Thursday, January 31, 2008

Trusting Him in the Waiting

I'm in that interesting spot writers sometimes find themselves between contracts. I turned in my last contracted book January 15th, and spent a week revising one proposal as requested and then creating a new series proposal at another editor's request. Now I'm...waiting. Ugh. I. Hate. That.

Let me say that again. I. Hate. Waiting.

I'm a type A personality. It didn't take my agent long to label me slightly obsessive.

It's truly ironic that two of my favorite Bible passages deal with trusting God and waiting on Him. He has a supreme sense of humor! Psalm 37:4 has been my life verse since I was 11 or 12. Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. Love it! But I can't ignore the verses that surround it:
Psalm 37:3-6 Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.
Hmmm. Could David tell us to trust and commit our ways to Him anymore often in that passage? I say I trust God, and I really do try. But I'll be honest...times like this when everything is outside of my control are hard. There is truly nothing I can do but sit back and trust Him to have my future and my best interests in His hands. He knows which books I should write, in which order, and for which houses. Now I have to trust.

I also am tired. Frankly, I needed a few weeks to read, work on new ideas, dream a bit, and not write with a deadline marching across the calendar. The Type A makes it very easy for me to tackle everything. I'm good at it. I can do alot. But I also need to give myself a break, let me body and mind rest. And maybe God knew I wouldn't do that without an imposed break. Yep, I think He knows me well.

So I'm also trying to take Isaiah 40 to heart:
Isaiah 40:28-31 Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
You see, I'm still very new to this field. I'm used to being in fields (law, non-profit world, teaching) where, while I couldn't control everything, there were certain things I could always do to help direct results. Do A and B is likely to occur, if not guaranteed.

Writing is nothing like that. Instead, it's a real journey of faith.

There are still things I can do. Read great fiction. Research areas that interest me. I've got World War Two ideas and horse racing ideas filling my mind because I've been reading non-fiction in those areas. I can draft proposals.

But at a certain point, all I can do is wait.

You see, I have this assurance deep inside that good things are coming. I just don't know when. And that uncertainty is hard to handle. I also don't know which of the three proposals currently out there will resonate with an editor. Making it EXTREMELY hard to know where to direct my time and energy. So I gave myself another week "off" -- my husband would laugh as I race through books, write reviews, work on ACFW's 2008 conference, etc.

But next week, I'll pick up another legal thriller proposal that several editors are interested in. I'll invest a week in it, try to polish it up for my agent to review. And then I'll wait. Rest in Him. And trust that He has my future under control.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

A Passion Most Pure Review & Giveaway

If you love a romance with strong characters and conflict, this is the book for you. And if you love a historical that carries you away and plops you in the middle of that time period, run to the bookstore now and get this book. If you love both, then A Passion Most Pure, Julie Lessman’s debut novel, will delight you.

Faith O’Connor is the oldest daughter in a large Irish-Catholic family in Boston. Her heart beats with a passion to serve her Lord. At the same time she’s ready to find a man and settle down. Not just any man though; she’s determined to wait for a passionate love that will honor her God.

Patrick and Marcy O’Connor’s own relationship is being tested by their feuding daughters, the growing threat of war, and their own weaknesses.

This book is packed with characters who make you love them, hate them, cry with them, laugh with them, and hope with them. They are real with the struggles and desires that all of us have. Faith is not a perfect heroine. Her life is packed with struggles and sometimes she makes the wrong choice. Charity is the perfect foil, as the second daughter who is desperate to find someone who will love her and will do and offer whatever she thinks it will take to achieve that. I can’t wait to see what Julie does with her in book two! And the contrast of the parents love with the daughters’ search for love was very well done.

The setting, whether Boston or Ireland, is well-crafted. The conflict real. The book filled with black moments. And the ending is very satisfying while a tad bitter-sweet.

I loved this book. It’s a debut that reads like it was written by a seasoned author. I highly recommend it!

Now a note: my friend Stephanie recently read this book, too. Her reactions reminded me of a couple of my initial ones. If you read my interview with the author yesterday, then you know Charity's something else. That really annoyed Stephanie and she's not sure she can be redeemed. That's what has me intrigued about book two...There's also an element with the love triangle that will leave you wondering who to root for. I loved the way it was resolved...but I think all of us close to the end wonder who exactly to root for. Ah, to have such choices LOL :-)

Leave a comment for a chance to win this book. I'll pick a winner next Wednesday! And be sure to check out yesterday's interview with Julie for a great look into her heart and writing.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

CFBA Tour: Awaken My Heart

1803, the colony of Texas

Awaken My Heart is set in 19th century Texas and tells the story of 18 year old Marianne Phillips, the daughter of a wealthy rancher, Weston Phillips. Weston is involved in a hostile struggle with Armando Garcia, the infamous rebel leader of the 'mestizos' who claim to own the land that Phillips has settled.

Marianne Phillips, the daughter of a wealthy rancher, has never agreed with her father's harsh treatment of the poor mestizos who first inhabited the colony of Texas. When rebels kidnap Marianne, in hopes her father will trade back their land for her freedom, she realizes her loyalty lies with her abductors, not her father, who plans to marry her off to the don of a nearby estate.

Armando Garcia is the locals' reluctant leader, but his people revere and depend on him. Knowing that without his leadership they'd be forced from their land, Armando accepts his role, but does not approve of the latest attempt to manipulate their enemy. When he learns that Marianne actually speaks his language, of her loyalty to his people, and of the faith that keeps her strong, Armando is faced with a difficult decision. Will his newfound love keep him from letting her go? Or will he set her free and risk losing their land forever?


While I haven't had a chance to finish this book yet -- expect to tomorrow -- DiAnn Mills does a wonderful job of recreating the early days of 1803 and the tension between the Americans living in Texas and those who had lived there for centuries. The book is filled with enough tension and conflict to keep the pages turning. And the hero and heroine are far from lifeless shells.

If you're looking for a romance set if a unique setting, you will enjoy this latest offering from DiAnn Mills.

An Interview with Julie Lessman, author A Passion Most Pure

I am delighted to host an interview with my new friend Julie Lessman. As you could tell from my review, I'm a fan of her debut novel and look forward to reading future books. Without further ado, here's the interview...

A Passion Most Pure is your first release. How did you get the idea for this book and the Daughters of Boston series?

As you know, A Passion Most Pure is the story of a close-knit Irish-Catholic family in pre-WWI Boston where a love triangle occurs between two sisters and the bad-boy hero. As one of 13 children (in a family that included 10 girls!), I guess you can say I experienced my fair share of sibling rivalry. Part of the idea came, I suppose, from butting heads with my sister who was two years older than me. She was … ahem … quite voluptuous and very attractive to boys while I was … well, basically not! J I was so skinny, in fact, that when I played on a girls’ softball team, my older brother commented: “What position do you play? The foul line?”

So I guess you could say the idea of a sisters’ series where two of them compete for a boy’s affection was deeply rooted in my childhood. That’s when I actually started writing this novel, at the age of 12, after reading Gone With the Wind. Suddenly my passion for romance awakened, and although I only penned a 150 pages of a single-spaced manuscript at that time, the story is actually the basis for A Passion Most Pure. Unfortunately (or fortunately, however you look at it!), almost forty years passed before God breathed new life into that early attempt and inspired me to finish my childhood novel of passion—only this time the “passion” would be for Him!

Isn't it fun how we can use our crazy childhoods in our writing. I haven't pulled any of the books I started as a teen out -- hmmm, maybe I should LOL. I've found that each book has taught me something as I wrote it. What did you take away from writing this book?

A keen awareness of God’s love and anointing. For the eight straight months it took me to write this novel, I was on an adrenalin high—high on God, high on my husband, high on life. It was a magical time when my heart was so fervent for God that I would weep on my keyboard after every spiritual scene. I felt His amazing love and presence so much during the writing of this book, that I finally understood the term “mountaintop experience.” But, groan, like all mountaintop experiences, you have to come back down to earth, which I did when I started the arduous publishing Process.

I love that place of working so closely with God on a story! Now in A Passion Most Pure, I loved Faith, and could relate to her struggle to want to live a life that honors God against the reality of sometimes hard challenges and people. Which character is your favorite and why?

Well, while I was writing A Passion Most Pure, I LOVED Faith, of course, because she represents my spiritual side and is pretty much the way I was as a young woman who’d just come to Christ at the age of 23 (albeit a LOT softer)! But as I got into Book 2, A Passion Redeemed, which is Charity’s story, I found myself favoring Charity. I think because she represents the way I was as a lost wild child of the 60s and 70s (albeit a LOT better looking!), and because she was so wonderfully flawed, that she was a joy to redeem. Charity reminds me just how much God pulled my own life out of the gutter. And readers don’t know this yet, but Charity is a real hoot—funny, audacious, resilient and as passionate about those she loves as those she hates. And she certainly underscores a valuable lesson I learned a long time ago—it’s the unlovable ones in our lives that need the most love.

I'm curious to see what you do with Charity since she is the character people love to hate in A Passion Most Pure. This book does an amazing job of illustrating the passionate side of love. Why do you think that is so important?

Are you kidding? Look at the world today—it’s obsessed with illicit passion. Hollywood promotes adultery as sexy, and I can count on one hand how many young, unmarried women I know who are still virgins today, Christian or no. Why? Because passion is important! Not just to romance readers, but to everyone on the planet. We were created that way by a passionate God who analogizes His own depth of love for each of us in a very passionate love letter called “Song of Solomon.” And what happens? The world uses this beautiful, God-given gift to shove sin down peoples’ throats, and I, for one, am really sick of it. I want to use passion the way it was intended—to teach people God’s precepts and therein, His love. It’s the cry of my heart, and I hope and pray that for readers, my stories of romantic passion translate into passion for God.

What a great call! And so true that the world has perverted something God created. That heart comes through loud and clear in the novel. Now for a fun question. If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you go and who would you take with you?

Easy question! I would go to Ireland first because ever since Gone With the Wind, I have always been fascinated by the Irish. Then I would visit England next because our heritage is so steeped with that country’s influence. Mmm … and who would I take? Why, my very own Collin, Mitch and Patrick rolled into one—my husband Keith. He is Patrick O’Connor personified, and I am one very lucky woman! Or as Patrick so aptly expresses in A Passion Most Pure, “I’m afraid luck has nothing to do with it, whatsoever. It’s called ‘blessed,’ and I most definitely am.”

Thanks so much, Cara, for hosting me on your Web site. This was a lot of fun, and I hope your readers will have fun too!


Julie Lessman is a debut author who has already garnered writing acclaim, including ten Romance Writers of America awards. She is a commercial writer for Maritz Travel, a published poet and a Golden Heart Finalist. Julie has a heart to write “Mainstream Inspirational,” reaching the 21st-century woman with compelling love stories laced with God’s precepts. She resides in Missouri with her husband and their golden retriever, and has two grown children and a daughter-in-law. Her first book, A Passion Most Pure, released in January 2008. Visit her Web site.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Some Photos

Tonight, I'm in a photo mood, so here are a few.

Yesterday was our anniversary. Woohoo! Eric and I went to Evita adn then out to dinner. We enjoyed the show, but it's not one will go to again. The ending still leaves us going, Huh?!?! Here are some photos of the flowers he got for me. I LOVE flowers, especially roses that I can dry and save. Aren't they beautiful?

Then my Dad sent me this beautiful bouquet in honor of our baby in heaven. I received them on Saturday, the anniversary of the loss. Such a touching gift, and the words that came with it mean even more to me.

And these last few are photos of our other kids. Jessie is the tall furry one on the right. Midnight is the short one who's using the extra height of the trashcan to full advantage. He's settled in and calling our garage home.
Never a dull moment around the Putman household. And Midnight is definite proof that my husband loves me bunches and bunches.

Review: Reluctant Smuggler

The third installment in Jill Elizabeth Nelson’s To Catch a Thief series, Reluctant Smuggler is the kind of romantic suspense I’ve come to expect and love from her. For some reason the book is classified on the back as romance. While romance is a strong thread through the book, it is also packed with action and suspense, so don’t be deceived!

Desiree Jacobs is back, this time in Mexico. All she wants to do is go home to Boston, but between a storm that has iced in Boston and the Mexican government that wants her to investigate for them, she’s stuck. Tony Lucano, her fiancĂ© and a FBI agent, is snowed in at the office. Then he and his team participate in a take-down. The only problem is he takes a dive into the frigid waters of Boston Harbor. Are Desiree and Tony’s investigations connected? Will either of them survive the race to catch the elusive Jaguar?

Sometimes by the third book in a series, the reader gets the sense the author is merely fulfilling a contract. Not so with Reluctant Smuggler. Instead, this book is filled with twists, turns, delightful surprises, and a very satisfying ending for those who have been with the series from book one. Desiree is thrown into all kinds of situations—both physical and emotional – that must be dealt with before she can grow and the book can conclude.

While Desiree and Tony are on parallel paths, they approach them from distinctly different perspectives. I could see myself in many of Desiree’s struggles about balancing career and getting married, the honing down to what’s truly important.

The settings were lush. I could sense the sights and smells of the different locations in Mexico. The book was almost as good as a plane ticket down there to see it all myself. The setting supported the book and plot without taking over. And I loved seeing the growth in many of the secondary characters, too. They weren’t merely props inserted into the book to make the main characters look good. Over the course of the series each of them grew as well.

This book was a delight and a satisfying conclusion to the series. I hate to say good-bye!

Jill Elizabeth Nelson graduated with a degree in literature and creative writing from Southwest State University in Marshall, Minnesota. She served for three years as the senior inspirational reviewer for Romantic Times BOOKclub magazine and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Christian Writers Group, and Christian Authors Network. In 2004, she served as a Christy Award judge in the romance category. Nelson and her husband have four children and live in Madison, Minnesota.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep...

I stumbled across this organization last week via this Minneapolis photographer's website. Warning: the remembrance photos will bring a tear to your eye, even if you aren't a grieving, pregnant woman.

Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep is a non-profit organization of photographers that take pictures of parents and their angel babies. I wish I had something tangible to remember our baby by -- now I miscarried too early for this service anyway, but if you know a family struggling with these issues, then point them to this organization. It looks like an amazing group of people trying to help people through a very difficult time in their lives.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Chill Out, Josey Review

In the sequel to Everything’s Coming Up Josey, Josey’s just gotten married and is ready to launch into the adventure of a lifetime: figuring out how to make a marriage work by living up to the Proverbs 31 standard.

Josey is in her classic state: I’ll-fix-the-world-and-surpass-them-all. Not because she wants to or is particularly equipped to do it, but because if she doesn’t she’ll feel like a failure. But life soon intrudes. Her husband gets fired – and doesn’t tell her --, interviews for a job – in Russia – and doesn’t tell her until it’s time to make a decision. And then there’s that thing that Josey can’t find the right time to mention.

Josey isn’t thrilled to be going back to Russia, until she decides she can be the perfect helper to Chase and help him learn how to get around and thrive in Russia.

Then they arrive in Russia. Nothing is like Josey anticipated. And as the months drag on she has to learn how to be a supportive wife when all she wants to do is head home. Josey has to battle her fears as she fights to find her place. I think many of us can relate to that reality. Marriage is hard work, because it involves two very different people. But, as this book illustrates, it's worth the heart ache and hard work to fight through.

This book is poignant with a great voice that I've come to expect from Susan May Warren. You’re left rooting for Josey even as your heart aches as she wanders through that difficult first year of marriage. The setting is vibrant, as you’d expect from an author who specializes in setting.

This book is a delightful read. I highly recommend it for your reading pleasure.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Follow-up Simple Suppers

We're all busy. And the way things keep running, that won't change anytime soon. And the stress in life keeps building. As a result, I'm always looking for a way to cut corners or remove some stress from my life.

Two weeks ago, I used my friend Heather Corbin's sample menus at Simple Family Suppers. Gut-reaction: I loved it and signed up for three months. Why did I love it?

  1. Shopping was a snap. The grocery list was simple, organized, and easy-to-use. It was easy to go through the list and mark off what I already had. It took the pain out of shopping. And Eric can tell you how much I HATE grocery shopping.
  2. The menus are SIMPLE. Most took fewer than five steps to complete, several even fewer. In most cases prep time was less than ten minutes. My idea of a good time!
  3. Several of the recipes could be cooked in the Crockpot or in the stove. So if I was organized, I could throw it together in the morning or early afternoon, and not think about it again until supper time. LOVE that.
  4. My family ate all of the meals. That's a winner right now. Several of these types of plans that I've looked at before had fish, pork, etc. in each week's menu. I hate fish, and we don't eat a ton of pork. There are a few pork recipes in the January set of menus, but they continue to be recipes we would eat.
  5. I didn't stress -- all week -- about what to make. Usually, it's 5 o'clock and I suddenly start to panic. What do I have in the house? What can I make? What sounds good? Etc.
So I signed on. We've already used another week of recipes, and those recipes are getting thumbs up from my family on a routine basis. So if you're a busy mom like me, I think you'll find this service one that can remove some stress from your life.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Another Passion

Yesterday I sent in a requested three-book proposal. I now have 3 proposals out there for a total of 5+ books. Please pray that God would open the right doors at the right time, and give me lots of wisdom as I'm in a waiting period. There are still many things I can do now to prepare for when those contracts come

I took last night off to scrapbook with a friend. I love to scrapbook, but being me, tend to do everything a bit overboard. So instead of having a family album, I have that, plus separate albums for each child. When they head off to college, they'll each have 4-5 albums filled with memories of growing up. Abigail already has 3 and she's just 7! It felt great to get the family album caught up through 2005. I'm sad it's that far behind, but I'm catching up. :-) And enjoyed the chance to be creative in that fashion.

I'm also reading some non-fiction. I don't take as much time for pure fun reading of non-fiction as I'd like. I'm reading Man O'War -- if I had the book in front of me I'd tell you the author. It is really well written. It tells a complex story in a way that keeps me turning the pages. In honor of reading that I watched the first half of Seabiscuit while scrapping. I LOVE that movie. They did a masterful job of translating a complex book onto the screen. Laura Hildreth did a wonderful job with the book, and I love the features at the end of the movie. Those often tend to be my favorite part as I get a behind the scenes look at why the producers and directors chose to do things the way they did.

I've always loved horses. Wouldn't be surprised if sometime I have a series set around a horse farm or race track. I've also got a book on Secretariat that I'll dive into next. I so love the step back in time! And when you had amazing thoroughbreds to the mix, it's just about perfect!

So what are some of your passions?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Finding Your Passion

This week I've been thinking about passion. You know, that elusive something that lights a fire in your belly or brain and won't let go.

I'm in a space in my writing schedule where it's all about writing proposals. Proposals are work. I have to create ideas out of thin air...and sometimes in the back of my mind, I wonder whether I could really write the book I'm proposing or if I even want to.

That's a scary spot to be.

For each proposal, I have to pick a setting, create characters, give them a career, passions, challenges, etc., and build a plot from those elements. To put all that effort in and then decide I don't want to write that book seems like a huge waste of effort and time.

This week I revised a suspense proposal at the request of an editor. The further I got into the revision, the more I itched to write the book. A very good sign.

Then a editor asked me whether I was still interested in submitting a proposal that we had vaguely discussed a couple months ago. Being me, I said sure, I'll have something to you by Monday or Tuesday. The only problem: I had one teeny tiny idea. One. And with writing Captive Dreams, I hadn't made time to flesh out that idea let alone locate others. And with historicals, it's all about the historical hook. At least for me. Otherwise, it's just another book that anyone could write.

So I needed three historical hooks that would support three separate books that were loosely tied together.

Yesterday I drove onto the internet superhighway and found a fantastic umbrella site in the area I needed. Early this afternoon I found one thread that got me pretty excited and gave me one hook. Then, tonight I found at least two more. I am SOOOOOO excited about this series that now I really hope the editor likes it, too. I want the excuse to take a research trip to make the settings come to life and pick up more details. At the same time, I still have a bunch of work to do to flesh these ideas into synopses that contain enough information for her to make an informed judgment.

So it all comes back to passion. And once that passion is ignited, watch out! My fingers will fly all over this keyboard!

Monday, January 21, 2008


This week is filled with anniversaries.

Eric and I will celebrate 12 years of marriage. Twelve years ago we made it to our honeymoon spot in time to watch the second half of the Super Bowl. Many times since then, Eric has stated how grateful he is that I love football. In fact, the NFC title game is on in the background as I draft this.

Some days it definitely doesn't feel look I'm old enough to have been married that long. But I am grateful that God brought this girl from Nebraska and boy from Indiana together in Colorado ah so many years ago at Summit Ministries. It is something only God could have orchestrated.

Then this is the week of remembering the worst week of my life last year. I spent this week last year waiting to miscarry, praying that somehow the doctor was wrong, and then recovering from the D&C.

Even now, as I feel this baby kick away, I long for the baby I never got to hold. The one that I don't even know if it was a boy or a girl. It's amazing how real the grief can be for someone you never knew. And how lonely that grief can be. It's the silent loss and silent grief. If I don't bring it up, no one will remember. And yet I am still very raw.

I am delighted to be pregnant again, and to be quickly approaching the magic week where this baby will be safe and completely viable on his or her own. But I will never forget teh baby that I never got to hold and love on.

So if you know a woman who has miscarried, don't think that she's over it by the first anniversary. Send her a simple little note to let her know that you remember with her. And even though you may not feel the depth of grief that she does, that you care about her enough to remember with her and value what she values.

I can just about guarantee that will be very meaningful to her.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Interview with Debut Author Cheryl Wyatt

Below is an interview with my friend and debut author Cheryl Wyatt. Cheryl has a heart of pure gold, and I think you'll see some of that in the answers she gives. Enjoy!

1) Your heart for the military is clear in this book. Where did that come from?

It came from an insatiable curiosity that grew in me over the years of Vietnam being such a taboo subject in our home. My dad, having served as a Marine there, wouldn't talk about it until recently when I found out he'd been MIA for months and wounded in action during the most brutal era of the Tat Offensive in Danaing. Thankfully, he was rescued and recovered partially on a US military ship then transferred to a hospital in Japan to complete his recovery. He'd also contracted such a severe case of Malaria that he nearly didn't survive. I would sneak in his closet while he was at work and go through his military stuff. I'm sure that's where it started. In addition, I've been raised to have a high respect for our military and to hold those who serve in high regard. We're a very patriotic family.

2) My father served in Vietnam and the first Gulf War, too. He didn't talk about Vietnam until after the Gulf War. He had boxes of beautiful slides that he hadn't pulled out. It was so awesome to get to see those. Now back to your book. You write with a very vibrant style, lots of action and description. Does that come naturally or did you have to develop that style? If you had to develop it, what did you do?

Thank you! Coming from an author as fabulous as you...I'm truly honored by your kind words! I didn't actually recognize that as my style before you mentioned it. LOL! So I guess some of it comes naturally. I think it helped a lot that I'd taken writing courses through the Institute of Children's Literature first, and then later took courses through Jerry Jenkins' Christian Writer's Guild. I'm convinced that the building blocks that program, and my instructors' critiques, provided me with a solid foundation for my fiction today. Also, I like to write in Deep POV, so the reader gets to actually experience the story instead of just read the story. I also strive to not only endear them to my characters but to actually get them in that character's mind, heart and skin. I try not to go overboard with setting description because that can slow a story down. But I do like to make sure I'm using all five senses plus automomic and parasympathetic character response in every scene. I try to write the setting so the reader feels like they're right there in it.

3) If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you go and who would you take with you?

I would be back in India loving on the tsunami orphans. I went there in 2005 and when I came back, part of my heart stayed there. I think about those precious children every single day. I'd take my own children with me, and my husband, so they can see how other children in the world live. And hopefully, they'd come back with more of a heart for the orphans too. We'd all pack two suitcases each, fill them with a few clothes for us in one suitcase then fill the rest of the suitcases full of toys for the orphans. They love chocolate! One orphanage I went to had 1 toy (ONE!) for 375 children and they all shared it. I'd take a ton of pens because they'd never seen a pen write on paper before. They thought it was magic. LOL! I'd take a suitcase full of pens and crayons and paper and leave it all there, including the suitcases.

Thanks so much for having me, Cara!


"My name's Bradley. I'm eight and have cancer. I want to meet a Special Forces soldier more than anything. Well, almost anything. Having a family would be nice."

U.S. Air Force pararescue jumper Joel Montgomery promised to make a sick child's wish come true. Well, not the family part—not with Joel's past. And so despite vowing never to set foot back in Refuge, Illinois, Joel parachuted onto the boy's school lawn to a huge smile. But another smile unexpectedly stole Joel's heart: that of Bradley's beautiful teacher, Amber Stanton, who was trying to adopt the boy. And trying to show Joel it was time for new vows.

To purchase Cheryl's book, A Soldier's Promise, you can go to Eharlequin or Amazon.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Review: A Soldier's Promise

Cheryl Wyatt’s debut novel, A Soldier’s Promise, is a delight. It all starts when an eight-year-old boy sends a letter asking for a pararescue jumper to visit. He’s a little boy with big health problems and this is his wish. That wish sets in motion a chain reaction of romance and healing that propels this book from page one to “the end.”

Joel Montgomery is a pararescue jumper who will go any place but home to Rescue, IL. The book follows his unit as they race from natural disasters to other assignments, making the military assignment real and portraying the soldiers in a positive life. Cheryl’s background as a military kid is clear throughout the book, both in her handling of Joel’s career and the impact a military upbringing had on both main characters as children.

Amber Stanton is the heroine, a special needs teacher at a private school in Rescue. From the moment she first sees Joel, she’s smitten. But large obstacles remain in their path. She is a multi-dimensional character that I rooted for from page one.

This book is very well written. Cheryl writes with a very active and descriptive style that pulls you right into the scene without bogging you down with too many details. A hard balance to strike that she finds with ease. The plot is filled with all kinds of realistic conflict that seems destined to keep Amber and Joel apart. There were times I wondered how they’d get together, even with the book being a romance and the conclusion pretty much assumed.

Bradley is a child character who adds to the richness of the plot and conflict without being a prop to add the cute factor to the book. And the emotional and spiritual journeys the main characters take were filled with twists and turns that kept the tension and pages turning.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and can’t wait to read the next!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Review: First the Dead

Tim Downs is back with another Bug Man Novel, First the Dead! I cheered as soon as I heard he was bringing Nick Polchak back as the main character in a novel. If you’ve read Chop Shop and Shoo Fly Pie, then you know why I was so excited. If you haven’t, race out and get those books now! (You can read the first chapters of all his books on Tim's website.)

Nick Polchak is like Grissom from CSI: Consumed by his job, dedicated to finding the truth, and unable to let go once he’s on the trail of a murderer. This time Nick is headed to New Orleans hours ahead of Hurricane Katrina. While everyone else is focused on taking care of the living first, Nick wants to ensure no murders are covered up by the hurricane. Once he finds his first body that clearly wasn’t killed in the hurricane, he’s off to the races, with all his idiosyncrasies kicking into high gear.

With this novel, I anticipated who the bad guys were from about page 100, but that didn’t keep me from flying through the novel. I couldn’t imagine how Tim would pull it altogether. Even as I began to figure it out, I was drawn in by his tight plotting and great writing style.

Tim is one of those authors who pours on the description where it will help the story and backs off where it would only bog things down. His main characters are multi-dimensional and complex. If this is your first novel with Nick, you may wonder whether you’re supposed to love or hate him. If it’s your third, you’ll love the way Tim adds depth to his development.

While published by a Christian publisher, this book (and others by Tim) do not contain a shoe-horned in spiritual plot. Instead, the book is all about the story – and it’s another great one.

If you like tight suspense that keeps you guessing, even as you begin to figure out who did it, you’ll like this book.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

New Reviews Up

I have been amazed at the kind things people have said about Canteen Dreams. This book really seems to resonate with people, and I can't tell you how much that means to me as an author. Today, I received notice of two more. Kim Sawyer, a historical author whose books I love, featured me in her newsletter. Here's a taste of her review..."I take great pleasure in introducing you to new authors, and today's introduction is no exception. Through the American Christian Fiction Writers, I met a young woman named Cara Putman. It was a joy witnessing her receive her very first contract at the 2006 conference...."

You can read the rest of Kim's review here.

Then in this month's edition of the ACFW ezine Afictionado I found a review for Canteen Dreams. Now, technically, I oversee the ezine, but the team of editors is so wonderful all I do most months is put together an email that goes to ACFW members letting them know the ezine is now available. So imagine my surprise, when I'm clicking through the pages and find a review on my book.

Here's a little of what Lacy Williams had to say about Canteen Dreams. "Canteen Dreams, Putman’s debut novel, lands the reader in a unique and well-defined setting. The author never uses too much detail that would bog down the reader’s eye, yet in each setting the reader can feel the harsh Nebraska wind or smell the perpetual coffee brewing at the canteen. As a famous literary character would say: the setting was just right...."

Click here to read the rest of Lacy's review.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Do you like Cozy Mysteries?

Mary Connealy (author of Petticoat Ranch see Janna's interview with her here) sent this e-mail out this week, and I thought I would pass the info on to the rest of you in case you might be interested.

It's finally time for the launch of Heartsong Mysteries!
You can try four books free at this link. I've got two books coming from HM this year and I had so much fun writing in the cozy mystery style, humor and quirks and murder.
Writer's are strange aren't they? :)
Of Mice...and Murder
Pride and Pestilence
then a third book in 2008 called
The Miceman Cometh.

Mary talks about Of Mice...and Murder in her interview over at Janna's blog, and it sounds great. I went ahead and signed up for the 4 free books and just so you know - it never asked for payment information, it just asked for name, address and e-mail. Then it told me my new books were on their way to me :-)

I haven't read many cozies, so I'm looking forward to this chance to try them out. And since many of the authors happen to be my friends, it will be great to get to read their books, too!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Why is it...

Why is it?
  • That in the middle of the night, I'll have a dozen ideas for blog posts...but by the next morning have none.
  • That cats and dogs don't mix? No matter how curious Jessie is about our new cat Midnight, I have a feeling it will take awhile for the two to become sympatico.
  • That some decisions are harder to finalize than others? You know them. The kind that even after you make a decision and you think you're sure, you keep coming back to them. Is that God? Or something else?
  • That a smile from a child can make your day?
  • And a pouty look from a pet can make you feel guilty? What? Not enough food, exercise, water?
  • That cold with snow doesn't seem as bad as straight out cold weather?
  • That carving out time with God is the first thing to go?
  • That some people make New Year's resolutions and others run from them? I don't think either is right or wrong, just makes me smile. :-)
A few random musings from the girl who finished and submitted Captive Dreams LATE Saturday night and then took Sunday off! Yeah!!! Now on to new proposals.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Crazy Days in the Life of a Writer

I'm in the middle of the hard edit of Captive Dreams before I turn it in on Tuesday. That means I'm looking for places to tighten my writing: did I use 6 words where 2 would work?

I'm adding layers. Did I realize in chapter 14 that Anna needed this conflict in her life, but not go back and sprinkle it in earlier?

I'm reviewing thoughts from my writer friends who have read chunks. They caught several important gaps or lacks of conflict as well as helping me realize just how foreign the idea of POWs on US soil during World War Two is. Those issues can usually be addressed with an added line of dialogue here, a sprinkling of emotion there. But I often grow blind to those issues as I'm writing.

A clear case of writer near-sightedness. It's so easy to forget that only one year ago, I didn't know there were POW camps in Nebraska. Now I could talk for an hour about it and never repeat myself.

Last night I mixed things up a bit. Eric was on the treadmill, so I headed to the garage with my laptop. Leaned against the wall, and let the kitten run all over me for about 30 minutes as I worked.

Midnight was determined to help me or play. He didn't really care as long as he got attention. At one point he curled around my neck like a stole. I could get used to writing like that!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

CFBA Tour: Happily Even After

Looking for a book that looks at married love with a touch of sass? Then Happily Even After is the book for you! Marilynn Griffith’s latest release, this book is an honest and hilarious look at the challenges of maintaining love in marriage while establishing some badly needed boundaries.

The latest installment in the Sassy Sistahood, this book focuses on Tracey. Married a little over a year to a busy executive with a six-month old baby and career to balance, Tracey’s feeling a little lost. Where did she go when all these changes came into her life. She reacts in real, though less than perfect ways, to her husband who seems to value his mom more than her. Then there are the ladies at the new church she’s attending who all seem to want to mold her into their image. And don’t get her started on her mother-in-law.

This book is written with so much heart that I laughed, cried, groaned, and smiled my way through it. The characters change and evolve as the book develops. Each is unique, and yet each of the women in the church reflected a stereotype that we easily fall into. As the characters develop, Marilynn sprinkles deep truths in to the mix, but in a way that it doesn’t slow the pace of the book down at all.

The book is also layered with conflict. Everywhere Tracey turns something else is happening. And she maneuvers as best she can, struggling to find a way to walk through the challenges with her husband.

While part of a series, this book does a great job of standing on its own. You don’t need to read the others to understand what is happening here.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and can’t wait to read another by Marilynn.

Supper Ideas anyone?

I hate menu planning. I hate grocery shopping. Both seem to suck the energy out of me. So I was thrilled when my good friend Heather Corbin put together a program for moms like me. I'm doing the free trial this week, and will sign up for her service after that. It made grocery shopping a snap, the meals are easy to prepare, and for once I don't have to worry about what to make when 5 o'clock rolls around. Her website is ultra easy to use, so be sure to check it's Heather:


It is 5 o'clock.... what is for supper? This is the stress I want to eliminate from our lives! We lead busy lives and the stress of facing a hungry family every night can be frustrating. We stare into the fridge and pantry and hope something will just jump out.... we need food and we need it now! Having a menu plan, all the simple recipes and the shopping list to go with it gets rid of this "what is for supper?" question! YIKES!! That takes a lot of time and effort!!!! I just want someone to tell me what to make and what I need... then I can cook it!

Well, this is what inspired me to create
My name is Heather Corbin, I am a wife and mother of 4 children. We have a busy life and I was tired of the stress of supper. I realized that having my menu planned and having all the ingredients on hand took away a ton of stress from my day. I was trained by the best: a mom and two grandmothers (farm wives that cooked for large families) that took the time to teach me how to cook and prepare delicious food that is easy to prepare and budget friendly. When I consistently took the time to plan the menu and shopping list life went much smoother. I know if having a plan helps me so much then it will help you. I can't be alone in dealing with a hungry family every night!

Simple Family Supper is the answer to the daily "what is for supper?" question. Simple Family Supper provides a family friendly menu with the easy (no cooking school needed) recipes and the shopping list to go with it so you won't have to make any last minute trips to the grocery store. The menu utilizes what I call "efficient" and "fast track" cooking that will save you lots of time and money.... who has tons of time to spend in the kitchen and we could all use help saving money at the grocery store. (please see the attached flyer for more info)

Please visit today! Give the menu a try... Free trial week available!! For only $5 per month you will eliminate the "What is for supper?" stress from your life!

Have a wonderful day,

Monday, January 07, 2008

Deadly Exposure on!

Yeah! I was exploring the web Saturday night in the middle of writing and discovered Deadly Exposure is up on I almost cried when I saw it there. This is the very first book I wrote when God finally whispered in my heart that it was time to start writing. Folks who read the early versions could tell you how, umm, interesting the first, second, and third iterations were. I had a lot to learn, but God put wonderful people in my path to teach me. My editor at Steeple Hill could tell you how much work we had to do on it once she agreed to buy it. Though it was a ton of work, I am thrilled with the final result.

So what did I learn through the writing process?

1) Always be willing to learn. This book is good because I knew where I wanted to story to go, but was willing to learn craft as I wrote.

2) Share the book as it's being written with others. They're feedback told me what worked and what didn't. I had to learn how to stop editing and just write, but I needed that correction and feedback in early versions.

3) Know what is critical to the story and non-negotiable. Take the good, and discard the bad advice. It is your story after all. And...

4) Work with your editor. There were a couple things my editor wanted me to change, that I thought were important to the story. However, we were able to find a middle ground that we both like. If I'd thrown a fit or been stubborn, that wouldn't have happened. Instead, I could see what her concerns were and learn how to fix them. And the end result is a book I love!

I've wanted to write suspense for years. Think Mary Higgins Clark flavor. And this book is close and one hope you'll enjoy. Keep your eyes open. It releases in May.

When a murder took place in the theater box next to TV news reporter Dani Richards, she was completely shocked. She hadn't heard or seen a thing. And when her coverage of the story led the killer to stalk her, police officer Caleb Jamison-Dani's ex-flame-insisted on protecting her. Should she let him close again.or risk her life with a killer?

Isn't the cover cool!

Friday, January 04, 2008

A Kiss From Heaven

Some days are filled with kisses from heaven. Those times you can catch the heartbeat of God, feel the breath of His approval, sense the longing of His gentle correction. At our Catlett Christmas, I got a very vivid reminder that this dream of writing is a gift straight from His heart that He has cultivated for almost 20 years.

Almost twenty years ago I was 14 and in love with books. I inhaled books at the rate of one a day, and for a long time I had the spiral bound notebook to prove it! That school year I wrote letters to a stack of Christian writers. It was part of a school "assignment" -- the beauty of homeschooling, anything can become school :-) -- the goal, to see what being an author was really like. I contacted EVERYONE I could think of at the time. Christian fiction was much smaller, so the list isn't long: Frank Peretti, June Masters Bacher, Judith Pella, Madeline L'Engle, Janette Oke, and Michael Phillips. I had absolutely no fear then.

Each of these authors responded, and those letters languished in a window seat until Christmas. My mom discovered them when cleaning out a room and put them in an album for me, reminding me of the roots of this writing dream.

But the absolutely COOLEST part of the gift was that my sister tracked down an author that I corresponded with multiple times: Sandy Dengler. I'm embarrassed to say that she even read some of those early teenage writings and encouraged me to keep at it. She saw a spark of something or was just an amazingly kind woman. But because of Janna's call, I now have a letter from Sandy from just a couple months ago congratulating me on the release of my first book. From that I was able to reconnect with her via email today. I can't wait to send her a copy of Canteen Dreams.

Through it all God reminded me that while this latest foray into the dream of writing started with Colleen and her incredible encouragement and guidance, He also used people years ago to tell me that this dream could come true. And now it has!

He is so good!!!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

You Never Know Who You'll Meet Next...

Over Christmas, it was great to be home again in North Platte, Nebraska. We put almost 2,000 miles on the car between December 22nd and this morning when the wheels hit the driveway. I loved every moment with family, but it was incredibly sweet to watch Grandpa (Willard from Canteen Dreams) give Grandma (Audrey from Canteen Dreams) her first roses from him -- 61 years into their marriage! I guess he didn't give her flowers on her birthday like the Willard in the book did!

I also had the amazing honor of meeting Mrs. Ethel Butolph, one of the ladies who met her husband through the popcorn balls that were distributed at the North Platte Canteen during World War Two. She saw my interview during the 11:30 news show on KNOP (click the link to read about the book-signing) and came to my book-signing.

While it had been a blast being back at KNOP -- where I worked for two years in college -- Mr. Carlini was there and regaled Eric and me with just a couple of his World War Two stories. I have a sneaking suspicion more than one will find it's way into the future World War Two books I hope to write. But it was absolutely incredible to meet Mrs. Butolph! Then she invited me to her house to listen to some songs written by Ms. BJ Bjorkman about the North Platte Canteen and her popcorn ball. Such fun!

Walking through her home, sitting down chatting with her, it was incredible! I guess you'd have to be a history buff to understand how huge this is! One of my regrets is that I didn't get the green light or idea from God five or ten years earlier to write these World War Two stories. Then I could have attended veterans reunions and met more of the people who lived the experiences I try to bring to life in my books.

Yet with each book God has allowed me to connect with at least one person who did live it. With Canteen Dreams it was a long phone conversation with a veteran who passed through the North Platte Canteen five times during the war and still vividly remembered each 20-40 minute stop. With Sandhill Dreams, it was spending a day with Thomas Bueckner, who while he didn't live the war, he'd invested years of his life talking to the men who did and knew their stories like his own. And now, while I race to deadline for Captive Dreams, I meet Mrs. Butolph. While her story has nothing to do with Captive Dreams, it reignites that fire of passion that I'll need to make Captive Dreams the absolute best book that I can before I turn it in on January 15th.

So if you think of it, pray that I'll have a burst of creativity, passion, and endurance to finish this race well -- and it will be a race. But it's one I want to run in a way that honors God fully.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Happy New Year! It is January 1st, time for the FIRST Day Blog Tour! (Join our alliance! Click the button!) The FIRST day of every month we will feature an author and his/her latest book's FIRST chapter!

This month's feature author is:

and her book:

Abandoned Identity
Evergreen Press (AL) (August 1, 2007)


Hooray! Tamara is one of our very own FIRST members!

She resides with her husband, Walter, and their children, John, Christopher, and Jennifer, at Hume Lake Christian Camps in the Sequoia National Forest. They have served on full-time staff and ministered at Hume for 13 years.

Tamara manages one of the retail stores at Hume Lake, which serves thousands of kids visiting the conference center on a daily basis.

Not only does she write, she is also an avid reader and enjoys other hobbies such as scrapbooking, designing greeting cards and invitations, and enjoying God's creation from her from porch.


The young, blond woman stepped off the elevator, rushed past the receptionist, and quickly headed down the hallway.

“Jennifer, Mr. Lynch is looking for you,” Doris called after her.

Jennifer didn’t stop to acknowledge the message. She didn’t have time. She could hear the warning in Doris’ tone. Mr. Lynch was looking for her, knowing she was late returning from lunch. This could very well be her last day at Weissler and Schuler.

She glanced at her watch as she threaded her way through the multitude of workstations. She moved as quickly as she could, even though she knew her efforts were probably for nothing—after all, late was late. He would assume she had done it on purpose and would make good on his threat from the previous week. Lynch had given her two weeks to change her attitude or she would be fired.

She hurried past his office door, hoping against hope that she would be able to slip by without being noticed. A sideways glance told her otherwise. She continued towards her own office, knowing he would be quick on her heels. She had struggled all morning, trying to do her work, trying to keep it together, but with the way she was feeling, her resolve was beginning to crumble. She’d only had enough time to slip off her jacket before she heard his booming voice in the hallway.

“Ms. Patterson, you of all people should not be abusing time restrictions. A one-hour lunch is a one-hour lunch, not an hour and 25 minutes,” he scolded her loud enough so everyone could hear him as he made his way down the hall toward her office.

Jennifer hung up her coat and purse on the rack behind her door and slumped in the overstuffed sofa that filled her office. She braced herself for the inevitable.

“You knew we needed to get started on the Yomahama account first thing after lunch,” he said as he entered her office and firmly shut the door. “Obviously you don’t care about this account as much as you say you do.” He was poised for her counterattack but was surprised instead to hear her soft apology.

“I’m sorry. I thought I could make it home and back again. But with the snow, and the traffic, and the way I’m . . .”

What’s the use explaining, she thought to herself. He doesn’t care. She had just given him the excuse he was looking for. She figured she would be packing up her personal items in less than an hour. She took a deep breath, her eyes focused downward. “I’m sorry. It wasn’t intentional.”

Harrison was taken aback. In the short time he’d known Jennifer, she had never apologized for her actions. Everything she did was intentionally antagonistic toward him. But somehow he sensed a difference in her mood.

“What’s wrong?” he bristled, not really wanting to hear her excuse.

She glanced up at his imposing figure but lowered her eyes to the floor as she spoke. “I tried to kick something all weekend. I guess I’m just not feeling up to par.”

He said nothing, waiting for her to make eye contact with him. She stiffened her back, sighed and said, “It won’t happen again.”

Had she brushed a tear from her cheek? Not possible, he thought to himself. Jennifer Patterson was tough as nails. She would never lower herself to tears in the workplace . . . that was unless she really was ill.

He waited again for her to look up at him, and when she did, he was met with vacant eyes, pallid skin, and beads of sweat that were starting to form on her brow. Just then, the intercom system went off. “Mr. Lynch, Mr. Yomahama is on the line. Shall I put him through to Miss Patterson’s office or your own?”

Obviously Doris knew where to find him because of the scene he had just made. He walked around to the front of Jennifer’s desk and cleared his voice before pushing the intercom button. “I’ll take it in my office, Doris. Give me a minute to get there.”

Lynch gave Jennifer one last stern look and then marched from her office, shutting her door with a little more force than necessary.

She collapsed against the cushions, her strong exterior completely dissolving. She had done everything she could to hold back her tears in his presence, but his quick exit allowed her to unleash the torrent she had been suppressing.

She had never felt this horrible before in her life. She would’ve called in sick if it weren’t for the fact that she knew her job was in jeopardy. It isn’t fair, she thought to herself. I should have Lynch’s job. For the hundredth time Jennifer went over in her mind the scenario that had taken her completely by surprise.

She had been groomed for the director’s position by Meg, long before Meg left to start a family. Jennifer had put in countless hours on different accounts to make sure her and Meg’s statistics had been well researched and presented in a polished manner. She had done the bulk of Meg’s work, along with her own, as Meg progressed into her third trimester. It simply wasn’t fair!

The day corporate brought in Harrison Lynch and announced he would be the new director, instead of her, she was livid. She felt demeaned and unappreciated. Everyone in the office knew she had worked hard for the job and had deserved it. But corporate behaved in their typical chauvinistic manner and took the opportunity to replace Meg with a man instead of another woman. Testosterone was the only asset that Harrison Lynch had that she did not.

While the other women in the office were quick to overlook the injustice of the situation because of Harrison’s availability, good looks, and charismatic personality, she only saw him as a thorn in her side.

She would only be fooling herself if she said she didn’t see his appeal. He was older than she was—the classic tall, dark, and handsome type. His sparkling brown eyes and wavy brown hair gave him a boyish charm, but his stature and muscular body proved him to be anything but boyish. His enigmatic character made him the kind of man that breezed through life with ease, putting the Midas touch on everything he encountered. But the way he clashed with her, rubbing her the wrong way and always trying to put her in her place, made his good looks less appealing.

Jennifer had butt heads with Harrison ever since he had shown up. She was not afraid to speak out against his proposals or the way in which he supplied information to a client. She had caused him more than one embarrassing moment in important meetings with prospective accounts. She upstaged him with what she called “a more efficient way to gather and record information.” She didn’t think it beneath her to use her feminine mystique with a client in order to work on a case that Lynch would’ve preferred to handle by himself. Lynch had put her on the spot on more than one occasion, but somehow she always came out looking professional in front of the clients.

When she had worked with Meg, Jennifer’s desk was out front with everyone else’s. She liked it that way. She enjoyed working in an environment that buzzed with activity. But Lynch changed all that. He made it very clear that Jennifer was his assistant, and he needed her at his personal disposal. And so he had her move her things into the smaller of the two conference rooms.

Giving Jennifer her own office was not a reward but a sentence. She felt he had isolated her on purpose to break her spirit. It had taken the wind out of her sails for a short period, but she decided two could play at that game. She promptly ordered custom office furniture and personalized the space. What he had intended on being a lonely, sterile environment, she had turned into a showplace of warmth and femininity.

She had one-upped him again and gloated in the fact that he could do nothing about it. After all, he was the one that gave her her own office and the freedom to decorate it the way she wanted. The fact that she did it with pastels in a style she knew he disliked (even though she disliked it too) was icing on the cake. Harrison had declared that an office should reflect professionalism not personality and initially insisted she get rid of everything. His request was denied when Mrs. Weissler came in and admired what she had done with the old conference room. With Mrs. Weissler on her side, Jennifer had once again thwarted Lynch’s authority.

Lynch had finally had enough. He called her into his office a week earlier and lowered the boom. “I’m giving you two weeks notice.”

“You’re firing me?” Jennifer was floored. Though she knew that he disliked her as much as she disliked him, he would have to explain to corporate why he was letting such a valuable employee go.

“No, I’m not firing you . . . yet.” He was cool and calm as he sat behind his solid oak desk. “I’m giving you two weeks to change your attitude. I’m tired of the mind games, the flirting with clients, and the way you insist on making proposals before discussing them with me. Weissler and Schuler should present a united front to all our clients, not a sense of division and indecisiveness. You have two weeks to get on board, assume your position as my assistant, and change your ‘I can top that’ attitude. If you choose not to, you will give me no alternative than to let you go.”

Now, it was just a week later, and Jennifer had given Lynch the perfect opportunity to show corporate that she was not the team player that they had assumed her to be. Corporate was breathing down everyone’s neck about the Yomahama account. It meant millions to them if they could seal the deal. If they felt she hadn’t given it her all, they would allow Lynch to have his way, no questions asked.

Jennifer sobbed into the arm of the floral couch that she despised. She thought about all the ways she had tried to make work uncomfortable for Harrison Lynch but knew she had failed. On occasion, he had tried joking with her and having innocuous conversations, but she would have none of it. She wouldn’t accept the olive branch that he tried to extend to her. Now he would have the last laugh, and it would be her own fault.

The door swung open once again. Harrison was poised and ready to battle with her, only to find her hunched over, her head in her hands and tears falling onto her charcoal colored slacks.

He felt uncomfortable finding her in such a vulnerable position. The all-business exterior he had resolved to use with her now took a back seat to the compassionate Harrison that others had seen. He stood for a moment before taking a seat on the couch alongside her and waited for her to gather her composure. It took several minutes before she could speak.

“I know what you’re going to say, so I’ll save you the energy.” She rubbed at her aching brows and sniffled. “You’ll have the files for the Yomahama account on your desk by the end of the day, and I’ll clean out my things. You can do what you want with the furniture. I don’t want it.” She held her head like she was afraid it was going to snap off her neck.

Harrison just sat there, not saying a thing. Jennifer wished he would just leave. She felt defeated and humiliated. He’d gotten his way; he’d won. With the experience she’d gained at Weissler and Schuler, she’d have no problem getting a job elsewhere, so she resolved to give up without a fight. Her only desire right then was to get home before her head exploded.

It seemed like an eternity before he spoke again. “What have you taken for it?”

“What?” She was confused. There was no smugness to his tone. In fact, if she wasn’t mistaken, he actually sounded concerned. She didn’t dare look at him. Just lifting her head would hurt too much.

“Is it a cold or the flu?”

“A cold,” she answered, wondering why he was being so nice. It was a trait she didn’t think he was capable of, at least not with her. He got up and left the room without saying another word.

She glanced at his receding steps, totally confused. She grabbed a tissue from her purse and tried to wipe away the salty tears and runny nose that was moistening her lips. She gently rolled her head back against the couch and sighed heavily, thankful for the solitude. It didn’t last long; within minutes, Harrison was back.

He sat down alongside her, causing her head to sway and a small moan to escape her lips. He handed her a glass that was fizzing, along with several pills. “Here’s something for your headache, a decongestant, and a bi-carbonate. They should do the trick.”

“No thanks,” she said through closed eyes. “I can’t take pills. They knock me out and make my head swim. Besides, I still have too much work to do. I don’t have time to pass out.”

“The way I see it, you’re already wasted. You’re no good to me like this. Take these, and in an hour you’ll feel a lot better. I guarantee it. We’ll work on the Yomahama account then.”

“I should have known you wouldn’t let me die quietly,” Jennifer retorted, looking at the pills he was still holding. “And if I don’t take your concoction?”

“Then I’ll have to assume the Yomahama account isn’t as important to you as I gave you credit for, and I’ll get Jerry to work on it with me instead.”

“Jerry!” She sat up, her head throbbing with disapproval. She slowly lowered herself back to the comfort of the couch, covering her eyes with the palms of her hands. “There’s no way I’m going to let Jerry take all my research and screw it up.”

“Okay, then. I guess you’ll have to do it my way,” he said. “Take these, dim the lights, and allow yourself some sleep. Don’t worry about watching the clock. I’ll come and get you in about an hour.”

Jennifer realized it was no longer a suggestion. Harrison put the pills in her hand and waited for her to drink them down with the bi-carbonate.

She tossed them to the back of her throat and held her breath as she drank the fizzy water. She knew she had to do it in one swig, or it would never stay down. Her shoulders shuddered in protest, and she thought she saw the hint of a smile form on Harrison’s lips. He pressed the button for the automatic shades to cover her office windows and dimmed the lights. “I’ll check on you in an hour.” With that, he closed the door and left her with her thoughts.

What just happened? she thought to herself. He had the perfect opportunity to fire me, and instead he helped me. Jennifer couldn’t concentrate on figuring out the answer to that one. Her head was throbbing so hard, it was making it impossible for her to reason.

She pulled her feet up under her and allowed her head to rest on the padded arm of the couch. An hour’s sleep, then I’ll be able to push through the rest of the day. She drifted off quickly. She was a lightweight when it came to tolerating medicine, and with the mixture she had just taken, she knew that she would finally get some rest.

Harrison walked back to his office and closed the door. He stood before the expansive window and watched the falling snow blanket the Chicago streets. Jumbled emotions crowded his mind. He was afraid that he’d allowed Jennifer’s weakened state to play on his sympathy, but it wasn’t unlike him. He really was a nice guy. It’s just that since he’d arrived at Weissler and Schuler, he and Jennifer had clashed . . . no, more like collided.

He found out soon enough that she had thought she was a lock for his job because of the work she had done with the previous director. He tried to talk to her about it and let her know he understood her disappointment. When he told her he was excited to be working with such a talented analyst, she only stiffened at his attempt at civility. Her spitefulness and malice made her look so unattractive—nothing like the vulnerable woman he had just left in the darkened office. He finally saw in her what some of the men in the office already had seen. She was a lot more appealing when she wasn’t being conniving or manipulative. With her defenses down, he actually found himself drawn to her, but he was wary that would change as soon as she had her strength back.

HARRISON HAD BEEN WORKING TIRELESSLY at his computer when he glanced at his watch. He realized it had been more than an hour since he had left Jennifer in her office. He quietly opened her door and leaned in to see how she was doing. She was curled up on the couch, her face flushed and moist. He moved to her side, leaned down, and carefully placed the back of his hand to her forehead. She was feverish. She stirred under his touch, but her eyes had a difficult time focusing. She looked at Harrison and tried to figure out why she was lying down and why he was hovering over her. She closed her eyes and vaguely remembered being late to work and taking a handful of medicine.

“What time is it?” Her voice was barely above a whisper.

“Almost 3:00 p.m.”

“Oh, my gosh.” She tried sitting up as her head spun out of control. “I’ve got to get working. We have the Yomahama meeting tomorrow. We can’t waste any more time.”

Harrison pressed his hands against her shoulders and gently pushed her back against the couch cushions. “You need to rest. Your body is obviously trying to fight something. You have a fever.”

“We don’t have time for this, Mr. Lynch.”

She again moved to a sitting position. She wiped at the perspiration on her forehead and scooped her long blonde hair up into a handful on top of her head. She started pulling at the pink cashmere sweater she was wearing, bellowing it to get some cool air up against her skin. “I feel like I’m suffocating.”

“That’s the fever.”

Before Harrison realized what she was doing, Jennifer reached for the hem of her sweater and began to pull it over her head.

He turned away and sputtered, “What are you doing?”

“If you have a fever, you’re supposed to keep at least one foot and one shoulder exposed to cool air.”

“Where did you hear that?”

“I’m not sure, but it’s worked before.”

She continued to remove her sweater. Harrison was relieved to see that she was wearing a silky, pink shell underneath the soft sweater. She pulled her black, high heeled boots from her feet and curled up into a fetal position once again.

“You look miserable; you need to go home. This is ridiculous. There’s no way you’re going to be able to get any work done under these conditions,” Harrison added as she tried to get comfortable.

“I’d be fine if my head would just stop pounding, and I wasn’t so hot.”

“Let me call you a cab. You need to go home.”

“No! I can beat this. Let me just rest a little bit longer. If I could just get rid of this headache, I know I could finish our proposal. Please give me another hour.” She was determined to finish what she had started, especially since it could quite possibly be her last account. Harrison was being uncharacteristically nice to her at the moment, but if the Yomahama meeting didn’t go well, she knew she would be the proverbial scapegoat.

Harrison stood with his arms firmly crossed against his chest and doubt in his eyes. He knew from past experience there was no sense arguing with her. Of course, there was nothing that said he was obligated to wake her up either.

“Fine, I’ll see you in about an hour.” He left her office with no intention of disturbing her again. If she had the strength to wake up, she would have to do it on her own.

Although Harrison knew he needed to spend every minute on the Yomahama proposal, he found himself thinking about Jennifer. Why hadn’t he noticed her crystal blue eyes or the delicate curve of her jaw before? Maybe because whenever he talked to her, her eyes were glaring and her jaw was set.

He wandered back into Jennifer’s office around 4:30 p.m. He watched her as she slept. Her breathing was even and her complexion no longer looked flush. His eyes followed the tip of her chin to where it rested near her exposed shoulder. He felt his thoughts wandering in a direction that was far from work related. He had always been cautious to keep his professional life separate from his personal life, but somehow seeing Jennifer in such a vulnerable state also exposed a side of her that was quite beautiful.

He left her office and drifted down the hall. People were beginning to shut down their computers and straighten up their workstations. The talk was all about the snow that had continued to fall throughout the day. The weather report was predicting another foot before morning. Harrison waved goodnight to them as they left and headed back to his office.

Doris followed him down the hall, worry etched on her kind face.

“Mr. Lynch, I’m concerned about Miss Patterson. I know she was awfully sick this morning when she came in, and she didn’t look any better when she returned from lunch. I haven’t seen her since you . . . well, since you spoke with her this afternoon.”

Harrison knew what Doris was alluding to. The way he had barked at Jennifer when she returned from lunch had obviously been heard throughout the office.

“I gave her some medicine earlier today, and it made her pretty sleepy. That’s why you haven’t seen her.”

“Will she be okay to drive herself home? The road conditions have gotten pretty bad.”

“Don’t worry, Doris, I’ll make sure she’s okay before she leaves.”

“Okay, I was just concerned. She really is a sweet girl; she just comes off a bit harsh sometimes.”

“Harsh? That’s an understatement!”

Doris just smiled. “Well, good night, Mr. Lynch.”

“Good night, Doris, and thank you for your concern.”

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

January 2008 Releases

Happy 2008! A new year filled with fresh promises and new opportunities to see God's glory shine through each of us.

This month's lineup of Christian fiction comes to you with quite a variety of releases. Also this month, I've got a new Spotlight interview with debut author Elizabeth Goddard, author of the recently released Seasons of Love from Heartsong Presents. Be sure to stop by and read Beth's interview and visit the websites of the following authors. Enjoy!

1. A Soldier's Promise, Book One in the Wings of Refuge Series by Cheryl Wyatt from Steeple Hill Love Inspired. A USAF Pararescue jumper and a special needs teacher teaming to make life matter to a dying child freefall into love and an unexpected family.

2. Every Good & Perfect Gift by Sharon K. Souza, from NavPress. A story about the kind of friendship we all wish for, the quest for motherhood in the 21st century, and a catastrophic illness that changes everything.

3. Family In His Heart final book in the Michigan Island Series by Gail Gaymer Martin from Steeple Hill Love Inspired. On a Les Cheneaux Island, a young woman escapes her past in Michigan's upper peninsula and meets a man hiding his own secrets and struggling to raise a rebellious teenage son.

4. Just Cause by Susan Page Davis from Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense. Laurel Hatcher must face trial for her husband’s murder, not once but twice.

5. Learning to Fly by Roxanne Henke from Harvest House. Learning to Fly is about parenting. Learning to love, live, and let go.

6. Seven Archangels: Annihilation by Jane Lebak. Satan has figured out how to destroy an angel...and he begins with the archangel Gabriel.

7. Shadow of Danger by Jeanne Marie Leach from Mountain View Publishing. Rachel faces jealousy, false accusations, an unknown danger, and a jail cell before being liberated by the man she loves but who could never love her.

8. The Restorer's Journey, Book 3 in the Sword of Lyric Series by Sharon Hinck from NavPress. A new, young Restorer confronts his destiny while Lyric, and the life of his mother, hang in the balance.

Happy reading~

Theme Song for 2008

Here's what I've decided will be my theme song for 2008. There's something about songs. They seem to take turns encapsulating how I want to live. My Dad's joking that this is just the song until I hear another one that catches my fancy.

However, the lyrics are fantastic, and if I could actually live this way, it could be an amazing year. Have what you want, but want what you have. And don't spend your life looking back. Yes!

So this year's song is Point of Grace's How You Live:


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