Friday, April 29, 2011

My Friend Karen - Interview & Giveaway


Today I'm happy to welcome Karen Witemeyer to my blog to talk about her latest book, To Win Her Heart. She's been generous enough to offer a copy to one lucky reader, so to be entered to win, please leave a comment below with your email address.

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About To Win Her Heart


Having completed his sentence for the unintentional crime that derailed his youthful plans for fame and fortune, Levi Grant looks to start over in the town of Spencer, Texas. Spencer needs a blacksmith, a trade he learned at his father’s knee, and he needs a place where no one knows his past. But small towns leave little room for secrets. . . .
Eden Spencer has sworn off men, choosing instead to devote her time to the lending library she runs. When a mountain-sized stranger walks through her door and asks to borrow a book, she steels herself against the attraction he provokes. His halting speech and hesitant manner leave her doubting his intelligence. Yet as the mysteries of the town’s new blacksmith unfold, Eden discovers hidden depths in him that tempt her heart.

Levi’s renewed commitment to his faith leads Eden to believe she’s finally found a man of honor and integrity, a man worthy of her love. But when the truth about his prodigal past comes to light, can this tarnished hero find a way to win back the librarian’s affections?

~*~

About Karen

Karen Witemeyer is a deacon's wife who believes the world needs more happily-ever-afters. To that end, she combines her love of bygone eras with her passion for helping women mature in Christ to craft historical romance novels that lift the spirit and nurture the soul. Her debut novel, A Tailor-Made Bride, recently claimed honorable mention in the 2010 Best Western Romance contest. Karen makes her home in Abilene, TX with her husband and three children.

~*~

What's your latest book?

To Win Her Heart (Bethany House, May 2010) pairs a blacksmith with a criminal past with an uppity librarian who holds lofty ideals. But attraction definitely sparks between these two opposites.

Oh, an unlikely pair is so much fun!  What inspired you to write this book?

Have you ever wished there was an epilogue to Jesus' parable of the Prodigal Son? I have. When I decided to write To Win Her Heart, one question prompted the plot development: What happens after the father welcomes the prodigal son home? So often we focus on the wonderful homecoming the lost son received, but have you ever asked what life was like for him after the celebration was over? How did he relate to his bitter older brother or the servants and townspeople who were only too aware of his past arrogance and wild living? My story plays on those very questions.

You know, I hadn't really considered that question, but it's an awesome one to fuel your book! What do you hope your readers will get out of the story?

The underlying theme of this book is one of forgiveness and of learning to view others through God's lens instead of our own. Just as Jesus encouraged the Pharisees to only cast a stone if they were without sin, we must learn to set aside our self-righteous pride in favor of mercy and forgiveness. It is human nature to keep records of wrongs and to view others through our own hurts and prejudices. And while our God is certainly concerned with justice, when one of his children repents, his mercy and forgiveness know no bounds. We must learn to exhibit the same grace to our brothers and sisters in Christ, extending them the mercy we ourselves would wish to receive. After all, love keeps no record of wrongs.

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
(1 Peter 4:8)


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

I'm an historical romance gal, through and through. It's all I read and all I write. I like to think of myself as focused, though others might consider it stuck in a rut. However, within the historical romance genre, I'm open to all types of stories and settings—medieval Scottish warriors, dashing earls in regency ballrooms, rugged cowboys riding the range—give me a manly, historic hero, and I'm there. Oh . . .umm . . .a feisty heroine is nice, too.

Now, come on. It's the hero all the way. ;-) I share your love of all things historical romance, that's for sure. Is there any one thing or reference you keep handy when writing? Anything you kept around for this particular book?

My two favorite resources for To Win Her Heartcame from books that gave me greater insight into the personal lives of my characters. Levi Grant is a blacksmith, and Aldren Watson's book The Blacksmith: Ironworker & Farrier gave me wonderful information from how to set up a forge to which tools to use for which job, to common blacksmithing tasks. I couldn't have written Levi's story without it. And for Eden, creating art out of pressed flowers is her hobby and an expression of her personality, so I bought a copy of Sandy Puckett's Fragile Beauty: The Victorian Art of Pressed Flowers. The fabulous pictures and instructions in this book gave life to Eden's passion.


Let's move onto a fun question. =) If you could take your family on a vacation anywhere in the world, where would you go?

If money was no object, I would love to tour the castles of Germany. I love mountain settings, romance, and fairy tales. What could be more romantic than the castle that inspired the home of Disney's Sleeping Beauty situated in the Bavarian mountains? I get dreamy-eyed just looking at pictures of Neuschwanstein. I'd also like to see elegant Eltz Castle and historic Wartburg Castle. Wartburg is one of the oldest preserved castles as well as a place where church reformer Martin Luther lived and translated the Bible into German. How awesome would that be to see? My daughter would love touring the castles and my husband would dutifully ooh and aah, but I might have to bribe my boys with a ski trip or something to get them to tour the castles with me.

You're speaking my language there! What are you writing right now?

I'm currently working on my fourth historical romance for Bethany House. The working title is Short-Straw Bride. Four brothers draw straws to see who will marry the heroine in this twist on a marriage of convenience story. Here's the tagline: All he’s ever cared about is his brothers and his land. But when a good deed goes awry, he’s stuck with a bride who endangers both.

One fun tidbit about the brothers in this story – they are all named for heroes from the Alamo. Travis is the main character, the next oldest is Crockett, the kid brother is Neill (for the Alamo's commander who missed being at the fight because of a family illness that called him away), and the third brother's given name is Bowie, but he refuses to answer to anything except Jim. I don't blame him. Poor guy. What we authors do to torture our characters.

Oh, that's a fabulous premise!!

~*~

Thanks so much for visiting, Karen! Readers, be sure to check out her website at
http://www.karenwitemeyer.com. You can find her book at ChristianBook.comChristianbook.com.

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 5/6/11. Winner will have two weeks to claim prize.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Thoughtful About . . . Worry

I'm not a worrier. I am, in fact, convinced there's a worry gene, and that my sister got it double strength, leaving me with a lack. And sometimes it definitely feels like a bad thing, this no-worrying. It makes me lax about things I should be on top of. I occasionally wonder if a serious issue would go too long without being noticed by laid-back me. Yeah, that's right--sometimes I worry about not worrying. ;-)

Last night I discovered something I do worry about, and worry about in spades. Brace yourself: the weather.

Yeah. (Sigh.) I get really worried about weather. To be precise, severe thunder storms.

Now, here's the history. I was probably always a little scared of storms and such as a kid, but it got really bad when I turned six. There was a fire on the hill next door, on my birthday, and it gave me a real phobia about fire. And since I knew lightning strikes could cause fire . . .

I got over that. I even enjoy a healthy thunderstorm these days. Really, truly enjoy them. But now, apparently, I get pretty upset when they throw tornado warning/watches into the mix. At night. When I'm supposed to be sleeping, on the top floor of my house, with my kids on the main floor. (This fear started in high school, when graduation was canceled because of tornadoes that sent us all into the auditorium for a couple hours.)

For the second night in a row, we had those warnings. On Tuesday night when we switched over to the emergency broadcast thingy, a nice computerized voice was warning us that a system that "could" spawn tornadoes was spotted in Frostburg, moving east. Ahem--that would be toward my town, about fifteen miles away. The warning included "take cover immediately." 

Apparently those are magic words to make my latent worry-gene activate. Because I don't think I relaxed until the warning expired at 9:37, and if David hadn't stopped me, I would have had the kids out of bed and downstairs with us.

Now, that was for Tuesday, when the forecast just said "thunder storms," no "severe" tacked on. Because they had reserved the "severe" warning for last night. And of course, the news was filled with man-killing tornadoes. We barely had clouds by the time we put the kids to bed last night, but yet again my TV was interrupted with tornado warnings. No rain or anything by the time I went to bed at 11, but I woke up when it started at 1:30.

And the worry kicked in. What if a tornado came while we were in bed? What warning would we have? Would the fire-siren go off? Was that it there?? No, wind. Just the wind. The really strong, gusty wind. And the thunder. And lightning. (Well, hey, at least I'm not scared of that anymore!) The kids were sleeping through it, which was good. But if there was a tornado, and we somehow had enough warning to get out of the top floor, would we have enough time to wake the kids? Could I run fast enough on my still-sore ankle?

Maybe we should all just camp out on the pull-out couch in the basement . . .

I prayed. And I prayed. I repeated like a mantra, "I trust you, Lord, I trust you, Lord, I trust you, Lord to take care of my family." I listened to the thunder (which really wasn't that bad. It's kinda embarrassing how not severe this system was around here, considering my middle-night worry) and strained to hear the tell-tale signs of trouble.

At 2 I got up and checked the weather forecast, just to make sure there were no computerized voices telling me to take cover. The tornado warning was still in effect (is actually still in effect as I write this), but the computer now agreed that this storm wasn't severe, just a storm. I felt a degree better. I went back to bed, told my hubby the update, and he said something along the lines of "Muh huh. Zzzzzz."

I seriously don't know how you midwesterners deal with this so often. Or maybe it's because here in Maryland it's not so common that I get so worked up. But as the storm moved off and I was jumping, now, at the silence (seriously, Roseanna? Now the quiet is making you nervous?? What do you think this is, the eye of a hurricane?), I put some consideration into worry and faith.

Here's what I observed about myself. It's easy to hide my worry when it doesn't interfere with normal operations--like during the day, when I can just herd the kids downstairs to watch TV during a warning. And it's easy to pray the right things, all the things I've been taught, in these circumstances. It's not as easy to let go.

But you know what else? Trusting the Lord through our worry doesn't always mean that we don't worry. Sometimes we're supposed to be worried enough to take care of ourselves and our families. This isn't fretting, it's responsibility. It's okay that I was concerned about getting my kids to safety in the event of a tornado, okay that I was making a plan.

What wasn't okay was that the worry was just as intense in the silence. But then I remembered that prophet (Elisha maybe?) who was running away from the evil queen, seeking the Lord. And He wasn't in the tempest, and He wasn't in the earthquake, and He wasn't in any other fierce, terrible show . . . but He was in the whisper. As I considered that last night, I listened for the whisper. And my shoulders finally relaxed, I could smile at myself, and sleep took hold again.

This morning I woke up with a sore neck, sleepy eyes, and the conviction that even had an F5 ripped through the area like it did a decade ago, even if the worst had happened, the Lord would have been right there, taking care of us. Instead, He took care of us by doing exactly what I prayed and chasing the storm away. I reminded myself that it isn't that the Lord isn't present in the storms, the quakes, the violence . . . it's more that we can't hear His still, small voice until we quiet the rage within and listen.

Listen. Listen to the whisper.

I'll probably always be afraid of tornadoes. That's probably a fairly healthy fear, as fears go. I'll probably wake up again when I know there's a warning and be nervous. But you know what? Next time I don't want to wait until the storm moves off to hear the whisper. 

Next time, I'm going to find the whisper in the storm.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Remember When . . . It Was Time for New Characters?

I'm toying around with a new story idea. This one would be a Regency, the plot of which I shan't reveal quite yet. ;-) But the first step for me is solidifying the characters in my mind.

I knew who my hero would be from the get-go, since I'm stealing one of my older ideas and revamping for this. Phillip Camden can still be Phillip Camden, though I've changed the setting on him. But my heroine . . . she was all wrong in that old story (for this setting). So I started by changing her name, which is now Arabelle Denler.

I wasn't at first sure what was going to make Arabelle so stinkin' special. I mean, she has to be pretty because of the circumstances of the book, but she made me laugh in the first few pages when I realized she lives in hilarious fear that her beauty's going to evaporate when she hits 30, just like Aunt Dora's did (whoever Aunt Dora is . . .).

I haven't described our fearful beauty, but I'll have to in the next scene, and I'm still trying to figure out a few basics. You know, like hair color. ;-) I figured I'd base her on a template--my first thought being an actress. Then I thought (looking at the lovely cover of Georgette Heyer's Friday's Child that I had sitting beside me) that it would be fun to base her on a painting.

So. In trying to choose between brunette (my first thought) or . . . no, I present to you two pictures to help me choose. =)

The one I first found is for some reason a copyrighted photo, though the painting itself out to be public domain . . . but anyway, she looks somewhat like this other one, though the nose is different. Close enough for a basic description, though. Dark hair and whatnot.

(If you're curious, the one I was actually thinking of can be viewed here.)

But then I stumbled upon Sir Frank Dicksee's paintings and fell somewhat in love with his depiction of Miranda from Shakespeare's The Tempest. Not that this was how I at first imagined Arabelle, but oh! the painting!! Gorgeous, isn't it? I'm inclined toward making Arabelle fairer than I intended solely so I have an excuse to stare at it. =) 

But preference of paintings aside, who has an opinion on which would make a better Arabelle Denler, great beauty who's fearful she'll sprout a beak of a nose at any moment?

Figure we might as well take a vote, LOL. No promises that I'll obey the decision, but opinions are definitely welcome!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

My Friend Tom - Interview & Giveaway

Today I'm happy to welcome debut novelist Tom Blubaugh to the blog to talk about his newly-released historic, Night of the Cossacks. Tom recently demonstrated his amazing courage by joining a historical list I belong to that has, now, one male member. =) You're a brave soul, Tom!

Tom has generously offered a copy of his novel to one lucky reader, so as usual, please leave your comment below for a chance to win, along with an email address.

~*~

About Night of the Cossack

“In Night of the Cossack, Tom Blubaugh has created an interesting fictional account of a young boy facing a series of tough life-or-death decisions when forced into the life of a Cossack soldier.  Readers are sure to be entertained by this tale of Nathan Hertzfield’s life, his struggle to maintain the upstanding character and morality set forth by his mother.”  Michelle Buckman, Christy Award Finalist

~*~

About Tom

Tom Blubaugh, author of Night of the Cossack, is a freelance writer.  He has written nonfiction most of his adult life.  He resides with his wife Barbara in southwest Missouri where he is currently writing fiction.  Tom and Barbara have six children and fourteen grandchildren.  In addition to writing, Tom loves macro photography.

~*~

What's your latest book?

Night of the Cossack, Bound by Faith Publishers, April 6, 2011

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

When Nathan and his captor develop a healthy relationship.

What was the hardest part to write?

A betrayal.

Those can definitely be tough.What do you hope your readers will get out of the story?

That life is a series of choices and right choices eventually will bring right results.

Is there a theme to this book?

Adventure and survival.

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

Historical fiction.  Western adventure.

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

Sitka by Louis L’Amour 

The Sovereign’s Daughter by Susan May Warren and Susan K. Downs

Other than the Bible, what's your favorite of all the books you've ever read?

Pilgram’s Progress

Would you believe I've never read that (I'm ashamed to say)? What's one of the oddest or most interesting things someone has ever said about you?
‘My enthusiasm turns people off.’ (go figure)

LOL. What would your dream office look like—and what does your REAL writing environment look like?
A glassed in studio sitting 100’ about a winding river through the Ozark country side.

A 12 x 15 room filled with books, collectibles and pictures.

What lessons have you learned through the publication process that you wouldn't have guessed as a pre-published writer?
It’s as hard for a small independent publisher to get a book in a bookstore as it is for a writer to get a manuscript read.

Are there any people (family, writing group, editors) who you rely on when writing?
My critique group.  They’re invaluable.


Aside from writing, what takes up most of your time?
Family and volunteer 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!)
An Alaskan cruise.

Hey, my parents are going on one of those soon! What writing goal have you set for yourself that would be the hardest (or unlikeliest) but most rewarding to achieve?
An autobiography.

Do you remember where you were when you got your first or most important call about a book contract?

Eating lunch at Panera Bread.

Yummy. =) If you could take your family on a vacation anywhere in the world, where would you go?
Europe.  In particular France, Italy and Odessa, Ukraine on the Black Sea.

Surprise, right? ;-) What are you writing right now?

A sequel to Night of the Cossack.

Is there another author who has greatly influenced your writing?

Michelle Buckman.

~*~

Thanks so much for stopping by, Tom! Readers you can read the first chapter at Tom's website, http://tomblubaugh.com. Purchase the book straight from the publisher at http://boundbyfaithpublishers.com!


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 5/10/11. Winner will have two weeks to claim prize.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Word of the Week - Understand

I can't say as I've ever understood why, when we comprehend something, we stand under it. So this week we're working to understand the word understand. =)

According to the wonderful world of www.etymonline.com (one of the best resources IN THE UNIVERSE!), this word, which has been in the English language pretty much since the English language has been, carries an old sense of "standing in the midst of." And if you're in the midst of it, you get it.

Now, the "under" is the tricky part. Etymonline quotes a few different expert opinions on why it's "under." They all agree it isn't "under" as in beneath, but rather as in "between, among." Take, as a modern day idiom that has survived with this meaning, the example "Under such circumstances." We don't mean we're literally under these circumstances, but rather in the midst of them.

Some other Germanic languages have a word that means "stand before" rather than "stand under," but ultimately the idea comes back to truly comprehending something when you're very near it.

Understand? ;-)

Winners!

I once again forgot to do a drawing last week, so we'll do a two for one. =)

The winner of Shannon Vannatter's White Doves is . . .

Mary Ann! (amomwithablog@ . . .)

And the winner of Mary Ellis's Abigail's New Hope is . . .

Judy B! (judyjohn2004@ . . .)

Congrats to both of you! I've just sent you emails.

Friday, April 22, 2011

My Friend Ann - Interview & Giveaway

Today I'm pleased to welcome Ann Shorey to my blog to talk about her latest release, the third book in the Beldon Grove series, The Dawn of  a Dream. Ann has generously offered a copy of the book to one lucky reader, so please leave a comment below with an email address where I can reach you to be entered to win.

~*~

About The Dawn of  a Dream

She’s embarking on a new life—but can the past truly be left behind?

Luellen O’Connell is stunned when her husband of just one month tells her he is leaving—and his reason leaves her completely astonished. Deeply wounded by his betrayal, Luellen decides to finally follow her dream to become a teacher, a desire she had set aside when she married. But can she truly hide her past? Or will it destroy her ambitions forever?

A moving story of tenacity and perseverance in the face of opposition, The Dawn of a Dream will inspire you to discover and follow your own dreams.

~*~

About Ann

ANN SHOREY has been a story collector for most of her life, and has been a full-time writer for over twenty years. Her writing has appeared in Chicken Soup for the Grandma’s Soul, and in the Adams Media Cup of Comfort series. She made her fiction debut with The Edge of Light, Book One in the At Home in Beldon Grove series, which released in January 2009. The third book in the series, The Dawn of a Dream, released in April, 2011. She’s tempted to thank Peet’s coffee and Dove chocolates when she writes the acknowledgments for her books.

When she’s not writing, she teaches classes on historical research, story arc, and other fiction fundamentals at regional conferences. Ann lives with her husband in southern Oregon.

She may be contacted through her website, www.annshorey.com, which also contains her blog, http://annshorey.blogspot.com/ or find her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/AnnShorey.

~*~

What's your latest book?

The Dawn of a Dream, published by Revell, released April 1, 2011.

What do you hope your readers will get out of the story?

 I hope readers will be encouraged to follow their own personal dreams. The Dawn of a Dream is about the obstacles Luellen McGarvie had to overcome to reach her goal. If I can encourage a reader or two to press on through discouragement, I’ll feel rewarded.

What a wonderful purpose for your book! Everyone can certainly use encouragement in reaching their dreams. What's your favorite genre to write? To read?


I love writing historical novels, and historicals are my favorite genre to read, as well. The reason is the same—I like to learn about history in a painless way! It’s much more fun to learn from a novel than to memorize dates and events in a classroom.

Isn't it though?? =) What would your dream office look like—and what does your REAL writing environment look like?


Oh, my! My dream office would have shelves and cupboards and BE ORGANIZED! Right now my office is full of boxes of books, stacks of reference materials, writing supplies, my stuffed bunny collection, and my dog. My goal for this year is to take out all the miscellaneous tables that hold “stuff” and replace them with specially designed shelves, so that one wall will contain everything in easy-to-find order. (Except for the dog—she would probably balk at being filed on a shelf. =)


LOL. You never know--sometimes dogs find weird places. And I'm glad to know I'm not the only disorganized one! Is there any one thing or reference you keep handy when writing? Anything you kept around for this particular book?

Since I write historical fiction, the one book I couldn’t do without is English Through the Ages, by William Brohaugh.

For The Dawn of a Dream, I referred often to The Town that Started the Civil War, by Nat Brandt (for descriptions of a college that accepted women in the 1850’s); US Cavalry on the Plains, 1850-90, published by Osprey Books, (for descriptions of uniforms, etc.); also Forts of the American Frontier 1820-91, published by Osprey; and, Duty, Honor, Country, A History of West Point, by Stephen Ambrose. There were several other books, but I turned to those most often.


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

I’ve learned what a rewarding experience it is to work with talented editors. It’s a blessing to have my work skillfully edited so that the end result is far more polished than what I turned in. The team at Revell knows what sells, from the cover art to the last page in the book. I trust them completely.

They do a fabulous job! Now, a fun question: 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 new carpeting for our house! If there were any money left, it would go toward office improvement.


Nearly too practical, but I'll allow it. ;-) Any funny family stories about living with a writer?

 I don’t know whether my husband thinks it’s funny or not, but I can be so engrossed in writing that I completely forget to stop and cook dinner. Sometimes he comes home to a dark house (except for the lights in my office) and a cold stove. Fortunately for me, he’s an easy-going guy. He keeps saying he can get by with peanut butter sandwiches, but so far it hasn’t come to that.

I just did that the other day. =) Of course, I only got away with it because the kids were with their grandmother and my hubby out too, LOL.

~*~

Thanks so much for visiting, Ann! Readers, be sure to check out her website at www.annshorey.com and her blog at http://annshorey.blogspot.com/. And you can buy The Dawn of a Dream from 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 4/29/11. Winner will have two weeks to claim prize.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Thoughtful About . . . Salvation

Salvation. Something of the utmost importance to any believer, and of the utmost relevance as Easter nears. Turn on any contemporary Christian show and you'll come across the phrase "to be saved."

It's become (dare I say so?) a cliche. Saved. It means you're a Christian. Born again. Washed in the blood, and all that. Right? A matter of the soul. A decision. "I'm saved" means that you've made a decision to live for Christ.

But as I reread a chapter in Romans this week that uses that phrase, I had to stop and really ponder it. Saved. That's a strong word. It doesn't just connote a decision, it denotes being snatched from the jowls of destruction. Delivered from impending doom. That's BIG.

I had to rethink the meaning and implication of our understanding of salvation as I wrote Jewel of Persia this past year. Why? Because salvation was a very present, very important theme through much of the Old Testament, especially in the book of Esther. It's totally about salvation--being saved from obliteration through the courage and faith of one Jewess who God had placed beside a king. That is literal, physical salvation.
I expounded on this theme throughout my book, making my heroine pray continually for salvation--to be saved from her enemies, from death, from intrigue, and from loss of faith. Again, literal, physical salvation. I even end the book with the line, "Our salvation is at hand." Meaning number one being that the Jews were fighting back against the Persians who wanted to destroy them, yes, but I also wanted to look forward to Christian salvation with it.

Which is different, right? Salvation as we think of it now is a matter of the spiritual, not the "literal, physical." Isn't it? 

I always thought so. But as I read Romans 10, I had to wonder. It's obvious Paul is talking about high stakes here. His ultimate heart's desire is that Israel be saved. Saved . . . from what? From eternal peril, yes. From their own ignorance, definitely. But what about the "literal, physical"? Has the word lost that meaning in this use?

Here's the thing--it hadn't. That's why the use of it here must have been so striking, so ground-breaking. At the time, I'm betting that "saved" meant ONLY "deliverance." As in, from a visible, impending threat. It was real. It was there. So when the writers of the New Testament suddenly applied this word that meant a literal saving from destruction to matters of the soul . . .

WOW. That's quite a leap, isn't it? That to a people whose Law was tied up in earthly punishments, earthly destruction or blessing, suddenly there is an ultimate salvation offered, not for one's physical life only, but for something beyond. Something that addressed those inner issues that had begun to rise to the forefront of peoples' minds. 

These days, we're taught the spiritual meanings of "saved" and "born again" at so early an age that we often fail to realize how revolutionary it was for Jesus and His followers to take something purely physical and apply it to that incarnate realm. And because we fail to realize that, I think we miss some of the power of it.

So as I enter the final days of Holy Week leading up to Resurrection Day this year, I'm going to be pondering how salvation is real, temporal, physical . . . and how that makes it all the more important that it's also offered to my soul

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Remember When . . . Jesus Came on the Scene?

If this seems familiar to anyone, it's a repost from something I wrote for Inkwell Inspirations last year. Seemed perfect for the season. =)
 
As a teenager, I had a whole host of ideas in my mind for stories. Some of them I diligently worked on, some of them I shoved onto a mental shelf . . . and some of them I knew were a little beyond me, so I filed them away and jotted notes as handy facts happened by.

One of the biggest ideas I ever had started as a short story I wrote on Good Friday when I was fifteen. I entitled the story "A Stray Drop of Blood"—it was about a woman in the crowd at Jesus' trial and crucifixion, one who had gone to seek revenge on Barabbas but instead collided with forgiveness. I knew then that the story would become a book, but I also knew I was in no place to write it.

Then I went to St. John's College, a little Liberal Arts school that focuses on the Great Books of Western civilization. As I went through the Program, A Stray Drop of Blood came to life in my mind as I gained the knowledge and tools I needed to write it.

During my sophomore year, we read through the major books of the Bible in about four months for one of my classes. We started, naturally, with the Old Testament. Never have I read so much of it so fast. We flew through the historical books of Genesis and Exodus, we swallowed whole the Law, and we paid close attention to the Prophets. There was a pit stop at the Psalms (which was like vacation after the Law!) and we admired how the Psalmists always looked to God with hope after every lamentation.

I was so blessed to have an Orthodox Jew as one of my teachers in that class. Those of us raised in the Christian church often just get versions of the story that have been distilled over the centuries into what the great minds deemed the “important” facts—basically, we get interpretations. This is fine, in that the full scope of the thing is a bit much for us to understand as we come to faith. But I was at the point where I wanted to go deeper.

The more I learned about the culture Jesus was born into, the more I understood about the Law and the Prophets, the more amazing God and His Son became in my mind. This teacher of mine offered me a cynicism I needed. Every time we read something that my footnotes helpfully told me was a prophecy of Christ, he would answer, “Says who? That could just as easily be a prophecy of so-and-so, who lived a hundred years later and is known by the Jews to have been . . .”

“What?” cry all the raised-in-the-churchers. “Of course not! It's obviously Jesus!”

But again. . . why? Yes, I believe in fact that they are foretelling the Christ. But I needed to be challenged. I needed to think about it a different way. I needed to see why some people can believe all the same historical facts that I do and not come to the same conclusion.

I especially remember reading the end of Isaiah, where it is prophesied that there would be no more prophets. This at first confused a few people in my class, since for the same day we had read other prophets who were after Isaiah in the Bible. Thankfully my Bible has that handy-dandy info at the front of each book, which told us that Isaiah is chronologically the last book of the Old Testament. But still—why? What changed that this was necessary, why did God stop speaking like that to His people?

After that, we jumped to Roman texts for a while. Talk about a culture shock! From a world of strict laws and consequences when you break them, all based on their unique belief in the one God, we learned of a society founded instead on politics and ambition. Religion did not control the day in Rome. They were far more concerned with themselves than spiritual matters. Hedonism, Stoicism . . . words embodied by these builders of empires. Having read a ton of Greek philosophy the year before, it was easy to see where they got their foundation, but the Romans took it to another level. They didn't want to be beholden to the Greeks for anything, so they created stories to one-up the Greek mythology (like the Aeneid. Did you know that Caesar ordered Virgil to write it so that they had something to compete with Homer's Iliad and Odyssey?).

At first when I saw the reading list and realized we'd be jumping from the Old Testament to Roman stuff then back to the Bible for the New Testament, I thought it was just a matter of chronology. But then I started reading those familiar Gospels . . .

And that's when it hit me (thanks to the perspective of some students who hadn't been raised in the church): there was a pretty vast break in thought between the Old and New Testaments. The people who spoke in the Gospels talked about issues, assumptions, and beliefs that just weren't present in the Law and the Prophets. Suddenly they were concerned with heaven. Eternal life. Focused on the heart and mind.

All things that make perfect sense to us, but conspicuously absent from the Old Testament (not to say there wasn't a foundation for it, but it wasn't the prevalent way of thinking). So what happened in the couple hundred years between Isaiah  and Matthew?

That's when it hit me even harder: the answer to that “missing” era lay in the stuff we read that seemingly had nothing to do with the Bible. Putting it all together, a really awesome picture appears through the mist. All those Ancient Greek philosophers, the writers from Ancient Rome, even some of the religious movements like the Zealots, began to sneak into the mind of the everyday man. And they combined to bring a new awareness of the world we can't see. Of the importance of intent. Of the life that awaits us after we die.

Reading all those texts in my college classes made me see the glory, the beauty of this history that the Lord has written. It isn't just that He gave a Law that was so complete. It isn't just that He gave His Son. It's that He chose that perfect moment in time to do so, after preparing the hearts and minds of the world for centuries. Had Jesus come two hundred years earlier, His message may have been even more confusing for the people. Had He come two hundred years later, Rome's grip on Israel would have been so drastically changed that the people wouldn't have been crying for Messiah like they were then.

Sometimes, it's just really stinking cool to see the hand of God in history outside the Bible. It fills in some of the colors you may not have realized were faded or missing and makes the tapestry that much richer.

Nothing in my life has made me love Him on which my faith is founded like taking a step back and looking at the picture from a new perspective. Not just the Old, not just the New. The Whole—and that requires taking a glance at the middle.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Story Time . . . for Easter

I was touched beyond compare when a friend I made through her reading A Stray Drop of Blood re-posted her review of the book all over the place, declaring it a book one must read in the Lenton season. I confess, I often pick up the book this time of year and reread the scenes pertaining to Jesus' trial, death, and resurrection. Maybe that's silly, since I wrote it so obviously have all that info stored in my brain, but . . . well, dwelling on it like that help me to focus on the season.

Which got me to wondering. Does anybody have any books (either for adults or kids) that you pull out around Easter? The kids and I have gotten several books from the library for them, and I gotta say I'd love to find a kids book that combined the historical account of Easter from the Bible with the traditions of Easter Bunny etc. that have cropped up over the years. It seems like everything we've read has focused either on one or the other. Any recommendations?

The other thing I read every year this time is (I'll give you one guess!) . . . the chapters of the Gospels about the triumphal entry, the week leading up to Jesus' arrest, the last supper, the betrayal, the trial, the crucifixion, and the resurrection.

So please do share! What are you favorite Easter reads?

Monday, April 18, 2011

Word of the Week - Amen

Every night, the family gathers around for bedtime prayers. I start off with a prayer of thanks for the day, for protection that night, for a good day following, and for anything else pertinent to that particular day. Then Xoe adds her bit, Rowyn either cheerily says "To you!" (don't ask me why . . .) or else goes, "Nuh uh." And we all say "Amen." (Rowyn adding "And Rowyn!" . . . again, don't ask me why, LOL.)

But it occurred to me the other night, after Rowyn's addition to "amen" that I really had no idea how the word came to be used as it is and, for that matter, what it actually means other than "the end." So I looked it up. =)

Here's what I found. "Amen" is a direct translation from a Hebrew word that literally means "so be it." That makes a ton of sense--when we end a prayer, we're asking God to make whatever we prayed for be. But until the 13th century, it wasn't tacked onto the end of prayers, but rather at the end of texts, carrying the meaning of "verily" or "truly" and carrying with it a meaning of agreement. (Think, "Amen to that!")

Jesus revolutionized the "amen" by using it at the beginning of speech without referring to the words of another speaker. He used it instead to claim the truth of what he was about to say. Pretty cool. =)

As Holy Week gets under way, my prayer is that each of us takes the time to stop and consider what Jesus really did for us, what he went through, what it means. I pray that as we seek him this week, we find him in new, unexpected ways. I pray that each of us find a blessing where we thought there was none, and that the truth of our Savior blossoms in our hearts all over again. And all say it with me: Amen.

Friday, April 15, 2011

My Friend Mary - Interivew & Giveaway

Today I'm happy to welcome Mary Ellis to my blog to talk about her latest Amish novel, Abigail's New Hope. I had the pleasure of meeting Mary in person for a book signing last June, and she is just a sweetheart. =)

And as such a sweetheart, Mary has generously offered a copy of her novel for a giveaway. So as per usual, to enter just leave a comment below with an email address.

~*~

About Abigail's New Hope

Love Blooms in Unexpected Places

As an Amish midwife, Abigail Graber loves bringing babies into the world. But when a difficult delivery takes a devastating turn, she is faced with some hard choices. Despite her best efforts, the young mother dies—but the baby is saved.

When a heartless judge confines Abigail to the county jail for her mistakes, her sister Catherine comes to the Graber farm to care for Abigail’s young children while her husband, Daniel, works his fields. For the first time Catherine meets Daniel’s reclusive cousin, Isaiah, who is deaf and thought to be simpleminded by his community. She endeavors to teach him to communicate and discovers he possesses unexpected gifts and talents.

While Abigail searches for forgiveness, Catherine changes lives and, in return, finds love, something long elusive in her life. And Isaiah discovers God, who cares nothing about our handicaps or limitations in His sustaining grace.

An inspirational tale of overcoming grief, maintaining faith, and finding hope in an ever-changing world.

~*~

About Mary

Mary Ellis grew up close to the eastern Ohio Amish community, Geauga County, where her parents often took her to farmer’s markets and woodworking fairs. She loved their peaceful, agrarian lifestyle, their respect for the land, and their strong sense of Christian community. She met her husband in college and they married six days after graduation.

She, her husband, dog and cat now live in Medina County, close to the largest population of Amish in the country—a four-county area in central Ohio. They often take weekend trips to purchase produce, research for her best-selling books, and enjoy a simpler way of life.

Mary enjoys reading, traveling, gardening, bicycling and swimming. Before “retiring” to write full-time, Mary taught Middle School in Sheffield Lake, Ohio and worked as a sales rep for Hershey Chocolate for twenty years—a job with amazingly sweet fringe benefits. All three of her Miller Family series, A Widow’s Hope, Never Far from Home, and The Way to a Man’s Heart have made the CBA and CBD bestseller lists. A Widow’s Hope was a finalist in the ACFW Carol Awards for 2010 in the long contemporary category, and a runner-up in the 2010 Holt Medallion Awards.

~*~

What's your latest book?

My latest book is Abigail’s New Hope, which was released late March from Harvest House Publishers. It will be first in the Wayne County Series.

Oh, a new series! Very exciting. =) What's your favorite part of the story?

My favorite part is when the young father finally starts to bond with his newborn son. Some men aren’t hardwired the same way women are to be able to deal with an infant.

Definitely precious when they do! What was the hardest part to write?

The hardest part to write was the first chapter. My heroine, a midwife, goes above-and-beyond to save a young mother’s life. It was emotionally draining to describe childbirth when things don’t go as planned, even though as a Christian, I know all things are by His hand.


And to open with that! What a bang! What do you hope your readers will get out of the story?

That no matter how grim things look, if we turn to the Lord He will guide us through even the most difficult days. Our faith will sustain us and give us the strength to carry on.


Amen to that. Is there a theme to this book?

There are several actually. My main plot describes growth within a marriage and the meaning of “for better or for worse.” In my sub-plots, I explore reaching out to someone who’s difficult to communicate with and finally, I delve into finding lost faith through grief therapy.


Wow, you cover a lot! Now let's chat about you for a bit. What would your dream office look like—and what does your REAL writing environment look like?
My writing environment is the guest room/office. It’s a bit cramped, but I have all the necessary accouterments handy. I can write anywhere really, and usually do. I take a yellow legal tablet to the park with my dog to write scenes longhand. I often take my laptop out to my deck or a coffee shop for a change of pace. The only thing that would be different in my “dream” office would be to look out on water—ideally the ocean. I’d love to be able to walk the beach for inspiration. Alas, I live in rural Ohio, but I do look at beautiful trees and my blue barn.


Mmm, ocean . . . yeah, I'd like that too, but content myself with the mountains of Maryland. =) Is there any one thing or reference you keep handy when writing? Anything you kept around for this particular book?
Other than the King James’s and NLT versions of the Bible, I love the reference book, Know Your Bible. It’s a handy reference guide to find passages quickly.


What lessons have you learned through the publication process that you wouldn't have guessed as a pre-published writer?
I thought as an unpubb’d that it would be smooth sailing once you finally landed a contract.
Now I know that’s when the real work begins. Actual “writing” gets pushed into an ever-smaller block of time, while all these other obligations demand your attention. And we don’t even want to mention things like Twitter or Facebook! Unpub’s, enjoy your writing time, when the most pressing thing you do is to sit down and create your story.

Hear, hear! Are there any people (family, writing group, editors) who you rely on when writing?
I suppose I rely on my husband for bouncing ideas, and the wonderful Amish and Mennonite friends I’ve made in Holmes County. They help me with research and have answered my questions too many times to count. I am in their debt.

 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 would rent a small apartment in Tuscany, Italy and live frugally until the money ran out. I would take my dear hubby, one suitcase of clothes, my laptop, and my old dog. I love writing while away from home. (Anywhere, even in the coffee shop attached to my grocery store.)


And when a knock sounds on that Tuscan door and you look out to see a blond with a laptop case, just say, "Oh there you are, Roseanna! I was wondering when you'd get here." ;-) Any funny family stories about living with a writer?
I once told my husband I would sit down in front of my computer first thing in the morning, and not shower, apply makeup and go about my day until the daily word quota had been reached. When he came home from work three days in a row and found me still in pajamas, with bed-hair, and in desperate need of a shower, he talked me into abandoning that plan.


LOL. What are you writing right now?
Right now, I’m finishing the second in the Wayne County Series, called A Marriage for Meghan. It will be released in September from Harvest House. It’s the story of a former classroom troublemaker who finds herself the teacher in charge of all eight grades. It’s trial-by-fire for our Amish heroine who desperately wants to succeed.


~*~

The next one sounds great! And thanks for visiting, Mary. Readers, be sure to check out her website at www.maryeellis.wordpress.com. And you can buy Abigail's New Hope from 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 4/22/11. Winner will have two weeks to claim prize. 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Thoughtful About . . . Imagination

My daughter has become extremely artistic, and very creative. I at once recognize this is the natural age for her to do this stuff and am just amazed by the things she thinks of. In part it's because she comes up with things like this. After watching Minnie Mouse have a masquerade party, Xoe decided all her little toys needed to get dressed up in costumes. Not that she had anything in the store of Barbie clothes that would fit her animals, so she had to make her own.

I'm trying to remember if I ever came up with stuff like this. Probably, but it's been a long time ago, LOL. For reference, these animals are, from left to right: a seahorse dressed as a painting, a pony dressed as a rainbow, a bunny dressed as a flower, a pony dressed as a pegasus, and a pony dressed as a unicorn.

Okay, that was purely just me sharing how cute it was. ;-) Here's the purpose of my sharing.

In addition to this kind of crafty artistic ability Xoe's discovering, she's also constantly drawing. And I mean constantly. Ahem. Drawing on any paper she happens to be standing beside, without bothering to look and see if said paper should be drawn on. Drawing on tables. Drawing on bookshelves. Occasionally drawing on walls.

She didn't do this when she was 2 or 3. Why in the world is she doing it now?? LOL.

It reminds me of how we can be as children of God. We get so excited when we find something we're good at, something we know pleases our Father. Just like I walk through the house and grin to see Xoe's latest masterpiece scribbled on the back of a page of my old notes, I imagine God smiles when He looks down and sees us making something beautiful out of the raw material He gives us.

But sometimes we get a little carried away and start drawing mountains on filing cabinets. Sometimes we scribble right over the words God put there to guide us. Sometimes we think that because God gave us an ability, it's okay to use it anywhere, any time.

I'm having to teach Xoe all over again that drawing is good, but it has to be done on the right things.

Isn't a lot of life the same way? We have gifts and talents that God has given us. We have callings He has put on us. But just because we've discovered those gifts doesn't mean we can stop seeking Him as to how to use them, where to use them, when to use them.

I try to pray regularly that I am a good steward of the talents He has given me. There are probably times my enthusiasm leads me outside the lines, and God has to draw me back. But just like when I chastise Xoe for drawing on the wrong things, it's with a hidden smile that she's so enthused by something like this, I imagine God reacts the same way when we use our imaginations just a bit too much and have to be reined in. He'll rein us because it's necessary . . . but I have to think it's with a hidden smile at how eager we are to use the gifts He gave us.

Winner!

Got two of them here. The first is from my 500th Post Celebration, with a choice of either A Stray Drop of Blood or Jewel of Persia. And the winner is . . .

Bluerose! (bluerosesheart@ . . .)

Congrats, Bluerose! You specified you wanted Stray Drop already. =) 

And the winner of Vickie McDounough's Finally a Bride is . . .

Nora St. Laurent!

I'll be emailing both you lucky ladies here in just a minute. =)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Remember When . . . History Was Written?

I'm doing one final read-through of Jewel of Persia before it goes to the printer (yay, paperbacks soon!), and I'm struck anew by something I've undoubtedly talked about in pieces before. This book is SO reliant on recorded events!

Not unexpected for a historical, right? Usually I have a few key recorded events in my plots. In Love Finds You in Annapolis, Maryland for instance, those are (a) George Washington's resignation from the army and (b) the ratification of the Treaty of Paris. Also sprinkled throughout are references to the terrible winter (worst in their records at that point) and a few smaller events surrounding those big two, like some of the parties for Washington.

But in JoP . . . my goodness, I'd bet every chapter has at least one recorded event. In some ways I look at that and think, "Well, that made my job easy." But, um, the opposite. When you're bound by history, it limits what you can do. For instance, when I read a scene where I made two things happen on the same day that are recorded as happening, vaguely, in the same week, I still feel a pang of guilt--even though no one knows the specifics about when either happened, and it makes no difference historically. Ah, the conscience of a historian. ;-)

It's always a fun challenge to weave my own story into history's--in this case to take a heroine who's 100% fictional and make all those historical events revolve around her, or at least be filtered through her lens. When The Character Therapist confessed to Googling "Xerxes" and "Kasia" together to see what came up about her, it made me grin in delight. When I make someone wonder if my version of events is real history, then I'm doing my job, LOL.

On a personal note, some of you may know that I hurt my ankle last Thursday. Yesterday it started popping every time I took a step, so I went to get it checked out. Thank the Lord, nothing's broken. But they gave me an awesome, hard-soled support boot thingy that is SO helpful. I can almost walk normally with it. Woo hoo!

Hope everyone has a great Wednesday! I'll be posting some winners of my 500th Post Celebration and for Vickie McDonough's Finally a Bride later today!!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Story Time . . . Giveaways

There are so many giveaways going on (and I so haven't read any new books to chat about, LOL) that it seemed like a good idea to take a day to make sure you've checked them all out. =)
First, today's the last day of my 500th Blog Post Celebration. Nearly 50 of you took advantage of the free download of Jewel of Persia, and many have also entered for a chance to win the paperback of it or A Stray Drop of Blood. If you haven't yet, then hop on over and enter TODAY!

Also on the subject of Jewel of Persia, Jeannie Campbell, a.k.a. The Character Therapist, has up an awesome review of JoP that gives a fun perspective on harem life. There's a giveaway going on in conjunction with that too, so if you haven't checked it out yet, do!

And finally, tomorrow a fun interview with me on Jewel of Persia will be up on the blog of my friend and critique partner, so don't forget to take a stroll over to Sunnybank Meanderings on Wednesday!

Now, also in our giveaway list is Vickie McDonough's Finally a Bride. We have a hilarious interview up with the heroine from the book, Jack. If you haven't read this yet, you're missing out on a hoot. So definitely check this one out. You have until tomorrow to enter.

And finally, you have until Friday to hop over to the interview with Shannon Vannatter on her White Doves for a chance to win this inspirational romance. Shannon stops in regularly to answer any questions you might have and say hello, so be sure to give this wonderful author a wave!

For all interviews on my blog, to enter just leave a comment below the blog post in question with an email address where I can reach you in the event that you win. I always have current giveaways hosted here in the right sidebar, and a list of both my blog tour stops and those soon to appear on Writing Roseanna in the left sidebar, all for your convenience. =)

I hope everybody has a great Tuesday, filled with lots of great stories!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Word of the Week - Coffee

You can tell I'm longing for my first cup, right? Yes, this week we're looking into the wonders of coffee. I mean, of the word. ;-)

Word of the Week - coffee

The best guess of the awesome www.etymonline.com is that our word coffee came from the Italian caffe, which came the Turkish kahveh, which in turn came from the Arabic qahwah. Which, they think, got its name from the Kaffa region in Ethiopia, where most historians say coffee originated.

God bless those Arabians in Ethiopia!

Coffee was introduced in England by 1650, and within 25 years, over 3,000 coffeehouses dotted the country. (I heard a theory saying that the English moving from ale to coffee is why there was a great expansion in their empire, LOL.)

What I didn't realize is that by 1774 one could use the word coffee to refer to a small meal where the drink was served, much like tea. Who knew?

And on that note, I'm off to have some. The smell has been wafting in here for the last five minutes . . .

Friday, April 8, 2011

My Friend Shannon - Heroine Interview & Giveaway

It's so much fun getting to know the characters from some new novels that we're doing another heroine interview today. =) Hope you're ready to get to know Laken from White Doves by Shannon Vannatter!

Shannon has generously offered a copy to one lucky winner, so leave a comment below with an email address for a chance to win! (And we've got a slew of other giveaways going on right now, too, so be sure to check the Current Giveaway links in the sidebars.)

~*~

Hello, Laken Kroft, and thank you so much for talking with me today! To begin, could you just tell us a little bit about yourself?

I left Searcy, Arkansas eight years ago, and swore I’d never come back. But I got a promotion to postmaster at the Romance Post Office. It isn’t quite home, but it’s too close for comfort to my dysfunctional family. I hoped to transfer soon, but then my brother came home and I learned I have nephew. And then there’s Hayden. He’s the first man who ever made me wonder if marriage could be a good thing.

What’s one of your most interesting traits?

I’m fiercely loyal, just not to my parents.

What’s your favorite indulgence?

Cold Coca Cola with hulled salty peanuts dumped into it.

Hmm, never tried that. Sounds interesting. =) What do you fear more than anything else?

Being alone for the rest of my life.

Who’s your favorite person in the world (whether they’re still with you or not), and why?

My recently discovered nephew, Brady. He makes me want to stay in Romance even though my parents live near. And Hayden’s growing on me. But I can’t fall for him because I don’t want to end up like my parents.

If you could change one part of your past, undo one decision, what would it be?

I shouldn’t have left home. I should have stayed and tried to work things out with my parents.

If you could travel anywhere, to any time, where would you go and why?

Romance is growing on me, but I’d be happy to travel where ever Hayden does.

What’s the most surprising thing someone has ever said about you?

Helen Fenwick said she was glad I’m here, that my mother needs me near. I didn’t know my mother ever needed anyone, especially me.

~*~

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 with 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?

Will their mutual bond with their seven-year-old nephew draw them closer or rip them asunder? Will Laken accept Hayden “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” or be forced to turn her back on him and “Return to Sender”?

~*~

Thanks for visiting, Shannon! Readers, be sure to check out her website at http://www.shannonvannatter.com. And you can buy White Doves straight from Heartsong.

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 4/15/11. Winner will have two weeks to claim prize.  

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Thoughtful About . . . Attack of the Door!

There I was, innocently putting Rowyn into the car at the library. Minding my own business, moving a bag out of the way so he could climb over to his seat. Doing it that way avoid him entering on the street-side.

Then, from out of nowhere, came a voice. My mother's voice to be precise. I couldn't tell you what she said--probably something along the lines of, "Bye! See you later!"

Acting on my carefully-hewn instinct, I swung my head around to find the source of the shout and became immediately aware of Xoe skipping up the sidewalk to give NanNan one more hug. Which my oh-so-sharp brain recognized as fine.

A fraction of a second before said brain was overwhelmed with, "Ouch! Darn it, what did I do now?!"

There was metal where it should not have been--at my mouth. Oh-so-sharp brain registered car door.

What in the world was my car door doing at my mouth??

Apparently when I turned my head, I, in my half-on-the-sidewalk/half-on-the-street stance, was at the perfect height for a door sandwich. Lovely.

Pain burst through my awareness, yes. The taste of blood stained my tongue. But more, as I reclaimed my mouth from that vicious door, was the accusation.

Great job, Roseanna. How'd you manage THAT? What if you knocked your teeth loose? Worse, what if you knocked your bridge loose? You obviously cut something. What? Was the door itself in your mouth? Why didn't you pay attention to whether it was a through-the-lip or if you were smiling or something and it actually hit your gum?

Oh, golly, how are you going to explain to a doctor that you need a tetanus shot because of a cut on your GUM?

Meanwhile, Mom is running up demanding to know what happened, certain, from the look on my face, that I'm about to be sick.

No, no, I assure her. No nausea. Just overwhelmed at my own amazing klutziness.

Can she get me a drink of water to wash my mouth out?

Well now, that would be fine. Though when I swish and spit, the water isn't tinged red or anything. No fountain of blood to be worth exclamation. The worry on Mom's face fades to general concern as she inspects my war wound for me and says it looks okay. Asks if my teeth are okay.

I assure her they are, buckle the whining-in-worry Xoe into the car, and get behind the wheel. Naturally, I check the mirror. I can feel my lip swelling up already.

Except it doesn't look swollen. And the bleeding's already stopped, just looks a little red. And still tastes a little funny. And it doesn't really hurt, just feels where there's usually nothing to be felt.

All that for that?

Don't get me wrong, I didn't want it to be worse. But as I drove home, mentally composing my excuse for any police officer who happened to pull me over for going 47 in a 40 (I do this every single time I drive, LOL, though I've never been pulled over) it occurs to me that my excuse of "My lip's swelling, my gum's throbbing--no, not in pain, just throbbing--and I need some ice!" would only earn me an arched brow and perhaps a fine for lying. Sheesh. All that drama, and no visible proof!

So when I got home (without getting pulled over, I'd like to add), I grabbed an ice cube to hold to my not-swollen-though-it-felt-like-it lip, largely to elicit sympathy from my husband--who was on the phone and didn't notice until I'd already chucked the ice cube. (Though he gave me ample sympathy afterward, when I told him of the vicious door attack.) I sent a whiny email to my best friend, and otherwise forgot about it.

Until later that night, when I was viciously attacked in the same spot by a toothbrush . . . ;-)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Meet Jack Davis from FINALLY A BRIDE, and a giveaway!

Should have posted this yesterday and got distracted by my 500th post. But I'm delighted to bring you a glance into Finally a Bride by Vickie McDonough, in the form of a fun introduction to the heroine of the book.

Vickie's offering a copy of the book to one lucky winner, so leave a comment below with an email address for a chance to win!

~*~


Hello, Jacqueline Hamilton Davis, and thank you so much for talking with me today! To begin, could you just tell us a little bit about yourself?

First off, call me Jack. My ma hates that nickname, but Jacqueline is too big of a mouthful, and I never liked it. I’ve live my whole live in a small Texas town called Lookout. The first half of my life was hard. My ma was trying to raise me the best she knew how, but I didn’t make things easy for her. I hated school. Hated dresses, and just wanted to fish with my two friends, Ricky and Jimmy. Then Luke came back to town. I knew right away there was something between him and ma because she got all jittery, like she had fleas in her drawers, and she got cranky when he came around. I reckon you could say they worked out their differences, because they’ve been married a long while now and have given me some siblings. And don’t get me started on them.

I’m a reporter and all around grunt worker at the town’s newspaper, the Lookout Ledger. It’s my dream to leave this dusty, little town and get a job as a reporter for a big newspaper in Dallas. All I need is to land some scoop on a few big stories, and then I’m outta this puny town for good.

What’s one of your most interesting traits?

Hmm. . .I reckon Ma would say that I’m fearless. I’ll do just about anything to get my story, and that does get me in some uncomfortable predicaments at times. But what’s life without some challenges? Did you ever hear the saying that ‘quiet women never make history?’ Well, I’m not one of those quiet women. I’ve got dreams, and I intend to make history.

What’s your favorite indulgence?

Sneaking off to the church or some place else that’s quiet and spending time writing or reading a good book. I love my sisters and brother, but those little critters are noisy. And sharing a room with two young girls doesn’t allow for much alone—or quiet—time.

What do you fear more than anything else?


Being a failure. Not succeeding in my career as a newspaper reporter and not getting a job in Dallas. Never leaving Lookout.

Who’s your favorite person in the world (whether they’re still with you or not), and why?

I don’t guess a dog counts. Max, an old yellow dog, was my best friend for a long while, but I’d have to say it’s now Luke, my stepfather. He became my friend and changed my life, even though he did scold me at times. I hate disappointing him, and I can’t imagine what life would have ended up like for Ma and me if God hadn’t brought Luke into our lives.

If you could change one part of your past, undo one decision, what would it be?

Just one? A tomboy like me has plenty of things she’d like to undo. Hmm…I guess I wish I would have been nicer to the town bully, Butch Laird. He was my nemesis, years ago. After he and his pa moved away from Lookout, I realized how hard a life he had. I wasn’t very nice to him, but then he did stink like a pig sty, and he picked fights. Oh, and he even locked me in jail one time. I’m gettin’ mad just thinkin’ about that. We’d better move on to the next question before I get spittin’ mad at Butch all over again.

If you could travel anywhere, to any time, where would you go and why?

I’d like to travel into the future, to a time where women have more rights. Where a female isn’t looked down on if she wants to wear pants while pulling weeds in a garden or riding a horse astride. A time when a woman can hold any kind of job she’d like and get paid a fair wage for doing so.

What’s the most surprising thing someone has ever said about you?

The most surprising thing wasn’t something someone said, it was something that bully Butch did. He painted some awful words on the walls all over town—words about me! Embarrassed me so much I was ashamed to show my face in town for months—and I lived in town. I went looking for him that day, intending to knock the tar out of him, but that lily-livered chicken-hearted skunk had left town. Luke says God is the one to extract vengeance, but I’m not sure what I’d do if I ever saw Butch again. I’d probably wallop him and just hope God understood.

~*~

About Finally a Bride

Jacqueline Davis, a reporter for the Lookout Ledger, is bent on nabbing her story at any cost. When Noah Jeffers comes to Lookout as temporary pastor, Jack suspects there may be something hidden behind his shepherding ways. Soon though, Jack becomes attracted to the new pastor despite her initial hesitation. But as she uncovers the truth, will the story cost her too much? Will she reveal what she’s found, or keep it hidden to protect newfound love?

Carly Payton returns to Lookout after years in prison, hoping to build a new life there. But she soon discovers that new beginnings and second chances are not always easy. Garrett Corbett is determined to marry—but not a jailbird like Carly. When Carly is equally repelled by Garrett’s prank-playing ways, will they see past their dislikes and give each other—and love—a second look?

~*~

About Vickie

Vickie McDonough is an award-winning author of 23 books and novellas. Her books have won the Inspirational Reader's Choice Contest, Texas Gold, the ACFW Noble Theme contest, and she has been a multi-year finalist in ACFW’s BOTY/Carol Awards. She was voted Third Favorite Author in the Heartsong Presents Annual Readers Contest in 2009. Vickie is the author of the fun and feisty Texas Boardinghouse Brides series from Barbour Publishing. Watch for her new book this October. Long Trail Home from Moody Publishing, is book 3 in Texas Trails: A Morgan Family series, in which she partners with Susan Page Davis and Darlene Franklin to write a 6-book series that spans 50 years of the Morgan family. The first three books release this fall. Also, next year brings the release of another new series from Guidepost Books, Whispers on the Prairie, set in 1870s Kansas. Vickie hopes readers will find her stories 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

~*~

Thanks so much for visiting, Vickie, and giving us that fun insight into Jack. She sounds like a lot of fun. =) Readers, be sure and check out Vickie's site at www.vickiemcdonough.com. You can purchase Finally a Bride at Amazon and ChristianBook.   

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 4/14/11. Winner will have two weeks to claim prize.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

500th Post Celebration!!

Wow, time flies! I was more than a little surprised to look at my dashboard not long ago and realize I was fast closing in on 500 posts. And naturally, a mile-marker like that calls for a celebration!

So in honor of my 500th post, I'm offering, for 24 hours only, a FREE download of Jewel of Persia!

To claim your free download, all you have to do is go to eBookIt and use coupon code "500thPost" (no quotes in code--and it's case sensitive, so be sure you capitalize the P). You can then select your preferred digital format and enjoy!

[Update--the free download has expired, but I'm excited to report that 47 of you took advantage of the offer! I hope you all enjoy the book! The giveaway of the paperbacks is still going, so I'm going to leave this post up for an extra day for coverage. =) ]

Not a digital reader? Well, leave a comment below, and I'll draw one lucky winner of a paperback of either Jewel of Persia when I get my copies in about a month or A Stray Drop of Blood now.

The free download is, again, for one day only, so the code will be inactive at 7 a.m. EST on Wednesday, 6 April 2011.

The drawing for one of the paperbacks, however, will last for a week, so you have until 13 April to enter for that one. To enter, just leave a comment below with an email address where I can reach you if you win. =)

About Jewel of Persia


How can she love the king of kings without forsaking her Lord of lords?

Kasia grew up in a poor Jewish home with more siblings than luxuries. But when a chance encounter forces her to the palace of Xerxes, she becomes a concubine to the richest man in the world. She alone, of all Xerxes' wives, loves the man beneath the crown. She alone, of all his wives, holds the heart of the king of kings.

Traveling with Xerxes through Europe as he mounts a war against Greece, Kasia knows enemies surround her, but they’re not the Spartans or Athenians. The threat lies with those close to the king who hate her people. She determines to put her trust in Jehovah–even if it costs her her marriage.

Years of prayers are answered when Kasia's childhood friend arrives at the palace after the war, but even as she determines to see Esther crowned in place of the bloodthirsty former queen, she knows the true battle is far from over. How far will her enemies go to see her undone?

Combining the biblical account of Esther with Herodotus's Histories, Jewel of Persia is the story of a love that nearly destroys an empire . . . and the friendship that saves a nation.

About A Stray Drop of Blood


Beautiful is a dangerous thing to be when one is unprotected.

For seven years, Abigail has been a slave in the Visibullis house. With a Hebrew mistress and a Roman master, she has always been more family than servant . . . until their son returns to Jerusalem after his years in Rome. Within a few months Jason has taken her to his bed and turned her world upside down. Maybe, given time, she can come to love him as he says he loves her. But how does she open her heart to the man who ruined her?

Israel's unrest finds a home in her bosom, but their rebellion tears apart her world. Death descends with Barabbas's sword, and Abigail is determined to be there when the criminal is punished. But when she ventures to the trial, Barabbas is not the one the crowd calls to crucify. Instead, it is the teacher her master and Jason had begun to follow, the man from Nazareth that some call the Son of God . . .

Born free, made a slave, married out of her bonds, Abigail never knows freedom until she feels the fire of a stray drop of blood from a Jewish carpenter. Disowned by Israel, despised by Rome, desired by all, she never knows love until she receives the smile of a stoic Roman noble. 
 

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 4/13/11. Winner will have two weeks to claim prize.