Friday, February 27, 2009

CFBA presents DAISY CHAIN by Mary E. DeMuth

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Daisy Chain
Zondervan (March 1, 2009)
Mary E. DeMuth


Mary E. DeMuth is an expert in Pioneer Parenting. She enables Christian parents to navigate our changing culture when their families left no good faith examples to follow.

Her parenting books include Authentic Parenting in a Postmodern Culture (Harvest House, 2007), Building the Christian Family You Never Had (WaterBrook, 2006), and Ordinary Mom, Extraordinary God (Harvest House, 2005).

Mary also inspires people to face their trials through her real-to-life novels, Watching The Tree Limbs (nominated for a Christy Award) and Wishing On Dandelions (NavPress, 2006).

Mary has spoken at Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, the ACFW Conference, the Colorado Christian Writers Conference, and at various churches and church planting ministries. Mary and her husband, Patrick, reside in Texas with their three children. They recently returned from breaking new spiritual ground in Southern France, and planting a church.


The abrupt disappearance of young Daisy Chance from a small Texas town in 1973 spins three lives out of control—Jed, whose guilt over not protecting his friend Daisy strangles him; Emory Chance, who blames her own choices for her daughter’s demise; and Ouisie Pepper, who is plagued by headaches while pierced by the shattered pieces of a family in crisis.

In this first book in the Defiance, Texas Trilogy, fourteen-year-old Jed Pepper has a sickening secret: He’s convinced it’s his fault his best friend Daisy went missing. Jed’s pain sends him on a quest for answers to mysteries woven through the fabric of his own life and the lives of the families of Defiance, Texas. When he finally confronts the terrible truths he’s been denying all his life, Jed must choose between rebellion and love, anger and freedom.

Daisy Chain is an achingly beautiful southern coming-of-age story crafted by a bright new literary talent. It offers a haunting yet hopeful backdrop for human depravity and beauty, for terrible secrets and God’s surprising redemption.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Daisy Chain, go HERE


Mary DeMuth is a talented writer with a beautiful, lyrical style, even when she's writing about dark, ugly things. Jed Pepper not only has to deal with the disappearance of his best friend, Daisy, but he has to contend with a father who uses God's Word as an excuse to beat submission and obedience into every member of the family, and a mother who is too broken to stop him.

While Daisy Chain is skillfully written, it's often a hard book to read. I have no patience with men like Hap Pepper, and I don't understand women like Ouisie Pepper. This is particularly true when children are involved. There were times when I turned the page thinking, when is someone going to stand up to this man? Of course, it's a testament to DeMuth's talent as a writer that I had such strong feelings about the characters.

There were several threads left undone at the end of the book, which disappointed me. Because this is the first of a trilogy, I expect - and hope - they will be resolved by the final installment. You can be sure I'll be reading the next two books to find out! Overall, this is a powerful look into the life of one young southern man and how he finds redemption in a loving God.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

American Idol - The Second Group of Twelve

While last week's show was a whole lotta bad sandwiched between some pretty good stuff, yesterday started off bad and picked up speed toward the end. There was lots of "You picked the wrong song" and "It was pitchy" from the judges (BTW, they did, and it was). Here's what I think...

KEEPING PARENTS IN THEIR PLACE - Thank heaven they went back to having parents in the audience rather than backstage on the couch! This is where they should be: sitting with everyone else, watching their little darling perform. It's a good thing.

PLEASE DON'T BEG! Lots of them do it, but Jeanine Vailes, AKA The Girl with the Beautiful Legs, took it to new levels. Not only did she promise to do better and pick better songs, she said something like "Please keep me... I'm 28... I've been doing this for 14 years... I'm so old!" Somehow, saying that no one has liked your singing for 14 years doesn't seem like a big selling point. More like it reeks of desperation.

BE GENTLE, NORMUND - I like Nick Mitchell/Normund Gentle. Nick is a cutie and Normund is a crack up. He gave one of the night's most entertaining performances singing that Dream Girls song. BUT, as much as I like him, I don't believe this is the right venue for him. If all is right with the world, last night was his last AI performance. Maybe he should try America's Got Talent next year. It worked for Terry Fator.

A WORD ABOUT VOTING - The first contestant, Jasmine Murray, said she voted for her fellow contestants. "I tried my hardest to vote for every single person." HUH? Well, that's just silly. If you vote for each person, you've just cancelled yourself out.

Last week, I nailed the top three. I think this week is going to be harder, but here's how I'd like to see it go down:
Top Male - Adam Lambert - His rendition of Satisfaction was awesome. Definitely satisfied me.
Top Female - Allison Iraheta - The 16-year-old sang Alone by Heart. She reminds me of David Archuletta - raw singing talent, but not so good with interviews. She can work on that.
Third overall - Megan Joy Corkrey - The girl with the tattooed arm made me forget how many zillions of times we've heard Put Your Records On.

And look for Matt Giraud to be the choice for the Wild Card show. The judges want to hear more from this guy. So do I.

Your turn. What are your thoughts or predictions?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

J.M. Hochstetler on Following the Author of Our Dreams

I'm pleased to welcome today's guest blogger, author and publisher,
J. M. Hochstetler!

Following the Author
of Our Dreams
By J. M. Hochstetler

My writing career literally began with a dream.

Seriously, I had a dream one night that was so intriguing I had to write the story to figure out who these people were and why they were doing what they were doing. The result was a medieval epic tragedy, which I will publish someday, I swear!

Writing was not a career I’d ever envisioned for myself, even though I’ve been an avid reader since becoming acquainted with Dick and Jane. My original ambition was to be an artist in the mold of Caravaggio or Rembrandt. However, I came to the realization that although I had a lot of artistic talent, I didn’t have the genius and the passion to reach the level of my heroes. So, being a perfectionist and unwilling to settle for mediocrity, I laid that dream aside. Looking back on it now, I’m confident that the Lord closed the door to a career in art because he had other plans for me. He most definitely led me in another direction, though there were times when I had serious doubts.

By the time I finished my first book, I had developed another dream: to become a published author. So I began submitting my story to publishers and agents and predictably accumulated a pile of rejections. I moved on to other projects while continuing to submit, but none of my stories found a home. In the late 1980s I came heartbreakingly close to being offered a contract . . . then the publisher decided to cut back their fiction list, and my project was dropped.

At that point I was so discouraged I concluded I’d been kidding myself and it was not God’s will for me to write. I was in Bible Study Fellowship at the time, and the more deeply I studied the Scriptures, the more I was convicted that I needed to—and wanted to—submit my writing to the Lord and seek his will, instead of mine, for my life. With tears, I did so and carried everything I’d written out to the trash. If you want me to write, I told the Lord, then you will have to give it back to me. Otherwise, I will never write another word. For weeks, I went through the motions of daily life, feeling as if there was a hole straight through my heart. But I knew that my career and my future were in God’s hands, and I rested in the assurance that he is trustworthy.

One day I went into my office for the first time in weeks. I don’t remember what I was looking for, but for some reason pulled open one of the drawers. As I glanced inside, my heart stood still. There nestled a thick stack of paper, random discarded pages of my novels that I had saved to recycle by using the blank backs. I was absolutely certain I had cleaned out all the drawers when I threw my projects away—and all the others were indeed empty. Yet somehow I had missed this one drawer, totally forgetting that the discarded pages were there.

It was several moments before I could pick up the stack and leaf through it. Incredibly, there was enough of each of my stories on those pages that I could reconstruct them—and make them better. I heard a quiet voice telling me that because I had sacrificed to the Lord something that was so precious to my heart, he was giving it back to me. I sat there clutching those pages, weeping.

Over time I began to reconstruct the stories I’d destroyed and to write new ones. In spite of renewed hope, years passed, and I didn’t get any closer to publication than I had before. There were many more dark valleys, many times when I “quit” writing and gave my work back to the Lord. But each time he assured me that I was in the center of his will and gave me the strength and courage to go on. I discovered joy in daily giving my work up to the true Author of it.

Then early in 2002 I found an agent willing to take me on—Joyce Hart. Later that year she negotiated my first book contract, with Zondervan, for the first two books of my American Patriot Series. You can imagine the excitement and joy I felt to see the dream the Lord had given me at last realized. I had no idea that another, even harder, lesson lay in store.

The ink was hardly dry on my contract when a new editor took over, and months before Native Son was released, I was informed that Zondervan would not publish any more of my books. Worse, no efforts on my agent’s part led to a contract with another publisher. Within a year it seemed as if the fulfillment of my dream had been a mockery and all my hopes lay totally shattered.

I was about to be reminded, however, that our God is the God of the impossible. When he sets a plan in place, it’s going to be accomplished no matter what obstacles are raised up against it. No publishing house would publish my work, so the Lord called me to a new dream. In addition to writing, I was guided to found my own small press to publish not only my own work, but also the work of other promising writers who were facing the same barriers I was.

Sheaf House was born in the autumn of 2006. In 2008 we published our first 3 books. Author Joy DeKok came aboard as my partner early this year, and our publishing list for 2009 includes 5 books, including the third book of my series, Wind of the Spirit. I have heard from so many fans eager to get their hands on this sequel that I am truly encouraged by what God is doing through this story of our nation’s founding. So far we have 3 novels lined up for 2010, with a couple more under serious consideration, along with still others for 2011. The word is spreading about our books, and we’re beginning to see encouraging sales.

You’ll find additional information about me and my books at To learn more about Sheaf House, go to I’m also blogging the process of establishing and running the business on the Publishing Dream blog at Come on over and join the dialog!

I’ve learned that it’s truly amazing what God will do when his people submit to him with a loving and willing heart and seek his glory instead of their own. When we delight ourselves in the Lord, he will give us the desires—the dreams—of our hearts!


J. M. Hochstetler was born in central Indiana, the daughter of Mennonite farmers. Joan graduated from Indiana University with a degree in Germanic languages and was an editor with Abingdon Press for twelve years. She has published three novels: One Holy Night, a retelling of Jesus’ birth in a modern-day setting that released in April 2008. Daughter of Liberty (2004) and Native Son (2005), books 1 and 2 of the American Patriot Series are set during the American Revolution. Book 3, Wind of the Spirit, is scheduled for release in March 2009.

Married to a retired United Methodist pastor, Joan is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Christian Authors Network, Middle Tennessee Christian Writers, and Historical Novels Society. She and her husband divide their time between their home near Nashville, Tennessee, and their winter home in Perry, Georgia. They are members of Grace Church in Perry.

ABOUT THE BOOK - Wind of the Spirit

The American Patriot Series, Book 3

Elizabeth Howard scrambles for critical intelligence as the fateful confrontation between the Americans and the British explodes at the Battle of Brooklyn. Meanwhile, far out on the western borders, Brigadier General Jonathan Carleton, as the Shawnee war chief White Eagle, succeeds in driving white settlers out of Ohio Territory through a series of lightning raids. At the same time Blue Sky’s seductive charms and the rapidly escalating conflict with Wolfslayer force White Eagle to walk a treacherous tightrope between the alluring widow and the vengeful shaman.

With Washington poised to make a last-ditch gamble to save the American cause at Trenton, Elizabeth rejoins Colonel Charles Andrews on a desperate journey to find Carleton before the British capture and execute him for treason. Can her love bridge the miles that separate them—and the savage bonds that threaten to tear him forever from her arms?


If you’d like to be entered to win a copy of Wind of the Spirit, just leave a reply to this blog. I’ll pick a winner at random on March 7th (this deadline has been extended to let more people in on the fun!) Please leave an email address so I can contact you if you're the winner. (To prevent spammers from trolling for your email, please use this format with the brackets--you [at] yourmail [dot] com--or something similar.) Good luck!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Lost: 316

Lost is getting soooo good! If you didn't see last night's episode, STOP right now. There are SPOILERS AHEAD! Here's what I'm thinking about tonight's episode, titled "316"...

What's happening to all the island kids? Kate had no intention of going back to that island, but then she turned up at Jack's house. When he asked "Where's Aaron?" she said she'd go with him as long as he never asked that question again. And then there's Sun, who has to go back to the island if there's even a chance Jin's alive. Uh, Sun, what about your little girl? Guess she doesn't need parents...

What happened to Ben's face? Jack had to go retrieve Locke's body because Ben got beaten up somewhere between the church and the airport. My guess is that the beating had something to do with getting Sayid on the plane.

The similarities... According to Eloise, the conditions on the plane had to be as close as possible to the original. this could explain why Sayid was in police custody (like Kate was the first time), Hurley had a guitar (like Charlie had) and Locke is in a coffin in the cargo hold (like Jack's father was - in fact, he's wearing Jack's father's shoes). So Jack, Kate, Sun, Hurley, Sayid, Ben, Locke, are all on the plane...

But what about Desmond? Eloise told him the island wasn't through with him. But he's not on the plane, and he doesn't plan on going back. But he wasn't on the plane before. He ended up on the island because of a ship wreck. Hmmm, Desmond, Penny and baby Charlie are living on a boat now. Is it possible they might sail into this open time/space window? We already know Charles Widmore ends up living on the island. Could it be that baby Charlie lands on the island during a time shift? And could Desmond and Penny end up being the Adam and Eve skeletons the castaways found during season one? Hmmm....

Your turn! What do you think?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

American Idol - A Less Than Stellar Start

Tonight was the first real night of competition on American Idol. And by real I mean this is the first time that America gets to use their voice and vote. In that spirit, here are some of my random thoughts:

TOO MANY SEMI-FINALISTS - This year, there are 36 contestants in the semi-finals. This means we get three nights of 12 contestants and they're pared down from there. After last night, I'm thinking that's probably about 12 too many.

I LIKE THE NEW GIRL - Kara DioGuardi, the 4th judge, provides a nice shot in the arm. It's good to have someone else on the panel, although sometimes you have to feel sorry for those poor contestants standing through FOUR bad reviews.

SIMON IS THE GRIM REAPER - More than once he told someone, "You had this one amazing shot, and you blew it. You won't make it through." And yes, while I think he was right every time he said it, it's like kicking someone who's already on the ground. Kinda pointless and just a little mean.

SO MUCH VANILLA - Several contestants have nice voices, but they came across as pretty bland. So much so that I can't even remember who they were to tell you.

THE BOYS RULE - For this round, anyway. Most of the gals tonight either cracked or just weren't that great.

PARENTS DON'T BELONG BACK STAGE - It's painful enough to see the contestant deal with bad feedback. I don't need to see the parents do it, too. Hopefully this is only going to happen in the semi-finals.

WHAT'S TATIANA PLAYING? During the entire audition process, Tatiana Del Toro was an irritating mess... helium voice, grating laugh, manic mood swings. But tonight, it was Tatiana on Sedatives. She was so calm, she was blank. She was Stepford Tatiana. Sadly, she was one of the better girl singers. But I still think her personality - either one, because they're both bad - is going to knock her out of the competition.

SOME SONGS JUST SHOULD BE LEFT ALONE - What made Casey Carlson think she should sing a song by the Police? Turning Every Little Thing She Does is Magic into a pop ditty is just wrong. And Stephen Fowler confounded everyone by choosing Michael Jackson's Rock with You. To quote Randy, "Not good, Dogg, not good."

JAMAR WAS ROBBED - They showed him in the audience, supporting his buddy Danny. And I couldn't help but think how hard it must have been for him to hear all the clunkers and bad choices of some of the singers. Jamar should have been up on that stage, no doubt about it.

I LOVE DANNY GOKEY - And not just because he's a church music director. Singing Hero by Mariah Carey was a gutsy move. That's another song that's easy to butcher. But he nailed it. I love his tone, the depth of his voice, his connection to the lyrics and the audience... He's my favorite so far.

Okay, so my predictions for tonight's elimination show:
Top Male - Danny Gokey (duh)
Top Female - Alexis Grace - Of all the girls, she's the one that stood out to me
Third overall - Michael Sarver - He's got a nice sound, had fun with his song, and I want to see this Texas roughneck have a shot at the big time.

Your turn. What are your thoughts or predictions?

Career Coach Tiffany Colter on Creating a Plan to Succeed

I'm pleased to welcome today's guest blogger, author and career coach Tiffany Colter!

Building Your Dreams Through Creating a Plan to Succeed


Depending on your personality those two words either fill you with confidence or fear. I am among the former. I plan every little part in my life to the point where my family has rebelled. I like to know where I’m going, how to get there and what to do if I can’t.

One place where a plan is necessary for EVERY person is the plan to success. Starting in high school we each began to plan for our future. Would we take advanced or college prep courses, or were we more interested in working a trade and shadowing. After high school we had to create money plans, called budgets, to make sure we learned to live within our means. And when a person starts a new business they must have a plan for their business in order to secure funding from banks and investors.

What about writers? What kind of plan should they have?

To answer this question I need to change your thinking a little bit. We need to step beyond the belief that writers are simply artists and realize that they are owners of a writing business. So you need to create a plan to succeed beyond “Write one book, then another”.

I’ve listed 5 things that MUST be a part of your plan as you begin your writer’s journey. By starting with all of these [and building on them as you move closer to publication] you will enjoy more success than you would if you were passive in your writing career.

1. Platform before Publication
Many people wonder why I stress so much the need to build a platform prior to publication. The reason is simple, the current market requires a strong sphere of influence for EVERY writer, whether non-fiction or fiction. This will not happen without deliberate effort on your part. Writers must begin thinking about ways to become recognized among people in their target market. This can take many shapes from blogs, to articles in magazines, e-zines and newspapers. You can even focus on public speaking. The key is to have solid numbers to present to publishing houses.

2. Study craft
This is absolutely crucial. It is great if you’re a voracious reader but at some point you must take the time to read some books-and take classes-to improve your craft. I also encourage new writers to get the first 15-20 pages of their manuscript edited by someone who specializes in NEW authors. I don’t say that simply because I offer that service to new writers. I say that because it works. Six years ago when I was pushing hard to publication a writing mentor [who’d written over 30 novels] read the first 20 pages of my book. He gave great advice on MY writing that I never fully understood in a book.

See, when we are reading books on craft we can fool ourselves and say “Okay, I already do that well.” Having someone look at those beginning pages points out what the weakness looks like in your own writing. It is a $20-$30 investment that teaches far more than a book of equal cost. I still have mine 6 years, and 4 manuscripts later.

3. Meet other writers
I’ve always been a loner so I didn’t fully appreciate the value of this advice until I started meeting other writers. I now see the value of having a group of people who understand this business and who support me. Watch out, not all writer’s groups are created equal. Some can suck the life right out of you while others leave you feeling like you can accomplish anything! Find a group of people who are at various stages in the writer’s journey. This will help you by allowing you to learn from some and provide encouragement and help to others.

4. Meet editors/agents
This was TERRIFYING the first time I did it [again, introvert], but I realize it is completely necessary. I am happy to say I now have editors and agents on my list of friends. I see them as humans who have a great deal of wisdom I can learn from. I also realize that they are business partners in my writing business. The Editor’s job is to find and develop great books. The agent’s job is to find and develop great authors. Once I bring my craft and platform to the level that they can work with, they become partners with me in my success. The first step, however is learning from them and learning to treat them like real people. We don’t need to hide from them, nor should we ever seek to take advantage of them.

5. Determine goals and take meaningful steps to accomplishing them.
This is so incredibly important. Determine how many books you’d like to write this year. Let’s say you’d like to write a single 80,000 word manuscript. You will need to research, write an outline [if you do], write a rough draft, edit, revise, repeat. We are ½ way through Feb so you have about 45 weeks [less once you take out holidays, vacations and other excuses-laugh]. That means you need to decide how long a revision will take…a month? Two? Lets say 6 weeks.

Now you have 39 weeks to write that first draft.

But you need to research before and edit after. We’d better take out 4 more weeks.

That leaves us 35 weeks to write the first draft. That’s just over 2,000 words per week. 500 words per day!

So what are you doing reading this blog? You need to get to work.

I’ll see you later, maybe at my common-sense money management blog or my Writing Career Coach blog.


Tiffany Colter is a passionate freelance writer whose credits include Today’s Christian, Charisma Magazine, Toledo Business Journal, and the Afictionado E-zine. She enjoys helping others build a strong business and writes a daily marketing blog for writers called the Writing Career Coach and a common-sense money management site, Tiffany lives outside Toledo, OH with her husband, a recent cancer survivor, and their four girls.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

CFBA presents GINGHAM MOUNTAIN by Mary Connealy

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Gingham Mountain
(Barbour Books - February 1, 2009)
Mary Connealy


Mary's writing journey is similar to a lot of others. Boil it down to persistence, oh, go ahead and call it stubbornness. She just kept typing away. She thinks the reason she did it was because she was more or less a dunce around people—prone to sit silently when she really ought to speak up (or far worse, speak up when she ought to sit silently).

So, Mary had all these things she wanted to say, in her head: the perfect zinger to the rude cashier, which you think of an hour after you’ve left the store; the perfect bit of wisdom when someone needs help, which doesn’t occur to you until they solve their problems themselves; the perfect guilt trip for the kids, which you don’t say because you’re not an idiot. She keep all this wit to herself, much to the relief of all who know her, and then wrote all her great ideas into books. It’s therapeutic if nothing else, and more affordable than a psychiatrist.

So then a very nice, oh so nice publishing company like Barbour Heartsong comes along and says, “Hey, we’ll pay you money for this 45,000 word therapy session.” That’s as sweet as it gets.

Mary's journey to publication is the same as everyone’s except for a few geniuses out there who make it hard for all of us. And even they probably have an Ode to Roast Beef or two in their past.

There are two other books in this Lassoed In Texas Series: Petticoat Ranch and Calico Canyon


All aboard for a delightful, suspense-filled romance, where a Texan is torn between his attraction to a meddlesome schoolmarm and the charms of a designing dressmaker. When Hannah Cartwright meets Grant, she's determined to keep him from committing her orphans to hard labor on his ranch. How far will she go to ensure their welfare?

Grant Cooper is determined to provide a home for the two kids brought in by the orphan train as he runs head-on into the new school marm, who believes he's made slave labor out of eight orphaned children. He crowds too many orphans into his rickety house, just like Hannah Cartwright's cruel father. Grant's family of orphans have been mistreated too many times by judgmental school teachers. Now the new schoolmarm is the same except she's so pretty and she isn't really bad to his children, it's Grant she can't stand.

But he is inexplicably drawn to Hannah. Can he keep his ragtag family together while steering clear of love and marriage? Will he win her love or be caught in the clutches of a scheming seamstress?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Gingham Mountain, go HERE


This is the fourth book I've read by Mary Connealy and she never disappoints me. Mary creates strong, unique characters and spices up her stories with great handfuls of humor and lots of heart.

Gingham Mountain has it all: A rugged man with a heart of gold, a well-meaning woman who keeps getting things wrong, rapid-fire banter between two people too stubborn to admit they're attracted to each other, and a pair of conniving schemers bent on ruining everything. How Hannah, Grant, and a passel of orphans overcome against all odds is an exciting, entertaining read.

This is the third book of the Lassoed In Texas Series. While you can read it on its own, I would highly recommend reading the entire series in order. There are some fun things you might miss otherwise. For example, Hannah and her sister Lilly are introduced in great depth in Calico Canyon. Reading it first will give a lot more depth to Hannah's story.

This book gets two enthusiastic thumbs up. If you like your historical romances sassy, sweet, and suspenseful, take a trip to Gingham Mountain.

Friday, February 13, 2009

THE GREAT EIGHT by Scott Hamilton

In The Great Eight, Scott Hamilton (with Ken Baker) shares stories of his life as a figure skater, his struggles with illness, and his keys to living a happy life, even when you have every reason to be miserable.

I’m almost the same age as Hamilton. I remember watching him in the 1984 Olympics when he won his gold medal. It was a great year for him, not such a great year for me. Reading this book, I found myself thinking that it would have been nice to know then what he knows now.

Despite all his success and fame, Scott Hamilton has gone through some tough times. For example, an adopted child, he was plagued by a mysterious and never diagnosed illness. But Scott turned these challenges around. As he says, he was adopted by loving, caring people, who took him to every doctor and specialist they could find. Because of his illness, he was unable to participate in sports or group play like other kids. Until one of his doctors suggested he try ice skating. So his parents took him to the rink. A lot. Not only was he able to participate, but he thrived. The mysterious illness went away, and the rest, as they say, is history.

The Great Eight is an inspirational book, a mixture of encouragement and autobiography. If you want to know more about the world of figure skating, there are some fascinating stories here. The chronology skips around, and Hamilton has a tendency to repeat things. But all in all, The Great Eight has the potential to give you a new outlook on life.

Visit the Thomas Nelson website to find out more about The Great Eight

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Interview with Author Anita Higman & Book Giveaway!

A Dreamy Interview
Anita Higman

How did you dream up Love Finds You in Humble, Texas?

Well, the creative process is a mystery to me. Characters like Wiley and Kat and Cyrus start showing up in my head and talking. Sometimes I’m not sure where they come from. As far as plot for Love Finds You in Humble Texas, I started with a premise, like two very different sisters—one an image coach and the other in desperate need of an image coach. But I thought, “What if both sisters fall in love with the same man?” I wrote an opening scene, and then my fingers began to fly. Even though I generally know where the novel is going, many times the story reveals itself to me as I go along. So, the process of creating a novel is part mystery, but I still have to put in my time. Lots and lots of time.

What’s the biggest dream-come-true in your life so far?

Well, having a family has been the finest dream-come-true. But beyond that, my latest novel, Love Finds You in Humble Texas has brought me a lot of joy. Even though this is my 24th book, I’ve been more pleased with this work than with anything else I’ve written. The reviews have been very positive, and so I’m grateful and happy. Yes, you could definitely call this a dream-come-true.

What are you striving for…the dream of your heart that is yet to be fulfilled?

I would love to have one of my books made into a movie. In the process, I’d like for these stories to entertain as well as inspire people to see that God cares for then deeply and that His gift of grace is a present just waiting to be opened. That is my finest dream.


Award-winning author, Anita Higman, has twenty-four books published (several co-authored) for adults and children, and has two novels coming out in the next two years. She has been honored in the past as a Barnes & Noble “Author of the Month” for Houston. Some of Ms. Higman’s publishers are Bethany House, Barbour Publishing, McGraw-Hill, Lillenas Drama, Howard Publishing, and Summerside Press.

A few of Anita’s books are Another Stab at Life, Another Hour to Kill, The Celestial Helix, Pokeweed and Mrs. Gasp, and Big Book of Holidays and Holy Days. She also has contributions in ten nonfiction compilations.

One of Ms. Higman’s co-authored books entitled, A Tribute to Early Texas, has a foreword by Elmer Kelton and has won a San Antonio Conservation Society Citation as well as a Westerners International Book Award. She was also named a Favorite New Author in the 15th Annual Heartsong Presents Awards and her co-authored novel, Castles in the Air, was a Favorite Contemporary Romance in the 16th Annual Heartsong Presents Awards.

In addition, Anita has won two awards for her contribution to literacy and has raised thousands of dollars for literacy with her book, I Can Be Anything, while serving on the board of directors of Literacy Advance of Houston.

Anita Higman has also written for radio, television, ezine, and advertising. She has a B.A. degree combining speech communication, psychology, and art from SNU, and she is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. Anita lives with her husband near Houston, Texas.

ABOUT THE BOOK - Love Finds You in Humble, Texas

Trudie Abernathy is a little inelegant, and she’s never had much luck in love. To makes matters worse, her thirtieth birthday is fast approaching and her sister, Lane, has decided to “treat” her to a makeover and a blind date. Trudie is about to protest, but then she meets the kind and devastatingly handsome Mason Wimberley. In spite of Trudie’s humble manner, Mason finds her attractive, funny, and smart. But there’s one obstacle in the way of the budding romance: Lane suddenly decides that she’s in love with Mason! Trudie has never been one to compete with her glamorous sister, even when it means giving up the things she wants. Will she be able to stay true to her humble self and find her heart’s desire in the process?

Check out the Book Trailer:

Visit Anita's blog at


Years of guilt have convinced Trudie Abernathy that she is not worthy of anything special. But then Mason Wimberley walks into her life and treats her like the most special woman on earth. She starts to think that maybe, just maybe, she does deserve to be happy. But then Trudie has to make a choice: Put her sister's feelings first, or grab her own chance at love.

Anita Higman has written a wonderfully sweet book about the many sides of love. With warmth and humor, her characters tackle the complications of life, relying on faith to get them through.

The publisher, Summerside Press has created something unique with its relatively new "Love Finds You" line. By setting these stories in real towns across the United States, the location almost becomes another character. I truly enjoyed my visit to Humble, Texas, and think you will, too!


If you’d like to be entered to win a copy of Love Finds You in Humble, Texas, just leave a reply to this blog. I’ll pick a winner 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!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Random Grammy Ramblings

I was completely zonked by the time the Grammys were over Sunday night, and yesterday I already had a guest scheduled, so here are my slightly tardy Grammy ramblings:

Robert Plant, yes, sometimes the mic is too low, but just how tall do you think you are?

Kid Rock, I like some of your songs, but you are NOT my rock 'n' roll Jesus. Just to be clear.

Note to Adele: Please spit out your gum before you go on stage to accept your award. Thanks.

M.I.A. - Props for performing on the day your baby is due, but did you have to wear the ugliest maternity outfit ever?

Blink 182, thanks for letting us know you're back. Sorry to tell you, I didn't know you'd gone anywhere.

Justin Timberlake... Dude, is there anything you can't do? Loved your set with Rev. Al Green.

Queen Latifah and Morgan Freeman, I've got one word for both of you: More!

And finally, to Katy Perry... we know you kissed a girl. We know you liked it. Enough already. From your entrance in the middle of the descending banana to those half-hearted dance moves (and I use the word dance lightly) the whole thing was a hot mess. Time to move on.

So what about you, friends? Any highlights or low lights still fresh in your mind? Discuss...

Monday, February 9, 2009

"Dreams Revised" by Sharon Dunn - WIN A BOOK!

A big welcome to today’s guest blogger, author Sharon Dunn!

A Dream Revised

Sometimes it is not that we need to give up our dreams, we just need to revise them. From an early age, I gravitated toward the arts. When I was 14, I decided to become an actress. At high school graduation being an actress was my strongest desire and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. That was my dream.

I performed in plays, won awards and was going to major in theater in college. When my mother expressed concern about a job, I compromised and majored in Film production while still taking theater classes and performing. Enter marriage and my first baby. Working professionally and traveling was out of the question, so I thought I would continue to do community theater. After being a part of a church production, I realized that would not work with having a family. I wasn’t getting paid and I was gone four or five hours a night to rehearse. It wasn’t fair to my family. After some prayer I was fine with giving up the theater, but still I had all this creative energy.

Writing worked with having children. I could slip away to the computer while the kids napped or hubby watched them and it allowed me to express myself creatively. At first, I worked on shorter things like articles and skits and then I decided to tackle a novel. In 2003, my first novel was published.

What I hadn’t realized is that the work I had done in theater and film production was not wasted time. I understood story structure from the study of film and developing character on the page was very similar to work that went into portraying a character on stage. Many writers point out that it can take up to ten years to really learn how to write a novel. With my theater and film training, I was ahead of the learning curve.

Giving up the theater was a hard decision even though I knew it was the right decision. I had never pictured myself as a writer though now after five novels, I can’t imagine any other life.

Life is about compromise and putting relationships first. I could not pursue my dream at the expense of my family. But God knew what would be the perfect fit for my talent, training and my family. Perhaps you have had a dream and because of life circumstances, you thought you had to let it die. Revisit that dream, maybe there are possibilities for revision.


Sharon is the author of five mysteries for the Christian reader. Her books have been characterized as humorous who-dun-its. Sharon lives with her hubby of 21 years, three kids, three cats and lots of dust bunnies. You can read more about Sharon and her books at

The Bargain Hunters mysteries features four women bonded together by the need to clip coupons and be first in line at doorbuster sales. In this award winning first installment in the series, Death of a Garage Sale Newbie, the head bargain hunter Ginger finds herself drawn into a mystery when her best friend and fellow coupon clipper goes missing. Could her friend’s disappearance have anything to do with the items she bought at garage sales? Join Ginger and the gang as they hunt down clues and good deals.


If you’d like to be entered to win a copy of Death of a Garage Sale Newbie, just leave a reply to this blog. I’ll pick a winner at random on February 16th. Please leave an email address so I can contact you if you're the winner. (To prevent spammers from trolling for your email, please use this format with the brackets--you [at] yourmail [dot] com--or something similar.) Good luck!

Friday, February 6, 2009

"Achieving Your God Given Dream" by Brandt Dodson

A warm welcome to today's guest blogger, author Brandt Dodson!

The Narrow Way –
Achieving Your God Given Dream

Dreams. We all have them. They’re one of the many things in life that we share - that make us human. And yet most of us flail about, seemingly unable to define what it is we’re really looking for or to develop a plan for achieving it. I know. I’ve been there. But there is Godly advice on how to achieve your dreams – your ambitions – and it is found in Psalm 37: 4 & 5:

Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this. (NIV)

See? Isn’t that simple?


First of all, most of us have, for one reason or another, removed God from our dreams. We’ve kept Him out of that realm of our life because we’re often not sure that we want Him invading that part of our life. We trust Him with our eternal salvation, to heal us when we’re sick; we even ask Him to bless our food. We pray that He will keep us safe when we travel, and we pray that our loved ones will find Him. But trust Him with our dreams? Take the chance that He may say, “No, this is not my will for you”?


Our dreams, our desires, are personal. Very personal. And very close to our hearts. And the things that are the most personal often tend to stay that way. We keep them close, seldom sharing them with anyone. Even God.

But that’s a mistake.

For years, ever since grade school in fact, I have wanted to write. It was the only thing – and I mean the only thing - that ever came easy or that I enjoyed. Whenever we were asked to write a theme or short story I felt like I had been given a pardon, a genuine chance to show what I could do. So it was only natural, I suppose, that I would develop a desire to write.

But like many people who reveal their dreams I was told that mine was impossible, unachievable, unrealistic, and maybe even a little bit irresponsible. After all, I had a duty to provide for myself and my family, and harboring an unrealistic dream of becoming a writer – a novelist no less – could only lead to a life in the gutter where I would inevitably land with my wife in one arm and a bottle of bathtub hooch in the other. Not a pretty sight and certainly not the things of which dreams are made.

So, unwilling to envision such a future for myself or my family, I went to medical school. And after four years of the most intense studying I had ever done, followed by a residency of 80-100 hour weeks, I opened my own practice.

And waited.

And waited.

And waited again.

I discovered that patients don’t beat a path to the door of new doctors, so I had plenty of time on my hands. And I still had a dream. I began to write again. And I read everything I could get my hands on in an effort to learn the craft - and then I began submitting – and collecting rejection slips. I submitted to every magazine I knew that would publish short stories; I even wrote non-fiction pieces.

But my dream was fiction. Novel length fiction. And yet, publisher after publisher had no interest in the type of fiction I wrote. And then I discovered Psalm 37: 4 & 5.

And I turned my dreams over to God.

Delight yourself in the Lord. I hadn’t been living like that. Sure I went to worship each Sunday, taught Sunday school, and even served as an elder. But I wasn’t delighting myself in God. I wasn’t committing my way to the Lord. Neither was I willing to trust in Him. Not with my dreams. Those were mine.

The path to success, whether it is defined as a happy life, a solid marriage, or achieving an unfulfilled dream, runs through Jesus Christ. The narrow way.

Now I’d like to tell you that I had found the secret. But I didn’t. What I did find was a new way of life. I learned that I had been putting the cart before the horse (sorry for the clichĂ©) and had put the things I desired ahead of the Giver. I had put my desire to write on the throne of the One who gave me that desire.

And I was writing for me. I was writing secular fiction with a Christian world view. And the publishers I talked with weren’t interested in that.

And then God did the kind of thing only He can do. He gave me a different desire. I no longer had ambitions to write the novel that would endear me to Oprah or land me on the New York Times Bestseller list. In fact, as nice as all of that would be, I began to see it as empty, hollow. If that was all there was for me, I no longer had a desire to pursue it. The new dream God had given me had purpose and if I didn’t fulfill that purpose, all of the accolades in the world would leave me with the same empty feeling as an unfulfilled dream.

I now had the desire to write a novel that would reveal the truth of God; to write a novel that would honor Him.

Once the new desire began to form it wasn’t long before God directed me to a CBA writer’s conference. And within a year, I had a three book contract. A contract that has now been extended several times. God gave me a dream and then reshaped it and put it to work for Him.

I learned a valuable lesson.

If we don’t want to spend our lives chasing the wind only to be disappointed when we catch it, we must put God first in our lives. If we do that - and do it because that is His rightful place - He will give us desires that are in line with His. And then He will fulfill those desires in a way that we cannot. And His way is always the best way. After all, He’s God, the narrow way. And He can be trusted with our dreams.


Brandt Dodson is the creator of the Colton Parker Mystery series and the author of the stand alone crime novel, White Soul. He comes from a long line of police officers and was formerly employed by the Indianapolis office of the FBI. Brandt is a board certified Podiatrist, specializing in peripheral nerve surgery for the treatment of painful neuropathies. He is a former United States Naval Reserve officer and currently resides in Southern Indiana with his wife and two sons. Brandt’s latest novel, Daniel’s Den, was released by Harvest House Publishers on February 1st, 2009.

ABOUT THE BOOK - Daniel’s Den

Daniel Borden and Laura Traynor live two different lives.

Daniel is a successful stock analyst in New Orleans. Laura operates a bed and breakfast in the Shenandoah Valley.

He is wealthy, enjoys racquetball, and lives with Elvis, a black Lab. She is a struggling single mother, works two jobs, and lives with her young son, Andy.

But when unseen forces send hit men after each of them, a twist of fate drives them together as they are forced to flee their common enemy.

In a high stakes game of cat-and-mouse, they learn just how big the cat can be.

And that it’s no game.


If you’d like to be entered to win a copy of Daniel’s Den, just leave a reply to this blog. I’ll pick a winner at random on February 13th. 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 5, 2009

CFBA presents WORD GETS AROUND by Lisa Wingate

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Word Gets Around
(Bethany House - February 1, 2009)
Lisa Wingate


Lisa Wingate lives in central Texas where she is a popular inspirational speaker, magazine columnist, and national bestselling author of several books. Her novel, Tending Roses, received dozens of five-star reviews, sold out ten printings for New York publisher, Penguin Putnam, and went on to become a national bestselling book. Tending Roses was a selection of the Readers Club of America, and is currently in its tenth printing.

The Tending Roses series continued with Good Hope Road, The Language of Sycamores, Drenched In Light, and A Thousand Voices. In 2003, Lisa’s Texas Hill Country series began with Texas Cooking, and continued with Lone Star CafĂ©, which was awarded a gold medal by RT BOOKCLUB magazine and was hailed by Publisher’s Weekly as “A charmingly nostalgic treat.” The series concluded with Over the Moon at the Big Lizard Diner.

Lisa is now working on a new set of small-town Texas novels for Bethany House Publishers. The series debuted with Talk of The Town and continued with Word Gets Around. A new series is also underway for Penguin Group NAL, beginning with A Month of Summer (July 2008), and continuing with The Summer Kitchen in July, 2009. Lisa’s works have been featured by the National Reader’s Club of America, AOL Book Picks, Doubleday Book Club, The Literary Guild, American Profiles, and have been chosen for the LORIES best Published Fiction Award.


When Romance Is In the Air, Word Gets Around

Lauren Eldridge thought she'd wiped the dust of Daily, Texas, off her boots forever. Screenwriter Nate Heath thought he was out of second chances. Life's never that predictable, though. Cajoled by her father, Lauren is back in town helping train a skittish race horse set to star in a Hollywood film. But the handsome screenwriter gives her more trouble than the horse. And Nate is realizing there's a spark of magic in the project--and in the eyes of the girl who is so good with horses. Daily, Texas, has a way of offering hope, healing, and a little romance just when folks need it most.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Word Gets Around, go HERE

What people are saying:

"Lisa Wingate writes engaging stories that strike the heart. God has gifted her with a marvelous talent and I, for one, am most grateful."
Debbie Macomber, New York Times #1 bestselling author


A movie star, a screen writer, a horse trainer, a washed up race horse, a small town... what's not to like? In Word Gets Around, Lisa Wingate goes back to that old Hollywood premise, Hey kids, let's put on a show! But this isn't just any show. Nate Heath has to put aside his doubts and make something out of a stinker of a script that's been passed over for years. Lauren Eldridge has to face a painful past in order to come back to her home town and train the horse that's supposed to be the star of the show. Justin Shay is facing a career that's almost over and sees The Horseman as his ticket to respectability as an actor. And to top it all off, half the town's been put up as collateral on the hopes that the film will get a green light. The stakes are pretty high.

I found this to be a really fun, engaging book. There are some truly deep, moving moments, but it's mostly a great visit to a place you've never been. (At least I've never been there... I'm sure folks who've lived in a small town are going to recognize one or more of the colorful characters.)

I particularly enjoyed Wingate's writing style. She chose to write the book in first person, and alternates between Lauren and Nate. So the first chapter is Lauren's point of view, the second is Nate's, the third Lauren, and so on. Her writing is so spot on that even if she didn't start each chapter with the POV character's name, you'd still know whose head you were in.

This is the second book in the Daily, Texas series. If you didn't read Talk of the Town (I didn't) you'll still enjoy this book. But you might want to pick them both up and read them in order. Why not stay in Daily a little longer?