Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Story Time . . . Surrender the Heart by MaryLu Tyndall

Baltimore, 1812--people are getting fed up with Americans being impressed into the British navy, and the grumblings are of war. Marianne Denton loves her country--and hopes she can somehow find a way to fund a privateer to both help in the war effort and provide for her sick mother and small sister. Their father left them with a stack of debt, and Marianne can't access her inheritance until she weds.

Hence her betrothal to the awful Noah Brenin. She wants nothing more than to get out of the engagement--but as it is the only way to afford the medicines her mother needs, she intends to see it through. At least until the careless man walks out on their engagement party, saying he must set sail straight away. Furious at the spectacle he has made of them, Marianne storms after him, all the way to the harbor and its menacing dark waters. All the way onto his ship.

Noah Brenin has no use for the high-and-mighty Marianne who was always obnoxious in her wealth. Their fathers arranged the betrothal for obvious reasons--his wants her dowry, and hers knew no other man would ever come forward for the plump, unpleasant girl. But if he can get his cargo to England straightaway, he'll make enough profit that he won't need her wealth--and he'll be able to end the engagement. He doesn't believe for a moment that they'll soon be at war with the British, or that the British are really doing the monstrous the things others say.

At least, he doesn't believe it until a British man-of-war comes after his ship. Unable to get away, thanks to the stowaway Miss Denton and her nefarious schemes, he finds himself impressed--and his betrothed with him.

Only under the darkest of circumstances can both face their fears, and come to see the truth about one another. Only through pain and trial do they come to realize that faith is not about seeing evidence of God, but rather about hoping in those unseen things. And that He intends for them something great--something that could change the course of history.

MaryLu Tyndall never ceases to amaze me. I was intrigued right away, not only because of the awesome premise of the book, but because I loved the fact that her characters despised one another at first. Both found the other totally obnoxious--and both had good reason for their opinions, though they were all rooted in the past. I loved seeing how Marianne and Noah had grown and changed over time, and how their spirits shone through the circumstances as the unthinkable befell them.

As always, this author delivers adventure and romance on the high seas, with a knowledge of all things marine that makes it clear she knows her stuff without overwhelming the reader. She does a wonderful job of painting the horrors surrounding the War of 1812 without making all the British out to be monsters. And also as always, there is a touch of the supernatural within to leave the reader warm and fuzzy with how our awesome Father looks after us.

I have adored MaryLu's previous books, but I must say that Surrender the Heart is my new favorite. You just can't beat characters unaware of their own worth, an unparalleled romance, and the action I have come to expect from MaryLu. I am eagerly anticipating her next book, and may just sigh over the gorgeous cover of this one whenever I need to remember how wonderful a high-spirited, Godly romance can be. =)

And since you are all obviously totally in love with this book (mwa ha ha ha), I'll point out that it's one of the 190 being offered in the book signing bash. So click on that banner up top, and you can order a signed copy! Cool, huh? =)

Monday, November 29, 2010

Modern . . . Worlds

First, don't forget that the book signing is still running! Until 7 December, you can order signed and personalized copies of 190 books by 70 authors. So click on that banner above and get shopping. It's Cyber Monday, you know. ;-)

And now only my real topic. My hubby and I were discussing books and series and sequels and prequels yesterday, and he summed it up rather nicely by saying, "any book in the same world." That really stuck with me, because I knew exactly what he meant. Not that two books necessarily had the same characters or family, but they existed in the same fictional world, with the same fictionalized things.

See, I often decide in my contemporaries, "Well, I've already created this once, so I'll just stick with it." Which is a little strange when you consider that I'm using aspects of My World that I created for manuscripts that I never finished, half the time. But hey, it works. Example?

I once began a story set in L.A., about a fashion duo taking over the design company of their grandparents. The company was Cassidy St. Claire, known as CsC. I so liked the way this looked that when another character in a whole other series wanted to mention working with a designer (but I didn't want to use a real one), I chuckled to myself and thought, "Well, it looks like Kori's branching out into this . . ." and had my character in my NC books suddenly dealing with these already-known-to-me folks in L.A.

And when I need a menacing foreign dealer in something illegal? Well, why not use the Phantom Russe from this book I never intend to get published? I mean, he's already established in my mind for this . . .

Oddly, I have yet to do this with historicals, perhaps because my stories span too many years to really use the same creations. My Biblical characters can't really exist in the same world as my Victorian duke, right? But with modern settings, it's so easy (and fun!) to borrow one's previous creations. Or, as I did in one story, to give my best friend a cameo when my characters ventured to the mall half a mile from her house. =) Or to mention the rowdy teens at the ice cream place that she talked about in her books . . .

Am I the only one that does this, or can you think of times you writers have used the same world for totally different stories? Or that you readers have noticed it? (I've noted it in a few best-sellers, and it makes me grin.)

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Signing Is LIVE!


It's official, folks! The Christmas Book Signing Bash is LIVE!!! We've already sold our first books, and we are ready and waiting to take your orders too. Hop on over!

This is still a little amazing to me--when I had this idea I was expected maybe 25 authors. Then maybe 50. We ended up with 79 (!!!!!) authors with 190 books. Yowza! (And hence why for the last three weeks I've barely had time to do anything else.)

Last night my hubby asked me, "So what are your expectations for this?"

I replied. "I haven't had time for expectations. My only expectation was, 'I can get this done on time, I can get this done on time, I can get this done on time . . .'" =) And we did. If you want to check out the cool setup he arranged on the book store side of things, go to CrossPurposesBooks. If you want to see how I spent my last two weeks, click on the picture above and go to the Christian Review of Books. Check out our new logo while you're there! Courtesy of Tekeme, of course. =)

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! We had a lovely day (with minimal book signing work, other than designing that graphic you see above, ha ha), a truly gorgeous dinner (you rock, Mom!), and are looking forward to a successful online event! (Pray, y'all--pray it runs smooth as glass. Pllllleeeeeaaaaassssse!)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Being Thankful in All Things, Day 3

Today goes to friends. Have I ever mentioned that I have awesome friends?

Now, I suppose that comes with some explanation. When I moved home to Cumberland, all my friends here promptly scattered. I still have one about 40 minutes away in WV, and I love her dearly. But otherwise, my family are about the only ones I get together with regularly.

Carole, Mary, Stephanie & me

But I have so many friends that I get to talk to daily. Thank you, Lord, for the computer age! I am so, so grateful for the amazing friends I've made through the writing community. Many of them I met originally at conferences, some I've never met, others once or twice after emailing regularly.

Thank you, Lord, for friends that will tell me how it is, who worry about me and pray for me. Thank you for friends who understand me enough to know when to give advice and when to just listen. Who trust me enough to vent to me and share their upsets and worries and concerns. Thank you for those who seem to share a brain with me, and for those I talk to so rarely that it's exciting when I do.
Kimberly (& me) at the Hibbards'

My friends are a rich tapestry, one that not only makes the wall of my life pretty, but which insulates me from the seeping cold of winter. I love each and every one of you. Each thread, in your spectrum of colors.

As for finding joy in the negative . . . I can't actually think of a negative this morning. What a shame, LOL. 

In non-Thanksgiving news, the setup for the online book signing is nearly complete! It won't be officially open until Friday, but we've already seen our first sale, LOL. This should be fun! Spread the word!!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Being Thankful in All Things, Day 2

Today I'm going to have to go with "my family" for wonderful things I'm thankful for.

I'm grateful for my parents, who always told me I could be anything I wanted, who encouraged me and loved me without condition. Who worked so hard to make sure we always had more than enough and are so proud of every accomplishment. I love you guys so much!

I'm grateful for my sister, who is also one of my dearest friends. I love how over the years we grew from squabbling kids to women who support and defend. You rock, Jen. =)

I'm thankful for my grandparents, my aunts and uncles, who provide such a rich tapestry of love and laughter.

I'm so, so grateful for my husband. God blessed us beyond measure when he introduced us at a young age. We've enjoyed nearly ten years of marriage, and each moment has been amazing. Yes, we occasionally fight--but I love that we actually like each other, that we enjoy spending time together, that we work well together. I'm so thankful for a honey who understands my every thought (or nearly, LOL), and with whom I have so many unexplainable jokes. Thank you, Lord, for a love that still makes me heart race every time I he comes home.

And of course, my adorable children. Though exhausting and sometimes frustrating as all children can be, they are so, so precious. Thank you, Lord for that unquenchable spark of life and cheer in Rowyn. I think he could laugh half the day--and spend the other half "vrooming trucks." =) And You outdid yourself on the sweetness scale, Lord, when you crafted Xoe. I love that nearly all her games involve giving something to others, whether it's a pretend letter to her brother's toys or a "welcome home" card for her cousin.

And today, the "thankful in the bad" thing comes from them, too, LOL. They each woke me up once last night, and I couldn't get back to sleep after the second. So I'm tired and a little sore this morning--but grateful. Thank you, Lord, for unexpected cuddle time with my kiddos. And for the prayer time while I lay awake. (Now if You wanted to help me wake up, that would be appreciated too. ;-)

Have a great Tuesday, everyone! It's the Thanksgiving Party at Story Time this morning, so my kids are pretty excited. =)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Being Thankful in All Things

A popular theme this week, right? ;-) Well, some themes need to be taken up.

All month I've had my daughter drawing pictures in what we're calling her "Thankful Book." It's just a book staples booklet of white paper. On the front she wrote, "Lord, I'm thankful for . . . " and each day she colors a picture on a new page to finish the sentence. I figure I'll do a version of that this week on my blog.

I want to start out with the scripture my dad used in his sermon this weekend. From Ephesians 5:18-20: "but be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, 20 giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ."

One of the things he expounded on which really struck me was that giving thanks always for all things means thanking God for the bad along with the good. I really want to get the hang of that, LOL. It's easy to thank him for the bad once it's passed and we can see the good that came from it, but during? That's tough. So this week, I not only want to thank Him for something good each day, I want to stretch myself and thank him for something bad. Anyone want to try this with me?

Today, Lord, I'm going to start out as my daughter did (which made me so proud) and say, "I'm thankful for Jesus." He is my hope, my light, my life. Without Jesus . . . well, I'd be looking for Jesus. =)

I'm also thankful for this work load that has kept me so busy and exhausted this past week. Do I know if it'll be "worth it"? No, I don't. Did I learn something from it (other than, "Let's give ourselves more time next year")? Picture me shrugging. But God is the one who renewed the idea for this book signing in my mind at the precise moment He did, He is the one that stirred such an interest in it among the authors. So thank you, Lord--I can't wait to see what you do with it.

What are you thankful for today?

Friday, November 19, 2010

My Friend Alice K. Arenz - Interview & Giveaway

Today I'm happy to welcome Alice K. Arenz to my blog to talk about her latest release, Mirrored Image.

Alice has graciously offered a copy to one reader (U.S. only), so as usual please leave your comments below with an email address. And be sure you're a follower!

~*~


About Mirrored Image

 Eccentric newspaper columnist Cassandra Chase and by-the-book Detective Jeff McMichaels clash over the murder investigation of Lynette Sandler - a woman who looks eerily like the popular columnist.

The uncanny similarities of the two women's lives and a rash of attacks on Cassie, lead her to the conclusion that she, not Lynette Sandler, was the murderer's original mark.

For McMichaels, the Sandler case becomes more than just a test of his mental acumen. Despite departmental regulations and his own common sense, he finds himself drawn to a woman he was determined to dislike. But can he keep her alive long enough for their relationship to grow?

~*~

About Alice

Alice K. Arenz not only writes classic romantic suspense, she also writes cozy mysteries under A.K. Arenz. The Case of the Bouncing Grandma, was a finalist in ACFW’s 2009 Book of the Year contest. The second in The Bouncing Grandma Mystery Series, The Case of the Mystified M.D., was a 2010 ACFW Carol Award winner (formerly Book of the Year). Arenz is the mother of two and grandmother to four. She lives in Missouri with her husband and two Himalayan cats.

~*~

Hi Alice, thanks for visiting! What's your latest book?

MIRRORED IMAGE, Sheaf House, Oct. 1, 2010


It sounds intriguing. What's your favorite part of the story?

When the action starts getting a bit hairy for the heroine.  J

LOL. One of those who love to tortures her characters, are you? =) What was the hardest part to write?
Can’t tell you or it would ruin the story.  But if you read MIRRORED IMAGE, I know you’ll recognize the part immediately!


And she's coy too. LOL. What do you hope your readers will get out of the story?

Enjoyment. I want them to be glad they spent the time and money reading this book – not to regret it!

That's why I read! I can totally get  behind that purpose. What's your favorite genre to write? To read?

My favorite reading material are mysteries, suspense, thrillers, so I guess it’s only natural that they would be my choice to write.  I like surprises, too – like the comedy that comes out in the Bouncing Grandma Mystery Series.  My husband is urging me to write a straight comedy – um . . . I guess “straight” and “comedy” don’t really go together.

A little humor just makes a book fun and memorable, doesn't it? What's one of the oddest or most interesting things someone has ever said about you?
I think she’s nuts because she not only hears voices, she actually believes they’re trying to get her to write their story!


LOL. What would your dream office look like—and what does your REAL writing environment look like?
Dream would be neat and clean with a place for everything and everything in its place. Reality . . . can we stick with the dream?  I was really getting into it!


Sure! I have a dream like that too. Somehow my reality . . . may look much like yours, LOL. Is there any one thing or reference you keep handy when writing? Anything you kept around for this particular book?
Book?  Try books.  Always on my desk in easy reach are two dictionaries and one thesaurus.  In a nearby nook, are more reference books, including The Chicago Manual of Style, a couple of notebooks I put together eons ago with discriptions of color, character and characteristics – just about everything you could think of or might need when writing – and, most importantly, my Bible.  Those other things might correct my spelling and answer questions on style, but what’s in my Bible gives me life.


=) Mine's usually right near me too, unless I cart it elsewhere through the day. Are there any people (family, writing group, editors) who you rely on when writing?
This is an easy question. =)  I rely heavily on my daughter Kelly, who has been helping me with my comma disability since she was in high school.  She’s all grown up now with a daughter of her own, who she’s homeschooling.

Kelly and my husband Chris are my first readers & proofers, but all my family – daughter Randi, grandkids, and sons-in-law – are invaluable support.


I think Kelly and I would get along well. Three cheers for commas! ;-) What are you writing right now?

Right now I’m working on what used to be called a contemporary gothic/romantic suspense, but would now likely be called romantic suspense.  The title is AN AMERICAN GOTHIC, which is a bit tongue-in-cheek – the “gothic” is actually the manuscript the heroine is writing. A paragraph or two of this second story begins each chapter, foreshadowing what’s coming in the main story.


Oh, that sounds cool! Any upcoming releases we should keep our eye out for?

AN AMERICAN GOTHIC is scheduled for release on Oct. 1, 2011


Thanks for having me today!

~*~

Thanks for visiting, Alice! Readers, you can check out her website at www.akawriter.com. Look for her book at Amazon, or ChristianBook. And next week she'll be participating in the big Christmas Book Signing Bash, so check her out then too!

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 11/26/10. Winner will have two weeks to claim prize.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thoughtful About . . . Those Poor Kitchens

I've noticed a trend lately. In action shows/movies, whenever bad guys are chasing the good guys through a public location, they always (and I mean always--I've counted at least three of these scenes in stuff I've watched the last two weeks) duck through some shiny, huge industrial kitchen. And more often than not, bullets follow.

Have you ever noticed that? Bullets turning heads of lettuce into cole slaw . . . ricocheting off polished carts of stainless steel . . . kitchen staff jumping out of the way and tossing bowls of who-knows-what . . .

What is up with that? I mean, I'm now laughing about it because I've noticed it in everything, but really. What's the allure for the script writers, the choreographers? Does it make for exceptionally good blocking? Do the reflections off all that shining metal help with something? What??

So that's my silly observation for the week. Pay attention, I bet you'll start noticing kitchen-chase/shooting-scenes all over the place.

Anything you've noticed over and over in movies or TV?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Winner!

And the winner of Margaret Daley's A Daughter for Christmas is . . .

Natalie! (natalie_mclean1@ . . .)

Congrats, Natalie! I'm sending you an email now.

Remember When . . . The Post Must Get Through

Yeah, I know, I've already written about the post before. But that was the Persia version. This is the more familiar U.S. of A. =)

In researching how long it might take someone to travel by horse from Williamsburg to Annapolis in 1783--in December--I came across some information about the post at the time. And, therefore, the post roads and regulations. 

Philadelphia was the main Post Office, the kind of central workings. From there branched roads north and roads south. In the southwardly directly, the next major stop was (thankfully) Annapolis. From Annapolis things either went over water by ferry or by land to (doo doo doo DOOOOO) Williamsburg. (Thank you, Lord!!!)

Now, the post roads were about the only dependable roads in the country at that point. They had to be--see, there was a rule that a postal rider must cover 100 miles in 24 hours. In those days, that was difficult. Riders often had to go straight through the night to make their deadline. And the pay, you wonder? For the six good-weather months of the year, April through October, they made 8 pence per mile. In October through April, they made 12.

Why was this helpful for me, you wonder? Because it is oh-so-important to realize that she was traveling solely by post road, which means quicker travel. But even they were tougher to get through in winter--another source I found said to take a good-weather estimate on travel and double it for winter travel estimates.

And there we have a lovely formula to figure out the timing necessary for my story. Lark's letter would make it from Annapolis to Williamsburg in two days. But it would take about a week for her to travel it by carriage, assuming some rain and mud and cold.

Boy am I glad to have figured THAT out!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Story Time . . . EXPOSED by Ashley Weis (and a GIVEAWAY!)

I meant to post this forever ago but got sidetracked by a slew of Tuesday interviews . . . so here she be now. =) And Ashley just left a comment with an offer for a free book to one lucky commenter, so woo hoo! for you! See her comment below for details.

***

Ally is a marriage counselor and a lover of love, a woman who has found happiness with her romantic husband and their life together . . . until one morning she discovers his addiction staring at her from the computer screen. All these years, he's lied to her about something he knew was important to her. All these years, the relationship she thought was perfect was just a veneer over his need to look at other women. How is she supposed to go on now? How is she supposed to help other people mend their marriages when she's not sure she even believes in them anymore?

Taylor Adams is a young girl who just wants to be appreciated. When smooth-talking Andy convinces her she's a born model . . . and then leads her a little farther than she wants to go . . . she follows along just to get a morsel of his affection. But before long she's over her head in the porn industry, trying to be someone she's not so that she doesn't have to see the aching, bleeding holes that have pierced Taylor through. Is there anything better for her out there? Or will she be forever judged by the people supposed to offer her forgiveness?

When these two women's lives cross, both have wounds to keep them from opening up to the other--but through the overwhelming love of the Father who never disappoints, they see that beauty comes after the rain.

Exposed is by no means an easy book. Ashley Weis depicts the porn industry in all its ugliness and brutality, exposing the glamorous side for the mask it is. Also faithfully she portrays the hurts that result from a marriage wrecked by pornography, and the difficult path it takes to renew a relationship. No, this book isn't easy--but it's necessary. In our world today, porn is so often joked about, assumed to be common and acceptable for men, taken for granted. It's high time a novel tackle the issue and demonstrate the true cost of porn--both for the viewers and the women who make a life from it.

This is one of the few books that has made me tear up at the end, which is especially remarkable since I knew how it ended through a conversation with the author long before the book came out. But seeing the touch of the Lord through these two stories, and the way He wove Ally's and Taylor's lives together . . . wow. If porn has ever touched your life, or the life of someone dear to you, this is a must-read. Or if you just want an engaging women's fiction of, forgiveness, grace, and the healing power of love, this is also a must-read.

There were times when I found Taylor's story more engaging than Ally's, and times when I had to put the book down to give myself a short break from the stark reality within the pages. Still, it's a strong book, well written and intense. Overall, I'd say that reading this book is an experience--one you'll never forget. Beware: this is a story that will open your eyes.

***

Ashley Weis doesn't just write fiction about this stuff--she also actively ministers to porn stars and encourages them in new lives, as well as encouraging those whose marriages have been affected by the industry and addiction on her blog, More Than Desire. A portion of all sales of Exposed goes to benefit the Pink Cross Foundation, XXXChurch.com, and Covenant Eyes.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Kkkkrrrrrrrrssssshhhhhhh (that's static)

I'm sorry. Due to technical difficulties (with my brain) this blog will not be bringing you glimpses into contemporary stories today. Which is to say, the writer of said blog's poor little mind is so overwhelmed with the details and logistics of this online signing she's planning that she can't think of anything else.

Please bear with us. Tomorrow there will be a book review (got three different books I need to write one for . . .) and Wednesday should bring history without issue. But today--ugh. It's Monday, I've already had internet issues, and, well, I have a new pile of email concerning this spectacular event I need to tackle before the school day begins.

So . . . carry on. Nothing to see here (today).

Oh! In exciting news, though, WhiteFire Publishing just snatched up a fabulous new author, whose debut novel Unveiled will be available later in 2011! If you want to check it out, drop in on Christine Lindsay. =) We're very excited to be bringing y'all this marvelous story of love and intrigue in India!

Friday, November 12, 2010

My Friend Vannetta - Interview and FREE Kindle-Books for All!

Today I'm happy to have Vannetta Chapman here to help get us in the holiday spirit (continuing last week's theme . . . ;-) She'll be chatting about her debut novel, A Simple Amish Christmas. This week we have no need to run it as a giveaway, because EVERYONE can get it free from the Kindle store until November 15!



~*~



About A Simple Amish Christmas

Annie Weaver always planned to return home, but the 20-year-old RN has lived in Philadelphia for three years now. Her time of rumschpringa is about to come to an abrupt end, bringing for Annie an overwhelming sense of loneliness as the Christmas season is in full swing. She returns home and finds herself face-to-face with a budding romance with an Amish farmer. Her passion for healing has caught widower Samuel Yoder's attention. Will she also capture his heart? Annie has several important choices to make, all on the morning of A Simple Amish Christmas.

~*~

About Vannetta

Vannetta Chapman has published more than 100 articles in Christian family magazines. She discovered her love for the Amish while researching her grandfather’s birthplace in Albion, Pennsylvania. Vannetta is a multi-award-winning member of Romance Writers of America. She currently teaches in the Texas hill country. A Simple Amish Christmas is her debut novel. She is hard at work on a three book Amish murder mystery series set in Shipshewana, Indiana. Written for Zondervan (a division of Harper Collins), these cozy mysteries will begin releasing in 2011.

~*~

What's your latest book?

A Simple Amish Christmas released from Abingdon Press in October 2010.

It sounds great! What's your favorite part of the story?

My favorite part of the story was the medical portions.

I liked describing how Samuel and Annie worked together to meet the medical needs of their community. Although the Amish do see Englisch medical practitioners for major medical needs, they still depend on lay-persons for minor problems. I enjoyed coming up with these scenarios and developing the interplay between the characters.

Oh, that would indeed be fun--and challenging. What do you hope your readers will get out of the story?

A sense of God's grace. That he does have a plan for each of us. That even when we leave home and come back changed, even that can be a part of God's plan. He can use anything to his purpose.

We've been discussing this at church and Bible study this past week. So very true. What's your favorite genre to write? To read?

I honestly just enjoy writing. I don't think about genres. Now that I'm published in the Amish genre, that's what my contracts are for--though I write Amish romances for Abingdon and Amish mysteries for Zondervan. But I honestly don't think about that. I think about writing stories about characters who will come alive on the page, and then later I mold it to the publisher's slot. As far as what I read, I do read practically every genre. I'm an avid reader--usually reading about 4 books a month (And yes, I read on the Kindle and paper versions too).

Three cheers for diversity! =) What are you reading right now—and what do you want to read next?

I'm reading Amy Clipston's book, A Plain and Simple Christmas, because she sent me a lovely signed copy. I'm also reading Amish Grace, the story of the Nickel's Mine tragedy. The subheading of this book is "How Forgiveness Transcended Tragedy," which is perfect. It's really the story of God's grace and mercy in the lives of this very close-knit community. Lastly I'm reading Ends of the Earth by Tim Downs. It's my first "bug-man" book. I heard Tim at ACFW this year, and I wanted to try one of his books. I'm enjoying it very much. Oh, and I'm reading Pinheads and Patriots by Bill O'Reilly.

Well goodness, you didn't specify you read them four books a month all at ONCE. ;-) Is there any one thing or reference you keep handy when writing? Anything you kept around for this particular book?

I do keep a stack of Amish books handy. But the thing that has helped me the most--I'm currently working on book 2 of my Amish mystery series--is a photo album. I used part of my advance to go to Shipshewana, Indiana. While there I took a lot of pictures, and I actually printed them all out. Normally I just load them on my computer. This time I put them in a photo album, and I look in that thing every single day ... checking plants, buildings, the littlest details. It's been amazing how helpful those pictures have been.

Oh, that's so awesome! Making a mental note to do that after I take a research trip here in a few weeks . . . But back to you. ;-) What writing goal have you set for yourself that would be the hardest (or unlikeliest) but most rewarding to achieve?

I suppose I have the same goals that most writers have--big goals. I plan to make writing my full time job (and yes I've read Chip McGregor's opinion on that). I plan to be at the top of the bestseller charts. I plan to publish 2-3 books per year. I sit down and write out my goals each year. But more than the specific goals I write down are the spiritual goals related to my writing. I have to continuously check my "compass" and make sure I haven't strayed off course. That would seem hard when you're not entirely sure where God is leading your career, but it seems to me that God is saying "Do what you promised me." That might be different for every person, and for every writer, but for me that means to continue to write books about God's grace.


Amen to that. If we're not writing for Him, what's the point? Do you remember where you were when you got your first or most important call about a book contract?

I was teaching a class of sophomores when I received the call that I had sold my first book. I stepped outside the classroom to take the call, which I never do. And of course afterwards, I wanted to call someone and squeal, but I had to go back in and finish teaching. We learn patience in all sorts of ways.


Oh my goodness, talk about a test of patience! Any upcoming releases we should keep our eye out for?

Shipshewana Amish Mystery Series
2011
Zondervan

~*~

Thanks for visiting, Vannetta! Readers, you can check out her website at http://www.vannettachapman.com/
 and her blog at http://vannettachapman.wordpress.com/. You can purchase her book at Amazon or CrossPurposes . . . or wait and buy a signed copy during our fabulous post-Thanksgiving signing, as she's one of our authors. =)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thoughtful About . . . Battling the Beast

Every now and then, I get tired. I get overwhelmed. I get bogged down with particulars, with comparisons, with frustrations. And that's when the beast rears its ugly head.

Insecurity.

We all know it, right? It's that voice that whispers in the back of our minds, "You're never going to be able to pull this off. You're doing a terrible job. So-and-so is so much better than you at this." Which moves naturally into other whispered thoughts. "Why do you bother? Nothing ever works out like you want it to anyway. Just put it aside and take a break."

I expect anyone who's human goes through this from time to time. And if you're like me, you can recognize it, but by then you're already in its claws. Those voices tend to be sneaky, and they work fast. It only takes a few seconds for them to toss you into a downward spiral.

Those of us who are Christians know that when those moments strike, we need to pray, to give it to the Lord. I've tried quite a few versions of this. For years, I would pray, "Lord, send me some encouragement." And he always, always did.

But lately I've turned to a different prayer. Lately I've stopped thinking that this is just a phase or a rut that He needs to pull me out of and have begun to see it's one the enemy tries to push me into--and that I don't have to go, certainly not without a fight. And if we fight in the name of Jesus, victory is guaranteed.

Several times over the past months, I'd done what I called with my friend, "Gave myself a time out and let God give me a talking to." This is to combat the attitude resulting from that awful little voice of insecurity. And it works. Those feelings are never from God, so when I refuse to indulge them AND fill my mind instead with His word, with His truth . . . wow. It's really amazing how things turn around.

Yesterday I had a headache, a mile-high to-do list, and I started hearing that nasty little whisper of, "You can't pull this off, you know. It's going to flop. And your WIP is just terrible, you'll never get past chapter four."

It only took me a second to realize this wasn't something I had to indulge, that it wasn't something I had to let be real. I squeezed my eyes shut then and there and prayed. I gave it all to Him, I soaked up His love, and I got back to work. (Okay, I also took a little nap to help the headache. Then got up feeling muuuuuuch better, so got back up to work.)

Fleeting thoughts need not rule us. Whispers need not find their voices in our mouths. 

Because we serve the Word. We serve the Victor.

Whether we're battling insecurity, fear, jealousy, or something more physical like exhaustion, illness, cancer, the battle has already been waged and won.

It doesn't always feel like it--but it doesn't have to. I have to remind myself sometimes that it isn't about feeling. Feelings are emotions, which by definition involved motion--moving. But He never moves. He never changes. If we rest in Him, we don't have to either. We can just be . . . at peace.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Winner!

And the winner of Alice Wisler's Hatteras Girl is . . .

Sheree! (neednspace@ . . .)

Congrats! I just sent you an email.

Remember When . . . There Was No College on College Avenue?

I love Annapolis. I love the old-world charm, I love the maritime beauty, I love the ancient facades (or as ancient as facades can get in America) of the buildings. I love that when I walk along City Dock during boating season, I can hear conversations in German and French and Italian as well as Spanish and English. I love seeing the Midshipman bustling along in their pristine whites, I love seeing the Johnnies amble along with a book in front of them--yes, the students from my college sometimes read and walk at the same time. I've seen it, LOL.

Annapolis is a city very proud of its colonial heritage, of its importance in the wars that came after, in how it has stood strong even as Baltimore outgrew it. And I love it for that.

One problem . . . at the time I'm writing in, it wasn't just a tourist spot for the yachting community. The Naval Academy wasn't there yet. There was no St. John's College. Which made me ask all knew questions. Like . . . what was College Creek called, then? Or, more importantly, College Avenue?

See, College Avenue slices right through the middle of town, a rather important thoroughfare if you're dealing at all with the State House--which I am. In fact, one of my primary characters lives on North Street (which connects to College Ave) and teaches at King William's School, which was (wanna take a guess?) on the other side of College Ave.

I looked everywhere I could think to. I searched through the old book I had on Annapolis. In three more provided by Google Books. I searched for maps from the era. But I couldn't find the answer to that question. I discovered what Main Street used to be called, I discovered that College Creek used to be Deep Creek (and that Spa Creek used to be Acton's). I learned any number of other useful facts about what was what back then--but not as concerns College Ave. Aaaaagggghhhh!

Then I found a promising link in the Maryland State Archives, which are blessedly online. A map--not quite old enough to help, but there were links to other, older maps. I clicked on the oldest one--still 90 years after my book, but the closest I could get online. And it looked good. It looked promising. That street crossing town definitely did not say College Ave. It said . . . crease?

Aaaaaagggghhhhh! Yes, this scanned map had a terrible crease RIGHT THROUGH THE NAME I NEEDED!!!!! All I could make out was "Tab" and "cle." But that was enough to ding the bell of memory (an adage not in use in 1783, by the way, ha ha). Tabernacle! It was Tabernacle Street!!!

So, in a way that my middle school math teachers would fully approve of, now that I had my answer, I worked backward to check my work. I searched for Tabernacle Street in Annapolis, and voila! Documents verifying this was indeed what I needed. (Though heaven forbid they come up in my original searches--noooooooo.)

See how exciting historical research can be? ;-)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Story Time . . . THE MASTER'S WALL by Sandi Rog

Click to Enlarge!
The Master's Wall
By Sandi Rog



David never thought he would see his parents dragged away by Roman soldiers—and he certainly never thought he would wake up a slave. But when he's taken to a villa outside Rome and told he will serve there, he knows exactly what he must do—either earn or steal his freedom, so that he can find out what became of his sister. But invisible bonds hold him to the villa. His own word of honor . . . and the spirited granddaughter of his master.

Alethea already watched her father die because he was a Christian. When she learns her new friend David is one as well, she at once yearns to know about his God and wants to avoid Him at all cost, lest she lose her life as well.
He fights for his freedom. She fights for her life. Together they fight for each other.”

Can I just say “Wow!”? Or maybe “Stunning!”? I love stories set in the first century, and The Master's Wall ranks as one of the best I've read to date. The characters are exactly what a reader wants—full of spirit, full of fire, full of temper that leads them into trouble . . . and faith that helps them through it. The setting is so richly portrayed that you'll feel like you've donned a toga and are wandering through the villa.
Sandi Rog uses these gripping characters and stunning setting to execute a plot that will keep you guessing and dreaming and yearning along with Alethea and David. The Master's Wall is so enthralling that it even haunted my dreams when I put it down halfway through—and you can bet I finished it the next day!

There's so much I loved about it—the brutal reality of slavery depicted. The sweet hope of a girl whose innocence has been marred by tragedy. The enduring faith of a boy who determines to spread the Gospel, even in captivity. And when the depravity of man butts against the perfect will of God, you can bet there's going to be a lot of conflict to keep those pages turning!

For lovers of Biblical and first century fiction, you will not want to miss this one! And for those unfamiliar with the genre but interested in history, pick up The Master's Wall for a trip to Ancient Rome that will make it feel like home. This is one I'm going to be recommending to everyone I know.

*This book was provided free of charge from the publisher for review purposes

Monday, November 8, 2010

Have You Heard About Sandi Rog?

I'm straying from my usual Monday theme for a very important reason. Many of you who read this are on loops with me or see my Facebook updates so already know about Sandi, but if you haven't heard, you need to.

Intro: I have a writer-friend named Sandi Rog. Sandi is one of the sweetest, most selfless women I've ever met. She approaches each moment with such enthusiasm that I often laugh when reading her gushing emails. She is quick with praise and slow with complaint. She is a true beacon of the Lord's love.

Sandi's debut book just released November 1, and it is AMAZING. The Master's Wall takes you back to first century Rome and into the world where people can be killed for their faith . . . but where the fire of the Word is spreading like only the Truth can. David is a slave being trained to fight--Alethea is the granddaughter of a wealthy man being groomed to be the perfect Roman wife. But only when they fight for each other do they find their true purposes.

I've given a sneak peak of Sandi's book here and will be posting my full review tomorrow.

Now, here's the deal. The very day her book released, Sandi was admitted into the hospital. (Not exactly the release party she had planned, but she's been making the most of it and passing out bookmarks to everyone in the hospital--see what I mean about her amazing spirit?) They first thought she had lesions on her brain connected to her MS. Further investigation proved it to be not a lesion, but a brain tumor. There were no other masses in her body, so we were hoping it was benign.

It wasn't. She's been diagnosed with T-cell lymphoma, a very aggressive cancer of the blood. Her doctor thinks it's a result of the drugs she'd been taking for MS and has reported it to the FDA. And the very day they got the biopsy results, she was moved into the cancer ward and began chemotherapy.

Sandi needs your prayers desperately. Her spirits are good, but she's weak and tired and, well, sick. And my heart just aches for her and her family. She has four children, the youngest of whom is only a toddler. Please pray for the Rogs with me.

The outpouring on her behalf has been great, and many people have asked about helping out financially. Her response? "Just buy my book." Which is actually selfless, because I guarantee you'll get more out of it than the ten bucks it costs.


So. Please pray. If you feel led (or just want a really, really excellent read), buy her book. In any case, agree with me for her healing. And stop by tomorrow for the full review of The Master's Wall.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Friday, November 5, 2010

My Friend Margaret - Interview and Giveaway

Today I'm happy to welcome Margaret Daley back to the blog, this time to talk about her latest book, A Daughter for Christmas. Nothing like a fabulous holiday novel to get you in the spirit!

Margaret has been awesome enough to offer a copy to one lucky reader, so please leave your comment below with an email address to be entered. And make sure you're a follower!

~*~



About Margaret

Margaret Daley is an award winning, multi-published author in the romance genre. One of her romantic suspense books, Hearts on the Line, won the American Christian Fiction Writers’ Book of the Year Contest. Recently she has won the Golden Quill Contest, FHL’s Inspirational Readers’ Choice Contest, Winter Rose Contest, Holt Medallion and the Barclay Gold Contest. She wrote for various secular publishers before the Lord led her to the Christian romance market. She currently writes inspirational romance and romantic suspense books for the Steeple Hill Love Inspired lines, romantic suspense for Abingdon Press and historical romance for Summerside Press. She has sold seventy-five books to date.

Margaret is currently the Volunteer Officer for ACFW. She was one of the founding members of the first ACFW local chapter, WIN in Oklahoma. She served as vice-president for two years in WIN-ACFW and is still on its board as an advisor. She has taught numerous classes for online groups, ACFW and RWA chapters. She enjoys mentoring other authors.

Until she retired a few years ago, she was a teacher of students with special needs for twenty-seven years and volunteered with Special Olympics as a coach. She currently is on the Outreach committee at her church, working on several projects in her community.

You can visit her web site at http://www.margaretdaley.com and read excerpts from her books and learn about the ones recently released and soon to be released.

~*~

What's your latest book?

My latest book to come out is A Daughter for Christmas, a November Love Inspired book. The back cover blurb is:

Dr. Max Connors had no idea he had fathered a child 13 years ago. Or that his baby girl had been given up for adoption. He locates his daughter in a small Oklahoma town and moves there, hoping to become a part of her life. But when he meets her widowed mother, Max is unsure how to reveal his identity. As he helps Rachel Howard with her plans to home school the girl, he’s welcomed into the family. But with the holidays approaching, Max must tell Rachel who he really is. Can he make his dreams of family come true by Christmas?


Ah, sounds good! Is there a theme to this book?

The theme for this book is forgiveness. Max must learn to forgive his deceased wife who never told him he had a child. I often use the theme of forgiveness because I think it is so important in life.


Definitely something we all have to deal with, so always a fabulous theme. What's your favorite genre to write? To read?


 My favorite genre to write is romantic suspense. My favorite type of book to read is suspense with at least a little romance. I do enjoy reading lots of different types of books from mysteries to science fiction.


What are you reading right now—and what do you want to read next?

 Right now I am reading several books having to do with research on my next novel for Summerside. This historical romance is set in 1816 in South Carolina.

 What I would like to read next is any book for pleasure. But I’m afraid I have a stack of books to read for research.


Sigh. The life of a novelist sometimes, isn't it? Here's hoping you get back to pleasure-reading soon! What would your dream office look like—and what does your REAL writing environment look like?


 I actually really like my office that I have right now. It has all my research books in it on bookshelves, a filing cabinet, a desk and chair as well as a couch. The window next to my desk looks out on the front garden. The walls are hot pink with white trim and my husband has framed every book I have written. Those books are up on my walls in my office.


Cool! Loved the framed books. That is some inspiring decor! =) What lessons have you learned through the publication process that you wouldn't have guessed as a pre-published writer?


 The main lesson I have learned is that it doesn’t get any easier once you have sold a book. When I sold my first book, I thought the whole publication process would be much easier. Not!


Are there any people (family, writing group, editors) who you rely on when writing?


 I have wonderful editors that I have worked with who have a sharp eye for what works and doesn’t work. I also have a wonderful critique group who are amazing writers. I value their opinion a lot.


Aside from writing, what takes up most of your time?

 Besides writing, my family takes up most of my time. I have four grandchildren from the ages of 18 months to 10 years. They keep me hopping.


I bet! My two kiddos sure do. =) What are you writing right now?


 Right now I am writing a historical romance set in South Carolina right after the War of 1812. My editor and I are still working on a title for the book, but it will come out next September for Summerside Press.

Oh, cool! I'm noting an increasing interest in books with similar settings. I know I love them! Any upcoming releases we should keep our eye out for?

 I also have a Love Inspired Suspense coming out in December called Christmas Bodyguard. This is the first book in my Guardians, Inc. series about female bodyguards.

~*~


Thanks for visiting, Margaret! Readers, you can check out her website at http://www.margaretdaley.com and her blog at http://margaretdaley.blogspot.com. Look for her book at eHarlequin.

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 11/11/10. Winner will have two weeks to claim prize.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Thoughtful About . . . My Latest Brilliant Idea

Actually, my hubby and I had this brilliant idea years ago, but we only ever remembered it when it was too late to implement for Christmas. Not so this year!

Curious yet? Biting your nails in suspense? Only, I suspect, if you're not on any lists or loops with me--if you are, then you probably already saw my announcement. But just in case . . .

We're putting together an online book signing! A what, you ask? A Christmas Book Signing Bash, that's what. Over 50 (yes, I typed that correctly--OVER FIFTY) authors are joining up to sign books for you, and no one has to leave the comfort of their computer for it!

Beginning the day after Thanksgiving, the Christian Review of Books in conjunction with CrossPurposes Bookstore will be featuring these 50+ authors and their books, giving you a little sampling of fun trivia about them and then letting you order autographed, personalized copies of their books. They'll sign them and ship them to you or your intended recipient, and voila! Things you thought you could only get from physical book signings are delivered straight to your door!

Pretty cool, eh? The author community obviously thinks so. Of course, we're going to need help spreading the word about this fun event, so if you'd be interested in posting about it on your blog or any other forums you can think of (including announcing it at off-line locales as well), shoot me an email at roseanna (at) whitefireprinting (dot) com and I'll email you the graphics and blurbs next week when we've got them!

Now . . . wondering who all you can expect to see at this shindig? Here are just a few:

Me (obviously, right?)
Laurie Alice Eakes
Stephanie Morrill
Anita Higman
Nicole O'Dell
Deborah Vogts
Trish Perry
Margaret Brownley
Mary Connealy
Lena Nelson Dooley
Cynthia Ruckti
Vickie McDonough
Rita Gerlach
Sandra Byrd
Martha Rogers
Melanie Dickerson
James Rubart
Maureen Lang
Ronie Kendig
MaryLu Tyndall
Kathi Macias
Vanetta Chapman

And more! But you know, I'm not copying my whole list. =) There will be Christmas books, biblical fiction, Amish stories, romance of every imaginable genre, suspense, mystery, young adult . . . something for everyone on your list!!

We're a little excited over here. And a little overwhelmed with thoughts of it, truth be told. Can't wait to see how all this comes together!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Remember When . . . Poor Richard Ruled the Day?

Yes, more from Ben Franklin's Poor Richard's Almanack today. Largely because it's two hours after my usual posting time, and I have no other brilliant ideas. =)

Beware! Beware! He’ll cheat without scruple, who can without fear.

As pride increases, fortune declines.

Ambition often spends foolishly what avarice had wickedly collected.

Creditors have better memories than debtors.

Death takes no bribes.

A good example is the best sermon.

All would live long, but none would be old.

A long life may not be good enough, but a good life is long enough. 

Anger is never without a reason, but seldom with a good one.

Beware of him who is slow to anger; he is angry for something, and will not be pleased for nothing.
(In other words, don't make Roseanna mad! ;-)

Danger is sauce for prayers.

Bad commentators spoil the best of books.

Approve not of him who commends all you say.

And my favorite from this batch . . .

Clean your finger, before you point at my spots.

Happy Wednesday, all! Hope ol' Ben's wisdom brightens your day. =)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Story Time . . . In the Making

Today I'm bringing you something a little different--and totally awesome. For full details you need to hop over to Go Teen Writers, but I'll give you my spin on it here. =)

My awesome writing buddy / best friend ever, Stephanie Morrill, is embarking on a new, totally exciting project, and she needs some input from the young adult crowd. Here's the gist:

Out of Reach is a story about a teen who's writing--and eventually publishing--a novel. And Stephanie wants YOU (or the teen in your life, depending on how old you are, ha ha) to help come up with the novel the character is writing.

How stinkin' cool is THAT? By checking in on Go Teen Writers, you can lend your input, participate in the conversation, and have a part in the creation of a novel-within-a-novel to be published by Stephanie!! Stephanie has the info you'll need on how it will tie in with her character's life, and I for one can't wait to see what cool things lurk in the minds of the teens that read GTW.

Hop over! This isn't an opportunity to be missed!!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Modern . . . Jargon

One of the most challenging things about writing a book, in my opinion, is jargon. Technical lingo. Those words peppered throughout speech that say, "This person is an XYZ, and he knows his stuff."

There's a fine line to walk--you don't want to overwhelm a reader, but you want them to get the impression that you as a writer know what you're talking about. And more, you want to creating setting, mood, and accurate characterization through these word choices.

I just finished reading a super-fabulous historical, Surrender the Heart by MaryLu Tyndall. One of the things I expect of MaryLu's books is a wonderful knowledge about tall ships and seafaring, and she knows how to strike the balance between showing me the details of a ship and not making my eyes glaze over with it all. I closed her book and thought, "Wow. She obviously knows her stuff. She imparts her wisdom. The characters come across perfectly. And I shiver at the thought of ever writing anything on this topic, because how in the world would I keep it all straight?"

And though, yes, I deal with this issue in historicals all the time, the first story to pop to mind when I contemplated it was my contemporary, Seized. My hero is an ex-SEAL, so he uses military jargon all the time among his friends.

Now, I'm an avid watcher of NCIS (and was of JAG back in the day), so I at least know TV jargon. =) Not exactly dependable research, but they're pretty good at establishing setting and mood, anyway. I read a lot. I visit a lot of websites when I'm researching something. But I'm never quite sure I'm getting the jargon right until one of my critters goes, "What are binocs? Binoculars?" and I lift my brows and realize I hadn't even intentionally peppered that particular shorthand in. I like it once that starts happening, when I can stop thinking about it so much and just let it flow.

Stop for a minute and think about some of your favorite books. When I do, I realize they all have this jargon-thing in common. The characters are so very much themselves that they think with these words, use them to make unique-to-them analogies, and convey a definite image. How about your favorites?

Hope everyone had a safe and fun weekend! My little fairy and turtle were adorable and polite as they skipped around the neighborhood, so I'm a proud mama. =)

Winner!

And the winner of Melanie Dickerson's The Healer's Apprentice is . . .

Sheree! (neednspace@ . . . )

Congrats, Sheree! I just sent you an email.