Gail's Book Nook

Monday, December 30, 2013


Wishing everyone a safe and Happy New Year and many blessings for 2014!

See you then!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013



                                MERRY CHRISTMAS!

                         MERRY CHRISTMAS!

                                                               MERRY CHRISTMAS!


This year's Christmas reminds me of an exciting, wonderful movie on the television with the sound turned off. I walk into a mall, and with the exception of my local Sears store, there's no indication that it's anything except an ordinary day. I purchase a gift and the clerk says, "Thank you. Have a nice day."

I want to scream. "This is a Christmas present. I'm buying it because it's Christmas!" I know the clerks are doing what they've been told, so I don't. There are throngs of people waiting in line to buy gifts in their stores. It doesn't look like an ordinary day. Who told them it was? Why?

On December twenty-fifth Christians celebrate the birth of Christ. They've been doing it in this country as long as I can remember. I used to ride with my parents to see the Christmas lights in our area and the live Nativity on the court house yard. In Christmases gone by the stores were filled with decorations, Christmas music and laughter. People stood back, took a breath from their busy lives, and wished Christmas blessings for all.

 Because that's what Christians believe. Christ is the light of the world. He came to save sinners that all who believe in him should have everlasting life. (John 3: 16) He preached a Gospel of love. "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: "Love your neighbor as yourself." (Matthew 22: 36 - 39) He preached peace, love and doing good works for others. Why would anyone want to silence the message?

Our country's more multi-cultural now. We have many other religions, and Christians have stood up for them and demanded freedom of worship for all. But now, someone wants to make sure Christians don't celebrate Christmas. Why? If they don't want to be Christians, they don't need to. How could Christ's message of love and peace hurt the world, a country, a state, a neighborhood?
Why don't people of other religions defend the right of Christians?

I finally asked a young man in a restaurant why there weren't any Christmas decorations this year.
He didn't know, but he said he was only allowed to say "Merry Christmas" if a customer said it first. I'm saying it! MERRY CHRISTMAS! I even got out my old Christmas sweater to wear shopping from now until Christmas so there's no doubt that I want to hear, "Merry Christmas."

For those of  us who are Christians, perhaps we should wear something to let people know. It probably doesn't need to be as bold as my sweater. I'm just makin' sure. Too commercial? Where did that come from? Was it a media spin just to start the silencing of Christmas? Not me. I didn't fall for it.

Oh yeah, Sears, I'll be doing a LOT of shopping in your store all year around.


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Give Aways Galore

A Special "Thank You" Christmas Give Away with Ten Christian Authors Until December 18th!!
Enter to win Romance, Amish, Children's, Teens, Devotions and More, including Stopped Cold! More information on how to enter here.

Also, enter to win Stopped Cold in My Family's Heart Book Reviews and Tours Celebration party for
2,500 likes. Selection includes sweet romance and Christian books. More information here

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Winner of Terror on Tybee Island

 Thanks to everyone for stopping by to read about Terror on Tybee Island.

It was hard to choose a winner. I drew names and the winner is...

Hats and Horns...

Congratulations, Jackie!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Looking Out the Window: Welcome Deborah Malone and Her Heroine, Trixie Montgomery of the Cozy Mystery Series. Deborah Will Give Away a Copy of Terror on Tybee Island

It’s great to have Deborah Malone to talk about her fun cozy mystery series and her new book. She’ll give away a copy of Terror on Tybee Island. To enter to win leave a comment and an e-mail address.

1.First, tell us a little about yourself, Debbie.

Well, I’m a Georgia Peach, but my two older brothers were born in Cinn, Ohio. My dad worked for General Electric and was transferred to Georgia. He was originally from Opelika, Ala and my mother was from Cinn. Talking about North meeting South. I often think if they stayed in Ohio I’d be a %^&* Yankee
2. Were you an avid reader as a child? If so, what did you read?

I loved to read as a child. I think I came out of the womb reading. I read any mystery I could get my hands on. I think I read all of Nancy Drew’s books and some of Trixie Beldon. My character Trixie is named after Trixie Beldon.

3. I'm a big fan of Nancy Drew also. What do you write? 

Surprise, surprise! I write cozy mysteries.

4. Sounds like a fun read. Are you a plotter or a panster?

I’m a panster.

5. Tell us about your latest book.

My latest book is about Trixie Montgomery going to Tybee Island for a vacation. Her best friend Dee Dee, her great-aunt Nana and her mother, Betty Jo all tag along. While walking on the beach Trixie  sees a beach cat digging in the sand. She investigates only to discover a body that had been bludgeoned to death with a garden gnome. To find out how Trixie gets out of the mess you’ll have to read the book.     

From Trixie Montgomery, the heroine in Deborah’s Cozy Mystery Series:

Trixie Montgomery here. You may know me from my Trixie Montgomery Cozy Mystery Series. I’ve just returned from a vacation at Tybee Island with my best friend Dee Dee, my great-aunt Nana, and my mother, Betty Jo. While we were there I found a body in the sand by the ocean. I’d been involved in a couple of murder cases, but I’d never found a body before. I hope I never find one again.
My boyfriend had asked me to marry him before I left, and I told him I’d give him the answer when I returned. Well, I said ‘yes.’ I’m so excited. We’re planning on having a December wedding. Hope y’all can come.

First, Gail has asked me what my favorite bible verse is. Well, I like to pick a special bible verse for each of my books. The bible verse for “Terror on Tybee Island” is “Look at the birds in the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than them?” Matthew 6:26  I hope it brings some comfort to you, also.

It’s about that time again. Yes, Christmas is just around the corner. It’s a time for family, fun and food. Speaking of food I’d like to share a recipe with you. I made this pork tenderloin with apples last year and everybody raved about it. I know it’s not your usual Christmas fare, but sometimes it’s good to mix things up a bit.  Well, here you are, I hope it turns out as good for you as it did for me. Doesn’t it look good? I guess I’d better got off the computer now, Debbie doesn’t know I’m using it and she’s pretty particular about who uses it. I wish you the merriest of Christmases!

Roasted Tenderloin and Apples

• Place a 1 lb. to 1 1/2 lb. tenderloin in a roasting pan. Cover with a tight lid or aluminum foil. Place the pan in a 400 F oven and let cook for 30 minutes. While the roast is cooking, slice two cooking apples into 1/4-inch slices. Add 2 tbsp. of fresh or frozen cranberries or raisens. In a bowl, combine 2 tbsp. dark brown sugar and 1 tsp. cinnamon. Spoon this mixture over the fruit, coating the fruit thoroughly with the sugar and spice. Remove the tenderloin from the oven after 30 minutes and spoon the fruit mixture on and around the roast. Return the roast to the oven and cook for an additional 15 to 20 minutes until the roast is golden brown and reaches a 160 F internal temperature.

Yum. I can't wait to try this recipe.

Terror on Tybee Island's available on Amazon

Learn more about Deborah and her books at

Bio: Deborah Malone’s first novel Death in Dahlonega, finaled in the American Christian Fiction Writer’s Category Five writing contest! Deborah was also nominated for 2012 Georgia Author of the Year in First Novel category. She has worked as a freelance writer and photographer, for the historic magazine “Georgia Backroads.” She has had many articles and photographs published, and her writing is featured in “Tales of the Rails,” edited by Olin Jackson. She is a member of the Georgia Writer’s Association as well as Advanced Writer’s and Speakers Association. As a current member of the American Christian Fiction Writer she has established a blog where she reviews Christian Fiction.  

Thursday, November 28, 2013

On Thanksgiving the Pilgrims Gave Thanks to God

***See below for authors to visit next week on The Blog Tour.



My daughter’s first grade year in school, the children drew images illustrating Thanksgiving. The administration put them on the walls for an open house.

That night turkeys, Indians and Pilgrims in many colors lined the halls. On the tour we stopped at our daughter’s offering and told her how good it was— of course.

She peered at me with wide brown eyes. “My friend had to take down her picture and do it over.”

“Why?” I asked.

“Here it is.” Our daughter pointed to a drawing with a boat and some stick people standing around it.
“She wrote on it the first time?”

“Did she write over the picture?” I asked.

“No, she said the Pilgrims gave thanks to God, and that’s not allowed.”

I was stunned. “What’s not allowed?”

“To put up there that the Pilgrims thanked God.”

History was re-written behind the walls of those halls that Thanksgiving.

Each Thanksgiving I remember the incident and think of the verse, “But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24: 15

As for me and my family at Thanksgiving, we will give thanks to God for the blessings He’s given us.
***Authors to visit next week on the blog tour:
Look for these authors next week…Multi-published author, Lisa Lickel, at
Inspirational romance novelist Regina Andrews at
Tracy Krauss; fiction on the edge without crossing the line –

Monday, November 25, 2013

Blog Tour

Thanks to Miss Mae at Feeling Nosey for referring me for this fun blog tour.

Here’s a little about my corner of the writing world.

What’s my latest book?  I’m excited about my newest release, Stopped Cold, a teen novel with a mystery, spiritual talk and a touch of romance. While it has a serious message: We don’t have to be number one for God to love us, it has a fun mystery to keep the pages turning.

It’s set in a small town in the North Carolina mountains, but things aren’t what they seem in peaceful Mistville. Margaret McWhorter enjoys a laid-back Freshman year in high school flirting with Jimmy Willmore, swimming and hanging out with friends—until that day. Her brother, Sean, suffers a stroke from taking a steroid. Now he’s lying unconscious in a hospital. Margaret’s angry at her dad for pushing Sean to be a great quarterback, but a fire of hatred burns inside her to make the criminals pay.

Looking for justice, she takes Jimmy and her best friend, Emily, through a twisted, drug-filled sub-culture. A clue sends them deep into the woods behind the school where they overhear drug dealers discuss Sean.

Time and time again they walk a treacherous path and come face to face with danger. Even the cop on the case can’t stop them from investigating. All the while Margaret really wants to cure Sean, heal the hate inside, and open her heart to love.

What are people saying about Stopped Cold?  Readers describe it as emotion packed, an important story, one that touches on tough subjects, makes you think and has plenty of action.

Here are a couple short reviews:
This is a great read. I recommend it for teens or adults alike. It certainly kept me turning the pages to see what would happen next when Margaret, Jimmy, and their friend Emily go out looking to stop dangerous drug dealers. There's plenty of action and emotion. Connie C.

Stopped Cold is filled with emotion, strong characters, teenage romance, adventure, danger and the intricate workings of modern day high school studies and sports. Ms. Pallotta blends all this together for a convincing story. Our hearts are touched by a family's concern for Sean who lies in the hospital non responsive. We see the story from Sean's young sister, Margaret's viewpoint and the feelings she fights to keep bottled up and maintain her Christian principles. The author is obviously well versed in swimming competition. Supporting characters are well done and fuels the emotions between close friends. I highly recommend this novel. Larry Hammersley

With Christmas just around the corner, it makes a great gift for the teens in your life.

How does it differ from other works in its genre: It’s set in the real world with real problems teens face at school, in their peer groups and at home whereas many young people’s books are set in a make-believe society.  It shows the difference in being the best one can be and in always having to be number one, and illustrates in a powerful way the devastation that can result from always having to be the best. Readers learn why not to use steroids and why to use the gifts God gave them.

How does your writing process work? I usually see or experience something that makes an impression on me. It rattles around in my head for a while then either goes away or starts to nag me. Sometimes I write a page or two about it and that’s it. Other times my interest builds in the subject, and I ask what if? Then a plot and characters take over, changing and shaping my first impression into a story.

Look for these authors next week…
Multi-published author, Lisa Lickel, at
Inspirational romance novelist Regina Andrews at
Tracy Krauss; fiction on the edge without crossing the line –

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Looking Out the Window: Ada Brownell Challenges Us to Work Toward Our Dreams in Her New Book, Imagine the Future You. She'll Give Away an e-book.


Welcome, Ada. Thanks so much for visiting my blog to talk about Imagine the Future You. Ada also shares a yummy recipe and one of her favorite Bible verses. She'll give away an e-book. To enter to win leave a comment and an e-mail address below.

About Imagine the Future You
Will you be the person you dream of being—or someone from your nightmares?
You don’t need a fortune teller to reveal your future. You are the person who determines who you will be, what your life will be like, and how your hopes and dreams will be fulfilled.

 Today is the time to IMAGINE and to create an action plan for your future.
• How harnessing your will can make you a champion
• How to make valuable deposits into your mind, detoxify harmful information in the brain, and avoid brain washing
• How to look and be your best
• How to connect with Someone who will make a difference in your life
• How who you marry changes everything
• How to avoid traps that jeopardize your future
• Where you want your name to appear
• Why you can believe God is there and interested in your future
• Examples of people who grabbed their future and held on
This book will show how to make the right connections, how to grow you talents, and how to begin believing in yourself and things greater than yourself—for a wonderful Future You!

Nourish the Body: Ada Shares Her Recipe for Chocolate Frosting

2 ¼ cups sugar
3 1-ounce squares chocolate (unsweetened)
½ cup margarine
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup milk
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
Combine sugar, chocolate, margarine, salt, milk and syrup. Cook, stirring frequently, to 232-degrees F. or until softball stage. Cool to lukewarm. Add vanilla. Beat until thick enough to spread.

Nourish the Soul:  One of Ada's Favorite Bible Verses: 

"In this world you will have tribulation; but be of
good cheer, I have overcome the world" (John 16:33).

A Little About Ada's Son

Our oldest son, Gary, played the electric bass guitar. He studied music in college, played the trumpet, but has spent his life as a professional sound engineer.

Gary, widely known in Christian music circles for his talent with sound, would have loved to meet Paul Tutmarc, inventor of the electronic bass.

I tell about Paul Tutmarc because as a young man he caught a dream. His story is in the first chapter of my book, Imagine the Future You. Here’s part of that chapter.

An excerpt from Imagine the Future You

Paul Tutmarc of Seattle, Washington, traveled in a band and often felt sorry for the acoustic bass fiddle player, who always drove alone because his huge instrument left room in his car only for the driver.

 An upright bass fiddle is as tall as many adults, quite fat and wide, and doesn’t bend in convenient places as a human body does. So the bass player missed the fun with the other band members, whose vehicle rocked with conversation, laughter, and joking among friends. The bass player had the company of only his silent instrument.

From age fifteen, Paul Tutmarc had an interest in steel guitars—the ones usually used in Hawaiian music. He became an accomplished musician and wanted to magnify the sound of the steel. He looked at the innards of the telephone to see how it worked to pick up sound and began tinkering with it. Bob Wisner, a radio repairman and another friend, Art Stimpson, worked with Paul, and they figured out how to use electronic amplification on musical instruments.

Paul electrified zithers, pianos, and Spanish guitars.

Then he carved an electronic “bass fiddle” about the size and shape of a cello and the first electric bass guitar came into being in 1933. Paul eventually made a forty-two-inch-long solid-body bass, which was lighter and smaller. The guitar was featured in the 1935 sales catalog for Tutmarc’s company, Audiovox.

The bass guitar, however, didn’t become popular until the 1950s, when Leo Fender, with employee George Fullerton, developed the first mass-produced instrument.

Next time you hear a loud, pulsating bass guitar behind a band, remember Paul Tutmarc,  who began his music career in a church choir and caught a dream.

Paul’s dream took work, practice, and trial and error, and so does becoming the person our Creator planned for us to be.

The earlier we start working toward our dreams the better. When we are young, we are like clay that can be worked and changed by circumstances, relationships, decisions we make, what we experience, and what we put into our heads. When we become adults, our spirits might become hard—perhaps even like clay that has to be hurt and broken—before it can be changed.

So good choices now save heartache later, and we make those decisions every day.
There is no one else exactly like you, and God loves you just the way you are. Yet, He expects you to allow Him to lead you into a great and wonderful life.

Ada Brownell has been writing for Christian publications since age 15 and spent much of her life as a daily newspaper reporter. She has a B.S. degree in Mass Communications and worked most of her career at The Pueblo Chieftain in Colo., where she spent the last seven years as a medical writer. After moving to Springfield, MO in her retirement, she continues to free lance for Christian publications and write non-fiction and fiction books. She is critique group leader of Ozarks Chapter of American Christian Writers.

She is author of Joe the Dreamer: The Castle and the Catapult, released Jan. 15, 2013; Swallowed by Life: Mysteries of Death, Resurrection and the Eternal, released Dec. 6, 2011; and Confessions of a Pentecostal, published by the Assemblies of God’s Gospel Publishing House in 1978, out- of-print but released in 2012 for Kindle. Watch for her new book on Amazon, Imagine the Future You. All the books are available in paper or for Kindle.

Ada's Links:

     Twitter: @adellerella
     Blog: Stick to Your Soul Encouragement
     Amazon Ada Brownell author page:

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Winner of The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman

Hats -- Horns!!

The winner of  The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman is...

Drum roll...

Congratulations! Cindy Christiansen!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Peering Out the Window: Carole Brown Talks about The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman, which Is Getting Rave Reviews, and Gives Away a Copy.

What a treat to have Carole Brown. She'll will give away an e-book of The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman. To enter to win leave a comment and an email address.

Carole shares a yummy recipe.

One of my mother’s favorite recipes--and SURPRISE! --Caralynne Hayman’s (in my novel: The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman) is their Cherry Mountain Pie.

Carole's mother

We loved it, as children when she made it, only . . . Her picky daughter (ME!) didn’t like cherries, so my request always came with certain requirements, “Yes, please, but no cherries.”

My mother kindly--and patiently, probably--made sure I had the delicious crunchy crust with lots of cherry juice but no cherries (why I liked cherry juice, but not cherries is something I’ll never understand). Topped with a dab of ice cream, and we thought it was the best dessert ever.

Here’s the recipe:
 Melt one stick of butter in a round cake pan (It has to be round; at least, that’s the way I remember it. )
 Pour canned cherry pie filling (or better: use cooked, fresh cherries, sweetened--to taste--and thickened) into the pan.

 Stir one cup of sugar, one and a half cup of self rising flour and one fourth cup of milk together. Pour batter on top of cherries.
 Bake until crust is a medium brown. 350 degrees.
 Enjoy with a topping of ice cream or whipped cream

Ahh. Great comfort food.This sounds delicious and easy to make. Thank your for sharing.

One of Carole's favorite Bible verses:
The Psalmist in Chapter 27, verse one, says: The Lord is my light and my salvation: whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

Isn’t that wonderful? No matter what circumstances, what trials, what problems, or who I deal with--God is there. He is MY light, MY salvation, My strength, My protector. It’s a personal salvation and I can rely on him to be in me and with me. Love, love, love this verse. What hope and assurance it gives.  As Fanny Crosby in the old hymn wrote: Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine. We CAN know and rest assured.

About The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman


How far would YOU go to avenge a daughter’s cruel death? Cara is considered rebellious and inappropriate to befriend. Dayne is the apple of Elder Simmons’ eye—until he takes a stand against their teachings. Can his prayers and love reach Cara and show her the way to redemption? Will Cara realize God’s love and forgiveness before she goes too far?

The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman is a novel of hope shining through the darkness with strong elements of suspense and romance. This novel was a semifinalist in the Genesis contest and is receiving raving reviews! Release date is October 21, 2013 from the Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, an ACFW approved publisher. The preorder link for the book which is on SALE NOW is:

An Excerpt
Chapter One
Twenty years earlier
The shadow creatures on the wall shook their wings and legs. Heads with horns nodded. Scary, dark faces watched.
The little girl clasped her floppy-eared rabbit against her chest and stared into the dark.
“Mmm …” Mommy’s murmur reached to her through the walls, and the giggles from her mother tiptoed in, shooing the fear away.
Whoosh. She blew out a breath and squeezed her rabbit tighter. “Mommy has a friend with her, Ramsey. She loves me just like I love you and will give me hugs in the morning after the man leaves.”
Ramsey said nothing. She ran her fingers over his face and could feel his black button eyes staring at her, trusting her to protect him.
“And she’ll read to us and I’ll sit on her lap and we’ll snuggle—all of us together.” She nodded and tugged on Ramsey’s left ear.
She rolled over.
Real live whispers and laughter floated into the room.
Opening her mouth in a wide yawn, she patted Ramsey’s tummy and whispered again, “Don’t be afraid. I’m right here.”
“Please. That hurts.”
“Mommy?” The little girl frowned but her eyes wouldn’t open. Just like they did when she and mommy put cucumbers slices on their eyes. 
“Stop it—”
  Rubbing at her eyes the little girl sat up. Mommy had never sounded like this before, and
neither had any of the men—the men who brought flowers and candy and money.

Besides being a member and active participant of many writing groups, Carole Brown enjoys mentoring beginning writers. She loves to weave suspense and tough topics into her books, along with a touch of romance and whimsy, and is always on the lookout for outstanding titles and catchy ideas. She and her husband reside in SE Ohio but have ministered and counseled nationally and internationally. Together, they enjoy their grandsons, traveling, gardening, good food, the simple life, and did she mention their grandsons?

Connect with her here:
Personal blog:

I also am part of several other blogs:
Geezers Guys and Gals:
Stitches in Time:
Barn Door Book Loft:

Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Winner of Winter in Full Bloom

It's always difficult to choose a winner. Thanks to all for coming by to read about Anita's great new book. This time I mixed up names and had my husband choose.

He picked...

Hats and Horns...Congratulations, Deborah Malone

Monday, September 23, 2013

Looking Out the Window: Anita Higman Tells Us about Her Latest Novel, Winter in Full Bloom. She'll Give Away a Copy.

It's my pleasure to welcome Anita to tell us about writing Winter in Full Bloom. To enter to win leave a comment and an e-mail address.

In Winter in Full Bloom Lily Winter's wings are folded so tightly around her daughter that when empty nest arrives, she feels she can no longer fly. But Lily's lonely, widowed life changes in a heartbeat when she goes to visit a woman who is almost a stranger to her-a woman who also happens to be her mother. During their fiery reunion, her mother reveals a dark family secret that she'd been hiding for decades-Lily has an identical twin sister who was put up for adoption when they were just babies.

 Without looking back, Lily-with her fear of flying-boards a jumbo jet and embarks on a quest to find her sister which leads half way around the world to Melbourne, Australia. Befriended by imprudent Ausie, he might prove to be the key to finding her sister. But her journey becomes a circle that leads her back home to attempt a family reunion and to find the one dream she no longer imagined possible-the chance to fall in love again.

Hi Anita, Winter in Full Bloom is set in Texas as well as Australia. What made you want to set the novel in these two places?
Well, I live in Texas, and so I wanted to make use of my home state. After living here for about thirty years I have a soft spot for Texas now. Also, I’d visited Melbourne, Australia for about three weeks and had taken notes, and since it was such an exotic place and I’d had such an amazing time there, I wanted to share some of my experiences with readers.

The cover is beautiful. Did you have any input in this cover?
Yes, actually, I did. The publisher sent me a few samples to look at, and I chose this one. But the cover you see now was tweaked a number of times. One of the changes was the addition of the red tulips all along the snowy path. I’m so glad the publisher was open to changes. I’m very happy with the final cover. It reflects the story even better than before, and I think that bit of unexpected intrigue along the road will be eye-catching to the bookstore browser.

Yes. How did you come up with Winter in Full Bloom?
Sometimes I brainstorm titles, and then sometimes I use a phrase I find within the manuscript that works well as a title. Winter in Full Bloom was created during one of my brainstorming sessions. As a side note, there are a couple of meanings to this tile. The heroine’s name is Lily Winter. Also, half of the book takes place in Houston at the advent of winter, but when she flies to Melbourne at the same time of the year, Australians are experiencing the beginning of spring. So, even though Lily has begun getting ready for winter, she suddenly enters into a season of springtime—literally and in her personal life.

Are the characters from your imagination, or do they come from real life?
My characters are a mixture of both. I’ll be watching someone at the airport or the mall or at church, and I’ll think, “Wow, that gesture or laugh or walk is perfect for my character.” Then some of my character’s traits will come straight from my imagination. Usually, it’s a fun brew of all the above.

Do you and your husband travel a lot?
We travel much more now that we have empty nest. Last year we went to Alaska, Hawaii, and Canada. This year we’ve been to Mexico, California, and right now as I type this answer, my husband and I are waiting at the airport to fly to Ireland. Can’t wait. I’m hoping to set one of my future novels in Ireland.

Why do you write?
I have a real need to express myself creatively—guess I was born that way—and writing and I fit well together.

Your heroine, Lily Winter, is experiencing empty nest. Why did you add that element to the story?
I was going through this same rough phase of motherhood, and I thought it would be good to add this to the story. I hope it added an element of authenticity to the tale. And too, forcing myself to write about the pain surely helped me deal with it better.

How long have you been writing?
I’ve been in this profession for about thirty years. It’s been a long, stumbly kind of journey. I’ve had some dark hours—those moments when I really didn’t know what I was doing or why I was doing it. Moments when rejection swept me under like a scary undertow. Moments when getting published seemed pretty much impossible. But I never gave up, and I’m glad I didn’t. I’ve had thirty-four books published in many genres, and even though it’s been a rough ride, it’s also been deeply satisfying.

And satisfying to your readers too! This story is about twin sisters? Are you a twin and do you have a sister?
I’m afraid I have to say no to both of those questions, but I’ve always wanted to have a sister. And that desire I suppose fueled the dialogue and some of this story.

Winter in Full Bloom is a love story but also a story of family reconciliation. Have you experienced that last part in your own life?

Yes, I have known the miracle of family reconciliation, and it has brought me great joy!

Any final words for your readers?
If you have ever taken the time to read one of my novels, I thank you with all my heart. I sincerely hope that Winter in Full Bloom inspires you and makes you laugh, and when you come to the last page and close the book, I hope your heart and your step feels just a little lighter.

Learn more about Anita and her books at

The Winner of Unforeseeable

Thanks to all who came by to comment on Nancy's wonderful book.

The winner is...



Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Looking Out the Window: Nancy Mehl Talks about Her New Book, Unforeseeable, Book Three in Her Road to Kingdom Series. She'll Give Away a Copy.

It's my pleasure to welcome Nancy. She'll give away a copy of Unforeseeable. To enter to win leave a comment and an e-mail address.

Hi Nancy, first tell us a little about yourself.
I’ve been married for forty years to my husband, Norman. I have one child, Danny, who lives in Missouri. We just sold our house in Kansas and are moving to be near my wonderful son, his beautiful wife, and the cutest grandson in the whole world. I might be a little prejudiced, but Aidan has brought so much joy to our lives. We want to watch him grow up and be involved in his life.
I love animals and have a Puggle named Watson. He’s named after Doctor Watson from the Sherlock Holmes stories. I love mystery, and Watson is very, very nosy. His name fits him.
I’ve been writing for fifteen years and have had fifteen books published. I love writing and believe it’s my calling.

Lots of people who enjoy writing also have a history of reading. Were you an avid reader as a child? If so, what did you read?
Yes. I would check out five or six books from the school library and read them that same night in bed, under the covers, with a flashlight. I read everything, but Nancy Drew was a favorite. However, my very favorite book was Miss Jellytot’s Visit by Mabel Leigh Hunt. I recently bought an old copy of the book and added it to my collection.

When I was a teenager I read the complete works of Charles Dickens. I love his writing. He was a master at creating memorable characters, and I tend to spend a lot of time developing my characters as well.

Sounds as though you had good inspiration. Why do you write?
I love to write, but the main reason is that I truly believe it’s my calling.

Tell us about your latest book.
Unforeseeable is the third and final book in my Road to Kingdom series. Here is a review from Library Journal:
Life is good for Callie Hoffman, who is engaged to the new pastor at her Mennonite church. Things turn decidedly darker when the body of a serial killer’s latest victim is discovered outside town and the residents of Kingdom, KS, must face the threat to their peaceful lives. VERDICT Small-town life meets a dangerous outside world in this taut, suspenseful story, the third (after Inescapable and Unbreakable) in Mehl’s Mennonite-flavored romantic suspense series. A good choice for readers who liked Amy Wallace’s “Place of Refuge” series.   
This sounds like another great Nancy Mehl book. Where do you get ideas for your books?
Most of the time, they come from a small concept and then blossom as I mull them over in my mind. If I get stuck, I will actually browse descriptions of other books or think back to books I’ve already read. Most of the time that will spark an idea. For example, during the writing of one book, I knew I needed a subplot, but I was having a tough time deciding on one. In thinking about a recent book I’d read, I remembered that the main character was accused of theft. So, I included the idea in my book. Totally different circumstances (never steal another author’s plot!!!), but the idea of theft launched me into a subplot that blended perfectly with my story.

All in all, I really don’t have a lot of trouble with plots. I spoke to a book club once, and a little boy who was there with his mother said something that has stayed with me. He said, “Mama, that lady has a lot of stories in her head.” He was  right. I do. LOL! 

LOL. He sounds like a cute little guy. What themes do you write about?
I’ve written about forgiveness, letting go of the past, confronting the past, and dealing with disabilities and even the ravages of Alzheimer’s. But one theme that remains constant in my books is that God has a plan for our lives. We’re not just wandering generalities. Everyone has been given gifts and callings. It’s up to us to give our lives to God and allow Him to make us into everything He designed us to be.

Does your faith affect your writing? How?
Absolutely. I used to think I wanted to write for a secular market so I could reach them for Christ. But God had something else in mind. I believe my writing to be geared to minister to God’s children. Jesus asked Peter repeatedly to “feed my sheep.” It was important to Him. I believe that’s what I’m doing. Of course, I love it when someone unsaved reads one of my books and is touched for Christ. But most of the letters and emails I get are from Christians who either rededicated their lives to Christ or strengthened their relationship with Him. That’s what it’s all about for me.

Do you put yourself in your books?
Absolutely. I think it’s very difficult to write about characters you don’t understand. Even the evil ones. We’ve all dealt with anger, jealously, and hatred. Hopefully, those tendencies are now under the control of the Holy Spirit, but at least we can pull from them to form characters whose negative desires guide them. There is a little bit (or a lot) of me in every character I create.

What are you working on right now?
Wow. Loaded question. LOL! I’m editing the first book in a new series with Bethany House. Gathering Shadows: Book One in The Finding Sanctuary Series. It’s one of the most suspenseful books I’ve ever written. Actually, I’m very excited about it. This book will release early in 2014. Also, I’m collaborating with a wonderful author on serial stories based on my Ivy Towers’ series. These books were published in 2008 and 2009 and have been a favorite with my readers. (In the Dead of Winter, Bye, Bye Bertie, For Whom the Wedding Bell Tolls, and There Goes Santa Claus.) I just signed with Guideposts to write a cozy mystery for them. I love Guideposts and have a special place in my heart for cozies, so I’m very excited about this! Greenbrier Books is publishing the third book in my Curl Up and Dye series in ebook form, AND I’m getting ready to write the second book in my Finding Sanctuary series. All this in the middle of a move! LOL! Thankfully, I know with God’s help, I can get it all done. Without Him, I’d be sunk!

It sounds exciting. Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Yes. Take the time to learn your craft. Writing isn’t easy, it takes work and training. I tell writers who attend my workshops that they wouldn’t want someone to walk into the room right before they’re supposed to have surgery and say, “I’ve always wanted to be a surgeon. Guess I’ll give it a try!” The same holds true with writing. You have to learn how to do it.

Also, find the publishers that publish what you want to write and read their books. Get to know them. Just sending out manuscripts willy-nilly won’t get you anywhere. You need to target publishers that are looking for you!

For aspiring writers, I’d like to tell you to first search your hearts and get before God before you spend your life trying to get published. Why do you want to write? Are you called, or is it because you want to be like your favorite author? Too many people are chasing after things they’re not called to do. Find YOUR calling and follow it with all your heart. It’s important to the Kingdom that you use your gifts and talents the way God intended.

For those who know they’re called to write I have two things to say in addition to what I wrote about learning your craft. They are: Don’t give up. Even when it looks like you should. Most of the time a struggle comes before a victory. In battle, soldiers don’t sit around hoping for victory, they fight, they struggle, and they persevere. You may have to do the same. And…don’t decide what YOU want to write. Put that in God’s hands. I started getting good contracts after I put my career on the altar and told God “Not my will, but Yours.” He’s looking for men and women who will allow Him to do great things. Men and women who will give Him all the glory. He gave you the gift. He gave you the calling. Now give it back to Him and watch what He can do. It will be amazing!

Thanks for the great advice. What would you be doing if you weren’t writing?
Well, I used to work in social services and loved it. I’m also passionate about animals. I’d probably target one of those areas. I also love to teach and have always wondered if I could have been a teacher. With my writers’ workshops, I get the chance to fulfill that role, and I really, really enjoy it.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?

Thank you, Nancy.

Thanks for having me, Gail. I appreciate it.

Nancy Mehl lives in Wichita, Kansas, with her husband Norman and her very active puggle, Watson. She’s authored fifteen books and is currently at work on a new series for Bethany House Publishing. The first book in her Road to Kingdom series, “Inescapable,” came out in July of 2012. The second book, “Unbreakable” released in February of 2013. The final book in the series, “Unforeseeable,” became available on September 1st.

All of Nancy’s novels have an added touch – something for your spirit as well as your soul. “I welcome the opportunity to share my faith through my writing,” Nancy says. “God is number one in my life. I wouldn’t be writing at all if I didn’t believe that this is what He’s called me to do. I hope everyone who reads my books will walk away with the most important message I can give them: God is good, and He loves you more than you can imagine. He has a good plan for your life, and there is nothing you can’t overcome with His help.”

Readers can learn more about Nancy through her Web site: She has a newsletter located at:, and is a part of another blog, The Suspense Sisters:, along with several other popular suspense authors. She is also very active on Facebook.

Monday, September 2, 2013

The Winner of Hotline Girl

The winner of K. Dawn's fun book Hotline Girl...

Hats and Horns...

Congratulations to Lucy Morgan-Jones!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Looking Out the Window: K. Dawn Byrd Talks about Her New Teen Novel, Hotline Girl. She'll Give Away a Free Download.

To enter to win the download of Hotline Girl leave a comment and an e-mail address.
It's great to have K. Dawn visit today. Hotline Girl sounds like such a fun book to read. What would you like readers to take away from it?
 It's important that when Christian teens choose a boyfriend or girlfriend, they choose someone who shares their Christian faith.

Why did you choose to write this book?
I thought it would be fun to explore how a couple could fall in love on-line. When my heroine's high school begins a counseling hotline, she's chosen to work it anonymously. She finds herself giving advice to a guy she's had a crush on forever. Once she knows all the hero's secret, will love blossom or fail? When he divulges the problems he's having with his girlfriend, she's tempted to give him advice that will break them up. Will she do the right thing?

What did you learn while writing this book?
I really love writing for the young adult market. Bouncing back to YA after writing suspense is a refreshing break.

Which books on writing have been the most helpful to you and why?
It's not really a book, but I'll tell you about it anyway. Margie Lawson's on-line classes made more impact on me and my writing style that anything else I've ever studied. They're very affordable too!

What kind of planning do you do before writing a novel?
I fill out character sketches in order to get to know my characters better. I ask myself what their goals are, what motivates them, and what's keeping them from reaching their goals. Sometimes, I start by writing a synopsis. This gives me information about the plot as it develops. I usually have a pretty strong plot before I actually begin the story.

What are you working on right now?
I'm working on a thriller about a serial killer. It's a difficult story because there are several twists and turns and I have to be careful how I write it for everything to fall into place correctly.

What would you be doing if you weren’t writing?
Probably still riding a Harley. I sold my bike in order to have more time to write. On weekends, I'd rather curl up with my laptop and the story in my head.

Tell us a little more about yourself , with three things not many people know
about you.

I have a masters degree in professional counseling from Liberty University.

I'm an animal lover. I have two hairless Chinese Crested dogs, four ferrets, and several aquariums in my home, and somehow recently I ended up with a shelter rescue Chihuahua.

 I  love sour foods. I'd rather have olives, pickles, or dilly beans than something sweet sometimes.

Thank you, K. Dawn. It's great to hear about Hotline Girl and to learn more about you!

  About Hotline Girl
When the school counselor asks Abby to work a counseling chat line, she begs her to choose someone else. When Race, Abby's three-year crush, begins using the chat line to talk about his girlfriend problems, can Abby be impartial when she really wants to tell him to dump her?
Race notices Abby after she has a complete make-over. He begins to spend more time with her and feels like a cheater because he likes the hotline girl too. How can he like two girls at once?
Abby is thrilled when Race begins spending time with her, but she's crushed when he tells the hotline girl that he likes her and wants to take her out. Is he a player? Will he even want to be with her when he finds out that she is the hotline girl and knows all his deepest secrets?

An excerpt:
I signed into the chat room and found SS2 RS waiting for me. HOTLINE GIRL HERE. WHAT'S UP? I asked.
I leaned over and took a whiff. THEY'RE BEAUTIFUL. THANK YOU.
SS2 RS had been paging me a lot lately and the more time I spent with him, the more certain I was that he was Race. I'd asked a couple of times who he was and he'd refused to tell me. We were getting to know each other quite well and I wasn't sure how he felt, but the more I came to know him, the better I liked him. I just wondered if I could trust him. We were finding out that we had a lot in common. Our faith. Our love of sports cars. Our love of animals.
I contemplated my response. What would be the harm in that? There were dozens of blonde seniors. BLONDE.
I opened the notes app on my phone and typed in football player. I'd been keeping notes on him so I wouldn't forget anything, hoping I could play Nancy Drew and determine who the mystery guy was. GUESS I'LL SEE YOU THERE.
FINE WITH ME, BUT WHAT ABOUT YOUR GIRLFRIEND? It was killing me not knowing for sure that he was Race. I know it was crazy, but I really liked him and I didn't even know his name. He might be Race, but then again, he might not be.

K. Dawn Byrd is an author of inspirational novels in several genres, including historical, suspense, romance, and young adult. Some of her favorite things are chocolate, sports cars, and her pets. Her hobbies include reading, writing, and riding down country roads in the passenger seat of her husband's Corvette Stingray. When asked why she writes, her response is, "For the simple joy of placing words on the page!"

Get in touch with K. Dawn

Pinterist: kdawnbyrd
Author Page:  
Facebook Christian Fiction Gathering:

Hotline Girl’s available at Amazon, B&N, and where other ebooks are sold.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Winner of Out of the Darkness

It's always difficult to choose a winner!

This time I solicited help from hubby.

And the winner is...

Drum roll...

Congratulations Diana Montgomery!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Looking Out the Window: Welcome Christian Suspense Author Anne Patrick. She'll Give Away a Copy of Her Latest Book, Out of the Darkness.

It’s my pleasure to have Anne Patrick on my blog this week. She'll give away EITHER a PDF, Kindle or Nook copy of Out of the Darkness. To enter to win leave a comment and an e-mail address.
Welcome, Anne. First, tell us a little about yourself.

I'm a Christian Suspense author with over a dozen books published.  When I'm not writing, I enjoy spending time with family and friends.  I also love to travel and have been richly blessed by being able to travel out of the country on several short-term mission trips. I've had the pleasure of seeing God do amazing things in the mission field.

That's a wonderful way to spend time when you aren't writing. Tell us, why you write.
Because I have to.  I would probably go insane if I didn't have an outlet for all the stories floating around in my head.  And yes, my characters do talk to me.  I try not to talk back to them in public though. LOL.

LOL. Tell us about your latest book. Out of the Darkness is about a former FBI profiler whose life is shattered when a serial killer murders her twin sister and leaves Alex with a career-ending injury. Leaving the FBI behind her she sets off across country with a truck driver she barely knows who is battling his own demons.  What Alex doesn't know is the killer is hot on her trail and he won't give up until he finds the victim who got away.

It sounds suspenseful. In three words describe your style of writing. Romance, Mayhem and Faith. 

What themes do you write about?
Usually the darker side of life (Mayhem & Murder) and how in the midst of it our faith sustains us.  I'm a firm believer that if God leads us to it, He'll get us through it.  Another strong theme in most of my books is forgiveness.  We are human, we are going to make mistakes and sometimes stray from God, but He is always with us.  He never turns His back on us.

Thanks for sharing words about your faith with us. Are you a plotter or a pantzer?
 I'm a pantzer.  I can't imagine writing any other way.  It's like riding a rollercoaster. You never know what's right around the corner…or over the next hill.

What are you working on right now?
I'm currently working on book four, SECRETS, in my Wounded Heroes Series.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?  Never give up on your dream.  Finish that first story, edit it until it's the best you can do, then submit it.  You will get rejections, everyone does, but don't let it deter you.  Believe in yourself and your work.  Sooner or later, that door will open and you'll be on your way.

What is the coolest, wackiest, most risk-taking thing you’ve ever done?
Flying in helicopters.  It's a passion I love and do it every chance I get.

Neat. Thank you, Anne.

A Little More about Out of the Darkness
FBI profiler Alex Michaels’ life was shattered when a sadistic serial killer murdered her twin sister and left Alex with a career ending injury. Hoping to put the past behind her, she sets off across country with a truck driver she barely knows.

Royce McIntire knows Alex is on the run from something or someone, but he doesn’t care. He’s fallen in love with her and is finally getting his life back on track and wants to win back custody of his son.

The killer is hot on Alex’s trail though, determined to find the one victim who got away. As more bodies turn up dead Alex has no choice but to tell Royce who she really is. Will the love that has blossomed between them be strong enough to sustain them, or will the killer get to Alex before they even have a chance to find out?

Enjoy an excerpt
The house was dark as Alex Michaels drove onto the snow-covered lawn. She slammed the gearshift into park, pulled her gun from its holster, and jumped from the car. She swiped frantically at the tears as she stepped to the front door and grasped the knob. Please God… Please don't let me be too late. Her grip tightened on the 9mm as beads of perspiration formed on her forehead. Inside the entryway, she reached out with her left hand to flick the light switch.

The knife came out of nowhere.

A sharp pain, followed by a burning sensation, seared up her right forearm. Her fingers went numb and the gun clattered to the floor. She jabbed with her left arm, her clenched fist coming in contact with the jaw hidden behind a black ski mask.

The intruder retaliated with a punch to her right cheek that slammed her body back against the door. The room swirled. Her knees grew weak. She struggled to stand on solid ground. With a fist full of her hair, the attacker jerked back her head as his knee rammed her rib cage, forcing a gush of air from her lungs.

She cried out as her knees buckled and she fell. Another blow to her rib cage knocked her back onto the floor. Her left arm pinned beneath her, she raised a bloody right arm toward the intruder and stared in horror at her hand dangling lifelessly.

With the full weight of his body pinning her, she writhed beneath him, trying to free her left arm.
"Fight me, Alex. Show me you're not as weak as the rest."

"I swear I'm going to kill you." Using her feet as leverage, she rolled against him, but she was no match for his strength.

He laughed. "Come on, Alex. Your sister put up a better fight than this."

A sob escaped her lips. She could still hear Cassie's cries for help and her blood curdling screams of terror.

"Sorry you didn't make it in time to say goodbye. But you'll be with her soon enough."

Learn more about Anne at

Order a download for Out of the Darkness from these locations:
Barnes & Noble
Desert Breeze Publishing

Monday, August 5, 2013

Looking Out the Window: Meet Emilie Hendryx--Photographer, National Novel Writing Month Winner and Church Office Manager

Welcome, Emily. Thanks for coming by to chat with us today about your photography and your writing projects. First, tell us a little about yourself.
 I’m a full-time office manager at my church, a photography business owner, and an author all rolled up in one. I grew up in a small town in Northern California and moved to Southern California to go to college and then ended up staying. I love coffee and am so looking forward to Fall and Winter, they are my favorite seasons!

Lots of people who write love to read. Were you an avid reader as a child? What did you read?
 My mother has always been a huge reader in our family and that trait was definitely passed down to me. Some of my favorite books growing up were the Enid Blyton Adventure Series, The Boxcar Children, and Nancy Drew mysteries. I loved anything to do with mystery and adventure.
Why do you write?

 I’m an only child and grew up in a small town. I think that created in me a deep love for a good story as well as a large imagination. I also believe that the Lord has gifted me to be able to craft stories. Writing is a passion as much as it is a privilege. I write because He has given me the words to use.

Where do you get ideas for your books?
 I write Romantic Suspense and am faced with ideas at every corner. Sometimes I will wake up in the middle of the night and have an idea, or I’ll just be driving down the road and something will strike my imagination. I also love watching television shows like Bones or NCIS (usually while editing photos) and they give me ideas as well. Right now, I’ve got pitches for five books I’m working on all from within the last month! My imagination has been working overtime recently ;)

 What themes do you write about?
 Each book is different, and each character has a different hurdle to face and overcome. In the past, I’ve tackled such topics as contentment, loss, fear, and trust. My next work will deal with the importance forgiveness and how the lack of it can lead to bitterness.

What is your writing schedule and where do you write?
 I’d love to say I have a set schedule, but I don’t. A lot of my writing time depends on my photo schedule. Since I work during the day, I usually come home and, after dinner, find myself behind my computer working on my next book. My room is my refuge and I have a comfy chair and handy lap desk that I use. I also would be lost without my small whiteboard. You can often find me scribbling out ideas, plots, or just to-do lists on this.

Do you have to juggle writing with a job, family responsibilities or other obligations? How do you balance it?
 Working full-time and being a photographer is hard enough. Add in author, and you’ve got to have some level of crazy going on! I find that, at this point in my life being single, I have the time to devote to these things. I won’t always be in this season of life, but for now I can take advantage of my free evenings. 

I also love National Novel Writing Month! I’ve participated 4 years and “won” the last 3 years. I love the challenge, and organization, of writing 50,000 words in 30 days. I break it up and try and be as disciplined as possible to write out 1,667 words a day during the month of November. During the rest of the year, I challenge myself with self-imposed deadlines to get things done. It’s very helpful!

Congratulations! Does your faith affect your writing? How?
I live by 1 Corinthians 10:31 and try to apply this verse to all of my life. Whatever I do, I want it to be done to the glory of God. I view my writing in the same way. Having a relationship with Christ and seeing the faithfulness of God to His people throughout the story of the Bible influence my writing. In any story that I tell, no matter what the “theme” of it is, I want it to reflect the fact that God is sovereign over all things. In my books I desire for it to be evident that God works all things together for His good just as he does in our lives.

What are you working on right now?
 I’m getting ready for the ACFW writers conference in September. I have a manuscript into an editor, so I’ve started my next book I’m tentatively titling, Shot In Action. This will follow a wedding photographer (borrowing from my real-life experience) who photographs a known criminal at her wedding event. Her only course of action is to call on her ex-boyfriend and FBI agent for help. I’m still working out the details of their story, but you can bet it will be filled with suspense and romance!

That sounds like a suspenseful book. Are you a plotter or a pantzer?
 I guess you could say I’m a little bit of both. I’m an organized person, but I’ve found that if I’m too organized, the creative side of me feels stifled. I plan just enough to get my feet off the ground then go from there.

What would you be doing if you weren’t writing?
 I can’t imagine not writing. I love working for my church and I really enjoy photographing weddings and portraits, but my heart is in creating stories. I think, no matter what stage in life I’m in, I’ll always be a writer!

What is the coolest, wackiest, most risk-taking thing you’ve ever done?
 Several years ago I was in Israel on a college choir tour. We had the night off and I went with several friends to explore. We ended up finding this old, abandoned hospital (it was pretty creepy) that looked like it had been burned down. We explored it and made our way to the very top (about 3 stories up) where we could see out over the city. It was frightening as well as exhilarating all at once.

Wow! That must have been a great trip. Thanks for sharing, Emilie.

Bio: Emilie is a small town girl who moved to the big city. Now living in Los Angeles, she is a writer, photographer/owner at E.A. Creative Photography, and a musician.  She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers organization and loves to read and write Christian fiction in addition to writing her blog Thinking thoughts  She believes in doing all things for God’s glory (1 Cor. 10:31) and her passion for Christ fuels everything she does. She also likes spending time with the girls from the high school youth group she volunteers with and, in her free time, you can find her curled up with a book and a cup of coffee.

Blog: Thinking Thoughts:
Emilie’s twitter: @eacreativephoto
Emilie’s instagram: @eahendryx

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Looking Out the Window: Catherine Castle Talks about Her New Book, The Nun and the Narc. Gives Away a Free Download and Shares a Yummy Family Recipe

Welcome, Catherine. I'm so happy to have you here today.

First, tell us a little about yourself.
I’ve been married to my high school sweetheart for 43 years. I’m an avid gardener, who is constantly fighting weeds—the bane of my garden. I love going to movies, reading, quilting, and collecting cookbooks, especially the community ones you find in antique stores. There are always great tried and true recipes in those books.

It's great to have a variety of interests? Were you an avid reader as a child? If so, what did you read?
One of the first books I remember reading was a Little Golden Book about Cinderella—the Walt Disney version with the mice and birds who sewed the dress for her. As a teenager I devoured books. Pearl S. Buck was one of my favorite authors as was Laura Ingalls Wilder and her Little House on the Prairie series. I also loved science fiction books, mysteries and romance stories.

Reading's a wonderful pastime, and it's great to start early. Let's talk about your writing. Why do you write?
I write because the ideas are in my head and I have to get them out. I also love the creative aspect of the task.

Tell us about your latest book.
The Nun and the Narc is an inspirational suspense romance about a novice who gets caught up in a drug deal when she tries to stop it. Sister Margaret Mary is a bit stubborn, and perhaps not the best nun material, according to Mother Superior, but she’s determined to follow her commitment to take her final vows. Then while on a house building mission to Mexico, she gets captured by drug lords and imprisoned with undercover DEA agent Jed Bond. Sparks fly between the two and destinies are changed.

Amazon readers have described the book  “…as an inspirational tale with a definite twist.”  “Something a little different in the romance genre.”  “Romance, intrigue, danger, and inspiration all rolled into a neat package...”  And The Night Owl review said, “Catherine Castle takes readers on an adventuresome journey with this inspirational mystery… If you are looking for a fun mystery then this is a good choice whether you are looking to unwind at the end of the day or relax on your day off.”

What inspired you to write this particular book?
The Nun and the Narc was written originally as a contest entry, and it didn’t start out as book about a nun. The heroine was a missionary. Somewhere along the way the story stopped working and, at the suggestion of my critique partner, I changed the heroine to a novice. I’d always loved stories about nuns, and even though I knew it would be a harder sell in the inspirational market, I went ahead with the story because it took off after I changed the character to a nun.

It's great when the characters take over. What themes do you write about?
When I begin a book, I don’t have a theme in mind. The story is what’s important to me. As a romance writer I always write about finding true love, but I don’t say, “My theme is going to be about a guy and girl falling in love as they are dealing with death, or self esteem, or injustice, and I’ll have these motifs in the book.”  I like to let the theme develop naturally from the story and then look back and discover where my characters, and their struggles, have taken me theme-wise.  For me, it’s much easier to write the story than to force the story into a preconceived theme.

What is your writing schedule and where do you write?
I have no set schedule, except what deadlines, self-imposed or otherwise, dictate. I do tend to set aside blocks of time, or whole days for writing, because I hate being interrupted when I’m deep into a character’s head. I have a very cluttered office that I normally write in, but, when my husband traveled for work and I went with him, I often wrote in hotel rooms. That was really great. No interruptions, no dinner to fix, no dust bunnies screaming to be vacuumed, just an uncomfortable chair, a desk, and my computer.

Are you a plotter or a pantzer?
I’m a bit of both, depending on what I’m writing. I’ve written a whole book out of sequence, which I would never do again. I’ve plotted in detail, started out with just an idea, and even dreamt a book. I find plotting makes the book go faster because I don’t have to sit in front of the screen and think too much.

What are you working on right now?
I’m trying to decide which of my partial books I should work on to submit to the editor. I have several different directions I could go now as I have a historical inspirational, and a couple of contemporary sweet romances waiting in the wings for my attention.

 If you could interview any character in one of your books which one would it be? What shocking thing might that character say? Why?
I haven’t thought about this much, but I had a friend who said although they love Sister Margaret, they’d like to know more about Mother Superior. She does hint to Sister Margaret that she knows more about being in love than Margret might imagine. I think Mother Superior’s shocking admission might be about a romantic relationship she had before joining the convent. Why would she reveal this? To make her more real to Margaret and readers. We sometimes expect more out of the high profile clergy and those who have publically dedicated their lives to Christ, expecting them to be perfect. Nuns, priests, ministers and missionaries are people after all, with faults, foibles, and temptations like the rest of us.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Keep writing and learn everything you can about your craft, and start your social media way before you ever send your manuscript out. Getting a handle on that while you are going through the editing and publishing process can be crazy.

What would you be doing if you weren’t writing?
I can’t imagine not writing, but, I suppose it would be doing more gardening, quilting, and traveling. Oh, and house cleaning. LOL

To Nourish Our Bodies Catherine Shares a Wonderful Family Recipe

Grandma Maude’s Sugar Cookies:
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
½ cup brown sugar
1 cup shortening
1 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
4 cups self-rising flour or more to make a soft dough (if using regular flour add 3 tsp baking soda and t tsp baking powder)
Mix ingredients and let stand overnight. Roll quite thin and cut.
Bake 5 minutes at 375 degrees. Makes about 9 ½ dozen cookies.
This recipe has been in our family for four generations now. It’s a must serve at Christmas. When I married my husband he wanted me to bake these cookies, but his grandma didn’t use a recipe. So, she agreed to figure out the ingredients and amounts. When she died six months after I married her grandson, her sons found a handwritten recipe on her desk that I still have today. Because they knew she was writing the recipe down for me, I inherited her baking sheets, a can of Fluffo shortening, the battered Era Potato Chip can she used to store the cookies, and the official job of cookie maker. Forty-three years later, I still bake these cookies every Christmas, and I still use the items I inherited from Grandma Maude (except the Fluffo) when baking her Sugar Cookies.

Yum, and what a sweet story.

To Nourish the Soul Catherine Shares a Favorite Bible Verse

But those who wait upon the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isa. 40:31

About The Nun and the Narc:
Where novice Sister Margaret Mary goes, trouble follows. When she barges into a drug deal the local Mexican drug lord captures her. To escape she must depend on undercover DEA agent Jed Bond. Jed’s attitude toward her is exasperating, but when she finds herself inexplicable attracted to him he becomes more dangerous than the men who have captured them, because he is making her doubt her decision to take her final vows. Escape back to the nunnery is imperative, but life at the convent, if she can still take her final vows, will never be the same.
Nuns shouldn’t look, talk, act, or kiss like Sister Margaret Mary O’Connor—at least that’s what Jed Bond thinks. She hampers his escape plans with her compulsiveness and compassion and in the process makes Jed question his own beliefs. After years of walling up his emotions in an attempt to become the best agent possible, Sister Margaret is crumbling Jed’s defenses and opening his heart. To lure her away from the church would be unforgivable—to lose her unbearable.

An Excerpt from The Nun and the Narc:

Jed’s head whipped around just as the car plowed through a market stand of live chickens. Poultry, wooden cages, and feathers scattered over the car. An angry hen dropped through the car’s open sunroof, squawking and flapping in front of Jed, beating his head with its wings.

Margaret reached over, grabbed the bird, and threw it back out the sunroof opening. But it was too late. The car glanced off an adobe wall into a second market stand and careened toward another building. Jed jammed on the brakes. The car spun three hundred and sixty degrees before screeching to a stop.

The impact threw Margaret sideways against the passenger window. She hit her head on the glass, the blow blinding her for a second. Jed’s body slammed into the steering wheel setting off the horn. The wail echoed in Margaret’s head as she struggled to remain conscious. Warmth trickled down the side of her head. Margaret managed to focus her eyes as the noise stopped. Two Jeds leaned toward her, in slow motion. She blinked to clear her vision.

“You all right?” he asked.

“I think so.” Something warm and sticky seeped down her face. She reached up and wiped her temple. “I’m bleeding,” she said as she stared at her fingers. The words sounded slurred. At the sight of the blood on her fingers, her stomach rolled. She swallowed to keep the bile down.
“Listen. It won’t take them long to get here. Let me do the talking.”

“You won’t have to worry about that. I feel really odd.” Margaret lowered her head between her knees. “I think I’m going to faint.”

“It might be a whole lot easier if you do.”

Bio for Catherine Castle:
Catherine Castle has been writing all her life. Before beginning her career as a romance writer she worked part-time as a freelance writer. She has over 600 articles and photographs to her credit, under her real name, in the Christian and secular market. Besides writing, Catherine loves traveling with her husband, singing, and attending theatre. In the winter she loves to quilt and has a lot of UFOs (unfinished objects) in her sewing case. In the summer her favorite place to be is in her garden. She’s passionate about gardening and even won a “Best Hillside Garden” award from the local gardening club.

Connect with Catherine:
Amazon author page
Buy links:

Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Winner of The Newspaper Code

Once again, I scrambled up the names then drew one...

The winner is...

Drum roll...

Congratulations! Wanda Barefoot!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Looking Out the Window: Lisa Lickel Talks about Her Latest Book, Gives Away a Copy and Shares a Recipe

It’s my great pleasure to welcome Lisa Lickel today. To enter to win a copy of The Newspaper Code leave a comment and e-mail address.

Hi Lisa, first, tell us a little about yourself.
Thanks for having me here, Gail. Always fun to visit! I grew up in a family of teachers and readers, so it was a big shock to learn that not everyone liked school or…gasp…books. How can that be? Although I’ve always been an avid reader, writing never occurred to me until I started working with our local historical society to put together an anniversary book. A friend taught me about press releases, and I wrote some articles for the newspaper. Then I took an online course from the Christian Writers Guild and started selling articles before I finished. I moved on to novels from there. I’m still learning, still growing.

You're writing some terrific books. Tell us about your latest.
The Newspaper Code is the third book in the cozy mystery Buried Treasure series. It takes place only a few weeks after The Map Quilt concludes, so readers get to see how Judy and Hart are handling being parents after the baby’s tumultuous birth. Judy and Ardyth discover the body of an elderly woman who’d been working with the newspaper editor, Olivia, on the story of some missing funds from the Civil War-era. Since Robertsville is struggling financially, that money would come in handy. Could the old newspaper in the lining of the map quilt have the answers to what happened?

What inspired you to write this particular book?
Since working on some stories a few years ago about lack of funding in local communities, I decided to join that thought with my love of history. What would it mean to discover money had been hidden away years ago during a time of crisis? What if that money had never been found…until now? The school building in my dad’s home town really was condemned for a time, causing young families to move out. How can communities grow if they can’t attract and keep people? And what does it mean to those whose livelihoods are threatened – those are the ideas behind The Newspaper Code.

In three words describe your style of writing.
Contemplative, Character-driven, Curious

What is your writing schedule and where do you write?
It’s supposed to be a part time job for me, but ends up being more than full. Sometimes I can spend a couple of hours right away on my own work, but because I also am currently writing for our local newspaper, I have to take those assignments when they come, and my bread-and-butter comes from working with other writers. It’s often feast or famine with work, so I do what I can while still running the household, trying to keep up with the dust bunnies and keeping us fed. I write wherever I feel like it, which is great – either with the laptop, notebook, or main computer in our living room.

Do you have to juggle writing with a job, family responsibilities or other obligations? How do you balance it?
I stopped trying. Works better that way. Get to the end of a sentence, go throw laundry in or take something out of the freezer. Hubby knows when I go “huh?” that he may actually be talking to one of my characters. He stopped trying to make sense of me long ago.

Are you a plotter or a pantzer?
I used to say plotter all the way, but since working on this current novel, strange things have been happening that are completely outside the purview of my (hastily) plotted synopsis. Granted, there was a lot of wiggle room, but the stakes are higher with the appearance of people I hadn’t met before. Poor Jeb LaPorte is no longer the baddest dude in Buena Vista. I hope he doesn’t come after me.

What are you working on right now?
Well, with your help and encouragement, Gail, I’m working on a manuscript that I started four years ago. It’s grown and matured in theme, so I suppose I wasn’t really ready to write it back then, even though I pitched the idea to a few publishers. Each of them had some good advice, and newspaper headlines this year have filled in those gullies of wishy-washiness of packing peanut-ideas I had before. There’s nothing like writing with your own personal cheerleader.

LOL. I can’t wait to see that book in print. When it comes out, you’ll have lots of cheerleaders. If you could interview any character in one of your books which one would it be? What shocking thing might that character say? Why?
In light of a recent review of Mark in Meander Scar, I guess I’d give him a chance to defend himself. I know—never waste time being upset by them, but really, this reader didn’t take the time to get to know Mark. He’s not a Plan B-type of guy. He gets what he goes after. It never occurred to him that God wouldn’t be on the same page, and so…to answer why his faith would go down the drain so quickly: “Self-doubt is cruel enough, but when there’s even the slightest change that God isn’t real, it was enough to make me doubt everything. It didn’t last long, but I’d never even considered the concept before and with all the pressure, I plead insanity, if only for a couple of days.”

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Everybody, anybody can and should write. But deliberate over your goals, audience, whether you want to make it a business or a hobby. My son, who loves and excels at anything to do with the outdoors had rare insight when we thought he should consider a career in Wildlife Management. He said if he made the thing he loved most into work, then he wouldn’t enjoy it anymore. Very true. By making writing a business, you’ll be forced to work at it. Remember that when you think about what you love about writing.

What would you be doing if you weren’t writing?
I’m a pretty fair secretary, still. And/or I’d probably be creating desktop publishing material either on the job or for local printers, as I’d been doing.

Nourish the Body with character Judy Winter’s Recipe

Judy and the Chicken Casserole
Right from the first book in the series, The Last Bequest, Judy Winters only thinks she can cook. Everyone who knows her loves her anyway. In The Newspaper Code, Judy, now married to her neighbor, Hart Wingate, makes a casserole with curry that doesn’t quite turn out like Hart planned.
Here’s a recipe from The Last Bequest, when Judy attempted to make a casserole for Hart, whom she’d accidentally fallen on. She’d always heard that salt was bad for you, and she had never heard of savory, and couldn’t find paprika or pepper in Louise’s kitchen. Besides, they were such small amounts, what difference did it make?

If Judy followed the recipe, she would have made this:

1 large chicken breast, cooked and cubed
2 T. diced onion
1 large carrot, peeled and sliced
1 large potato, peeled and cubed
1 can of green beans, any style
1 can 98% fat free cream of chicken soup
1 1/2 tsp each: salt, parsley
½ tsp savory
½ tsp. course ground black pepper
Sprinkle top with paprika
Mix in a 1 ½ quart casserole dish. Bake in 350 degree oven for 45 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Serves 5

That sounds delicious. Thank you.

Nourish the Soul with spiritual help
One of Lisa’s favorite Bible verses: Matthew 6:34: Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

About The Newspaper Code
 Judy Wingate’s NOT-BFF, Olivia Hargrove of the Robertsville Reporter, discovers a Civil War-era secret newspaper code that may lead to a seven million dollar windfall. Not long after Judy and Hart’s baby is born, Judy and Ardyth are embroiled in another murder. This time it’s 99-year-old Esme Espe, the queen of the Petunia Society, Robertsville’s Garden Club. Dead-heading petunias has become a serious undertaking in Robertsville. Esme’s gruesome murder by garden claw soon catches the attention of the Robertsville Reporter’s chief editor and nosy correspondent, Olivia Hargrove. Clueless Olivia decides to befriend Judy and burrows into her life. Judy still holds a grudge but in order to learn more about Olivia’s secret project with the dead Esme, Judy reluctantly agrees to spend time with Olivia who is in desperate need of advice…and a makeover. Circled letters of a Civil War era newspaper vex Olivia, and when she learns Esme found an historic discrepancy in the town treasury, she and Judy must solve the riddle in the newspaper and race for the treasure before the murderer gets to it first.
Judy’s best suspect is the new guy in town. But how can she tell Olivia her boyfriend might be a murderer?

Excerpt from The Newspaper Code
Judy tucked under one of the French braids she’d styled around Olivia’s face. “And I have a daughter now, so I better get back in the habit before she starts asking me. Okay, how’s that?”
Wow, who knew Olivia had a real face under all that. Heart-shaped, too.
“Um, okay. I guess.” Olivia gave a cursory glance at the mirror. She raised her chin and looked at Judy’s reflection. “How many boyfriends have you had?”
Ah, so she’s back to thinking about Adam Gordon. Let’s follow this tack. “I’m probably not the best person to ask about boyfriends,” Judy warned.
“Besides the one who was a murderer,” Olivia added.
Judy felt the tingle of anger. No matter how nice Olivia looked on the outside, tact was not part of her inner make up. She acted more like one of Judy’s students.
Don’t take it personally, she reminded herself.
But maybe I can turn this to my advantage. “Graham was my first adult boyfriend,” she said. “That’s one of the reasons I didn’t know he couldn’t be trusted—I didn’t have any experience with boys. Men.”
“So, you’re saying I can’t trust my feelings about Adam Ray because I don’t know any better.”
Judy cleared her throat and finished the other braid before stepping back. “That’s pretty blunt. Why don’t we talk about the things you know for sure, not what you think or feel?”
Olivia nodded. “I can do that. Let’s see. We went to college together.” She frowned. “He was three years ahead of me. I guess I don’t even know for sure that he graduated, though I could look it up on line.”
“If he took a teaching job at a college, let’s assume he finished college and graduate school.”
“I had no idea what he was doing after college until he sent that letter inviting me to collaborate.”
“Those were his words? He wanted to collaborate?” Judy smothered a laugh. “I haven’t heard that one before.”
“You think it’s just a line?”
“I don’t know. I’m sorry, that wasn’t very nice of me. What else did the letter say?”
Olivia pulled the towel from around her neck and replaced the wire rims with the cat’s-eyes. “Here, you can read it for yourself.”

Bio: Lisa Lickel is a Wisconsin writer who lives with her husband in a hundred and sixty-year-old house built by a Great Lakes ship captain. She loves anything historical, collects books and dragons, and writes inspiring fiction. She is the editor-in-chief of Creative Wisconsin Magazine, a workshop leader, feature article writer, book reviewer, contest judge, and a freelance editor who loves to encourage new authors. Find her at