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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 d├ęcor. 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.