Friday, October 29, 2010

My Friend Alice - Interview & Giveaway

Today I'm welcoming Alice Wisler to my blog to talk about her latest novel, Hatteras Girl. Given that this takes place in the Outer Banks of NC, I'm already a fan. =)

Alice gave a hearty "Sure!" to my question about doing a giveaway, so as usual, leave a comment below with an email address for a chance to win a copy of this beautifully beachy book! And be sure to follow if you don't already!

~*~

About Hatteras Girl


Twenty-nine-year-old Jackie Donovan prays for two things: an honest, wonderful man to marry and to own a bed-and-breakfast on the beautiful Outer Banks of North Carolina. In the meantime, she works for Lighthouse Views, writing articles about local business owners, and intrepidly goes on the blind dates set up by her well-meaning but oh-so-clueless relatives.

There's one specific property Jackie dreams of purchasing: The Bailey House, a fabulous old home located right next to the ocean, a place where Jackie spent many happy childhood afternoons. But the Bailey House has strange stories and secrets surrounding it—not to mention its outrageous price tag.

When Jackie meets handsome Davis Erickson, who holds the key to the Bailey property, she believes God has answered both her prayers. But as Jackie learns some disturbing details about Davis's past, she begins to wonder if her heart has lead her astray. Will she risk her long-held dreams to find out the truth?

~*~

About Alice


Alice J. Wisler lives and writes in Durham, NC.  Rain Song was her first novel (Christy Award finalist 2009), How Sweet It Is, her second (Christy Award finalist 2010), and now her third is Hatteras Girl.
In 1997 she founded Daniel’s House Publications after the death of her son, Daniel, and writes cookbooks, poetry and articles pertaining to parental bereavement.  She teaches Writing the Heartache grief-writing classes both online and at conferences.  Since Alice was born in Japan, her favorite foods are sushi, tempura, and unagi domburi (eel over steamed rice). She also enjoys it when her husband Carl cooks English and German dishes.

~*~

What's your latest book?

My inspirational novel that just came out from Bethany House this month is Hatteras Girl.  Set on the coast of North Carolina in the lovely Outer Banks, this is a story of Jackie who wants to find an honest man and own a bed and breakfast.

Sooooo love the Outer Banks. Got married there, in fact. =) What's your favorite part of the story?

I like the parts that deal with Minnie, who has lost her husband to a fishing accident, because in these sections I could create an atmosphere around the sadness of loss and grief.  Loss and grief is a very real part of life and in each of my novels, I incorporate them.  My son died in 1997 at the age of four, and so I know a lot about sorrow.  On a lighter note, I like the parts of Hatteras Girl that take place in Aunt Sheerly’s hair salon because they are for the most part, silly and fun.

My daughter just turned five, so even imagining that loss . . . I appreciate the juxtaposition of the tragic with the silly, though. That too is life. But back to the book. Is there a theme?

The theme is finding your dream and living it.  However, sometimes before you can march forward with a dream, you have to wait upon God.  So Hatteras Girl has to do with being patient (hard for Jackie to do) and waiting.

Oh, so true. What's your favorite genre to write? To read?

I enjoy reading contemporary women’s fiction and writing it as well.

What would your dream office look like—and what does your REAL writing environment look like?

Oh, my dream office would be an actual office with a door, bookcase, lots of fresh flowers, and window.  My current “office” is a computer hutch in the corner of my living room.

An office with a door! That one could use to shut out the world--ahhhh. =) Aside from writing, what takes up most of your time?

Right now, going on book signings and taking care of a six-week old Boxer puppy named Levi.

We had a Boxer too--a reverse brindle named Aegis, who is currently retired to my MIL's acreage rather than our tiny, steep little yard. Okay, next question. Do you remember where you were when you got your first or most important call about a book contract?

Yes, I was in the kitchen and I literally jumped up and down when I listened to the phone message from my agent saying she wanted to represent me.

=) What are you writing right now?

Right now I’m editing my novel, A Wedding Invitation, that comes out next fall.  It has a little romance and is about two former teachers at a refugee camp who join to help an Amerasian woman find her mother.

~*~

Thanks for visiting, Alice! Readers, you can check out her website at http://www.alicewisler.com
and find her books at Amazon and CrossPurposes.

Void where prohibited. Entry into the contest is considered verification of eligibility based on your local laws. Chance of winning depends on number of entries. Contest ends 11/4/10. Winner will have two weeks to claim prize.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Thoughtful About . . . My Week

First, today's my best friend Stephanie Morrill's birthday, so all you mutual acquaintances should go wish her a happy 27th. =)

Now as to my oh-so-broad topic for the day.


It's been a busy week. Last Saturday was Xoe's 5th birthday, which of course means that last Friday was spent making her cake. For those who tuned in last Thursday and saw my picture of "this is what I'm going to make, hopefully it'll turn out," here's a picture of how it actually DID turn out. Not too shabby, eh? Xoe was tickled with it, which is what matters. =)

Her party went well--the kids played it up at Chick-Fil-A, and Mommy didn't have to worry with the cake crumbs. Awesome.

Sunday I finally cleared out my closet and dresser, a task I have been putting off since MAY. Oh boy, can I ever procrastinate! Yesterday I carted off the three garbage bags of clothes I no longer wear.

There was a "supposed to" this week that involved a trip to North Carolina, which I am rather glad didn't happen. I won't get into the details of this impromptu vacation, the idea of which stressed me to the max, but we've all been a little under the weather  (changing seasons--argh), so it was just impossible. Shucks. Really. (Though I could have done without the stuffy nose and headaches . . .)

Yesterday I got the full cover for Jewel of Persia, and the back is just as awesome as the front, as usual. I'm posting it below so you can see the awesomeness of the bracelet. =)

This Saturday my church is taking a trip into Pennsylvania to visit our parent church. Tomorrow I'm making a pumpkin flavored cake--no jack o' lantern faces on this one, LOL--for the lunch following. The kids are staying here with the designated babysitter (my sister dear), and then that evening is trick or treating. Should be fun!

Thrilling, I know. I intended to have deeper thoughts today, but alas. Getting a book cover just totally consumes me, LOL, and I can't think anything deeper than "Ooooooo! Aaaaahhhhh!" ;-)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Remember When . . . Ben Franklin Inspired the Masses?

In my historical about Annapolis, I've decided to have a secondary character who is a bit obsessed with Poor Richard's Almanac and all the wisdom Ben Franklin shares within it. So I thought I'd share a few of the gems with you too. Some of these things I hadn't realized originated with good ol' Ben--others are just hilarious. =) And some were quoted so frequently that they often get confused with scripture, LOL.

Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.

What is serving God?
Tis doing good to man.

God helps those who help themselves.

The poor have little,
Beggars none;
The rich too much,
Enough not one.

After crosses and losses, men grow humbler and wiser.

If you would not be forgotten
As soon as you are dead and rotten,
Either write things worthy reading,
Or do things worth the writing.  (My personal favorite.)

Keep your eyes wide open before marriage, half shut afterwards. (LOL)

Work as if you were to live a hundred years,
Pray as if you were to die tomorrow.  

One good Husband is worth two good Wives; for the scarcer things are, the more they're valued. (LOL again)

There are tons more of these, and I mean tons. But that should be enough to get you through your Wednesday. =)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Story Time . . . WHERE HEARTS ARE FREE by Golden Keyes Parsons

I read with great delight the first two novels in the Darkness to Light Series centered around the Huguenots' plight in 17th century France, so I was really looking forward to this final installment about the son of the first two's heroine. Where Hearts Are Free travels to the New World and takes up residence in Pennsylvania--and in the reader's heart.

Philippe Clavelle, once French royalty, is forced to become an indentured servant to help pay for his family's passage from France when their money is all stolen on the ship. He's lucky--he ends up with a kind family on a plantation outside Philadelphia. His brother Charles doesn't fare so well and is bound to a cruel master in the city.

Bridget Barrington's perfect childhood is marred by a scene she witnessed years ago, a terrible murder that has haunted her. The only person she ever dared tell about it is their groom, Philippe. There's something about the young Frenchman. Something that, as she grows up, makes her heart blossom in love. She doesn't care that he is a servant and she an heiress--she sees the nobility in him, the honor. But he cannot see past her Catholicism, and her parents arrange instead an engagement to a man more of her station. But Edward Moorehead isn't what he seems, and when Philippe realizes the danger she is in, his own heart comes into focus.

Where Hearts Are Free is a story of romance, danger, and faith. Both characters struggle with where heart and duty collide, with being true to their heritage versus being true to themselves. I adored the sweet strength of Bridget--loved how it could lead her either to rebellion or obedience, depending on what seemed necessary at the time. And Philippe! Ah, now there's a hero. He combines a characters of nobility with an integrity that has embraces the value of hard work--and he must work for everything. For his freedom, for his brother, for the woman he loves, and for his family's approval where she is concerned. But my favorite part, aside from the beautiful love story, was watching the faith of the characters deepen through the pages of the book.

While there were wonderful glimpses into the lives of the Clavells we loved from the first two books as they took up farming, it never overwhelmed the main story of Philippe and Bridget, which makes this story stand on its own feet quite solidly.

Those who have read the other Darkness to Light novels definitely won't want to miss this final book. And those who haven't, but love historical romance, should pick this one up anyway. It combines Old World charm with the basic longings we all feel--that need to be free, both in our persons and our hearts. Where Hearts Are Free is a fabulous novel that will enrich you as it entertains you. I can't recommend it enough!

*This book was a complimentary copy given to me for review purposes.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Modern . . . Not So Very

So, knowing it was going to be a fairly crazy weekend, given my daughter's 5th birthday party, when I chose a book to read on Friday, I went for something I knew would be light, quick, and interesting--I picked up a Nora Roberts my mom had lent me. I don't read mainstream fiction all that much anymore, so it feels like a break from the norm when I do.

This one has made me grin in several places. It's contemporary, as almost all of Nora Roberts' books are. Only, this contemporary was written some 17 years ago. It's kind of funny. And hammers home the little ways a manuscript can get dated when we try our darnedest not to let it happen. The biggest of the key items . . .

1.) Fashion - obviously when we're describing our characters and how gorgeous they look in their this or that, we touch on what the this and that is. Never imagining that nearly two decades later someone will be reading our book going "A silver jumpsuit?? Really?" and "A short-sleeved sweatshirt? Oh, wow, dude. That's, um . . . something."

2.) Technology - do you remember the world before cell phones? When it was cutting-edge to have a car phone? When there were phone booths on every corner? That's the world this book is written in. Obviously an author has no choice but to work with the technology available, but it's still funny to think how now we have to go out of our way to explain a lack of cell phone if we want out characters cut off and vulnerable.

Anyone else have any fun examples of ways contemporaries can suddenly strike you as being not-so-very-contemporary? Not that these detract from the story, mind you. But they've given me a few grins.

Winner!

And the winner of Jill Elizabeth Nelson's Legacy of Lies is . . .

Carol! (CarolNwONG@ . . .)

Congrats, Carol! I just sent you an email.

Friday, October 22, 2010

My Friend Melanie - Interview & Giveaway

Today I'm thrilled to welcome my friend Melanie Dickerson to my blog. Melanie and I are both members of the most wonderful historical writers group ever, HisWriters, whose focus is on European-set historicals. Melanie's here to talk about her debut novel, The Healer's Apprentice, which is the book of the month at the ACFW book club and being discussed RIGHT NOW!! Fun stuff!

I reviewed this book a while back, so it may sound familiar to y'all. Well, Melanie has offered a signed copy to one lucky reader, so as always, leave your comment below with an email address. And be sure to click "Follow" if you haven't already!

~*~

About The Healer's Apprentice

When destiny sleeps, it can only be awakened by true love’s kiss.

In this historical romance loosely based on the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale, a woodcutter's daughter becomes the town healer's apprentice. Rose's job is to care for the sick and injured in Hagenheim Castle. But she gets sick at the sight of blood and is more suited to making up stories than sewing up wounds. She is determined to overcome her weakness and prove herself a competent healer, or she faces marrying a disgusting old merchant her mother has picked out for her.

Lord Hamlin, the future ruler of the region, is injured and Rose must overcome her squeamishness to save him. He is everything that is noble and good, but loving him is forbidden. He is already betrothed to a mysterious woman in hiding.

With two noble-born brothers vying for her affections, Rose learns that the people of Hagenheim are not always who they seem.

~*~

About Melanie

Melanie Dickerson earned her bachelor’s degree in special education from The University of Alabama and has taught in Georgia, Tennessee, Germany and the Eastern European country of Ukraine. A member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and Romance Writers of America (RWA), she now spends her time writing and taking care of her husband and two daughters near Huntsville, Alabama.

~*~

What's your latest book?

The Healer’s Apprentice is my debut novel, published by Zondervan and released Sept. 14, 2010.

And it is sooooo awesome! I'm really excited to be talking about it at the ACFW book club this month! What do you hope your readers will get out of the story?

I think the main thing I tried to get across is that God has a plan for you, and it’s better than the plan you have for yourself, so don’t twist yourself into a pretzel trying to force your own plan to work out. Leave room for God to work out his perfect plan for your life.

Trust God. God says he delights in those who put their hope in his unfailing love. What an awesome God, that he wants us to put our hope in his love, and that he actually delights in us when we do.

I also want readers to understand that a guy who isn’t committed to God, and isn’t willing to commit to them, is not a safe person to fall in love with. They need to hold out for a Godly man!

I love the way you bring God's ultimate will to light in this book. Very awesome. Is there a theme to this book?

Loyalty and determination are two themes that run through the story. Also, taking responsibility for your own feelings and actions, and doing what honors God instead of just going after your own selfish interests.


Yes, I definitely took that away from it. It's not often you come across a book about responsibility, but this one was just beautiful in it. What's your favorite genre to write? To read?

My favorite genre to read and to write is historical romance. I read other genres, but not very often!

With you there. =) As you well know.  Is there any one thing or reference you keep handy when writing? Anything you kept around for this particular book?

I did a lot of research on the internet for this book. I keep my subscription to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary current so I can regularly check on words that were used in the middle ages. I try to avoid using words or objects that were not in use in the 14thcentury, although it’s virtually impossible to completely eliminate them all. But it was helpful to check on the origin of words. And it’s just plain fun. Let’s face it. I’m a word geek.

Oh, we have so much in common!! What lessons have you learned through the publication process that you wouldn't have guessed as a pre-published writer?

There are many stresses and problems that come along with getting published. I was told that ahead of time, but I didn’t really know how things would be until I experienced it for myself. I had so many questions, but the people with the answers had jobs to do and I often didn’t even know who to ask. And there was so much marketing I wanted to do, and only so many hours in the day! Many problems and anxieties cropped up that I hadn’t anticipated. It’s been a whirlwind! But at the same time, I wouldn’t trade this wild ride for anything.

Crazy, isn't it? Aside from writing, what takes up most of your time?

Marketing stuff, definitely. I try to do my part to get the word out about my book, but I never realized how all-consuming it could become. And the fact that the experts say the first three months after a book is released are the most critical, well, that just makes me put more pressure on myself! But I am trying to get back into the book I was writing a few months ago, before things got so crazy.

Do you remember where you were when you got The Call about your book being contracted?

I was taking a nap in my bedroom on Veterans’ Day, 2009, and my husband and kids were at the Veterans’ Day parade. I had been praying, just before I fell asleep, that God would make Zondervan love my book and that they would publish it. (I knew the editor was taking the book to the publishing board some time that month but I didn’t know when.) And I prayed that if Zondervan decided not to publish it, that God would help me not get too depressed. So when my agent called and woke me up, I was in shock. It took a while for it to sink in.

LOL. Think it was a dream? =) Any upcoming releases we should keep our eye out for?

I am hoping Zondervan is going to publish my second YA medieval fairy tale retelling, a Beauty and the Beast story that is on my editor’s desk right now. They were really fast getting The Healer’s Apprentice out, so it might not be that long before you’ll see the next one! I hope!

~*~

Thanks for visiting, Melanie! I'm praying Zondervan buys that next book too, because this one was truly a delight. Readers, you can check out her website at www.melaniedickerson.com
and find her books at Amazon, ChristianBook, and CrossPurposes.

Void where prohibited. Entry into the contest is considered verification of eligibility based on your local laws. Chance of winning depends on number of entries. Contest ends 10/28/10. Winner will have two weeks to claim prize. 

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Thoughtful About . . . Growing Up

So on Saturday, my first baby turns 5. This feels pretty landmark to me. Five means school (yes, we've been doing that for two months already, but it still felt ahead of the game). Five means a more focused attention span. Five means endless coloring and playing with one toy rather than running around in circles (most of the time, LOL). Five means a KID rather than a baby, toddler, or preschooler. Sheesh. When did my baby get so big?

I'm enjoying this transition, for the most part, and we're having fun planning her party for Saturday. Unlike past years when the family gathered at my house, this year we're gathering at Chick-Fil-A instead. The kids will all get meals (I'd like to say on the house, but they're on me, ha ha), t-shirts, and balloons. Moreover, they'll get to tear around the play area rather than my living room. Mwa ha ha ha.

I'm still in charge of the cake, and this is what we've decided on. Though Xoe requested a scarier face. Which I find totally funny, since this girl's a scaredy cat. =) (For anyone wondering how this cake is made, it's actually really easy. Two bundt cakes, one turned upside down so the flats are against each other. The stem is an ice cream cone covered in icing. Cool, eh?)

And yes, that's the extent of my brilliant musing today. I haven't had my coffee yet, and my brain won't kick into gear. My only other prevalent thoughts concern a vacation being forced upon me that I really don't want to take, but why waste a blog post with whining? ;-)

Oh, in good writing-related news, my first crit partner just got edits back to me on Jewel of Persia and now loves the ending she was iffy about on the first draft. Which is good, because I added a ton to the end as I deleted from the beginning. She's the first to have read both, and I was sooooo hoping she agreed with me on its level of better-ness. Woo hoo!

Now. Coffee. Coffee, coffee, coffee, coffee, coffee . . .

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Remember When . . . It Was Time to Switch Gears?

So after six months in Ancient Persia, a thought or two spared for the 1920s, and then a week in Regency England, I am yet again shifting gears. Why, you ask? What can she possibly be working on now?

Well, as it happens, it's time to buckle down and work on my story set in Annapolis of 1784. This story is penciled into a publisher's 2012 schedule (this is nothing official, mind you, though promising), and the editor said she would want to see the full (or whatever I have done) in January or so. So . . . time to get something done on it!

I've been helping myself out by reading Golden Keyes Parsons' Where Hearts are Free, which is set in 17th century Philadelphia. Not exactly 18th century Annapolis, but closer than I've been, and it at least gets me in the mood for it. I also just joined a Colonial American writing list, which, again, technically cuts off about five years before my book starts, but that one I deem close enough. =) I think today I might break out my delightful book on the history of Annapolis that shares hilarious insights like "he, like a proper English gentleman, died of the gout."

I think I may also call the historical society down there and get them in on the fun of this. I'm really looking forward to diving into history that I'm already acquainted with, in a town whose historic district I've lived, schooled, and worked in. I just love Annapolis.

And, of course, I get to dive back into the minds of my heroine seeking the liberty her brother just fought for, and my hero who needs to realize that this new country is about far more than duty. Yay!

Oh, on a side note, my companion guide for Jewel of Persia is now complete and ready for your viewing pleasure on my website.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Winners!

Doing two drawing at once this morning. First, the winner of Vickie McDonough's Second Chance Brides is . . .

Merry! (worthy2bpraised!)

Congrats! I'm sending you an email.
~*~
And the winner of Penny Zeller's McKenzie is . . .

sonflower277 at gmail dot com 

Congrats to you too! Off to email you both.

Story Time . . . THE SNOWFLAKE by Jamie Carie

I was privileged to get to read The Snowflake by Jamie Carie before it released, and now that it's available I'm excited to share this awesome Christmas story with you.

The Snowflake

The ice has closed in on their steamer, winter has descended on the frozen north in full power . . . and there's still a long way to Dawson City. The call of the gold rush is strong enough that many of the men on the boat are willing to brave the tundra for their stake, but when Ellen's brother insists they join the team that will dogsled into the Yukon, Ellen doesn't know if it's their best chance at life or certain death. But she knows one thing—Buck is leading the sledding team, and for some reason, she trusts him. Maybe, just maybe, they'll survive till Christmas. And maybe, just maybe, this year Christmas will be worth celebrating.

Buck can't believe the man with the strange glint in his eye has dragged his beautiful sister into this kind of situation, but he's determined to keep her safe—as he couldn't do his wife. He already lost one woman to the dangers inherent in this land. If he has to break his own rules to keep Ellen safe, then he will. Even if it costs him his heart.

Not since the work of Jack London have I felt so a part of the Alaskan wilderness. Jamie Carie has taken a dangerous journey through rugged terrain, tossed in two soul-weary sojourners looking for renewed intimacy with the Lord, and crafted a love story as delicate and startlingly beautiful as a snowflake.

The heroine, Ellen, combines vulnerability with strength of character in a way that made me love her immediately. Tied to her mentally-ill brother all her life, she's never known anything but sacrifice. When she begins to see that the Lord loves her, sacrificed for her . . . ah—a sweeter creature you'll be hard-pressed to find. And Buck! I love a strong, noble hero, and Buck delivers. Haunted by past mistakes, he's nevertheless a man of limitless heart—the kind who, even when struggling with his own faith, manages to show others the love the Lord has for them.

The Snowflake is a short read that will stay with you a long time. You don't want to miss curling up with this heart-warming story on a cold winter's night this holiday season!


Monday, October 18, 2010

My New Cover!!

I'm far too excited about my new cover design to talk about anything else today. =) Many of my friends have already seen it on Facebook, but in case you missed it . . .

Isn't it just awesome?? I am so stinking impressed with Tekeme Studios. For good reason, eh?

Story behind the cover--George of Tekeme couldn't exactly find any images of Ancient Persia that he could use that were anything but ruins or museum exhibits, so he took what he could find, added an image of a fireplace mantel to serve as the entryway, and then went in and added all that color by hand. Isn't he just above and beyond?? (Oh, and the dark spots you see on her arm is just the texture, which will be removed--I just didn't want to wait for the next version to share with you, LOL.)

On a similar note, I'm in the process of constructing the Companion Guide for Jewel of Persia over at my website. If you hop over there, you can not only learn a bit about the culture and my sources, but you can see some of the other images of the cover model and some cool pics and paintings of Persia (for those of you who have already read my musings about the ancients on here). Let me know what you think! (And no, the guide is not complete yet--only the colored links are actually active. But the rest will be up today!)

Getting excited over here! This book is going to happen!!!

Friday, October 15, 2010

My Friend Jill - Interview & Giveaway

Today Jill Elizabeth Nelson's with us again, this time to talk about her latest book, Legacy of Lies. Hope you're a fan of romantic suspense! (I mean, really--who isn't??)

Jill has offered a signed copy to one lucky reader, so leave your comments below with an email address. And be sure you're a follower!




~*~

About Jill

Jill Elizabeth Nelson writes what she likes to read—tales of adventure seasoned with romance, humor, and faith, earning her the tagline: Endless Adventure, Timeless Truth. She was delightfully astonished this year to receive the prestigious Carol Award in the Short Contemporary Suspense category for her 2009 release, Evidence of Murder. Jill speaks regularly at conferences, writer’s groups, library associations, and civic and church groups. When teaching classes for writers, she thrills to bring the Ahah! moment to her students as they make a new skill their own. Jill and her husband live in rural Minnesota where they raised four children and are currently enjoying their first grandchild. Visit Jill on the web at http://www.jillelizabethnelson.com

~*~

About Legacy of Lies


Secrets Buried Deep!

Evidence from a decades-old murder is the last thing Nicole Keller-Mattson expected to find in her grandmother’s back yard, but the finger-pointing and accusations leveled at her family came as no surprise. Everyone in Ellington is eager to blame the Kellers—but after an attack leaves Nicole’s grandmother in a coma, only Nicole can clear the family name. With the assistance of police chief Rich Hendricks, she stands a chance of solving the mystery . . . if she’s willing to accept Rich’s help. Nicole lost her policeman husband in the line of duty—getting close to another cop is too painful. But keeping her distance could be deadly. 

~*~



What's your latest book?

Legacy of Lies released in September from Steeple Hill. I had a blast writing this story, because it gave me the opportunity to explore the politics of small-town life. As a life-long resident of a variety of rural communities, I had loads of personal experience and observation to draw from when crafting the story.

Oh, fun! I've always lived in smaller areas too, but I try to avoid the politics. =) What's your favorite part of the story?

I really enjoyed writing the elderly characters in Legacy of Lies. Since the initial crime occurred half a century ago, the plot offered lots of interaction with a senior generation of characters. I’ve worked for nearly 20 years now in an elder-care setting—both assisted living and nursing home. Older folks constantly amaze me, some by their strength and maturity, and some by their behaviors in line with a second childhood.

What a unique twist to the story! Love it. Is there a theme to this book?

In Legacy of Lies, I was particularly interested to explore the affects past sins and secrets can have on a tight-knit community and how the illusion of power is always trumped by the immutable laws of God. We do reap what we sow, no matter how grand and invincible we imagine ourselves to be.

The scripture I used at the front of the book was Psalm 37: 10 – 11 from the NIV version of the Bible: A little while and the wicked will be no more; Though you look for them, they will not be found. But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy great peace. I comfort myself with these words quite often when I see the injustices in the world.


Very cool. And I recall interviewing you about the "generational curse" idea many, many moons ago. I love this new twist. Not exactly generational, but still the idea of sin being unable to escape its consequences. Okay, next question. What's your favorite genre to write? To read?

I’m writing in my favorite genre to read and write. The first novel I ever wrote was a mystery. That was in the sixth grade, and the world is grateful that not a shred of the manuscript yet exists. LOL. I’m a fan of puzzles of all sorts, so that tendency translates into my taste in reading material. I’ll lay a book down, though, if I can figure out “who dunnit” within the first few chapters. When I write, I’m a stickler about making the mystery aspect of my plot a challenge to figure out beforehand, and yet quite clear in hindsight once the truth is revealed. I leave my readers to tell me if I’ve succeeded.

What writing goal have you set for yourself that would be the hardest (or unlikeliest) but most rewarding to achieve?

Ever since a goal-setting session at an American Christian Fiction Writers conference a couple of years ago, I’ve carried in my purse a blue, 3 X 5 index card bearing a list entitled, “Five ‘Impossible’ Goals for God to Make Possible.” One of those “impossibilities” came to pass a month ago when, Evidence of Murder, one of my 2009 releases won the ACFW Carol Award in the short romantic suspense category. Wha-hoo! I had considered that goal to be somewhere in the nebulous cloud of my long-term future. God sure worked fast!

(Roseanna interjecting a hearty "Congrats!!")

One of the other items on my “impossible” list is the publication of a manuscript I wrote nearly a decade ago. The story remains near and dear to my heart, and I see vast ministry possibilities for it. Many have told me this story has a lot of strikes against it for traditional publication. Well, then, perhaps the Lord will do something untraditional. Hah! 

I wouldn't put it past him! =)

~*~


Thanks for visiting, Jill! Readers, you can check out her website at http://www.jillelizabethnelson.com  and find her books at Amazon.

Void where prohibited. Entry into the contest is considered verification of eligibility based on your local laws. Chance of winning depends on number of entries. Contest ends 10/21/10. Winner will have two weeks to claim prize. 

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Thoughtful About . . . Seasons, Holidays, and Halloween

(First, a sidenote--I'm featured today at Stepping Stones Magazine for Readers, so go check out the letter I wrote you!)

Now that I have a school-age kiddo, I've found that an awful lot of focus in our house in on the season and holidays coming up. Kind of amazing how they go from clueless to completely into celebrating over the course of a few years, isn't it?

I've put a lot of thought into the way we celebrate things, and it inevitably comes up for me this time of year. All the kids' shows (and I mean ALL) are focused on Halloween. I can see why they like to be--to the politically-correct way of thought, this is a safe holiday. There's no religious attachment to worry about ignoring or getting in trouble for not ignoring. It's just costumes and candy, right? And boy do my kids get excited about it!

Then I inevitably come across something that expounds on the evils of Halloween and how it's the most un-Christian holiday you ever could see. I have friends who avoid anything Halloween at all costs. I'm still trying to figure out my own stance, and maybe y'all can help me.

See, here's the thing. The history of it dates back to the days when Christians and pagans were still butting heads in the British isles. Halloween is the night before All Hollow's Day (aka All Saints Day), the day on the Catholic calender that is devoted to honoring all the saints not already honored on their own days. A holy day. Halloween is kind of . . . almost like a Mardi Gras before lent for the pagans. A day of black magic, sorcery, and spells. So yeah, I get the evil thing. But our traditions? Those come from people attempting to stay apart from it. Jack o' lanterns, for example, were first carved into scary faces to frighten away the evil spirits--and those who would bring them to a house. I've heard that trick or treating is a terrible thing, but it actually has similar roots. It can be viewed negatively, but . . .

Well, but so can the Christmas tree. So can the Easter egg. And if we're on that subject, um, hello--"Easter" is named after the Roman goddess for spring, not for the resurrection. If we're taking issue with holidays . . . But seriously. How many of our Christmas traditions, so beloved, are rooted in paganism? A lot.

And you know what? I'm okay with all that--because the whole point is that Christians integrated what was not sacred into their traditions and made it sacred by stripping it of old meaning and giving it new. I don't believe that things, all by themselves, carry particular meaning (generally speaking, of course--there are exceptions)--it's a matter of the meaning we give it.

So I keep coming back to the fact that I can't have a problem with Halloween if I'm not going to have one with Christmas trees, Easter eggs, and who-knows-what-else. Why not have fun with costumes and candy, so long as my kids are taught the difference between good and evil, the dangers people once faced on that day, and the importance of recognizing the saints, like All Hollow's Day is meant to do?

On that theory, I looked up some Catholic Halloween sites, thinking to get a good grounding for ways to make the holiday line up with a moral code. Interestingly, I found their suggestions way scarier than any Halloween party I wanted to go to! (It involved taking your kids through a graveyard to talk about those who have gone before, and having someone jump out from behind a tombstone to frighten them--fright is apparently a crucial part of the sacred holiday, too!)

So anyway. I know people get really upset by Halloween, and I'm happy to hear their points of view. I would, in fact, welcome any corrections, since I know many of these folks have done their homework on the subject better than I have. Or if you do celebrate it, I'd love to hear why. All I know if that if I wanted to keep my kids away from it, I'd have to cut off all TV, Story Time, and keep them out of public for the entire month of October.

All in all, I think my favorite way of someone making this day sacred was my friend Karlene's family, who took her kids out trick-or-treating, yes--and together the family stopped and prayed at each house they visited, covering each and every place they went with the Lord's blessing. Cool, huh? A trick-or-treating prayer walk!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Remember When . . . Everything Had a Story?

In our homeschooling, we read one children's book each of the school days and discuss a different aspect of it each day. This week we're reading The Rag Coat by Lauren Mills, which takes place in turn-of-the-century Appalachia, in a coal-mining town. The premise is that the character, Minna, is too poor to afford a coat, so all the mothers of the community pool their scraps and quilt her a multi-colored coat that she says is like Joseph's coat of many colors. She loves it because each scrap is a story, and now she carries a piece of each of her friends with her to keep her warm.

Being from the Appalachians ourselves, I'm loving this book. It's so cool to see visuals of that era-gone-by, and I've been amazed at how much Xoe actually knows about it. I can point to any of the old-fashioned things in the illustrations, and she'll say, "Oh, that's the thing that blows out air on the fire" (a bellows) and "that's the tub with the stick in it that you make butter with" and "that's an oil lamp, silly--it looks like the one on our shelf! Remember, you got it from Gran-nan!"

I love this because as she identifies everything, she puts a story to it--just like Minna with her coat. It was all "Nonna has one of those" and "That was in that story you read to us before, about the pancake." Our assignment for the story yesterday involved that storytelling aspect, and it recommended we get down a quilt and recall the stories in the squares. But, alas, we don't have a quilt quite like that.

It was in casting around for something similar, though, that I realized my daughter does this already, with everything. There's no such thing as as simple answer with her. Everything's a story. It's never just, "Look at my new sparkly red shoes." It's "Look at my new sparkly red shoes--they're like that girl's from the Oz movie, with the wizard and the lion and the man made of metal, and she clicked them together . . . " =)

I love that about my sweet little girl. And I love the storytelling tendency in general. Do you have a memento or heirloom that's your favorite, not because of monetary worth, but because of the story attached? I'd love to hear it!

Winner!

And the winner of Shannon Vannatter's White Doves is . . .

Cathy W! (cjwallace43@ . . .)

I'm sending you and email now, Cathy! Congrats!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Story Time with Penny Zeller - Interview & Giveaway

Today I'm excited to welcome Penny Zeller to my blog to talk about her novel, McKenzie. Penny and I started emailing a while back while she was still in the seeking-endorsement stage of publication, and I was thrilled to get to help her out with out. And now all of you get a taste of her historical romance!

Penny's generously offered a copy of McKenzie to one lucky reader, so as usual, leave your comments below with an email address. And be sure to follow if you don't already!

~*~

About Penny

Penny Zeller is the author of several books and numerous magazine articles. She writes the humor blog “A Day in the Life of a Wife, Mom, and Author” (www.pennyzeller.wordpress.com), is an active volunteer in her community, serving as a women’s Bible study small-group leader and co-organizing a women’s prayer group. Her passion is to use the gift of the written word to glorify God and to benefit His Kingdom. She devotes her time to assisting, encouraging, and nurturing women and children into a closer relationship with Christ. When she’s not dreaming up new characters for books, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends and camping, hiking, canoeing, gardening, and playing volleyball.

~*~

About McKenzie

Desperate times call for desperate measures is the reasoning that prompts McKenzie Worthington, a young lady of Boston's high society, to respond to an ad for a mail-order bride for a man in the Montana Territory. McKenzie is desperate, after all, to save her beloved younger sister, Kaydie, from her evil, abusive husband, who robs banks for a living. And so, it is with reckless determination that McKenzie runs away from the comforts of home and hearth to head West and meet her new husband-whom she'll divorce, of course, after she rescues her sister.

Desperate times call for desperate measures is the reasoning that also prompts Zachary Sawyer, a rugged rancher after God's own heart, to post an ad for a mail-order bride in various newspapers across the country. Managing a ranch and caring for his adoptive son, Davey, has become more than one man can handle alone, and Zach prays for God to send him a wife with whom to build a life and share his dreams.

When McKenzie arrives at Zach's ranch, she immediately puts her plan in motion, searching for her sister and doing all she can to keep her new husband from forming an attachment. But his persistent kindness and significant self-sacrifices begin to change her heart-and ruin her plans. God has a way of working things out to the good of those who love Him, though, as McKenzie and Kaydie will soon see.

~*~

Welcome, Penny! What's your latest book?

My latest book is titled McKenzie and is the first in my Montana Skies Series. It is a Christian historical romance and was released September 1, 2010 by Whitaker House.

I actually got my copy in the mail not long ago. =) It's sitting on my READ THESE! shelf, just waiting for me to have time to finish it, LOL. What do you hope your readers will get out of the story?

Writing is my ministry and I hope my readers will get from McKenzie the power of God’s love, redemption, hope, and forgiveness. Readers will get a glimpse inside McKenzie’s life and see that God can and does change hearts.

What's your favorite genre to write? To read?

Historical fiction is my favorite genre to write, followed by contemporary fiction. In third place would be nonfiction, which I also enjoy writing as well. As for reading, I would have to say my favorite is historical fiction. There’s something neat about being able to pick up this genre and escape into a simpler time.

Ah, blissful sigh. I just love historicals. What lessons have you learned through the publication process that you wouldn't have guessed as a pre-published writer?

That the hardest work comes after the book is published!

Yeah, what's up with that?? Shouldn't we just be able to move into our mansions where our mad genius can terrorize the help? ;-) Okay, back to reality. Are there any people (family, writing group, editors) who you rely on when writing?

I rely heavily on my family, both immediate and extended. My husband, Lon, and my two young daughters are very supportive. I also rely on my friend, Barb, who reads through everything I write and offers comments before I send it to my publisher. Then of course, I rely on my editor, Courtney, at Whitaker House. She always has wonderful suggestions and is awesome to work with.

Here's one of my favorite questions: if someone were to give you $5,000 to spend on anything you wanted, what would you buy? (No saving or gifts to charities allowed!)

No charities, saving, or gifts? What about paying bills? *grins* Actually, I would take my family on a vacation or buy my husband flying lessons, since it’s always been a dream of his to learn how to fly. And if there’s any money leftover, I’d probably buy a cute new outfit since I love clothes!

I sometimes dream about walking into "my" closet and seeing rack after rack of adorable clothes. Somehow, they're never there when I wake up. LOL. What writing goal have you set for yourself that would be the most rewarding to achieve?

That a reader’s life would be impacted for Christ through one of my books. That is my ultimate goal.

Beautifully noble. So what are you writing right now?

I am working on Book Three in my Montana Skies Series, which will take fans of the series into the lives of more Pine Haven characters and a glimpse at the main character’s chance for love in an unexpected place! I am also starting a new series that takes place in the Civil War era.

Fun! Any upcoming releases we should keep our eye out for?

Book Two in my Montana Skies Series, Kaydie, will be released in April 2011.  Here is a short blurb:

For the first time in years, Kaydie Worthington Kraemer can breathe easily. Although she is still haunted by memories of her abusive husband, Darius, she takes comfort in knowing the man is dead. Staying with her sister McKenzie and brother-in-law, Zach Sawyer, at their ranch, Kaydie is still wary of men, especially now that she has another life inside of her to protect. As she looks forward to her baby's birth, she builds a protective wall around herself that won't be easy to tear down.

Ranch hand Jonah Dickenson views his boss, Zach, like a brother. He does not, however, envy Zach's new role as a husband. Deserted by his mother at a young age and forever despised and rejected by his own father, Jonah has few close relationships. But there's something about Kaydie that draws him to her and makes him question his decision to remain a bachelor.

When Cedric Van Aulst, an old friend of Kaydie's, comes to town, an unforeseen prospect of marriage arises. Cedric is someone Kaydie trusts. Will she settle for a safe union with him, or can she trust God to guard her heart and her life in the arms of Jonah?

(A side note: readers can read the first two chapters of Kaydie in the back of McKenzie).

Sounds great! Is there another author who has greatly influenced your writing?

Sharlene MacLaren has influenced me in that I have “adopted” her as my mentor. She is a gifted writer with a wonderful and encouraging personality. Plus, I love to read her books! Another author who has influenced my writing is Janette Oke. I love that her books touch the heart and are wholesome and God-honoring.

Oh, Shar's such a sweetie! It's impossible not to be her friend, isn't it? =)

~*~

Thanks for visiting, Penny! Readers, you can check out her website at www.pennyzeller.com and her blog at www.pennyzeller.wordpress.com and find her books at Amazon, ChristianBook or CrossPurposes.

Void where prohibited. Entry into the contest is considered verification of eligibility based on your local laws. Chance of winning depends on number of entries. Contest ends 10/18/10. Winner will have two weeks to claim prize.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Modern . . . New Ideas

So after sending out proposals for approximately everything I've ever written (okay, not everything, but a lot!) I obviously have these crazy thoughts. Like, "What if, rather than the historicals I've been writing, it's my contemporaries they want? If that's the case, then they'd expect me have more of them . . . so what would I give them?"

If Yesterday's Tides clicks with a pub team, then cool--I've got that series planned out, and even an idea for a follow-up series. But if by some strange chance someone wanted my romantic suspense . . . do I have any more ideas for those? Hmm.

I probably have a few ideas in my Documents folder that could redone for the cause. But considering that option isn't nearly so interesting as coming up with a new one, right? So my brain goes to the random, not at all fleshed out idea I had on vacation. My hubby had just bought me an absolutely gorgeous larmiar necklace, and I was reading the brochure about larimar on the way home.

For all of you who are like I was two months ago, you have no clue what larimar even is, let alone why there's a whole brochure about it. Well, crash course. It looks like this picture. Back in the 70s, some dude who was visiting the Domincan Republic came across a stone like this while washing in a river, and he had never seen anything like it--for good reason. This particular gem exists in only one square kilometer in the world, in the midst of the Dominican rain forest. He named it larimar after his daughter Larissa and mar, the Spanish word for "sea," since the stone calls the ocean to mind.

Larimar is the rarest gemstone on the planet, and last year they began mining the last layer of it. So naturally, my little brain thinks, "Something that rare, and just about gone . . . there has to be a story in there somewhere!"

I've got an inkling of an idea, but I'd love some brainstorming, just for fun. Anybody have any fun suggestions for how to use this information in a suspenseful story?

Winner!

And the winner of Margaret Brownley's A Suitor for Jenny is . . .

Debbie! (Dreilly316@ . . .)

Congrats, Debbie! I just sent you an email.

Friday, October 8, 2010

My Friend Vickie - Interview & Giveaway

Today I'm happy to welcome Vickie McDonough back to my blog. A few months ago she gave away one of her Heartsong series and now I'm tickled to talk with her about Second Chance Brides, book two in the Texas Boardinghouse Brides series from Barbour.

Vickie is offering a copy to one lucky reader, so please leave a comment below with your email address for a chance to win. And be sure to click "Follow" if you haven't already!

~*~

About Vickie

Vickie McDonough is an award-winning author of 20 books and novellas. Vickie’s books have won the Inspirational Reader's Choice Contest, Texas Gold, and the ACFW Noble Theme contest, and she has been a multi-year finalist in ACFW’s BOTY contest. The Anonymous Bride, book one in her debut trade fiction series the Texas Boardinghouse Brides, released this spring, and the sequel, Second Chance Brides, is now available. Vickie's books promise An Adventure into Romance.

Vickie and her husband live in Oklahoma. She is a wife of thirty-five years, mother of four grown sons and grandma to a feisty four-year-old girl. When she’s not writing, Vickie enjoys reading, gardening, watching movies, and traveling. To learn more about Vickie’s books, visit her website: www.vickiemcdonough.com

~*~

What's your latest book?

Second Chance Brides, book 2 in the Texas Boardinghouse Brides series
Barbour, April 2010

Here’s a blurb:

Rejected mail-order brides, Shannon O’Neil and Leah Bennett, are stranded in Lookout, Texas, without husbands or future plans. Thankfully, the marshal has ordered the rascally Corbett brothers to pay for the women’s lodging at the boardinghouse, since they were the ones who brought the women to town in the first place. But the brothers are searching for a way to marry off the women and be free of their financial burden. Getting into the matchmaking business doesn’t sound as far-fetched as it once did. Will the Corbett brothers’ idea of hosting Saturday socials really bring these women the kind of loves they long for? Or will their plans backfire?


Okay, that sounds like flat-out FUN. What's your favorite part of the story?


I loved making Mark squirm as he wrestled with falling in love and at the same time not wanting to and feeling worthy of a woman’s love. Also, I enjoyed seeing more of Jack, the daughter of the boardinghouse owner. In book 2, she is still causing trouble and battling her nemesis, the town bully.

Make 'em squirm! =) What was the hardest part to write?


There is a scene where one bride walks away from her fiancĂ©e when he’s in a big bind and needs her deeply. That was hard to write. I wanted to help him, but that wasn’t something my female character could do at the time.

Always tough on us, though, isn't it? What do you hope your readers will get out of the story?

It’s my hope that readers are entertained and taken away from their own worries and struggles while they’re enjoying Second Chance Brides. But more importantly, is that I hope they will see that God is always several steps ahead of them. Even though they may be going through hard times, like Shannon and Leah in my book, there is always a way out. If we turn to God, He can bring us through the difficult times and help us learn something in the process.

So true! Is there a theme to this book?

Trusting God during hard times.

What's your favorite genre to write? To read?

That’s an easy question. Historical Christian romance—and if the book has a cowboy, lawman, or rancher, that’s even better. I watched all the westerns of the 1960s and early ‘70s with my dad and fell in love with them way back then.

Is there any one thing or reference you keep handy when writing? Anything you kept around for this particular book?


I love using the book Heroes and Heroines: Sixteen Master Archetypes when I’m first creating my characters. It lists the 8 archetypes for heroes and 8 for heroines and tells their strong and weak points. It also explains how the different male and female archetypes mesh and clash, which I find very helpful when developing the conflict of my books.

Sounds like a good one! Aside from writing, what takes up most of your time?

I’m primary caregiver to my partially handicapped mom. She can’t leave her home without assistance, and I do all her errands, things at her home that she isn’t able to, and fix some of her meals. I also pick up my four-year-old granddaughter from school two days a week and watch her until her mom gets off work.

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


I’d buy an Ipad and then probably use the rest to get the outside of my house painted. That’s our next big project.

Those things look sooooo cool! Any funny family stories about living with a writer?

I have three grown sons still living at home, although one is currently at college and another just deployed this past weekend to Egypt. They got in the habit of calling before coming home from work and asking, “Did you cook tonight?” They learned that when I’m on deadline, dinner is usually pizza, carryout Chinese, leftovers—or whatever they choose to but on their way home.

Reminds me of a Facebook status my hubby saw a while back: "How am I supposed to make dinner when the Pizza Hut website isn't working?" LOL. Any upcoming releases we should keep our eye out for?

I’m in a Christmas novella collection that just released. Christmas Mail Order Brides tells the tale of four brave—and sometimes desperate—young women who travel the transcontinental railroad to marry men they’ve never met.

Heartsong Presents is releasing the first book in a South Carolina trilogy in December. It’s called Mutiny of the Heart. The other two books, Indigo Dreams and Dueling Hearts will release in 2011.

Also, Finally A Bride, the third book in my Texas Boardinghouse Brides releases next April. It’s set ten years later than the first two books. Jack is the heroine, and she’s now a young woman, but she still finds herself in odd predicaments. Garrett, one of the Corbett brothers, also gets lassoed by a most-unexpected woman.

~*~

Thanks for visiting again, Vickie! Readers, you can check out her website at www.vickiemcdonough.com and find her books at Amazon, ChristianBook or CrossPurposes.

Void where prohibited. Entry into the contest is considered verification of eligibility based on your local laws. Chance of winning depends on number of entries. Contest ends 10/14/10. Winner will have two weeks to claim prize.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Thoughtful About . . . Taking That Leap

I'm a by-the-books person. Can you tell that about me from blog posts? I mean, I can't help it. I just love books so, so much. ;-) Okay, so I imagine it's more that following rules is ingrained so deeply within me . . . other than a few minor rebellions when the rules went against something even deeper ingrained (like, say, logic), I was the one who listened.

In some strange and perhaps useless way, I approach the publishing industry according to rules too. For instance, once I signed with an agent I left all communication with editors to her, except for at writers conferences, of course. In my mind, this is just the way it was done. This was the way to be professional. And, well, leaving the business end to her meant I only worried about writing. Right?

But given that I didn't make it to the ACFW conference this year, and given that my agent has a little more to worry with than just me, and given that I still hadn't heard back on anything sent out upon request after last year's conference, I gave it some prayer and had the feeling it was time to break this "rule" I had in my mind. I emailed my agent to get her okay (I am such a goody-goody, LOL) and then dropped a few "Hi, remember me? Just checking in" notes to a few different editors.

I must pause to say that God is so stinkin' cool. No, no one immediately replied with, "What, didn't you get the contract we sent you??" (ha!), but I did get a couple "Of course I remember you!"s and, when I asked these editors what they might be looking for now and proceeded to pitch pretty much everything I have in my Documents folder, I got requests, between them, for pretty much everything I have in my Documents folder. (Did you all hear me squealing in surprised glee last Thursday evening??) Also got the news that one of my projects in penciled into a publisher's 2012 schedule.

Does this guarantee a contract with a major publisher? Um, no. But what it does do is remind me that (a) God knows what's he's talking about (duh, right?) (b) boost my confidence and (c) establish connections.

So back to work I go. FYI, my blog today was either going to be about this or the dream I had right before waking that involved a very poor rewrite of the Twilight saga, which I then apparently recognized was a poor rewrite, and which was then about how the characters put the story back the way it should go. (I'm such a dork, LOL.) It also involved an alligator under my couch. Don't ask me why. I really, really don't know. ;-)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Remember When . . . You Had to Rediscover an Old Love?

So I found myself rather unexpectedly working on a Regency-era romance this week. It's fun, and interesting. I've always loved regencies, and in college I read so many novels written at the time and in the time that it was pretty natural to come up with an idea for a story set there of my own. But . . . well, then I left it hanging and pursued other eras, other books.

With the resurgence of popularity of regencies, though, I've broken this novel back out--and, as usual, realized my research from back-in-the-day was awful. I'd started the revision process a few months ago and even written out a solid outline for the story, but still. There were some details missing. For instance, my hero still lived in ###. Ever been there? Yeah, me neither, LOL. So Roseanna had to go on a virtual tour of England and figure out where it would best be set.

I decided on a little town called Bishop's Waltham outside Winchester, in Hampshire. My hubby got a kick out of this, because a nearby county to us here is Hampshire, WV . . . which is rather near Winchester, VA . . . and there's a school in Cumberland only a few letters off from Bishop's Waltham. His reaction: "Do we live in Little England or something?" LOL.

Anyway, doing this research has proven to me yet again how much I love this stuff. The research itself, the places I learn about, the whole culture of 200 years ago. It's so awesome. I learned that Bishop's Waltham was a parole town during the Napoleonic Wars, for instance, where French officers were held as prisoners of war. I learned that there are sand boils in the moor for my heroine to got lost in (he he he). And that what is hailed as King Arthur's Round Table is on display at the Great Hall in Winchester. All sorts of cool things for my characters to experience!

Happy sigh. I love my job. =)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Story Time with Shannon Vannatter - Interview & Giveaway

I'm happy to welcome Shannon Vannatter back to my blog. She was here a few months ago talk about White Roses, and today she's talking about her next book, White Doves.

Shannon has graciously offered a copy to one lucky reader, so as usual leave your comments below with a way for me to reach you. And be sure to click the "Follow" button if you haven't already!

~*~

About White Doves

Romance wasn’t what Laken had in mind.

Laken Kroft left home eight years ago and never looked back. Who knew when she applied for the promotion to postmaster that she'd end up in Romance, Arkansas, and much too close to her parents, the town drunk and the local gossip maven?

Hayden Winters has his hands full raising his paraplegic nephew, Brady, and wrestling his guilt over having caused the child's injury. When the boy's father, Laken's brother, turns up and starts talking custody, Laken's influence is Hayden's only hope. But whose side is she really on?

~*~

About Shannon

Central Arkansas author, Shannon Taylor Vannatter is a stay-at-home mom/pastor’s wife/writer. White Roses her debut novel is available through heartsongpresents.com and hits store shelves in November. Two more books in the series will follow: White Doves releases to the book club in October and stores in April and White Pearls releases to the book club in January and stores in July. Her blog, The Inkslinger, is a celebration of romance and marriage with true love stories, inspirational author’s real-life romances, insight into the love lives of their fictional characters, book excerpts, romantic destinations, and weekly romance novel giveaways.

~*~

What's your latest book?

White Doves releases to the Heartsong Present’s book club in October and in stores in April.


What's your favorite part of the story?

The opening. The heroine is openly checking out the hero. I love that concept for a change. Several years back, there was a Coke commercial with a woman in her office checking out the cute construction guy down on the street. I loved that commercial, except that it played a tacky song. The opening of White Doves is my take on that commercial, only cleaner.


Oh, that sounds like fun! I do like a new twist on something like that. =) What's your favorite genre to write? To read?

Romance on both counts. My first several books were romantic suspense. Back when I started, late 1999, there really wasn’t a market for it yet. And I soon realized I wasn’t really that good at it. I don’t like writing physical fight scenes or researching forensics. I finally attended a conference and heard a speaker say writers should pay attention to what they read the most and that’s very probably the genre they should write. I had a “Duh” moment and switched genres.

Sounds like something I've done, LOL. What are you reading right now—and what do you want to read next?

I’m reading Making Waves, my critique partner, Lorna Seilstad’s debut novel. Even though I read the book before Lorna’s editor did, it’s fun to hold the finished product in my hands in book form.

Oh, I got one in the mail a while back--and promptly sent it out to another reviewer, I believe. It looked so great! What lessons have you learned through the publication process that you wouldn't have guessed as a pre-published writer?

Publication is when the real work starts. I didn’t know it would be a full time job and I thought once I finally sold a book, I wouldn’t get rejections anymore.

Ha! If only, right? Any funny family stories about living with a writer?

One wintery day, my son and I were playing an African Safari game on his Playstation.

Our church treasurer called, “Did I catch you at a good time?”

I said, “I’m just hunting cape buffalo.”

She paused a minute. “Is this a book?”

LOL. Never can tell with us, can you? What are you writing right now?

I recently finished the first book in a potential Rodeo series and sent it to my editor. While I wait for a decision, I’m working on a full length romance featuring an estranged married couple, who’ve both become Christians since their estrangement.

Any upcoming releases we should keep our eye out for?

The final book in the Romance, AR series is White Pearls. It releases to the book club in January and stores in July.

~*~

Thanks for visiting again, Shannon! Readers, be sure to check out the wonderful romance blog she hosts at http://shannonvannatter.com. You can purchase it from the publisher.

Void where prohibited. Entry into the contest is considered verification of eligibility based on your local laws. Chance of winning depends on number of entries. Contest ends 10/11/10. Winner will have two weeks to claim prize.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Modern . . . Familiarity

Oddly enough, research for a historical gave me the idea for this one. Which is, in turn, about research. =)

Though researching for a contemporary doesn't usually require the amount of involvement for me that researching for a historical does, there's always some. I still have to learn about where it's set, about the professions of my characters, about the ins and outs of whatever drives the story. Sometimes that means staring at boat pictures for a while, sometimes it means reading about the CIA, sometimes it involves giving myself a refresher course in insurance.

But you know one really great thing about that kind of research? It isn't immediately outdated. As I was looking up towns in England yesterday for a Regency, I kept running into the frustration of "Well, sure, that's what it looks like now. What did it look like then?"

That's not a problem I run into while choosing a town for a contemporary book. I can use Google images. I can use Google maps and even Google Earth. Heck, I can take a trip and explore it myself (ahh, Outer Banks. I miss you so.)

That said, it still must be done, all that research. Because if you set a story somewhere and then totally misportray the area, the people who live there will know. Luckily, I love diving into discovery of new places and things. So much fun!

And now to work I go. There's a Book in a Week challenge going on in one of my groups, and I've got 2,000 words to write today. Ta ta!

Winner!

And the winner of Trish Perry's The Perfect Blend is . . .

Karen K!

Congrats, Karen, I'm sending you an email.

Friday, October 1, 2010

My Friend Margaret - Interview & Giveaway

Today I'm excited to welcome Margaret Brownley back to my blog. She visited a while back to talk about A Lady Like Sarah and is now back to talk about its sequel, A Suitor for Jenny.

Margaret has generously offered a copy of A Suitor for Jenny to one lucky reader, so please leave your comments below, along with an email address. Be sure you're a follower!


~*~

About Margaret

Thrills, mystery, suspense, romance: Margaret penned it all. Nothing wrong with this—except Margaret happened to be writing for the church newsletter. After making the church picnic read like a Grisham novel, her former pastor took her aside and said, "Maybe God's calling you to write fiction."

So that’s what Margaret did. She now has more than 20 novels to her credit and has been published in 15 languages.  In addition, she's written a non-fiction book.  Still, it took a long time before Margaret tried her hand at writing inspirational fiction which led to her Rocky Creek series. 

"I love writing about characters at different stages of faith," she says of the new direction her writing career has taken, "and I'm here to stay."

Happily married to her real life hero, Margaret and her husband live in Southern California. 

~*~

About A Suitor for Jenny

Jenny Higgins is certain falling in love and finding a husband are matters of the mind. Her heart has other plans.

After their parents died, Jenny felt responsible for seeing that her two younger sisters were well taken-care of. Tipped off by an article naming Rocky Creek the town with the highest number of eligible bachelors, Jenny rolled into this Texas town with a clear objective: find suitable husbands for her two sister and then start fresh somewhere far, far away.

Jenny believe that women who fall in love at first sight often wish they'd taken a second look, so she diligently begins to follow all the rules set forth in her handy manual on how to land a husband.

But while Jenny is interviewing the less-than-promising candidates, her sisters are falling in love the old-fashioned way--with men of their choosing. And the longer Jenny stays, the more her sense of control slips away. The town isn't living up to her expectations, her sisters are rebelling against her practical choices, and soon her own heart starts to betray her, as US Marshall Rhett Armstrong stirs emotions in her that weren't part of her plan.

To relinquish her control to God and calm her restless spirit, she'll need to give her foregone conclusions about marriage, love, and faith.

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What's your latest book? 

A Suitor for Jenny  will hit bookstores the end of September.  It’s the 2nd book in my Rocky Creek series (the first was A Lady Like Sarah).  Thomas Nelson is the publisher. 

I love your premises. What's your favorite part of the story?

My favorite part is watching the protagonist Jenny Higgins change and grow.  She breezes into town determined to find perfect husbands for each of her two sisters.  To this end she consults books, administers tests and conducts interviews. She thinks she knows how to pick “perfect” men, but God will prove her wrong.  (Kind of makes me think of that old adage: Man plans and God laughs.)

Roseanna laughs too;-) That sounds awesomely hilarious. What was the hardest part to write?

 Every once in awhile a book comes along that just seems to write itself.  I can’t quite explain it, but A Suitor for Jenny one of those books.  The words just flowed from beginning to end.  I wrote it without an outline so I never knew what was going to happen next and that was part of the fun. The hardest part to write?  Two words: The end. I didn’t want to let these characters go.

 Awww, sweet. I love those self-guiding books. What do you hope your readers will get out of the story?

 I love to write characters in a crisis of faith, and how they find their way back to God.  My hope is that readers will come away from A Suitor for Jenny with renewed faith that God has a plan for them.      

Is there a theme to this book?

There are several themes running through the book but my favorite is this: God has bigger plans for us than we can ever dream up for ourselves.

Jenny is very protective of her sisters and in some ways perhaps even overprotective.  Does overprotecting our loved ones prevent them from discovering God’s plan for them?  That’s an interesting question and is one of the underlying themes.


 Oo, that's a great one! And boy do I love seeing what God has up his sleeve! Is there any one thing or reference you keep handy when writing? Anything you kept around for this particular book?


I have an extensive research library but I did need special references for this book.   Jenny rides her herd on her sisters, demanding they follow all the rules of good etiquette (naturally they fight her all the way).   I read tons of old etiquette books and some of the rules made me laugh.  The most surprising book I found?   “The Marriage Guide for Young Men: Manual of Courtship and Marriage” written by Reverend George Hudson in 1883.    His advice to men on finding a wife: take as wide of survey of the world as possible before you select the prize.


 Did you hear me snort in laughter there? I'm also particularly fond of the “Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior” as copied by George Washington. (That snort of laughter would have been in very poor taste. ;-) What are you writing right now?


I’m working on a new series which I’m very excited about.  It takes place in Arizona in the late 1800s.

Fun! Any upcoming releases we should keep our eye out for?

 The 3rdbook in my Rocky Creek series is scheduled for June 2011. I hope by then we have title for it.

Have a Little Faith!

~*~

Thanks for visiting again, Margaret! Readers, you can check out her website at www.margaretbrownley.com and find her books at Amazon or CrossPurposes.

Void where prohibited. Entry into the contest is considered verification of eligibility based on your local laws. Chance of winning depends on number of entries. Contest ends 10/7/10. Winner will have two weeks to claim prize.