Friday, December 30, 2011

What's my legacy? What's yours?

The weekend before Christmas our church lost a young man in a car accident. His death sent my thoughts in a couple different directions. The one that captured me first came as I considered his legacy.

This young man was on fire for God. And he had a servant's heart. When we were working on the Joplin project in May, he was one of the two young men who came and gave hours helping us sort and box clothes and other items for the tornado victims. He worked with the youth group. He was someone that those in pastoral leadership counted on to always be willing to serve.

The grief ran deep through our church because he impacted so many.

And it got me thinking...what will my legacy be? Someday my life will end. I'll be in heaven celebrating, but I'll leave people behind. Will they even notice? Will it cause them to stop and think? To wonder why God allowed it? What larger purpose He must have? One that is a mystery to those left behind?

I want to live my life in a way that it leaves an impact...not for me, but for God. That it points those left to the One who matters most. What about you? What do you want your legacy to be?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Birthday Party for Two

Me, my sister Janna, and Joanna
For Christmas I went home to Nebraska. My family spent a week with my parents, siblings, spouses, nieces and nephews. When you put us all together there are 26 soon to be 27. It makes for a chaotic, but fun time as the adults play games and chat while the kids run around and play.

While we were together, we started talking about earliest memories. Apropos as I considered this post. I often wonder if my earliest memory is really mine. Or if it springs from the host of photos that accompany the event. I’ll let you decide.

Growing up in Georgia, I had a best friend Joanna. She and I shared a lot. Loving families. Parents that brought us up to love and serve God. And birth month. In fact, only one day separate our birthdays, so often we shared parties. The earliest one I remember is when we were two.

We were barely able to sit at the table, in our frilly dresses surrounded by other little girls, party hats, and balloons. We played games, blew out candles, and ate cake. Most important, we started a tradition…sharing our birthdays. Often throughout the years, we would do that. Not every year, but often enough that it always felt right.

We’ve shared many things. A love of learning. A love of writing. The ability to tell a good story – though Joanna outshines me in that category…if I could only talk her into writing a book! A love of adventure and reading. A strong interest in politics and current affairs. A heart for God and serving others.  Maybe, just maybe, it all started with that shared birthday party.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Thank you, Jesus

Thank you, Jesus, for looking across space and time and seeing me. Thank you for agreeing to come and die. Thank you for trusting your Father's heart so that you could be the plan. Thank you for always standing there waiting for us to turn back to you. Thank you for always encouraging us to change but for loving us even in our frailty.

May we never lose the reality that Christmas is all about you. Your birth. Your life. Your coming death, coming resurrection, and still-to-come return.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Saying "Thank you" to Colleen

So this is an old picture! Rebecca is only a few months old, but we're standing with Robin Jones Gunn and Colleen Coble at a booksigning.

If you've been around my blog long at all, you know that Colleen is a huge reason I'm writing. She took my spark of a dream and instead of blowing it out in a huff, she breathed life into it. She never doubted I could write, but instead invested in me. She connected me with ACFW. She read early chapters -- she still reads proposals when I need another perspective to make sure I've done as good a job as possible.

So thank you, Colleen, for always believing in me. For telling me I could do this and being one of my biggest cheerleaders. You have been a huge gift from God in my life. Can't wait to see you next month at board meetings!

Do you have a mentor in your life? Someone who has stepped in and breathed life into your heart?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Saying "Thank you" to the Sues in my life

God has placed two Sues in my life who are like the older sisters I've never had.

Sue Lyzenga lives a couple doors from us. Her husband pastors a church in town, and together they are dear friends of ours. Sometimes it's nice to have someone who challenges you in your faith who isn't attending your church. I love the spontaneous calls to have dinner. The times we make applesauce or jam together. I now know I can make those, too. But I am so grateful that God planted us side-by-side in this wonderful town.

Sue Brust is the pastor's wife at our church. From very early in our attendance, she encouraged me to step into leadership with the women's ministry at our church. I love our rare lunches and the opportunity to better see her heart and hopefully carry some of the burdens. I loved the church we came from, but never got to know the pastor's wife. This has been a gift to have not one -- but two -- wise sisters come alongside me during this season.

Has God placed sisters (or brothers) like this in your life?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Cherry Blossom Capers is HERE!

And I'm so excited I want to give one away. Here's more about the book:

Lovers and Law-Breakers Collide under the Cherry Trees

Encounter mystery, mayhem, and murder near Washington, DC, alongside four professional females. White House assistant chef Tara Whitley works with an old flame, FBI agent Jack Courtland, to stop a plot to sabotage a state-dinner. Attorney Ciara Turner and her nemesis Daniel Evans have trials tracking down a judge’s murderer. Archeologist intern Samantha Steele and security guard Nick Porter are on the heels of a dangerous forger. Shop owner Susan Holland and renovator Vince Martini turn upside down her late uncle’s mansion while investigating a string of mysterious accidents. Will these sleuthing couples’ machinations move them into matrimony?

 I wrote Ciara's was such fun to recreate the neighborhood we lived in inside the Beltway. So leave a comment...have you ever lived in a place where your neighbors became family? What made that place so special.

Spread the word, and let me know how you spread the word, and you'll get extra entries. Follow my blog or enter your info in the box to the right to get the blog fed to you, and you'll get more entries. For each thirty entries, I'll throw in another book. It's Christmastime and I want to celebrate!

You can order it here:
Barnes & Noble

Saying "Thank you" to my mother-in-love

My mother-in-love also deserves a crown. I'm sure there were times she wanted to shake her head when Eric informed his family that we were going to marry. I'm not exactly traditional...really. Yet she never voiced any reservations. Instead, she made me feel welcome.

Over almost 16 years of marriage, that initial acceptance has developed into a deep friendship. Virgene is one of the small group of women I turn to when I need advice, prayer, help. It's very hard for me to ask for help, but I have come to rely on my mother-in-love. She frees me to do things like serve on the ACFW board because she is always willing to help with the kids while I'm gone.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Saying "Thank you" to my Mom

My mom doesn't get a bouquet of flowers. She gets a crown. So much of who I am is because of what she poured into me.

I'm sure I continue to exasperate her with my questions though now they've changed to "how exactly did you get me ready for college," etc. But as an early homeschooling family in Nebraska, she didn't have the abundance of resources that exist today. Maybe that was a blessing because you couldn't worry about having the wrong curriculum.

Thank you, Mom, for hammering my handwriting. I didn't imagine someday I'd autograph books.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Saying "Thank you" at George Mason

This woman has a very special place in my heart. She saw way more of me than she probably wanted that first year of law school. As the on-sight person overseeing the legal writing program, she got all of my questions. You see, the only feedback you get in law school until about spring break is the grades on those pesky legal writing assignments. Fortunately for me, Victoria Huber is one of the most gracious and knowledgeable women I've met.

Now the associate dean of career services, Victoria coached me through that first year, then through the clerkship process, through applying at the Department of Justice, and so much more. Most important, she became my friend. She's one of those people I want to see on the rare occasions we get back to D.C.

Victoria allowed me into her life. In that I received a gift that I will always cherish.

Have you had Victoria's in your life?

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Saying "Thank you" at UNL

When I transferred to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, I knew it would be a different world than I'd found at Mid-Plains. Much bigger pond making me a much smaller fish. Still, I quickly decided it was time to spend some moments with my undergraduate advisor. I'm not sure Dr. Phil Dyer quite knew what to do with me. Homeschoolers were still pretty new on universities.

I showed up as a junior who needed to reapply for the Truman scholarship. I also needed to figure out which classes to take. Then there was planning my future. College was only the next step after all.

Dr. Dyer was always available. He spent hours with me and gave me great advice. Some of the best was to take a couple years after I graduated to figure out what I wanted to get my graduate degree in. That advice was priceless. We kept up for many years after I graduated, but I just wanted to say again...thank you for all the ways you guided me through some formative years and decisions.

Who would you like to think if you could?

Monday, December 05, 2011

Saying "Thank you" at Mid-Plains

Friday night, I attended a Purdue event where one of the alums at our table talked about the importance of saying "thank you." It doesn't matter how much time has passed. A thank you is always appreciated. He got me thinking about people who have played a key role in my education.

One woman was Marilyn McGahan. When I was a student at Mid-Plains Community College, she was an instructor. Most important, she was an advisor for the student senate. When I walked on campus as a 16 year old who wasn't quite sure how to get involved, she took me under her wing and opened all kinds of opportunities to me. I started as a student senator. The next year I was student body president. During that year I was also selected to serve on a long term strategic planning committee for the community colleges in Nebraska. Then I lead the committee I'd served on when similar strategic planning meetings were held at Mid-Plains.

I would have never had those opportunities if Mrs. McGahan hadn't spent a lot of time in her office investing me. These opportunities helped open future doors to me.

So in case I didn't say it enough back then, thanks for everything, Mrs. McGahan. And I'm looking forward to having coffee in a few weeks!

Who's someone who impacted you at a key juncture?

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Cleaning House

Monday we got 50% of our carpet cleaned. The non-bedroom variety. I just couldn't stomach the thought of moving everything around to get all the rooms cleaned. But all the living areas were cleaned out, vacuumed thoroughly, and then dry-cleaned.

Isn't there something wonderful about freshly cleaned carpets? Ours look as good as when they were installed last fall. Fresh, spot-free, and new.

What I really love though is the opportunity to be intentional about where everything goes. Just because

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Where's Your Creative Passion?

One of my eldest son's paintings
One of my writing buds mentioned the other day that when she got the freedom to write, her other artistic endeavors slid to the background. That she found fulfillment in writing. I like that.

I used to cross-stitch.
I used to scrapbook. Now I tend to make photobooks online.
I used to do all kinds of craftie endeavors. Now I pour that time into writing.

That's where my passion lies. Last night I started working on sample chapters for a proposal my agent is getting ready to send out. I've worked on this proposal off and on for a year, each time adding layers in an effort to build a story that will be engaging and rich. My agent thinks I'm getting there. Yeah!

But I keep coming back to this story because it has the elements I love. History unique to World War II. Characters with a story that engages me each time I return to it. And the reality that I feel so alive when I'm laboring over each word.

As people created in the image of God, one of His attributes is creativity. Just look at the world around us. The complexity and variety -- unnecessary unless He wanted to delight us and enjoy the process of creating. How do you reflect His creativity? Is it through amazing meals? I need recipes! Or through crafting? How do you do it?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Reasons to be Thankful This Year

Praise the LORD. Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. Psalm 106:1

I'm a writer (and attorney), so I'm into words and their nuances. So as I started thinking about Thanksgiving last week (yes, a little late to the party!), I went to Here's what it gives as a definition for grateful:

1) Warmly or deeply appreciative of kindness or benefits received; thankful.
2) expressing or actuated by gratitude; a grateful letter
3) pleasing to the mind or senses; agreeable or welcome; refreshing: A grateful breeze

Warmly or deeply appreciative. I hope we can all look back on this year and think of several things that make us deeply appreciative.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Ready for Christmas? Check out these Books

I know...Thanksgiving is in a few days, but Christmas is one month away. That's where these books come in. Each is a beautiful hard bound book with slip jacket that would make a wonderful gift for a reader in your life. In addition, if you're struggling to get into the holiday spirit, these books will jump-start that for you. So grab a mug of hot chocolate, cider or tea, your favorite blanket and one of these books. I enjoyed each of them for very different reasons...

In Remembering Christmas, Dan Walsh is back with a Christmas novella that shows he can write emotion as well as Nicholas Sparks. Dan is one of my favorite authors right now because his stories have a nostalgic feel mixed with a light touch of romance and a smattering of real life. In Remembering Christmas, the reader steps back to the winter of 1980. Some of the author's illusions to the way life was back then had me smiling and dreaming -- especially the reference to gas that hovered around $1.00. A son, Rick Denton, returns home with extreme reluctance to help his mom when his stepfather has a medical emergency. He takes over their shop -- ironically, a Christian bookstore -- when he has no idea of the products.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Christmas in Sugar Creek tour

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Christmas In Sugarcreek
Avon Inspire (October 25, 2011)
Shelley Shepard Gray

Unfortunately, I just received this book in today's mail, so I can't say anything more than it is BEAUTIFUL and could make a wonderful Christmas gift. Looking forward to reading it though.


Judith Graber has always been the obedient daughter. When her older brother Josh struggled with his love life, she offered wise counsel. When her younger brother Caleb flirted with the idea of leaving their order, she firmly told him he was wrong. Over the years, she’s watched her younger siblings, helped around the house, and worked in her family’s store during her spare time. Judith feels overworked, overlooked, and underappreciated this holiday season.

But everything changes when her father hires Ben Knox.

Ben Knox is the “bad boy” of Sugarcreek. Though he’s never considered jumping the fence, he’s certainly never tried to be anything close to dutiful. Two years ago he left Sugarcreek under a cloud of shame. Rumors circulated that his rumspringa had been filled with more than the usual harmless explorations.

Now he’s back and working side by side with Judith.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Songs Inspired by The Story

When I first purchased this set of CDs a few weeks ago, I had six hours of uninterrupted time in the car. Some of these songs literally had me in tears as my heart sang the words with the Biblical people. If you're looking for music that will take you deeper and challenge you, this is a great one. While it's not praise and worship, it is filled with rich truth.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Stories I had to Share: by Tricia Goyer

I am delighted today to have my dear writing friend Tricia Goyer join us. We share a passion for World War II. Today she's here to tell us about a new book and her passion. Here's Tricia.

I never thought twice about World War II. A stay-at-home mom, I enjoyed writing about parenting. With three kids under ten, I had plenty to write about.

Then came the trip to Europe with two friends. They were both novelists, researching for works-in-progress. And myself … I was still coming to terms with my grandfather's death from cancer. When we knew there was no use in Grandpa fighting any longer, I brought him home and cared for him for four months. After juggling hospice visits, housecleaning, and kids’ homework, a relaxing time with friends was just what I needed.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

The Restorer

First off, you need to know that I am NOT a fantasy reader. I couldn’t read JRR Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings or Hobbit until after I saw The Fellowship of the Ring. I simply couldn’t picture the worlds he created. Finally, my love for my husband and my sincere enjoyment of the movie pushed me to pick up those books. I enjoyed them, but I doubt I will read them again until my kids are old enough to enjoy them.

However, The Restorer is a book I know I will return to again. Susan is a mom with a life that seems perfect, but it’s missing something. She longs to do and be more for God, yet doesn’t know how. Her husband creates an escape for her in the attic, a place to hide from the activity of her kids and try to reconnect with God. The first time she uses it, she is sucked through a portal and into a new world.

Let me stop right there. I really expected at that point to throw the book aside. I knew it was fantasy, but I had no idea how that would play out. All I knew before picking it up was that a soccer mom takes on a Deborah-esque role. However, I could not put this book down, even as I was sucked with Susan into a world I’d never heard of or seen.

Susan experiences all the bewildering emotions of landing in a new place, unsure of what just happened and how she will get home. The first two people she meets in this world scare her to death; she just watched one kill a man, the other seems dangerous in unspoken ways. Yet she is forced to depend on them as she faces the uncertainties and unknowns of this new life.

She follows Tristan to his community where he takes her under his wing and begins to teach her the skills of a guardian. In some ways the community seems something out of the Middle Ages, but it’s not. The author paints the scene with vivid details that had me smelling the air, seeing the sky, tasting the strange food. She also painted the characters with strokes that left me feeling like I knew them. It was easy to pretend I was Susan traveling through the story. Feeling the abuse her body took. The overwhelming mental challenges. The spiritual exertion.

The story is rich with villains, too. These villains are unlike any I’ve seen before. And their weapon of choice? Poisoning unsuspecting minds with lies that will debilitate. The imagery of spiritual warfare was rich yet shadowed. The book never became preachy, yet I could easily connect with the idea that the truth is all that will protect us from the lies of our Enemy.

I LOVED this book, and cannot wait to read book two when it releases this fall. And this from someone who runs the other direction as soon as someone mentions fantasy.

Come back tomorrow for a wonderful interview with Sharon Hinck.

Monday, November 07, 2011

ACFW: Always evolving

Yesterday and today I've been in meetings planning a big new adventure for ACFW. If you're dream includes writing a book, then you really need to check out ACFW. My writing journey would look very different without the things I have learned from ACFW members. This year I came back on the board as publicity officer. That's always an adventure, because many of the new endeavors fall under publicity. So this year we started offering webinars. We've had three this fall that went great. Now I'm sketching out plans for what the program will look like on a sustained basis. Then there's this new project, daunting and very exciting! You'll just have to stay tuned for more information, but know exciting things are coming!

Friday, November 04, 2011

What's Your Dream?

What's your dream?

Some days it's hard to get beyond the day to day to even imagine a dream. Other days our dreams are so overwhelming, they paralyze us. You want me to do what, God? Anyone?

We let the days zip by us, feeling empty and purposeless, but don't take the time to stop and ask why. Wonder if God more for us. And if He does, what could that be?

I firmly believe God has each of us here for this time for a reason. But many of us miss it because we aren't looking, we believe He can't really mean to use us, or we just aren't willing.

Do you have a dream? Are you taking steps to bring it to fruition knowing that you need to partner with God on it?

Thursday, November 03, 2011

The Baker's Wife

Let the flour fly!

I haven't received my copy of this book yet, so I can't tell you what I think other than I'm eager to read it. However, I did want to let you know about this giveaway because I think it's one just about every woman would enjoy. Even if you don't like to cook you probably like to bake -- well, at least I do :-)

Beginning October 24th, Erin's celebrating the release of her latest page turner, The Baker's Wife, with an outstanding KitchenAid baking prize package giveaway that includes a brand new KitchenAid Mixer, cook books, and all you need to whip up some fabulous bread or sweets! Then on November 10th she'll be wrapping up the release of The Baker's Wife with an Author Book Chat Party on Facebook! Don't miss a minute of the fun!

One grand prize winner will receive:
  • Empire Red 4.5 QT Ultra Power KitchenAid Stand Mixer
  • Black & White Kitschy Apron
  • Black Silicone Oven Mitt
  • Black OXO Rolling Pin
  • Wilton 9X5 loaf pan
  • At My Grandmother's Knee Cookbook by Faye Porter
  • Second Helpings with Johnnie Gabriel Cookbook
  • The Baker's Wife by Erin Healy
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on November 9th. Winner will be announced at The Baker's Wife Author Book Chat Facebok Party. Erin will be wrapping up the The Baker's Wife celebration with a book club chat and giving away a bunch of "sweet treats"! So grab your copy of The Baker's Wife (it's okay if you don't have one yet- you might win one!) and join Erin on the evening of November 10th for a book chat, some "baking" trivia and lots of "sweet" giveaways (books, and Amazon, iTunes & Starbucks gift certificates)!

Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter

Don't miss a moment of the fun. RSVP today and tell your friends. Hope to see you on the 10th!

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Me? A Princess?

One of the other things I'll teach on this week is coming to a place of understanding our identity in Christ.

Have you ever really thought about what it means to be God's Princess? To really grasp that everything in the fairytales, plus a whole lot of authority is ours by extension of what Christ did for us? It's a humbling and powerful thought.

Just think about Psalm 16:6 for a minute: The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places, surely I have a delightful inheritance.

Okay, now read it again and let it soak in. Some of us are in a place where we can say, yes, that is me. Others of us are at moments where we can't even see the foot in front of us let alone find the face of God to see a delightful inheritance. But it's ours. Relish that thought and promise today.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Love on the Line: DeeAnne Gist

With Love on the Line, DeeAnne Gist is back with a collection of delightful characters.  Who else can make a train robber seem like the kind of guy every girl would fall in love with? And the sparks between Georgie and Luke fly from the first moment he shows up at her telephone office. She's butting up against what the times say a woman can do, and he seems more than happy to hold her there. It's another great romance from DeeAnne!

Deeanne is thrilled to introduce Georgie and Luke to the world in her latest novel, Love on the Line. To celebrate Deeanne's publisher, Bethany House, is hosting the Love on the Line iPad2 giveaway an Author Chat on Facebook! Enter today and follow the link below to RSVP for Deeanne's rip-roarin' Facebook Party!

One fortunate winner will receive: 
  • A Brand New iPad2 
  • A Signed Copy of Love on the Line by Deeanne Gist 
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on November 7th. Winner will be announced at Deeanne's Author Chat Facebook Party. Deeanne will be wrapping of the Love on the Line celebration by chatting with friends new and old! So grab your copy of Love on the Line (it's okay if you don't have one yet- you might could win one!) and join Deeanne on the evening of November 8th for a rip roaring book chat, a little trivia, a sneak peak at her next book, and lots of giveaways (books, and Amazon, iTunes & Starbucks gift certificates)!
Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter
Don't miss a moment of the fun. RSVP today and tell your friends. Hope to see you on the 8th!

Monday, October 31, 2011

What's Your Word?

This Saturday I'm speaking at a women's retreat at Harvest Christian Fellowship in North Platte, NE. I'd love to have you join us!

But as I was sitting in church yesterday, I started thinking about what I would be talking about. The pastor and I were on the same page, since he was talking about the rocks of remembrance God has the Children of Israel take from the Jordan River when they crossed into Canaan.

One of the things I plan to do with the ladies is ask them to consider what God has done in their past. How has He moved? What does He want them to remember so they'll have the courage to go forward with Him into the future. I give each lady a stone and then have Sharpies up front so they can write on the rock. Then I put a slide up with dozens of possible words on it.

So that got me thinking. What are the words or events that God gives you as anchor points in your faith. The moments that let you know He's been with you with the past and will be there in the future, too?

Friday, October 28, 2011

My Husband Rocks!

I sent off a proposal last week for a series I really want to write. It's World War II. Europe. Art. Need I say more?

I had to revamp the proposal quite a bit before sending it off because the heroine needed to be an American. Quite a change from Italian, but I have completely fallen in love with the revised heroine and her issues. You know she has to have issues!

So I made her a photojournalist. I wanted her to have a unique reason for being in Europe and found some amazing women to base her on. So then I needed a camera that a reporter would have used during that time period. My amazing husband jumped on Google and had the perfect camera in two shakes.

But not only did he find a camera that would work great. He also bought one for me! I had no idea, until he handed it to me last night. His reasoning? A photo and description wouldn't be enough to let me know what the heroine was holding and using. I love this man.

And can I just say, he's right. Out of the gate, the thing that surprised me is how heavy the camera is. That's something I would have never guessed from looking at photos. It's small, but it won't fit in a small purse. But I can definitely imagine her developing the film in a helmet like some of the photojournalists did!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

There You'll Find Me Review

This book was so good we're going to give your two perspectives. Today, my daughter is writing the review. Come back later for my review and a giveaway.

Here's my daughter's review:

AMAZING. It's very well-written. Jenny takes you to Ireland with the main character Finley Sinclair. Finley heads to Ireland for a foreign exchange program, but she's really there to find peace. Her dead brother spent his senior year in Ireland and she wants to recreate his experience and find his peace.

On the way, she ends up seated next to Beckett Rush, THE heart throb of vampire movies. She walks away, thinking she'll never see him again, only to find he's staying at the B&B her host family owns.

Finely is desperately trying to lose weight -- about the only thing in her world she thinks she can control. Between a foster grandma who is dying, a cross she can't find, and an audition that is bearing down on her, she needs something she can control. After reading this multi-layered book, I can't wait to read more of Jenny's YA titles. It's AMAZING.

If you've read Jenny's Save the Date, Finley is Alex Sinclair's little sister. There You'll Find Me is filled with such raw emotion and longing that I couldn't put it down. Don't let the YA categorization keep you from reading this book. Jenny takes these characters through issues that all of us can relate to: from the deep need to control our worlds to the search for a place it's safe to be the true me, she shines a light on our deepest needs. Then she masterfully demonstrates how Christ is the answer to all of our needs and longings. This story does not wrap up neatly, because life is that way. However, at the end you are left with a sense that Finley will be okay, that she will come out the other side a much stronger that God can use.

And the best part? CBD has the book on sale for $6.99. Christmas shopping, folks!

I'm going to give a copy of this away over on my teen blog. Click here if you'd like to enter.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Booksignings: worth doing?

Booksignings are something authors love to do or hate to do. There seems to be very little middle ground. Saturday I had one at a new-to-me store, Open Door Bookstore in Terre Haute, Indiana.

Why would I drive two hours to sell a few books?

1. I want to support the local Christian bookstores. I didn't know this ahead of time, but Open Door is a beautiful free-standing store. It's the kind of store I would shop in and spend lots of money in if we had one locally. The staff was friendly and knowledgeable and the fiction section was HUGE! If a local store is going to ask me to sign, I will try to make it work. While I was there, I helped sell books and cards. Fun!

2. I sold books. And the people I met had never read my books. In fundraising, we call that donor acquisition. In publishing, I call that reader acquisition. Without readers, publishers aren't going to be interested in more of my books.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Baby It's Cold Outside Review

Baby It's Cold Outside takes readers back to the days shortly after World War II. A group of broken people is stranded during a snowstorm, forcing them to spend time together waiting out the storm. In classic Susan May Warren fashion, the author has created a group of characters with wounds that seem destined to keep them apart, but through this forced time together they must choose whether to keep their distance or allow the others into their lives. The lies and hurts seem impenetrable, but what will melt as the cold rages outside?

I loved this book and the way it shows that our past hurts don't have to hold our futures hostage.

Warm up to Chrismtas early this year with Susan May Warren's Baby, It's Cold Outside! To celebrate the release of her new Christmas book with Summerside Press, she and the publisher are giving away a Kindle Fire and hosting an early Christmas Party on Facebook!

Read what the reviewers are saying here.

One festive winner will receive:
  • A brand new Kindle Fire
  • Baby, It's Cold Outside by Susan May Warren
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. Giveaway ends on 10/26!

But, wait there’s more! Join Susan May Warren on 10/27 for merriment and a few early Christmas presents at her Baby, It's Cold Outside Christmas party! Grab your Christmas sweaters, socks and pj’s and join Susan and a few friends for a fireside chat about her recent books (Heiress & Baby, It’s Cold Outside), holiday traditions, favorite Christmas recipes, a trivia contest and more! Invite your friends and don’t miss the fun!

RSVP here and we'll see you on October 27th at 5 PM PST / 8 PM EST!

Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Interview with Mary Neely

I am delighted today to have my good friend Mary Connealy, er...Mary Nealy, join us. You've probably seen my reviews of Mary's delightful cowboy romances. Now she has a serial killer suspense releasing. Hence the names. I had to know more and wanted to share her answers with you.

You’re other books have been historicals. What drew you to writing a contemporary suspense? I wrote for ten years before I got my first book published. And I had twenty finished books on my computer when I received my first contract. Those books were mainly all romance but within that frame I wrote in all genres. And that included contemporary romantic suspense. I decided at some point in those ten years that if no one would publish my books, I’d just write to entertain myself, so I wrote whatever I wanted that sounded fun. I love writing the cowboys and hope to always get to do that, but changing genres, sweet, suspenseful, contemporary, police procedurals, cozy mysteries, really energizes me and I love doing it.

Serial Killers…not your typical fare. While all your books have intense conflict, why did you find that this was a story you couldn’t walk away from? I was reading about the gifts of the spirit and they were all really familiar. Knowledge, Wisdom, Prophecy, Faith, Healings, Miracles, Discerning of Spirits, Tongues, Interpretation of Tongues.

Except I noticed ‘discerning of spirits’. And I wondered about that. I’d never heard of anyone who had that gift. I’d heard of all the others many times. So I started to think about that one rarely referenced gift and wondered what it would be like to have it. What if a person could go up to someone and sense an evil spirit? Out of that came my heroine in Ten Plagues, a lady cop with the gift of discerning spirits who is at a crime scene and senses an evil unlike any she’d ever known. I needed a truly ugly, demonic evil and the serial killer was born.

Research is different for historicals and contemporaries. What did you find especially challenging with this one? My main research for this book was Chicago. Trying to set a book in a big enough city to sustain the big police force, the homeless shelter, a true culture or street people because my serial killer is focusing on an inner city mission pastor. Well, to have an inner city mission pastor, you’ve got to have an inner city. So I needed a city big enough for that and fictionalizing a really big city seemed wrong somehow. So I picked Chicago and then I had to learn about it, at least enough to not make the story ring false. With historical, at this point, because I feel really familiar with the cowboy era, my main research is either the interests of my characters…in my most recent cowboy release my heroine is obsessed with fossils she’s found in a cavern. That took a lot of research. And beyond that I mainly research the plants and animals native to the specific setting. The rest      is pretty much John Wayne movies and Louis L’Amour books.

You are known for your great sense of humor in your writing. Does that show up in this book or did you have to cap it? So what are you saying? Just what are you saying? Just because there’s a demon possessed serial killer in my book it can’t be a lighthearted romantic comedy? Okay, maybe it’s a little more serious. There are comic moments in this book. Have you ever noticed in action adventure movies there are comic breaks? They need them because the intensity is too much to keep a viewer or reader in the book. It’s exhausting. So I have those moments.

Which character was the hardest to write? I seem to struggle with heroes more, mainly because I think it’s easy to slip into clich├ęs with heroes. Tall, dark and handsome. Courageous white nights. I struggled with Pastor Paul quite a bit because I needed him to go through a terrible time that would shake his call to serve at that inner city mission. So he’s hidden himself in a life of pure service. Yes, he’s called to it, but he’s got this burden of guilt because he blames himself for the deaths of his wife and daughter. Part of his growth during the book is learning that he can forgive himself and live a full life and still serve in that mission.

Of all the cities in the United States, why Chicago? I’m not sure really. I think because it’s Midwestern and so am I. I guess I felt more comfortable with the Midwestern mindset, the weather. You know what? I’ve got no idea why Chicago. I suppose it’s too late to change that now.

What did you learn about God as you wrote this book? I remember this verse about the spiritual gifts, along with a lot of proverbs, being really important to me when I was younger. I used to pray hard for the gift of wisdom. I hadn’t thought of that in a lot of years, those old prayers during my teens and my college years. It set me to wondering about wisdom again, wondering what it meant, whether I could claim to have it. (I doubt it!) And I’m praying for that again, wisdom.

Mary, that is so cool! I should join you in that prayer for wisdom! What fact did you learn that surprised you the most? Were you able to incorporate it into the book? These are getting hard. The fact I’m learning right now is, when I try really hard to think of great answers to these interview questions it kinda makes my head ache. I think my brain has atrophied and honestly, I’m dismayed to discover that.

You’re using a pseudonym…why? I am not using a pseudonym to try and hide my identity. That just gets too confusing. What I intend with the pen name is to WARN PEOPLE. I want readers to know, when they pick up this book, they are NOT getting romantic comedy with cowboys. I think a reader is never more unhappy with an author then when their expectations aren’t met. Never is this more true than when they pick up a romance novel and the book doesn’t have a happily ever after. So in that sense, I’m coming through because this is definitely a romance.

But it’s DIFFERENT! Be warned. I hope that if a fan of Mary Connealy picks up Mary Nealy they will not be dismayed, betrayed, waylaid and afraid. (Okay, now I’m a poet—and considering the subject of Ten Plagues, go ahead and BE AFRAID!!!)
Where can people find you on the internet?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Love on the Line

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Love on the Line
Bethany House (October 1, 2011)
Deeanne Gist


After a short career in elementary education, Deeanne Gist retired to raise her four children. Over the course of the next fifteen years, she ran a home accessory and antique business, became a member of the press, wrote freelance journalism for national publications such as People, Parents, Parenting, Family Fun, Houston Chronicle and Orlando Sentinel, and acted as CFO for her husband’s small engineering firm--all from the comforts of home.

Squeezed betwixt-and-between all this, she read romance novels by the truckload and even wrote a couple of her own. While those unpublished manuscripts rested on the shelf, she founded a publishing corporation for the purpose of developing, producing and marketing products that would reinforce family values, teach children responsibility and provide character building activities.

After a few short months of running her publishing company, Gist quickly discovered being a "corporate executive" was not where her gifts and talents lie. In answer to Gist’s fervent prayers, God sent a mainstream publisher to her door who licensed her parenting I Did It!® product line and committed to publish the next generation of her system, thus freeing Gist to return to her writing.

Eight months later, she sold A Bride Most Begrudging to Bethany House Publishers. Since that debut, her very original, very fun romances have rocketed up the bestseller lists and captured readers everywhere.  Add to this two consecutive Christy Awards, three RITA nominations, rave reviews, and a growing loyal fan base, and you’ve got one recipe for success.

Her latest releases, Beguiled, Maid To Match, and Love on the Line are now available.

Gist lives in Texas with her husband of twenty-eight years and their border collie. They have four grown children. Click here to find out the most up-to-the-minute news about Dee.  


Rural switchboard operator Georgie Gail is proud of her independence in a man's world ... which makes it twice as vexing when the telephone company sends a man to look over her shoulder.

Dashing Luke Palmer is more than he appears though. He's a Texas Ranger working undercover to infiltrate a notorious gang of train robbers. Repairing telephones and tangling with this tempestuous woman is the last thing he wants to do.  But when his stakeout puts Georgie in peril, he realizes more than his job is on the line.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Love on the Line, go HERE.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Want to Write for Love Inspired Historical?

Today we're delighted to welcome Emily Rodmell, an editor at Harlequin. If you've ever dreamed of writing for Harlequin, then be sure to keep reading. She's got some great tips for you!

Good morning everyone. I’m Emily Rodmell, and I’m the associate editor for Harlequin’s 3 Love Inspired lines (Love Inspired, Love Inspired Suspense and Love Inspired Historical). I’m here today to talk to you about the great opportunity we have at Love Inspired Historical for new writers. LIH doubled its output from two to four books a month this year, and it’s opened up a whole lot of opportunity for new writers looking to get published. Since the expansion, we’ve published 9 new to LIH authors (many of them debut authors), and we currently have 10 more scheduled to publish by the end of 2012.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Along Wooded Paths Facebook Party

Welcome to the blog tour for book 2 in the Big Sky series from Tricia Goyer,Along Wooded Paths. Already beloved by critics, Along Wooded Paths picks up right where Beside Still Waters ends. Don't miss the continuing story of Marianna Sommer. Tricia will be hosting a Facebook Party and a Live Author Chat on 10/18! RSVP early and don't miss a minute of the fun. (Details below)
Do you live in Ohio or Pennsylvania? Come meet Tricia during her book tour - details here.
“A wonderful story about the Amish and the way they live their lives by the writings of the Bible. Readers will delight in this.” --RT Book Reviews
“A sweet, tender tale that’s sure to please readers. Amish fiction fans will be wanting more from Ms. Goyer!”
“A captivating story . . . the reader can’t wait to turn the page." --Suzanne Woods Fisher, best-selling author, Lancaster County Series
Watch the video trailer:
About Tricia Goyer:
Tricia Goyer is the author of thirty books including Songbird Under a German Moon, The Swiss Courier, and the mommy memoir, Blue Like Play Dough. She won Historical Novel of the Year in 2005 and 2006 from ACFW, and was honored with the Writer of the Year award from Mt. Hermon Writer's Conference in 2003. Tricia's book Life Interrupted was a finalist for the Gold Medallion in 2005. In addition to her novels, Tricia writes non-fiction books and magazine articles for publications like MomSense andThriving Family. Tricia is a regular speaker at conventions and conferences, and has been a workshop presenter at the MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) International Conventions. She and her family make their home in Little Rock, Arkansas where they are part of the ministry of FamilyLife.
For more about Tricia and her other books
About the book:
All she wanted was a simple Amish life . . . But now Marianna Sommer finds herself depending on Englisch neighbors. Although proud of living apart from the world, she and her newly relocated Amish family have discovered that life in the remote mountains of Montana requires working together.
As Marianna begins helping those different from herself—and receiving their help—her heart contemplates two directions. She’s torn between the Amish man from Indiana whom she has long planned on marrying and the friendly Englischer who models a closer walk with God than she’s ever seen before.
Who should have young Marianna’s heart? What is God asking her to sacrifice? Her traditions? Her community? The answer is found along the wooded paths.
More about the Facebook Party and Live Author Chat! 
Tricia is celebrating the release of Along Wooded Paths with a Fabulous Facebook party on October 18th. She'll be giving away prizes and a sneak peak at the next book in the Big Sky series.
Then during the second half of the party she'll be hosting a LIVE AUTHOR CHAT on her website and announcing something BIG! CLICK the button (below) to RSVP for the party - then go here to sign up for the Live Author Chat.

Friday, October 14, 2011

A few events...come join me

The next few weeks look a little nutty on the Putman calendar. Consider this your personal invitation to come participate!

On Saturday, October 22nd, I'll be signing my books at Open Door Christian Bookstore in Terre Haute, Indiana. 3125 Third Place, Terre Haute, IN 47802 ·I'll be there from 1-2:30 and would love to have you join me if you're in the area.

From there, I'm traveling to Jewett, Illinois, where I'll be speaking at a women's retreat beginning at four. If you'd like more details on that, please leave a comment. The theme is developing a ruthless trust in God from seeing ourselves as He does to following where He leads.

Then on Saturday, November 5th, I'll be the main speaker at a Women's Retreat at my home church from days of yore in North Platte, Nebraska. Again, if you're in that area, I'd love to have you join us for a day of learning how to be the Princesses God has called and created us to be. I'll also speak on developing our dreams with Him.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Moments to Soak in...

Some days life stinks.

It just does. We've all had those. Sometimes it's a blink. Sometimes it's a week. Sometimes it's a season.

Other times, life has flashes of hope and days of joy.

And others, there are shadows of things to come.

I think that's where I'm sitting. I had a meeting on Monday that looks like a wide-open door to a dream. And no, it's not writing related. There is more to me than that.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
A Wedding Invitation
Bethany House (October 1, 2011)
Alice Wisler
Alice has a great voice for first person, and this book continues to demonstrate that strength. If you enjoy a rich first person story that has depth and writing that pulls you in, then this is a great book for you!

Alice was born in Osaka, Japan in the sixties.  Her parents were Presbyterian career missionaries. As a young child, Alice loved to walk down to the local stationer's store to buy notebooks, pencils and scented erasers.  In her room, she created stories.  The desire to be a published famous author has never left her.  Well, two out of three isn't bad. She's the author of Rain Song, How Sweet It Is, Hatteras Girl and A Wedding Invitation (all published by Bethany House).


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