Gail's Book Nook

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Looking Out the Window: Lisa Lickel's Lenten Devotional



Lisa's giving away a copy of her Barbour mystery,

The Gold Standard

Yet even now, says the Lord, return to me with all your heart. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. --Joel 2:12-13

It's Lent, traditionally a time of mourning, of self-contemplation and self-deprivation. Most of the people in my circle don't pay it any more mind than Advent. My husband I moved about a year and a half ago to worship with a new congregation after spending our whole married lives with one body of believers. We are learning different ways of celebrating our Lord and Savior, and it is good. We are also able to share some of the meaningful traditions from our former congregation; one of which is to gather during this time as a smaller group.

Come, let us return to the Lord;

for it is he who has torn and he will heal us;

he has struck down and he will bind up. --Hosea 6:1

I hadn't realized how far from the Lord I'd drifted while attending the familiar congregation. Sure, I'd been doing the right things, playing in the praise band, teaching Sunday School and Bible study, prayer group, some community service, helping in the office. But who had I been doing those things for? My family? Surely setting a good example was a worthy endeavor. Myself, so that I could stand before the throne…Oh…And I realize I can't stand there; I can't even kneel there. It is during this time, the period of Lent, when I turn away from applauding my works, even those for the church, and remember His; to ponder all that He has done to bind me, to heal me from my self-inflicted wounds. Then, and only then can I kneel and give thanks. After I accept what He has done, I slowly rise and am known because of Thy will, not mine. Although I have changed congregations, there is much to love about my home church, not the least of which is the catechism I used to teach. How are you right with God?

Only by true faith in Jesus Christ.

Even though my conscience accuses me of having grievously sinned..,

nevertheless, without my deserving it at all,

out of sheer grace,

God grants and credits to me

the perfect satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness of Christ,

as if I had never sinned, nor been a sinner,

as if I had been as perfectly obedient as Christ was obedient for me.

All I need do is accept this gift of God with a believing heart.

--from the Heidelberg Catechism, Q. & A. 60

I can't say it better than that. Faith never goes out of style. And for the first time, I have given up something for Lent. How about you? What do you do about Lent?


Lisa Lickel is a Wisconsin writer who lives with her husband in a hundred and fifty-year-old house built by a Great Lakes ship captain. Surrounded by books and dragons, she writes inspiring fiction. Her novels include mystery and romance, all with a twist of grace. She has penned dozens of feature newspaper stories, short stories, magazine articles and radio theater. She is the editor in chief of Creative Wisconsin Magazine and loves to encourage new authors. She is a hostess for Clash of the Titles and blogs with the community groups and Find her at

Lisa's books:

a cozy mystery from Barbour books. School teacher Judy Winters must find someone to trust, now that she's back on the farm to solve the murder of her aunt and find the treasure that neighbor Bryce Edwards once lost.

also available on Kindle. Grace Runyon has a gift. When she gets a second chance at redemption, it may cost her not just love, but her life.

also available on Kindle. Ann Ballard's missing husband kept her in a limbo of life for years. When she's ready to accept the love of a younger man, she learns the truth of her husband's disappearance, but telling the truth may destroy everyone.

To win a copy of The Gold Standard leave a comment and your email address.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Looking Out the Window: Welcome Regina Andrews

Hi Regina, First, tell us a little about yourself.
Thank you so much for having me here today, Gail! I live in Providence, RI, and grew up in nearby Barrington. After graduating from Providence College I attended the University of Delaware, eventually earning my Master’s Degree in American Civilization from Brown University. Nature inspires me and my husband and I enjoy visiting nearby Cape Cod. My hobbies include Travel, Museums, Theater, Classical Music, Choral Singing and Gardening. Also I am a radio host for In-Sight, an association dedicated to providing services to the visually impaired of all ages.

What an interesting and rewarding life. Tell us about your latest book.
My newest book is “Light of the Heart. This is Book One in the Sterling Lakes Series. The premise of the Sterling Lakes Series is how the renovation of the church in town leads to a rebirth of the entire town itself on many levels – physically, emotionally and spiritually, to name a few. “Light of the Heart” deals with the effects of a difficult childhood on the heroine, Cascade, now a very successful stained-glass artist. As a child she knew her father was abusing her mother but was powerless to stop it. She was also aware as a child that the town knew of the trouble in her house, yet did nothing to stop it. Her anger and resentment are so intense that she refuses to return to Sterling Lakes. However, circumstances take a turn and the project to redo the stained-glass windows in the town church becomes hers. As she is challenged to let the light of God’s love shine into her heart, she also meets the hero, Dan McQuay.

A heart-warming book with lots of depth. Does your faith affect your writing? How?
I have always wanted to be able to share a mission of God's love through writing uplifting, inspiring books in His honor. It's so basic, to me -- to gladden people through reading, and to bring the Word of God to their lives in another way, and to reinforce the love of God in their hearts and the light of God in their lives.

What are you working on right now?
I’m working on my “Sterling Lakes” series. It's so exciting to do a series, Gail, I can't begin to describe how wonderful it is. Right now I am finishing the second book in the series “Angels of the Heart” which is due April 1st and releases August 1st. It’s edgy inspirational fiction, and deals with teenage pregnancy.The premise of the Sterling Lakes Series is how the renovation of the church in town leads to a rebirth of the entire town itself on many levels – physically, emotionally and spiritually, to name a few. “Light of the Heart,” book one on the series, deals with the effects of a difficult childhood on the heroine, Cascade, now a very successful stained-glass artist. As a child she knew her father was abusing her mother but was powerless to stop it. She was also aware as a child that the town knew of the trouble in her house, yet did nothing to stop it. Her anger and resentment are so intense that she refuses to return to Sterling Lakes. However, circumstances take a turn and the project to redo the stained-glass windows in the town church becomes hers. As she is challenged to let the light of God’s love shine into her heart, she also meets the hero, Dan McQuay.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
I would have to say be patient, be true to yourself and don't ever, ever give up. Also be the writer you are, not the writer "they" - meaning anyone - wants you to be. Read a lot and keep learning, good writing is very technical. Naturally, practice, practice, practice :-) Most of all, have fun.

And just for fun, what is the coolest, wackiest, most risk-taking thing you’ve ever done?
One time my sister and I were in Paris and we walked to the top of the Arc de Triomphe. We were the only ones out there. It was raining and very slippery. There were no railings or barriers. We walked right to the edge at the very front and screamed ”Vive la France!”

More about Light of Heart

More than anything, Cascade Preston wants to forget her dark childhood in Sterling Lakes, so there’s no way she’ll agree to help refurbish that town’s church. Then she meets Dan McQuay. Will she be able to forgive the past and let the light of God’s love shine through into her heart?

Back Cover Blurb
A stained-glass artist based in Boston, Cascade Preston’s world is a kaleidoscope of color and beauty. She has overcome a dark childhood, deeply shadowed by domestic violence, in the town of Sterling Lakes. When she is approached to design new windows for a refurbished church in Sterling Lakes, she ignores the request. But when the no-nonsense Project Manager Dan McQuay appears looking for the window plans, the project takes on a whole new light. Will Cascade be able to keep the dark, protective cocoon she has built around herself intact, or will McQuay break through and shine new light into her heart? Is it possible that God’s plan for Cascade will lead her to forgive the town that ignored the situation in her family?


For your enjoyment, here's an excerpt from Light of the Heart. This is my favorite scene, when they still do not know each other very well and they go into the church together for the first time.

Cascade watched the sun, dappled from the leafy trees nearby, play across the firm planes of his face. "Being back here, I don't feel like anything has changed."

"Does that surprise you?" he asked.

"The way things are going lately, everything is coming as a surprise. I'm just trying to process it all."

"Want to go into the church?"

"Sounds like a great idea." She looked over at him but could not read his expression.They walked past the dirt piles toward the front of the church. A songbird trilled in one of the rhododendron shrubs as they moved by. Sunbeams glinted off the colorful stained glass windows. At the top of the wooden staircase, Cascade held the brass handle to open the ornately carved door.

"Go on." Dan reached beyond her and held the door open for her.She entered the vestibule, blinking her eyes as they adjusted to the darkness. Images of the past flooded her mind. Some of them good, some of them not so good. She turned to Dan. "Come with me."

"You got it."They walked together down the main aisle. Cascade inhaled the familiar scents of wood, candle, and incense. She stopped midway and turned to face the back of the church."These windows are beautiful," she whispered, looking up at the large round West window. "This is where I was inspired to do what I do and to be who I am today."

"Impressive." Dan touched her arm. "Let's sit down here."They slid into a pew and sat back against the smooth, varnished wood. Cascade slowly scanned the interior of the church, looking at each window. It was as if she were seeing it for the very first time.She turned to say something to Dan. His eyes were closed, and he sat motionless. It looked as if he were in prayer. Could he be?Cascade took the opportunity to admire him. His profile was softened just a bit in the filtered light. Dark hair and a firm, masculine nose were all balanced by the strong jaw line which composed the proportions of his face. His lips, curved into just a hint of a smile, were slightly parted. The shadow of his long dark eyelashes danced upon his cheek. To Cascade, he looked completely and utterly at peace.She reached over and gave his hand a friendly pat.

To her surprise, he took her hand, holding it gently in his. Warm and weathered, it fit hers just right. For a moment, she let herself feel protected. She didn't know what had happened since he walked into her life. Everything had turned topsy-turvy, but she knew one thing: Dan McQuay was some kind of wonderful.Then she remembered his words the first time he visited her showroom: "I come into town, do the job, and leave. No ties, no friendships, no tea parties and barbecues with the neighbors. In and out."What was she thinking? She snatched her hand away.

"What's wrong?" Dan looked at her.

"Nothing. Nothing."

"Sure there is. Your lips are all tight."

"No, I'm fine. I was honestly just thinking about you."

He smiled."What were you thinking?"

She took a deep breath, and listening to all the choirs of angels rejoicing at the sight of his smile and wondered, Why me? This guy is way too dangerous. He's attractive, kind, smart…and ready to leave as soon as the job here in town is finished.Just then, the church doors opened. A black-cassocked figure hastened towards them."Excuse me, excuse me. This area is restricted. Masses and confessions will be held in St. Luke's school auditorium or the rectory."

"We were just leaving, Father Greene. I'm on the construction crew, and we came in to say some prayers."

"Oh, it's you, Dan." The furrows in the priest's brow vanished. A saintly smile replaced his scowl.

"By all means, children. Stay a long as you wish. We have to be extra vigilant because of the vandals."

"You've had vandalism problems, Father?" Cascade asked. "That's horrible."

The priest blessed himself. "Just dreadful, my dear. What they did to the statue of Our Blessed Mother Mary last month was unthinkable."

Cascade cupped her hands over her mouth.

"Any luck finding the culprits?" Dan asked.

"No. We have no luck here at St. Luke's."

"Well, Father I don't know about that. Maybe this is the day that all that is going to change." Dan's voice sounded strong and reassuring. He shook the priest's hand.

"There's always hope. I'm Father Greene, dear."

"Cascade Preston." She smiled and shook his hand.

Wagging his index finger, Father Greene said: "I've heard of you, but I can't remember why."

"Cascade's designing the stained-glass windows for the project, Father. She's originally from Sterling lakes."

Turning to Dan, Cascade saw him give an eager smile. What was he thinking?

"How wonderful," Father Greene blessed himself. "So good of you, Cascade, to give back so generously to the town that you called home."

"It's my pleasure, Father." Cascade answered. Did I just agree to do the windows?"Oh bless you, my dear. Bless you."

Father Greene checked his pocket watch. "It's been so nice to chat with you wonderful folks. I have confessors waiting now." Turning on his heel, he bustled off through the shadows to the door.

"What were you thinking, Dan? I haven't agreed to do the windows. Now that nice priest is going to be all disappointed and flustered when he finds out," Cascade whispered.

"He might not be," Dan answered.

"I'm infuriated. You weren't asleep at all. Were you really saying prayers?" Cascade asked as they walked down the aisle.

Dan nodded. "Were you?"

"Oh yes," she answered. "Without a doubt. Lots of special prayers. Now there's one more special intention on this list -- me getting out of helping Father Greene." She turned to face him. "You look like you're going to laugh!"

"Well, it's just that..." Dan's eyes seemed to twinkle as he looked at her.

It turned Cascade's knees to jelly."Let's change the subject." She cleared her throat and gripped the edge of the pew to steady herself. "Before we go, I wanted to tell you that my parents were the first couple married in this church."

Dan's eyebrows shot upwards. "Quite a distinction."

"They started out with lots of hopes and dreams for a bright future, I'm sure. Life takes some funny turns." She sighed. "Look, I've been thinking, Dan, of how stubborn I've been about not working in Sterling Lakes. I've been holding on to that way of thinking for years now. It really hasn't made me any happier in the long run, to think like that. Just kept me tied to this town in a negative way. I think the fight is over. I want my life to be filled with light and beauty and color. And love. God's love."She blinked away the tears that filled her eyes. "You were right. Abby was trying to do me a favor, and I think she did. It's through forgiveness that we are set free. Maybe it's time for me to forgive what happened in the past. At least I can start, and this might be a good first step. Plus, I would never in a million years disappoint that nice priest. Father Greene has enough to worry about without me adding to it. So if it's at all possible, could I do the windows here?"

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Looking Out the Window: Welcome Catherine West



Hi Catherine, first, tell us a little about yourself.

Okay, here goes! I was born and raised on the island of Bermuda, where I still live with my hubby and two-college age kids, when they’re home. I went to school here and in England, and Canada, where I earned a BA in English from the University of Toronto. We also lived near Toronto for the first seven years of our marriage, which convinced me I’m not cut out for Canadian winters! I love dogs and gardening. I’m pretty shy around strangers, but I love meeting new people and traveling.

Sounds like you got to live in some fascinating places growing up. Were you an avid reader as a child? What did you read?

Oh yes! I loved to read everything, mostly Enid Blyton when I was little, she is a British author who wrote fabulous children’s stories. My mom used to enjoy mysteries so as I got older I read a lot of those, and then we started reading Wilbur Smith. I started the bent toward romance in my late teens I think.

Why do you write?

I love it. That’s a simple answer, but I honestly can’t imagine not doing this.

Tell us about your latest book.

Independent, career-driven journalist Kristin Taylor wants two things: to honor her father's memory by becoming an award-winning overseas correspondent and to keep tabs on her only brother, Teddy, who signed up for the war against their mother's wishes. Brilliant photographer Luke Maddox, silent and brooding, exudes mystery. Kristin is convinced he's hiding something.

Willing to risk it all for what they believe in, Kristin and Luke engage in their own tumultuous battle until, in an unexpected twist, they’re forced to work together. Ambushed by love, they must decide whether or not to set aside their own private agendas for the hope of tomorrow that has captured their hearts.

That’s an interesting plot. What inspired you to write this particular book?

I’ve always been fascinated with the Vietnam era. I’d read about the young female journalists who made their way over there to cover the war, often without a job at first, and I thought it would make an amazing story.

Where do you get ideas for your books?

Everywhere. Talking to people, watching people. Reading the paper, watching the news. Everybody has a story.

What themes do you write about?

I love to write about healing, forgiveness, redemption and restoration.

Are you a plotter or a pantzer?

Definitely a pantser! Sometimes I wish I could plot, but I really can’t. I just have to sit down and write and go from there. It takes a lot longer to come up with a completed manuscript that you don’t want to burn, but it is the only way I can do it.

Does your faith affect your writing? How?

I like to think that all my stories will have some spiritual element in them. While I don’t like to overdo with heavy preaching or conversion scenes, God is definitely there. Whether I write for CBA or ABA, I know that I’ll always keep that element woven into my writing. It’s just who I am.

Do you put yourself in your books?

It depends on the book. Usually, no. But I am sure at a subconscious level there is a bit of me in each character.

What are you working on right now?

Right now I’m working on a family saga called Reprisal. Lots of interesting characters with a ton of issues. It’s the kind of book I like to read, so I’ve been having a lot of fun with it. I’m also working on a romance that takes place in a California vineyard. I was recently there on vacation and think I may have to go back for more research.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

I always love to encourage new writers, because were it not for the many authors who encouraged me along the way (and still do), I probably would have given up. Study your craft, go to conferences if you can, get some great critique partners and just believe in yourself. It’s not an easy road, but if it is the one you feel called to, you will succeed eventually.

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

I love to hear from my readers and you can find me at the following locations!
Twitter: @cathwest
Book Trailer:


Educated in Bermuda, England and Canada, Catherine holds a degree in English from the University of Toronto. When she’s not at the computer working on her next story, you can find her taking her Border Collie for long walks or tending to her roses and orchids. Catherine and her husband live on the beautiful island of Bermuda, with their two college-aged children. Catherine is a member of Romance Writers of America, and American Christian Fiction Writers, and is a founding member of International Christian Fiction Writers. Catherine’s debut novel Yesterday’s Tomorrow, will release in 2011, through Oak Tara Publishers.
Oak Tara Website:

To Win a copy of Catherine's book leave a comment with your email address.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Winner...


Congratulations, Anne!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Looking Out the Window: The Peaceful Writing of Eileen Rife



Son Blockers

“Make Your face to shine upon Your servant; Save me in Your loving kindness.” –Psalm 31:16

Sitting on the sand outside our motel in LaHaina, I apply more sunscreen, smoothing it over my arms and legs, covering every exposed area to block the sun’s harmful UV rays. I want the glorious benefits of the sun’s warmth and light, but I realize, in this marred world that too much exposure may come with a price: detriment to long-term health.

Indeed, the tainted earth and heavens groan with longing for their redemption, freedom from the effects of sin, just as I long for release from this imperfect body in which I dwell. A curse fell on the world like a wet blanket, snuffing out the laughter and joy at God’s creation party. And so we both wait—creation and I—for the final, freeing touch of the Son’s hand.

In the meantime, I want nothing to block Him from my view. His light and warmth are perfect—no harmful UV rays. His light shines into every corner of my exposed life and reveals hidden sin. Application of His words to my life will block the lustful tendencies of the flesh and eyes and the boastful pride of life (1 John 2:16), so that I may do only what pleases Him. I don’t want anything blocking the Son’s light from penetrating my soul, for then I can be whole, move toward maturity, and be free to invest my life in others.

But allowing the Son free access to my life is risky. I risk a friend’s laughter, family criticism, co-workers’ ridicule, and a spouse’s scorn. At times I experience sheer loneliness. Still, anything less than total exposure to the Son will never do. Loneliness is simply God’s calling card to seek the Son even more. God can’t work when I am still holding on to the world, compromising His message or repeating sinful behaviors. All I can do is fix may gaze on the Son and lay my soul bare to His light, moving forward by faith and trusting Him for the outcome.

Then I will experience the good pleasure of His face shining upon me and be shielded from this world’s allurements. The Sunshine of His face always provides a tranquil moment.

Spiritual Renewal Plan:

Is there anything blocking your view of the Son today? Some habit, some thought or some action that you need to relinquish? Allow the penetrating light of God’s Word to reveal any hidden areas of sin that you need to confess and abandon. Refuse to dwell in the darkness. Live in the Sonlight.

About Eileen's book, TRANQUIL MOMENTS, SPIRITUAL REFRESHMENT FROM THE ISLAND OF MAUI: “A tranquil heart is life to the body.” Proverbs 14:30a

Life is filled with stress. How we handle it will determine whether we live a life of peace or a life of perpetual panic. Tranquil Moments, Spiritual Refreshment from the Island of Maui provides thirty-one vignettes which take you on a spiritual journey. View God’s promise in a rainbow spreading across a Maui mountaintop, His peace in a cascading waterfall and His faithfulness in a colorful sunrise. Included are 101 ways to add a tranquil moment to your day, plus a therapist’s guide to tranquility. Available at


"Healing words for hurting hearts," is how Eileen Rife describes her books. Whether through fiction or nonfiction, Eileen wants readers to come away with love that extends beyond themselves, faith that can see the impossible, and hope that endures against all odds.

As a child, Eileen loved writing and telling stories. Walking to school every morning, she created characters, then talked to them as she ambled down the road, which was often her way of dealing with grief and loss. After the death of her brother, Eileen learned to empathize with the underdog. Many of Eileen's stories revolve around issues that many find difficult to talk about—death, homosexuality, sex trafficking. Through her characters, she offers readers an opportunity to draw close, peel back the layers of their own hearts, and examine what lies within.

And added to the mix--romance, always a romance around one corner or another!

An alumna of Christian Writers Guild and member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Eileen has published several non-fiction books, written newsletters, a marriage column, and over ten church dramas. Her byline has appeared in magazines, such as Discipleship Journal, Marriage Partnership, Mature Living, Christian Home & School, Drama Ministry, and ParentLife, as well as other print and online publications. Her fiction works include Journey to Judah and Restored Hearts, recently released by OakTara. Chosen Ones, her third book in the Born for India trilogy is due out soon. She and husband, Chuck, a licensed professional counselor and marriage/family therapist conduct marriage seminars for churches and organizations in the States as well as overseas. They have three married children and six grandchildren.

You can visit Eileen at,, and

To win a copy of Eileen's book leave a comment with your email address.