Friday, February 29, 2008

Meet Valerie Hansen - Interview & Book Giveaway

Valerie HansenToday it’s my pleasure to introduce Valerie Hansen. Her latest novel, Frontier Courtship (Steeple Hill Love Inspired Historical #4), is part of Steeple Hill’s brand new historical line. Let’s meet Valerie!


Valerie Hansen was thirty when she awoke to the presence of the Lord in her life and turned to Jesus. In the years that followed she worked with young children, both in church and secular environments, as well as raising a family of her own and playing foster mother to a wide assortment of furred and feathered critters.

Married to her high school sweetheart since age seventeen, she now lives in an old farm house she and her husband renovated with their own hands. She loves to hike the wooded hills behind the house and reflect on the marvelous turn her life has taken. Not only is she privileged to reside among the loving, accepting folks in the breathtakingly beautiful Ozark mountains of Arkansas, she also gets to share her personal faith by telling the stories of her heart for Love Inspired.

Life doesn’t get much better than that!


JA: Your latest book is Frontier Courtship. Please tell us about it.
VH: This is the book of my heart. I know that’s often said but in this case it’s very, very true. I was selling only contemporary stories. Those were doing very well but I LOVE history and doing that kind or research, so I began a book just because. It had no market for it and not even a glimmer of a sale. Still, I finally finished it. And, thanks to God’s timing and my wonderful agent, it became Frontier Courtship.

JA: The heroine, nineteen-year-old Faith Beal, faces not only the harsh conditions of a wagon train, but has to care for her younger sister as well. How do you think a modern-day teenager would hold up in such a situation?
VH: I started to say, poorly, until I thought of some of my grandchildren. They didn’t have to avoid hostile Indians or stand up against a nefarious wagon boss’s plotting but they have shown extraordinary accountability. I think we do what we have to do, even though modern times have presented different challenges.

JA: Let’s talk about your hero. Connell McClain takes it upon himself to look after Faith. What qualities do you find heroic in a leading man?
VH: This one is easy. I married him! My husband has been my partner and protector for many years. He backs me in whatever I want to try to do, even writing my first novel. I was doing it on a borrowed typewriter so he went out and bought me one of my own – one that even made corrections! And he was also the one responsible for my first computer. He may not have to actually shoot dinner for me, but he sees that I eat well when I’m writing, too. A man who can cook! And gladly does. Wow!

JA: What do you want people to take away after reading Frontier Courtship?
VH: I want them to appreciate what our ancestors went through to make their way in this country. They were very special people whose faith and inner strength would put most of us to shame. It took a brave individual to face those challenges and triumph. As I think I said in the letter to my readers at the end of this book, we owe those pioneers a lot.

VH - Frontier Courtship JA: Frontier Courtship is part of Steeple Hill’s brand new Love Inspired Historical line. (Congratulations!) Have you been itching to write a historical, or did the LI folks approach you with the idea?
VH: As you’ve seen from my first answer, no. I was already writing for both their other lines, romance and suspense, when Melissa Endlich, an editor who had worked with me in the past was put in charge of the new historical line. It was a match made in heaven, to quote an old cliché. Melissa took a look at the book I had written for my own pleasure and not only loved it, she asked for more. Right now, I have two finished and two more contracted, yet to be written. That should give me two in 2008 and two in 2009, plus about the same number of suspense titles from Love Inspired. Yes, I work hard!

JA: What’s next for you in the writing arena?
VH: There I go again, answering before you asked! Love Inspired is keeping me very busy, PTL, and for relaxation I’ve been entering essay contests in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine. So far, I’m a three-time finalist.

JA: What would people be surprised to learn about you?
VH: Well, I did accidentally shoot myself in the shin last year when I dropped a loaded pistol, but I’ve already managed to work the result and how it felt into a book. The heroine of my second book, Wilderness Courtship, Aug, 2008, is Charity Beal, Faith’s sister. I shot her and used my own reactions to the resulting wound. She and I are both fine, now, thanks. But I still take a lot of kidding about it. And I no longer go hiking with the hammer on a live shell.

JA: If you had a whole afternoon to do nothing but sit on the porch swing and read, what might you grab?
VH: I seldom read longer books when I take a break from writing, usually settling for a mystery magazine such as Ellery Queen and the like. I do, however, have a wonderful porch swing. There’s even a picture of me sitting in it on my website. Living out in the country away from traffic and noise is very pleasant, especially for someone like me who values peace and quiet.

JA: Last but not least, how can people keep up with your latest publishing news?
VH: My website is I try to update it quarterly but sometimes get so caught up in actually writing more books that the website lags a little behind. Right now, there is an excerpt of Frontier Courtship that may be of interest, as well as the newsletter and a few pictures of the old farmhouse we restored.

Thanks for letting me tell you about myself.

Valerie Hansen

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


You can win a copy of Frontier Courtship here. Just leave a reply to this blog. I’ll combine the responses of my Blogger and ShoutLife blogs to pick a winner at random on March 8th. 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.) ShoutLifers will be contacted via ShoutMail. Good luck!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

CFBA Presents - STUCK IN THE MIDDLE by Virginia Smith

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing

Stuck in the Middle

Revell (February 1, 2008)

by Virginia Smith


Virginia Smith left her job as a corporate director to become a full time writer and speaker with the release of her first novel Just As I Am.

Since then she has contracted eight novels and published numerous articles and short stories. She writes contemporary humorous novels for the Christian market, including Murder by Mushroom (Steeple Hill, August 2007) and her newest release, Stuck in the Middle(Revell, February 2008), book 1 in the Sister-to-Sister Series.

Her short fiction has been anthologized, and her articles have been published in a variety of Christian magazines. An energetic speaker, she loves to exemplify God’s truth by comparing real-life situations to well-known works of fiction, such as her popular talk, “Biblical Truths in Star Trek.”

Virginia is a speaker, and an avid Scuba diver. She and her husband Ted, divide their times between Kentucky and Utah, and escape as often as they can for diving trips to the Caribbean!


Joan Sanderson's life is stuck. Her older sister, Allie, is starting a family and her younger sister, Tori, has a budding career. Meanwhile, Joan is living at home with Mom and looking after her aging grandmother. Not exactly a recipe for excitement-or romance.

That is, until a hunky young doctor moves in next door. Suddenly Joan has a goal--to catch his eye and get a date. But it won't be easy. Pretty Tori flirts relentlessly with him and Joan is sure that she can't compete. But with a little help from God, Allie, and an enormous mutt with bad manners, maybe Joan can find her way out of this rut and into the life she's been hiding from.

Book 1 of the Sister-to-Sister series, Stuck in the Middle combines budding romance, spiritual searching, and a healthy dose of sibling rivalry that is sure to make you smile.


"A gentle story of one young woman's season of growth, deftly blending the tangle of family relationships with gifts of whimsy and revelation. A joy to read."
~SHARON HINCK, author of Renovating Becky Miller and Symphony of Secrets~

"Virginia Smith has created a charming and humorous novel that celebrates small-town life, generations of women caring for each other, and the value of finding a deeper, more active faith."
~SHARON DUNN, author of the Bargain Hunters mysteries~


My copy of this book is still in the mail, so I haven’t read it yet, but I’m very excited about it. I had the pleasure of meeting Ginny and attending one of her classes last September at the ACFW conference. What a character she is! If you want to get to know her better, check out my interview with her on March 26th.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Meet Kim Vogel Sawyer - Interview & Book Giveaway

Kim Vogel SawyerIt’s my great pleasure to present Kim Vogel Sawyer. I just got my hands on her latest book, My Heart Remembers, yesterday, and I’m having a hard time putting it down! Let’s meet Kim.


Kim Vogel Sawyer, an award-willing and best-selling author, is fond of C words like children, cats, and chocolate. Her debut novel, Waiting for Summer's Return, hit the bestseller charts, was endorsed by Janette Oke, and became a Crossings Book Club Main Selection. Between June of 2006 and March of 2008, she has celebrated the release of ten novels. In her spare time, she enjoys drama, quilting, and calligraphy. Kim and her husband, Don, reside in Kansas and have three daughters and four grandsons.


JA: Your latest book is My Heart Remembers from Bethany House. Please tell us about it.
KVS: The publisher's description follows--Orphaned in a tenement fire, three Irish immigrant children, hoping to be adopted, are sent to Missouri aboard an orphan train. Despite eight-year-old Maelle's desperate attempts to keep her siblings together, each child is taken by a different family. Maelle vows that she will never stop searching for her siblings and that they will be together one day. Seventeen years later, Maelle is still searching. So are her brother and sister. United by blood, divided by time, will they ever be reunited?

JA: This is a story about a family that has been shattered in the worst way. How did you come up with the idea?
KVS: One of the dearest people in my life when I was a child was a woman I called Tantie (my childish attempt at the German word "tante" for "aunt"). She was my babysitter, and then--to my delight--she became my step-grandma in 1969. Not until after her death did I learn this sweet-faced woman, who had no children of her own but willingly raised a dozen abandoned or unwanted children, was herself an "unwanted" child. A train ride brought her to a new family when she was still very young, but she was never formally adopted and grew up feeling as though she didn't belong. Her life story inspired this fictional story of searching for family.

JA: The heroine, Maelle, is eight years old when she’s separated from her siblings. She vows to reunite them, but as the years go by, hope fades. What would you say to someone who finds herself losing hope?
KVS: Look up. Everything of this earth is temporal--it can only last as long as our physical bodies exist. But our relationship with our heavenly Father is eternal--it goes on forever. His blessings to us are ours forever. Our only real and lasting hope is in Him.

KVS - My Heart RemembersJA: What do you want people to take away after reading My Heart Remembers?
KVS: I believe there is a universal longing to belong. We try to fill that longing in a variety of ways, but the only thing that will bring true joy and fulfillment is a relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ. My prayer is that readers will discover the true bringer of joy and fulfillment as they travel the road to reunion with these characters.

JA: This is your tenth book to come out in two years. I sit in awe! How do you do it?
KVS: Sometimes I sit in awe, too... The only thing I can say is "I can do everything through him who gives me strength" (Phil. 4:13). By myself, I can't put two meaningful words on the page. But with prayer, and leaning on His strength, the stories come out. I honestly don't have any other explanation was His will. And His will will be done.

JA: What’s next for you in the writing arena?
KVS: In August, the sequel to my first historical novel, Waiting for Summer's Return, will release. Titled Where the Heart Leads, it lets readers step back into Gaeddert, Kansas, a decade after the first story ended. Thomas Ollenburger is now a young man with a college diploma in hand...but what does God intend for his future? I hope readers enjoy seeing how Peter, Summer, and Thomas have grown and changed.

JA: On your website, you talk about why you write fiction. Would you share a bit of that here?
KVS: Certainly. I believe a story can draw people in and make an impact. I have a real heart for sharing the gospel. I'm pretty much a seat-of-the-pants writer, which means I don't plan my stories, yet...somewhere in each story...the message of the saving grace of Jesus is told. There are those who would resist someone sharing a personal testimony, yet they will read a story. Hopefully the message comes through, wrapped in an entertaining tale.

And, truthfully, I gain a lot through the writing of fiction. When I take characters through spiritual growth and development, my own faith grows deeper--the characters' journey often becomes my journey. I pray my stories not only entertain the reader, but also edify.

JA: What’s something that people would be surprised to learn about you?
KVS: I'm a real introvert, but I love acting in theatre--the quirkier the part, the more fun I find it. Some of my past roles have included Queen Aggravain in Once Upon A Mattress, Mrs. Dubose in To Kill A Mockingbird, and Clairee in Steel Magnolias. Someday I'd like to perform in Fiddler on the Roof as the Matchmaker. :o)

JA: When you get a chance to read for fun, what’s the first thing you grab?
KVS: Historical fiction. Ever since my first grade teacher gave me Little House in the Big Woods for Christmas, I've loved traveling back in time through a good story.

JA: Last but not least, how can people keep up with your latest publishing news?
KVS: Please feel free to visit my website I update my newsletter bi-monthly. I love visitors, so come on by.

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


You can win a copy of My Heart Remembers here. Just leave a reply to this blog. I’ll combine the responses of my Blogger and ShoutLife blogs to pick a winner at random on March 6th. 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.) ShoutLifers will be contacted via ShoutMail. Good luck!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Kristi - You're a Winner!

Hey Kristi,

You're the winner of On Sparrow Hill by Maureen Lang, but I can't get a hold of you. The email I sent bounced back. Please send your mailing info to: jennifer[at]jenniferallee[dot]com. Thanks!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Meet Ramona Cecil - Interview & Book Giveaway

Ramona Cecil PhotoToday I’m happy to present author Ramona Cecil. Her latest book is Sweet Forever from Heartsong Presents. Let’s meet Ramona!


Ramona K. Cecil is a wife, mother, grandmother, free-lance poet, and award-winning inspirational romance writer. Now empty-nesters, she and her husband make their home in Indiana. A member of American Christian Fiction Writers and American Christian Fiction Writers Indiana Chapter, her work has won awards in a number of inspirational writing contests. Over eighty of her inspirational verses have been published on a wide array of items for the Christian gift market. Her first published novel, Larkspur, won first place in Vintage Romance Publishing’s 2005 Vintage Inspirations Contest. Since then, she’s had three more inspirational historical romance novels contracted by Barbour Publishing’s Heartsong Presents line. The first of these three, Sweet Forever, will be released in March, 2008. The following two, Everlasting Promise and Charity’s Heart, have not yet been assigned release dates. Mrs. Cecil enjoys a speaking ministry, sharing her journey to publication, while encouraging aspiring writers. When not writing, her hobbies include reading, gardening, and visiting places of historical interest.


JA: Your current book is Sweet Forever from Heartsong Presents. Tell us about it.
RC: Set in Madison, Indiana, on the banks of the Ohio River in 1845, Sweet Forever is the love story between the daughter of a riverboat gambler and a young minister. Fleeing a riverboat explosion and the man who killed her husband, Rosaleen Archer is convinced God hates her when she lands in the arms of a young minister. Jacob Hale, already struggling with self-doubts about his calling, is further discouraged in his ministry when the lovely and mysterious Rosaleen rebuffs his attempts to bring her to the Lord.

JA: The main characters, Rosaleen Archer and Jacob Hale, fight feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt. What made you want to address these themes?
RC: Whatever might be the impetus of those feelings, I think they are universal and afflict every person at one time or another. There have been many times in my own life when I’ve been plagued by such feelings. These are themes to which I believe all readers can relate.

JA: Sweet Forever is the continuation of the Hale siblings’ saga, which you began in Larkspur. Can we look forward to more adventures with this family?
RC: Yes. I have two more historical romances to be released by Heartsong Presents in 2008 and 2009. Everlasting Promise is the story of Susannah, the youngest Hale sibling from Larkspur. Charity’s Heart is a post Civil War story featuring Daniel Morgan, the son of the hero and heroine from Larkspur. Daniel is first introduced as a six year old boy in Sweet Forever.

Ramona - CoverJA: What do you hope people take away after reading Sweet Forever?
RC: I hoped through this story to convey the spiritual truths that every soul is loved and valued by God, and that with God, all things are possible.

JA: What’s next for you in the writing arena?
RC: Presently, I am working on a long women’s historical called The Heritage, set in my own southern Indiana county in 1812. It asks the question, what is really important in life, i.e. worth keeping and/or dying for?

JA: Your parents were poets. How did growing up in such a creative atmosphere help shape the person you are today?
RC: My parents understood my desire to write creatively and encouraged it. My mother taught me how to write my early poems in stanzas while my dad often read to me from the poetry of James Whitcomb Riley. I remember vacation trips that were planned around visiting homes-turned-museums of James Whitcomb Riley, Gene Stratton Porter, and Mark Twain.

JA: What’s something that people would be surprised to learn about you?
RC: I was a tomboy as a child. I loved to climb trees and as soon as my brother outgrew a pair of black high-top basketball sneakers, I claimed them for my own.

JA: What do you like to read for fun?
RC: The same thing I write—inspirational historical romances. Can’t get enough!

JA: Last but not least, how can people keep up with your latest publishing news?
RC: The newsletter page of my web site as well as appearances on blogs like this.

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


You can win a copy of Sweet Forever here. Just leave a reply to this blog. I’ll combine the responses of my Blogger and ShoutLife blogs to pick a winner at random on March 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.) ShoutLifers will be contacted via ShoutMail. Good luck!

Friday, February 22, 2008

CFBA Presents - ADAM by Ted Dekker

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing


Thomas Nelson (April 1, 2008)

by Ted Dekker


Ted is the son of missionaries John and Helen Dekker, whose incredible story of life among headhunters in Indonesia has been told in several books. Surrounded by the vivid colors of the jungle and a myriad of cultures, each steeped in their own interpretation of life and faith, Dekker received a first-class education on human nature and behavior. This, he believes, is the foundation of his writing.

After graduating from a multi-cultural high school, he took up permanent residence in the United States to study Religion and Philosophy. After earning his Bachelor's Degree, Dekker entered the corporate world in management for a large healthcare company in California. Dekker was quickly recognized as a talent in the field of marketing and was soon promoted to Director of Marketing. This experience gave him a background which enabled him to eventually form his own company and steadily climb the corporate ladder.

Since 1997, Dekker has written full-time. He states that each time he writes, he finds his understanding of life and love just a little clearer and his expression of that understanding a little more vivid. Dekker's body of work encompassing seven mysteries, three thrillers and ten fantasies includes Heaven's Wager, When Heaven Weeps, Thunder of Heaven, Blessed Child, A Man Called Blessed, Blink, Thr3e, The Circle Trilogy (Black, Red, White), and Obsessed, with two more...Renegade, and Chaos to be released later this year.


He died once to stop the he's dying again to save his wife.

FBI behavioral psychologist Daniel Clark has become famous for his well-articulated arguments that religion is one of society’s greatest antagonists. What Daniel doesn’t know is that his obsessive pursuit of a serial killer known only as “Eve” is about to end abruptly with an unexpected death-his own.

Twenty minutes later Daniel is resuscitated, only to be haunted by the loss of memory of the events immediately preceding his death.

Daniel becomes convinced that the only way to stop Eve is to recover those missing minutes during which he alone saw the killer’s face. And the only way to access them is to trigger his brain’s memory dump that occurs at the time of death by simulating his death again…and again. So begins a carefully researched psychological thriller which delves deep into the haunting realities of near-death experiences, demon possession, and the human psyche.

"As always with a Ted Dekker thriller, the details of ADAM are stunning, pointing to meticulous research in a raft of areas: police and FBI methods, forensic medicine, psychological profiling-in short, all that accompanies a Federal hunt for a serial killer. But Dekker fully reveals his magic in the latter part of the book, when he subtly introduces his darker and more frightening theme. It's all too creepily convincing. We have to keep telling ourselves that this is fiction. At the same time, we can't help thinking that not only could it happen, but that it will happen if we're not careful."

New York Times best-selling author Ted Dekker unleashes his most riveting novel elusive serial killer whose victims die of unknown causes and the psychologist obsessed with catching him.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Meet Sharon Hinck - Interview & Book Giveaway

Sharon Hinck PhotoIt was my great thrill to meet Sharon Hinck at the ACFW Conference last September. This woman has such a sweet, gentle spirit, and her books have really ministered to me. Her latest,The Restorer’s Journey (Sword of Lyric) is the conclusion of her Sword of Lyric Series. Let’s meet Sharon!


Sharon’s undergrad degree is in education, and she earned an M.A. in Communication from Regent University in 1986. She spent ten years as the artistic director of a Christian performing arts group, CrossCurrent. That ministry included three short-term mission trips to Hong Kong.

She has been a church youth worker, a choreographer and ballet teacher, a home-school mom, a church organist, and a bookstore clerk. One day she’ll figure out what to be when she grows up, but in the meantime she’s pouring her imagination into writing. She’s published dozens of articles in magazines and book compilations, and released her first novel in 2006. In April, 2007, she was named “Writer of the Year” at Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference.

When she isn’t wrestling with words, Sharon enjoys speaking to conferences, retreats, and church groups. She and her family make their home in Minnesota.


JA: Your latest book is The Restorer’s Journey. Tell us a little bit about it.
SH: This is the third in the Sword of Lyric Series. A new, young Restorer has to confront the temptation to flee his destiny, while Susan, our modern-day heroine, faces her most challenging adventure yet. The story was more difficult for me to write, because it goes to some darker places. But as always when the One shows up amid our struggles, we find He’s doing more things than we could have imagined.

JA: The Sword of Lyric Series is such a wonderfully unique idea. How did you come up with it?
SH: A combination of influences and ideas. I looked at my favorite aspects of the “hero journey” kind of tale, and put a relatable “mom next door” character at the heart to see how the journey would look from her perspective.

Restorers JourneyJA: The Restorer’s Journey is the last book in the series. As a reader, I’m always a bit sad when a series I love comes to an end. As the author, how do you feel with the completion of the final book?
SH: The stories haven’t ended in my head. All the characters are happily continuing their adventures, and I still pop in on them from time to time.

JA: What do you hope people take away when they finish reading the Lyric books?
SH: Our lives, even when they seem ordinary, are really part of God’s epic adventure that He is unfolding. We can dare to bring Him our doubts, our fears, our questions . . . even our anger. We loves us enough to invite us to be part of His story – and can use even the most weak and inadequate of us when we are willing.

JA: What’s next for you in the writing arena?
SH: Symphony of Secrets is a light mystery set in the professional orchestral world and also releases in February. I’m excited about it because it was such a fun story to write and I fell in love with Amy – the cranky, obsessed musician who is the single mom of a teen daughter and struggles with parenting, family secrets, and an unwanted romantic attraction – all while being wooed toward God by the beauty of music.

Then in September, Stepping Into Sunlight is coming out – a novel about Penny Sullivan, a Navy chaplain’s wife who witnessed a violent crime and is struggling with post-traumatic stress during her husband’s first deployment, while living far from family and friends. Penny begins a project of doing something kind for a different person each day as an effort to help her move toward healing.

JA: Your tag line is “Stories for the hero in all of us.” What do you consider heroic in your own life?
SH: I have a group of friends who consider themselves “ordinary.” Yet they confront battles every day as they serve their husbands and children and seek to live for Christ. I’ve never had any doubt that they are heroic. They inspire me daily. I think the woman who whispers praise to Jesus through her tears of discouragement – alone in her car – is a hero. I think the husband who turns away from the lewd billboard and rack of magazines and chooses to be true to his wife is heroic. My friends who battle deep depression, but still get through one more day are heroic. My friends who are afraid of something God has called them to, but do it anyway, are heroes. I think so many brave battles are fought in the small daily choices that no one sees.

JA: What’s something that people would be surprised to know about you?
SH: I was once a fairly accomplished tap dancer.

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?
SH: Sally Stuart’s Christian Writer’s Market Guide, so I’ll know how where to address the bottles that I toss into the sea with all the articles and books I’d write. And the Encyclopedia Brittanica (because my husband once sold them, and because I love reading on random topics, and because I love the full-color illustrations).

JA: Last but not least, how can people keep up with the latest Sharon Hinck publishing news?
SH: Please pop by my website,, and explore. I have lots of fun pages including articles to offer encouragement, schedules of upcoming events, links to all my books, and to my blog where I post my musings about God, writing, and life on a regular basis. You can also sign up for my quarterly Book Buddy ezine (my Book Buddies are dear friends who pray for my work, and also get insider info and opportunities for special prizes and gifts).

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


The Restorer’s Journey is in stores now, but you can win a copy here. Just leave a reply to this blog. I’ll combine the responses of my Blogger and ShoutLife blogs to pick a winner at random on February 28th. 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.) ShoutLifers will be contacted via ShoutMail. Good luck!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Meet Maureen Lang - Interview & Book Giveaway

Maureen Lang - PhotoI’m so happy to welcome author Maureen Lang to the blog. Her latest novel is On Sparrow Hill (The Oak Leaves Series #2). Let’s get to know Maureen…


Believing herself a hopeless romantic, Maureen Lang writes stories that revolve around romance — whether contemporary or historical, she loves finding ways to keep heroes and heroines apart until the very end. Her newest release, On Sparrow Hill (Tyndale House), combines both historical and contemporary settings in one book. Please visit her website at


JA: Your next book is On Sparrow Hill. Tell us about it.
ML: On Sparrow Hill is the sequel to The Oak Leaves, which came out from Tyndale last year – but don’t worry, readers can enjoy this book without having read its predecessor! On Sparrow Hill was so much fun, mainly because it has not just one romance, but two. In my opinion, the pages of a book turn a whole lot faster when there’s a romance involved! The two storylines are related, but one is contemporary England and the other Victorian Ireland. They’re connected through letters the contemporary heroine finds in the estate home where she is the curator. The lesson she learns about servanthood affects her own decisions when she has the opportunity to leave behind the role of a servant to join (by marriage) the circle of modern-day aristocracy. In the historical segment, the aristocratic heroine has left behind her pampered life to serve others afflicted by mental retardation – only to be tempted back into aristocracy by her attraction to a Member of Parliament. But she knows her role as a servant is too much a part of her to leave behind.

JA: Many of your books contain a blending of two different time periods. (I love that premise… like time travel without the paradoxes!) In On Sparrow Hill, which idea came first: the past or the present?
ML: The historical, definitely! I love a good romance no matter when it takes place, but I have to admit my preference for historical settings. In fact, when I first began the contemporary story line, I was concentrating on an entirely different character (Dana, the character who also played a minor role in Oak Leaves – I wanted to give her a book of her own!) But as I began the story, the curator of the modern-day estate kept turning up in my thoughts. I really tried to ignore her, but when my editor said if she was the one I wanted to explore, I should go for it. So I did, and I ended up having so much fun with her story, too.

JA: You use the genetic condition Fragile X in The Oak Leaves and On Sparrow Hill How has Fragile X impacted your life, and did you find it cathartic to write about it?
ML: My twelve-year-old son is affected by Fragile X Syndrome, the leading cause of genetic mental retardation. He has it because I carry the disorder in my genes. I didn’t know I was a carrier until he was diagnosed, but ever since learning about it, Fragile X has been a huge part of my life. I try to make people aware of it, do fundraising for a cure, so of course it was the major impetus behind writing both of these books. I wanted people to hear about Fragile X, because the more people who hear about it, the more likely they’ll be to donate toward a cure!

Writing both of these books was absolutely cathartic, because they forced me to think about things I’ve learned by having this disorder impact my life. Yes, there are frustrations when dealing with a family member so limited by mental retardation. But there are joys, too, which I never expected after the diagnosis. My son has his own personality, Fragile X didn’t take that away. He has a great sense of humor and his natural bend is to be happy. We love making him laugh, but it’s fairly easy! Mostly, though, having Fragile X in my life has brought me closer to God, and I look forward to Heaven more than ever now. I needed to share that with others, because God really is the answer.

JA: There’s a wonderful video trailer for On Sparrow Hill. [READERS: Click here to check it out] How did that come about?
ML: Actually a friend of mine approached me and wondered if I might want to do this. I was intrigued by the idea, but I had no idea how much fun it would be to see various aspects of my book come to life so visually. Diane Whiddon-Brown is so creative and just a joy to work with.

Maureen Lang CoverJA: What do you hope people take away after reading this book?
ML: The thing I felt God trying to teach me during this book was that we should all strive to be servants. Jesus was a servant. There are plenty of opportunities, even though sometimes we resent our role as servant, especially as a woman with endless to-do lists. But serving others, whether it’s in a job or at home, is always harder when it’s done begrudgingly. I needed the reminder that being a servant is to be like Jesus, and so I hope my readers will be reminded of that and take comfort in it.

JA: What’s next for you in the writing arena?
ML: I have another book coming out with Tyndale near the end of this year (’08). This is a book I’m so excited about. It’s tentatively titled My Sister Dilly, and it’s the story of a woman who prefers big city life in LA near the ocean rather than the small, Midwestern town she left behind. But when her younger sister is desperate enough to make an awful choice and ends up in prison because of it, my heroine goes back home to take care of her after she is released from prison. But when she leaves LA, she also leaves behind the one man she’s ever loved. She learns she can’t really go back, she can only learn to accept forgiveness, both her sister’s and God’s. It’s a romance (of course!) but just as interesting to me was being able to explore the relationship between these two sisters, which was sometimes a love/resentment sort of thing.

JA: What would people be surprised to learn about you?
ML: That I am, like many other writers, insecure to the core. Even though I was raised in a loving home, even though I have a loving husband and family, even though I’m absolutely living a dream by seeing my books in print…who would think it possible to be insecure? But I am. So if you ever see me at a writer’s conference and I look like I’m trying to fade into the wallpaper, it’s not because I don’t want to talk to anyone. I just like to keep my insecurities to myself.

JA: Dream time: If you had a week to go to a luxurious spa and do nothing but be pampered and read, what books would you take along?
ML: First I’d have to take a box load of history books, because history is the fodder for endless stories. So much drama! So much angst! So many settings! I actually find reading history books very relaxing. As for fiction…well, I’m eagerly awaiting a new novel by Leif Enger, and I’d also bring anything by Siri Mitchell, Ruth Axtell Morren, and so many others. Unfortunately, I’m a slow reader, maybe because I read every word and sometimes stop to ponder…so my stack of books for just one week might be smaller than someone else’s!

JA: Last but not least, how can people keep up with your latest publishing news?
ML: I’m not nearly as technologically savvy as I should be, but I try to keep my website up-to-date ( and I also belong to ACFW, RWA’s Faith, Hope and Love Chapter, The Writer’s View, and all of those wonderful loops allow me to announce good news. I also love visiting blogs, like this one!

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


On Sparrow Hill is in stores now, but you can win a copy here. Just leave a reply to this blog. I’ll combine them with the responses of my Blogger and ShoutLife blogs to pick a winner at random on February 26th. 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.) ShoutLifers will be contacted via ShoutMail. Good luck!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Meet Lynette Eason - Interview & Book Giveaway

Lynette Eason PhotoToday I’m pleased to present debut author Lynette Eason. Her first book is Lethal Deception (Amazon Adventure Series #1) (Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense #90) Let’s meet Lynette!


Lynette Eason grew up in Greenville, SC. When she was sixteen, she lived in Paris, France for one month, then after graduation from college, returned to Europe for another month long visit to Germany, England, Amsterdam, Paris, Belgium, Prague, Czechoslovakia, and other exciting countries. Later, she moved to Spartanburg, SC to attend Converse College where she obtained her Masters degree in Education. During this time, she met the man she would marry—the boy next door!

She is a member of RWA (Romance Writers of America), FHL (Faith, Hope, and Love) and ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers). Lethal Deception is her first published work. River Of Secrets is book two and Holiday Illusion is the final book in the series. Look for it in November of 2008!

Lynette loves to ice skate, go bowling, walk on the beach, visit the mountains of Asheville, NC, watch American Idol, Law and Order, A & E channel, and surf the web. She is often found online and loves to talk writing with anyone who will listen. She gives God the glory for her giving her the talent and desire to spin stories that bring readers to the edge of their seat, but most importantly, to the throne of Christ.


JA: Congratulations on your debut novel, Lethal Deception, from Love Inspired Suspense. Tell us a little bit about it.
LE: That was a fun story to write, edit, revise, etc. Honestly, though, by the time the AA’s arrived, I was sick of it. I understand now why some authors actually shudder when you ask if they’ve read the story in final book form. Maybe one day. Anyway, I was sitting in the DMV (Dept. of Motor Vehicles) thinking what a jungle the place was when all of a sudden I just had characters popping into my brain, a story gelling, and voila…by the time they called my number, I had written the first chapter. I did a lot of research on the Amazon Jungle, read some fictional accounts with characters in the jungle, read nonfiction, etc. and just came up with the story. It’s just really hard to explain where my ideas come from. I have to give God credit for that.
The back cover reads:

Who wanted her dead?
Having rescued Cassidy McKnight from kidnappers in South America, Gabriel Sinclair thought his job was done. Not that the former NAVY SEAL could ever forget the brave, beautiful single mother. But when the danger followed her home, Gabe promised to protect her. Why anyone would want to kill Cassidy was a mystery. Was the motive related to the orphaned toddler Cassidy was raising, a sweet little girl who brought out the father figure in maverick Gabe? Or did a newly revealed family secret have killer consequences?

JA: Your hero, Gabriel Sinclair, is a Navy SEAL. Were you familiar with the SEALs before writing this book, or did you need to do a lot of research?
LE: No, I wasn’t too familiar. I’ve read a lot of stories with Navy Seals but I’ve never met one…ha. So, I did quite a bit of research online, read some book about SEALS, etc.

Lynette Eason CoverJA: What do you hope people take away when they finish reading your book?
LE: My goal, first and foremost is to tell a story the reader can’t put down. And through that story to present God in a way that makes the reader hunger to know more about Him. I desire that my writing glorify Him and for Him to be pleased. As long as He’s pleased, my editor will be pleased…ha. So, in summary, I hope people put the book down and go, “Wow, I’ve never thought about God like that before.” Or something along those lines.

JA: You used to be a Special Ed teacher. Was there anything about your former career that prepared you for the transition to published author?
LE: Does the endless paperwork count?? Seriously, no, not really, I guess unless you count the plethora of ideas that come at you during the school day.

JA: Like you, I’m a homeschool mom. How do you work writing time in around school time?
LE: It’s a constant juggling act. Seriously. My children and husband come first, of course. I do my best not to write when I should be spending time with them. Homeschooling is our first priority in the morning. After school, then lunch, I shoo my kids off to run off energy, play, etc. I set up my laptop where I can see them in the yard and I go to work. Of course, there are numerous interruptions, but I’m blessed with the ability to work through the confusion…ha. My kids also go to an after school/karate program twice a week which gives me several hours in the afternoon to write while they have fun with peers.

JA: What’s next for you in the writing arena?
LE: In September (I think) I sold my third manuscript to Harlequin. I sold on proposal, so had to write the thing after selling it. I just sent it in a few days after Christmas. It was the third in the series. The second, River of Secrets will be out in August and this third one in November. I sold my fourth to Steeple Hill called A Silent Terror and it will be out in March 2009. I also have a proposal on the table with Revell that I’m waiting to hear back on.

JA: What’s something that people would be surprised to learn about you?
LE: MOST people would be surprised to learn that I’m very hard of hearing. I wear hearing aids! When I have the hearing aids on, most people wouldn’t notice a thing, when I take them off, I’m DEAF!

JA: What do you read for fun?
LE: EVERYTHING! I love anything I can get my hands on. Of course, I read a lot of what I write, like Suspense, romance, etc, but I also love a good Chick Lit book. I’m not crazy about Science Fiction. I also think reading books on the craft of writing is fun. (I know, I’m weird…ha.) Brandilyn Collins and Dee Henderson are two of my favorites, but I have to tell you, Stephen James has emerged with an awesome thriller called The Pawn. I’ll definitely be looking for his next one.

JA: Last but not least, how can people keep up with your latest publishing news?
LE: I’m easy to find. I’m often online and you can email me at or go to my website at and sign my guestbook. I’ll have all my latest info up on my website.

Thanks so much, Jennifer, for having me on your blog! I appreciate it so much. Have a blessed day!

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


Lethal Deception 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 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!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

CFBA Presents - My Name is Russell Fink

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing

My Name is Russell Fink

Zondervan (March 1, 2008)

by Michael Snyder


Michael Snyder has spent the bulk of his professional career in sales, has fallen in love, and continues to struggle with the balance between art and vocation. He's never investigated a murder, much less that of an allegedly clairvoyant dog.


Russell Fink is twenty-six years old and determined to salvage a job he hates so he can finally move out of his parents house for good. He's convinced he gave his twin sister cancer when they were nine years old. And his crazy fiancée refuses to accept the fact that their engagement really is over.

Then Sonny, his allegedly clairvoyant basset hound, is found murdered.

The ensuing amateur investigation forces Russell to confront several things at once-the enormity of his family's dysfunction, the guy stalking his family, and his long-buried feelings for a most peculiar love interest.

At its heart, My Name is Russell Fink is a comedy, with sharp dialogue, characters steeped in authenticity, romance, suspense, and fresh humor. With a postmodern style similar to Nick Hornby and Douglas Coupland, the author explores reconciliation, forgiveness, and faith in the midst of tragedy. No amount of neurosis or dysfunction can derail God's redemptive purposes.

I haven't read this book yet, but it's definitely on my list. I've got a thing for quirky characters, and I have a feeling Russell is going to live up to my expectations. Congratulations to Michael Snyder on a debut novel that's creating lots of buzz!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Interview with Susan Page Davis & Megan Elaine Davis

Today I have the honor of introducing the mother/daughter writing team of Megan Elaine Davis and Susan Page Davis. Their new book, Homicide at Blue Heron Lake is the first of their Mainely Murder Series. Let’s meet these two lovely ladies!


Megan DavisMegan Elaine Davis grew up in rural Maine where she was home-schooled with her five siblings. She holds a bachelor of arts degree in Creative Writing from Bob Jones University, and has published poetry, articles, and humorous anecdotes in various publications. Besides writing, she enjoys reading, travel, theater, cooking, and chatting with friends. Her favorite authors are Agatha Christie, Jane Austen, and C. S. Lewis. Homicide at Blue Heron Lake is her first novel. She lives in Clinton, Maine. She will soon become Mrs. John-Mark Cullen and make her home in England.

Photobucket Susan Page Davis is the author of 13 published novels, with more coming soon. Her historical novel set in colonial Maine, The Prisoner’s Wife, won the Inspirational Readers’ Choice Contest, the ACFW Book of the Year, and was favorite historical of the year in the Heartsong Presents book club. Her suspense novels include Frasier Island (a Faithpoint Book Club selection and Romantic Times Book Reviews Top Pick), Finding Marie (a Crossings Book Club selection), and a January 2008 release from Love Inspired Suspense, Just Cause. She’s the mother of six and grandmother of five. She and her husband Jim, a newspaper editor, live in rural Maine.


JA: How long have the two of you been writing together? Who came up with the idea initially?
MED: We've been writing together since early 2006. Mom came up with the initial idea for our first book, though I thought of having an unsolved mystery from years ago that ties into the first murder.

JA: Homicide at Blue Heron Lake is the first of your Mainely Murder series. What's it about?
MED: The first book is about two people, Emily and Nate, who knew each other years ago, and are thrown together as they solve a murder mystery together. Yes, it's a who-done-it, but the book's also about confronting the past and getting on with life.

SPD: We made up a small, lakeside town in Maine for our setting, but it’s a lot like towns and lakes we know. When Emily returns to Blue Heron Lake, she expects her memories to put her through the emotional wringer. She doesn’t expect to meet up with the young man she loved all through childhood or find a neighbor murdered in his cottage.

JA: What do you hope people take away when they finish reading your books?
SPD: Forgiveness and reconciliation are major themes in our books. People confront the past and must adjust their attitudes and relationships in light of what they learn. That’s something we all have to do in real life.

MED: We put a lot of different conflicts into our books, and many secrets come to light as the stories progress. I find honest and open people very refreshing, even when they are completely different from me, so I hope our books will help people to both think more about others, and to be themselves.

Blue Heron Lake CoverJA: Megan, congratulations on your engagement. How do you manage co-writing a book and planning a wedding at the same time?
MED: I don't manage. I collect "happy mistakes." I am notoriously disorganized, emotional, and not motivated, which I think is the bare essence of a writer. I dislike organizing things, particularly big things like weddings. How do I do it? Every day I have to learn the same lesson, which is to do what I need to do. Sometimes I pass the test God gives me, and sometimes I don't.

SPD: As you may gather, we expect the wedding to be somewhat casual, outdoors at home, with dear friends and family gathered with us. Megan worked hard to help finish our second book before leaving on a visit to her fiancé and his family in England. I find it ironic that our third book’s deadline is the DAY BEFORE THE WEDDING!!! Gulp. We’re going to have that manuscript done LONG before August 15, RIGHT, MEG???? (Did I mention that I, too, am organizationally challenged?)

JA: What's next for you in the writing arena?
MED: I have two projects in mind. I'm hoping to break into syndicated column writing after moving to England, so in the mean time I am researching the markets and writing sample pieces to submit. And my other project? A novel of course. Always a novel, but rarely the same one, which could explain why I don't have any of my own published yet.

SPD: I just finished two historical projects (a Christmas novella and a New Hampshire Heartsong) and am diving into a long suspense novel (book 3 in my Frasier Island series with Harvest House). I’m very excited about that one. These military-themed books are always challenging and a lot of work, but extremely satisfying. I love the characters and the dire situations I put them in. And I have a couple more things lined up for later in the year—another historical novel and my first contemporary Heartsong.

JA: I'm a homeschool mom, too, but only have one child. Susan, I can't even imagine doing it with six children! For both of you, what are your favorite and least favorite things about homeschool?
SPD: My favorite things were having them at home; seeing them learn and grow; getting instant feedback on their education, so I knew when they needed extra help; knowing they weren’t exposed to the drug culture that pervades the public schools here; and knowing they were getting the basics every day. My least favorite things were planning lessons and teaching science. I am a verbal person and love history. Unfortunately, that meant my kids did not have a brilliant science teacher. I did wish I had done better on that score, but I made sure they got the basics down.

MED: I know I'm young, relatively speaking, but homeschool seems like eons ago. I think my favorite thing was being able to sleep later than other kids. I have always loved my sleep. I also really liked taking extra time off if there was a new baby in the family, or to go visit relatives. My least favorite thing at the time was always math, which doesn't have to do with how I was schooled; I just hated it with a passion. However, upon looking back, I wish I had had more interaction with other kids. I had friends in church and in our home school group, but I wish I'd been thrown in with them more often. Maybe I wouldn't be such a recluse now.

JA: Is there something you've always wanted to learn or try, but have yet to tackle?
SPD: I always wanted to be a champion show jumper (on a horse, of course), but I think that ship has sailed. I hope to write a book about show jumping instead. I’d like to travel more, to spend more time with my grandchildren (all of whom live at least 1200 miles from me) and to be a better speaker. I’d also like to learn fencing, visit some old Celtic sites, and appear in a play.

MED: My top three wishes were always to write, travel, and get married. Those wishes came true a lot sooner than I expected--and they challenged and will challenge me more than I expected. A few other dreams and ideas that resurface: write humorous adventure fiction, become adept at interviewing strangers about trivial things, learn Irish Gaelic, learn to dance, be in a movie, be a mother, be a grandmother, visit Egypt, meet some Royals, be quoted by writers, produce amateur theatricals, explore the English countryside, and hobnob with artists and poets in Italian cafes.

JA: Other than each other, who are some of your favorite authors?
SPD: Dick Francis, Dorothy L. Sayers, DiAnn Mills, Janice Holt Giles, whatever is on my nightstand now (waving at Trish Perry, John Olson and Randy Ingermanson)...

MED: Louisa May Alcott, Lloyd Alexander, Jane Austen, Natalie Babbitt, Bill Bryson, Agatha Christie, Gideon Defoe, Elizabeth Enright, Natalie Goldberg, C. S. Lewis, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Marilynne Robinson, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Mark Twain.

JA: Last but not least, how can people keep up with your latest publishing news?
MED: Right now I don't have my own Web site, but I am putting together a blog where I hope to post news and reflections about my writing career. The blog is still under construction, but can be found at: For information specifically about the Mainely Murder series, see my mom's Web site: .

SPD: Do visit my website, and be sure to enter the monthly drawing there. You can also learn about the Heartsong Mysteries book club at: , and visit me at Keep Me in Suspense, a site for Christian mystery and suspense writers where I’m one of the hosts, at:

Thank you, Megan and Susan, and continued blessings on both your writing journeys!


Homicide at Blue Heron Lake is available now, but you can win a copy here. Just leave a reply to this blog. The winner will be picked at random on February 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!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Winner of STUCK IN THE MIDDLE is...

Donna Moore!

Congratulations, Donna. For all who didn't win, thanks so much for leaving your comments. Stuck in the Middle (Sister-to-Sister, Book 1) 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 interview with Julie Carobini(contest ends February 18th).

Coming up are brand new interviews with the mother/daughter team of Susan Page Davis and Megan Elaine Davis (2/13), Lynette Eason (2/15) and Maureen Lang (2/18)!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Meet Julie Carobini - Interview & Book Giveaway

Julie Carobini PhotoIt’s my great pleasure to present breath-of-fresh-air author Julie Carobini! Her latest novel, Truffles by the Sea is the follow up to Chocolate Beach Let’s meet Julie.

The Bio

Julie Carobini writes beach stories for the ‘young at heart.’ Her novel, Chocolate Beach, debuted in February 2007, and her second book, Truffles by the Sea, will be released by Bethany House Publishers in February 2008. Inspired by God's grace, coastal living, and her rambunctious family, Julie lives with her husband Dan, and their three children in Southern California.

The Interview

JA: Your current novel is Truffles by the Sea. Tell us a little bit about it.
JC: I’d love to! This is the story of Gaby Flores, the best friend from my first novel, Chocolate Beach. Poor Gaby has a penchant for drama and an unfortunate knack for dating Mr. So Wrong. After breaking off yet another relationship, watching her apartment building burn to the ground, and discovering that her dippy delivery guy has run off with most of her business, our heroine decides it’s time to turn things around.
So she moves to a tiny waterfront loft and takes on a new motto: “Be gullible no more!” But when legal troubles and quirky neighbors and two surprising romances enter her beachy world, Gaby’s motto and fledgling faith are put to the test.

JA: So far, your heroines have quite an affinity for the beach, as do you. Are there any other traits you share with them?
JC: Let’s see. Bri, lovable as she is, can be a bit snarky at times (shame on her, shame on me ;). Gaby’s actually pretty sweet but gullible; she has trouble discerning the truth at times, as do I.

Truffles by the SeaJA: This is the second of your chocolate-themed books. How did you come up with the concept? Per chance, were you on the beach, eating chocolates?
JC: Well, hm, not exactly ;) Bri, the beach chick heroine of Chocolate Beach is a terrible cook, but she bakes a mean tray of brownies. So it made sense to put Bri’s two passions together in that book. In Truffles by the Sea, Gaby’s a single, working woman under a ton of stress, and Bri’s too busy with her own life to bake her brownies. So Gaby turns to truffles from a local chocolatier. What’s especially funny to me is that she’s broke, yet she manages to scrape together a few coins here and there to feed her obsession. Can anyone relate?

JA: I can relate. In college, I would hunt down loose change so I could by M&Ms! What do you hope people take away when they finish reading your books?
JC: I hope readers are entertained, and that they feel as if they were whisked away to a relaxing place. And yet, they’ll hopefully see that while life’s full of curve balls, being grounded in faith will keep them from getting nailed.

JA: I have to say that visiting your website is like stepping into a refreshing, sandy get-away. Great job on setting a mood! Your tagline is Faith, Flip Flops & Waves of Grace. What does that mean to you?
JC: I thought hard about that tagline. While I want readers to know they’ll experience elements of faith in my writings, it will never be heavy handed. We serve a God who liberally offers grace to all who call him Lord, and my stories are about women who need that in heavy doses. And the flip flops represent both the beachy locales of my stories along with the breezy, humorous style I’m committed to writing.

JA: What’s next for you in the writing arena?
JC: Thanks for asking! I’m working on a book about a woman’s quest to honor her father’s memory by moving her family back to their hometown only to uncover secrets that destroy the fairy tale life she believed they all had once lived. This story is set along the majestic Central California Coast.

JA: What’s something that people would be surprised to learn about you?
JC: I can be such a hermit.

JA: If you’re headed out to the beach for some relaxing and lounging, what books might find their way into your tote bag?
JC: You’ll always find a copy of Coastal Living, that’s for sure. As for books, you’d probably find a Billerbeck or a Gutteridge—stuff that makes me laugh. You’d also find a notebook with my scribblings because when I get inspired, I want to write it down!

JA: Last but not least, how can people keep up with the latest Julie Carobini publishing news?
JC: Oh, thanks for asking, Jennifer, and thanks too for letting me visit today! Readers, please stop by my website at, where you’ll find info on obtaining a signed bookplate, my latest news, and the occasional chocolate giveaway.

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

Win the Book

Truffles by the Sea 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 19th. 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!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Want to Win My Book?

Really, what's more fun than a free book? How about an interview and the chance to win a free book!

Many thanks to Deborah Piccurelli who's featuring me on her website this month. Check out the interview and enter the contest to win a copy of my debut novel,The Love of His Brother.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

What A Super Week!

First it was Super Bowl Sunday, then it was Super Tuesday. This week has been kind of exhausting. About the game... I admit, I really only watch for the commercials! As usual, I wondered why some of these advertisers wasted their money (such as Tide's talking stain ad, which was annoying, and Career Builders "follow your heart" ad, which was just gross.) My favorites this year were:

  • Budweiser - I absolutely loved the Clydesdale and Dalmatian training to the Rocky theme song. Classic!

  • Glaceau Vitamin Water - Shaq wins it by a nose! Another horse ad, this one made me laugh out loud.

  • SoBe Life Water - Super model Naomi Campbell and a bunch of lizards doing the Thriller dance. Naomi was fine, but the lizards stole the show.

As for politics... well, Super Tuesday lived up to its name. Lots of folks thought we'd get clear-cut front-runners on both sides. Not so. Clinton and Obama are still neck and neck. McCain surged, but the biggest surprise is Huckabee coming from behind to blindside Romney. This thing's going to be playing out for a while.

So congrats to the Giants. You fought hard, played a great game, and deserved your win. Politicians, strap on your helmets... your game is just getting started!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Meet Virginia Smith - Interview & Book Giveaway

Ginny Smith PhotoI’m thrilled to present the always entertaining Virginia Smith. Her latest novel, Stuck in the Middle (Sister-to-Sister, Book 1) is the first of the Sister-to-Sister series. Let’s get to know Virginia…

The Bio

Virginia Smith is a writer of humorous novels, a speaker, singer, snow skier, motorcycle enthusiast, and an avid scuba diver. In 2005, she left her corporate director job to launch her career as a novelist with the release of her debut, Just as I Am, and has been cranking out God-honoring fiction ever since. An energetic speaker, she loves to exemplify God’s truth by comparing real-life situations to well-known works of fiction, such as her popular, “Biblical Truth in Star Trek.” She attributes the popularity of that talk primarily to the Star Trek uniform. She splits her time between Frankfort, Kentucky, and Salt Lake City, Utah. Visit her website at

The Interview

JA: Your next book is Stuck in the Middle. Tell us about it.
VS: Stuck in the Middle is the first book in the Sister-to-Sister Series. It’s about the middle sister, Joan, whose life is stuck. While her siblings are off building families and careers, Joan is stuck at home with her mom and aging grandmother. Then a hunky doctor moves in next door, and the fun begins. Nothing heats up a romantic interest more than a little sibling rivalry!

I think readers are going to be surprised, though. The story isn’t all fun and games. I tackle a couple of tough issues, like the difficult decisions we face as our parents and grandparents age. And the ripple effect of their parents’ divorce on young adults who are trying to build relationships of their own. I even touch on an issue that causes a lot of heated arguments in churches these days: the difference between contemporary and traditional styles of music.

I am one of three sisters, and our parents did divorce when we were young (though not for the same reason). So naturally as I wrote this book I found myself replicating my relationship with my sisters in the story. Not that the Sanderson sisters are us, but elements of each of our personalities do show up in the characters. That was a lot of fun to write.

JA: Your main character, Joan Sanderson, is a middle sister. How does being the middle child affect Joan?
VS: Though Joan loves her family and knows they love her, she feels like an outsider at times. The oldest sibling holds a place of honor in the family, and of course the baby of the family also has a special place. To make matters worse, the other two are outgoing and lively like their mother, but Joan has always been quiet, more like her father. And since her father deserted them when she was twelve, of course that drives an imaginary wedge even further between Joan and her family.

Stuck in the Middle JA: You’re one of three sisters. Where do you fall in birth order? Did you draw from your own sibling experiences when writing this book?
VS: I am the oldest. I honestly don’t know why I chose to start with the middle sister in the Sister-to-Sister Series, but Joan’s story just needed to come first. And even though I am the oldest in real life, a lot of Joan’s feelings and struggles are mine. My two sisters are incredible, awesome women. But they’re both really lively and bubbly, and I’m a little quieter. (People who know me and don’t know them find that hard to believe, but it’s true!) But they are truly my best friends, and we are extremely close. I really tried to reflect our relationships in Stuck in the Middle, and I think it came through in the fun, lively Sanderson sisters.

JA: You use humor to deal with a lot of serious issues. I have a feeling humor comes naturally to you. Is that true?
VS: I’m laughing as I answer this question. Actually, when it became apparent that I was going to make a career writing humorous books, my husband told me very seriously, as though breaking a particularly hard piece of news, “But honey, you’re not funny.” It’s true! In my day-to-day life I’m not particularly funny. When I wrote my first book, Just As I Am, I really didn’t set out to write a humorous book. But the premise of that first scene – a purple-haired girl with facial jewelry strutting down the aisle of a little country church in a leather miniskirt and tiger print blouse – was just so ludicrous! I couldn’t help picturing the faces of the conservative congregation, and the girl’s reactions to them, and as I wrote it I was laughing so hard I could barely breathe. That scene set the tone for the rest of the book, and actually, for the rest of my career so far. But I do feel that I treat serious issues with sensitivity. It’s just that after the serious stuff is over, something else funny happens.

JA: What do you hope people take away after reading Stuck in the Middle?
VS: Primarily, I hope people will find Stuck in the Middle an entertaining read. The sisters are lively and fun, and I think folks will enjoy getting to know them. Those people who've encountered differences in church worship styles (traditional versus contemporary) will enjoy seeing how that plays out in the book. And those who experienced their parents' divorce when they were children will hopefully find comfort and inspiration as Joan Sanderson does. And, of course, I want people to fall in love with the hunky doctor who moves in next door, too!

JA: What’s next for you in the writing arena?
VS: I just finished Age before Beauty, book 2 in the Sister-to-Sister Series, and I still have to write Last but Not Least. So that’s on the agenda. I also write romantic mysteries, and I have one coming out in October called A Taste of Murder. That’s going to be a fun book. Not as funny as my others, but the heroine is a little quirky and the premise is humorous, so I think people will enjoy it. I just finished the proposal for a sequel to that book, so I’ll probably be writing that within the next few months as well.

JA: What’s something that people would be surprised to learn about you?
VS: Hmmm… okay, here’s something. I have always loved to sing, and still do sing whenever I can. But most people don’t know that I sang with a traveling contemporary Christian group called the Joyful Sound for three years back in the late 90’s. Once when the group was singing in a church in Colorado, Sandi Patti came into the church and sat in the back of the sanctuary for our concert. We were singing an arrangement of Amazing Grace that she had recorded, and I was the top soprano, so I was singing her part. Talk about nerves! I had to hit a high C at the end of that song, and through the whole song I kept thinking, “I’m going to miss it. It’s going to be flat.” But I nailed it! That was a total thrill.

JA: If you had a week to go to a luxurious spa and do nothing but be pampered and read, what books would you take along?
VS: Oh, that’s a tough question, because I would take something I haven’t read before. If I was going soon, I would take Symphony of Secrets by Sharon Hinck. I absolutely adored her Sword of Lyric series. And if Sharon Dunn had a new Bargain Hunter Mystery Series book out, I’d take that. And anything by Tamara Leigh – Splitting Harriet was a terrific book. Another one I’ve been wanting to try is not a Christian book. It’s called Twilight by Stephanie Meyer. Everyone I’ve talked to who has read it does nothing but rave, and I mean really rave, about it. So my interest has been piqued. But I’m hesitant because it’s apparently about vampires. I haven’t been able to read a vampire book since Salem’s Lot back in the 80’s scared me so badly I slept with my lights on for a month!

JA: Last but not least, how can people keep up with your latest publishing news?
VS: I keep my website updated – The “Fun Stuff” page always has good stuff, and that’s where I also post all the contests. Which reminds me – the contest I’m conducting (with my publisher) to promote Stuck in the Middle is a terrific one. I’m giving away a $500 shopping spree! Details can be found at I hope people will check it out!

Thanks so much for the interview, Jenn! I enjoyed ‘chatting’ with you!

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

Win the Book
Stuck in the Middle 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 12th. 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!

The Winner of a Sharon Dunn Book Is...


Congratulations! For all who didn't win, thanks so much for leaving your comments. Death of a Six-Foot Teddy Bear (A Bargain Hunters Mystery) is available online and in stores now.

Coming up on the blog are brand new interviews with authors Virginia Smith (2/5), Julie Carobini (2/11) and the mother/daughter team of Susan Page Davis and Megan Elaine Davis (2/13)!

Saturday, February 2, 2008

The Winner of A PASSION MOST PURE is...


Congratulations, Hannah. For all who didn't win, thanks so much for leaving your comments. A Passion Most Pure (Daughters of Boston, Book 1) 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 interview with 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 and Megan Elaine Davis (2/13)!

Friday, February 1, 2008

REVIEW - Chocolate Beach by Julie Carobini

chocolate beach coverI just had the joy of reading Chocolate Beach by Julie Carobini. Rather than write my own recap, here’s the back-of-the-book blurb:

Bri Stone has it all: the man of her dreams and their surf-riding teenage son, a chocolate-loving best pal, an adorable beach bungalow, and a kicky job as a Southern California tour bus host. She also has a few things she did not ask for: a know-it-all friend, a snobby mother-in-law, and a Fabio-meets-Dilbert boss. All three of them seem eager to share their strong opinions and suspicions about Bri's relationship with her husband, Douglas. When Bri’s rose-colored sunglasses crack after she finds evidence that Douglas has grown tired of her carefree ways, she resolves to win him back. Can Bri reinvent herself – and recapture his heart?
I’ll admit, I’m a chocoholic, so I was first drawn to this book by the title and cover. But from the very first page, I was hooked by the story.

Bri Stone is a woman I completely relate to. Bri loves her family and has a great life. But she’s also got that little voice in her head, the one that asks “Am I good enough?” When Bri decides she needs to remodel not only her home, but herself, the results are hilarious, and touching. Who among us hasn’t thought that a new hairstyle or wardrobe might make everything better? I know I have.

Carobini’s writing style is warm and breezy, like an afternoon at the beach. She does a wonderful job evoking the mood and feeling of seaside life. You can tell how much she loves the beach herself, because it shines so passionately through Bri. As for chocolate, well, my only complaint about this book is that I kept wanting to run out and buy some! And after reading about chocolate chili, silky chocolate soup and chocolate-cherry fondue, I was really sad there weren’t recipes at the end. But that’s probably for the best… Bethany House, my hips thank you for the lack of recipes!

If you’re looking for a fun book that will make you feel good all over, grab a copy of Chocolate Beach And be on the lookout for Julie’s next book, Truffles by the Sea available on line and in stores now! (Visit my blog on February 11th to catch an interview with Julie.)