Thursday, May 31, 2012

Scavenger Hunt Stop #3

    The first ever Christian Fiction Scavenger Hunt has ended and the grand prize winner, who will collect 23 new Christian novels with a value of over $250, is Elisabeth Scherer!
     The winner of my drawing for a copy of After All is 
Shondra Brown! Your book is on the way, Shondra! Thanks to all who entered!
     It's too late to enter the contest, but there's still time to make the loop to discover 23 new or upcoming novels from some of your favorite Christian fiction authors!

Welcome to the first ever Christian Fiction Scavenger Hunt! Make the loop to discover 23 new or upcoming novels, and write down the clue at each stop. When you know what the clues say, fill out the Rafflecopter form by June 4, 2012 (midnight EST) at, and you could be in the running for the grand prize of 23 new, autographed books (if you live in the USA; unsigned if international). Note: if you're the winner, you must email the complete statement within 24 hours of notification in order to claim the Grand don't miss a stop! Be ready with your answer if you're the lucky winner! No need to email it unless you receive the good word on June 5, 2012.

Today it is my delight to host the beautiful and brilliant Angela Hunt as part of the Christian fiction scavenger hunt. She is the author of more than 100 (yes, you read that right!) books and has more than 4 million in print. Wow! She is also one of the warmest and most welcoming people I know. Her book Five Miles South of Peculiar releases June 5. Here's a bit about the story:

If these three sisters don’t change direction, they’ll end up where they’re going.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Three Tips for Creating Compelling Characters

I don’t know about you, but characters often make or break a story for me.  As a writer, I try to remember what makes some characters and their stories more compelling for me than others.  Here are a few tips I try to keep in mind as I write based on the characters that I love to read about again and again.

1)   Give your characters a few quirks.

Quirks are those things that we all have – whether we acknowledge them – that make us unique. It might be a penchant for constantly getting into trouble ala Anne of Green Gables, the girl who made lots of mistakes but tried to only make the same ones once. Or it might be a foilable like fighting the need to control EVERYTHING in our lives. 

2)   Put those characters into a situation that will force them to do the one thing they promised to never do.

In A Wedding Transpires on Mackinac Island, the heroine Alanna Stone has promised never to return

Friday, May 25, 2012

Christian Fiction Scavenger Hunt Coming May 31st!

Do you love Christian fiction? I mean really LOVE it?

Then you have to join the Christian fiction scavenger hunt that is coming on May 31st. I'd list all the authors who are participating here, but there are 23 of us. Here are just a few of them:

Lisa Tawn Bergren
Colleen Coble
Rachel Hauck
Jenny B Jones
Sharon Hinck
Angela Hunt
Me :-)
Carol Cox

See that pile of books on the left?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Three Tips when writing about something you've never done

Last spring when my writing bud Nicole O’Dell asked me if I wanted to be part of a novella collection with her, my initial reaction was “of course!” Nicole is so prolific and accomplished I couldn’t imagine not writing with her. And if it also meant I could help a Valerie Comer, a debut author, get her first contract, then my enthusiasm for the project only went up.

Then they told me the topic for Rainbow's End.

Geo-caching? It sounds fun, but I’ve never tried it. Never been to the Ozarks either.

Still, I wanted to be part, so I put on my research hat. Here are some tips to help you when you find yourself in a similar position.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Getting Our Facts Right...

I'm bringing this one back. Getting research right is so important. Our readers care. My friend Julie Lessman recently had a great post on this at the ACFW blog. So

Recently, I received some really amazing feedback for one of my historicals A Promise Forged. First, you need to know a little about the story, set in 1943:

When Kat Miller makes All-American Girls Professional Softball League, she struggles with long road trips, grueling practices, and the challenge of making time for God. Not only that, but older teammates are jealous of her success and an irritating reporter, Jack Raymond, has a knack for getting under Kat’s skin.

I received a package from my editor a few weeks ago. When I opened up this package, I was instantly intrigued by its contents, especially the black and white baseball card autographed to me and the autobiography with a photo of a female softball player on the cover. The card is about to get put in a shadowbox frame -- it's an amazing gift.

It also came with a letter: "...A friend gave me the book because she knew I had played in the All-American Girls' Professional Baseball League in 1954 for the Grand Rapids Chicks. As I read the book, it was like I was walking in Kat's shoes, reliving my life again.I am enclosing a book I wrote about my ball playing days, and a signed baseball card....Thank you for the great story!"

This type of feedback is a dream come true for a writer. It lets me know all my research paid off and I got the details right. How often have you read a book that's moving along and then the author gets one fact wrong. While you were going with the characters before, now you can't. The error (no matter how small) is a glaring problem. It makes you doubt everything else. 

So for a historical, I spend time in archives and talking to historians and people who lived it. For a suspense I talk to arson investigators, police detectives, etc. But as a writer, I have to get the details right. 

And when we do? Serendipity!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Interview with author Olivia Newport

Today I'm delighted to have fellow author Olivia Newport join us. her first novel, The Pursuit of Lucy Banning released May 1st. I always love to talk to new authors and see what their process is like. I hope you enjoy getting to know Olivia and her book as much as I have.

Olivia, can you tell us a bit about how The Pursuit of Lucy Banning got started?

I have suburban Chicago roots, but I had not heard of the Prairie Avenue Historical District until a friend of mine became a docent at the Glessner House Museum on Prairie Avenue. This house preserves the flavor of Chicago’s gilded age when the neighborhood was full of wealthy powerhouses of industry. As soon as my friend began his training, he saw the potential for the setting of a story. He is not a fiction writer, but he knew my interests. It did not take us long to cook up story ideas about a daughter of a privileged family who engaged with the changing social climate of her time.

I love the idea of a character who interacts with the issues of her day. Your book is layered with historical detail -- I know how tough that can be to get right. Can you tell us about your research process?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

How do we show love at home? I Corinthians 13

Now that Mother's Day is over, and it's back to real life...I wanted to share this version of I Corinthians 13 that Family Life emailed. It is spot on...

If I live in a house that is spotless, perfectly in order, and people are not free to LIVE because my home is more important than my family, I have not love. I have kept a house. I have not made a home.

If I spend an exorbitant amount of money on decorations, and care more about the appearance of my house than the atmosphere of my home, I have not love. My children have learned materialism, not godliness.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

CFBA Tour: My Stubborn Heart

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
My Stubborn Heart
• Bethany House Publishers; Original edition (May 1, 2012)

Becky Wade

This book is next on my pile to read. I love the cover, the concept, and can't wait to dive in.  Here's more about this intriguing debut.


A Sensational CBA Debut in Contemporary Romance!

This summer author Becky Wade makes her CBA debut with a fun -- and funny -- contemporary romance. Amidst the light-hearted banter and laugh-out-loud moments is a compelling spiritual journey of one woman's choice to listen to God and wait on him.  Filled with humor and authentic romance, My Stubborn Heart is shaping up to be the hit of the summer.

Kate Donovan is burned out on work, worn down by her dating relationships, and in need of an adventure. When Kate's grandmother asks Kate to accompany her to Redbud, Pennsylvania, to restore the grand old house she grew up in, Kate jumps at the chance.

Yet, she discovers a different kind of project upon meeting the man hired to renovate the house. ;Matt Jarreau is attractive and clearly wounded -- hiding from people, from God, and from his past.  Kate can't help but set her stubborn heart on bringing him out of the dark and back into the light... whether he likes it or not.

If you would like to read the first chapter of My Stubborn Heart, go HERE.


Becky Wade is a graduate of Baylor University. As a newlywed, she lived for three years in a home overlooking the turquoise waters of the Caribbean, as well as in Australia, before returning to the States. A mom of three young children, Becky and her family now live in Dallas, Texas.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Parenting Styles: there’s one for everybody

Recently, we had some friends over for dinner. They came with their clan that mixed with our clan and a glorious time was had by all…until one of the boys decided to send a chair down the stairs with our little angel on it.  She survived without being battered or bruised, and his parents took him to task for his carelessness.

As I thought back to that night, I realized it set up a great dichotomy. My husband’s reaction to the manner our friends parented was that it was overly-strict. I simply reminded him that he tends to be grace-laden. So far that’s worked with our kids, but I won’t be surprised if one of our younger two requires a firmer hand.

This got me thinking. There are so many factors that go into parenting.
  • o   The temperament of each child
  • o   What issues/vices that child is struggling with at that point in time
  • o   The parent’s background
  • o   The age of the child

I’m sure you could add to my list. I tend to be very black and white. As a result, I’ve focused on asking God to help me see each child and the heart issues that need to be addressed if any. I’ve also tried to remind myself that dependent on the age of my child, sometimes the things that seem blatantly out of line can simply be the child…being a child. There’s no intent behind the action…but there’s also no wisdom. So my job then is to help them find and remember what wisdom looks like in that environment.

Aren’t you glad that God entrusted you with the kids He did. It wasn’t some celestial mystic. Angel approaches God, “Sir, sorry, but those two got away from us.” No, He fully intended your children to be placed with you.

There are days it feels like a cosmic mistake. When those days come, ask God to reaffirm why He placed them with you. And ask for the wisdom to know how to partner with Him to parent your kids. I have a feeling that’s the kind of prayer He delights in answering.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

What I Didn't Know by Rhonda Shrock

I always knew I wanted to be a mother.  As a girl, I played house with my dollies, shushing them when they cried and kissing their plastic heads.

Looking back at that girl, I realize now that there was a lot she didn't know.  This morning over my fresh-ground coffee, this mother of 22-1/2 years scratched out a list of 10 things she didn't know then that she knows now.

1.  I didn't know - how could I? - just how completely a tiny, helpless scrap of humanity can capture the heart and hold it forever.  From that first whooshing heartbeat and the first butterfly brushes, a mother's heart is never again her own.  For all eternity, it enlarges, walking and pulsing and moving outside of her body; in my case, in the shape of a blue-eyed boy with rooster tails.  Times four.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

He Will Walk With You by Carey Bailey

As a little girl, I loved baby dolls. Loved them! I played school, adoption agency, daycare operator and babysitter all day. I felt like I was born to be a mama. Therefore, I was a bit anxious when the ages, 22, 25, 28 and 32 came and went and there were no babies. Have you ever desired something so much and feared never getting it? That was me.

My day finally came at the age of 34. I soon realized that God knew what He was doing when He had me wait. To my shock, it wasn’t as easy as playing with dolls. I was surprised that it wasn’t the dream world I imagined it would be! I felt like life became a gigantic prayer.

“God, HELP me!”

“Please, God. Please, please, please make it all better. I can’t do this!”

Friday, May 11, 2012

How life turns into books: Interview with author Tracey Bateman

Today I'm delighted to have my friend Tracey Bateman join us. Back in 2005 at the beginning of my writing journey, Tracey spoke hope and encouragement to me. She's an amazing writer and I'm so delighted to have her here to tell us more about her latest book.

Tracey, tell us a bit about your new book, Widow of Saunders County.

Corrie Saunders lost her husband, Jarrod to a suicide bomber in Iraq. Six months after his death, she moves to Saunders Creek, her husband’s hometown and moves into the family home he inherited. Strange things are happening and she wonders if Jarrod has found a way to come back to her. The story centers on her journey working through grief, finding new love and finding truth.

How did you get the idea for this book? What sparked the germ of an idea that wouldn’t let you walk away?

Thursday, May 10, 2012

What I Am Not by Tricia Goyer

Becoming a mother is a complicated thing. Not only am I trying to negotiate a relationship with my child, I am trying to negotiate a relationship with myself as I attempt to determine how I mother, how I feel about mothering, how I want to mother and how I wish I was mothered.

Andrea J. Buchanan, in Mother Shock3

Sometimes the easiest way to discover who we are is to know who we are not.

We are not our children. We all know mothers who go overboard trying to make themselves look good by making their children look great. I saw one woman on the Oprah television show who had bought her preschool daughter more than twelve pairs of black shoes just so the girl could have different styles to go with her numerous outfits! Just as we -don’t get report cards for mothering, we also -don’t get graded on our child’s looks or accomplishments. While you want your children to do their best and succeed in life, your self-esteem -shouldn’t be wrapped up in your child.

Submerged: a novel into the deeps of romance & suspense

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
• Bethany House Publishers; Original edition (May 1, 2012)
Dani Pettrey
Submerged is the kind of book that starts with suspense and quickly turns to the romance. The threads intertwine from there, taking you on a journey through the wilds of Alaska and into the frozen depths. This is an enjoyable read with a great blend of romance and suspense.

Dani Pettrey is a wife, homeschooling mom, and author. She feels blessed to write inspirational romantic suspense because it incorporates so many things she loves--the thrill of adventure, nail biting suspense, the deepening of her characters' faith, and plenty of romance. She and her husband reside in Maryland with their two teenage daughters.

Just in case you’re curious…The real Dani does love traveling. She’s been to some amazing places (Greece, Hawaii, the Keys) and there are many more she hopes to visit in the future.

And while she’s not quite up to sky-diving, cave diving or heli-skiing (too high, too enclosed, too cold!) she and her family love hiking, canoeing, wave jumping and a ton of other outdoor adventures a little further down on the risk scale.  

A sabotaged plane. Two dead deep-water divers.

Yancey, Alaska was a quiet town . . . until the truth of what was hidden in the depths off the coast began to appear.

Bailey Craig vowed never to set foot in Yancey again. She has a past, and a reputation--and Yancey's a small town. She's returned to bury a loved one killed in the plane crash and is determined not to stay even an hour more than necessary. But then dark evidence emerges and Bailey's own expertise becomes invaluable for the case.

Cole McKenna can handle the deep-sea dives and helping the police recover evidence. He can even handle the fact that a murderer
has settled in his town and doesn't appear to be moving on. But dealing with the reality of Bailey's reappearance is a tougher challenge.

She broke his heart, but she is not the same girl who left Yancey. He let her down, but he's not the same guy she left behind. Can they move beyond the hurts of their pasts and find a future together?

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

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

CFBA Tour: Soul Saver by Dineen Miller

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Soul Saver
• Barbour Books (May 1, 2012)
Dineen Miller

This book has a captivating that draws me in. While I haven't had time to finish the book yet, the premise is so intriguing, I keep looking at the book longingly. This is one you want to try, especially if you like books with a unique premise that digs deep into our spiritual ideas.


She’s…My Everything by Suzanne Woods Fisher

A mother is one who can take the place of all others, but whose place no one else can take.

--Cardinal Mermillod 

Just a few more months. My mother was hoping Dad would hang on long enough so they could celebrate their sixtieth wedding anniversary in April. But on January 1st, as the sun rose on the new year, my dad’s worn out heart beat its last. Dad had battled Alzheimer’s Disease for ten years. As many of you know, AD is a long, hard journey. Hard on the one afflicted with the disease, hard on the caregivers.
But not without its blessings.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Joy Comes from Perseverance by Sheila Walsh

One of the most important lessons I have learned in my own life is the joy that comes from perseverance. Eugene Peterson, borrowing a phrase from Friedrich Nietzsche, wrote his book  “A Long Obedience in the Same Direction …Discipleship in an Instant Society.” He points to the Psalms as the way believers have always learned to pray what they live and live what they pray but it is not a short journey. It is an intentional commitment to keep walking even when you are worn out.

*If we want to see lasting results in any area of life it’s important to keep walking in that direction.

Monday, May 07, 2012

How do you handle stress?

My family and I are getting ready for a grand adventure. And in the weeks leading up to it, our calendar hasn't cleared. Instead, there seem to be at least a dozen more things to do than there are days to do them in. Right now, I wish my desk looked this doesn't.

This coming adventure is of those God I can't wait to share with y'all. But because of my tendency to stress, I risk turning it into a nightmare. Ever had something like that in your life? How do you handle those moments?

For me, I'm taking the following steps, as I try to handle the stress graciously:

1) I'm acknowledging that I'm feeling a tad overwhelmed and asking God for the grace to do what needs to be done and release the rest.

Friday, May 04, 2012

Interview with author Robert Liparulo

Robert, you’re known for writing  creepy and intense books. There’s usually a spiritual idea contained in the book, but it’s not always overt. Is The 13th Tribe different?

My previous adult thrillers were heavy on action, adventure, and the fight between Good and Evil—but light when it came to acknowledging God’s influence in the world and in the lives of my characters. That was fine with me: Before embarking on each new story, I’d spend weeks fasting and in seclusion, praying for Divine guidance. And then I wrote the stories I believe God wanted me to tell in the way He wanted me to tell them.

As I prayed about the next adult thriller after Deadlock, I sensed God’s telling me it was time to go another direction, to take a new, bold stance in proclaiming His sovereignty in everything that happens. To rip down the veil and show His inextricable presence in all we experience—unreservedly and unapologetically.

The result is The 13th Tribe—to me, a very special story that marks my first foray into what many people call “Christian fiction,” though I like to think of it as a faith-filled supernatural thriller.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Do you let God use your pain? Wildflowers from Winter Giveaway

My friend Katie Ganshert is celebrating the release of her novel Wildflowers from Winter. The premise is that God can take our pain and turn it into beauty -- sometimes unexpected.

And I'm thrilled to add that her publisher will send a copy of her debut novel to one of the commenters, so be sure to let me know how God has touched your pain.

Anyway, I can so relate to God taking our winters and causing beautiful wildflowers to grow. Five years ago I experienced our first miscarriage, an event that is tied to our anniversary since the D&C was the day before our anniversary. The first year after the miscarriage the grief pulled my under. The second year I still felt it. By this year, a part of me spent the week wondering what that child would have been like. What he or she would have added to our family. But I also praised God for our three and a half year-old. I can't imagine our family without her. At all.

Part of me rejoices in the idea that healing has come. I didn't spend two days under the waves of grief. Praise God! God has answered my prayers to bring good and beauty from our miscarriages, and He has. There have been seasons of struggle, questioning, and pain, but through it all God was there.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Cuts Like a Knife Review

Do you love intense suspense? The kind where the police and FBI are desperate to catch the serial killer and you're just not sure if they're up to the task? This is that kind of book. It reminded me of Lisa Gardner's D.D. Warren books. Intense. Psychological. And a broken heroine.

Set in Chicago, Kristen Conner is the middle child who doesn't quite fit. A former athlete she now coaches kids soccer when she's not on the case tracking down killers. Now she's assigned to a brutal murder that quickly becomes the latest incident in a string of murders across numerous cities. Kristen is likeable because of how incredibly messed-up her life is. She has anger issues, doesn't quite fit with her family and can't get rid of her boyfriend. She's this close to being demoted and yet can't imagine doing anything else.

The book has a host of characters that add humor, conflict and chaos to the plot. And Kristen's faith is genuine and impacts her daily life. It's a reflection of those of us who love God and try to bring Him into our lives, especially our broken places.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Baroness Review: A longing for identity

Baroness is the latest book from Susan May Warren and it is a book that quickly pulls you in to its pages as it pulls you back to 1923.

Lilly and Rosie are cousins and heiresses. From page one they are pushing the boundaries of their confined worlds and risking much in the effort to find themselves. As I read through the pages, I cringed at many of their choices and wondered how the author would ever bring them to a happy ending...even if that was possible. In a world of privilege, they make decisions that promise to bring nothing but pain...yet Lilly and Rosie seem unable to see that. While you might think it would make the heroines unlikable, because I understood the pain in each of their paths that drove them I wanted to see how -- if -- their stories could lead to peace.

In their desperation to find love, Lilly and Rosie try on different lives, almost as if exchanging them is as simple as changing a flapper dress or string of pearls. That long for love and identity is something I think many of us can relate to...and the reality we can only find our try selves as we surrender to the King of kings.

Susan May Warren has crafted another book filled with characters that will make you ache...and long for just one more happily ever after.


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