Monday, July 25, 2011

Free Fiction from Tyndale House

Last month, Tyndale House launched its new Digital First line with four great novels. These titles are being released first as ebooks, with paper editions to follow. Cool, huh? But here's the really awesome news... for a limited time, all four titles are FREE! The links below are for the Kindle editions, but I believe they're available for free on the Nook as well. I don't know how long this will last, so get 'em while you can.

Reinventing Leona - by Lynne Gentry

Leona Harper loves being a pastor's wife. Her impressive resume touts thirty years of coaxing hot water from rusty parsonage plumbing, planning church potlucks, and standing beside her husband while members take potshots at his sermons. Except for the little tiff with her grown children, Leona feels her life is right on track with the wishes of the Almighty . . . until her husband drops dead in the pulpit.

When the church board decides to fill the Reverend's vacated position, Leona is forced to find a paying job, mend her fractured family, and tackle her fears. With life spiraling out of control, Leona might find the church members' antics comical if she weren't so completely panicked. Can the faith of an overwhelmed widow withstand the added heartache of two resentful children and several underhanded church members? If Leona can't trust God, how will she learn to trust herself?

Stealing Jake - by Pam Hillman

When Livy O'Brien spies a young boy jostling a man walking along the boardwalk, she recognizes the act for what it is. After all, she used to be known as Light-fingered Livy. But that was before she put her past behind her and moved to the growing town of Chestnut, Illinois, where she's helping to run an orphanage. Now she'll do almost anything to protect the street kids like herself.

Sheriff's deputy Jake Russell had no idea what he was in for when he ran into Livy--literally--while chasing down a pickpocket. With a rash of robberies and a growing number of street kids in town--as well as a loan on the family farm that needs to be paid off--Jake doesn't have time to pursue a girl. Still, he can't seem to get Livy out of his mind. He wants to get to know her better . . . but Livy isn't willing to trust any man, especially not a lawman.

Delivery - by Diana Prusik

Livi finds new purpose in her troubled life when she joins her family's small-town florist shop. There, the strong and wacky Wilson's Florist gang monitors the pulse of Mount Helicon, where customers carry stories even the local newspaper does not contain. Tales of birth and death, sickness and sorrow, love and betrayal, and even forgiveness—Livi hears them all. Privy to some of the community's deepest secrets, she sometimes wishes she didn't know so much, especially when news arrives that a dear family friend is dead. Faced with servicing his funeral, she is blasted with painful memories she's struggled for decades to ignore. Soon, guilt and grief over childhood and adult tragedies close in. Instead of turning to loved ones or God for comfort, she leans on alcohol, her long-time clandestine companion—but secrets rarely escape the close-knit flower shop crew, who makes Livi's business its own. Fumbling through life's challenges together, the Wilson gang often delivers more than flowers, yet when Livi needs delivery, can the bonds of faith and friendship dissolve her defenses?

Cash Burn - by Michael Berrier

Billions of dollars flow through Jason Dunn's banking office each year. When he suffers a series of career setbacks and his marriage begins to crumble, he and his attractive new assistant devise a plan to disappear with a slice of the bank's cash flow. The unwelcome appearance of his brother on the scene, just released from prison, threatens to sidetrack Jason's plans. But Jason's brother "Flip" has his own problems with a parole officer who isn't fooled by this dangerous parolee. In the race to the jackpot between Jason and Flip, and the unwinding of their troubled history, the question soon becomes, Who will get burned?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Interview & Book Giveaway with Author Cara Lynn James

My guest today is author Cara Lynn James. Let's make her feel at home!

Q:  So Cara, have you always wanted to be a writer?
A:  I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was 7 years old—quite a while ago! I wrote a 20 page ‘book’ for my parents’ wedding anniversary. It was based on the Bobbsey Twins books, one of my favorite series at the time. Even though I didn’t pursue my dream of writing until I was much, much older, the desire to write a novel stayed in the corner of my mind collecting cobwebs. Getting published seemed way out of my reach! But after I discovered writers’ groups and other aspiring writers and even a few published ones, I decided to dust off my dream.

Q:  How does your faith impact your writing?
A:  My faith just like everyone else’s is part of my worldview. It would influence my writing whether I wanted it to or not. Since I write inspirationals I include some aspect of my faith in a conscious way. Some books lend themselves to a faith thread more than others, but they all involve Christian principles to some degree. My faith also determines what I’ll write about, the type of plot and the personalities of the characters. Even if I didn’t write inspirational historical romance my faith would play a major role in the books I write.

Q:  How do you deal with writer’s block?
A:  I’ve never really had to deal with writer’s block for more than a short time. When I can’t figure out where a scene should go or I run into a figurative brick wall I usually try to take a break. Reading either a research book or a novel takes my mind off the problem and really seems to help. Retail therapy helps, too! I think my mind is subconsciously working to solve the problem when I’m doing something unrelated. The best thing is probably to work out the plot first and definitely know your characters inside out.

Q:  How long does it take you to complete a novel? How many drafts do you go through?
A:  Love on a Dime and Love on Assignment took me forever to write because they were the first books I completed. Actually I finished a short novel between the two, but it’s not salvageable so I usually forget I wrote it. Love on a Dime and Love on Assignment took years to finish because I was learning how to write a novel and build a story. My latest release and last in the Ladies of Summerhill series, Love by the Book, took me 4 ½ months from start to finish. I’m a slow writer and never would’ve believed I could write a long book in that short amount of time. But I had a deadline and I was determined to meet it on time. Nine months to a year would be much easier for me, but contracts tend to have tight deadlines.

I don’t do a set number of drafts, but I practically have the chapters memorized by the time I send it into my editor so I guess I do many drafts. After a while I quit because I’m too familiar with the work to find additional mistakes or ways to improve. I imagine if I had another few months I could look through the manuscript again with a fresh perspective and find places to tweak.

Q:  Do you plot out your story ahead of time, or do you think it up as you go?
A:  Both. I write a fairly detailed synopsis and then follow that with a skeletal outline of the plot with all the major plot points. Since I’m a visual person I like seeing the entire story laid out in front of me. I can spot holes in the plot etc. that way. I fill in any scenes that pop into my head, but I don’t try to conjure up scenes at this point. So I need to know where I’m going and I have some idea how I’m going to get there. I usually take one section of the story at a time and work at it. For example, I write down everything that needs to happen in the beginning, and then devise as many scenes as I can. Then I start writing. Actually working on the manuscript gets ideas flowing.

Q:  Do you treat yourself to something special when a project is completed?
A:  My husband and I go out to dinner. Maybe we should take a short vacation, too!

Q:  Vacation sounds like fun! After becoming a published author, what surprised you the most?
A:  The amount of promotion involved surprised me. I envisioned staying in my writer’s cave without ever peeking out. I also didn’t realized how satisfying it would be to hold my book in my hand!

Q:  What’s the most important piece of advice you would give to a fledgling writer?
A:  If you’re really serious about getting published then write, write, write. Also, join writer’s groups both online and in person, join a critique group, enter contests and learn from the feedback. Don’t quit! When you get discouraged—and you will from time to time—lick your wounds and then get back to your writing.

Q:  What do you think about writing contests? Have you participated in any? What’s the benefit to an unpublished writer?
A:  As an unpublished writer I submitted to many contests and finaled in several. At first I didn’t do so well, but I took the judges’ advice, improved my writing and submitted again. If wasn’t always a pleasant process, but it was beneficial. Eventually I received requests for full manuscripts from both editors and agents. In 2009 I finaled in the Golden Heart. Because of that final I received an offer from Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Q:  If you weren’t a writer, what would you be doing?
A:  I’d be enjoying my husband’s retirement and spending more time with my grandson. I wouldn’t be cleaning the house more!

Q:  What does your family think about your crazy career?
A:  They think it’s great and they’re very supportive. They’re really fantastic cheerleaders. After I sold they understood I now have deadlines to meet, so they’ve pitched in to help more.

Q:  There’s been a lot said about the future of publishing and the possible death of the print book.  What’s your take on eBooks, self-publishing, and such?
A:  The Ladies of Summerhill series are all available as e-books as well as in print. Personally, I like both. The disadvantage I see in e-books--a writer of e-books usually gets paid through royalties, but not an advance. I think advances are important for any author who wants writing to provide an income, not just pin money. E-books are great because they won’t go out of print. It seems as if the publishing industry is heading in that direction more and more.

Q:  What’s the one far out sci-fi technology you’d most like to see become a household item?
A:  A robotic housekeeper.

Amen on that housekeeper. Thanks a bunch for visiting with us, Cara!

Cara Lynn James lives in northwest Florida with her husband, daughter, son, grandson, and Papillion, Sparky. She writes full time despite this crowd. She’s lived in several states—Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Texas, California, Virginia and Vermont. During this time she’s served as a Naval officer, bookshop owner, and stay-at-home, home-schooling mom.

ABOUT THE BOOK - Love by the Book
Savor this sweeping love story set in a lavish seaside mansion in 1901 Rhode Island.

Melinda Hollister is a society lady, intent on finding a rich husband before her peers discover her quickly diminishing wealth. Nick Bryson is all business, focused on making a name for himself in his father’s steamship line. Despite the marriage of their siblings, they rarely gave each other a second glance—until a tragic accident results in Melinda and Nick being appointed as co-guardians of their three-year-old niece Nell.

In order to get better acquainted with Nell and one another, Melinda and Nick agree to spend the summer in their own private quarters of the Bryson family vacation home, Summerhill. As their love for Nell grows, so does their attraction to each other. And for the first time in their lives, they sense that God has a bigger plan in motion.

Yet old habits die hard – and Melinda and Nick each find it difficult to resist the pull of their former worlds.

When the unthinkable happens, they find themselves faced with seemingly impossible choices and a new understanding of God’s true love.

If you’d like to be entered to win a copy of Love by the Book, just leave a comment on this blog. I’ll pick a winner at random on Monday, July 25th. NOTE: This time round, North American addresses only. And we need to have at least 10 comments for the giveaway... so let us know you were here! 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, July 15, 2011

The Harry Potter Saga in Six Minutes - VIDEO

So, the final Harry Potter movie came out today. My son lost interest in Harry two movies ago, but I really want to see how the whole thing ends, so I'll be seeing it by myself. (Nope, I haven't read any of the books. GASP!)

I'm curious... who among you is planning to go?  And who already braved one of those midnight showings?

And, in case you need to brush up on your Potter back story, here's a video from Warner Brothers that gives you the whole thing, and a preview of the end, in about six minutes. My, those kids have grown. Just listen to how high Harry and Ron's voices were in the beginning. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Interview & Book Giveaway with Author Trish Perry

A big welcome to a dear lady and great author, Trish Perry!

Q:  What was your inspiration for Unforgettable?
A:  When Summerside Press indicated an interest in working with me for their When I Fall in Love line, they gave me several song titles to choose from (each book’s title is the title of a popular song). I chose Unforgettable, because I’ve always loved Nat King Cole’s rendition. Of course, I’m a little sick of it now, after hearing it in my head every day for several months. But that’s an occupational hazard I can live with. The books in the When I Fall in Love line all focus on the time frame during which each song was released. I was born in the Fifties, so I was too young to truly experience the era, but history shows there was so much going on in that decade—especially in the early Fifties, not long after the war, when much was changing and building in our country and in the lives of young men and women. And ballroom dance was just starting to become nationally competitive, so I saw a fun romance possibility there.

Q:  Have you always wanted to be a writer?
A:  No! Or, rather, I didn’t think of myself that way until I was an adult. I dabbled here and there with silly little short stories when I was young, and I’ve always been a huge fan of fiction and film. It wasn’t until I went back to college as an adult that I realized how much I loved writing stories. It’s never too late if it’s something the Lord has planned for you!

Q:  How does your faith impact your writing?
A:  I wouldn’t be a writer if it weren’t for my faith. I know the Lord directed me to return to school in my adult years, and He was the one who lit the fire in me to switch my plans away from becoming a psychological counselor in order to write novels. I learned so much about creative writing in college, and then at classes and conferences elsewhere. Now I don’t even try to write a story before going to Him first. I honestly have a hard time answering that question, “Where do your ideas come from?” because half the time I can’t remember their beginnings. I think that’s because He puts the ideas in my mind while I’m not even trying. Not only does He bless me that way, but also He blesses me by allowing me to play a role in the lives of some of my readers. I don’t wrestle with the “message” of my stories, because I know He’s using whatever falls out of my imagination to touch a reader who needs to know how much He loves them. And He touches them in a way I couldn’t possibly plan.

Q:  Do you plot out your story ahead of time, or do you think it up as you go?
A:  I do quite a bit of character design before plotting, and then I get my basic plot planned. Then I write the first several chapters before filling in more of my plot. So my specific chapters are only plotted out about four chapters ahead of what I’m writing. I’m always on my way to a major plot point, but how I get to each one isn’t always set in stone before I start writing the book. I’ve always loved planning more than doing, so I have to write this way to keep from procrastinating with the actual writing. Otherwise, I’d plan until the Second Coming.

Q:  Do you treat yourself to something special when a project is completed?
A:  No, I treat myself to something special the entire time I’m working on a project! I spoil myself rotten. I mean, I spoil myself in little ways. Like, dinner is my reward for reaching my daily word count—otherwise, I’d break for dinner and find a reason not to come back and finish. I’m the proverbial donkey with a carrot in front of herself—that keeps me seated here at the computer, making progress. But I don’t set something special out there, like a new pair of shoes or a night at the movies with friends or a trip to Europe, which I’ll give myself when I finish a novel. Just finishing the project is a huge thrill and relief for me. I must admit, though, that a trip to Europe would probably be a bigger thrill—maybe I should rework my methods.

Q:  What’s the most important piece of advice you would give to a fledgling writer?
A:  I’m like a broken record with this, but it’s so important. If you feel led by God to write, start every day by going to Him and dedicating your writing efforts to Him. Then just do your best with the day you’re given. Write what you can, attempt what you can to find publication, and accept rejection as a part of the process. As long as you’re writing to honor Him, He will bless what you do. He won’t use rejection to tell you to give up. We all get turned down at some point in this business. But pay attention to your drive—do you feel joy in writing? Or is there something else that draws you more? If you feel drawn elsewhere, He’s probably guiding you there. If you feel joy in writing, He’s guiding you there. So write. Give it to Him. Be patient.

Q:  What do you think about writing contests? Have you participated in any? What’s the benefit to an unpublished writer?
A:  I’m a believer in the merits of writing contests. I still enter a few each year. I found my wonderful agent as a result of a writing contest, so, indirectly, I’m published because of a writing contest. And I know I’m not alone in that. For the unpublished writer, the best thing about entering contests is getting your writing in front of agents and editors who will read something of yours they might not have read otherwise. Once you’re published, it’s still a good idea, because it gets your book in front of more readers and might even lead to an accolade you can list on your book page. Every bit of promotion helps!

Q:  What does your family think about your crazy career?
A:  They’ve been wonderfully supportive and always express a lot of pride in my efforts. My daughter was already an adult by the time I started publishing, but my son has grown up around my writing, and I think our conversations influenced his choice to go into filmmaking in college. We talk a lot about story and character when we watch anything together.

Q:  There’s been a lot said about the future of publishing and the possible death of the print book. What’s your take on eBooks, self-publishing, and such?
A:  I don’t like the idea of print books becoming a thing of the past, ever. I love books—love to have them around, to hold them as part of the reading experience, and to share them with friends. But I think there are some rather exciting developments taking place in the industry because of e-books and the increasing availability of e-publishing. As someone who generally publishes romantic comedy, I like the idea that I might be able to e-publish something a little different, perhaps in an entirely different genre.

The drawback to self-publishing remains what it’s always been. Anyone with sufficient funds can self-publish anything, whether through print or e-book, whether well written or abysmally bad. And self-publishing an e-book is far less pricey than self-publishing a print book. So there will be much more junk out there. But I think the market will adjust to that. Both professional and everyday reader reviews will gain more value. Word-of-mouth will play a larger role in a book’s success. And untrained, mediocre authors who slapdash something together and e-publish it will get bad reputations quickly.

I do hope the publishing industry will make whatever adjustments they can to remain solvent. I love my personal library, and holding an electronic device with a file containing one’s labor of love? Just not the same.

Thanks for stopping by, Trish. It's always a pleasure!

If you'd like to read what Trish has to say about writing with humor, visit her guest post at Seekerville.

Award-winning novelist Trish Perry has published eight inspirational romances as well as two devotionals. Before her novels, Perry published numerous short stories, essays, devotions, and poetry in Christian and general market media. She has served as a columnist and as a newsletter editor over the years, as well as a 1980s stockbroker and a board member of the Capital Christian Writers organization in Washington, D.C. She serves on the Board of Directors of CCW and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America. She holds a degree in Psychology.

Trish’s nostalgic romance novel, Unforgettable (Summerside Press), released in March and Tea for Two, Book Two in her Millicent’s Tea Shop series (Harvest House), released in April. She invites you to visit her at

Rachel Stanhope tries to see the good in everyone. But even her good graces are challenged when she meets Josh Reegan outside her Arlington, Virginia dance studio on a brisk fall morning in 1951. Admittedly, he’s attractive, but she finds his cynicism and cockiness hard to tolerate.
A hard-news journalist and former World War II Air Force pilot, Josh considers distractions like ballroom dancing frivolous wastes of time. He has yet to shed his wartime drive to defend good against evil whenever he can. Yes, Rachel’s confident nature is a refreshing challenge, but he wouldn’t tangle with her if his newspaper hadn’t roped him into covering one of her studio’s competitions in New York City.

Between Arlington and New York, between the melodrama of ballroom antics and the real drama of political corruption, between family involvement and romantic entanglement, Rachel and Josh have their hands full. The last thing either of them expects is mutual need and support. But once they stop dancing around the truth, the results are unforgettable.

If you’d like to be entered to win a copy of Unforgettable, just leave a comment on this blog. I’ll pick a winner at random on Tuesday, July 12th. (NOTE: This time round, US addresses only. Thanks.) 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, July 4, 2011

Happy Independence Day!

Leviticus 25:10
Inscribed on the Liberty Bell

May you be blessed this Independence Day!