedroom and made jewelry as some sort of odd coping mechanism. At least I enjoyed the creative outlet. On a more everyday note, I really like putting my chips on my sandwich!

When did you first discover that you were a writer?

I was never really all about writing, but I do remember the first time I realized words could come out of me in a relatively decent fashion. I was first married and my best friend and I would go all around Atlanta, mostly to Waffle Houses, and we'd sit with a composition book and a pen and write out portraits of the people around us. We called the book Darker Shades of Liverwurst. (Don't ask.) I still have it around here somewhere.

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

I like literary fiction of a more accessible nature: Kurt Vonnegut, John Irving, Anne Tyler, and the old guys too: F. Scott Fitzgerald, W. Somerset Maugham. Silas House is wonderful writer from here in Kentucky. I've been enjoying him lately. Oh, and Truman Capote, well, to me his writing was about as close to perfection as one could get. I love Patricia Hickman's work as well. Claudia Mair Burney's got some stuff coming that's amazing. I truly enjoy reading writers who are stylists. I love hearing a real "voice." So I'm not much interested in reading fiction that could be written by one of thousands of writers. And I do love a cozy mystery every now and again!

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

Quaker Summer was released last year as Women of Faith's Novel of the Year. It was also honored as Publisher's Weekly Magazine's top books of the year. Will and I wrote, Justice in the Burbs together, a call to live our faith as the hands and feet of Jesus. NavPress is releasing a young adult series these days called Hollywood Nobody. That was a lot of fun to write! I've written 26 books now, so I won't bore you with all of them! Here are my women's fiction titles: The Living End, The Church Ladies, Songbird, Women's Intuition, Tiger Lillie and Straight Up.

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

Well, I try not to cave in to the pressures demanded by our society. It's crazy! I just say no to being out of the house three or more nights a week. My kids are allowed to play only one sport at a time, if that. We don't watch a lot of TV so that sort of pressure is off, too. I'm serious. If people would turn off their TVs, it would solve a lot of problems: materialism, pride, and that horrible feeling that you just don't measure up to these skinny, perfectly coiffed people. Just turn off the tube for two weeks and see if it doesn't help your overall outlook, if you suddenly don't feel the need to keep up with everybody else. I think that accounts for a lot of our running. We don't want anybody to be ahead of us. I say, let's cheer them on from the sidelines instead!

How do you choose your characters names?

A lot of my female leads' names are some sort of plant: Poppy, Lillie, Lark (Larkspur), Myrtle Charmaine. I like the way it connotates growth. Other than that, I try to give my characters memorable names so the readers will get it in their minds right away. Names that are real words always work well for that. Also unusual names that aren't particularly hard to pronounce in a reader's mind. Some I've used: Georgia, Pearly, Fairly, Jerusha.

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?

Lately I've really been aware of how all good gifts are from the Father.

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

A house cat. You get to sit in the sun all day, nibble from your bowl, stretch, and sit in the sun some more.

What is your favorite food?

I have to give a few. Steamed crabs, Chic fil A chicken sandwiches, and salad. (Okay, just kidding about the salad.)

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

I overcome it every day I actually get words down on the page. Ego, whether through pride or self-degradation is another big roadblock. I'm still trying to get myself out of the way.

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

Read great writing. Finish the job. And don't call yourself an author at that point. If ever. You're just another writing schmoe like the rest of us! I still have trouble calling myself an author. I much prefer writer.

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

Embrace Me is, at its core, a book about forgiveness. I think we all need to know how to ask for it and how to receive it. I know I can hold onto some things for a long time. And God has forgiven us. When we forgive, we are like Him. It takes place around a circus sideshow with my usual cast of off-beat characters who stumble along trying to figure out just what it means to love a little more, hope when all hope seems lost, and take their place in the circle of the Everlasting Arms.

How can readers find you on the Internet?

www.lisasamson.com. Thanks for having me!

And thank you for spending this time and letting us peek inside your world.

Readers, if you want a chance to win a copy of Embrace Me leave a comment.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Author Sharon K. Souza - EVERY GOOD AND PERFECT GIFT - Free book

Welcome, Sharon.

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

My closest family members might say I write more of myself into my characters than I realize or intend. If I do an honest evaluation, I think any flaws or insecurities that my characters deal with are closer to my own reality than any strengths they may exhibit. But I do draw on my own experiences as I write.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

That’s a tough question. I love quirky in other people, but don’t tend to lean toward quirkiness myself. I’ve never dyed my hair blue or pierced my lip. With that in mind, I’d say the quirkiest thing I’ve ever done was have my husband take me to a firing range to teach me how to fire a handgun while I was writing a suspense novel. I wanted to be able to write about the experience accurately. I actually hit the target.

Good for you! When did you first discover that you were a writer?

The earliest moment that I can recall was when I was in sixth grade. Our class was given an assignment to write a short story about any topic we wanted. All my friends moaned and complained, while I grinned all the way to the pencil sharpener. It was winter of 1964 and Beatlemania had invaded the country. Naturally, my story was about the Beatles. I wrote some anti-war poetry in high school (who didn’t in the ’60s?), but didn’t become serious about writing until I was in my 30s. It’s been my passion ever since.

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

I’ve always been a fan of English literature, especially Dickens. I also love the writing of Chaim Potok. But the past few years I’ve enjoyed reading contemporary women’s fiction—exactly what I love to write. Lisa Samson and Dale Cramer are two of my favorites, as well as new author Kathleen Popa. I enjoy good suspense and legal thrillers (James Scott Bell & early John Grisham). And I loved Ted Dekker’s trilogy (Black, Red and White). So there’s some diversity in that.

The Gospel of John is my favorite book of the Bible, as well as all the prophetic books. And two of my all time favorite non-fiction books are A Tale of Three Kings by Gene Edwards, and Windows of the Soul by Ken Gire.

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

My Christmas novella, A Heavenly Christmas in Hometown, was published by WinePress in 2004. I have two suspense novels I hope to find a home for this year, as well as a novel called Annie Walker that needs work but has potential. Lying on Sunday will be out in September. Anything else I’ve written has added to my learning experience, but won’t ever be published.

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

I am so fortunate to have been out of the workplace for the past several years. So my life isn’t nearly as fast-paced as it used to be. Plus our children are grown and married, so Rick and I are enjoying the bliss of the empty nest and grandchildren. That doesn’t mean the pressures of the world don’t filter in, especially being married to a man as busy as Rick. I soothe the savage beast by listening to my favorite contemporary worship music, with quiet evenings at home with a good book, and with the good company of family and friends on a regular basis. But get me on a California freeway, and hear me roar.

How do you choose your characters’ names?

Sometimes a character’s name comes easily, sometimes it comes by experiment, but I know it when I hear it. And I can’t advance until it’s right. I mean, how can you tell a person’s story if you don’t know who that person is? Even secondary characters’ names have to be right. And when I pick up a book I’m thinking about reading, if the protagonist’s name turns me off, chances are I won’t read the book.

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?

Let’s assume we’re not talking about our children, because that’s a given. With that in mind, I wrote my Christmas novella, A Heavenly Christmas in Hometown, not just as a novel but in play form as well, and produced it at my church 3 years ago. That was one of the most delightful things I’ve ever done. And now it has special significance. Our son and a very close friend were actors in the play, and last year we lost both of them within 3 months of each other. Having the DVD of the performance is something we’ll always cherish.

I also write and produce plays. If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?

I’d be an Old English Sheepdog, content to curl up in front of the hearth. But if I could pretend I was something other than a sheepdog, I’d be a gazelle or a humpback whale.

What is your favorite food?

Japanese and Mexican. Preferably not together.

Of course not! What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?

Like almost every other writer I know, becoming published was the hardest problem I’ve faced as a writer. I went to a major writers’ conference 4 years ago and everything changed. I met a couple of editors who liked my writing, I signed with an agent, and in a comparatively short period of time I had a contract. Now I try to go to that conference every year.

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

Write what you love, because it will come through in your work. Hone your craft by writing, writing, writing. Get honest feedback, from other writers if possible, and as my daughter Deanne would say, chew the meat and spit out the bones. Read the best books on writing (my top picks are Write Tight by William Brohaugh, Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, Write Away by Elizabeth George, and Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell), but remember, they’re guidelines. In the end, do what works for you! And by all means, find a writers’ conference to attend.

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

In part, the book deals with a life-changing illness that a very close friend of mine was diagnosed with several years ago. That’s what inspired the story. I learned in the past few months that another dear friend has the same illness. We all face loss at one point or another in our lives, and at times, sorrow seems to outweigh the joy. The Apostle Paul said, “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men” (1 Cor. 15:19). Fortunately that is not the case. An incredible future lies ahead for those who have accepted the greatest Gift of all. Like I said in my Acknowledgments, the end is really the beginning.

How can readers find you on the Internet?

Visit my website: www.sharonksouza.com. I’d love to hear from you.

Thank you for spending this time with us, Sharon.

Readers, leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of Every Good and Perfect Gift.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

A Wonderful Day for Winners!!!

Lindsey is the winner of On the Loose by Jenny B. Jones.

Sherrie Ashcraft is the winner of Courting Emma by Sharlene MacLaren.

Lisa Harris is the winner of Illuminated by Matt Bronleewe.

Please send me your mailing address, so we can get these books out to you. There's a link to my email under my profile.

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

Laurie Alice Eakes - Better Than Gold
Megan DiMaria - Searching for Spice
Anne Kimberly - Dark Well of Decision

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Author Anne Kimberly - DARK WELL OF DECISION

Today, we're talking to Anne Kimberly.

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

My characters all reflect someone I have known or a part of myself. The main character, Zoe, is a direct reflection of who I was and how I felt as a young girl.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

Ask the governor of Ohio if he was a Christian in a big town meeting. I was scared out of my wits!

When did you first discover that you were a writer?

I have enjoyed writing since I was young. One of my schoolteachers loved one of the stories I submitted to her so much that she sent me around to read it to other classes. I forgot all about that as I grew older, married and had children. One day a friend of mine made a comment in one of our emails that I should consider writing a book, explaining that my way of describing things and events made her feel as if she were there, that it allowed her to clearly picture in her mind what she was reading. The Lord used her that day. She saw something in me that I couldn’t see in myself.

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

Some of my favorites are fantasy books such as the C.S. Lewis series The Chronicles of Narnia and A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Ingle, true-life adventures such as Follow the River by James Alexander Thom and The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank, animal stories such as those from James Harriot and John Katz. I guess you can see why my first book was a YA!

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

Dark Well of Decision is my first and only book, so far. I do have several sequels in the works.

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

The only way to keep my sanity and my priorities in line is to make God the center of my life. Everything else branches off Him. Nothing is more important than He is.

How do you choose your characters’ names?

The names I chose for my characters are actual Biblical names with appropriate meaning for each one. One example is Areli, Zoe’s huge canine companion. His name means “Lion of God” and in Dark Well, she needs God’s lion to protect her from the roaring lion of the enemy.

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?

If others can see Jesus and His love for them through what I do, that would be my greatest accomplishment.

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

I would be one of my cats. Man they have the life! No worries or responsibilities, their food appears on time, they can sleep and play all day!

What is your favorite food?

I would have to say pizza.

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

One of my greatest roadblocks was believing that my work was good enough for an agent to pick up or a publisher to publish. I still struggle with a fear that I shouldn’t be titled an author at all. I’m just an ordinary person trying to follow God closely and use whatever talent I have been given to the best of my ability. I have faith to know that God will use Dark Well for His kingdom and purposes. I do my best to follow His lead and leave the rest up to Him.

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

Commit your way to the Lord and He will bring it to pass. This whole writing process requires hard work and a great deal of time. If you get discouraged, remember you’re not in it alone and God has a way of opening doors for us that no man can close.

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

Thirteen-year-old Zoe is confused and frightened with the unfamiliar thoughts and emotions of becoming a teenager. Things she wouldn’t have thought to question before come under scrutiny, including God. Was the Bible true? Did God exist? If so, did He care about her? Exploring an ancient well one summer morning was the beginning of her adventure. In one frightening moment after peering into the foreboding opening, she finds herself pulled by a strange force down into its liquid depths. Trapped and completely alone, she cries out to the God she’s not sure exists. Out of the darkness a tiny balcony suddenly appears, softly illuminated by flickering lanterns. Where did it come from? It wasn’t there before! And where does it lead? In the midst of another world, she is faced with the biggest decision of her life while pitted against a powerful evil that seeks to destroy her.

How can readers find you on the Internet?

Readers can go to my website at www.annekimberly.com or find me at http://www.myspace.com/myannekimberly or my publisher’s website www.highlandpress.org. They may also contact me personally at myannekimberly@yahoo.com.

Thank you for spending this time with us, Anne.

Readers, check our her web sites. Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of the book.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Author Megan DiMaria - SEARCHING FOR SPICE

We're welcoming Megan DiMaria back to the blog today.

Welcome, Megan. Why do you write the kind of books you do?

I write contemporary fiction because I connect so well with that genre. My characters are known to be very flawed people who are simply trying to follow the Lord and do the right thing.

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

Oh, what a difficult question! I’ve been blessed to have many happy days. Any day I can enjoy the love of family and companionship of friends is a wonderful day—and thank God, that’s often.

How has being published changed your life?

The biggest change is that I’m much busier. I still work a part-time day job and juggle work, writing and family. Whew.

What are you reading right now?

I just cracked open Every Good & Perfect Gift by Sharon Souza, and I was immediately captivated. I can’t wait to finish this novel.

What is your current work in progress?

Right now I’m working on edits for Out of Her Hands which will be released in October by Tyndale. I’ve got about 1,000 words written on book # 3 which has yet to be titled.

What would be your dream vacation?

I’ve been dreaming aboiut going to Ireland and Italy, to honor my heritage and my husband’s. Hopefully that will happen before too much time passes.

How do you choose your settings for each book?

My first two books are set in Pine Grove, Colorado, which is the original name of my town. Not surprisingly, it has a lot of similarities to my area. This makes the setting easy to write because I’m living in it.

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

I know this sounds sappy, but my answer is family and friends. This life is but a season, and time spent in the company of loved ones is the best.

What are your hobbies, besides writing and reading?

In good weather, I love to be outdoors. I like gardening, walking and hanging out on my patio.

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

My most difficult obstacle is staying on task. On some days even cleaning the yard of dog poo seems more interesting than writing.

I know what your mean. What advice would you give to a beginning author?

My advice to a beginning author is write regularly, read regularly, join a writers group or two, hang out with writers, have your work critiqued and attend conferences if you can. I confess, many times in my writing journey I was tempted to throw in the towel. But the moral of the story is, don’t give up. Hold on to your dreams. Press on. Trust God. Someone once told me writers don’t fail, they quit. And I decided to believe it.

Tell us about the featured book.

Searching for Spice is the story of Linda and Jerry Revere. Linda longs to experience a sizzling affair, with Jerry, her husband of nearly 25 years. Of course you know how life is—nothing goes according to plan. I’ve been thrilled with the great reviews I’ve been getting. So many women identify with the goal of creating a more romantic marriage. It was a blast to write and I’m happy that people are enjoying reading it as well.

How can readers find you on the Internet?

Thank you very much for letting me stop by and visit, Lena. Please feel free to check out www.megandimaria.com and chat with me via my blog at http://megandimaria.blogspot.com

Megan, thank you for spending this time with us.

Readers, you'll want to get a hold of this book. Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Author Laurie Alice Eakes - BETTER THAN GOLD

I've known Laurie Alice for several years. This book Better Than Gold is the final book in the Ohio Brides series by Heartsong Presents. My book, A Daughter's Quest was book one, and Tara's Gold by Lisa Harris was book two.

Welcome, Laurie Alice. Why do you write the kind of books you do?

That's easy—they are the kind of books I like to read and can't find enough of; therefore, I write them for myself and am glad others can now read them, too.

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

Probably when I got married. The day started out rainy and cold, not good for an outdoor wedding, but by the afternoon, the weather was perfect. It was as though the cloudy part of my life, where I wandered looking for love, had passed and the sun came out.

How has being published changed your life?

I live in a town where the first question people ask about you is, "What do you do?" When I say I'm a published author, I get a double take and silence. Interpretation—people think I'm a little strange. And I don't care. I have more fun writing that working in a corporate office. So I have to say my life is more interesting. Besides that, I never before made such great friends and met so many interesting people.

What are you reading right now?

Second Glance by Jodi Picoult for a book club to which I belong, Everyday Life in Elizabethan England, and Death of a Cad by M.C. Beaton.

What is your current work in progress?

I'm working on an adventure story set in 1816 England, where the hero is a former highwayman and the heroine a widow who has just found out her husband gambled away everything they owned.

What would be your dream vacation?

About six months in southwest Portugal. The sunshine, the people, the food, the ocean there are all incredible. Ten days was not enough. Of course, I'd like about six months in Great Britain, too.

How do you choose your settings for each book?

That depends on the story I want to tell. With Better than Gold, I had the idea, then worked out where the idea would work most logically. In other cases, I fall in love with a setting and want to set a story there. Sometimes, as in the case with Family Guardian, the genre of the story dictated the setting.

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

In thinking of this answer, I ran through a lot of famous people, and decided that, although I find many political and entertainment persons interesting, I'd rather spend my time with someone like Liz Curtis Higgs. Besides being a fabulous writer, she's an amazing human being and woman of God, and I would like to talk with her one on one.

What are your hobbies, besides writing and reading?

Hiking in the mountains and attending live theater.

I've always loved (and participated in) live theater, too. What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?

Typing. I'm a terrible typist. Something is disconnected between my brain and my fingers, and I am much, too slow for my liking, which makes writing frustrating at times because I'm thinking faster than I can get the words down. So I've learned to outline extensively so I don't lose ideas in the slow pace. And I edit a great deal to catch as many typos as possible. Time is often a problem, and mostly that is my fault, so saying it's an obstacle is cheating.

What advice would you give to a beginning author?

No matter how much you want to, don’t quit your day job. Again and again, I hear people say that they know they’re called to be writers. Then, a year down the line, the family is in financial straits because they don’t have that income, and the person is whining about not being published yet. If you can only get a page a day written, you will get a novel or more written in a year. Be consistent, though, and finish something. That’s the main advice—get something finished. Something else I see new writers doing is writing three chapters and a synopsis and sending it in hopes of a sale. No one is going to buy on a proposal, so get that novel finished first. Then, while waiting to hear back on that one, start another one and write it all the way through. The average in the industry is that people sell their fourth finished manuscript. Some sell the first one. Others write ten or twelve before they sell. If you are serious, then keep writing full works until you get the right combination of story, talent, editor, and market to make a sale.

Very good advice, Laurie Alice. Tell us about the featured book.

Better than Gold
is the third book in the Heartsong Presents Iowa Historical Series. Once upon a time, I came up with the concept of a series of three books where people keep coming to a small town to look for stolen government gold said to have been last known to be in that town. But no one can find it until the last book. I pitched it to Lena Nelson Dooley and Lisa Harris, who got on board with me, and the rest is history. It is, too. Rumors of missing government gold abound in the West. But what the characters all have to learn is a right heart with the Lord and love are far richer than money.

How can readers find you on the Internet?

My web site is http://www.lauriealiceeakes.com and my blog is http://www.seizethechance.blogspot.com.

Thank you for spending this time with us, Laurie Alice.

Readers, check out Laurie's web site and blog.

Leave a comment on this post for a chance to win a free copy of the book.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

More Winners!!!

Bebemiqui is the winner of Return to Baragula by Mary Hawkins.

The winner for the Vonda Skelton gift basket for Seeing Through the Lies was from a different blog on the tour.

Brittanie is the winner of On Sparrow Hill by Maureen Lang.

Please send me your mailing address, so we can get the book out to you. There's a link to my email in my profile.

There's still time to leave comments on these blogs for the next drawing:

Jenny B. Jones - On the Loose
Sharlene MacLaren - Courting Emma
Matt Bronleewe - Illuminated

Do you like to read reviews? My April newsletter is up on my web site. I feature reviews of the books I read during the month:


Thursday, April 03, 2008

Author Matt Bronleewe - ILLUMINATED

When I started hearing about this book, I knew I wanted to interview the author, so I contacted him.

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

The people that know me best say there’s much less of me in the characters than they were expecting. (I think they say this because my characters are smart and charming, bearing little resemblance to me! Ha!) What seems to be happening is actually the reverse – I’m becoming more like my characters, especially my main character August Adams. He’s enthralled with ancient books…mysterious books, and I certainly am taking on that characteristic more all the time.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

I once took a meeting as an “alter ego”, wearing zany clothes and calling myself “Rockefeller.” My stunt failed miserably as my manager failed to go along with the ruse. Oh well.

When did you first discover that you were a writer?

Am I a writer? Really? I still don’t feel like I belong in that club. AUTHOR. The title still sounds so daunting, so beyond my ability. But I LOVE writing. I know now that I’m hooked, that I am forced by some uncontrollable urge to WRITE. It was around my 30th birthday – nearly four years ago – that I first felt like tackling the impossible task of writing a novel. Now, after just finishing my second – called HOUSE OF WOLVES – I’ve discovered that it is, indeed, possible. But still incredibly hard!

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

I’m reading a biography about John D. Rockefeller right now. (Rockefeller! There it is again! He’s a distant relative…so now you understand the reference.) I really love any biography about people who lived near the turn of the 20th century. I read lots of fiction – vampire thrillers, historical thrillers, serial killer thrillers, etc. It’s really no surprise that “Illuminated” is a thriller! I also read TONS of books for research. I just finished one about medieval marginalia…fascinating stuff!

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

is my first! It’s such a strange feeling, having a book come out and having NO IDEA how people would react to it. It’s been such a rush to see so much enthusiasm and support for the book! Definitely fuels me to do even better the next time around. And I promise you, HOUSE OF WOLVES will be an absolute thrillride!

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

Sanity? What’s that? Truly, there is nothing sane about this whole endeavor. I sit in front of a computer screen making up a story that people are going to BUY AND READ?? It seems impossible. So I just have to push reality aside and run ahead in a state of complete delirium that everything is going to be OK. See what I mean? Insane!

How do you choose your characters’ names?

This question has come up many times for me because my two main characters are named AUGUST and APRIL. There are many somewhat secret reasons for the names. In the end, any character name just has to sound right in my ear…it’s a very musical thing for me, actually. I lean on my experience in music to find the right tone for any name. I just want something DIFFERENT and COOL.

Actually, my grandfather was August M. Nelson. What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?

Finding a woman that agreed to spend the rest of her life with me, share a home with me, raise children with me…that comes before anything else!

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

A tiny furry woodland creature. As for a reason, I have none. None that make any sense, anyway!

What is your favorite food?

Depends on the mood I’m in. Pizza is always RIGHT UP THERE, especially if it’s from New York or Chicago! Any good Italian rocks. Indian food, in my humble opinion, has the capacity to yield some of the tastiest dishes on earth. Don’t get me started on food!!

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

It’s always tricky for me to find enough hours in the day, or week, or month, to write as much as I’d like to. I’d write all day, every day, if I could. But there are a lot of other things I need to take care of, too. I’m still doing music full time, and I like to spend as much time with my wife and kids as I can. And then there’s church, and my friends, and…there’s always too much going on! But I love it. I’m learning to live a disciplined life, to set aside the proper amount of time for everything.

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

First, believe that it’s possible. If I can get a book on the shelf, anyone can! I’m a farm kid from Kansas. I didn’t graduate from Harvard. I’m not a speaker on national television. I just had a vision and a passion that wouldn’t let me sleep at night! Plus a ton of blessings I never deserved. If I could tell anyone just starting out anything, I would say this: FIRST, write the book. You’ll never get anywhere talking about the book you really, really want to write. No one’s going to do it for you, so get to work now. And SECOND, surround yourself with people you admire, with people better than yourself, because they’ll encourage you, help you raise your game, and provide you with the opportunities to rise to the next level. You can’t do this alone! And you might as well take this journey with people you enjoy!

Very sage advice. What would you like to tell us about the featured book?

is a flat-out thrill-a-minute page-turner that will grab you from the beginning and keep holding on until you’ve abandoned sleep to reach the epic conclusion! Am I overselling it? Read it and tell me for yourself! I had a freaking BLAST writing Illuminated and I believe you’ll have a blast reading it!

How can readers find you on the Internet?

And the book can be found at any local bookstore and WWW.AMAZON.COM

Thanks! Peace. Matt Bronleewe.

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

Readers, check out all Matt's spaces. Then get a copy of Illuminted.

You can win a copy by leaving a comment on this interview. Be sure to check back to see if you win. Sign up for FeedBlitz (under my profile) if you're afraid you'll forget.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Author Sharlene MacLaren - COURTING EMMA

I'm happy to welcome Sharlene MacLaren back to the blog. We all enjoyed the first two books in this series. And I know I awaited Courting Emma with great anticipation. I have to tell you that, if possible, this book was better than the first two in the Little Hickman Creek series.

Welcome, Sharlene. What are some of the spiritual themes you like to write about?

My greatest joy is to write about triumph through struggles, victory in the midst of heartache, and hope in the face of sorrow. All my stories involve some sort of tragic event, which puts my characters on a quest for truth, healing, and wholeness. I love weaving scripture passages throughout in the hopes it will prompt my readers to open their Bibles and find answers for their own struggles.

And you do that really well. What other books of yours are coming out soon?

After Courting Emma, I will be releasing a contemporary novel titled Long Journey Home. This book will release in September ’08. Then beginning in January ’09, I’m launching my next 3-book historical series – The Daughters of Jacob Kane.

If you could spend an evening with one contemporary person (not a family member of yours), who would it be and why?

I think I’d have to say Beth Moore. I love her Bible studies. She is a dynamic individual with a huge heart for women. I have learned so much from her wonderful studies.

I've been in the studio audience when an interview with her and husband was recorded by James Robison. She has a powerful presence. How long have you known that you wanted to be novelist?

I’ve always enjoyed writing—but I didn’t actually write my first novel until the ripe age of 52! I was a couple of years away from retirement and already fretting about what I was going to do with myself. I pled with God to give me a new direction for my life, something that would fulfill me – as my teaching career had done. It started with a dream. I know that sounds “cliché-ish”, but it’s true. I dreamt I’d written a book. I thought the dream was odd, but after dreaming it three more times, I sat up, took notice, and thought, hmm, is God trying to tell me something? (Slow learner!) So, with much trepidation and an idea for a story floating around in my head, I sat at my computer one fine summer day in the year 2000 and started writing, and I’ve been at it ever since.

It's a wonderful life for sure. What can you tell authors who have been receiving only rejections from publishers?

Never allow those rejection letters to discourage you to the point of quitting. Okay, you can quit for a day or so, but then jump right back into it. If you have a strong urge to write, and you believe in your heart God gave you a passion for it, then chances are good you’ll publish someday. The trick is to keep plugging away. Honing your skill takes hours of hard work and study, not to mention attending conferences, reading in your genre, joining critique groups, and learning the industry. Pray, pray, pray. If God wants you published, it will happen, but bear in mind, it’s all about Him and His perfect timing.

That is so true. Now, Sharlene, tell us about the featured book.

Here’s a brief synopsis of my latest book, COURTING EMMA, third and final installment in The Little Hickman Creek Series: Twenty-eight-year old Emma Browning has experienced a good deal of life in her young age. Sole owner of Emma's Boardinghouse, she is "mother" to an array of beefy, unkempt, often rowdy characters. Though many men would like to get to know the steely, hard-edged, yet surprisingly lovely, proprietress, none has truly succeeded. That is, not until the town's new pastor, Jonathan Atkins, takes up residence in the boardinghouse, affecting not only her with his devout faith and strong convictions, but her clientele as well. Emma clings desperately to her stubborn ways, refusing to acknowledge God's love—until all of Little Hickman witnesses a real-life miracle! Only then will Emma begin to experience God's power at work.

How can readers find you on the Internet?

Oh, do please come visit me. I will always reply to emails or comments on my website or blog. Here’s my contact information, and thanks for the opportunity you’ve given me to share. This has been wonderful fun. May God bless each of you with bountiful grace and joy!

Thank you for spending this time with us Sharlene.

Readers, do check her websites. She's just as gracious as she sounds.

You'll want to get a copy of Courting Emma. Leave a comment and you might win one.