Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Author Patti Lacy - AN IRISHWOMAN'S TALE - Free Book

I'm really happy to feature Patti on my blog. We were together at the national American Christian Fiction Writers conference in Minneapolis this month.

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

Sally, in An Irishwoman’s Tale, is Southern and moves to the Midwest, like I did in 1995. She loves chocolate and eats when anxious, like I do. I wish I had more of her sympathetic heart. Since this novel is inspired by a true story, it has more of “me” in it than my next two. My husband, who reads my proposals, is always saying, “Did this happen to YOU? Is this YOU?” It’s fun to keep him—and everyone else—guessing. Nearly all of my characters are based on someone—or a composite of someones. So watch out, friends and acquaintances!

I know. I own a T-shirt that says, "Careful or you'll end up in my novel." What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

Ran outside in my nightgown on a rainy spring morning to save drowning earthworms. I love the little creatures that enrich my perennial bed and can’t stand to see them all waterlogged, swollen, stranded, and comatose on the concrete after a downpour. At the time, a friend of my daughter was living with us, and she happened to be looking out the window. Of course she ran screaming the news to my daughter and son, and they spread it all over the neighborhood. (I still do this from time to time but usually get dressed first.)

When did you first discover that you were a writer?

I didn’t start writing until 2005, when God whispered to me that I needed to tell The Irishwoman’s story. However, I did begin inhaling everything I could read around the age of five, starting with Illustrated Bibles and Dr. Seuss, and I think that’s the best training ground for picking up the old ballpoint and scribbling on paper.

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

I read everything from Agatha Christie to literary fiction and nonfiction. This is a three-pronged screening test I apply: 1. Values that need to be examined. 2. Several recommendations by time-tested reader friends. 3. Writing, settings, characters which grab my attention and won’t let me go when I sit down in a coffee bar with the book. Latest rave reads? Three Cups of Tea, The Family Nobody Wanted, Demon: A Memoir, Just Jane, LBJ biographies by Robert Caro.

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

What the Bayou Saw, Sally’s story, will be published sometime in April 2009. I’m halfway through My Name is Sheba, the premier novel in a four-book series entitled “Spanning Seas and Secrets.”

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

Mainly by walking, walking, walking down the very ordinary streets of my town, Normal, Illinois. Discipline keeps my life simple. I try to get up early, write a set number of pages, take my daily constitutional (walking or jogging, depending on how achy old legs are), do housework, and cook dinner for our family. Spice is added with the occasional coffee shop chat with a friend or a video with hubby.

How do you choose your characters’ names?

I draw from Biblical characters, those nearest and dearest, stereotypes, phone books, other books. It’s all fair game!

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?

Raising godly children, both of whom love the Lord. However, that’s not really our accomplishment, but God’s grace.

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

A sea otter! I love paddling through the water even though I’m not a great swimmer. How wonderful it would be to have a sleek body, glide effortlessly through deep sea waters, then surface with a splash and a shake or two. The fish diet wouldn’t be a problem, either.

I loved watching the sea otters when we visited Pacific Grove, California. What is your favorite food?

Dark chocolate!

My kind of woman. What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?

Getting the emotion that I felt in my heart down on paper. Camy Tang helped me with ruthless editing. She also pointed me to several great reads, Writing for Emotional Impact (Iglesias) and Getting into Character (Collins).

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

Honestly assess the time you can devote to writing. Then set a daily goal, either number of words or time, whichever yanks the most pages from you. Do not pass go, collect $200, or even get a fresh cup of coffee until you meet that goal. Read that section, then rewrite. Do it again. Find a critique partner and repeat until they have run out of things to mark on your pages. Then hire an editor and do what they say, which will probably be…rewrite.

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

An Irishwoman’s Tale
explores the painful first memories of Mary, an impetuous Irishwoman. When she dares to share them with her new friend, a gregarious Southerner, God jump-starts the healing process by leading the women on a wild trip, On rocky Irish cliffs, Mary glimpses God’s plan for her life and begins the long road to recovery from those early memories. In this novel, I examine issues such as substance abuse, Catholicism, and Alzheimer’s looking through the rose-colored glasses of Romans 8:28, God’s working for good in the lives of those who love Him.

Patti, how can readers find you on the Internet?

I’d love for you to leave a message at Contact Me, www.pattilacy.com.

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

Readers, leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. BE SURE TO CHECK BACK EVERY WEEKEND TO SEE IF YOU HAVE WON!!!

Then go to Patti's web site and leave her a message.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Author Andrew Clarke - OUTCASTS OF SKAGARAY - Free Book

Glad to have you here, Andrew. Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.

Quite a lot in some ways, because if a character is meant to be sympathetic, a 'good' character, then their values and emotional reactions to things might be like mine. And sometimes my characters are going through the same things that I have, which is why I can write with feeling. They are not just clones of me, though. Some of them have had different lives and they see things in other ways. In fact some of them are nothing like me. I don't write in the first person and I don't make any character just like me.

What is the quirkiest thing you've ever done?

Probably the time I tried to disguise myself, just to see if I could actually fool anyone. All I did was change the way I combed my hair, wear a pair of glasses which at that time I never did, and wear some clothes unlike anything that I usually wore. I think it had a couple of people guessing, but no one I knew well.

When did you first discover that you were a writer?

At about seven or eight years of age, when stories I liked were read to me. I promptly wanted to make up new stories with the same characters, then invent new ones, then write the stories down. I love fiction, and always wanted to create my own stories and write them out. So as soon as I was old enough to understand and listen to other peoples' stories, I wanted to create my own.

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

It's quite a range! Starting with the classics, Dickens' Our Mutual Friend, Joseph Conrad's Heart Of Darkness, Jane Eyr, Wuthering Heights (despite the sadness of it) and Huckleberry Finn. Some of Shakespeare's plays are excellent, such as Romeo and Juliet ( even though it is sad), Macbeth (despite the grimness) Henry V and A Midsummer Night's Dream. I love good Christian fiction, such as Frank Peretti's The Oath and others of that genre. I enjoy thrillers including some of Jack Gibson's and Tom Clancy's. I love The Wind In The Willows and still own a copy. Also The Chronicles Of Narnia. Michael Crichton's novels are entertaining and raise issues worth raising, such as Jurassic Park. In non-fiction, I like Phillip Yancey's The Jesus I Never Knew and The Screwtape Letters. This list could go on for ages. I own hundreds of books.

I do, too. Probably well over a thousand. What other books have you written, whether published or not?

Outcasts Of Skagaray is the only one published so far. I've also written a teen readers' novel set in the area where I grew up, about social inclusion among kids. I've written another fantasy adventure called The Fire Horse which is allegorical, and am completing a sequel to Outcasts Of Skagaray.

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

Happily for me I don't have a day job anymore because I became critically stressed when teaching high school and was medically retired. We have a house with a garden that I can do things with; and I love to sit and read, for hours. I spend time just 'hanging out' with my wife, because we can talk about anything with each other. It's good to go for a long walk in the bush or a nature reserve; or browse in a book shop. (Of course! I can get lost in one for hours.)

How do you choose your characters' names?

I try to make them easy to easy to remember, and to invoke some meaning, whether in English or the imagined language of the world they live in. In Outcasts Of Skagaray the name "Tarran" simply sounded strong without being menacing, and it means 'Guiding Hand' in the story. "Shanomie" also seems euphonious to the ear and therefore sympathetic in its implication; and "Shenoa" and "Ambrand" more or less the same. They are meant to sound consistent with the world in which they are set. Old English sounding names seem congruent with a world something like Arthurian Britain or Celtic Europe, but I don't use what I know to be existing names. Mind you, with people making up new names it gets difficult to be original. As much as anything else, they simply come to mind and I modify them if need be.

What is the accomplishment you are most proud of?

When I had a period of really bleak depression, the idea snuck up on me that I should leave home and family, and try to start a new life somewhere else. I refused to give in to it, and I'm very glad that I didn't let myself be so selfish. It would have really hurt those close to me, far too much to excuse by just saying "I need...." or whatever other excuse I might have offered.

I know that was a hard-fought battle. Good for you. If you were an animal, which one would you be and why?

Possibly a wild horse, because being able to run fast and long over wild country would be pure joy. Horses have the capacity to bond with others, they are sociable and can be noble in their behaviour. Or looking at it from another angle, possibly a wolf because I would feel safe with a pack; and canine animals, including dogs, can be admirable in their way.

What is your favorite food?

Spaghetti bolognaise. I've always loved it.

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

I found sometimes that it was hard to be realistic, so the the story and an ending are not 'cheesy', without hurting sympathetic characters. It might involve restructuring the plot so that I can shift someone out of harm's way, yet not having the ending too cute. It's an ongoing problem that I hate a sympathetic character having to suffer too much. It needs to be thought through, slowly.

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

Write about what you can feel deeply about. Write about something that you would like to see happening, and make the story about how it happened, despite difficulties. Or write about the prevention of something you would hate to happen. This may not be original, but when you feel strongly it is much easier to write with feeling instead of just trying to think of what a reader might like. You need a sense of audience, but not just a cynical intention to sell something. It needs to be real to you, and important.

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

I'm trying to show that strength is not the same as harshness or cruelty. It is meant to show how you can survive really miserable and frightening experiences if you trust in God and look for what is good in the universe. It's about not giving up, as much as you might want to. In Outcasts Of Skagaray the central character finds it easier to keep living and not despair when there are others who need him and are in the same situation as him. And as a Christian, since I believe God is real and essential, I'm saying that if you look for God you will not be ignored.

How can readers find you on the Internet?

My web page is www.threeswans.com.au and if want to preview the novel there are sample chapters there. My blog it http://threeswans.blogspot.com if anyone wants to chat or leave comments.
Thank you, Andrew for this chance to chat with you. I've always been fascinated by Australia, and I love to feature authors from there.
Readers, leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Andrew's book. Then go check out his website and blog.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Last September Winners - Check It Out!!

Photoquest is the winner of Crossing the Line by Glenn Rambo. By the way, I met Glenn in person for the first time at the ACFW conference in Minneapolis last week. Nice to see you, Glenn.

Sj is the winner of John's Quest by Cecelia Dowdy. Cecelia and I shared a table at the booksigning at the Mall of America during the ACFW conference. That mall is really somthing, and I enjoyed being with Cecelia.

Piece of me is the winner of Wyoming Christmas Heroes by Jeanie Smith Cash, Linda Lyle, Jeri Odell, and Tammy Shuttlesworth. I saw some of these authors at the conference, too.

Now all you winners need to send your mailing address to me, so we can get your books out to you. The link to my email is in my profile in the right hand sidebar of the blog.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Another Christmas Book - A BRIDE BY CHRISTMAS - Free Book

It's hard to get a whole team together for an interview. Today, we only have three of the authors, but I knew you'd want to learn about this wonderful book. The authors are:

Vickie McDonough

Therese Stenzel

Linda Goodnight

. . .and Kelly Eileen Hake, who couldn't be here.

How did your story for the collection come about?

Vickie -- I wanted to help a friend who wasn’t published in fiction to propose a Christmas collection. I recruited two other authors and we started brainstorming ideas. We came up with A Bride by Christmas, which is a collection of four novellas about four people who must marry by Christmas or something bad will happen.

Therese --Vickie McDonough had done some Christmas novellas for Barbour before and they sold really well so she encouraged us to do a Christmas story.

Linda -- Brides, Christmas, and prairies are very popular topics with Christian readers, so as a group, we started tossing other thoughts around to incorporate all those hooks. (Vickie McDonough came up with the original idea about characters who must, for some reason, wed before Christmas ) The concept for The Cossack Bride just popped into my head. Most of my story ideas are this way. Other than saying they are gifts from the Lord, they just come to me.

What are you reading right now?

Vickie --I’m reading Family of the Heart by Dororthy Clark. It’s a Love Inspired Historical.

Therese--MaryLu Tyndall’s The Falcon and the Sparrow.

Linda -- While at RWA I picked up a number of books I wouldn’t normally buy, and I’m glad I did! At the moment, I’m reading Last Dance at the Jitterbug Lounge by Pamela Morsi, a single title with parallel story lines, one in first person and the other in third person, about a couple who’ve drifted apart that go to visit the husband’s "cracker" family back in Oklahoma when the grandfather he barely knows has a stroke. It’s full of heart-tugging surprises, and I’m really liking it. A few days ago I finished Jillian Hart’s Love Inspired Historical High Country Bride, a lovely, gentle, lyrical read. It’s the first in the new LI historical line that I’ve picked up and if it’s an indicator of how good the line will be, I’m very excited about it!

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

Vickie —You can visit my website(www.vickiemcdonough.com ) for a complete list, but here are some of them. I have several books I’ve written that haven’t been published, but here’s a list of the published ones:
Oklahoma Brides - An Oklahoma historical trilogy which comes out in October
Spinning Out of Control – an Heartsong Presents novel that appeared in Virginia Brides
Wild At Heart – Book One in a North Dakota historical series comes out this fall
Anthology collections:
The Spinster Brides of Cactus Corner
Kiss the (Cook) Bride
Lone Star Christmas
Brides O’ the Emerald Isle
A Stitch in Time

Therese -- I have written many historical novels set in England/Scotland as yet unpublished and have just sent a contemporary (with an English heroine of course) to an editor at Barbour—my fingers are crossed!

Linda --I have written more than 25 books, so I won’t list all of them here! But they include the multi-award winning Brothers’ Bond series, A SEASON FOR GRACE, which won ACFW BOTY last year, the RITA award winning A TOUCH OF GRACE, and THE HEART OF GRACE which won RT Reviewers’ Choice and is a finalist for ACFW BOTY. These are all Love Inspireds but I also write for Harlequin Romance. Please check my website www.lindagoodnight.com for a complete listing of all my books.

In addition to the Bride by Christmas collection, my newest Love Inspired, A TIME TO HEAL released in September in which a burned-out physician returns to her home town to rethink her future and encounters the high school sweetheart with whom she shares a painful secret. I hope the secret will surprise you.

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

Vickie --Some novella collections are very closely related—same town, same family, etc. It’s a challenge to have characters in my story who appeared in stories written by other authors and to keep those characters true to their personality. Also, it can be challenging making sure I’ve portrayed the town or ranch setting the same as the other authors have done.

Therese -- Having other author’s opinions weigh so much.

Linda -- I really don’t find anything difficult about it, especially when the other authors are as delightful to work with as these were.

How did collaborating with this team impact you?

Vickie --This team was especially fun because I worked with three other authors that I know. Also, it is Therese Stenzel’s first fiction sale. It was fun seeing her work through her first novella and then to be able to celebrate her first sale.

Therese --Linda Goodnight took me under her teaching wing and really worked with me—I am forever grateful. And working with three very talented, award winning, creative authors made me very humble!

Linda -- The fact that I genuinely like and admire the other women in this collection made it special. And I was absolutely thrilled to be part of introducing a promising new writer, Therese Stenzel, to readers.

How do you choose your characters’ names?

Vickie -- It varies. For first names, I tend to use names I especially like. I try to find one that suits the character I’m writing. For last names, I usually determine the character’s heritage and find a surname that fits.

Therese -- They just come to me, so I would say the Holy Spirit names them.

Linda -- As a team we had decided to make each heroine a specific ethnicity and to include Christmas traditions native to her country of origin. I had chosen Ukrainian because I have some experiences with Ukrainian people and customs. From there I searched for a name that could easily be understood by Americans while still conveying the eastern European flavor. So I came up with Anastasia Federov, called Anna. She’s a feisty little Cossack with a singing voice that curdles milk. :-) I hope you like her as much as I do.

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

Vickie -- I want my readers to be able to get into my books, to relax, and have a fun time reading while also being inspired in their faith. I want to take them away from their problems or family for a while and let them delve into a fictional world.

Therese -- The concept that God knows where you are and the flavor of the soup you’re in! He cares about the details of our lives.

Linda -- My books are written primarily to entertain in a wholesome, positive manner, but it’s always lovely to me when the story touches a deeper cord within the reader. Emotional healing and learning to trust in the Lord are such common themes for me and both are present in this story.

Are you a member of American Christian Fiction Writers? If so, why?

Vickie --Yes. I first joined ACFW when I was a newbie writer. I’d heard about the group at the first writers’ conference I attended, and it sounded like something that I needed. I’ve been a member for seven years now, and it was the best investment I have ever made in my writing. I do not believe I’d be published—or even writing now—if not for ACFW.

Therese -- Yes, I have learned so much from the members. I’m always amazed when a multi-pubbed author whose writing I admire takes the time to answer a question I post to the loop.

Linda -- Yes. I thought it would be a good place to network with other writers who are also Christians and to keep abreast of the Christian market.

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

Vickie -- I think something Chip MacGregor shared at the ACFW conference a few years ago really inspired me. He said every writer needs a Paul, a Barnabus, and a Timothy in his life. This is a reference to three men from the Bible. What Chip went on to say is that every writer needs someone who is further along than them to help them with their writing. You also need peers who are at a similar level and who understand the isolation and rejection that writers face. Lastly, you need to be giving of your time and helping writers who aren’t as far along as you.

Therese -- Vickie McDonough has been a writing mentor and a friend and God has used her so many times to speak into my writing life. She encouraged me to get connected to other authors because that is how you’ll get published—and she was right!

Linda -- Don’t stress yourself trying to follow some other writer’s process. When I first began to attend conferences and workshops I tried all the techniques I heard about and drove myself crazy doing highlighters, index cards, outlines, etc. Finally, a wise, wise woman told me that no two writers work the same way, to take the good from each class I attended and then figure out what worked best for me. There is no ‘right’ way to plot or not plot or otherwise write a book. Whew! What a relief!

Vickie, Therese, and Linda, thank you for spending this time with us. I know the readers will love your stories as well as the one written by Kelly.

Readers, you know how much I love Christmas stories, and many of you have told me the same thing. So leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of A Bride by Christmas.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


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

While many of my lead characters and I share similar traits—faith and moral values, taste in music, etc., Glory Harper is actually the first character I’ve created that has more than just a passing resemblance. Glory’s sense of humor, her age, and the fact that she’s a grandmother are just a few of the things we have in common.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

I don’t know if this is considered quirky, but I’ve come up with an alternative way of typing when the hypersensitivity in my fingers/hands makes it too painful to do it the normal way. I’ve found that if I wear a pair of white cotton gloves and tuck a pencil between the index and middle fingers on each hand, I can continue typing. It’s awkward, and looks pretty silly, but it works.

When did you first discover that you were a writer?

I was twelve and in seventh grade. I’d started a mystery called The Adventures of Christopher and Christina which got passed around during the study halls we shared with upper classmen. When people started asking for more of the story, I knew this was what I wanted to do with my life.

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

My favorites are suspense and mysteries, though I’m really open to most genres—except pure romance. A few years back, I read everything I could get my hands on regarding end times interpretations. These included Hal Lindsey, John Hagee, Marvin Rosenthal, David Jeremiah, and many others. It was a fascinating study that I hope to use some day in a future novel.

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

Confession time here…you know how I said I didn’t like romance? Well, back in the early 80s I tried my hand at writing for Harlequin America (I think that’s what it was called). The editor there was very encouraging, liked my writing, just wanted me to treat the subject matter more seriously—they weren’t into comedy at the time. Sooo, I have a couple of those buried deeply in a closet.

Mostly, though, I have several manuscripts ranging from mystery/suspense to the type of romantic suspense authors like Phyllis A. Whitney and Mary Stewart wrote. I’m also working on a Women’s Fiction/Contemporary about spousal abuse.

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

Um…that would mean that I was sane in the first place, right? So, I guess the answer to that is without a lot of prayer, I wouldn’t be able to do a thing.

How do you choose your characters’ names?

This is not a conscious thing for me. I mean, most of the time a name will just come to me and as time goes by, so will the story that surrounds the character.

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?

My daughters—they are both incredible young women.

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

A cat because their curiosity about things even surpasses mine!

What is your favorite food?

I’m looking for something that tastes good and doesn’t have any calories. I’ll let you know when I find it!

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

Back in the middle 90s, I thought I’d finally made it. I had a New York agent with a well-known literary agency. My hopes were high and things were going well. But, after five years of disappointments and some personal issues not related to writing, the agent and I parted ways, and I stopped writing. Sort of.

It took several years for me to realize that I couldn’t just let it all go. But, after all the time away, I didn’t know where to start, what to do. By this time, I was reading as many Christian fiction books as I was secular, and ideas were forming that added to my confusion. I’d love to write Christian fiction, but what were my qualifications? What were the Christian publishers looking for? These questions and the thought of starting over scared me to death.

I’d just read Eyes of Elisha by Brandilyn Collins and dropped her an email. She led me to ACFW and my re-education began. Now, a few years later, my first novel is being published.

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

Even if you think you know all the ins and outs of the publishing world, keep reading; keep learning. And, above all, when you’re down and frustrated and think the world is against you…stop, take a deep breath, and reach out to the One who gives hope when all seems lost. Remember, through Him, all things are possible.

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

The Case of the Bouncing Grandma is a cozy mystery with a hen-lit feel. The heroine, Glory Harper, is not your typical grandmother. While others may be baking cookies and smiling at their grandchildren's antics, Glory’s out with her seven-year-old grandson, joining in the fun. Their most recent adventure, skateboarding, resulted in Glory's broken leg and Seth's awestruck admiration. Affectionately called his "Bouncing Grandma," Glory hasn't been doing much bouncing these last six weeks with her leg in a cast and stuck in a wheelchair. But, things are about to change.

The first of the Bouncing Grandma Mysteries begins when Glory spies a foot dangling out of a rolled Oriental rug as it's carried into her new neighbor's house. Determined to discover what's going on, and undeterred by police officers who try to convince her it was simply part of a mannequin, Glory sets off on a new adventure with far higher stakes--those of life and death. With the aid of her sister, Jane, the occasional help of a police detective who is a dead ringer for Harrison Ford, a lot of prayer, and more twists and turns than even Glory could have dreamed of, fifty-two year old widow, Glory Harper finds romance when she least expects it...and a mystery to die for.

I believe that Baby Boomers and others will relate to Glory's escapades and the desire to be a fun grandparent, as well as her determination to stay young and active--in spite of a few mishaps along the way.

How can readers find you on the Internet?

I’m at www.akawriter.com

Thank you so much, Lena. I’ve loved visiting with you today!

And I enjoyed having you.

Readers, leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of The Case of the Bouncing Grandma.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Winners!!! I'm Back from Conference

Leah Guinn is the winner of Rhapsody in Red by Donn Taylor. I was glad to see Donn at the conference.

Leann Harris was also there. The winner of her book, Hidden Deception, is Martha A.

Of course, as president, Robin Caroll was there. The winner of her book, Torrents of Destruction, is Alyce.

Ramona Richards, my mind is turning to mush. I think you were at conference, but I'm beginning to question my memory. The winner of her books, Face of Deceit and its prequel, is Cherryblossomj.

Please send me your mailing addresses. There's an email link in my profile.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Author Tosca Lee - HAVAH - Free Book

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

Sometimes I wonder that same thing. I think because I like to turn things inside out or upside down. I’m interested in new perspectives and vantage points of the same familiar truth. I’m tired of the pat, cliché answers. I want the depth that comes from re-examining the things we take for granted in our faith and in our lives.

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

It’s got to be any one of the days that I was signing my first book, Demon, and looked up to see that there was a line. Holy cow. If they could bottle and sell that euphoria, everyone would be hooked on it. It was amazing. But contrary to what you might expect—what I might have expected—it didn’t make me feel all look-at-me important. It was actually very, very humbling. For days, for weeks afterward, I thought, “Who am I to have these people want me to sign this book?” Even now, when I get an amazing letter or nice review, I think, “Who am I?”

The coolest and really the moments that have broken me are the ones where I’ve realized God knows who I am. I saw this chiropractor, Dr. Bo, for the first time while working on Havah. A friend referred me—I think she was tired of me complaining about my back from all the travel I do for my work. Dr. Bo is a Christian chiropractor. Anyway, he asked how I was and I broke down. And he gave me a Bible verse, this man who had never met me, and said, “You know, God is really pleased with the work you’re doing.” I just lost it and I’m sure he thought I was a nutcase. He asked if he could pray for me after he cracked my back. Poor guy.

How has being published changed your life?

It’s been the fulfillment of a dream. It’s also made life more stressful. I have about three zits waiting to happen as I type this. With my consulting job, which I travel almost every week for, and then the pressure of deadlines, edits, and marketing efforts, it’s a constant sense of something hanging over my head. That is the biggest challenge for me: learning how to manage that. I have sort of lost any semblance of a social life, which is really ironic because when Demon came out, a bunch of my former high school and college and other friends from the past heard about it and we reconnected. Now I’m trying to find more time in a tighter schedule to try to catch up with more people. But that’s a good problem to have, I think.

I’ve also felt a little more private about myself, which is weird considering that you have to get out there to promote the book and be accessible, and share your thoughts on your blog and things like that. Being single, I’ve felt a little more protective about my privacy and making smart decisions.

What are you reading right now?

I’ve been waiting for Havah to get done so I can hunker down and savor a stack of books by new friends. It’s a huge, growing stack. Actually, my friends are really prolific and I secretly hate them a little bit. I’ve also got Michael Crighton’s Next, and some Philipa Gregory on my nightstand. The Tudors just started up again on Showtime and I’m really into the Henry VIII thing right now.

What is your current work in progress?

Havah: The Story of Eve. It’s finished. Thank God. Literally. This has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I fell friends that I feel like that Russian woman who gave birth to that 17 pound baby. That’s how I feel—like that woman. And even more importantly: who in their right mind would ever want to do that all over again? Seriously. When I finished the draft, I said, “That’s it. I’m done. I don’t want to do this any more.” Though just tonight I was scribbling ideas for another book here in my New Jersey hotel room. I mean, bare, bare bone ideas. But still.


Meanwhile, as soon as copy edits are done for Havah, I’m going on a social binge for a while. Between trips for work. And closet cleaning. And mail sorting. And dishes.

What would be your dream vacation?

A week alone in my house. With a stack of books. And a personal chef.

Barring that, I’d like to go back to Bora Bora or to one of the Cook Islands. There isn’t much to do out there other than lay in the sun and eat so much that your bikini won’t fit. It doesn’t get much better than that.

How do you choose your settings for each book?

I chose Boston for Demon because it was readily accessible for me—my sister lives there, and I visit frequently enough to research. I went to college west of there at Smith, so I’ve been there off and on for years. The other option was Lincoln, where I live. This didn’t seem the book for that. I’ll set something in Lincoln in the future though.

For Havah, the location came with the story.

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

I probably ought to say Jesus, but I’m going to be cheesy instead. I’ve got a new significant other—someone I so eloquently called my “Significant Dating Person” in a moment of great eloquence when faced with the question of who this person was at a time that I was unprepared to answer—so right now it’d be him.

And Jesus.

What are your hobbies, besides writing and reading?

Cooking. Eating. Catalog shopping (you can browse on the plane, in airports, in the bathroom…). I like shopping at Whole Foods. Seriously, that place is like Disneyland to me. Traveling. Movies. Eating—especially stuff that other people cook.

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

Procrastination. Perfectionism. Oh, terrible perfectionism.

Anne Lamott really helped with the perfectionism thing. Well, a little bit, anyway. She talks about ugly first drafts in her book, Bird By Bird, and I took a great deal of relief in reading that we have to write some real garbage to find something good and lovely. It’s really true. At least for me. I really dislike anyone it’s not true for. And once the perfectionism monster is stalled, that seems to help with the procrastination.

The thing is, it’s really a challenge for me to regard the process of writing as great fun. It’s not. It totally sucks. I’d rather pick my cuticles to a bloody pulp than write most days. Some days I do both.

What advice would you give to a beginning author?

Don’t do it. Put down the pen and back away slowly. I don’t want any more competition than I already have. Help me out here.

You are so funny, Tosca. Tell us about the featured book.

Havah is the story of Eve told from her point of view. What did she really think about Adam the first time she saw him? Why did she eat the fruit? How does a woman love one son who murdered her other?

I wanted to know these things. I wanted to get away from the flannel board, pale-skinned Adam and Eve holding leaves over their groins, and see what it could have been like. Just like the story of the angelic fall, I believe there’s got to be more to this one as well.

How can readers find you on the Internet?

Easily! Find me at www.toscalee.com, www.demonamemoir.com, or www.havahstoryofeve.com

Tosca, thank you for spending this time with us. I can hardly wait to read Havah. I loved Demon.

Readers, leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of Havah. Then check out all three of Tosca's web sites.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Winners for last week

We will have winners this week, but I'll have to choose them after I arrive home from Minneapolis. Since I'm flying home late in the evening, I'll choose winners on Monday.

Please check back then to see if you won.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Another Christmas Novella Collection -WYOMING CHRISTMAS HEROES - 4 Free Books

You know how much I love Christmas novella collections. Here's another new one written by these four ladies:

Jeanie Smith Cash

Linda Lyle

Jeri Odell

Tammy Shuttlesworth

Now, ladies, tell us how did your story for the collection come about?

Jeanie Smith Cash:
Tammy emailed to me and asked if I would be interested in doing a collection with her about four heroes that rescue four young women in distress.

Linda Lyle: Someone, I’m not sure who asked for people to work together on a collection centering around heroes. Almost a year later Barbour asked if we could change the setting to Christmas. We reworked our proposal and resubmitted. It was accepted.

Jeri Odell: I was asked if I would be interested in doing a collection about four women in distress that are rescued by old fashioned heroes.

Tammy Shuttlesworth: In my part of Louisiana, our fire department goes out the Saturday before Christmas and rides through our subdivisions and towns. Santa sits on top of the fire truck and waves and tosses candy. I remembered how my daughters looked forward to that day and asked myself, "What if there were a little boy who needed a dad, his mother who was worried about the decisions involved in raising a child as a single parent, and a Santa who knew Christmas traditions from different nations." The story grew from there.

What are you reading right now?

Jeanie Smith Cash: Kingdom Come the last book in the Left Behind series, and A Bride For Christmas. A collection by Linda Goodnight, Kelly Eileen Hake, Vickie McDonough, and Therese Stenzel.

Linda Lyle: I’m working on a Ph.D. in Instructional Design for online Learning, so I’m reading a lot of research. I’m also reading Beverly Lewis’ Abram’s Daughters series as well as a mystery from Barbour.

Jeri O’dell: The Shack (fiction) and Who Switched Off My Brain (Nonfiction)

Tammy Shuttlesworth: Since I'm a high school teacher, and since our school started this week, I'm reading lesson plans and getting familiar with Exploration of Space and Astronomy material as that's what I'm teaching this year.

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

Jeanie Smith Cash: I have three Christmas collections published with Barbour: Dr. St. Nick, in Wyoming Christmas Heroes, A Christmas Wish, in Christmas in the Country, and a new one that will be coming out next fall, The Christmas Miracle, in Christmas Love At Lake Tahoe. I have several submitted to Barbour and a couple more in progress. I also have two short stories published in a local magazine.

Linda Lyle: I have four published with Barbour: The Plan, Elizabeth’s Choice, Dear Miss Lonely Heart, and City Dreams. I have another book that I’m trying to find a publisher for that is a romantic suspense and two new ones in progress.

Jeri Odell: I have published 8 novellas 8 short novels with Heartsong and one nonfiction book.

Tammy Shuttlesworth: I've written "A Different Kind of Heaven," "Healing Sarah's Heart," "Fishing For Love" in Attic Treasures Novella collection and "Outranked By Love" in Christmas Duty Novella collection, all for Barbour publishing. Other books are in the works...

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

Jeanie Smith Cash: Making certain our stories all coincide.

Linda Lyle: Making sure that any characters that cross stories are consistent.

Jeri Odell: Making certain our stories dovetail.

Tammy Shutlesworth: To me, the hardest part of writing connected stories in a novella is making sure you don't overlook the small details that keep the stories true to each other.

How did collaborating with this team impact you?

Jeanie Smith Cash: I really enjoyed writing with this team. Everyone was easy to work with and it’s very satisfying to see all of the stories come together when they’re finished.

Linda Lyle: Collaborating with this team was great. They were so easy to work with and everything just seemed to fall into place. It was almost two years from when we first started talking about a proposal to the actual sale. They were a great source of encouragement during that time and were willing to change a few minor things in order to make this collection happen.

Jeri Odell: Writing is a solo flight, so it’s always wonderful to do a project that involves human interaction.

Tammy Shuttlesworth: Having everyone on this team meet their deadlines assured me that we're all professional authors and take the talents we've been given seriously.

How do you choose your characters’ names?

Jeanie Smith Cash: I have a book of babies’ names, sometimes I use it and sometimes I just hear one I like that fits my story. In this case I just liked these names and they fit my characters.

Linda Lyle: My main character came from the title of my story – Saving Christmas. I knew that her name had to be Chris, short for Christmas. The other characters were names of people that I have met over time and liked the sound of.

Jeri Odell: Kloie was my daughter’s nickname. Mel is my daughter-in-law and I based the character after her. I knew some Jolly’s and thought it would be a fun last name for a Christmas novella. I chose Holly because of the humor of Holly Jolly, and I just like the name Luke.

Tammy Shuttlesworth: I always start with my heroes name first, and so far, four out of five times, it's started with a "J." The fifth time, his last name was the "J." Just a quirk I've decided I want to use. For my heroine, she tells me who she is. She introduces herself as I start to define her background characteristics and personality before I start writing.

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

Jeanie Smith Cash: How important it is to forgive. The Lord gave His life on an old rugged cross to forgive us from our sins and we as Christians need to remember that we all make mistakes, so therefore we need to be forgiving of each other and love one another as He loves us.

Linda Lyle: I wanted people to realize that we often want to pin the blame for issues in a relationship on the other person without really being honest with ourselves and realizing that both people in the relationship have some ownership in the problem.

Jeri Odell: The God connection. His love for each of us—no matter what we face in this life—is more than we can imagine or comprehend

Tammy Shuttlesworth: I'd like my readers to find love in their Christmas, no matter their circumstances. I know we all come from different backgrounds, but as Christians we all strive to reach the same goal; heaven.

Are you a member of American Christian Fiction Writers? If so, why?

Jeanie Smith Cash: Yes. To interact with and learn from other Christian writers, and to be a part of the prayer group.

Linda Lyle: Yes. I recently joined in order to have access to information and a critique group.

Jeri Odell: Yes. The people connection.

Tammy Shuttlesworth: Yes, I belong to ACFW. I like the support and encouragement of those who write the same type of stories I do.

Good, maybe I'll see some of you this week in Minneapolis. What is the best piece of advice you received as an author?

Jeanie Smith Cash: As you sit down to write always start with prayer for guidance. Remember that the stories come from the Lord and we should feel blessed that He’s chosen us to write it for Him. Someone helped you when you needed it, so try to return the favor by helping someone else.

Linda Lyle: Really, I received two good pieces of advice: start with prayer and do everything to the best of your ability because it is a reflection on Christ.

Jeri Odell: The Lord chooses who He uses.

Tammy Shuttlesworth: A friend told me to write down bits and pieces of conversations, titles, names, storylines, etc. I thought of because I'd never remember them when I wanted to use them in a story. The trouble is, I now have a kazillion scraps of paper with those "bits of storylines" on them and no way to organize them!

Thank you, Jeanie, Linda, Jeri, and Tammy, for spending this time with us.

Readers, leave a comment for a chance to win one of the four copies of Wyoming Christmas Heroes.

Want to know more about these wonderful women? Here are their websites:





Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Author Cecelia Dowdy - JOHN'S QUEST - Free Book

I'm happy to welcome Cecelia to this blog.

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

I’m not really sure how much of myself I write into my characters. It’s not something I particularly notice. However, people I know will tell me that they notice certain things my characters will do or say that will remind them of something I would do or say.

I love to bake, so for my first novel, I gave my heroine a profession I’d love to do someday: a baker. Also, I love food in general, and my sister told me she noticed how I love to describe food in my novels.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

I don’t really consider myself to be quirky. However, my friends have told me it was unusual that I used to travel around the world….alone! I’ve been to many countries and most of those travels were done solo. Reason being, I used to work for a travel agency and I got free airline tickets, and sometimes I was able to get free or reduced room and board. I was only allowed to bring spouse and children with me at this free/reduced rate. At the time, I was unmarried and had no children. Most of my friends weren’t interested in traveling to the places I was going and they had no money to go, so I went solo! I went on three cruises plus I went to Europe, several places in the Caribbean, New Zealand and Tahiti! I do recall while traveling in the Caribbean alone, I got a lot of male attention! When those men see a woman traveling alone, they want to take you out and show you their island! Some of them can be pretty fresh too! I’d advise women traveling alone to be cautious!

When did you first discover that you were a writer?

One day, when I was twenty-eight years old, I discovered I didn’t have a book to read during my lunch break. So I started to write. I’ve been writing ever since.

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

Any kind of fiction. However, over the last five or six years, my reading has been about eighty percent Christian fiction and twenty percent secular and non-fiction titles. I suppose since I write Christian fiction, I like to keep myself well-read about what’s out there, plus, I’ve found that I enjoy Christian fiction so much!

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

Too many to name. I had a lot of duds in the beginning that will NEVER see the light of day. There is one title I wrote that was based upon a secondary character in my published novel, FIRST MATES, however, I couldn’t find a house for it. I currently have a women’s fiction with strong romantic elements that I’m shopping around. I also have two other titles that will be released through Barbour’s Heartsong Presents line.

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

Since I’ve gotten married and had a child, I’ve found that my mind is very cluttered, plus with working full time, it’s hard to stay focused and get my writing done. However, I’ve discovered that I have to focus on one task at a time, and only take certain moments to reflect upon the big picture. If I keep one thing in the front of my mind during my hectic days, it’ll usually get done quickly, but, there’s always a lengthy list of other things to do! After I finish one task, I bring another to mind and focus on that! I’ve found that I’ve had to let some things go, and place some things on the back burner for now while I focus on certain projects, both business and personal projects.

How do you choose your characters’ names?

I have a baby-name book. When I’m creating a new character, I’ll scan through the book and choose a name I like.

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?

Both my husband and I are proud of our two-year-old son! Birthing him, raising him, it’s a lot of work but it’s fulfilling! He’s our biggest accomplishment, and I’m glad to enjoy motherhood!

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

A dolphin. I love watching them perform in shows! They are some of the smartest aquatic animals around!

What is your favorite food?

Don’t ask me that! I love so many things! I love sweets! I have a lot of favorite sweet treats: lemon pound cake, sweet potato pie, apple pie, chocolate cake, chocolate chip cookies and peanut butter cookies to name a few! I also love seafood. I love catfish, shrimp, and crabs, and I also like pasta dishes like spaghetti and lasagna.

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

Learning the craft. At first, I didn’t want a critique partner because I was scared to get my writing critiqued. I wish I’d had a partner or entered a contest sooner. Getting others to read my work offered me great feedback, and I learned about a few resources out there to help me with my writing. Due to time constraints, I no longer have a partner, but I still brainstorm sometimes with writing friends.

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

Join a writers group and do all you can to hone your craft! Join ACFW and go to their annual conference. Read some books about fiction writing. One of my favorites is Self Editing For Fiction Writers.

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

John’s Quest is about an agnostic scientist who finds romantic love while searching for Jesus. I wanted to write a story to show how someone who’s not sure of Jesus’ existence may search for the truth about our Savior.

How can readers find you on the Internet?

http://www.ceceliadowdy.com/ and http://www.ceceliadowdy.blogspot.com/

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

Readers, look at that cover. Isn't it beautiful?

Now leave a comment here for a chance to win a free copy of John's Quest, then check out Cecelia's web site and blog.

On another subject, I'm really excited about this week. I'll fly out tomorrow to go to the American Christian Fiction Writers national conference in Minneapolis.

I will be posting blogs on the regular days, but I won't choose winners on Saturday as I usually do. Saturday is my busy day. There's a public booksigning at the Mall of America from 1-3 pm. I teach a workshop from 5:15-6:15. Then I have just over an hour to get dresses and ready for the awards banquet. Pray for me, please.

And if you live close enough, come to the Mall of America and introduce yourself to me.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Author Glenn Rambo - Crossing the Line - Free Book

My friend Candace Speare connected me with Glen Rambo. I'm happy to introduce you to him and his book.

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

I started out doing quite a bit as I knew nothing about writing characters. I think there is a little of me in ALL my characters but they took on their own personalities and traits.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

I walked around Disney world talking like Forrest Gump for a whole day. Drove my wife nuts but she laughed…. A lot.

When did you first discover that you were a writer?

When I got suspended as a young patrolman in 1990 for not doing a report completely. I quickly became a fan of writing reports and actually I embraced it, and it became a challenge to me. I never knew good report writing would transfer over to fiction writing.

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

I’m a fiction reader. I enjoy action/adventure mostly police/military novels. I enjoy reading what I can relate to and understand.

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

The Sequel to my first book is completed and at the publishers. It’s called Holding the Line. I am half-way done a domestic terrorist novel called Monkey Task Force One which is actually my favorite work. I have three more project outlined and in the works.

We need to schedule you for an interview with the next one. How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?

Pure humor. I love to laugh and have been blessed with a sense of humor that I can’t believe. Adding humor to things helps. Music is a help and I use my writing to relieve stress. It allows me a place to get lost in and relax.

How do you choose your characters’ names?

They are almost all people I know… I mean all my characters are fictitious of course like my disclaimer says… They are just about all people I know. I probably have 10% that are just made up in my head.

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?

The birth of my daughter Jordan Marie in 2007. I was Police Officer of the Year 2000, and some of the criminal cases I have worked in and solved over the years.

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

A Killer Whale. Very powerful, strong, confident, no enemies, but gentle, trainable, and affectionate.

What is your favorite food?

Chinese, Chinese, with a side of Chinese.

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

Time, I think. There is never enough time. I had to make specific hours which are usually early Saturday mornings where I can just totally focus on my work. Its tough, but I think that would be it. I’ll think of a dozen things after I answer this.

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

Don’t quit! Believe in your work. Believe that your story is excellent and strive to make it better. Look to friends for help. My friends Candy and Misty have helped me and I couldn’t have done it without them.

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

It’s a page turner, you’ll love it. I like to write stories and characters that you, the reader, can relate to. No superhero’s, just everyday people and how they respond to the unexpected.

How can readers find you on the Internet?

My website is www.glennrambo.com and for whatever reason I love when people sign my guest book. My numbers counter is great but it means something to me when I see they signed the guest book.

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

Readers, leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of Glenn's book, Crossing the Line. Then go over and sign his guest book on his web site.

Four More Winners!!!!!

Because the winner I'd chosen for Courting Miss Adelaide by Janet Dean had purchased the book, she said for me to choose another winner, so Darlene Franklin, this is your blessed day. You are the new winner.

The winner of A Passion Redeemed by Julie Lessman is Ann Shorey.

Doreen is the winner of At His Command by Brenda Coulter.

And Stacey Dale is the winner of Forever Christmas by Christine Lynxwiler.

All of you need to send me your mailing address. There's a link to mine in my profile.

Be sure to check back every weekend to see if you are the winner of a book.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Author Ramona Richards - THE FACE OF DECEIT - 2 Free Books

Today, I'm talking to Ramona Richards, who has a new Love Inspired Suspense release.

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

My heroines are always braver and feistier than I am in real life, and they definitely have better adventures! They do reflect my unending curiosity about the world, however.

I enjoy researching different professions and hobbies. I had never sat behind a potter’s wheel until I came up with the idea for THE FACE OF DECEIT, but I loved it. So there are some similarities in what my hero, Mason, experiences the first time he’s at the wheel and what I felt.

Characters occasionally will enjoy something I do. In THE FACE OF DECEIT, for instance, one of the clues is found in a Dorothy Dunnett book. I adore Dunnett. But if all the women were me, readers would get bored in a hurry. So would I. I love discovering my characters the same way I hope readers do.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

I kinda cultivate “quirky” as a lifestyle choice, so picking my quirkiest moment is a bit like choosing a favorite book. I used to be a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism, for instance, and I thought nothing of wandering the streets of Nashville in full medieval regalia. I took scuba diving lessons, even though at the time I was terrified of deep water, and I learned to fence, just because it seemed like a nifty thing to know.

Close to the top of the “quirky” list is the time my college roommate wanted us to go rappelling with this boy she had been swooning over. Problem was . . . I had broken my ankle while snow camping and my leg had been in a plaster cast for four weeks. But my roommate REALLY wanted us to go rappelling with this guy. So we cut off the cast with a knife and a pair of old scissors, wrapped my foot in an ace bandage and off we went. Somewhere, I still have the pictures.

When did you first discover that you were a writer?

My mother tells me I started making up adventure stories at about three. There’s a picture on my website of me at that age, hanging out with my grandfather and his friends. I must have picked up storytelling from them. I tried to write my first book at seven. I kept my friends entertained with romances when I was 14 or so. My first article was published at 18.

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

Anything and everything! I read a lot of romantic suspense, but I also love historical romances – and history. I used to read a lot of science fiction, and I read some mainstream lit as well. I have had a “writerly crush” on Harlan Ellison since I was a kid, but I also have one on Dorothy Dunnett and Lawrence Block. A good strong voice, solid beauty in the words, descriptions that make you wince or sigh, can be admired in any genre.

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

There are three books in the Jackson’s Retreat series: A MURDER AMONG FRIENDS, THE FACE OF DECEIT, and THE TAKING OF CARLY BRADFORD, which will come out in May 2009. I’ve also written a suspense thriller about a cold case detective who specializes in cases that haunt small towns, and I’m also hoping to sell my next three RS books – about three sisters living in Nashville – to Steeple Hill.

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

Friends, especially other writers. Writers have a different mindset than most other folks, so it helps to share our goals and ideas. And friends are my safety net. I vent to them; they to me about the frustrations of our lives and the fact that there is ALWAYS something else to do.

How do you choose your characters’ names?

Sometimes they tell me what their names are. When they don’t . . . I keep programs from plays and concerts I attend. I also rely on area phone books or ethnic groups prominent in a setting.

For instance, the three Jackson’s Retreat books are set in New Hampshire, which has a large Greek population. I have a friend who runs a Greek restaurant in Portsmouth with her husband, and I asked her for some options for my next book.

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?

Probably hanging on to my sanity while being the single mom of a daughter with severe disabilities. She’s 21 now, and I have two great caregivers who I don’t think I could do without – but I raised her alone for five years while recovering from my divorce.

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

Ah, never really thought about this one. I love animals of all sorts. Probably an otter or a whale. Or a dolphin.

What is your favorite food?

Strawberries. And anything with them on it or in it (think ice cream….).

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

I let life distract me from what I knew was God’s path for me. After my marriage and the birth of my daughter, I went in every direction you could think of, even walking away from my faith for several years. I stopped writing and became quite depressed. When I finally turned back to God, a lot of things happened in rapid order to get me back on track. I went back to writing and haven’t looked back.

Now when I get blocked, I remember to pray, listen, and hang out with other writers. Before too long, I’m back at the computer, typing my fingers off.

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

Keep in mind that writing is a way of life, a craft, and a business. To succeed, you need to master all three:

1. Never give up. Harlan Ellison once said, “Any writer who CAN be discouraged, SHOULD be.” If your heart is bursting with stories, don’t let rejections make you quit. Rejections are part of the business. Learn from them and keep going.

2. Never stop learning your craft. I teach writing courses, but I am always interested in learning more. For instance, nothing will teach you more about how to build a plot than a good screenwriting class. And listen to the masters. Read Terry Brooks’ and Stephen King’s books on writing. Go to conferences. Hang out on Randy Ingermanson’s site and subscribe to his newsletter. C. J. Cherryh’s advice—“Only write what you want your readers to see. Don’t tell them the street has no cars on it because they have to put the cars there, then take them away. Tell them the street is empty.” That did more to clean up my writing than any other advice.

3. Never stop marketing yourself and your work. Christine Bolley changed my tactics and my level of achievement by simply emphasizing that successful writers spend at least 40 percent of their time marketing themselves. When I started following that advice, I sold my first book within the year.

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

In THE FACE OF DECEIT, Karen O’Neill has suppressed all memories of her parents’ murders, which she witnessed when she was seven. Now she’s a potter whose “face vases” are getting a lot of attention in the art world, mostly due to art crime investigator and historian Mason DuBroc. When someone starts killing collectors and destroying vases, Mason become convinced that the face on the vases belongs to the killer.

When the killer turns the attacks on Karen, she and Mason face the fact that her mind is slowly revealing details that not only involve long-held and destructive family secrets but the identity of the killer. What did Karen’s parents do to provoke their murders? Do the answers lie somewhere besides in Karen’s blocked memories. If not . . . can she remember the killer in time?

How can readers find you on the Internet?

www.ramonarichards.com. I have a new site, and I love visitors. :-)

Ramona, thank you for spending this time with us.

Readers, leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of this book and the first book in this series. What a wonderful offer for Ramona to make.

And check out Ramona's website.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Author Robin Caroll - TORRENTS OF DESTRUCTION - Free Book

I'm really glad to have Robin with us today. She's the president of American Christian Fiction Writers, and the national conference will be next week. She's a very busy lady.
By the way, if you live anywhere near Minneapolis, be sure to come to the public booksigning at the Mall of America on Saturday, September 20, from 1 - 3 pm. 126 authors will be in the Best Buy rotunda, the courtyard by Bloomingdales, and in the corridor between. You'll get to meet a lot of special people.
Welcome, Robin. Why did you become an author?

I grew up being a reader and loving to get lost in a story. Writing has always been a vital part of who I am.

If you weren’t an author, what would be your dream job?

To be on the Publisher’s Clearing House Prize Patrol! :D

Then you could bring my millions to my house! ;-) If you could have lived at another time in history, what would it be and why?

Definitely back in the antebellum times. But I would’ve hated the corsets and hoop skirts.

I always told my husband I was born out of my time. I always loved wearing long dresses, even before the maxis came in. What place in the United States have you not visited that you would like to?

Hmmm…that’s a hard one. I think I’d like to visit New York, just to say I did. :D

I haven't been to New York, but I've been to Washington, DC. I think every American should go and see all the monuments and memorials to our counntry's history. How about a foreign country you hope to visit?


What lesson has the Lord taught you recently?

What HASN’T He taught me recently? LOL Seriously, He deals with me daily on life lessons. But most recently? Forgiveness, even when it isn’t asked for.

That's a hard one.
Now, Robin, tell us about the featured book.

TORRENTS OF DESTRUCTION is a book that I got the idea of when my husband returned from a white water rafting trip on the Gauley River in West Virginia. As I watched the video, I kept thinking “what if” such and such happened. This book was the answer to my “what if” game. Raging rapids aren't the only thing causing turbulence in the lives of a river rafting guide and an undercover FBI agent ... catching criminals is as dangerous as the undercurrent of attraction they have for each other.

I can hardly wait to read it. How can readers find you on the Internet?

www.robincaroll.com but to order to order the book, visit www.underdogpress.com

All right, Readers, leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy, but check out both Robin's website and the Underdog Press site.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Author Leann Harris - HIDDEN DECEPTION - Free Book

I've known Leann Harris for several years, and I'm happy to feature her debut Love Inspired Suspense novel. I reviewed the book in the August newsletter on my website - www.lenanelsondooley.com .

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

I write characters that I admire and probably wish I could do some of the things
I have my characters do. I draw from people around me--their strengths and passions.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

When I started writing Scottish historicals, I saw an article about a young woman who taught Highland dancing in my town. I went and watched her. My daughter became interested and she started doing Highland dancing.

When did you first discover that you were a writer?

When I was a kid, I was a storyteller. I’d see a movie or TV show then I’d put my spin on it. I loved making up stories with me as the heroine. Since I am dyslexic, I didn’t think I could write, but when my youngest child went to school, I started writing—and wrote what I knew. It was about a deaf woman in Colorado in 1886. And I am sure to have all my stuff proofed.

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

Mystery and romance hold my attention, and I read everything in that range from category to mainstream. I’ve also discovered cozies. They are great fun.

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

I’ve written 10 romantic suspense books and one futuristic book. Before I was published, I wrote 5 historical romances set in England (1066) and Scotland (1682). I know so many little facts about Scottish life that would amaze you.

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

The Lord. He is my strength and sanity. My first nine books were written while I was a full time mother. I sold this current book while working full time teaching high school deaf. I worried on how I would do it. I wrote everyday from 9-10 at night.

When I sit down to write, I consider worship. God gave me the talent and desire to write, and it would be wrong not to use it. I am also grateful for a husband who cooks and understands about take out.

How do you choose your characters’ names?

I love Biblical names, and I look through the little baby book I got with the birth of my first child. I look at the meaning of the name. I had a book where the hero’s name was Matthew Hawkins. I kept typing his name and it just didn’t ring right, then when I started referring to him as “Hawk” I knew the man went by his nickname. The name was right.

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?

Having two children who love the Lord.

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

Okay, I’ve put myself in my characters’ place, looked at the world through their eyes. I’ve written stories in another galaxy on another world. I’ve been in a killer’s head, but I’ve never thought about being an animal. Is that not strange? But most writers are a little weird. Weird and wonderful.

What is your favorite food?

I love refried beans made with lard. Lard. There are just some things that shouldn’t be messed with and refried beans falls into that category. I will eat low fat in other areas but not refried beans. And I will tell you the smell of refried beans made with lard is to die for and one of my favorite childhood memories.

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

Sometimes when I am writing and get to a place were I am stumped, I go outside and pull weeds in my garden. Or go to the gym and exercise. It helps get the old mind working. Now those are daily writing roadblocks. I guess my biggest problem was the first book I wrote for Silhouette. This heroine appeared in a book that Silhouette didn’t buy, but the minute I wrote her, I knew all about her and her family. It took me a month to find the hero to match that gutsy heroine. The hero came very slowly and finally revealed himself to me. But I thought about her everyday and tried to match her with many different heroes. It was a relief when he appeared.

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

Join a writing group. ACFW, RWA, Mystery Writers. It doesn’t matter. Get with other writers. They will educate you and encourage you. Your family loves you, but they do not understand how writers think. Be around other writers. You’ll enjoy that unique perspective on life.

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

As I was writing this book, God’s truth appeared on the page. It was wonderful to have those words of comfort and compassion appear. They surprised me. I felt that God was saying something to and through me, giving comfort to those who found themselves in the situation and Elena and Daniel found themselves.

How can readers find you on the Internet?

Please visit my website www.leannharris.com or visit www.loveinspiredauthors.com
In the next few weeks, some of those characters from Hidden Deception will be blogging their views of the book and their opinions. Watch for it on my webpage.

That sounds like fun. Thanks for being with us, Leann.

Readers, leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. Then go over and check out her website.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Author Donn Taylor - RHAPSODY IN RED - Free Book

Today I'm intruducing you to Donn Taylor, another Texas author. I loved his writing when I read The Lazarus File that was published several year ago. Now he has a new release, Rhapsody in Red. I'm in the middle of reading this book right now and enjoying it.

Why do you write the kind of books you do?

I haven't spent much time thinking about this. I suppose I write about characters I respond to, whether positively or negatively, and about situations that concern me. In The Lazarus File, my protagonists are people who keep their promises in spite of difficulties. The situation that concerned me for that novel, set in the 1970s, was the interface of Colombian drug cartels, native terrorist organizations, and Soviet expansionism. For Rhapsody in Red, the protagonists are professors devoted to truth with a capital T in a college that is sliding toward relativism. (It's a lighthearted mystery, though, so I don't want us to get too serious.) With poetry, it's a matter of finding interesting expression for small kernels of concentrated truth. I also don't want to get too serious about the poetry because my objective is to write good-quality poetry that a broad popular audience can enjoy. Many poetic truths can be expressed in humor and satire.

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

That's an easy question, Lena. It has to be the day I married Mildred, the most wonderful woman in the world. John Milton (unknowingly) described it perfectly when he wrote, "With thee conversing I forget all time," or better yet, our status on our marriage day:

The world was all before them where to choose
Their place of rest, and Providence their guide.

How has being published changed your life?

Life has certainly gotten busier, but its qualities and objectives remain the same. There is a great satisfaction in having landed my first national contract, and that with a publisher like Moody. (Lazarus was a small-press book.) But it also raises the problem of making the next book as good as the one before it. As for busy-ness, I have to find time for edits of both the mystery and a poetry book, and publicizing both, as well as writing the next book. Fortunately, I have an encouraging wife who helps me find the necessary work time.

None of us could make it as authors without understanding and encouraging spouses. What are you reading right now?

The Bible, of course. To keep up with the world, I read two weekly and two daily newspapers, including the on-line NY Times. I also read the Baptist Standard and the Roman Catholic journal First Things, along with posts on an electronic bulletin board run by the National Association of Scholars. I've just finished Mark Moyar's Triumph Forsaken, the most thoroughly documented history book I've ever read. (It will undoubtedly become the definitive history of the early years of the Vietnam War.) In fiction, I've been reacquainting myself with the brilliant Western writer Ernest Haycox and the British aviation-and-espionage writer Gavin Lyall. In CBA, I've just finished Dodson Brandt's White Soul and begun Lisa McKay's My Hands Came Away Red.

I read White Soul, and now my husband is reading it. What is your current work in progress?

I'm working on a sequel to Rhapsody in Red. Same protagonists, same setting, very different problem, but the same lighthearted tone. I'd probably better leave it at that, for the characters and situation keep asserting themselves in unforeseen ways.

Be sure and let me know when you have a publication date. What would be your dream vacation?

Two weeks anywhere with my wife, Mildred. Better yet, the two of us for two weeks in Heidelberg during Fasching (German Mardi Gras). We'd alternate between the magnificent Mannheim Opera and those lively Fasching parties with their excellent popular music.

How do you choose your settings for each book?

The overall Colombian/Caribbean setting for Lazarus was determined by the subject. Research recommended local settings, and a single photograph helped me build a specific fictitious setting in the Andean Cordillera Oriental. The process was quite different for Rhapsody. The problem there was to make the setting seem specific and authentic while making Overton University an any-college located anywhere. (It is definitely not modeled on any institution, but shares characteristics with many.) The setting is vaguely Midwestern and west of the Mississippi, but defined no further than that.

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

It would be the economist and Hoover scholar Thomas Sowell because he is the most brilliant mind writing syndicated columns and well-researched books today. A close second would be Father Richard John Neuhaus, editor in chief of First Things. He has wide-ranging interests and is a master of quiet irony.

What are your hobbies, besides writing and reading?

Mildred and I enjoy walking the many woodland trails in our neighborhood. We also love classic movies—the ones made before Hollywood went sleazy in the mid-sixties.

I'm with you on the movies. What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?

Choosing a subject and shaping it into an appropriate plot. I don't always overcome. They all fight back, and some of them defeat me. When I do succeed, it's by thrashing away at airy nothing until something concrete and acceptable finally falls out.

What advice would you give to a beginning author?

Be patient: it's going to take two or three times as long as you think when you start out. Read, read, read, and learn the craft. And don't be too proud to learn basic rules of grammar and punctuation.
Tell us about the featured book.

In the lighthearted mystery Rhapsody in Red, a history professor with musical hallucinations and a female Wiccan professor of comparative religion have to solve a campus murder before police can pin it on them. They are ostracized when they expose unsavory faculty relationships, and their lives are endangered when they find that organized crime operates a racket from the campus computer network. Before they're through, they both face life-changing spiritual decisions.

How can readers find you on the Internet?

The quick way is www.donntaylor.com, my Web site for Lazarus that will soon undergo major overhaul. Rhapsody in Red is listed by title only on Amazon for advance orders. If people type my name into Google, they'll turn up all kinds of things.

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

Readers, leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of Rhapsody in Red. I think you'll like it. The book has a unique flavor. And if you can, get a copy of The Lazarus File. You can probably find out how on Donn's web site.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

7, Count Them, 7 Winners!!!!!!!

Wow!!! I just love announcing winners.

For Snowbound Colorado Christmas by Susan Page Davis, me, Tamela Hancock Murray, and Darlene Franklin:

Windy Cindy

Jessica Nelson is the winner of Courting Miss Adelaide by Janet Dean.

Donna M is the winner of Misfortune Cookies by Linda Kozar.

Abi is the winner of It's Not About Me by Michelle Sutton.

All 7 of you need to send your mailing address to me, so we can get your books to you. There's a link to my email under my profile in the right column.