Sunday, May 31, 2009

THE HOUSE IN GROSVENOR SQUARE - Linore Rose Burkard - Free Book

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

I write books that I would enjoy as a reader. I love good romances that are clean, a bit of humor, a heroine I can respect, and a great happy ending. I also love “period” films, and I “see” my books as films when I'm writing them, so if I really enjoy my own book, I feel satisfied that readers will, too.

I see my stories as films in my head, too. Besides when you came to know the Lord, what is the happiest day in your life?

I think it would be the day I became a mother for the first time. I felt like Eve, as silly as that may sound! I was astounded, and never happier with myself—something along the lines of, "If I could produce this marvelous baby, well, then God must have made me right after all." It was like I'd entered this new secret world of “motherhood,” and I couldn't believe that I hadn't known, earlier, what a miraculous, wonderful world it was. The joy of motherhood had been hidden to me from an upbringing with seven siblings where each person was basically one more mouth to feed, not a gift from God.

How has being published changed your life?

It has certainly made me a great deal busier! I said somewhere that since getting published, it's like I'm attached to my pc at the hip. But the writing is actually the least time-consuming thing I do. When I'm hot and heavy into a book, I spend a lot of time at it, but once that passes, it's all networking and marketing, marketing, marketing.

What are you reading right now?

I'm just finishing up The Language of Cells. A book I thought would complement the use of the microscope in our home school, but had nothing to do with that. (I have a review of it on my Shelfari page) As for fiction, I recently read Julie Klassen's The Apothecary's Daughter, as I did some proof-reading (fact checking) for it, and Molly Noble Bull's Gatehaven. (We swapped manuscripts to critique for each other.)

What is your current work in progress?

When I finished The House in Grosvenor Square, I started throwing around ideas with my editor for the next book. I think I'm going to finish a novel I started called The Country-House Courtship next, but I have a few others that also need finishing. These are stand-alones so far, meaning, not part of a series, but that could change.

What would be your dream vacation?

A month in England, for sure. I'm hoping to do that this year, but I can't do a whole month. The thing is, I need to see London for its museums and Mayfair, of course; (Regency past); but I'd also love to do the whole Jane Austen thing; Bath, and her other places of residence, and if I could fit in a little Dickens and Shakespeare that would be fab. I have two friends to visit there, who will no doubt accompany me to some of these places, but we'll also need time just to chill and chat.

How do you choose your settings for each book?

Since I'm concentrating on Regency romances right now, it's really quite simple. You can do a continent switch, of course, which could complicate it (and I have one started, as a matter of fact), but for the most part you know your setting is going to be England, and from there you just choose whether it's going to be London, Bath, or a country estate or village.

What are your hobbies, besides writing and reading?

When I can, I like to bake, decorate, garden, swim, do crossword puzzles and other mind stretchers, and watch period movies. I can't always find time to read a novel, but I can quickly do a crossword. When I feel like I'm getting burned out from too much of any activity, I'll pull a DVD of a favorite period flick from the shelf, and take a mini-vacation by watching it. I enjoy singing in the choir, and being with special friends and especially being with my family.

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

At this point in my life, the most difficult thing is finding time to brainstorm and concentrate on a book. Once I know where I'm going with a plot or idea I can work on it despite all the interruptions in my day; but when I need to really think something through, it's difficult to find enough quiet time. I often just give myself to God, and have to trust that He'll take me in the right direction. On a more technical level, one of my challenges is that I get many ideas, and I don't always wait and ask myself if I've had the best one. I go with the first or second one, and later think, “Wow, I could have done this or that, (with a character, or scene, etc.).”

What advice would you give to a beginning author?

Decide whether or not you've been called to write, and if you have been, then give it all you've got. Never put out anything except your best work, and keep in mind that ANYTHING you say online may be there forever. Seek feedback from a professional, but at the same time, learn to trust your instincts. Also, start a web presence as soon as you decide that you want to be published one day.

Tell us about the featured book.

The House in Grosvenor Square is a sequel to Before the Season Ends. Without giving spoilers, I'll say it's a great deal of fun, and has more action-driven movement than I usually write. I'm a character-driven writer, but once things get rolling in this book, the reader will have to hang on to their hat, so to speak, and take the ride to the last page. It's a satisfying deepening of characters from the first book and progress in their story.

How can readers find you on the Internet?

Thank you, Lena!
And thank you, Linore for returning to visit with us again.
Readers, here's where you can order the featured book:
Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. The only notification you'll have is the winners announcement on this blog. So check back in two weeks on Saturday to see if you won.
If you're reading this interview on FeedBlitz, Facbook, or Amazon, please come to this blog to leave the comment:

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Last May Winners!!!

Peachykath is the winner of What the Bayou Saw by Patti Lacy.

Linda (desertrose) is the winner of The Taking of Carly Bradford by Ramona Richards.

Carlene (iluvreading) is the winner of Starfire by Stuart Vaughn Stockton.

Laura in Texas is the winner of Yesterday's Embers by Deborah Raney.

Congratulations. That will be some good summer reading. Now you must send me your mailing address. You can find a link to my email when you click on View Complete Profile in the sidebar. Or you can contact me through my web site:

Come back tomorrow for another interview.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Jill Elizabeth Nelson - WITNESS TO MURDER - Free Book

Welcome, Jill. Tell us about your salvation experience.

I came to Jesus with all my heart at summer Bible camp when I was about ten years old. But then my faith went dormant through some rather wild high school and college years. When I got out of college and was casting around for direction in my life, I realized I was tired of feeling lost and alone. I scooted right back into the arms of Father God, who was patient and faithful all along, even when I wasn’t.

How did you and your husband meet?

At a home Bible study. It wasn’t love at first sight, but almost. At about the third or fourth meeting, I looked across the room and knew that I knew that I knew he was the one for me. We were married within the year. Going on 29 years later, we’ve raised four children and are enjoying our precious first grandchild.

James and met three months and three days before we married, and we'll celebrate 45 years together later this year. Now Jill, you’re planning a writing retreat where you can only have four other authors. Who would they be and why?

I’ve been on a couple of writers retreats with fellow Minnesota authors, and they were so awesome, I would go with all of them again in a heartbeat. But that’s more than four. It might be fun to go again to the Denver area and meet up with my dear, gracious friend and awesome author, Donita K. Paul. We’d want to include her up-and-coming author daughter, Evangeline Denmark, and our mutual bud, Megan DiMaria. That’s only three, but I’m sure they could invite someone else along. I go to writers’ retreats to fellowship with like-minded, wacky writers so we can uplift and encourage one another. We share our hearts, as well as have an all around hilarious time.

Yes, I've only been on a few of these, but they are awesome. Do you have a speaking ministry? If so, tell us about that.

I love, love, love to talk about my passion for Christian fiction. Most recently, I was invited to do a session at a librarians’ retreat in the Twin Cities. This was primarily a secular group, but the librarians had noticed how the “inspirational fiction” flew off the shelves, so they wanted to hear more about this phenomenon. Most were quite flabbergasted to see for themselves the quality and variety that Christian fiction has achieved. This branch of fiction is no longer limited to prairie romance and nothing like the sermonizing between book covers that they had assumed. It was awesome to be able to visit that epiphany on such an influential group in the book world.

What is the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you and how did you handle it?

I don’t know that this is the most embarrassing thing ever, but it’s the most recent embarrassing thing. My husband and I and another couple went camping at a nearby state park for Memorial Day weekend. So here we are all settled into our side-by-side campsites, just about ready to enjoy a meal of grilled chicken, when a monster-sized camper stops on the road beside our sites and a puzzled-looking man gets out. He approaches us and asks, “Are you sure you have the right camp sites? Our names are on the reservations tags.” Sure enough, we look at the green tags on the posts by the sites, and the names aren’t ours!

What happened? I made the reservations weeks in advance . . . the only trouble is, I made them for the weekend AFTER the holiday. Memorial Day fell early this year, so I got my dates mixed up. Oh, man, that was an uncomfortable situation!

What could I do but apologize to everyone concerned—my husband, our friends, the people whose sites we were squatting on. I’m thankful they were all so gracious about it. We had to pack up and move out, of course. The good news (and something of a miracle on a holiday weekend) is that the park manager got us a couple of sites on the other side of the campground. These sites had full water, sewer, and garbage hookups, but they rented them to us for the same price as the electric-only sites we had before. Praise the Lord!

The world is full of nice people, if we only look around us. 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?

First of all, get beyond the wishing phase and start. Second, persevere through the work of it. Third, finish the book. If an aspiring author can actually get that far, then there’s hope that maybe some years down the road, they’ll actually have something publishable. (Most folks never get past the wishing phase.)

That's a true, but sad fact. Tell us about the featured book?

I so enjoyed writing a multi-cultural adventure set in my home state of Minnesota. Multi-cultural, you say? Swedish and Norwegian perhaps? No, a bit more diverse than that. My heroine is half Norwegian, half Nigerian—a pretty interesting combo that plays quite large in the story.

Here’s the short blurb about the story:

Poised for an interview, TV reporter Hallie Berglund walks into a murder scene instead. The victim’s boyfriend stands over the body, murder weapon in hand. Hallie couldn’t stop the crime, but as the star witness, she’ll see the man brought to justice . . . right? Not according to her colleague Brody Jordan, who is convinced the police—and Hallie—are targeting the wrong man. To prove it, he’ll need Hallie’s help. The victim was wearing a bracelet handcrafted by Hallie’s long-dead mother. Now Hallie is the only one who can unearth the secrets of the past—and bring the sinister truth to light.

Please give us the first page of the book.

Channel Six television news reporter Hallie Berglund put her fight foot on the bottom step of the swaybacked porch, then stopped cold. The hairs on her arms prickled. What was that awful noise coming from inside the house? Some kind of music? This century-old Victorian was rented by four University of Minnesota coeds, but even if they liked punk rock, they wouldn’t listen to this. And why was the front door several inches ajar?

Careful to keep the heels of her pumps from clacking against the wood, she walked up the remaining two steps, but angry creaks from the porch boards announced her arrival. Whoever—whatever—was inside gave no indication her approach had been heard. The noise progressed in decibels.

Hallie frowned. There had to be a logical explanation. On the telephone, Alicia Drayton had sounded eager, almost desperate, to do the interview as soon as possible. The part-time fashion model and full-time student had said her roommates would be out all afternoon—a perfect opportunity for the two of them to talk privately.

The sound continued—long, drawn out. Like something a person would hear on a dark and moonless night, not in the balmy afternoon of a cloudless June day. She doused the impulse to back away and wait for her cameraman to catch up with her. She was a reporter, and she needed to find out what was going on. Sooner rather than later.

That's a real hook. I can't wait until I receive my copy of the book. How can readers find you on the Internet?

My web site is http://www.jillelizabethnelsoncom/. I run a monthly contest for signed copies of my books and regularly give away other people’s books on my blog. Sign up for my newsletter for extra chances at freebies and to keep up on what’s next in the pipeline.

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

Readers, here's a link to order Witness to Murder:

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

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

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Susan Meissner - THE SHAPE OF MERCY - 3 Free Books

I'm happy to have Susan on my blog with this book which won Publisher Weekly's Best Books of 2008 in fiction. And you readers will have the opportunity to win one of three Advanced Readers Copies of this book.
Susan, why do you write the kind of books you do?

I write the kind of books that I like most to read; a bit literary but not so deep and distant that they don’t seem real to life. I like books that have a faith thread that is subtle and deeply imbedded in the story’s theme such that a believer can hear the voice of God all over the pages and someone on the search for God will hear His whisper.

I like that description. That's how I perceive my spiritual threads, too. Besides when you came to know the Lord, what is the happiest day in your life?

It is so hard to pick just one day that stands out over all the others. Each of the four days my children were born were indescribably wonderful, the day I married my soul-mate was perfect, and the day I got my first book contract was over-the-top splendid. I am amazed by God’s goodness to me.

How has being published changed your life?

Surprisingly, being published has taught me that that’s just one thing that can happen to you when you are a writer. It doesn’t define you as a writer and it doesn’t complete you as a writer. When your dream of being published is realized, it’s funny, you simply start dreaming a new dream. You create new goals for yourself. You hope for new things. You also find that you still struggle with envy and doubt and frustration – the same as you did before. Everything you brought to the table before you were published, you still have after. It’s all about perspective and trust, as is just about everything that happens to us outside our control.

What are you reading right now?

I am reading The Help by Kathryn Stockett, and it is phenomenal. It is about a white journalist and two African-American housekeepers - the help – in pre-Civil Rights Mississippi. It’s exceptionally well written.

What is your current work in progress?

I have just started Lady in Waiting, which is due to my editor later this summer and will release in fall 2010. It’s about a woman at a crossroads in her life and marriage who finds something that once belonged to Lady Jane Grey – the nine-day Queen of England back in the sixteenth century. I like blending stories of the current day with threads of the past. And I’ve always been intrigued by Jane Grey’s story. I can’t wait to really sink my teeth into this one. My next book, White Picket Fences, is just now headed to the printers for a Fall 09 release.

What would be your dream vacation?

A month-long stay in a villa overlooking the Amalfi Highway on Italy’s southern tip! Lots of books to read. No internet or email. Pasta and bread and fresh fruit and veggies all the time. My husband on the chaise next to me, making coffee in a French press. A big yellow dog at our feet. . . Mmmmm.

How do you choose your settings for each book?

I let the story dictate the setting. After I’ve had a chance to get to know the characters’ personalities I ponder which locale will best let me draw on their quirks and habits and layers. It is often the last thing I choose.

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

I have always wanted to spend an evening talking with whoever is president of the United States. In this case, that would be Barack Obama. If I am going to have a conversation that matters it should be with someone who can make a difference. There is so much we need to address as a nation. I am not even sure where I would start. Maybe I would ask him first what kind of world he wants to see his daughters inherit from him and then see where his answer takes us.

What are your hobbies, besides writing and reading?

I love to travel, spend time with my family, listen to music, play the piano, take long walks on the beach, fiddle with photography, mess about in the yard, cook Italian food.

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

I struggle with confidence and doubt. Like any obstacle that involves self-introspection I have to turn to God and ask Him to help me tune out the noise and listen to what He thinks about me. If He gave me the gift and passion to write, then He means for me to be writing.

What advice would you give to a beginning author?

Spend every spare minute you have sharpening your skill. Read good books, read good books on writing, write every day – even it’s just random thoughts – surround yourself with other writers and learn from them, don’t give in to apathy or frustration. Keep at your gifting. You were meant to share it.

Tell us about the featured book?

The Shape of Mercy is the story of three women, two in contemporary time and one in the past: Lauren is a privileged college student; Abigail is an old woman with a boatload of regrets, and Mercy is a young victim of the Salem Witch Trials. When Abigail commissions Lauren to transcribe Mercy’s diary, Lauren learns the truth about how we rise to snap judgments about other people and how we allow fear and the crowd to dictate who we will love – and why.

Please give us the first page of the book.

I’ve heard the story countless times, how I grasped the delivering doctor’s scrubs as he guided me into the Durough family universe of opportunity and duty. My father likes to say I came out of my mother’s body insistent on being taken seriously, declaring to the doctor who held my slippery limbs that I was no helpless female unable to forge her way through the world of men. I’ve seen the video.

My father had the camcorder rolling when my mother pushed me into waiting hands. Dad’s aim was discreet, thank goodness, because he’ll sometimes show that video when he tells the story. He’s even downloaded it onto his iPod. I’ve seen my open, squalling mouth, heard my mother’s throaty cries and a nearby nurse’s words: “It’s a girl.”

My infant body is a glistening, angry shade of pink, and I am indeed grappling for the doctor’s clothes as if prepared to wrestle him to the floor. My father loves that.

Whispered conversations over the years — which I wasn’t meant to hear — have suggested my father enjoys retelling this story because he needs to reassure himself it’s not the end of the world that God didn’t bless him with a son. Neither was I supposed to hear that my clutching at the doctor’s clothes could just as easily have been a cry of, “Help! I’m falling!” rather than, “Stand aside! I’ve arrived!”

I’ve long wondered if the whispering people are right. About both.

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

I am on the web at
and at
and I have a character blog for The Shape of Mercy at

Thanks for having me, Lena!

It's my pleasure, Susan.

Readers, if you're not one of the fortunate ones who win a free copy of the ARC, here's a link where you can order the book:

Leave a comment for a chance to win a free ARC. The only notification you'll receive is the winner announcement on this blog. So be sure to check back a week from Saturday to see if you won.

Or sign up for Feedblitz at the top of the sidebar. The posts will be delivered to your Inbox.

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

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Cheryl Wyatt - A SOLDIER'S REUNION - Free book

So happy to welcome you Cheryl back to my blog. What are some of the spiritual themes you like to write about?

Strangely, I never set out to write certain themes but themes always show up. Common themes that have shown up in my books are God's kindness and the power of prayer. God drawing and keeping us. The importance of community that can be found in family and in a healthy church. And keeping Jesus the core of our existence all have a place in my books it seems.

What other books of yours are coming out soon?

A Soldier's Promise and A Soldier's Family are still available online.
Ready-Made Family is still available online and possibly in some stores that keep them longer than a month. It released in April.
A Soldier's Reunion is in stores June 1--now! YEE!
Soldier Daddy releases October, 2009
A Soldier's Devotion releases January 2010
Chance's story (tentatively titled Home Sweet Hero) releases Spring 2010
All from Wings of Refuge Series from Steeple Hill Love Inspired.

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

It's a toss-up between two women. Former first lady Laura Bush. Because she is an avid promoter of books and I love that about her. Especially with regards to children and literacy.

Secondly, I'd love to spend an evening with Sarah Palin because I think she's a modern day Esther. There's just something amazing and wonderful about her.
I agree with you on both of these women. I don't think we've seen just how much God will use each of them in our country's history. How long have you known that you wanted to be novelist?

Decades. Seriously. Since I could hold a crayon.
What can you tell authors who have been receiving only rejections from publishers?
The 1 W and the 4 Ps. Don't give up. Seek God for guidance on what to do and who to target. Sometimes He'll want you to wait/stick it out with one story and sometimes we have to martyr stories & their characters for the future one that will eventually sell. Write as worship and the journey won't seem so hard because you know that not one word is written in vain.

Remember that everything, with the exception of deadlines (LOL!) moves slow in publishing. Be patient and persistant. Pray and persevere. Write as worship. That's the 1 W and the 4 Ps.
Tell us about the featured book?

The opening scene was inspired by a true-life experience of a bridge collapse that occurred shortly after my family's caravan drove across it. We watched news footage of the collapse and realized that our entire family (headed back from an out of state funeral) could have been taken out had we been on the bridge less than one hour later.

Here's the back cover blurb:

Despite a decade apart, this isn't the reunion Mandy Manchester expected! She thought she'd put high school sweetheart Nolan Briggs behind her. Now he's back…and the pararescue jumper literally sweeps her off her feet. He's ready and willing to rekindle what they once shared. Mandy, though, isn't prepared to put her heart at risk. He left her before—she won't trust him again. Can Nolan teach this grounded girl to take a leap of faith?

Please give us the first page of the book.

Here is an excerpt.

Here is an approximate first page:
"Briggs, phone! Chief Petrowski's on the line. Says it's beyond urgent."U.S. Air Force Pararescue Jumper Nolan Briggs rushed past teammates Brock Drake and Vince Reardon, who stopped rigging parachutes and looked up. The airmen grew sniper-still and spotter-alert as did the other PJs in Refuge, Illinois's skydiving Drop Zone facility.
Nolan grabbed the DZ phone from teammate Chance Garrison.
"Briggs speaking."
"Nolan, I'm tasking your team to a major bridge collapse."
Nolan pressed the phone tighter against his ear and processed Petrowski's words wafting across the line. "Major bridge collapse? Where?" Adrenaline pumping, Nolan eyed his teammates.They stood at his words and marched close in listen-mode.
"Reunion Bridge over Refuge River—hold on," Petrowski said.
"Refuge." Nolan hiked his chin to his team while on hold.
The room erupted in activity as airmen grabbed gear.

I'm hooked. How can readers find you on the Internet?

By visiting my Web site and signing up for my newsletter
Or my blog or the author blogs I participate in: or or

I'm also active on Twitter and Facebook and other sites as time allows, such as Shoutlife, MySpace and Edgy Christian Fiction Lovers. Shoot me a friends invite!

Thanks SO much Lena! It is ALWAYS a pleasure spending time with you on your blog. But nothing beats hugs in person!
And we'll get those hugs at the ACFW conference in Denver in September. Thanks for stopping by the blog, Cheryl.
Readers, here's a link where you can order A Soldier's Reunion:
Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. The only notification will be the winners post on this blog. Be sure to check back a week from Saturday to see if you won.
Or sign up for Feedblitz in the sidebar so the announcement will come to your Inbox.
If you're reading this post on Facebook or Amazon, please come to this blog to leave the comment:

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Latayne C. Scott - LATTER-DAY CIPHER - Free Book

When I first heard about this book, I knew I wanted to feature it. Then after reading it, I was sure you'd want to know about this interesting mystery. My review of the book will appear in my June newsletter.

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

In my novel, Latter-day Cipher, I tell the story of a headstrong journalist with no particular religious background who is sent to Utah to cover a rash of mysterious murders in which notes are left beside the victims. These notes are written in the Deseret Alphabet, which is a historical quirk of Mormonism of the 1800s. I of course am a journalist and I have the same “inquiring minds want to know” mindset as Selonnah, the journalist of the novel. However, with other Mormon characters such as Roger and his wife Eliza, I really called upon my memories of being a faithful Mormon and the wrenching difficulty I faced when I left the Mormon Church I loved so much.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

My family and close friends would probably ask what I do that is normal. My son came home from college the first semester and said I’d cut my hair, bought a pickup, and become a Trekkie. (All true.) Let’s see -- I have climbed the guard tower at Guantanamo Bay and looked through binoculars at a Cuban guard. My first visit to the British Museum, I spent two full days only in the Egyptian exhibit. I decorate my house with ethnic jewelry. I once ate as a vegan for almost a year. (I actually like tofu.) I hate shopping. Shall I go on?

When did you first discover that you were a writer?

In the fourth grade, when I made all the words in my spelling list into a story.

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

I read the Treasury of David by Charles Spurgeon and my Bible (often in Greek) every day. But I also love good murder mysteries, Egyptology, poetry, Oliver Sacks, The Great Gatsby, Faulkner, Annie Dillard, Philip Yancey, and books about time travel.

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

My first book, The Mormon Mirage, was first published by Zondervan in 1979, about six years after I left the Mormon Church. Zondervan is re-releasing a greatly expanded version of it in April 2009 that includes my retrospective after all these years out of Mormonism. It tells some of the “hard facts” behind my novel.

Then I wrote 3 Bible study books for Zondervan on the themes of hospitality, stewardship, and 1 Corinthians 13.

Then I wrote three books for Baker: Why We Left Mormonism, Why We Left a Cult, and After Mormonism, What?

Next was Crisis: Crucible of Praise (Zondervan), A Marriage Made in Heaven (Word) and a children’s book, The Dream Quilt (Waterbrook, written under my pen name Celeste Ryan.)

Along the way, 21st Century Christian re-released one of the Bible study books and Howard Publishing re-released Crisis and Covenant Publishing did the marriage book, expanding it with study questions and entitling it Shout of the Bridegroom.

I also wrote The Red Cord of Hope: When History Stopped for One Woman of Faith (about Rahab) for Covenant. I also have as-yet unpublished books about Sarah, the parables of Jesus, poetry devotionals for the Lord’s Supper and of course my dissertation.

Quite a body of work. How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?

I have to be alone for long periods of time, and I have to pray and read my Bible. I am also working on a first-person novel about Priscilla, the author of the book of Hebrews. It is anchoring my mind in a way nothing I’ve ever before written has done.

How do you choose your characters’ names?

That’s one neat thing about being a novelist is that you can use all the cool baby names you always liked but didn’t have enough children to use up. In Cipher, though, many of the characters have names from Mormon history.

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?

No question about it – the fact that, with God’s help and a good husband, we raised two intelligent, funny, spiritual, interesting children to be wonderful adults I love to be around.

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

The very thought terrifies me unless there is an animal that can read.

What is your favorite food?

Dry roasted almonds.

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

Lack of time alone – consecutive blocks of it – will shut me down.

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

Commit your way to the Lord. Make absolutely, unmistakably sure that He has called you to write and publish. Don’t inflict your personality on the world if He doesn’t want you to do that.

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

First of all, it’s a literary suspense novel, which is a relatively slim genre. And, I don’t think anyone who is a former Mormon has ever written a novel that shows with compassion just how difficult it is to give up Mormonism if you love it. My editor called it “the DaVinci Code of Mormonism” because of the cipher notes in it, and he said he love that it gives an insider’s view of a religion most people don’t understand.

How can readers find you on the Internet?

Several places – at and and of course more academic studies at

Thank you for spending this time with us, Latayne. Hope you'll be back soon.

Readers, here's a link where you can order a copy of Latter-Day Cipher:

Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. The only notification of the win will be the winners post on this blog. So be sure to check back on Saturday in two weeks to see if you won.

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

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Memorial Weekend Winners!!!

Sharon54220 is the winner of Enduring Justice by Amy Wallace.

Linda Cacaci is the winner of the Two Writing CDs by Patricia Pacjac Carroll. (If you didn't win, don't forget to contact Patty to get copies of the CDs. They're really affordable.)

Carlene is the winner of Wild Prairie Roses from Lisa Harris. (If you didn't win, you'll get a chance to win a copy from me and one from Laurie Alice Eakes, the other author. Keep watching.)

Karin is the winner of A Flickering Light by Jane Kirkpatrick.

Congratulations to each of you. Now you must send your mailing address to me. You can do that by sending me an email. A link to my email address is in my complete profile. Click on that link in the right hand column. Or you can contact me through my web site:

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Stuart Vaughn Stockton - STARFIRE - Free Book

I have been looking forward to this interview with great anticipation. I've known Stuart for several years and I respect him as a man and as a writer, who worked intelligently toward publication. Welcome, Stuart. Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.

I think I write a bit of myself into my characters. Mostly through the fact that I infuse them with aspects of my own hopes and dreams. No single character will ever be a direct copy of me, but they all contain some portion of my strengths and weaknesses, my virtues and vices.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

At the 2005 American Christian Romance Writers Conference in Denver I wrote down a contest entry in Saurian. Little did I know that this would have me getting up in front of everyone and having to read: Dine lamto loktoe yenku joelodun rekoe dine keenual chae shenyoch glozm nim. (I deserve a free book because I created three words for this.)

When did you first discover that you were a writer?

I think I first really discovered it in high school in my English classes. I’d been doing some fun little cartoons with my dinosaur characters since Jr. High, but it was in high school that I actually started writing stories for them and exploring that side of my creativity.

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

I mainly read fantasy and light science fiction. But I also enjoy any “weird” story or a good spy or action tale. While my reading tastes are fairly narrow I do get quite a bit more eclectic with movies, where I love everything from creature features to whimsical musicals and romantic comedies.

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

I haven’t been sane since I turned thirteen. These days I mostly ignore the fact that everyone else is running and just take things at my own pace…which varies wildly from day to day.

How do you choose your characters’ names?

I usually start with a basic sketch of the character, or the basic idea for who they are and then just start sounding out names in my head that sound like what the culture the character would come from would name a kid. Then when I hit on one I like, that’s what I name the character. It helps that I’m doing all alien cultures. I do try to avoid any totally awkward names that are unpronounceable.

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?

Getting married to my incredible and lovely wife, Tiffany, and becoming the father to our beautiful baby girl.

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

I’ll stick to Earth animals for this question. I would be a noble wolf, not one of those feral wolves that are always harassing travelers at night or stalking girls in little red capes, but the noble creature that roams his territory and cares for the forest, even if that means snacking on a bunny every now and then.

What is your favorite food?

Currently it is fried chicken, white meat please.

Tell us a little about your journey to publication.

It was a little bit like slogging across a desert where there were always clouds on the horizon but never any rain falling. I didn’t really start actively pursuing publishing until 2003 when I attended my first writer’s conference. I received some great feedback on my early start with Starfire at that conference from editors, which gave me the push I needed to finish the novel.

At the time I had bought into what the editors say when they talk about it all being about the story. That the genre didn’t matter if the story was good enough. However, I don’t think any of them really thought about the guy in the audience with a story about alien, computer-using dinosaurs.

One thing I didn’t do was flood the industry with my manuscript. I watched and listened carefully to what houses and agents were looking for science fiction and fantasy and only sent to those people. So I’m not one who has accumulated dozens of rejections (really only about seven or eight), but still I felt like there just wasn’t a place for the story of my heart.

By 2008, I had all but given up on my dream. Thankfully, my beautiful wife, Tiffany, wasn’t ready to let me. She has been a steady support in the year and a half we’ve been married and helped give me the confidence I needed to submit Starfire one last time to Marcher Lord Press. I sent the submission off and then left it in God’s hands. I had decided that if Starfire couldn’t even find a home there, then that particular story couldn’t find a home anywhere.

God blessed me, and Starfire was acquired.

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

Self-discipline. I am incredibly easily distracted and often go for the flashier and more immediate things than the grind of getting what’s in my head to paper. I often have short intense bursts of focus that last just long enough to get me in trouble, and then I’m distracted by the next shiny thing and I’m off in a different direction.

What helped me overcome that with Starfire was some incredible support by other authors in my critique group and in the American Christian Fiction Writers. Plus I had a clear goal and forced myself to make the writing a priority.

I’m working on getting back to that for my next book.

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

Give the results to God. I know that the book is as much a part of you as anything, and the desire to see it in print can burn in your soul like a bonfire, but you have to be able to give even that over to God. It will still hurt, but I think if I had fully done so sooner, my road would have been easier to travel. Starfire may not have been published any quicker, but I wouldn’t have fallen so far into writing depression over the fact.

And don’t limit yourself to just submitting to the big houses. They might not be the right place for your story. The publishing landscape is changing, and smaller houses and POD publishers aren’t the stigmas they once were. Just make sure you pray about any decision and go in with eyes and heart open.

Tell us about the featured book.

Starfire is a fun, action-packed science fiction novel set on the alien planet of Sauria. The story revolves around Rathe, a young warrior who is just starting his first tour of duty in the Karn Imperial Army and will soon be caught up in events that will force him to decide the fate of his empire and his world.

One of my favorite aspects of the book is the relationship that developed between Rathe and an engineer named Selae. Selae is only two feet tall, compared to Rathe’s eleven-foot height, and due to some unforeseen problems during an escort mission she ends up riding on Rathe’s head for the majority of the story. And she’s got quite a sharp tongue and isn’t afraid to speak her mind. She really added a nice element of humor to the story.

Please give us the first page of the book.

Rough stone tore Rathe’s palms as he stumbled through the gaping maw of the cave. He tore away the makeshift leaf filter covering his mouth and sucked in the cool underground air, soothing his burning lungs. Pain lanced through his side as each breath tortured cracked ribs.
He turned to the entrance and gazed into the ash-clogged air outside. Grey blanketed the world like a shroud, quickly swallowing his large three-toed tracks, and obliterating any scent that would lead the trackers to him. Satisfied that he would be safe for the duration of the ash fall, Rathe staggered farther into the cave. His claws echoed hollowly on the stone floor, their quiet clack, clack, clack bouncing into the darkness.

The musical trickle of water sounded nearby, and Rathe angled toward it. Sudden wetness at his feet alerted him to the presence of a shallow pool. He lowered gingerly to the ground and stuck his snout into the chill liquid. The bitter taste of ash flowed over his tongue, but sweet relief filled his parched throat. Yet each swallow intensified the pain in his ribs.

The cool, moist rock felt good against his hot skin. He rolled onto his left side, away from the fire in his battered ribs, and stretched out to his full twelve-foot length. His tail-tip lazily slapped against the ground as drowsiness flowed over him. The water’s flow sung him to sleep.

A shrill cry jolted Rathe from soothing darkness. Pain seared through his right side and down his tail. Through the agony, the fading echo of the cry played at the edges of his mind. He groaned as he rolled onto his belly and forced down a few more swallows of water.

He pushed to his feet, swaying slightly as his stiff muscles adjusted to his weight. He cocked his head and listened.

Whatever had made the sound had gone silent. Or the cry had been only the vestige of a nightmare.

I love it. I can hardly wait until my book comes. Now, Stuart, how can the readers find you on the Internet?

They can visit my website at

Starfire is available from or and

Stuart, thank you for allowing me to be part of the release of your first book. I hope you'll come back with the second, and third, and all the rest.

Readers, leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of Starfire. Remember, the only notification you'll receive will be the Winners announcement post on this blog. Be sure to check back a week from Saturday to see if you won.

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

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Ramona Richards - THE TAKING OF CARLY BRADFORD - Free Book

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

I crave a good seat-of-the-pants adventure, and I want to keep the story moving while the hero and heroine come together, which is why I write romantic suspense. I’m basically a sappy romantic at heart, no matter how “intellectual” I like to pretend to be sometimes. And I write inspirationals because I quickly discovered it was easier to write from my own Christian worldview than take it out. It’s just who I am.

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

I’ve been blessed with a lot of happy days. God has been awesome in my life. No one day stands out over the others.

How has being published changed your life?

Networking! Being published is a great high, but it has put me in touch with so many amazing readers and writers.

What are you reading right now?

I read a lot of books. Anything Brandilyn Collins writes. Dark Pursuit made the hair stand up on my neck. I’ve also been working my way through Alexander McCall Smith’s series about the “No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency.” And I always pick up the latest Love Inspired Suspense books.
What is your current work in progress?

I have two in the works, both about cold case detectives. One, Reclaiming Daisy Doe, is about a private detective who specializes in small town cases, starting with the murder of her own grandmother and father. The other, The Bones of Gregory Miller, centers on a police detective investigating the discovery of a child’s skeleton in the basement of a hotel.

What would be your dream vacation?

I LOVE to scuba dive, but I haven’t been able to go in several years. My dream vacation would be about a month in Dominica: diving, hiking, and stretching out on the beach with my AlphaSmart and a few good books.

How do you choose your settings for each book?

I usually chose settings that intrigue me, that I’m familiar with, or that fit the story. In the three “Jackson’s Retreat” books, including The Taking of Carly Bradford, I set them in New Hampshire because I love the state and they seemed to “fit” there. I have some great friends in NH, and I spent a lot of time with them, exploring NH small towns, including the one they live in. They own a café in Portsmouth, and I used the café in The Taking of Carly Bradford. I’ll also be running a contest on my site, featuring the café.

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

That’s tough. I guess my dearest wish would be able to talk to my daughter for an evening. Rachel is severely disabled. She’s a happy kid most of the time, but she can’t speak or do anything for herself, and I’d love to be able to know what she’s thinking, what she really feels about life. After that, speaking with most normal folks kinda pales….although I wouldn’t exactly turn down an invitation from Keanu Reeves or Trevor Eve. (I do have my more shallow side….)

What are your hobbies, besides writing and reading?

Scuba diving! I also cross-stitch (although I don’t get to do it enough) and I love to hike and explore the wilderness.

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

I often fight episodes of depression, which crunch my creativity. I overcome it by taking the conquering steps I’ve learned over the past 50 years, including making changes in my life, spending time with friends and God, staying in the sun (light therapy), and occasionally seeking out counseling.

What advice would you give to a beginning author?

Don’t write about what you know. Write about what you love – or want to love. Knowledge is easy to come by these days – whereas it’ll take passion to get you past the rough times, either with your writing life or with rejections. Listen to your heart and to God.

Tell us about the featured book.

Three years ago, Dee Kelley lost her family. Three months ago, eight-year-old Carly Bradford disappeared. When Dee finds crucial evidence in a case rapidly growing cold, she becomes determined not to let another mother suffer the way she did. She will help police chief Tyler Madison find Carly, whether he wants her assistance or not. But Tyler isn’t the only one determined to keep Dee off the case. And evidence isn’t all that she’ll find waiting for her in the woods.

I'm hooked. How can readers find you on the Internet?

My website and blog. I LOVE visitors. I also have Facebook and MySpace pages.

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

Readers, here's a link where you can order The Taking of Carly Bradford:

Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. The only notification will be the Winners announcement on this blog. Be sure to check back a week from Saturday to see if you won.

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

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Deborah Raney - YESTERDAY'S EMBERS - Free Book

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

I’ve always said I hoped to be writing till the day I die, but as I close in on my twentieth book—and my second grandbaby—I can understand more how a writer might retire…or at least slow down a bit. Right now I love what I do, and the empty nest is at hand, which will allow me more time to devote to my writing. The Lord has blessed me with contracts for four more books, so I’ll continue to write as long as He makes that possible. But I also want to always have ears to hear should He guide me in a different direction.

Tell us a little about your family.

I’m not a bit biased: I have the most wonderful family in the entire world. My husband Ken and I have been married for over 34 years and despite the fact that doctors told me I may never be able to become pregnant, God blessed us with FOUR children! Two boys and two girls, ranging in age from 32 to 18 now. And we have a beautiful new daughter-in-law, and a great son-in-law who’s the father of our two little grandsons (who live much too far away). Family is truly the greatest treasure God has ever given me and I feel blessed beyond words.

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

Sadly, becoming a writer almost ruins one for reading. If I’m reading something that’s not well-written, I can’t help but edit it in my head as I go; if I’m reading something that’s excellent, I find myself studying as I go to see how the author accomplished what they did. Seems I rarely get to just read for the sheer enjoyment of it! It’s enough to make you want to pull your hair out. In addition, so much of the reading I do is for research. Not that I don’t enjoy that type of reading, but it does cut back on my favorite type of reading: novels for the pure joy of story.

What are you working on right now?

I’m working on a new series for Howard set around the lives of the survivors of six firefighters who died in a tragic blaze in a homeless shelter in (fictional) Hanover Falls, Missouri. The Hanover Falls Novels will explore how tragedy brings people together around a shared grief. My research for this book has taken me out of my comfort zone a bit. I trained as a volunteer at our local homeless shelter and have been taking shifts there whenever our church is scheduled to man the shelter. This new series will have a mild element of suspense to it—though as president of the Big Honkin’ Chicken Club, you won’t find me writing anything too scary! ; )

That's something to celebrate. Deb Raney writing suspense. What outside interests do you have?

I enjoy decorating our home, finding treasures in antique stores and flea markets, and traveling to visit our four kids who all live out of state. An outside interest that is literally “outside” is the prairie garden my husband and I tend in our backyard. Ken dreamed of having our backyard look like the native Kansas prairie, and he’s worked for three years planting bluestem and switch grasses, native wildflowers, and wild roses. It really is beautiful and we enjoy the time we spend outside together. I created a blog for Ken for Father’s Day a couple of years ago if you’d like to take a peek at our garden: I also have a blog of novelists’ gardens that I find fascinating:

What fun! How do you choose your settings for each book?
Most of my books are set in the Midwest because I adhere to the write-what-you-know maxim. That’s because research is my least favorite part of writing. When choosing foreign or far-away settings for certain scenes, I choose them based on who I know that can help me with the details. It’s so important to write true to the setting.

I feel the same way. I do a lot or research on a setting where I haven't been. A friend of mine recently went to Golden, New Mexico, which is now a ghost town, but I'm using it for the setting of a historical I'm writing. She took pictures and even brought me back a rock from Golden. If you could spend an evening with one historical person, who would it be and why?

That’s a tough question…there are so many. I would probably choose Laura Ingalls Wilder, just for a chance to let her know how much she inspired me!

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

I wish I’d known what a wealth of books on the craft of writing were available. I didn’t even know there was such a thing when I first began writing. I learned SO much once I discovered these fantastic tools of the writer’s trade.

What new lessons is the Lord teaching you right now?

He’s teaching me to step outside of my comfort zone and not be afraid to try new things. If I’m going to continue writing, I need to be always learning, always exploring new places and new ideas. I’m also learning that God has a way of making research into ministry. It’s kind of neat that He sometimes allows us to “kill two birds with one stone” that way.

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

Read, read, read. Don’t ever stop studying and learning.
Keep your seat in the seat. Once you know how to write, the hard part is just doing it!
Always pray for things to happen in God’s timing. As much as you might want to speed things along, in the long run, it’s always better to wait upon the Lord.

All so true. Tell us about the featured book.

Yesterday’s Embers is the third and final book in the Clayburn novels series, and tells the stories of Doug DeVore and Mickey Valdez, whom readers met briefly in the first Clayburn novels. It’s a story about marrying for all the wrong reasons, and finding hope even in the midst of desperation. I think it’s my favorite of the three Clayburn novels!

How can readers find you on the Internet?
My website is at and there’s a link to email me on the home page. I’ve also recently become part of the shoutlife community and I’d love to make friends with readers there:
Thank you, Deb, for spending this time with us.
Readers, here's a link where you can order Yesterday's Embers:
Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. The only notification will be in the winner announcement post on this blog. Be sure to check back a week from Saturday to see if you won.
If you're reading this on Facebook or Amazon, come to this blog to leave your comment:

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Patti Lacy - WHAT THE BAYOU SAW - Free Book

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

Lena, I’m passionate about sharing the secrets women keep and why they keep them. And ever since I read People and Places, a primer my great aunt used when she taught teach third grade, I’ve dreamed of sailing away to exotic countries. Now you see why the tagline “Spanning Seas and Secrets” fits me like a girdle!
Besides when you came to know the Lord, what is the happiest day in your life?
When I gave birth to each of my children. My daughter, born December 22, was an early Christmas present, and also an early bird. I held the delicate little doll so close and sang her my favorite carols. Songs about the Holy Infant pierced my soul, and I saw Him in a wonderfully different way! My precious son was born March 13 and was an early birthday present. Because of his blue eyes, I sang “Baby Blue” to him. Even though he was a newborn, his gaze fixed on me, and I fell in love…forever.

How has being published changed your life?
Because of book signings, library appearances, and guest speaking, I have opportunities to share “all my broken pieces” with more people. In each book I write, I try to show, kaleidoscope-style, how God can make a lovely, unique piece of art with shards of glass and bits of metal. He can do the same with us if we give all those pieces to Him.

That is so true. What are you reading right now?
Jill Eileen Smith’s Michal. I just finished The Shape of Mercy by Susan Meissner and End of the Season by Linore Rose Burkard. Also Daisy Chain by Mary DeMuth. Another great book for the summer will be Love Finds You in Liberty, Indiana, by Melanie Dobson (I got a sneak peak at this one!) As you can see, I’m an avid reader and truly believe that every good book I read teaches me something about the writing craft. Books have been my friends since I was five, and oh, I have so many friends now! They’ve taken me around the world, gotten me in awful fixes and into some lovely times. Oops! Back to the question. Shape of Mercy helped with dialogue and tightening a framed story. Linore had great flow and control. Mary got me into the heart of a young teenaged boy (not easy!) Melanie has captured the fear of oppressed people. Great job, writers!

What is your current work in progress?
My Name is Sheba. Here’s the tag line: Preacher’s wife Sheila Alexander loves a husband who doesn’t know her and a son she never knew. Then the past comes knocking, in the form of a young soldier and a prostitute, and threatens to expose her deceptive ways. I’ve been to New Orleans and St. Paul and Thailand with this book, the latter two, only in my imagination and through those best friends, books! Thank you, Sandy Sperrazza, for your willingness to share this story. I’m actually going through a second edit to add “visceral reactions” and “tighten the POV.” Those are my “areas of learning” right now!

What would be your dream vacation?
Right now, China, scene of my next work in progress. My husband and I also yearn to plod the cobblestones of Italy and be steered along the waters of the grand canals in Venice before they sink in the ocean. I’ve also heard of a place, Cinque Terre, where five villages nestle in green rolling hills, all in view of an azure sea. Sigh…maybe one day…

How do you choose your settings for each book?
Setting becomes a character in my book and pulses in the lifeblood of the other characters. In My Name is Sheba, my bold little twelve-year-old skips through the noisy farmers markets, ducks into the seedy alleys, and stands behind the artists at their easels in 1940s New Orleans. I usually hear a story that inspires me, like Sandy Sperrazza and her time in a Home for Unwed Mothers in St. Paul, Minnesota, then research that area through either visits, books, or lots of interviews with the inspirer.

If you could spend an evening with one person who is currently alive, who would it be and why?
Besides family and friends, I’d say Billy Graham, who has led so many to the Lord through the Holy Spirit’s work. In My Name is Sheba, I seize upon a historical appearance Graham made in Chicago to include him in my main character’s conversion. If things really went well, his daughter, Anne Graham Lotz, one of my favorite writers, might be seated across the table!

What are your hobbies, besides writing and reading?
Since an old boyfriend introduced me to jogging in college, I’ve loved to clear my mind and move my stiff limbs by running. It’s a cheap—and easy—way to exercise my dog, Laura, who is used to sitting for hours while I pound away at the keyboard. My family also looks forward to vacation times, when we can hike the national parks. Sarah, my daughter, just returned from her second mission trip to Costa Rica, and she wants to gather us up and take us there soon. We all have been bitten by the travel bug!

I love to travel, too. What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?
Adding emotion and visceral feeling to my work! Also, unlike many of my ACFW friends, I tend to write slowly, so my day starts at five a.m. to get my set number of daily pages behind me.

What advice would you give to a beginning author?
Read, read, read, and write for the Audience of One.

Tell us about the featured book.
Since leaving Louisiana, Sally Stevens (of An Irishwoman’s Tale) has held her childhood secrets at bay, smothering them in a sunny disposition and sugar-coated lies. No one, not even her husband Sam, has heard the truth about what happened to her when she was twelve years old.
Now a teacher in Illinois, Sally has nearly forgotten the past herself. But when one of her students is violently attacked, Sally’s memories of segregation, a chain link fence, and a blood oath bubble to the surface like a dead body in a bayou. As Sally’s story comes to light, the lies she’s told begin to catch up with her. And as her web of deceit unravels, she resolves to face the truth at last—whatever the consequences.
I'm hooked. How can readers find you on the Internet?
Oh, I’d love to have you visit! I host monthly contests for a $15 Barnes & Noble card and post book reviews of some of ACFW’s latest good reads.
Thanks, Lena, for hosting me today! Happy writing—and reading!
And thank you, Patti, for spending this enjoyable time with us.
Readers, here's a link where you can order What the Bayou Saw:
Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. The winner announcement post on this blog will be the only notification you'll receive. So be sure to check back a in two weeks to see if you won. Or you can sign up for Feedblitz at the top of the other column, and all the posts will come into your Inbox.
If you're reading this on Facebook or Amazon, please come to the blog to leave a comment:

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Winners!!! Are You One of Them?

Sorry to be a little late posting. This is the first weekend in a while that I haven't had to get up early to give my husband an IV antibiotic, so I slept longer.

Rachel Rossano is the winner of Always Watching by Amberly & Brandilin Collins.

Helga Marie is the winner of Enduring Love by Bonnie Leon.

~ley is the winner of Deadly Competition by Roxanne Rustand.

Deborah is the winner of Coming Attrations by Robin Jones Gunn.

Congratulations! Now to complete the process, you must email me your snail mail address. Click on the View Complete Profile in my profile. You'll find a link to my email.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Jane Kirkpatrick - A FLICKERING LIGHT - Free Book

I'm happy to welcome Jane back to the blog. Jane, why do you write the kind of books you do?

A few years ago I took some time and worked out my philosophy of writing and it goes something like this. I want to be able to “Inspire and promote, through speaking and writing, the power of story to Divinely heal and transform.” I believe sincerely that God speaks to us through stories. Aside from that, the stories come to me and I try to listen to them. I write historical novels in part because I think much of women’s history is lost, and I think there is spiritual value in exploring ordinary lives and being informed about the way that faith was expressed in ordinary days. I’ve written non-fiction books as well, in part because of my mental health background and a wish to offer healing words inspired by God’s grace whether a memoir, a book for grief, or a book of history and legacy. But overall, I believe that story is a powerful influence in our lives: stories we tell ourselves affect us and our lives are the stories other people read first.

Besides when you came to know the Lord, what is the happiest day in your life?
I really had to think about this one! There’ve been many. But I have to say the day I got to help deliver a baby. I was the birthing coach for a woman I worked with on an Indian reservation. I’d had the courage to ask her if I could be her coach when I overheard her tell the nurse that she didn’t have a partner she could count on; so I was it! And the day the baby came was truly one of the happiest in my life. I got to cut the cord, a privilege usually reserved for the father in Indian country. She’s going to be thirteen this year! A teenager! I felt so fortunate. I have no children of my own though I’m blessed with step-children so being a part of this moment of life was truly an amazing experience.

How has being published changed your life?
Big time, though for 17 years I continued to work in my day job first as a mental health director of a clinic and then as a consultant to people on an Indian reservation. So I commuted a little over two hours to work but I stayed on the reservation two nights a week. Those nights I got up really early 4:00 AM and wrote before going to work. It energized me for my social work day. Seven years ago I was able to quit my job there and write full time. I teach classes, lead women’s retreats and am often asked to be an inspirational speaker for businesses, at universities, charitable groups; and I continue to write. We also have a ranch so we have to work travel around seasons sometimes. I’ve met tons more people than I ever did before I published! And I’ve been privileged to receive some of the most amazing letters from people saying how much the words have helped them in their lives. My spiritual life has also grown as a writer though that began before I was actually published. Writing is a leap of faith, every time we sit down to do it!

What are you reading right now?
A bunch of things. With my husband morning and evening, I’m reading Ann Spangler’s book The Tender Words of God. I also read a piece from Frederick Buechner’s Listening to My Life each day. A Perfect Red a book about dyes and the history of the world’s desire to find the perfect red. The Song Weaver by B.J. Hoff…I’m way behind in her books, I know! The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama because I think there’s value in knowing how our President sees the world. I just finished reading Loving Frank (about Frank Lloyd Wright because the period is the same as my current novel) and The Geography of Love by Glenda Burgess because I love reading memoir. I’ll read a few pages at night before zoning out so it takes me awhile to finish a book.

What is your current work in progress?
The working title is An Absence So Great. It’s the second book in my Portrait of a Heart series based on my grandmother who was a photographer at the turn of the century in Minnesota. She made some poor choices in the first book, and she’s moved to Milwaukee to help a widow run her photographic studio. Photographers at that time often became ill from mercury poisonings from the developing chemicals and she was trained not only to do the photographic work but to run studios while the owner recovered from his illness. She did that in several cities over her lifetime until she married.

What would be your dream vacation?
I get one every now and then: It’s being on a houseboat moored to one spot with tons of books to read, a little music now and then, good food, and my husband and friends. A second would be to travel to places I’ve never been but again with people I enjoy spending time with and being able to be casual and bring the dog along. He’s a wire-haired pointing griffon.

How do you choose your settings for each book?
My stories tend to be character driven and most are based on the lives of real people. Marie Dorion, an Iowa Indian woman who traveled with 60 men, her husband, and two little boys with the Astor Expedition in 1811, began her life in the Wisconsin area. A Name of Her Own, the first in the series about her, I began in St. Louis as that’s where the expedition gathered to leave. I knew that Sacagawea was in St. Louis at that time and there was evidence the women knew each other, a fact that worked into the story later. I started A Clearing in the Wild in Bethel, Missouri, as that’s where Emma Giesy was living at the time. The second book begins in Western Washington and the third in Oregon. It’s nice when the setting is the west because I like to go to the places more than once while I’m writing.
Basically, the settings grow from the characters. I’m also interested in how the landscape affected the characters. I see my writing weaving threads of landscape, relationship, faith, and work around the spine of character and history. My newly released novel A Flickering Light, is about my grandmother, an early photographer in Minnesota in 1907.

If you could spend an evening with one person who is currently alive, who would it be and why?
Frederick Buechner. Because he’s a fine writer of both fiction and nonfiction, he’s a brilliant scholar and theologian who continues to explore his faith, continues to find new things within scripture and can convey those insights in ways that touch people deeply. I can’t read his Listening to my Life without being overcome with emotion because he has such a way of tearing away the fabric of façade and cutting to one’s heart.

What are your hobbies, besides writing and reading?
The other day someone asked me that and I have to say I was really stumped because reading is my number one hobby. I used to do needlework, embroidery, but don’t much now. I guess I’d say walking with my dog, working with him so he won’t be “ruined” as the dog training people say. I have my pilot’s license but since we don’t have a plane anymore I haven’t flown much but I used to enjoy learning how!

What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?
Silencing the voices sitting behind me saying that what I’ve written or am writing is drivel, is worthless, won’t matter to anyone, isn’t faithful, doesn’t ring true, you name it. I have a whole list of harpy comments as I call them. I actually developed a workshop about the seven stories that hold us hostage and how we can transform them. Most of my internal comments fall into seven categories and I have phrases I’ve developed for each one, to change the story.
My biggest harpy buster is a little note I have at the top of my computer that I can read when I feel scared, unworthy, guilty, angry, anxious, perfectionistic, or have hurt feelings. It reads: “You don’t have time for that.” That helps me remind myself that it isn’t my job to write the great American novel or to get Oprah to know my name. It’s my job to show up, to assume the position of a writer and to tell the stories I’ve been given the best way I know how and to trust that I’m not alone in the telling.

Excellent advice. What advice would you give to a beginning author?
To listen to their heart. To set aside time every day or a particular schedule, each weekend for four hours, or whatever fits into their lives, and to not wait for inspiration. I’d encourage them to make a commitment, to set a goal. As the lyric poet Goethe noted that what people don’t realize is “once you make a commitment to something, then Providence moves.”

Tell us about the featured book.
A Flickering Light is about my grandmother who was a photographer in Winona, MN at the turn of the century. At fifteen she began being trained by her mentor, a man 26 years her senior. She was a natural from what I could learn; but she also made some unwise decisions as she began to fall in love with this very married man.
In part it’s an exploration of temptation but also a tendency I’ve seen in very capable and competent people at times, that they do things to sabotage their gifts. It’s caused me to do some real thinking about my own mistakes, even the actions I take in my writing that might very well be shooting myself in my foot and asking myself why I do that and how far that takes me from my relationship with God. It’s a more emotional story than what I’ve written before, or maybe it’s because it is my own grandmother, but I’ve really been thinking of her a great deal and wish she was alive to ask her questions. I’m having to speculate about the answers but that’s what fiction is all about, right?
There’s a video trailer promoting it on Godtube, Shoutlife, Amazon, and my website and some other sites as well.
My web address if
My blog is It’s called The Harvest of Starvation Lane. I’m on Facebook and shoutlife as well. For those interested, I write Words of Encouragement each month on my website that are essays about writing and life. I’d love to hear from any of your readers.
Thanks so much for letting me share my thoughts! Happy writing! Jane
Thank you, Jane, for spending this time with us.
Readers, here's a link where you can order A Flickering Light.
Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. The only notification you'll receive is the winner announcement post on this blog. Be sure to check back a week from Saturday to see if you won.
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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Lisa Harris - WILD PRAIRIE ROSES - Free Book

This is the first of three interviews we'll be running for Wild Prairie Roses this month. So you will have three chances to win a copy, and you'll get to know each of the authors. I'm one of the authors. We're really proud of this collection. I was at Walmart yesterday, and it was on the top shelf of the Inspirational fiction section.

Welcome, Lisa. What contribution did your story make to the collection?
Tara’s Gold is the second book in the Wild Prairie Roses collection. It continues the overall story of three women’s quest for gold and personal fulfillment. Living up to the reputations of her aunt Rachel, who worked as a spy in the War Between the States, and parents who were instrumental in Boston's Underground Railroad is a difficult task for Tara Young. So when she finds mention of an unsolved gold heist in her aunt's journal, Tara decides her claim to fame will be finding the missing gold. Aaron Jefferson is a government agent seeking the same illusive goals-the cache of gold, but more importantly, a place of worth in his own illustrious family. When Tara and Aaron find their paths converging, however, each is determined to find the gold on their own. But their Heavenly Father has another plan. Will they ever learn that God Himself is to be desired more than fame or fine gold?
Did you enjoy working with the other authors in the collection?
It’s always a blessing to work with other authors and develop those friendships. I consider it both an honor and a privilege to work with both Lena and Laurie Alice.

Did it take a lot of interaction?
In the beginning it was necessary for the three of us to work together closely as we developed the overall theme and mystery for the collection. After that, we were able to write the stories pretty independently, in keeping with the theme and setting we’d chosen.

Have you ever been to Iowa?
I’ve never had the chance to visit Iowa, but it’s given me the desire to see more of our beautiful country.

How was the setting chosen?
To be honest, I don’t remember exactly. :-) We wanted a place that would work for our idea of the lost gold from the Civil War, and one that was still available in the Romancing America series.
What do you like most about this collection?
I love the overall thought that we all are searching for things as individuals, but the one thing that will bring us true joy is our relationship with our Heavenly Father. Jesus said, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find.” (Matthew 7:7)

What book are you currently writing?
I’m currently working on book two in my International suspense series for Zondervan. Book one, Blood Ransom, will be released in March of 2010.

And I'm very excited about that series, too, Lisa. I can hardly wait. Tell us a little about your family.
My husband and I live in Mozambique with our three children where we are involved in a church planting movement with African Outreach Ministries. The past few years have been an adventure, to say the least, but we know without a doubt that God has us exactly where He wants us to be. We love to travel as a family and one of our favorite things to do is go on safaris through southern Africa. We’re into our second year of homeschooling, which has been a fun challenge, and one of the most rewarding things has been learning Portuguese as a family.

Please give us the first page of your story.

Chapter 1
July 1870

Tara Young stuck her hand into the satin lining of her fringed jacket. The thin paper crinkled between her fingers, assuring her of its presence. All she had to do was carry the message into the mercantile and pass it to the young clerk who worked there. A simple task considering her last assignment. Stopping in front of the sheriff’s office, Tara measured the distance between her and the front door of the store. Ten steps, maybe eleven. A quick look down the boardwalk, which ran parallel to the town’s whitewashed storefronts, confirmed her assessment that no one was paying attention to her.
And why should they? There was no reason for anyone to sense anything out of the ordinary with her presence in the busy passageway. She looked like any other fashionable young woman out for a day of shopping for ribbons or perhaps a peek at the latest dress fabric that had just arrived from the East. There was no cause to suspect her of carrying confidential information on the war. No grounds for anyone to guess she was a spy for her country. A man stepped in front of her, his boots clanking on the wooden flooring. The afternoon sun caught the shiny ivory handle of a gun beneath his black overcoat. Tara swallowed hard. The moment of truth had arrived. And this time, she was ready.

Tara’s head smacked against the back wall of the stagecoach, jarring her from her slumber. She sucked in a deep breath of air and held herself upright, hoping the other five occupants of the horse-drawn vehicle hadn’t caught her snoring. Two trains, and now a stagecoach that had seen better days, had been enough to prove to her the inconveniences of traveling. How was a lady supposed to endure mile after mile of wheels jarring at every rut and fellow passengers snoring like an off-key church choir?

Sighing, she glanced down at the fawn colored material of her traveling suit and winced at the condition of the garment. When she’d purchased it two weeks ago, it had been one of the most stunning ensembles in the store, guaranteed by the saleswoman to travel with ease. Now the folds of fabric were wrinkled, covered with a layer of dust, and stained with coffee. Any positive
first impressions she’d hoped to leave with her new employers were bound to be sadly lacking.
Where can the readers find you on the Internet?
I love to hear from my readers. You can visit my website at or my blog for a taste of Africa at

Thanks for letting me stop by and chat with you Lena!
And thank you, Lisa. We enjoyed visiting with you.
Readers, here's a link where you can order Wild Prairie Roses:
Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy. Your only notification will be the winner announcement post on this blog. Be sure to check back a week from Saturday to see if you won. If you're afraid you'll miss it, sign up for FeedBlitz in the right hand column. Then every post will come into your Inbox.
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