Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Winner of a TO CATCH A THIEF book is..

Audra Elizabeth!

Congratulations, Audra. For all who didn't win, thanks so much for leaving your comments. Reluctant Smuggler (To Catch a Thief Series #3) and the rest of the series are available online and in stores now.

Don't forget, there are still lots of author interviews to read and books to be won on my blog. Check out my interviews with Julie Lessman (contest ends February 1st) and Sharon Dunn (contest ends February 4th).

Coming up are brand new interviews with authors Lynette Eason (2/4), Julie Carobini (2/11) and the mother/daughter team of Susan Page Davis & Megan Elaine Davis (2/13)!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Let's Talk About... JUNO

Juno Movie PosterI don't get out to movies nearly as much as I used to. But this weekend, my son was invited to a birthday party. So while he was there, I went to see Juno. It was time well spent.

If you look at this film objectively, it shouldn't work. It's a comedy about a teenager who finds herself pregnant after her first sexual encounter. What's funny about that? And the dialogue is so continuously quick witted and edgy, you find yourself wishing you knew people who talked that way.

So why does it work? Because it's brutally honest about the emotions beneath the humor. When Juno finds out she's pregnant, her first thought is to end it. When she meets a lone protestor in front of the women's clinic, it's not the usual rhetoric that makes her stop and think. It's one odd fact that sticks with her and won't let go. It makes the baby real to her. So now she decides to give the baby away. She and her friend look at "baby wanted" ads in the Penny Saver - next to the pet ads. Juno keeps her emotional distance by treating the whole thing as if it were no more than giving away a puppy. But as the story progresses, we see the turmoil this teenager is going through.

But perhaps the biggest reason Juno resonates and comes across as real, is the talented cast. As Juno, Ellen Page is a revelation. The unending stream of wicked one-liners that pour from her mouth come so naturally, you never think they're part of a script. She portrays Juno as one of those kids on the fringe of high school, the ones people usually don't notice, but are probably the most interesting in the entire school. The rest of the cast is equally wonderful, portraying real (if quirky) people coping with whatever life throws at them... with one exception. The one misstep here is Jason Bateman. As Mark, the male half of the couple planning to adopt Juno's baby, his performance is so low-key, I wondered if someone forced him to be in the movie. He seemed almost bored through most of it. I have to wonder if this was the direction he was given, because I know he's a better actor than that.

I loved Juno and would highly recommend it. But I will give you a caveat: Because the title character is a girl who decides not to have an abortion and to give her baby up for adoption, some have been calling this a pro-life film. I've also heard people say they thought it was a Christian film. It's not. Not specifically, anyway. It's a film about this teenage girl and how she lives out nine months of her life. The dialogue, while snappy, is also blatantly real. For example, when Juno goes into the women's clinic, the bored, facially pierced girl behind the counter offers Juno a "raspberry condom" then smiles and says that when her boyfriend uses them "his junk tastes like pie." If that kind of dialogue offends you, you might want to stay at home.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Meet Sharon Dunn - Interview & Book Giveaway


Today I’m pleased to present Sharon Dunn, author of the Ruby Taylor and Bargain Hunter mystery series. Her latest book is Death of a Six-Foot Teddy Bear (A Bargain Hunters Mystery). Let’s meet Sharon!

The Bio
Sharon Dunn didn’t have to do much research for her new Bargain Hunter mystery series. Dunn is a dedicated coupon clipper and haunter of clearance racks. Her heart beats a little faster when her punch card for the local burrito place fills up.

In addition to Death of a Garage Sale Newbie, Sharon is the author of the Ruby Taylor mysteries. Book Two in that series, Sassy Cinderella and the Valiant Vigilante won the Book of the Year from American Christian Fiction writers. Her humorous who-dun-its have received praise for their honest portrayal of the Christian journey. Sharon lives with 3 kids, 3 cats, her hubby of 20 years and lots of dust bunnies.

The Interview

JA: Your latest novel is Death of a Six-Foot Teddy Bear. Tell us a little bit about it.
SD: This is book two in the Bargain Hunters Mysteries. In Teddy Bear, The bargain hunters head down to the fictional town of Calamity, Nevada. The senior bargain hunter, Ginger, is going to help her husband market his invention at an Inventors Expo. The other bargain hunters go along to outlet shop, attend the world’s largest garage sale and help out at the Expo booth.

The convention is at the Wind-Up hotel, which is a hotel with a classic toy theme. The floors are checkerboards, the doors are bubble gum colors and the bell boys push Radio Flyer carts full of luggage. A man in a Teddy bear costume is found dead. Ginger jumps in to solve the crime when the police start to suspect her and Earl and she has to prove her innocence.

JA: This is the second of your Bargain Hunter mysteries. Your heroine, Ginger, is a bargain hunter extraordinaire. Do you share her passion for a great deal?
SD: I didn’t have to do much research about bargain hunting. I am a coupon clipper from way back. I love punch cards and clearance racks. I don’t think I have ever paid full priced for anything. Writing these books has been so much fun because is involves two things that I love, a fun follow-the-clues mystery and the hunt for a good deal.

PhotobucketJA: This time around, your bargain hunters head off to Calamity, Nevada. As a Las Vegas resident, I’m quite familiar with buffets and outlet malls. Did you get to do any on-site research for this book?
SD: I’ve been to Las Vegas several times years ago, but did not make a specific trip for this book. One part of the book takes place in Vegas. One of the things I wanted to address was that people think of Vegas as Sin City and the rest of Nevada pretty much the same. I wanted to show there are Christians everywhere trying to reach the lost. I don’t want to give away too much of the story, but Ginger gets to meet one of those neat Christians who is making a difference in “sin city.”

JA: What do you hope people take away when they finish reading Death of a Six-Foot Teddy Bear?
SD: Always, my books provide a fun follow-the-clues mystery without any blood and gore. Readers have told me that they like the humor in my books, so I think there a few chuckles in Teddy Bear. There is relationship growth between the characters that I really enjoyed writing about. Ginger and Earl make new discoveries in their marriage. Kindra, the college student and junior bargain hunter, even finds herself in a romance with Xabier.

JA: What’s next for you in the writing arena?
SD: I am working on the edits for Book Three in the Bargain Hunters which has a working title of Death at Discount Prices. In this book, Ginger and her bargain hunter friends go to a shopping channel called the Discount and Value network.

JA: You and your husband have been married for almost 20 years and have three kids at home. What’s your secret?
SD: The greatest revelation I have had in my marriage is that “my husband is not me.” The fact that we are opposites in so many ways is an asset not a detriment to our marriage. When I gave up trying to make him into me or change him into Ideal Christian Husband our marriage got a lot easier.

The best advice I ever got about parenting was to do the right thing but to let go of outcomes and results with your children. Children have free will and unique personalities, they are not machines that if you do everything the parenting books say, you will get a certain kind of child. I have learned to celebrate my kid’s and my husband’s uniqueness because our individuality is a gift from God. That comment makes it sound like everything is settled in my roles as wife and mom; believe me, I still have bad days and make poor choices that I have to apologize for. I am so glad God knew we wouldn’t be perfect and that is why he put that whole repentance and forgiveness clause in place.

JA: What’s something that people would be surprised to learn about you?
SD: I attended a small two room school house until the sixth grade. There were only three or four kids in each grade, and three grades per room, no principal.

JA: Almost every author I know has a stack of to-be-read books a mile high. What’s in your stack?
SD: I am about half way through C.S. Lewis commentary on the Psalms. On deck right now is Lisa Samson’s Women’s Intuition, Shelley Bates’ Grounds to Believe, Donald Maass’ Writing the Breakout Novel and I have made plans to reread Mere Christianity cover to cover, I read parts of it last year. What a rich book. I just picked up a copy of Lewis the Problem of Pain at the library.
Also, my daughter wants to read Chip Ingram’s Sex 180: the new revolution. If time provides, I will read it with her.
I better stop, the list goes on and on. I keep thinking that my retirement will be renting a beach house somewhere and working my way through the list.

JA: Last but not least, how can people keep up with the latest Sharon Dunn publishing news?
SD: my website can be found at and I blog twice a months at

Thank you, Sharon, and continued blessings on your writing journey!

Win A Book From Sharon
If you’ve ever wanted to read one of Sharon’s Ruby Taylor Mysteries, now is your chance! Just leave a reply to this blog to be entered to win one of the Ruby Taylor books. The winner will be picked at random on February 4th. Please leave an email address so I can contact you if you're the winner. (To prevent spammers from trolling for your email, please use this format with the brackets--you [at] yourmail [dot] com--or something similar.) Good luck!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Meet Julie Lessman - Interview & Book Giveaway

Meet Julie Lessman

Julie - Headshot

I’m so happy to present another awesome debut author, Julie Lessman. Julie’s first novel, A Passion Most Pure (Daughters of Boston, Book 1), is the first of a multi-book series. Let’s get to know Julie…

The Bio

Julie Lessman is a debut author who has already garnered writing acclaim, including ten Romance Writers of America awards. She is a commercial writer for Maritz Travel, a published poet and a Golden Heart Finalist. Julie has a heart to write “Mainstream Inspirational,” reaching the 21st-century woman with compelling love stories laced with God’s precepts. She resides in Missouri with her husband and their golden retriever, and has two grown children and a daughter-in-law. Her first book, A Passion Most Pure, was released January 2008. Visit her Web site at

The Interview

JA: Congratulations on your debut novel, A Passion Most Pure. Tell us a little bit about it.
JL: Well, I think the jacket blurb says it best, so here goes:

She's found the love of her life. Unfortunately, he loves her sister ...

As World War I rages across the Atlantic in 1916, a smaller war is brewing in Boston. Faith O’Connor finds herself drawn to an Irish rogue who is anything but right for her. Collin McGuire is brash, cocky, and from the wrong side of the tracks, not to mention forbidden by her father. And then there’s the small matter that he is secretly courting her younger sister. But when Collin’s affections suddenly shift her way, it threatens to tear Faith's proper Boston family apart.

JA: I love the premise of this book… a love triangle between an Irish rogue, a proper Boston socialite, and her younger sister. How did you come up with the idea?
JL: As one of 13 children (in a family that included 10 girls!), I guess you can say I experienced my fair share of sibling rivalry. I often butted heads with my sister who was two years older than me. She was … ahem … quite voluptuous and very attractive to boys while I was … well, basically not! :) I was so skinny, in fact, that when I played on a girls’ softball team, my older brother commented: “What position do you play? The foul line?”

Needless to say, the idea of competing with my beautiful sister for a boy’s affection was deeply rooted in my childhood, which is actually when I started writing this novel, at the age of 12, after reading Gone With the Wind. Suddenly my passion for romance was awakened, and although I only penned a 150 pages of a single-spaced manuscript at that time, the story is actually the basis for my debut novel, A Passion Most Pure. Unfortunately (or fortunately, however you look at it!), almost forty years passed before God breathed new life into that early attempt and inspired me to finish my childhood novel of passion—only this time the “passion” would be for Him! :)

JA: What do you hope people take away when they finish reading your book?
JL: Well, the MOST important thing I would like readers to take away from this book is the reality of how natural and fulfilling an intimate relationship with God can and SHOULD be. Like breathing. This book may be fiction, but this is NOT a fairy tale here. It is possible to have a living, breathing relationship with the God of the Universe. He’s crazy about us, and if most people really understood that, their lives would turn on a dime and blessings would overtake them. Believe me, I KNOW this firsthand—I used to be a hard, cynical, coarse human being before God pulled me up by the scruff of the neck and said, “Yo, Julie! Get a clue. You’re the apple of my eye!” :) He’s been the love of my life ever since.

Julie - coverJA: Your tagline is Passion With A Purpose. What does that mean to you?
JL: Well, I say it best on my Web site, so I'm going to just repeat that here. My books are what I would refer to as “edgy Inspirational,” meaning they are a tad more passionate than the majority of Inspirational fiction in the CBA (Christian Booksellers Association) market. And I did this on purpose. You see, I’m the type of woman who loves a heated romance, you know—the heart-fluttering, pulse-pounding emotional tug-of-war between a man and a woman. It draws me, always has, from the early days of Gone With the Wind. But for me, heated romance is not enough. Without God and His precepts in the middle, it’s nothing but lust—heat that burns but doesn’t keep you warm.

Let’s face it—passion is powerful. It can drive a woman into the arms of a man, or a person into the arms of God. In truth, romantic passion gives us a glimpse into the very heart of God. After studying the “Song of Solomon” in the Bible, I’m convinced that the God who created passion and intimacy did so to mirror the intensity of His own love for mankind. It is my belief that romance laced with God’s precepts is also powerful—it can draw, woo and win advocates to its cause with the stroke of a keyboard. It is my hope that A Passion Most Pure is a novel that strikes the balance between romantic and spiritual passion for the broad base of readers searching for its message, and by interweaving the two, bring them into an intimate relationship with the true author of romance.

JA: What’s next for you in the writing arena?
JL: Well, I had hoped to write a fourth book in the “Daughters of Boston” series since there are four daughters in the O’Connor family, but I haven’t sold it yet, so I’m not sure what’s going to happen there. But I would definitely like to do more series. I love writing about families in depth, exploring the emotional highs and lows of a large family (As one of 13 kids, I wonder why! :)).

I especially enjoy incorporating the love affair between the mother and father of the family because that is so critically important in today’s society and so overlooked. You should never stop having a love affair with your spouse—it’s the greatest thing a mother and father can give to their children—a tender and passionate love between each other. And it’s so much fun for me to incorporate in my books the wonderful lessons I’ve learned with my own husband, humbling though they may be!

Eventually I would like to write a book about my own family, growing up with nine sisters and three brothers, which would be more of a slice-of-life, bittersweet piece of autobiographical fiction. But family saga/romance is where my heart is, so I am sure I will be coming up with plenty of ideas in the future.

JA: What’s something that people would be surprised to learn about you?
JL: Mmm … maybe that I pray for EVERY person who visits my Web site or reads my book? En mass, of course, or I wouldn’t get any writing done! :)

But I guess the biggest thing that surprises people is that I am basically a recluse who has the misfortune of having an outgoing personality! If I had my way, I’d stay at home, grafted to the seat of my computer chair and WRITE, WRITE, WRITE!! But with lots of family to keep up with, four prayer partners, 21 crit/support partners, and plenty of coworkers and friends I interact with on a daily basis, my “loner” personality doesn’t stand a chance. Which I guess is a good thing, although there are unproductive days where I am not so sure. :)

JA: What do you read for fun?
JL: Are you kidding???? ROMANCE!!!!! I am more of a “Calgon, take me away,” type of gal rather than “slice-of-life,” so I don’t read a ton of Women’s Fiction or nonfiction, mostly lovely, uplifting, heart-pounding romance. The bigger the book, the better, in my opinion (which explains the … ahem … length of my own novels!). Turn my head with romance and nail me with God’s precepts in the process—that’s my kind of book! Like Francine Rivers’ Redeeming Love or Liz Curtis Higgs’ Scottish trilogy—Wow, “pure” enjoyment!

JA: Last but not least, how can people keep up with the latest Julie Lessman publishing news?
JL: Thanks for asking, Jennifer! I plan to have an e-newsletter that will be e-mailed to anyone who signs up on my Web site, but I have not implemented that feature yet. So in the near future (hopefully the next month), anyone who wants to stay up with the progress of my books and their release dates can do so by signing up for my newsletter.

Thank you, Jennifer, for having me as your guest—it’s been fun!

Thank you, Julie, and continued blessings on your writing journey!

Win the Book
A Passion Most Pure is in stores now, but you can win a copy here. Just leave a reply to this blog. The winner will be picked at random on February 1st. Please leave an email address so I can contact you if you're the winner. (To prevent spammers from trolling for your email, please use this format with the brackets--you [at] yourmail [dot] com--or something similar.) Good luck!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Meet Jill Elizabeth Nelson - Interview & Book Giveaway


Today I’m pleased to welcome Jill Elizabeth Nelson, author of the popular To Catch a Thief series. Her latest book is Reluctant Smuggler (To Catch a Thief Series #3). Let’s meet Jill!

The Bio

Jill Elizabeth Nelson's To Catch a Thief series combines her love of the written word with her love of other art forms. She's thrilled if the adventures that spill from her imagination can raise awareness about art theft—deemed "a looming criminal enterprise" by the FBI. Most of all, she is overjoyed if her words on the page can illuminate a soul with God's love and truths from His word. Jill and her husband of over 25 years have raised four children in rural Minnesota, where they all enjoy camping, outdoor cooking, and hiking. When the weather doesn't permit outside activities, and she's not at her computer, she can be found putting together puzzles, watching a good movie with her husband, or reading.

The Interview

JA: Your latest book is Reluctant Smuggler. Tell us a little bit about it.
JEN: Museum security expert Desiree Jacobs and FBI agent Tony Lucano must find the faceless leader of a vicious international gang of slavers before he snuffs out their lives and escapes with Mayan antiquities and many helpless innocents.

I had a lot of fun writing this book, partly because I got to take my hero and heroine to exotic locations south-of-the-border. They land in one impossible predicament after another until the ultimate villain is revealed, and then the danger just gets cooking! Think Godly Indiana Jones adventure.

I also gave loving care to the relationship between these two, as well as some intriguing developments in secondary characters. But I don’t want to spoil the fun, so I won’t give any more hints.

JA: You literally dreamed up your heroine, Desiree Jacobs. What was that like?
JEN: Well, when I woke up in a cold sweat over her situation, it was pretty intense.

I had dreamed that a woman dressed in black sneaked into an estate, took a painting off the wall, and replaced it with an identical painting. Your standard theft, right? Wrongo! As things often go in dreams, I was aware of some facts without knowing how I knew them. My cat burglar was stealing the forgery and returning the original. What an outrageous thing for a thief to do! I also knew that if she were caught, disaster would follow for many people, not just herself.

When I woke up, I asked myself two questions: What sort of career could my heroine have, which would give her cat burglar skills without making her a thief? My answer was museum security expert. And what bizarre circumstances would cause my museum security expert to take such drastic action? The answer to that question became the plot of the first book in the series, Reluctant Burglar.

JA: Your books deal with art, antiquities, and the people who steal and recover them. Did you have an artistic background before you started writing this series?
JEN: I’ve always loved the fine arts, though I have little gift for anything except creative writing. In that sense, I may be similar to my heroine, Desiree Jacobs, who acknowledges no artistic talent, just reverence for the beauty and cultural heritage reflected in art. During my college career, I tried my hand at glass blowing and pottery-making. In writing the To Catch a Thief series I did extensive research on various periods, types, and sources of art that I incorporated into my books. Reluctant Burglar spotlights the European masters, Reluctant Runaway features American and Native American art, and Reluctant Smuggler focuses on Hispanic art.

Reluctant Smuggler CoverJA: What do you hope people take away when they finish reading Reluctant Smuggler?
JEN: I want my readers to see the vital role of hope in the health of an individual or society. Gangs are born out of a sense of helplessness and hopelessness. People who have hope join church and civic groups in an effort to help people, not hurt them. Those who see no future for themselves have no reason to resist the allure of the false empowerment the gangs offer.

JA: What’s next for you in the writing arena? Will there be more books in the To Catch a Thief series?
JEN: Reluctant Smuggler is the final installment in the To Catch a Thief series for now. I’d love to return one day with more Desi and Tony adventures. There are some exploits percolating in my imagination. At the moment, I have a two-book contract to fulfill with Steeple Hill romantic suspense. The first book, Evidence of Murder, releases in February of 2009. Here’s a little foretaste: When a new business owner discovers on her property photos of a decade-old mass murder, she and the surviving son of the massacre become targets of a desperate and powerful killer. I’m deep in the writing of this one and jazzed about the story.

JA: You’re also a public speaker. What’s your favorite thing to talk about?
JEN: To writers, I have a passion for teaching Deep Point of View. Writers will eliminate most of their show/don’t tell issues by mastering this technique. To non-writers, I love to share some startling information that I learned about international art theft during my research for the To Catch a Thief series. My overwhelming passion when I talk to any group is to share my love of storytelling as a fundamental method of conveying Truth to the human heart. Jesus used stories as teaching tools everywhere He went. I’m honored to follow in His footsteps.

JA: What’s something that people would be surprised to learn about you?
JEN: Well, let’s see. I love dill pickle chips, hate bread pudding (except for the raisins), and drink eight glasses of water a day. But I suspect eating habits aren’t the surprise you were looking for. So how about this: Some years before the hurricane that devastated New Orleans, I attended Mardi Gras . . . as a missionary. That was one wild and weird mission field, literally, but our team experienced some of the most productive divine appointments we’ve ever had. God shined bright in the midst of some of the most insane darkness I’ve ever walked through. My husband and I could tell stories for hours. Some of them would curl your hair; others would make you cry. It was a privilege to be there and a huge spiritual growth experience.

JA: Almost every author I know has a stack of to-be-read books a mile high. What’s in your stack?
JEN: Next up are Virginia Smith’s hoot of a chic lit, Stuck in the Middle, and Sharon Dunn’s equally funny cozy mystery, Death of a Six Foot Teddy Bear. I’m also reading a couple of manuscripts for endorsement, Amy Smith’s heart-wrenching suspense, Healing Promises, and Gayle Roper’s nail-biter, Fatal Deduction. But as you said, the pile is truly a mile high. I’m champing to read Demon by Tosca Lee, The Lost Sheep by Brandt Dodson, The Cure by Athol Dickson, The Stones Cry Out by Sibella Giorello, From the Belly of the Dragon by Mark Mynheir, Presumed Guilty by James Scott Bell, and Sticks and Stones by Susan Meissner. Of course, I have others on in the pile but that’s a sample of what’s calling to me from my bookshelf.

JA: Last but not least, how can people keep up with the latest Jill Elizabeth Nelson publishing news?
JEN: Head on over to my web site, for book excerpts, a video trailer, an audio recording of me reading chapter one of Reluctant Smuggler, a monthly contest for a signed copy of Smuggler, and an opportunity to sign up for my e-newsletter. The newsletter comes out approximately every other month and contains a devotional thought or prayer for my subscribers, an appearance update, publishing news, and special offers exclusive to those on my e-mail list.

Thank you, Jill, and continued blessings on your writing journey!

Win A Book
The entire To Catch a Thief series is in stores now, but you can win one of the books here. Just leave a reply to this blog. The winner will be picked at random on January 30th and will receive their choice from the series. Please leave an email address so I can contact you if you're the winner. (To prevent spammers from trolling for your email, please use this format with the brackets--you [at] yourmail [dot] com--or something similar.) Good luck!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Winner of NEXT DOOR DADDY is...


Congratulations, Stormi. For all who didn't win, thanks so much for leaving your comments. Next Door Daddy (Mule Hollow Matchmakers #7) (Love Inspired #428) is available online and in stores now.

Don't forget, there are still lots of author interviews to read and books to be won on my blog. Check out my interviews with Susan Page Davis (contest ends January 23) and Cheryl Wyatt (contest ends January 28).

Coming up are brand new interviews with authors Jill Elizabeth Nelson (1/23), Julie Lessman (1/25) and Sharon Dunn (1/28)!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Meet Cheryl Wyatt - Interview & Book Giveaway


I’m thrilled to introduce debut author Cheryl Wyatt! Her new book,
A Soldier's Promise (Wings of Refuge, Book 1) (Love Inspired #430) is the first of a three-part series. Let’s meet Cheryl…

The Bio

Cheryl Wyatt's closest friends would never dream the mayhem she plots during announcements at church. An RN-turned-SAHM, joyful chaos rules her home and she delights in the stealth moments God gives her to write. She stays active in her church and in her laundry room. She's convinced that having been born on a Naval base on Valentine's Day destined her to write military romance. Prior to publication, Cheryl took courses through Christian Writers Guild. An active member of RWA, FHL and ACFW, she won numerous awards with multiple manuscripts. Visit her on the Web at Sign up for her newsletter for news and chances to enter contests with great prizes. Hang with her on the web at You can also find her skittering around Steeple Hill's message boards as "Squirl" at

The Interview

JA: Congratulations on your debut novel, A Soldier's Promise. Tell us a little bit about it.
CW: A Soldier's Promise is book one in my Wings of Refuge Series. The series features a team of USAF PJs (Pararescue Jumpers). They are Special Forces skydiving paramedics who are also trained in combat and rescue. These guys are the ones who often drop behind enemy lines to go after downed US pilots. Each story features one man on the team, and of course, the woman who captures their hearts... or rescues them in some cases. The stories are also centered around a fictional town on Southern Illinois named Refuge. The second book in Wings of Refuge (A Soldier's Family-Manny's story) is on sale now where ever books are sold.

A Soldier's Promise, the debut book, is an Inspirational Romance. It features Joel the team leader. He goes back to the town of his most painful childhood memories to pledge allegiance to a promise he made to an ill child. He falls in love with the child's teacher who is trying to adopt the boy.

"My name's Bradley. I'm eight and have cancer. I want to meet a Special Forces soldier more than anything. Well, almost anything. Having a family would be nice."
U.S. Air Force pararescue jumper Joel Montgomery promised to make a sick child's wish come true. Well, not the family part—not with Joel's past. And so despite vowing never to set foot back in Refuge, Illinois, Joel parachuted onto the boy's school lawn to a huge smile. But another smile unexpectedly stole Joel's heart: that of Bradley's beautiful teacher, Amber Stanton, who was trying to adopt the boy. And trying to show Joel it was time for new vows.

JA: Your hero, Joel Montgomery, is a US Air Force pararescue jumper. Did you jump out of any planes as part of your research?
CW: LOL! I really, really, really wanted to...and seriously planned to, but found out I was pregnant the day I called the skydiving facility to purchase tickets for a tandem jump. Had to cancel of course. LOL! So all my research had to come through skydivers and instructors and soldiers who live in the skies more than they live on the ground.

JA: You were born on a naval base. Was your father just a little disappointed that your hero isn't a navy man?
CW: He he. No. Actually, my dad was in the Marines. LOL! Many Marines were trained in San Diego at Camp Pendleton during the Vietnam war.

PhotobucketJA: What do you hope people take away when they finish reading A Soldier's Promise?
CW: I hope they take away a love for the Wings of Refuge series and characters that will sprint them to the stores at midnight the night before each release of every new book in the series. LOL! Okay, seriously now, I hope they will take away whatever God knows they need at this particular point in their life and in their relationship with Him. I hope the book moves them, encourages them, and gives them genuine belly laughs during more lighthearted moments.

JA: What's next for you in the writing arena?
CW: Getting my contracted novel in early, which is book three in the Wings of Refuge series and scheduled to release early in 2009. I'm going to keep plowing through these PJ stories then hopefully start turning in books from another series. Also, turning in the proposal for book four which was brainstormed by myself, Camy Tang and Pammer James during a six hour drive from North Carolina where we went on a writing, brainstorming and prayer spree to a cabin in the mountains.

JA: Your birthday is February 14th. Does that mean you end up with a pretty awesome Valentine's day celebration?
CW: Actually, I love that my husband combines my birthday and Valentine's Day gift... it usually means he thinks of something nice. And there's less of a chance of him forgetting that way. LOL! And we get to go to my favorite restaurant even though my husband doesn't care for it. LOL!

JA: What's something that people would be surprised to learn about you?
CW: Other than romance, I don't like typical girlie-type things. I like looking at race cars and chromed-out motorcycles and wicked looking knives and powerful guns and watching extreme sports. Anything high-speed, high-action and extreme-adventure.

JA: Almost every author I know has a stack of to-be-read books a mile high. What's in your stack?
CW: All the Steeple Hill January books from the book club other than mine, Julie Lessman's A Passion Most Pure, Leigh Bale's Healing Place, A book by Tracey Peterson and Michael Landon Jr (title escapes me at the moment), Tracey Bateman's debut Avon Inspire book, Linda Lael Miller's new book and a SWAT manual as well as about fifty others. LOL!

JA: Last but not least, how can people keep up with the latest Cheryl Wyatt publishing news?
CW: The best way is by subscribing to my blog at and signing up for my newsletter at where it says, "Sign up for Cheryl Wyatt's Author Mailing List"

Thank you, Cheryl, and continued blessings on your writing journey!

Win the Book
A Soldier’s Promise is in stores now, but you can win a copy here. In fact, Cheryl is graciously giving away two copies of the book! Just leave a reply to this blog. The winner will be picked at random on January 28th. Please leave an email address so I can contact you if you're one of the winners. (To prevent spammers from trolling for your email, please use this format with the brackets--you [at] yourmail [dot] com--or something similar.) Good luck!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

REVIEW - Next Door Daddy by Debra Clopton

When your soul mate dies, does your chance for romantic love die too? Widower Nate Talbert and widow Pollyanna McDonald have both decided that the answer is yes. But when Pollyanna, her son and their eclectic menagerie move next door to Nate, none of their lives will ever be the same.

In Next Door Daddy (Mule Hollow Matchmakers #7) (Love Inspired #428) Debra Clopton once again invites readers to the fictional town of Mule Hollow and delivers a story full of unique characters and heartfelt emotions. This is Debra's most personal novel to date, and is dedicated to the memory of her late husband, Wayne. If you're a Debra Clopton fan, be prepared for another rolicking, romantic adventure. If you're a new comer to Mule Hollow, get ready for a read you won't soon forget!

To read an interview with Debra, visit my blog either here on Blogger or Shoutlife. Leave a comment on either blog for a chance to win a copy of Next Door Daddy. The contest ends January 21st. Good luck!

The Winner of EVERY GOOD & PERFECT GIFT is...

Cara Putnam!

Congratulations, Cara. For all who didn't win, thanks so much for leaving your comments. Every Good And Perfect Gift is available online and in stores now.

Don't forget, there are still lots of author interviews to read and books to be won on my blog. Check out my interviews with Debra Clopton (contest ends January 21) and Susan Page Davis (contest ends January 23).

Drop by the blog next week for brand new interviews with authors Cheryl Wyatt, Jill Elizabeth Nelson, and Julie Lessman!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Meet Susan Page Davis - Interview & Book Giveaway

Meet Susan Page Davis!
What fun to welcome Susan Page Davis, author of Just Cause (Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense #86). Let’s get to know Susan!

The Bio

Susan Page Davis and her husband, Jim, have been married thirty-one years and have six children, ages thirteen to thirty. They live in Maine, where they are active in an independent Baptist church. Susan is a homeschooling mother and writes historical romance, mystery, and suspense novels. Visit her Website at

The Interview

JA: You’re a prolific author, but your latest novel, Just Cause, is your first from Love Inspired Suspense. Tell us a little bit about it.
SPD: I hoped for a long time that I could sell to Love Inspired—any of their lines. The first few times I tried, I was rejected. Just Cause underwent several rewrites before it was right for LIS, and even then Krista Stroever, my editor, had several suggestions for changes. It’s a better story now, but it seemed to take forever to get it into the right shape.

JA: In Just Cause, your heroine, Laurel Hatcher, is accused of a crime she didn’t commit. A deadlocked jury gives her an opportunity to find proof of her innocence. Did anything about the legal system surprise you while researching this book?
SPD: As I began to write the investigative and courtroom scenes, I realized how ignorant I was. I interviewed an attorney for, where I am a host, and asked him what mistakes he sees most often in mysteries. He said courtroom procedure, especially the compression of time in fictional legal cases. This, among other comments of his, prompted me to do more research and seek another trial lawyer’s opinion on several aspects of the story before I submitted the final version. One event that I had put in without much thought was that Laurel was allowed to leave the state of Maine after her first (hung jury) trial. I learned this would be highly unusual, but not unheard of. I got the details on what would be required of her and incorporated it into the story. I was also surprised to learn how prison inmates get their treats. They can’t just go buy a candy bar out of a vending machine. They have to order it in advance, and someone outside the jail has to put money in their accounts before they can order anything.

JA: Many of your books are set in Maine. What makes it such a good location for a mystery?
SPD: Maine is mysterious—dare I say exotic?—to many people. It’s beautiful, and it’s off the beaten track. It’s also a border state with a very long, mostly unguarded border, which makes it ripe for smuggling and illegal immigration stories. Most of my stories portray the “other Maine,” that is, inland, away from the coast. I don’t think I’ve put one lobsterman in my books yet, but that could change. There’s a lot of sparsely populated acreage in the state, where all sorts of crimes might take place undetected. Also, Maine people are notorious for being terse, eccentric characters.

PhotobucketJA: What do you hope people take away when they finish reading Just Cause?
SPD: Most of us don’t go through anything as bad as Laurel does—the murder of her husband, being accused of killing him, spending time in prison, losing her home and everything dear to her, and being stalked by criminals. But even in these horrific circumstances, God is with her. He has a plan to restore joy into her life. I want my readers to feel that hope.

JA: What’s next for you in the writing arena?
SPD: All sorts of fun stuff! My daughter Megan and I are finishing our “Mainely Murder” trilogy; I’m doing a Christmas novella for fall 2008 with Barbour; a new historical set from Heartsong based on the 1689 massacre at Dover, New Hampshire; and my third Frasier Island Series installment, Inside Story, from Harvest House.

JA: One of your hobbies is genealogy. Who’s the quirkiest relative you’ve found hanging from your family tree?
SPD: Oh, wow, if you had asked me about my HUSBAND’s family... No, seriously, I have some great ones, too. My mom is descended from John Alden of the Mayflower, and my dad from Nantucket whalers. One of my favorites is Joel Richardson, who walked up the bank of the Kennebec River in 1774, with only an ax and a musket to build his farm in the wilderness. Of course, when the American Revolution came, he paid a substitute to take his place, so he didn’t win any medals. But he and his wife, Sarah Wyman, were the first white couple married in what is now the town of Belgrade, Maine (my home town), and progenitors of a large tribe of Mainers who are gritty and persistent.

JA: What’s something that people would be surprised to learn about you?
SPD: I had a major stroke (an embolism) in January, 1997. God is good! For a day or two, I couldn’t read or write, but I made a quick and complete recovery. It’s been eleven years with no repeats.

JA: Almost every author I know has a stack of to-be-read books a mile high. What’s in your stack?
SPD: Oh, yeah, I hate to admit it, but I’ve got Trish Perry’s Too Good to Be True, which I bought at the Dallas conference in September, and my sister has read it and loved it, but I haven’t gotten to it yet. Also, Tosca Lee’s Demon: A Memoir, and a book on Counter-Guerilla Operations (that’s research for an upcoming book).

JA: Last but not least, how can people keep up with the latest Susan Page Davis publishing news?
SPD: My website at is updated near the first of every month by my awesome webmaster, Tiff Stockton. She’s good at keeping things current for me. Come visit me and enter my monthly book giveaway. My agent, Chip MacGregor, also posts new contracts and other author news on his site at

Thank you, Susan, and continued blessings on your writing journey!

Win the Book
Just Cause is in stores now, but you can win a copy here. Just leave a reply to this blog. The winner will be picked at random on January 23rd. Please leave an email address so I can contact you if you're the winner. (To prevent spammers from trolling for your email, please use this format with the brackets--you [at] yourmail [dot] com--or something similar.) Good luck!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Winner of "Elvis Takes a Back Seat" is...


Congratulations, Lisa. For all who didn't win, thanks so much for leaving your comments. Elvis Takes a Back Seat is available online and in stores now.

Don't forget, there are still lots of author interviews to read and books to be won on my blog. Check out my interviews with Sharon Souza (contest ends January 16) and Debra Clopton (contest ends January 21).

Drop by the blog tomorrow, January 16, for a brand new interview with author Susan Page Davis!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Meet Debra Clopton! Interview & Book Giveaway

Meet Debra Clopton!


What a joy to present author Debra Clopton. Her new book, Next Door Daddy (Mule Hollow Matchmakers #7) (Love Inspired #428) is a fun and heartfelt tale of the power of love, both past and present.

The Bio

Debra Clopton is an award winning author of the Love Inspired ongoing MULE HOLLOW SERIES about a small Texas town. She loves everything about small town life and believes that is why her readers are connecting with her books so well. She is currently working on book 10 in the series set to come out sometime in 2009. There are 3 books in the series coming out in 2008, Next Door Daddy, Her Baby Dreams and The Cowboy Takes a Bride. Debra writes full time. She has two sons and is grateful that they too love small town life and have chosen to make their homes in Madison County--although she is extremely fond of road trips traveling to see her sons was not something she wanted to have to do! Visit Debra on the web at

The Interview

JA: Your latest book is Next Door Daddy, part of the popular Mule Hollow series. Tell us a little bit about it.
DC: This is a special book to me personally. I believe it has a little bit of everything for my readers! It is about two people who have loved and lost their soul mates. My hero, widower Nate Talbert, prays God will send him a miracle that will help him find a way to start living again…he doesn’t expect it to come in the form of a widow, her daredevil son, his Chinese Shar Pei who’s had cosmetic surgery and a talking Cockatiel! I love writing books with lively characters and this one has them in abundance. It is funny and sad but the message comes straight from my heart.

JA: Mule Hollow is a small rural community with an abundance of bachelors, so they advertised for brides in hopes of revitalizing the town. How did you come up with such a fun and unique idea?
DC: I actually came up with the idea in about an hour. I’d always wanted to write about a hairstylist and when I decided to try my hand at writing humor the hook line “Love is in the air and the hair!” came to me in a flash and I was off and running. I don’t know about you, but that’s how I work. Something inspires me and I pound out a blurb really fast that excites me. I live in a small town of about 4000 people but there are towns all around me of less than 400. I also had a large cowboy clientele in my salon and I had plenty of older women who said the funniest things. From that, Mule Hollow just came naturally!

PhotobucketJA: There are some pretty quirky characters in Mule Hollow. Are any of them based on people you know?
DC: LOL! Like I said I had plenty of people to pull from but no one is actually a whole character. I don’t develop my characters based on people. I take traits from people but my characters ultimately come from the story’s needs. My heroes are always a composite of strength, stubbornness and humor, and my late husband is my role model for them. Although, he was not a cowboy so I combine him with different cowboys I know and go with it. In my book Meeting Her Match the hero, Pace Gentry, was inspired by an actual friend of the family—a cowboy who would just as soon walk back in time and stay there. He is truly a man who was born in the wrong era. My favorite part of writing is creating characters!

JA: What do you hope people take away when they finish reading your books?
DC: Foremost I hope they close the book with a smile on their lips and hope in their hearts. I want to transport people away from the strain of stressful life to a place they can relax. God’s given me the talent to entertain and that’s what I focus on as I write.

JA: Next Door Daddy is dedicated to your late husband, Wayne. What would you like people to know about him?
DC: Wayne was a great guy who loved the Lord, me and his two sons. There is so much I could say here, but so little space… I do believe in love at first sight. I was a gonner the minute he smiled at me as I was handing him the Dr Pepper he’d ordered for his date. (I was seventeen and working at a local Dairy Palace) Soon after he told his brother as they were driving up to the drive-thru to order another Dr Pepper that he was going to marry me--we hadn’t even begun to discuss dating at that time, but we both just knew :) Much of our personal courtship and lives are in Pollyanna’s backstory in Next Door Daddy. This was the most personal book I’ve ever written and it was in honor of Wayne’s life, his strength, his humor and what I know are his wishes for me and our sons as we go on with him in our hearts.

JA: What’s next for you in the writing arena?
DC: I’m about to start book 10 in the Mule Hollow series and am excited about the book. Also, others are coming. I find keeping the series alive and changing is a challenge that I really enjoy. Readers are really coming on board with such enthusiasm that I want to keep the books going as long as they are wanted. God’s been so good to give me this opportunity. I also have other ideas that I’m working on too, but they are in the early stages.

JA: What’s something that people would be surprised to learn about you?
DC: Oh boy, let’s see….I write under the name Debra instead of Debbie because it is my way of honoring my husband. Wayne is the only one who ever called me Debra.

JA: Almost every author I know has a stack of to-be-read books a mile high. What’s in your stack?
DC: I’m studying Donald Maass’ Writing the Breakout Novel, I have several of my fellow Love Inspired authors on my stack. I’m also a big fan of the NASCAR series that Harlequin has started up so I have several of those waiting on me to read. I’m also reading John Grisham’s Pelican Brief again.

JA: Last but not least, how can people keep up with the latest Debra Clopton publishing news?
DC: Please visit me at my website and I also have a new blog just for news I’m not much of a blogger but I will put up latest news here. I hope everyone will drop by and say hi! And if you haven’t been to Mule Hollow I hope you will grab a book and come on inside for a visit!

Thanks for the interview Jennifer! I really enjoyed it.

Thank you, Debra, and continued blessings on your writing journey!

Win the Book
Next Door Daddy is in stores now, but you can win a copy here. Just leave a reply to this blog. The winner will be picked at random on January 21st. Please leave an email address so I can contact you if you're the winner. (To prevent spammers from trolling for your email, please use this format with the brackets--you [at] yourmail [dot[ com--or something similar.) Good luck!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

I Am Legend - A Real Popcorn Tosser!

Legend PosterWhen I saw the first trailer for I Am Legend, I got chills. I'm a sci-fi nut, and a Will Smith fan, so put the two together... when can I buy my ticket? But then I heard a little more about the movie... oh, he has to fight off mutant zombies at night. That worried me. And then there's the dog. The dog is Will's only friend, like Wilson to Tom Hanks' character in Castaway, and we all know what happened to Wilson. But today, my desire and curiosity overroad my zomby dread and canine concerns.

All I can say is... Wow.

SPOILER ALERT: I'm going to do my best not to give away major plot points, but if you'd rather not have anything given away, then stop reading here and go see the movie!

This was soooooo not what I expected, and I mean that in a good way. Smith gives a nuanced performance as Robert Neville, one of the last living humans after a "miracle drug" goes haywire and either kills or mutates the majority of the population. During the first quarter of the movie, we follow Neville as he goes through his day, fighting to survive, to stay sane, and to find a cure for the horrible virus. It's not until about 30 minutes into the movie that you see the first mutated human.

About those mutants... they are NOT zombies. They can be killed, and when they die, they stay dead. But they are mutated. Unfortunately, they're the standard mutants that have shown up in tons of other sci fi flicks. Why is it that when the human genetic code is altered, the resulting beings suddenly have superhuman powers, like the ability to climb walls as if they grew huge suction cups on their hands and feet? I don't have many complaints with this movie, but that's one of them.

And about the dog... I'm not going to tell you what happens to Sam. Suffice it to say, she's a heroic character. Yes, I said SHE. Sam is short for Samantha, but you don't know that till later. I assumed Sam was a male until a pivotal point in the movie when Neville calls her "Samantha." For me, this was an emotional twist that made me appreciate the man/dog relationship even more (and not in a weird way).

The biggest surprise was the strong spiritual message in the movie. Again, I won't give away the ending, but Neville quite understandably has gone through a crisis of faith. At one point he says, "God didn't do this. We did this." You think he's standing up for the Big Guy, but really, he's denying God's existance altogether. Because if God did this, then there is a God, and no way can he rationalize such actions from a loving deity. There will be people who don't like the ending. I thought it was great.

As for the acting, Will Smith owns the movie. He carries it on his broad, muscular shoulders (as is evident in the shirtless pullup scene) and gives an awesome performance. Robert Neville is a tortured character, a man who continues to say "I can fix this" even when all evidence is to the contrary. Smith portrays this man's pain, desperation, and borderline madness with amazing skill. Not since Tom Hanks spoke to a volleyball have you rooted so much for one man in a desperate situation.

This is not a particularly gory movie. There is some blood, but not gallons of it. The mutants are ugly, but not necessarily creepy, and you don't spend much time with them till the last quarter of the film. If you're a fan of futuristic thrillers and/or the incomparable Will Smith, I highly recommend this movie. And if you've already seen it, leave a comment here. I'd love to know your thoughts.

Friday, January 11, 2008

The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything - A Review


My son and I love Veggie Tales. He's 14 and I'm an adult, but that's okay. We love those goofy veggies! So with great excitement we headed out to the theatre for opening day of The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything. I was hoping for a strong turnout. Sadly, the large theatre was only about a quarter full. But, not all of the patrons were families with young kids. The couple sitting behind us looked like they were college age. Good for them! Hopefully, more people will show up over the weekend.

The Veggies are at their strongest when they're singing songs or cracking jokes. Unfortunately, the first half of the movie is full of large chunks of dramatic exposition, which really slowed it down. There were fun nuggets here and there, but the second half is far and away much stronger. When the action picks up, the jokes and sight gags start flying, and the energy cranks up. The songs are catchy and exactly what you expect from Veggie Tales. My particular favorite is a number done after the end credits start. If you were a teen in the 80s, you'll love it!

As for the message of the movie, you can't miss it. It's all spelled out for you in a tidy little monologue near the end. But that's okay, because first and foremost, this is a movie for kids. And some of the little buggers need to have it explained. In fact, from some of the reviews I read of the movie, the adult reviewers need to have it explained. More than one called this "a moral tale" not the usual "Biblical fare." While there is a moral tale here, and it's not based on one particular story from the Bible, if you're paying any attention at all, you figure out who the Good King really is. One reviewer from the LA Times wrote: "An Oz-like man even gives them awards at the end." Uh, no, that man most certainly was not supposed to be the wizard. Pick again!

Some Christians will complain that no Bible verses are mentioned in the story. Neither is God ever mentioned by name. But that's where parents get to talk to their kids. Overall, I consider The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything a success. It's a fun movie that adults and children alike can see, enjoy, and maybe even learn something. I know I'll be getting the soundtrack, if only for that last song!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Meet Sharon K. Souza! Interview & Book Giveaway

Sharon S Author Photo

It’s my pleasure to present author Sharon K. Souza. Her latest novel is Every Good And Perfect Gift from NavPress.

The Bio

Sharon and her husband Rick have been married 36 years. They live in northern California, and have three children and 6 grandchildren. Rick travels the world building churches, Bible schools and orphanages. Sharon travels with him on occasion, but while Rick lives the adventure, Sharon is more than happy to create her own through fiction.

The Interview

What inspired you to write Every Good & Perfect Gift?
I wanted to write a book about a “Jonathan and David” type friendship between two women, knowing that I was ultimately going to tell the story of a young woman who is diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer’s. I have a close friend who, at the age of 42, began to exhibit many of the symptoms portrayed in the book. Since completing the book I’ve learned that another close friend has been diagnosed with EOA. What are the odds?
In determining what course the friendship between Gabby and DeeDee would take, I asked myself: What is the greatest way one woman can express friendship to another? The answer: By helping her have a child if she’s unable to, which one character is willing to do if it comes to that.

Sharon S Book CoverYou’ve incorporated two major issues in Every Good & Perfect Gift: infertility and Early Onset Alzheimer’s. Why not focus on one or the other? Why both?
The theme of Gift is extraordinary friendship. The foundation for the friendship is established between the characters in their childhood, tested through the issue of infertility, and exemplified through catastrophic illness. Infertility was the catalyst to get to that level of friendship expressed because of the illness. One character’s growth was accomplished because of infertility, while the other character’s growth came as a result of the Alzheimer’s.

Why did you use humor to tell a story with such serious issues?
It’s exactly because the issues are so serious that I chose humor to tell the story. Our life experiences are heavy enough without adding to them as we read for pleasure. That’s not to say there aren’t serious moments in the book, but hopefully the reader is buoyed by the lighter sections, rather than overloaded with the weightier ones.

What are your feelings about egg donation and other modern solutions that help women overcome infertility?
There are some things I might not personally opt for, but infertility was never an issue with me. If it had been I might have been willing to try anything. As it stands, I’m not opposed to in vitro fertilization or sperm donation, things of that nature. I don’t find anything in Scripture that would cause me to be against it.

What are your feelings about a couple’s decision to intentionally not have children?
Again, that wasn’t my experience. I had three babies in quick succession and would not have done anything differently. But not every adult is cut out to be a parent. If an individual or couple realizes that they aren’t equipped for parenthood, or if they feel their lives are full as they are, I don’t’ believe it’s a sin not to have children. In fact, I think it’s wise. That’s not to say a person’s feelings may not change in time, like it did for DeeDee. Then it’s up to the couple to make the choice that’s right for them.

Since we’re rubbing shoulders with the topic, how do you feel about abortion?
I believe one hundred percent in a woman’s right to choose, but that choice MUST be made before pregnancy occurs, not after. I believe the gift of life begins the moment of conception and ending that life is not an option that belongs to us.
Many, many women are dealing with the aftermath of abortion. I believe there’s forgiveness for all confessed sin, including abortion. There are support groups to help those who need it. My advice is, don’t suffer alone. Get help, seek and accept forgiveness from Jesus, and trust Him with your future.

What do you want your readers to take away from this book?
I spent several years in my early adulthood without a close friend. When the first one came into my life, I realized what I had missed and truly saw her as a gift from the Lord. But beyond that, I’ve experienced the truth of Proverbs 18:24: “. . . there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” In her darkest moments, Gabby learned that the Lord reaches out to us in compassion, spanning the gap between our need and His provision. That’s been the case in my life over and over.

Do you base any of your characters on real people?
The concept of the story was based on a real situation in regards to the Early Onset Alzheimer’s. But the characters are not based on real people. I do typically use people I know/have known and then take their personality traits/quirks to extremes—almost like a caricature—in order to make the character as interesting as possible. Almost always my daughters will recognize something of themselves in my make-believe world. It makes for fun conversation.

If the characters are primarily fictional, what about the setting? Is that someplace known to you?
I actually wrote the entire story in a fictional setting, without ever naming it. I just placed the town in the San Joaquin valley. My editor suggested I nail down the location, even a fictitious one. As we talked back and forth, I decided to use my real “home town” of Lodi. I grew up in the Sacramento area, but have lived in or around Lodi since my husband and I got married. There’s some debate about whether or not “our” Lodi is the subject of the 1969 Credence Clearwater Revival song, “Stuck in Lodi.” Right or wrong, I choose to think it is. But not for a minute do I feel stuck. I love Lodi.

What is your purpose in writing inspirational fiction?
I’ve had well-meaning friends ask why I write fiction at all. If I want to share the Gospel, why not write “the truth.” Two answers come to mind. First, that “burning fire shut up in my bones” (Jer. 20:9) finds its release in fiction. Second, when Jesus wanted to get a heavenly truth across, He didn’t deliver a three-point sermon. He told stories. My desire in writing inspirational fiction is that women who read my books will find them easy to share with other women who haven’t yet come into relationship with Jesus, and that those women will be directed to the One who loves them with an everlasting love.

When you begin a novel, do you outline the main plot points before you write it?
I’m one of those crazy people who actually enjoyed diagramming sentences in junior high English. But outlining was another matter altogether. I never liked outlining. I mean, if you have a number “1” point under an A, B, or C point, etc., then you have to have a number “2” point? I’d be breaking that rule all day long. The very thought of outlining a novel takes the fun out of writing it. So I’d never formally outline a novel before I wrote it. And to be honest, I don’t even informally outline it. Typically, I have a starting point and an ending point, with a vague idea of how I’m going to connect the two. But there’s an element of surprise at every turn. I love how that happens. In that sense, there’s great joy in the journey.

Thank you, Sharon. May you experience continued blessings on your writing journey!

Win the Book
Every Good And Perfect Gift is in stores now, but you can win a copy here. Just leave a reply to this blog. The winner will be picked at random on January 16th. Please leave an email address so I can contact you if you're the winner. (To prevent spammers from trolling for your email, please use this format with the brackets--you [at] yourmail [dot] com--or something similar.) Good luck!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

What's New In Christian Fiction - January 2008

A new year and a whole new crop of books. Isn't it exciting!

This month's lineup of Christian fiction comes to you with quite a variety of releases. Also this month, Jill Eileen Smith has a Spotlight interview with debut author Elizabeth Goddard, author of the recently released Seasons of Love from Heartsong Presents. Be sure to stop by and read Beth's interview and visit the websites of the following authors. Enjoy!

1. A Passion Most Pure (Daughters of Boston, Book 1) by Julie Lessman from Fleming H. Revell, Baker Publishing Group. As World War I rages across the Atlantic in 1916, Faith O’Connor finds herself drawn to an Irish rogue who is anything but right for her. And then there’s the small matter that he is secretly courting her younger sister.
Check out my blog interview with Julie on January 25th and enter to win a free book!

2. A Soldier's Promise (Wings of Refuge, Book 1) (Love Inspired #430) by Cheryl Wyatt from Steeple Hill Love Inspired. A USAF Pararescue jumper and a special needs teacher teaming to make life matter to a dying child freefall into love and an unexpected family.
Check out my blog interview with Cheryl on January 21st and enter to win a free book!

3. Death of a Six-Foot Teddy Bear (A Bargain Hunters Mystery) by Sharon Dunn from Multnomah Books. Ginger and the ladies of the Bargain Hunters Network head down to Calamity, Nevada to outlet shop and help Earl get his invention off the ground at the Inventors’ Expo. When a man in a teddy bear costume (it was a publicity stunt) is found dead, suspicion falls on ex-wives, an angry son and Ginger and Earl.
Check out my blog interview with Sharon on January 28th and enter to win a free Ruby Taylor book!

4. Elvis Takes a Back Seat by Leanna Ellis from B&H Publishing Group. A young widow heads on a road trip with her eccentric aunt, a temperamental teenager, and a plaster bust of the King of Rock and Roll, changing the course of their lives forever.
Check out my blog interview with Leanna on January 7th and enter to win a free book!

5. Every Good And Perfect Gift by Sharon K. Souza, from NavPress. A story about the kind of friendship we all wish for, the quest for motherhood in the 21st century, and a catastrophic illness that changes everything.

6. Family In His Heart final book in the Michigan Island Series by Gail Gaymer Martin from Steeple Hill Love Inspired. On a Les Cheneaux Island, a young woman escapes her past in Michigan's upper peninsula and meets a man hiding his own secrets and struggling to raise a rebellious teenage son.

7. Just Cause (Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense #86) by Susan Page Davis from Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense. Laurel Hatcher must face trial for her husband’s murder, not once but twice.
Check out my blog interview with Susan on January 16th and enter to win a free book!

8. Learning to Fly by Roxanne Henke from Harvest House. Learning to Fly is about parenting. Learning to love, live, and let go.

9. Next Door Daddy (Mule Hollow Matchmakers #7) (Love Inspired #428) by Debra Clopton from Steeple Hill Love Inspired. A widow and a widower find themselves living too close for comfort, and discover God’s plan for them seems to include a little romance.
Check out my blog interview with Debra on January 14th and enter to win a free book!

10. Reluctant Smuggler (To Catch a Thief Series #3) byJill Elizabeth Nelson from Multnomah Publishers. When artifact recovery turns into archaeological espionage, the woman who finds all the answers must now ask questions. Who's looting priceless antiquities underneath the nose of the baffled Mexican government? And what does a violent gang of drug and human traffickers have to do with missing artifacts?
Check out my blog interview with Jill on January 23rd and enter to win a free book!

11. Seven Archangels: Annihilation by Jane Lebak. Satan has figured out how to destroy an angel...and he begins with the archangel Gabriel.

12. Shadow of Danger by Jeanne Marie Leach from Mountain View Publishing. Rachel faces jealousy, false accusations, an unknown danger, and a jail cell before being liberated by the man she loves but who could never love her.

13. The Restorers Journey (Sword of Lyric Series Book 3) by Sharon Hinck from NavPress. A new, young Restorer confronts his destiny while Lyric, and the life of his mother, hang in the balance.
Check out my blog interview with Sharon on February 20th and enter to win a free book!

Happy reading~

Monday, January 7, 2008

Meet Leanna Ellis! Interview & Book Giveaway


Meet Leanna Ellis!

I’m thrilled to present Leanna Ellis, author of the great new book, Elvis Takes a Back Seat. Leanna’s as sweet as she is talented. Let’s get to know her better…

The Bio

Leanna Ellis writes quirky women's fiction for B&H Publishing. She has won the Golden Heart award as well as the National Readers’ Choice Award. Her next book, Lookin’ Back, Texas will be out in September 2008. With her husband, two children and wide assortment of pets, she makes her home in Texas where she homeschools her children.
Visit Leanna at

The Interview

JA: Your new book is Elvis Takes a Back Seat. Tell us a little bit about it.
LE: A young widow, determined to fulfill her husband’s last request, hauls a three foot bust of Elvis strapped in the back seat of a vintage Cadillac from Texas to Memphis to return it to its rightful owner. The road trip with her eccentric aunt, who knew the King of Rock n’ Roll, and a temperamental teen, hits roadblocks and detours as the three women uncover pieces of their own past along with the bust’s mysterious history. The discoveries change the course of their lives forever.

JA: I’m curious about your creative process. Did you wake up one morning and say “Hey, I think I’ll write a story about a woman driving around with a bust of Elvis in the backseat?” How did you come up with this wonderfully creative idea?
LE: I wish I was that brilliant! It’s actually a long process for me and very much God activated. God really pulled this whole story together. I’m learning to wait on him but he often doesn’t give all I think I need before I write chapter one … or even ‘the end.’ A lot of God’s work comes in the editing and revising stages. With Elvis Takes a Back Seat, I had written chapter one which starts with a garage sale. I had conceived the story of the three women, but I didn’t know where these three women were going on their journey. After I’d written the first chapter with the garage sale, where I placed a quirky Elvis bust just for humor, I called a dear friend, D. Anne Love, who writes YA fiction. We brainstormed the story. I really wanted them to go to Europe. I thought I needed a research trip. She suggested Memphis and Graceland. She didn’t know about the Elvis bust because it was such a minor thing. So when she mentioned Graceland, it all clicked.

PhotobucketJA: I have to ask… have you ever been to Graceland?
LE: I promised myself when I sold Elvis Takes a Back Seat that I would go to verify things in the book. So right after the contract went through, my family drove to Memphis and we took the tour of Graceland. I wanted to take a picture of the music note gates, so we went really early that morning. The gates were already open and the guard said we could walk up the drive to the gravesite. Only another couple was there. So it was very quiet and peaceful, not like later in the day after the tour when it was crowded. I’m really glad I went to Graceland. Everyone should go there once. Apparently, the folks that own Graceland are about to make a lot of changes to the area surrounding it. The Heartbreak Hotel is being rebuilt. The souvenier shops and museums across the street from Graceland are moving onto property. They’ve even hired part of the Disney team that created Disney World to help with building a theme park. It’s still amazing to me that 600,000 people visit Graceland every year.

JA: What do you hope people take away when they finish reading this book?
LE: We’ve all had losses of one kind or another. We’ve all made mistakes. We’ve tried to control our own lives, we’ve had different types of idols at times. It’s never too late to put God in the driver’s seat and let Him have control. Sometimes we have to give up an idol that we haven’t realized we’ve placed on a pedestal. But doing so can give us the grace to finally move forward.

JA: What’s next for you in the writing arena?
LE: I have another book, Lookin’ Back, Texas, coming out in September ’08. It’s about a devoted wife and mother who returns to her hometown of Luckenbach, TX to help her mother with her father’s funeral. Trouble is: he isn’t dead. And neither are the secrets my heroine buried long ago.

JA: And now, for some fun trivial questions… You and I share a love of musical theatre. What’s your all-time favorite musical?
LE: So many musicals, so little time! Going to London or New York to see shows is one of my favorite things to do! But I often settle for shows that come to my town, and occasionally a high school production, as I recently saw Phantom done in a high school for the first time any where in the world. I have several favorites that bounce around in the top slot : Wicked, Phantom of the Opera, Miss Saigon. But I would say Les Miserables is my all time favorite.

JA: Scenario: You’re alone on a beautiful tropical island. You have all the necessary creature comforts, including a Gideon’s Bible (because the Gideons are everywhere!) But you can only take two books with you. Which ones do you take and why?
LE: I could definitely live on a beautiful tropical island like Hawaii. But I don’t know about only taking two books. I’m usually reading four or five at one time, which is a terrible habit, but which goes right along with my random thinking process. Anyway, I guess I would probably take whatever book I’m reading at the time and whatever book I’m writing.

JA: What’s something that people would be surprised to know about you?
LE: I’m shy. Really! When I speak to groups, most people don’t have any idea that I’m so shy. But tis true!

JA: Last but not least, how can people keep up with the latest Leanna Ellis publishing news?
LE: You can visit my website at where I post regularly on my blog. You can also sign up there for my newsletter. You also might want to check out my publisher’s site as they are running a contest right now for Elvis Takes a Back Seat. Go to:

Thank you, Leanna, and continued blessings on your writing journey!

Win the Book
Elvis Takes a Back Seat is in stores now, but you can win a copy here. Just leave a reply to this blog. The winner will be picked at random on January 14th. Please leave an email address so I can contact you if you're the winner. (To prevent spammers from trolling for your email, please use this format with the brackets--you [at] something similar.) Good luck!

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Love Books & Authors? Keep Your Eyes on This Blog!

2007 was quite a year and the Lord blessed me more than I had dared dream. One of the biggest, most amazing things is the many published and pre-published authors I've had the privilege of meeting, and how gracious and giving they are. So now, it's my turn to give back.

As a way of blessing the community that's been so kind to me, I'm featuring author interviews on my blog. Right now, I've got more than 30 published authors lined up over the course of the year, with more joining the list all the time. Quite often, there will be a book giveaway in conjunction with the interview. So, if you love books and the authors who write them, check out my blog at

First up is Leanna Ellis, author of the awesome new novel, Elvis Takes a Back Seat. Come check out her interview tomorrow,January 7th, and leave a comment on the blog to be entered to win a free copy of the book!

Other author interviews this month are Sharon Souza, Debra Clopton, Susan Page Davis, Cheryl Wyatt, Jill Elizabeth Nelson, and Sharon Dunn. Come join the fun!