Friday, March 30, 2012

Interview with Cheryl McKay and giveaway!!!!

Today I'm delighted to introduce you to an author. While I've never met Cheryl McKay, I feel like I got to know her well through her delightful novel Never the Bride, co-authored with Rene Gutteridge. This is a novel that I believe every single woman should read. I invited Cheryl here because I thought you'd be blessed by her story...and it would give you a chance to learn about her new book. Be sure to read to the end to learn how you might receive a copy of the book, Finally the Bride

Cheryl, it’s a delight to have you join me. I LOVED your novel Never the Bride. How has this new book grown out of that story?

Thank you. I’m so glad you loved Neverthe Bride

In Finally the Bride: Finding Hope While Waiting, I wanted to share, in non-fiction form, my personal angst as a single person. It gave me lots of great comedy material for the story of Never the Bride (co-written with Rene Gutteridge). But I also wanted to be more forthcoming with a similar message the novel has about how God cares about our love lives. While we were working on that novelization, I felt strongly I was to write a non-fiction companion book, especially penning it while I was still single. I needed to write it from a place of pain, not “after the fact” when I had moved on, gotten married, and my wait was no longer present (a wait that admittedly was driving me a bit crazy at times). So, I wrote it concurrently, except the final few chapters. I had to wait to finish the book, to see how God was going to pay off my true-life story. Little did I know how much it would match what God does in Never the Bride!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Chase Review

This is probably one of my favorite books of DiAnn's. I loved the writer who's following a dream being paired with a FBI agent who is a loner and willing to do whatever it takes to keep Houston safe. Kariss Walker is compelled to dig ever deeper when children are involved. Because of an event in her past, she can't let go and is determined to write a book based on an unidentified girl who starved to death and was abandoned. Tigo Harris is neck deep in a gun smuggling undercover operation and doesn't have time to babysit a writer, but his boss doesn't care. This is the first of hopefully many cases the Kariss and Tigo will tackle. If you adore romantic suspense with an emphasis on the romance, you will find plenty in this book to keep you involved. And for those of us who love the suspense/puzzle side, there's a lot to pull us in.

I received this book to review from the publisher. The opinions are mine alone.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Sixty Acres and a Bride Review

In Sixty Acres and a Bride, the author weaves a tale that breathes new life into the Biblical story of Ruth and Naomi. Set in Texas, Rosa Garner follows her mother-in-law to the old family ranch. Time and taxes threaten to steal it from them. Rosa tries so hard to follow all the rules that confront her that are so different from those she's used to in her native Mexico. Yet every turn and effort seems to disappoint when all she wants to do is please. The story will satisfy readers who love a historical rich in detail and layered with a strong spiritual thread.   

Here's more about the story: 

With nothing to their names, young widow Rosa Garner and her mother-in-law return to Texas and the family ranch. Only now the county is demanding back taxes and the women have only three months to pay. 

Though facing eviction, Rosa can't keep herself from falling in love with the countryside and the wonderful extended family who want only her best. Learning the American customs is not easy, however, and this beautiful young widow can't help but catch wandering eyes. Where some offer help with dangerous strings attached, only one man seems honorable. But when Weston Garner, still grieving his own lost love, is unprepared to give his heart, to what lengths will Rosa go to save her future?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Let's have some fun!

I saw this on Melissa Tagg's blog and had to steal it.  If you want to play along, the rules of being tagged are simple: answer the questions provided and then tag 11 others. 

1. Book or movie and why?

I adore books, but I also LOVE classic movies (Melissa and I agree on this). My definition of classic primarily means the black and white ones. See my sidebar for examples of my favorites.

2. Real book or e-book?

Real book. I still haven't fallen in love with ebooks. I know that will likely change, but there's still something magical about holding a physical book.

3. Funniest thing you’ve done in the past 5 years?

Five years? Can I just claim that I'm not very funny?

4. How would your best friend describe you?

Wonder woman. Seriously! They claim they're looking for my bracelets. I could not make that up. Remember? I'm not funny!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

88 Great Daddy-Daughter Dates

My birthday is almost here and one of the best gifts I've given myself is a husband who loves our children deeply and well. Still, there's always a tension in trying to find ways to build meaningful memories with them. Just last week we took advantage of unseasonably warm weather to have a picnic at a state park ... in the middle of the week ... because we need that time to build the memories we'll talk about in twenty years.

As a college student, some of my best memories are of those times my dad came to town and took me to dinner or a movie. I loved being his date. That worked because he'd spent my lifetime building that relationship that still makes me daddy's girl. 

Sometimes it's not easy coming up with ideas. This book is filled with simple dates that don't take much preparation and many don't require much money either. The focus is on spending time together -- father and daughter. Some involve new experiences like ice skating. Others focus on outdoors activities or on cooking and crafting together. The heart of each is spending time with your young girls, so that when they are teens and young adults they'll still value you. 

This book would make a great Father's Day gift!

Friday, March 23, 2012

CFBA Tour: Missing

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Avon Inspire; Original edition (March 20, 2012)
Shelley Shepard Gray

I really enjoyed this book. It's the first in a series so some threads are left for another book, but I enjoyed following Lydia and Walker's stories. And I can't wait to return to Crittendon County for the next installment. The pacing is good, the characterization intriguing, and the book one that will go on my keeper shelf. This is the first book of Shelley's that I've read, but it won't be the last.


Since 2000, Shelley Sabga has sold over thirty novels to numerous publishers, including HarperCollins, Harlequin, Abingdon Press, and Avon Inspire. She has been interviewed by NPR, and her books have been highlighted in numerous publications, including USA Today and The Wall Street Journal.

Under the name Shelley Shepard Gray, Shelley writes Amish romances for HarperCollins’ inspirational line, Avon Inspire. Her recent novel, The Protector, the final book in her “Families of Honor” series, hit the New York Times List, and her previous novel in the same series, The Survivor, appeared on the USA Today bestseller list. Shelley has won the prestigious Holt Medallion for her books, Forgiven and Grace, and her novels have been chosen as Alternate Selections for the Doubleday/Literary Guild Book Club. Her first novel with Avon Inspire, Hidden, was an Inspirational Reader’s Choice finalist.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

3 Things to do on Mackinac Island

My family and I adore Mackinac Island. We've made two trips there and hope to head back up there in July for a booksigning.

With A Wedding Transpires on Mackinac Island releasing April 1st, my thoughts keep wandering back to Mackinac and why we like it. Maybe you've heard of the island. Maybe you're planning a trip there yourselves. Either way, here are a few things we love to do on the island.

1) The first is to slow down and relax. There's something peaceful about a place that has no cars. Instead, you hear the steady clop-clop of horses hooves and the ring of bike bells.

2) We love to rent bikes and take at least one ride around the island. It's about eight miles so takes around an hour. Most of the bike shops rent burley carts or bikes with an add on for younger kids. It makes for a very relaxing afternoon. And you can stop and take photos or dip your toes in the lake as often as you like.

3) We enjoy stopping in all the little shops. From fudge to unique restaurants to your typical shops selling t-shirts, it's fun to stop in places you don't find in your local downtown.

So if you're ready to step back in time to a place that has held on to a slower pace of life, then consider slipping away to Mackinac Island. I think you'll enjoy it!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Monday Meditation: Are we willing to follow?

View of one of Mackinac Island's churches
Yesterday our church dedicated its new building. But really we dedicated ourselves to the on-going service of the Lord.

We had the opportunity to examine where we are, where we want to go, and the idea that this is only one more step toward a new beginning.

God is like that. Always moving to a new place. And asking us if we are willing to move with Him.

Are you ever tempted to tell Him no? Thank you very much, but you're quite comfortable where you are and what you're doing? That if where God moved you was good enough last year, five years ago, twenty years ago, then you are quite certain that this must be where He has you for the next twenty years?

Isn't that like us? To become comfortable and not want to step into what ever might be next? The road is foggy. We can't see five steps down the road let alone five years. So we decide to be safe.

I don't know about you, but I don't want safe. I want God. Where He goes, I want to follow. How about you?

Friday, March 16, 2012

Two Suspense Titles I read this week and Loved!

In case you aren't reading one of my books for spring are a couple of really good suspense novels I've read in the last week.

Randy Singer is one of those authors that I wish could write multiple books a year. His plots are intricate, his suspense compelling, and his characterization superb. With The Last Plea Bargain he is back and at the top of the legal thriller genre. The Last Plea Bargain is a page-turning legal thriller that spins in so many directions I couldn't walk away from the story. I loved that he brought back Jamie Brock, a character from another book. Jamie is facing the death of her father and the execution of the man who murdered her mother. The problem is that his appellate attorney is willing to do anything to get his execution stayed. The man is fully convinced that his client is innocent. Then the attorney who defended her mother's killer is accused of murdering his wife, and Jamie's put on the case. From there Singer weaves an intricate web that spins between the appellate and trial cases. The trial scenes are gripping, yet the non-legal scenes are filled with tension and underlying emotions. And each time I thought I knew with certainty where the plot was headed, he threw in a twist that kept me reading.

Singer is an absolute master -- he's crafted another compelling win with The Last Plea Bargain. I hope to see more books with Jamie...My only complaint is that he can't write faster!

When we stopped at Thomas Nelson last week on our drive back from Jekyll Island, Allen asked if I'd read any of Lis Wiehl's Triple Threat novels. I'd read one and started another, so he handed me the latest that releases next week. I read it in a day. Literally. The fourth book in the series, I found it a compelling read. Because I knew the conflict that would propel the book, I thought I'd read a few chapters and walk away. Instead, because I'd just finished another book in the series, I was easily drawn into the lives of the Triple Threat members: a crime reporter, FBI agent, and federal prosecutor. This time they're not just seeking justice but fighting for their lives. As with the other books, there are multiple points of view, but this one delved deeper into each character, allowing me to better connect with them. This book left me longing for a bit more. Yet the ending satisfied as the Triple Threat Club survived...with a twist.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

3 Ways to Breath Life into Your Child's Dreams

This weekend my oldest daughter and I spent about twenty hours helping out at a gymnastics meet. Yes, you're reading that right. Twenty hours.

The competing girls were all levels 3 & 4s. For many of them it was their first state competition. And their dreams were coming true.

Kids are like that. The kids on the left are my two oldest several years ago looking through binoculars on Mackinac Island. Kids have the biggest dreams. And as a parent I want to know how to focus in on the one that will lead to success and fulfillment. So what's a parent to do?

Monday, March 12, 2012

A Wedding Transpires on Mackinac Island Arrives!!!!

Friday my author copies of A Wedding Transpires on Mackinac Island arrived! I love this story. The heroine is an attorney who's forced to return home to  help her family. In the process she's confronted with the past and a mystery. Then an old family friend is murdered. Add her first love who lives next door...and her life is complicated.

Last night I was pinning some information on Mackinac Island to my board on Pinterest. It felt almost nostalgic to return to the blogs, maps, and hotels we've stayed at. I can't wait to return later this summer for a booksigning.

My kids are excited because they love everything about the island. They love the salt water taffy and fudge. They enjoy Fort Mackinac. And we love biking around the island. It's such a peaceful place with the clop of horses' hooves and sound of bikes zipping along the road.

It's been a few months since we've been there!

Where is a place that you and your family like to visit?

Friday, March 09, 2012

Finding God in the Details

Last weekend the Putmans punched what my husband calls our crazy card. We left Thursday afternoon at 1 p.m., drove to Jekyll Island, Georgia -- a 14 hour drive for those keeping track, and arrived at 1 p.m. on Friday. Then we left Sunday night and arrived home at 1 a.m. Tuesday morning.


But what you do when life is as scheduled -- dare I say over-scheduled -- as ours.

What does this to do with finding God in the details?

As we drove home late Monday night, we passed the Henryville, Indiana exit. An exit that was blocked with barricades and a state patrol car.  Trees were uprooted along the Interstate -- even with the few I could see in the dark, my heart broke again for those wiped out by the storm.

Then it hit me. We could have been in the middle of the storm. If we'd left at 1 p.m. on Friday like we'd discussed, then we would have hit southern Indiana as the storm gathered its fury. And then I wondered: how many stories like that will we hear? Moments, decisions, actions that changed outcomes. Now, in our situation, I don't think that decision was earth-shattering, but it did make our trip much smoother. We sat out tornado warnings in a comfortable house on Jekyll Island rather than dodging through the system on Friday.

Again I'm reminded that God is active in our lives. I wonder how very many times He's moving and influencing and we just don't recognize His presence. My prayer is that my eyes would be open more and more to see those intersections.

Even as I pray about how to help the communities affected by the storm. While I may not understand why things happen the way they do, I'm increasingly aware of the way God is in the details. How have you seen God move in or intersect your life lately?

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Wednesday Meditation: The Value of Life

Last week, I saw this on Facebook. The thing that struck me was the way I hesitated to repost it even as I thought the image had power. Then I saw the video for the new Casting Crowns song, Just Another Birthday. Yes, the song speaks to so much more than just the value of life. Still I urge you to take a moment to watch the video. Then read the portion of Psalm 139 and thank God for crafting you and having a plan for you before you were even recognized by your earthly mom and dad.

And then ask God how you can help those who find themselves facing the challenges of the girl in the photo to the right. It's not enough to say we value life. We have to do something about it.

Psalm 139:13-16

For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Chasing the Sun CFBA Tour

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Chasing The Sun
Bethany House Publishers (March 1, 2012)
Tracie Peterson


Tracie Peterson is the bestselling, award-winning author of more than 85 novels.

She received her first book contract in November, 1992 and saw A Place To Belong published in February 1993 with Barbour Publishings' Heartsong Presents. She wrote exclusively with Heartsong for the next two years, receiving their readership's vote for Favorite Author of the Year for three years in a row.

In December, 1995 she signed a contract with Bethany House Publishers to co-write a series with author Judith Pella. Tracie now writes exclusively for Bethany House Publishers.

She teaches writing workshops at a variety of conferences on subjects such as inspirational romance and historical research.

Tracie was awarded the Romantic Times Career Achievement Award for 2007 Inspirational Fiction and her books have won numerous awards for favorite books in a variety of contests.

Making her home in Montana, this Kansas native enjoys spending time with family--especially her three grandchildren--Rainy, Fox and Max.  She's active in her church as the Director of Women's Ministries, coordinates a yearly writer's retreat for published authors, and travels, as time permits, to research her books.    


When her father disappears in war-torn Mississippi, Hannah Dandridge finds herself responsible not only for her younger siblings but for the ranch her father recently acquired on the Texas plains. Though a marriage of convenience could ease her predicament, she determines to trust God for direction.

Wounded soldier William Barnett returns to his home only to discover that his family's ranch has been seized. Though angry and bitter at this turn of events, he's surprised to discover that it is a beautiful young woman with amazing fortitude who is struggling to keep the place running.

Hannah, desperate for help, and William, desperate to regain his family's land, form an uneasy truce. But nearby Comanche tribes, the arrival of Confederate soldiers, and a persistent suitor all threaten the growing attraction that builds between them. Will they be able to set aside their own dreams and embrace the promise of a future together?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Chasing The Sun, go HERE.

This book is next on my pile to read. I haven't read many books set during the Civil War lately. Yet this one by Tracie Peterson caught my attention. Looks like an engaging read.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Blue Moon Promise Review

If you read this blog much at all, you know that Colleen Coble has been instrumental in launching my writing career. For some reason she saw something in me and has breathed life into it. 

If you love her Gilded Age historicals and you enjoy her Lonestar series, then Blue Moon Promise is for you. While I enjoy Colleen's contemporary romantic mysteries, I've decided I adore her historicals. There is a certain style that comes through as she writes stories set in times from the past that I love. This book completely fit that convergence.

Lucy Marsh has to protect her younger siblings, but after her father is killed, it becomes ever more challenging. Then a man shows up at her door claiming to be a long ago friend of her father's. He suggests she marry his son, so that she and her siblings will have  a place to live. That requires a move from Indiana to the unknown in Texas, but when they are attacked that night, she feels she has no choice. 

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Heart's Safe Passage Review

In a continuation of her Midwives series, Laurie Alice Eakes is back with Heart's Safe Passage. The War of 1812 is still being waged between the United States and England, and this time the action takes place on a boat bound to England. A wife is desperate to reach England to plead for her husband's release. And the only way to get there is to take a midwife with her on a British ship during the turbulent times. As you read the book, you will be transported to that time...and gripped by the characters and their journeys.

More about the book: 

It's 1813 and all Phoebe Lee wants out of life is to practice midwifery in Loudon County, Virginia. When Belinda, her pregnant sister-in-law, presses Phoebe to accompany her onto a British privateer in order to cross the Atlantic and save her husband from an English prison, Phoebe tries to refuse, then finds herself kidnapped.

Captain Rafe Docherty is a man in search of revenge. His ship is no place for women, but he needs Belinda in order to obtain information about the man who destroyed his family and his life. Between Belinda's whining and Phoebe's hostility, Rafe can't help but wonder if he made the right choice.

When it becomes apparent there is an enemy among them on the ship, the stakes are raised. Will they reach the shores of England in time? Can love and forgiveness overcome vengeance?

Laurie Alice Eakes is the author of Lady in the Mist, A Necessary Deception, and several other novels. She won a National Readers Choice Award for Best Regency in 2007 for Family Guardian. Laurie Alice writes full-time from her home in Texas, where she lives with her husband and sundry dogs and cats.

Friday, March 02, 2012

3 Ways to Incorporate Setting into Your Story

If your a writer I'm sure you've had a moment like have characters. You might even have a plot. But you're not sure where to place the story.

My mentor Colleen Coble has told me often that the setting should be so integral to the story that it is practically a character. To the point readers can't imagine the story taking place anywhere else.

Unlike some writers I often start with the setting, especially with my historicals. There will be some even in a specific location that triggers the what if that jump-starts my creativity. Here are a few ways I've learned to incorporate setting so that it grows organically into the plot:

1) If at all possible visit the location. The photo above is from Mackinac Island, the setting of my book that releases in April. A Wedding Transpires on Mackinac Island grew out of a visit my family made to this island at the tip of Michigan. There's something so quaint and captivating about this small island that doesn't allow cars or other vehicles that aren't propelled by something other than feet -- horse or human. Looking at photos is great, but it's not the same as actually being there and soaking in the atmosphere. Seeing the differences between the island in daylight and once the sun goes down.

2) Talk to those in the locale who will play a role in your book. When we visited Mackinac Island, I already had a general idea of the type of book I wanted to set there. While my family spent time at Fort Mackinac, I stopped at the police station and talked to the police chief. I had an idea of what would happen if a murder occurred, but he confirmed and redirected my ideas. When I was almost done writing the book, I realized that one of the characters was going to be shot. That led to a line of questions I hadn't anticipated when I was on the island, so I placed calls to the medical clinic on the island to see how a gunshot would be treated and handled. While I was 90% right, that isn't close enough.

3) Take lots of pictures and hang on to the guidebooks from the area. While writing Sandhill Dreams, I drove to Fort Robinson outside Crawford, Nebraska, to spend the day with the museum curator. It was wonderful to get his perspective and research on Fort Robinson's role during World War II, especially the dog training, but I almost forgot the most important stop...the museum bookstore. In there I found a couple of resources on the flora and fauna of Nebraska from Nebraskaland Magazine. Those resources (only $1 each) became go to books as I wrote all three of my Nebraska books and tried to incorporate variations in the locations of each. While in London at the Imperial War Museum, I found a book in the bookstore that sent my scurrying back to an exhibit that highlighted the children of World War II in London and England. That led to research that became the historical hook for A Promise Kept. Grab your camera and take lots of never know when you'll need them, but also be sure to grab the maps, phone books and fliers that will help you remember the critical details that inspired your creativity. While at the Biltmore in Ashville, North Carolina, I took photos of books in the shops, so that I could dig deeper when I got home to see if they'd actually have the information I needed.

What tips do you have for incorporating setting in your writing?


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