Monday, June 30, 2008

An Editor's Perspective on ACFW Conference

It’s only a few months until the ACFW conference begins n Minneapolis. I am so excited by this event as I start to make a plan for how to make the best use of my time. My goals are to meet with authors already publishing with Zondervan, meet with agents that I missed at the International Christian Retailers Show (ICRS) in July, meet established authors that I think might be a good fit for Zondervan and look for new voices in fiction. That’s a lot to do, but if I have a plan…my trip will be productive and fun!

Last year, I had a great time teaching a workshop on Publishing Professionalism. We talked about setting a strategy for writer’s conferences, how the publishing process works, and how best to approach getting your book published. It was so much fun getting to meet everyone at lunch and dinner. It’s not a good place to pitch your book, but is a great time to establish relationships. There are so many of you that I will look forward to seeing in Editor appointments this year. I think these meals are also a terrific opportunity to broaden your network and to find someone that has the potential to encourage you.

Another thing I particularly like about the ACFW conference is the chance for an impromptu conversation that will change the direction of a book, or will help someone make a critical decision. Sometimes these “lobby chats” are just a time to get to know each other better.

Most of all ACFW is a time to find the passion for what we do. We write to glorify God, we write to share our relationship with Him, we write to bring others into His arms. What better way to spend the weekend!

So now is the time for you to determine your strategy and plan for the conference. No matter what stage you are in your career, you need to go into the ACFW conference with a set of goals for the weekend. It’s very easy for your time to get away from you, particularly with all your friends and colleagues there to distract you.

But don’t forget that this is also a time to relax and renew your passion for writing.
I look forward to seeing you all in Minneapolis!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Part of my story

If you're interested in my experience with sure to stop by Darlene Franklin's blog.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Calico Canyon Review

Mary Connealy has done it again.

Calico Canyon is a book filled with humor, fun and romance. She's taken a time period (late 1860s) and a genre (Texas cowboys) that I'm tired of and made it fresh. Where Petticoat Ranch was filled with girls, this book is filled with holy terrors otherwise known as boys.

Grace Calhoun has run from Chicago to Texas ranch country to escape an abusive adoptive father. She settles in Mosqueros to teach school, but thanks to five young boys and their boorish father loses her position. Daniel Reeves thinks life is good. He has a beautiful ranch and five healthy boys. So what if they live in a cave? Then the school teacher he got fired ends up in his wagon and at his ranch. Next thing he knows, the parson has married them.

Grace and Daniel are a fun study in contrasts. She thinks he works the boys too hard; he thinks the harder he works them the more likely they'll sleep at night. She's quiet and refined; the men of the house are loud and obnoxious. Both have serious issues in their pasts that they must deal with now that they're stuck together.

Mary's writing hits just the right humor note...she keeps me laughing without going over the top. I also couldn't wait to return to the book each time. The story and characters kept tugging me back. A delightful story!

Here's more about the book:

Let yourself be swept away by this fast-paced romance, featuring Grace Calhoun, an instructor of reading, writing, and arithmetic, who, in an attempt to escape the clutchs of a relentless pursuer, runs smack dab into even more trouble with the 6R's - widower Daniel Reeves, along with his five rowdy sons. When a marriage is forced upon this hapless pair - two people who couldn't dislike each other more - an avalanche isn't the only potential danger lurking amid the shadows of Calico Canyon. Will they make it out alive? Or end up killing each other in the process?

Running from her Abusive foster-father, a man intent on revenge, the prim and perfectly proper Grace Calhoun takes on the job of schoolmarm in Mosqueros, Texas.

As if being a wanted woman isn't bad enough, Grace has her hands full with the five rowdy and rambunctious Reeves boys─tough Texan tormenters who seem intent on making her life miserable. When, in an attempt to escape from the clutches of her pursuer, Grace is forced to marry widower Daniel Reeves, father of the miniature monsters, she thinks things couldn't get any worse. Or could they?

Daniel Reeves, happy in his all-male world, is doing the best he can, raising his five boys─rascals, each and every one. Since his wife's death in childbirth, Daniel has been determined never to risk marriage again.

When God throws Grace and Danielt together─two people who couldn't detest each other more─the trouble is only beginning.

Will this hapless pair find the courage to face life together in the isolated Calico Canyon? Or are their differences too broad a chasm to bridge?

If you would like to read the first chapter go HERE.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Beloved Castaway Review

Every time I swear I'm going to slow down on reviews, I find a book like Beloved Castaway by Kathleen Y'Barbo. I hadn't read any of Kathleen's books prior to this one, and I wasn't sure I'd like another pirate series, but decided to give it a chance anyway. I was not disappointed.

Isabelle Gayarre is a desperate woman who is willing to stake her life and freedom on a man she's never met. Josiah Carter is trying to prove something to his earthly father while running from his heavenly father. Their lives collide in the Florida Keys, and neither is the same afterwards.

This books has the flavor of a swashbuckler without duplicating M.L. Tyndall's pirate series from the same publisher. There is all kinds of emotional tension in this book, and it is heightened by the spiritual thread. Isabelle has a quiet but steadfast faith...and that faith collides firmly with the intentional skepticism that Josiah has pulled around himself. Yet he doesn't suddenly have an epiphany that commands him back to faith. It is a realistic transformation as he has to confront the events in his life.

There are several twists and turns in the plot and characters that kept me flipping the pages. Anytime I thought it could slide into routine, the author threw a new twist. This book was a very enjoyable read -- I commend it to you -- especially if you enjoy historical romance, but want to try something different.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008



Shakespeare said a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

Not sure I agree. Names have meaning -- and we speak that over a person every time we call their name.

Fortunately, God's in to changing names. Jacob (deceiver) became Israel (God contended). Saul becomes Paul. Simon becomes Peter.

I've taken names very seriously when naming our children. Just ask Eric. There would be names we liked that couldn't be seriously considered either because of the meaning or the lack of a Bible story to back up the name.

I want my children's names to be a prophecy in a sense. A statement of their destinies every time it crosses someone's lips.

Abigail Joy. Abigail means father's fountain of joy. I joke she's my joy joy. She delights everybody who knows her. And my deepest desire is that she will have the depth of character, wisdom and beauty of Abigail from the Bible.

Jonathan David. Jonathan means God has given. David means beloved. Our son who is a beloved gift straight from God's hand. He is a joy -- highly loved by those who know him. And I long for him to be a man with the combined strengths of the Old Testament friends Jonathan and David. And the strengths of his Grandpas: David and Walter John.

Rebecca Paige. Rebecca means joined together; Paige means assistant or servant. I've been adamant that our next daughter would be Rebecca Paige though I couldn't really tell you why. And the more I prayed about this baby, the more I knew that was the right name if she turned out to be a girl. This morning as I was holding her and praying, God showed me it was the perfect name for her. She is called to be His servant. To follow Him all the days of her life. And that is exactly what I want for her and my other children.

So what about you? What's your name mean or why did you choose the name you did for your children?

Cataromance Reviews Canteen Dreams & Sandhill Dreams

I just received two wonderful, 4 star reviews over at cataromance. Click here to read the one for Canteen Dreams, and here for the one for Sandhill Dreams! It's always scary to receive word of a new review -- I keep waiting to find someone who didn't like Canteen Dreams or one of my other books. I expect that most of someone who's read Canteen Dreams and Sandhill Dreams and then slides over to Deadly Exposure. They are such different genres! But it hasn't happened yet. I haven't been bombed -- to my knowledge. LOL!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Fatal Deduction Review and Giveaway

One Across...three down. The answer is in the puzzle. The danger is in not solving it before time's up.

Fatal Deduction is one of the books I read the week that Rebecca was born. I hope you understand the delay in posting the review LOL. My Mom and I both read it that week and really enjoyed it.

Libby Keating's aunt has left her townhouse to Libby and her twin sister. The only caveat is they can get the townhouse only if they live in it -- together -- for six weeks. The first morning that they are in the home, Libby finds a dead body on the doorstep. Tucked in his shirt pocket is a crossword puzzle that indicates Tori is next.

The book was a fun read. There's a thread of romance, a trace of suspense, a twist of mystery. And there are a couple twists -- especially toward the end that I didn't anticipate. The interaction between the sisters made me laugh -- I could see it playing out in real life all too well. They may look alike, but their takes on life and how they act are miles apart. Drew Canfield and his daughter provide a nice layer to the plot as well. And the girls were more than secondary characters stuck in the plot to fill the obligatory child role. The rest of the cast of secondary characters develops into a full-fledged Greek chorus and added a depth to the story.

I really enjoyed this book and am delighted that you have a chance to win a copy. Just leave a comment and let me know if you enjoy crossword puzzles. Don't worry -- if you don't, you'll still be entered to win a copy.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Calico Canyon: the first chapter

I read this book this week and LOVED it. Mary has a wonderful style that makes these comic romances set in Texas 120 years ago so much fun to read. Look for my review this week, but here's your chance to read the first chapter and see what you think. I know you'll love it. After all, Mary's a fellow Nebraskan :-)

It is time to play a Wild Card! Every now and then, a book that I have chosen to read is going to pop up as a FIRST Wild Card Tour. Get dealt into the game! (Just click the button!) Wild Card Tours feature an author and his/her book's FIRST chapter!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and her book:

Calico Canyon


MARY CONNEALY is married to Ivan a farmer, and she is the mother of four beautiful daughters, Joslyn, Wendy, Shelly and Katy. Mary is a GED Instructor by day and an author by night. And there is always a cape involved in her transformation.

Visit her at her website and her blog.


Chapter One

Mosqueros, Texas, 1867

T he Five Horsemen of the Apocalypse rode in.

Late as usual.

Grace Calhoun was annoyed with their tardiness at the same time she wished they’d never come back from the noon recess.

They shoved their way into their desks, yelling and wrestling as if they were in a hurry. No doubt they were. They couldn’t begin tormenting her until they sat down, now, could they?

Grace Calhoun clenched her jaw to stop herself from nagging. Early in the school year, she’d realized that her scolding amused them and, worse yet, inspired them. To think she’d begged their father to send his boys to school.

Her gaze locked on Mark Reeves. She knew that look. The glint in his eyes told her he was planning. . .something. . .awful.

Grace shuddered. Seven girls and fifteen boys in her school. Most were already working like industrious little angels.


The noise died down. Grace stood in front of the room and cleared her throat to buy time until her voice wouldn’t shake. Normally she could handle them—or at least survive their antics. But she hadn’t eaten today and it didn’t look as though she’d eat soon.

“Sally, will you please open your book to page ten and read aloud for the class?”

“Yes, Miss Calhoun.” With a sweet smile, six-year-old Sally McClellen, her Texas accent so strong Grace smiled, stood beside her desk and lifted the first grade reader.

Grace’s heart swelled as the little girl read without hesitation, her blue eyes focused on the pages, her white-blond hair pulled back in a tidy braid. Most of her students were coming along well.


Grace folded her skeletal hands together with a prayer of thank-fulness for the good and a prayer for courage for the bad. She added prayers for her little sisters, left behind in Chicago, supported with her meager teacher’s salary.

A high-pitched squeak disrupted her prayerful search for peace. A quick glance caught only a too-innocent expression on Ike Reeves’s face.

Mark’s older brother Ike stared at the slate in front of him. Ike studying was as likely as Grace roping a longhorn bull, dragging him in here, and expecting the creature to start parsing sentences. There was no doubt about it. The Reeves boys were up to something.

She noticed a set of narrow shoulders quivering beside Mark. Luke Reeves, the youngest of the triplets—Mark, Luke, and John. All three crammed in one front-row desk built to hold two children. The number of students was growing faster than the number of desks.

She’d separated them, scolded, added extra pages to their assign-ments. She’d kept them in from recess and she’d kept them after school.

And, of course, she’d turned tattletale and complained to their father, repeatedly, to absolutely no avail. She’d survived the spring term with the Reeves twins, barely. The triplets weren’t school age yet then. After the fall work was done, they came. All five of them. Like a plague of locusts, only with less charm.

The triplets were miniature versions of their older twin brothers, Abraham and Isaac. Their white-blond hair was as unruly as their behavior. They dressed in the next thing to rags. They were none too clean, and Grace had seen them gather for lunch around what seemed to be a bucket full of meat.

They had one tin bucket, and Abe, the oldest, would hand out what looked like cold beefsteak as the others sat beside him, apparently starved half to death, and eat with their bare hands until the bucket was empty.

Why didn’t their father just strap a feed bag on their heads? What was that man thinking to feed his sons like this?

Easy question. Their father wasn’t thinking at all.

He was as out of control as his sons. How many times had Grace talked to Daniel Reeves? The man had the intelligence of the average fence post, the personality of a wounded warthog, and the stubbornness of a flea-bitten mule. Grace silently apologized to all the animals she’d just insulted.

Grace noticed Sally standing awkwardly beside her desk, obviously finished.

“Well done, Sally.” Grace could only hope she told the truth. The youngest of the three McClellen girls could have been waltzing for all Grace knew.

“Thank you, Miss Calhoun.” Sally handed the book across the aisle to John Reeves.

The five-year-old stood and began reading, but every few words he had to stop. John was a good reader, so it wasn’t the words tripping him up. Grace suspected he couldn’t control his breathing for wanting to laugh.

The rowdy Reeves boys were showing her up as a failure. She needed this job, and to keep it she had to find a way to manage these little monsters.

She’d never spanked a student in her life. Can I do it? God, should I do it?

Agitated nearly to tears, Grace went to her chair and sat down.

“Aahhh!” She jumped to her feet.

All five Reeves boys erupted in laughter.

Grace turned around and saw the tack they’d put on her chair. Resisting the urge to rub her backside, she whirled to face the room.

Most of the boys were howling with laughter. Most of the girls looked annoyed on her behalf. Sally had a stubborn expression of loyalty on her face that would have warmed Grace’s heart if she hadn’t been pushed most of the way to madness.

Grace had been handling little girls all her life, but she knew nothing about boys.

Well, she was going to find out if a spanking would work. Slamming her fist onto her desk, she shouted, “I warned you boys, no more pranks. Abraham, Isaac, Mark, Luke, John, you get up here. You’re going to be punished for this.”

“We didn’t do it!” The boys chorused their denials at the top of their lungs. She’d expected as much, but this time she wasn’t going to let a lack of solid evidence sway her. She knew good and well who’d done this.

Driven by rage, Grace turned to get her ruler. Sick with the feeling of failure but not knowing what else to do, she jerked open the drawer in her teacher’s desk.

A snake struck out at her. Screaming, Grace jumped back, tripped over her chair, and fell head over heels.

With a startled cry, Grace landed hard on her backside. She barely registered an alarming ripping sound as she bumped her head against the wall hard enough to see stars. Her skirt fell over her head, and her feet—held up by her chair—waved in the air. She shoved desperately at the flying gingham to cover herself decently. When her vision cleared, she looked up to see the snake, dangling down out of the drawer, drop onto her foot.

It disappeared under her skirt, and she felt it slither up her leg. Her scream could have peeled the whitewash off the wall.

Grace leapt to her feet. The chair got knocked aside, smashing into the wall. She stomped her leg, shrieking, the snake twisting and climbing past her knee. She felt it wriggling around her leg, climbing higher. She whacked at her skirt and danced around trying to shake the reptile loose.

The laughter grew louder. A glance told her all the children were out of the desks and running up and down the aisle.

One of the McClellen girls raced straight for her. Beth McClellen dashed to her side and dropped to her knees in front of Grace. The nine-year-old pushed Grace’s skirt up and grabbed the snake.

Backing away before Grace accidentally kicked her, Beth said, “It’s just a garter snake, ma’am. It won’t hurt you none.”

Heaving whimpers escaped with every panting breath. Grace’s heart pounded until it seemed likely to escape her chest and run off on its own. Fighting for control of herself, she got the horrible noises she was making under control then smoothed her hair with unsteady hands. She stared at the little snake, twined around Beth’s arm.

Beth’s worried eyes were locked on Grace. The child wasn’t sparing the snake a single glance. Because, of course, Beth and every other child in this room knew it was harmless. Grace knew it, too. But that didn’t mean she wanted the slithery thing crawling up her leg!

“Th—ank—” Grace couldn’t speak. She breathed like a winded horse, sides heaving, hands sunk in her hair. The laughing boys drowned out her words anyway.

Beth turned to the window, eased the wooden shutters open, and lowered the snake gently to the ground. The action gave Grace another few seconds to gather her scattered wits.

Trying again, she said, “Thank you, B-Beth. I’m not—not a-afraid of snakes.”

The laughter grew louder. Mark Reeves fell out of his desk holding his stomach as his body shook with hilarity. The rest of the boys laughed harder.

Swallowing hard, Grace tried again to compose herself. “I was just startled. Thank you for helping me.” Taking a step toward Beth, Grace rested one trembling hand on the young girl’s arm. “Thank you very much, Beth.”

Beth gave a tiny nod of her blond head, as if to encourage her and extend her deepest sympathy.

Grace turned to the rioting classroom—and her skirt fell off.

With a cry of alarm, Grace grabbed at her skirt.

The boys in the class started to whoop with laughter. Mark kicked his older brother Ike. Ike dived out of his chair onto Mark. They knocked the heavy two-seater student desk out of line. Every time they bumped into some other boy, their victim would jump into the fray.

Pulling her skirt back into place, she turned a blind eye to the chaos to deal with her clothes. Only now did she see that the tissue-thin fabric was shredded. A huge hole gaped halfway down the front. It was the only skirt she owned.

Beth, a natural caretaker, noticed and grabbed Grace’s apron off a hook near the back wall.

Mandy McClellen rushed up along with Sally and all the other girls. Mandy spoke low so the rioting boys couldn’t overhear. “This is your only dress, isn’t it, Miss Calhoun?”

Grace nodded, fighting not to cry as the girls adjusted the apron strings around her waist to hold up her skirt. She’d patch it back together somehow, although she had no needle and thread, no money to buy them, and no idea how to use them.

Grace looked up to see the older Reeves boys making for the back of the schoolroom.

“Hold it right there.” Mandy used a voice Grace envied.

The boys froze. They pivoted and looked at Mandy, as blond as her sisters and a close match in coloring to the Reeves, but obviously blessed with extraordinary power she could draw on when necessary. After the boys’ initial surprise—and possibly fear—Grace saw the calculating expression come back over their faces.

“Every one of you,” Mandy growled to frighten a hungry panther, “get back in your seats right now.” She planted her hands on her hips and stared.

The whole classroom full of boys stared back. They hesitated, then at last, with sullen anger, caved before a will stronger than their own. Under Mandy’s burning gaze, they returned to their seats. Grace’s heart wilted as she tried to figure out how Mandy did it.

When the boys were finally settled, the eleven-year-old turned to Grace, her brow furrowed with worry. “I’m right sorry, Miss Calhoun,” she whispered, “but you have to figure out how to manage ’em yourself. I can’t do it for you.”

Grace nodded. The child spoke the complete and utter truth.

The girls fussed over Grace, setting her chair upright and returning to her desk a book that had been knocked to the floor.

“Miss Calhoun?” Beth patted Grace’s arm.


“Can I give you some advice?”

The little girl had pulled a snake out from under Grace’s skirt. Grace would deny her nothing. “Of course.”

“I think it’s close enough to day’s end that you ought to let everyone go home. You’re too upset to handle this now. Come Monday morning you’ll be calmer and not do something you’ll regret.”

“Or start something you can’t finish,” Sally added.

Grace knew the girls were right. Her temper boiled too near the surface. She was on the verge of a screaming fit and a bout of tears.

My dress! God, what am I going to do about it?

These boys! Dear, dear Lord God, what am I going to do about them?

She tried to listen for the still, small voice of God that had taken her through the darkest days of her life during her childhood in Chicago. He seemed to abandon her today. The good Lord had to know one of His children had never needed an answer more. But if God sent an answer, her fury drowned it out. She’d been putting off a showdown with these boys all term. It was time to deal with the problem once and for all.

Sally slipped her little hand into Grace’s. “Boys are naughty.”

Grace shared a look with Sally and had to force herself not to nod. Seven sweet little girls stood in a circle around her. Grace wanted to hug them all and then go after the boys with a broom, at least five of them. The other ten weren’t so badly behaved. Except when inspired by the Reeves.

God had made boys and girls. He’d planned it. They were supposed to be this way. But how could a teacher stuff book learning in their heads when they wouldn’t sit still or stop talking or quit wrestling?

Digging deep for composure, Grace said, “You girls return to your seats, please. And thank you for your help.”

Beth shook her head frantically, obviously sensing Grace wasn’t going to take her advice.

“It’s all right, Beth. I’ve put this off too long as it is. And thank you again.”

Beth’s feet dragged as she followed her sisters and the other girls to her seat.

Grace waited as the room returned to relative quiet, except for the usual giggling and squirming of the Reeves boys.

Glancing between her chair seat and her open desk drawer, Grace was worried she might develop a nervous tic. She sat down but left the drawer open. An almost insane calm took over her body. “School is dismissed except for Abraham, Isaac, Mark, Luke, and John Reeves.”

Forehead furrowed over her blond brows, Beth shook her head and gave a little “don’t do it” wave.

Grace could tell by the way the sun shone in the west window that it was only a few minutes early for dismissal. Good. That gave her time to settle with these boys, and then she’d have it out with their father. Things were going to change around here!

The rest of the students, stealing frequent glances between her and the blond holy terrors in her midst, gathered up their coats and lunch pails and left the schoolhouse in almost total silence.

And that left Grace.


With the Five Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

Anathema Review

If you've read my blog or reviews, you've probably figured out I'm a fan of Colleen Coble's suspense. They are all so good! Sometimes I wonder when -- if -- I'll be disappointed. Her latest release, Anathema, tops them all.

In Anathema, Colleen brings her fiction to Indiana for the first time, this time in the heart of Parke County and a close-knit Amish community. Here's the quick summary:

After years of running, Hannah Schwatrz has finally built a life for herself--far from the insecure husband who bullied and abused her. Far from the close-knit Amish community who raised her, then shunned her. Still haunted by nightmare memories of her parents' murder and the guilty secret that made her anathema--a true outcast--from her friends and family.

Only love can bring her home again. Love for a child she had feared was lost forever. And love for the peaceful people who shaped her life. But can love heal old wounds . . . or keep the community safe from a deadly danger?

This book is richly layered with conflict. But it's not all external conflict related to finding the killer and staying alive. Instead, as I've come to expect in Colleen's books, the internal conflict is as compelling -- maybe even stronger -- than the problems plaguing Hannah and Matt.

Hannah is so conflicted about the Amish faith she abandoned and the problems that she created for herself when she left. She has a hard time separating those she controlled from the ones she didn't ask for...and is left paralyzed. She's also running scared from her abusive husband, but he's found the one tool that could drag her back to him -- the idea that her daughter is alive. Could he be telling the truth?

Matt hides a secret from Hannah that can only destroy the relationship they may have. But he doesn't see that he has a choice. He's also torn between duty and the past.

Add in a host of supporting characters, and the texture and twists of the plot form a tangled weave that pulled me through the pages and chapters. I have to admit, I did not fully guess the killer. I was close -- only the person I thought was the killer was the accomplice.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Prince Caspian: Spiritual and Writing Lessons

Eric and I finally got to the theaters to see Prince Caspian this weekend. I guess having a baby the weekend before the movie opened gives me an excuse for the delay -- but this was a movie I really wanted to see on the big screen. Then I was afraid -- as we walked into the theater -- that I'd built it up too much and would be less than wowed. It didn't disappoint.

There were several times during the movie when I leaned over to Eric and whispered, "Oh, there's a great spiritual lesson. Oh, did you hear that?"

I think he was more than ready for me to be quiet and simply enjoy the flick.

But there's a part of my mind that never shuts off. Saturday night, it analyzed the masterful way the spiritual lessons were slipped into the plot by CS Lewis and the filmmakers. They were there to see if I wanted to find them, but they certainly didn't interrupt the story for me. Instead, it added a rich layer to the plot.

How seductive sin and evil can be.
How easily we can slip into pride.
How quickly we want to go back to the good old days, that are so different when we do go back.
The challenge to make the journey regardless of who is going with us.

I want to learn as a writer how to subtly insert the spiritual thread so that it's there but it doesn't stop the story.

The special effects were great. The story wonderful and true to the book as much as I could remember. It is darker than Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe, but that's because of the plot. We didn't take Abigail and Jonathan - though I can't wait to analyze the movie with Abigail. It could be a great teaching tool.

So if you haven't seen it yet, go to the theater. It is well worth your time.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Review: Deep in the Heart of Trouble

Deeanne Gist's latest book is a romp! I thoroughly enjoyed a Bride Most Begrudging -- in fact that book convinced me I could still enjoy fresh historical romance. Courting Trouble was fun, but Deep in the Heart of Trouble was a delightful read. I couldn't wait to return to this book at every chance I got. And as busy as this summer is, that takes a great book to keep pulling me back.

A Texas-Sized Tale of Unexpected Love

Essie Spreckelmeyer is the last woman anyone in Corsicana, Texas, expected to see with a man on her arm. Independent and outspoken, she’s known more for riding bicycles in outrageous bloomers than for catching a man’s eye.

And the last man who seems willing to give her a second glance is Tony Morgan, newly hired at Spreckelmeyer’s oil company. The disinherited son of an oil baron, Tony wants most to restore his name and regain his lost fortune--not lose his heart to this headstrong blonde. She confounds, contradicts, and confuses him. Sometimes he doesn’t know if she’s driving him toward the aisle or the end of his rope.

That’s how life is ...Deep In The Heart Of Trouble.

My Review

Essie had plenty of sass in Courting Trouble, but in this book she meets a worthy opponent in Tony Morgan. Tony has a lot to prove, and proving it to a woman is almost more than he can take. Essie's not so sure she wants him around to prove anything. As the sparks fly, they both try to deny their feelings -- for very different reasons.

The characters are absolutely delightful. There's a full cast, that if you've read Courting Trouble will be familiar, but you don't need to read the other book to fully appreciate and enjoy Deep in the Heart of Trouble. In fact, I wondered if I should reread Courting Trouble, but quickly learned that wouldn't be necessary.

The author did a wonderful job plopping me into the middle of the story and timeperiod. There was no question I was in 1898 Texas. And I enjoyed every moment with the free-spirited Essie. It's easy to love a character who refuses to be bound by the constraints of her time even as she fully aware of them. And the hero's reaction to her was true to the time -- and added to the delightful sparks.

This book has enough plot twists to keep the pages turning and is a worthy addition to this Christy Award winning authors line-up of books. Read it, and you'll be glad you did.

If you would like to read the first chapter, go HERE

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Amen and Hallelujah

This morning I slipped on a beautiful bracelet a friend gave me at least year's ACFW conference.

I was sitting here at the computer, holding little Rebecca as I "try" to work and saw the words on the bracelet again. Hallelujah and Amen. What bookends to the last 18 months.

Amen to God's goodness even when I don't understand things like the miscarriage. Amen to trusting that He knows what He's doing. Amen that He can turn painful things into good -- in ways only He can.

And Hallelujahs as I hold this little miracle that after five weeks I simply can't imagine our family without. Hallelujah for the fact that even if I had been the only person He still would have sent His Son to die for me and Jesus still would have chosen to come. Hallelujah for all the ways I see His fingerprints on my life.

So today I'm thankful -- for the good and the bad.

Bayou Paradox Review

In this fourth installment in her Bayou romantic suspense, Robin Caroll brings readers a fast-paced read filled with romance.

It can cure you. Or it can kill you.

The untamed Louisiana bayou is not for hte faint of heart. But until now, Tara LeBlanc has always considered it a sanctuary, its lush foliage a source of medicinal healing. What evil has infiltrated her haven? Two elderly women she loves lie near death, and Tara knows their illnesses are no accident.

Only one man can save Tara from the same fate: Sheriff Rene "Bubba" Theirot. The strong-willed lawman throws his all into protecting her, laying his heart on the line as well as his life. Now they both stand to lose it all as a killer gets ready to pounce....

Tara is deep into voodoo and fighting the efforts of her sisters and her grandmother to introduce her to Christianity. Then when her grandmother and the woman who is now mentoring her in voodoo are found ill, Tara is determined to find out what happened and to use voodoo to restore them to health.

Bubba is just as determined that the voodoo can only harm them. He tolerates Tara until she gets too close to the line, and her life is in danger. Neither expected the attraction...especially when there is so much to keep them apart. And why is it so hard for the doctors to help the two women recover? Was there really someone else involved? And if so, why? What could they have that he wanted? The more Tara pushes, the more Bubba begins to believe she may be on the right track after all.

Once again Robin Caroll has written a book that moves. The pages flip fast and furiously. And I found myself completely vested in the characters -- even Tara who hasn't been the most sympathetic character in past books.

And while this book is technically the fourth, it stands well on its own. Anything you need to know is slipped into the story without distracting from the current plot.

I highly recommend this book to lovers of romantic suspense. So race out to your local Wal-Mart and buy it!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World

As the director of women's ministry at my church, one of my roles is to lead a women's Bible Study and occasionally a Sunday School class. I'm always looking for new books that will address the needs of women who live in a high stress world yet desire intimacy with Christ.

One book that has caught my eye several times is Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World. I've always been drawn to the story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10:38-42, but even as a teenager I didn't get Mary. I was born with Martha's temperament. I naturally see what needs to happen. I look for ways to serve others, to fill needs.

But I also want to live like Mary and just sit at Jesus' feet and soak in His words and presence. The only trouble is if I sit still, I either fall asleep or think of the million things that still need to be done. I was afraid this book would make me feel even more guilty for not sitting like Mary. And I also wasn't sure I really wanted that. I mean, I like being a Martha. The world needs Martha's -- you know it would fall apart without them. And God did create me this way.

Then Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World arrived in the mail. I didn' t have an excuse to wonder about the book. Now I could pick it up and read through it -- see what it had to offer. I haven't finished it yet, but I am savoring it. The book is balanced on the Mary/Martha question , and the author actually shows how Martha did gain a Mary side without losing what made her Martha.

To explore the book yourself, click on the link. It will take you to CBD's website where you can see the table of contents as well as the first chapter. I think many of us could learn a lot about balance without ignoring who God created us to be. Some Mary's and some Martha's.

You can learn more about this book and the author's contest by visiting the blog page for the blog tour.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Yummy Rhubarb Recipe

So last week at our Wednesday night Bible study, my friend DJ came in raving about a rhubarb custard cake she had helped a friend make. I asked that friend if she had any extra rhubarb -- hence the strawberry-rhubarb pie I made early this week that symoblized the arrival of summer. Then Wednesday I made the rhubarb custard cake to take to Bible study. I decided we all had to try it since DJ had raved so much about it -- and I just happened to have enough rhubarb left to make it.


I have no idea where Beth originally got this recipe, but I had to share it with you since so many ladies from class asked for the recipe.

Rhubarb Custard Cake

1 yellow cake mix
4 cups rhubarb, chopped
1 cup sugar
1 cup whipping cream

Mix cake mix according to package instructions. Pour into greased 13 x9 pan. Sprinkle rhubarb and sugar over the top of the cake (I mixed the two together to make sure the rhubarb was coated). Pour whipping cream over the top. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until golden brown in 350 oven. Loosen sides and flip onto serving platter. Serve warm.

Can be served with whipping cream and mint.

Easy and oh so good! Enjoy.

Friday, June 13, 2008

ACFW Blog Tour Stops

Curious about the ACFW Conference? Then stop by these blogs and sites over the next two months to learn all about it!

The ACFW Conference blog tour is set to kick off with posts from Chip MacGregor and me. Currently, more than 50 people are participating...and the list is below. Be sure to check out the posts...Some are from editors. Others from agents. Others from advisors, published authors, ACFW members -- all packed with info on what to expect, advice, and information.

Thanks to all who are participating!



blog addy


Cara Putman


Chip MacGregor


Pamela James


Wanda Dyson


Jennifer AlLee


Ane Mulligan


Christina Nelson


Robin Miller


Annette Irby


Sharon Hinck


Martha Rogers


Susan May Warren


Camy Tang


Deb Raney


Ronie Kendig


Colleen Coble


Rachel Hauck


Denise Hunter


Diann Hunt


Brandilyn Collins


Cathy West


Jill Elizabeth Nelson


Eileen Watson


Gail Gaymer Martin


Lynette Sowell


Sue Brower


Julie Carobini


Anne Greene


Mary Connealy


Steve Laube


Gina Conroy


Lena Nelson Dooley


Rachelle Gardner


Linda Fulkerson


Chip MacGregor


Rebecca Yauger


Terry Burns


Susan Downs


Carla Stewart


Marcia Gruber


Donita Paul


Rose McCauley


Rebecca Germany


Leanna Ellis


Angela Hunt


Janice Thompson


JoAnne Simmons


Pam Meyers


Celia Tomer


Janice Olson


Cheryl Wyatt


Angie Bredenbach


Christina Berry


Megan DiMaria


Roxanne Rustad


Margaret Daley


Sharon Dunn


Marjorie Vawter


Sharon Ewell Foster


Julie Lessman


Pam Hillman


Sandra Robbins


Virginia Smith

Week of



FAITH Blog Girls

Cara Putman


Christa Allen


Deborah Vogts


Susan Meissner


Michelle Sutton


Tiff Stockton


Patti Lacy


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...