Gail's Book Nook

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Looking Out the Window: Sherri Wilson Johnson Talks about her Writing. She'll Give Away a Copy of Song of the Meadowlark.

To enter to win Sherri's e-book leave a comment and an email address.

Welcome Sherri! Let's talk about your writing. Why do you write the kind of books you do?
I want to uplift readers and share with them the wonderful goodness that God has allowed me to see. I want readers to feel hope and to know that there’s always an answer to their troubles. I also want to entertain them, make them laugh, make them think, and make them swoon.

I am also passionate about purity and sexual integrity. I have been married for almost twenty-five years. In those twenty-five years, we’ve seen many friends experience failed marriages due to infidelity. We have two children who we’ve raised to value their purity and to save it for the spouse God has for them. I’ve worked with the youth ministry at church on and off for ten years and seen the devastation that comes when kids choose not to wait. And more recently I’ve become aware of the sex trafficking industry that plagues our world. These young people are trapped and do not have a choice in keeping their purity. All of these things combined, plus knowing the Lord commands us to value our purity and to stay faithful to the one we marry, makes me passionate about doing whatever I can do to help others see the value in having sexual integrity whether they are single or married. Right now, writing Christian Romance is one way I accomplish that mission.
Besides when you came to know the Lord, what is the happiest day in your life?
The happiest day of my life has to be the day I married my sweetheart in 1988. Twenty-five years later I am still happy I did it.

Clearly your faith is important to you. Share a verse or Scripture passage with us that is special to you. (and why it's special)  

Since I was a young girl, John 14:1-3 has been my favorite scripture. “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” It has always comforted me to know that there is a place for me and that Jesus is waiting for me. No matter how bad this life gets, God is coming back to get me.

I agree. Tell us about the publishing world. How has being published changed your life?

Being published has allowed me to speak to audiences (in person and through blogging/interviewing) that I never would have been able to. I’ve enjoyed meeting fellow authors, bloggers, and readers and have loved hearing their feedback on how my stories have influenced them. It’s really a dream come true.

What is your current work in progress?

My current fiction WIP, After the Raging Storm, is part of my New Hope Series, set in drought-stricken Georgia in 1894. Annabelle is engaged to the son of the town's copper supplier but feels uneasy about the whole thing. She's searching for the meaning of her life apart from this relationship. When she runs into an old friend and compares him to her fiancé, she begins to doubt her chosen path in life even more. As the storm rages inside her heart, a storm of a natural kind threatens to destroy her family home and the neighboring farms. What will it take to calm the raging storm inside Annabelle?

How do you choose your settings for each book?

I usually pick places that are familiar to me or places that bring me inspiration. My first novel, To Dance Once More, is set in Panama City Beach, Florida where my family frequently vacations. Song of the Meadowlark is set in South Georgia but briefly visits Florida. The currently unpublished sequel to To Dance Once More is set in Atlanta, Georgia. After the Raging Storm is set in a real town Northwest of Atlanta.

What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?

Thickening the plot is definitely quite challenging for me. Usually I have to write the basic story and then take my time and go back through the manuscript with a fine tooth comb to add all the depth and the twists and turns. Until the main idea is out of my head and into my computer, I can’t get down to the nitty gritty.

What advice would you give to a beginning author?

Don’t ever give up. Keep writing and practicing. Read books on the craft and take classes if you can. Read well-written books in the genre you write. If you receive a rejection (which you probably will) pick yourself up, polish your story, and submit again. Always back up your work in several locations. As I have learned the hard way, computers fail us and sometimes I hit delete (or empty the recycle bin) before I realize what I’ve done. And NEVER destroy your work, as I did my first novel (burned it in the fireplace). Oh, and don’t forget to pray A LOT and seek God’s will for your story.

Tell us about the featured book.

Song of the Meadowlark is a Contemporary Inspirational Romance full of hope, forgiveness, and second chances at life and love set in South Georgia on a ranch with an ornery cowboy.
When trusting others only leads to pain and rejection, and loving ends only in loss, what will it take to restore hope again? Shunned by the uncovered truth about her missing husband’s secret life, Cora Buchanan sets out on a road trip for home to mend her broken relationship with her parents. When her car breaks down, she’s stranded in a small Georgia town. While staying at the struggling Southern Hope Ranch, she meets little Susie O’Reilly, who unexpectedly fills a void in Cora’s heart. But Rex, Susie’s rugged cowboy father who lost his wife a year earlier, seems to go out of his way to either confront or avoid Cora. It doesn’t help her comfort level that the news continues to report missing and murdered women in the area. Cora has no idea just how close to home the crimes will hit…or how much the sweet sound of the meadowlark’s song at the ranch will impact her future.

Sneak a peek at the first chapter!

Sherri Wilson Johnson lives in Georgia with her husband and two children. She is represented by Les Stobbe, is a member of the ACFW, a graduate of the Christian Writers Guild writing course, an active blogger, and a former homeschooling mom. She loves to dream of romantic places and romance in general–good, clean romance. She is a bird-watcher, loves the ocean, roller coasters, ice cream, her family and her Chihuahua, who faithfully sits by her side every day when she writes. Sherri is the author of To Dance Once More (OakTara) and Song of the Meadowlark (OakTara).

How can readers find you on the Internet?!/pages/Author-Sherri-Wilson-Johnson/138396456193536!/swj_thewriter

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Looking in the Window: Inspirational Blog Award

I've been awarded the Inspirational Blog Award by Cindy A. Christiansen She writes sweet inspirational romance and has out a new book, Stolen Horses, Stolen Hearts. Be sure to stop by her blog and read about her love of animals and how she likes to include them in her books. Thank you Cindy for this award!

I'm supposed to share seven things about myself.

1. My favorite Bible verses are Matthew 22: 37 - 39, "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."

2. I've had an exciting day! I just had a book accepted! I'll tell you more about it later.

3. When I'm not writing I enjoy spending time with my family and friends.

4. I'm a swimmer.

5. I love the beach.

6. I love to bargain shop with my daughter.

7. I'm an Elvis Presley fan.

I'm giving the award to nine authors with inspirational blogs. Be sure to stop by and visit them.

Lisa Lickel

Regina Andrews

Danielle Thorne

Anne Patrick

Laurean Brooks

June Foster

E. A. West

Connie Almony

Vanessa Riley

Monday, January 14, 2013

Looking Out the Window: Anita Higman Talks about her New Devotional Book. She's Giving Away Free Download Samplers

To receive a free download sampler of Anita’s new devotional book, Where God Finds You, click on the link at the bottom of the page.

Anita talks about Where God Finds You

In forty devotional tales, Where God Finds You breathes new life into ancient Bible characters. Live with and learn about more than forty Bible men and women, including the wife of Pontius Pilate, Esther, John the Baptist, Delilah, Lazarus, and Mary Magdalene.

Through reflection on Scripture and prayer, you’ll discover a place in each of these lives of vulnerability, tenderness, truth, and love—a place where you can find God . . . and where God finds you.

Where God Finds You is unique among women’s devotional books in that it brings dozens of men and women of the Bible to life through dramatic short stories, connects biblical truths to today’s culture, and offers readers an opportunity to reflect on what they’ve learned. Each devotion features:

• A dramatic retelling of Scripture that allows the reader to crawl into the pages of the Bible.
• The Story from God's Word: a quote or paraphrase of the applicable Bible passage in a reader-friendly version.
• The Story—From Then to Now: a personal reflection from the author to help link the passage to life today.
• The Story—Questions to Think About: prompts for personal reflection or group discussion that lead to practical application.

Click here and scroll to the middle of Anita's home page to get a free download sampler of Where God Finds You.


Bestselling and award-winning author, Anita Higman, has thirty-two books published (several coauthored) for adults and children. She’s been a Barnes & Noble “Author of the Month” for Houston and has a BA degree, combining speech communication, psychology, and art. Anita loves good movies, exotic teas, and brunch with her friends. Please visit her online at

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Looking Out the Window: Best Selling Author Staci Stallings Talks about Her New Book, True Power & Real Peace, and Her Writing

Welcome, Staci. Tell us a little about yourself.
I'm a stay-at-home mom with three kids, a husband, and a writing addiction. At least that's where it started out.  Then God took it beyond my imagination, and in the last year, I became a #1 Best Selling author! 

Fantastic! Congratulations! Lots of writers were avid readers as children. Were you?
When I was very young (3 and 4), my grandmother kept me during the day.  She had a stack of about 10 books that we cycled through, reading before naptime.  My favorite was always Cinderella.  When I got into junior high, I got hooked on The Sweet Dreams teen romance books.  I read them, collected them, re-read them, and pretty much wore them out.  The first one has the cover hanging on by one little strip of glue.

Ah yes. Those are the best kind. Tell us about your books. What's your latest about?
The very latest book I put out is called True Power & Real Peace.  That book took me by complete surprise.  In fact, I had over half of it written before I knew I was writing it.

How?  Well, I was writing a romance novel called A Light in the Darkness and in it, the hero reads this book about God and His role in a life.  The problem was I knew I was going to have to use extended tracks of this book.  I couldn't take those from an already written book by someone else, so I figured I'd have to write the "book" he was reading myself.

After A Light in the Darkness was written, that little "book" intrigued me, so I wrote it too, never thinking it would be published.  When A Light in the Darkness came out, I had several readers write to ask where they could get a copy of "True Power" because they'd been looking and looking for it and couldn't find it.  That's when I decided to publish it as well.

How interesting, so that's what inspired you to write this particular book?
Yes, like I said, it was more of a practical matter than really deciding to write it.  As to where the inspiration came from for the wording, I really believe this is one of the deepest and most personal pieces I've ever written from a non-fiction standpoint.  In fact, I'm not totally sure some people will "get it," so it was a bit intimidating to put out there.  It really is how I live every day with God as my best friend.

In three words describe your style of writing.

How do you get to know your characters?
Most of the time this is not a problem because they simply won't leave me alone.  They show up when I'm driving to talk to me.  They wake me up in the middle of the night, sure they have to work out this issue right now or they won't have the courage in the morning.  In 30+ novels, there have only been about three characters I had to WORK to get to really know because they were so closed on life that they simply wouldn't open up.  The others... sometimes it would be nice if they didn't want to be known quite so adamantly.

What is your writing schedule and where do you write?
 In a word... chaos.  No writing teacher on the planet would advise a student to try to write the way I do.  I wouldn't even advise it, but somehow it works.  First off, I don't "write" on any schedule.  The last thing I wrote on a romance novel was 8 months ago.  I wrote 80 pages in two days and haven't touched it since.  I will write one book, then a month later, pick up in the middle of another.  Right now I think I have around 8 books in various stages of being written.

Now in my defense, I don't just write novels anymore.  I write blogs and marketing info.  I edit for myself and others, I revise my blog/site and commission and manage cover creation.  I send out formatting of the next book, do free days and advertising.  Not to mention that I have my own writer's group, Grace & Faith and I'm working on an exciting new project with two friends.

As for where I write, it is equally chaotic.  I have a desk that's about to avalanche on me and stacks of "stuff" everywhere.  Again, in my defense, I do all the bookkeeping for my husband's company, our family, and my business.  I have a house, three kids, a dog, and five cats.  I teach Sunday School and direct plays for VBS.  I also do fundraising for my kids' schools.  So life for me is pretty much doing whatever God sets in front of me at the moment and not being worried about what He doesn't--otherwise, I would be completely crazy by now!

Do you have to juggle writing with a job, family responsibilities or other obligations? How do you balance it?
I can't.  God can.

When I really "got" that, my life changed.  Before, I was trying to do everything and feeling like a total failure.  However, when God really took hold of my life and I surrendered to Him leading and doing things through me, I found complete peace in the midst of the storm.  I understood that with God there will be time for everything that HE believes is important.  So I can let go of thinking I have to do it all.  Instead, I do what He tells me to do at a given moment, and put the rest in His very capable hands.

That's how I "balance."

Does your faith affect your writing? How?
Absolutely.  My faith is simply my friendship with God.  When I write, it's less me writing and more Him dictating to me what happens, what the characters say and do, and how the book is to be.  It's often like walking a tightrope because half the time I don't even see what's going on.  I might get glimpses and glimmers of where God is going with this, but ultimately, I just have to give up thinking I'm writing it and let Him go for it through me.

In the writing itself, with most of the books if you took the thread of God out, you wouldn't have much of a story.  In fact, my readers often comment that they learned something that changed their life--they didn't just spend a few hours reading a good book.
That's really cool to me!

If you could interview any character in one of your books which one would it be? What shocking thing might that character say? Why?
Hmm.  I'd love to meet with several of them.  Ashton from Cowboy; Kalin from Lucky; and Keith from Deep in the Heart all come to mind.  What do I think they would say?  "Thank you for helping me work things out and finally be at peace." Because I think that's mostly what I do, give my characters a place to work out what they are struggling with, to find peace, and ultimately to find God Himself.  Through their "lives on paper," they are then able to help the readers do the same thing.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?
Thanks to all of my readers--new and old!  God must love me a lot to have given me YOU!

About True Power and Real Peace
Why is life so very difficult? Can anything make it any easier? Why do some people get all the breaks, and I'm always struggling?

Now, from #1 Best Selling Christian author, Staci Stallings, learn the secrets to living with True Power and Real Peace-- no matter what storms come up in your life! Stop struggling. Start living.
Learn the importance of taking "this step." Learn how to work with God's Will instead of against it. Learn how to live with the Source as your strength instead of trying to get strength from resources that are bound to fail.

Every page is packed with deep insights and real life solutions to your deepest problems. Be a better parent, a better friend, a better you!

Today can truly be the day to start on your path to True Power & Real Peace!

Buy True Power & Real Peace on Amazon

Visit Staci on her blog
Follow Staci on Twitter @StaciStallings
Visit her facebook page

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Looking Out the Window: Historical Romance Writer Donna Winters Talks about her New Book, Bluebird of Brockport. She'll Give Away a Copy.

Bluebird of Brockport is a Novel of the Erie Canal. Donna's offering either a print or an email copy. To enter to win leave a comment and an email address. She also shares her favorite Bible verse and well as her mother's recipe for Apple Crisp.

NOURISH THE BODY - The Apple Crisp                                

When I pondered what favorite recipe to share, I thought about the characters in my latest book, Bluebird of Brockport, A Novel of the Erie Canal, and asked myself what they might have been able to create on an Erie Canal boat in 1830. The answer came to me fairly quickly: Apple Crisp. It’s extremely simple and all of the ingredients would have been readily available in the early nineteenth century.

I grew up in western New York State in the fruit belt where apple orchards were plentiful. My mother’s cousin would always stop by after harvest with two crates of apples for us — one of Macintosh and one of Red Delicious. My mother would bake the Macintosh apples into apple crisp — yum! Her recipe was probably passed down to her from her mother or one of her fruit-growing relatives. Mom gave the recipe to me soon after I got married forty-one years ago and my husband and I have been enjoying it ever since. Over time we’ve made a few alterations to the recipe to accommodate the changes in our digestive systems, so I’m going to give you both versions. The altered one tastes just as good as the original in our opinion, or maybe it’s just been so long since we made it Mom’s way that we can’t remember the difference anymore. Either one you choose, it’s a treat. 

                                                                   Donna's Mom

Mom’s Original Recipe for Apple Crisp
Slice 5 or 6 apples (as for pie). [Peel the apples, quarter them, core them, then slice them.]

Topping: mix together 1 cup flour, 1 cup brown sugar, ½ cup butter, and salt. [Mom never gave an amount for the salt.] Bake 1 hour at 350 degrees (325 for glass).

Donna’s Expanded Apple Crisp Recipe
I made changes to eliminate wheat, dairy, and salt, and increased amounts to fill the pan I like to use.
Peel, quarter, core, and slice enough Macintosh apples to fill a 9 x 12 three-quart pan (mine is glass). (You’ll need about 11-12 apples that are 2 ½” diameter, or 6 of the extra-large apples. Five pounds of apples will be enough; three pounds is too few.)

In a mixing bowl, combine well:
1 ½ cups brown rice flour
1 ½ cups brown sugar
When flour and sugar are well combined, pour ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil over flour-sugar mix and combine thoroughly until the mixture is crumbly.

Sprinkle the topping evenly over the apples. Do not press it down or in any way compact the topping or it will not bake to a “crisp”. The best way is to just take a handful at a time and sprinkle it over the apples.

Bake at 350 (325 for glass) for 1 hour; test with a fork in the center for doneness. If apples are still firm, bake an additional 15 minutes.

Serving suggestions:
 For the lactose tolerant: serve the warm apple crisp in a bowl and add a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top; or serve it the way my father liked it, with a little milk poured on top. For the lactose intolerant: top with non-dairy whipped topping.

NOURISH THE SOUL - Donna's Favorite Bible Verse
My favorite Bible verse from the King James version is Philippians 4:8.
“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

About Bluebird of Brockport, A Novel of the Erie Canal
Dreams of floating on the Erie Canal have flowed through Lucina Willcox’s mind since childhood. Yet once her family has purchased their boat and begins their journey, they meet with one challenge after another. An encounter with a towpath rattlesnake threatens her brother’s life. A thief attempts to break in and steal precious cargo. Heavy rain causes a breach and drains the canal of water. Lucina comforts herself with thoughts of Ezra Lockwood, her handsome childhood friend, and discovers a longing to be with him that she just can’t ignore. Can she have a future with Ezra and still hold onto her canalling dream?

Ezra Lockwood’s one goal in life is to build and captain his own canal boat, but two years into the construction of his freight hauler, funds run short. With his goal temporarily stalled, and Lucina Willcox back in his life, his priorities begin to change. Can he have both his dreams — his own boat, and Lucina as his bride?

Donna adopted Michigan as her home state in 1971 when she moved from a small town outside of Rochester, New York. She began penning novels in 1982 while working full time for an electronics firm in Grand Rapids.

She resigned from her job in 1984 following a contract offer for her first book. Since then, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Zondervan Publishing House, Guideposts, and Bigwater Publishing have published her novels. Her husband, Fred, a former American History teacher, shares her enthusiasm for history. Together, they visit historical sites, restored villages, museums, and lake ports, purchasing books and reference materials for use in Donna’s research.

Donna has written fifteen historical romances for her Great Lakes Romances® series. Recently, she turned her attention to her hometown on the Erie Canal and produced an historical novel, Bluebird of Brockport, A Novel of the Erie Canal, which released as a paperback in June 2012, and has now been offered in Kindle format for 99 cents.

You can connect with Donna Winters through her blog:
Her book-buying link, website, newsletter, Facebook, and Twitter are listed there.