Friday, March 28, 2008

Guest Blogger Debra Clopton & Book Giveaway!

PhotobucketDreaming up HER BABY DREAMS
by Debra Clopton


I love romantic comedies! A long time ago when I first started writing I felt a little strange because I was drawn to write romance. But that was what made me feel happy when I finished reading or happy when I walked out of the theater. When I created my Mule Hollow series it was with the intention of giving readers a place to relax while they were there and then smile when they closed the book and walked away--while at the same time feel and see the beauty in honoring God’s plan for a man and a woman.

I’ve used all types of heroines—usually upbeat sassy types because that’s just what I like. And I’ve used all kinds of heroes—all cowboys which is the number one requirement! But when I set out to write HER BABY DREAMS I had a heroine who had moved to Mule Hollow in the very first book THE TROUBLE WITH LACY BROWN and she’d been in all seven of the other books just waiting for me to find her a husband. But you see, I had a problem because Ashby Templeton wasn’t a sassy girl, she had no pep, no energy that translated into energy and inspiration for me, the author, to create her story. Sooo she just had to sit back and be patient while I wrote all the other books and waited on the right cowboy to come along and give me all that creative energy that I needed to write her love story.

Her Baby DreamsNow, don’t get me wrong about Ashby, yes she was reserved and a little uptight and really wished she could be more like all the sassy gals in Mule Hollow who she’d watched get married. But she just couldn’t let herself loosen up. And she was afraid all of her dreams were destined to remain dreams only. Well as you know I couldn’t let that happen so little did she know but I was diligently looking for the cowboy who could make all those dreams come true. Especially since she wanted a baby!

That’s when I realized the hero I’d never written about was the exact hero that Ashby needed. She needed a man who was as sassy as all those heroes I loved to watch in the movies. You know the Mathew McConaughey type who is just a big, happy go lucky flirt that makes you smile when he smiles and laugh when he laughs. And of course that is when my hero stepped into my imagination and I had Ashby’s love story. I can’t tell you how excited I was when Dan Dawson the big ole flirt swaggered into my head…if you read my last book NEXT DOOR DADDY you met him! Oh, when that man smiles my knees go weak :+} I had the best time with Dan. Normally I have the heroines shaking up the heroes’ lives but in this story I turned the tables and it was the hero doing all the shaking and it was so much fun. I’m grinning just thinking about it.

I really believe readers will have a good time watching Dan in action. I know I did. And like I said the reason I love romantic comedy is because it leaves me with a smile and I believe HER BABY DREAMS will do just that to anyone who reads it!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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 debraclopton.com.

WIN THE BOOK

Big thanks to Deb for visiting the blog today! If you’d like a chance to win a copy of Her Baby Dreams, 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 April 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!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Meet Nancy Jo Jenkins - Interview & Book Giveaway

Nancy Jo JenkinsIt’s my pleasure to welcome Nancy Jo Jenkins, author of Coldwater Revival. Let’s meet Nancy Jo!

THE BIO

After teaching public school for twenty-one years, Nancy Jo left teaching to pursue a writing career. She loves to travel cross-country with her husband, attend writing retreats and conferences, market her book, and travel with close writing friends to gorgeous hideaways where they write, eat, laugh and brainstorm together. She and her husband have five grown children and an assortment of lively grandchildren, all within an hour’s drive of Nancy Jo’s home. She is a native Texan who lives in Austin. She enjoys reading great fiction, watching movies, entertaining in her home, and spending time with her grandchildren.

Nancy Jo has a B.S. degree from the University of Texas with dual certification in elementary and special education. She wrote curriculum for the Austin I.S.D. for several years. She has attended numerous writing conferences, workshops and retreats, and completed Lauraine Snelling’s Advanced Writers Intensive Fiction Retreat. She is a member of ACFW and a member of ACFW’s Central Texas Chapter. Two of her manuscripts were finalists in the Noble Theme Contest. Her debut novel, Coldwater Revival, is a finalist in ACFW’s Book of the Year, 2007.

THE INTERVIEW

JA: Please tell us about your debut novel, Coldwater Revival.
NJJ: Coldwater Revival is a story about the Falin family who live in southeast Texas in 1933. Three weeks before Emma Grace’s wedding, she is consumed by a burning desire to confront the guilt and shame of a devastating event that has haunted her since childhood. Coldwater Revival is a tale about a family’s shattering loss, Emma Grace’s journey toward self-destruction, and her amazing discovery of God’s love at journey’s end. While on this journey, Emma Grace finds her true love, the man she thought she’d lost forever.

JA: You’ve said this book is written with “gentle persuasion – Southern style.” What does that mean?
NJJ: To me, “gentle persuasion” means writing with “soothing power”. Sometimes a soft word holds more power than a harsh one. I’ve been told that my writing is lyrical. However I write, my “voice” comes from God, and I try to write as He leads me.

Because I’m from Texas, my speech depicts southern word choices and phrases, and probably carries a “southern twang”. Thus the “southern style”.

JA: For you, what makes the South such a unique and special setting?
NJJ: It’s not that the South is so special, but it’s where I live and what I know best. So, for the most part, I write stories that take place in the south.

Coldwater RevivalJA: What do you hope people take away after reading Coldwater Revival?
NJJ: I hope readers will understand, and truly believe, that God will never abandon them. Even on our darkest days, when we can’t sense God’s presence, He is right by our sides. He promises that He will never leave us nor forsake us. And God will not break His promise.

JA: What’s next for you in the writing arena?
NJJ: Thank you, Jennifer, for asking about my next projects. I’m writing two books right now. The first one is another Texas story about a young woman who suffers dire loss. On her road to restoration, her life takes an unexpected turn. One she would never have dreamed possible. It’s a great love story and a story that offers hope to any one who has suffered loss.

The second book is about a young woman who is abandoned in the Colorado Mountains in 1870. It’s the story of her desperate attempt (crazy and hilarious, at times) to survive the harsh winter. She doesn’t understand her feelings for the stranger who offers help. She feels attracted to him, at times, and other times she’d like to send him tumbling over the cliff.

JA: What’s something that people would be surprised to learn about you?
NJJ: When I was two years old, I, along with my mother, sister, aunt and cousin, were in a house explosion. A man, (whom I consider an angel from God) entered the burning building 3 times, rescuing the two women and three small children. My mother and my aunt died from their injuries. I was hospitalized for 3 months and my sister and cousin were less injured.

I thank God for watching over us, and for sparing our lives in such a miraculous way. But I have to tell you that growing up, I terribly missed not having a mother’s love.

JA: What an amazing, bitter-sweet story. Thank you so much for sharing it with us. I’ll bet your mom looks down at you from heaven, grinning like crazy and so proud of the woman you’ve become!

Now, what do you read for fun? Are there any books you just can’t wait to dive into?

NJJ: For fun, I like to re-read my “old favorites” – books I can’t give away because they’re so precious to me. Books by Francine Rivers, LyVryle Spencer, Judith McNaught, John Grisham, and on and on. I’m also hooked on many of our ACFW authors, Deb Raney, DiAnn Mills, Kathleen Y’Barbo, Cindy Woodsmall, just to name a few.

JA: Last but not least, how can people keep up with your latest publishing news?
NJJ: I’ll be revamping my website to include a blog address in the near future. Then I’ll be putting information on my blog about upcoming publications.

Thank you, Nancy Jo, and continued blessings to you in your writing journey!

WIN THE BOOK

You can win a copy of Coldwater Revival 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 31st. 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, March 21, 2008

Meet Camy Tang - Interview & Book Giveaway

Camy Tang PhotoWhat fun to welcome Camy Tang, author of Only Uni (The Sushi Series, Book 2). I’ve read both of Camy’s books, and they’re great. Check out my review at the end of the interview. But now, let’s meet Camy!

THE BIO

Camy Tang is the loud Asian chick who writes loud Asian chick lit and romance. She used to be a biologist, but these days she is surgically attached to her computer, writing full-time and running the Story Sensei critique service. In her spare (ha!) time, she is a staff worker for her church youth group and leads a worship team for Sunday service. On her blog, she gives away Christian novels every Monday and Thursday, and she ponders frivolous things like dumb dogs (namely, hers), coffee-geek husbands (no resemblance to her own...), the writing journey, Asiana, and anything else that comes to mind. Visit her website at http://www.camytang.com/.

THE INTERVIEW

JA: Your latest book is Only Uni, the second in your Sushi Series. Please tell us about it.
CT: Here’s the back cover blurb:


Will Trish Sakai be able to follow her three simple rules and hold out against two gorgeous guys?

Trish Sakai is ready for a change from her wild, flirtatious behavior. And her three cousins are anxious for her to change, too. Trish is always knocking something over, knocking herself out, and taking hard knocks in her perpetual confusion about men.

When Trish’s ex-boyfriend, Kazuo the artist, keeps popping up at all the wrong moments, Trish decides to be firm with herself. She creates three simple rules from First and Second Corinthians and plans to follow them to the letter. No more looking at men! No more dating non-Christians! She will persevere in hardship by relying on God.

Except now Kazuo is claiming Trish is his muse, and he can’t complete his major work of art without her. And a gorgeous coworker is reassigned, bringing him in daily contact with Trish. But her cousins are determined to hold her accountable to her plan. She thought three rules would be a cinch, but suddenly Trish’s simple rules don’t seem so simple after all.

JA: Your heroine, Trish, is a biologist. At one time, you were a biologist researcher. Any other similarities between the two of you?
CT: Tons! LOL! Trish’s boss, Diana, was my manager at one of my biology jobs. Spenser and Kevin, alas, are figments of my imagination. All the biology procedures Trish does are things I’ve done in my biology jobs, too.

JA: Trish decides to reign in her wild ways and live by rules she draws from Second Corinthians, only to find it’s not as easy as she expected. What advice would you give young women facing the same problem?
CT: It’s as “easy” as Trish finds it to be! Actually, Trish’s struggles with being pure while being single were things I really struggled with as a single Christian woman. There aren’t any easy answers—for me, it was a continual battle for my mind and heart and body. Many women are very sexual creatures, and physical attraction isn’t just for guys to battle against—girls fight against it, too. It’s only by God’s power, and by picking ourselves up again every time we fall, that we can walk in his will. It’s so hard when there are so many dishy guys to look at in church! LOL

Only UniJA: What do you want people to take away after reading Only Uni?
CT: That grace is everyday, not just at salvation, not just when we feel wretched from a mistake. Grace falls over us after every mistake, even when we have to face the consequences—and God’s grace is always tied up with His perfect will, too.

JA: What’s next for you in the writing arena?
CT: I’m working on a few proposals, so I can’t really say much about it, but I’m excited because my next few books will be humorous romances. I love romance and can’t keep it out of any book I write, so it’ll be great to be able to immerse myself in the genre.

JA: Your catchy website tagline is “Romance with a kick of wasabi.” What does that mean to you?
CT: Wasabi is a potent horseradish that is served with sushi, and I obviously liked the Japanese reference as well as the zapperoni! effect of wasabi. My tagline means that romance doesn’t have to be boring—it can be funny and exciting. Well, for me, mostly funny. :+}

JA: What would people be surprised to learn about you?
CT: That I knit! Actually, I think my blog readers already know that about it. It just seems so old-fashioned when you tell people you knit, but I love it. I’ve knitted tons of wool socks for myself this winter and I would have DIED without them. Right now I’m working on my most complicated project, a wool cardigan with cables and diamond patterns. I’ll post a picture on my blog when I’m done.

JA: Have you read any books lately that gave you a good, positive kick?
CT: (At the time of this interview) I just started reading Cheryl Wyatt’s A Soldier’s Family, and I love how the characters have so much sass. I think I just like heroines with strong personalities, and Celia’s got serious kahones. The hero, Manny, matches her perfectly because he’s charming and goofy at the same time.

JA: Crazy scenario: You’re given the opportunity to star in an action flick with either Jet Li, Chow Yun-Fat or Jackie Chan. Which one do you choose?
CT: Jet Li! He’s so cool. Actually, they all are, but I think Jet Li is closest in age to my heroines, who tend to be in their 30s. I would write a kick-butt heroine to match him.

JA: Last but not least, how can people keep up with your latest publishing news?
CT: Two ways: First, I have a newsletter YahooGroup that’s only one email a month, plus I always have exclusive newsletter contests and giveaways. People can join at this link: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Camys_Loft/join. Right now, I’m holding a special website contest exclusively for my newsletter subscribers, so I hope lots of people join! Secondly, I have a blog at http://camys-loft.blogspot.com/ where I post 5 days a week about fun stuff, and I give away Christian fiction, too.

Thanks so much for having me here, Jennifer!

Thanks, Camy, for putting a kick of wasabi in our day! Continued blessings to you on your writing journey!

JEN’S REVIEW

I thoroughly enjoyed Camy’s first book, Sushi for One? but the character of Trish annoyed me. I found her flaky and shallow. So I wasn’t sure if I’d like an entire book about her. Camy, why did I ever doubt you?

In Only Uni. we get to meet the real Trish Sakai in all her wonderful, flawed glory. What I love about this book is how real Trish is. She’s made mistakes – lots of them – but she longs to live the way God wants her to. We go along for the ride as she struggles to work her way into God’s good graces, until she finally realizes that His grace was there for her all along.

There’s a lot of stuff going on in Only Uni, but Camy keeps the pace moving with loads of humor and some real heart-tuggers. Toward the last third of the book, she turned down a road I wasn’t expecting, then she did it again before the end. It’s part of what makes Only Uni such wonderful, authentic read.

Since this is the second book in the series, the obvious question is: Do I have to read Sushi for One? first? No, but it will be a lot more fun for you if you do!


WIN THE BOOK

You can win a copy of Only Uni 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 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!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Welcome Back Cheryl Wyatt! Interview & Giveaway

PhotobucketIt’s a first today as I welcome back Cheryl Wyatt, this blog’s first repeat guest. And what a great guest to have again! Cheryl is the author of A Soldier's Family (Wings of Refuge, Book 2) (Love Inspired #438) from Steeple Hill’s Love Inspired line. Let’s spend some time with 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 www.CherylWyatt.com. Sign up for her newsletter for news and chances to enter contests with great prizes. Hang with her on the web at www.Scrollsquirrel.blogspot.com. You can also find her skittering around Steeple Hill's message boards as "Squirl" at www.SteepleHill.com.

THE INTERVIEW

JA: First, let me congratulate you on the success of your debut novel, A Soldier's Promise. The reviews and reader buzz have been awesome, and it was a top pick from Romantic Times. Silly question, but how does all this attention make you feel?
CW: Thank you! I'm STILL beside myself with elation over two Top Picks. I'm not sure it's garnering me as much attention as it is convincing me that the editors weren't half asleep when they bought my book. LOL! That it's not just a fluke, I am really meant to do this. When people do mention it, I feel goofy-happy but kinda cringy too because I know how subjective reviews are. Doesn't mean I'm any less happy about the Top Picks though. LOL! But I do feel bad for the authors who didn't get Top Picks that month, because I know their writing is that caliber. This industry is so subjective and I'm thankful that I ended up with an RT reviewer who connected with my characters and who loved my story.

Normally, attention makes me feel very uncomfortable because I am extremely shy in nature and much prefer obscurity. So the public attention has really stretched me, big time. Promotion is HARD for me because I feel strange talking about my writing and my books. Feels like I'm trying to push myself off on people. LOL! So any time my books can promote themselves through rave reviews, etc, I'm thrilled about that. LOL! But because my editor went to bat for me on this book, and because Steeple Hill took a chance on an unpublished, unknown, unproven author...I feel I owe it to them to do as much as I can to generate buzz about my books. That motivation makes talking about the books easier.

JA: Now, on to your current book. A Soldier's Family is the next in the Wings of Refuge series. Tell us about it.
CW: A Soldier's Family is Manny and Celia's story. They were secondaries in the first book. Manny is stuck in Refuge, IL to recover from a skydiving accident, and opens his heart to this fireball widow and her teenage son. This book has more emphasis on "family" than "soldier" and there are some nice twists that I think readers will enjoy.

The book is IN STORES NOW! Saw a bunch in Wal-mart yesterday in fact. LOL! They can also be purchased online anywhere books are sold.

JA: I'm so glad that Celia and Manny get to take center stage in this book. When you're writing a series, do you plan out the main characters for each book, or just wait to see who grabs the spotlight?
CW: I generally know at least one of my main characters months, even years in advance. I had all of the PJ books plotted out, and several of them written when I contracted. So I know ahead of time who the people are in the series. My character development (which I spend a LOT of time on) always precedes the plot development, though I might have snippets of the plot to go on in the beginning.

A Soldier's FamilyJA: What do you hope people take away when they finish reading A Soldier's Family?
CW: Though I don't write agenda-driven books or don't really set out to have a book end up with a takeaway value, it inadvertently always does. My editors or critiquers usually end up pointing it out to me. I'm usually oblivious to themes that are blatantly obvious to them. LOL! I hope readers will be encouraged about second chances and, if they struggle with fear or guilt over something...I hope this book makes a positive impact to move them past that. Mainly, I hope the story makes them laugh or touches them in some way. That it'll be memorable.

JA: What's next for you in the writing arena?
CW: I just turned in PJ Ben's story, which will release in April of 2009. We're putting a different spin on the title and, though it is the third book in Wings of Refuge, it's officially titled Ready-Made-Family. The story focuses on a stranded single mother and Ben. It is also an emotionally-charged book. As long as my editors keep asking for books from Wings of Refuge...I'll keep turning them in. :-) There are seven men on the pararescue team and I'm considering giving the commander (Aaron Petrowski, for those who read the first two books) a story too.

After I finish out the Wings of Refuge Series, I'll start turning in books from a series I'm tentatively titled The Heart of Refuge. These books will feature the townspeople from the fictional Refuge, which is the constant setting for Wings of Refuge. Some of the secondary characters we met in the Wings of Refuge books will become the main characters for the Heart of Refuge Series. Many of those books were finished prior to me contracting Wings of Refuge and a few of them have already garnered acclaim in unpublished writing contests. So I'm hoping they'll go over well with Steeple Hill readers should my editors feel they're right for their house.

I also have my Navy SEAL series, a few of which also placed well in RWA, FHL and ACFW contests. So we'll see what happens with that. Not sure whether I'll start turning in the SEAL series or the Heart of Refuge Series.

I did want to mention that since there is a year's lapse between books two and three in Wings of Refuge, I will be doing a blog once a week from the perspective of the cat who skitters through the Wings of Refuge stories. Psych will keep readers informed of what's going on in Refuge as well as providing first-hand accounts of any new developments with the characters from the first two books. Psych's first post will go up soon, and he'd really love it if people would drop by and listen to him lament his meager existence of being sentenced to lounge around Celia's Aztec tile and stare at people's hairy ankles all day. LOL! My blog where Psych will make his regular appearances is www.scrollsquirrel.blogspot.com.

JA: You've had a lot of experience – and success – entering writing contests. How important do you think they were to your development as a writer?
CW: For me they were crucial. I entered the contest circuit prayerfully and under the direction of God. I felt that's the avenue He asked me to take during that two to three year span. Rather than submit to editors, I entered contests. Gained feedback, used what I could and applied to my stories. I do believe my contest placements helped my now editor to request my work. I met her at RWA. I also think the contest wins helped push my work to the top of the slush pile. Contest feedback really assisted me in learning to work with my editors in the sense that contest critiques (as well as Christian Writer's Guild instructor feedback) enabled me to get to a place where I was willing to hear hard things about my writing and do something about it. Contest critiques definitely prepared me for editorial revision notes.

JA: Working on a series, you probably don't have much time to lounge around. If you could get away, what's your idea of the dream vacation?
CW: Go back to Disney with the family and lounge around the pool writing while they're flipping upside down at 60 MPH on roller coasters. LOL! Or, go to Australia where a friend there has promised me great seats at a real Cricket game. I brought a Cricket bat all the way from India once. I'm crazy about the sport to the point I wonder if I was born in the wrong country. LOL! Okay, seriously I LOVE my country but...I wish Cricket was as prevalent in the U.S. as it is in India and Australia, etc.

JA: Have you read any books lately that thrilled you to your toes?
CW: I recently read Julie Lessman's A Passion Most Pure. I love her voice to pieces! Also, Camy Tang's Sushi series is SO fun. I generally don't like chick lit...but Camy's stories have enough of a romance flair in them, and because they're written in third person, I can't wait for each book to come out and I'm not just saying that because these gals are my friends. I am in awe of their writing. Camy has THE best eye for great story structure, and any author wanting to learn how to continually ramp tension in fiction could use her books as a craft study on how to do that seamlessly. Also, Julie's book has a hero who is also a player at first...but she brilliantly endears us to him. I have GOT to figure out how she made him so lovable and sympathetic. Great writing. I really enjoy Mary Connealy's books too. She is THE funniest woman on the planet (in person), and I catch glimpses of her humor in her books.

JA: Last but not least, how can people keep up with your latest publishing news?
CW: The best place is my blog (address above) or readers are welcome to go to my Web site www.CherylWyatt.com and sign up for my quarterly newsletter. On the first page, there is a box that says, "Join Cheryl Wyatt's Author Mailing List." If folks will input their e-mail address there, they will receive an e-mail to confirm their subscription to my quarterly newsletter, which is called Acorn Connection.

I just held a huge contest for newsletter subscribers and gave away lots of great stuff, including autographed books, Worship CDs featuring skydivers on the cover, flash drives, and opportunities to name characters in upcoming books. My next contest, I will be giving away an Amazon Kindle! But only my newsletter subscribers are able to enter. If people have difficulty signing up for the newsletter, they can e-mail me at Cheryl @ CherylWyatt.com (close spaces) and put "Newsletter Help" in the subject header and I will enter them.

I am also active on the Steeple Hill forums, www.SteepleHill.com and I JUST got word that my debut book (A Soldier's Promise) is one of the Top 10 Most Blogged-about Books on eHarlequin! Thanks to everyone who contributed to that by posting reviews, etc.

Jennifer, thank you SO much for featuring me. This has been great fun. Hope to see folks over on my blog and commenting. Again, the address is www.scrollsquirrel.blogspot.com.

Thanks for stopping by again, Cheryl, and continued blessings on your writing journey!

WIN THE BOOK

You can win a copy of A Soldier’s Family 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 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!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Meet Cathy Elliott - Interview & Book Giveaway

Cathy ElliotA big welcome to Cathy Elliott, author of the cozy mystery A Vase of Mistaken Identity (Thea James Mystery Series, Book 1). Let’s meet Cathy!

THE BIO

Cathy Elliott is a Library Information Technician at a community college in northern California. A woman of many interests, Cathy is an antique collector, a quilter, a musician, and ardent reader, and a new grandmom. In her spare time, she loves to swap chapters for emergency critiques at a local hangout.

A contributing author to Focus on the Family Newsletter, The Upper Room, Stories for the Teen’s Heart, Book 3, and A Cup of Comfort for Grandparents, Cathy has written ten children’s books for an educational company. A Vase of Mistaken Identity is her first novel.

THE INTERVIEW

JA: Your debut novel is A Vase of Mistaken Identity. Please tell us about it.
CE: Thanks for asking. It’s a cozy mystery starring antiques and intrigue—two of my favorite things! Here’s a little summary: An antique dealer acquires a vintage vase with a list of familiar names inside. At first, she is curious. But when the first person on the list has a freak accident, and the second mysteriously disappears, Thea gets nervous, then gets involved because—her name is next! Check out the video book trailer at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QPrSz1b6Inw

JA: Your heroine, Thea James, is an antique dealer who gets pulled into a web of mystery. How did you come up with the idea for this story?
CE: When I began to write seriously, I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to write. One evening at writer’s group meeting, I asked for prayer for direction in my writing journey. My author friend, Cindy Martinusen, then suggested I might try and write a mystery. It seemed a daunting idea, but by the time I got into my car, I had Thea’s name and knew she had an antique store. As I pulled into my driveway, I’d figured out there was a list hidden in a vase. It just began to come until I had a plot and characters. An immediate answer to prayer. And I appreciated it!

JA: What drew you into the world of cozy mysteries?
CE: I have read cozies for the longest time. But I’m not a cozy fan only. I enjoy traditional mysteries, too. Those of a soft-boiled nature in particular and some true crime, like Ann Rule. But I didn’t think I was ready to “live there” in my head or in my Care Bears heart. For me, a cozy was a good place to begin my mystery career.

Cathy Elliot CoverJA: What do you hope people take away when they finish reading A Vase of Mistaken Identity?
CE: When my book was first published, I found myself comparing it to others of a deeper nature. Wow, some folks had their lives changed in some way by a work of fiction. But my book was light and fun and offered as joyful entertainment. Was that enough? When I got a letter from a reader saying she had read my book while in the hospital and it gave her a much needed escape, I understood its purpose. If the reader can find refreshment in the story, the humor, or the prose during a hard time, or any time…it will be enough for me.

JA: What’s next for you in the writing arena?
CE: A couple of things. I’m working on the sequel to my first book. And, I’m also working on a different mystery which is not a cozy but a soft-boiled detective novel set on Whidbey Island, Washington. I’m excited about both of them. We’ll see where God leads.

JA: I hear you’ve done quite a bit of antique hunting on eBay. What’s your favorite find?
CE: Oh, my! That’s a hard one. I’ve purchased so many items they sort of blend together. A mint transferware platter and covered casserole come to mind. Then there was that lovely pink luster bowl. Hmmm.

Let me answer it this way. My favorite “find” was a Pennsylvania collector who bid an astounding price for a 19th century mocha-ware (old yellow-ware) pitcher I placed on eBay for sale. I bought it at a yard sale for $40 which I thought was terribly high. I don’t like to pay over a few dollars at a garage/yard sale. Forty dollars seemed like an antique store price to me. But I thought it might be something good and eventually put it up on eBay. When the bidding went to $450, I was flabbergasted. When it rose to $700, I began to feel faint. The final price was $1350!!! Sure wish I could find another pitcher like that one.

JA: I love your eBay story! I used to hunt and sell on eBay and had some wonderful surprises, but nothing that incredible. Good job!

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

CE: Since I work in a library (which gives a certain impression), maybe that I played rhythm guitar and sang in a country-rock band for several years. It was how I financed my daughter’s private Christian school education. We made many great memories playing class reunions, weddings and private parties.

JA: As a Library Information Technician, you must get your hands on a lot of books. Are there any you’ve read lately that particularly stand out?
CE: Because of time restraints, I’m more selective than I used to be. To improve my writing, I’m trying to flood my senses with the very best the literary world has to offer. Right now I am reading an older book that Robert Penn Warren calls, “A masterpiece!” It is called Blue Highways: Journey Into America by William Least Heat Moon. The writing is so lovely, witty, poignant…I’m taking notes as I go.

JA: Last but not least, how can people keep up with your latest publishing news?
CE: Folks can find out my schedule or what’s new by going to my Web site at: www.cathyelliottbooks.com Should anyone have a question not answered there, please feel free to e-mail me through the “Contact Info” link on the site.

Thanks so much, Jennifer, for the interview and opportunity to highlight my book. It’s been great fun!

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

WIN THE BOOK

You can win a copy of A Vase of Mistaken Identity 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 24th. 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, March 14, 2008

Author Linore Rose Burkard - Interview & Giveaway

Linore BurkardBig congratulations to author Linore Rose Burkard whose self-published Regency, Before the Season Ends has been picked up by Harvest House Publishers! Linore has kindly given me permission to reprint the following interview.

THE BIO

Linore Rose Burkard lives with her husband and five children in a town full of antique stores and gift shops in southwestern Ohio. She homeschooled her children for ten years. Raised in New York, she graduated magna cum laude from the City University of New York with a Bachelor of Arts in English literature.

Ms. Burkard wrote Before the Season Ends because she could not find an Inspirational Regency Romance on the bookshelves of any store. "There are Christian books that approached the genre," she says, "but they fell short of being a genuine Regency. I finally gave up looking and wrote what I was looking for myself." She has begun four other works of fiction in the category, and also enjoys writing articles, reading, parenting, family movie nights, swimming and gardening.

THE INTERVIEW

What inspired you to write Before the Season Ends?
I wanted to read a Regency romance that was Inspirational. Period. I waited for years for someone else to write it, and then I realized that if it was ever going to happen, it was going to be my job! So I did it. I combined the Regency, which I love, with an Inspirational message. I wanted to show the experience of faith for the adventure that it is. Fun and faith are not contradictory terms!

This book is considered “Christian Fiction.” What is the difference between Christian fiction and other fiction?
Christian fiction begins with a Christian world view. Not every character has to share that world view, and usually many don't; but the author has to have it, and it has to come through.

Before the Season Ends is Regency romance. Please explain to the reading audience what that means.
The Regency in England (1811-1820, politically), was the period when the prince of Wales became regent in place of his father, George III (who was believed to be insane. He wasn't, but that's for a different interview!) Jane Austen and Lord Byron are Regency figures; Beau Brummell, Princess Caroline; Napoleon and Wellington; lots of great historical characters! Austen, in my opinion, started the genre with her novels.

As well as being set in that time period a Regency has many earmarks that are unique to the genre and which must be evident in the story. In general, though, a reader can expect that a Regency will be fun and clean, as far as the romance goes. Georgette Heyer's Regency books did much to popularize the genre, and even more, define it. In other words, Regencies are known for being fun, even to the point of wacky fun, and yet still romantic and memorable.

Why do you believe Regency romance novels are so popular?
People know they are not picking up “War and Peace” when they go to read one. The Regency is enormous fun; the hypocrisy of the social order and its values is just a springboard for all kinds of settings and situations that romance writers can use in really enjoyable ways to create good stories. At the same time, there's a great deal of improbability in many Regencies which is (in my opinion) a problem of the publishing houses. Editors want to see a handful of formula plots and that's it. So the Regency genre as a whole has suffered. But they're still popular because the era is incredibly interesting, the romance is cleaner (which reminds me, too many modern editors don't realize that we readers LIKE to use our imaginations, thank you). And the stories center mostly around the upper classes, people who get to live the way we all WISH we could. So that is fun, too.

How did you come up with the characters? Are they modeled after people you know?
My characters are amalgamations of anyone and everyone I know! Of course, there's a great deal of ME in some of them, I don't think any author can completely avoid putting themselves into at least some (if not all) of the characters. But I couldn't say this or that character was modeled after so and so, except for perhaps one of them.

Before the Season EndsIs there any part of the book that reflects your own experience?
In a concrete sense? I think when Ariana feels like she's in a strange city and quite alone it must have come from my experience. I lived alone for five years while I worked full-time and put myself through college, and at times I felt very, very isolated. But I did also discover that God answers prayers—sometimes in really strange, unexpected ways!--and Ariana discovers that, too.

Some people say they’ve read “Before the Season Ends” more than once. What do you believe inspires them to read it again, especially when they know the plot?
Again, I think it's that sense of pure enjoyment. I read it myself many times—despite having the book up to my ears during editing!--and I guess I know the plot better than anyone! (laughs) But I still enjoy the story. Readers have told me they laughed out loud when reading it, (and some have said they cried) but I think it's the sense of reality, that this could have really happened, combined with the safety net of the fun factor that brings people back more than once. Also perhaps the way the characters change so much from who they were at the beginning of the book, and who they are by the end. It happens kind of seamlessly, naturally, and yet little by little, like real life. There's a charm in that. Another way of looking at it is to say it's a “comfort” book. One of those books you can just curl up with for a while and feel better from reading. You know you'll enjoy it and it won't bring you down.

So, what's ahead? What are you planning on doing, next?
My first plan was to do The Debutante Series which would have featured entirely new characters in each book. Many, many readers told me they like a series that continues the story, though, so instead of the Debutantes, I'm doing The Regency Light Chronicles (Before the Season Ends is the first book in the Chronicles, even though the name, Regency Light Chronicles doesn't appear on the cover of this first edition). I have four or five more books to do in this series, and then I'll probably get to The Debutante Series, because I've already started a number of them.

In the meantime, I'm also developing a series of presentations, each which will be about 45 minutes long, on the Regency. There's this fabulous little tea house in my town, really elegant and pretty, and I envision having mother/daughter teas, or history buff teas there. I'm having a Regency costume made, and once it's fitted to my satisfaction, I'll be ready to begin the presentations. They're going to be a LOT of fun!

I also have a new monthly eZine, Upon My Word! Facts, Fashion and Figures of the Regency which, for the time being, is free for anyone who signs up. (You can sign up at my website, www.LinoreRoseBurkard.com. People who subscribe now also receive a free download immediately.) The eZine is excellent for newbies (to the Regency) but even seasoned fans of the period enjoy it.

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

WIN THE BOOK

You can win a copy of Before the Season Ends 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 March21st. 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, March 13, 2008

CFBA Presents - SWEET CAROLINE by Rachel Hauck



This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing

Sweet Caroline

Thomas Nelson (February 12, 2008)

by Rachel Hauck



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

I graduated from Ohio State University (Go Buckeyes!) with a degree in Journalism. As a member of Phi Mu sorority, I partied my way though the last few years of college.

But, the truth is, and always will be, I belong to Jesus. At the age of six, I knelt at the altar of a Tulsa Methodist church and gave my life to the One who loves me.

After graduation, hired on at Harris Publishing as a software trainer, determined to see the world. And I did it without a laptop, a cell phone, an IPod or portable DVD player. Those were hard times.

But, I traveled to Ireland, Spain, Venezuela, Mexico, Australia, Canada and the U.S. from California to Maine. But, life on the road is difficult. Working twelve to fourteen hour days, one doesn't get to see many of the sites. In Ireland, our company's distributor drove me around at night so I could see something of Dublin.

I met Tony, my husband, in '87, at church, of all places. We got married in '92. Tony has been a pastor for twenty years. I've worked with him in eighteen of those twenty. Our heart is to see teens and adults passionate, radical and whole hearted for Jesus.

Tony and I don't have any children of our own, lots of kids-in-the-Lord and we love them all. However, we do have a very spoiled dog, and an even more spoiled cat.

I've always wanted to be a writer. My dad used to tell me, "You're a writer." I have letters he wrote me post college, exhorting me to write. In this, I believe he had the heart of God.

In '93, I started an epic WW2 novel with two plots. It was well rejected. After that ordeal, I took a break and put efforts into my job as a software project manager. But, I missed writing and in late ' 99, I took up the craft again.

With a little help from my friends, my first book was published in ' 04, Lambert's Pride, a romance novel. I love writing chick lit and romance. I love writing. What an honor.

Rachel has several other books that have been received with great praise, including Diva Nash Vegas and Lost In Nash Vegas

You can purchase copies of Rachel's books, signed personally for you,
at this site: Signed by the Author.com

ABOUT THE BOOK:

When a Southern waitress inherits the Lowcountry cafe where she works, she suddenly has to balance more than just her next food order.

Caroline Sweeney has always done the right thing--the responsible, dependable thing--unlike her mother who abandoned her family. But when her best friend challenges her to accept an exciting job adventure in Barcelona, Spain, Caroline says "yes" to destiny.

Then, without warning, ownership of the run-down cafe where she's been waitressing falls right into Caroline's lap. While she's trying to determine the cafe's future, handsome Deputy Sherriff J.D. Rand captures Caroline's heart.

But when her first love, Mitch O'Neal, comes back to town, fresh from the heat of his newly-found fame as a country music singer in Nashville, Caroline must make some hard choices about love and the pursuit of the sweet life.

JEN’S REVIEW

While I was reading Sweet Caroline, a friend of mine – and former South Carolina resident – picked up the book and flipped through it. “You’re going to have to let me read this when you’re done,” she said, “I can already tell the author nails it.” So there you go… high marks for authenticity!

Not only is the setting authentic, but so are the characters. In particular, Caroline Sweeney is going to have you cheering her on and she struggles between doing what’s right for her friends and following her own dreams. It’s a compliment to Ms. Hauck that she keeps you guessing till the very end. There’s no formulaic ending here. Readers will be satisfied and even a little surprised to see the twists and turns Caroline’s life takes as she grows in her faith and learns that God really is on her side.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Meet Cindy Bauer - Author Interview

Cindy BauerA big welcome to today’s guest, Cindy Bauer, author of Shades of Blue. Let’s meet Cindy!

THE BIO

Christian Fiction Author & Speaker, Cindy Bauer, was born in Davenport, IA where she grew up the youngest of three children. Since childhood, she has always been an avid reader and dreamed of becoming a writer. She graduated from Assumption High School in 1975 and married her husband, Robert, in 1976. She worked as a Deputy Court Clerk and County Registrar for Scott County, IA until the couple moved to Phoenix, Arizona but when her mother became terminally ill, the couple relocated once again to Missouri in 1986 to assist in her care. They decided to stay and make it their home.

After gaining employment with her small-town daily newspaper in 2003, Cindy's dream to write resurfaced and with encouragement from her husband and sister, Cindy wrote Chasing Memories (2006), the first book in a planned trilogy series of Inspirational Fiction novels, with publication of Shades of Blue (2007) following. Debra LaVelle, her sister and a former journalism teacher, volunteered to be her editor.

This is not the first time Cindy's work has been published. She has written some news stories which merited front-page placement with her local newspaper where she is employed. She contributes recipes for the paper's weekly recipe page, some fun short stories for their Annual April Fool's editions and photos from the monthly pet fairs held to find homes for abandoned pets.
Cindy is currently working on the third and final novel in this series, Crystal Clear, and when it's finished, she plans to write some mystery/suspense novels, which are her favorite to read. They will also be Christian based novels. She loves spending time with her husband and also enjoys cooking, reading, writing and gardening. She has done some volunteer work for her local food pantry and has also donated to the "Locks of Love" foundation, an organization that helps children undergoing cancer therapy.

She is a member of the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) Association, a reviewer for Bookpleasures.com, and recently featured on her publisher’s website in the “Up In Lights” section.

Cindy recently was a guest on the National Internet Radio Talk Show, "Aging Outside The Box", with co-hosts, Shirley W. Mitchell and O.E. "Cruiser" Small. The show was an hour long and broadcasted in 74 countries to a listening audience of 15 million people. You can hear the show, which is now archived, by using the links provided on Cindy's events page.

Cindy's thoughts on the Christian Fiction Series?
"I believe the Lord wants me to spread His word through my words and who am I to question His plans for me? I will follow my heart and He will choose my path."
"Dreams can be turned into reality if one has the courage to try. Failure comes only to those who don't." ~~ Cindy Bauer

THE INTERVIEW

JA: Tell us about your book, Shades of Blue.
CB: Shades of Blue picks up where Chasing Memories left off. It’s about Susan’s life after moving to Kansas City. Susan was a supporting character in Chasing Memories. Toward the end, she had taken a new job in the city, moved there and met her fiancĂ©. So Shades begins there. She’s preparing for her wedding. However, both novels stand on their own, as they should do, so that you can pick up either book and not feel like you’ve missed something in the story.

JA: Shades of Blue is the second book in a trilogy. Is there an overlying theme to this series?
CB: The trilogy is about the lives of three women. In Chasing Memories, Laura is the main character. Her husband died in an automobile accident when their daughter Annie was just five years old. The story begins two years later. It transpires over a period of a couple of years. She loses her memory and struggles to recover her past life while living in a present life with a daughter she now, doesn’t remember, and a friend she must trust whom she also does not remember.

Shades of Blue, as I mentioned before, picks up where Chasing Memories left off and Susan becomes the main character. Susan was originally Steven & Laura’s babysitter, but later became Laura’s dearest and most trusted friend after Steven’s death, despite their age difference. It’s about her life after moving to the city once Laura is ready to take her own life back over again, and begins with her preparing for her upcoming wedding. This story covers about seven years and then toward the end, it moves forward into the future ten years later.

The final novel in this series, which I am currently working on, is about Annie’s life. I had to age Annie in Shades of Blue so that I could write about her life in the final installment, since she was only seven when the series begins. Annie had been through so much in her young life that she really begins to lose her way and must learn to trust God again. It’s going to be the best of the three novels actually, more intense drama, and will put the whole series into perspective for the reader.

All the stories are stand alones, but uniquely woven together to form the full picture while spanning the lives of these three women over a period of about thirty years.

Cindy Bauer - CoverJA: In Shades of Blue, your heroine, Susan, discovers that the man she marries isn’t who she thought he was. How did you come up with the idea?
CB: Susan was a strong character in Chasing Memories. In life, no matter how strong we are, things happen that can take control over us if we forget to let God guide us through life. In Shades, Susan finds out she’s not as strong and in control as she thought, and it really forces her to let go and allow God to guide her, something a strong person is less willing to do.

I had to come up with something that could easily do that to her. Love is sometimes blind. I know that is an old clichĂ©, but it’s true. As we mature, get married, have families of our own, we tend to lose our focus sometimes. I’ve been married for almost 32 years and Susan was just getting married. So it just seemed right that the marriage would be the main source of her story and I built on that. There always has to be a villain you know :+}

JA: What do you hope people take away when they finish reading your books?
CB: I’m glad you asked this question. Life throws us obstacles, a lot of obstacles. We sometimes tend to focus on the negatives and place blame wherever we can, constantly trying to rationalize how something like that could’ve happened to us when really, life is an ever changing learning experience.

If you take a bad experience and focus on using the knowledge you learned from it to better your future and the lives of others, in a positive manner, then you’ve used it in a way that God had intended. Negativity and dwelling on what went wrong in the past, instead of focusing on bettering your life in the future from your past experiences, will lead you down a path of regret, depression and constant struggle with your soul. You will never be happy.

Life can be good. Things are going to happen. Turn your life over to God, store your experiences for future reference and move on. Stop dwelling on the past and focus on the future and your goals. Become a better person. And learn to accept your experiences as something that made you stronger for them, or you become weaker because of them. The Lord will get you through them and He has a plan for you.

So I want my readers to walk away from this series with the knowledge that bad things happen, but what you do with your experiences from life as they happen, is what will determine your life in the future. Life happens. Learn from it, deal with it, and put your life in God’s hands. You have to let go or you will never find true inner peace.

JA: What’s next for you in the writing arena?
CB: After this trilogy, I plan on writing some mystery/suspense novels. I’m not sure yet if they will be a series, but it’s very possible as those are what I like to read most. I began with a POD publisher (mistake number one) and I hope to line up an agent and a more reputable publisher who will help promote my work, too. My ultimate goal is to be able to make a substantial enough income that I can stop punching the time clock and work from home. My husband is disabled and really needs for me to be at home with him. It’s a long process, since I can’t write as often as I would like, but a goal worth working toward.

JA: I read on your website that your sister, Debra, edits your work. Have you found it difficult taking writing advice from a sibling?
CB: Yes and no. At first, it was difficult. She was the one who encouraged me the most to write a book. Then she criticized almost every point in the manuscript. I found that in both books, there was a point in the beginning where we disagreed, but after analyzing her “suggestions”, I later realized she was right and for the most part, I made the changes she suggested.

The reason I put suggestions in quotes, is because she kept telling me “these are only suggestions, it’s your book, keep what you want and throw the rest away”. But when I would try to do that (LOL) she would say, “...well, if you do that then don’t list me as your editor, just list me as an editing consultant”. So in the end, I basically accepted her criticism and suggested changes, and it really made for better reading and story content. After all, she is the college graduate and she taught journalism, so I figured she knew more about writing than I did, and she was giving me her thoughts on my writing. I weighed both sides and realized, she is the average reader and it’s the reader whom I want to please so they will enjoy my work.

JA: What would people be surprised to learn about you?
CB: Probably the one thing they would be surprised to learn is that I am only a high school graduate and they’ll wonder what qualifies me to be an author. Readers often make writers though. And as an avid reader, I’ve always wanted to be able to write novels. Not short stories, not news, not articles, but novels. But as a mere high school graduate, I thought it never to be possible and gave up on the dream a long time ago.

It was just a few years ago that while sending letters and emails back and forth, my sister told me that I write really well and should consider writing a book. When I told her that I had long ago dreamed of doing just that, she then began to pursue her suggestion and I finally sat down one day to try doing it. Nine months later, my first novel was published.

JA: Are there any books that you’re just itching to read?
CB: Yes. I’m doing reviews right now for Bookpleasures.com, but I also have three books from a series that Roxanne Rustand wrote for Steeple Hill and I can’t wait to begin. They’re a new romantic suspense series Steeple Hill just began and since mysteries and suspense stories are my favorite, I’m “itching” to begin those.

JA: Last but not least, how can people keep up with your latest publishing news?
CB: For the latest and most up-to-date news, they can visit my blog online at www.cindybauer.blogspot.com. I also update my website frequently so they can visit my website at www.cindybauerbooks.com for information as well.

I also want to thank you, Jennifer, for this wonderful interview. I enjoy talking about my books and I hope my readers will discover that I’m just a typical housewife, working a 9-5 job, just like they are, and I welcomed this chance to connect with them on a more personal level. They can always contact me anytime by writing to me at cindybauerbooks@yahoo.com and I will personally reply. I welcome their comments about my books. After all, they’re the ones I’m writing them for. And I hope I can bring some joy into their lives and perhaps, some hope if needed.

Blessings!
Cindy

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

ENTER CINDY’S WEB CONTEST
The giveaway works a bit differently today. Please feel free to leave comments here – I love to hear from you! – but it won’t win you anything. However, if you bop over to Cindy’s web site and click on the Contest link, you can enter to win one of the books she’s giving away. Good luck!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Meet Deborah Piccurelli - Interview & Book Giveaway

Deb PiccurelliA big welcome to Deborah Piccurelli, author of the novel In the Midst of Deceit. Let’s meet Deborah!

THE BIO

Deborah M. Piccurelli is passionate about the Lord, family and creating powerful prose. After the publication of her first novel, she has turned to writing suspense stories woven around dark and obscure issues. She hopes to see those efforts in print soon. Deborah likes reading, movies, family time and friendly get-togethers. She lives with her family in New Jersey.

THE INTERVIEW

JA: Tell us about your book, In the Midst of Deceit.
DP: It’s an inspirational romantic suspense. Following a near-fatal sky diving incident, a driven financial advisor enlists the aid of a spiritually grounded woman to help him determine which of his business partners wants him out of the way.

JA: How did you come up with the idea for this novel?
DP: I don’t have any special techniques for generating ideas, as some authors do. I came up with the characters first. I like to use unlikely heroes, so I thought having someone in a wheelchair suffering from head trauma would be interesting. I also sometimes like to have the hero and heroine be polar opposites, which is why the heroine, Stasi Courtland, is the conservative, upstanding Christian. She still sometimes backslides. As for Slade, he’s the bad boy; the womanizer and adventure-seeker. The story itself took some thinking about. My own working experiences came into play and I ended up using the world of financial planning as Slade’s occupation. And because I needed Stasi to be at home a lot and available to be a help to Slade, I researched what type of home businesses were out there. Back when I wrote the book, information technology was a little-known service, but it fit well with the plot. And of course, being a suspense novel, there had to be at least an attempted murder.

JA: Your hero, Slade, loses everything after a devastating accident. Was it hard to take him to such a dark place?
DP: A little. This probably sounds weird, but I suffered right along with him. He needed to reach that point of brokenness, though, in order to see that material possessions aren’t everything.

Deb Piccurelli - CoverJA: What do you hope people take away when they finish reading In the Midst of Deceit?
DP: That you can have everything, but really have nothing without the Lord; that you can have nothing, but live abundantly if you have the Lord.

JA: What’s next for you in the writing arena?
DP: Since In the Midst of Deceit was published, I’ve decided to write about dark, obscure, social/moral topics. I’ve just finished the first manuscript of that type, which involves fetal harvesting. I’m preparing to seek representation for it.

JA: You wrote a very interesting piece on your web site about “Wedded Bliss.” You’ve been married for about thirty years. How do you keep the romance alive?
DP: One way is making an effort to do things that please your spouse, just like when you were dating.

JA: What would people be surprised to learn about you?
DP: That I’m a Bruce Lee fan. I am fascinated by the martial arts talent he possessed. I’m not crazy about the gory parts of his movies, but they had good stories beyond the violence.

JA: What’s your favorite thing to read for fun?
DP: The daily comic strips.

JA: Last but not least, how can people keep up with your latest publishing news?
DP: Visit my Web site and sign up for my news bulletins. They’re not a regular weekly or monthly newsletter, just whenever I have news of some interest, like an interview and book drawing. Right now, there aren’t any publishing announcements, because, as I mentioned earlier, I’ve only just finished my next manuscript.

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

WIN THE BOOK

You can win a copy of In the Midst of Deceit 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 18th. 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, March 4, 2008

What's New In Christian Fiction - March 2008

What an amazing month of new releases! We've got 21 new Christian novels to choose from - plenty of choices to fit every taste in genre. And don't forget to check out Jill Eileen Smith's new Spotlight on award-winning author Brandilyn Collins!.

1. A Lady of Hidden Intent, Book 2 in the Ladies of Liberty series by Tracie Peterson from Bethany House Publishers. Catherine Newbury flees her past, but has hidden intentions to right the wrongs done her family.

2. A Soldier's Family, Book 2-Wings of Refuge Series by Cheryl Wyatt from Steeple Hill-Love Inspired. A USAF Pararescue jumper recovering from a skydiving accident opens his heart to a widow and her troubled teen, and discovers he's been given a second chance at family.

3. A Suspicion of Strawberries Scents of Murder Series, Book 1 by Lynette Sowell from Barbour. Andromeda Clark loves control, and that's tough to hang onto while tracking down a murderer, saving her business, all while her boyfriend decides it's time to settle down.

4. A Treasure Worth Keeping by Kathryn Springer from Steeple Hill, Love Inspired. Single school teacher seeks solitude. . .and ends up on the adventure of a lifetime!

5. Amber Morn, Kanner Lake series #4 by Brandilyn Collins from Zondervan. The lives of the nationally read “Scenes and Beans” bloggers are on the line when they’re taken hostage by three volatile men whose demands are impossible to meet.

6. Another Stab at Life in The Volstead Manor Series by Anita Higman from Barbour Publishing. Another Stab at Life is about a woman who inherits not only a Gothic mansion, but the shadows and secrets that lie within.

7. Better than Gold Book Three in the Iowa Historical Series by Laurie Alice Eakes from Heartsong Presents. She wants to leave the small, Iowa town. He wants to stay and create a
settled life. They both want to find the missing gold.

8. Blue Heart Blessed by Susan Meissner from Harvest House. A jilted bride opens a secondhand wedding dress shop but can't seem to let go of the one dress that started her business - her own.

9. Broken Lullaby by Pamela Tracy from Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense. When Mary Graham finally starts making right choices, DEA officer Mitch Williams interferes. From small steps to large leaps, trust, love, and faith are born in the midst of a mystery.

10. Dear to Me, Book 3 in the Brides of Webster County series by Wanda E. Brunstetter from Barbour Publishing. Melinda Andrews is torn between two loves -- her dear animal friends and Gabe, the man she loves.

11. Don't Look Back, #3 in Reunion Revelations (Love Inspired Suspense Continuity Series) by Margaret Daley from Steeple Hill. Jameson vows to help Cassie solve her brother's murder by delving into his secrets. But Jameson has his own secrets that might tear them apart.

12. Goldeneyes by Delia Latham from Vintage Romance Publishing. In the darkness of a Depression-era night, an alcoholic man commits a heinous crime, and over twenty years will pass before the horrible wrong begins to be made right.

13. John's Quest by Cecelia Dowdy from Barbour Publishing. John, an agnostic science professor, finds romantic love while searching for Jesus.

14. Leaving November, Book 2 The Clayburn Novels by Deborah Raney from Howard Books/Simon & Schuster. After failing the bar exam twice, a young woman comes home to discover love--with an artist who is everything she never wanted in a man.

15. My Heart Remembers by Kim Vogel Sawyer from Bethany House. United by blood, divided by time, three orphan train siblings seek to reunite eighteen years after fate separated them.

16. Seneca Shadows by Lauralee Bliss from Heartsong Pesents, Barbour Publishing. Lucy's quiet world has been invaded as soldiers come to train in her valley. Will love be the consequence?

17. Sincerely, Mayla, The Sequel to Just As I Am by Virginia Smith from Kregel. For control freak Mayla Strong, learning to lean on the everlasting arms is the toughest lesson of all.

18. The Renovation: Carter Mansion, First book in the 3-book Project Restoration Series by Terri Kraus from David C. Cook. Single father Ethan Willis is a master at restoring old buildings, returning what was once in ruins to the beauty of its original design. Can a new woman help restore his life after a tragedy that changed everything?

19. The Truth About Love by Tia McCollors from Moody Publishers - Lift Every Voice Imprint. In this powerful sequel to Zora's Cry, four friends face issues that test the strength of their faith and their love.

20. Trouble the Water by Nicole Seitz from Thomas Nelson. Three flawed women find God's healing in the loving hands of a Gullah community on a South Carolina sea island.

21. Wildfire Book #3, Snow Canyon Ranch series by Roxanne Rustand from Steeple Hill. Snow Canyon Ranch---where sinister family secrets lurk in the majestic Rockies.

Happy reading ~

Monday, March 3, 2008

Best Face Forward

Helen Mirren 2007A week ago I watched the Academy Awards. Scores of beautiful women walked down the red carpet, looking glamorous in their designer gowns. But one woman stood out in the crowd. Helen Mirren wore a fabulous red dress, the sleeves encrusted with Swarovski crystals, her stunning white hair styled in a chic bob. This 60-something-year-old actress was positively regal and obviously comfortable in her un-tucked skin. (Try as I might, I could not find a photo on the net of Ms. Mirren at this year's Oscars. But the photo to the left is from last year, when she looked just as gorgeous.)

Sigourney Weaver 2007Over the weekend, my husband and I saw the movie Vantage Point. (This will all tie together, I promise.) The first few scenes are dominated by the wonderfully talented Sigourney Weaver. As I watched her on the gigantor screen, her face as tall as a... well, however tall those screens are... I was struck by the beauty of this woman. Another fantastic actress who is secure enough to age in real time. She has some lines, she has some wrinkles, but more than that, her face has character.

I'm sure you've guessed by now that I'm not a fan of the plastic surgery trend that is sweeping Hollywood and beyond. I know it's nothing new. But I'm shocked by the extremely talented actresses that have fallen into the nip/tuck trap. I recently saw two actresses that I have admired for years on a talk show. These are A-list ladies, the kind that I thought surely would be comfortable enough in their own skin to leave it alone. But it was sadly obvious that both of them had work done. And maybe that's the worst part. Because not only did they not look like a younger version of themselves, they didn't look like themselves, period.

Helen Mirren 1965Helen Mirren has always been quite a looker. The photo to the left is from 1965 when she did Cleopatra. Then there's Sigourney Weaver. She's always been more of a quirky, exotic beauty, but a beauty none-the-less. The picture to the right is from 1989. Sigourney Weaver 1989Either one of these women could easily have been seduced by the promise of eternal youth. "We can snip, nip and lift until the day you die. No one will ever know how old you are!" But they didn't fall for it. And I pray they won't... please, talented women of the screen, please grow old as yourself, not some Barbie doll fantasy person!