Sunday, August 31, 2008

Julie Lessman - A PASSION REDEEMED - Free Book

I've really been looking forward to this interview. And my book came yesteday. We picked it up at the post office late, and I've started the first few pages.

Hi, Julie, welcome once again to my blog. Why do you write the kind of books you do?

For women like me who crave a great love story with LOTS of romantic tension, but without the gratuitous sex. According to the American Religious Identification Survey conducted by the Barna Group, “nine out of ten women nationwide consider themselves to be Christian.” The majority of these women fall into a category I would define as “Mainstream Christianity" -- women who proclaim God, but not always in their sexuality. Many of these women want compelling novels with strong romantic tension and often turn to the secular market to satisfy this need. But wouldn't it be wonderful if they were drawn to a novel of passion and encountered God's ideas on sexuality along the way?

For myself, I cannot thoroughly enjoy a novel unless the romantic element is threaded with God’s precepts. Yet it is rare to find a novel that merges romantic passion and spirituality with an intensity that appeals to me and this mainstream majority. One of the few novels that has successfully done so is Francine Rivers’ Redeeming Love, which, in my opinion, is why this novel topped the CBA Bestseller List four years in a row, remaining a CBA bestseller to this day.

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

Boy, Lena, ask a tough question, why don’t ya?? Holy cow, I’m an emotional type of gal, so I have a LOT of happiest days, but … if I have to pick just one … it would be the day I married my very own romance hero AND my best friend, my husband Keith. I had NO idea at the time just HOW good God was being to me, but I do now, which definitely qualifies it as the “happiest day” of my life.

I understand completely. I was a Christian walking a rebellion when God brought my wonderful husband to me. He was God's greatest gift to me, after Jesus. How has being published changed your life?

The biggest change is that I have more peace about my writing. Before I was published, I honestly had NO idea if I was any good or not. But now, I feel a little more secure with three books under my belt. That is, until I started writing the synopses for the next 3-book series! YIKES, the doubts are back, which is okay because it just means I have to trust in God that much more. And believe me, I do! :-)

What are you reading right now?

I am almost finished reading An Irishwoman’s Tale by Patti Lacy, and although I am not usually a women’s fiction fan, this book has mesmerized me with its vivid imagery and haunting story. It is wonderfully well written.

Good. I'm featuring it on my blog later. What is your current work in progress?

Currently I am putting together another 3-book proposal for my publisher that will finish off the saga of the O’Connors. Book 1 will be the story of the youngest daughter, Katie, which will be fun because she is a pistol who comes of age in the Roaring Twenties, right before The Great Depression. Books 2 and 3 will be about the O’Connor brothers, Sean and Steven, during the exciting era of speakeasies, dance marathons, gangsters, G-men and era criminals like Bonnie & Clyde and John Dillenger. Steven will be a tall, brooding G-man-type modeled after Elliot Ness … you know, a la Robert Stack from the Untouchables? Hubba hubba. I’m very excited because all three plots are very involved, include detailed sub-stories for ALL the character couples (can you say “complicated”???) and each plot has surprises that I hope will blow you away!

I'm sure they will. You do know I'll want to feature you with each book. What would be your dream vacation?

Mmmm … a beach bungalow on an unspoiled tropical island with my husband and lots of my favorite things—good friends, great books and old movies.

How do you choose your settings for each book?

Well, Boston and Dublin are the only two settings I’ve used in all three novels of The Daughters of Boston series, which are the only books I’ve written, and I chose those cities when I was a little girl. As you may remember, I started writing A Passion Most Pure at the age of twelve after reading Gone With the Wind and immediately knew I wanted an Irish family coping with a war (like GWTW), but didn’t have the audacity to try another Civil War epic. :-) Ireland was always a given, and Dublin is one of its biggest cities, so that’s why I chose it.

As far as Boston, I have never been there, but I LOVED Boston Baked Beans candy when I was kid, as well as anything Colonial (I used to LOVE Disney’s Swamp Fox show), so I am guessing I just picked Boston because of those reasons. You can imagine my excitement when I wrote A Passion Most Pure 40 years later and learned that Boston was considered the heart of Irish America because of its large contingent of immigrants after the potato famine. Very cool!

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

President George Bush because I admire him greatly for his deep faith.

Yes. I've prayed for him all through his presidency. What are your hobbies, besides writing and reading?

Dinners out with friends, watching old movies (Gone With the Wind, That Touch of Mink, Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Susan Slept Here are some of my favorites), gardening and hosting elaborate dinner parties a la Martha Stewart. I’m pretty driven in whatever I do (anal might be a better word). And, yes, I’ve been known to pipe guest’s initials into their twice-baked potatoes, cut napkin rings out of real lemons to hold lemon green beans, and sketch a layout for how the food would be placed on the plate. Which was fine when I was younger and had the energy to do it, but these days, sitting at my computer with a candle burning and a cup of Hazelnut Cinnamon coffee is my pastime of choice.

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

E-MAILS. I like to handle the urgent ones first thing in the morning while I drink my hazelnut coffee and eat my peach oatmeal, then pray and read the Bible. BUT, what’s been happening lately, is I seem to spend more and more time on e-mails, which is NOT good. So, what I have taken to doing is turning Outlook off throughout the day and only checking here and there AND trying to stay brief … which as you know from my almost 500-page novels, is not easy.

What advice would you give to a beginning author?

Basically the same advice that published authors gave to me:
1.) Join ACFW, FHL and RWA, both to get connected with other like-minded writers and to learn a lot about your craft.
2.) Take a fiction-writing class or attend a writing seminar or conference.
3.) Join a critique group.
4.) Purchase and study writing books such as Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King or Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maas, AND invest in a great thesaurus such as The Synonym Finder by Rodale Press (my writer’s bible!!).
5.) Go for an agent first, publisher second.
6.) Then pray your heart out and put it in God’s hands.

Tell us about the featured book.

Here’s the jacket blurb:

No man can resist her charms. Or so she thought.
Depth of beauty … shallow of heart, Charity O’Connor is a woman who gets what she wants. She sets her sights on a man who wants nothing to do with her, and although the sparks are there, he refuses to fan the coals of a potential relationship with a woman who ruined his life. Charity burned him once, destroying his engagement to the only woman he ever truly loved. He won’t play with matches again. But Charity has a plan to turn up the heat, hoping to ignite the heart of the man she loves. And she always gets what she wants—one way or another.

A Passion Redeemed will captivate your heart and stir your soul with a story of faith and redemption rising from the ashes of temptation, desire, and shame.

How can readers find you on the Internet?

Thanks, Lena, for allowing me this time to connect with you and your readership.
Anyone who would like to contact me can do so through my Web site at, either by sending an e-mail via my site or by signing up for my newsletter, in which I feature book giveaways. Finally, I invite your readers to visit The Seekers, a group blog of which I am a part that talks about “The road to publication. Writing, contests, publication and everything in between.” You can find it at

Thank you for spending this time with us, Julie.

Readers, leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of A Passion Redeemed. If you don't win, be sure to get a copy.

Then check out Julie's web sites.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Last of the August Winners!!!

Karen (kpuleski) is the winner of Ohio Weddings by Beth Loughner.

Ausjenny is the winner of Final Deposit by Lisa Harris.

Niki (Niki716) is the winner of Shadow of Danger by Jeanne Marie Leach.

Please send your mailing address to me, so I can get it to the author. There's a link to my mailing address in my profile in the right hand column.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Author Michelle Sutton - IT'S NOT ABOUT ME - Free Book

I take great pleasure in introducing you to this debut author. She's my favorite "Chocolate Lady" at the ACFW national conferences.

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

In this particular story, not much. The main thing that is similar to my experience is what happened to Annie to destroy her life. A very similar situation happened to a good friend of mine and I remember thinking “that would make for an interesting story” way back before I even started writing fiction. I know a lot of people who have personalities very much like Annie, but she and I are not alike. Perhaps an occasional thought in her head is something I’ve thought before, and some of the other situations in the book are similar to people I know, but like I said, not much. The majority is completely fictitious.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

I don’t how quirky you would consider this but my sister and I were making blueberry tofu shakes while at my mom’s home for the week of her funeral. Like a dummy I put the spoon into the blender and a majority of the shake splattered on my sister and I and the rest hit the walls and ceiling. For the next few days we would find an occasional blob of shake we’d missed when cleaning up and we’d crack up laughing until we cried. It was great for stress relief. I remember thinking, “this would make for an interesting scene in a book” but that was in 1998 and I didn’t start writing fiction until 2003. Are you sensing God preparing my mind for writing novels? It seems that way to me.

It does to me, too. When did you first discover that you were a writer?

I took my first crack at writing in August of 2003. I had just finished reading a Love Inspired novel by Cynthia Rutledge, who was my favorite LI author. It was so great I wrote to her and she wrote me back and told me her story about how she started writing fiction. From that point on, I felt God calling me to write to reach people through fiction with some of the insights He has given me through my life experience either through friendships, work experience, or my own life.

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

My favorite books are a toss up between historical romance and chick lit (thanks to Kristin Billerbeck getting me hooked on the genre.) Women’s fiction and contemporary romance come next in line. Any book that is edgy, unique, romantic, and highly emotional or tense will rank high for me despite the genre.

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

I’ve changed my working days to four ten hour days. That has helped quite a bit. I still have an active social life and family life, but I don’t sit around and do nothing. I almost never watch television. I prefer to read a good book any day. I also like to build fires in the fireplace in the colder weather and sit by the fire and read. It relaxes me.

How do you choose your characters’ names?

I just start writing and who they are comes out with the story. I don’t usually know their names first. I mull the story over in my head and then out pops their name.

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?

I’d say having my kids, but they are a gift from God. I could say my marriage but that takes two. I can’t even really say my writing because God has inspired me in every book I’ve written so it was a team effort there, too. I’d say maybe my ability to read and write as much as I do and still get a full night’s sleep every night.

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

That’s an interesting question. Maybe I’d be an eagle because I like to watch everyone and observe. I also enjoy soaring (on a spiritual and emotional level) more than most activities. The only bummer is that I don’t think eagles sing like most birds do and I absolutely love singing.

What is your favorite food?

That’s tough because I like most foods, but since living in the Southwest I have acquired a taste for anything Mexican. While growing up it would’ve been Italian since where I lived in New York everyone was Italian except for me and a few others, but not many. For dessert anything with chocolate in it works for me.

See, I told you she was the chocolate lady. Tell us a little about your journey to publication.

Well, I wrote three books before I ever did anything with them except show them to friends and family. By the third book I contacted a local editor and she suggested joining ACFW (then ACRW) and that was the best thing I ever did for my writing career. I learned so much and made so many good friends. We’re like family.

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

For me it was probably all of the different things I learned along the way. I can see trends in my style. For a time I tried twisting sentences around so everything didn’t start out the same, but then sometimes stuff sounded weird and impossible to accomplish. I laugh about that now.

What advice would you give to others who are trying to get their first book published?

Don’t settle for just anything. Get a good agent and submit wherever they think is best. Then be patient and wait until you know that what you are doing is what God wants for your career. Some books may never be sold so just keep writing until one of them does. The story I sold was the fifth book I’d written out of ten. I still have a bunch of manuscripts “out there” with publishers.

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

Besides that the experience Annie had is what happened to a friend of mine (lest you think it was unbelievable) I’d have to say I loved writing about the brothers’ conflicts throughout the book. They have some interesting battles and their true character comes out of some of those spats. I also love the message of the story that God gave me to write. If you read it I hope you’ll agree that it does make you think about a lot of things that are important and God-inspired. I also think it’s edgier than most CBA novels and I love that my editor is letting me keep what I originally wrote and even embellish some. There is incredible beauty in being given the artistic freedom to express a story and have it published the way it was meant to be written.

How can my readers find you on the Internet?

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

Readers, leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of Michelle's debut novel. If you don't win, go out and get one anyway.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Author Linda P. Kozar - MISFORTUNE COOKIES - Free Book

Today, we're featuring the debut novel of one of the women who's in the online loop connected with the critique group that meets in my home. I'm really proud of Linda.

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

I probably write some of myself and my own POV in my characters—but honestly, I write a lot about the people I know or meet. Observations, snippets of conversation in the coffee line at Starbucks and funny incidents right out of everyday life form the basis of much of what I do.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

At a friend’s bachelorette party, I hired a stripper! Actually, it was a guy who kept his clothes on, but stripped a piece of wood. Not what anyone initially expected and not very exciting in some ways, but funny!

Readers, I have to tell you that Linda is a lot of fun. When did you first discover that you were a writer?

In first or second grade I decided that when I grew up I was going to be an author. I loved to read and often didn’t like the endings, so I decided I would write books with the kind of endings I wanted.

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

I enjoy an eclectic range. Of course I read a lot of the classics as a base to start with. But I favor mysteries, suspense, historicals, and even some sci-fi though I haven’t read much of it in the past few years.

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

I read a devotion every morning—usually something from my favorite, Streams in the Desert and then I read a chapter from the Bible. I’m in Mark right now and work my way through the Bible time and again, a chapter at a time.

How do you choose your characters’ names?

Whenever we travel I bring a small notebook and pen with me and jot down any places or names, even situations I find interesting. Names in different locales are surprisingly different. Sometimes, they’re pretty amusing too. My character, “Lovita” was named from a restaurant called “Lovita’s Fish and Chick” in Washington State.

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?

Helping other writers to reach their fullest potential. Really that is the greatest feeling—to partner with writers who are trying their best to answer the call God has on their life to write, but don’t know how to go about it. I love it when I see the light go on in their eyes, when they realize that their dream really is possible and attainable.

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

Probably a Chuppacabra! Cause I’m menopausal. Rrrrrrr!

Wow, the last two animals are sending me to the Internet to find out what they are. What is your favorite food?

Spinach and corn tamales—or really any kind of tamale. I’ve even tried a cactus tamale and it was delish!

Tell us a little about your journey to publication.

I write fiction and nonfiction. The first book I worked on was nonfiction—a great idea and finished too, but because I had no name or sales to back me up, it didn’t sell. It will one day. I believe it. Then an idea came to me one day to write a book about two overweight single friends who are growing in size and age and still looking for Mr. Right in all the wrong ways. Funny, the story just sort of wrote itself. Thoughts came pouring out of me like a bust in the Hoover Dam! The characters are so much fun—like old friends. I love writing about their lives. So far I have the first two books in the When The Fat Ladies Sing series done. I’ve only just started the third.

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

I have two roadblocks—email and boredom! Checking email can really become an obsession, so I have to watch that. As for boredom, when I get bored with whatever I’m writing, I erase it! If I’m bored, I know I’ve gone in the wrong direction and the reader is going to be bored too. As long as I’m engaged and excited about what I’m writing, I assume the reader will feel the same way.

What advice would you give to others who are trying to get their first book published?

Trust in the Lord. Don’t try to make it happen. And don’t give up!

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

Misfortune Cookies comes out on November 4th through the Heartsong Presents—Mysteries Bookclub. If you’re curious about them, I’ve blogged as my characters on the Splyglass website several times (just look for my posts).

Here’s the back cover blurb:

Bodaciously big beautiful women, Sue Jan Pritchard and Lovita Mae Horton are best friends who run a beauty shop/boutique in Wachita, a little town in West Texas. They share a passion for food—especially Chinese. One day, over lunch Lovita opens a fortune cookie to a sinister message: “Your father was murdered,” a clue which leads them to God, an international spy ring, and devastatingly handsome strangers. A most unlikely pair of detectives, these girlfriends crack the case wide open with style, sarcasm, and Szechuan.

How can readers find you on the Internet?

My website is Hope you stop by and say hi!—Linda

Linda, thank you for spending this time with us.

Readers, leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy, but it will take a little while to come.

And check out Linda's web site.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Author Janet Dean - COURTING MISS ADELAIDE - Free Book

I have really enjoyed the new Love Inspired Historicals. And here's another one. It's on the top of my to-be-read pile.

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

I suspect I could find some of me in all of my heroes and heroines, especially my faith and values. But my heroes and heroines are stronger and more confrontational than I am. And, they live far more exciting lives than I do. My wacky secondary characters remind me of other people. LOL Undoubtedly parts of me are in these characters, too. I may not have experienced all the difficulties I put my characters through, but I’ve had enough ups and downs in life to write about their struggles in a way that I hope feels real to the reader.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

Writing books. :-) To sit down and make up people who then carry on conversations in my head is quirky. Just ask my husband.

Oh, yes, my husband has told me that writers, "think weird." When did you first discover that you were a writer?

At twelve I wrote and illustrated little romances. My friends noticed and wanted to read my stories. They must’ve given me positive feedback because from that point on I knew I’d write books one day.

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

I enjoy biographies. I also like to read books that motivate and challenge me to be a better person. I love happy endings so romance novels are at the top of my fiction list. I read contemporaries and suspense, but my favorites are historical romances. I’m not a fan of thrillers and fantasy.

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

My first book was set on a ranch in Texas. I spent a year revising that manuscript, but it will never get into print without another major overhaul. The second book I wrote morphed into Courting Miss Adelaide. The sequel, Courting the Doctor’s Daughter, Steeple Hill Love Inspired Historical, will release in May 2009. I’d also written two other historical novels and a partial of a lady lit, bringing the total of books I wrote before I sold to four books.

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

Prayer. When I start my day with prayer, I’m strengthened for the challenges ahead. Plus prayer helps me remember God is in control of my life and this world. I keep a journal of the needs of friends and family and use that for intercessory prayer. I tend to think negatively so I find a gratitude journal helps me focus on the many blessings and positives in my life.

My husband’s support. My husband puts skin on his emotional support by doing chores, running errands and giving me a listening ear. For the nine years it took me to sell, he never once complained about the expense of conferences, contest entry fees or writing supplies.

Family. Our children and grandchildren give us great joy and remind me of what’s important in this life.

Friends. Some writers say they’re hermits, but I’m a people person. I need to interact with friends. Often that’s by e-mail. Occasionally, I go out to lunch or share a hobby. I attend a weekly Bible study. Meeting with my critique partner, Shirley Jump, each week is pure joy. Having writer friends like Shirley and the Seekers ( who understand the highs and lows of being a writer are a wonderful support.

How do you choose your characters’ names?

I used a few names of my ancestors in Courting Miss Adelaide, which has been fun for my family. My brothers agreed to let me name two young boys in Courting the Doctor’s Daughter after them. Usually a name comes to me and feels right for the character. I use names to give insight into the character. If I’m stymied, I grab my baby name book or lists of the most popular names in the year my story is set.

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?

Without question that would be rearing our daughters. They are wonderful young women of faith. I’m very proud of them and their families. Not that I’m taking credit for who they turned out to be. But I’m grateful for the privilege of being their mom.

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

I’d be a Bichon with an owner who puts bows in my hair to keep it out of my eyes. :-) Dogs aren’t loners and neither am I.

What is your favorite food?

Chocolate. :-)

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

In the beginning, I made every mistake possible—POV errors, head hopping, pointless scenes, purple prose, long passages of back story and a manuscript dotted with exclamation points. Probably my biggest roadblock was not having strong external conflict. I find it easy to give my hero and heroine compelling internal conflicts, but devising book-length external conflict between them is hard for me. I wouldn’t say I’ve totally overcome it. But I’m very aware that’s a weakness of mine. I focus on developing a plot that puts the hero and heroine in conflict over tangible things. How to do that varies with each book.

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

Join a writers’ group. I joined American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America and RWA’s special interest chapter Faith, Hope and Love. Their conferences, online workshops, loops, and contest feedback will bring writers to their goal faster than writing in a vacuum. The friends you’ll make are a wonderful plus.

Get a savvy critique partner or join a critique group. Writers can lose our objectivity when it comes to our work. We need fresh eyes and someone who isn’t afraid to use red ink. Look at critiques with an open mind and a teachable spirit. Then if you still feel the point is wrong, don’t change it.

Develop a strong hide. If you can’t handle criticism and rejection, you’ll be miserable and may give up. Even when you sell, critiques don’t end. Editors will want revisions and will reject proposals. Reviews can hurt. Books may not win awards. We have to be tough to survive in this business.

Write. Write. Write. I wish I’d had a larger body of work when I sold. Instead of writing more books, I polished and revised and polished some more. Not that I’m against doing your best. That polished book enabled me to sell when the door opened, but if I’d had a larger inventory, I might have more books in print by now.

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

The orphan train seemed like small-town spinster Adelaide Crum’s last chance to know the simple joys of family life. So many lost children, every one of them dreaming only of a caring home—the home she longed to offer. And yet the narrow-minded town elders refused to entrust even the most desperate child to a woman alone….

Newspaperman Charles Graves believed his heart was closed forever, but he swore to stand by this lovely, lonely woman who was fighting for the right to take some motherless child into her heart. And her gentle soul and unwavering faith made him wonder if even he could overcome the bitter lessons of the past, and somehow find the courage to love….

Romantic Times gave Courting Miss Adelaide 4 ½ stars. They called it … “a wonderfully sweet love story that includes facts about orphan trains of the 1800s.”

How can readers find you on the Internet?

My Web site:

Thank you, Janet for spending this time with us.

Readers, leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of Courting Adelaide.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

SNOWBOUND COLORADO CHRISTMAS - 4 Free Books - Authors Tamela Hancock Murray, Lena Nelson Dooley, Susan Page Davis, Darlene Franklin

Today I'm introducing the first of several Christmas books being released for this season. And I was privileged to be part of the team writing Snowbound Colorado Christmas.

Love Snowballs in Four Couples’ Lives
during the Blizzard of 1913

by Susan Page Davis, Lena Nelson Dooley,
Darlene Franklin, Tamela Hancock Murray

Love Arrives with a Blizzard

In Tamela's book, Thalia Blooms’s Christmas party on December 3, 1913, is the talk of Denver, but no one dreams the gently falling snow will continue six days and accumulate to nearly four feet.Thalia’s only dread is having to see the man who once jilted her. Could an allergy to rhubarb ruin her whole party or bring together two people who are meant for each other?

In my novel, Rose Fletcher attends her friend's party and becomes reacquainted with a man who used to work on her father's ranch. Are her feels just lingering infatuation, or could there be a future for two people from such different backgrounds.

In Susan's novel, Patricia Logan also has trouble getting home, becoming snowbound with a former admirer, a cranky midwife, and questions from the past. Can Patricia rekindle an old camaraderie and see it transform into lasting love?

In Darlene's novel, an accident while leaving the party has heiress Natalie Daire taking refuge at the Brown Palace Hotel. What could a sudden friendship with a ordinary mechanic teach her about life?

If they live through the storm, will love be there to greet each young woman on Christmas morn?

Now for the interview:

What is the name of your novella, and where in the collection does it occur?

Lena: My novella, The Best Medicine, is the second novella in the collection.

Who came up with the idea for the collection?

Susan: I’m not sure, so I’ll leave this to someone else to answer.

Tamela: We’ve had a great time trying to decide!

Darlene: My recollection is that Lena Nelson Dooley posted a request on an authors’ loop looking for people to work on a Christmas collection with her. Fortunately she invited me to work with her, Tamela Hancock Murray and Susan Page Davis—especially since I’m the only two-name author of the group! Joking aside, I feel honored to work with such a great group of writers.

How can readers find you on the Internet?

Lena: I am found several places. – my website where I write book reviews and give away free copies of my books in the monthly newsletters – my blog where I interview other authors and help promote their books. - the Internet community that I call home

Susan: Visit me at And if you’re coming to Maine, drop me an email and bring some insect repellant.

Tamela: Visit to find out about my work. I’m also a literary agent so you’ll see lots of info and links to other authors’ sites. Please send me an email to let me know you dropped by. Enjoy!

Darlene: Check out my blog,, or my website,

And you won’t want to miss the rest of the Blog Tour. Each site has a different set of questions and answers. You'll need to visit all of them to learn more about the book and each author:

September 1 – Janice Olson

September 5 - Brittanie A. Terrell

September 10 – Ronie Kendig

September 15 – Tiffany (Amber Miller) Stockton

September 16 – Tricia Goyer

September 23 – Lisa Buffaloe

September 23 - Deborah Khuanghlawn

September 30 – Linda Crow

I want to thank each person who agreed to be a part of the blog tour. Each blog will give away a free copy of the book.

And, readers, leave a comment on this blog for a chance to win a free copy. We're giving away 4 copies on this introductory blog.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

I Love to Choose Winners!!! Four This Week!!!

Rennie.78 is the winner of Quills & Promises by Amber Miller.

Rachel Hauck is the winner of The Flower of Grass by James E. Robinson.

My friend Lisa Harris told me to choose two for her interview for Bakers Fatal Dozen, so here they are--Mary and Smilingsal.

Be sure to contact me with your mailing address. There's a link to my email in my profile in the right hand column of my blog.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Author Jeanne Marie Leach - SHADOW OF DANGER - Free Book

I've visited Jeanne in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. I love the area, and Jeanie is a very hospitable person.

Hey, Jeanne, glad to have you back on my blog. Why do you write the kind of books you do?

It’s simple; I write the kinds of books I love to read. I’ve always enjoyed history, particularly of the old west. I have friends who think I was born 100 years too late, but I do love technology too.

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

My happiest day is today. When I wake up and discover that God’s mercies are new every morning, and that each new day brings a myriad of opportunities, my heart is glad. Today, I get a chance to present the gospel to someone who’s never heard the good news. Today, I can mentor someone by using what I’ve learned in the past to show them how to make their future bright and filled with hope. Today can be any kind of day I purpose in my heart to make out of it. I’m filled with the simple truth that today is the day God has made for me to rejoice and be glad in it.

How has being published changed your life?

Being published has given me more confidence in myself and in the abilities God has given to me. I fell in love with the editing process, and found myself enjoying several other aspects of the writing world such as critiquing and mentoring. Two years ago I began studying editing under Kathy Ide, founder of The Christian PEN: Proofreaders and Editors Network. Then one year later, I hung up my proverbial shingle and began freelance editing. My business grew so quickly that within six months, I was able to quit my day job and work from home at my editing and everything else related to the world of writing. Now that’s a change I never expected, but am having the time of my life.

What are you reading right now?

I’m in the middle of Captivating, a non-fiction by John and Staci Eldridge and Remembered, a historical romance by Tamara Alexander.

What is your current work in progress?

I’m currently working on a new short historical romance about a mail-order bride who gets to her desitnation only to find her fiancé had died a few days before, and the tiny townsfolk link her to some shady mine dealings her intended had allegedly been involved in.

Also, I recently got my rights back for my first historical romance, Angel in the Saloon, and I have one month to spruce it up, package it together with the other books in the Brides of Glory Gulch series, and get it ready to send to Glass Roads Productions.

What would be your dream vacation?

I have two dream vacations. First would be my hubby, two dogs and me in an RV, going all around the USA and Canada to visit God’s wonders. It would take us about 3 months to get to all the places I want to see.

The next would be a long cruise to Alaska.

I'd be glad to join you on the cruise to Alaska. How do you choose your settings for each book?

Often the settings come first. Whenever I visit a place for the first time, I never buy T-shirts, but always pick up a book about the history of the area. This will often spawn an idea for a story. Sometimes I make up a town, such as Glory Gulch, but it came from a mixture of Deadwood, South Dakota, and Morrison, Colorado.

My newest book about the mail-order bride came from a jeeping expedition to the top of the mountains one summer, where we discovered many long-forgotten gold mines, and ghost towns. After looking into the actual history of these towns, I knew I had to write a book set in that area.

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

I would like to spend an evening with Jeanette Oke because she’s my all-time favorite author. Her books were the first Christian novels I ever read, and I own all of her books (all first editions) except for one. I’d be interested in picking her brain for ideas on characterization, setting, plotting and plotting.

Also, I read that A Gown of Spanish Lace, one of my top favorite books, was actually the first book she wrote, but it was something like the fifteenth book she published. I’d love to talk to her about that too. I, like many of my writing buddies, have our first books still sitting in our computer, and it would be great to know if there’s hope for them to come to life some day.

What are your hobbies, besides writing and reading?

I love scrapbooking, snow shoeing, jeeping, exploring historical places, getting away from the things of man and going for a hike in the woods, or staying in a tiny log cabin that nobody can find. I also love going to the Denver Broncos games with my husband. We have season tickets in the club level, and we have such great times together. I also enjoy watching movies, walking the dogs, flea markets, farmer’s markets, and home decorating.

Most of all, I love sharing Jesus Christ with other ladies. I love using my talents to minister hope to women and to show them their true value to God.

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

Time. My life is so full, and there’s always something exciting to do, so finding a nice chunk of time in which to write is my biggest challenge. I often hear people say, “Life gets in the way of my writing.” I think it’s because of that life that we write. It’s simply best to not fret about what I can’t do today, and rejoice in all the great things I get to do today. If I find time to write, then that’s going to be fun too. If not, then what I’m doing, I’ll do as if I’m doing it for God. Nothing is too insignificant for God. He can use a sneeze for his glory if we let Him have total reign in our lives.

What advice would you give to a beginning author?

· Give your writing to God. Let Him be in control. Realize that if you believe He is omnipotent, then also realize that He will never let you down, and you will accomplish His will in His timing.
· Never give up!
· Don’t compare your writing journey with anyone else’s. Your story is as unique as you are. It might take one person only a year to write a book and get published, while the next person may take 12 years to accomplish the same.
· Learn! Just as with any ministry or job, there’s a training period and a learning curve. You can’t expect to just jump right in and everything will go smoothly.
· Be flexible. Don’t get exasperated because something else in your life takes away a bit of your writing time. God’s ways are not our ways.
· Never give up!
· Invest in some good writing helps books. For a list of those that I recommend, e-mail me at, and I’ll send it to you. Join a writer’s group. Join a critique group. I wrote alone for the first three years, and I had no clue what I was doing. Once I joined a couple groups, my path to publication became clearer.
· Get a copy of my book, Writing Basics for Beginners, released in January by Never give up!

Tell us about the featured book.

My fourth book, Shadow of Danger, a short historical romance, was released by Mountain View Publishing in April, 2008.

Blurb: Rachel Ringhold is roused from her bed in the middle of the night and sent away from the orphanage, where she’d grown up and now works. Dazed and confused, she flees from an undisclosed danger. With a prayer in her heart, and little money in her satchel, she sets out to find Seb Jameson, the man who used to work for the orphanage as blacksmith and handyman, and who’d captured her heart as a youth.

Tired, dirty, and malnourished, Rachel finally reaches Leadville, Colorado, and discovers Seb engaged to be married. Unaware of the turbulence in Seb and Myra’s relationship, Rachel enjoys her new life and grows to a fresh awareness of what Jesus Christ accomplished for her on the cross.

The danger suddenly catches up to her. Her renewed faith is shattered. All she’d ever wanted was for someone to love her and a home of her own, but now her dreams have been stripped from her. Who can save her? Is there anyone who would want to?

How can readers find you on the Internet?

Thank you, Jeanne Marie, for spending this time with us.

Readers, leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of Shadow of Danger. Don't forget to check back to see if you won. I still have some winners from July who haven't contacted me.

Then check out Jeanne Marie's web site and Shoutlife page.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Author Lisa Harris - FINAL DEPOSIT - Free Book

My good friend, Lisa Harris, has been very buse this year--homeschooling her children, serving as a foreign missionary with her husband, and writing novels.

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

One of my favorites lately has been the cross and how Christ ransomed us with his blood. Everything seems to go back to what He did for us at the moment, bridging the gap to the Father, so we can spend eternity with Him. What an incredible gift!

What other books of yours are coming out soon?

Baker’s Fatal Dozen was just released. (We featured it on this blog.) It’s book two in my Pricilla Crumb Cozy mystery series with Heartsong Presents: Mysteries. Next March, the third cozy in the series, Chef’s Deadly Dish, will be released, as well as a special three-in-one compilation of the series later in the spring. Check my website for updates on other books coming out in 2009.

Actually, I'm in the three-in-one with Lisa and Beth Goddard. Now, Lisa, if you could spend an evening with one contemporary person (not a family member of yours), who would it be and why?

I’m going to name my dear friend Elizabeth Smith, because I’ve been thinking about her lately and missing her. She’s in her eighties, and sadly I haven’t seen her for almost three years. When I lived in Dallas we became close friends, and she was always a bit of sunshine and encouragement in my life, especially in my writing and ministry. She’s an incredible example to me of a godly woman.

We all need someone like Elizabeth Smith in our lives. How long have you known that you wanted to be novelist?

I came across some of my first writings during our last move and had to smile at my Nancy Drew type attempts. I’ve simply always wanted to write. I put it off for years, believing it wasn’t important until one day, I decided to follow God’s prompting and write that first word. Over eleven years later, I’m so glad I did.

What can you tell authors who have been receiving only rejections from publishers?

The publishing business isn’t easy and rejections are simply part of it. Think of a pianist or a dancer who studies and practices for years. The same is true of a writer. Write, learn the craft, send out those proposal, learn from the rejections, and rejoice in the triumphs.

I love the cover. Tell us about the featured book.

I loved writing Final Deposit. It’s a fast-paced romantic suspense that deals with the very real threat of Internet scams. In 2006, the Internet Crime Report showed growing criminal activities that resulted in an estimated loss of almost two hundred million dollars. Thousands of people were scammed in such infamous con games like the Nigerian scam, fund transfer scams, and mail-order-brides.

Imagine finding out that your father has fallen victim to one of these long cons. After disposing of all his stocks, mortgaging his house, and maxing out his credit cards, George Taylor flies to Europe to meet with the man who promised him millions for his help in expediting funds out of West Africa. It’s a fortune he will never see.

When his daughter, Lindsey Taylor, tries to save her father from losing his life savings to the Internet scam, she discovers that losing everything you have isn’t the worst thing that can happen.

Oh, I can't wait to read it, Lisa. How can readers find you on the Internet?

Come visit me at or

Thank you for stopping by today. It's always a pleasure to have you.

Readers, check out her blog. I just love reading it. It makes me feel that I am in Africa with her.

And don't forget to leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of Final Deposit.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Author Beth Loughner - OHIO WEDDINGS- Free Book

Beth, welcome to my blog. I'm happy to have you here.

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

There is always a part of me evident in the hero or heroine, and some of the supporting characters, too. I like to make my characters as human, vulnerable and funny as real people.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

Funny you should ask. Last year our family drove 900 miles one way to camp in Arkansas…and to dig for diamonds at the Crater of Diamonds State Park. We had a blast digging in the dirt and finding everything except diamonds. There were three or four diamonds found a day and we were extremely happy for those lucky hunters. The family adventure, however, was worth more to us than the diamonds.

I lived in Arkansas my first 20 years and never went to that park. I wish I had. When did you first discover that you were a writer?

Since junior high school there had been some inkling in my mind that I might be a writer, but my spelling was so dreadful that I never considered it possible. After nursing college, I went back to writing and used the dictionary like it was my best friend. Soon after, I sold a short story and was doing news articles for a local paper. By then the computer spelling program had become my next best friend. When I sold my first novel in 2000, I figured there must be actual talent somewhere within.

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

I’m sorry to say that I’m not a well-rounded reader. I love fiction, especially mystery novels and romance. Christian living books would be next on my list. Writing book reviews and being church librarian has forced me to read outside of my interests, usually with pleasant results. Still, I know I should read more beyond my comfort zone.

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

My first published novel was an e-book by MountainView Publishing called Lessons of the Heart. There are three Heartsong Presents books in the Bay Island series: Bay Island, Thunder Bay, and Bay Hideaway that have been joined together in the 3-in-1 book, Ohio Weddings. There are three unpublished, cozy mystery books that I plan to dust off and polish sometime in the near future, and one current romance project that is a work in progress.

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

Prayer! And more prayer! Sometimes my life is insane and I’m involved with so many church and homeschool projects. Keeping a level head requires some down time by watching my favorite DVDs (Murder She Wrote, "Hogan’s Heroes" and Diagnosis Murder), exercising, reading and taking time to camp in the great outdoors.

How do you choose your characters’ names?

There are times when a particular character’s name is known to me before the character is barely developed. Then there are the other times. Once I even perused the white pages before settling on the perfect name. How pathetic is that? Baby books are great resources, too.

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?

Besides actually writing and completing four books, I’m most proud of being a wife and mother. It’s an extremely hard, but rewarding job to keep our family going though the busy, and often, difficult times. We are a homeschooling family and our oldest is graduating this year, ready to take on college and dorm life. It’s very satisfying to know your child loves God and is prepared to let His light shine when they set out on their own.

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

Okay, this is a really weird question. What’s worse; I have an answer. It would have to be a cat. Think about it! Cats sleep twenty hours out of the day, can successfully hide for hours at a time when they don’t want to be bothered and then waltz in the room when they do want attention, and pretend to be dumb when they’ve really got you wrapped around their paws by doing everything for them like food, water and (yuck) cleaning out their litter box in a timely manner. Tell me that this isn’t life.

What is your favorite food?

No doubt about it…pepperoni pizza. Pizza has all the food groups neatly wrapped into one. Efficient and delicious.

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

It seems as if most of my writing battles involve time…or the lack thereof. I try very hard to carve out at least a half hour each day to write. It’s important for me to meet deadlines, so I’m very careful to make sure that I have ample time (and a bit of wiggle room if something happens) to complete a writing project.

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

The hardest thing for all new writers is to endure the dreaded critique. Believe me, I know how difficult this can be, but it’s also imperative that a writer be able to step back from their writing project and listen to constructive advice. Editors are especially worthy of your attention, and writers should take their suggestions seriously. Once I had a friend ask me to comment on a short, book-length manuscript she wanted to publish about her life experiences. Unfortunately, the writing was excruciatingly slow, riddled with spelling and grammatical errors, repetitive and without natural flow. There were some very positive aspects that I encouraged her to capitalize on. In the end, she decided to keep the manuscript “just the way it is” since it reflected what she felt, and not how an editor should feel even if they refused to publish her book. How sad! The book may be your “baby”, but all babies must grow in their abilities and intellectual function. If someone is willing to give of their time to read your writing, listen to their constructive advice and work to make your manuscript the best it can be.

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

Ohio Weddings
is the compilation of the three Bay Island series books, and the result of my love for the Lake Erie, Ohio islands: Put-in-Bay and Kelley’s Island. They were so fun to write and all the characters are like family to me. When I finished the last book, it felt like I was packing my bags and leaving the island. It was difficult. I enjoy receiving mail from readers who like the island setting and feel like they are a part of the story. The characters are like real people who encounter love, laughter and……of course, problems. There are spiritual truths related to how we live and interact with one another, and the characters of Bay Island are no different. It’s also a fantastic place to fall in love.

How can readers find you on the Internet?

I’m easy to find on the Internet. Just visit my website at I love to hear from readers and other writers.

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

Readers, leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Ohio Weddings. I just love that cover, don't you?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

More Summer Winners!!!

Anita Mae is the winner of Fudge-Laced Felonies by Cynthia Hickey.

Becky C. is the winner of Blood Brothers by Rick Acker.

Sarah is the winner of Wilderness Courtship by Valerie Hansen. I'm reading this book right now and loving it.

Please email me your mailing address. There's a link in my profile in the right hand column.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Author Lisa Harris - BAKER'S FATAL DOZEN - Free Book

Oh boy, another Cozy Crumb Mystery by my friend Lisa Harris.

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

Honestly, I have my own writing goals, but I’m trying to simply give it all to Him. Something that’s not always easy to do for me. But He’s opened doors in the past couple years that I never would have even knocked on if it were up to me. Right now, I’m enjoying writing mystery and suspense for Barbour and Love Inspired Suspense, and am also working on a suspense series set in Africa.

Goody, I can hardly wait for the series set in Africa to come out. Tell us a little about your family.

I have a wonderful husband, Scott. He took me to Rio earlier this year while we were living in Brazil to celebrate our 18th anniversary which was a lot of fun. We have three great kids, two boys and a girl, ages 7, 9, and 11, as well as two new additions to our family, a Golden Retriever and a Jack Russell. Life is definitely full.

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

I’d say that biggest challenge I have now is finding enough time to read. I’ve always been an avid reader, but writing and critique take a lot of time. I suppose I’m also a lot pickier about what I read. If something doesn’t grab me right off, then I won’t take the time to read it. There’s enough good stuff out there that I don’t have to read them all.

What are you working on right now?

I’ve just started a historical for Summerside Press which I’m looking forward to writing. It will be released next summer and has a strong mystery thread in it as well as a bit of comedy thrown in to lighten things up.

What outside interests do you have?

I love to read, of course, travel, cook exotic foods from around the world, and hang out with my family.

How do you choose your settings for each book?

I prefer using a fictional setting, though I won’t be doing that in my current historical. I’ve chosen settings in places I’ve never been to, like in my Heartsong Presents series set in Massachusetts, but it’s always easier for me to use a setting I’m familiar with. I love foreign settings, but have found them a bit of a harder sell with publishers. Hopefully that will change soon.

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

Right now I’m reading One Night with the King, (again) so I think I have to choose Esther. Her story has always fascinated me. It says in Acts that God has determined the exact times and places for each one of us to live. He did this so we would seek and find him. Like Esther, we also have a choice. We can remain silent, or do what He’s called us to do.

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

Tough question. I’ve had many people come to me ready to write a novel, certain that it will be a piece of cake. Right. My first words of wisdom are for them to realize that this isn’t an easy journey. Not to be discouraging, but you have to pour everything you have into the process and more. There are rejections, dry periods, loneliness, and times you will question what you are doing. But there are also new friends, a place to express your creativity, and that moment when you’ve reached your goal and finished a manuscript, and maybe even received that contract. But publishing shouldn’t always the end goal. Let God teach you along the journey.

What new lessons is the Lord teaching you right now?

He’s teaching me how to be content no matter what the circumstances around me. Believe it or not, I’m the kind of person who would love to settle down, grow some roots, and stay put, but that’s not the life God has called me to. In the past five years, we’ve lived in four countries, and five houses. This was never a part of my plan, but I know without a doubt that it’s His plan. And if it is His plan, then I have to let Him worry about all the details.

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

1. Write, write, and write some more. Everyday if you can.
2. Join a critique group that both challenges and encourages you.
3. Go to conferences to learn the business and make connections with other writers, editors, and agents.

Tell us about the featured book. By the way, I love the cover.

I just finished writing the third book in my Pricilla Crumb series, and it’s been so much fun. Book one, Recipe for Murder, introduced Pricilla Crumb as she jumped headfirst into the roll of an amateur detective. In Baker’s Fatal Dozen, book two, get ready for a second helping of Pricilla Crumb and her hilarious schemes to serve up justice. When Reggie Pierce, who runs Pricilla Crumb’s favorite bakery, is found dead, Pricilla finds herself hot on the trail of another sticky scandal that begins with murder. If you love reading cozy mysteries, you’ll be sure to love Pricilla!

How can readers find you on the Internet?

I have a website at and a blog at I love to hear from my readers. Drop me a line.

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

Readers, leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of Baker's Fatal Dozen.

And check out Lisa's web site and blog. I just love her blog. It's one of the ones I signed up on FeedBlitz to have it come to my Inbox.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Author James E. Robinson - THE FLOWER OF GRASS - Free Book

Today, we're featuring James E. Robinson and his debut novel. I interviewed him earlier in the year with his non-fiction title, Prodigal Song.

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

In this, my first novel, there’s a lot of autobiographical content woven into the story. I wrote about the places, people, and emotional issues that I understood most intimately. However, even though I used real people and places as early templates, eventually the characters took on personalities of their own. The same is true of the small town where the story takes place. I drew visually from my own hometown, surrounding countryside, and real people there to paint the locations and characters in the book, but ultimately the place and people took on their own identities. So, hopefully I blended things to achieve realism and originality; though what I ended up with in the story wasn’t really my hometown at all, it will nonetheless resonate as a real place, if that makes sense. I’ve started my next novel, and this time I’m going to try to lean a little less into my own life experience, and rely instead on research about characters and places that might initially be less familiar to me.

If you're coming to the ACFW conference, you might want to take the workshop I'm teaching on how to find all kinds of information to make a book real and authentic. What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

Hmm. Well, as a recovering alcoholic, sober 19 years, I’m afraid I might have to respectfully take a pass on that question. “Quirky” is too nice a term for some of my behavior prior to 1989!

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

I’m not sure I’ve discovered that quite yet! However…I know that I dreamed of being a writer for as long as I can remember, so I know I’ve at least had the heart of a writer for most of my life. But I was far too undisciplined to work on the craft until fairly recently. I used to recite “poetry” to my grandmother before I was old enough to write. Books were—and are—magical things to me. Writers have always been my heroes. In school, I was a bored, mostly average student. But in middle school one day a teacher handed out our textbook for the year, some sort of anthology of American and English literature, short stories, poems, and some longer pieces by a wide assortment of authors. And above each piece was a thumbnail sketch of the author. That book riveted me. I stuck my head into it, and in many ways have not extracted it since.

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

In high school I was a bit of a science fiction nut, but eventually I began exploring a wide range of fiction. I have always loved the classics. I have been influenced a great deal by older stuff, especially southern women writers of long ago—Welty, Glasgow, Cather. In many ways, The Flower of Grass is a sort of throwback tribute to that kind of work. Frederick Buechner was important to me once I got sober; my father-in-law, Bryan Haislip, who has played an important role in introducing me to some of the “good stuff” mentioned above, gave me a copy of Buechner’s memoir The Sacred Journey back in the late ‘90’s. I finished it and said, Whoa! Buechner made me realize that writing about faith could be literarily satisfying. I have pretty eclectic tastes, I suppose. I like British stuff. I’m one of those oddballs who really like Dickens, for instance. My agent, Ang DePriest, is always on me about reading more modern fiction, and she’s right, of course. I’m terribly out of touch with what’s selling these days. But she has introduced me to some wonderful new authors working out there now.

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

My family keeps me grounded…at least as grounded as I’m ever going to get! I’m a bit of a “head in the clouds” kind of guy, I’m afraid. But Teresa and my two kids don’t allow me to ever float too far away. My faith, sobriety, quality relationships, creativity…these are the anchoring elements in my life.

How do you choose your characters’ names?

In The Flower of Grass, I had fun using names that held some personal meaning for me. Family names, names of friends, stuff like that. For some of the names, though, I had little to say about it; the characters insisted on their own names, once I’d stared writing. Jessie was Jessie from the moment I envisioned her. She was quite adamant about it. And I don’t know anyone named Jessie in real life.

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?

That’s a three-way tie: Getting sober in ’89, marrying Teresa in ’92, and the birth of my daughter and son twelve and eight years ago, respectively.

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

A hawk. I love birds, and the big birds of prey are absolutely stunning creatures. Every time I see a hawk in the wild, I instantly become about ten years old. I even put a hawk in my novel!

What is your favorite food?

That’s a tough one. I love ALL food. I mean ALL. (This made me a very popular child with adults, by the way.) But if I have to choose one….very fresh seafood.

Tell us a little about your journey to publication.

Well, I owe the whole unlikely chain of events entirely to my agents, Ang and Dan DePriest. God led me to them through a friend and writer, Brian Schrauger. We all live in the same town. After a couple of meetings, we’d become friends. Now, only months later, we’re like family. I wrote the rough draft of the novel in a couple of months, February and March of last year, and they had a contract in my hands by Christmas. I had self published a memoir a few years earlier, for use in our ministry ( But this was my first ever completed manuscript for a novel. I know how blessed I’ve been in all this. Still, it hardly feels like sudden success. I’ve been “writing” in my head for decades, and dreaming of being published for as long as I can remember. I’m a slow starter…but it feels good. I’m humbled, and very thankful to God. I know it often doesn’t happen this “easily.”

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

Time. Or lack if it, to be precise. I can tell from reading all the comments on the ACFW Loop that my struggle is not unique. I love the writing process SO much…I can’t imagine there ever being enough time to write.

What advice would you give to others who are trying to get their first book published?

It’s almost a cliché…but the key is perseverance. I had to learn this lesson as a professional songwriter in Nashville for many years. All artists must learn to accept “no” and keep going, keep believing. Even if the “no” comes a million times. If you love writing, though, write. I’ll always write, published or not. Being published does not make a writer great, and not being published does not mean the writer has no gift. Read a lot, and write a lot. Learn the craft, but nurture your own unique voice. And never, ever stop praying.

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

The Flower of Grass is, as I mentioned before, a bit of an old fashioned piece. It’s driven more by the characters than by action. Much of what transpires is very internalized, in some ways. I wanted to write something that spoke to what I consider to be basic human longings: Love, family, a sense of connection and purpose, faith. It’s also a story about the precious brevity of life, and about the intense duality of flesh/spirit that challenges us all in one way or another. One of the themes I tried to induce was the supernatural elements of time…how man’s time and God’s time are two very different things, and how the passing of time does not limit God’s ability to heal and restore relationships. Though in some ways it’s a story of unfulfilled romance, ultimately the key characters come to learn unexpected truths about themselves, and discover what they need and believe on a deeply spiritual level.

The publisher is Lion Hudson of the UK, under their Monarch imprint. US distribution will be through Kregel. They are planning a simultaneous release in both markets in August ’08.

How can our readers find you on the Internet?

My author site is

James, thank you for spending this time with us.

Readers, check out his web site, but first leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Author Amber Miller - QUILLS AND PROMISES - Free Book

I'm excited have my friend Amber Miller back with her second book.

Why do you write the kind of books you do?

Well, that all depends. If you’re asking why I write historical fiction, it’s because I’ve always been fascinated by history and the people who have gone before us. But history class bored me to tears. So, I love telling those stories through the eyes of people who lived it. Bringing it alive to my readers and perhaps helping them gain a better appreciation or understanding is a welcome challenge.

Now, if you ask why I write romance, that’s because I enjoy the process of taking God’s love for us and turning into a "happily ever after" story. If you believe in God and His promises, you know that no matter how bad things get, there is hope, and things will get better. Romance, for me, allows me to demonstrate that hope. I depict characters enduring what might appear to be impossible situations. By going through them and rising above them, especially in regard to relationships, the characters glimpse that hope and experience the happy ending.

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

Oh, that’s easy. July 28, 2007 when I married the love of my life, Stuart. We just celebrated one year of marriage, and life is fantastic. The next happiest day would be when I sold my first book in December of 2006. The happiest day to come will likely be when we celebrate the birth of our first child.

How has being published changed your life?

It has given me a new leash on life, so to speak. Now that I’ve sold and am starting to establish readers, I’m receiving feedback on how my books have touched their lives. It’s an amazing testimony to read how the words I’ve written have spoken to someone who has read them. God has given me this gift, and I’m thrilled beyond words to have the opportunity to use this gift to His glory.

What are you reading right now?

I’m almost finished with Trish Perry’s latest book, Beach Dreams. After that, I have Tamera Alexander’s newest and the Deeanne Gist’s. In addition to the Bible (although I have to get better at that), I have a couple of nonfiction books about being a successful stay-at-home mom and savvy business practices.

What is your current work in progress?

I just turned in my 4th contracted book and am about to start my 5th which is due in December. However, at the moment, I’m polishing two trade-length historical novels for submission to 2 editors and 2 agents who have requested them.

What would be your dream vacation?

A few weeks to a month touring the British Isles. My husband and I both have British ancestry, and I have Scottish in me as well. It would be amazing to set foot on the same ground as our ancestors before us.

If I can’t do that, Hawaii or Alaska would be next on the list.

How do you choose your settings for each book?

For my first series, I wanted to depict the historical significance of the little state of Delaware. Since a real home from the 1700’s was near where I used to live and still standing, I chose that for the principal setting. The rest of the area flowed from the initial story lines.

For my current series, my editor sent me 6 states and asked me to send proposals on as many as I would like. One of them was historical Michigan, and I decided to select an area that isn’t often portrayed in novels. Detroit during the Industrial Revolution was a major center of industry, production and high society. It made the perfect setting.

For other novels, the choice of setting usually comes from a place I’ve visited or inspiration from the setting of another book I’ve read. If once I get into the book, the setting doesn’t work, I change it to one that does.

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

Wow! That’s a tough question, but an excellent one. It’s not easy picking just one person, and it’s a close toss-up between Colleen Coble and Deb Raney. Both of them are such an inspiration to writers everywhere, and they almost always take the time to answer questions, mentor, share their expertise and encourage when they can. Despite their respective success in the book industry, they still maintain their sweet and humble natures. I hope when I reach that point, someone will say the same thing about me.

Outside of the writing world, though, I’d say I’d love to spend an evening with President Bush. Despite the flack and negative press he’s received, he has been a strong leader for the 8 years he’s led this country. He has made his faith a prominent aspect of his decision-making and admitted his faults when he’s made a mistake. It would be interesting to sit with him and talk about his own thoughts about the work he’s accomplished and where he feels he could have done better.

What are your hobbies, besides writing and reading?

I love photography, although I only consider myself an amateur, and I enjoy scrapbooking, even though my books are in dire need of some TLC. Traveling is a favorite pastime along with music, movies, bowling, swimming and horseback riding when I can.

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

Establishing unique descriptions for my settings and scenes is one. Developing characteristics for my characters to make them individuals in their own right and not cookie-cutter or two-dimensional is another.

I consult a variety of fiction books to see how other authors do it. The Writer’s Digest books on Characters, Description and Setting are of great help to me. Other than that, I send my manuscript or troubling scenes to readers and ask them to make comments on what worked or didn’t work for them. Once I receive that feedback, I read it over, then step away for a day or two from my book to digest it. When I return, I have a fresher outlook and perspective that enables me to do what’s needed. Sometimes, it’s a small fix, and other times it requires multiple alterations throughout the book.

I am still far from mastering this obstacle, and it remains the biggest area that requires edits from my rough draft. But every author has a pet challenge, right?

What advice would you give to a beginning author?

Writing is not for the faint of heart. It takes a lot of hard work, determination, patience, perseverance and faith. And it won’t happen overnight. You have to maintain a teachable spirit and be open to constructive criticism, no matter how far along in your writing journey you get. In the end, the rewards far outweigh all the sweat and tears you shed along the way. Most importantly, if you feel this is the path for you, never give up!

Tell us about the featured book.

Quills & Promises released in July and is the second book in the Delaware Brides series. In this story, you’re taken on the sometimes tragic, sometimes triumphant journey through the French & Indian War through the eyes of Major Madison Scott. Back home in New Castle, Elanna Hanssen (daughter of Gustaf and Raelene from book 1) begins to explore her feelings for the major but is distraught over the stories she hears from a local reporter for the first newspaper in the colony. When Madison’s integrity is questioned and the reporter makes an appealing offer to Elanna, she must choose between her heart and her head. With war on her mind and love in her heart, she makes the right one.

How can readers find you on the Internet?

You can come visit my web site ( to learn the latest news. I have a blog posted on the site that is kept up to date with 2-3 posts each week, and you can subscribe to it receive email alerts when I make a post. That’s the best way to keep up with me and everything I’m doing or where I’m headed next. I don't have a newsletter yet, but I'm working on it for 2009. We'll see where it goes. For now, subscribe to my blog to know when I put up a new post.

I always love to hear from visitors to my site and especially readers of my books or my writing in any form. Feel free to drop me a line through the contact form on my site. I respond within 48 hours unless I’m out of town and without an internet connection.

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

Readers, check out her web site. It's interesting.

Before you go, leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of Quills & Promises.

This book first releases to the Heartsong Presents Book Club, then goes to bookstores. You can find out more about Heartsong at this web site:

Saturday, August 09, 2008

First August Winners!!!!

BlueViolet is the winner of Murder on the Old Bunions by S. Dionne Moore.

Jo is the winner of Lone Star Secret by Lenora Worth.

Jenni Saake is the winner of Beyond the Night by Marlo Schalesky.

Lucie is the winnier of Calico Canyon by Mary Connealy.

Congratulations!! Now send me your mailing address so we can get the books to you.

There's a link to my email in my profile.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Author Valerie Hansen - WILDERNESS COURTSHIP - Free Book

I've really been looking forward to having Valerie back to feature this book.

Welcome back, Valerie. Now tell us, why do you write the kind of books you do?

My faith is crucial to my life and therefore putting it to use in my writing is second nature. As for the romantic element, I always liked happy endings, even as a child, and was grown before I found out that everyone doesn’t dream up a better ending for sad books and movies.

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

That’s a tough question. I need at least 3 to cover it all. When I married my high school sweetheart and when each of my 2 children was born.

How has being published changed your life?

I sincerely hope being published has NOT changed my life. One of the nicest things a bookseller ever said to me was that even after publication I was still just the same as before. She couldn’t have said anything that delighted me more. As for lifestyle changes, since I started selling historical novels I have treated myself to more research books – without guilt!

Yes, I could spend a fortune on historical reference books. What are you reading right now?

As I think I said before, I seldom read in my own genre when I’m writing. I don’t want to accidentally pick up anyone else’s ideas so I stick to history research and short mystery stories, plus the daily newspaper. Have to have my crossword puzzles.

What is your current work in progress?

By the time you read this, I will be deep into my next historical, set mostly in the San Francisco of the 1850s. It involves recently orphaned children and their older sister, Sara Beth, who must not only survive an unseen nemesis who killed their parents but also clear their father’s name. Sara Beth teams up with doctor Taylor Howard at the Ladies’ Protection and Relief Society Orphanage and together they face her demons.

Sounds wonderful. What would be your dream vacation?

My husband loves to travel so we’ve seen most of the Unites States, including Alaska. I think I’d still like to see Norway, the country of my father’s birth.

One set of my grandparents came from Norway. One from Sweden. Maybe someday I'll get to go to that part of Europe. How do you choose your settings for each book?

After the first one, FRONTIER COURTSHIP, one has sort of led to another. They’re not a series but the era and area are similar. I feel as if I’m so attuned to this time period it’s the natural way to go. And, having lived and/or spent lots of time in the parts of the country that I write about, I’m able to put myself into the scenes fairly easily.

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

I know I’d like to meet Billy Graham. When I started to try to come up with someone else, I drew a blank so I guess this is it. Even at his advanced age, I’m sure he’d be a blessing.

What are your hobbies, besides writing and reading?

I love to fish and hike in the woods behind our farmhouse. I’m also a pretty fair artist but since I’ve started writing I haven’t done much of that. And I absolutely love gardening in the warmer months. I really miss the sunshine in the winter and getting my hands dirty is good for my thought processes if I get worn out writing.

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

My most difficult obstacle is ME. When I’m between books I’m a total basket-case. I need to work. I love to work.. I’m so obsessive sometimes that my husband has to remind me to take breaks. He’s right, of course. I just hate to stop when the words are coming so fast and my ideas are fully formed. Those are my favorite times.

What advice would you give to a beginning author?

Read. Lots. And then write, even if you’re not sure what you’re doing. If you’re a true story teller, the other skills can be learned.

That is so true. I'm a natural-born storyteller, but I've had to learn a lot of skills to make my stories publishable.

Valerie, tell us about the featured book.

WILDERNESS COURTSHIP is set in the 1850s. It begins in San Francisco with Charity Beal, the ditzy sister from FRONTIER COURTSHIP. Charity has matured and is helping her father by working at a hotel where they are lodging. When handsome hotel guest, Thorne Blackwell, is forced to hire her to look after his nephew, her adventures begin and eventually take her all the way north to the Oregon territory. After the Whitman massacre, the local Indians have not caused much trouble but times are changing for both the Nisqually tribe and the settlers. As Charity travels with Thorne, the child and the child’s mentally unbalanced mother, she falls in love with both the little boy and his stern but loving uncle. All she has to do is survive long enough to find her own happiness in the midst of turmoil and danger.

How can readers find you on the Internet?

This is easy.

And thanks for giving me this forum!

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

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

And don't forget to come back and see if you win. We still have some people who haven't contacted us about their book. Just click on the Winners label and check out the last few winner posts.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Author Rick Acker - BLOOD BROTHERS - Free Book

This book sounds intriguing. Wait to you see the cover.

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

As little as possible. I find that characters that are different from me and have their own independent personalities are more interesting and entertaining than me simply channeling myself onto the page.

Good advice. What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

That depends. If by “quirkiest” you really mean “stupidest,” the answer involves a water tower, my college roommate, and a pair of wire cutters. But there’s no need to go into details.

When did you first discover that you were a writer?

I’ve been writing for longer than I can remember. Every time we move, I’ll find some long-forgotten poem or story buried in a box or an old notebook. It’s generally amazingly bad stuff.

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

Pretty much anything with good characters and a fast-moving plot, especially if I feel like I learned something by the end. That covers everything from Homer’s Iliad to Dumas’s Count of Monte Cristo to C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia to Tom Clancy’s early books to the latest novels from my author friends.

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

The MBA and the Magic Lamp (1994, unpublished). This is an allegorical fantasy that has been sitting on a shelf in my garage for years. Every now and then I take it down, look at it, remember how much work it needs to be publishable, and put it back.

The Case of the Autumn Rose (2003, Kregel). Autumn Rose is a mystery/adventure tale for “tweens.” It involves a teen brother and sister detective team, a horse farm, a pearl of great price, and a speedboat chase on Lake Michigan that I’ve always liked.

The Lost Treasure of Fernando Montoya (2003, Kregel). The sequel to Autumn Rose. I got the idea for it when I was walking down a street in San Francisco and came across a plaque showing the locations of some of the dozens of Gold Rush era ships buried under the city. I started wondering what kinds of secrets might lie buried on those old wrecks, and by the time I finished my walk I had the core of the story.

Dead Man’s Rule (2005, Kregel) (Finalist, Foreword Magazine Book of the Year). This is a legal/international thriller that deals with Chechen terrorists, Chicago’s Russian mafiya underworld, and biological weapons. Scary stuff. Usually, when I’ve researched a book thoroughly and know I’ve gotten my facts right, I sleep better at night. Not this time.

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

Prayer, perspective, and a really good coffeemaker.

How do you choose your characters’ names?

I generally start by trying for realism. Having an Irish name helps judges get elected in Chicago, for example, so I often give Chicago state court judges Irish names. For central characters, I also sometimes give them names that have a connection to the story. For instance, the warring brothers in Blood Brothers are named Bjornsen, which loosely means “sons of the bear” in archaic Norwegian. That’s significant because . . . well, read the book and find out.

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?

Raising four terrific kids with my wonderful wife, Anette.

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

That’s easy: one of our cats. They’re spoiled rotten, never have to do the dishes or take out the trash, and when they lie on the sofa all afternoon watching football or action movies, everyone thinks it’s cute.

What is your favorite food?

I’m a little ashamed to admit it, but I love McDonalds. I could eat Sausage McMuffins, Big Macs, and McFlurries all day every day. Or, well, I could until I died of a heart attack. But I’d leave this Earth a happy man.

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

Finding time to write every day. I’ve got a demanding full time job and a family that I love spending time with, so squeezing in writing time is hard. Fortunately, I’ve been blessed with a long commute (bet you’ve never heard that before), which is where I do about 90% of my writing.

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

Three things:
1. Find a regular time when you can write and stick to it, even if it’s only one hour per week. It’s virtually impossible to write anything longer than a few pages or to grow as a writer unless writing becomes part of the rhythm of your life.
2. Find someone whose judgment you trust to critique your writing, and make him or her promise to be honest. Criticism is never fun to hear, but you won’t become a better writer without it.
3. Don’t give up. Most writers aren’t very good when they start. I was awful, and I still have the poetry to prove it. So keep writing and focus on getting better. You will.

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

Okay, time for the shameless plug: According to Christy Award-winning author and physicist Randy Ingermanson, Blood Brothers “is an excellent legal suspense novel, with a strong biotech backdrop. It reminded me of Michael Crichton’s latest novel, Next, except Blood Brothers is better.” It’s also a terrific gift, a fascinating conversation piece, an attractive paperweight, and will help you lose 20 pounds.*

*If you read it while exercising, that is.

How can readers find you on the Internet?

My website is .

Rick, thank you for coming by my blog.

Readers, see what I mean about the cover, and I trust Randy Ingermanson's assessment of the novel. I can hardly wait to read it myself. Then I'll write a review of it for the newsletter on my web site -

I just put up August's newsletter. You should check out the reviews in that one.

And don't leave this blog before adding a comment. That way, you might win a free copy of Blood Brothers. But if you don't win, you'll want to get your hands on a copy.