Thursday, April 30, 2009


Ever since I read her first Love Inspired Historical novel, I've been waiting for the next one. Welcome, Janet. Why do you write the kind of books you do?

Inspirational historical romances are a perfect fit for me. I dislike movies and books that end badly or give the impression that life is meaningless. So naturally I’m drawn to romance novels and their happy endings. I’m fascinated with history and love to set my stories around a nugget from the past, while giving characters’ struggles that are relevant to today’s readers. But most importantly, I write inspirational historical romance because I love God and want my books to honor Him.

I agree with you there. I want every book to bring glory to Him. Besides when you came to know the Lord, what is the happiest day in your life?

The happiest day in my life occurred twice—the days I gave birth to our baby girls. Our daughters have blessed and enriched our lives in countless ways, given my husband and me our “sons” and grandchildren, increasing not only the size of our family, but multiplying our joy six fold.

I only had daughters, too. It's wonderful to get your sons as grandsons. How has being published changed your life?

Publication hasn’t changed my life all that much. I’m not suddenly rich or famous. LOL But after years of rejection that made me question my talent, I saw my first sale as validation that I had been called to write. It didn’t take long to learn that selling doesn’t preclude criticism, rejection and the inevitable ups and downs of this business. If anything, the stakes are higher. Publication adds time pressure and more items on my To Do list. But having my words in print has also given me the opportunity to impact readers, to entertain and to glorify God. What a blessing! Another blessing publication has given me—receiving lovely encouraging e-mails from readers.

What are you reading right now?

I’m reading a non-fiction book entitled Hearts West, True Stories of Mail-order Brides on the Frontier, by Chris Enss. I always have a novel going. Right now I’m reading Lyn Cote’s Her Captain’s Heart, Love Inspired Historical.

I recently bought Hearts West. It's a gold mine of information for a writer of historicals. What is your current work in progress?

I’m working on my third Love Inspired Historical to release in early 2010. It’s a mail-order bride story set in Iowa with the working title One Wife: Sealed and Delivered. I’m having a lot of fun writing this story.

I'm also writing a mail-order bride novel that releases in 2010. I really want to feature yours on my blog. What would be your dream vacation?

A couple years ago, we took a two-week trip to Italy, truly a dream vacation. My husband and I love to travel and we’ve been blessed to see much of this great country, but there are still many places we want to visit. But I also enjoy staying put somewhere, kicking back and catching up on my reading. For me, every vacation is a dream vacation. :-)

How do you choose your settings for each book?

I feel a pull to small town and rural America. The Midwest is what I know. I chose the charming town of Noblesville, IN, as the setting for Courting Miss Adelaide and Courting the Doctor’s Daughter. I admire Noblesville’s magnificent courthouse and the stores on the square built during my story’s timeframe. The third book is set in the fictitious town of New Harmony, Iowa. Creating towns and the people who populate them—it doesn’t get much better than that. :-)

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

What a fascinating question. I thought of spiritual and political leaders, entrepreneurs, but in the end, I chose Dolly Parton. Not that she’s someone I idolize—far from it—but she’s a survivor, a strong woman I’ve always found interesting. I enjoy her music, her zest for life, her candor. An evening with Dolly would be delightful!

What are your hobbies, besides writing and reading?

I stamp greeting cards and attempt to golf once a week in a nine-hole league. Upon occasion I’ll knit a scarf. Before publication, I drew with colored pencils and painted gourds, but I no longer have the time. My art teacher father painted. My mother made beautiful quilts. I suspect my urge to create is genetic.

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

Having strong book-length conflict is a struggle for me. I find it easy to write internal conflict based on my characters’ back story, but having something tangible that puts a wedge between the hero and heroine is harder for me. I overcome it by being aware that this is a weak spot, reminding myself to search for concrete ways to put the hero and heroine in conflict, and sighing with relief when I please my editor.

What advice would you give to a beginning author?

Be teachable. Enter contests. Get a critique partner. Read How To books. Take online classes. Then practice what you learn. Only when we writers are open to criticism can we grow our talent. Being teachable is great preparation for being published since editors ask for revisions and reject proposals from their published authors.

Very valid points. Now, Janet, tell us about the featured book.

Like my debut novel, Courting Miss Adelaide, my May release Courting the Doctor’s Daughter centers around a child from the orphan train. To briefly explain the orphan train phenomena—approximately 250,000 children, mostly immigrants, were sent by train during a 70 year period to new homes in the Midwest and beyond. Some lived good lives, others weren’t so fortunate.

Courting the Doctor’s Daughter

A widow with three boys to rear, Mary Graves has no time for peddlers of phony medicine. She’s a dedicated healer working alongside her doctor father. When a handsome stranger blows into town with his “elixir of health” and asks questions about her newly adopted son, Mary’s determined to uncover the truth behind all his claims.

Once the reckless heir to a Boston fortune, Dr. Luke Jacobs travels the country with his herbal medicine while searching for his long-lost son. After meeting the feisty doctor’s daughter and her youngest boy, Luke has found what he’s been looking for at last. But can he convince her to let him into her home, her family—and her heart?

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

Web site:
Group Blog:

Thanks for having me on your blog, Lena. I had a great time!


And thank you for being here. You must come again with your mail order bride story. As you can see from Hearts West, there were numerous reasons for a mail order bride.

Readers, if you can't wait to get your hands on Courting the Doctor's Daughter, here's a link where you can order it:

Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. The only notification will be the winners announcement post on this blog. Be sure to check back a week from Saturday to see if you won. Or you could sign up for Feedblitz and not miss a single post.

If you're reading this on Facebook or Amazon, come to this blog to leave a comment:

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


Once again, I'm interviewing myself. Many of you readers have asked me to do this, and now I have a new book release.

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

I’ve been blessed. This year, I’ll have five books releasing. The Prairie Romance Collection is the first one. I believe the Lord wants me to keep writing for Him. I have lots of ideas that are coming together. Of course, I speak several times a year, too. This year, I will participate in nine author events.

Tell us a little about your family.

I’ve been married to the love of my life for almost 45 years. We have two daughters, two sons-in-law, two granddaughters, two grandsons, and one great grandson. All but one grandson and the great grandson live close by.

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

Yes. First, I don’t have as much time to read as I did before. Second, it’s hard to turn off my inner editor. But if the story really grabs me, I can. I still love to read.

What are you working on right now?

I’m working on a title for Summerside Press, Love Finds You in Golden, New Mexico, which will release next summer. It’s the longest book I’ve written, and I’m loving the situations and characters.

What outside interests do you have?

I host a critique group in my home and mentor other authors. I love getting together with friends over lunch. James and I are involved in many church activities. And we like to travel.

How do you choose your settings for each book?

With my story in The Prairie Romance Collection, Mother’s Old Quilt, I chose the area where my father’s family came from – Minnesota. I’ve often traveled there and love it. And it fit the story.

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

I could say Jesus, but He’s not historical. He is eternal. So for historical, I’d love to meet Joan of Arc. I’d like to hear the passion that drove her.

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

You know, these questions are harder to answer than I thought they would be. One thing? It’s hard work, more than just telling a story. And I’m a storyteller. I wish I’d known the amount of learning and preparation writing a good book would take. Much of my early writings were only for me to learn how to write.

What new lessons is the Lord teaching you right now?

This isn’t a new lesson, but the Lord is showing me once again that trusting in Him is our only hope. I’ve stopped listening to naysayers on TV. Things in this world today would look bleak without my hope in the Lord.

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

Pray. Pray. Pray
Read. Read. Read.
Write. Write. Write

Tell us about the featured book?

This is my first hardback with a dust cover. I’m blessed to be included in this collection with so many good authors.

From the back cover:

A Full Dozen Historical Romance Stories

Expanding western borders, turning the land, and finding a place in which to live and love defines the pioneer Heart. Within this unique collection are twelve complete stories of romance on the American Great Plains penned by twelve different multi-published authors.

After the Harvest by Lynn A. Coleman
Love Notes by Mary Davis
Mother’s Old Quilt by Lena Nelson Dooley
The Tie That Binds by Susan K. Downs
A Heart’s Dream by Birdie L. Etchison
The Bride’s Song by Linda Ford
The Barefoot Bride by Linda Goodnight
Prairie Schoolmarm by JoAnn A. Grote
The Provider by Cathy Marie Hake
Freedom’s Ring by Judith McCoy Miller
Returning Amanda by Kathleen Paul
Only Believe by Janet Spaeth

Enjoy history relived through the pioneer’s adventures, heartaches, challenges, victories, and romance. You are sure to have more than one favorite to warm your heart and encourage your faith.

Please give us the first page of the book.

This is the first page of my story in the book.
Early March 1905
Wayzata, Minnesota

“If one more thing happens, I think I’ll scream.”
Maggie Swenson trudged through snowdrifts on the way from her house to the barn. The tops of her boots didn’t come above the snow, so the cold stuff spilled over, wetting her thick wool socks. Before she had to come out here again, she needed to borrow some of Valter’s trousers. She knew it wouldn’t be ladylike to wear her brother’s long pants, but it would be better than dragging a woolen skirt that grew heavier and heavier because of the damp snow clinging to it.
It had been so long since she had any time to herself. Only six months ago, both her parents died when the buggy they were riding in smashed against an outcropping of rocks because something startled their horse and it ran away. Maggie and her brother, who at twenty-one was two years older than she, inherited the farm their parents had worked hard to sustain through summer droughts and harsh Minnesota winters. Now Maggie tried to run the farm all by herself. Valter lay in the house with a high fever, growing weaker every day, no matter what she did for him. She feared he had the dreaded influenza that was taking such a toll this year.
Just as she reached up to unlatch the door to the barn, Maggie heard a soft moan followed by a pain-filled whine. She glanced around, and the sun glinting off the white world around her stabbed her eyes. As she squinted, her gaze traveled over the landscape around the barn. The few bushes were laden with snow, as were the trees in the pasture and beyond. When she heard the sound again, she determined that it came from the side of the building. Maggie plunged into the drift that had blown against the wall of the secure structure. Now her long-johns were wet up to her knees. If she didn’t go inside soon, she might get as sick as Valter.

How can readers find you on the Internet? - Monthly free book announced on my newsletter blog - Author interviews/Free books - Regular Blogger

I’m also on Shoutlife, Facebook, and Twitter.

My official Fan page is on Facebook:

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Readers, here's a link where you can buy A Prairie Romance Collection:
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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Julie Lessman - A PASSION DENIED - Free Book

I've really been anticipating having Julie back on my blog. I love her books and can hardly wait to read the new one. Welcome, Julie. God has really been moving in your writing life. What do you see on the horizon?

Gosh, Lena, I try REALLY hard not to “see” too much with my own vision because as we all know, that can set you up for a fall. And if there is one thing I have learned (ahem … the hard way!), it’s that I’d really rather not focus on what I want, but what God wants for me. BUT, if you are asking me what I would LIKE to see in my future, I can certainly share my dreams with you and your readers.

Deep down in the core of my being, I have a burning desire to reach women like I used to be—women who, yeah, maybe they believe in God, but they are not living for him—not in their lives or in their sexuality. I look at the young women today, mired in an amoral society, and my heart cries out to make a difference in their lives. To show them what God showed me—that unless He is in the center of our relationships, true happiness will be very hard to come by. Unfortunately, most of these types of girls and women don’t read Inspirational Romance. BUT … it is my desire—and I hope, God’s—that the edgy romantic tension in my books will somehow draw women like this to the type of Inspirational Romance that I write. And IF they read it, I am convinced the spiritual message will resonate for some of them.

How do I know? Because I get e-mails all the time, telling me so. And just last week, I was going through a really discouraging time regarding my writing, wondering if I was on track with God regarding the level of sensuality I include in my books. I was praying with my prayer partner about it when her 25-year-old daughter stopped by, a girl I hadn’t seen in a long time but knew that she had strayed from her Christian roots—living with her boyfriend before they got married, not going to church anymore, heavy drinking, etc. This young women proceeded to tell me that when she read my books, she actually got angry at me. Why? Because the spiritual parts convicted her so much that she wanted to throw the books out. But she didn’t, she said, BECAUSE the sensuality and intense romance so grabbed her by the throat, that she was compelled to finish the books. And when she turned the last page of A Passion Redeemed, she told me it had brought her to another level with God. I had tears in my eyes when I learned she is now back at church and trying to live for Him. For me, it just doesn’t get any better than that.

I know what you mean. When I receive feedback about how one of my books changed someone's life, it's as if the Lord is saying, "Keep doing what I've called you to." Now, Julie, tell us a little about your family.

Well, first off, I am married to a man I don’t deserve—he’s way too kind and patient for the likes of a high-maintenance drama queen like myself, but therein lies the goodness of God! He is an artist who designs my Web site, posters, bookmarks, newsletters, whatever I need. I also have a 25-year-old son who lives in Omaha with his wife who just graduated from med school, and we were blessed to learn she obtained a residency in St. Louis (where we live). I also have a sassy 21-year-old daughter who is headed for law school in the fall, so come May, my husband and I will go from empty-nesters to having five adults and three golden retrievers under our roof. YIKES … we’re a close family, for sure, but the question is, will we remain that way?? If nothing else, it should provide plenty of fodder for my books. :-)

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

Yes! Before I started writing, I never read anything but the Bible, some non-fiction and an occasional best-selling novel. You may find this hard to believe, but I never read romance! Why? Because I was a romance snob—one of those professional women who wouldn’t be caught dead reading a romance novel because I didn’t consider it “serious” reading. And then eight years ago, God set me free from my bias when He dropped the bomb on me that the actual desire of my heart was to write romance for Him. What a shocker! Since then, I have read everything in the Inspirational market I can get my hands on to study how it was done, and that’s still pretty much all I read.

What are you working on right now?

I just finished my fourth book about the O’Connors on St. Pat’s Day—how’s that for great timing as far as Irish novels? It’s called Refuge From the Storm (working title), and it’s the first book in my new 3-book series, which begins with Katie O’Connor’s story, the youngest daughter from The Daughters of Boston series. Katie is a pistol who comes of age during the Roaring 20s and The Great Depression, so it was fun to write.

Books 2 and 3 will be about the O'Connor brothers, Sean and then Steven, all during the exciting era of speakeasies, dance marathons, gangsters, G-men and era criminals like Bonnie & Clyde and John Dillenger. Sean's love interest will be ... guess who? Emma! Charity's scarred friend from Dublin. Steven will be a tall, brooding G-man-type modeled after real-life Elliot Ness. Some of your readers are probably too young to remember this, but I am modeling him after Robert Stack from "The Untouchables," who played Eliot Ness in the TV show years ago. I am very excited because all three plots are very involved, include detailed sub-stories for ALL the character couples (can you say "complicated"???) and each plot has surprises that I hope and pray will blow readers away!

I'm sure they will. What outside interests do you have?

Grin. Not many since I’ve taken up writing, I can tell you that! I used to be into gardening and entertaining, but with a 500-page book due every six months, there’s not much time for those things anymore. But, I do still love to watch old movies and musicals with my husband, fix special dinners and READ, of course!

How do you choose your settings for each book?

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

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

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

Are you kidding? Jesus Christ, hands-down … or maybe I should say, “knees-down.” He is the love of my life, and I would thrill at the opportunity to worship Him in person.

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

I wish I’d known what an emotional roller-coaster it was going to be AFTER I got published. Like a lot of unpublished writers, I thought all the anxiety and self-doubt would dissipate after I signed on the dotted line. I mean that would validate me, wouldn’t it? Give me confidence as a writer? But I discovered (AGAIN!) that true confidence is not in accolades from your editor or a really good review, but instead in where your heart is with God. HE is my confidence when my sales rankings on are high or low, which is why I CLING to the following Scripture from 2 Corinthians ll:3, praying it almost every day: Do not let my mind “be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.”

I even believe that every rejection for a manuscript comes from the Lord. The publisher who rejected the proposal or manuscript wouldn't be able to reach the readers who need to read that story. What new lessons is the Lord teaching you right now?

Ouch, Lena, you really know how to go right for the jugular, don’t you? In fact, the lesson the Lord is teaching me right now has been so painful, that I’m afraid it’s still a bit raw. He’s teaching me that it doesn’t matter if I final in contests or if my numbers on Amazon are high or low or if a reviewer thinks my books are too sensual or not. All that matters right now is that my heart is stayed on Him and His will for my writing. Period. I’m getting there, but I have to admit—it’s slow.

We wouldn't grow, if we didn't experience the pain. I know. What are the three best things you can tell other authors to do to be successful?

Well, I hope you don’t mind, but I would rather not limit it to three things, because I suggest all of the following in order to succeed, which is basically what I did:

1.) Join ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers at, FHL (Faith, Hope & Love at and RWA (Romance Writers of America at, both to get connected with other like-minded writers and to learn a lot about your craft.
2.) Take a fiction-writing class or attend a writing seminar or conference.
3.) Join a critique group.
4.) Purchase and study writing books such as Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King or Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maas, AND invest in a great thesaurus such as The Synonym Finder by Rodale Press (my writer’s bible!!).
5.) Enter contests for invaluable feedback.
6.) Hang out at Web sites devoted to getting published, such as The Seekers (, an excellent group blog that I belong to.
6.) Go for an agent first, publisher second.
7.) Then pray your heart out and put it in God’s hands.

Very good advice. Tell us about the featured book?

Book 3 in The Daughters of Boston series, A Passion Denied, is the story of Faith and Charity’s little sister, Lizzie, a shy bookworm who dreams of a fairy-tale romance. It unfolds a man’s dark past and a young girl’s shattered dreams … and the God who redeems it all.
Elizabeth O’Connor is the little sister John always longed for. With a fire for God in his belly, he has been her spiritual mentor since she was thirteen, sharing her love of literature and her thirst for God. But when his gangly protégé blossoms into a beautiful young woman bent on loving him, he refuses to act on the attraction he feels. His past won’t let him go there. Unfortunately, “Lizzie” won’t let him go anywhere else … until his dark and shocking secrets push her away.

Please give us the first page of the book.

Gladly, and how fun! I have never had anyone ask that before! Here you go:

Boston, Massachusetts, Spring 1922

Oh, to be a calculating woman! Elizabeth O’Connor sighed. She dodged her way down the bustling sidewalk of Boston’s thriving business district, wishing she were more like her sister, Charity. She chewed on her lip. Regrettably, she wasn’t, a definite character flaw at the moment. And one that would have to change.

She sidestepped a rickety wood wagon heaped high with the Boston Herald, hot off the presses. The freckle-faced boy hauling it muttered an apology before disappearing into a sea of pin-striped suits, short skirts and bobbed hair. On his heels, a young mother ambled along, cooing to a wide-eyed baby in a stroller. The baby’s soft chuckle floated by, and the sound buoyed Elizabeth’s spirits. Spring in the city! Despite the whiff of gasoline and tobacco drifting in the unseasonably warm breeze, she was ready for the promise of love in the air. Her heart fluttered. And maybe, just maybe, a little spring fever would do the trick!

She pressed her nose to the window of McGuire & Brady Printing Company and peered inside. John Morrison Brady was bent over a press, his lean, muscled body poised for battle with a screwdriver in his hand. Her chin hardened, and her smiled faded. That man suffered from a terminal illness that would be the death of their relationship: friendship. Elizabeth straightened her shoulders. And the worst kind of friendship at that—the big-brother kind.

She touched a hand to the wavy shingle haircut her friend Millie had talked her into. “It’s all the rage, Lizzzzzie Lou,” Millie had insisted, the sound of Lizzie’s name buzzing on her tongue like the hum of a busy beehive. A self-proclaimed modern woman, Millie had convinced Elizabeth “Beth” O’Connor to change her name to Lizzie over a year ago—to add excitement to her life, she’d said. And now, in the throes of radical 1920s fashion, Lizzie’s best friend had also convinced her that the chestnut tresses trailing her back simply had to go. The result was a short, fashionable bob, newly shorn just yesterday. Softly waved, it fell to just below her ear, showing off her heart-shaped face and slender neck to good advantage. Or so Millie had said. She squinted at her reflection in the window. She did look older, more sophisticated, she supposed. A smile twitched at the corners of her mouth. And it certainly seemed as if she had turned a few more heads at the bookstore where she worked. She opened the door, spurred on by the tinkling bell overhead, and took a deep breath. Now to turn the right one …

The reason I now ask for the first page is to give the readers a tiny glimpse that will hook them. And I'm hooked. I can hardly wait to read the book. How can readers find you on the Internet?

Thanks for asking, Lena. Readers can contact me through my Web site at, either by sending an e-mail via my site or by signing up for my newsletter, which will keep them updated on The Daughters of Boston series, as well as give them sneak peeks at the inside publishing process and info on book releases and signings. They can also just pop in and leave a comment and their e-mail on our group blog at, a blog about “The road to publication. Writing, contests, publication and everything in between.”

Thank you, Julie, for once again giving us a wonderful glimpse into your life.

Readers, if you can't wait to get your hands on A Passion Denied, here's a link where you can order it:

Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. The only notification you'll receive is the winners announcement on this blog. Be sure to check back a week from Saturday to see if you won.

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Sunday, April 26, 2009

Robin Lee Hatcher - A VOTE OF CONFIDENCE - Free Book

I first met Robin Lee when she was the keynote speaker for American Christian Romance Writers national conference in 2003. I'm really pleased to be featuring this book. Welcome, Robin Lee. Why do you write the kind of books you do?

I love writing historical romances because (a) studying history has always been an interest of mine and (b) I’m a romantic at heart. I wrote 27 historical romances for the general mass market before I answered God’s call on my heart to write faith-focused fiction. At that time, I began writing contemporary women’s fiction that dealt with somewhat weightier topics, issues that many women and men face today such as marriages in crisis, alcoholism, fear in uncertain times, etc.

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

Sorry. Must name two days: the days my daughters were born. My daughters are my finest legacies.

How has being published changed your life?

Gracious! I’ve been doing this so long that I hardly remember the “old” life. I started writing my first book in 1981 and it was published in 1984. I worked a full time job until 1990 when, the month my ninth book was published, I quit my job to write full time. That’s what I’ve been doing ever since, and I feel very privileged to be someone who makes a living doing what I love most.

Writing has brought me a large circle of friends. That’s certainly been one of the highlights of being published, having a community of friends who also hear voices in their heads. Even more importantly, writing has given me a community of Christian writers to be my brothers and sisters. My family keeps enlarging through them and their love.

I agree that the community of Christian writing friends is one of the best benefits of being an author. What are you reading right now?

As I answer this question, I have just finished reading a book for endorsement, Yesterday’s Embers by Deborah Raney (excellent!). Next up on my Kindle is Try Darkness by James Scott Bell.

Those are both really good books. What is your current work in progress?

By the time this interview is published (I’m writing it 7 months in advance), my WIP will be something I haven’t even thought of yet. But right now, I’m working on the second book in The Sisters of Bethlehem Springs series. The series features heroines who have jobs/careers that are unusual for women to hold their day. The first book, A Vote of Confidence, features Gwen who is running for mayor of Bethlehem Springs. The second book features a female wrangler on a cattle ranch.

What would be your dream vacation?

I would love to spend a month in England and Ireland. Visits to Tuscany and Venice run close seconds.

How do you choose your settings for each book?

Most of my books are set in Idaho. I love my state and love sharing it with readers. Sometimes a book demands an actual setting. Sometimes a book needs a fictional town surrounded by reality. I let the characters tell me.

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

Since I’m answering this interview just before the November 2008 elections, I have to say I would love to spend an evening with Governor Sarah Palin (who once was a small town mayor like the heroine of A Vote of Confidence). I find her a fascinating woman, someone who has achieved a great deal while holding true to important values such as family and supporting a culture of life. Whether or not she is VP by the time this interview is posted, I would love a chance to visit with her.

I would love to sit down with her, too. What are your hobbies, besides writing and reading?

I took up knitting again after about a 25-year break and have really enjoyed making things for others.

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

Making things hard enough for my main characters, especially when I’m writing historical romances. (It’s a little easier to “torture” my contemporary characters.) Once I fall in love with my hero and heroine, I want them to fall in love with each other and to live HEA. So I have to resist the urge to make things too simple early on in the story. To overcome it, I have to remind myself that once I make it hard for them, the next step is to make it harder for them. And then make it harder still. If I fail to do so, my editors are great at reminding me to do so.

What advice would you give to a beginning author?

If God has called you to write, then write whether or not you ever get published. Persevere. Study the craft. Write one book, then another and another and another. You will learn far more by writing your novels than you will from any “how-to” books.

Tell us about the featured book.

In A Vote of Confidence (May 2009, Zondervan), the stage is set for some intriguing insight into what it was like during 1915 to be a woman in a “man’s world.”

Guinevere Arlington is a beautiful young woman determined to remain in charge of her own life. For seven years, Gwen has carved out a full life in the bustling town of Bethlehem Springs, Idaho, where she teaches piano and writes for the local newspaper. Her passion for the town, its people, and the surrounding land prompt Gwen to run for mayor. After all, who says a woman can’t do a man’s job?

But stepping outside the boundaries of convention can get messy. A shady lawyer backs Gwen, believing he can control her once she’s in office. A wealthy newcomer throws his hat into the ring in an effort to overcome opposition to the health resort he’s building north of town. And when the opponents fall in love, everything changes, forcing Gwen to face what she may have to lose in order to win.

How can readers find you on the Internet?

My web site is at

I blog at Write Thinking:

On Facebook, I can be found at:

Robin Lee, thank you for spending this time with us. We'll have to feature the female wrangler book, too.

Readers, if you can't wait to get your hands on A Vote of Confidence, here's a link where you can order it:

Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. The only notification you'll receive is the announcement post on th is blog. Be sure to check back in two weeks to see if you're a winner.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Last April 2009 Winners!!!

Edna is the winner of Fire in the Rock by Rita Stella Galiah.

Amanda Sue is the winner of Milk Carton Mania by Christine M. Irvin.

Veronica Leigh is the winner of Prairie Hills by Paige Winship Dooly.

Kristi is the inner of Beyond the Smoke by Terry W. Burns.

Congratulations! Now send me your mailing address. There's a link to my email in my complete profile. Click the link in the right hand column to reach that profile.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Susan Page Davis - INSIDE STORY - Free Book

I had to ask Susan back for this third book in the series. Welcome, Susan. Tell us about your salvation experience.
I was saved when I was eight years old. I grew up in a Christian family, and I may even have been saved earlier, but it was at this age that I understood what it meant and so I look at this as the time when I truly received Christ.

How did you and your husband meet?

Jim was my brother’s college roommate. He had relatives in Maine, and one Christmas he rode home with my brother and sister to visit his relatives. He got sick while at our house and stayed about a week. I was only 13 at the time, and he was about 19, and we didn’t stay in touch at the time. But several years later, when I went to college, he remembered me and tracked down an address and began to write to me.

Very romantic. Now, Susan, you’re planning a writing retreat where you can only have four other authors. Who would they be and why?
Ooo! Can they be authors who are no longer with us? Because I would absolutely love to pick the brains of Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers, for instance. Plotting finesse, unforgettable characters and just plain beautiful writing. I’d also add Taylor Caldwell for some help on narrative savvy, sense of history, and epic sweep. Let’s see, now, that’s three Brits. I need an American. And since this is an all-girl party so far, I’m not sure a male author would be comfortable at our cozy retreat. Harper Lee is still living as I write this, and I hear she’s very shy, but I’d LOVE to talk to her. What characters are more memorable than Scout Finch and Boo Radley? I think this group of writers could come up with the greatest novel ever, but I’m a little hazy on the genre—maybe a Southern-British historical epic mystery? Perfect! I’ve refused to “brand” for years now. We’d have to come up with a pen name for all of us working together. DoroChris Taylor Lee Davis?

Let me know when you first book comes out. :-) I know you have a singing and speaking ministry. Tell us about that.
I do? Oops, I think this question was meant for someone else. :-) Actually, I do speak occasionally, and I’ve been known to sing in our church choir. When I speak, it is mostly to small groups—civic groups, clubs, and ladies’ groups. I have taught a few sessions at writers’ conferences as well. I love talking to people about writing. My favorite part of speaking is the question and answer time.

What is the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you and how did you handle it?
Oh, someone told you about the battery, didn’t they? Yeah, I’m the one who swallowed a battery. Perhaps you, like the physician who examined me in the ER, are wondering WHY I did this. Well, let’s just make it clear—it was a BUTTON battery about the size of a Metformin tablet (which I take to stabilize my blood sugar). Don’t ever put the pill in one pocket and the battery you plan to replace that day in the other pocket. That’s all I’m gonna say. But the nurses said plenty.

Interesting! People are always telling me that they’d like to write a book someday. I’m sure they do to you, too. What would you tell someone who came up to you and said that?

I’d tell them to have at it. We were all there at one time. The thing I would emphasize is that “Someday” is now. If you truly want to be a writer, you have to write, and thinking about it won’t make you an author.

So true. Now tell us about the featured book.
Claudia Gillette, an ambitious magazine writer, will do anything for a good story. Her go-getter attitude lands her in all kinds of trouble. She’s determined to shed her small-town Maine girl past and run with the big leagues. When she stumbles upon the fact that a special forces unit of the Navy includes a female, she determines to snag an interview with that woman. The gymnastics she performs to get that story leaves her brother-in-law, Lt. Pierre Belanger, with a developing ulcer. As he says to his friend, Commander George Hudson, “We love Claudia, but…”

Claudia’s tenacity puts her in the middle of a top secret mission in the Philippine jungle. She has to live with the knowledge that several men died because she jumped into their well-laid plans. Lt. Bill White is left in charge of the unit after their leader is killed, and keeping Claudia alive is nearly as difficult as his main purpose—rescuing a kidnapped scientist and his family from terrorists.
Inside Story is the third book in my military-themed, romantic suspense American Heroes series, but it can be read by itself and you’ll be fine. If you can’t find Book 1 (Frasier Island), check my Website. It’s available there.

How can readers find you on the Internet?
Visit my Web site at: The trailer for Inside Story is posted there. It’s like a commercial for the book—lots of fun! I love to hear from readers, and I have a book giveaway each month on my site.
Thank you, Susan, for spending this time with us. You're always a fun guest.
Readers, if you can't wait to get your hands on Inside Story, here's a link where you can order it:

Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy. The winners announcement post on this blog will be your only notification. So don't forget to check back a week from Saturday to see if you won.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Marcia Gruver - CHASING CHARITY - Free Book

Marcia is back with the second book in her historical series set in Texas. Welcome, Marcia. Why do you write the kind of books you do?

I once said I’d never write a historical novel. All the required research! It seemed so hard, and I figured I didn’t have the credentials. Convinced I was an author of women’s fiction, I had plans to crank out tomes of profound prose with intense, multilayered characters waltzing through thoroughly modern settings. I never consciously made the switch to writing historicals. Looking back, I believe my first historical novel was an offspring born of my fascination with the past and the origin of my own roots.

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

I’m glad you prefaced the question the way you did, because accepting Jesus Christ’s offer of eternal life is hands down the happiest event of my life. Besides that day, there are two more that stand out in flashing neon. One: The birth of my daughter, though I was too young and stupid at the time to appreciate the incredible gift she is. Of course, I know it now. Two: Meeting my wonderful husband at a time when I didn’t believe myself worthy of love. Every day of our lives, he is the flesh and blood picture of God’s unconditional love.

How has being published changed your life?

I gave up my life of leisure, that’s for sure! After working most of my life, we had finally reached a place where I could afford to quit work and stay home. With no little ones underfoot, after a bit of housework, my hands were idle all day. That lasted until I took up writing as a "hobby" that soon became a beloved obsession. Until I contracted with Barbour, it was an obsession I could pick up and lay down at will. Well, those days are gone! No more TV and bonbons for me, and that’s okay. You know what they say about idle hands.

I’ve also had to make peace with my fifteen minutes of fame. For someone like me, it’s a humbling experience indeed to suddenly be signing autographs and corresponding with "fans." Crazy! But quite nice.

What are you reading right now?

Funny you should ask. Not fifteen minutes ago, Amazon delivered my copy of Susan Meissner’s The Shape of Mercy. There’s been so much buzz about it, I couldn’t resist. I’ll be cracking the cover tonight.

What is your current work in progress?

I’m pushing to complete Emmy’s Equal, the last installment of Texas Fortunes, and my favorite so far. It features Emily Dane, the best friend of Charity Bloom, the heroine in Chasing Charity. Emmy is a mischievous rascal who keeps Charity’s life interesting, to say the least. She stood out so vividly while writing book two, I had to give her the final story. Actually, she insisted.

What would be your dream vacation?

I’m partial to mountainous regions and love Colorado, but since I’m lately prone to altitude sickness, the gorgeous Texas hill country provides a nice alternative. I’ve been an Anglophile since the early sixties, about the same time I became a Beatlemaniac, so a trip to England is at the top of my "bucket list." Of course, after watching Under The Tuscan Sun, I longed to visit Italy. But wouldn’t it be amazing to tour Africa?

I can’t decide! There’s too much of this beautiful planet I’ve yet to see.

How do you choose your settings for each book?

A historic event will catch my attention, like the murder of Diamond Bessie in Jefferson, Texas, or the oil boom in Humble, and the seed of the story grows. The setting becomes part of the package. Emmy’s Equal is a little different. While living for a few months in the South Texas town of Carrizo Springs, I fell in love with the beauty and history of the place, as well as its people and local legends. A region filled with cactus and cattle ranches; it seemed the perfect setting for feisty Emmy Dane with her prickly personality and personal aversion to being lassoed or branded by any man.

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

President George Bush. I’d love to ask how the negative media has affected his life and his family. I’d ask him what he prays for these days and if he has forgiven his enemies and detractors.

I'm sure he has. He iss a brave man who ran because he felt he should and stuck to his beliefs, no matter what detractors said. What are your hobbies, besides writing and reading?

I talk a lot about my favorite avenue of escape. . .playing games on my Playstation3. People laugh and some make fun of me a little. My son’s friends are amazed that I have more games in my collection than they have. But I’m not such a dumb old broad. Recent studies proved the importance of using our cognitive skills as we age in order to keep our minds sharp and focused. This granny spends her free time helping Laura Croft break into tombs and solving puzzles for Lego Indiana Jones. While I de-stress, I’m exercising my mental muscles with a few cranial calisthenics. Pretty smart, huh? I plan to stay that way.

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

These days, it’s time management. Writing the first book, you don’t have the added time expenditure of marketing. I wasn’t prepared for the amount of time needed for blog tours, interviews, traveling to signings, etc. Don’t get me wrong, this is the fun part. But it can bite a sizable chunk out of twenty-four hours. To be honest, I haven’t overcome it yet. Do you happen to know of a good deal on juggling lessons?

Tell us about the featured book.

Chasing Charity started out as book one of the Texas Fortunes series. When I decided to write the story of Bertha Bloom, Charity’s quirky little mama, Barbour liked the idea, but made the call to release the books in chronological order. Book two became book one and Diamond Duo was born. So actually, all of the characters in the series sprang from the pages of Chasing Charity.

I had so much fun writing this book. In it, Charity Bloom’s childhood friend, Emily Dane, follows Charity’s fiancé from the church when he spins on his heels and leaves Charity stranded at the alter. This leaves the whole town buzzing about the three of them, and Charity has nowhere to hide from her disgrace. After a handsome oilman named Buddy Pierce discovers oil seeping onto her property, Charity reacts with anger and fear. Despite Buddy’s confusion about her response, he soon realizes the real treasure is above ground in the form of Charity herself. While Charity wonders how she’s so attracted to another man just days after her failed wedding, her rogue ex-fiancé decides he wants her back. Suddenly the wrong man wants to marry her after all, and the right one leaves town just when she needs him most. Charity decides it’s up to her to save her mama’s land from a scheming, land-grabbing neighbor, so she makes a decision that is bound to ruin her life.

I am totally intrigued. This book now moves to the top of my to-be-read pile. How can readers find you on the Internet?

My website URL is
My blog is
I’m also a contributor to The Internal Monoblog at

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

Readers, if you can't wait to get your hands on a copy, here's a link where you can order it:

Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy. The winner announcement posts on this blog will be the only notification you will receive. So check back a week from Saturday to see if you're the winner. Or you can sign up for FeedBlitz so you won't miss any posts.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Monday, April 20, 2009

Debby Mayne - PEACHTREE DREAMS - Free Book

Sorry I wasn't able to post this interview on Tuesday. I tried, but Blogger wouldn't save it.

I'm happy to welcome my friend, Debby Mayne to the blog. Now Debby, tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.

It varies, depending on the story. Some of them have a little bit of me in them, and others are more of what I wish I could be. All my secondary characters are composites of people I know—friends and acquaintances—who can enhance the story.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

Do you really want to know? Hmm. I guess you do, or you wouldn't have asked. I think perhaps it involved going to one of the biggest malls I've ever been to in Minneapolis with a couple of my writer friends, pushing a wheelchair, and walking through a tunnel surrounded by sharks. Sound familiar? Private joke, folks.

Oh, yes, I have fond memories of that evening. It was really fun. When did you first discover that you were a writer?

I've probably always been a writer, but I resisted until I couldn't anymore. The revelation that I needed to actually write a book happened back in 1995. I sold my first book in 1999.

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

I like all genres, except science fiction.

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

I've sold romances and mysteries. I'm currently working on women's fiction.

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

Sanity? What's that? I focus on my faith, my family, writing, and teaching.

How do you choose your characters’ names?

I have a book of baby names, and I try to match the meanings with the characters in my books. Also, if I hear a name that sounds good, I jot it down for future use.

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
After the Lord brought my husband into my life, he and I managed to raise two of the most wonderful daughters in the world—with His help, of course.

If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
I'd be one of my cats because they live the good life.

What is your favorite food?
I love anything spicy—especially Thai, Indian, Mexican, and Cajun food. I also love seafood, turkey, and all veggies.

What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
When I first started writing, I didn't understand the markets. I thought that if I sent a good book to any house, if they liked it, they could publish it. Now I know better.

What advice would you give to an author just starting out?
Read in the genre you want to write, study the market, read the submission guidelines, and start hunting for an agent who can guide you in your career.

What would you like to tell us about the featured book?
PEACHTREE DREAMS is a contemporary collection of my Georgia-set Heartsong Presents books. Each story shows a strong woman who can stand on her own two feet—even before the hero enters the picture. Their romantic relationships are all centered around their faith in the Lord.

How can readers find you on the Internet?
Thank you, Debby for spending this time with us.
Readers, if you can't wait to get your hands on this book, here's a link where you can order it:
Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy. The only notification you'll have is the winner posts on this blog. So be sure to check back a week from Saturday to see if you won.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Tamela Hancock Murray - LOVE FINDS YOU IN MAIDEN, NORTH CAROLINA - Free Book

Readers, I apologize for being so late with the interview today. I had to take my husband to the ER yesterday at 4:30 pm, and I've been there all day today, too. I know this is later than usual, but this is a very special interview. I was privileged to read the book before it was published and write an endorsement for it. You'll find these words I wrote on the cover:

Love Finds You in Maiden, North Carolina, takes you back to a gentler time. I love the characters, the feel of the 1920s, and especially the romance in this book. It's a keeper.

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

I think it’s impossible for writers not to include something about themselves in their characters. My friends say they can hear me speak as they read my books because of the characters’ voice patterns. Most of my heroines display more patience than I do sometimes in real life. I write the type of women I can look up to. I hope my readers feel the same.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

I convinced people to ride the Rebel Yell roller coaster at King’s Dominion in Ashland, Virginia, over and over until the park closed. The first time, I was a teenager spending the day with my best friend. The second time was about three years ago with my husband. I hope we can go back soon!

I'd love that, but James would be throwing up after the first trip. When did you first discover that you were a writer?

In fifth grade, when a classmate copied word for word a poem I wrote in third grade and passed it off as his own. He denied it, of course.

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

Because I’m a literary agent as well as a writer, I get to read a wide variety of books. I enjoy thought-provoking and inspirational nonfiction. I also love to read romance and romantic suspense. The different types of Bibles being released fascinate me. I think CBA is doing a great job in every category!

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

I’ve written many novels and novellas, plus Bible trivia for both children and adults. The complete list is on my web site, except for a couple of titles that have gone out of print. Like most writers, I have a couple of unpublished novels sitting on a computer somewhere. When I go back and read these long-ago attempts, for the most part I’m grateful to the editors who decided not to publish them.

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

A few years ago our wise pastor told the congregation that on Sundays, we shouldn’t shop or engage in other activities that aren’t God-centered. Inspired by him, we changed our habits and now Sundays are much more restful for us. I also try to limit my computer time on Saturdays, because our family spends time together then, both in accomplishing errands and in fun activities. I realize many writers hold down full-time jobs and this solution doesn’t work for them. However, I hope all writers will do everything possible to find at least one afternoon a week for some down time. You deserve it!

Well, my down time this week went down the tube. How do you choose your characters’ names?

When choosing, I try to assign the characters names with meanings that have some relationship to their role in the story. I have several baby name books I enjoy consulting. Some are out of print. I also consult Social Security listings and “most popular names of the decade” lists. However, most popular name listings aren’t especially inspiring to me because the same names appear too often on those.

In talking to publishing industry professionals, I find that some say, “Choose a name from the decade of the 1880s for your heroine and hero living in that decade.” Actually, you need to go back to the time when the characters were born.

That is so true. What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?

That I have managed to convince my husband to stay with me going on 25 years now. I told him I’m aiming for 70 years since by then I’ll only be 91 and he will not have seen his 100th birthday. Anything after that will be pure gravy!

Speaking from the perspective if going on 45 years, I'm glad that as your youthfulness fades, so does his eyesight, so you still look really good to him. :-) If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?

I would be a bunny, because everyone loves bunnies! We have a bunny family living in our yard and we love to see them hop about.

I also wouldn’t mind being a honeybee, because they are so important to humans. Besides, I like honey drizzled over Greek yogurt.

I love honey on lots of things. What is your favorite food?

Chateau Briand. I associate this dish with romance. It requires a relatively large piece of filet mignon and preparation of béarnaise sauce, so many restaurants only serve it for two. I love to share this dish with my husband. When we were dating and first married, on special occasions we enjoyed driving into Washington, D.C., and dining at Maison Blanche. This restaurant has since closed, but it was there that I first encountered and enjoyed Chateau Briand.

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

I started writing professionally when I was a young mother, so the greatest roadblock was finding time because I didn’t want to ignore my daughters. Not to mention, the irony of neglecting my husband so I could write romance novels didn’t escape me. Since I was in every club and on every committee in college, I used time management skills learned during school to organize my days so I could write while still dedicating time to my family. Of course, the occasional unplanned event happens, but I make a point of getting back on track as soon as possible.

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

Today’s new authors have an advantage I didn’t when I started, and that is the chance to use the Internet to network. Writing used to be a solitary profession. In some ways, it still is because there are big chunks of time when it’s just you and the blank computer screen. But now, writers can access huge numbers of friends who share a passion for writing. This is a priceless gift. Writing for God is about Him, but it’s also about people, and our relationships are really what matters.

Tell us about the featured book?

I loved writing LOVE FINDS YOU IN MAIDEN, NORTH CAROLINA. This story focuses on two cousins who are different in appearance, temperament, and upbringing, but are alike in that they want to be loved by a good man. But Selene is concealing a scandalous secret.

Like many eras, the 1920s brought about many important changes as technology advanced at an unheard of pace and values were reassessed and examined. The cousins’ worlds collide and each learns from the other.

To write this book, I visited Maiden with my family. This charming town provided a wonderful backdrop for the story to unfold. I have a special love for North Carolina because many of my relatives live in the state. I hope readers will enjoy this book as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Please give us the first page of the book.

October 1922

Chapter One

Hestia Myatt paused before knocking on the door of her aunt’s gray Victorian with white trim situated in the foothills of the Appalachians in Maiden, North Carolina. She would only be staying three weeks, giving her the chance to help her relative recover from a broken pelvis. During that time, Hestia hoped to collect her thoughts and make plans for a new life after a broken engagement.

A train whistled as it passed. The familiar sound always reminded Hestia of her aunt’s house. An afternoon autumn rain had left burnished leaves lying on thin grass and a musty smell in its wake. Loving the season, Hestia took a moment to invigorate herself with a breath of chilly air for a welcome respite. Aunt Louisa’s friend Mrs. Howard had picked Hestia up from the train station in her Model T and, after a harrowing ride thanks to her inexperience with the motorcar, had dropped Hestia at the end of the sidewalk and departed.

Undaunted, Hestia handled her two brown leather bags with ease. After composing herself, she rapped twice on the front door.

“Come on in.” Hestia could hear the familiar voice through the open window. It helped that her aunt’s bedroom was on the front left side of the modest house. “Door’s open.”

How can readers find you on the Internet?

I’m at:

Please stop by and drop me a line. I’d love to hear from you!

Lena, thank you for granting me the chance to appear on this blog. I appreciate this opportunity, and have been thrilled to spend time with you and your readers. Hugs, Tamela

And thank you, Tamela, for the visit.

Readers, you'll want to get your hands on this book. Tell your friends about the book and this interview. If you're having trouble finding the book, here's a link where you can order it.

Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy. The only way I'll contact you about winning will be in the announcement blog, so check back on Saturday in two weeks to see if you won.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Winners!! Check to see if YOU won!!!

M. C. Pearson is the winner of Wildcard by Robin Shope.

Mez is the winner of Fatal Illusions by Adam Blumer.

Raspberrygirl is the winner of Dixie Hearts by Debra Ulrick.

Jenny is the winner of Shepherd's Fall by Wanda Dyson.

Click on the View Complete Profile in the right hand column. You'll find a link to my email. Send me your mailing address so we can ge the book to you.

I did this one day early, because I'm leaving town today. I will be in Madisonville, Texas, to speak for the Madison County Writers Guild tomorrow. They meet at the Library Annex.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Terry W. Burns - BEYOND THE SMOKE - Free Book

I'm happy to feature this Texas writer. Terry and I became friends long before he became an agent, and I love his books. Terry, what are some of the spiritual themes you like to write about?

Redemption is my favorite – bad person who strongly resists doing right, but in the end ends up doing so in spite of themselves. The goal is to make them as bad as possible without the reader crossing the line and no longer holding out an hope or caring if they turn it around.

That's a hard line to hold. I'm working on one of those right now. What other books of yours are coming out soon?

I have a reprint of my 2002 book To Keep a Promise coming out from Mountainview Press with a greatly enhanced storyline and tentatively titled A Promise Kept. I also have a work for hire coming out, but it won’t have my name on it and I really can’t talk about it.

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

Laura Bush, she’s a lady I admire and I’d like to tell her I appreciate all she has done for books and for writers.

I'm with you on that. I'm glad they came back to Dallas. How long have you known that you wanted to be novelist?

A dozen years or so – I’ve always written things, but that’s about when a good friend of mine, a novelist by the name of Dan Parkinson, convinced me that I had the gift and should use it.

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

Congratulations, you’re in the game. The publishing industry is like the old TV show Laugh-in. People on that show would open a window, deliver a line, then somebody else down the way would open a window and take their turn. Publishing is the same way, our job is to get our manuscript in while the window is open and at any given point in time there might only be ONE window open.

Rejection has little to do with writing and everything to do with connecting to the market.

Tell us about the featured book.

Young people today don’t realize there was no such thing as a teenager before WWII – kids went from whatever schooling they were going to get straight to working on the farm or in the family store. Many went west, and no special provisions were made for their age. This story explores two such young people who came west and had to grow up fast. It lets today’s teens get a glimpse of what life might have been like for them had they lived in that time period.

How can readers find you on the Internet?

My website is and from it you can find my blog, my bookstore, a huge library of writing links and links to other writers and can connect with me at a variety of different places.

Thank you, Terry, for taking time out of your busy schedule to spend this time with us. I'll see you in Denver!

Readers, here's a link where you can order Beyond the Smoke:

Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy. Be sure to check back a week from Saturday to see if you won. The only way I'll contact you is through this blog. You can sign up for FeedBlitz to make sure you don't miss the announcement.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Paige Winship Dooly - PRAIRIE HILLS - Free Book

I'm happy to feature my "Dooly Sister" from Barbour publishing. But she just hasn't learned how to spell our last name. Just kidding. I've teased her about that before. How wonderful for you to be in a collection with Susan May Warren and Linda Ford. Now, Paige, tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.

I’m sure there’s a little bit of me in every character. But there are also characteristics of how I’d like to be. That’s what makes writing fun. You get to have your characters do whatever you want them to do.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

When I was a teen I went on a float trip with some friends. We found a road we had to lift the canoes across. The road had several cement tunnels under it so that the water could pass through. We had the brilliant idea to drop down and shoot ourselves through the tunnels. Looking back…I know it was a totally stupid idea! The water went so fast and as I went my leg caught and I scraped it. I thought my leg was going to break. The pressure shot me on through, but I had a moment of realization that it wasn’t the wisest choice we’d ever made. And what if something had blocked part of the tunnel and prevented our passage? Shudder. At least I was smart enough not to be the first person through. Now I allow my characters to do the quirky stuff, and I try to think things out in real life a bit more carefully.

That does sound scary. I went spelunking in a cavern where I worked during the summer. Many of the most beautiful formations were in places that you had to crawl on your stomach to reach. I found out I don't like tight spaces. When did you first discover that you were a writer?

I’ve always written, from the time I could hold a pencil. I wrote my first “novel” when I was seventeen. I can’t imagine not writing.

That's how I feel. If I'm away from writing for too long, I get restless. Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.

I love reading romance, romantic suspense, historical, romantic comedies, and adventure stories.
What other books have you written, whether published or not?

I have five books with Barbour Publishing with their Heartsong Presents line, and five novellas in anthologies, also with Barbour. I have others that may or may not see the light of day, but I hope eventually they all do.

I hope so, too. How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?

I don’t really have time to think about it. We have a houseful of children, including two babies under 13 months old, and with homeschooling and writing, etc, it gets kind of crazy. I’m trying hard to focus on priorities and to cut out the non-essentials. Someday I’ll hopefully figure out which things those are!

How do you choose your characters’ names?

Usually I’ll have the characters’ names from the start. They just show up in my head. The ones who don’t…I do an online search or look them up in a baby book. I try a lot of names until I find the perfect one to suit that particular character.

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?

My family and completing books! I love being a mom and wife and raising the kids, but I also love having my imaginary world to slip into. It feels really good to get a full book finished while in the midst of dealing with everything life throws at us.

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

Does a dolphin count? I’d love to live in the water and swim freely and see the sights from a dolphin’s viewpoint.

What is your favorite food?

Anything Mexican. Yum! And Italian. And Thai. And anything chocolate…which deserves its own food group listing.

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

Years ago, I had a really rough rejection that set me back for a long time. I finally realized it was only one person’s opinion, and that I needed to go forward with what I loved to do. I focused on all the positive reviews I’d received on other books instead.

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

Put your fingers to the keyboard and get words down every day. Expect criticism and accept that not everyone will like your stories. Ask for feedback and take it to heart. The positives will outweigh the negatives by far!

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

I’d love readers to know that we all make bad decisions at times, but God forgives all. Everyone is redeemable.

How can readers find you on the Internet?

I’m in process of having a new website developed that will be up and running soon.

In the meantime, I have a blog that’s sadly out of date at the moment: (See above comment: two babies in the house under 13 months!) We’re getting back on track, but babies, writing deadlines, and homeschooling are the priority!

Thank you, Paige, for spending time with us. I'll be looking forward to another book from you.

Readers, here's a link where you can buy Prairie Hills:

Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of Prairie Hills. Don't forget to check back a week from Saturday to see if you have won. I won't be contacting you any other way than through the blog.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Christine M. Irvin - MILK CARTON MANIA - Free Book

Our interview today is a departure from what we normally feature. It's a craft book for children. That will come in handy during the summer months when school is out. Christine, what has drawn you to writing for children?

For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to be a writer. I write for both children and adults. I love kids; they’re such fun to be around. I guess the reason I like writing for them is because I like the idea of a child enjoying a story I’ve written. I would like to think they would ask their parents to “read it again!”

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

I don’t know if this really qualifies as quirky or not, but it’s not something everyone does: When my daughter was nine and my son was almost two, I took the two of them with me for a month-long stay in England. My mother was British, so I wanted to go to England to meet my British relatives, and I wanted to take my children with me. It was quite an adventure, visiting well-known tourist sites as well as some not-so-well-known ones. Most of the time we stayed with British relatives who were scattered around, so we got to see a fair portion of the country (as well as Scotland!).

When did you first discover that you were a writer?

I remember when I was about eight years old I was going to write a book called The Haunted House. I started it, but never finished it. But, I kept writing, and writing, and writing. And, I’m still writing. I guess that makes me a writer, doesn’t it?

Of course, it does, because a writer writes. Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I enjoy reading mysteries, suspense, romance, biographies and historical fiction. My favorite authors are Agatha Christie, John Grisham and James Patterson.

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

I have written many books, most of which haven’t been published – yet! I have been blessed to have 11 books published so far. They include a series of 8 children’s craft books; Milk Carton Mania is one title from that series. There is another craft book called Craftmania that was published by Random House. A very small press published a children’s picture book called Issac the Frog, and I self-published (along with a couple of friends) a children’ picture book called The Little Lighthouse. Titles of stories written, which I someday hope are published as books, include: "Good-Bye, Zoo," “The Reddle Badge,” “When the Whites Moves In,” “Riddle of the Rainbow,” and “The Three Little Hoggs.”

How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
Sanity?? Who said I was sane?

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

I’m most proud of actually reaching my goal of becoming a published writer.

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

This is not something I think about much, but I would probably be a dog. Why? Because dogs, at least the ones that are kept in good homes, seem to truly lead a life of leisure. They are provided with good food, a good home, good medical care and loads of love. What a life!

What is your favorite food?

Prime rib, well done.

I love prime rib, too, but not well done. Is it hard to break into the children’s market?

It’s very difficult to break into the children’s market, especially if you’ve got your heart set on selling a book. If you’ve written a short story, and it’s more suitable for the magazine market than the book market, it’s easier to sell a story that way – but it’s still not easy.

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

If your dream is to be a children’s writer, don’t give up. Also, learn as much about your craft as you possibly can: read lots of children’s books; join a children’s writers’ group; and attend writing conferences and workshops.

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

Milk Carton Mania is the first book I wrote when I got a contract to write a series of children’s craft books for Children’s Press. When I got an idea for the series, I was inspired by all the things you can do with milk cartons. You can make building blocks with them; use them as bird feeders and doorstops; and create such things as wishing wells, doll houses and jack-o-lanterns (really!) with them.

How can readers find you on the Internet?
They can visit my website,
They can read book reviews I’ve posted on the Christian Children’s Book Review website,
Click on this link,, to read Meghan McCarthy’s interview with me on the Authors Talk website.
And, you can read an article I wrote about writing on the Writing for Dollars website, You’ll have to scroll down about three-quarters of the page to read it.
Thank you, Christine, for spending this time with us.
Readers, here's a link where you can order Mail Carton Mania:
Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy. Don't forget to check back a week from Saturday to see if you won. I will not be contacting the winners.