Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Great Foreign Language Tool

Every once in awhile I stumble on an app that is worth it's weight in gold. And sometimes they're free! Today I want to introduce you to one that I am thrilled with. It's perfect for people who want to pick up a foreign language or brush up dusty skills. Maybe you've heard of it: Duolingo. It's a free app for the iPhone, iPad, etc. and you can do everything on the website, too. I bought Rosetta Stone for us to learn German last spring and it's fine. But Duolingo lets you do the grammar and vocabulary exercises. And it follows a similar flow. However, so far at least, I haven't found where it lets you practice pronunciation.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Travel to World War II Nebraska with E-Books

The stories of my heart are now in e-books. These books were the first of mine that found a publishing home and now they are available for all e-formats. With each of these books I got to highlight a bit of the history of my home state.

I'm so delighted that my first book in the Nebraska series Canteen Dreams is in e-book formats! In the aftermath of Pearl Harbor, Audrey Stone wants to help in the war effort. But what's a young schoolteacher from Nebraska to do? When her community start a canteen at the train station, Audrey finds her place. She spends nearly every spare moment there, offering food and kidness to the soldiers passing through. Despite her busyness, Audrey does allow some time to get to know a handsome rancher. Willard Johnson worries about his brother who joined the navy to get off the ranch and see the world. When Willard's worst fear is

Friday, February 22, 2013

Picking Topics for Books

One challenge for a novelist is coming up with ideas that generate ideas for future books. While we're writing one, we need to generate ideas for more -- it's a cycle of life of sorts. 

I read a few non-fiction books, looking for anything that jumps out at me. And if it interests me, there is a chance I can spin a story around it. After that I noodle the story, try to come up with new ideas, characters, and details that will coat the non-fiction idea in a way that fiction lovers with enjoy and be immersed in them. 

When Sarah, Tricia and I began talking about creating a novella collection, we stared with a conference call. We started talking about the elements that we share in our World War II novels. Once we started spinning out elements, it became easy to craft a core that we could work from to create stories that were woven together.

With A Wedding Transpires on Mackinac Island, I thought about places we enjoyed visiting. Those often make a great setting for a book that will allow readers to escape into the pages and stories for awhile. 

What makes a book appealing to you?

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Unbreakable Giveaway

Unbreakable is the second book in Nancy Mehl's Road to Kingdom series. When you crack open the cover, you'll be transported to the small Mennonite community of Kingdom, a town that wants to live apart and in peace. Yet from the opening pages, Hope and the town are in the sights of an unknown attack. The story spins out with conflict on many levels. Enjoyable read for those who like books with the plain life complicated by the collision of both worlds. 


Mennonite Romantic Suspense Sure to Thrill Readers

Gentle and unassuming Hope Kauffman has never been one to question or try to make changes. She quietly helps her father run Kingdom Quilts and has agreed to the betrothal her father arranged for her with the devout but shy Ebbie Miller.

Despite Hope's and other Kingdom residents' attempts to maintain the status quo, changes have already begun to stir in the small Mennonite town. The handsome and charismatic Jonathon Wiese is the leader of the move to reform, and when one of Kingdom's own is threatened by a mysterious outsider, Jonathon is one of the first to push for the town to arm itself. Hope's fiance, Ebbie, is at the forefront of those demanding the town stay true to its traditions of nonviolence.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Rending Our Hearts: Joel 2

I'm currently participating in Beth Moore's Esther study for the second time. It is a study filled with great truth on destiny and finding God when His name is nowhere in a circumstance. One of the studies for this week tied Esther 4 to Joel 2. Joel is one of those minor prophets that you've read once or twice if you've read through the Bible. What I love is the way she ties it to Esther. Even the repetition of phrases seems intentional, which shouldn't surprise us since all books were inspired by the same Holy Spirit. 

In this particular session she highlighted how the public morning of the Jews reflected their understanding that the King's edict was a result of their turning from God. How many times have we been in the middle of a crisis and then came to realize and understand that it was a result of stepping out from God's protection. 

Monday, February 18, 2013

Living with No Regrets

Since January 27, my grandfather and uncle died...exactly one week apart. It's one reason I haven't posted as consistently as usual. My grandma doesn't have wifi on the farm, and it was important to spend time with her.

One theme that kept ringing through as we (my parents, siblings, cousins, extended family) walked through this dark time was that we had no regrets. What a blessing that is. To come to the end of a life and not have regrets of things that weren't said, weren't done, love not shared. Instead, we had sadness but not regret. Here are a few thoughts from that experience.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Bella's Back!

Enjoy this fun interview with author Janice Thompson, where she shares the story-behind-the-story regarding Bella’s return.

Janice, welcome! I’m really enjoyed the Weddings by Bella series and am excited to read the spin-off series.

1. Can you tell us more about why you decided to write it?

Sure! (Thanks for hosting me, by the way!) When I wrote Fools Rush In (book one in the Weddings by Bella series) I knew I had something special on my hands. The characters really resonated with me, but there was more. I felt as if I’d created a world of real, wonderful, wacky people. Sure, I’d breathed life into them on the page, but they seemed to take it from there, springing to life and moving the story forward as they willed. I wrapped

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Shattered by Dani Pettrey

This week, the

is introducing

Bethany House Publishers (February 1, 2013)


Attending two funerals last week has put me a bit behind in my reading. What I can say is that this book opens with drama and tension and pulled me in. I can't wait to get back to it as soon as I turn in my next book. If you enjoy romantic suspense Dani Pettrey is an author to check out! 


Piper McKenna couldn't be more thrilled that her prodigal brother, Reef, has returned to Yancey, Alaska, after five years. But her happiness is short-lived when Reef appears at her house covered in blood. A fellow snowboarder has been killed--but despite the evidence, Reef swears he's innocent. And Piper believes him.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Exciting News! I'll be Seeing You at Christmas

I am beyond thrilled to announce that Tricia Goyer, Sarah Sundin and I are coming together to write a Christmas novella collection tentatively titled I'll be Seeing Christmas. It's part of B&H's new World War II fiction line that launches in 2014. The book I turned in February 1st, Shadowed by Grace, launches the line next February.

Tricia and Sarah are two of my favorite writing friends...and write great World War II novels. Brainstorming this collection was such fun, I can't wait to write them. And the best part? The first two are set in Lafayette, Indiana: a place I know a little something about.

Here's more on the collection:

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Safe In His Arms by Colleen Coble

Colleen Coble's latest book, Safe In His Arms, is a historical set in Texas. Maggie O'Brien doesn't fit anyone's image of what a woman should be. Yet Daniel Cutler thinks she's beautiful, something she just can't accept --especially when she's convinced he's a bank thief. This historical romance and mystery winds around the deep truth that God loves us unconditionally, a truth that can transform our lives if we let it.

This book has Coble's trade-mark characterization and a setting that can't be removed from the book without removing a key element of the book. I found myself sucked into the pages -- in a good way!

Safe in His Arms
Sometimes it takes a stranger to see you as you really are.
Under Texas Stars, Book 2
Born and raised on sprawling Texas land, Margaret O’Brien prides herself on her competence as a rancher. But her father believes she’s made for more than just dawn-to-dusk work. He wants her to have the love of a good man, to raise children, to build a life. But Margaret gave up such dreams years ago. She’s convinced no man would have her, that the ranch is her life now.
So when Margaret’s father hires Daniel Cutler as a new foreman, she’s frustrated and suspicious. Then an overheard conversation links him with a gang of bank robbers, and she’s downright worried. Daniel swears he’s not involved, but Margaret’s not convinced. She knows the man still has secrets. But would a criminal be so kind and talk so convincingly of his faith? As a series of tragic “accidents” threatens all she holds dear, Margaret must decide what to trust: her own ears, her best judgment . . . or what her heart keeps telling her.
Learn more about Book 1, Blue Moon Promise here.

Best-selling author Colleen Coble’s novels have won or finaled in awards ranging from the Best Books of Indiana, ACFW Book of the Year, RWA’s RITA, the Holt Medallion, the Daphne du Maurier, National Readers’ Choice, and the Booksellers Best. She has nearly 2 million books in print and writes romantic mysteries because she loves to see justice prevail. Colleen is CEO of American Christian Fiction Writers and is a member of Romance Writers of America. She lives with her husband Dave in Indiana.

Saturday, February 09, 2013

All for a Song by Allison Pittman

Allison Pittman is an award winning author of numerous books, all historical, and all set during different time periods. I first got to know her when we both attended a writer's retreat, and she offered to pick me up at the airport. We had a great time getting to know each other, and from our conversations, I couldn't wait to read one of her books.

All for a Song is set during the Roaring Twenties, when a small-town southern girl finds herself tempted as she travels with Aimee Semple McPherson. She's never left her small spot on the map, and as the world opens up for her, she has to decide what role her faith plays in her life. She's always done what's expected of her, and now as her wedding is barreling down on her, she wonders if she'll ever get to live.

This story is beautifully written in a way that drew me deep into its pages. The characters are rich and varied, and I felt transported to a time period I don't know much about, but enjoyed visiting. If you have never read one of Allison's books, please allow yourself a treat and settle in for a read that will leave your mind satisfied and your soul touched.

Monday, February 04, 2013

Turning Life Into Fiction: My Grandpa

 We had my Grandpa's services on Saturday, and then yesterday morning my uncle died. As I've been with family, I've thought about the legacy we leave behind. Grandpa was one of my heroes. Today, I wanted to share with you one way I turned who he was into inspiration for my stories. A couple years ago for Christmas, he had a ceremony of sorts at Christmas. As I watched, I realized it was the perfect way to end my Nebraska World War II series. So that moment became the epilogue in Captive Dreams.

May we all leave such a legacy behind.

Sixty-three years later
Warmth flowed from the fire crackling in the fireplace. The laughter and pounding feet of children running up and down the stairs brought a smile to Anna’s face. On those rare occasions when the whole family gathered, she couldn’t help counting her blessings. God never ceased to overwhelm her with His goodness.

Since that day so long ago when Sid took her hand in the small white chapel at Camp Atlanta and they’d recited their vows, God had walked with them. Through the joys of the birth of each child. A daughter just like her. Two sons, each as different as could be. A second daughter who brought such joy to Anna’s heart with the close friendship they shared.

Friday, February 01, 2013

Honoring a Legacy of Love

Today, I'll be at the visitation and tomorrow at the graduation celebration for my 93 year old grandfather who went home to be with the Lord Sunday. It's been a bittersweet couple weeks as we prepared for him to leave us. The man has left an amazing legacy. He and my grandma were married 66 years. They had four children+ 1 in-law, 7 grandchildren + 7 grandchildren-in-laws, and 23 great-grandchildren. That's a rich heritage because two people fell in love.

He was a man that I could watch God soften his heart overtime. He was a good grandpa when I was a child and only improved with time until he was an absolutely amazing great-grandpa. My siblings and I learned to play 10 point pitch and cribbage from him. My children learned to play train dominos and Phase 10 from him. In August when we stopped at the farm, he taught my then 8 and 11 year olds how to drive his golf cart and smiled as big as they did at their success.

It's bittersweet to let him go. He lived a good life. A rich life. The hero in Canteen Dreams was based directly on my grandpa -- shared his name even -- because I wondered what it would feel like to be the only son of a farmer who was drafted repeatedly during World War II, but always sent home to work the farm. Then in Captive Dreams, the epilogue is taken directly from the most romantic thing my grandpa ever did several years ago at Christmas.


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