Friday, June 25, 2010

Just for Fun - The Chronicles of Narnia continue...

What Peter Jackson did for The Lord of the Rings saga, so Walden Media has done for The Chronicles of Narnia. I've been so pleased wth the quality of these films, and eagerly await the next one. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader won't be out until Christmas, but here's the trailer to wet your whistle.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Have I told you about that amazing suite?

Today, I'm sharing over at Inkwell Inspirations about a truly unique vacation experience: the time my family stayed in a luxury suite. A 15,888 square foot, Las Vegas luxury suite. The picture to the left is of my son and husband sitting by an indoor spa.

If you want to see more pictures and find out how we ended up in such a place, come on over to Inkwell Inspirations. Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

CFBA Presents CHASING LILACS by Carla Stewart

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Chasing Lilacs
(FaithWords - June 17, 2010)
Carla Stewart


Carla Stewart’s writing reflects her passion for times gone by. She believes in Jesus, the power of the written word, and a good cup of coffee. She's a country girl living now in a mid-sized city with her engineering husband who just happens to be her best friend and biggest fan.She and her husband have four adult sons and delight in the adventures of their six grandchildren.

Chasing Lilacs is her first book.


I grew up in the Texas Panhandle with two younger sisters and loving parents. Small town school. Great neighbors. Today, those small-town, fundamental things resonate within me -- the twang in people's voices, the art of being neighborly and just being a decent human being.

Growing up, I preferred the company of books over TV and playing outdoors. I imagined myself in many different careers, but given my down-to-earth raising, I settled on nursing. I didn't faint at the sight of blood and did well in science, so it seemed a natural choice.

I worked as a registered nurse off and on through the years, but primarily I stayed home with my four rambunctious boys and dreamed of the day when I could write the novels I loved to read. When our youngest son was in high school, I quit my job as a nursing instructor and settled in to pen my first novel. It's been quite a journey. One I wouldn't trade for anything.

I'm committed to writing the stories of my heart and am truly thankful to Jesus, my Savior, for allowing me this freedom. May all the glory be His.


It is the summer of 1958, and life in the small Texas community of Graham Camp should be simple and carefree. But not for twelve-year-old Sammie Tucker. Sammie has plenty of questions about her mother's "nerve" problems. About shock treatments. About whether her mother loves her.

As her life careens out of control, Sammie has to choose who to trust with her deepest fears: Her best friend who has an opinion about everything, the mysterious kid from California whose own troubles plague him, or her round-faced neighbor with gentle advice and strong shoulders to cry on. Then there's the elderly widower who seems nice but has his own dark past.

Trusting is one thing, but accepting the truth may be the hardest thing Sammie has ever done.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Chasing Lilacs, go HERE.


I've had the pleasure of getting to know Carla Stewart over the last few years and I consider her a friend. Well, it's always hard when you review a book written by a friend. You want it to be good, but you worry... what if it's not? Thank heavens, I had nothing to worry about with this stunning debut novel.

Stewart has written a book so honest and authentic, it makes you feel like you know the characters inhabiting it. Sammie Tucker is a heartbreaker, because you want only the best for her. In the classic style of coming-of-age stories, Sammie's life isn't easy. But her journey is rich and true, and one well worth traveling with her.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

STUFF CHRISTIANS LIKE by Jonathan Acuff... It'll make you laugh yourself silly

Stuff Christians Like
by Jonathan Acuff


Sometimes, we fall in love on mission trips even though we know we’ll break up when we get back. Sometimes, you have to shot block a friend’s prayer because she’s asking God to bless an obviously bad dating relationship. Sometimes, you think, “I wish I had a t-shirt that said ‘I direct deposit my tithe’ so people wouldn’t judge me.”

Sometimes, the stuff that comes with faith is funny.

This is that stuff.

Jonathan Acuff’s Stuff Christians Like is your field guide to all things Christian. In it you’ll learn the culinary magic of the crock-pot. Think you’ve got a Metro worship leader? Use Acuff’s checklist. Want to avoid a prayer handholding faux pas? Acuff has you covered. Like a satirical grenade, Acuff brings us the humor and honesty that galvanized more than a million online readers from more than 200 countries in a new portable version. Welcome to the funny side of faith.


Who is Jonathan Acuff?
For the last ten years, I've written advertising for clients ranging from the Home Depot to Chick-fil-A. I also write a blog called Stuff Christians Life. My wife and I live with our two daughters outside of Atlanta, Georgia.

Tell us a little bit about your background and your family.
I grew up in Massachusetts with two younger brothers and a younger sister. My dad is a minister and that’s how I learned about a lot of the things I write about on SCL.

How did you get started in writing?
A teacher in the third grade laminated some poems I wrote and I fell in love with it then.

How do you find time to write?
I get up at 5AM before anyone in my family is up.

What would you say to someone who wants to become a published author?
Pick a time to write and then do it. Don’t debate whether you will write each day, just write.

Where did you get the idea for the blog... which then became book?
There was a popular site called Stuff White People Like. I feel like it’s weird that we Christians always steal popular secular ideas like making “Got Milk?” say “Got God?” I thought it would be a good idea to discuss that problem by committing that problem.

What are the major themes?
I try to clear the clutter of Christianity away so we can see the beauty of Christ.

What do you hope readers will take away from your book?
That they’ll know how fun and full of laughter a life of faith can be.


There aren't many books that make me laugh out loud. The problem with Stuff Christians Like is that it had me laughing so much, it threw me out of stealth reading mode. My teenage son quickly realized he was missing out on the fun. From then on, it was a battle to see who'd pick up the book first and get to say, "Oh, you've got to hear this."

What makes Stuff Christians Like so funny is the honesty of it. Anybody who's been in church for awhile can relate to these short entries with titles like Dominating the "Please Turn to..." Bible Race During Church, Side Hugs, and Using "Let Me Pray About It" As a Euphemism For "No." But don't fear. Despite his razor sharp wit, there's never a question about Acuff's motives. He's one of us, and he's laughing with us, not at us. If you need a pick-me-up, do yourself a favor and get a copy of Stuff Christians Like. Just don't read it during church... unless you want to cause a commotion.

NOTE: I received a copy of this book from the publisher for reviewing purposes.


As a part of the release celebration of Stuff Christians Like, you've got a chance to share your favorite "stuff" Christians like. In 500 words or less, write your own version of Stuff Christians Like and you could be featured on Jonathan's blog - which reaches over 120,000 readers each month and has been read by 1.4 million people since it began two years ago. Check out for examples and inspiration. Post your entry on your blog or Facebook and email the link to info(@) Entries must be received by midnight, CST Friday, July 2.

Monday, June 21, 2010

CFBA Presents MAID TO MATCH by Deeanne Gist

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Maid to Match
(Bethany House - June 1, 2010)
Deeanne Gist


After a short career in elementary education, Deeanne Gist retired to raise her four children. Over the course of the next fifteen years, she ran a home accessory and antique business, became a member of the press, wrote freelance journalism for national publications such as People, Parents, Parenting, Family Fun, Houston Chronicle and Orlando Sentinel, and acted as CFO for her husband’s small engineering firm--all from the comforts of home.

Squeezed betwixt-and-between all this, she read romance novels by the truckload and even wrote a couple of her own. While those unpublished manuscripts rested on the shelf, she founded a publishing corporation for the purpose of developing, producing and marketing products that would reinforce family values, teach children responsibility and provide character building activities.

After a few short months of running her publishing company, Gist quickly discovered being a "corporate executive" was not where her gifts and talents lie. In answer to Gist’s fervent prayers, God sent a mainstream publisher to her door who licensed her parenting I Did It!® product line and committed to publish the next generation of her system, thus freeing Gist to return to her writing.

Eight months later, she sold A Bride Most Begrudging to Bethany House Publishers. Since that debut, her very original, very fun romances have rocketed up the bestseller lists and captured readers everywhere. Add to this two consecutive Christy Awards, two RITA nominations, rave reviews, and a growing loyal fan base, and you’ve got one recipe for success.

Her 2010 books, Beguiled and Maid To Match are now available for order.

Gist lives in Texas with her husband of twenty-seven years and their two border collies. They have four grown children. Visit her blog to find out the most up-to-the-minute news about Dee.

Falling in love could cost her everything.

From the day she arrived at the Biltmore, Tillie Reese is dazzled, by the riches of the Vanderbilts and by Mack Danvers, a mountain man turned footman. When Tillie is enlisted to help tame Mack's rugged behavior by tutoring him in proper servant etiquette, the resulting sparks threaten Tillie's efforts to be chosen as Edith Vanderbilt's lady's maid, After all, the one rule of the house is no romance below stairs.

But the stakes rise even higher when Mack and Tillie become entangles in a cover-up at the town orphanage. They could both lose their jobs, their aspirations...their hearts.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Maid to Match, go HERE.


The first book I read by Deeanne Gist was Courting Trouble. By the time I was done, I had become an avid fan and devoured every book of hers I could find. Gist remains one of my favorite authors of historical fiction. Maid to Match is another winning offering, giving us characters who are so alive, you almost feel like you've stepped into a time machine and gone back to 1898 North Carolina. Fans of Gist will be charmed by this fun, passionate novel. And if you're new to Gist, I guarentee this novel will make a fan out of you.

Join this SPECIAL GETAWAY (Click on the Button):

Friday, June 18, 2010

Just for Fun - One Author's Take on Book Reviews

I've decided we need some just-for-fun Fridays. So I'm going to try and post funny, chuckle-worthy stuff to brighten the end of the week and usher in the weekend. But if you come here on a Friday and find it postless, that doesn't mean we're not having fun... it just means my memory's not what it used to be!

This video from Amy Kathleen Ryan perfectly expresses the feelings of any author who's ever read their book reviews on Amazon.

Monday, June 14, 2010

CFBA Presents A TAILOR-MADE BRIDE by Karen Witemeyer

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
A Tailor-Made Bride
(Bethany House - June 1, 2010)
Karen Witemeyer

Karen Witemeyer is a deacon's wife and mother of three who believes the world needs more happily-ever-afters. To that end, she combines her love of bygone eras with her passion for helping women mature in Christ to craft historical romance novels that lift the spirit and nurture the soul.

After growing up in California, Karen moved to Texas to attend Abilene Christian University where she earned bachelor and master's degrees in Psychology. It was also there that she met and married her own Texas hero. He roped her in good, for she has lived in Texas ever since. In fact, she fell so in love with this rugged land of sweeping sunsets and enduring pioneer spirit, that she incorporates it into the pages of her novels, setting her stories in the small towns of a state that burgeoned into greatness in the mid-to-late 1800s.

In January, 2009, Karen signed a contract with Bethany House Publishers for three inspirational historical romance novels, and she is thrilled to announce that her first book, A TAILOR-MADE BRIDE has released this month. For an inside look into the background and quirks of some of the major players in this upcoming story, click over to Character Corner


When a dressmaker who values beauty tangles with a liveryman who condemns vanity, the sparks begin to fly!

Jericho "J.T." Tucker wants nothing to do with the new dressmaker in Coventry, Texas. He's all too familiar with her kind--shallow women more devoted to fashion than true beauty. Yet, except for her well-tailored clothes, this seamstress is not at all what he expected.

Hannah Richards is confounded by the man who runs the livery. The unsmiling fellow riles her with his arrogant assumptions and gruff manner, while at the same time stirring her heart with unexpected acts of kindness. Which side of Jericho Tucker reflects the real man?

When Hannah decides to help Jericho's sister catch a beau--leading to consequences neither could have foreseen--will Jericho and Hannah find a way to bridge the gap between them?

If you would like to read the first chapter of A Tailor-Made Bride , go HERE.


I've noticed lately that quite a few historical romances are set in Texas. So it would have been easy for A Tailor-Made Bride to get lost in a sea of same old stuff. But this novel is anything but run-of-the-mill. With the character of Hannah Richards, Witemeyer gives us a woman who is all kinds of unique. Not only does this seamstress run her own business, she's a fitness buff to boot. These two elements alone were fascinating. But Witemeyer doesn't stop there. She throws in an emotionally wounded hero with abandonment issues, a best-friend pining for love, and a lonely widower who will make your heart ache. The plot moves along at a fast pace with plenty of humor, emotion and tension, making this one of the best books I've read this year, and giving debut author Karen Witemeyer a place on my list of favorite authors.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Interview and Giveaway with Author Deborah Vogts

It's my pleasure to welcome back author Deborah Vogts to share about her sophomore novel


Deborah Vogts and her husband have three daughters and make their home in Southeast Kansas where they raise and train American Quarter Horses. As a student at Emporia State University studying English and journalism, Deborah developed a love for the Flint Hills that has never faded. In writing this series, she hopes to share her passion for one of the last tallgrass prairie regions in the world, showing that God’s great beauty rests on the prairie and in the hearts of those who live there.


JA: Seeds of Summer is a sequel to Snow Melts in Spring. What are the challenges and blessings involved in writing a sequel as opposed to something totally new?
DV: A blessing is that you are familiar with your setting and there is less research involved. I enjoy getting to know my characters deeper as each story progresses, but that may be a negative, because it’s going to be hard to say good-bye to them one day. LOL

It can be challenging to work with ongoing characters, especially when you come upon an aspect you’d like to change, but you’re unable to because it’s mentioned in an earlier book. For instance, in the third book, which I’m finishing up now, I almost wish I would have given Clara fewer children…but I’d already mentioned in the first book that she had three. So I couldn’t do anything about it—maybe kill one of them…but that wouldn’t be nice.

JA: Is there a theme running through this series?
DV: There seems to be one of forgiveness in each book—as well as following the path God gives us rather than our own. Each book also deals with family conflicts. I’d like readers to remember how important family relations are and that we can get through our difficulties if we remember to love and forgive each other.

I also hope to give my readers a taste of the Flint Hills and of how God’s beauty rests on the prairie and in the hearts of those who live there.

JA: Have you always wanted to be a writer?
DV: Ever since I was in high school. I began writing my Great American Novel as a junior—Splendor of the Sun. That earned me an A++ in Senior English. LOL

I studied English and journalism in college, but it wasn’t until 2002 that I began taking serious steps to be published. I joined a local writer’s group and ACFW, (an online writing organization). I also joined a critique group, started reading writing how-to’s and attended writing conferences. I met my first agent at the ACFW Nashville Conference in 2005. We hit it off at our meeting, and she gave me some tips on making my book series “bigger.” I did that and submitted my idea to her and she took me on. We shopped my Seasons of the Tallgrass series for a year and had a few bites (one of them Zondervan) but no sale. In the end, she released me, which was a real heart breaker. However, we don’t always see the big picture like God does, and six months later I signed with agent Rachelle Gardner, with WordServe Literary, and we had an offer from Zondervan three months after that in May 2008.

JA: Do you plot out your story ahead of time, or do you dream it up as you go?
DV: When I begin a new book, I like to start off with my characters. I will interview them and create character worksheets for them. It’s a fun process and really helps me to get to know them. After that, I’ll start working on a plot outline, which may be very vague at the beginning. From there, I’ll form a short and long synopsis of the story that will be used for marketing. Once all of these steps are done, I’ll start writing. The plot might change, and the characters may go through transitions along the way, but it’s always fun to see how the story progresses and eventually ends.

JA: Do you treat yourself to something special when a project is completed?
DV: Dinner out with the family and total relaxation for a few days at least.

JA: What’s your favorite part of the writing business? What’s your least favorite?
DV: Least Favorite: Writing on deadline. LOL

Favorite: “Fan mail.” This is something I never equated into the “author picture.” I LOVE getting letters or emails from my readers. That has been such a huge blessing to me.

JA: What’s the most important piece of advice you could give to a fledgling writer?
DV: Write what is on your heart and don’t be discouraged. Read LOTS of books (especially those in your genre), join a writing group and/or a critique group. Write, and continue learning the craft. Be open to criticism and helpful advice. Never give up.

Right before I landed my second agent, I almost gave up on my dreams, and I am so thankful I didn’t. Not that God would have let me. I searched and asked that he give me scripture answers that would lead me in the right direction. Some of those he gave were: Isaiah 41:13, Deuteronomy 31:8, Proverbs 3:5-6, and my favorite one that ministered to me and still does today, “Be Still and Know that I am God.”

JA: What do you think about writing contests? Have you participated in any? What’s the benefit to an unpublished writer?
DV: I learned early on to take all contests with a grain a salt because they are highly subjective. One reader may love your entry while another may hate it. If all love it or hate it, maybe there is something you can glean from the contest.

Before being published I entered a few contests—and even finaled and won a few of them—but I also recall crying my eyes out and screaming with indignation at the crazy scores I received—the highs and lows can be so subjective. And this year, I entered my published book in a few contests. Didn’t final in any of them . . .

JA: What's next for you in the writing arena?
DV: I’m currently finishing up the third book in the series, Blades of Autumn, which is the story about Clara, the owner of Clara’s Café.

(Blurb for Book #3) With a café to run and three children to raise, Clara Lambert doesn’t have time for men or loneliness, despite what her heart might tell her. When two handsome cowboys vie for her attention, one of the brothers proves to be her soul mate, but at what cost? Will it tear the brothers’ relationship apart or is blood really thicker than water?

JA: If you weren’t a writer, what would you be doing?
DV: I’d be a stay-at-home mom. I’d do more work at home. More gardening and canning. More baking and sewing. More music involvement at our church. And I’d do more quilting and scrapbooking!

JA: Have you ever had a horrendously embarrassing moment that you ended up using later in a novel?
DV: The time I threw up on a small plane. I actually used my own experience in my first book, Snow Melts in Spring, when Mattie gets sick on her trip back to Kansas.

JA: What's your idea of a dream vacation?
DV: A cabin in the mountains or by a big lake like in Golden Pond, or even by the ocean. I’m not particular!

JA: Scenario: You’re about to be dropped off on a deserted island. You can take along one survival item, one book, and one person (living or dead… but they’ll be alive on the island). What and who do you take?
DV: A knife and my husband.


Seeds of Summer is the second book in the Seasons of the Tallgrass series. It’s a heart-warming contemporary romance set in the Flint Hills of Kansas where a former rodeo queen abandons her dreams in order to care for her deceased father’s ranch and her two half-siblings, only to realize with the help of a young new pastor that God can turn even the most dire circumstances into seeds of hope.


If you’d like to be entered to win a copy of Seeds of Summer, just leave a comment on this blog. I’ll pick a winner at random on June 16th. (NOTE: US residents only for this one.) 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!

Monday, June 7, 2010

CFBA Presents A HOPEFUL HEART by Kim Vogel Sawyer

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
A Hopeful Heart
(Bethany House - June 1, 2010)
Kim Vogel Sawyer


Kim Vogel Sawyer is the author of fifteen novels, including several CBA and ECPA bestsellers. Her books have won the ACFW Book of the Year Award, the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, and the Inspirational Readers Choice Award. Kim is active in her church, where she leads women's fellowship and participates in both voice and bell choirs. In her spare time, she enjoys drama, quilting, and calligraphy. Kim and her husband, Don, reside in central Kansas, and have three daughters and six grandchildren.


Dowryless and desperate, Tressa Neill applies to the inaugural class of Wyatt Herdsman School in Barnett, Kansas, in 1888. The school's one-of-a-kind program teaches young women from the East the skills needed to become a rancher--or the wife of one.

Shy and small for her twenty-two years, Tressa is convinced she'll never have what it takes to survive Hattie Wyatt's hands-on instruction in skills such as milking a cow, branding a calf, riding a horse, and cooking up a mess of grub for hungry ranch hands. But what other options does she have?

Abel Samms wants nothing to do with the group of potential brides his neighbor brought to town. He was smitten with an eastern girl once--and he got his heart broken. But there's something about quiet Tressa and her bumbling ways that makes him take notice.

When Tressa's life is endangered, will Abel risk his own life--and his heart--to help this eastern girl?

If you would like to read the first chapter of A Hopeful Heart, go HERE


I absolutely loved this book! Kim Vogel Sawyer is a master of making you feel the emotions her characters experience. So I expected to be drawn into the story of Tressa Neil, a city girl who's way out of her element on the Kansas Prairie. What I wasn't expecting was such a completely engrossing, entertaining read. In A Hopeful Heart, Kim takes what could have been your typical historical romance and deftly mixes in elements of comedy , mystery, and a journey of faith. The result is a book that was hard for me to put down, even to the point of missing sleep. Anymore, it takes a lot to keep me reading late into the night, but this book did. Thumbs up to Kim! I can't wait to see what's next.