Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Oh, Peter . . .

Back in Sunday School when I was, oh, seven or eight I guess, my teacher decided we should act out one of the stories from the Gospels. The transfiguration, if I recall. I got assigned the part of Peter. "What?" I remember thinking. "I have to be a boy?" LOL. Given that the class was mostly girls and the Gospels mostly boys, this shouldn't have surprised me. So I acted out the part of Peter--Peter the Bold, Peter the Daring.

Peter became my favorite disciple, and it's honestly just because I had to 'be' him for ten minutes one day. (I always had a very fierce loyalty like that.) I paid close attention any time he entered the scene. He held a special place in my heart. And yet, I'm not all that much like him. I'm really more of an Andrew, but we don't see a whole lot of him. =)

And then there are the moments when Peter SO disappoints me. Mostly, of course, when he denied Jesus during the night after He's arrested. This is one of the parts of the story that is nearly identical from one Gospel account to the next. Peter swears he's willing to go anywhere with Jesus, even to prison or to death. Jesus shakes his head (can't you just see the sorrow in his eyes?) and says, "Simon, I tell you that before the rooster crows you'll deny me three times."

As a reader, you know he will. I mean, Jesus said it, and it made it into the Book. But still child-Roseanna cried out, "Don't do it, Peter! Prove him wrong!" (Ahem, child-Roseanna. Like that would be a good thing!) But obviously Peter doesn't listen to me. He follows when Jesus is taken to the court, he sits down with the enemy around the fire. And when a girl looks at him and says, "Hey, weren't you one of those dudes that went around with Jesus?" (paraphrased, of course), he said, "What in the world are you talking about? [Insert nervous laughter.] I've never heard of the man."

Was it fear? Fear of being arrested too, fear of being looked down upon, fear of being judged? Or was it maybe fear that the man he'd put his entire faith in, given up his life for, was not who he thought He was? Maybe he just didn't want to get involved, didn't want to be shaken from his little bubble of sorrow, but he knew that talking to those people would force him outside himself.

I honestly don't know. And for a long time I've wondered, because, well, if it could happen to Peter it could happen to any of us. We have the benefit of living in a country that allows us to worship as we choose (nominally, at least--let's not break open the political can of worms . . .). So for us, it's never a matter of "Admit Christ and die--deny him and live."

And yet . . . it is often a matter of "Admit him and get snubbed by the popular crowd" or something akin to it.

Peter denied Jesus in words, vehemently. Me . . . have I ever denied Him in my actions? In my silence?

I went through a phase in middle school where I just didn't want to get in a disagreement with anybody, I didn't want people to dislike me (it was kind of a been-there-done-that sort of thing, and I'd gotten tired of being the maverick). So I would equivocate. On everything. I'd say, "Wow, I love this weather!" and if someone else said, "I don't know, it could be ten degrees warmer . . . " I'd quickly add, "Well, that would be nice too, you're right."

Then it struck me one day--I might as well be lying. I wasn't being honest with anyone about anything, and what if someone brought up something important, like faith? Would I sidestep it then? I decided I couldn't. And if that meant that someone didn't like me, well phooey on them.

A silly example, but it's the best I can come up with at 6 a.m., before coffee. =) You get the point though, right? Maybe we've never denied him exactly like Peter, but can any of us say we never have at all? Seriously doubt it.

But still, Peter was the rock upon which the church was built. Why, if he was so weak he couldn't stand up for Jesus when it mattered most?

I think it's because the moment that rooster crowed and he realized what he'd done, he went away and wept. Bitterly. That, right there, is the contrite spirit the Lord asks of us. Yes, Peter made a mistake. But he realized it, and he not only repented, it tore him up inside. He didn't shrug it off and say, "Well, guess you were right, Jesus. I'll do better next time, okay?"

That, I think, is the really hard part. Going away and turning our hearts completely over to God. But we have to. We're all going to mess up, we're going to have those moments when we deny our Christ in one way or another. What does that do to us?

In the second half of A Stray Drop of Blood, Abigail stumbles. It tears her up, and her dreams are haunted by the Truth:

But that night she dreamed of the earth shaking, of thunder rolling in, of the midday sky turning black as night. She dreamed of a colorless world, with naught to brighten it but a single glistening, perfectly formed drop of blood that hovered in the air like the sun. In her dream she stirred, reached, tried to touch the crimson sphere, but it evaded her. In her dream she wept, stretched, demanded of God an explanation for why he withheld his salvation. Just before she awoke, she looked down at her own dream-created feet and saw that it was she who was moving away. And the drop of blood fell onto the world, erasing the darkness and leaving it bright as morning again.

But still she stood in the shadows.


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Lessons from the Fig Tree

Have you ever noticed how MUCH is packed into that week between Palm Sunday and the Resurrection? Mark, for example--16 chapters, and 6 (SIX!) of them are covering this one week of those three years. Obviously, I have no hope of digging into all of it in my four days of blogging about it, LOL.

So today I'm just going to look at one little, itty-bitty, neensy-weensy passage. The fig tree . . . and the power of prayer.

The first time I read about Jesus cursing the fig tree because it (gasp) didn't have any figs out of season, I was like, "Uh . . . okay . . . I mean . . . did he really expect . . . but I guess he was . . . hmmmm." (Yes, I'm always so articulate.)

I think it's pretty safe to say he did it for the lesson. He was packing this week so full of lessons that it's a really good thing people were paying close attention after that whole Hosanna bit, eh? The lesson he draws out of the withered fig tree is the power of prayer.

When I hear that phrase, though--the power of prayer--my usual thought is that it should go something like this: "Dear Lord, please put your hand on so-and-so and heal them. Please send our thirsty land some rain. Please help me to . . . " Right?

But interestingly, that's not what Jesus says. He doesn't say, "For assuredly I say to you, whoever looks at this mountain and says, 'Lord, please remove this mountain from my path,' the Lord shall remove it." Instead he says, "For assuredly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be removed and be cast into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says." (Mark 11:23, NKJV)

Let it be noted I didn't think of this on my own--I read it in a book by one of WhiteFire's other authors. ;-) But I'm going to draw my own conclusions from it. What Jesus is saying here is that when we believe in him--really, whole-heartedly believe--we have his authority. And he, being one with God, did not have to ask to do things. He just did them. He could command the waves. He could boss around the winds. He could talk to that mountain, curse that fig tree.

But I confess that the first time I heard someone praying like that as a kid, it sounded really weird to me. "Who does he think he is?" is pretty much what I thought. "And why in the world is he addressing an inanimate object?"

Even now, that's not how I usually pray. Why? Well . . . maybe it's because of that doubt thing. When we're praying and asking God to do something, that leaves room for doubt about the outcome. It leaves room for us to say, "He might not will it." or "In his time." Both true things, yes, but I believe the idea is that if one has that much faith, he will know the will of the Lord and will not have to doubt whether that mountain ought to be removed. Does that make any sense at all?

Then Jesus goes on to add another kicker--while you're praying these things, you not only have to have no doubt whatsoever, you also have to have nothing in your heart against anyone. You have to be living in total forgiveness. "If you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses." (Mark 11:25-26, NKJV)

Maybe that's another reason we don't often pray like this. It requires introspection first. It requires ferreting out our deepest anger, our darkest bitterness, our hidden offense. Painful stuff . . . until you stop to consider that you cannot hold the authority of the Lord with that junk in your heart.

Seven little verses . . . but they pack quite a wallop! That's what Jesus did best, right? He shone a lamp on the recesses of our hearts and taught us how to flood them with light. But too often we're content to leave a few shadowy corners. Which means it's no wonder we pray and pray and pray and just don't understand why we never get the answers we're looking for.

Abigail in A Stray Drop of Blood goes to the trial seeking vengeance on Barabbas, her heart filled with all those dark feelings. She learns quickly they cannot fill her, though this is but the first step toward forgiving:

Abigail’s heart leapt into her throat. She knew now why he had dragged her over here. Barabbas was being released, and this was where the guards would leave him. The murderer would come, and the man beside her would offer her to him, telling him to finish what he started so well during the uprising. For some reason this stranger, this man supposed to lead her people, hated her enough to want her and her child dead. Was it because Jason was Roman? Or because she had objected when he told the crowd to crucify Jesus?

She was inflamed enough to ask but was not given the chance. The commotion within grew louder, and three figures emerged. Her focus was drawn to the central man. He was still dressed as a prisoner. His clothing was old and threadbare, his hair wild and unwashed, and his body bent from hunger and abuse. His face was dazed, and he blinked in the sunlight, the expression he wore one of confusion and astonishment.

“Barabbas,” the man holding her said as if he knew the man, “congratulations on your release. Did I not tell you it would work this way?”
Barabbas just looked at the man before him, slumping when the soldiers who had led him out let go of his arms.

The leader pushed Abigail forward, hatred burning in his eyes. “This is what we are all fighting to avoid! A Hebrew wench bearing a Roman whelp.”


She expected Barabbas to leer, to lunge, to do something in keeping with the rage that had fueled an uprising. Instead, he looked at her with absent pity. “I am . . .” His voice faded as though he forgot he was speaking. He looked around, his eyes brightening with life and filling with a strange sort of terror.


When they fell on Abigail again, she could not bring herself to throw upon him the hatred she had felt half a minute ago. All she could feel now was the same unbridled panic, the sudden alarm of finding oneself in a situation foreign and unpredicted.


Even before he moved his gaze away from her, Barabbas’s feet started moving. Soon, his whole body followed, and he was running away from them and the crowd behind them as quickly as possible. The religious leader snorted in disgust and strode back into the crowd.
Abigail stood where she was left, staring after the retreating figure.


“Go home, Abigail.” The voice was cold and angry, and its familiarity did not register until she looked over to find Titus only a few feet away, his face a thunderhead of wrath. She could understand it. He wanted to watch the death of a man and instead had been ordered to set him free. Yes, she could understand it. But quite suddenly her soul was an empty chasm in which such emotions vanished in their endless search for a resting place. She stared at him as if not comprehending his words.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Hosanna in the Highest!

It's Holy Week--by far my favorite week of the year. I always enjoyed Easter, always looked forward to Palm Sunday, but in high school I began to see the importance of the entire week when my church started holding a Maundy Thursday dinner and special prayer services and fasting on Good Friday.

But of course, it became really special when I was 15 and got the inspiration for A Stray Drop of Blood. Since then . . . this is a week that I claim, a week when I focus more on Him than any other time, a week when He inevitably reveals something to me. I can't wait to see what He has in store for me this year!

So we're deviating from the norm this week. Monday through Thursday I'm going to go through the events recorded in the Gospels, from Palm Sunday throughout the week. On Friday I have a giveaway/interview scheduled, but have no fear! I've already written two posts that will be featured on other blogs that day. =) I'll give you links to those. (Cuz I'm sure you were SO worried about missing a day of my oh-so-brilliant insight, right? LOL)

Okay, Palm Sunday. I'm sure most of us are aware of what went down. Jesus had his disciples loose a donkey colt, which the owners graciously allowed them to do as soon as they said, "The Lord has need of it." Prophecy fulfilled. He rode into Jerusalem on it, where the multitudes waved palm branches and tossed their clothes into the streets for him to ride across. Most anyone with footnotes in their Bibles will also know that this was standard practice when a prince visited on a mission of peace. Pretty cool, eh?

So. Prince of Peace enters Jerusalem. And what does he do? He promptly goes to the temple and overturns the money-changers' tables, quoting the "house of prayer/den of thieves" stuff. (I know, I'm SO quoting word for word. Bear with me, I don't want this to be so long it bores you, ha ha.) Now, I have heard many a person--myself included--use this section of the Bible to talk about Righteous Indignation, i.e. a kind of anger that is Godly.

My hubby pointed out years and years ago that that's stretching it. See, he struggles with temper, so I suspect that's why the idea of it ever being okay struck him as a little dangerous. Wanna know what he said? "It never says Jesus was angry. It never says he went into a rage. We're told when he feels other emotions, but not here. He just does it. And wouldn't that be even more powerful? That he didn't go in and do this out of anger, righteous or not. He did it to prove a point ONLY. We're told that he weeps over the city, being moved to sorrow. We're not told that he sees this and just snaps, roars out his fury, and wreaks havoc."

Well, huh. Every . . . single . . . person I've ever heard talk about this passage has done the righteous anger take. Until David. But each and every time he's presented his point of view to a group, the leaders have ended up reconsidering. My husband has struck on a truth. The Prince of Peace did not immediately snap and go on a rampage. The Prince of Peace threw down a gauntlet.

Every single step he took while in Jerusalem for the Passover had a purpose. No, make that A Purpose. I highly doubt this first one was to say, "It's okay to lose your temper, y'all, so long as it's when someone's doing something bad." I think maybe instead he was saying, "Don't suffer it when they turn the house of God into something it shouldn't be. Change it." And then what does he do? He heals the lame and blind, and the children start singing about him. Doesn't exactly sound like someone who just scared the daylights out of someone with the flashing rage in their eyes, does it? Especially because the next day he's talking about forgiveness.

I'm going to close out each day with a snippet from Stray Drop, simply because it's stuff I've already written and thought through and put a lot of prayer into. I debated how big a part to make Palm Sunday and decided it would best be only hinted at. Here's my only mention of it, as witnessed by two Roman centurions:

Outside, they discovered quickly that the streets leading from the northern gate were not sympathetic to their plan. They were clogged with people, townspeople who usually moved far out of their way to avoid the Roman soldiers. Today, they ignored their existence.

"Are those palm branches?” Menelaus looked in disbelief at the street over a woman’s shoulder. “What, is there some prince visiting today that we have not heard of?”

"It is Messiah!” a woman proclaimed as if in answer to his question, pointing in the distance at a point he could not make out. “Hosanna! Hosanna! Blessed be the name of the Lord! Hosanna!”


She was not the only one calling out, shouting with joy at the approach of whomever it was they called Messiah. "Jesus!” another cried nearby.

Menelaus rolled his eyes. “Not him again. Come, let us take the alley.”


Titus made no argument. They bypassed the congestion and made their way silently to the house.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Winner!

And the winner of the e-book of Meander Scar is . . .

Deborah M! (debbiejeanm@ . . .)

Just sent you an email, Deborah!

My Friend Laurie Alice - Interview

Today I am tickled pink to welcome the awesome Laurie Alice Eakes to my blog. I know her from a historical group I belong to, and let me assure you all that she is just amazing. Always full of insight, willing to help the rest of us with our questions, and a fabulous writer to boot.

Laurie Alice has a great thing going on at her blog right now--hop over to http://seizethechance.blogspot.com/ regularly and leave a comment on the post, because on post 500, Laurie Alice is giving away a gift to EVERY commentor! When will that be? Well, that's the thing--we don't know. =) But sometime in the next little while, and I assure you her blog's worth reading of itself.

For now, have fun getting to know this wonderful lady and her latest book, The Glassblower!

~*~

About Laurie Alice

Award-winning author Laurie Alice Eakes does not remember a time when books did not play a part in her life; thus, no one was surprised when she decided to be a writer. Her first hardcover was an October, 2006 Regency historical from Avalon Books and won the National Readers Choice Award for Best Regency, as well as being a finalist for Best First Book. After selling her first book in the inspirational market, she also wrote articles and essays for Christian publications. A brief hiatus in publishing climaxed with her selling thirteen books in thirteen months, to publishers such as Barbour, Avalon, and Baker/Revell.

She is an active member of RWA and ACFW, and started the Avalon Authors group blog. A graduate of the Seton Hill University Master of Arts Degree in Writing Popular Fiction, And a Bachelor of Arts graduate in English and French from Asbury College, she is an experienced speaker, and has made presentations at local and national RWA conferences, as well as local universities and libraries.

Until recently, she lived in Northern Virginia, then her husband’s law career took them and their dogs and cats, to southern Texas, where she writes full-time and enjoys the beach whenever possible.

~*~

About The Glassblower

Now that Colin Grassick, a master glass-blower from Scotland, has arrived to help at the Jordan glassworks, Meg Jordan's dreams of teaching the poor, local children are coming true. Finally, someone will have time to make windows for the rural New Jersey schoolhouse, to keep out the cold - and vandals. To Joseph Pyle, the wealthy, arrogant man to whom Meg will soon be betrothed, the destruction of Meg's new windows is inconsequential - as his wife, she will be forbidden from teaching. Why would Meg's father insist she marry a man like Joseph and stay away from the endearing Colin?

~*~

What's your latest book?

My most recently released book is The Glassblower, which was released to the Heartsong book club in December of 2009 and is now on christianbook.com and listed on Amazon, though apparently they don’t have their copies yet. And we stand on the verge of my next release The Heiress, the second book in the series.

And what a fabulous book it was! You can read my review of it here. What's your favorite part of the story?

There’s a scene at a wedding. It’s winter and snowing and the heroine and hero encounter one another outside—he’s not a guest. They have an intense dialogue and their first kiss. Sometimes I write a scene and just know I got it right. That’s one of them.

Oh yes, that was a great scene. You definitely got it right! What was the hardest part to write?

The beginning. Beginnings are always difficult for me.

Is there a theme to this book?

Yes, trust God for your future. Don’t try to force it. You’ll just mess things up.

Hmm, too true. What's your favorite genre to write? To read?


My favorite genre to write is historical romance. I am such a romantic and love history. And that’s what I like to read, too, but when I’m working, I actually love something quite opposite like a thriller or at least a romantic-suspense.

And with all the upcoming releases you've got on your plate, you're undoubtedly working most of the time! What's one of the oddest or most interesting things someone has ever said about you?

You have such a great voice, you should be on radio. I think this is odd because I am not particularly fond of my voice. Too much of my Mid West roots twangs through despite my efforts to smooth it out. But several people have told me this over the years. In college, when I’d answer the dorm hall phone, sometimes guys would just talk to me if the girl they were calling wasn’t available. They liked my voice. I don’t get it.

LOL, well you apparently sound great to everyone else. I'd comment on my opinion, but I've only read your voice, never heard it. ;-) What would your dream office look like—and what does your REAL writing environment look like?

My dream office would have at least a gas fireplace at one end and a coffee bar at the other, with big windows interspersed with bookshelves in-between. I’d have a great old-fashioned secretary kind of desk and big comfortable chairs, too. My real office is pretty basic, but at least I have one.

Oh, that sounds fabulous! I sort of set up an office attached to my bedroom, but I never use it. Instead I'm always at the table in our family room. Sigh. Wouldn't be so bad if I had shelves! Speaking of which (or things you put on them, anyway), is there any one thing or reference you keep handy when writing? Anything you kept around for this particular book?

For this book, I kept my primary resource on glassmaking available, The Glassmakers by Leonard Everett Fisher, but references vary from book to book.

What lessons have you learned through the publication process that you wouldn't have guessed as a pre-published writer?

Here the author just laughs. You could do a whole blog on this. To make it simple: Getting the sale is the easy part.

Then comes all the little sales, right? Whole different ball game! Aside from writing, what takes up most of your time?

My family, which right now means my husband and our sundry animals.

If someone were to give you $5,000 to spend on anything you wanted, what would you buy? (No saving of gifts to charities allowed!)

A trip to London.

You might find me stowed away in your luggage. =) Do you remember where you were when you got your first or most important call about a book contract?

Oh, yes. It wasn’t my first or even second; it was my third.

I was in New Jersey doing some training when I got the call that my new Jersey series had sold to Barbour. This was important because I thought my career had come to an end with the two books. What was even more fun than being in NJ when learning about NJ, my hero in The Glassblower is a Scot and we had a Scottish man In the class with the same name as the hero—Colin. I spent a lot of time talking to him to get the cadence of his speech right for my hero without resorting to a lot of dialect and weird spellings.

I remember when you told our historical group about that. So cool! What are you writing right now?

I am writing the first book in my Regency series for Baker/Revell, which is due out in the autumn of 2011.

Any upcoming releases we should keep our eye out for?

Lots, thanks be to God. The Heiress and The Newcomer from Heartsong Presents, and When the Snow Flies from Avalon Books. I have two books from Revell coming out next year. And also this year is the large print edition of my first book for the CBA, Better than Gold. The Lord certainly took me from famine to feast.


Hence my constant motto of “I want to be Laurie Alice when I grow up.” =) Is there another author who has greatly influenced your writing?

I can’t point to just one. Patricia Veryan, Georgette Heyer, Jo Beverley, Laura Kinsale… Yes, those are all secular authors, and I read secular fiction exclusively for so long my writing voice was established before I started writing for the CBA.

Thanks for stopping by, Laurie Alice! Readers, don't forget to swing over to her blog regularly so that you don't miss Lucky Post 500!!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Thoughtful About . . . Building Character(s)

Today's the last day to enter my giveaway of Meander Scar and Carman's giveaway of A Stray Drop of Blood. Still have time on The Character Therapist's of Stray Drop, though!

~*~

So I've been thinking about characters lately. Probably because all of the new reviews have mentioned mine. I confess I was a little nervous when I realized that Jeannie at The Character Therapist was going to dissect them. "Yikes!" I said. "What if she tells me I got them ALL WRONG?" LOL.

You see, there are Methods for creating characters. Charts. Seminars. Whole books written about it. You can interview your characters. You can determine their type. You're supposed to know their goals, their desires, their fears. We're told to map out the black moment in the story, to make them do what they would never do, to figure out what the worst thing is for them and then make it happen.

Um . . . I never do that. When I sit down with all the lovely, organized charts and the pretty, detailed questionnaires, I inevitably come up with something profound like, "Derrrrrrrrrrrr. I dunno." If you ask me what my heroine's black moment is going to be, I'd probably say something like, "Well, you know. When she, um . . . gets all upset and stuff."

In some ways, I just can't plot this stuff out ahead of time. My characters generally just are to me. I don't want to analyze them, I just want them to give them their voice. My hubby has always said characters are my strong point, but, you know, he's biased. According to the Experts, my way of doing things is totally Not It.

Or maybe it's just Not Teachable. (My way, that is.) When you come up with an ordered, well-behaved way of developing characters, it's something you can share. The methods that aren't so methodical don't lend themselves to classes or seminars. Which eventually brings me to the conclusion that I'm doing okay. Even though I don't tend to research stages of grief or read articles on how people cope with tragedy, I do what I do--put myself in their shoes.

This week my friend turned me onto journaling through your characters, and I'm having fun with that because it's what I do anyway--just being them. What I really love about this is that it helps me not only know my characters better, but myself as well. Through their logic I can reason through topics I'd never consider. I've had characters change my mind on some important matters.

Does my non-method and the intimacy inherent in it make for better characters? For me, yes. For other writers, undoubtedly not. But contemplating has helped me to see yet again that there is no right way, no wrong way to craft a good story. There is just the way that works for you. And I'm so, so grateful to the readers who have verified that it works just fine. Thank you!!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Remember When . . . You-Know-What Went Out of Fashion?

Things you might want to know: two more days to enter the giveaway for Lisa's Meander Scar. Ditto for Stray Drop at Continuous Delights. Five more days to enter for it at The Character Therapist. New review of Stray Drop up at Tiffany's Bookshelf, which gives an opinion on the book from someone who doesn't always read Christian fiction. My guest post is still up at Chocolate Contemplations on achieving your dreams.

~*~

So, on a blog dedicated mostly to Christian fiction, am I allowed to talk about (casting a furtive glance around) S-E-X? (Did you catch the whisper? LOL) Well, I hope so, because I'm gonna.

In the interview about A Stray Drop of Blood that's up on A Sequence on Continuous Delights (linked above), the blog owner asks for a rating on the romance. I understand why she wanted this and applaud her, actually, for providing the information her readers want to know. But it got me thinking.

In Stray Drop, sex is a huge factor. It just IS. The whole book revolves around it because Abigail's beauty led her into a situation where she was forced to a man's bed. She's a slave, so historically speaking, this is nearly a given. (Nearly.) But as Jeannie (licensed therapist) points out at The Character Therapist (also linked above), Abigail then had to go through the feelings any rape victim today goes through. And she had to do it all under the watchful eye of her loving masters without letting them in on the secret.

Obviously, I had to actually mention what was going on to deal with it, LOL. So I was very relieved when the first review came in from Dina Sleiman and thoughtfully answered my question about how well I handled it. She liked how each moment of passion was answered with realistic, Bible-based lessons and consequences.

I find it interesting, though, how history deals with the topic through the ages. There have been times (Ancient Rome among them) when people talked about it as openly as we do today. Then there are the times in history when women are taught that it's a terrible, terrible thing good only for making children, and that no proper lady would ever dare enjoy it. In my Victorian trilogy, I had to take into account this mindset, and yet somehow still make it understandable to women today. I chose to bridge that gap by making my heroine raised along the Med, where the British view on the subject was not shared so much.

It's a topic that needs to be addressed, I think, especially in Christian writing. Sex may just be the most universal subject out there. Everyone, from Adam and Eve down to the youngest among us today, will have to deal with it in some way or another at some point in their lives. You show me a person who has never faced sexual temptation and I'll show you a cardboard cutout. How we deal with it profoundly affects who we are--and because it's so crucial, so important, God has a lot to say about it.

Can I write a historical that doesn't deal with sexual temptation/sin and the consequences of it? Well, maybe I could . . . but I haven't yet, LOL. It's not always a driving force as it is in A Stray Drop of Blood, but it's going to come up, however understated it may be in some stories. Because I don't know about you, but I deal with people. And people deal with sex. QED.


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Story Time . . . THE RAVEN SAINT by M.L. Tyndall

Stuff: Giveaway on Friday's post of Lisa's Meander Scar. Giveaway of A Stray Drop of Blood at The Character Therapist and another at Continuous Delights. And a guest post by moi on achieving your dreams at Chocolate Contemplations.

~*~

I can say in all honesty that I thoroughly enjoy books by MaryLu Tyndall, so I was chomping at the bit to open up the third in The Charles Town Belles trilogy, The Raven Saint. I absolutely loved the first two books in the series and knew I'd adore this one too.

I wasn't to be disappointed. The Raven Saint is the story of pious Grace Westcott, who has long been in prayer for her sisters' souls and has done all she can for those in need . . . even when she's been strictly forbidden to. But how was she to know that a visit to take medicine to a supposedly-ill boy would lead to her abduction by the mercenary rogue, Rafe Dubois? Surely the Lord will deliver her. She is His servant, He will never let harm befall her.

Captain Rafe Dubois has his reasons for doing what he does, and though he's never stooped so low as to sell one person to another, delivering the daughter of Admiral Westcott to the Spanish don will not only be the windfall he needs to achieve his goals, it will also right some of the world's injustices. Or so he thinks, before he gets to know the upright woman. It is true she is prudish, overly pious . . . but her sincerity and humility are not what he expected. How is he to remain strong against those kinds of attacks against his fortitude?

I have come to expect a few things from MaryLu's books--they will be packed with adventure, overflowing with depth and passion, and have a few "aha" moments of spiritual enlightenment. I know this--and yet every time I get involved with one, I'm just stunned at how expertly she pulls all of those things together into one tight, heart-thumping read.

What I loved about The Raven Saint was how Grace had to come to realize her own flaws and faults, how she was brought to her knees . . . and hence made stronger in her faith. Though her character induced some eye-rolling in the first two books of the series, when we're in her head and seeing through her eyes, she's a woman that we can relate to and feel for. And Rafe! Be still my heart! There is nothing that can beat a swashbuckling, seafaring, devil-may-care hero who is shown the Light by the heroine, is there?? I think not.

Though the third in a series, this book easily stands on its own, and you do NOT want to miss it! Pick this one up and be prepared to be transported to a world of passion and adventure on the high seas!

I received this book free from the publisher for reviewing purposes.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Modern . . . Actors

Couple things. First, don't forget to enter Friday's giveaway for Lisa Lickle's Meander Scar.

Next, I have a few guest appearances this week. They're not all up as of the moment I'm posting this, but should be today. I wrote a guest blog for Holly at Chocolate Contemplations (delicious name, eh?) on achieving your dreams. Holly's a young aspiring writer I've taken under my wing, and I was honored she came to me when she decided to do a post on this topic.

A really fun interview will be going up at Continuous Delights, coupled with a giveaway.

There's a really in-depth, really right-on review of A Stray Drop of Blood up today at The Character Therapist. Jeannie takes a deeper look at the issues and characters than a lot of reviews do, so it's fun to read and get some professional insight. =) She's running a giveaway of it through Palm Sunday, so if you're still waiting on a copy (I'm looking at you, Karen K.!) hop over and enter!

Oh, and just because it's exciting--tomorrow I'll be taping an interview with a local radio station! They post them to their website after they air, so I'll post the link when it's up. =)

~*~

Now, thankfully my "real" post is short today, LOL. When Stray Drop came out, everyone started asking me "What actors would you choose to play your main characters?" It wasn't too hard to figure it out for Abigail and Jason, Titus and Cleopas, Ester and Andrew. But it got me thinking about my other books, the ones being reviewed by major pubs now. In my usual optimistic way, I start thinking, "Well, what if Yesterday's Tides sells? Who will play them?"

I've done some looking, and I'm still CLUELESS. So I figured, eh, I'd ask you. You probably watch different TV shows than me, so maybe you'll think of someone I've forgotten. Wanna help me out?

Louisa--25, drop-dead gorgeous. Stunning blue eyes, warm brown hair kissed by the sun. Looks tan, which she is, but it's mostly because she's 1/4 black. So far I'm thinking Leila Arcieri, but her eyes are more a green than a blue . . . open to suggestions.

But mostly I need help with Rem--34, blonde hair, blue-green eyes. Fit and attractive without being so cute that girls drool. A nerd at heart, but looks the part of society-dude. I am SO drawing a blank on this. There just aren't enough blonde men out there! I could almost see Paul Walker, but he's a little too . . . well, he was in The Fast and the Furious, so you tell me why he wouldn't make a good CIA computer geek. =)

Anybody got any better suggestions? And while you're at it, keep an eye out for a 6'6" gorgeous guy with long mahogany hair to be Garret. =)

Okay, boy-o tugging on elbow. Have a great Monday!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Winner!

And the winner of Leanna Ellis's Once in a Blue Moon is . . .

Deborah M! (debbiejeanm@ . . .)

Thanks for stopping by, everyone!

My Friend Lisa - Interview & E-book Giveaway


Today we're welcoming Lisa Lickle to come and chat with us about her latest book, Meander Scar. Interesting title, eh? She talks about that below, and it's fascinating stuff!!

Lisa has graciously offered an e-book version of her story to one lucky reader, so as usual, leave your comments below with how you can be reached.

~*~

About Lisa

Lisa Lickel is a Wisconsin native who writes inspirational novels with Midwest flavor. She and her husband live in a hundred and fifty-year-old house built by a Great Lakes ship captain, filled with books and dragons. She enjoys travel, filling the bird feeders, reading and quilting and visiting with friends and family.

~*~

About Meander Scar

Love can heal even the deepest scars …

After seven years with no clue as to the whereabouts of Ann Ballard’s missing husband, nearly everyone presumes him dead. Now forty-something, Ann is ready for her stagnant life to flow again. Then one day, a dark-haired younger man from her past shows up on her doorstep offering a river of hope in place of tears.

Former neighbor Mark Roth has secretly loved Ann for years. A respected attorney, he’s returned home to help Ann face down disapproving family members and the le­gal maneuvering of her likely deceased husband’s family— while quietly winning her heart.

When the hidden truth of Ann’s situation turns their lives on end and another tragedy strikes, the two must come to terms with family, faith and the depths to which true love can run.

~*~

Hi, Lisa! What's your latest book?

Thank you for letting me visit, Roseanna. My newest book bears the unusual title Meander Scar. It released February 15 in both print and Kindle eBook format from Black Lyon Publishing.


Definitely an intriguing title! What's your favorite part of the story?

My favorite part is when Ann discovers what happened to her husband. I love all that suspense stuff, and using Ann’s inner turmoil to take the reader on her quest to solve this mystery – whether she even wanted to. She questions her sanity, her evidence, and herself, all the way through the process. Both Ann and Mark had trials to face as they decided to enter into a relationship. How far was Ann willing to go to keep Mark on her side? That concept was interesting to explore.


Oo, gotta love the deep, winding paths we have to take through ourselves! Is there a theme to this book?

I start all my books with themes. For this book I chose to explore the definition of family. As I wrote and rewrote over the course of editing, agents, and readers, and finally, the publisher, this theme evolved into the exploration of staying power. The title refers to the course of a river that bends when it runs into, say bedrock, or something that diverts it away from a naturally straight course. The water curves until it meets the original path. The abandoned water-filled curve eventually dries from a lake to a swamp, then heals leaving a meander scar. In a way, the book took a meander of its own when I was asked to rethink large chunks of story. I loved the idea of using a natural phenomenon to describe relationships. Everyone hits a hard place and has to make decisions. Those decisions affect the people around us. How far will we go off course when we struggle? What happens to get the path running true again? Healing, like writing, takes a lot of determination.


Well, I just learned something! And how cool to use something like nature as a metaphor! Nothing like tapping into God's creativity, eh? Are there any people (family, writing group, editors) who you rely on when writing?

I have several people in my writing life upon whom I rely. My anatomy/science teacher husband makes a great thesaurus when I ask him strange questions, like “what’s this bone called again?” pointing to my leg. I also belong to a couple of critique groups and have a special writing partner. A couple of years ago at Easter, I needed to brainstorm names for places in this manuscript, and asked all family members for suggestions for the rehab center. I also rely on my readers. Especially for this story, the ending seemed muddled to me until Deidre said at lunch one day, “it’s time we had a story that says Christian men don’t leave their wives.” The rest of the story fell into perfect clarity after I heard that.

Ah, the "click." Love it when a story gets one of those. =) Aside from writing, what takes up most of your time?

I’m a local historian and work with local society programs and preservation. I also spend a lot of time working with other writers through critique, mentoring, and book reviews.

"That's so cool!" says this history buff! What writing goal have you set for yourself that would be the hardest (or unlikeliest) but most rewarding to achieve?

Do I look like too much of a snob when I say I’d love to win a Pulitzer? That’s just the top for me. I read books like Marilynn Robinson’s Gideon and think, wow—to be able to weave a story like that would be a reward unto itself. My real goal is to eventually write a book that can be reviewed in the Library Journal.

I think that is a fabulous goal! And not too snobby at all. Here's rootin' for ya! Do you remember where you were when you got your first or most important call about a book contract?

The publisher for Meander Scar is half the continent and two time zones away from me. I was at my local writing club when I got the call to discuss the contract. I had a hard time focusing on critiques after that.

I bet the others were very understand, LOL. What are you writing right now?

I’m putting the finishing touches on a manuscript I wrote while my oldest son was courting his wife. I’d started it before I met the young lady but the parallels between them and my main characters are going to be hard to convince the family otherwise. A missionary who is determined not to let anything or anyone come between him and serving his field clinic, and a guarded young lady using a pre-arranged relationship as a crutch even though she longs for a bigger life have to regroup when God interferes in their plans. I’m also writing the third mystery in my cozy series that began with Barbour’s The Gold Standard, book one of the Buried Treasure series.

Can't wait to see them out!

~*~

Readers, you can check out more about Lisa and her books at http://lisalickel.com and visit her blog at http://livingourfaithoutloud.blogspot.com. Her book can be purchased from the publisher or in Kindle format.

Contest ends 3/25/10. Void where prohibited by law. Winner will have two weeks to claim the book before another winner is chosen.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Thoughtful About . . . Lessons Learned in the Laundry Room

Today's the last day to enter to win Once in a Blue Moon!

~*~

I never thought I'd sink so low as to write about laundry, but there you have it. I'm writing about laundry. Perhaps this wouldn't be odd for some, but I hate doing laundry. Even more than I hate doing dishes. More than vacuuming, dusting, or scrubbing. Or maybe that's why it makes sense for me to write about it . . .

Anyway. The last week has been gorgeous, sunny, and warm. Which means the last of The Snow has finally melted, and has thereby turned my world into one giant mud puddle. Since I have two small children, that naturally means that the mud puddle has worked its way into the house. And onto what feels like their entire wardrobes.

Now, I'm not usually the type to fuss too much about stains. My good friend Karlene once said, "I decided that kids' clothes aren't sacred and just assume they'll get ruined." I've embraced that because, well, it takes a lot of stinkin' effort to keep their clothes spotless!

But I did try to get the mud out this past week. I have soaked in OxiClean. I have pretreated with Shout and Resolve and used super-strength detergent. I have used hot water, cold water, washed things multiple times. And still some of those stains just won't come out.

On Monday (laundry day in the White household) as I rubbed stain remover into yet ANOTHER mud splatter, I thought, "This really stinks. I've got a whole arsenal of things specifically designed to do this with no effort, and what am I doing? Scrubbing clothes by hand."

And that was when epiphany struck. (Do you hear the angels in the background singing that "Ahhhhh!" chime thingy?") How, I wonder, did people keep their clothes clean before OxiClean and Resolve and Shout and Tide and whatever else I have in there? Because they did. I have proof, in the form of a lot of vintage clothing. Then the answer came: "They used lye, you dummy."

Oh . . . right. Now, I have no desire--none whatsoever--to use lye soap. Nope. That temptation has never struck. It'll ruin your hands even as it saves your clothes, and I'm just way too vain for that. ;-)

But, wait. Lye . . . pretty strong stuff, right? Sure, the soap form isn't as nasty as straight lye, but still. It's harsh. It's strong. It works. Whereas this stuff that doesn't destroy my soft skin . . . it also doesn't always take the stains out of my kids' clothes.

And that got me wondering. How often do we do the same thing in life? How often to we take Truth or Lessons and say, "Well, that's havoc on the emotional manicure. And it doesn't smell very nice, metaphorically speaking. Let's try this instead." It's sweeter. It's gentler. It has a prettier label.

But it just--doesn't--work.

I'm fine with being a sissy about lye and laundry. Sure, some of the stains will persist, but they'll grow out of the clothes in about two minutes anyway, so whatever. But life . . . I don't want to be a sissy about life. I don't want to turn my eyes away from the truth because it's too harsh, too strong, too blinding. I don't want to shrug and say, "Well, the stain didn't come out, but I did the best I could with what I have." That's just not good enough. Not when it comes to my heart, my soul.

I'm not allowed to be lazy about that.

Why knew that laundry could teach me something so valuable?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Remember When . . . Or Not?

Quick reminder--don't forget to enter the giveaway for Leanna Ellis's Once in a Blue Moon.

~*~

I've come across this a couple times in recent months as I research for my historicals. I find myself reading histories that are . . . well . . . not so accurate. Oh, don't get me wrong, they still work as research, since it's either (a) how it was at the time my story is set in or (b) what was thought at the time. But still. It's fun.

Right now I'm reading a super-fantabulous little book called Annapolis: Its Colonial and Naval History. It's just perfect for my research needs, given that I'm writing about Annapolis of 1784. What makes it even better is that it was written in 1925, so it has that lovely, lyrical, understatedly humorous quality to it. (Yes, I know 'understatedly' isn't a word. This is pre-coffee. Bear with me.) I believe I mentioned this book in my post on Bladen's Folly, so you know I must love it to be using it again. ;-)

Yesterday I got a grin from reading one small paragraph about the house of Charles Carroll, the Barrister (who ought not be confused with Charles Carroll, the Declaration Signer, or the scads of other Charles Carrolls in the Maryland/Virginia area of the time). It describes in detail where this house is situated, what it overlooks, etc.

Um . . . no. Sorry, dude. It was at the time, yes--and I was actually wondering where it had once been. But not long after this book was written, someone wanted to put something else there, so what is now just called the Carroll-Barrister House was moved to St. John's College. (New readers, that's where I went to school.) Where it became the Admissions and Advancement Office.

Now, I worked in the Admissions Office for four years, where I did data entry, answered phones, stuffed envelopes, and gave tours. I spent so many hours in that creaky old house that I daresay I know it's features waaaaaaay better than the writer of this Annapolis book. AND I LOVE THAT!! Because I remember walking into it the first time as a 16-year-old visitor getting my first glance of the school. I wrote an essay my senior year of high school on how that building made me supremely aware of how I was walking into history--something I'd never felt so keenly before.

As a history lover, as a historical fiction writer, there is nothing better than the 'hometown shout out' thing. You know, like when a rockband screams how great it is to be in your town. For me, it's exactly the same when a history--or a historical--gives a shout out to what is "mine." There are novels I've read solely because they mention Cumberland, Maryland. There are histories I plow through largely because I can go, "Hey, I know where that is!! COOL!"

I'm not sure why this excites me so much--there's always the option that I'm just weird. ;-) But I think it's mostly because it stops the clock. It makes time stand still, or at least takes me out of it. It makes me realize that History isn't this ephemeral flower that has bloomed and is now gone, it's . . . it's . . . us. Does that make sense?

We still live in the same buildings that were used hundreds of years ago. We still walk the streets that were first paved with bricks. We still sit under the shade of the tree that cast its shadows over the Patriots.

We still live in grace bought by the blood of a man who lived, died, and rose again two thousand years ago.

History is real. And, even when it changes, it matters. It's mine. But don't worry--I'll share. ;-)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Story Time . . . THE SILENT GOVERNESS by Julie Klassen


Quick reminder--don't forget to enter the giveaway for Leanna Ellis's Once in a Blue Moon.

~*~

Back several moons ago, when I was pregnant with my second kiddo, the publicist at Bethany House sent me an ARC for a book called The Lady of Milkweed Manor by debut author Julie Klassen. I read it, loved it, and promptly started telling everyone I know (and some people I don't) about it. Now I'm not saying the success of the book was due to me . . . LOL. Seriously. I'm not. Julie's first book was a hit because it was just that awesome. And when she followed it up with The Apothecary's Daughter, she gained in popularity because it was even MORE awesome.

Julie's third book recently hit the shelves, and The Silent Governess is the best yet, which is really saying something.

Olivia Keene runs away from home intending to flee her own secret--she never expected to learn his. But when she overhears something that could very well ruin Lord Bradley's life, he is determined to keep her close so he can ensure her silence. At least until he knows who is threatening him.

Olivia quickly comes to adore the two children of the house, but their arrogant uncle is another matter. How to convince him that she has no interest in destroying him? All she wants is to get farther away from her hometown before the truth of why she fled destroys her. How will her mother know to look for her here? And how does Lord Bradley's father know who her mother is?

I don't where to begin in why I loved this book. It's partly because of how adeptly Julie transported me back to Regency England. It's partly because of how yet again she taught me so much about history--in this case the plight of the governess--without ever making a lesson of it. It's partly because the characters leapt off the page and right into my heart.

One thing I always liked about her previous books was that, though all about the love story, they had to be technically calles straight historicals--you couldn't be quite sure who the heroine would end up with. This one I'd call a historical romance, and it's one that will make your heart sigh in delight.

The Silent Governess inspired me to put everything else on hold and spend the whole day between its pages. If you need a mini-vacation and would like to take it in early 19th-century England, pick up this book! You won't want to put it down until you turn the last page, and will be thinking about it long after.

I received this book free from the publisher.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Winner!

And the winner of Lauralee Bliss's Love's Winding Path is . . .

Denise! (csdsksds . . .)

Congrats! I just emailed you.

Modern . . . Hitting the Road!


Since I've got nothing new to share in the realm of my contemporary stories, I'm instead sharing my excitement about some upcoming events! And don't forget to enter my giveaways--today's the last day for Love's Winding Path but you've got all week for Once in a Blue Moon!

Book Clubs

A Stray Drop of Blood is being featured by two book clubs in upcoming months--both are public, so if you've either read it and want to talk about it or need an excuse to get a copy, this is your chance!

April - P31 Book Club on Facebook. Named for the virtuous woman in Proverbs 31, this club is dedicated to encouraging women through both fiction and non-fiction. Though just founded last week, it's already around 100 members strong, and I am honored that Stray Drop is their first pick! The discussion will break the book down into a set of chapters for each week of the month.

May - ACFW Book Club. This is a Yahoo! Group that's open to the public. The first half of May members will be reading the book, and then discussion will run from the 20th through the end of the month. The first week of June, I'll be doing a live chat!

Do you participate in a local book club and think A Stray Drop of Blood might be a fun pick? My publisher offers a special price to book clubs, and I'm available for teleconferencing during your meeting! Check out the page on my website about it.

EVENTS

And now for the biggie--I've join the Summer 2010 Life and Faith Tour! The tour is a concert series featuring artists like Mercy Me, Point of Grace, Shenandoah, Amy Grant, and more! The headliner author is Karen Kingsbury, and other authors will be joining her at each event. My goal is to attract all the readers too impatient to wait in Karen's line, LOL.

I'll be at all three of the stops. Richmond, VA on June 19; Rockingham, NC on July 10; and Atlanta, GA on July 24. Tickets for each event are $47.50 and can purchased from Life and Faith Tour.

Are you near any of these stops? If so, I'd love to hear from you!

For those in the Maryland area, also be aware that I'll be at the Valley Mall in Hagerstown on May 1 as part of their 8th Annual Reading Day!

Friday, March 12, 2010

My Friend Leanna - Interview & Giveaway

Today give a big welcome to Leanna Ellis, author of the newly released Once in a Blue Moon. As usual, one lucky reader will get a copy of this cool novel, so leave your comments with a way for me to reach you.

~*~

About Leanna

‘Leanna Ellis takes a back seat to no one,’ says Debbie Macomber. But Leanna hopes she allows God in the driver’s seat as she taxies her two children to and from all their activities, lets her menagerie of pets in and out … in and out ..., figures out what to cook for dinner (or where to order takeout), and at the same time keeps those quirky characters in her head from bothering others. Winner of the National Readers Choice Award, Leanna writes quirky women’s fiction with a splash of romance. From a long line of southerners and patriots, she lives with her family in Texas.

~*~

About Once in a Blue Moon

The day Armstrong stepped on the moon has special memories for most Americans, but not for Bryn Seymour. It’s the day her mother died. Despite death defying feats, guilt has always pulled Bryn down time and again. But a perfect love shows her taking a leap of faith is the first step to soaring. But it only happens … once in a blue moon.


~*~

Welcome, Leanna! What book are you talking to us about today?

Hi, Roseanna! Thanks for having me here today! My latest book just came out this week. It’s called Once in a Blue Moon. It’s a women’s fiction story with a bit of a romance laced throughout.

With a very intriguing summary! Great cover, too. It caught my eye as soon as it came in. Let's chat a little about it. What was the hardest part to write?

This book was difficult not so much to write but in finishing it as there was so much going on in my personal life as I was trying to finish it up. My dad was in the hospital for about three weeks, and I was often in the car five hours taking the kids to school, going to the hospital, back and forth. Trying to get any work done while sitting in a hospital room was not easy. And in fact, many days I didn’t get anything done. I did get up on Facebook finally! Amazingly, I did get the book turned in…one week early. It was definitely with God’s help. Two weeks later my father passed away. God really just carried me through that time.

Oh, wow. So sorry you had to go through that! It's definitely good to see how the Lord carries us through those tought times, though. What do you hope your readers will get out of the story?

First, I hope they are entertained. There are definitely some quirky characters in this story. But I also hope that they will follow this journey with Bryn into a dark and murky past and if they are clinging to any guilt that they can learn to place it at Jesus’ feet and release it unto him and feel his healing and cleansing.

(Love the name 'Bryn' too!) What are you reading right now—and what do you want to read next?

I’ve always got several books that I’m reading at the same time. On my Kindle, I’m reading Pride and Prejudice with my daughter. I’m also reading The Art of War for Writers by James Scott Bell. Plus I’m reading a couple of research books for a book I’m about to start writing.

Ahh, P&P. Blissful sigh. =) What would your dream office look like—and what does your REAL writing environment look like?

A dream office would be about fifty feet from my house and I could walk over little cobblestones, past my pool (also imaginary) and to my office where I’d have a nice wide desk with lots of stacks of folders and papers on it, surrounded by bookshelves filled to the brim. The walls would be caramel colored and would have giant windows looking out over the pool, mountains or ocean. But there would also be thick blinds and curtains I could close to block out every distraction. I’d also have a treadmill in the corner when I need to move and a plasma screen tv for when I’m doing a little research. A comfy chair or couch would also be available for a different kind of research – napping. And no one would complain about my stacks or my books. There would be splashes of red as in fresh flowers as that is my favorite color. And of course, there would be my handy-dandy computer. In reality, I have an office that my husband and I share. There is a splash of red in the curtains but I often end up working at another desk in the guest bedroom which is my favorite room in the house because of the caramel colored walls – so soothing. But I also work at the kitchen table…and Starbucks…and Barnes and Noble. Have laptop will travel.

You've sure got it planned out though! I particularly like the couch for nap-research. =) Aside from writing, what takes up most of your time?

Most of my time is spent tending to my family, cleaning, fixing breakfast, lunch and dinner, taking kids to school, picking up, taking them to fencing, music, dance, basketball, etc…, and letting the dogs in and out and back in again. My kids also homeschool two days a week, so I oversee them working on their assignments. It’s a very complex a job and it keeps me very busy. But I also love it.

You're a busy lady! Any upcoming releases we should keep our eye out for?

In September 2010, FACELIFT comes out.

This is a great cover too, thanks for giving us a sneak peek at it!










~*~

Thanks, Leanna! Readers, check out Leanna's website at www.LeannaEllis.com. You can purchase the book at Amazon or CrossPurposes.

You can read an excerpt of Once in a Blue Moon here.

Contest ends 3/18/10. Void where prohibited. Winner will have two weeks to claim the book before another winner is selected.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Winner!

And the winner of Amanda Cabot's Scattered Petals is . . .

Cindy W. ! (countrybear52@ . . .)

Cindy, I'm emailing you now. Congrats! You're in a for a great read!!

Thoughtful About . . . Other People's Opinions

Don't forget to enter the giveaway for Love's Winding Path that posted on Tuesday, or the one for Amanda Cabot's Scattered Petals from Friday--last day for that one. And for those who are eager for a copy of A Stray Drop of Blood, today's your last chance to enter the giveaway on Michelle V.'s blog.

~*~

I intended to call this blog "Thoughtful About My Book Talk" but then decided to make it more general, because I woke up to this. It's a review of A Stray Drop of Blood by a reviewer who contacted me to ask for a copy a few months ago. I didn't know her at all at the time, but in the intervening weeks we've become friends as we connect on Facebook and our blogs, and Molly is such a sweetheart. Still, she isn't the kind of friend that pre-dates my book, so I wouldn't consider her a biased source. Which makes it both humbling and exhilarating to read comments like "Roseanna M. White is a 5 star author with a definite 5 star debut novel and deserves the highest of praises for the best book I have ever read to date (and I have read LOTS of great books!)!!!"

Please check out her full, oh-so-flattering review and leave a comment telling her how awesome she is. ;-)

Now, my Book Talk. We had 15 people there, which filled out the little meeting room nicely. While most of the people were family or friends, 1/3 of the crowd I didn't know, so that was a nice balance. Everyone said they really enjoyed it and could see my passion for the story and setting, that I did a great job presenting. (Thanks for that, cuz I wasn't too sure, LOL.)

I got a few laughs, especially at the end when I was telling them about the food and my next events, so that's always good. The food included apples, oranges, grapes, and figs--which were a treat for everyone, since most had never tried figs. Cheese. Sweet unleavened bread, which also got a few comments, and honey cake with either honey to drizzle over it or orange-flavored whipped cream. Got lots of compliments on the cake, too. =) Also had pomegranate juice and apple juice, then coffee and chamomile.

It was really cool to get to chat about the inspiration and research for the book, and interesting to hear people's opinions on reading and that time period afterward.

Gotta say, though, the crowning moment of the night was when my oldest friend showed up. She'd driven an hour, after she got off work, and got there right after the talk finished. She was bummed to miss that part, but I was just thrilled to see her! I haven't gotten to hug her since before Rowyn was born, so that was just . . . just . . . awesome. (Love you, Jennifer!!)

Everyone was really impressed with the sketches I'd done of the characters--and they actually came in very handy. I was telling everyone how each of the characters represented a philosophy of the era, and I could just point to them as I talked. (I knew there was a reason I spent all my spare time doing those during the snows!)

It was a fun night all around, and several of the guests said they intended to come to my book signing in a few weeks, so that's cool.

Thanks, all, for your prayers and encouragement leading up to this!!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Remember When . . . Manners Were King? Part II

Don't forget to enter the giveaway for Love's Winding Path that posted yesterday. And for those who are eager for a copy of A Stray Drop of Blood, there are still two days left to enter the giveaway on Michelle V.'s blog.

~*~

I'm busy with prep for my Book Talk this evening, so we're going to revisit the manners of the 1700s and have a few more of the Rules of Civility as put down by George Washington. It's quick and easy. =)

~ Mock not nor Jest at any thing of Importance break no Jest that are Sharp Biting and if you Deliver any thing witty and Pleasent abstain from Laughing there at yourself.

~ Wherein wherein you reprove Another be unblameable yourself; for example is more prevalent than Precepts.

~ Wear not your Cloths, foul, unript or Dusty but See they be Brush'd once every day at least and take heed that you approach not to any Uncleaness.

~ Run not in the Streets, neither go too slowly nor with Mouth open go not Shaking yr Arms kick not the earth with yr feet, go not upon the Toes, nor in a Dancing fashion.

~ Eat not in the Streets, nor in the House, out of Season.

~ Speak not of doleful Things in a Time of Mirth or at the Table; Speak not of Melancholy Things as Death and Wounds, and if others Mention them Change if you can the Discourse tell not your Dreams, but to your intimate Friend.

~ Go not thither, where you know not, whether you Shall be Welcome or not. Give not Advice without being Ask'd & when desired do it briefly.

~Reprehend not the imperfections of others for that belongs to Parents Masters and Superiours.

Hope y'all enjoy! Wish me luck tonight, eh? =)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Story Time . . . LOVE'S WINDING PATH - Interview & Giveaway


Today we're having another special Story Time Tuesday featuring an author interview and giveaway. Let's welcome Lauralee Bliss to talk about her newest release from Heartsong, Love's Winding Path.

She's generously offered a copy to one lucky reader, so as usual leave your comment with how I can reach you!

~*~

About Lauralee

Lauralee Bliss has always liked to dream big dreams. Part of that dream was writing, and her career began with small creative works as a teen just for fun. After several years of hard work, the dream of publishing was realized in 1997 with the publication of her first romance novel, Mountaintop, through Barbour Publishing. Since then, she's had over a dozen books published, both historical and contemporary. Lauralee’s desire is that readers will come away with both an entertaining story and a lesson that ministers to the heart. Along with the dream of writing and publishing, Lauralee has recognized another dream in her life, completing a hike of the entire Appalachian Trail, all 2,175 miles. Lauralee is a wife of 20 years to husband Steve and mother to son, Joshua. Her other interests include traveling (of which she has been to 49 of the 50 states), gardening, and perusing a yard sale or two.

~*~

About Love's Winding Path

Red rocks. River rafting. Freedom! Maybe?

After years of impatient living and working on his parents’ peanut farm, Dan has finally escaped. Life as a river guide in Moab, Utah, is as far from peanut farming in Virginia as a man can get, and Dan revels in the newness of this life. An awesome job, a cool jeep , a place of his own—and a gorgeous girl.

Gorgeous or not, Jo has no intention of hooking up with Dan. First off, he’s just a bit too sure of himself, and second, he shows no interest in God. He’s also got issues to deal with…but then, so does she, so maybe she’ll leave that particular area alone. But as long as Dan avoids God, Jo will avoid Dan. At least, that’s the theory.

When life in Moab takes some unexpected twists and turns, Dan must face who he really is. Maybe all that God stuff is true. But will he let go and believe, or continue to tough it out alone?

~*~

What's your latest book?

Just released this March, 2010 – Love’s Winding Path from Heartsong Presents, Barbour Publishing.


Is there a theme to this book?

The resounding theme is that of the Prodigal Son, that longing deep within for a wayward son or daughter to know God, though they might stray for a time, even from the people who love them. Prodigals want so dearly to succeed on their own but must find out that real success and worth is in accepting who God is and what He desires for each of them. And so it is with the Dan and Jo in this book who both must undertake spiritual journeys to find the true desire of their hearts.

A theme we can never read enough about! I think there's a little bit of the prodigal story in all of us, whether we were the one who strayed or the one who stayed behind and wondered if our loved one would ever find their way home. What's your favorite part of the story?

The rafting, of course, as my husband and I got to have our own rafting experience on the Colorado to bring authenticity to the book (hey, it makes life as an author a true and tried adventure). We rafted, quizzed our guide, and incorporated many aspects of the trip into the book.

Sweet! I think I need to set a book in Hawaii and then go visit. Research, you know. ;-) So what do you hope your readers will get out of the story?

I pray this book ministers to those with a prodigal or who may have been a prodigal at one time or another. And through this story I want to bring out the message—that no matter what you are going through, with God there is hope! And also, to get out and enjoy the beauty God has made through such wonders as Arches National Park (And the park’s primary formation, Delicate Arch, is pictured on the front cover).

Oh, I love learning tidbits like that! Is there any one thing or reference you keep handy when writing? Anything you kept around for this particular book?

My wonderful pictures of my trip to Utah! I love to look at them and use them as my inspiration in writing this series. The scenery adds life and depth to each of my books.


I bet. What lessons have you learned through the publication process that you wouldn't have guessed as a pre-published writer?

How tough this business is and how much of a thick skin you need. It’s important so you don’t cave in and lose the heart and the will to write when rejections come hard and fast—even those rejections that are sometimes very hard to understand. And I have endured them all. But sometimes I fear the skin is still not very thick…

The important thing is definitely to keep going, no matter the discouragement. And I've found that when I'm down the deepest, that's when the Lord sends some special encouragement. Keep looking onward! And speaking of which (brilliant segue, eh?) what writing goal have you set for yourself that would be the hardest (or unlikeliest) but most rewarding to achieve?

To see one of my books turned into a movie. I just saw the Love Come Softly series on Hallmark. Wow, what an achievement for Christian authors and fiction in general. Janette Oke, here I come! =)

Well when you achieve that goal, let us know! And while we're dreaming . . . if someone were to give you $5,000 to spend on anything you wanted, what would you buy? (No saving of gifts to charities allowed!)

I’d put it toward an SUV so we can transport my husband’s scout troop and our church youth group around to their activities. And use it for our own outdoor activities. My little 1992 Corolla just won’t cut it anymore!

Any upcoming releases we should keep our eye out for?

The next release will be the second book in the Utah series, Heart of Mine, for Heartsong Presents, Barbour Publishing, which should be out late summer or early fall.

~*~

Thanks for visiting, Lauralee! Readers, be sure to check out her website at www.lauraleebliss.com and her blog at http://www.blissfulwritingthoughts.blogspot.com.

You can purchase Love's Winding Path from the publisher right now; it'll be available from other retailers in a few months.

Void where prohibited. Contest ends 3/15/10.



Monday, March 8, 2010

Winner!

And the winner of Amber Stockton's Liberty's Promise is . . .

Tweezle!

Congrats! I'm sending you an email now.

Modern . . . Possibilities

Today's the last day to enter the giveaway for Liberty's Promise, so hop over to that post and read the fun interview! And of course you have all week to enter the giveaway for Amanda Cabot's Scattered Petals, so check that out too. Plus mine--a giveaway for A Stray Drop of Blood is up on Michelle V.'s blog. =)

~*~

It occurred to me when I decided to rewrite a story that had originally been contemporary and turn it into a historical that there are some weird subtleties in what is acceptable--what is possible--in fiction.

For instance, this story in question had a huge problem--I had an archaeology team excavating in Egypt. In reality, today the Egyptian government has granted all right to excavate to a single Egyptian man, and no one gets to dig that isn't under his direct control. I totally understand this, after the British allowed pretty much anyone with a shovel to come and see what they could find for the better part of a century. But it made my premise . . . unlikely, to say the least.

Even in contemporaries, your research has to be spot-on.

But in the historical version, there's a different issue. How can I have them make a huge, impressive discovery that . . . well . . . wasn't ever made? (A dilemma I haven't fully ironed the wrinkles out of yet.)

In a lot of ways, writing contemporaries is easier for me. Rarely do I have to sit down with a 500-page non-fiction book to prepare for a contemporary. On the other hand, the setting, premise, and details are far more likely to be generally known by your readership, so if you get something wrong . . . you'll be hearing about it.

Personally, I enjoy contemporaries because of the open possibilities. The future is still unwritten here in the real world, so I can make my modern characters do something to impact history, and that's totally fine. But it still has to be plausible. Both characters and situation have to reek of reality. And those characters have to fit seamlessly into the world the readers belong to, so that they feel like they might just spot the heroine as they're walking down the street. Once you do that, the possibilities are endless. =)

~*~

Speaking of futures and reality, I have my first book event this Wednesday. I'll be talking about my book, reading snippets, answering questions . . . so naturally I'm wondering, "Is anyone else going to care about this stuff??" LOL. In any case, if anyone wants to say a prayer for calm nerves and the right things to say, that would be awesome.

And if anyone's in the area of Cumberland, MD on Wednesday and wants to check it out, it's at the Washington St. Library at 6 p.m. =)

Friday, March 5, 2010

My Friend Amanda - Interview & Giveaway

Today we're welcoming Amanda Cabot to chat about her new release, Scattered Petals. I had the privilege of reading an advance copy of the first book in her Texas Dreams Series and couldn't wait to get the sequel. At the moment I've taken it off the to-be-read pile and moved it to the Reading slot but haven't yet had the time to do more than put my bookmark in. (Sick kids this week.) So I'm gonna get this thing up quickly so I can get reading!

Amanda has graciously offered a signed copy of the book to one lucky reader with a U.S. mailing address, so leave your comments below with an email address!

~*~

About Amanda

Amanda Cabot has always been a dreamer, and so it’s no coincidence that her first books for the CBA market are called Texas Dreams. Set in the Hill Country beginning in 1856, these deeply emotional historical romances showcase God’s love as well as that between a man and a woman. The first in the trilogy, Paper Roses, is in its second printing, and Scattered Petals has just been released.

A former director of Information Technology, Amanda has written everything from technical books and articles for IT professionals to mysteries for teenagers and romances for all ages. She’s delighted to now be a fulltime writer living in Cheyenne, WY with her high school sweetheart/ husband of many years.

~*~

About Scattered Petals

Longing for adventure, Priscilla Morton leaves Boston in 1856 and heads for the Texas Hill Country, never dreaming that the adventure she seeks could have heartbreaking consequences. Although attracted to her, ranch foreman Zachary Webster knows Priscilla deserves a cultured East Coast gentleman, not a cowboy who’s haunted by memories of his mistakes.

When necessity draws them together, Priscilla and Zach begin to forge a life filled with promise. But then the past intrudes.

Book 2 of the Texas Dreams series, Scattered Petals weaves a tale of drama, love and second chances as beautiful as the Hill Country itself.

~*~

What's your latest book?

Scattered Petals, the second of the Texas Dreams books, is a March 2010 release from Revell. Although I’ve designed it as a standalone book, because my pet peeves include books that have to be read in the order they were written, its hero was introduced in Paper Roses, and readers will have a chance to visit with many of the characters of Paper Roses. For me, writing books in a series is like returning to a favorite place. Somehow, it’s just as wonderful – maybe more so – the second time.

A philosophy I share! Is there a theme to this book?

All of my books seem to have an underlying theme of the healing power of love. I don’t always have that in mind when I begin the book, but since I believe in love (and justice, but that’s another story), there’s usually at least a hint of healing. Scattered Petals, however, was designed as a healing story. Priscilla, who’s been attacked by a bandit, needs to heal both physically and emotionally, while Zach’s healing is internal.

Ah, I can picture it already *happy sigh*. What’s your favorite genre to write? To read?

Romance, in both cases. I love happy endings, and so I gravitate toward books that promise me one. To me, there’s nothing more satisfying than watching two apparently mismatched people surmount obstacles along the path to true love, and when you add a faith element … well, that’s the perfect story for me.

This fellow romance-lover agrees wholeheartedly. =) Is there any one thing or reference you keep handy when writing? Anything you kept around for this particular book?

Since I write (and read) historical novels, one thing I dread are anachronisms, words that are used “before their time.” I cringe when I read about water flowing off the medieval knight’s armor as if it were coated with Teflon (not likely, since Teflon was a twentieth century invention) or when a soldier wears camouflage in the American Civil War. (“Camouflage” came into use during the first World War.) Because mistakes like that turn perfectly good books into ones I have trouble finishing, I use a dictionary which lists the date of first common usage. It’s such a constant companion when I’m writing that the cover is starting to look a bit shabby. I guess it’s time to consider buying a new copy.

LOL on the knight's Teflon armor. I mean, seriously. I keep etymonline.com up on browser incessantly when writing a historical, because I share that dread of anachronisms! So what lessons have you learned through the publication process that you wouldn't have guessed as a pre-published writer?

I’m still amazed at how much work goes into turning a story into a finished book and how many people are involved in the process. It’s not simply a matter of editing a book and typesetting it! There are so many people at Revell who have vital roles in my own books’ publication process that I created a spreadsheet, listing employees’ names, email addresses and their roles in the process. Revell, for example, starts a year before the pub date with what they call a “positioning” meeting. That meeting, which includes people from Marketing, Sales, Publicity and Editorial, selects the title and, in some cases, what’s called the “sell line.” (That’s the one or two sentence teaser you see on the front cover.) Once that’s done, the Art department starts work on the cover. Each and every element you see on a cover is carefully chosen, designed to appeal to readers and to be true to the story (no blonde models if the heroine is a brunette). And the process continues, with careful attention at each stage. It’s wonderful, working with so many people who care so much about making each book the very best it can be.

So in depth! I'm still amazed by what goes into a finished book too. But let's turn back to the writing. What writing goal have you set for yourself that would be the hardest (or unlikeliest) but most rewarding to achieve?

My highest goal is to write a book that’s worthy of a Christy Award. The Christies are very special awards, since – unlike many contests where authors enter their own books – the entries come only from the publishers, and, since the entry fee is higher than most contests, publishers are very selective about which books they send for judging. It’s a huge honor to be a Christy finalist, and a winner … well, that would be the pinnacle of my career.

That's one of my ultimate goals too. We'll have to be sure not to be against each other in a given year. ;-) What are you writing right now?

As I mentioned before, in the publishing world, everything starts at least a year in advance, so even though there’s still another Texas Dreams book in the pipeline (Tomorrow’s Garden,which has a pub date of March 2011), I’ve finished that manuscript and am now working on the first of the three Wyoming Winds books that are under contract.

~*~

Thanks for visiting, Amanda! Readers, check out Amanda's website at www.amandacabot.com. You can order Scattered Petals at Amazon and CrossPurposes.

Contest ends 3/11/10. Void where prohibited. Winner will have two weeks to claim their book before another winner is selected.