Thursday, May 31, 2012

Interview with Diana Brandmeyer & giveaway

Answer Diana's question to be entered into the giveaway. Leave contact information


Why do you write the kind of books you do?

I write Christian focused books because that’s me. Christ is a part of everything I do and I don’t think I could separate Him or God from my writing.

Besides when you came to know the Lord, what is the happiest day in your life?

Ha! I can’t pick one day. Getting married, having my boys, adopting my son? All great!

How has being published changed your life?

There’s more pressure to write more books.

What are you reading right now?

1 of the 300 books on my iPad.

What is your current work in progress?

I’m working on something set in 1878 Illinois

What would be your dream vacation?

An all-expenses paid one to anywhere!

How do you choose your settings for each book?

My characters choose where they are going to live.

If you could spend an evening with one person who is currently alive, who would it be and why?

I can’t think of anyone famous. I don’t want to do that because then they become normal and what’s the fun in that? Although I would like to spend time with Bobby Flay so I could learn how to use my new BBQ qrill.

What three things about you would surprise readers?

I don’t like driving. I’d like to have a pet goat and am gluten free which makes eating anywhere tough.

What are your hobbies, besides writing and reading?

I like to walk, ride bikes with my husband and sew.


What advice would you give to a beginning author?

STUDY!!!! Get the Margie Lawson courses, the My Book Therapy books and go through them. You’re writing will jump to another level making it easier to sell.


Tell us about the book.

Heaven’s Stolen His Heart
After witnessing the ravages of the Civil War, Travis Logan vowed to give up doctoring. But when fellow steamboat passenger Caleb Wharton collapses at his feet, Travis knows he must lend his aid. As the old man lies dying, he makes Travis promise to take care of his land and find Heaven. Travis can’t help but wonder what Heaven has to do with a real place, so he heads to Caleb’s farm to fulfill his promise.
Weeks of facing marauders and caring for her father’s home have finally taken their toll on Heaven Wharton. When an unknown young man charges the house, Heaven attempts to fire a warning shot but ends up shooting the man instead. Shocked, she and her sister, Angel, drag a semi-conscious Travis into the house and nurse him back to health.
As Travis and Heaven both struggle to control their destinies, will they learn that only a heart that follows God can ever find peace on earth?

What do you want readers to take away from the book?

I hope they laugh, feel the emotions of the characters and realize that they are never on their own as long as they have Christ living in them.

What one question would you like us to ask your readers?

Do you read for historical accuracy or just the historical setting?

Tell us about the giveaway you’re offering.

One winner will win an autographed copy of A Bride’s Dilemma in Friendship, Tennessee

Other information:
Blog www.pencildancer.com
Web www.dianabrandmeyer.com
Twitter @dianabrandmeyer
Fbfan page www.facebook.com/dianalesirebrandmeyerauthor

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Interview with Ann Fetterman Miller and giveaway!!!

Ann is willing to give away a copy of her book to everyone who leaves a comment. Please leave an email address to be included!

Ann Lee Miller Interview
Author of Kicking Eternity

Why do you write the kind of books you do?

I write coming-of-age/romance novels because I had a lot of childhood baggage to work through and was blessed with a very romantic husband who cherishes me.

Besides when you came to know the Lord, what is the happiest day in your life?

I narrowed it down to four—the days my children were born.

How has being published changed your life?

I’m just on the cusp of publishing since my book launches June 1. But after ten years of trying to break into traditional publishing, working toward indie publishing my books has hopeful experience. I feel a sense of joy, knowing God is walking beside me jostling me along and saying, “This is the way, walk in it.”

The glaring change about moving ahead with publishing is that I haven’t had a spare minute to work on my next book!

What are you reading right now?

Jeff Bennington’s The Indie Author’s Guide to the Universe, and Joel Comm’s Twitter Power.

What is your current work in progress?

My next book is The Art of My Life, which debuts September 1; Avra’s God follows December 1; and Tattered Innocence March 1, 2013. Between all this publishing, I’d like to squeeze in writing Finding My Voice about four characters who have lost their voice in life for diverse reasons. It’s a story about their individual journeys toward speaking up and how those paths tangle into love.

What would be your dream vacation?

It’s been the same dream my whole life, and I’ve yet to live it. Maybe I should put it on my bucket list. I want to sit on a shady porch beside a stream and rock in a rocking chair. I never claimed to be exciting in real life—just in my imaginary one.

How do you choose your settings for each book?

So far, I’ve set all my books in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, the place in my nomadic childhood where I found home. I chose Arizona where I live for my work in progress because it makes my research easier.

If you could spend an evening with one person who is currently alive, who would it be and why?

Author Evelyn Christenson has so deeply impacted my faith with her books on prayer. Once at a seminar, she hugged all the ladies, including me, in the restroom line. I’d like to thank her for giving me a heart to pray.

What three things about you would surprise readers?

I lived on a sailboat as a child. My father was often mistaken for Willie Nelson. I and my three sons are color blind.

What are your hobbies, besides writing and reading?

I hike in the mountains with my husband, do Zumba, and go garage saling every Saturday morning with a friend. This year I mentored three teens from my youth group. I don’t know if it counts as a hobby, but I’ve been guest lecturing on plotting in Phoenix colleges for the past few years. Great fun! I’ve worked at teen church camp for more years than I care to reveal—thus the camp setting for Kicking Eternity.

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

Plotting. I am a small picture person. It is difficult for me to envision the structure of a story. To compensate, I have become a student of plotting. I probably go overboard by mapping out every scene of the book before actually writing the book.

What advice would you give to a beginning author?

Learn everything you can about writing, strive for excellence, grow a thick skin, never give up


Tell us about the book.

Kicking Eternity is all about chasing dreams—our dreams, God’s dreams, and the mixed-up tangle of both. Here’s a blurb about the book:

Stuck in sleepy New Smyrna Beach one last summer, Raine socks away her camp pay checks, worries about her druggy brother, and ignores trouble: Cal Koomer. She’s a plane ticket away from teaching orphans in Africa, and not even Cal’s surfer six-pack and the chinks she spies in his rebel armor will derail her.

The artist in Cal begs to paint Raine’s ivory skin, high cheek bones, and internal sparklers behind her eyes, but falling for her would caterwaul him into his parents’ live. No thanks. The girl was self-righteous waiting to happen. Mom served sanctimony like vegetables, three servings a day, and he had a gut full.

Rec Director Drew taunts her with “Rainey” and calls her an enabler. He is so infernally there like a horsefly—till he buzzes back to his ex.

Raine’s brother tweaks. Her dream of Africa dies small deaths. Will she figure out what to fight for and what to free before it’s too late?

What do you want readers to take away from the book?

So many people wrestle with their dreams and God’s dreams for their lives. I wanted to give them hope, the courage to trust God with their future.

What one question would you like us to ask your readers?

Share a memory from summer camp if you attended or from your childhood if not.

Tell us about the giveaway you’re offering.

Anyone who leaves a comment with an e-mail address (JaneReader[at]msn[dot]com) will receive a free e-book copy of Kicking Eternity. Those who don’t want to leave an e-mail may contact Ann for their free book at AnnLeeMiller.com.

AnnLeeMiller.com
Twitter: @AnnLeeMiller
Facebook Author Page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Ann-Lee-Miller/356653761022022

Book Blurb:
Fresh from college, Raine scores a teaching job at New Smyrna Beach Surf and Sailing Camp. A crush on the camp rebel/art teacher threatens to derail her plans to teach orphans in Africa. The broody recreation director spots her brothers meth addiction and Raine's enabling. Raine believes she is helping her brother--until lives are threatened.

Endorsements for Kicking Eternity:

Kicking Eternity won First Place Long Contemporary in the 2009 Romance Writers of America Faith, Hope, and Love Contest.

“In Kicking Eternity, Ann Lee Miller masterfully weaves the delicate web of emotions experienced in that turbulent ‘twenty-something’ stage of life. Powerful family dynamics, intense loyalty challenges, and tender new loves find their niche in your heart as this story unfolds layer by lovely layer.”
Mesu Andrews, Author of Revell titles Love’s Sacred Song, and Love Amid the Ashes, which won the 2012 CBA Book of the Year, New Author Category

“Ann Lee Miller writes stories straight from the heart with characters who'll become friends, remaining with you long after you turn that final page. You won't want to miss Kicking Eternity!”
Jenny B. Jones, Author of the Katie Parker Production Series from Think and The Charmed Life Series, and other single titles from Thomas Nelson

"I've lost hours of sleep reading Ann Lee Miller's work due to her uncanny ability to yank me into a story with authentic, lovable, yet challenging characters."
Lynn Rush, author of Wasteland, Awaited, and Prelude to Darkness from Crescent Moon Press



Bio:
Ann Lee Miller earned a BA in creative writing from Ashland (OH) University and writes full-time in Phoenix, but left her heart in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, where she grew up. She loves speaking to young adults and guest lectures on writing at several Arizona colleges. When she isn’t writing or muddling through some crisis—real or imagined—you’ll find her hiking in the Superstition Mountains with her husband or meddling in her kids’ lives.




Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Forever Hilltop -- question and answer with Judy Baer


Title: FOREVER HILLTOP
Author: Judy Baer
Publisher: Guideposts
May 2012
ISBN: 978-0-82494-529-9
Genre: Inspirational/contemporary

FOREVER HILLTOP features two of award-winning author, Judy Baer's books in one novel.

In An Unlikely Blessing: Alex Armstrong is a former college professor in his hometown of Chicago, but now he’s finding himself going to North Dakota to serve as a first-time pastor. His first assignment is two churches that are too small for a pastor, so they want one pastor to share the load and the churches.

Alex and his nephew, Jared, arrive a day early, but are welcomed into the community right away. Visitors stop by the parsonage on a minute-by-minute basis sometimes, but the pantry is well stocked, the families are nice, and the farming community is about as far from city life as Alex can get.

But things don’t seem as idyllic after Alex is there for awhile. It seems that everyone has their problems. Is Alex in the place God has him? Or did he jump from the frying pan into the fire?

In Surprising Grace, Alex Armstrong is beginning to get used to his life as the rural pastors of two different North Dakota churches. He now houses some homeless geese that one of the children in the area wanted to save, and is getting to know the members of his different congregations. But Alex is lonely, and under impulse fires off an email to his former fiancée.

Alex’s flock needs help and counsel like he never imagined, and he grows to love each and every unique individual he comes in contact with. But when his ex-fiancée responds—is he going to be forced to choose between the woman he used to love and the people he currently serves? Or does God have someone else in mind?

Both An Unlikely Blessing and Surprising Grace are quiet, sweet stories about a pastor serving in his first church. Ms. Baer did an excellent job describing the North Dakota landscape and the type of farmers that live there. She also pretty much has the pastoral role of a small town country pastor down pat.

Alex might have felt like a fish out of water but he definitely tried to put his best foot forward in this community. I couldn’t help but applaud him as he faced everything from tipped over pickups, loose hogs, and runaway cows in his first twenty-four hours in town. And that was just the beginning. Recommended. $16.99. 573 pages.

***

An interview with Judy Baer, Author of Forever Hilltop

Life is more than just a series of experiences. It is the people we meet along the way that make life more interesting and teach us the most important lessons. City dweller turned country pastor Alex Armstrong learns this first hand in Judy Baer’s Forever Hilltop.

Forever Hilltop is a 2-in-1 book that includes Baer’s An Unlikely Blessing along with the previously unreleased sequel Surprising Grace. The charming and often hilarious Forever Hilltop series follows the adventures of protagonist Alex Armstrong as he settles into his role as a pastor of a Scandinavian community in rural North Dakota much like the one in which Baer grew up. While Alex is sometimes baffled by his parishioners and their colorful ways, he comes to appreciate their simple wisdom. It may be a small town, but life in Hilltop Township is never dull!



Q: Is there a “moral of the story” that you would like readers to walk away with? If so, what is it?

There are many small messages and teachings, but not just a single big statement or moral that encompasses the entire book. I find life to be like that—the lessons learned over the years like the benefits of kindness, respect, sound judgment, faith, loyalty or honesty—come in bits and pieces. A little lesson here, a realization there, and eventually you have a big awareness about something. The Forever Hilltop books are gentle, but teach enduring lessons about how people should treat each other and live their lives.

Q: What makes this series different than previous books and/or series?

Surprising Grace and the Forever Hilltop series are very different from my previous books. I’ve written romances, young adult books, non-fiction and woman’s fiction. These new books encompass an entire community and the interactions of many characters. I wouldn’t define it as a saga, but it is a story that chronicles the lives of many people and their deep interrelationships.

Q: Would you say that God makes us uncomfortable or puts us in new circumstances to help us grow?

God often allows us to be in new circumstances or relationships that stretch us and make us grow. He wants us to be more Christ-like in our everyday lives and often the people we meet or the situations in which we land are great tools for that. That’s what happens for the protagonist Alex Armstrong as he finds himself a fish out of water in Hilltop Township, a spot in the road in rural North Dakota. As died-in-the-wool city boy from Chicago, he’s stretched and forced to grow on a daily basis as he learns to love rural life and the people that inhabit it.

Q: Was there a certain event in your life that you drew from in writing Alex’s story?

I have a particular fondness for rural North Dakota since that’s where I grew up. What’s interesting, though, is that after people from many stations in life read the first book in the Hilltop series, An Unlikely Blessing, they, almost without fail said, “I grew up in a place like that,” or “I know those people, I lived with them!” I think the books hit chords that resonate with a lot of people—it’s about good but quirky people who are trying to do their best, often with surprising, and occasionally dismaying, results. One can learn lessons through fun and joy as well as trauma and sadness. All of this is incorporated in Surprising Grace.

Learn more about the author and her books at www.judykbaer.com.

Forever Hilltop by Judy Baer
Guideposts ~ May 1, 2012 ~ ISBN: 978-0824945299 ~ $16.99

Monday, May 28, 2012

The Ride of Her Life


Title: THE RIDE OF HER LIFE
Author: Lorna Seilstad
Publisher: Revell
May 2012
ISBN: 978-0-8007-3447-3
Genre: Inspirational/historical fiction

She’s planted firmly on solid ground. He’s ready to sweep her off her feet.

Lilly Hart and her six-year-old son, Levi, are managing after the death of Lilly’s husband, Ben. Lilly’s is working as cook and waitress at Lake Manawa, and living in a tent in the campgrounds. But Ben’s parents are on the warpath, demanding that Lilly and Levi return to live in their home and send Levi off to boarding school in the East. When Lilly refuses, her in-laws return with the sheriff in tow, claiming their grandson is neglected and abused.

Nick Perrin is roller coaster designer and he and his crew are building a roller coaster for the wealthy folk who summer at Lake Manawa. He rescues Lilly from a snake her son brings into the restaurant, and is present when her in-laws come threatening. Nick is quick to step up, defend Lilly and offer to befriend her boy, but Lilly is equally quick to refuse his overturns of friendship—at least until her boss threatens her job.

As Nick gets to know Levi and interact with Lilly, they begin to develop a tentative friendship, but Ben’s parents aren’t about to let Lilly win. They intend to take Levi from her, whatever it takes. Will Lilly be able to keep her son? What will it take for Nick to sweep her off her feet?

THE RIDE OF HER LIFE is the third book in the Lake Manawa Summers series, but it easily stands alone. Characters from previous books do make appearances in this book, but it isn’t necessary to have read them first before reading THE RIDE OF HER LIFE. I do recommend reading A Great Catch and Making Waves though as they are great reads!

Lilly is a very strong, capable woman, handed lemons, but determined to make the best of her situation. Nick also has risen from not ideal circumstances, and he’s determined to fight for the underdog. Other than the appearances of nasty slithering creatures like snakes and spiders (and bad in-laws) THE RIDE OF HER LIFE was a great read. If you pack one book for your summer vacation, this has to be the one. $14.99. 379 pages.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Working Successfully with Screwed-Up People


Title: WORKING SUCCESSFULLY WITH SCREWED-UP PEOPLE
Author: Elizabeth B. Brown
Publisher: Revell
May 2012
ISBN: 978-0800720117
Genre: Self-help/business

Are crazy co-workers stressing you out? Here’s the solution.

Let’s face it. Some people don’t listen, don’t care, and won’t compromise. And you probably work with them. The incomprehensible supervisor. The person who talks more than works. The customer who isn’t always right.

The good news is, it doesn’t take two people to change a relationship—it takes one. You.
In WORKING SUCCESSFULLY WITH SCREWED-UP PEOPLE, Ms. Brown will show you how to be unflappable, imperturbable, and unflustered in every situation.

WORKING SUCCESSFULLY WITH SCREWED-UP PEOPLE is a must read for every working person, whether they are a work-at-home parent or whether they go out in the rat race every day. I enjoyed reading this book, Ms. Brown’s writing style drew me in and held my interest, and I learned some things… such as, my husband is very much a rule-follower. It is set in stone. I am more of a rules are guidelines type person, and love to say, the rules apply to everyone but me. My husband’s rigidness drives me crazy sometimes, the same way my more relaxed approach to everything affects him. Opposites attract, right?

In a work place, you have to somehow manage to work eight hours a day that people that don’t share your values. You might be more dedicated to work, and earning the paycheck, while someone else might be more of the “I’m here to take up space and chat” mindset. Or maybe the way you solve problems differ. If you have any work relationship problems, then you have to read WORKING SUCCESSFULLY WITH SCREWED-UP PEOPLE. It will be the help you need. And you’ll learn a lot about personality types as well. $12.99. 260 pages.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Always There


Title: ALWAYS THERE
Editor: Susan Besze Wallace
Authors: multi, including Kathi Lipp, Kari Wyatt Kent, Renee Swope etal
Publisher: Revell
April 2012
ISBN: 978-0-8007-2116-9
Genre: Inspirational/women’s devotional

God is with you…
…in the excitement of first steps, first words, and the first day of school.
…when you are frustrated, overwhelmed, or alone.
…in the middle of the night and the middle of the unpleasant.
…in your most important relationships.

God is there in every busy, exhausting, and exhilarating moment of being a mom.

ALWAYS THERE is a devotional for busy moms of preschoolers. It has a short verse, a story to go along with it, and a reflection for you to ponder as you go about your day. Ideal for moms on the go, it doesn’t take much time, and will center your mind on God. This isn’t a devotional for a deep feeding of the word, but more of a stolen moment snack.

Some of the stories made me cry, remembering the terror and joy of that first pregnancy… the fear when you realize your preschooler has vanished into a crowd and you don’t know where to start looking… watching a baby morph into an adult… and other life events, including the acute pain of miscarriage.

I have five children (not counting three miscarriages) and while some of my children are now considered adults, I still can relate to the stories told in this book. Children are a blessing of the Lord, but some of the confusion, pain, disappointment that accompany them doesn’t always seem holy. ALWAYS THERE reminds us that even in moments when you feel alone, God is ALWAYS THERE. Recommended for new moms and mothers of preschoolers. $12.99. 196 pages.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Interview with Lisa Bergren


An interview with Lisa T. Bergren, Author of Glamorous Illusions

Glamorous Illusions, the first release in Lisa Bergren’s new Grand Tour series, is a beautiful exploration of the covenant connection between God the Father and His children. Through the story of Cora Kensington, Bergren takes her audience on a European adventure of forgiveness, spiritual awareness, and self-discovery.

A person often identifies themself by their family, profession, or circumstances. However, as Christians, what would happen if we began to better understand our true identity in Christ? It is this spiritual journey that author Bergren guides readers through in Glamorous Illusions.




Q: Why do you think it is so difficult for us as Christians to remember our first, true identity?

We’re so absorbed in how our contemporary culture identifies us—by looks, career, family, wealth, faith—that we forget that our primary identity is a child of God. That no matter where we work or what we accomplish, no matter what happens and who is in our life (or isn’t), our core identity makes us valuable, treasured, cherished, forgiven, free and mighty. We are stronger than we could ever believe, through him, here to do his good work. But we buy in to the false identities our world gives us—which leaves us feeling consistently weak and wanting and wimpy.

I get it. I really do. But if we could just seize that core identity and hold on to it, I believe we’d be as Catherine of Siena said “If you are what you should be, you will set the whole world on fire.” There’s a whole lot of untapped potential within each of us…and it’s tied to our understanding of our truest identity. Cora Diehl Kensington, my main character, is on an inner journey to discover that just as surely as she is on an outer journey through Europe.

Q: Before you begin a new series, how much time do you devote to research of a time period or location?

I like to be reading and researching a good six months before I begin writing. Research gives me context, as well as potential plot points to incorporate.

Q: Why do you think “Downtown Abbey” is so hot among the American audience? How does your Grand Tour series relate to that craze?

At its core, I think “Downtown Abbey” is a story about community, made up of many different personalities. There are two subsets to that community, obviously, between the servants and their wealthy employers. But those two circles intersect and they’re really all one. And many of their issues are the same—the quest to face sins and errors of the past, seek forgiveness, rise in status (or put it in its proper place), and find true love. These are all themes that relate to us in America, regardless of where and how we live. They’re universal themes. And they appear in my book too. Add to that the European settings and I think it’s inevitable that there will be some comparisons.

Q: At one time, a world tour was a popular custom for young adults in Europe as a part of their education. Do you think young adults today would benefit from travel and seeing what other cultures are like?

I’m a huge champion for world travel for all. Given our current economic woes, that dream feels pretty distant for many Americans, but you can catch a glimpse of other culture, right here in the US too. Sometimes it only takes a day’s drive to feel something “foreign.” Sometimes it’s only an hour away! But the point is this—we get so absorbed in our little microcosm of life that we begin to think that our world is like everyone else’s. Or we have a hard time caring for anyone outside of our little bubble. Exploration, outside The Bubble, helps us identify differences and commonalities among all of God’s people, and sows seeds of understanding and grace.

Q: We’re introduced to Cora’s travel companions who have struggles of their own. What are some of the inner conflicts they face?

They all have principal vices and sins that they are struggling with. Pride, greed, lust, laziness, anger… I like that at first, Cora uses those sins to dismiss each of them. She uses them as a sort of barrier that she can justify. But as they travel together, she finds she herself struggles with a measure of each of those sins too. She is not immune. She is not perfect. And discovering that allows her to extend grace to each of them, which also encourages growth and healing.

Q: As an author, you have written books in several different genres, including children’s books. What has drawn you to historical women's fiction in your past few series?

I love that it provides such a rich backdrop to my story. It immediately feels like my tale has more depth and intrigue with a historical tapestry behind it. In this time period, the world is on the brink of so much—World War I, the right to vote for women, Prohibition—but at that moment, it’s rather innocent. Full of hope and promise, but with whispers of warning in the air that change was coming…

Learn more about the author and her books at lisatawnbergren.com.

Glamorous Illusions by Lisa T. Bergren ~ David C Cook ~ June 1, 2012 ~ ISBN: 978-1-4347-6430-0

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Interview with Staci Stallings



What kind of research did you do for To Protect & Serve?

This one I actually went to a fire station to interview the fire fighters (rough job, I know! ;). That was quite fun. They showed me everything on the truck, walked me through how they would go about fighting different types of fires, and showed me all of their turnout gear.

How did you come up with the plot for To Protect & Serve,

God did. I had no intention of writing this one. I was working on a different story, and when I write, I make a soundtrack and I get pictures from the 'net of my characters. One of the characters in the other book was a guy in a 90's boy band. A friend of mine had recently gotten interested in how I write the books, and so I was showing her all of this. She promptly "fell in love" with one of the other guys in the band!

Then she wouldn't leave me alone saying she wanted me to write his story. Finally, one day, kind of sarcastically, I asked, "Fine. God, if I was going to write his story, what would it be?" And "To Protect & Serve" fell into my lap.



Share a brief blurb about the book.

Houston firefighter, Jeff Taylor is a fireman's fireman. No situation is too dangerous to keep him sidelined if lives are on the line. However, when control freak Lisa Matheson falls for him, she quickly realizes she can't control Jeff or the death wish he seems to have...

What role have your life experiences played in the characters and/or the situations you develop in your books?

I think prior to God getting hold of me and convincing me to relax, I was a lot like Lisa--goal-oriented, success-minded, and focused on all of the wrong things. I hope I was a little more flexible than she is, but probably not by much. I really love how she has to finally confront how little control she really has over things. For me, in my life, that was a real turning point, and I think it is for her as well.

Do you see parallels or do you try to avoid using your own personal life as a source of inspiration?

I don't do either. I don't purposely put them in, and I don't purposely leave them out. Sometimes as I'm writing, I see the parallels. Sometimes I just have to write because none of it is in my experience. I can't explain that other than to say I know that God knows where we're going with each story, and I trust Him implicitly to get me there.

What are your own favorite authors? Genres?

John Grisham really opened the floodgates for how to not be constrained in writing. I love his stories because you're in New York with one character and then you're in Atlanta with someone else, and then you're in France... And as you're reading, you're constantly processing the pieces he's showing you. I always say now the first several chapters of every one of my books is just me throwing the pieces on the table. Then I start putting them together. Grisham taught me that.

How has your passion for reading impacted your writing?

When I was teaching high school English, I had to read A LOT. Many things we read were not things I would have chosen on my own--A Tale of Two Cities, A Farewell to Arms, A Doll House. However, I am so thankful for that experience because it broadened my horizons as to what is out there, the thinking of these other authors, their perspectives of the world and of life.

Now I read mostly non-fiction Christian books, and they are the same way. They open up doors in my mind that show me how people are, why they are that way, and how to help them learn to change. I think all of that experience shapes my writing into something deeper and more profound than just telling a good story.

Describe how you write a book – with your other responsibilities, does it tend to be something you work into your every day, or do you have to “set apart” time to write with open, undesignated blocks of time?

Well, I've now written 31 full-length novels, and no two of them have been written the same way. My "process" is however God decides He wants me to do this one. Some I know a lot of the plot going in; some I know next to nothing. Some I write in a month, some it literally takes years. And I never know which will be which.

What I've finally learned is to just relax and let God be God. He is very good at ordering my days which would be utter chaos without Him. I have 3 kids, a husband, a house, and 2 businesses. I do all of the financial stuff for both businesses. I write, edit, publish, and market all of my own books. I also edit for a couple of friends. I'm on Twitter and Facebook. I have my own author's group, "Grace & Faith Authors." I have four active blogs, and I'm redesigning my website. At the moment, I have 16 ebooks out and 7 in-print. I'm working on 3 more in-prints, and four new ebooks. So as you can see, without God, this would never work. With Him, somehow I get all of that done and still have time to write when He lays it on my heart to do so.
What provides your inspirations during that time – i.e. do you go out in nature, do you seek to be in a busy place with people or in a quiet library, etc.?

Again, this is all God. I have gotten inspiration from church, from books, from conversations with friends. It's come via the Internet, the television and the radio; through songs and movies. I have just learned that God speaks to us in a myriad of ways. The question is, are we listening?

How have social networking sites, even including email, etc. impacted your writing? Do you find the internet to be a helpful or harmful resource in research, advertising, reviewing, etc. your books?

In July of 2011, I sold 2 books. The beginning of August that year, I bought a book about ebooks and Internet marketing. By the end of that month, I had 8 ebooks for sale, I was on Twitter and Facebook. I floundered around on those for another two months. Then on October 26, 2011, I read one tweet that changed my life. It was by another author, Karen Baney, and in it she talked about cross-promoting with several other authors. That idea really resonated with me, so I contacted her.

Within 24 hours, Grace & Faith Author Connection was born. Over the next five months, as a growing team we learned how to USE the social media, and now, just six months later, I'm an Amazon #1 Best Selling author. So, yes, I would say the social media has been a very, very helpful resource.

Do you use these tools such as facebook as a means of observing the behavior of others which could be the basis of a character, or are you of the ‘old school’ that relies more on personal relationships and “human” touches?

I love the personal relationship aspect of both Facebook and Twitter. I really wish I had more time to utilize them that way as I have met some wonderful people on both. Right now, however, I use them more for marketing and connecting with others to market than anything.

What is one time that you really went out of your comfort zone --like me going to interview the firemen?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Interview with Cynthia Hickey and GIVEAWAY!


Why do you write the kind of books you do?
I write cozy mystery, romantic suspense, and historical romance. I write, because I love to read. I’ll read, and devour, almost any genre except Science Fiction. I especially love writing books clean enough for my younger family members to read, and books that glorify God.

Besides when you came to know the Lord, what is the happiest day in your life?
There are so many special days, thank you, Lord. The birth of my daughter, the adoption of my children, the day I married my husband.

How has being published changed your life?
I never knew a writer’s life was so busy! A well-known author once told me that you are always working on at least three books: The one you’re writing, the one you’re editing, the one you’re marketing. If you add in the one you’re researching, you could be working on at least four books.

What are you reading right now?
Right now, I’m reading a future release of Robin Carroll’s for endorsement.

What is your current work in progress?
I am currently working on the fourth and final book in my cozy mystery series. This one is titled, Maui Macadamia Madness.

What would be your dream vacation?
A trip to Ireland and Scotland to visit the land of my ancestors.

How do you choose your settings for each book?
Most of my stories take place in Arkansas. I spent most of my childhood there and still call it home. Although I use fictional names for my towns, they are modeled after the small towns that dot the great Ozark state.

If you could spend an evening with one person who is currently alive, who would it be and why?
Probably, Janet Evanovich. I love the humor in her mysteries and would like to dig inside her head.
What three things about you would surprise readers?
I’ve been on the news twice, I have seven children and five grandchildren, I run into a burning house to grab my laptop and photos

What are your hobbies, besides writing and reading?
I love to crochet and make movie montages from the hundreds of photos I take every year.

What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?
I tend to be easily distracted. Sitting in the chair and writing, even if I end up rewriting, helps me overcome this.

What advice would you give to a beginning author?
Never, never, never give up, and keep learning the craft.

Tell us about the book.
I have two recently released on Amazon’s ebook:


A Love for Delicious
Married less than a week, Delicious (Delly) Williams, watches her new husband die, leaving her to raise his five children under the age of thirteen. He also left her a deed to property in Oregon. His dying wish; for Delly to get the deed and the children to his brother in order for them to be protected. Zeke Williams wants to marry Delly in order to keep her safe. Another marriage is the last thing Delly wants. Can these two come together and forge a love and a new life in an untamed land?




Ruth’s Redemption
The Civil War took everything from Ruth Stallings except for her grandmother and sisters. Now without a home or funds, they take the White River as far as it will go and end up in Painted Bluff, Arkansas, a town populated mostly by men out looking for a wife. Sheriff John Powell wants nothing to do with the pretty women or the trouble they bring. Especially when a gang of marauders show up looking for Ruth. Can Ruth and John overcome their differences and find love?

What do you want readers to take away from the book?
That we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.

What one question would you like us to ask your readers?

Which book would you choose to win and why?

Tell us about the giveaway you’re offering.
I will offer one lucky winner their choice of either a Kindle copy of A Love for Delicious or Ruth’s Redemption.

The winner will need to approve Cynthia’s email address in order to retrieve the free copy. If you do not have a Kindle, she can send you a .doc file.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A Love Forbidden


Title: A LOVE FORBIDDEN
Author: Kathleen Morgan
Publisher: Revell
May 2012
ISBN: 978-0-8007-1971-5
Genre: Inspirational/historical

Shiloh Wainwright fell in love with a young man who worked on her father’s ranch when she was a young girl. But he was a “half-breed” and after being falsely accused of attacking the boss’ older daughter, he was whipped and sent away. Now, Shiloh is a grown woman and she has a love for Indians. This takes her to an Indian Agency in Colorado. Shiloh hopes to improve the lives of Ute Indian children.

But, her new job isn’t all sunshine and roses. Shiloh soon finds herself caught in the cross-fire between the Utes, their Indian agent, and the US government. Her unexpected encounter with her family’s former employee, Jesse Blackwater, only complicates matters.

As tensions spiral, will Jesse and Shiloh find love? Or will the catastrophic uprising tear them apart?

A LOVE FORBIDDEN is the latest by award winning author, Kathleen Morgan. I was drawn into the story from the very first pages, though my heart broke for Jesse. I had to find out what happened and hoped that Jesse and Shiloh would find a way to be together.

Ms. Morgan is definitely a talented author, and one that I can recommend if you like historical fiction. She takes characters that should be impossible to find common ground, and throws them together. The resulting story is a page-turner. Loosely based on real events—my favorite type of historical. $14.99. 310 pages.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Wish You Were Here / giveaway / Q&A with Beth Vogt


BTitle: WISH YOU WERE HERE
Author: Beth K. Vogt
Publisher: Howard Books
May 2012
ISBN: 978-1451659863
Genre: Inspirational/contemporary romance

Allison Denman is getting married in five days, to Seth Rayner, an up-and-coming architect in his father’s firm. But when Seth’s brother, Daniel, comes to help Allison move some boxes, they accidentally kiss. And suddenly, Allison comes face-to-face with the fact that she’s marrying the wrong guy—for all the wrong reasons.

Allison isn’t sure how to tell Seth, so in true run-away-bride fashion, she waits until their in front of the church, with all the gathered family and friends, then she turns and runs, stealing her best friend’s car, and a mountain cabin, she goes into hiding while she tries to figure out what to do next.

Seth isn’t exactly willing to let her go, and Daniel is torn…help his brother win back his high school sweetheart, or admit that he broke a major man-code and fell in love with his brother’s ex-fiancée? And what are they to do when Allison wants nothing to do with either of them?

WISH YOU WERE HERE is an absolutely wonderful contemporary romance (whoooo hooo! One of my two favorite genres.) and it is stellar. I couldn’t help but fall in love with Allison and Daniel both and wondered when they would both finally stop dancing around the issue and address it head on.

If you are looking for a wonderful contemporary romance, then WISH YOU WERE HERE is a book to consider. Discussion questions and an interview with the author are included at the end of the book. $14.99. 320 pages.




About Beth:


Beth K. Vogt provides her readers with a happily ever after woven through with humor, reality, and God's lavish grace. She's a non-fiction author and editor who said she'd never write fiction. She's the wife of an Air Force physician (now in solo practice) who said she'd never marry a doctor-or anyone in the military. She's a mom of four who said she'd never have kids. Beth has discovered that God's best often waits behind the doors marked "Never." She writes contemporary romance because she believes there's more to happily ever after than the fairy tales tell us. Beth earned a journalism degree from San Jose State University and met her husband Rob when he knocked her down at a karate studio. They've been married for 31 years. They have four children, ranging in ages from 28, 25, 23 and - thanks to a funny thing happening on their way to the empty nest-a 10-year-old. The Vogt Team, which now includes a "daughter-in-love" and "son-in-love," enjoys hiking and camping in Colorado. Read more about Beth at her website:http://bethvogt.com

Link to buy the book: http://ow.ly/aQTEk
Blog Tour Schedule
http://litfusegroup.com/blogtours/13480251

Celebrate with Beth by entering her Wish You Were Here Giveaway!


One "happy" winner will receive:
A brand new iPad with Wi-Fi (The must-have, do-everything gadget!)
Wish You Were Here by Beth Vogt (Swoon worthy.)
$15 iTunes Gift Card (Music, books, apps, & more.)
Hurry, the giveaway ends on 6/4/12. The winner will be announced 6/6/12 on Beth's Website!

Just click one of the icons on the sidebar to enter. Tell your friends about Beth's giveaway on FACEBOOKor TWITTER and increase your chances of winning.

***

An interview with Beth K. Vogt, Author of Wish You Were Here

When Allison Denman kisses her fiancé’s brother just days before her wedding, she’s not sure which is the mistake—the kiss or the wedding. It won’t be easy, but Allison is determined to find out. In her debut novel Wish You Were Here, Beth K. Vogt provides readers with a happily ever after woven through with humor, reality, and God’s lavish grace.

Vogt has had experience with her plans and God’s plans not lining up as expected. She is a non-fiction author and editor who said she’d never write fiction, but God had other plans for her. She decided to begin writing contemporary romance because she believes there’s more to happily ever after than the fairy tales tell us.


Q: You said you would never write a novel. What changed your mind?

I hit a season of burnout as a nonfiction writer and editor. I told my husband I was not going to write – ever, ever, ever again. He came home to find me at my computer and asked, “What are you doing?” When I confessed I was writing, he asked what happened to my never-going-to-write-again vow. I told him that I was having fun writing fiction and, that since no one would ever see what I was writing, this didn’t count. That “just for fun” story became Wish You Were Here, my debut novel.

Q: How did the story come to you?

The catalyst for Wish You Were Here was a fiction assignment from the Christian Writers Guild Apprentice course. I took Jerry B. Jenkins’ Guild course to scrape all the rust off my writing ability when I was trying to get back on the writing road after motherhood detoured me for a few years. For the assignment I had to write one scene from three different points of view (POVs.) I’d written a wedding scene from the view of the bride, the best man, and the wedding photographer. The story is the answer to the questions: How did the bride get here and what happens next?

Q: In the story Allison’s father considered her to be a mistake. In what way?

Ah… that’s all part of the story. Did Allison’s father really think she was a mistake? Or did he think he’d made a mistake? Sometimes our perceptions of a situation can be mistaken.

Q: How do things that others say about us, especially our parents, impact us in a way that affects us the rest of our lives.

Scripture tells us that words can either kill or give life (Proverbs 18:21.) Parents represent a person’s first idea of “home” or “safety” – and it’s from our family we first develop an idea of who we are. So the words our parents speak to us are so, so crucial to our development. As parents, we have the powerful ability to speak a blessing over our child – and yet, sometimes we tragically miss that opportunity.

Q: No one is perfect, but do you believe there is such thing as someone “perfect for me”?
The greater challenge is: Am I willing to learn how to love someone in such a way that I become perfect for them – despite my imperfections? My husband and I have been married over 30 years. We are not the same people we were when we said “I do.” But the changes we’ve made – the way we’ve submitted to one another and forgiven one another, the way my husband has loved me sacrificially, the way I’ve tried to respect and love him no matter what – all this has made us perfect for one another.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

A Place to Belong, worship CD


www.findaplacetobelong.com

A PLACE TO BELONG (Circle of Friends) CD is an inspirational CD featuring 8 songs. The singer's voice is mellow, drawing the listener into a quiet place, which would be excellent as a prelude to Bible study or devotions. Songs included are: *Love Falls Down *I Believe in You *Your Love Endures *Let Us Bow Down *Thank you for the Cross *God the Victorious *I found Grace *Lifting My Praise Up. Recommended, as an accompliment to Ms. Troyer's book by the same name (A PLACE TO BELONG) or a CD to accompany your Bible study.

***

Inspirational music & message from
Circle of Friends President Lisa Troyer




Every woman needs acceptance, love and a place to belong. That’s the underlying theme of the new music CD, A Place to Belong (Lifeway Worship) from singer/songwriter Lisa Troyer, president of Circle of Friends Ministries. Refreshingly authentic and dynamic, the companion worship CD to Troyer’s recently released book, A Place to Belong: Out of Our Comfort Zone and into God’s Adventure (Barbour Publishing), tenderly draws women into a place of true freedom and belonging in the very heart of God.

In her book,Troyer shares her own journey to acceptance as well as the story of a group of dynamic “women helping women” who call themselves the Circle of Friends. Troyer encourages readers to form their own circle of friends, a safe place of truth and love where women can develop lasting relationships and discover together the purposes of God for their lives.
Obviously noticeable in both the book and CD is Troyer’s passion to lead others into the bottomless love of God. This fierce desire compelled her to plunge deeply into the heart of the issues all women face, but most keep to themselves. With tendencies toward depression, anxiety attacks and an eating disorder, Troyer knows firsthand the bondage of secrecy and shame. “Living with a secret,” Troyer admits, “doesn’t make it go away. It doesn’t change your heart. As well hidden as your secret is, that is how deeply lonely you will be. I’ve been there. I know it’s true.”

The newly released companion CD reinforces her book’s admonition that there is complete freedom and acceptance to be found in the Father. “This CD was birthed out of the knowledge that music is so often used by God to solidify a written and/or spoken message,” says Troyer. “Dawn Yoder and I have been blessed by the friendship and songwriting partnership God’s given us, and songs like ‘Let Us Bow Down,’ ‘Lifting My Praise Up’ and ‘I Found Grace’ (Circle of Friends theme song) are reflective of how, by finding a place to belong, we are inspired to share encouragement, while keeping our focusing on worshipping in ‘Spirit and in truth.’”

A Place to Belong has the potential of changing the way women think about themselves, about others and about doing God’s work in this world. In both her book and worship CD, Troyer challenges women to connect to one another, comfort each other and affirm each other in using the gifts God has given them. Ultimately, A Place to Belong offers a healing dose of real hope that life can be rich, life can have purpose and no woman need ever be alone.

The new Circle of Friends CD is available online at http://lifewayworship.com and iTunes. It can also be purchased through your local Christian retailer.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

A Proper Companion


Title: A PROPER COMPANION
Author: Louise M. Gouge
Publisher: Love Inspired Historical
June 2012
ISBN: 978-0373829217
Genre: Inspirational/historical romance

Anna Newfield has just lost her father. She’s at the funeral when she learns that her brother is presumed dead in the colonies, and that she has to move out of the parsonage that very day. And not only that, but the temporary lodging she obtains is no longer available.

Major Edmond Grenville happens to be there when Anna loses everything, and he’s quick to offer her a job as a companion to his mother. But the Dowager Lady Greystone is controlling and unwelcoming.

As Edmond and Anna get to know each other amid the glittering ballrooms of London, Anna falls in love, but she knows Edmond could never love her back. However, Anna’s courage is compelling, but Edmond knows he will go against his family’s rigid command if he falls in love. What will it take for Anna and Edmond to find true and lasting love?

A PROPER COMPANION is Ms. Gouge’s most recent historical romance and it’s a winner. Set during the Revolutionary War time period, Edmond has been fighting in the colonies until an injury sent him back to Britain. As the story begins, Anna is at her father’s funeral and has lost everything before the end of the first chapter.

A PROPER COMPANION is a story of faith and courage in hard times. Anna is gentle and sweet the whole story through, even when faced with her losses and her subsequent difficult employment, and Edmond too is a true hero. Readers will be delighted with this newest historical by award winning author Louise Gouge. Discussion questions are included at the end of the book. $5.75. 285 pages.

Friday, May 18, 2012

An Eye for Glory


Title: AN EYE FOR GLORY
Author: Karl A. Bacon
Publisher: Zondervan
February 2011
ISBN: 978-0-310-32202-3
Genre: Inspirational/historical/Civil War

Michael Palmer has a wife and three children, but honor and duty push him to leave his comfortable life and answer the call from Abraham Lincoln to fight for his country.

Michael learns quickly that war is more than what he’d initially thought. It involves long marches through the field, under extreme conditions. Illness. Disillusionment. Faith is challenged and seems lost in the gun smoke and blood. Michael’s only desire is to kill as many Rebels as he can so he can go home. He counts off each Rebel that falls to his bullets—until he is brought up short by a dying man holding up his Bible.

As the war winds to an end, Michael begins to understand the grave cost of the war on his soul.

Karl Bacon is a long time student of the Civil War. AN EYE FOR GLORY is his debut novel, and it is based on first-hand accounts of the 14th Connecticut Infantry. A fascinatingly rich story, full of details, realistic dialogue, and setting that we can see—and smell. Karl Bacon can bring the Civil War to life, 150 years later.

Michael Palmer suffers some deep battle wounds from the war, not only physically, but also spiritually and mentally. This is a book that will resound in your memory long after you finish the book. If you are a history buff, and into the Civil War in a different sort of story (far from a romance), full of action, drama, battles, and death, then AN EYE FOR GLORY is a book you will want to read. $16.99. 364 pages.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Hiding in Plain Sight


Title: HIDING IN PLAIN SIGHT
Author: Amy Wallace
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers
April 2012
ISBN: 978-0-7369-4731-2
Genre: Inspirational/Mennonite/women’s fiction

Police officer, Ashley Walters is new to Montezuma, Georgia and thus the rookie on the force, even though she’s a good officer, proven in her old town. She is still healing, ten years later, from her brother’s unsolved murder, and fighting those demons. Bradley Yoder, a Mennonite teenager, reminds Ashley of her brother, and when he’s caught shop-lifting, Ashley is determined to do whatever it takes to help Bradley.

Patrick James is Bradley’s counselor, and he’s also on the city commission. The city is planning on revitalizing the downtown and wants to open a Mennonite museum. Only thing is, the Mennonites are against the museum, unless they are allowed to share their faith there. But the township is against the Mennonites sharing their faith.

Ashley and Patrick begin dating, and the relationship seems to be going well, but the Mennonite issue is putting them on opposite sides of the fence. Not to mention, a Mennonite man, Bradley’s uncle, also is attracted to Ashley. What will it take to bridge the gap between the peaceful Mennonite world and the suspense and drama of the English one?

HIDING IN PLAIN SIGHT is the first book in Ms. Wallace’s Place of Refuge series. It is very well written and engaging. There is a love-triangle, a romance, and suspense, with plenty of drama. I had to keep reading to see what happened next.

Bradley is a trouble teen, broken from his birth mother’s abandonment, and upset over his adoptive father’s death. He’s also bothered that no matter what he does, no one seems to notice or appreciate him. His character is heartbreaking, tugging unbelievably at my heartstrings. I could feel his pain. Ashley also is hurting, desperate to reach Bradley before it’s too late, since he reminds her of her deceased brother. Both Patrick and the Mennonite man, Jonathon, are good God-fearing men, yet on opposite sides of the township issues.

If you are looking for a great Mennonite read, or love Amish fiction and want to read it’s “close cousin” then HIDING IN PLAIN SIGHT is a great book to consider. Highly recommended. 4.5 stars. $13.99. 304 pages.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

My Stubborn Heart and giveaway


Title: MY STUBBORN HEART
Author: Becky Wade
Publisher: Bethany House
May 2012
ISBN: 978-0764209741
Genre: Inspirational/contemporary romance

Kate Donovan is burned out on her job working with children removed from their homes, and tired of her lack of a love life. When her grandmother offers Kate the opportunity to accompany her to Pennsylvania to restore the family estate, Kate jumps at the chance.

Grandma hired Matt Jarreau to renovate the house. Kate is immediately attracted to him, he’s hot, he’s single and he’s brooding. But Matt has suffered much, losing his wife to brain cancer, and his career due to grief. He’s become a recluse, but Kate is determined to bring him out of his shell.

Kate annoys Matt, he can’t handle her bubbly, non-stop conversation, nor her refusal to give up. So, he finally gives in. Is God finally answering Kate’s prayers? Or will Kate be required to give up more than she bargained for?

MY STUBBORN HEART is the debut novel by Becky Wade. I had high hopes for this book. I love contemporary romance. The topic interested me. Ms. Wade has the characters right. A brooding man, hurt and worn; a woman who’s spunky, looking for love; feisty secondary characters… and best of all, it’s contemporary! I’m totally thrilled that a publisher is putting some out again.

But, I was greatly disappointed when the characters started playing poker—for money. When “soft” cuss words started appearing in the story. And when physical appearances became the most important thing, the color of hair and style of shirts dictating whether or not someone dates someone. For more conservative readers that believe gambling is a sin, and “soft” cuss words are still swearing, this book is a turn-off. There is some reference to spiritual things, but mostly the emphasize is on what a “hottie” Matt is. With everyone commenting on it, including Grandma and her friends. Discussion questions are included. $13.99. 343 pages.




About Becky:


During her childhood in California, Becky frequently produced homemade plays starring her sisters, friends, and cousins. These plays almost always featured a heroine, a prince, and a love story with a happy ending. She's been a fan of all things romantic ever since.

Becky and her husband lived overseas in the Caribbean and Australia before settling in Dallas, Texas. It was during her years abroad that Becky's passion for reading turned into a passion for writing. She published three historical romances with Avon Books, then put her career on hold for several years to care for her kids, then recently returned to writing sheerly for the love of it. She felt led to move to the genre of contemporary Christian romance and couldn't be more thrilled with it.

These days Becky can be found failing but trying to keep up with her housework, sweating at the gym, carting her kids around town, playing tennis, hunched over her computer, eating chocolate, or collapsed on the sofa watching TV with her husband.

Learn more at: www.BeckyWade.com
Blog Tour Schedule
http://litfusegroup.com/blogtours/13491775/beckywade



Celebrate with Becky by entering her My Stubborn Heart Giveaway and connecting with her during the Author Chat Party on 5/24!


One fortunate winner will receive:

A Brand New Nook Simple Touch™ with GlowLight™
A $25 Barnes & Noble Gift Certificate
A copy of My Stubborn Heart by Becky Wade
Enter today by clicking on the sidebar icon. But hurry, the giveaway ends at noon on May 24th. Winner will be announced at the "My Stubborn Heart" Author Chat Facebook Party on 5/24. Becky will be hosting an book chat, testing your trivia skills and giving away some great prizes!

So grab your copy of My Stubborn Heart and join Becky on the evening of the May 24th for a chance to meet Becky and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book - don't let that stop you from coming!)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Interview with Jerry Eicher and TWO book giveaway!!!

Why do you write the kind of books you do?

I began writing Amish fiction because that’s the culture I knew, and my first novel, “A
Time to Live” was autobiographical. Which is common I think. From there it was by
request from “Choice Books”. A distributor who was short on Amish fiction titles at the
time.

Besides when you came to know the Lord, what is the happiest day in your
life?

That’s a tough one. I’d probably pick my thirtieth birthday when I was out doing church
street work in our local town. I felt fulfilled and doing something worthwhile.

How has being published changed your life?

It opens doors that are tightly closed otherwise. I suppose that changes your life. Beyond
that, not as much as I had expected. But I’m not mega successful either.

What are you reading right now?

Now…now…those are secrets no one should know. Actually, the third book of
Christopher Paolini’s, series, “Brisingr”. I also peruse Amish fiction books during most
writing days. But that doesn’t quite count, I don’t think.

What is your current work in progress?

I began writing the series for 2014, “The Sisters of Lancaster County”.

What would be your dream vacation?

I’d love to spend a month or so in Europe. We were there last year, and adored the
county.

How do you choose your settings for each book?

I find an Amish community that interests me, and model characters around that. By
moving around, it adds a different flavor for me.

If you could spend an evening with one person who is currently alive, who
would it be and why?

That would be a draw between the two loves of my life, theology and romance stories.
Which translates into Dr. Hugh Ross, and Nicholas Sparks. I’d spend the evening asking
questions and listening to the answers.

What three things about you would surprise readers?

The sheer range of my interests. It’s disconcerting to most people. I have to publish under
a pseudonym for another kind of fiction I’ve written. I teach C.S. Lewis at church, but
also read Christopher Paolini at home for example. Most people I do construction work
for, don’t believe me if I tell them I’m a published author. I don’t look like I writer, I
guess.

What are your hobbies, besides writing and reading?

Movies, travel, music, theology

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

The depression was the most surprising and persistent. It seems to go with the territory.
I have to watch how many hours I put in. Take breaks more often, and I’m looking at
perhaps taking Saturdays completely off, once in awhile.

What advice would you give to a beginning author?

Find something else to do….just kidding. You have to like it, I suppose, so there’s not
much you can do but practice, learn all you can, and write a lot. You really need to get in
those bad years when nothing is happening. I wish I had begun earlier.




Tell us about the book.

The Fields of Home, covers an Amish girl’s rush into the Englisha world, after she
catches her boyfriend kissing another girl. From there Susan meets Teresa, a single
unwed Englisha mother who wants her baby adopted by the Amish. From there the two
lives are intertwined until their marriages. Which takes the three books to accomplish.

What do you want readers to take away from the book?

I don’t write much beyond the goal of creating an interesting story. So if the reader loves
the story, that’s good enough for me. One of the most gratifying stories told me was by
my good friend Leon, who doesn’t read fiction, and also is too tight to buy books. But
he knows me, so he began reading in Wal-Mart, and couldn’t stop. He arrived home
late, after standing in front of the bookrack for hours, with his wife wondering what had
become of him. He told me this story, furious at not being able to lay down the book. He
vowed never to pick up another Jerry Eicher book in his life.

What one question would you like us to ask your readers?

What do you think of the story?

Tell us about the giveaway you’re offering.

One book each of “Missing Your Smile” and “Following Your Heart” is being offered in
this giveaway. All I’m asking for is an honest review at Christianbook.com when you’re
done.

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Pursuit of Lucy Banning and interview with Olivia Newport


Title: THE PURSUIT OF LUCY BANNING
Author: Olivia Newport
Publisher: Revell
May 2012
ISBN: 978-0-8007-2038-4
Genre: Inspirational/historical

Lucy Banning lives on the exclusive Prairie Avenue, next door to the Pullmans and other rich and famous families of the late 1800’s. She’s engaged to marry an up-and-coming banker from a respected family. But Lucy knows that if she marries Daniel, she’ll be expected to give up her charity work—and her dreams. Right now, Lucy is keeping secrets from her family, and going to college, something frowned upon for women of respected, well-to-do families.

Will is an unconventional young architect who has just recently moved to Chicago, and is working on designs for the upcoming 1893 World’s Fair. He makes Lucy dream of living life on her own terms. But will she be able to break away from her family’s expectations? Will she ever be loved for the woman she is, instead of the woman she’s expected to be?

THE PURSUIT OF LUCY BANNING is the first book I’ve ever read by Ms. Newport, but I’m sure it won’t be the last. I think this is the first historical I’ve ever read set in the opulent area of Chicago featuring a character as bold, secretive, and set-in-her-mind as Lucy. She is fearless, brave enough to risk her parents’ wrath, and willing to forge her own trail.

Lucy is a character that could have been real. Set around real life events and real life families, the story could have happened as it told. There is a secondary story involving a maid, Charlotte, who has her own struggles and secrets. THE PURSUIT OF LUCY BANNING is recommended if you love historicals, and especially those featuring the more well-to-do city dwellers. $14.99. 290 pages.

***

Tell us about The Pursuit of Lucy Banning.
Lucy the privileged daughter and Charlotte the maid become friends separated by class and money. One holds a surprising love in her arms, the other has love but wonders if it’s enough. Each of them carries a scandalous secret that could ruin their chances for happiness. In a changing social structure, the two women must work together to overcome social barriers, find true love, and bring about their dreams.

How did The Pursuit of Lucy Banning get started?
I have Chicago suburban roots, but I had not heard of the Prairie Avenue Historical District until a friend of mine became a docent at the Glessner House Museum on Prairie Avenue. This house preserves the flavor of Chicago’s gilded age when the neighborhood was full of wealthy powerhouses of industry. As soon as my friend began his training, he saw the potential for the setting of a story. He is not a fiction write, but he knew my interests. It did not take us long to cook up story ideas about a daughter of a privileged family who engaged with the changing social climate of her time.

Your book is layered with historical detail. Tell us about your research process.
My docent friend, Stephen Reginald, is a history buff. He spits out the most interesting details sometimes, and before I know it, I am digging too. We both scoured the archives of the Chicago Tribune and the New York Times for headlines and language of the era. I looked for true events that serve as hooks in the stories. The Internet turns up all sorts of obscure books and historical accounts. One of my favorites was a first person travelogue written by someone who visited the world’s fair in 1893. Stephen’s work at the Glessner House Museum opened a portal into diaries and museum pieces that helped me faithfully recreate the story’s setting.

What impact did your research have on you personally?
One of the most fun research pieces I uncovered was a guide to caring for young children published in 1894. The prevailing expert advice was not to play with a baby before he or she was four months old, preferably six! I love giving a copy of this book to new mothers. On the other end of the spectrum was heartbreaking information about the desperate needs of orphans during that time period. We may think we have more sophisticated system for addressing certain social issues, but we have a long way to go.

How do you see yourself in Lucy Banning’s story?
I certainly have never been the daughter of a privileged family! However, Lucy Banning and I do share an infatuation with red velvet cake. More seriously, Lucy is looking for genuine meaning in her life, even if it means taking risks. I’d like to think I would do the same thing.

While you were writing the book, do you think it mattered that you grew up near Chicago?
Even as an adult, I’ve lived in the Chicago area for several stretches, and several siblings and their children live there. (Go Cubs!) When I was a child, visiting the Museum of Science and Industry was a wide-eyed experience for me. As a young mother, I took my kids there. I think of it as the Museum of Wonder and Curiosity. Then I discovered that the building itself was part of the 1893 world’s fair, the backdrop for my series. Little did I know I would grow up to write about events that took place in a building that held so much fascination for me.

Will we know what happens to Lucy Banning after the end of the book?
Charlotte Farrow is a secondary character in The Pursuit of Lucy Banning, and she will have her own full story next. The Dilemma of Charlotte Farrow will release in January. After that comes Sarah Cummings, who is introduced during Charlotte’s story. Lucy Banning and her family appear in all three books. Even though the main characters will change, readers can follow the next several years of Lucy’s life.

Is any part of you sorry to be finished writing The Pursuit of Lucy Banning?
Yes! I’ve been living with Lucy for three years now. I feel I know her well. Lucy has a part in the two stories to follow, and these are still in the editorial pipeline so I’ll have opportunities to visit with her again over the next few months. Beyond that, I have a picture of what happened in her life and know that she found happiness and meaning. And that brings me pleasure.

Where do you like to write?
I advocate writing by keeping your bottom in the chair, but I’m flexible about the kind of chair! Research happens at my desk where I can spread things out. Several years ago, in a thrift store, I found a wide, comfy recliner with a built-in massage feature. When I’m in serious get-words-on-the-screen mode rather than researching, I write in cushy comfort. However, I also think that writing is a consuming process, and I may solve a plot dilemma while I’m walking through the neighborhood or hear the perfect line of dialogue in my head while pulling weeds. When I’m immersed in a story, it’s hard to set it aside until I get it out of me. The writing follows me around as I go about my life.

How do you handle distractions?
Classical music—no words—helps keep my brain in a productive gear. I have a big planner where I write notes so I can let go of information or an urge to do something for the moment. Being comfortable helps with distractions, in terms of the chair, lighting, and room temperature. Otherwise my body responds to every little bothersome sensation. And it’s amazing how effective it is to simply close the door on the household noise.

If someone else were sitting at your desk right now, what would they see?
A visitor to my office would see multiple attempts at organization, some of which are actually useful! I have several racks for folders and papers, and only I know what qualifies for which rack. I insist on colorful, fun folders. A couple of binders hold manuscripts in progress or research. I expect a visitor would be curious about the various notes I have taped up around my desk, some of which are information I refer to because I can’t remember otherwise, and some of which are inspiration, both to keep my writing on task and my heart in a settled place.

When you’re working on a project, how do you keep the immensity of it from getting you down?
Writing a book does seen scary! I break things down. I don’t set out to write a novel. Rather, I set out to complete the next task that may become a part of the novel. The task may be working out a knot in the plot, or writing the next scene, or beefing up research. I focus on doing the next thing that needs doing.

How do you choose between ideas you’d like to write about?
That’s a great question, because I always have more ideas than time to write about them. I’ve had fun with the Avenue of Dreams series, which begins with The Pursuit of Lucy Banning, because I discovered a place I did not know about. That surprise factor launched my imagination. I’m sure I’ll be looking for the same experience in the future and be eager to pass it on to readers.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Hiking Through

The winner of S. Dionne Moore's Promise Brides is Anne Payne! Congratulations, Anne!


Title: HIKING THROUGH
Author: Paul Stutzman
Publisher: Revell
March 2012
ISBN: 978-0-8007-2053-7
Genre: Inspirational/Memoir

Memoirs are not generally a genre I enjoy reading, but HIKING THROUGH caught my attention. I’ve always been fascinated by the Appalachian Trail and one of my sons have mentioned wanting to someday hike the trail, so I thought this book sounded interesting.

Paul Stutzman’s wife, Mary, died of breast cancer – a disease I was unfortunate enough to get and battle, but so far, with the Lord’s help, I’m in ‘remission’. A year after Mary’s death, Paul quit his job as a restaurant manager and took to the Appalachian Trail to work through his grief, and his sense of abandonment by God. He started in Georgia on a rainy day, at the trail head.

HIKING THROUGH is a recounting of Mr. Stutzman’s journey, spiritually, emotionally, and physically, and it is utterly fascinating. There were some things included that didn’t have much to do with the journey (did it matter that his parents left the Amish when he was three and became Mennonite?) but the information was interesting and did solve some curiosity I had about his last name. Most interesting to me, was the actual hike itself, and the experiences he had on the trip. Pictures are included which were great visuals.

HIKING THROUGH is a great book, one that my son requested to read (as soon as I get the review written), and one that will go on my keeper shelf when he finishes. Highly recommended. If you have any fascination about the Appalachian Trail, just happen to like memoirs, or have suffered the loss of a loved one to cancer and wonder how others got through the grief, then HIKING THROUGH is a book you’ll want to read. $13.99. 332 pages.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Snuggles' Japanese Alps Adventures

First of all, the winner of K. Dawn Byrd's giveaway was Deb Ragno! Congratulations to Deb!


Title: SNUGGLES’ JAPENESE ALPS ADVENTURES
Author and Master Photographer: Tim Ostermeyer
Publisher: Fun Adventure Wildlife Books
November 2011
ISBN: 978-0-9794228-7-4
Genre: Photography/Wildlife/Snow monkeys/childrens

Snuggles is a Snow monkey who is born in Japan. He enjoys being with his mother and his friends, and learning how to survive in the wild, and how to escape from bears. But soon it comes time when he must leave to go to the hot springs in the Japanese Alps.

Will Snuggles be able to plan ahead in to get to the hot springs before the bad storms arrive? What will he learn on the way?

SNUGGLES’ JAPANESE ALPS ADVENTURES is an adorable hard cover book with lots of beautiful photographs of snow monkeys and their nature habitat. Readers will learn a lot about snow monkeys and their annual migration to the hot springs, in addition to Bible verses that pertain to things mentioned in the book, and about how evolution beliefs have been proven wrong.

I read this book out loud to my seven year old, and then my ten year old took it and read it again, and both considered it a wonderful book and want to read the others in the series. This is a wonderful educational book for homeschoolers and Christian schools, and is a great book for your kids period. Highly recommended. 5 stars. $18.95. 45 pages.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Beyond Hope's Valley (and giveaway)

First, the winner of Tina Pinson's giveaway is Lynette Endicott. Congratulations, Lynette!


Title: BEYOND HOPE’S VALLEY
Author: Tricia Goyer
Publisher: Broadman & Holman
April 2012
ISBN: 978-1-5336-6870-8
Genre: Inspirational/Amish

Where does her heart belong?

Marianna Sommer returns to Shipshewana, Indiana, with her long-intended future husband, Aaron Zook, to help her brother Levi and his girlfriend prepare for a baby—and their wedding. She also needs to plan her own marriage to Aaron. But things are not as they seem. Levi is adamant the baby Naomi carries isn’t his, but he doesn’t know who the father is. And Aaron seems to have secrets, his personality becoming more like his disapproving mother’s.

Not to mention, Marianna isn’t entirely certain she’ll be able to forget the handsome English singer/songwriter who lived in a cabin in Montana, Ben. As Marianna struggles to find her footing in the stricter Amish community in Indiana, will she be able to give up past hurts and past loves and focus on the future? Or could the secrets that are carried by others impact Marianna’s decisions and where she truly belongs?

BEYOND HOPE’S VALLEY is the third and final book in Ms. Goyer’s A Big Sky series. Readers will want to read these books from start to finish, Along Wooded Paths, Beside Still Waters, and BEYOND HOPE’S VALLEY, as the stories all tie together.

The series wrapped up the way I wanted it to, in a way, which made me glad, but the story lacked the passion that Ms. Goyer has in her World War II novels. It is a very good Amish story, and very well told, and I enjoyed it much. BEYOND HOPE’S VALLEY is a sweet ending to this series. Some recipes are included at the end of the book. $14.99. 390 pages.

About the book:

Beyond Hope's Valley – Book Three in the Big Sky series

After an extended stay in Montana, where Amish traditions are different than in her home state, Marianna Sommer returns to Indiana for two reasons, first to help her brother and his girlfriend prepare for a baby and their wedding. Second, to plan her own wedding to Aaron Zook -- a marriage she’s been dreaming about ever since childhood. And yet, although she had missed the idyllic farms and families of her upbringing, Marianna is surprised that Indiana is somehow making her long now for Montana.

As months pass, secrets that were hidden in winter’s frozen grasp thaw and take on a life of their own. The truths about a child, about a past relationship, and about God’s plans are being revealed. Walking through a valley of questions, Marianna must hold on to hope as she decides where and with whom her heart truly belongs.



About Tricia: Tricia Goyer is the award winning author of thirty-two books including Beside Still Waters, Remembering You, and the mommy memoir, Blue Like Play Dough. Tricia is a regular speaker at conventions and conferences and is the host of Living Inspired. She and her family make their home in Little Rock, Arkansas where they are part of the ministry of FamilyLife.

More info: Living Inspired and www.triciagoyer.com.

Link to buy the book: http://ow.ly/azust

Blog tour schedule: http://litfusegroup.com/blogtours/13489586/bigskyamishbhv)

About the giveaway!

Tricia is hosting a Custom Amish Prize Pack Giveaway and an All Things Amish Author Chat Party!

Please help us spread the word about Tricia's fun promotion! A few ways to do that are:

1. Include this button on your blog sidebar:

Win a Custom Amish Prize Pack!

Enter Today - 5/2-5/20!

2. Include the giveaway & party info in your review post or on a separate day.

3. Share this on Facebook:

Beyond Hope's Valley, Book Three in Tricia Goyer's Big Sky series has arrived! Read the exciting conclusion to Marianna Sommer's story. Enter to win a CUSTOM AMISH PRIZE PACK in Tricia Goyer’s BEYOND HOPE'S VALLEY Giveaway! All the details here: http://litfusegroup.com/blogtours/13489586/bigskyamishbhv "The truths about a child, about a past relationship, and about God’s plans are being revealed. Walking through a valley of questions, Marianna must hold on to hope as she decides where and with whom her heart truly belongs." Pick up a copy today!


4. Share this on Twitter:

@Tricia Goyer's Beyond Hope's Valley "All Things #Amish" Giveaway! Enter today & RSVP 5/21 #Facebook Party! http://ow.ly/aEBIm @litfuse




Celebrate with Tricia and enter to win a custom-made Amish Wall hanging in the colors of your choice ... and much more!



One fortunate winner will receive:

Custom Amish Wall Hanging {You choose the colors!}
An Amish Doll {Sweet.}
Amish-made basket {It’s picnic season!}
Doilies, potholder and an Amish cookbook {All items form Bird-in-Hand, PA!}
Three book Big Sky Amish series {Be swept away by this captivating series.}
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on May 20th. Winner will be announced at "All Things Amish" Author Chat Facebook Party on 5/21. Tricia will be hosting an author chat (on Facebook and Live from her website) and giving away books, gift certificates and more!

So grab your copy of Beyond Hope's Valley and join Tricia on the evening of the May 21st for a fun chat, trivia contest (How much do you know about the Amish?) and lots of giveaways. (If you haven't read the book - don't let that stop you from coming!)


Don't miss a moment of the fun. RSVP today and tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 21st!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Why Can't He be More Like Me?


Title: WHY CAN’T HE BE MORE LIKE ME?
Author: Poppy Smith
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers
April 2012
ISBN: 978-0-7369-4333-8
Genre: Inspirational/marriage

When you marry, you imagine married life will be so different than it is. You envision long, leisurely walks through the mall, holding hands, while you shop and he helps you find that amazing outfit. But in reality, you shop—he goes gets it. Or maybe your dad did the cleaning and you imagine your husband will willingly scrub the kitchen floor and the shower. But he doesn’t even seem to notice when they need attention.

Maybe the man you married is no where near what you imagined your Prince Charming would be like, and you’re wondering if you made a terrible mistake. If so, then WHY CAN’T HE BE MORE LIKE ME? is the book you’ve been looking for.

Poppy Smith shares her own real-life courtship and experience with her husband, Jim, trying to merge different cultures, religions, and expectations in this humorous book. Also included are questions with space for your answer, asking your ideas about your relationship, what you expected, etc.

WHY CAN’T HE BE MORE LIKE ME? is the perfect book for a new married couple, or even one that’s been married awhile but are struggling in their relationship. This book will help you see things in a new light.

When my husband saw this book, he laughed, stating, “What, do women really expect their husbands to be their clones? Marriage is made to compliment. I’m strong in areas where you’re weak, and vice versa.” And he’s right. Married couples usually compliment each other in different areas. But sometimes it takes awhile for a woman to learn that—to let her unrealistic dreams of what marriage would be like. If you are newly married or wondering if you made a mistake in your marriage then pick up a copy of WHY CAN’T HE BE MORE LIKE ME?. It will offer practical tools to help you learn to accept and enjoy your mate, resulting in a stronger, happier marriage. $12.99. 215 pages.