Saturday, November 29, 2008

Author Thomas Phillips - THE MOLECH PROPHECY - Free Book

Thomas Phillips is a new author to me, but I'm glad to welcome him to our blog. Thomas, tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.

Lena, I get asked this question a lot. And I love it. You can find a lot of ‘me’ in every character. Some of it is factual. Like, my main character in The Molech Prophecy is a Miami Dolphins fan, and plays guitar. That’s me. But also, a lot of who my characters are is based on who I’d like to most resemble. But you will see my dry sense of humor, philosophies, fears and phobias – mixed into the entire cast of characters.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

You did warn me your questions were … original. Quirkiest, huh? When I was fourteen I worked at a party house. The place was packed full with thousands of guests for a huge New Year’s Eve bash. My boss gave me five dollars (cash, that’s right!) to wear some white linens as a diaper (and nothing else) and run through the party rooms shaking a make-shift rattle yelling, “Happy New Year!” at midnight. And yeah, I did it.

When did you first discover that you were a writer?

I grew up with a reading disability. It wasn’t until I was in seventh grade that I actually read a complete novel. It was S.E. Hinton’s, The Outsiders. Always a storyteller, I realized, if Hinton could inspire me to want to read, then maybe I could write books and inspire others … maybe reach those reluctant readers …

I knew that Hinton was 16 years old when she wrote that first, amazing novel. So I set a goal. I swore I’d sell a first book before turning 30. That gave me roughly sixteen years to play with.

When I turned twenty-five I found an ad in Writer’s Digest for a new, western-themed Canadian magazine looking for short-stories. I’d never written a western. I gave it a shot. When I submitted my 8,500 word piece, I wasn’t holding my breath.

Two months later, I received a contract and check in the mail. The publication paid $.01 per word. $85! (Remember, this is Canadian money at a time when the American dollar was worth more…) I cashed the check, getting $43.00. I was so excited; I took my family out to celebrate. I told them they could Super-size the whole order!

(I went on to sell more than 30 short stories over the next five years. But had no luck finding a home for my novel. At age 29, I got a call from a small press that – during a move – had misplaced my manuscript. They found it. Read it. And if it was still available, wanted to publish it. The book was released February 2000. I turned 30 that June.)

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

Not much of a range, I’m afraid. Mystery/Suspense/Horror. That about covers it. Both secular and Christian. I’ve tried the classics. Found most boring. I did enjoy, however, Huxley’s A Brave New World, and Steinbeck’s Of Mice And Men. But I need the books I read to be intense, to keep me turning pages … literary works, and the likes, (although I did enjoy Grisham’s A Painted House, and Bleachers), just don’t work for me. I also have a 100 page rule. If I am not into a book by the 100th page, I’m done with it. I have TOO many books waiting to be read to waste time otherwise. (Hope that doesn’t sound too harsh).

I know what you mean. What other books have you written, whether published or not?

Well, truth is, The Molech Prophecy is my first Christian published novel as Thomas Phillips. Under my real name, I’ve had five other mystery novels published, as well as two middle grade books under, yet, another name. And I’ve got three more completed manuscripts ready to go in the hopes that my publisher, Whitaker House, will accept them all in the near future. (Fingers crossed!)

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

To be honest, it is not easy. I oftentimes question my sanity. My purpose. My desires. Despite having a wonderful full time job and being a published author – without getting into too many details – I am in something of a dark valley, and have been since mid-2005. I believe that it is in writing, writing Christian themed fiction, that God is allowing me to keep some sense of sanity and perspective in my life. And I thank Him for that opportunity.

Also, despite all the activities my kids are involved in, going to their practices, games and school events – hectic as it may be at times – are some of my happiest days of all. They are my anchor, no doubt.

How do you choose your characters’ names?

This could start World War III. See, when I first started out, I tried to use the first names of friends and family. What I quickly learned was, you cannot write books fast enough to satisfy everyone! Being Italian, I have a HUGE family. And they all want their names used, naturally. So now, just to avoid hurting anyone’s feelings, I try not to use ANY of their names. I keep a log of names I like, whether it’s from meeting people (like this fourth grade boy I met while speaking at a school, his name was Cash. Love it. And this kid on my son’s baseball team, Liam…) I also have a 10,001 book of baby names that I keep in my handy-dandy writer’s toolbox. (For last names, I tend to flip through the white pages, lol! Shhh. Our little secret!)

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?

Honestly? April 2003. It was a Sunday. After going to church for nearly six years, I finally gave my life to Christ. What amazes me is how stubborn I was. It never should have taken that long.

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

I just, just adopted a kitten. Cutest little thing. It licks my face and attacks my feet while I sleep … so I do not want to be a cat. I think an eagle. Not a seagull. But an eagle. Flying just appeals to me. Maybe it is a guy thing? But they are incredible creatures, elegant. Majestic. Yeah. An eagle.
What is your favorite food?

I could eat pizza most any night of the week. I like it with everything. Cheese, pepperoni, onions, meatballs, hot/sweet peppers, black olives, anchovies (yes, yes, anchovies) …

But we have this burger place out my way, Schaller’s, it’s by the lake—two burgers on rolls with everything, heavy hot sauce and an order of fries with heavy hot sauce, and a large icy Coke? Nothing beats it. Nothing!

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

I tend to be my biggest roadblock. I am full of self-doubt. I consider myself lucky to have had sold a novel. And then, when I read books and manuscripts by other, far-more talented writers (as I believe most are), I wonder what in the world am I doing here? How did I get here? I don’t belong … and when I start thinking that way, my drive and dedication stall out. I’m still not sure I belong here – a published writer – but I realize that as long as I am here, I’m going to do all I can to make the most of it!

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

Read. Read. Read.

Join some writer critique groups. These are a great way to “try out” what you’ve written before sending it to an editor.

Work on short stories. Try to sell those as you work on a novel. Build up some publishing credits that way. It will help when you try to land an agent or publisher. (You’ve all heard the saying, You can’t get an agent until you’ve been published, and you can’t get published until you have an agent … it’s true. But selling short stories is a loop hole, trust me!)

But most of all, remember that writing is the joy. Publishing is just … icing on the cake.

Write everyday. Blog. Journal. But write.

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

The Molech Prophecy is, like I said, my first attempt at Christian fiction writing. I put a lot into the characters, and storyline. If any of you actually read it, I would love to hear from you. I can grow as a writer by getting feedback from readers. Most of all, I hope you enjoy the tale I’ve told.

How can readers find you on the Internet?

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

Readers, you can order the book by using this link:

Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. Check back a week from Saturday to see if you won. If you didn't, you can still use the link.


Sorry to be so late doing this. I was in the emergency room from midnight until 3:00 am. Just woke up.

Debra Ullrick is the winner of Plain Perfect by Beth Wiseman.

Cpullum is the winner of Forsaken by James David Jordan.

CherieJ is the winner of The Christmas Edition by Robin Shope.

Click on the View My Complete Profile link in my profile. You'll find a link to my email. So get those addresses to me quickly so the books can go out.

Sign up for FeedBlitz above my profile and you won't miss a single interview or winner announcement.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


I'm happy to welcome Beth Patillo to the blog. And don't you just love the title of the book? Beth, tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.

My characters are usually composites of certain personality traits or quirks that I’ve observed in myself or in others. The only character I’ve felt was pretty close to being me was the Rev. Betsy Blessing in Heavens To Betsy. A lot of her thoughts and observations came directly from my experience as a female pastor.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

Sadly, I’m not very quirky. I double-pierced my ears in college. Does that count?

Yes. I double-pierced my ears when I was working for a very conservative Christian curriculum publisher. And I had some earrings with three stones held together by tiny wires, so it looked like I had four holes in my ears. Right after I wore them to work the first time, we received a memo that only two earrings per ear were permitted. When did you first discover that you were a writer?

I think I knew I was a writer in first grade. I still have my creative writing notebook from that year, and it’s a hoot to read. I started my first novel in fourth grade. If I remember correctly, it was a mystery.

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

I’m a sucker for a good romance or women’s fiction novel. I enjoy memoir and I read a fair amount of Christian non-fiction, especially books on spirituality. I also own every how-to-write book ever published.

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

I’ve written two historical romances, which were my first love. But since I tend more to the sweet than the steamy, I had a difficult time there. Heavens To Betsy was my first contemporary, a Bridget-Jones-meets-Mitford story, followed by the sequel, Earth To Betsy.

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

I write in my prayer journal every day. The first thing I do is list five things for which I’m grateful. My ‘things’ are usually people, by the way. I also look for any moments of quiet I can find. Now that I’m writing at home full-time, the dog and I are pretty tranquil during the day. As a working mom, I’ve also learned to embrace the motto, “When all else fails, lower your standards.”

How do you choose your characters’ names?

The characters’ names usually just pop into my head. My biggest worry is that if I use a name of someone I know, they will think that I based the character on them. So I have to be careful about that.

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?

After recently listening to Randy Pausch’s The Last Lecture in which he encourages people to pursue their childhood dreams, I realized that all of my childhood dreams have already come true. I have a wonderful husband and two beautiful children. I’ve been fortunate enough to have several books published. I have had the opportunity to live in England and to travel, and I have also had the chance to pursue my profession (ordained ministry). While my efforts did make a difference in achieving these dreams, I’m also aware how fortunate I am to have had the opportunities that allowed me to do so. I’m far more blessed than I deserve.

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

I would be my dog, Angie, because she’s loved, indulged, and happy.

What is your favorite food?

Well, I never met a refined carbohydrate I didn’t like, but if I have to be specific, I would say Mexican food is my favorite.

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

Getting started is the most difficult part of writing for me. I latched on to an idea called Club 100, where you challenge yourself to write at least 100 words a day for 100 days. When I use this practice, it’s easier to get started, because I only ‘have’ to do 100 words. By the time I get that far, though, I usually keep on going and pile up several pages. I run an email group for folks who use the Club 100 method, and new members are welcome. You can find out more at .

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

Perseverance is the key. Whether it’s learning your craft, finishing your first manuscript, or querying agents and editors. Publishing means being rejected – over and over again – but all it takes is one ‘yes’ to get you started.

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

The Sweetgum Knit Lit Society is a fun read for all ages. You don’t have to be a knitter to identify with and enjoy these characters. The women – from thirteen to sixty-five – cover the gamut of female experience and problems. I hope that readers find the book to be both funny and heartwarming.

How can readers find you on the Internet?
Beth, thank you for spending this time with us.
Readers, you can order The Sweetgum Knit Lit Society using this link:

Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of The Sweetgum Knit Lit Society. Check back a week from Saturday to see if you won. If you don't, you can use this link to order the book.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Author Jillian Hart - HOMEFRONT HOLIDAY - Free Book

I just love reading these series by Love Inspired. What is the name of the series this book is in, and where in the series does it occur?

The name of the series is Homecoming Heroes, and my book is the final book, #6 in the series. It comes out in December 08.

Who came up with the idea for the series?

The publisher.

I know that working on a series that weaves together takes a lot of work. How did your team schedule the work?

The other five authors in this series were incredible. (Marta Perry, Lenora Worth, Brenda Coulter, Patricia Davids and Margaret Daley). The team communicated via email and hammered out any problems within the set series story and offered support and friendship. It was a privilege to work with them. I had the easiest part, since I had the final book, and all I needed to do was the resolution of the continuity.

Did you find it hard or easy to work within the series framework?

Both. It’s a challenge to pick up characters and a story and make them your own, which isn’t often easy but it is rewarding. Steeple Hill had a touching, solid story that made writing the romance easy.

What other books have you had published?

I have numerous other books published with Love Inspired, and also write for Love Inspired’s historical line and Harlequin Historicals.

When you aren't writing or spending time with your family, what is your favorite activity?

I love romantic comedies. If I have spare time, I’m hunkered down in front of my TV, watching two characters on their rocky path to love.

Where do you do most of your writing?

I’ve converted an extra bedroom into an office where I look out the window at lush lawn and evergreens and write the day away.

I'm actually sitting in my converted-bedroom office right now, too. What part of the country do you live it? And why do you like that part of the country?

I live in Washington State. I enjoy the scenery and the green trees and the mountains that rim the horizon. I’ve lived in other states, but Washington has always felt like home.

I'd love to visit there sometime. Tell us about the featured book.

I loved writing Homefront Holiday. It’s about Mike, a dedicated Army surgeon whose tour of duty is over and returns home to Sarah, the woman he left behind. Can they find love again? Or is it too late?

What I found interesting when I was writing these two characters were their sense of honor and duty. Mike’s sense of duty to his country is what tore him and Sarah apart. She wanted him to stay, to marry her and start a family. He re-upped, choosing his duty to his country and his fellow soldiers. Sarah broke off the engagement and has come to regret her decision. It is her own sense of honor and duty that makes her finally understand him—she is fostering Ali, the little Middle Eastern orphan boy Mike saved overseas. Sarah, in coming to love the little boy, sees the value of Mike’s sense of duty and the difference such belief makes in the world. It’s a lovely message, and it was rewarding to help Mike and Sarah find their happily-ever-after.

The Happily-Ever-After, my favorite part of the story. No story is complete without one. How can my readers find you on the Internet?

My webpage is at Please drop by!

Thank you Jillian for spending this time with us.

Readers, you can quickly order a copy of Homefront Holiday by clicking the following link:

You can also leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. Be sure to check back a week from Saturday to see if you won. If you don't, you can still use this link.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Author Allie Pleiter - MASKED BY MOONLIGHT - Free Book

I'm really glad to welcome another Love Inspired Historical to our blog. Allie, tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.

I’m actually not sure how much of myself gets into my characters (perhaps my husband should answer this). Certainly, I would say my sense of humor comes through, and I don’t write too many shrinking violets (being a rather boisterous gal), but I suppose there’s a bit of me in every hero and heroine. That’s probably why they appeal to me—and why some characters are universal—our favorite characters are the ones we either feel inside us or we know someone just like them.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

Oh, quirky is my specialty! For this book, it was to learn to use a bull whip. I love research, and I’ve done some pretty quirky things in the name of research: walked a tightrope, worked a $14,000 espresso machine, learned to fence, interviewed the Seattle Rugby Men’s Football team, shot-put grapefruit into the San Francisco Bay--all kinds of fun things. It’s part of the fun of stepping into another character for me. I do the academic research, too—especially for the historicals, but it’s the experiential stuff that really appeals to me. That may explain why my husband’s been begging me to write a book with a Lamborghini in it…

I'm sure. When did you first discover that you were a writer?

The answer may annoy you: at 33 when my friend (who, okay, just happened to be an editor for a major publishing house) dared me to write a book. I never saw myself as a writer. I have, however, always been a storyteller. And a total ham. The technical side of writing had always been a part of my fundraising profession, and I’ve always kept a journal—so I suppose the pieces have always been in place and it just took my friend to recognize them. I tell people God set up such a fantastic story so I wouldn’t give in to my urge to take all the credit for it. The moral: some dares are definitely worth taking!

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

I read both fiction and non-fiction, but most of my pleasure reading is fiction. Stephanie Purl McPhee (aka the Yarn Harlot) is a favorite of mine because of my passion for knitting. I love Alexander McCall Smith’s dry British wit (I watch loads of BBC television—Dr. Who, Robin Hood, Top Gear) and I love Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander books. I just finished Mauren Lang’s The Oak Leaves and loved it. My entire family are voracious readers and I indulge them shamelessly—books get their own line item in our family budget!

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

My very first books were published as mass market romances, then I moved to Zondervan and did two parenting non-fiction books: Becoming a Chief Home Officer and Facing Every Mom’s Fears. My last six books have been novels for Steeple Hill: Bad Heiress Day, Queen Esther and the Second Graders of Doom, My So-Called Love Life, The Perfect Blend, and this year Masked by Moonlight and the upcoming Bluegrass Hero.

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

One ounce of dark chocolate (70% cacao or higher, non-negotiable) with a cup of coffee every morning. Seriously. I’m an obsessive list-maker, so every day I know just what has to get done. Other than that, prayer and laughter are my two weapons of choice. I’ve got two teenagers so I use those on a daily basis. I also designate one day a month as a retreat day, where I turn off the phones, do no work, but plan, pray, and recharge. Oh, and the Jacuzzi probably helps, too.

How do you choose your characters’ names?

I think character’s names choose me, actually. There have been a couple that have needed to be altered for logistical reasons (I’ve got a character in an upcoming book who was named Alice and was falling for a guy named Craig Cooper—we had to change her or she’d end up as Alice Cooper!). Mostly they just come to me. I knew instantly that Lindy from My So-Called Love Life was Melinda Edwards and she was the voice of Maggie Hoot on Arborville. Georgia and Matthew from Masked by Moonlight came to me with their names from the get-go, too. Such discoveries are part of the wonder of it for me (and why I rank the synopsis up there with a root canal…).

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?

Surviving. Seriously, this business is such a roller-coaster that I’m most proud of making it through my ten-year career with most of my humor still intact. That’s taken some deliberate work on my part. Being on speaking terms with my teenage daughter comes in a close second (if you don’t have a 16-year-old daughter learning to drive, that probably won’t make much sense to you…).

I've been through two 16-year-old daughters learning to drive, and just survived a granddaughter. If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?

Well, at six feet tall I’ve already been called a giraffe many times . If I believed in reincarnation (which I don’t), I’d want to come back as my dog. People buy you cute sweaters and take you to get your hair done once a month, you get to sleep all day, yap and whine whenever you want to and people find it entertaining, and you can get complete strangers to feed you goodies just by gazing at them –what’s not to like?

What is your favorite food?

Chocolate. Chocolate. Coffee. Chocolate. Oh, and mocha.

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

My greatest roadblock was—and still is—getting out of my own way. I tangle myself up in craft and worries about skill instead of just letting the story come out. Often, I’ll expend a lot of energy trying to be “clever” early in a story, because I don’t trust the characters enough yet to let them be clever on their own. Of course, it never works. Readers can always tell when a writer is trying too hard (so can agents and editors, by the way). I’m always cutting out my first chapters or taking them down a notch because I’ve fallen into that trap. As for coping mechanisms, the only way through it is…through it—keep writing until I calm down enough to begin trusting the story to stand on its own merits. I’ve learned that takes about 100 pages, for me, so sheer experience helps.

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

The advice given to me: “hush up and just write!” Read books, attend seminars, put the craft in your head but don’t tangle yourself up in it. Take the advice that works for you, ditch what doesn’t. Your process is just that—your process. You can tinker with it as you learn things, but always trust the way you write because that’s how your voice comes through.

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

Masked by Moonlight is GREAT FUN. A swashbuckling story with a sense of humor I don’t think we often see in historicals. I love the dynamic of ordinary people who find themselves in larger than life situations—it’s true of all my books, I think. I love to make a good point, I like there to be a deeper message, there HAS to be fun. I had loads of fun writing it, and I think that comes through for the reader.

How can readers find you on the Internet?

My website has all kinds of goodies on it, including a link where you can hear me read Chapter One of Masked by Moonlight to you—(excellent for knitters!). Every November 1st I host Snicker Bar Salad Day—in 2007 I even had a candy recipe bake-off--so how can you pass up the chance to be part of a community like that?

Allie, thank you for spending this time with us. We loved it, and I can hardly wait to read your book.

Readers, you can order a copy by clicking this link:

Or leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy. If you don't win, than you can follow this link.

Winners!!! Winners!!! Winners!!!

Miralee Ferrell is the winner of Finding Stephanie by Susan May Warren.

Gayla Collins is the winner of Sandhill Dreams by Cara C. Putman.

Carrie Turansky is the winner of Love Finds You in Snowball, Arkansas, by Sandra D. Bricker. This book is the next one on my to-be-read pile. I can hardly wait to start it.

All three winners need to email me your mailing address. If you click on "View My Complete Profile," you'll find a link to my email. The sooner you send the address, the sooner you can receive your book.

If you didn't win, go back to the interviews. Most of them have a link where you can quickly order the book.

And I'm wishing all my readers many things to be thankful for next Thursday.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Author Robin Shope - THE CHRISTMAS EDITION - Free Book

I first met Robin when she wrote a book with another author. Since then, we have become friends. This is her first book she authored by herself. Welcome, Robin. Why do you write the kind of books you do?

I write stories of Christian people who struggle with their faith, but still depend on God. Emotionally driven stories with a strong romance and a strong Christian principle. When a reader picks up one of my books, I don’t want to fail them. I want them to awed, moved to laughter or tears—or both in the span of a few chapters. I want them to talk to their friends about my book, that they’ve found a keeper of an author in me because all my books are a must-read—and how they can’t wait for the sequel or the next new release. As you know, I began writing mysteries. Thrillers. I loved reading that genre so that's where I began writing. As I wrote, I built an arsenal of information about blood spatter, forensics, data. I also had an interesting list of "story characters" and endlessly pestered doctors, lawyers, investigators, and even judges to help keep my writing accurate.

I still love reading and writing mysteries, but in the past year a change has come over me. Perhaps it’s due to the worrisome condition of world events. Or needing to read/watch something uplifting and inspirational, I find myself leaping over my old favorites to a new one, contemporary romance. Everyone wants to love and be loved. It’s a basic need. To be important to someone. But then stuff gets in the way. Stuff like trust issues, past relationships that ended badly, disappointment, hurt, not living up to someone's expectations. This is what links us all together, disenchantment in love on some level at some time in our life. I decided to write heartwarming romance where love and hope and faith were the cornerstones. I found myself replaying popular love songs from my high school years. They were about being with the person you love, holding their hand, thinking about them all day long, dreaming about a future together, waiting for that first kiss. I found myself transformed by the melodies, the positive words. I wanted to write a book that embodied that tender purity. But what would be the problem? I was used to the hero and heroine discussing the case. Without a murder, what would they have to say to one another?

That's when I began thinking about love being a powerful force. It’s a transformational power that can make us reach to the greatest pinnacle of our life or it can be our fatal flaw. This single emotion has a depth that is limitless. It can make you change directions. An idea brewed. It took six weeks of steady, focused writing but I completed a 65K novel. I sent it in thinking it would be shot right back with the words flawed manuscript stamped across the top. In fact I almost expected it. After all, it was my first attempt at this genre but it slid together so quickly. Instead of rejected, I was handed a contract asking for it to be a series. If you read me before I hope you come back to read my new books. And if you haven't read one of my books then I hope you start with The Christmas Edition December 2008and follow it with The Valentine Edition, out early in 2009.

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

I have had many *happiest* days. The ones that came to mind when you asked, are my wedding day, the birth of our children, having a book published, and when one of my students say, "Thank you for helping me. I understand it now."

How has being published changed your life?

Being published has opened a new world to me. Every writer knows you spend a lot of time alone in front of the computer. And every writer also knows, we aren't really alone, for we are ear deep in creating a fantasy life with characters who suddenly become friends that we care about. I do the same things everyone else does…I drive to and from work, I grocery shop, I run to the cleaners, etc. But there is also this private world going on with people known only to me. At least for a little while, until the book comes out and the reader meets them. By that time I've moved on to a new secret world with other characters. I get to create worlds, make people - decide on their personalities - and give them names. I place them in a setting with a scene and watch what happens. Being published is addictive. It drives me to improve my craft and meet new people.

What are you reading right now?

I am a member in Fiction in Rather Short Takes and read the books sent to me each month. I love it.

What is your current work in progress?

I am finishing The Turtle Creek Edition series. I just finished writing The Easter Edition and am starting on The Halloween Edition. Both should be out in 2010. In the midst of this, another series hatched. I pitched that contemporary romance series to several publishers.

What would be your dream vacation?

My dream vacation would a car ride across America with my best friend from college. Drive where the road leads. Spur of the moment type of gals we are. The only destination is fun. Adventure.

How do you choose your settings for each book?

So far, they all - mystery and romance alike - take place in Wisconsin. I grew up there, first as a summer girl living on Lake Delavan and later we moved there from Chicago. I graduated from UW Whitewater. Although my husband and I now live in Texas, my heart remains in Wisconsin, at least during the summer months (my heart returns to Texas when the snow flies). I love writing about the changing seasons. Wisconsin is an interesting state with a lot to offer from cities to small towns, from fields of grain and hills of cows, to frozen tundra, and let's not forget those lakes and streams and rivers. In my mind I go home a lot. My characters never complain. They like it there too.

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

My daughter Kimberly. All grown, at the age of twenty-eight, she leads a busy life traveling for a large Dallas company. When she comes home on the weekends she is exhausted and falls into bed with a good book. Me - I'm pretty well tuckered out from my week of working with teens. There is writing to do. Church. Laundry. Kimberly and I need to make time for one another. So if I could spend an evening with anyone, it would be her.

What are your hobbies, besides writing and reading?

I love to garage sale! I start scanning the papers on Wednesday and plot my route. Monday through Friday I drag myself out of bed and yawn dozens of times as I drive to work. On Saturdays everything changes. I am up at the crack of dawn, bright-eyed, alert! Another hobby of mine is selling vintage items on eBay. I am Princess*la-dee-da. Now ask me what hobbies I would love to have time for and you will get a whole different response.

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

My biggest obstacle is the time issue. I am the special education coordinator at a juvenile facility for the courts system. I also have a family and church and friends. I fight for free moments to write. I juggle. Prioritize. When I have a deadline looming that takes precedence. I take deadlines very seriously.

What advice would you give to a beginning author?

My advice is simple; know your audience and genre. If you are like me, you enjoy various types of music, and your reading tastes run the gamut from fiction to nonfiction to children’s books. Many new writers, including myself, started out writing anything and everything . . . that is not so bad, and quite energetic for an aspiring author. But when we become serious about being published then writing takes on a whole new meaning. Pick one genre that you feel most passionate about and learn it. That means read that genre. Study it as though you are preparing for a college exam. Take notes on how the characters are developed, when the problem occurs, how a hook is used, what about the story keeps you right on turning the pages. Better still, write down what you don’t like. Writing takes work. Writer Loops are filled with the same type of questions from aspiring authors all asking the same basic questions such as I am writing a book for young adults. Can anyone suggest a good author for me to read? I shiver when I read that and not in a good way. Their shelves should already be filled with the likes of Jean Craighead George and Cynthia Rylant.

Tell us about the featured book.

Lucy Collins has given up on Christmas since the painful break-up with her fiancé. Things only get worse when a large newspaper is about to come to town and threatens the livelihood of their family run business, The Turtle Creek Newspaper. At the staff Christmas party, she makes a wish and what seems like the answer to her prayer walks in the front door to apply for the editor position, which they are hoping will bring new life to the paper. Not only is Joe McNamara a genius when it comes to the written word, but he is also gifted with ideas about keeping the newspaper afloat. However, Joe has a secret of his own that he is keeping from Lucy. If she finds it out, then what looks like a promising relationship will unravel, but it's Christmas time, the season of rebirth and miracles. Will the spirit of celebration be enough to heal two hearts? Or will the reality of deception make this the worst Christmas of all?

How can readers find you on the Internet?

I answer emails.

Readers, you can order the book by clicking this link:

Or leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy. The drawing will be a week from Saturday. Be sure to come by and see if you won. If not, you still can order using this link.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Author James David Jordan - FORSAKEN - Free Book

Welcome to my blog, James. We're featuring his new release from B&H. Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.

I would say, a little bit. Most of my characters are composites. I generally draw from traits of people I know, and from myself, and put them together to form a completely new person.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

I used to put my cereal bowl, cereal, spoon, and vitamin out on the kitchen table in the evening so they would be ready when I came down for breakfast the next morning. My family finally gave me so much grief about it that I stopped.

When did you first discover that you were a writer?

I’ve enjoyed writing my entire life and was a journalism major in college. I suppose I got confirmation that someone else thought I was okay at it when I got some professional articles published in major legal publications. As for fiction writing, the first time I was certain that someone thought I’d done something pretty good was when Crossings Book Club picked my first novel as one of its featured selections for the summer, 2006. At that time, Something That Lasts was self-published (Integrity later picked it up and re-released it), and it was nice to get confirmation that someone in the industry thought I’d written a good book.

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

Everything from the classics to Life of Pi. A good story, well told, always interests me. I don’t have much patience for writers who try too hard to tell a story in a “unique voice.” That usually means bad grammar and general confusion. My idea of interesting voice, well done, is The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, and Cold Mountain.

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

My first novel was Something That Lasts. I self-published it and marketed it in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. It did very well, and Integrity (now part of Thomas Nelson) picked it up and re-released it nationally in May, 2006. It did quite well and got very good reviews.

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

I’ve got strong faith and a great family. That combination has the effect of slowing things down a bit.

How do you choose your characters’ names?

I actually spend some time on that. For my main characters I try to make the name sound like something, or signify something, that has some reference to the character’s role in the story. In my first book, the Parst family was central to the action. I chose that name because of the sound, a combination of parson and Faust (Faustian bargain). In Forsaken, I chose Simon Mason because of the parallels between him and the Apostle Peter (Simon = Peter; Mason = The Rock).
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?

Personally, that I’ve got a great marriage of 22 years to a woman I love, and I’ve got two kids who are nice, responsible people who have their heads screwed on straight. Professionally, that I wrote a book (now, two, and soon to be three) that got published.

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

Something quick and athletic, I hope. I’ve always loved sports. But I’m a dog person, so maybe a sleek retriever.

What is your favorite food?

Pizza; lots of pizza.

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

I’m a full-time business attorney, so finding time to write is definitely my biggest problem. I’ve learned to use my time efficiently. I’ve also learned to turn off the television (which is particularly difficult for me during baseball season).

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

Take a writing class. No matter how much natural ability you have, writing is a craft, and there are some things that you have to learn.

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

Forsaken is a unique kind of love story wrapped in a Christian action thriller. It is told by Taylor Pasbury, a beautiful but troubled former Secret Service agent who is hired to protect the world’s best-known televangelist when he receives threats from Muslim terrorists. The dilemma the terrorists thrust upon Simon Mason is a parent’s nightmare. I think Forsaken is made more interesting because Taylor is not a religious person, which brings a unique perspective to the book’s spiritual message. It’s a fast-moving story that explores how God uses even our questionable decisions for good if we let him.

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

James, thank you for spending this time with us.

Readers, you can buy the book by clicking on this link:

Or you can leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy. If you don't win, come back and click the link.

If you're reading this on any other site besides my blog, you must leave your comment on the actual blog to be in the drawing.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Author Beth Wiseman - PLAIN PERFECT - Free Book

I met this debut author at the ACFW conference in Minneapolis, and I'm excited to introduce her to you. She's a fellow Texan.

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

I think all of my characters have some of me in them. And I tend to extract character traits from those I love, sometimes not realizing it. I think Grandpa Jonas is my most loveable character in Plain Perfect. It wasn’t until my sister said, “Wow. Jonas is just like Dad,” that I thought…yeah, he really is. What a great tribute to my father. I hope he’s smiling from heaven.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

Oh my. There’s been so many. As of recently, it would probably be wrapping houses with four other middle-aged women during a slumber party following my first book signing. Getting pulled over by the friendly trooper in my small town for a burned out taillight added an interesting twist. Did I mention we were in our jammies?

Beth and I were in a large group of women who went out to eat together our first night in Minneapolis. Needless to say, we had a good time. Now, Beth, when did you first discover that you were a writer?

I announced to the world that I was a writer at the tender age of five, penning my first story to my grandparents – On a cold, rainy night… sort of thing. However, after freelancing, writing a column in Houston, and being a fulltime news reporter for five years, my writing continues to be a discovery that surprises me sometimes.

I know how that feels--wonderful. Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.

There’s something for everyone on my bookshelf. I love Nicholas Sparks, his bittersweet love stories. As a romance writer, I also have tons of that genre. True stories like Don Piper’s 90 Minutes in Heaven find their way to my shelf also. Right now I’m reading The Shack. Of course, my Amish collection continues to grow as well. And I love books that scare me to death! They have their place and time, but on a cold, rainy night…perfect! Several years ago, I tried my hand writing one. I scared myself so bad by chapter seven, I put it away – where it remains safely tucked in a file cabinet.

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

I didn’t know writers were sane.

We're not, but I just like to see what you'll say to that. How do you choose your characters’ names?

Usually they just come to me while the character is developing in my head. However, in book #2 of the Daughters of the Promise series, I couldn’t seem to come up with a last name for my protagonist. A trip to the grocery store took care of that. When I turned into my subdivision on the way home, the street sign jumped out at me. Carley became Carley Marek. My Amish names are a little trickier. I have a list of common names given to me by my friends in Lancaster County, and I also scan the Die Botschaft, a weekly newspaper serving Old Order Amish communities.

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?

Surviving motherhood through the teenage years! And that I am finding my own peace by writing novels through words that glorify God.

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

A big bird. I’m terrified of birds. It’s a long story, but I’ve been terrorized by them on many occasions. They’ve swooped down and pecked me on the head, stolen french fries off my plate (while I was eating!), and the list goes on. Ironically, that’s what I’d like to be. It’s the whole flying thing I’m into, but I wouldn’t steal anyone’s french fries.

What is your favorite food?

Mexican all the way!

We call what we eat in Texas, Mexican food, but I've been many places in Mexico, and the food isn't like our Tex-Mex. I love Tex-Mex, too. Tell us a little about your journey to publication.

I’ve been writing in some capacity my entire life. My journey has been a long one! But with warp speed, everything changed in 2007. Not just my writing—everything changed. I was targeting Harlequin when my then 15-year-old son got sick. Very sick. We spent a month camped out at Texas Children’s Hospital with him. It was a paralyzing fear and still hard for me to talk about. I’m glad to report that Cory is doing great now! But when we returned from the hospital, I was in a new spiritual place. There was a strong calling to do something else. Plain Perfect seemed to just write itself. It came with an ease I’d never had while writing other books. I wrote it in three months. My agent sold the 3-book series from the first three chapters of Plain Perfect to Thomas Nelson within two weeks. I thank God every day and pinch myself daily as well.

It's wonderful to be doing what God ordains, isn't it? What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?

It’s all about a great story, for sure. But in the early days, I believed that a great story was enough. I didn’t take enough time to hone the craft. When I finally dove into books about writing and applied the techniques, things began to change. Even as someone who made a living as a reporter, novel writing had another set of rules!
What advice would you give to others who are trying to get their first book published?

Hone the craft! And attend workshops, network.
What would you like to tell us about the featured book?

Plain Perfect is about one woman’s spiritual journey to an unlikely place—her grandparents’ Amish farm. After years of neglect and abuse, she turns to a lifestyle of simplicity among the Old Order community. Through the peacefulness of these people, Lillian learns about forgiveness and hope, and what it means to have a relationship with God. But it’s not an easy path, and complications arise when she befriends widower, Samuel Stoltzfus, and his 12-year-old son, David. I think that most people are searching for peace, in some way. Or if they’re not at the moment, they probably have at some point in their life. If Plain Perfect helps even one person get there…I did my job for Him.
Where can my readers find you on the Internet?
Beth, thank you for spending this time with us. We'll want you to come back when the next book in the series releases.
Readers, you can buy this bestselling book here:

Or, you can leave a comment and wait to see if you are the one chosen to receive a copy of the novel.
If you're reading this on Facebook, you need to come to this blog to leave a comment to be considered for a chance to win.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

3 New Winners!!! Contact Me, Please!!!

Sandee61 is the winner of The Duchess and the Dragon by Jamie Carie.

BeckyC is the winner of My Sister Dilly by Maureen Lang.

Robyn.flenner is the winner of A New Joy by Susan Page Davis.

All three winners need to send me your mailing addresses. Click on View my complete profile. You'll find a link to my email there.

I'm still waiting for Carly (fecarly) to contact me. She has won two different books in the last couple of months.

Happy reading!!!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Author Sandra D. Bicker - LOVE FINDS YOU IN SNOWBALL, ARKANSAS, - Free Book

This is our second book to feature in the new Summerside Press Love Finds You series. Welcome, Sandra.

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

There’s a big piece of myself in every heroine I write; and I guess in my heroes, too, since they’re always built from my list of ideals about the perfect guy. I think every experience I have in life makes its way into a story or a character or a plot or a locale. Probably a good indicator that I was born to write!

I agree with that. What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

Quirky. That’s a good word to describe me. A common one, too. I’m not sure if I can narrow it down to the one quirkiest thing, but the one that seems to be the most memorable (and most often discussed in family circles) came at a very young age. When my two playmates wanted to “play pretend” and they came up with personas such as go-go dancers and movie stars, I insisted on being The Virgin Mary instead. I placed a blue pillowcase on my head and started telling the Bible story about there being no room at the inn. Over the years, my mom must have told that story a hundred times!

When did you first discover that you were a writer?

In the 6th grade, there was a class assignment to choose one image from a collage of them and write a story about it. Afterward, my teacher sent a note home to my parents for a meeting and proceeded to tell them that he’d never encountered such a vivid imagination at such a young age.

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

I love to read and, over the years, I’ve moved pretty exclusively into the inspirational genres because I just didn’t like exposing myself to some of what has slipped into the American vernacular through books, movies and television. I love suspense and adventure, from Frank Peretti to Colleen Coble, and romantic comedy like Kristin Billerbeck. There’s real value in a story that’s told in vivid images, and one that makes me feel something, whether it’s by bringing on a belly laugh or by making me jump and hold my breath.

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

I did a lot of writing before I finally started to find my voice. But my first “sale” was an e-book to a tiny Christian company called MountainView Publishing. Dear Suzanne was told completely in letters between two best friends. Then Erin Cartwright-Niumata and Avalon Books came into my life. They published a romantic comedy called unWANTED: Husband, and then a romantic suspense called Change of Heart. My editor loved the suspense and asked me to write a sequel, Sins of the Past, and then that was followed up with another comedy, Wish I Weren’t Here. All the while, I was trying to break into the inspirational market … and then God sent Rachel and Jason from Summerside Press. (Thank You, Lord)

I know. My first book for Summerside will come out next year. I'm looking forward to working with them. How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?

One word: Jesus. I hope that doesn’t sound trite because I’m completely sincere. When I’m stressed, when I’m scared, when I’ve been treated unfairly or lashed out at someone in anger … no matter what the situation, I wouldn’t be able to stay sane or find peace or enjoy the grace He always offers without that deep knowledge that He’s mine, and I’m His. My mom used to have a plaque over her desk, and it now hangs over mine, that says: Lord, help me remember that nothing is going to happen to me today that you and I can’t handle together. It’s the deepest truth I know.

How do you choose your characters’ names?

Lots of different ways. I keep a list of interesting names that I hear or read. And I have baby books in my office that tell the meanings and originations.

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?

It changes weekly. Last week, I only cheated on my diet twice. That was pretty amazing. This week, I figured out how to use the screwdriver with the clicky thingie that makes it turn without lifting it out of the groove.

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

Oh, I’d be a dog. I love dogs. Preferrably, I’d be a perky Old English Sheepdog and live in the house of my friends Jemelle and Alberto. The way they treat their dogs, THAT would be quite a life!

What is your favorite food?

Again, it changes weekly. Some weeks it’s as simple as a perfect square (or three) of Ghiradelli chocolate. Others, I can’t eat enough strawberries. But I’m sorry to tell you that there’s never a day that passes when a Wendy’s cheeseburger doesn’t rock my world.

We have a local chain called Chaps. Their Baby Chaps is just right for me. What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?

My greatest roadblock as a writer has always been the same: Finding people who GET ME. My humor, my sensibilities, the things that move me … they’re not always the same as what affect other people. But every now and then, someone comes along who connects with something I’ve written, and the feeling is indescribable.

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

Don’t avoid (or ignore) the rejections. In the beginning, they’re torturous, but every editor or critique partner or contest judge that finds something to say about your work that hurts is worth hearing and considering. Down the road, you’ll start to see that those bad things will make you a far better writer when they start to blend in with the good ones.

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

My experience with Summerside has been the best of my career. The collaborative effort of putting this book together has made for such a fun ride. Lucy is my favorite heroine that I’ve ever written, and we’ve had such a good time exploring Snowball and letting Love Find Us.

How can readers find you on the Internet? All Sandie, all the time. We never close. :-)

There’s also a video trailer for my book that people can have a look at, if they’d like:

Thank you, Sandra, for spending this time with us. I can hardly wait to read your book.

Readers, you can order the book here:

Or, you can leave a comment and hope you're the one chosen to receive the free book.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Author Cara C. Putman - SANDHILL DREAMS - Free Book

Cara is back with the second in her Sandhill series for Heartsong Presents. Welcome, Cara.

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

My dream is to move into writing legal suspense. I also would love to write a longer World War Two series. Both would require a higher word count to get the twists, turns and layers in. I’ve been working with my agent on getting the high concept right for the legal suspense. I know I’m getting closer, and with each book I learn more about the craft of writing.

But I also try hard (and believe me it’s a struggle for this Type-A) to relinquish the control to God. He has been amazing in the way He has orchestrated this journey so far. And He’s surrounded me with the right people. For example, an agent who encourages me to slow down so I have the time to breathe, think, and dream. Of course, then I go off into a new project, she shakes her head and keeps on encouraging me.

Tell us a little about your family.

My husband is a development officer for Purdue University, his alma mater. We have three kids…Abigail is eight, Jonathan is five, and our baby is six months. I homeschool them and love the extra time that gives me with them. I teach business law at Krannert, which is a great job as I invest in them.

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

Absolutely! It is so hard to read a book without turning the editor on. To see the book as a whole, enjoyable experience without seeing rules and violations. It’s hard not to analyze what works and doesn’t work. So when I find a book that so totally sucks me in that I forget about the actual writing, I love it!

What are you working on right now?

After a crazy summer of rushing to colliding deadlines, I’m now working on the second book in the Ohio World War Two series. I’m so excited to get to research a top secret project that was handled in Dayton, Ohio. I’ve always been fascinated by Enigma: the machine the Germans built for communication that was almost impossible for the Allies to break. When they would, the Allies would start winning because they could read the Germans’ mail. It is absolutely fascinating stuff! So imagine my excitement when I learned that the second attempt to break the code (after the Germans added a fourth wheel to the machine) occurred in Dayton. I could see God smiling when I found that!

What outside interests do you have?

I love to teach! Right now I’m teaching business law to undergrads at Krannert, and usually teaching adult Sunday school and/or a women’s Bible study. I also love just about anything crafty: Scrapbooking, creating cards, cross-stitching, etc. Fortunately, my daughter loves crafts, so especially as she gets older, we can spend more time together on those kind of endeavors.

I love to teach/speak, too. How do you choose your settings for each book?

For me, I have to pick a setting that will support a story or one that I know intimately. Deadly Exposure is set in Lincoln, a city I know very well. The Nebraska World War Two series grew out of an idea from my hometown. The Ohio series grew out of a convergence of one story idea and the availability of the state. God did the rest. He has been so faithful about leading me to the ideas that will flesh out one book into a series.

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

Queen Victoria. She was an amazing woman, and as a teenager I inhaled every biography I could get my hands on about her. I would love to sit down with her and get her perspective on her times, actions, and decisions.

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

That God would ask me to strip so much out of my life to make time for the writing. I still only have 24 hours a day. Now I’m just running on less sleep. I hope it won’t always be like this. But for right now I have to write in the hours of 9 p.m. to midnight or later. But it is worth it. And I’m willing to pay the price.

What new lessons is the Lord teaching you right now?

This year’s He’s been reminding me how very much He delights to use people who fail. It’s so easy to think we have to be perfect before God can use us, but nothing is further from the truth. He chose Abraham to start a nation that would bless the world, because Abraham was willing to follow when God said move. Even though Abraham made many mistakes and some over and over. Moses is called God’s friend even though he refused to speak directly to Pharaoh. He had the kind of relationship I would love to have… to speak directly to Him, to see His back – though I really want to see His face. And David…a man after God’s own heart. Despite all his sin, he knew where his hope was and always returned.

These men and so many other examples in the Bible give me hope that God can use me when I stand here with my arms thrown out saying, “Use me. I’m ready. And I’m Yours.”

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

1) Read craft books. Some that I have relied on heavily are Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell, Getting Into Character by Brandilyn Collins, Writing the Christian Romance by Gail Martin and Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maas. There are many others on my shelf, but I continually return to these four.
2) Connect with other writers through organizations like American Christian Fiction Writers ( I have learned so much by walking this journey with people ahead of me, right next to me, and behind me. And it really helps to know that there are people out there who understand how my mind works. Not everyone has voices talking in their heads or sees a plot out of the most innocuous events.Put your bottom in the chair and write. Every day. Even if it’s just a few hundred words. There is something to the discipline that will grow a book over time, and you’ll be amazed how you improve.

Tell us about the featured book.

Sandhill Dreams is the second book in my Nebraska World War Two series published by Heartsong Presents. I loved researching and writing this book, because it’s a story that I don’t think many people know about. World War Two was the first time that the United States made a concerted effort to use dogs in war. Half of those used during the war were trained at this little fort in the middle of nowhere, Nebraska.

Here’s the backcover blurb:

With her dreams shattered, will Lainie Gardner allow God and a soldier at Fort Robinson to breathe life into new dreams that will bring her more joy than she imagined?

Lainie has no dreams left

Lainie Gardner dreamed of becoming a nurse. Of serving her country. Of doing something important in the war. But rheumatic fever changed all that, and instead of running home, Lainie is determined to find a job at Fort Robinson in Nebraska’s sandhills.

Tom Hamilton had dreams, too. Dreams of preparing the horses at Fort Robinson for duty on the warfront. Instead, he is assigned to train war dogs and their handlers, meaning that each day he must face the fear he’s had of dogs since he was bitten as a child.

Lainie and Tom wonder why God seems to have denied them their dreams. But is it possible new dreams will bring them more joy than they ever imagined?

How can readers find you on the Internet?

My website is My blog is one of the tabs there, or you can go directly to it at You can read excerpts of my books on my website, see reviews of the books, and more. And I blog Monday – Friday about Life, Law and Books. I often have book giveaways and lots of reviews, so be sure to stop by.

Cara, thank you for spending this time with us.

Readers, leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of Sandhill Dreams. Don't forget to check back a week from Saturday to see if you won.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Author Susan May Warren - FINDING STEPHANIE - Free Book

I'm happy to welcome Susan back with the third book in this series. I've loved all three, and I know you will, too.

Susan, I love your new photo. God has really been moving in your writing life. What do you see on the horizon?

This life was something that took me by surprise – I had always thought I’d be a missionary. And I’d like to think I still am. *grin* So, my only goals are to write the best books I can, to the best of my ability. I’m so blessed that God gives me some excellent stories to write. So, I hope He takes them and does amazing things with them.

Tell us a little about your family.

Oh, I’m so biased…I have four amazing children who are now teenagers. I think the teenage era is when you reap the rewards for all the runny snot years. (Although those are fun, too, just in a different way). I love seeing my teenagers discovering the people God created them to be, each with their own interests, from drama and singing, to sports, to reaching out into the community. My husband runs a posh hotel, and I am so blessed to be able to stay home and write.

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

It’s sort of wrecked them, honestly. I am SUCH a picky reader now, and hate that about myself. A great book is one where I turn off my editor and just enjoy. I do like series, and when I find an author, I tend to buy everything they have. I try to read widely, also, from secular fiction to biographies and literary fiction. My favorite book recently has been Marley and Me. What fun!

What are you working on right now?

I just turned in Double Trouble, the second of my “Trouble” collection, featuring a character named PJ Sugar. She’s a wanna-be PI, and I’d like to think she’s my alter ego. The series is set in a fictional version of my hometown, so it was fun to “go back” there and write about all my favorite haunts. It’s mystery and suspense, and humor and romance all tied together.

What outside interests do you have?

Outside interests? You mean there is more than writing? I love my church, and being outside. In the summer, I garden, and hike and canoe and camp. I also picked up a new sport this summer – skydiving. Okay, I only went once, but in my head, I’m a skydiver. I can’t wait to go again!

You're more brave than I am. Of course, I would have done it, too, when I was your age. How do you choose your settings for each book?

I choose places I’d like to visit, or something that holds a particular story element – like Alaska, and being lost in the mountains, or Kellogg (PJ Sugar’s town) a cute hamlet outside of Minneapolis on the lake. I like to invest myself into setting, so I usually travel there so I can get a great feel for the place. Then, it’s easier to make it come alive.

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

Abraham Lincoln (and his wife!). Because increasingly, I’m impressed with leaders who have to make difficult decisions. And I’d like to know the kind of person who can do that well.

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

That it gets HARDER every novel! Every novel you’re competing against YOURSELF to be better. I love the competition, and the push, but sometimes not the angst!

What new lessons is the Lord teaching you right now?

To throw myself into His arms, approaching the throne of grace boldly, and trusting Him to have His way in my life. I tend to be a control freak, so it’s a daily discipline for me.

I know. I've had a deep walk with the Lord for several years, but He's drawing me even deeper right now. What are the three best things you can tell other authors to do to be successful?

Take criticism well, strive to learn, constantly, and enjoy life (because, there IS more than just writing). Life gives us material to write about.

Tell us about the featured book.

Finding Stefanie is the third book in the Noble Legacy collection – about the sister to Rafe and Nick. She has put her dreams on hold to run the family ranch for the past ten years, and it’s time for her to find that maybe they didn’t pass her by. I also brought in Lincoln Cash from Taming Rafe, and gave him a secret. It was a fun book to write because of the themes – what strength, exactly, does a man bring to a woman? And vice versa. I hope reader’s enjoy her story.

I know I did. How can readers find you on the Internet?

I have two places – my author site,, and my site for aspiring writers – where I blog about writing craft, and have a community for writers.

Thank you, Susan, for spending this time with us. It's always a joy to have you stop by.

Readers, leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of Finding Stephanie. But if you don't win, or you don't want to wait, click on the link below.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Three Winners!!!

Jenna (Frog123) is the winner of Beloved Captive by Kathleen Y'Barbo.

Pammer is the winner of A Texas Thanksgiving by Margaret Daley.

Cheri2628 is the winner of Love Finds You in Miracle, Kentucky by Andrea Boeshaar.

Congratulations! So we can get to the books to you, you need to email me. Click on the View My Complete Profile link under my profile. There will be a link to my email.

If you don't want to miss any of the interviews or posts about winners, sign up for Feed Blitz.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Author Maureen Lang - MY SISTER DILLY - Free Book

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

It’s always exciting to me when the theme for each book reveals itself as something I need to be either reminded of or taught. For My Sister Dilly, the theme is forgiveness. When I really looked at the meaning of forgiveness, it occurred to me that it’s most meaningful within the context of a relationship, not only between ourselves and God, but within the relationships in our lives. Yet I hear so much about forgiving ourselves that I really wanted to know what that meant. Isn’t guilt the result of not forgiving yourself? If we’ve wronged someone, either God by not living up to the perfect standard He is just by His nature, or wronged another human being, then it’s our responsibility to seek forgiveness and repent of whatever we’re seeking forgiveness for. But once we’ve received that forgiveness, freely given by God through Christ, and perhaps eagerly given by those who love us, why do we still feel guilty? My Sister Dilly reminded me that if we’ve received forgiveness within the context of relationship, we should stop carrying guilt. The whole idea of forgiving ourselves becomes moot once we’ve accepted the forgiveness from those we’ve offended. So the theme I learned with this book was about guilt and forgiveness, and if we’ve been forgiven by those we’ve offended it’s okay not to feel guilty any more.

Such a hard concept for some people to live out. What other books of yours are coming out soon?

Right now I’m working on the first of a three book series that returns to the First World War era. This time setting has always fascinated me, since it seems to be just on the brink of modern times and yet with a foot still firmly in the historical realm. This time I’m investigating the Great War from a thoroughly European setting. Book One takes place in a small village in Northern France, Book Two in Brussels, Belgium, and Book Three in Germany just after the war ends. Although they’re set during the war, they’ll have surprisingly little, if any, battle scenes. They’re all romances, with the necessary angst a war backdrop so easily provides. It’s amazing to me how resilient people are when faced with incredible challenges, and this war (like all of them) provides extraordinary fodder for any novel.

I’m fortunate enough to be planning a trip to Belgium and Northern France to help my research, which is one of the absolute best perks of being a writer – tax deductions for research trips!

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

It’s hard to choose! I’m fascinated by a lot of people – like those in leadership, maybe General Petraeus just because he’s been able to accomplish something others before him haven’t, or Billy Graham who’s done so much for the Kingdom. Or Beth Moore, whose Bible studies and speaking ministry just astounds me. I’d ask them if they struggle with the same things us ordinary folk do. I’d love to spend time with a great entertainer like Billy Crystal or great actor like Anthony Hopkins and ask if they ever get butterflies. I’d absolutely love to spend time with historian Doris Kearns Goodwin who knows so much more than I do, or a journalist like Charles Krauthammer who’s seen so much and seems so wise, or a successful writer like J.K. Rowling to ask if all the problems that must come with fame/fortune are really worth it. But in reality if I was fortunate enough to spend an evening with any one of them I’d probably be so awestruck and afraid of wasting their time with my blubbering that I’d just sit there and ask them to talk so I could listen.

How long have you known that you wanted to be novelist?

Since I was very young – too young to really know at what age this whole passion-for-writing started. I recall listening to my mother tell me and my sister stories that she made up, instead of reading them out of a book (although she did that, too). I remember my father telling a neighbor that of his six kids I was “the creative one.” I remember trying to convince friends it would be fun to spend an afternoon making up stories or just reading together. I remember our neighborhood putting on plays for the adults and even though I’m certainly no actor, I liked seeing the effect words could have on people if the words were chosen well. So, I guess I’ve wanted to be a novelist pretty much my whole life.

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

Don’t give up! I know it’s hard to receive a rejection, because it’s such a personal thing. This isn’t a team sport, after all, where you can share the feeling of defeat. But if I had to give one bit of advice to try and avoid rejections, I’d say don’t hurry things. So many new writers I’ve met over the years are (understandably) eager to get validated as a writer through publication, but they submit something too soon. They might have heard of someone talking about how an editor found a book that was a diamond in the rough, and together they made it the sparkling success it ended up being. Unfortunately, although revisions are expected after a book is accepted by a publisher, the books that are picked up nowadays are the ones that require the least amount of work on the other side of the contract. They’re looking for someone who can tell a good story and has the basics down, so the next story you write will live up to that pattern – that next story that must be written under a deadline, without years to perfect it the way most writers have spent before their first book is picked up.

So don’t rush things! Polish your work with the help of critique buddies who can help you see with their fresh eyes what’s working and what’s not. That of course means finishing your first book, but might also mean finishing a few more to get to know this craft of writing and what works best for you. Go to conferences as you can afford to, to network and to help deepen your understanding of the craft. And with each project think about what you’re trying to convey, so it’s unique to you, fresh to the market, and absolutely the best you can do.

Tell us about the featured book.

My Sister Dilly is probably my most challenging novel yet, but one I’m really happy that I wrote. It was inspired by a conversation I had with my sister-in-law about a friend of hers who is in prison. I was so moved by the story that I wanted to use at least some of her friend’s experience in a novel, and My Sister Dilly is the result.

It begins with Hannah, sitting in a parked car across the street from a Special Needs School. She’s looking for her sister’s handicapped child, so when Hannah goes to the prison where her sister has been incarcerated for the last six-and-a-half years, she can assure her that her daughter is okay.

Here’s a short blurb about My Sister Dilly:

Hannah Williams leaves her small, Midwestern hometown in favor of the faster pace and trendier lifestyle of LA. But when her sister Dilly makes a horrible mistake and ends up in prison, Hannah goes back to make up for "abandoning" her - leaving in LA the one man she's ever loved. But she learns she can't really go back, all she can do is accept forgiveness. Both her sister's and God's.

It’s about two sisters, forgiveness, overcoming mistakes, and of course there’s a romance, too, since I can’t write a book without one!

Me, neither, and I really don't enjoy reading a book without at least a touch of romance. How can readers find you on the Internet?
Come visit me!

Maureen, thank you for spending this time with us. I always enjoy it when you come by.

Readers, leave a comment on for a chance to win a free copy of My Sister Dilly.

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