Gail's Book Nook

Friday, December 31, 2010

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL

WISHING EVERYONE A HAPPY, SAFE NEW YEAR!

Beginning on Tuesday, January 4th, join The Sweetest Romance Authors for a round robin writing adventure at Coffee Time Romance. We'll be writing a sci-fi story, and we'd like you to participate. Some of us have written science fiction, but lots of us haven't, so we'll see where the story leads together. The biggest thing to remember -- The Sweetest Romance Authors write only G-rated material. We hope to see you at
our forum. It's http://www.coffeetimeromance.com/board/forumdisplay.php?f=1096

Monday, December 13, 2010

Looking in the Window: Christmas Love








MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!




BE SURE TO CHECK BELOW FOR CHRISTMAS FUN


GIVEAWAYS AND PRIZES

The Love of Christmas
It’s Christmas Eve in Georgia. My husband, my daughter and I are riding on deserted streets into the cold, dark night. The pots and pans in my kitchen are washed and dried. The rolls of wrapping paper are empty; the presents under the tree. We pull into the church parking lot and go inside. We find a seat in the back, where the woman beside me brushes flour from her skirt. I smile at her and settle into the peacefulness reflected by the Christmas tree glimmering at the altar. Bright green wreaths with red bows line the sanctuary filled with a congregation dressed in red and green. I listen to the Christmas story. Ushers hand out candles, lighting one on the end of each row. The overhead lights go dim. We pass the flame from one person to another while we sing “Silent Night.” All the hustle-bustle of the season leaves me. I am still. I rejoice in Jesus’ birth. We finish with, “Sleep in Heavenly peace.” The lights come on. The choir stands and the sounds of the “Hallelujah Chorus” burst forth. I look at my watch -- midnight. It’s Christmas.


When I think of Christmas, I think of love. Over the years I’ve heard several theories on its origin. Some proclaim that chemicals in the brain produce love. So far no one has isolated those elements or found a pill that stimulates defective chemicals to produce love that isn’t there. I most recently read that it’s implanted in us and already existed when we were born. Even if it did, where did it come from? It had to have a source. Scientists can’t create it. If they could, they would be selling it for a fortune.

I believe it’s a gift from God. His unconditional love is so great we can never measure up to it. But when we understand we are worthy because He loves us, even though we’re not perfect, we can tap into it. Sometimes it appears that love can be bought or forced on someone, but no one can dictate the feelings of another person’s heart. Love must be received and given.

At Christmas God gave us the greatest gift, sending his son to die for our sins. It’s up to us to accept His love and share it.

John 3: 16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

CHRISTMAS FUN, GIVEAWAYS AND PRIZES


MONDAY, DECEMBER 20TH

I’m participating in The Sweetest Romance Authors Holiday Party. Join us on Monday, December 20th. Check out our favorite holiday memories and share your own! All visitors will be entered for sweet romance giveaways. With titles such as Sabotage, Love Turns the Tide, Taking Advantage, Loyalty's Web, and Turtle Soup, you will not want to miss out on your holiday free read! Plus, we want to hear from you!What is your favorite holiday memory? Share with us.Stop by The Sweetest Romance Authors at http://thesweetestromanceauthors.blogspot.com/
Drawings will be held Monday at midnight and winners announced Tuesday morning.

CHRISTMAS EVE, DECEMBER 24TH
My blog, “When Is Christmas,” will appear on the Jingle Bell Blog Fest at Long and Short Reviews on Christmas Eve. During the Christmas season blog fest one lucky commenter will win a fifty-dollar gift certificate to Amazon or Barnes & Noble and another will win a “Bag of Books.” The link directly to the blogs is http://lasrguest.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Looking Out the Window: Welcome Delia Latham



I’m so happy to have Delia Lathan to talk about Destiny’s Dream, the first book in her Solomon’s Gate series, which revolves around a Christian dating agency of the same name. A dating service – what fun!

And, she’s having a contest. Be sure to click on “my website” at the end of the interview to learn about it.

First tell us a little about yourself:
I’m a born-and-raised California girl, recently transplanted to Oklahoma. (That’s a big change for a gal past 50!) I’m a wife of 37 years, a mother to four adult children, and Nanny to nine, counting the five extra grandchildren God “brought” into our family. I enjoy singing, and especially enjoy Southern Gospel music. And I enjoy designing marketing products, such as business cards, bookmarks, flyers, postcards, etc.

Were you an avid reader as a child? What did you read?
It would probably be easier to say what I didn’t read! J I’ve loved books ever since I was introduced to “Dick and Jane.” (Okay, I know, that really dates me, doesn’t it?) From that time on, I could be found with my nose buried in a book at just about any given time. I read everything I could get my hands on–including dictionaries and the backs of cleaning products. I especially enjoyed Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, Trixie Belden, and The Bobbsey Twins, but…anything would do, as long as the storyline pulled me in and took me to another world.

I believe most writers are avid readers. Why do you write?
Because I can’t not write. Just like reading, writing is something I’ve done since I was able to hold a pencil. Even as a very young child, I wrote little poems and songs, then graduated to making up short stories. I always knew I wanted to write a book…someday. But first I had to raise four children, so I wrote for a large daily newspaper and freelanced to a regional magazine in the meantime.

I can relate to that. I wrote magazine articles also. Tell us about your latest book.
Here’s a blurb: Is a little respect too much to ask at a parent’s funeral?

Apparently it is for Destiny May. Clay Gallagher is built like a small mountain and far more vocal than is fitting when he shows up late to her mother’s “going away party.” When it turns out he’s not even at the right funeral, Destiny demands retribution in the form of an escape from the day’s dreary proceedings. Spending time with a handsome stranger who makes her laugh is more therapeutic than fighting with her overbearing family.

Clay finds Destiny beautiful, charming...and intelligent. So why is she stubbornly determined to open a Christian dating service? Clay has little respect for such a frivolous profession, and doesn’t think the small, conservative town of Castle Creek will welcome such a progressive business. But when Destiny is threatened by an anonymous caller who deeply resents her and what she does for a living, Clay makes it his business to keep the saucy redhead out of harm’s way.

Trouble is, spending time in her company weakens his defenses, and Destiny may be the one thing Clay can’t escape...if he even wants to.

Where do you get ideas for your books?
Ideas are everywhere. I think of them as chameleons…they blend into the surroundings, but if you’re really looking, you’ll find them. They’re hiding in overheard conversations. (Writers are shameless eavesdroppers. Be careful what you say in the booth at your favorite restaurant… J); they’re tucked away in newspaper headlines and magazine articles; they play hide-and-seek in the movies you watch–if you don’t like the way the scenes play out, how would you have written that story?; they tuck themselves into everyday situations, like a trip to the store or an over-the-fence chat with your neighbor. The trick is to hear what people are saying, see your surroundings, feel the wind in your hair and the sand between your toes, take a moment to actually smell the roses…fresh air…barnyard–yes, even the unpleasant smells have something to say; relish the taste of everything that touches your tongue. Only by using all of your senses to their maximum potential will you be able to recreate them in your descriptions. Only by going one step beyond what you think you hear, see, feel, smell, or touch will you be able to find the chameleons (ideas) hiding beneath the surface.

How do you get to know your characters?
How do you get to know anyone? By spending time with them. By listening to what they say…and what they don’t say. By noticing how they react to various situations. By allowing them to become a part of my life.

During the writing process for each book, I actually feel that I know my characters better than I know anyone else—even the “real” people in my life. How could I not? I live in their heads and exist in their world, sometimes almost to the exclusion of my own. I suppose being so immersed in an imaginary world might be considered dangerous or ridiculous (depending on who’s judging…lol), but it’s what works for me. When I finish the book, I actually miss my characters. Writing a series has been a joy, because I’ve been able to spend a little more time with the original characters in each of the follow-up novels. J

What themes do you write about?
Romance, of course. Christian romance, which brings other themes into play—faith, trust, forgiveness, prayer, salvation…. But readers will almost always find some element of the divine in my books, as well–usually angels. For some reason, God seems to draw me to and give me ideas using His special messengers. In Destiny’s Dream, the angel angle begins from the very first chapter–almost the first page. I’ve enjoyed this series so much, as God took my storylines in directions I hadn’t even dreamed of. I’ve always thought I believed in angels, but through this series, God has made them very real to me, and I hope that will be true for my readers, as well.

Are you a plotter or a pantzer?
I’m definitely a pantzer. I wish I could plot ahead and know right where my story was going, but…no. It doesn’t work for me. I get the seed of an idea, toss it around in my head for a few days (or weeks, depending on how stubborn my muse is being), then sit down and start writing. My stories are very much character-driven, so I just start putting words on paper and see where the characters take me.

Does your faith affect your writing? How?
Without a doubt. How can it not? I consider my writing a ministry, and I spend a great deal of time praying about every word that I write. I want the finished product to be edifying and uplifting, clean, inspiring—and for my readers to find something to take away with them. A stronger faith, a more trusting heart, a call to forgiveness…something lasting.

What are you working on right now?
I’m working on the galleys from Book Two in the Solomon’s Gate Series, Kylie’s Kiss. And I’m writing the third book, Gypsy’s Game. In addition, I’m working on my portion of a Christmas collection that’s being written by four different authors, and preparing for the release of my first published children’s book, a rhymed story called Mine!

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Writer’s write. So write. Even if on some days it feels like you’re writing rubbish, write. Find a place you can make your own, whether it’s one end of the dining table, a walk-in closet you’ve taken over, or a full-blown office with all the bells and whistles. The important thing is that you have a place to go, and that you go there every day, preferably at the same time every day, and do what writers do. Write. You’ll be surprised how quickly it becomes such a part of your routine that you can’t imagine not being there, in that place, at that time…writing.

What is the coolest, wackiest, most risk-taking thing you’ve ever done?
I’m not much of a risk taker. Does getting married at 16 and having four children count? LOL

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?
Yes. In lieu of doing separate giveaways at every blog stop during this blog tour, I’m running a two-part contest on my website. It’s fun, exciting, and the prizes are beautiful. Come on over and check it out–there’s ample opportunity for participants to earn numerous entries. Good luck!

Delia's Bio
DELIA is a Christian wife, mother, grandmother, sister, and friend. While she considers each of these roles important ones, she treasures most of all her role as a child of the King and an heir to the throne.

A former newspaper staff writer, Delia promised herself a novel for years, while raising her four children, working at various jobs and writing the occasional article, poem, or song. She fulfilled that promise when Vintage Romance Publishing released Goldeneyes in 2008. A Christian historical romance with a touch of the divine, Goldeneyes is set in the farm country of the author’s childhood, and therefore close to her heart. In 2010, White Rose Publishing released Yesterday’s Promise in electronic format, and Destiny’s Dream in print and e-format. A children’s book will be available early in 2011.

Delia grew up in Weedpatch, a tiny agricultural community near Bakersfield, in California’s San Joaquin Valley. She and her husband Johnny recently transplanted from that area to Okmulgee County, Oklahoma.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Looking Out the Window: Welcome Danielle Thorne












Danielle Thorne's Goodie Tour: Crazy Corn – Caramel Corn, That Is!





I'm so happy to have talented writer Danielle Thorne. I've recently learned that she's a great cook. She's here with a holiday recipe. And she'll tell us a little about her sweet romances.


Hi, Gail! Happy Holidays to you and your readers. Thanks for letting me drop by on my Goodie Tour to share some recipes for the Season. I've pulled out my best end-of-year recipes that make great additions for parties and get-togethers.

Today I'd like to share something near and dear to my heart – and my taste buds. I love snacks that I can gobble up myself and give away as gifts. My Crazy Crunch caramel corn recipe covers both bases. Adapted from a magazine recipe I found many years ago, this popcorn is a unique find and the best caramel corn I've ever tried. I highly recommend doubling. Enjoy!

DANIELLE THORNE'S CRAZY CORN

6 cups of microwave-popped Kettle Corn (sweetened popcorn)
3 cups of Rice Chex cereal
2 cups of Cheerios cereal
1 cup of cashews piece
1 cup of pecan pieces
1 cup of brown sugar
½ cup of butter
¼ cup of light or dark corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon of baking soda

Stir together the first five ingredients, making sure to remove any unpopped popcorn seeds. On the stovetop, bring sugar, butter, and corn syrup to a boil on medium heat, stirring constantly. When mixture begins to bubble, boil five minutes without stirring. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and baking soda. Pour over popcorn mixture and gently blend until well coated. Pour into greased roasting pan and bake one hour at 250 degrees, stirring every twenty minutes. Stores well in covered container and makes a great goody bag.


Now, if you enjoy sweet romance with your sweet treats, check out my recent sea adventure, BY HEART AND COMPASS, available at Amazon and Desert Breeze Publishing. Here's a tidbit:

When Lacey Whitman buys a restored Victorian home, she never dreams discovering an antique diary will lead her back to sea and into the arms of the dive bum she’d rather forget. Her habit of living in the past comes to a screeching halt as diver Max Bertrand and the diary of his ancestor take Lacey on the quest of a lifetime: To discover and raise the privateer ship, Specter, and bring the treasure and legacy of a true hero home again. But will finding it cost her heart?

BY HEART AND BY COMPASS IS AVAILABLE AT AMAZON: http://www.amazon.com/By-Heart-and-Compass-ebook/dp/B003U8AFIG/ref=sr_1_10?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1280802562&sr=1-10


AND AT DESERT BREEZE PUBLISHING:





Watch for JOSETTE, my first Regency romance release coming this December!

~Happy Sweet Holidays~

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

HAPPY THANKSGIVING EVERYONE!

I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Next week Danielle Thorne will be here to share one of her
yummy recipes for the holidays.

On December 7th, Delia Latham will tell us about a contest.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Looking Out the Window: Art and Spirituality

STAINED GLASS ART BY CAROLYN BOYER



Ah, the tangled webs we weave



Right, Copper cross, geode, stained glass


Connecting art and faith began for me in the 70’s as I linked new theological insights regarding women in biblical history and interpretation with the work of two contemporary women artists, Judy Chicago and Sister Corita Kent. At that time I embraced the women’s movement and the feminism which espoused equality and inclusion in secular and religious life. I still do. As inclusive language became the norm in public life, I longed for the church to utilize it in worship and conversation including references to the feminine imagery for God found in the Bible. I became acutely aware that visual images and words, read and spoken, influence self image and behavior and inform an understanding of the world and faith.



Left: Now we see in a mirror dimly...




The works and words of artists Judy Chicago and Sister Corita Kent profoundly influenced me as a woman and an artist. Viewing Chicago’s The Dinner Party at the Art Gallery of Ontario in 1982 was a revelation. I came to realize the importance of women’s work and history and experienced “AH-HA” moments of joy and excitement related to the artistic techniques of embroidery and ceramics connecting the beauty of the female body with women of history who struggled for equality and justice. Chicago’s collaborative approach to art making, so like women’s work around the world, reflected a quality of church and community life I desired. Her feminist views were controversial; her art expressions of female sexuality did not conform to traditional artistic forms. By and large, my enthusiasm for her views and art fell on deaf ears. Judy Chicago’s book, Embroidering Our Heritage, The Dinner Party Needlework remains a great read for those who sew, create in ceramics or are inspired by creative expression, and who would enjoy a “refresher course” in Western women’s history and heritage.

Sister Corita Kent (1918-1986), a teacher, artist and gentle activist elevated the art of serigraphy (silk screen) to a fine art medium and taught new ways of seeing, making, and living. She was what I would call a “free spirit.” Corita’s philosophy of teaching creativity encouraged artistic experiment using all mediums of art. Ronald Steen, a noted art and museum historian, described Corita’s art as a reflection of her spirituality, a commitment to social justice, hope for peace and fascination with life and the wold around her. Kent’s posters featuring huge bold streaks of colour and words spoke to the social issues of the day: the war in Vietnam, hunger, amnesty for prisoners. She was a quiet and cautious protester, not engaging in acts of civil disobedience, but speaking volumes through her art. Buckminster Fuller described his visit to her art department as among the most fundamentally inspiring experiences of his life. Although Kent died in 1986, Learning By Heart: Teachings to Free the Creative Spirit by Corita Kent and Jan Steward continues to be a source of inspiration. (from Amazon.ca or a public library)

Lately, Sister Wendy Beckett, a contemplative nun, living in solitude on the grounds of a monastery in Norfolk, England, has been like a personal mentor for understanding spiritual insights in the world of art. She makes a distinction between “religious art” and “spiritual art”,
observing that they are not synonymous. I understand what she means. I’ve observed “religious art” in church settings and art galleries that fails to inspire while some contemporary art touches me deeply.

Beckett’s years of art research and expertise are reflected in BBC produced DVD series available for purchase online and borrowed from public libraries. As an artist and Christian I have found her book Sister Wendy Beckett on Art and The Sacred especially helpful. Her thoughtful
insights about 65 contemporary works of art are celebrative commentaries of the transforming power of art and prayerful meditations on the presence of the divine in our everyday life.

The art and lives of Judy Chicago, Corita Kent, and Sister Wendy Beckett nurture my spirit and inspire my art. The spring 2008 theme of Geez, holy mischief in an age of fast faith, a magazine published in Manitoba, was Art in an Age of Brutality. This issue shakes up traditional art
opinions. I commend this magazine to those who wonder about non-traditional views of church and Western culture.

For me creating and viewing art is evocative of the phrase in Revelation, “Behold! I make all things new.” Creating art outside the lines is my preference. I am thankful for the Good News that encourages new possibilities, invites us to sing new songs and enables personal transformation. That gospel gives me permission to create works of art that extend beyond traditional boundaries using a variety of media and artistic styles.

Image and the Spirit by Karen Stone is a useful book for individuals and groups seeking to renew a spirit of creativity, imagination and joy. (Book Room, PPC)

Published by permission from Women's Perspectives Magazine in Canada.

Carolyn Boyer is a teacher, artist, writer, grandmother and elder in St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church in Canada.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Looking Out the Window: Welcome K. Dawn Byrd

AND THE WINNER IS......
DANIELLE
CONGRATULATIONS, DANIELLE



It’s great to have K. Dawn Byrd, author of Killing Time. She'll be giving away a mouse pad with the image of her book cover on it.
To enter to win leave a comment with your email address (U.S. residents only). I'll select a winner on November 3rd!

First, tell us how your story originated.

I've always been an avid reader and planned to write a book one day. When I began work as a counselor in a jail, I thought that would be a neat setting for the book. I began to jot down notes about the environment such as sights, sounds, and smells. Before I knew it, my heroine had formed in my mind, begging me to tell her story.

What a worthwhile job! Tell us about your journey from idea to publication.

This book didn't go through rejections because I never sent it out. I did enter it in some contests in order to get feedback. It finaled in the Duel on the Delta last year. An agent took a look at it and said that she really liked my writing, but was afraid it might be hard to sell a book partially set in a jail. It was then I realized that there's such a thing as writing to market if you want to sell. About that time, I became friends with Michelle Sutton and she recommended one of her publishers to me, Desert Breeze Publishing. They liked it and the rest is history.

Great story! What about you? Would you share three things about yourself that would surprise your readers?

I own two hairless Chinese Crested dogs.
I love sour things....pickles, lemons, sour candy.
I used to ride a Harley, but gave it up in order to have more time to write. (My husband always wanted to stay out way too long and take the scenic route home. He still has his bike, but I don't miss mine at all.)

What are you working on now and what's next for you?

I'm working on three proposals requested by a publisher at the ACFW Conference. As soon as they're ready, I'll be editing the two books I've just signed contracts on for next year with Desert Breeze. They've been absolutely wonderful to work with.

Congratulations! I look forward to hearing more about your new books.
Thanks so much for visiting. Do you have any parting comments?

Thank you for hosting me on your blog! For those of you who love Christian fiction, please check my blog for weekly book giveaways. I interview 3-5 authors a week who give away their books. www.kdawnbyrd.blogspot.com

Where can fans find you on the internet?

http://www.kdawnbyrd.blogspot.com/
I'm also on Twitter (kdawnbyrd) and facebook (K Dawn Byrd.) I am the moderator of the Christian Fiction Gathering facebook group (http://www.facebook.com/#!/group.php?gid=128209963444) If you join this group, you'll get reminders about the weekly book giveways.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Looking in the Window: Remembering a Lizard in the Sand

I carried the blue canvas stadium chair to the beach and planted it in the deep, white sand. A baby lizard lay in the seat. My husband, Rick, flipped it out with his hand and turned around to set up his chair. Tail and all, the tiny creature measured only one to one-and-a-half inches. Trying to move, it writhed in the grained earth.

Bright sunshine lit up the fall day, but the shore felt chilly to my bare feet. He must be cold. I stared at the lizard. His little arms and legs so thin; his fingers, like short pieces of thread, wiggled frantically. “Now you’ve done it.”

Rick sat down.

“He can’t travel on the beach,” I said.

Rick stood. Using his foot, he scooped up a large amount of sand with the lizard atop it. He took several steps, and the sand filtered to the ground, so he flicked off the lizard and repeated the process. At first the little reptile squirmed as though he tried to escape. But after a while he lay very still while Rick picked him up and moved him. At last Rick reached the fence in front of the dunes, where sea oats and vines grew. But Rick's foot wouldn't fit through the fence.

“I’ll get a piece of a vine and put it up to the lizard. He can grab hold of it,” I said.

Rick raised his dark eyebrows. “You can try.”

I poked a stem at the lizard’s feet. He lay like a stone. I tried again and got the same result. Finally, on the fourth attempt the lizard wrapped those tiny legs and arms around the vine and held on tight. I threw him over the fence into a patch of greenery. As far as I know, he’s enjoying his new home.

When I’m over-burdened and bogged down with problems or unpleasant situations, I often feel stuck like the lizard. I turn this way; then, that, trying to escape. My mind spins so fast thinking of possible solutions, but I get nowhere. I think if I just work a little harder, I can handle things. Eventually, I’m physically and emotionally exhausted. But I’m still writhing around in the sand. It isn’t until I ask for God’s help that I get relief.

Matthew 7: 7-8, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Looking Out the Window: Crisp Air, a Dry Leaf on My Deck, and Football in the Den

Football is on television tonight. Once right after we married my husband, Rick, turned on the T V at 2:00 a.m., to watch two high school teams I’d never heard of. I’m not sure everyone is that huge of a fan, but college games bring out fierce loyalties among their alumnae, and followers of professional football will often travel hundreds of miles to support their favorite teams.

During the first five years of our marriage we had season tickets to a college team on Saturday and a professional team on Sunday. I grew to appreciate the skilled players and the execution of well designed plays. I still abhor those who must commit a flagrant foul with the intent of injuring a talented player to gain an advantage. But, desperate behavior shows up in all walks of life.

In many ways a football game with its set-backs, momentary glories and determined players resembles a snip-it of life. Possibly, that’s what fuels the sadness over a loss and the ecstasy of a win. When our team wins, we feel that we’ve won too. Last year’s super bowl, possibly more than any other, brought that feeling to life for thousands of fans in New Orleans and other parts of the county who weren’t even connected to the team, but were happy that New Orleans had something to cheer about.

That same type spirit is fostered by the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Founded 1954, it has been based in Kansas City, Missouri, since 1956. In 2003 they presented their first Bobby Bowden Award. Named for the previous long-time Florida State coach of the Seminoles in Tallahassee, the award honors one college football player each year who conducts himself as a “faith model.” Those nominated must have a 3.0 GPA or better as well as backing from his school’s athletic director and head football coach. The award is presented annually before the Bowl Championship Series’ national title game. It’s a wonderful way to instill spiritual values into those who will someday become role models for thousands of youngsters who watch the games.

Since the proper watching of football requires something to munch, I’d like to share a friend’s recipe for chipped beef dip.
3 Tabls. Lemon dill weed
3 Tabls. Minced Onion
1 Tabl. Seasoned salt
2 cups mayonnaise
2 8 oz. packages of creamed cheese
2 2.5 packages of Buddy Beef (chopped)
2 Tabls. Chopped scallions
1 loaf un-sliced rye bread

In a medium bowl, mix all ingredients together at least one hour before serving.

Cut the top section of rye bread and chop it for dipping. Pour the dip into the cut-out portion of bread.

Go team!!!

Matthew 5: 16: “…let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

CELEBRATING WITH LINDA!

What fun we've had celebrating with Linda! Be sure to stop by her blog at http://lindaweaverclarke.blogspot.com and check out the give away.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Looking Out the Window: Welcome Linda Weaver Clark










Linda Weaver Clark tells us about her journey from romance to mystery writer and talks about Anasazi Intrigue and Mayan Intrigue, the first two books of the adventure series about John and Julia Evans. To enter to win a copy of a book click on the link below to Linda's blog.




Romance VS Mystery!

I have written five historical romance novels but have changed to mystery. The writing process between romance and mystery is quite a change with a completely different mind set. It's so different from telling a love story. With romance, you plan out the plot around the meeting of a couple. As you write, you develop some sort of charisma between the characters, making the reader feel excited that one day they're going to hit it off and fall in love. You, as the reader, know what the outcome will be. But with a mystery, the reader is in the dark. The author has to come up with a plot that no one knows about until the end of the story and hope they haven't figured it out. In a mystery, you may or may not allow your reader to know who the bad guys are, according to whether it's just a mystery or mystery suspense. Do you know the difference between a mystery and a mystery suspense novel? In a mystery, when a knock is heard at the door, the reader doesn't know who's behind it. With mystery suspense, the reader knows who's behind the door and yells to the heroine, "Don't open the door!"

Anasazi Intrigue is the first book in a mystery adventure series called The Adventures of John and Julia Evans. It's about a devastating flood that takes out several homes in a small town, the importance of preserving ancient artifacts, and a few puzzling and mysterious events. Julia is a reporter, and when she finds out about a possible poison spill that kills some fish and neighbor's pets, she has a feeling that something isn't quite right. Before she realizes what is happening, Julia finds out that this incident is much bigger and more dangerous than she thought. With dead fish, a devastating flood, and miscreants chasing John and Julia, they have their hands full.
Artifact theft is a very intriguing subject. That's why I call it the Intrigue series. In my research, I found that archaeological thievery is becoming more and more of a problem every year. Did you know that looting is only second to selling illegal drugs? While researching the second book in this series, Mayan Intrigue, my eyes were opened to the problems they have in southern Mexico. When an ancient ruin is discovered, it doesn't take long for thieves to take it apart. The reason why is because the Mayas used astrological alignments when planning their city. Looters have learned the layout of the Mayan cities so they know where to dig. With this knowledge, they can loot a sacred temple in a few days. I also found that artifact theft in Mexico has been taken over by drug dealers from Columbia. In other words, since organized crime has taken over, there is also an increase of violence.

Mayan Intrigue will be released on August 30th and I'm having a week long celebration with a book give-away at my Blog at http://lindaweaverclarke.blogspot.com/. Mayan Intrigue is about the discovery of a priceless artifact that puts Julia's life in great danger. While on assignment for the newspaper, John and Julia try to enjoy a romantic vacation among the Mayan ruins, but when Julia accidentally comes upon a couple suspicious men exchanging an item, she quickly turns and leaves but it's too late. Before John and Julia realize what's going on, they find themselves running for their lives through the jungles of the Yucatan. To read an excerpt from each of my books, you can visit http://www.lindaweaverclarke.com/.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

And the Winner Is...

Thanks to all who stopped by to read about Anita and Irene's wonderful new book!
The winner is...drum roll...Miss Kallie!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Looking Out the Window: Welcome Irene Brand and Anita Higman










The heat indexes may be soaring, but before we know it the temperatures will fall and Christmas will be right around the corner. Irene Brand and Anita Higman give us a great opportunity to get an early start on our gifts or purchase a treasure for ourselves. They each have a Christmas novella in the new compilation, Love Finds You Under the Mistletoe.




The book releases on September 1, but they'll be giving away a free copy to one visitor. To enter to win leave your email address with a comment. I'll put the names on pieces of paper and draw one on Sunday, August 29th.


Both novellas are interconnected. And, Anita and Irene are here to tell us how they did it.

Was it difficult to connect your two stories?
Anita:
Not at all. We had a brainstorming session by phone and by email and figured it out. Irene’s historical novella, An Appalachian Christmas is tied to my contemporary novella, Once Upon a Christmas Eve. They are connected through the passing of a mistletoe ball through the generations. It was a delight to work with Irene. She’s very easy to get along with. In fact, we’ve become long-distance friends.

Irene: It wasn’t difficult. Actually, this may have been the easier part of the writing project. After we’d each read the other’s manuscript, I provided Anita with the information necessary for continuity, and she did the same for me. It was easy to insert the other story line into my novella.

Do you think you’d consider working on another project together?
Anita: Yes, in fact we’ve been chatting about working on another project together.
Irene: It would appeal to me. Although our writing styles aren’t the same, still the differences seem to improve the book.

How did you come up with the idea for your story?
Anita: My novels are more character driven, and so my characters tend to move the story along. The idea for Once Upon a Christmas Eve may have started with my interest in the fairy archetype. I loved the movies Cold Comfort Farm and Chocolat for that very reason. There was something enchanting about those two heroines as they whirled around, fixing people’s lives. I gave my main character, Holly Goodnight, some similar fanciful qualities.
Irene: My husband and I spent a few days in Owsley County, Kentucky, where my novella is located. After we met the local people, visited the site where the action would be, and learned about the local history, the story was easy to develop.

Out of your novellas, which characters are your favorites?
Anita:
Beyond the heroine I loved Van Keaton, the author. He was flawed in a number of ways, but he had enough endearing qualities to make him loveable too. At least that is what I hope readers will feel.
Irene: The hero and heroine turned out to be great characters, but Granny, the hero’s grandmother was a lovable person – the kind of grandmother all of us would have liked. (I don’t remember either of my grandmothers.)

What did you want the reader to take away from your story?
Anita:
That no matter how impossible circumstances look, God can work all things for good.
Irene: That even when a romance seems hopeless, true love can overcome any barrier.

What does a typical workday look like for you?
Anita:
I’m usually up at 5:30 to have breakfast and a devotion time with my husband. Then I go up to my office, reply to emails, and start on my writing. I stop for lunch, run a few errands, and then to go back to work again. I don’t watch TV in the evening, but I do treat myself to a new movie or two on the weekends.
Irene: My husband and I get up at 5:45 each morning. While he shaves, I prepare breakfast. We also have a devotional period before we eat. We’ve used THE SECRET PLACE, our American Baptist devotional material, since we were married. We have a list of different people for whom we pray at each meal time. Weather permitting, we take a 2-mile walk after breakfast. I open my e-mail next, then read the Bible and have private devotions. The last 3 days of the week, I prepare to teach my Sunday School lessons. I write as much as possible, but the time spent on my writing depends upon what else needs to be done. I’m very active in the work of my church – choir, playing piano, women’s work and teaching a Sunday School lesson. Unless I’m on a deadline, I don’t write after 6:00 p.m.

Where do all your ideas come from?
Anita:
Ideas flood in from everywhere—while I’m running errands, or chatting with a friend, or drifting off to sleep. I can barely keep up with the flow. I have to write them down to use later.
Irene: From reading research books or fiction. I get ideas from talking with others, or news items on television.

What are you reading right now?
Anita:
I’m reading, A Circle of Quiet by Madeleine L’Engle.
Irene: I’m reading a Regency romance, one I’ve had on my shelves for a few years. First Season by Anne Baldwin

What are your five favorite things about Christmas?
Anita:
The birth of Christ, of course. But then I love the music, the scents, the special foods, and family time together.
Irene: Local church activities, music, baking and visiting shut-ins with goodies, Christmas dinner with extended family, holiday movies on TV.

Where can readers find you online?
Anita:
I would love for folks to drop by my website at http://www.anitahigman.com/.
Irene: http://www.irenebrand.com/

Thank you for inviting us to your blog? Irene and I hope your Christmas is filled with the love of Christ and all things bright and beautiful!

It was my pleasure.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Looking Out the Window: Welcome Reverend Keith Boyer










Reverend Keith Boyer who grew up in New York City shares a little known story about his native town.








A Nearly Forgotten New York Story

In the 1950’s I lived on East 6th Street in New York City. While normally taking a bus to school, I occasionally walked following a route that took me through Tompkins Square Park. The park was home to a simple and what appeared to be long-neglected fountain. It was just something to walk by.

It wasn’t until 2004 that I learned the fountain had been built as a memorial to the 1,021 New Yorkers who lost their lives on June 15, 1904 in a fire on the excursion ship General Slocum. On that bright sunny day, over 1300 people, mostly women and children who had emigrated from Germany, crowded aboard the ship at the East River’s 3rd street pier in anticipation of a day of fun at the Locust Grove picnic grounds on Long Island. The excursion had become an annual congregational event of St. Mark’s Lutheran Church. Over 1500 tickets had been sold. The church, now long closed, was located on 6th street, my street.

The General Slocum was an attractive steam powered side-wheeler. In 1891 it was recognized as one of the finest recreational passenger vessels serving the New York area and was in great demand, but by 1904 it was past its prime. It was equipped with six lifeboats, but due to many coats of paint they were virtually glued to their davits. Over 2000 life jackets were available throughout the ship, but they were filled with cork that had over time turned to powder. When wet they became weights instead of providing buoyancy. The fire hoses on the ship had never been used and their fabric had begun to rot. The ship itself had kept its handsome appearance thanks to multiple coats of highly flammable paint. Nevertheless, the General Slocum passed a safety inspection in the spring of 1904. Following the fire, an investigation revealed that it was common for the inspectors to accept gifts in exchange for a good report.



The fire broke out in a small storage room containing jars of lamp oil, a container of oily rags and bales of straw. Within minutes the wooden ship was ablaze from head to stern. The rotting fire hoses burst under pressure. Those who put on life jackets and jumped overboard quickly sank and drowned. In desperation the captain attempted to ground his ship on an island in the East River. By the time he did so, it was too late. Fewer than 300 survived. Later that day husbands returned home from work to learn that they had lost their entire families. The tragedy marked the beginning of a major population shift in Manhattan’s lower east side as grieving husbands and fathers moved away, making room for a new influx of immigrants, most notably Jewish people from Eastern Europe.

As I see it, the General Slocum disaster has never received the attention such a tragedy deserves. While the sinking of the Titanic in 1912 has become legendary, the loss of life in the East River was quickly forgotten. Not until 9-11 had New Yorkers experienced an event involving comparable loss of life. The likely reason for the neglect of this tragedy was that the majority of those who died were working class immigrants who were not yet considered “Americans” or New Yorkers. While an investigation documented the failure of the Knickerbocker Steamship Company to provide and maintain the mandatory safety standards in place in 1904 the families of the victims received no compensation for their loss. The ship’s captain was held responsible, convicted and imprisoned for three years. In 1934, the film Manhattan Melodrama with Clark Gable, Myrna Loy, William Powel and Mickey Rooney began with a scene of the burning General Slocum but only to set the context for the remainder of the film. It seems to me the story itself is worthy of a screenplay and producer.

The photo of the sinking General Slocum is used by permission from "The Mariners Museum, Newport News, VA."

Reverend Keith's Bio: Keith is a "P-K" (preacher's kid) raised in New York City. He is a graduate of Union Theological Seminary in Richmond, Virginia and was ordained by New York Presbytery in 1966. Moving to Canada the same year, he has served four churches in New Brunswick, Manitoba, and Ontario. Keith left the position of Director of Membership Development at The Riverside Church in New York City for the position of Mission Consultant for the Synod of Central, Northeastern Ontario and Bermuda from which he recently retired. He has written curriculum, worked on numerous national and presbytery committees, and was convener of the Task Force on the Revision of the Book of Praise. Retirement from full-time ministry allows Keith to do part-time consulting and workshop leadership in the areas of congregational development and revitalization, stewardship education, and conflict management. He is registered as a coach in Natural Church Development. He describes himself as a pastor, a gadfly encouraging congregations to recognize the need for change, and a coach for churches committed to renewal. Keith is based in Barrie, Ontario. He and Carolyn have three adult daughters and six grandchildren. For relaxation, Keith enjoys model railroading, gardening, astronomy, and theatre.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Looking out the Window: WIN A PRIZE












SOMETHING COOL GOING ON…




On Tuesday, July 27th , join me for an interview at Long and Short Reviews, www.longandshortreviews.com/LASR/interviews.htm
I’ll talk about writing and reveal the secret ingredient in my pecan pie recipe. On Wednesday, July 28th, I’ll chat on the Long and Short Reviews yahoo site at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LongadnShortRomanceReviews
I was in Destin, Florida recently. I went tar ball hunting and found none! The beach is beautiful. I’d love to tell you about it. Also, I’ll be giving away a four-inch painted tile with a beach scene and a two-way metal rack. To find out how to win stop by for the interview and the chat. See you there!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Looking Out the Window: Welcome Miss Mae







Today, I’m happy to have Miss Mae, the founder of The Sweetest Romance Authors. About them she says, “We enjoy the kinder, gentler romances our mothers and grandmothers grew up with.” But, she’s quick to point out that these are not boring stories. Be sure to stop by her Web site after the interview to pick up a free download of “Fated Destiny.” It’s http://www.missmaesite.com

Hi Miss Mae. First, tell us a little about yourself.

So, can I blow my own horn here? LOL Okay, I’m awed to say that my books, “Said the Spider to the Fly”, “See No Evil, My Pretty Lady”, “Dove Island”, “When the Bough Breaks”, “It’s Elementary, My Dear Winifred” are all award winning best sellers. On the personal side, I’ve been happily married to the same Georgia country boy that I met 38 years ago. Our one daughter is married, so we replaced her absence with the company of four orphaned, very noisey canines!


Congratulations on your success. Were you an avid reader as a child? What did you read?

Yes, I loved to read. I devoured the books in my school’s library, borrowed books from friends, you name it. Even when I was in sixth grade, my high school brother was kind enough to search his library to give me “grown up” romantic mysteries. I especially remember one I read of a girl, Wendy, entering college. Its title was, “Mystery Walks the Campus”.

What a nice brother, and "Mystery Walks the Campus" sounds like a fun book to read. Sometimes people associate avid reading with those who write. Why do you write?

I always wanted to write. When I read Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden, I envisioned different stories with exciting adventures. I tried my hand at it, but of course, they were just awful. LOL

Tell us about your latest book.

Sure! My blurb for “Catch Me If You Can”:

Washed ashore on a South Carolina beach in the middle of a ferocious hurricane, Lois Steinberg regains consciousness in the bedroom of a historic plantation house. Her handsome rescuer, Victor Helm, informs her the resort was scheduled as the site for a convention of ‘Catch Me’ game enthusiasts.

Lois, together with the eight ‘Cathie’ attendees, has no choice except to wait out the storm. When the cook is found murdered, the already tense atmosphere explodes with accusations and suspicions. Who could have wanted the man dead? Everyone is a stranger with no connection to each other except for their love of the ‘Catch Me’ games -- right?

Inside the house, Lois, aided by Victor and his golden retriever, Mite, combat a deadly storm that rivals the strengthening hurricane. To find the killer, they must sort through a series of plots far more complicated than the ‘Catch Me’ creator could ever have devised.

It’s not a game they seek to solve - but the saving of their lives

The sound of thunder roaring and a murder already have me on the edge-of-my seat. What inspired you to write this particular book?

It’s not anything I can really pinpoint. But I feel, because I love the intricacies of a good “who-dun-it”, and I absolutely adore jigsaw puzzles, cryptograms, etc., that I’m partial to twists and turns. (Maybe I’m just weird! LOL) With the plot of “Catch Me If You Can”, I knew I wanted something that had to do with a video game. (I love those too, btw). I wanted the game to be unique, but I had to think of “why? Why would folks covet something like this?” The more I thought about it, the more it all shaped up.

I’ve read one of your books, and the twists and turns were a big part of it. BTW, I liked it a lot. What themes do you write about?

Mysteries, suspense, a touch of romance, triumph of good winning at the end.

What is your writing schedule and where do you write?

I write in my back bedroom, and I don’t really stick to a schedule. I’m at the computer every day, sometimes more hours than my hubby likes, but a lot of the time is spent with marketing/promoting/emails, etc. instead of plain old writing.

Do you put yourself in your books?

I believe I do. All my heroines will have some of my morals. For instance, none engage in pre-martial sex, they don’t swear, they love animals, and they get scared at the things I get scared at. They aren’t perfect, and I do give them flaws, but there are certain bounds I’ll never allow them to cross.

Now for a fun question. What is the most embarrassing thing that’s happened to you?

There’s so many! I have to pick one? LOL Okay, for starters, I’m hard of hearing. It can be embarrassing when I mishear, or don’t hear at all, something that’s been asked of me. But I’ll share one particular incident of when I was in the 8th grade. I, and two other girls, walked to a schoolroom, and the door was stuck. Arms full of books, I thumped against the door with my rear end to nudge it. I didn’t see the other girl raise her leg and kick the door. I fell, right in front of the kids already inside, hard on the floor. They roared with laughter, and I wanted to melt through the wood planks.

Ah, the perspective of youth. Today, the same people probably would simply say you made a grand entrance and rush to see if you were hurt. Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?

Yes! When my contract for “See No Evil, My Pretty Lady” expired with my publisher, I didn’t renew. I self-published it, and it’s now available as both ebook and print. (I designed the cover). I’m also pulling another book and will self-pub it as well. “Catch Me If You Can” is self-pubbed, already available as ebook at Smashwords, and will soon be in print at Amazon, B&N, and other online retailers.

I’m going to be doing more self-publishing, more in control of how my work is handled. And I’m having fun designing my own covers!

BTW, I also have a free read, “Fated Destiny” available for download at my site, if anyone would enjoy this short to just get a taste of my writing.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Looking in the Window: Oh, To Be Magnetic

My daughter and I love to bargain shop. But we browse more than we buy. Many times after we get inside a store and go to a particular display we’re the only two people there. We pick up items and discuss them. If we really get interested in something, whether it’s clothing, cosmetics, accessories or gifts and books, we study it. If it’s a book, we make sure the print, pages and binding are intact. If it’s jewelry, and it’s supposed to have a necklace and earrings, we look to see if it has both. But this isn’t a piece about how to bargain shop.

Usually after we’ve been at a station for a while people flock around us. Then it’s extremely difficult to get to the merchandise. My daughter always asks, “Why is no one interested in this stuff until we start looking at it?”

I say, “I don’t know. Let’s look somewhere else, and they’ll leave in a little bit.”

One day my daughter complained to one of her friends about people in the stores rooting us out of our territory. Her friend said, “You probably appear very intense, so they think you’re looking at something of value. They want to make sure they don’t miss out.”

“Hmmm,” my daughter said, “I’d never thought of it that way.”

Later when I talked to her on the phone she said, “Mom, now I know why people run us away from the merchandise we’re trying to look at when we’re shopping.” Then, she told me about the conversation she had with her friend.

After I hung up the phone I asked myself, what if we were that intense over our worship and role as Christians?

John 13: 35, “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Matthew 28: 19, "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

AND THE WINNER IS...

The lucky winner of a copy of Beautiful Bandit
is Donna McDine.

Congratulations, Donna!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Looking Out the Window: Welcome Loree Lough








Loree will be giving away a copy of her new book, Beautiful Bandit. To enter to win leave your email address with a comment.I'll put the names on pieces of paper and have my husband draw one on Monday night, July 5th.




Hi Loree, first tell us a little about yourself.
Before I do that, I’d like to take just a moment and thank Gail for inviting me to her blog. It’s an honor and a joy to be here!

A little about me, hmm? Well, I have brown eyes and blondish hair, I’m 5’1” tall, and weigh…. Thank the Lord those tidbits aren’t what you’re looking for!

My dad worked for the Veterans Administration, so the family lived in a slew of cities. I held a myriad of careers to pay my way through school, and all that working and moving is probably responsible for my ability to talk to just about anybody, anywhere.

For the past 20 years, though, I’ve lived in the same house and worked at the same job: Writing. And I love both.

Being a people person is definitely a plus. Were you an avid reader as a child? What did you read?

I read every chance I got! As a really young girl, I read books about animals, and for a long time, thought I’d become a veterinarian. As a pre-teen, mysteries caught my attention and my new ‘job dream’ was “police officer.” By the time I was old enough to hold down a real job, I learned that both of my dream careers required far more muscle than God had blessed me with. So I became a singer!

Why do you write?

I write because if I didn’t, my head would explode! There are so many stories and characters and settings pinging around in my brain that if I didn’t write them down, I’m afraid they’d leak out of my ears.

(LOL) Tell us about your latest book.

I’m working on several projects at the same time, all with back-to-back deadlines. So I’ll try and keep this response in order-of-book-release if I can:

Beautiful Bandit is the first novel in my Lone Star Legends series, and it’ll be released in August, 2010. It’s a western, set in 1888, in Eagle Pass, Texas, and features a heroine, held hostage by a notorious outlaw who uses her as a “front” for a San Antonio bank heist where three men are killed. She escapes the killer only to discover he’s on her trail…and so are the Texas Rangers. So she assumes an alias and heads for Mexico. And on the way, she meets a handsome cowboy who helps show her the way...to the border, and to his heart.


It sounds suspenseful and heart-warming. What inspired you to write this particular book?

I love cowboys and I love history. So this series seemed like a natural blend of both. Plus, with every book, I get to “meet” new people and become better acquainted with “old” friends who’ve read my other novels. Some of these friendships date back to 1994, when my first novel was released, while others began just a few months ago. They share reasons they liked the stories, the characters, the relationship issues. Without exception, they say things like “Never quit writing!” and “When will your next book be out?” and “I can’t wait for #3 in this series!” Now, really…which of us can say no to their friends!

We're glad you didn't say "no." Where do you get ideas for your books?

I guess I’d have to say that my ideas come from living life. Things my friends and family are going through, things they’ve suffered and survived, ways they’ve succeeded and failed, what they’ve learned…or wish they had…usually ends up in a book.

In three words describe your style of writing.

A couple hundred readers have compared my style to Nicholas Sparks, a couple hundred more to Debbie Macomber. Honestly? I don’t see the similarities. I like to write about people who are flawed, and put them through their paces, so that by books’ end, they’ve changed and grown into better, more satisfied individuals.

That's an admirable goal. How do you get to know your characters?

By testing their mettle! I make them endure all the day-to-day stuff that you and I are forced to endure. And the best thing is…in the stories, I get to fix what’s wrong!

What themes do you write about?

Trust, faith, loyalty, family…together with problem-solving.

What is your writing schedule and where do you write?

I get up early, usually by 5:30 a.m., and while the dog is outside, I put out his food and make coffee. Once he’s inside, I exercise for about half an hour, then get dressed, tidy the house and get to work. Most days, I’m at my desk by 7:30 a.m. and that’s where I stay until 5-6:00, when I stop to fix supper for my hubby and me. My office is in the back of the house, on the bottom “tri” of a modest tri-level in the Baltimore suburbs. It has no door, and it’s the “tall” part of an L-shaped space…shared with the laundry room. Suffice it to say that some days the wrinkles are in the load that stays too long in the dryer…and others, they’re in my plots!

Do you have to juggle writing with a job, family responsibilities or other obligations? How do you balance it?

Writing is my job, so I’m blessed not to have to balance this with an out-of-the-house occupation. My hat is off to writers who work full time and write! I do my best not to let my husband, kids, or grandkids feel that I love my work more than I love them. They’ve been very supportive of my career, so really, the least I can do is leave my evenings and weekends open for them!

Are you a plotter or a pantzer?

I’m mostly a plotter, but as anyone who’s taken my plotting workshop knows, there’s a lot of “pantzing” involved in my kind of plotting!

Does your faith affect your writing? How?

Without my faith, I wouldn’t be a writer. God blessed me with this gift, and every morning as I sit down to write, He guides my fingers. It’s because He tells me which themes to concentrate on that I’m able to develop multi-dimensional characters. He’s keeping me pretty busy these days, and you know what? I’m rarely exhausted, because He makes sure I have the energy I need to do what He instructs as I construct each scene!

Do you put yourself in your books?

I suppose every author is in every book, at least to some degree. But in my case, it’s not a conscious thing. Because really…who wants to read about li’l old me when they can read about a woman hostage who’s used as a shield during a bank robbery in the wild, wild west!

What are you working on right now?

Maverick Heart (#2 in the Lone Star Legends series), is the story of a young woman—one of the first real graduates of nursing school—who follows her husband from Boston to Mexico, where he hopes to open a clinic. Just outside Lubbock, TX, their stagecoach is attacked by bandits…and her husband is killed, leaving her stranded in Eagle Pass. She can’t afford to go home and the town doc can’t afford a nurse, so she takes the only other job available: Teacher. She immediately falls in love with her students, the town, and one quiet sad-eyed Texan who teaches her a thing or two about faith and love. (Several more in that series, but they aren’t fully plotted…yet.)

Then there’s the “First Responders” series. The first novel, From Ashes to Honor, will be released to coordinate with the 10th anniversary of 9/11. The after-effects of the tragedy has impacted the characters, and even 10 years later, they’re still healing…. In each of the next books I’ll feature EMTs, firefighters, cops, and search and rescue (with dogs) experts.

Finally, there’s Accidental Family, the 3rd in my “Accidental Blessings” series for Love Inspired.

If you could interview any character in one of your books which one would it be? What shocking thing might that character say? Why?

Bryce Stone, the hero in Love Finds You in North Pole, Alaska. This big handsome soldier lost an eye in Afghanistan, trying to protect his men. There are so many elements of his character that I found fascinating. And you know what? I actually did interview him on my blog!

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Every published author says the same stuff:
Write what you know.
Write the book of your heart.
Read, read, read…then write, write, write.
Take classes, join critique groups, attend conferences, go to workshops/seminars.
Never give up on your dream.

And it’s all solid, savvy advice. But I’ll add this: Ask yourself if you’re a Wanna-be or a Gonna-be. Wanna-be writers are more focused on writing than on selling. And that’s fine…if you have no desire to see your book on the shelves, if you don’t care whether anyone other than your kids and grandkids read it.

Gonna-be writers make sure “the book of your heart” is one that will sell. That means studying more than the how-to and the elements of fiction. It means knowing your market almost as well as you know your craft.

What would you be doing if you weren’t writing?

That’s easy…I’d be reading!

What is the coolest, wackiest, most risk-taking thing you’ve ever done?

I climbed to the top of a ski lift in Iron Mountain, Michigan with two of the waitresses and two of the bartenders who were employed at the lounge where I was singing that week. I had never met them before. Had never been to that part of Michigan before. Didn’t have a clue that, at the time, this thing was the tallest of its kind in the U.S. Never asked how we’d get back down once we made it to the top. And yet up I climbed. The view was amazing!

What is the most embarrassing thing that’s happened to you?

When I was in high school, my eyesight was so awful that my glasses really fit that “Coke bottle lenses” cliché we hear so much about. So there I was, at a school dance, and knowing the boy I had a crush on was there, decided to take off my glasses. Couldn’t see two feet in front of my face without them, and that’s not an exaggeration, so I put my faith in my best girlfriends. Sadly, they didn’t accompany me to the bathroom, and I ended up crashing into the boy I had a crush on…in the BOYS’ ROOM.

(LOL) Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?

If God has called you to write, do it! As they say, when He calls you to do something, He makes it possible for you to get it done.

And if you’re someone who’s read one of my books, and you haven’t written to me yet, what are ya waitn’ for! I love to pray with you about your journey into the land of the published!

You can reach me at loree@loreelough.com, or by visiting my web site, http://www.loreelough.com/ or my blog, http://www.theloughdown.blogspot.com/

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Again, thanks, Gail for inviting me to your blog. You’ve asked some really cool, one-of-a-kind questions, so thanks, too, for making this a new and different experience. Yer a peach, and I hope to meet you in person one day soon! (And that goes for the rest of you, too!)

Thanks so much for spending time with us, Loree.

LOREE'S BIO

At last count, best-selling author Loree Lough had 75 books, 63 short stories, and over 2,500 articles in print. Dubbed by reviewers “the writer whose stories touch hearts and change lives”, she has earned dozens of “Readers’ Choice” and industry awards.

This summer, Beautiful Bandit (#1 in “Lone Star Legends” series from Whitaker) joins Loree’s 2009-10 releases, Love Finds You in Paradise, PA and Love Finds You in North Pole (Summerside), Tales of the Heart and Prevailing Love (Whitaker), and Be Still and Let Your Nail Polish Dry (Summerside). Maverick Heart (Lone Star Legends #2) comes out in January, 2011, while the release of From Ashes to Honor, #1 in her “First Responders’ series (Abingdon), will coordinate with the 10th anniversary of 9/11. Accidental Family, #3 in the “Accidental Blessings” series (Love Inspired) and LFY in Folly Beach, SC are slated to hit bookstore shelves May and June, 2011, respectively.

Loree and her husband split their time between a little house in the Baltimore suburbs and a really little cabin in the Allegheny Mountains, where they cater to a formerly-abused Pointer whose numerous vet visits inspired the nickname ‘Cash’. She loves to hear from her readers and personally answers every letter sent to http://www.loreelough.com/.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

CONGRATULATIONS!

I put all the names on small pieces of paper and asked my husband to pick one. And he picked...
drum roll...Jan Marie. Congratulations on winning a copy of Texas Roads!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Looking Out the Window: Welcome Cathy Bryant


Today I'm talking with Cathy Bryant. She'll be giving away a free copy of Texas Roads (U.S. entries). Be sure to leave your e-mail address with a comment and use name [at] address [dot] com to keep away spammers. I'll put the names on pieces of paper and draw one on Sunday night.











First, tell us a little about yourself. I’m a wife, mom, Nana, and private music instructor. In between all those rolls, I write. I enjoy walking, bicycling, hiking, canoeing, and gardening—basically anything that gets me outdoors. I live in a century-old Texas farmhouse with my hubby and a phobia-ridden cat.

Were you an avid reader as a child? What did you read? Avid may not be a strong enough word. I learned to read early and read everything I could get my hands on. My favorite book from childhood is Anne of Green Gables.

Why do you write? Call it a calling or a compulsion—either would be accurate. I never would have guessed that writing would be so difficult and so addicting.

Avid may not be a strong enough word. I learned to read early and read everything I could get my hands on. My favorite book from childhood is Anne of Green Gables.

Tell us about your latest book. Texas Roads is a 2009 ACFW Genesis finalist and contemporary love story available at Amazon. It tells the story of a disillusioned widow’s quest for home. Here’s the back cover copy:

Dani Davis longs for a place to call home. With quaint country charm, quirky residents, and loads of business potential, Miller’s Creek, Texas seems like the perfect place to start over…except for the cowboy who gives her a ride into town. Then malicious rumors and a devastating discovery propel her down a road she never expected to travel.

Cowboy mayor Steve Miller is determined to rescue his dying hometown. When vandals jeopardize the Miller’s Creek renovation project he can’t help but suspect Dani, whose strange behavior has become fodder for local gossips. Will Steve and Dani call a truce for a higher cause, and in the process help Dani discover the true meaning of home?

What inspired you to write this particular book? The spiritual theme of the story came from my own longing to put down roots. For several years, my family and I seemed destined to be nomads traveling from one small Texas town to the next. God used this time in my life to teach me that He was my true home. Dani learns this truth during the course of the story.

The idea for the plot came one day when I was out working in my garden. A car passed slowly, the elderly driver staring me down. I immediately got riled up. Then I started playing the “what if?” game. What if a city woman moved to a back roads country town? How would she react to the lack of privacy people sometimes experience in small settings? The story took off from there.

Where do you get ideas for your books? Everywhere. A newspaper article. Snippets of conversation. A humorous anecdote. And often a character will introduce themselves by starting dialogue in my head. (Please don’t lock me in a rubber room…) Once I was taking my daily walk when out of nowhere this prim and proper voice sounded in my head, saying: “Tyler, Dent and Snodgrass. Hold please.” From that came the idea for the book that will be Book Three in the Miller’s Creek, Texas series, which will be entitled The Way of Grace.

In three words describe your style of writing. Touching. Humorous. Riveting.

How do you get to know your characters? I fill out extensive character charts for my major characters and a few minor ones before I ever start the story. But they tend to reveal new things about themselves as I write the book.

What themes do you write about? I intend for every novel I write to be interlaced with spiritual truths I’ve learned. A Path Less Traveled, the second book in the series will deal with the natural human tendency to be independent and self-sufficient, when God calls us to put our trust in Him and depend on Him.

Are you a plotter or a pantzer? I’m a HUGE plotter. Can’t help it—it’s part of my Type-A, obsessive-compulsive genetic makeup. When I go on a trip, I like to know where I’m going, how I’m getting there, which roads to take, where I’m staying, who I’ll be traveling with…well, you get the picture. Writing a book is very much like taking a long trip.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us? I love to connect with people online. I’ve met the most wonderful friends there. You can find me at Facebook and Twitter, at my blog, WordVessel (http://WordVessel.blogspot.com), and my website, www.CatBryant.com.

Thanks so much for allowing me to spend this time at your awesome blog, Gail!

Texas Roads is available on Smashwords and Amazon

Friday, June 4, 2010

Looking Out the Window: Welcome Shawna Williams

Shawna's new book, NO OTHER, is the
AMERICAN CHRISTIAN FICTION WRITERS BOOK CLUB SELECTION
for September.

Shawna will give away a PDF file of No Other and a fresh water pearl bracelet to one person who leaves a comment, so be sure to leave your email as name [at] address [dot] com or [dot] net to keep away spammers, and Shawna will draw a name next week and contact the winner.





















Hi Shawna, First, tell us a little about yourself.

I'm pretty ordinary. I'm a mom of three wonderful kids, and I've been married to their dad for 18 and a half yrs. We live on a ranch in Mena, AR, where we raise cattle, horses, goats and rabbits. My interests vary a bit. Apart from writing I also design jewelry, review books, try to keep up with a blog, homeschool, and look after my family. I'm nerdy in that I think it's fun to study geology and ancient cultures. I'm sentimental in that I can never pass up an abandoned ruin of a house without snapping a picture, and at least trying to convince my family that I'll only be a minute in exploring if they want to wait in the car. My sense of adventure is motivated by curiosity as opposed to the adrenaline rush. I'm also a dog lover. LOVE DOGS!

Tell us about your latest book.

No Other is a 20th Century Historical, Inspirational Romance. It’s set in a coastal Texas town during 1947, a couple of years after WWII. I really enjoyed writing a story set in this time period because, instead of focusing on how the nation recovered in broad terms, I was able to focus on how individuals set about recovering emotionally from such an event.
Jakob is trying to resume life and deal with his anger over the events of the past five years. His parents are German immigrants who were interned at a camp known as Crystal City during the war. As an American born child he feels betrayed and angry, not just at his community, but at himself because of an incident that he was involved in which he feels may have contributed to their arrest.
Jakob was forced to quit school in order to care for his younger sibling during the war. With the war ended and life beginning to settle, he decides to go back to school and get his diploma so he can move on to bigger and better dreams. It’s immediately awkward though because one of his teachers is a girl he previously went to high school with.
Meri comes from an affluent and socially elite family. She’s a dutiful daughter but also conflicted. On the one hand she desperately wants her parents approval — that’s the only time they offer her their love — on the other hand, she wants to be free of the control they exert over her life.
As friendship blooms and feelings develop Meri begins to understand what real love is supposed to be, and Jakob, seeing the pain her family has caused her, wants to shelter her from more. Of course, the first big obstacle is that because of the nature of their situation (her being his teacher) any type of romantic relationship is unethical, and then there’s also the social issues to consider. Meri and Jakob decide to pursue a secret romance, in which lies lead them to trouble in more ways than one. And I’ll leave the rest as a mystery.
But I do want to add, No Other is an inspirational story about getting up after you fall. About how Christians don't just struggle, sometimes we blow it, but God doesn't abandon us. Even when our efforts to right things fail, He's still in control. Him, and No Other.

Here's a link to the blurb and excerpt on my publisher's site.
http://stores.desertbreezepublishing.com/-strse-86/No-Other/Detail.bok

What inspired you to write this particular book?

I almost don't feel like I really chose to write this book. It was more like I was compelled to. I honestly feel the story was given to me more than it was a result of my imagination. I had never considered even being a writer, but then I had this dream. It was bizarre, like watching the stages of someone's life. The setting, the characters – including their names, the circumstance with Meri being a teacher and Jakob going back to school, and Jakob's family having endured hardship all originated with that dream -- though I didn't know about the internment camp. I discovered that through research later on. Very interesting! I thought about this dream obsessively for about six months trying to fill in details, and finally it became so complicated I had to start writing. No Other, and its sequel, In All Things, are based on that dream.

In three words describe your style of writing.



Down to earth. (That's not to imply that others write like snobs. Not at all! I'm a character writer, and spend a lot of time on their development. The result is characters that people have an easy time relating to. If you read my work this description makes sense)

How do you get to know your characters?

Figure out their history, and I don't just mean the 'born in', 'grew up here' kind of stuff. What happened to them as a child, and not just them, their family? What's their personality like? I actually went so far as to study Carl Jung's personality theory and even formulated my characters around a MBTI type. This helps to keep them consistent by giving me an idea of how they process information and emotions, react in a crowd and so forth. This also is great for creating conflict by knowing how character's personalities are likely to interpret each other's actions.

Do you have to juggle writing with a job, family responsibilities or other obligations? How do you balance it?

Honestly, this is a real struggle and I haven't figured out that balance. My family is most important, and we have teens and an active 12 year old that are always on the go. Sometimes I can't do everything they want and I feel guilty for that. Just now my youngest ran in and squealed, "The Lum and Abner Festival is going on at the park," but of course, I'm working with super tight deadlines and really need to get some work done tonight.

My house is never as clean as I'd like, and that bugs me. I worry if the kids are learning everything they need to know before heading out into the world (we homeschool). I'm so entrenched in writing two books at the moment that I forget to check on my friends who are going through rough times. I feel like my dog doesn't get petted enough, and I really need to shave her heavy coat for summer. I forget to appreciate the beauty of where we live, and I wonder when I'm going to get around to all of those other projects that have nothing to do with writing. I'm definitely not the person to ask advice from on this question. I just do the best I can, and usually end the day thinking, "Tomorrow I'll try to do better."

Are you a plotter or a pantzer?

A little of both. I have to have an idea of the story, including its conclusion. I write out a summary just to get an idea of the story's framework. Then I write my first draft, which is horrible. I'm a character writer, so my stories focus a great deal on the hero and heroine's internal journey. My first drafts tend to ramble and meander with all sorts of emotional pondering, not unlike a therapy session. This helps me to nail down what my character's struggles are. It gives me an idea of what they need, and how to get them there.

Once I've done this I go back and start the rewrite. I take this on a chapter by chapter basis, writing out the goals I need to achieve to keep the story progressing. Then I go back and edit. During this process I try to weave everything together as tight as possible, and also look for any missed opportunities to strengthen the overall theme.

What are you working on right now?

I’m currently putting the finishing touches on In All Things, and working on Orphaned Hearts. Both of these books are under contract with Desert Breeze. I also have a new idea that I've laid out some basic framework for. I don't know how, or if, the story will pan out quite yet, so I'll wait to say anything more. And of course, if it does turn into something worthwhile, I'll still need to find a publisher for it.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Be true to yourself. You need to learn the craft, but don't lose your voice in the process. There's a balance between what you can take away from critique groups and books in order to hone your skills, and trying to heed so much advice that you end up losing what makes you unique. Writing rules are good, but in the words of Captain Jack Sparrow, "They're more like guidelines anyway."

What is the coolest, wackiest, most risk-taking thing you’ve ever done?
I'd have to say leaving the security of a job in the city to move to a ranch in a little town in Arkansas, without knowing anything about ranching. My husband and I aren't generally ones to jump into something without investigating first, and we did research before moving, but not from the standpoint of whether or not it made sense to do it. On that, our minds were already made up. We just had to find the place best suited for our goals and dreams.

Long story short, we'd lost several close – and young – friends to cancer in a relatively short period of time, and it made us realize just how uncertain a person's future is. We'd talked often about how neat it would be to raise the kids on a ranch with plenty of elbow room, in the relaxed environment of a small town. Neither of us ever wanted to catch ourselves saying, "Wish we'd done that," so we decided to just go for it.

It's been five years, and there have been bumps in the road from time to time, but the rewards far outweigh any inconveniences. And we're quick studies. Hubby's still a financial planner by day, but he's a bonafide cattleman come evening, and we run a small business raising all natural grass-fed beef. As for me, I even learned how to deliver baby horses and goats.

Now that I think about it, the first time I had to do this might classify as a wacky moment. We had the veterinarian on the phone, and I believe my words were something like, "I have to stick my arm where?"

What is the most embarrassing thing that’s happened to you?

Oh man... Hmm. This might be a good question to ask my kids. According to them I should be embarrassed far more often than I actually am.

Well, I don't know that this is embarrassing but it is a good "bad date" story. When I was in college, this guy invited me out to his family's ranch for the day. They had four wheelers and all kinds of outdoor stuff to do. He quickly deduced that I'm not too coordinated speeding through trails and dodging cactus on a four wheeler, when I near collided with a mesquite tree. (I prefer the leisure approach to four wheeling. Nice and slow with plenty of time to react.) So, after that he suggested we do a little skeet shooting. I was up for that. It was something new and I thought it sounded fun.

His dad was outside with us, and my date showed me how to hold the rifle. I called out that I was ready and his dad, who was standing a little ways in front of me, threw the skeet into the air. I wanted to impress my date by not missing, so I took my time and carefully aimed by following the skeet as it fell...and fell...and kept falling... Just as I was about to pull the trigger my date yelled and grabbed the gun out of my hand. Then I looked in front of me and his dad was crouched down to the ground, with this kind of wild-eyed crazy look. Seems I followed that skeet until it was right about eye level with his my date's dad.

I guess that is somewhat embarrassing. I'm much better with guns now though, I think.

To keep up with me, here's links to my website and blog.
http://shawnakwilliams.com/
http://shawnawilliams-oldsmobile.blogspot.com/

Monday, May 17, 2010

Looking Out the Window: An Award We Don't Need

A few weeks ago I received an email about an award to be given for honesty. In the blink of an eye, I realized I knew no one who would expect to receive such an accolade, so whatever the requirements to nominate someone were, they didn't concern me. I deleted the email and scrolled to another one.

But the headline has been screaming at me. In one instant I think, "An award for honesty? What has our society come to? But in the next minute I think of all the deception around us. Within the past year we've heard about insider trading, corrupt management of governmental agencies and folks who take other people's money for themselves while telling them they're investing it. Not to mention, the many times prominent political figures have lied to the public about their relationships, what they'll do when they get in office, and what they believe.

Yet, a majority of people still want righteous leaders. If they didn't, folks wouldn't have to lie in the first place. When we get right down to it, the words "private" and "personal," which we often use when speaking of the lives of others, infer that what one does outside of his or her elected office really isn't our business. But, we want to be governed by those with high moral standards, so those in the spotlight lie when they realize they'll disappoint us if they don't.

We've put the word "honest" into the background of our lives. In the dictionary it means "sincere or fair," "gained by fair means," and "frank and open." If we use anything resembling it, we use "transparent" which means "transmitting light rays so that objects on the other side may be seen," "so fine in texture as to be seen through" and "easily understood or detected; obvious."

There are accounts of people who cheat, lie and steal as far back as Biblical times. But it's recorded that it's wrong, and those who do it are punished. Those living in Biblical times who didn't cheat, lie and steal didn't receive awards for being honest anymore than they received awards for not murdering someone.

Shouldn't we drop "transparent" and get back to "honest" without awards?

Exodus 20: 15- 16, "You shall not steal. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor."