Gail's Book Nook

Monday, April 23, 2012

Looking Out the Window: Nicole Odell Talks about The Embittered Ruby and Her Favorite Recipe and Bible Verse

What a fun time! Nicole’s sharing an award winning recipe and her favorite Bible verse. She’s also giving away a copy of her book. To enter to win the book, leave a comment with your email address. To receive a free recipe e-book, Novel Morsels, scroll below and follow Nicole’s directions.

Nourish the Body

Read an excerpt from Nicole’s book, The Embittered Ruby, and get Carmen Castillo’s recipe for award-winning chili. Carmen’s the main character in The Embittered Ruby. She’s loves to cook and plans to go to culinary school.
Nicole says, “When I put together Novel Morsels, a collaborative cookbook made up of 120 recipes that show up in books or favorites of our characters by 65 authors, Carmen decided to share her chili recipe.”
Nourish the Body: Excerpt and Recipe
Super-Secret, Award-Winning Chili
The Embittered Ruby, Barbour Publishing April, 2011 Nicole O’Dell
“Okay. There’s only so much a man can take.” Billy barged into his bedroom.
“What?” Carmen sat up. “You said I could nap on your bed. Did I sleep too long?”
“No, silly. I’m talking about that pot on the stove. What is in there, and when can I eat it?”
“That’s what this is about?” Carmen threw a pillow at Billy.
“Well, you’re going to share, aren’t you?”
“Of course I will. It’s almost done.”
“That pot’s been simmering for two days. What’s in it?”
Carmen wiggled her eyebrows. “You’re in for a pot of the greatest award-winning chili known to man.”
“Mmm. I’m such a chili fan. I’ve been waiting to taste some of that awesome cooking I’ve been hearing about.”
Speaking of the pot on the stove, it was time to stir. “Come on.” Carmen led the way to the kitchen. She backed up to the counter and hopped up onto it, her piggy slippers dangling. She took the lid off the stockpot and stirred the simmering brew, breathing in the heady aroma of chili powder, cinnamon, cloves, and red pepper. To die for.
Carmen blew on a spoonful. “Here. Taste.”
Billy leaned forward and slurped the chili from the spoon. He closed his eyes and rolled his tongue around his mouth. “I think that’s the best thing I’ve ever tasted. It’s amazing.”
“Thanks.” She ladled a big scoop into a bowl, dumped oyster crackers on top, sprinkled some shredded cheese, and added a dollop of sour cream. “Now that is a bowl of chili.” She handed it to Billy and then made one for herself.
Billy sat at the dinette with his untouched food in front of him.
Carmen slid into her seat and poised her spoon above her bowl. “Go ahead. Eat.”
“This will sound weird, but I can’t eat without praying. Do you mind?” He took her hand and began to pray. “Heavenly Father. . .” Carmen guessed she didn’t mind, but how strange. Billy sure didn’t seem to be living like someone who prayed over every meal.

1 lb ground beef
1 can (1lb 13oz) tomatoes
1 can kidney beans
1 lg onion, sliced
1 green pepper, chopped
1-2 Tbsp Chili powder
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1-2 bay leaves
2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp paprika
2 to 3 cloves
1 lg cinnamon stick

(For my large family, and the guests with doggie bags, I usually do this recipe X 5.)
• brown beef, drain • add onion and green pepper • cook until onions and green peppers are translucent • add tomatoes and seasonings • Add cinnamon and cloves • simmer gently, at least two hours • add beans

Get ready for delicious smells to take over your house. Simmer it for as long as you can stand the wait! I don’t consider it ready until it sits in the fridge overnight and simmers for at least an hour the second day.

Ps, if you’d like your own free copy of the e-book, Novel Morsels, visit here and enter coupon code ‘nicoleodell’ at checkout!
Nourish the Soul: Nicole Shares her Favorite Bible Verse:
The one scripture that stands out to me all the time in reference to my own walk with the Lord, my parenting, and my work, is Philippians 1:6: “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
It’s all about choices! We have the power to choose righteousness or sin when it comes to the way we live our lives. I believe in helping teens prepare to make good choices in advance of the pressure, and I work to help parents with that goal.
But, we’re told that the work isn’t complete. We aren’t perfected until we stand before Jesus. So, we will make mistakes. We’ll choose badly from time to time, our teens will mess up. When mistakes are made, the redemptive and restorative power of the blood of Jesus is sufficient to cover all sin even though there are natural consequences to choices.
The work will be finished. It’s a promise.
Those threads are pretty much an outline of each of the books in the Diamond Estates series.

About the series:
DIAMOND ESTATES. Three girls are on a journey to find hope and healing. Each coming to Diamond Estates seeking solace… Each with her own unique set of struggles… And each capturing hearts and challenging the faith of teen girls.
About The Embittered Ruby

Sixteen-year-old Carmen Castillo wonders what it would be like to have a pair of ruby slippers.
“There’s no place like home. . .”
“There’s no place like home. . .”
“There’s no place like home.”

But then reality sets in, and Carmen concludes that ruby slippers are mere fiction. Constant prayers that her parents will patch things up remain unanswered. . .and her hurtful world becomes too much for her to bear. Trapped by resentment and anger, Carmen lashes out the only way she knows how and soon finds herself at a crossroads.
Will Carmen find the path to ultimate peace and contentment that her heart longs for?
Or will her troubled soul remain forever embittered?

Nicole O'Dell, founder of Choose NOW Ministries and host of Choose NOW Radio: Parent Talk and Teen Talk, is a youth culture expert who writes and speaks to preteens, teenagers, and parents about how to prepare for life's tough choices. She’s author of YA fiction, including the popular Scenarios for Girls interactive fiction series and the Diamond Estates Series, and non-fiction for teens including Girl Talk, 2/1/12, which she wrote with her two daughters based on their popular advice column. Hot Buttons, O’Dell’s non-fiction series for parents helps pre-empt peer pressure by tackling tough issues. Visit for more info.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Looking Out the Window: Riding the Road / Writing Heavenward: K Dawn Byrd Talks about Her New Devotional Book, Lessons from the Open Road, and Shares a Beautiful Devotional

K. Dawn on the Screamin' Eagle V-Rod

A couple of years ago, the idea of writing a devotional about the lessons I learned while riding a motorcycle came to me. I had no idea what I was getting into and how much writing devotionals would minister to me as an author. I jotted down notes for weeks, hoping to come up with enough lessons to take the reader through a month. Lessons from the Open Road ended with 33 lessons, each followed by Scripture and prayer.
Sometimes life is hard. Sometimes learning new things is hard. Just when I thought I'd mastered the parking lot where I was learning to ride my little Yamaha Virago starter bike, I pulled out, forgot to hit the brake, did an Evel Knievel, and jumped a short concrete wall, landing in some trees. My poor little bike limped home with a hole in the crankcase the size of a quarter. J-B Weld to the rescue!
I'm stubborn, too stubborn to quit. After I recovered from the sore neck that resulted from my stunt, I climbed back on the old iron horse. Eventually, I graduated from the parking lot and hit the streets. When I'd learned to ride well enough to satisfy hubby, he bought himself a new Harley and I inherited his anniversary edition Harley Davidson Sportster. And, when I graduated with my masters degree, you'd never guess what I wanted. Yep, a new bike. I became the proud owner of a Screamin Eagle V-Rod.  
All good things must eventually come to an end. I enjoyed my days on the road, but found another passion. Writing. I work a full-time job and since there's only so much time in the day, I have to choose what's most important to me. The bike had to go. Occasionally, I miss it, but for the most part, I'd rather be writing. I'm hoping the devotions in Lessons from the Open Road will minister to your heart as much as writing them did to mine.
Lessons from the Open Road is currently available in ebook format and will be coming soon in print. I had planned to list it at no cost, but Amazon wouldn't allow me to do so. I've listed it at the lowest price Amazon allows, 99 cents, and all proceeds will be donated to my church's building fund for the new church that's currently under construction.
For more information about Lessons from the Open Road, you can check it out on Amazon at
A Devotional from Lessons from the Open Road:
Smell the honeysuckle. Honeysuckle. It's the scent of angels. There must be honeysuckle in Heaven. There were times when the scent of honeysuckle enveloped me like a cocoon as I journeyed down a country road. Those times reminded me of God's presence. Don't we all have something that reminds us that God is near? For me, it's honeysuckle.
"Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness." Isaiah 41:10
"Keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me under the shadow of thy wings." Psalm 17:8
Prayer: Dear God: Please show me that you are near, ever protecting, providing for and loving me.
Book giveaway blog:
Young adult blog:
I'm also on Twitter (kdawnbyrd) and facebook (K Dawn Byrd.) I am the moderator of the Christian Fiction Gathering facebook group (!/group.php?gid=128209963444) If you join this group, you'll get reminders about the weekly book giveaways.
K. Dawn Byrd is an author of inspirational romance, romantic suspense, and non-fiction. She is an avid blogger and gives away several books per week on her blog at, most of which are signed by the authors. She's also the moderator of the popular facebook Christian Fiction Gathering group at!/group.php?gid=128209963444.
When not reading or writing, K. Dawn Byrd enjoys spending time with her husband of 16 years while walking their dogs beside a gorgeous lake near her home and plotting the next story waiting to be told.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Happy Easter Everyone! Check Out the Easter Message One Blog Below: Give Away: 2011 Carol Award Finalist S. Dionne Moore Talks About Writing and Promise Brides, Her New Book. She Gives Us a Peek at Her Office

S. Dionne will give away a copy of Promise Brides. To enter to win leave a comment with your email address.

Welcome. First, tell us a little about yourself. My name is Sandra. :) Is that “little” enough? No? Okay. I write as S. Dionne Moore because my first editor had just contracted my evil twin, Sandra Robbins (Sandra R. Is my bud and works with me at The Borrowed Book, so this is all good, ‘k?). In order not to confuse us I used my middle name and first initial.
S. Dionne it is. Were you an avid reader as a child? What did you read?Loved, loved, loved Nancy Drew. Still do, except now I play--please don’t tell--the Nancy Drew games. Yeah, I know they’re for kids. . .uh, teens, but I really like them. I also enjoyed good historicals where I came away having learned something new about the time period. Raise your hand if you like to learn while you read! Learning is much less painful that way. :)
I agree. I love to learn while reading. Let's talk about your writing. Why do you write?Because I couldn’t do math. No, seriously. I can do complicated math equations but do simple math? Nope. I have to use my fingers. Don’t tell. You know, I’m really giving out a lot of my deep dark secrets here.
Naw, it's just the left-brain-right-brain thing. Tell us about your latest book.My latest book is a compilation of three called Promise Brides. In 2011 the first book in the series, Promise of Tomorrow, was named a Carol Award finalist! All three are set in historic Pennsylvania.
Congratulations! That's wonderful. What inspired you to write this particular book?History! I am surrounded by beautiful Civil War battlefields here in Cumberland Valley. Johnstown, PA is about an hour and a half away and started my journey into writing historical romances when it dawned on me that I had never read a work of fiction with the Johnstown Flood of 1889 used as setting. It is a tragic event and I started to wonder what would happen if two people were in love and then. . .
Neat. That brings me right to my next question. Where do you get ideas for your books?Strangely enough, I normally have a setting in mind first, then build my characters around the setting.
How do you get to know your characters?
Usually I get to know my characters through their conflicts. I assign them problems then think through how those problems will hinder them and those around them. The romance part is easy, it’s the overcoming of our personal demons that makes the rest so difficult.

What is your writing schedule and where do you write?I write at my desk on a 27” iMac (LOVE me some Apple!). The huge screen is great for side-by-side editing or having pics of my characters on one side while I am writing on the other side. I’m a neat freak (yet another secret!) so I can’t stand too much clutter. And I love antiques, thus the German hutch behind my desk. It has the most beautiful elaborate carvings and it is a solid, heavy piece.
Find out more about Sandra here: Website:
Twitter: @sdionnemoore
The Borrowed Book:

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


Christ Has Risen!
"On the first day of the week, very early in the morning the women took spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men aid to them, 'Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen!.."
Luke 24: 1 - 6