Friday, October 20, 2017

Interview with Valerie Comer




Today we welcome Valerie Comer to my blog. Val, Tell us about your new book – a brief blurb:

Always a princess, never the queen.

As a runner-up in 27 competitions, Heather Francis tries to teach young contestants there’s more to pageants than winning, even though her mother never got that memo. It’s hard enough to focus and ignore the inner voice calling her a fraud without being attracted to Grizzly Gulch Resort’s brooding temporary chef.
Levi Esteban’s temp job as chef in Helena, Montana, and caregiver for his niece, Shelby, would be perfect if it weren’t for the Miss Snowflake Christmas festivities at the resort. Levi’s been against pageantry all his life and isn’t about to change his stance, regardless of his fascination with Shelby’s coach.

When Shelby’s parents’ trip is extended, Levi and Heather must join forces to care for her and pull off the pageant. Is there something better than a crown in their future?


Are any experiences in Better Than a Crown based on personal experiences? Did you draw upon any stories or movies for inspiration for the novel?

The only thing that came from my own life is the feeling of being a fraud. I think we all feel that way at times — I’m not sure I want to know if Heather and I are the only ones! Other than that character trait, this story came completely from my imagination. I’ve never entered a beauty pageant or coached contestants. I’ve never adopted from China. I’ve never been an award-winning chef. Most of the inspiration came from the situations set up in the previous two books in the series.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in Better Than a Crown?

I can’t think of anything, but if I could redo Other Than a Halo, the previous book in the series, I’d bring Heather, the new heroine, into the story a bit more. I didn’t give myself much to go on.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?

The hardest part was coming up with the story idea, which is unusual for me. Like I said, I didn’t have much of an idea for Better Than a Crown while I was writing Other Than a Halo. I had some concepts I needed to include: Heather was a pageantry coach, and the story was set at Grizzly Gulch Resort in Helena, Montana, with the Miss Snowflake Pageant as a backdrop. It was a Christmas story, and there needed to be children. But whom to pair Heather with and what their conflicts might be took longer to solidify. I’m delighted with the story God dropped into my lap!

Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

I’m a pantser, which is a seat-of-the-pants writer. This means I start writing with only a vague story idea. I know, I know… I’d much rather have an outline in some ways, but that’s not what works for my brain. What I learned (again) during the writing of Better Than a Crown was how much I need to depend on God for my daily inspiration. “I” might not have known where the story was going, but He did.

Did you have to travel much for research for Better Than a Crown?

My husband and I spent a couple of days in Helena, Montana, a couple of years ago before I wrote More Than a Tiara, the first book in the Christmas in Montana Romance series. I do like poking around the town where my stories are set to get a good feel for the setting!

What was it like coming back to the residents of Helena for the third novel in the series? Do you foresee any more stories for this family of characters?

Never say never! But Better Than a Crown is planned to be the final book set in Helena with pageantry themes. I do like to criss-cross my various series, though, so you never know when someone from Helena might show up somewhere else! Right now I don’t have any specific plans for that to happen.

Who was your favorite character in Better Than a Crown?

I really enjoyed writing Heather. Her parents had done a real number on her self-esteem with their focus on money and their definition of success. Watching her come to grips with her identity in Jesus was a thrilling experience for me.

Was there anything in Better Than a Crown that you did not enjoy writing about? 

No, not really. If it seems a scene is necessary to the story, I treat it as a process. Whether I ‘enjoy’ a particular dialogue or twist isn’t relevant, so long as it serves the story!

Share your bio and links for social media and to buy:

Valerie Comer’s life on a small farm in western Canada provides the seed for stories of contemporary Christian romance. Like many of her characters, Valerie grows much of her own food and is active in the local foods movement as well as her church. She only hopes her imaginary friends enjoy their happily-ever-afters as much as she does hers, shared with her husband, adult kids, and adorable granddaughters.

Valerie is a USA Today bestselling author and a two-time Word Award winner. She writes engaging characters, strong communities, and deep faith into her green clean romances.







Thursday, October 19, 2017

Interview with Ada Brownell

Today we welcome Ada Brownell to my blog. Ada, tell us about the book – a brief blurb:  If you are interested, it is 99 cents today only!

PEACH BLOSSOM RANCHER:
By Ada Brownell

To write this historical romance, the author drew from her experiences as a journalist covering the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo, a former asylum; and from working during her teens on a peach and horse ranch in Palisade, Colorado.

Although the fictional asylum is in Boston, the author says you wouldn’t believe the types of diagnoses that could get you committed in the early 1900s. She took the information from historical lists compiled by the Colorado Board of Lunacy Commissioners on the supposed cause of insanity of those held in 1899 to 1910, when asylums were young. Many of those conditions are revealed in the novel.

The leading man, rancher John Lincoln Parks, yearns for a wife to help rebuild the ranch he inherited. He eyes Valerie MacDougal, a young widow who homesteaded, but she also is an attorney who hopes to help those wrongly held in the asylum. One of those she hopes to help is a doctor who had one seizure.

Will the doctor ever be set free from the asylum? Will John marry Valerie or Edwina Jorgenson, the feisty rancher-neighbor he constantly fusses with? This neighbor has a Peeping Tom whose boot prints are like the person’s who dumped a body in John’s barn. Will John even marry, or be hanged for the murder?

20 Reviews
Get e-book or paperback on Amazon now at http://ow.ly/4ETL302QdhW

Ada's publisher is offering a “Count Down Deal.” It starts at 99 cents on the 19 at 8 a.m. PST and ends at $3.99 on the 24 @ 8 a.m. PST. It’s 99 cents up to the end time. or to make it simple it is .99 for the 19th (today) only.


Are any experiences in Peach Blossom Rancher based on personal experiences? Did you draw upon any stories or movies for inspiration for the novel?

The first book in the Peaches and Dreams series, The Lady Fugitive was based on things I’d heard about my maternal grandma and grandpa. Some of the same characters appear in Peach Blossom Rancher, but they weren’t among close kin. Yet I let things happen to my characters, some humorous, that happened to me or somebody in the family. For instance when the pig sucks Edwina’s dress, that happened to me when I worked on my aunt’s peach ranch. I had about the same reaction to the sow as Edwina.


If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in Peach Blossom Rancher?

I don’t think so. I loved how some of the characters budged their way into the story, and I loved Polly’s joy, love, spunk and commitment to the Lord. I loved young Stu’s mischief although he was a pain in the neck sometimes to John, the rancher. Polly and Stu are in The Lady Fugitive, but their personalities sure blossomed in the second book. They’re also in the third.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?

Writing was pure fun, but editing and the time line made me even sweat at night. Considering I wrote most of it in five weeks there were kinks I needed to jerk out, but my editors helped. When I have an editor I want criticism and advice on what I need to do to improve my work.

Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it? 

Changing from non-fiction to fiction I needed active tense and showing instead of telling to emerge everywhere in my writing. I grew in other abilities as well. You don’t write 100,000 words without learning a few things.

Did you have to travel much for research for Peach Blossom Rancher? 

I normally do some research no matter what I’m writing., I lived, experienced, and picked brains long before this book came into being --such as what it’s like to work on a horse/peach ranch and for the sub-plot, insanity and institutions for the mentally ill. Nope. I wasn’t a mental patient, although I did spend one night in a new Colorado mental hospital for prisoners. Before they brought the prisoners in, the state invited journalists, politicians, attorneys, etc. to spend the night there. Not pleasant even though I think the inmates that night were sane!  

In the Peaches and Dreams series, what was it like coming back to certain characters for the second novel in the series? Do you forsee any more stories for this family of characters? 

I loved bringing John, the twin brother of Jennifer Parks, the leading character of The Lady Fugitive, and Valerie MacDougal together romantically in Peach Blossom Rancher. John was best man at Jennifer’s wedding and Valerie was matron of honor. Valerie, an attorney, signed over her homestead with the fire-damaged home in which her first husband died, to Jennifer when she was running from her uncle. She had a cow, chickens, an ornery goat and a cellar full of food—plus a trunk full of clothing and things. But when I started the book, I knew Roberta Bellea, a neighbor’s maid who had no family and was compromised by her employer’s son, would appear in the second book. She’s barely mentioned in The Lady Fugitive, but in Peach Blossom Rancher John and Abe find her in John’s barn loft about to give birth. Roberta Bellea is among the main cast of characters in Peach Blossom Rancher.

Who was your favorite character in Peach Blossom Rancher?

I love them all, and even have a little affection for one of the villains.

Was there anything in Peach Blossom Rancher that you did not enjoy writing about?

I had a lot of sympathy for Edwina, the neighbor rancher who thinks she’s in love with John. I didn’t enjoy the search for the murderer either, and allowing one great character to die was most difficult. My editor had a fit over that and we grieved together.


MEET ADA BROWNELL
When Ada Brownell sat down to write The Peach Blossom Rancher, the sequel to The Lady Fugitive and book two in The Peaches and Dreams series, she drew from her experience growing up in Colorado’s Peach Country near Grand Junction, picking peaches and working in a packing shed.
 In addition, she uses some of what she learned as a journalist on her beat covering a mental hospital, a former asylum, for The Pueblo Chieftain
Ada Brownell blogs and writes with Stick-to-Your-Soul Encouragement. She is the author of six other books, and more than 350 stories and articles in Christian publications. She now lives in Missouri, a beautiful state except for tornadoes and chiggers..

The Peach Blossom Rancher Is available
Amazon Ada Brownell author page: https://www.amazon.com/author/adabrownell
Twitter: @AdaBrownell
Barnesandnoble.com http://ow.ly/PUWHO
Book Fun Network  http://www.bookfun.org






Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Taken Hostage

  • Series: Love Inspired Suspense
  • Mass Market Paperback: 224 pages
  • paperback, ebook
  • Publisher: Love Inspired Suspense 
  • September 5, 2017
  • ISBN-13: 978-0373457328

A DEADLY RANSOM

When neurosurgeon Regan Lockhart’s daughter is kidnapped, the abductors want to make a deal for the little girl’s life. If she wishes to ever see her child again, Regan must hand over the virus she uses in a radical cancer treatment. But bounty hunter Colby Waterson can’t let her trade the cure, which is his sister’s last hope. He’s already lost a wife and baby, and he won’t lose anyone else. But when a mistake leads both him and Regan into the hands of the bad guys, the kidnappers up their demands. Now Regan must create a biological weapon or her daughter dies. For Colby, no case has ever been this personal. He’ll need every skill he’s got, because only he can save both his sister and the woman he’s growing to care for.

My thoughts: TAKEN HOSTAGE is a rather scary suspense involving Bio-terrorism. Dr. Regan Lockhart has developed a vaccine that might cure certain kinds of cancer but she is  sucked into a scary nightmare when she is attacked on a busy commute to the hospital early one morning. Her daughter is kidnapped, her nanny is murdered, and terrorists are insisting she develop a virus that will kill mass amounts of people or she'll never see her daughter alive again. 

No dead bodies are found by hero or heroine if you are the screamish sort, there is a bit of realism suspended with a bank scene, but otherwise I was at the edge of my seat. What would Regan do?  Will Colby be able to rescue her? Will she be able to save his sister's life? Will the terrorists win?  

You'll have to read this page-turner to find out. 

I was given a copy free. All opinions are my own. 

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Dangerous Illusions

  • Series: Code of Honor #1
  • ebook, audio, hardcover, paperback
  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Revell 
  • October 3, 2017
  • ISBN-13: 978-0800727673

Trish Bailey is on overload trying to deal with a demanding job, an ailing mother, and a healing heart. When a series of unsettling memory lapses leads to a tragic death--and puts Trish under police scrutiny--her world is once again thrown into turmoil.

Detective Colin Flynn isn't certain what to think of the facts he uncovers during his investigation. Did Trish simply make a terrible mistake or is there more to the case than meets the eye? As he searches for answers, disturbing information begins to emerge--and if the forces at work are as evil as he suspects, the situation isn't just dangerous . . . it's deadly.

Bestselling and award-winning author Irene Hannon captures readers with a mind-bending story that will have them doubling back to retrace their steps--and figure out what they missed!

My thoughts: DANGEROUS ILLUSIONS is a page-turner by Ms. Hannon. I started this book Sunday afternoon and by bedtime I was almost done!  I was right  in the middle of the ending, so I had to stay up another hour to finish so I could reach the HEA. 

I felt for Trish, as the caregiver for my mom after her stroke, I can't imagine the guilt I'd feel if  I was accused of deliberately overdosing her. I was glad when other suspicious things happen and the detectives on the case take it seriously and start looking different directions. 

When two cases merge into one, and then more surprises happen, and a third case appears, it is a race against time and Trish's life is in danger. 

Filled with intrigue, suspense, romance, and questions with no easy answers, this is a book to keep reading from start to finish.  Ms. Hannon is one of my favorite romantic suspense authors and this book is a perfect example of why. 

Even though we KNOW who the bad guy is, plenty of questions are left to be answered. And Ms. Hannon has unexpected twists thrown in. 

I was given a copy free. All opinions are my own. 

Monday, October 16, 2017

Lemon Tart Mystery

  • Series: Amish Sweet Shop Mystery #3
  • Author: Naomi Miller 
  • Paperback: 216 pages
  • Publisher: S&G Publishing; First edition 
  • July 30, 2017
  • ISBN-13: 978-0998169217

In the small town of Abbott Creek, mystery is as much a part of daily life as The Sweet Shop's sugar cookies. With the upheaval of spring comes a whole new batch of arguments and upsets. Amelia Simpkins may be a great cook, and have a head for business, but sweet treats are out of her league and the owner of the Irish Blessings Cafe says it's because she adds the tart to the Sweet Shop's new dessert that Katie Chupp insists is only filled with lemony goodness.

 The two shop owners' constant bickering sends sparks flying through Abbott Creek's usual calm... and this is one mystery Katie wants no part of, but working for Mrs. Simpkins may put her in the middle - whether she intends to take sides . . . or not.

 And, when the Yoder and Davis families collide on some rather sensitive issues, bringing things to light that two certain young people would rather keep hidden away, Travis may have to face up to the truth about his feelings for a certain young woman--and all that goes along with those feelings. 

Book 3 of the Sweet Shop Mysteries series And watch for book 4 - Pumpkin Pie Mystery - COMING SOON!

My thoughts:  LEMON TART MYSTERY is the third book in Ms. Miller's Sweet Shop Mysteries series, and fans will want to read the first two, Blueberry Cupcake Mystery and Christmas Cookie Mystery. These books are light on the mystery (for those who don't like their reading material sprinkled with dead bodies) and heavy on the sweetness and the  humor.  This book has a few lemony recipes included and one orange one, so if you like citrus-flavored treats, this is your book. 

I enjoyed reading this book, and spending more time with Katie and her friends and watch as the community continues to reach out to the Davis family.  If you like Amish stories, this book is a sweet escape no matter what age you are. I'm looking forward to reading the next book--coming soon. 

I was given a copy of this book free. All opinions are my own. 


Sunday, October 15, 2017

Christmas Cookie Mystery

CHRISTMAS COOKIE MYSTERY
Amish Sweet Shop Mysteries #2
Naomi Miller
November 14, 2016
paperback or ebook
  • Paperback: 190 pages
  • Publisher: S&G Publishing; 1 edition 
  • ISBN-13: 978-0998169200

In the small town of Abbott Creek, mysteries are as much a part of daily life as Katie Chupp's Christmas cookies.It's the most wonderful time of the year. With a winter chill settling in and Christmas right around the corner, no one would expect a mystery, but a mystery does indeed appear...Katie Chupp is spending her days catering to the holiday rush, but she soon finds herself in the midst of a secret project that attracts more attention than she wants.And when one local family finds a very unexpected surprise at their door, this is one mystery that may never be solved... even by Katie.

Book 2 of the Amish Sweet Shop Mystery series

My thoughts: CHRISTMAS COOKIE MYSTERY is the second book in Ms. Millers Amish Sweet Shop Mystery series and fans will want to read Blueberry Cupcake  Mystery even though this book sort of stands alone. There is a continuing story linking the two books together. 

There is a slight mystery (with no dead bodies, if you are screamish), a tiny bit of oh-no-what-will-happen-next, plenty of delicious sounding cookie recipes you'll surely want to make for Christmas, well mixed with a lot of holiday happiness and a fledgling romance.  Not a single drop of bah-humbug included. 

A light-hearted, quick read that will help you escape from the stresses and drama of day-to-day life. Fans of Amish fiction (of any age) will love this book. Grab your copy now. 

I was given a copy free. All opinions are my own. 

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Indescribable: 100 Devotions about God & Science

  • Age Range: 6 - 10 years
  • Grade Level: 1 - 5
  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson 
  • October 10, 2017
  • ISBN-13: 978-0718086107

Discover the Wonders of the Universe with the Creator
It’s impossible to out-imagine God. He orchestrates time, creates light, and speaks things into existence—from the largest stars to the smallest starfish. God is a powerful, purposeful, personal, unparalleled Creator.
Psalm 19:1 says, “The heavens tell the glory of God. And the skies announce what his hands have made.”
Indescribable displays the majesty of creation with scientific findings, photography, and original illustrations. These 100 devotions encourage awe at God’s creativity with an in-depth look at

• Space, Galaxies, Planets, and Stars
• Earth, Geology, Oceans, and Weather
• Animals—from Hummingbirds to Dinosaurs
• Our Minds, Bodies, and Imaginations

Each devotion features a Be Amazed” section with fascinating facts, hands-on activities, and a closing prayer. Based on Louie Giglio’s popular messages “Indescribable” and “How Great Is Our God,” Indescribable: 100 Devotions About God & Science will help kids discover the incredible creation of our indescribable God.

My thoughts: INDESCRIBABLE: 100 DEVOTIONS ABOUT GOD & SCIENCE is seriously the coolest devotional I've seen yet for kids.  I am a parent and I love it.

I discovered Louie Giglio several years back when I watched a DVD with the same title: INDESCRIBABLE. And I never forgot it. In fact, I bought it for our own personal library. Mr. Giglio loves God and loves science and he is a pastor of a church and wow. Any way, when I was offered the chance to review this book, yes,  I jumped.

As mentioned above, the science topics range from space to earth, to animals to us, and it is all tied in with God and Scripture.  My two daughters (both older than the targeted ages) are as in love with this as I am. And if you tied it in with the internet, looking up references, google images, and Wikipedia you can use this devotional as a faith-filled curriculum for science. 

I would totally recommend this devotional for families, homeschoolers, Christian schools and more. Would make a great gift for your favorite elementary age child.

I was given a free copy. All opinions are my own.