Friday, September 28, 2012

Fun on Friday: Glamour Video from the 40s

If you thought we were the only ones who were concerned with beauty and fashion, you are wrong. Today I'm sharing a vintage glamour how-to video that I found on Glamour Daze. Enjoy! And let me know what you think of the advice. Is there any you would change?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

To brand or not to brand…

A brand.

That’s what every author needs.

At least that’s what we’re told as authors almost from the moment we first tap out a word on a keyboard. From some perspectives, people take it to mean you need a tagline. A pithy phrase that defines you to readers and publishers. Others say it means identifying those elements that are consistent in every book you write. The general experience a reader can expect anytime they pick up one of your books.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

With Every Letter Review & Giveaway

With Every Lettter
Today, I'm delighted to share my friend Sarah Sundin's new book with you. With Every Letter is the first book in her new Wings of the Nightingale series. While watching Shop Around the Corner, she began wondering what it would be like to fall in love through letters at a soul connection. As she noodled on that idea, With Every Letter was born. Mellie is a woman who's never quite fit in and as a result is a loner who can't form friendships. But her boss is requiring her to if she wants to become a flight nurse. Tom is also a loner because of his past. He puts on a sunny front, but in reality he doesn't let people close.

Monday, September 24, 2012

3 tips for using PicMonkey

One of the things I love about conference is learning about new tools and techniques. My friend Tricia Goyer is brilliant at making social media easy. While we were at ACFW, she told me about a website that lets you turn photos into postable images with text. I've always wondered how people did that. I've just started playing with it, but wanted to share it with you and add a few tips.

1) Go to I love that you don't need to register. Honestly, if I have to have log-in information to remember one more place I might go crazy. Certainly, my brain will explode and

Friday, September 21, 2012

Writing, Dreaming, or Scheming

Here's another post. Life is still the same. Only now I'm balancing writing a WWII novel with a contemporary mystery. Oh and spent a lot of time the last couple weeks trying to beat another WWII proposal into submission. Amazing how the more I write, the more the process stays the same.

One of the challenges of the writing life is how to balance the need to write contracted books with the need to constantly cultivate new ideas.

For example, right now (April 2011) I'm writing the contemporary romantic suspense set on Mackinac Island. I'm also thinking about the romance and mystery novella I'm writing in the Cherry Blossom Capers. Then last week I fleshed out a possible three book world War II series. It involves three sisters who do very different things during the war and all end up in London for a piece of it.

See? Very different. It's like juggling several at the same time.

Just when it gets overwhelming, I get fabulous feedback like this from a reader who lived a story I wrote. That keeps me going!  I can't wait to get this package from my editor!

So anyone want to guess which memorial/monument is in the background on this gorgeous cover?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Why I love Christian Publishing

As you read this I'm in Dallas attending ACFW board meetings today and the conference that starts tomorrow. In honor of it here's a post I wrote last year that is still very true and appropriate!
Eric and me at the 2010 ACFW Gala

This is truly one of the highlights of my year. And Tuesday I was reminded why I can't imagine missing ACFW.

I have a proposal I'm beefing up for ACFW. It's already good, but I really want to push it to great. The problem? I was absolutely stymied. Eric and I had talked around it. He's a great researcher and reads enough to really be an asset in brainstorming, yet I couldn't quite get traction.

So I texted a couple writing friends. Jenny Jones had already spent a lot of time on the proposal, but volunteered to help with brainstorming. Then Tricia Goyer said, sure she'd help me brainstorm. And at conference Colleen Coble and I will squeeze in a few minutes to brainstorm even more layers. Here's why that's so cool!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Women in High Def: review

If you're like me, you may keep your eyes open for devotionals that encourage and challenge you where you are. For me that means running sixteen different directions and trying to find ways to love and serve God in the chaos and find Him in the busyness. I was just telling some friends that my heart's cry is to be ever in the middle of His will. Somedays it just seems harder to find where that is.

So when I received a request to review Women in High Def: Boldly Living Your Purposes with Vibrant Clarity I was intrigued.

The book is set up with short devotional chapters written by several women. Diane Markins has divided it into several sections:

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Reunion by Dan Walsh

Watch out...I'm preparing to gush...I've long been a fan of Dan Walsh's books, but The Reunion is absolutely soul-touching. Don't get this book unless you want to feel...deeply. And honor vets...and friendship...and love. My husband stole this book the day it arrived and couldn't put it down. He reads widely and has put down one of Dan's books, but this one he literally carried around the house. He kept telling me I'd love it. Of course I would...but then I read it. It has everything I expect in a Dan Walsh book: well-drawn characters, stories that aren't large-scale, but in the details I find a story that pulls me in. This book reminded me of his first and award-winning book, The Unfinished Gift. It reaches a deeper level that resonated.

I finished the book as I was running on the treadmill. I couldn't get off even as the story had me in tears. It is truly touching: a story about a man being given honor and the chance many of us never get: seeing our lives as others see it. Oh and be absolutely sure you read the author note. Dan, you have honored men like my Dad who fought in Vietnam. Thank you for bringing such humanity to them.   Thank you for writing this book. Oh look, I've teared up again.

If you like stories that have a taste of Nicholas Sparks and character and depth, you will not be sorry you bought this book. In fact, it will likely land on your keeper shelf. I know it has on mine.

I received this book from the publisher.

Friday, September 14, 2012

3 Tips for Successful Radio Interviews

In the last couple weeks I've participated in a couple blog radio interviews. Radio is a format I really enjoy. Think about it, no one can see if I've got make-up on and I don't have to go anywhere. They can't see how messy and jumbled my desk is. Radio also keeps my complicated life a wee bit simpler. But it's also a format I really enjoy. Unfortunately, I know it's a format that stresses many people. Whether you're an author or not, you may find yourself in need of an interview, here are some tips to help you succeed in this format.

1) Think in sound bites. Radio interviews can be anywhere from five minutes to an hour. Whatever the length of time, if you keep your answers short (think a minute or less), the host and audience will enjoy the discussion more if it's not one run-on sentence.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Faith Thoughts: Adoption

A week ago my dad and I were talking about the spiritual implications of adoption. One of the legal roles I still fill as often as possible is serving as attorney for families who seek to adopt a child. The judge and I call it happy law. So much of the law involves problems and the end of love, and adoptions are all about solutions and the creation of love. 

Adoptions matter for many reasons. One is because of the way it's a shadow of what God does with us. Do you grasp that your identity as an adopted child shows that God had great intention toward you? It wasn’t an accident. Adoption requires intention and choice. Much action and expense is involved. 

For example, today in the legal environment, families often spend multiple thousands

Monday, September 10, 2012

Interview with Amanda Cabot, author of Christmas Roses

Today I'm delighted to introduce you to my friend Amanda Cabot. Her latest books, Christmas Roses, released September 1, so I invited her over to tell us more about the story and her writing. Please join me in welcoming Amanda.
  1. Amanda, can you tell us what draws you to the time period you write about?
I actually write in a number of different time periods, although – so far, at least – what they’ve all had in common is that they are in the second half of the nineteenth century.  For me, that’s an intriguing time, because it’s definitely historic.  Unfortunately, there’s no indoor plumbing, but women were no longer chattels, so I’m not bending history when I create strong heroines.
  1. That is a fascinating time period, filled with change and challenges. In Christmas Roses, what does your heroine learn? 
Both Mark and Celia learn the true meaning of family. It’s something we all need to be reminded of occasionally.
  1. What was the most interesting tidbit you learned in research that you couldn’t include in the book?

Friday, September 07, 2012

Unending Devotion by Jody Hedlund

Recently I received a copy of Jody Hedlund's latest release Unending Devotion. Jody burst on to the writing scene a couple years ago with The Preacher's Bride, a fantastic book that retold the story of John Bunyon in fictional form. Her next book looked at the Whitmans. Unending Devotion turns to the lumber era in Michigan mixing real people and events with fictional characters. The strength of this book remains its great characters and setting, but adds a strong layer of mission. The theme that we shouldn't just let evil run unchecked resonated...but it's not preachy. It shows a life that is committed to fighting a certain evil and the way that effects people around her. The characters are forced to make impossible decisions and in the process grow and develop. All of this happens in the context of a plot that kept me fully engaged. Jody truly is a master story-teller!

This book is perfect for those who love historicals with the ring of truth to them. And don't forget the very satisfying romance! 

Celebrate with Jody by entering to win a Nikon Camera Prize Pack!

Thursday, September 06, 2012

House of Mercy Review

There are so many great books releasing right now...lots of great fiction to share with you. Today I want to introduce you to the latest from Erin Healy.

Erin Healy is back with another story that takes twists and turns through the natural and supernatural worlds. This author's books tend to have a strong supernatural thread, and House of Mercy follows in that vein. The book tackles the idea of whether we believe God is good when things don't go the way we expect. It's a question I've wrestled with and imagine many of us have. The story is told through the lens of Beth, an aspiring vet who risks everything her family has worked for in a late night ride on a thoroughbred that goes very wrong. Her family is torn apart and she is determined to make things right. The plot wanders through a lot of ground, telling the story through the voice of several characters. In the end all the stories come back to the concept of mercy. Will we accept it? And will we grant it. The story does not wrap up in a neat package...instead leaving room for a sequel.

This book is for those who like strong characters, don't like endings that are easy to anticipate, and want a story that doesn't fit in a neat box.

I did receive this copy for review purposes.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Falling to Pieces Series Review

Amish novels are not usually my first choice. I like them, but they tend to languish in my to-be-read pile, jumped over by romantic suspense and historicals. Yet I've often found when I do start an Amish book like those by Tricia Goyer and Leslie Gould/Mindy Starns Clark, I usually like them.

This series is a great example of how much the right series can resonate with me.  I received the first book, Falling to Pieces, as a gift, and it languished for a couple months -- partly because I had to pull one book out of my suitcase to make weight. Once I started it, though, I inhaled it and raced to buy book two. I'm so glad book three is out now! I thoroughly enjoyed this mystery series set in Shipshewana, IN.

Falling to Pieces was so fun and rich. There's something about the combination of Englisch and Amish in Shipshewana that made the story fresh. It also had an engaging mystery, quirky supporting characters, and emotional subplots that tugged me to Callie, the Englisch main character. This book is a great addition to a reading pile for those who enjoy Amish stories that have a mystery or those willing to give the genre a try.

I bought A Perfect Square after reading Falling to Pieces. It was fun to return to the "quiet" world of Callie and Deborah though this book starts with the mystery. A young woman is found dead in a pond. Deborah is determined to find the truth so she can help free a friend who's been accused of the murder. Yet Callie is trying to find someone who's been missing 40+ years. Add in layers of romance, spiritual truth, and the characters I already love, and this was a book I raced through while trying to savor it. I really enjoy these books set in Shipshewana, Indiana. Makes me want to hop in the car to enjoy a market day. 

                                                    In Material Witness, Callie, Deborah and their friends return for another mystery. The mix of Englisch and Amish continues in this story with the added bonus that the kids play a larger role. Because the action centers around Daisy's quilt shop, quilts play a large role. From subplots to descriptions to literally saving the day. There's even a stronger dose of romance than appeared in the earlier novels. 

Even if you haven't read the earlier two books (buy them, too!) , you will enjoy Material Witness. It's perfect for those who love highly relational casts with a fun setting, great supporting characters, and a strong mystery to solve.

Monday, September 03, 2012

A Great American & the Brandenburg Gate

When we were in Germany, the place I had my pinch me moment was the Brandenberg Gate. In no small part that was because of the speech Ronald Reagan made in 1987 at that spot. I went to college while the wall was collapsing. I thought I would get a Ph.D. in international relations with an emphasis on the former Soviet Union. My essay the year I was awarded the Truman Scholarship dealt with how we should respond to the countries attempting to leave the Soviet block.

The world has changed...dramatically since those days at the end of the 80s and early 90s. The lady we stayed with in Berlin told us stories of growing up literally surrounded by the Berlin Wall. Of a mother who escaped East Germany in dramatic fashion in the very early 1960s. Of being one of the first people pushed up on to the Berlin Wall the night it fell, and wondering if she would be shot by the East German military.

We live such a protected life. We take so much freedom for granted. We have liberty and don't know what to do with it.  My parents transmitted to me the importance of being involved of caring. I want to do the same. Because as one of the Reagan quotes in this video states,

Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

A Duke's Promise: CFBA Tour

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
A Duke's Promise
B&H Books (September 1, 2012)
Jamie Carie

I haven't received the book yet, so can't tell you anything about it other than Jamie is an extremely talented author and I'm eager to read this one.


As Jamie’s relationship with God grew, she discovered her heart was filled with songs and poetry. During high school she wrote lyrics for her brother’s band. (And she sang them too!) After college, Jamie married, had two sons and decided to stay home with them. While she homeschooled she wrote skits, poems, plays and short stories for school and church.
When her eldest son turned five she dove into the world of novels. She’d read romance novels for years, but couldn’t relate to the flawless, saintly heroines in Christian romance novels. So she decided to write her own.

Snow Angel was born on a frosty night in an old farmhouse in Fishers, Indiana, where the cold floor gave plenty of motivation for the snow scene. Jamie loves to write late at night when the house is quiet and the darkness seems alive. Elizabeth and Noah had been playacting in her head for a long time, so the story went fast.
Ten years later Snow Angel was published and won the ForeWord magazine Romance Book of the Year winner, was a National “Best Books 2007” Awards winner, and a 2008 RITA Awards® Best First Book finalist. It was the beginning of her dream career.

Jamie and her husband Tony have been married for twenty-one years and live in Indianapolis with their three sons and a giant of a dog named Leo.

If she could only say one thing to her readers it would be, “Live the dreams God has destined you for!”


From the Land of Fire and Ice back to England’s shores, Alexandria Featherstone finds herself the new Duchess of St. Easton. Her husband has promised a wedding trip to take them to the place where her imperiled parents were last seen -- Italy and the marble caves of Carrara -- but a powerful Italian duke plots against Alex and her treasure-hunting parents.

Hoping to save them, Alex and Gabriel travel to Italy by balloon. Fraught with danger on all sides and pressured by Gabriel’s affliction to the breaking point, they must learn to work and fight together. The mysterious key is within their grasp, but they have yet to recognize it. This journey will require steadfast faith in God and each other -- a risk that will win them everything they want or lose them everything they have.

If you would like to read the first chapter of A Duke's Promise, go HERE.


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