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Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Christmas Celebration

For the next week I'm featuring our Christmas novella, Riverwalk Christmas. Grab a cup of coffee, tea or hot chocolate and join us for some of our thoughts about Christmas. At the end you'll find a question for you to answer and comment. The prize for this week will be a special Christmas "Box" filled with Christmas goodies including books and a special Christmas Angel Teddy Bear.

Blurb for A Riverwalk Christmas
A vivid setting, rich in cultural history, Christmastime along the San Antonio Riverwalk is a delightful setting for four modern romances. Ecko finally meets the right kind of guy, but can he trust her motives? Valerie hires an old flame to revive her business, but will he stick around? Gabriela has a chance to forgive and find love, but can she? Sienna's job brings her the chance of a lifetime, but will her rowdy family spoil it?


Now some answers about their own Christmases from the authors.
What is your favorite Christmas memory?

Martha:
My best Christmas memory is bringing home our pre-mature son for Christmas. He only weighed 41/2 pounds, but he was the most precious gift for us.

Lynette:
It is hard to choose one 'best' Christmas memory, because there are so many that come to mind. But I do remember one Christmas in particular, Christmas of 1993. It was my first Christmas that I ever spent away from my family, and I'd driven with a friend to Illinois to visit her family for Christmas. Her parents pulled me right in and included me in their traditions as if I were another daughter. Then when we left church that evening, it had started to snow. On Christmas morning when I woke up and looked out the window, it was truly a White Christmas. I gasped like a little kid when I saw snow covering the trees, everything. I felt like it was a special gift, just for me from God that year.



Kathleen:
Two years ago, my eldest son was in London attending grad school and not expected to return home for the holidays. Imagine my shock when, on Christmas night, he walked into my mother's kitchen and surprised me! The following year - last year - my kids arranged for a trip to London for me to visit Josh, another HUGE surprise. These two are tied for first place in Christmas memories in recent years.



What is your Dream Gift for this Christmas?

Martha
My dream gift is to have all our children here at one time including all our grandchildren and great-grandson.
 
Lynette:
I would love to have a 3G Kindle
Kathleen:

That all my children will be in the same room at the same time at some point during the holiday. I think it's doable, but we've yet to figure out how.

What is your favorite Christmas traditon?
Martha:
One of our favorite holiday traditions is our New Year’s Eve open house. Our youngest son was born on December 31 and we always celebrated his birthday with a party for him. When he was older, we’d go out to an early dinner with him then he’d go out with friends and we started having friends over for that evening and have been doing that for over twenty years. We’re already making plans for this year.

Lynette:
We have an "open house" on Christmas Eve, immediately after the service is over. We love to cook and bake lots of goodies, sweet and savory, but one family really doesn't need to eat that much food. So it was natural to invite our friends to stop by for a few minutes, say hello and celebrate, and then go on their merry way. This is our 15th year.

Kathleen:
I'm a newlywed, so I'm looking forward to making new holiday traditions that will include our blended families. Suggestions are welcome.
What does the gift of Jesus mean in your life?
Martha:
Without the gift of Jesus, I wouldn't be who I am today. I wouldn't be married to a wonderful Christian man or have the family I have. I wouldn't have the joy of knowing Him as my personal Lord and Savior. He is everything to me and without Him, I am nothing.

Lynette:
It's hard to be brief, but looking back over the Christmases of my life, I am thankful that the one constant I've had is Christ. Even when I wasn't making very good choices or acknowledging Him, He was still there with mercy and love. Life brings such joy, but it can also blindside us with those painful curveballs. In spite of that, Christ has been there no matter what, more than any friend or family member could be. I can't say enough what that means to me, and I wish everyone could understand and know that for themselves. Kathleen:


Jesus is the reason for the season. The saying is oft repeated but really gets to the core of the greatest gift. Without God, I would have nothing to offer. Thus, I cling to His gift and pray I never take Him - or it - for granted.
Now what is a tradition your family has at Christmas?
Tell us about it and be in the drawing for our special Christmas Box filled with goodies for Christmas.
Sorry, but we have to limit this to the United States. Blessings, and we hope to hear from a lot of you.


 

Monday, November 15, 2010

No Other Review

In No Other, Shawna Williams has given us a love story that will tug at your heart and bring a tear to the eye. Jakob and Meri are teacher and student, but because of circumstances created by the war, Jakob is just now completing his schooling so he and Meri are near the same age. Jakob is dealing with the injustices inflicted on his family because they are German, and Meri is struggling to gain independence from her parents. The two are drawn together as they work on a drama Meri is putting together for a school production.  Meri knows nothing about the faith in God Jakob expresses and isn’t truly interested in finding out. The growth of their love and the circumstances around it lead to events neither anticipated and points out the fact that even a strong faith can lapse in a moment of weakness. A wonderful cast of secondary characters gives this story life and meaning that goes beyond our expectations.  



Shawna's Journey to E-publishing

The journey to publication is a winding, long path, unique to each author and different for every book. I guess I'm a bit fanciful in my pondering, but I like to imagine a book's journey, and ultimate destination, is something guided from above; tailor made for the story being told, and in essence, part of the book's story itself.


If you've read some of my previous guest posts, you may be aware that my debut novel, No Other, and my newest release, In All Things (No Other's sequel) were originally inspired by a dream. Before that dream I hadn't intended to be a writer. The dream was a unique story that became somewhat of an obsession, turned compulsion (to write), and then transformed into a deeply seeded passion. That's the short version, anyway.

Before I continue, I have a confession to make. Though my story, which became stories over time, was Christian fiction, before seeking publication I didn't read Christian fiction. I read mostly non-fiction, primarily historical, and several favorite secular authors – Tom Clancy and Tess Gerritsen to name a few. Beth Moore and Max Lucado were the two Christian authors that I read on a regular basis. Still, I knew I wanted to write Christian fiction. I had this story to tell!

While studying and researching, learning what it took to get published in the CBA, I came to understand that I was faced with a dilemma: shelf these books and write something else, or rewrite them (again) to exclude certain topics. I knew the second choice was something I couldn't do. For one, without those topics there wasn't much of a story. Second, I honestly felt that to have attempted it would have been disobedience on my part. I truly believe that the stories God gave me were a gift. They had a message and they served a purpose. I wanted that to be my reason for writing, not writing to get published. Though, I reminded God often that the published part would be nice too.

So that left me with option number one, which was okay if that's what God intended. Actually, I looked at it like this; if it was what He intended then I could go ahead and submit while working on another story (which comes out in December, btw).

From the moment I started looking into publishers something about a small press appealed to me. It may simply be that my husband and I have always been small business owners, and there is a joy in it that's hard to describe. I compiled a list of presses and agents that I wanted to query and decided to give agents who accepted email queries a try first. I sent my submission to eighteen of them. Sixteen rejected me based on the query, but I did get a couple of nice, encouraging letters in response, so it wasn't all bad. I had two agents ask for a partial and a synopsis.

The idea of an agent reading the synopsis freaked me out a bit because a synopsis is dry, and she'd read that there was a pregnancy out-of-wedlock and a student/teacher affair. While she'd know the setup, she wouldn't know the emotional complexity involved, and that neither of those things were glossed over or excused in any way.

I remember sealing the envelope for the first agent who asked to see a partial and having this distinct mental image of her eyes bulging from her head as she read the synopsis. She rejected the book. The second agent who asked to see a partial had my query for almost six months, so I had already signed a contract with Desert Breeze at that point.

While waiting to hear from agents I starting looking at the small presses on my list. There were several that held a strong appeal to me, but they were closed for submissions. I became aware of Desert Breeze through Michelle Sutton, who had a book about to release with them. What I liked was that this press was looking for Christian stories that tackled some of life's issues that a number of other Christian presses did not, as stated within their guidelines. That sounded a lot like my book. I have another small confession, though. When I initially submitted I did not realize that they were only publishing in electronic form. Not sure how that escaped me, but it did.

And I am SO glad!

I discovered this oversight several days later, and I won't lie, I debated withdrawing my submission. I really wanted my book in print. But... what was the harm in seeing what happened. My husband agreed. I used this waiting time to read a few books published by DB, learn about e-publishing, chat with DB authors through their loop, email a few to ask more personal questions, and Google the rest of them. It seemed that DB's owners were putting together a promising company.

When Gail offered me a contract I was still nervous. I prayed every day until the contract arrived, "God, if this is a bad idea please tell me because otherwise I'm going to sign it." The more I prayed, though, the more at peace I felt. By the time I'd signed I was so excited that I couldn't tell anyone about it without jumping up and down and squealing like a five year old girl.

It's been fifteen months since signing the initial contract and a lot has happened. Desert Breeze is continuing to grow. Digital publishing is taking the industry by storm. While I'd still like to see my books in print, the need isn't there. Every major book chain has an e-book division – the most recent being Christianbooks.com (DB has a contract with them). A number of new e-readers have hit the market and prices continue to plummet. One year ago a Kindle 2 was $300, now the Kindle 3 is $139. Point being, it's getting easier and cheaper to read an ebook in a convenient, comfortable fashion. My books are able to be shared. As of next month, I'll have three of them out there.

Thanks for the insight into e-publishing. I have a Kindle and really enjoy reading on it.
To read the blurb and a short excerpt, follow the links.
No Other, May, 2010
http://stores.desertbreezepublishing.com/-strse-86/No-Other/Detail.bok
In All Things, Nov, 2010
http://stores.desertbreezepublishing.com/-strse-118/Shawna-Williams-In-All/Detail.bok
Orphaned Hearts, Dec, 2010
http://stores.desertbreezepublishing.com/-strse-125/Shawna-Williams-Orphaned-Hearts/Detail.bok
Contact Shawna atshawnawilliams@allegiance.tv

Leave a comment below and be in the drawing for a pdf. file copy of this book as well as a locket that ties in with both books, but we can mail only to United States. Thanks for stopping by

Monday, November 08, 2010

The Perfect Blend

      In The Perfect Blend, Trish Perry gives us a “perfect blend” of characters who keep you reading just to see what will happen next. Steph Vandergriff is a mess. She’s been jilted at the altar by Rick Manfred who has disappeared, she’s in a strange town, and she’s cut off all ties with her family and friends back home who warned her about her fiancé in the first place. As she sits on the steps of the building where her intended’s law office is, she cannot stop crying. Enter dear Millicent, owner of the tearoom across the street. She takes Steph in and ends up offering her a temporary job to replace a girl on vacation. After a few mishaps, Steph loves the work and Millie. In addition she makes friends with Christie and Liz who offer her a place to live. The problem is that Steph needs a permanent job so she can stay in Middleburg. Kendall James, the handsome owner of the inn where she’s staying, offers to help her find a job, but Steph’s clumsiness and distraction get her into trouble with each attempt. In the meantime she’s attracted to Kendall who is interested in more than finding Steph a job.  Just when their relationship seems to be blossoming, Runaway Rick returns, and Steph has some decisions to make. Can she stand on her own two feet and make her own decisions for her future? Interesting secondary characters, a beautiful historic town, new friends, and a few surprises make this a delightful book for reading curled up in your favorite chair with your own cup of tea.

Now hear from Trish and the story behind the story and the series.


It’s been such a thrill to start this new series! My dear editor at Harvest House asked me to consider a series centered on a cozy tea house, and I jumped at the idea. Although Milly Ashford Jewell, the shop owner, is about my own age, she’s quite a bit like my British mother—sharp, sweet, and interested in people and their happiness. The characters and stories in The Tea Shop Series are set in one of my favorite places ever. Middleburg , Virginia retains much of its historic flavor, with its old stone houses, elegant estates, rural farms, and small-town friendliness. I hope readers will be inclined to do exactly as you suggest, Martha—get comfy with a cup of tea and enjoy the read!

Love the tea room idea. Now if you'd like a copy of this delightful book, tell us what your favorite beverage is when you're writing or reading a good book. We'll put your name in and announce the winner on November 12.



Friday, November 05, 2010

Hatteras Girl Review

Hatteras Girl is a fun story of  friendship, love, and family. It’s a great book to take along when you know you’ll have time to read. It’s relaxing and as fun as a day on the beach. As Jackie Donavan approaches her thirtieth birthday, she has two dreams. One is to find a man to marry and second to own the Bailey House, a now closed bed and breakfast inn where she and her friend Minnie spent delightful afternoons as young girls. The book is full of fun, quirky characters you learn to love. Everyone from her Aunt Sheerly to Uncle Ropey and good friend Buck has Jackie’s best interests at heart, but their efforts don’t always go as planned. Then Davis enters the picture and Jackie sees him as Mr. Right and he holds the key to the Bailey House since he’s the grandson of the Baileys.  Just when she thinks her dreams are coming true, life gets a little weird. Davis offers to lease the inn to Jackie, but doesn’t tell her all the problems to be found in the old house.  The more she learns about Davis, the more she begins to mistrust him. When an old friend offers to help restore the inn, more bad news comes to light and Jackie has some decisions to make. Written from Jackie’s point of view, Alice Wisler gives us a most unusual love story with a few twists and turns that will keep you reading to find out how it all comes together. Read below about Alice Wisler and writing about the Outer Banks of North Carolina. She's a true "Hatteras Girl."
  
The setting for Hatteras Girl is the Outer Banks
because that's a charming place ---good for flying
kites, swimming, eating seafood, and letting the
wind blow your hair. While I enjoy many of
North Carolina's coasts, there is none
quite like the remote region of Hatteras. I
hold fond memories of the area. It's where I
learned to kayak (I let my characters kayak
on the Sound, too). There's talk of Blackbeard's
legend and treasure, fishing, and the most
beautiful lighthouse in the whole
world, Cape Hatteras. Kites fly best in Hatteras
(I flew one for hours one March) and you can't beat
 the dessert treats at the Orange Blossom Cafe and
Bakery in Buxton. The area is one of God's finest creations, but let
me be the first to bail out when a hurricane starts to come through!
I have always wanted to own a bed and breakfast,but am too lazy
to do so. I let my character Jackie be the one to take on the task in
Hatteras Girl, allowing the dream of ownership drive her to do the
hard work involved. I'll merely come and visit the famous Bailey
House and enjoy the lemon cookies (recipe in the back of the novel)
and breakfasts while I view the sandpipers on the Sound.

Thanks for including the recipe. I wanted some of those cookies several times during the book. Hope to make some soon.

Leave a comment and tell us your favorite place to relax for vacation and you might be the lucky winner of Alice's book. Drawing will be on Monday, November 8.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A Real Page Turner: Mirrored Image

2010 ACFW Carol Award winning author, Alice K. Arenz, author of October 2010 suspense Mirrored Image, has been writing since she was a child. Her earliest publication was in the small, family-owned newspaper where her articles, essays, and poems were frequently included. In the mid-nineties, her writing earned her a stint with a well-known New York literary agency, and although it failed to produced the hoped for results, her determination to become published eventually led her to Sheaf House.
Arenz also writes cozy mysteries under A.K. Arenz. The Case of the Bouncing Grandma, was a finalist in the 2009 American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year contest. The second in the Bouncing Grandma Mystery Series, The Case of the Mystified M.D., won the 2010 ACFW Carol Award for mystery.
She lives in Missouri with her husband and two Himalayan cats.
Read the interview with Alice below and leave a comment and answer the question at the end for an opportunity to win a copy of this book.


Interview questions for Alice K. Arenz who recently won the Carol Award in the mystery/suspense category with The Case of the Mystified M.D. at the ACFW Conference in Indianapolis.

1. I think you told me that you’d written this story a while ago, but had never found much interest in it. Did you do revisions to update it and how much revision was required?

You’re right. I originally wrote Mirrored Image in 1986 – the year the story is set in. That year, I’d submitted it to a small press called Cliffhanger Press. I started with the requisite three chapters, and they kept asking for more. I thought I’d finally made it. In the end, they decided that the story was “too big” for them and suggested I get an agent and try submitting it to a bigger house. Whenever I’d get down in the old days, I’d pull out those old postcards and notes and remember what it felt like to be on the cusp of something big.

The story of Cassie and McMichaels just wouldn’t leave me alone. It’s been re-written almost every year since then – with my oldest daughter, Kelly, by my side editing. We’re both incredibly pleased with the way the story evolved. And having this finally in book form, is a dream come true!

2. Hmm, I have a manuscript like that. Maybe I’ll dust it off. I’m curious, this is so different from your two recent mysteries, so how did you come up with this story idea in the first place?
Stories like Mirrored Image are what I’d always written – until God gave me Glory Harper and the Bouncing Grandma Mysteries. I love the fun and complete honesty of Glory’s character. She’s a perfect foil to someone like Cassie – or maybe she’s more like what Cassie might be when she’s thirty years older. Um . . . I hadn’t thought about that.
As for how I came up with the story of MI, I’ve no idea how to explain it – for me, it always happens the same. Something, I like to think it’s God or the Holy Spirit, plants this little seed. Sometimes it’s the setting, sometimes it’s a person – I never know what it might be. And, just like a seed, it sort of sits in my head and germinates until the people are yelling to get out – or God says it’s time to get back in front of a keyboard. Since I’m a total seat-of-the-pants writer, I literally never know what or how something will happen.

3. Oh, how I can identify with that! That’s what makes writing fun. How much research was necessary for the story to come together?
Because it’s set in the year I wrote it, it’s pretty much what I already knew. I did, however, look up several things to do with the Vietnam war to make sure that plot point was plausible.

4. Did any surprises or unexpected developments come up while you were revising?
As the years passed, I think I started seeing things a bit clearer – not just the characters, but what they were living through. One of the subplots, which was added in the mid 90s actually happened in a small town near where I used to live. The only hint I’ll give you is that it’s kinda out there, on a different plane.

5. Now you’ve aroused my curiosity.  What was the most difficult thing about writing the story of these two women?
As Lynette’s story unfolds, and Cassie sees behind the façade, it made me realize how so many of us tend to live the same way – showing different faces, changing our attitudes at times just to be accepted. It was a very sad realization.

6. Great observation. The need to be loved and accepted creeps into all of us at one time or another. What advice would you give to those desiring to write suspense?
READ IT! If you don’t read suspense, aren’t even sure if you like it, don’t write it.
And when you read, don’t just choose books by today’s mystery/suspense authors. Take a look at people like Phyllis A. Whitney, who was once considered the Queen of Suspense – and they were CLEAN, too! – but also look at Mary Stewart, Daphne du Maurier – remember it was her REBECCA that introduced the world to the idea of romantic suspense. There are so many fine, talented authors out there, both from today and yesterday that you have a wide choice of reading/studying material.

7. I love Phiyllis Whitney and Rebecca was a favorite, but I think I’ll stick to reading suspense. It’s my favorite genre, but I don’t think I’d write it. I’ll leave it to you and others. What was your favorite thing about writing Mirrored Image?
It was always that one day, somehow, God would show me where it needed to go to end up being a book. That’s why I kept on re-writing it – I believed Him.

8. How long have you been writing?
I wrote my first “novel” when I was twelve – The Adventures of Christopher and Christina – long lost. I got seriously into trying to figure out the world of agents, editors and publishers in the mid to late 70s. That was a long time ago.

9. I have to laugh at that one. I waited until the 90s to do that and began to think I’d waited too long. Any words of wisdom for new writers?
If this is where you feel God is leading you, what you feel deep in your soul this is what He wants you to do with your life, then study hard, read A LOT, go to classes at local colleges, take the ACFW free courses, attend conferences, work hard, and Never, Ever, give up.

10. Where may our readers find out more about you and your books?
My web site is www.akawriter.com and if you want a bit more in-depth interviews, Dianne Burnett of Christian Book.com just interviewed me - http://www.christianbook.com/

Thanks for having me on your blog, Martha!
You’re welcome, Alice. It’s been a pleasure having you. Now if you readers would like a copy of this book, leave a comment and answer this question.


“I like reading suspense novels because….” Your name will then go into the drawing for a free, autographed copy of this book.

Monday, October 04, 2010

A Christmas Fantasy

Donita Paul has given us the most beautiful gift for the Christmas season in her new novella, Two Tickets to the Christmas Ball. It’s a delightful romantic fantasy with quirky characters who will capture your heart and keep you turning the pages. Cora Crowder wants to learn how to really celebrate Christmas and from the first moment she steps into the book store and meets William Wizbotterbad and his grandson, Will Wizbotterdad, be prepared to for unexpected, fun and whimsical events. When her boss, Simon Derrick, comes on the scene, a chain of events begins that carries them both on a journey to a true Christmas and true love. Along the way you’ll meet Simon’s unusual family including his sweet sister, Sandy as well as Bonnie and Betty Booterbaw. Ah, yes, this is story is so much fun, you just might have to read it again to find the things you might have missed the first time around.


Donita, how did you come up with the idea for this story and how long did it take to write it?

This novella only took about six weeks to write. I usually take a year! But it is about half the length of one of my fantasy novels and set in contemporary times. It didn't involve metaphors and allegorical symbolism. And truthfully, it was like a busman's holiday. I wrote it to relax.

I never exactly know where my ideas come from. But this time I know I had the image in my head of a scene from "Shop Around the Corner," an old movie starring Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullivan. From that point sprang an old-fashioned, sweet romance.

I remember that movie and loved it. Thank you for sharing with us. If you’d like a copy of this book, leave a comment and your name will be drawn.

(I received a free copy of this book for review.)

Can't you see the impishness in Donita's eyes? Her books are as delightful as she is. Check out her website. http://www.donitakpaul.com/

Saturday, October 02, 2010

A Suitor for Jenny

In  A Suitor for Jenny, Margaret Brownley takes us back to Rocky Creek, Texas where Jenny Higgins arrives with her two younger sisters, Mary Lou and Brenda. Determined to find husbands for them, she posts notices around town and relies on one Miss Abigail Jenkins and her manual for attracting and procuring a husband. However, while Jenny scouts around and interviews prospects, her sisters manage to find their own beaus. Frustrated and losing control, Jenny is at her wits end and on top of that, the handsome Marshal Rhett Armstrong is needling his way into her own heart, and she doesn’t like it. Her sisters are rebelling, Jenny’s losing control, and God has plans for them all. How this all works itself out makes for a delightful story with memorable characters who will make you laugh and forget your troubles for a spell.  

Read further for Margaret's Interview and leave a comment to win a copy of this delightful return to Rocky Creek, Texas


A SUITOR FOR JENNY


Timely advice for landing a husband from Margaret’s new book, A SUITOR FOR JENNY


• Charm and composure must prevail at all times. If a gunfight erupts, exit the scene with grace and serenity.


• If you don’t know whether or not to kiss a handsome man, give him the benefit of the doubt.


• Never engage in boisterous laughter. If you must show mirth, a polite smile or titter will suffice.


• Never criticize your beau. If it wasn’t for his faults he’d probably be courting someone else.


• A woman more knowledgeable than a man is obliged to hold her tongue and feign ignorance in all matters except, of course, childbirth.


• Never show affection in public. Love may be blind but the townspeople are not.


• Once your vows are exchanged devote yourself to domestication—his.


• Eschew secrets, for they are normally discovered at the worst possible time. If confronted, weep and deny everything.—


Margaret, tell us how this series came about.


First, I want to thank you for letting me stop by for a chat. To answer, your question, it started with the first book A Lady Like Sarah. I became so fond of Rocky Creek and the characters living there, I didn’t want to leave. They practically had to boot me out.
I understand that. I felt the same way about my characters in Barton Creek. Have all your novels been historical?
I started by writing contemporary novels. It took me so long to sell my first novel that it became historical by default. I did eventually sell four contemporary novels for Harlequin, including three Super romances.


I hear you. My first novel is now a historical. What do you like or not like about writing historical?
I love the language, especially in the old west. Has there ever been more fun words to work with than picklement, caboodle, fluff-duffs (bake goods), and fiddlefooted? Hey, I even get to use ain’t and druther.


It is kind of fun. How much research did you have to do for this story?
I read a whole bunch of old books on etiquette and how to land a husband. Some of the advice made me laugh. It’s a wonder anyone got married back then.

What is the underlying theme of the series and what do you want your readers to remember?
Each book in the series explores a different theme. One of the main themes in A Suitor For Jenny is the many different ways in which people hide grief or guilt. What I hope readers will remember is that God has a plan for our lives—and it’s better than anyone can dream up for themselves.

And it takes some of us longer to learn that. What brings you the most joy in writing?

The pleasure of putting words on paper is what I love most. When the writing is going well, all is right with the world. Next, I love getting letters from readers telling me that something I wrote touched them in some way.

Ah, yes, those letters from readers like that are a blessing. What is the most difficult part of writing for you?

Putting the words on paper. Okay, so this contradicts what I said earlier, but there are those days when everything I write looks like chicken droppings.


Laughing out loud at that. Do we all feel that way? What or who has helped you most in your writing?

Prayer has helped a lot, especially on those chicken “you-know-what” days. But the person who has helped me the most is my friend and mentor Lee Duran. She’s my first reader and can make “This stinks” sound like I won the Pulitzer.


When does the next book in the series come out?

A Vision of Lucy will be out June 2011


Where can readers find out more about you?


My homestead is http://www.margaretbrownley.com/

If you want to have a laugh check out Stagecoach Etiquette for Readers: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=prY2q9Oasp4

I’m also a resident blogger at:www.petticoatsandpistols.com
Have A Little Faith
Thank you, Margaret. I'm sure others will enjoy this book as much as I did. Leave a comment below and you might win a copy of A Suitor for Jenny.

Monday, September 27, 2010

For a delightful Christmas, be sure to pick up A Prairie Christmas Collection. It has stories by some of our favorite authors. One of them is by Deb Raney. Circles of Blessings takes us to 1871 Dakota Territory and the campus of St. Bartholomew’s Academy. There, James Collingswood meets Stella Bradford who is in need of his services as an English tutor. Recently graduated and acting as an aid to Dr. Whitestone, Professor of English, James agrees to help Stella who sees not practicality in diagramming sentences and knowing the parts of speech. Instead of learning more about English, Stella falls in love. However, an indiscretion by James in the past threatens to undermine their relationship. Learning to forgive the past and looking to the future leads these two young people in the right direction. I thoroughly enjoyed this one and only foray into the past by Deborah Raney. She gives us characters we learn to love and a special Christmas blessing that comes full circle in her beautiful story.


Read more below about Deb’s one and only historical romance.

Deb,

M: Since you prefer not to write historical romances, what prompted you to write this one for the anthology, A Currier & Ives Christmas?

D: What prompted me was ignorance! I was invited to be part of a group proposal for A Currier & Ives Christmas, where "Circle of Blessings" originally appeared. Since I loved reading historical novels, I thought it would be a no-brainer to write one. WRONG! That's when I discovered how time-consuming the research was, and how difficult it was to get things right. I do love the way my story turned out, and it was fun writing a story based on our own family Christmas tradition. But I think I'll let this novella go down in history as my first, last and only historical!



Leave a comment to be in the drawing for a gift certificate to Barnes and Noble to purchase this delightful book for Christmas.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Love Me Tender

Note from Martha: I loved this book as it took me back to my teen years when I had so much fun in high school and college. This is an era high school teens love to use as a theme for "special dress" days. Debbie and Johnny are characters you will love as they find themselves fallling in love in most unusual circumstances. Read about them below.

From Janice
Hi everyone! Thanks for stopping by to share in the excitement of LOVE ME TENDER, my latest inspirational romance. When I heard about the new “When I Fall in Love” line at Summerside, I flipped! Why? Because I love the ‘50s, and I love music! (The line is based on song titles from the 1930s to the 1970s.) I happen to be a playwright with a really fun musical comedy titled JOHNNY BE GOOD, a story that’s near and dear to my heart. I decided to put a twist on that stage play and turn it into a rockin’ romantic novel! With that in mind, I hope you enjoy this “Hollywood Heartthrob” interview with four of the main characters from the novel.


Hollywood Heartthrob, “Man About Town” Column

Welcome, readers! This is Sunset Sam, columnist for Hollywood Heartthrob magazine, here to interview several characters from LOVE ME TENDER, a new book by author Janice Hanna Thompson. I read the book in preparation for this interview and had a hip-hip hoppin’, be-be-boppin’ time reading about the characters down at Sweet Sal’s Soda Shoppe in Laguna Beach. I’ve been to Sweet Sal’s many times, of course. Everyone in Hollywood knows it’s all the rage. Where else can you get a big, thick cheeseburger, hot, salty fries and the thickest chocolate malts in the country? Now that I’ve enticed you with the food, let’s have a little chat with some of the key players in our story. We’ll start with Debbie Carmichael, daughter of the owners of Sweet Sal’s.

Debbie, could you tell us a little about what your day-to-day life is like?

Most of the girls my age are in college, but I decided to stay in Laguna Beach and help my parents out at our family run soda shop. I have the best life ever! I live across the street from the Pacific Ocean, and love spending time at the cliffs, watching the waves lap the shore. When I’m at the soda shop, the jukebox is always playing. I’m gaga over Elvis’s new song, “Love Me Tender.” It’s all the rage with teen girls right now. Of course, I’m also head over heels for Bobby Conrad, but don’t tell my friends, okay? They think I’m more mature than most of the other teen girls who hang out Sweet Sal’s. Of course, I’m a little distracted by that new guy, Johnny Hartman. He’s so sweet and handsome, and I hear he’s a great singer, too!

Johnny, I read in another article that you came all the way from Topeka Kansas to Hollywood to make it big. How does Hollywood compare to Topeka?

There’s really no way to compare Topeka to Los Angeles. People out here (in California) are more up on current styles, the hottest tunes and the hippest actors and actresses. Back home, folks are so grounded. That isn’t always the case here in L.A. I hope I don’t sound too stuck up when I say that back in Topeka, I was a big fish in a small pond. And because my dad’s a pastor, I had plenty of opportunities to sing in church. But out here in L.A. no one even knows who I am. My agent, Jim Jangles, is working hard to get me a gig on television. I’m auditioning for Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts soon. Say a little prayer for me!

Bobby, I understand you were slotted to sing at the fundraiser at Sweet Sal’s Soda Shoppe, but had to cancel. Could you explain your sudden departure?

Yes, I was scheduled to sing at the fundraiser, but just got word that I’ll be filming my new movie that same weekend. I was really disappointed to have to tell the Carmichaels the news, but hopefully they understand. I think it’s going to be okay, because my agent, Jim Jangles, is sending his latest prodigy—a kid from Topeka named Johnny Hartman—in my place. I hear he’s quite a singer.

Sal, could you tell our readers about some of the Hollywood stars you’ve met over the years?

First of all, thanks for including me in this interview! It’s been decades since I was a teen, but I still secretly read Hollywood Heartthrob magazine. (Shh! Don’t tell my husband, Frankie, or my daughter, Debbie!) I’m blessed to be the co-owner of Sweet Sal’s Soda Shoppe in Laguna Beach, and I’ve met a lot of stars who’ve come through on their way to places like Dana Point and San Diego. Here’s a list of some of my favorites: Doris Day, Gregory Peck, Frank Sinatra, Audrey Hepburn, Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz, Ozzie and Harriet. There are dozens more, of course. I want to personally invite all of your readers to stop by Sweet Sal’s Soda Shoppe so that they can see the photos on our walls! And while you’re here, why not enjoy a creamy chocolate malt?

Debbie, a little birdie told me that you and the other girls in Laguna Beach are gaga over Elvis, Pat Boone and Bobby Conrad. Now that you’ve gotten to know (and love) Johnny Hartman, what would you say sets him apart from the other great singers you’ve known?

Oh, no doubt about it. . .Johnny isn’t just a great singer, he’s got a heart of gold. I especially love his strong faith. Unlike so many of the other singers in town, he doesn’t put himself first. With Johnny, it’s God first. . .all the way! And when he sings. . .man! That voice! It’s a smooth as velvet. (And it doesn’t hurt that he’s so dreamy! Talk about handsome!)

Johnny, you’ve been asked to fill in for Bobby Conrad at the Laguna Beach fundraiser. Can you tell us how you’re feeling as you look forward to the big day?

I don’t mind admitting I’m a little nervous. Who wouldn’t be? Thousands of girls from Orange County and beyond are looking forward to seeing Bobby Conrad in person. Now I’ve been asked to fill in for him. I’ll be lucky if they don’t boo me off the stage or toss rotten tomatoes at me! Hopefully my new love song—the one I wrote for the gorgeous Debbie Carmichael—will win them over. I hope so, anyway!

Bobby, many Christians have a hard time hanging onto their faith once they achieve stardom. You seem so grounded. What’s your secret?

I always try to honor God in everything I do—whether it’s movies or songs for the radio. There’s a verse that I love, and it’s one I try to live by: “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” The way I look at it, if I make a choice to put God first, He’s going to bless me above and beyond anything I could ever ask for, anyway. Even if He didn’t bless me, though, I would still serve Him. It’s really the only way to live a fulfilling life. (And trust me when I say that people out here in L.A. are looking for ways to live a fulfilling life!)

Sal, we were sorry to hear about your husband’s health problems. How is he doing now?

Praise the Lord, Frankie seems to be doing a little better. His heart attack several months ago really shook us up. And we got behind on the mortgage, which has made me a little nervous. Still, I choose to trust God. And now that everyone in town is banding together to put on the fundraiser to save the soda shop, I’m feeling more hopeful than ever!

Debbie, is there anything you’d like Hollywood Heartthrob readers to know as we end this interview?

Yes, I would like people to know that it is possible to live in Hollywood—to be a big star, even—and still be a person of faith. I’ve witnessed it in Bobby Conrad’s life, and in Johnny’s, too. I’d also like to share that putting your trust in God is really the only way to go. Some problems are just too big for us to handle on our own. When my dad got really sick, I made up my mind to try to “fix” the situation. What I’ve learned is this—only God can truly “fix” anything. And trust me when I say that His “fix” is far greater than anything we could ever dream up!

Thanks so much, folks! It’s been a great interview.

Well, there you have it, Hollywood Heartthrob fans. This is Sunset Sam, signing off for this week. See you next time!

***************************

Here’s a traditional hyperlink to the book trailer.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BS5XwjFSHXg&feature=player_embedded
How to get Janice's books
Book can be purchased on my site at www.janicehannathompson.com or at www.amazon.com.

GIVEAWAY INFO: Janice Hanna Thompson is hosting a giveaway on her facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/jhannathompson). To enter, leave a comment on her page with the name of your favorite ‘50s star (movies or music) and explain why you liked him/her. The drawing to win the Be-Boppin’ ‘50s Basket (filled with great ‘50s memorabilia) will take place on the weekend of October 29th – 31st. Why? Because that’s the same weekend Janice is directing a local (Houston) production of JOHNNY BE GOOD the musical comedy that served as inspiration for LOVE ME TENDER.

To visit Janice’s webpage, go here: www.janicehannathompson

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Second Chance Brides

Hi, I'm finally back with review after working hard on our conference and taking time off after my last manuscript. Here's my first review for the new season.


Second Chance Brides by Vickie McDonough



Vickie McDonough takes us back to the town of Lookout, Texas and the brides who came to town to marry the Marshal only to discover that someone else had won his heart. Now Shannon and Leah are on their own in finding a husband and those two cousins are up to their old tricks again although Mark isn’t as enthusiastic about the new ideas suggested by Garrett. Seems Mark can’t get over an old relationship that ended badly, but his heart still pulls him toward the Irish lass, Shannon. Leah, the other bride, falls in love only to have a surprise sprung on her just days before the wedding. Delightful characters will pull you into the story and keep you there as the plot unfolds. In addition, Jack is back and up to her old tricks, but this time she has to deal with her conscience when she doesn’t tell the truth and ends up hurting someone. Read this wonderful book to see if Mark overcomes his past and courts Shannon, and if Leah can overcome the shock of her surprise and let love conquer her fears.

Welcome to Vickie McDonough:

What inspired you to write this series about mail-order brides?

It all started with a “what if” question. I was trying to find a new idea for a book, and thought of the question: What if a mail-order bride arrives in town expecting to marry a man who hadn’t ordered a bride?

Then I took it a step further: What if three women arrive in town expecting to marry the same man?

I wondered how such a situation could occur, and brainstormed some more ideas—like the bride contest--with my critique group, and that’s how my Texas Boardinghouse Series was born.

Second Chance Brides is the sequel to The Anonymous Brides and lets readers know what happens to the brides who didn’t marry in the first book. Jack is still around, getting into trouble, too.

1. I really liked that little girl although I wanted to spank her a few times. Where do you usually get your story ideas?

Everywhere. From a movie, something I read in the newspaper or a magazine, from researching on the Internet. Many times I’ll tell my crit group about an idea for a story, and they help me brainstorm it, tossing out ideas right and left. It’s a lot of fun.

2. Crit groups are great for brainstorming story ideas. How much research did you have to do for this story?

I really didn’t do a lot of research for this series. I’m an Oklahoma native and have visited Texas many times, so I’m familiar with much of it and its history. I did research the particular area where my story is set to get a better feel for the lay of the land, types of trees and flowers, birds, etc, that you’d find there. I also research things like clothing of the time period, foods served back then—little things that can make the story pop for readers.

3. I did a lot of research on Oklahoma for and loved their history. What is the underlying theme of the series and what do you want your readers to remember?

Forgiveness—forgive others for past offenses, forgive yourself for things you’ve done that you wished you hadn’t, and accept God’s forgiveness for sin. Each of these is so important and is touched on in at least one of the book in my boardinghouse series.

5. Forgiveness is so important for us as Christians, and is a good theme. What brings you the most joy in writing?

I love seeing my books printed and on store shelves, but for me, I think the best part of writing is getting a letter from someone who’s read one of my books and been inspired by it. I also enjoy the writer friends I’ve made all over the country.

6. That’s been one of my joys as a writer, too. What are you working on now?

I just finished up the final book in my Texas Boardinghouse Brides series, Finally A Bride. It’s Jack’s story as a young woman. She’s a bit more behaved, but still impulsive and still let’s her curiosity get her in sticky situations. Don’t you wonder what type of man it will take to settle her down?

7. I’m looking forward to that one. Jack is a great character. When does the next book in the series come out?

April 1, 2011

8. What is the most difficult part of writing for you?

Marketing is difficult for me since I’m more of an introvert personality. Also, just sitting down and doing the actual writing can be hard at times. I tend to procrastinate and do emails or put dishes in the dishwasher or fold laundry when I’m at a difficult part in my writing. Eventually though, I have to knuckle down and get it down.

9. You sound just like me. No wonder I like you so much. Marketing is my nemesis, so how do you handle the marketing and publicity for your books?

I mostly market my books online, using blogs like yours and connecting with people on Facebook and getting reviewers to read my books and post reviews. Sometimes I send out a postcard mailing to my list of readers, do local book signings, or attend a book festival. I also pass out lots of bookmarks advertising my books and some colorful pencils that advertise my website.

11. All good ideas. Tell us a little about your own writing journey.

It’s been a surprise to me more than anyone. I never planned to become a writer—didn’t even like writing way back when I was in school. But for years, I’d prayed for a home business—something I could work on to make some extra money and still stay home with my four boys. God answered that prayer years later with a writing career that I never saw coming. I think it shows that God has far bigger dreams than we can ever imagine for ourselves.

12. I’m glad He had those plans for you What part has going to conferences and meeting with other authors played in your career?

A huge part. I fully believe that I’m a product of networking. My first published book was a novella collection, A Stitch in Time, that I wrote with three other ladies. I know the book got published because of the track record of the other award-winning authors—Tracey Bateman, Cathy Marie Hake, and Carol Cox, but I’ll always be grateful for their willingness to work with a newbie writer.

I’ve met so many other writers as a result of attending conferences. We chat online and become friends, and I’ve actually done novella collections with quite a few of them. It’s exciting when we meet again at another conference. This is one of my favorite things about writing. God has really expanded my little world.

13. I know what you mean. It’s made a difference for me too. What is the most unusual thing that has happened to you as a writer?

I met Famous Amos, the cookie man, at an airport on my way home from a conference. He caught the attention of the ladies I was with because he was all dressed up in clothes with watermelons on them—his suit, his hat, his shoes, even his briefcase—had watermelon décor. He was a very friendly and interesting man. Too bad he didn’t have any cookie samples with him.

14. What fun, and yeah, those cookies would have been good. What is your writing schedule like?

It’s different every day. Some days I get up and start writing early, while other days I do chores around the house, run errands, visit my mom, and then write in the afternoons. I probably should have a more organized schedule. My goal is to sit down and start writing by ten a.m. but I don’t always make it.

15. What advice do you have for beginning writers?

Keep honing your craft. Write and write and write. Joining online groups like ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers), where you can network with other writers can be a tremendous encouragement, and you can learn a lot from taking their online classes. Here’s the website: www.acfw.com

16. Good advice. Where can readers find out more about you?
My website is www.vickiemcdonough.com and I’m also a regular contributor to Bustles and Spurs, a Christian western/romance/writing blog. www.bustlesandspurs.com

Thanks so much for having me as your guest, Martha!

Thank you, Vickie for being with us today. I know readers will enjoy this series. If you would like a copy of the book, Second Chance Brides, please leave a comment and put your name in the drawing. Or you can just leave a comment or question for Vickie.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Seeds of Summer


In Seeds of Summer, Deborah Vogts brings together a most unlikely hero and heroine. Natalie Adams is a rodeo queen, and Jared Logan is a preacher. What brings them together is her need of help with the ranch her recently departed father left her and her two half-siblings. What keeps them together is what makes for a great story. The more Natalie resists help, the more Jared wants to give it until she gives in and realizes that more hands will make for light work. When her step-mother shows up and wants a relationship with her children, Natalie listens to Jared’s advice and gives Libby a second chance against her own better judgment and that of Willard, an old friend of her father. The decision brings worry to Natalie with near disastrous results. Love, faith, and forgiveness weave their way throughout the story. Deb’s knowledge of rodeos, great characters, a well-plotted story, a few surprises, and a satisfying end make this a great read. I’m looking forward to the third book in the Seasons of the Tallgrass series

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Seeds of Summer Review


Interview Questions:
1. What inspired you to write this series, Seasons of the Tallgrass?- Years ago, I took a Flint Hills Folklife course at Emporia State University. Along with classroom study, we took field trips into the heart of the Flint Hills and visited with old-time ranchers, schoolmarms and post-mistresses. It was such a delightful experience, especially our drives into the pastures. We would get on these back roads and drive over pasture guards into the open range. We would travel for miles without seeing another car or even an electric line—just pure, native prairie. That summer, I fell in love with the Flint Hills and it has stayed with me all this time.

2. Where did you get the story ideas? - My husband and I read lots of horse magazines at our house, two of those, Western Horseman and AQHA’s America’s Horse. So, when he’s finished with a magazine, I’ll go through with an eye open for possible story ideas. I’ll tear out pages of articles, or even pictures for possible characters, and then I’ll file those papers in an idea file. When I’m ready to write a new story, that’s the first place I’ll go, sifting through the articles and pictures.

So, for Seeds of Summer, many of the pictures I’d filed away happened to be of past Miss Rodeo America queens. From there, my imagination soared. I also knew that I wanted to include one story about a female rancher. Because we have three daughters who are spread out in age, I started wondering what it would be like if something happened to my husband and I, and our oldest daughter was left to care for her sisters. That’s where the plot originated for Seeds of Summer.

3. You write about rodeos with authenticity in Seeds of Summer, so how much research did you do? – Most of my research for Seeds of Summer dealt with the Miss Rodeo America organization. I was surprised how much these young ladies must know for the interview portion of the pageant. Good grief! They are required to know EVERYTHING about the sport of rodeo, about the horse industry, about the sponsors for the horse industry…not only current information but from years past.

I was also amazed at the amount of expertise required to complete the horsemanship events. Riding with confidence on an animal you’ve never rode before takes a LOT of skill and courage. And carrying those flags, and shining those boots (and blackening the bottoms of those heels). I greatly enjoyed viewing the various leather dresses—and imagining what Natalie would wear. So fun!

I learned a lot about the MRA—and loved every minute of it. I tacked pictures of past queens in various outfits on my storyboard (which is a bulletin board filled with pictures of my characters, their homes, pets, etc.). And because Amy Wilson was the MRA at that time, I followed her story online and in magazines, and strange as it may seem, I felt as though I knew her. LOL. My research pinnacled last summer when I met Amy at her home in Colby for an interview. She is such a lovely young woman, and she honored me by showing me her queen items—which again, leant authenticity to my story.

Another thing I especially enjoyed, was viewing the video clips online of the MRA pageant. This helped me so much with the closing of my story. Because I write in close 3rd person point of view, in my mind, I was living Natalie’s story, so at the end when she is on stage and reliving all that she’s overcome that year, tears just poured from my eyes. I felt like I was there—and I hope you will too.

4. How much of this story is based on personal experience? - I would have to say that Natalie is most like my oldest daughter, Samantha. Very strong, determined and dependable. So when I wrote this story, I would often think to myself, how would Sam have handled this. J A lot of the scenes in the story came from my own experience on the farm. Like Chelsey (Natalie’s sister), as a girl I did much of the cooking for the family, and took care of the house while my parents and brothers farmed. The haying scene in the book came directly from my own experience of raking hayfields and watching the crew stack the bales in the haymow. And Natalie’s horse Jackson was inspired by one of our own horses—a gallant protector. I believe some horses are extremely faithful creatures and can sense their owner’s emotions and will act accordingly.

5. What is the underlying theme of Seeds of Summer?- When the story begins, Natalie has lost both her parents, so obviously dealing with grief is one theme in the story. What surprised me is that Natalie needed to deal with her mother’s death, which happened when she was a little girl. It surprised me that she’d carried it for so long without coming to terms with it.

6. The combination of a rodeo queen and a preacher is unusual for a hero and heroine, what gave you that inspiration? – Good question. When I first thought of the story, my title was The Rancher & The Preacher Man, and my thought was to go with an opposites attract kind of story. So I had a strong, independent woman as the rancher, who was also a rodeo queen and then the desk-type man, who didn’t do much outside, etc. Obviously things evolved in the making of the book.
7. What brings you the most joy in writing? – I enjoy getting to know my characters. During the creation process, I give my characters thorough interviews, so that I know them from beginning to end. I especially like when my characters start taking on a life of their own and do something I didn’t expect, taking the story in a new direction. That’s always interesting!
8. How long have you been writing? - Ever since I was in high school. I began writing my Great American Novel as a junior—Splendor of the Sun. That earned me an A++ in Senior English. I studied English and journalism in college, but it wasn’t until 2002 that I began taking serious steps to be published.
9. Tell us a little about your own writing journey.- There came a time in my life when I felt God prodding me to do more with my writing or risk having the talent taken from me. At that point, I joined a local writer’s group and ACFW, (an online writing organization). I also joined a critique group, started reading writing how-to’s and attended writing conferences. I met my first agent at the ACFW Nashville Conference in 2005. We hit it off at our meeting, and she gave me some tips on making my book series “bigger.” I did that and submitted my idea to her and she took me on. We shopped my Seasons of the Tallgrass series for a year and had a few bites (one of them Zondervan) but no sale. In the end, she released me, which was a real heart breaker. However, we don’t always see the big picture like God does, and six months later I signed with agent, Rachelle Gardner with WordServe Literary, and we had an offer from Zondervan three months after that in May 2008.
10. What part has going to conferences and meeting with other authors played in your career? – It’s where I met my editor and both of my agents. The American Christian Fiction Writers conference has the largest number of agents and editors in the business. Not only do they offer top-quality workshops by best-selling authors, but it’s a wonderful opportunity to fellowship with other Christian fiction authors. I’ve met some of my best friends through those conferences. ACFW is the source of my transition into the publishing world. Without it, I doubt I’d be published today.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Morning for Dove


Dove Morris and Luke Anderson face many obstacles in their quest for love, the most dominant being Luke's mother. After seeing her parents and brothers slaughtered and her sister carried off by Indians, Mrs. Anderson cannot forgive or forget and refuses to acknowledge half-Cherokee Dove or her Cherokee mother. Luke and Dove's journey is one of faith that leads to complete trust in God and His ability to lead us to forgiving even the greatest of hurts as He forgave those who tortured Him.
Come journey back in time to 1897 and the town of Barton Creek in Oklahoma Territory and meet the good and some not-so-good citizens as they struggle with God's plans for their lives.
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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Conference Memories


Today is my day to post about Conference. I've been to all of them and want to share some of my memories with you.

Some of my most favorite memories occurred at ACRW/ACFW conferences. From meeting wonderful authors for the first time to being recognized by Debbie Macomber in her speech at breakfast on Sunday, lots of good things, funny things, and crazy things have happened to me as well as lots of others.

One year one of our members forgot to bring her underwear. I won’t mention any names, but she knows who she is. Right CW? I forgot my makeup one year and had to buy some EXPENSIVE stuff from the store in the hotel. Another year I left some of my clothes in a drawer in our room and my roommate had to mail them back to me. I’m glad she found them.

2002
The first conference in Kansas City was so much fun. It was small, even mini, by today’s standards, but we had a great time meeting and hugging each other. I met Linda Windsor the first day, fell in love with her, and decided I needed to read her books. I also met Tamela Hancock Murray who became my agent a few years later. No appointment, just sitting with her at the dinner table and remembering her wonderful smile.
Brandilyn MCed and did such a great job it became a permanent position. Karen Kingsbury was our keynote speaker and I learned so much about adding emotion to the plot. I was a finalist for the Noble Theme that year and that was exciting. Also met Rachel Hauck, Allison Wilson, Tiff Miller (and her Tiki Bird slippers), and Andrea Boeshaar. We shocked other guests with talk of WIPs, how to kill off a character and various other writing ideas. Some funny goings on happened in the café/bar in the hotel, but I wasn’t there and don’t want to spread rumors.

2003
In 2003 we met in Houston and I was on the Conference Committee and helped line up speakers and workshops. DiAnn Mills and I roomed together and were two of the busiest people at the conference. I met Jeanne Marie Leach who headed up the bookstore and fell in love with her and the same with Kim Sawyer. Deb Raney and Brandilyn Collins had a competition going that really livened things up, and Anita Higman won the hog calling contest. The night before the conference began, I hosted a dinner at my home for a number of those who had come in early. Kristy Dykes was one of the guests, and I liked her immediately. Her warm, southern charm really grabbed me. Robin Lee Hatcher was our keynote speaker and she did a magnificent job. On Sunday she had an alter call for those wanting prayer. ACRW leaders were at the front to pray with us, and Patty Hall prayed with me. I’ll never forget it.

2004
We were off to Denver and Francine Rivers as our keynote. I had met Francine in Tulsa years before and she is a wonderful person to know. Colleen Coble was named our first Mentor of the Year and that is when the great announcement about our name change was made. We became American Christian Fiction Writers so we could include all genres of Christian Fiction. Again I served as a volunteer and worked in the bookstore and hosted several workshops. That’s one of the most things about conference. If you can, volunteer.

2005
Some of my most favorite memories occurred at ACRW/ACFW conferences. From meeting wonderful authors for the first time to being recognized by Debbie Macomber in her speech at breakfast on Sunday, lots of good things, funny things, and crazy things have happened to me as well as lots of others.
One year one of our members forgot to bring her underwear. I won’t mention any names, but she knows who she is. Right CW? I forgot my makeup one year and had to buy some EXPENSIVE stuff from the store in the hotel. Another year I left some of my clothes in a drawer in our room and my roommate had to mail them back to me. I’m glad she found them.
2002
The first conference in Kansas City was so much fun. It was small, even mini, by today’s standards, but we had a great time meeting and hugging each other. I met Linda Windsor the first day, fell in love with her, and decided I needed to read her books. I also met Tamela Hancock Murray who became my agent a few years later. No appointment, just sitting with her at the dinner table and remembering her wonderful smile.
Brandilyn MCed and did such a great job it became a permanent position. Karen Kingsbury was our keynote speaker and I learned so much about adding emotion to the plot. I was a finalist for the Noble Theme that year and that was exciting. Also met Rachel Hauck, Allison Wilson, Tiff Miller (and her Tiki Bird slippers), and Andrea Boeshaar. We shocked other guests with talk of WIPs, how to kill of a character and various other writing ideas. Some funny goings on happened in the café/bar in the hotel, but I wasn’t there and don’t want to spread rumors.

2003
In 2003 we met in Houston and I was on the Conference Committee and helped line up speakers and workshops. DiAnn Mills and I roomed together and were two of the busiest people at the conference. I met Jeanne Marie Leach who headed up the bookstore and fell in love with her and the same with Kim Sawyer. Deb Raney and Brandilyn Collins had a competition going that really livened things up, and Anita Higman won the hog calling contest. The night before the conference began, I hosted a dinner at my home for a number of those who had come in early. Kristy Dykes was one of the guests, and I liked her immediately. Her warm, southern charm really grabbed me. Robin Lee Hatcher was our keynote speaker and she did a magnificent job. On Sunday she had an alter call for those wanting prayer. ACRW leaders were at the front to pray with us, and Patty Hall prayed with me. I’ll never forget it.

2004
We were off to Denver and Francine Rivers as our keynote. I had met Francine in Tulsa years before and she is a wonderful person to know. Colleen Coble was named our first Mentor of the Year and that is when the great announcement about our name change was made. We became American Christian Fiction Writers so we could include all genres of Christian Fiction. Again I served as a volunteer and worked in the bookstore and hosted several workshops. That’s one of the most things about conference. If you can, volunteer.

2005
We met in Nashville and Janice Thompson was my roommate. She didn’t feel well. Mama Martha made sure she had enough rest and ate properly. Karen Ball was great as usual. Who can forget “It’s all good” or “I have a castle.” We had a scare the last day when her father was taken ill and went by ambulance to the hospital. Right before my editor’s appointment, Kim Sawyer prayed with me. All of our conferences offer a prayer room, and it’s a wonderful place to go to unwind and communicate with the Lord. Volunteers are there to pray with you if need them or want them. On the last day Meredith Efken drove up in her new convertible and we had lunch with Stuart and Tiff when they were friends before lovers.

2006
Dallas was the destination for 2006. Sydney Zech, our Conference Director, did a wonderful job of organizing everything for us. Liz Curtis Higgs was our keynoter and taught us all to say “Ta Da” in front of our mirrors. The Barbour dinner on Thursday night was hilarious with Anita Higman and Janice Thompson cooking up a skit to introduce Barbour’s new Cozy Suspense line.

2007
We stayed in Dallas this year and had a great time as James Scott Bell made us laugh as well as think about our writing. My good friend Linda Kozar was named Mentor of the Year. Kathleen, Janice, and Linda drove up with me and we had a blast when we stopped in Fairfield and had lunch with Eleanor Clark and found fodder for a book in the local newspaper.


2008
We went to Minneapolis. My greatest thrill happened before the conference when my friends banded together and made it possible for me to attend. Angela Hunt shared her wisdom with us as keynote speaker, and Brandilyn once again did a great job as MC. What a wonderful time that was with the Book Signing in the Mall of the Americas. I got to sit by Cynthia Ruchti. I was leaving an appointment and heard the busses were boarding to go to the mall so I ran to get on. Got there for the book signing with NOTHING!!! No chocolates, no bookmarks, no postcards, and one copy of my book. Very dull book signing for me. After the banquet on Saturday night, Linda brought out a beret and we all had our turn at being Mary Tyler Moore tossing her hat. Janice was named Mentor of the year.

2009
We were back in Denver last year and Donald Maas led the early bird. Debbie Macomber entertained us with stories of her writing journey. This was an exciting conference because I had just signed a three book contract with Strang. Then on Sunday morning, Debbie used me as an example in her presentation. Donita Paul was named Mentor of the Year. The book signing stretched up and down the hallways and on to the other side of the lobby. The walk from my room to where we had meals was the longest I’ve ever seen.

Meeting and getting to know “Mama” Ruth, seeing Chip McGregor in his kilts, Deb and Brandilyn’s “feud”, getting to meet face to face with Tamela, and old friends are things I will never forget about conference. All the wonderful workshops help me to improve and grow as a writer. Thanks ACFW.We met in Nashville and Janice Thompson was my roommate. She didn’t feel well. Mama Martha made sure she had enough rest and ate properly. Karen Ball was great as usual. Who can forget “It’s all good” or “I have a castle.” We had a scare the last day when her father was taken ill and went by ambulance to the hospital. Right before my editor’s appointment, Kim Sawyer prayed with me. All of our conferences offer a prayer room, and it’s a wonderful place to go to unwind and communicate with the Lord. Volunteers are there to pray with you if need them or want them. On the last day Meredith Efken drove up in her new convertible and we had lunch with Stuart and Tiff when they were friends before lovers.

2006
Dallas was the destination for 2006. Sydney Zech, our Conference Director, did a wonderful job of organizing everything for us. Liz Curtis Higgs was our keynoter and taught us all to say “Ta Da” in front of our mirrors. The Barbour dinner on Thursday night was hilarious with Anita Higman and Janice Thompson cooking up a skit to introduce Barbour’s new Cozy Suspense line.

2007
We stayed in Dallas this year and had a great time as James Scott Bell made us laugh as well as think about our writing. My good friend Linda Kozar was named Mentor of the Year. Kathleen, Janice, and Linda drove up with me and we had a blast when we stopped in Fairfield and had lunch with Eleanor Clark and found fodder for a book in the local newspaper.


2008
We went to Minneapolis. My greatest thrill happened before the conference when my friends banded together and made it possible for me to attend. Angela Hunt shared her wisdom with us as keynote speaker, and Brandilyn once again did a great job as MC. What a wonderful time that was with the Book Signing in the Mall of the Americas. I got to sit by Cynthia Ruchti. I was leaving an appointment and heard the busses were boarding to go to the mall so I ran to get on. Got there for the book signing with NOTHING!!! No chocolates, no bookmarks, no postcards, and one copy of my book. Very dull book signing for me. After the banquet on Saturday night, Linda brought out a beret and we all had our turn at being Mary Tyler Moore tossing her hat. Janice was named Mentor of the year.

2009
We were back in Denver last year and Donald Maas led the early bird. Debbie Macomber entertained us with stories of her writing journey. This was an exciting conference because I had just signed a three book contract with Strang. Then on Sunday morning, Debbie used me as an example in her presentation. Donita Paul was named Mentor of the Year. The book signing stretched up and down the hallways and on to the other side of the lobby. The walk from my room to where we had meals was the longest I’ve ever seen.

Meeting and getting to know “Mama” Ruth, seeing Chip McGregor in his kilts, Deb and Brandilyn’s “feud”, getting to meet face to face with Tamela, and old friends are things I will never forget about conference. All the wonderful workshops help me to improve and grow as a writer. Thanks ACFW.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

We have a winner

Jan Marie is the winner of Deborah Raney's book. Congratulations, Martha and thank you all for stopping by and leaving a comment.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Interview with Deb Raney


Interview questions for Deb Raney

1. Where did you get the idea for your idea for this new story?

My husband is always clipping stories out of the newspaper that he thinks I’ll find interesting––that he thinks might hold the seed of an idea for a future novel. One day he placed the story of nine heroic firefighters who were killed in a fire in Charleston, SC. That story and the career of my firefighter nephew, got me thinking about the lives of the survivors and how they find the will to go on after such a tragedy. The Hanover Falls novels explore the questions I encountered that day.

2. The cover states that it’s a Hanover Falls novel. Will this be a new series? If so, what are some of the ideas for future books?

Yes, the three-book series will follow the lives of several of the survivors of fallen firefighters as they try to piece their lives back together after a tragic fire at a homeless shelter in Hanover Falls.

3. What was the most difficult thing about writing this story?

The research! Because part of the storyline of The Hanover Falls Novels revolves around events in a homeless shelter, when our church asked for volunteers at our local shelter, I knew the Lord was prompting me to answer the call.
My first night on duty was a Sunday and I was told to bring something to read since usually the hours were quiet and uneventful. I thought it strange when I arrived that no one else from my church was there yet. But I introduced myself to the volunteers from another church, and we began our evening serving supper to about twenty residents who had checked into the overnight-only shelter.
Not once the entire night was there so much as a minute to sit and read. According to the other volunteers, this was the craziest and most eventful night they'd ever experienced at the shelter.
As the night unfolded, we dealt with a suicide watch, a new fresh-out-of-jail admittance who turned out to be on the no-admit list, a bottle of Vodka discovered in the hallway that meant administering a (thankfully negative) Breathalyzer test on the main suspect, a mild altercation between a resident and a volunteer (not me!) and a phone that rang the entire 5-11 shift. Before the evening was over, I'd had some fascinating conversations with residents, and had the privilege of praying with a suicidal man.
I went home with my brain brimming with ideas and information for my novel. Only after I arrived home after 11 p.m. did I glance at my calendar and do a double take. I had looked at my schedule wrong! I wasn't supposed to show up for my shift until the following Sunday night!
Nights like that one give me a fresh appreciation of how God often turns research into ministry––and of how He never wastes an experience in the life of a writer.

4. What advice would you give to those desiring to write suspense and romance?
Though this is sometimes labeled suspense, I really hesitate to call it that. It definitely has some suspenseful moments, and the romance thread is strong, but it falls more in the drama/women’s fiction category than true suspense.
My advice to those wanting to write either of those genres is the same as any writing: Paint the story in vivid SHOWN scenes, and leave me guessing at the end of every chapter. Dare me NOT to turn the page!

5. What is your favorite thing about writing?
I love that my work feels like play. That I’m using the gift of creativity that God has given me when I write. That I can make my own hours, and therefore have more time for my family. And I love that my stories have touched the hearts of readers and that once in a while I get to hear all about it!

6. How long have you been writing?
16 years! It doesn’t seem possible. I started writing New Years Day 1994 as part of a lifelong dream and, that year, part of a New Years resolution. One of the few I’ve ever kept!

7. How long did it take to get your first book published?
I finished the first draft of my manuscript about 5 months after I started writing, and immediately started sending it out to publishers. (Remember, this was in the day before publishing houses had closed their doors to unagented writers.) In September I got my first contract offer; by November, I was entertaining three offers, and my book was released from Bethany House in January 1996. Two years from writing the first word to seeing my book on the shelf. And that was really quite speedy. Publishing is a S-L-O-W process.

8. A Vow to Cherish has been around for a long time. What is it about this book that keeps it on the bookshelves of the stores?
I think the staying power of that book has much to do with its portrayal of family loyalties, commitment in marriage and the meaning of true love. I think those qualities are something every person desires, whether they realize it or not.

9. How many books do you have in circulation now?
I’m working on my 20th novel and I’ve co-written or contributed to several non-fiction projects as well. I haven’t done the math recently, but at last count I was approaching half a million books in print.

10. Do you have a favorite among your books? Why or why not?
Now that I’ve written almost 20 books, a few have risen to the status of “favorite.” A Nest of Sparrows is one, and Beneath a Southern Sky. Both were RITA Award finalists, and Beneath a Southern Sky won the RITA. I’m also very fond of Playing by Heart and Remember to Forget, and both were Christy Award finalists, so apparently readers agree with my choice of favorites.

11. What type of books do you like to read?
I usually read the kind of books I write––women’s fiction with a strong element of romance. But I’m learning to expand my horizons and read some different genres. I’ve read a few suspense novels recently and enjoyed them (when I wasn’t hiding my eyes and quaking in my boots!) Right now I’m thoroughly enjoying Dr. Richard Mabry’s romantic suspense novels with a medical theme.

12. Any words of wisdom for new writers?
Don’t rush the process. We don’t expect pianists to play Carnegie Hall after a year of lessons, or a first-year med student to do brain surgery. Likewise, it usually takes years of study and practice to write a novel that is ready for publication. Hone your craft, read books in the genre you’d like to write, and enjoy the journey, whatever it brings!
Thank you, Deb, for telling us about your books. Please leave a comment and let us know why you'd like to have this book.
(This book was provided by the publisher for review and marketing purposes.)