Saturday, July 31, 2010

Last July Winners!!!!

Pam Kellogg is the winner of Her Abundant Joy by Lyn Cote.

Dixiedelight is the winner of Battlefields & Blessings by Jocelyn Green.

Misskallie2000 is the winner of Beyond Summer by Lisa Wingate.

AnnetteW is the winner of The Crimson Cipher by Susan Page Davis.
Congratulations, everyone. Send me your mailing address:
Click the Contact Me link at the top of the blog, and send me an Email.
You have 6 weeks to claim your book.
If you didn't win and you plan to order the book, please use the link provided on the individual interview. By using that link when you order, you will help support this blog.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

DOCTOR IN PETTICOATS - Mary Connealy - Free Book

Welcome back, Mary. Since you’re being published regularly, what new avenues will your future books take?

If you mean, do I intend to write something different than romantic comedy with cowboys, for now, no. I'm contracted to write them through about 2013. Nine more of them already in the works. I'm writing one now that comes out next July and having more fun than a human being should be allowed to have. I can keep doing this for a long, long time.

And all of your faithful readers are glad, myself included. What conferences will you be attending this year? Will you be a speaker at any of them?

I'm going to the ACFW Conference in September. No, I won't be a speaker. Lena, what are you thinking to suggest such a thing? It's been clearly documented and recorded that people actually get stupider when they listen to me. I'm going to do the world a favor and keep all my advice to myself.

You can't fool me, Mary. Remember how long I've known you. I know how smart you are. If you were in charge of planning the panel discussion at a writing conference, what topic would the panel cover, and who would you ask to be on the panel, and why?

I want to interject here that this isn't my job, Lena darlin'. I'm not supposed to pick topics. The people who do it are hard, hard workers. Me, I pretty much just sit around and make stuff up on my computer all day everyday. It's a system that is going well for me. Topics, hmmmmm…. Well, I've sworn off marketing classes. I swear my head almost exploded during one last year. I just can't HANDLE the marketing classes. (pretend Jack Nicholson from A Few Good Men said that.)

Brainstorming sessions maybe? I have an agent and editor. Honestly, these days, I go to conferences to meet with my agent, my editor, and friends. I think maybe that makes me a brat. I'm sorry.

I go for some of the same reasons. How important is it to you to be active in writing organizations?

I give ACFW credit for the fact that I'm published today. The critique group I joined, the contest I won, the conferences I've attended, and the connections I've made, and the editors and agents I've met.

I call it the four C's of writing. It's actually the Four C's, One A and One E, but that just doesn't roll off the tongue, now does it???? And I found ACFW through RWA, Romance Writers of America, so that's key, too.

Where in the community or your church do you volunteer?

I think this might be a trick question, Lena. No, I'm not running for an office in ACFW, stop nagging me!!!!

I have vastly scaled back my volunteer activities. I'm feeling pretty ashamed to admit that here. Guilty. Lazy. Sinner!!!!!

I can't thank you enough for bringing it up, girlfriend.

I ran my church's Sunday School for years. And taught for years, too. I've served on my church board. I was on the board of our school for about 20 years when my children were growing up. I coached softball (we lost a LOT of games). I helped lead a 4-H group…that's where I made the shocking discovery that people got stupider when I tried to teach them something. You should see my girls sew a crooked seam. Dreadful. More guilt.

I taught four teenage girls to drive. I consider that a huge community service.

If any of yours drove like my youngest daughter, then you're right. Who are the five people who have made the most impact on your life, and how?

Okay, I'm going to not include Jesus, because that's just so obvious. But if you WANT me to include Jesus, then Jesus. There. Number one.

Now on to other's hmmmm my mom and dad. My husband. My four daughters. That's seven. Eight if you count Jesus. Okay two of my four daughters, or one, depending on how you're keeping score at home. But I'm not saying which ones. That'd be rude. As for how? By being in my face for fifty years??? (And yes, I think I count Jesus in that-In a good way though) How could they not have an impact? Huh?

If you could write the inscription on your tombstone, what would it be?

These questions, Lena. HOW DO YOU SLEEP AT NIGHT???????

How about: God has picked me up on wings like eagles

Sounds good to me. Tell us about the featured book.

A burned out doctor is called in because he's a man, while the town's lady doctor does all the work and keeps the doctor from cracking up.

In the wake of a stagecoach accident, doctor Alex Buchanan and Beth McClellan—who no one will allow to be a doctor even though she'd trained, discover that they're both skilled healers who work well together. Other than that, they have nothing in common! She's an idealist and he's a jaded army deserter fleeing a bounty hunter. Surely their alliance ends here . . . or does it?

Intriguing. Please share the first page with us.

Beth McClellen would die before she missed Mandy’s wedding.

That wasn’t some cute expression. It was a plain, bald fact.

She would probably be pounded to death any minute now.

The stagecoach, in its four-day-long quest to hit every bump and rock in northwest Texas, lurched into the air then slammed back onto its wheels. She’d planned to take the train all the way to Mosqueros, but a cyclone had ripped out a bridge somewhere and the trains weren’t running. So Beth had no choice but to take the much slower stagecoach.

She’d still hoped to make the wedding. But it was cutting things really close. Even with the irritating delay, the stage had appealed to her. Horses, fresh air, Texas scenery—after four years in the teeming city of Boston, she thought the stage was brilliant.

She was an idiot.

The coach tilted up sharply as the trail rose. Beth fell against the seat back. “How can this thing stay in one piece?”

She didn’t expect an answer from the drunk across from her and she didn’t get one.

He did slide farther down on the seat, slumping sideways, growling in his—well, Beth wasn’t about to call it sleep. Stupor was more like it. She braced herself to shove him to the floor if he fell forward onto her. She’d use him as a footrest, and for the first time in days the man would serve some use on this earth.

Give me strength to keep from knocking him to the floor on purpose, Lord.

They reached the hilltop and the ascent switched to descent. The stage picked up speed and the hooves of the horses rose from plodding walks to fast clips.

Beth knew it by sound and feel, not sight. She’d closed the curtains to block out the sun, hoping to also block some of the billowing dust that seeped through the windows. And if it lessened the stifling heat of an August Texas a few degrees, it might also lessen the stench of her fellow rider.

Dark might keep him asleep, too. She could only pray to the good Lord it would. The few times he’d been semi-lucid, he tended to break into rants about the dreadful state of the world. He’d start with generalities then launch into particulars, muttering to himself as if she wasn’t there and he was a lunatic.

Well, if he thought he was alone, then he was wrong, wrong, wrong. But he was right on one count—he was definitely a lunatic.

More than once in the last four days, she’d been tempted to shut him up with the butt end of the pistol she had strapped to her ankle.

The driver shouted over the thundering hooves of his four horses. He’d been shouting at the poor horses for days.

Beth was tempted to swing out the door, clamber onto the top of the stage, and beat the man to within an inch of his life for the way he pushed his horses. And it didn’t pass unnoticed that Beth was contemplating violence against every man within her reach.

It had been a long trip home.

The driver wasn’t completely heartless. They’d stopped several times and gotten a new team, but the relentless pace, the shouting of the driver—they wore the poor horses down long before they finished their run.

Another shout had Beth sitting straighter. It was a new shout, laced with fear—nothing she’d heard from the driver before. She pushed aside the curtain on the window and saw the same desolate, broken range she’d been seeing all day. West Texas, a brutal, barren place.

Her family had found a fertile valley in this desolation, but almost the only one. A rugged, man-eating, soul-crushing country that either hardened people into gleaming white diamonds or pulverized them into useless coal dust.

Beth liked to think she was a diamond. And she’d crushed her share of men into dust right along with Texas.

The trail was narrow. They were rolling quickly down one of the thousand dips in the mountainous area.

The driver shouted again. “Whoa.”

That really caught her attention. The man never said whoa. Not outside of town. He stopped for nothing.

She leaned forward, holding her breath because she was a little too close to the snoring, reeking passenger. She’d been on this stage for four days in the sweltering heat and roiling dust and she was no fresh posy herself, but this guy was ridiculous.

The stagecoach slowed, slid sideways, and picked up speed. The driver shouted and cursed and Beth could see, if she angled her head, the man battling with the brake.

Had the brake given out? Was the stagecoach a runaway? No, not a runaway. She could feel the brakes dragging on the wheels, hear the scrape of the brake as it tried to slow the heavy stage.

“Keep your head. Keep your head.” Muttering, Beth knew the side she’d just looked out of rode too close to a rock face that rose high on her left. She slid to the other side of the coach. Before, she’d been too close to the man’s feet. Now she could smell his breath.

Inhaling the dusty air and stench through her mouth to make it bearable, she pushed back the curtain on this side and her stomach twisted.

The whole world fell away from this side of the coach.

She stood, holding on to the rocking, jouncing stagecoach. Letting go with one hand, she shoved the door open. Poking her head out she saw. . .disaster. Dead ahead. Emphasis on dead.

No way was she getting home for that wedding.

A stagecoach lay on its side not a hundred yards down the trail. Bodies everywhere. A quick glance told Beth that five people were unconscious or dead on the ground. If they hit that wreckage, they’d kill any passengers left alive then plunge over the side of the mountain.

Beth saw a horse racing away far down the trail, dragging harness leather behind him. No sign of the three other horses that had pulled the ruined stage. A sudden twist in the trail concealed the accident, but it was still coming.

What a cliff hanger! Where can my readers find you on the Internet?

Petticoats & Pistols
My Blog
My Website

Thank you, Mary, for the wild ride today.
Readers, here's a link to the book. By using this link when you order, you help support this blog.

Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. (Comments containing links may be subject to removal by blog owner.)

Void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws.

The only notification you’ll receive is the winner post on this blog. So be sure to check back a week from Saturday to see if you won. You will have 6 weeks from the posting of the winners to claim your book.

If you’re reading this on Feedblitz, Facebook, or Amazon, please come to the blog to leave your comment. Here’s a link.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Author Bio: Elizabeth Ludwig’s first novel, Where the Truth Lies, which she co-authored with Janelle Mowery, was released in spring of 2008 from Heartsong Presents: Mysteries, an imprint of Barbour Publishing. This was followed in 2009 by I’ll Be Home for Christmas, part of a Christmas anthology collection called Christmas Homecoming, also from Barbour Publishing.

In 2010, Elizabeth’s first full-length historical novel, Love Finds You in Calico, California will be released from Summerside Press. Books two and three of her mystery series, Died in the Wool, and A Black Die Affair, respectively, are slated for release in 2011 from Barbour Publishing.

In 2008, Elizabeth was named the IWA Writer of the Year for her work on Where the Truth Lies. She is the owner and editor of the popular literary blog, The Borrowed Book.

Elizabeth is an accomplished speaker and dramatist, having performed before audiences of 1500 and more. She works fulltime, and currently lives with her husband and two children in Texas.

To learn more about Elizabeth and her work, visit her at .

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

Hopefully more contracts! LOL!

Actually, I’m never really sure what I’ll be working on or doing a year or even a month from now. For example, I told myself I would never write an Amish book or anything similar. Guess what I’m working on right now?? :-)

Tell us a little about your family.

Of course, every parents thinks their kids are wonderful…I’m no different. I have an amazing son who is growing and maturing in his faith (he’s leaving on a mission trip this month), and a beautiful daughter who makes us all laugh with her quick wit and sharp mind.

But…I have to tell you a story about my husband. I always knew he supported my writing, but he really proved it one Christmas, long before I sold my first book. We had been talking about buying a new computer but finances were tight, and I wasn’t sure we could afford it. Imagine my surprise when, on Christmas morning, my dear husband handed me a large box with a brand new laptop inside! Not only that, but he had the thing completely set up—with a USB modem. All I had to do was turn the thing on and start writing.

I couldn’t believe it. He’d worked a lot of overtime to afford that computer. When I asked him why he did it, he said, “Because you’re going to need it someday…when you sell your book.”

Now, how could I let that man down? I knew I had to keep pressing no matter how many rejections I got.

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

I’m sad to say I don’t have nearly the time to read that I used to. Growing up, reading was my passion. I used to lie under the Christmas tree and read by the light of the bulbs! In fact, I got in trouble more than once for staying up too late…reading! Now, it is a rare treat to tuck myself away with a good book. That means I’m much pickier about what I read, too. If I’m not enthralled with a book, I don’t take the time to finish it, simply because I can’t.

I know what you mean. What are you working on right now?

Well, like I mentioned above, I am putting together a Mennonite series (not Amish) about a small community in my home state of Michigan. So much research!

I also just finished a proposal for a series about an Irish immigrant who comes to New York in search of her brother. It all revolves around Ellis Island and a small boarding house.

AND I’m waiting for word on a contemporary novel about a former football pro who must come to terms with the death of his twin brother…and his lost love.

What outside interests do you have?

Apart from reading, I love to ski. My family and I look forward to going to Colorado every Spring Break. Last year, we took twelve newbies with us and taught them all how to ski. Okay…so we taught them how to avoid killing themselves. Still, by the end of the week, they could all get off the lift, and they all could stop at the bottom of the mountain before they crashed into the chalet.

I also work part-time as a youth minister, so the kids keep me pretty active!

You don't even want to hear the story of my younger daughter trying to learn to ski as a teen. How do you choose your settings for each book?

You know…I’ve never really thought about it before. It’s almost like the setting comes first, and then I think about what kind of story I could set there.

Take Love Finds You in Calico, California, for example. I never intended to set a story in Calico. In fact, it was purely by accident that I even visited there! My husband and I were on vacation. We had decided to drive across the country, and anytime we saw something we wanted to investigate, we would stop. On one of our fuel fills in California, I noticed some large letters painted across the hillside. The gas station attendant told me a little bit about the history of the ghost town, which was more than enough to spark my interest. We spent the entire day in Calico and loved it! From that moment on, I was just WAITING for the right story to come along so I could set it there. I can’t wait to go back.

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

Well, I would say the Lord, but He’s still alive so I don’t think he counts as historical. I would say my mother-in-law or my son, both of whom reside in heaven right now, but they are more like my future, not my past, since I’m going to see them again some day in heaven. So…that only leaves Simon Peter. I bet he was kind of neat…always going around walking on water and chopping people’s ears off. What fun! (wink)

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

I wish I’d taken the time to learn the craft before I started submitting. Rejections are hard, and they hurt! I learned so much more from entering contests and getting feedback than I ever did from a form letter rejection. If you’re going to spend your money, use it for contest entry fees instead of postage. You’ll get a much higher return.

What new lessons is the Lord teaching you right now?

Hmm…I don’t know as these lessons are new, but He is reminding me daily that things happen in HIS time, not mine. He’s also been showing me (or should I say PROVING to me) that He is always faithful, even when I’m not! He’s been showing me abundant grace and forgiveness, matchless mercy…I could go on and on about the goodness of the Lord!!

He is good and His mercies are new every morning! What are the three best things you can tell other authors to do to be successful?

1. Work hard and never give up, especially if God has CALLED you to write. It would be a real tragedy if you stopped writing before God was ready to let you go.

2. I mentioned this above, but I’m going to say it again and add a little more…take the time to learn the craft of writing. You can do this by attending writer’s conferences and entering writing contests. Join a critique group that consists of members who are as dedicated to learning as you are. All of this will pay off for you because you will have a much cleaner, more polished product to show publishers.

3. Lastly, if your goal is publication, great! But don’t be so focused on the goal that you forget to enjoy the journey you’re on while reaching it. There are some awesome lessons to be learned along the way, and great friends to be made…all of which you will miss if you attempt a shortcut. Trust God. His timing is always perfect.

Tell us about the featured book.

I’d love to! Love Finds You in Calico, California is a historical romance about a young girl who finds herself alone in a silver mining town after her father is killed. Driven to discover the truth about the facts surrounding his death, she begins searching for clues and winds up nearly losing her life (what can I say—I just can’t help putting a little mystery into my stories).

Dear readers, I've read and reviewed this book. Just click on the Review link above and go down the page until you find the review. Now, Elizabeth, please give us the first page of the book.

Chapter One
Calico, 1883

“Fire! The mine is on fire!”

Abigail bolted upright in her bed, the blankets clutched to her chest. Pounding feet and strangled cries mingled with the wispy fingers of her dreams. Outside her window, an eerie orange glow illuminated the night sky.

“Papa?” Thrusting back the covers she jumped from the bed, her legs chafed by the straw poking out from the ticking, and ran from her room. Next to the fireplace, her father’s pallet lay empty, the blankets tossed aside as though he’d scrambled from them in a hurry. Her worried gaze traveled to the door, where the heavy oak beam used to secure it stood propped against the wall.

He’s gone to the mine.

Her father’s repeated warnings rang in her head, but she ignored them and darted across the cabin, flinging open the door. People carrying torches rushed by on the street, their voices lifted in panic.

“What’s happening?” she shouted. It was no use. Snagged by the brisk wind whipping down from the mountains, her words carried to no one in particular.

Their tiny home lay on the edge of town, across from the livery. Perhaps Nathan Hawk, the livery’s new owner, knew something. Sucking in a lungful of sharp air, Abigail yanked her shawl from its peg next to the door and threw it around her shoulders, struggling a bit as it tangled in her long, dark curls. The shawl was scant protection, but at least her nightgown was covered. Her red boots rested in the corner, but pausing to slip them on would waste precious seconds and Papa needed her now.

Isn't that a wonderful hook? You'll love the rest of the story. How can readers find you on the Internet?

I’ve actually made quite a cozy little home for myself on the web. You can find out more about my upcoming releases on my website at .

Or check out my blog at . I do author interviews, weekly devotionals, and book giveaways. I review books and movies on the Reviews Page, and list upcoming releases from many of your favorite Christians authors on the Classifieds Page. On the Writing/Craft Page, Sandra Moore offers tips and advice to aspiring authors. In other words, there’s something for everyone!

Lastly, if you just want to see what I’m up to at home, search for me on Facebook. I would love to visit with you!

Thank you, Elizabeth, for the fun time today.
Readers, here's a link to the book. By using this link when you order, you help support his blog.

Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. (Comments containing links may be subject to removal by blog owner.)

Void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws.

The only notification you’ll receive is the winner post on this blog. So be sure to check back a week from Saturday to see if you won. You will have 6 weeks from the posting of the winners to claim your book.

If you’re reading this on Feedblitz, Facebook, or Amazon, please come to the blog to leave your comment. Here’s a link.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

TWO BRIDES TOO MANY - Mona Hodgson - Free Book

Welcome, Mona. I'm so glad this book is now in bookstores everywhere. Why do you write the kind of books you do?

I write children’s books because the exercise prompts me to think like a child with curiosity and wonder while sharing truth with ages two to twelve.

I write novels because of my love and respect for story and the women I write them for. And the historical fiction gives me an excuse to visit museums and other times and places.

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

The day our daughter Sara was released from the neo-natal preemie unit.

I can only imagine. How has being published changed your life?

I think the biggest change has come as part of the process of getting and being published. The people who have mentored me and the people I have mentored along the way have impacted me greatly on many levels—writing, personal, and spiritual.

What are you reading right now?

The Flame Trees of Thika by Elspeth Huxley.

What is your current work in progress?

Beyond a Bride, Book Three in the Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek Series. The youngest of four sisters travels from Portland, Maine to Cripple Creek, Colorado for a fresh start that seems to have more twists and turns than the train she rides west on.

Too Rich for a Bride, Book Two, is in production and will be available in Walmart stores October 2010.

What would be your dream vacation?

A month in a beach house within walking distance of the Pacific Ocean.

How do you choose your settings for each book?

I live in the southwestern United States and its history fascinates me, especially the late 1800’s when so many women found themselves displaced and called upon to do hard things.

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

Maya Angelou. I’m drawn to her poet-spirit and her heart for all peoples.

What are your hobbies, besides writing and reading?

I enjoy traveling, snorkeling, and playing table games.

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

Sandwich generation responsibilities that are requiring more and more of my time and energy. I’m learning to maximize bits and pieces of time for writing. Figuring out what energizes me so I can refuel for those bits and pieces of time.

That's a difficult time in all of our lives. What advice would you give to a beginning author?

Recognize and remember that writing for publication is a process and a journey that requires intentional and persistent steps. Expect detours. Enjoy the adventure! Make the most of writers’ conferences, writers’ market guides, and critiques by published writers.

Tell us about the featured book.

Two sisters.

Two missing misters.

Kat and Nell Sinclair are headed west—away from the manicured lawns of Maine to the boisterous, booming mining town of Cripple Creek, Colorado, to start new lives for themselves as mail-order brides.

Aboard the train, romantic dreamer Nell carries a photo of her intended close to her heart and imagines an exciting and love-filled future, while her pragmatic older sister, Kat, resigns herself to marriage as a duty, not a delight.

But when the ladies disembark at the train depot, neither fiance’ awaits them with open arms. The well-bred Sinclair sisters find themselves alone in the wild, frontier town—a place where fire threatens to reduce the buildings to rubble, the working women strut the streets, rogues will gamble for the shoes on one’s feet, and God’s grace is found among the most unlikely of folks.

Please give us the first page of the book.

1895, Portland, Maine
“I have you cornered.”

Kat looked up from the writing desk to the table, where Nell was grinning. Nell’s match with Ida had been particularly animated on this Sunday afternoon. Both were fiercely competitive, and Kat knew better than to challenge either one of them at checkers, or most any game.

Ida perched on a cushioned chair, face to face with Nell. The oldest of the four Sinclair sisters wasn’t accustomed to losing, and it showed in Ida’s furrowed brow. She stared at the board, but the pattern of the red and flack disks didn’t change. When she finally made a move, Nell snatched the red game piece off the board, her blue eyes sparkling.

“That’s five out of seven, Ida.” Vivian, the youngest at sixteen, called the tournament from the sofa where she lounged with Sassy, her Siamese cat.

“You’ve been dethroned, sis.” Kat closed her journal. “We have a new Sinclair Checkers Champion.”

While Ida lifted an imaginary crown off her head, Nell stood and smoothed her skirt. Ida placed the invisible trophy atop Nell’s wheat-blond twist. “I present the new queen of checkers.” Ida bowed. All four of the sisters giggled.

Kat picked up her journal and walked to the window. Fabric ties held tartan curtains open, framing the idyllic outdoor scene. Crimson and golden leaves adorned the maples and oaks outside, and a couple of squirrels frolicked while a handful of leaves twisted and twirled above them like autumn acrobats.

Acrobats in fall colors

Twist and twirl . . .

Kat hurried back to the writing desk and recorded the words in her journal, her pencil flying over the page. Sunday was the most inspiring day of the week. The Sabbath’s time of rest and reflection always left her refreshed and full of new ideas.

Nell cleared her throat. “I don’t suppose you’re writing about my victory for the Portland Press Herald.”

“A recounting of your conquest, as great as it was, isn’t Kat’s cup of tea.” Vivian laughed. The name Sassy fit Vivian as well as it did her cat.

“Now if Nell were the writer in the family, we’d all be reading a most romantic love story,” Ida said, returning the checkerboard to the bookcase.

“I believe in love.” Nell shrugged. “Is that so bad?”

“Believing in love is not at all bad, Poppet.” Father’s warm voice drew their attention to the doorway. He wore a herringbone suit, his auburn mustache and beard neatly trimmed. He leaned against the door frame, his arms crossed over his chest.

“We have a new checkers champion, Father.” Nell raised her hands to her head and formed a crown. “Me.”

“And such a humble winner.” A weak smile turned up one side of Father’s mouth, and an uneasiness began to niggle Kat’s stomach. Something wasn’t right.

You can read the first chapter at . Go to Mona’s Novels page and click on Sneak Peek.
What are some ways that readers of your books can help you as an author?

Besides buying copies for everyone they know? LOL

• If you’ve read one of my books and liked it, please mention the book on Twitter or Facebook, on your blog, or in gatherings with people you think might enjoy it.

• Write book reviews for,,, and other online bookstores.

• Are you in a book club, or know anyone who is? Please tell them about Two Brides Too Many and let them know that Book Club Discussion Questions are available at my website: .

• Visit your favorite bookstore, if you don’t find Two Brides Too Many, please tell the owner/manager about the book and encourage them to carry it in their store.

• Write a book review for your local newspaper, church newsletter, denominational magazine, or for other appropriate magazines. Online too.
How can readers find you on the Internet?

Visit my website at
Join me on Facebook at Mona Hodgson Fan
Follow me on Twitter at MonaHodgson
Email me at  with Quarterly E-newsletter in the subject line to receive quarterly updates and behind-the-scenes news.

Thank you, Mona, for visiting with us again.

Readers, here's a link to the book. By using the link when you order the book, you help support this blog.

Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. (Comments containing links may be subject to removal by blog owner.)

Void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws.

The only notification you’ll receive is the winner post on this blog. So be sure to check back a week from Saturday to see if you won. You will have 6 weeks from the posting of the winners to claim your book.

If you’re reading this on Feedblitz, Facebook, or Amazon, please come to the blog to leave your comment. Here’s a link.

Monday, July 26, 2010

RIGHTFULLY MINE - Aggie Villanueva - Free Book

This is Aggie's first time on my blog. Welcome, Aggie. Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.

In the case of Rightfully Mine it was hard to stay out of Rizpah, as I was drawn to this story because this independent woman who stands up for justice was always getting in trouble with the religious leaders, though she had the best of intentions. Only the highest leader, Moses, and the two men who loved her saw her for what she really was.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

(laughing) There’s so many it’s hard to choose. Just ask my children. I would have to say the winner might be when my poor health in KS had me housebound and nearly bedridden for 10 years. I accidentally discovered the climate of the southwest nearly healed me when my Grandfather in AZ was very ill. I took two trips, each with one of my sons, to help care for him, and found to my delight I actually could! So I got myself a used travel van, and me and my white German Shepherd, Seirra, traveled the Southwest for two years. Everyone in KS thought I was crazy. My audacity in doing this gave me back my quality of life. That’s how I settled in the mountains of northern New Mexico.

Sounds like a plan to me. When did you first discover that you were a writer?

I wrote stories & poems when I was five. But I think I knew in the fifth grade. I had poor health as a child and was hospitalized two weeks out of every 9 weeks grading period that year. While under that oxygen tent for all those weeks, I wrote stories on scraps of hospital paper. My physical therapists liked them so much they passed them all around the hospital staff. I was elated.

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

Suspense, horror, and historical fiction of all genres are my favorite. I’ve always been fascinated with vampires also. I think it’s the question of, can they find redemption as is promised everyone, or are they eternally damned? I guess it’s obvious the lamenting, philosophical vampires are my favorite read. I’ve always enjoyed problems that seem to have no answers.

My friend, Sue Dent, has written/is writing an interesting vampire/werewolf series that includes redemption. What other books have you written, whether published or not?

The first book I wrote, published before I was 30, was Chase the Wind, also published by Thomas Nelson, as was Rightfully Mine. I coauthored Chase the Wind with my good friend Deborah Lawrence. Thomas Nelson invited me to submit a book to the inspiration romance series they were just opening (this was back in 1986 or so). I wish I had, but my health was already deteriorating.

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

Ha. I not only loft my eyes to the hills from whence my help cometh, but I literally run to them. As often as I can get away, I pack up 60 pounds of photo equipment, my dogs, a few days worth of food and water, blankets, and head for my beloved mountains.

How do you choose your characters’ names?

Well, for rightfully mine their names are in the Bible. Thomas Nelson suggested I change Noah’s name, the heroine (though they are all heroines) so she wouldn’t be confused with the Noah of the flood.

Because names were chose for valued personality traits in those times, and many times were prophetic, I also created each sisters’ character traits from the meanings of their names. And it worked so beautifully into the whole Biblical story as it is told in the Old Testament that it guided me into the literary license I took with plot additions.

So in their cases, I believe their father, Zelophehad, was prophetic in naming them. That why I opened the book with his dying prophecies (blessings) for each of his daughters. They were blessed with not only a father’s love, but one who knew them as Elohim would have him know his daughters. I wish we could all have a father like Zelophehad must have been. Those of us who have know it guides the destinies of our lives.

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?

Raising my children. I am so proud of the adults and parents each of them grew into.

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

Probably a dog. They are faithful, love you unconditionally, are uncontrollably happy to see you each time you return, have the bravery to protect you and love to remain with you, and still run free like the wind up and down the mountainsides.

What is your favorite food?

Mexican food. I cherish almost any flavor, but could live on Mexican food.

I fixed Mexican food yesterday for my whole family. My Army grandson was home for R&R from Afghanistan, and he loves it. What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?

Stopping. I don’t want to stop. Don’t want to return to the humdrum, though life is really never humdrum. Actually the way I overcome it is my dogs. They are like children and want me to take breaks and come outside with them. Otherwise I’d probably work more than 10 hours a day.

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

This is always a hard question because there is so much to say that is vital to writing. I guess I’d have to answer, be sure it’s your destiny. Be sure you’re being led in this direction. My mother always says that I succeed in everything I attempt. Bless our mothers’ hearts! But the truth is I only attempt what I truly feel I’m being led to do. Therein lies success!

I so agree with you. Now tell us about the featured book.

Rightfully Mine: God’s Equal Rights Amendment portrays a women’s equal rights amendment straight out of history, and handed down straight from the throne of God. What I’d like readers to think about through my story is; how much more do we need in order to understand the great worth of women, and our worth to God throughout history, today and tomorrow?

It’s also about justice. The subplot involves a love triangle, greed and murder, and family ties that bind, but that subplot is the parallel of this infant nation finding itself before they can emerge to earn what is rightfully theirs. How could the nation inherit the Promised Land when they denied some of their own (women) their rights to the Promised Land?

The subplot is a parallel on so many levels to the path of Rizpah's life and the life of every believer. Like all of us, she had a public calling, but when she fulfilled it, Rizpah mistakenly believed her calling was completed, and she could go on with life as she had it planned out.

But God had different plans. He knew, though she indeed had fulfilled the great public purpose she was born to, she hadn't yet been circumcised personally, which was the basic physical (personal) requirement for the nation of Israel (all God's children).

I purposely used the male word circumcision for this personal (spiritual) requirement, not because Rizpah did a man's job in the council, but to speak to the calling of each child of God to be cut off from that which is not right for us. Everyone other Christian may be doing a certain thing, but it may not be right for us.

Rizpah’s entire life was grounded in what is right, what is justice and what is love. She thought she knew all about these better than most. She thought they all meant the same thing. When these principals seemed to be in opposition, which would win? Were some false? Were some lacking?

Please give us the first page of the book.

It was inconceivable that after forty years of chastisement in the Zin desert and the recent military successes in the Transjordan hills, the wandering nation of Israel could succumb to the temptations offered by the Moabite and Midianite women, but the tomb-like encampment attested to the sin. As a result, hundreds and thousands of sprawling black tents suffocated their inhabitants with the lingering, putrid taste of the death within them.

The vast camp of Israel lay crippled by plague. They huddled piteously beneath arcing acacia branches along the oasis-like steam of Abel Shittim, the only shelter available in the scorching summer sands of the Moab plains. Israel was halted only a few miles east of the Jordan they yearned to cross.

How can readers find you on the Internet?

Purchase paperback at Amazon

Purchase Kindle version

For more about Rightfully Mine

Visual Arts Junction (teaching site about all forms of promoting your work)

VAJ Buzz Club (Innovative club of group promotion for authors)

Promotion á la Carte (purchase only the promotion services you need now)

Visual Arts Junction on Facebook

Aggie’s profile on Facebook


I’m also a photographic artist:

Photography blog, Aggie Logic

Photo Galleries

Thank you, Aggie, for this wonderful visit.

Readers, leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. (Comments containing links may be subject to removal by blog owner.)

Void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws.

The only notification you’ll receive is the winner post on this blog. So be sure to check back a week from Saturday to see if you won. You will have 6 weeks from the posting of the winners to claim your book.

If you’re reading this on Feedblitz, Facebook, or Amazon, please come to the blog to leave your comment. Here’s a link.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

OZARK WEDDINGS - Anita Higman & Janice Hanna Thompson - Free Book

I'm interviewing two of my friends to day. Welcome, Anita and Janice. Your Barbour Heartsong 3-in-1 collection is entitled, Ozark Weddings. Tell us a little bit about the three stories.

Anita: All three stories are set in Arkansas—Eureka Springs, Little Rock, and Hot Springs. Larkspur Dreams and Castles in the Air are romantic comedy, while the middle story, The Love Song, is more dramatic in tone.

Janice: Larkspur Dreams is a lighthearted, whimsical tale that will appeal to inspirational romance readers, particularly those with artistic leanings. The Love Song reaches into the depths of the reader’s soul, dealing with the topic of overcoming past hurts. Castles in the Air provides a humorous look at the way we are perceived by others, and teaches us that our prejudices (comical as they might be) often keep us from the very thing God has planned for us.

Anita, you and Janice co-authored the three stories in Ozark Weddings. How do writers go about co-authoring?

Anita: There are a number of ways to co-author a novel. One writer might do the research and the other writer may actually write the story. Or co-authors may each choose a character and write from that character’s POV. In the three novels, I guess you could say I wrote the body and wings of the stories, and Janice helped to make them fly. She has a gift for critiquing.

Janice: Working with Anita is a breeze because she conceives and fully plots the stories then lets me add my thoughts/tidbits to give them flavor. She is so quirky and fun to work with, and I am very proud of the stories we have co-produced.

Were there times when it was hard to work together?

Anita: Janice is not only talented, but easy to work with. There were a few times in one of the novels that I found myself writing in a way that strayed from the general concept of a Heartsong romance. Janice made some good suggestions, which steered me in the right direction.

Janice: I can honestly say that I’ve never worked with anyone who was so willing to accept critique and/or take suggestions as Anita. She is a precious friend and collaborative partner. I already knew she was talented (even before we began this project) but had no idea how gracious she would be. Since I’ve written for the Heartsong line for years, I was able to “teach her the ropes” (as it were) and she was a ready learner! That’s not to say she hasn’t taught me a thing or two. I’ve learned much from her throughout this process, particularly as it applies to romantic tension. She’s far better at that than I am, and I’m happy to admit it.

Why did you choose to be a writer?

Anita: Ever since I was a little girl, I had this need to express myself in some sort of artistic medium. I’ve tried a number of things: piano, painting, decorating, and acting. But I’ve never been very good at any these endeavors, except writing. I guess really then—writing chose me.

Janice: Like Anita, I’ve always been artistic. As a youngster, I sang, danced and played the piano. I was also very involved in theater as a young person. I’ve been writing since childhood. I wrote my first novella in 6th grade, then went on to write musical comedies for the stage before turning to books in the mid-90’s. Like Anita, I can truly say that I didn’t choose writing; it chose me. Or, perhaps I should say that God chose it for me, as a gift.

When did you have your first success as a writer?

Anita: After several years of writing, I had some gradual success—books for children, books of one-act plays, and nonfiction for women. These successes were enough to keep me going toward my ultimate goal, which was to write novels.

Janice: This may sound a bit silly, but my first real writing “success” happened my senior year in high school, when I was chosen to help write the senior production. I had a blast, and the scene I crafted (a 1930’s/Busby Berkeley-esque “The Show Must Go On” scene) was a huge success. I can’t tell you what fun I had, or how great it felt for people to respond as they did.
Do you have any special methods of getting into the writing zone, such as favorite scents, music, or certain foods?

Anita: In the past I used to go to a French café, order coffee and scrambled eggs, and then write a rough chapter. The noise, music, and bustle always energized me creatively. But now I’m more of a homebody, so I sit for long hours in my office, working on my stories.

Janice: An "ideal" writing situation for me would involve someplace like Starbucks (or otherwise) with a cup of my favorite hot beverage in my hand (to be discussed below). Ironically, when I'm at home, I can't stand having music going. I find it terribly distracting... something about the "beat" drives me nutty. Having the television on is okay, but it's often muted. Crazy, I know. I'm a fanatic about my Diet Dr. Pepper and several flavors of hot tea. I particularly love Earl Grey and Chai Latte, among others. And I'm nuts about hot chocolate in the wintertime. I'm also crazy about my puppies. I have two red mini-dachshunds named Sasha and Copper. They usually settle in next to me on the sofa, Sasha on my right, Copper on my left. When we're all in place (with a cup of tea or a Diet Dr. Pepper on the end table, depending on the season) I'm ready to begin. Of course, I usually have to weed through several emails (clearing a path) before I can actually start writing. Whew! Sounds like quite a process, doesn't it?! It's a wonder I get anything done at all!

What is your best advice for aspiring writers?

Anita: If you feel called to write, don’t let people discourage you. I’m sure they don’t realize the impact of their words, but negative remarks can undermine our courage and joy. Comments similar to: “Maybe you weren’t really meant to be published.” Or, “Are you making any money at this yet?” Perhaps you’ve heard, “Why can’t you write like my favorite author?” Honestly, I could go on and on here. Writing is a great and honorable profession—one that can challenge, inspire, and change people’s lives. If you love words and love arranging them into stories, then don’t let the battering influence of dispiriting comments shatter your dream. Keep pressing on!

Janice: I often say this to young/new writers: Learn the craft, but don’t necessarily write what the publishers/agents/houses tell you to write. Trends change. Stick with the stories God places on your heart and if He intends them to be published, He will find the right publishing house in the right time.

What are your writing plans for the future?

Anita: I’d love to just keep doing what I’m doing. But I think I’d also enjoy writing novels for the young adult market.

Janice: I’m open to whatever God wants (and I really mean that). If He shifts me in a new direction (women’s fiction, for example) I’m following His lead! If He asks me to lay the writing down for a season in order to accomplish a different task, I’m open to that, too.

We’d love for you to visit our websites at  and . If you’re interested in our Heartsong collection, Ozark Weddings, it can be purchased in bookstores or ordered online at .

Thanks for inviting us to your blog!

It's always a pleasure to host each of you.

Readers, just a bit more information on Janice. She recently debuted an online fiction course. For more information, feel free to check out this link:

Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. (Comments containing links may be subject to removal by blog owner.)

Void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws.

The only notification you’ll receive is the winner post on this blog. So be sure to check back a week from Saturday to see if you won. You will have 6 weeks from the posting of the winners to claim your book.

If you’re reading this on Feedblitz, Facebook, or Amazon, please come to the blog to leave your comment. Here’s a link.

Here's a link to the book. By using this link when you order, you help support this blog.

Saturday, July 24, 2010


Scottsgal is the winner of The Gunsmith's Gallantry by Susan Page Davis.

Lynette Eason is the winner of So Over My Head by Jenny B Jones.

CindyW is the winner of The Big 5-OH! by Sandra D Bricker.

Fredamans is the winner of Ruby Red by Robin Jansen Shope.

Congratulations, everyone. Send me your mailing address:
Click the Contact Me link at the top of the blog, and send me an Email.
You have 6 weeks to claim your book.
If you didn't win and you plan to order the book, please use the link provided on the individual interview. By using that link when you order, you will help support this blog.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

THE CRIMSON CIPHER - Susan Page Davis - Free Book

I've really been looking forward to featuring Susan and this book. So, Susan, how did this book come about?

I had originally thought about writing a Civil War story, but when I learned that women were recruited to solve ciphers in World War I, the idea began to crystallize. I realized the timeframe was perfect for Summerside’s new suspense line. The more research I did, the more plot points jumped out at me. It was a year of intrigue and sabotage.

Tell us about the book’s cover and what makes it unique.

Emma is wearing a very fashionable and mysterious hat, which they tell me was right in style in 1915, and against the dark background of buildings is the hint of a cipher message. This cover screams, “Mystery!”

I know. I love it. Summerside does a wonderful job with the covers. Please explain and differentiate between what’s fact and fiction in the book.

Because I drew so much on history, I wrote a “Dear Reader” letter explaining that very thing. Here’s part of it (and I don’t think this gives away too much):

During my research, I learned that the sabotage and espionage going on in North America in 1915 reached a massive scale. The bombing of the bridge at Vanceboro, Maine, is a true incident. The bombing of the Peabody plant and many other factories happened, as did the attempted bombing of the occupied armory at Windsor, Ontario. The sinking of the ships William P. Frye and the Fulflight, as well as the sabotage of the Minehaha and the Nebraskan, really happened. These, along with the Lusitania, are only a few of the Allied ships attacked or bombed that year. However, the Larkin is a fictional ship.

While several German diplomats in America were arrested in connection with espionage, passport fraud, and other crimes, most of them were apprehended later than this story’s timeframe. Otto van Wersten (“Kobold”) is a fictional character.

Erich Muenter’s (alias Frank Holt’s) bombing of U.S. Senate reception room and subsequent shooting of J.P. Morgan were real, tragic events occurring in July, 1915. The gathering of cryptographers by the U.S. government actually began a little later than this story. Room 20 at Trafton House is loosely modeled after Great Britain’s famous Room 40 at Bletchley Park in England. While Alfred Shuster and his cipher machine were slightly ahead of their time, such devices were already appearing in Europe, and it is not unreasonable that a clever mathematician would come up with such a machine at this time.

How much research did you have to do for this book?

Tons and tons. I started with Bowdoin College, where the first few scenes are set. What buildings were there in 1915? What were they called then? Where would a mathematics professor be likely to have an office? And so on.

Other topics for hours of research included the Navy in 1915, and in particular the Signal Corps; trains and trolleys in the Arlington/Washington/Fairfax area at the time; telephones at the time; telegraphy; clothing, foods and everyday life. All of this on top of the events leading up to the United States entering the war; wartime events in Canada and Europe; sabotage, espionage, passports, labor unrest, and other pertinent data concerning the home front; and, of course, codes and ciphers. I built quite a library on this topic alone, from the general to the specific to the highly technical.

What are some of the most interesting things you found about this subject that you weren’t able to use in the story?

It was tempting to explain several different ciphers and how they work, but I restrained myself. One really interesting topic was the ways codes were intercepted and cracked during combat and used against the enemy, but since the story takes place before we were in the war, I had to save a lot of that for a possible sequel.

What inspired and surprised you while you were writing the book?

I was inspired by the people who held the line against the saboteurs, especially an organization called The American Protective League. These were more than 250,000 everyday citizen volunteers who worked under the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Investigation to report and investigate suspicious behavior. Thanks to these businessmen and workers who gave of their time, the sabotage in the United States fell dramatically after it was formed in March, 1917.

What do you hope the reader takes away from the story?

The same thing Emma learns—that no matter how out-of-control this world seems, God is still in charge.

What is the next project you’re working on?

Right now I’m writing Love Finds You in Prince Edward Island, my next book for Summerside. In 1860, Queen Victoria sent her son Albert Edward—the heir apparent to her throne—on a goodwill tour of Canada and the United States. This royal tour is the backdrop for my story of romance.

What do you do when you have to get away from the story for a while?

I like to do something silly and random with my kids, or read someone else’s book, or pet the cat, or work a logic problem. Lately I’ve revived my childhood interest in cipher, thanks to writing The Crimson Cipher.

Please give us the first page of the book.

Emma Shuster hurried across campus against the cold wind coming off Casco Bay. Six inches of powdery snow draped the college’s brick buildings in glittery icing, and Emma’s heart sang.

A man in a blue wool coat with epaulets on the shoulders and a peaked hat of the same hue approached the Searles Science Building from the opposite direction. Navy, Emma concluded—a fine-looking officer. She looked away before he could catch her eye.

He reached the door of the brick building just as she did. “Hello.” He smiled brightly and opened the door for her.

“Thank you.” As she entered, she tucked the large envelope she carried under her arm, pulled off her knit gloves, and headed for the stairs.

“Excuse me,” the man said.

She paused and turned toward him. “Yes?”

He unbuttoned his overcoat, revealing a uniform beneath. “I wonder if you could direct me to Professor Shuster’s office.”

Emma relaxed and smiled. “I’m just on my way up to see him, sir. If you’d like to follow me, I’ll take you there.” Her father was a Navy veteran. She wondered what the young man wanted with him.

He walked beside her to the third floor landing. The handsome stranger towered nearly a foot over her.

She supposed she should break the silence if she didn’t wish to be thought rude. “Several of the mathematics and science professors have their offices up here.”

“Indeed. I expect the climb keeps them fit.” The young man smiled. “I’m John Patterson.”

“And you’re with the Navy, Mr. Patterson?”

“Yes. Lieutenant, actually.”

They’d reached the door of her father’s office. Emma gave a quick knock and turned the knob.

“Father, I’ve brought someone to—” She broke off with a gasp. Her father’s slender form lay sprawled on the floor. Blood seeped onto the varnished oak boards and the papers strewn near him. “Father!”

She dropped her envelope and knelt beside him. Bending close, she touched his arm. The awful stillness of his body sent chills through her. A dry, fierce ache filled her throat. Pushing his shoulder slightly, she tried to speak again, but a sob wrenched her chest.

Patterson knelt on the other side and put a hand to the fallen man’s throat. After a moment, he reached across and gently touched Emma’s sleeve. “I’m sorry, ma’am.”

“No, no! We need to call a doctor.”

“I’m afraid there’s nothing a doctor could do for him.”

She wept then¬¬—great, hot tears splashing down her cheeks.

“Miss Shuster. Come and sit down.”

Emma raised her hand to her mouth, staring at the blood. She struggled to stand, but her knees buckled, and she grabbed the lieutenant’s outstretched arm.

He caught her as she wilted. “There, now. Let me help you.”

He turned a wooden chair to face the door, holding her upright with his steel-like right arm.

“Sit down, miss.”

Emma sank onto the chair and held her hands over her face.

“Can I get you anything?”

“No,” she managed. “Thank you. Just...please, see to Father. Make certain...”

He left her side, and she shivered. She wanted to look over her shoulder and see what Patterson did—to assure herself that she’d been mistaken and only imagined the ghastly scene.

She didn’t move.

The lieutenant came back, his jaw tense. “I’m sorry, Miss Shuster. I’m afraid it’s too late.”

Wow! I can hardly wait for my copy to arrive. How can readers find you on the Internet?

It’s easy: http://www.susanpagedavis/. Come visit me!

Thank you for sharing with us today, Susan.

Readers, by using the following link when you order the book, you help support the blog:

Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. (Comments containing links may be subject to removal by blog owner.)

Void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws.

The only notification you’ll receive is the winner post on this blog. So be sure to check back a week from Saturday to see if you won. You will have 6 weeks from the posting of the winners to claim your book.

If you’re reading this on Feedblitz, Facebook, or Amazon, please come to the blog to leave your comment. Here’s a link.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

BEYOND SUMMER - Lisa Wingate - Free Book

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

I’ve always written stories about spiritual journey. When I started writing mainstream fiction, the dividing line between ABA and CBA fiction was more defined than it is now. In 2001, when my first book, Tending Roses, was released by Penguin Putnam, faith-based stories in ABA mainstream fiction were a rarity, which made it an exciting, and sometimes challenging, place to be. Over the years, the Christian and secular markets have developed and converged, and when I was given the opportunity write for Bethany House as well as Penguin Putnam, I jumped at the chance. My greatest desire as a writer is to create books that have the potential to bring Christian and secular readers together and generate discussion.

My goal in writing has always been to build understanding by allowing one person to walk in another’s shoes. When we know how it feels to live within the mind, and heart, and body of someone else, we realize that everyone hurts, everyone struggles, everyone breaks down and gets up, then tries to put the pieces back together. We’re all products of our own experiences. When we feel the suffering and the triumphs of others, we’re better able to look at each other with the sense of grace God intends.

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

I don’t know that I could narrow down to one specific day, but my happiest moments and happiest days have involved my children. I love having a job as wonderful as writing, but far and away my greatest achievement is raising two wonderful boys. Having grown up with brothers, I always envisioned that I’d someday be the mother of lacy little pink bundles who didn’t play with bugs, and smell like fish, and leave sweaty football clothes in the corner behind the bed. In my years of motherhood, I have learned, however, that boys are wonderful when they’re your own. My sons remind me to appreciate life’s little wonders each day and give thanks for ordinary blessings. I may have wished for girls, but I think I was given exactly what I needed.

I always wanted a boy, and I finally got some as grandsons. How has being published changed your life?

I’ve always loved to write, and I’ve wanted to be a writer for about as long as I can remember. A special first grade teacher, Mrs. Krackhardt, put that idea into my head when she wrote on my report card that she expected to see my name in a magazine one day. Even though I came from a family prone to believing that young people should pursue careers proven to actually provide a living, I always dreamed of writing books and sending them into the world to make a difference, to entertain, to build bridges.

Writing as a career is an odd paradox, in that it is a solitary profession in which you spend your time trying to communicate thought, feeling, emotion, or experience to other people. What you find, after talking to enough people (real and imaginary), is that the human condition changes very little from life to life, from generation to generation. We all want happiness, contentment, a sense of belonging, to love and be loved. We all feel the spiritual pull of needing to understand why we’re here, in this place, at this time. We’re all seeking life’s purpose. On any given road, you’re never the only traveler. God puts people ahead and people behind. They walk in shoes like your own and shoes that are different. Writing, and then sharing with readers, is a chance to help stock a virtual shoe store. When readers contact me and say that reading one of my stories helped them to think, to seek, to rebuild a relationship, to try something new, to extend a kindness, to forgive, to build a stronger faith, to reconnect with a church, I feel incredibly blessed and thankful. And then, of course, I can’t wait to start writing the next story!

What are you reading right now?
Lately, I’ve been reading Janice Hanna Thompson’s, Weddings by Bella series, which is, as we say in Texas, a hoot! I’ve also had the pleasure of reading some pre-published books for endorsement, including Suzanne Woods Fisher’s The Waiting, and Judy Christie’s, Goodness Gracious Green—two great books that will be coming out next year. Right now I’m in the middle of Reinventing Rachel, by Alison Strobel, due out in September from David C. Cook publishers. In terms of great reads, I’m batting a thousand this season!
What is your current work in progress?

I’m currently working on the first book in a new series for Bethany House, Larkspur Cove, to be released in Feb, 2011 as the first book in the Moses Lake series. This summer, I’ll also be putting the final touches on the next book for Penguin Putnam, titled Dandelion Summer (July 2011) , which will follow Beyond Summer in the Blue Sky Hill series.

What would be your dream vacation?
Anything involving mountains and family. We love finding little cabins in out-of-the way spots and enjoying summer days of hiking, fishing, and photography, or winter days of skiing and snow fun.

How do you choose your settings for each book?
I never quite know where a story will go when I begin working out the concept and the first chapters. In terms of setting, I usually being with only a vague idea—small town, big city, suburb. As I’m getting to know the characters, the settings begin to develop, as well. Places and secondary characters take on shape. Most of those places and characters are composites of places I’ve been and people I’ve met, combined with a healthy dose of fiction and whimsy. Writing the story then becomes a journey discovery, the setting becoming more integral and real as the characters move from an existence that feels incomplete, to a life that is authentic, that is filled with spirit and a sense of God’s purpose.

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

Right now, as a Texan who just released a book set on the Gulf Coast, I’d like to be in on a British Petroleum board meeting. Grrrrr!

What are your hobbies, besides writing and reading?

Other than reading and writing, raising kids, and teaching youth at church, one of my passions has always been horses. I can remember being horse-crazy from the age of three or four. I’m not sure why, because we lived in costal Florida, and horses were rare there, but still I yearned for one. It was the only thing in my Christmas list for years, but I guess Santa couldn’t figure out how to attach the horse trailer to his sleigh. When I was around ten, my parents finally said I could have a horse if I saved my own money and bought it. Horses being expensive, I think they felt safe making this commitment. I was determined, however, and within about a year, I bought a scrappy little albino mixed-breed horse who was cheap because she was too underweight even for the canners. I didn’t know she wasn’t much to look at. She was beautiful in my eyes, and the rest is history. We’ve had horses ever since.
As a teenager, I was also a gymnast, harboring big dreams of going to the Olympics. Unfortunately, along with the gymnast in my head was the horse lover with dreams of winning the National Finals Rodeo, and a book lover with dreams of writing novels. One dream out of three isn’t bad!

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

People often ask me if I have trouble with writer’s block. I don’t battle writer’s block nearly as much as I battle writer’s laziness. For me, the battle isn’t so much about what to write as it is about getting myself to the keyboard and getting down to business. On any given day, there are a million other things that seem tempting—there’s email to answer, the house is dirty, something neat is happening in town, the kids think it would be fun to go swimming (so do I), I don’t want Dr. Phil to miss me when he comes on TV at 3:00. You name it, I can become distracted by it. That, for me, is the biggest writing struggle. I battle it by setting a page quota for myself daily and forcing myself to stick to it. If I’m a slacker in the morning, I know it will make for a rough afternoon. I’ve also learned that, in terms of getting a book together, it’s easier to make something from something than something from nothing. Even if I feel that what I’m writing that day isn’t particularly great, I’ve learned to push through it and get something on paper with the idea that I can always revise it later, and that will be easier when the first draft is finished.

What advice would you give to a beginning author?

First, finish a novel. It’s almost impossible to sell a partial if you’re unpublished. Polish it and send it out, because as much as we’d like them to, editors won’t come looking in your desk drawer. While you’re waiting for news, write another book. If the first one sells, you’ll be set for a two-book deal. If the first one doesn’t sell, you have eggs in another basket. Don’t take a critique too seriously if you hear it from one editor/agent, unless there’s an imminent contract involved. Editors and agents, just like the rest of us, are individuals. What works for one may not work for another. If you receive the same comment from multiple sources, consider revising your manuscript before you send it elsewhere. Be tenacious, be as thick-skinned as possible, keep writing while you wait for news. Never stop creating new material—that’s where the joy is, and if you keep the joy of this business, you keep the magic of it.

Tell us about the featured book?.

Beyond Summer is really a story pulled from today’s economic headlines. In a time when reversals of fortune have become common due to mortgage problems and over-extended family budgets, many people are finding themselves in circumstances and living situations they never expected to face. In the previous book in the series, The Summer Kitchen, the Blue Sky Hill neighborhood was under siege by unscrupulous development companies. It occurred to me to wonder whether some of the CEOs of those companies, who collect paychecks while remaining comfortably above the dirty work, really understand the devastation their faulty mortgages can cause to a family of moderate means. Then, it occurred to me to wonder what would happen if one of those comfortably-wealthy families lost everything and found themselves with no place left to live but a tiny house in Blue Sky Hill, right across the street from one of their intended victims. If identities weren’t revealed, would the families become friends? Would they begin to lean on one another and care about one another? What would happen when the truth came out? Beyond Summer is a story families, friendships, and about community--how we find it, what it means, and how strong communities help us to survive in difficult times.

Please give us the first page of the book.

Chapter 1

Tam Lambert

It’s strange, the things you look past in a normal day--the big picture you don’t see, while you’re busy focusing on all the little things that seem to matter in the moment. Good hair, an outfit that looks just right, a green light ahead when you’re in a hurry to make an appointment, a short line at Starbucks, a straight shot down the fairway in a game of golf, a smile from a cute guy in the parking lot. You rub your life like Aladdin’s lamp, and magic floats out in little clouds. It works time, after time, after time. You never stop to consider that there could be a day when a charmed life isn’t charmed anymore. At that point, the wishes become prayers, and you hope against hope that God will take up where the wishing lamp left off.

The summer I turned eighteen became the summer of unanswered prayers. I was hoping that, since the lease was up on the hand-me-down mini Cooper I’d been driving, there was a new car in the works for my birthday—a combination getting-ready-for-college and welcome-to-adulthood present. And maybe a surprise party—something Hawaiian themed, out on the patio, with floating tiki torches in the pool, grass skirts and coconut bras, and a caterer filling the cabana with fruit baskets carved out of watermelons, perfect for early July.

Instead, I got a phone call letting me know that my stepmother had rammed her Escalade into the front doors of the Baby Bundles Upscale Resale shop while delivering a load of gently-worn or still-had-tags-on-them kiddie clothes. The accident wasn’t her fault. It was the stilettos that did it…

I can hardly wait for my copy. How can readers find you on the Internet?
I love keeping in touch with readers and sharing the stories behind the stories. Readers can find me on my website . Just for signing up for the e-newsletter, you’ll be entered in a monthly drawing for a free, autographed book! Readers can and also find me on Facebook or Youtube.

Lisa, thank you for giving us another peek inside your world.
Readers, by using this link, you help support this blog.

Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. (Comments containing links may be subject to removal by blog owner.)

Void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws.

The only notification you’ll receive is the winner post on this blog. So be sure to check back a week from Saturday to see if you won. You will have 6 weeks from the posting of the winners to claim your book.

If you’re reading this on Feedblitz, Facebook, or Amazon, please come to the blog to leave your comment. Here’s a link.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Top Ten Reasons to Attend ACFW National Conference

10. God has divine appointements for us there

9. Having me time away from the hustle and bustle of real life

8. Oodles of love and hugs

7. Lots of laughter

6. Meeting my writing friends face to face

5. Making friends with agents

4. Getting to know editors

3. Professional training that’s some of the best in the business

2. Because only other writers understand writers

1. Worshipping with my writing friends

Check it out at:

You don't want to be left out of the fun and learning.

Picture #1: Tamela Hancock Murray, Angie Breidenbach, me
Picture #2: Brandilyn Collins, me, Colleen Coble
Picture #3: Karen Ball, Tosca Lee, me