Thursday, September 27, 2007

Montana Mistletoe Blog Tour

This is the last stop on the Montana Mistletoe blog tour, a novella collection about four lifelong friends who made a pact when they were in college to be married by the time they were 28. Except the year has arrived, and there isn’t any romance in any of their lives.

If this is your first stop on our tour, welcome! If you’ve followed us through the tour we hope you’ve enjoyed it! Be sure to leave a comment on our official Montana Mistletoe blogspot for a chance to win great prizes! Details are at the end of this interview.

To end the tour, can you share some special Christmas traditions?

KIM: Something we've done since my oldest daughter was tiny is sing "Happy Birthday" to baby Jesus before we open our gifts. When we have our big get-together with my brother, his family, and my parents, my dad reads the Christmas story from the Bible. It gives me such a sense of family and stability--it's a very special time to me.

DEBBY: Our Christmas tradition continues to evolve due to our lives constantly changing. However, we typically go to church on Christmas Eve then eat pizza while we open a few gifts before going to bed. The next morning, after a breakfast of muffins and fruit, we open more gifts and join grandparents for the rest of the day. However, our daughter Alison and her husband Jason moved out of the area, so we're changing things this year.

LENA: Over the years, we've had many traditions. Now the thing my grandchildren always look forward to are my Sour Cream Turkey Enchiladas at Christmas. We always have a big turkey at Thanksgiving. I freeze the leftover meat to make these enchiladas. The year my grandson who is in the army couldn't come home until January, I made an extra pan of them, so he could have them, too.

LISA: I love having traditions for the holiday season, from decorating the tree together, to cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning, to eggnog, to watching my kids open their stockings.

What about a favorite Christmas memory?

LENA: One year when our children were young, I planned all year what I was going to get James for Christmas. I saved a little bit each week so I could buy the power saw for him. This was going to be his year! I didn't know that he had planned on this being my Christmas. When we married, I owned a lot of phonograph albums, but we didn't have any way to play them. He saved his money and bought me a combination radio and phonograph player. We both planned to give to each other, and we both had a wonderful Christmas, almost like "The Gift of the Magi" short story.

DEBBY: Christmas is such a special time for my family, I have too many memories to pick a favorite. I love being surrounded by my husband, daughters, and other family members to celebrate the birth of Christ.

KIM: I've had many special Christmases, and choosing one is hard, but I'll say 1986. A week before Christmas I gave birth to a baby...four weeks early! She was a tiny, beautiful, doll of a baby, and we named her Kaitlyn Joy in honor of the season. She came home on Christmas Eve, and just having her--healthy and beautiful--in her little seat beneath the tree was a joy beyond description

LISA: Each year my mother would buy me an ornament to hang on our tree. Now, even if we’re not together at Christmas, I still have a reminder of our times together.

Winners! Winners! Winners! This might be the last stop, but you still have time to win a FREE copy of the book and a $30 gift certificate to! For more information, visit our official Montana, Mistletoe blog at before October 1st!


Monday, September 24, 2007

Vanished Winner!

Congratulations Merrie Destefano! You've won a copy of Vanished. Please let me know how to contact you and I'll send you a copy as soon as the book is released:)


Saturday, September 22, 2007



By Vasthi Reyes Acosta, Gail Sattler, Lynette Sowell, and Carrie Turansky
A Contemporary romance collection that captures the sights and sounds of the Christmas season in New York City.

Moonlight and Mistletoe by Carrie Turansky -- Christmas plans are set askew when professional organizer Sarah Montgomery meets free-spirited poet Justin Latimer. As they work together on a project for her neighbor, romantic sparks fly - but will new revelations douse them?

Shopping for Love by Gail Sattler – Two tourists try to lose themselves in the holiday shopping crowds. But when Bryan Evans literally knocks Emily Jones off her feet, her heart's secrets are spun even more off balance.

Where the Love Light Gleams by Lynette Sowell -- Christmas in Rockefeller Center puts a widow's spruce tree on center stage. Professor Theophilus Stellakis volunteers to host Gwynn Michaud, and they both find new dreams in the glow of the holiday lights.

Gifts of the Magi by Vasthi Reyes Acosta -- The gift of the Magi comes full circle for two lonely Latinos when Cecilia Montes takes time out of her busy schedule to help an old friend with youth group activities. But can she trust her heart to Elias Perez?

It must have been fun to write a story set during the Christmas season. What Christmas events do your characters enjoy in your novellas?

Vasthi Reyes Acosta - In my novella I included sights and sounds that were more reflected of uptown Manhattan, such as The Cloisters, which is a museum in Fort Tryon Park, The Three King's Day Parade sponsored by El Museo del Barrio, ice skating in Central Park, a concert at Riverside Church, and of course the tree at Rockefeller Center.

Gail Sattler - The lights and ambiance of shopping, during the daytime and after dark. Getting caught in the excitement of the Christmas shopping, even though both Emily and Bryan hate shopping at home.

Lynette Sowell -Gwynn and Theo attend the tree lighting in Rockefeller Center, and they also go to the Christmas show at Radio City Music Hall.

Carrie Turansky – Sarah joins Justin’s family for Thanksgiving. Sarah and Justin Visit the Fetes de Noel in Bryant Park which is a wonderful outdoor market with great Christmas shopping. They watch the ice skaters and enjoy live Christmas music. Sarah takes a taxi ride through the city looking at the holiday lights and store decorations. Sarah and Lillian attend a candle light Christmas eve service.

Share a Christmas tradition you enjoy with your family.

Vasthi Reyes Acosta - In my home we celebrate El Dia de los Reyes on January 6th. We put out the water and whatever grass we can find in the winter and in the morning there is a gift waiting. Often we go to parties on that day and eat, sing and enjoy family and friends.

Gail Sattler - I crocheted a nativity scene to keep the true Christmas story alive in my home. Instead of decorating the mantle, we place all the people all over the house. The shepherds and sheep are on the hearth, the wise men and camel are in the eastern most part of my house, the dining room. Mary and Joseph and the donkey cross the living room carpet, we move them a bit each day. The innkeeper waits alone in the inn/stable near the Christmas tree. When the kids were little they used to play with everything, then at night, everyone goes back to their special place in the house. Christmas morning Mary and Joseph arrive at the inn, the angel comes out, Jesus is born, we say a prayer, and only then do we start opening gifts.

Lynette Sowell - A few days before Christmas Eve, we start baking goodies and appetizers. Then on Christmas Eve we invite anyone who wants to come by the house after the Christmas Eve candlelight service. We enjoy time friends and family, everyone eats all the food (so we're not stuck with tons of fudge), and then we collapse in happy heaps when everyone leaves. Then we each open one present. The "main" Christmas gifts don't get put under the tree until the kids are in bed.

Carrie Turansky - We have collected Christmas ornaments from many different places over the years. Our family enjoys unwrapping them each year and decorating our Christmas tree. We talk about the places we have traveled and enjoy sharing these special memories together. Serving popcorn and hot cocoa are part of the tradition too.

What is one of your favorite scenes in the book?

Vasthi Reyes Acosta - I have several favorite scenes. I love all the scenes where Cecilia's family is creating havoc for her. They were so much fun to write with the loudness, chaos and love present and typical of Latino families. But if I had to choose one scene it would be when Elias professes his love for Cecilia.

Gail Sattler - On the subway. I love to feel the motion and watch out the window as everything is zipping by, and of course, Emily had her camera with her.

Lynette Sowell -I loved writing Theo's point of view when he and Gwynn go shopping in Chinatown. He's incredibly aware of how he feels about her now, and he's not quite sure what to do about it just yet. .

Carrie Turansky - Sarah joins Justin's family to celebrate Thanksgiving and she discovers many new qualities about him. The interaction between Justin and Sarah as they wash dishes after dinner was fun to write and very romantic.

We invite you to cruise by our site, where we share recipes, more about our stories, excerpts, and blog tour dates. Starting October 6, we’ll post a question each week from one of the novellas in the anthology. Those answering correctly will have their names entered into our weekly drawing. And for those in the NYC area, we have a very special prize…tickets to Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular. So if you live in The City or you’d like to travel there, please read our book, answer the question, and enter the drawing.

You can learn more about the authors at their websites:

Gail Sattler:
Lynette Sowell:
Carrie Turansky:

Thursday, September 20, 2007

A Few Questions for Kathryn Mackel

Be sure to leave a comment to be eligible to win a copy of Vanished!

BG: Tell us about your new release, Vanished.

KM: My husband and I were hooked right from the first very minute of the television show Lost. The idea of an isolated community intrigues us. Apocalyptic novels or sociological masterpieces like Lord of the Flies fascinate us because they allow us to view society in a microcosm.

Vanished is an action/thriller about an inner-city neighborhood that is isolated after a terrorist’s bomb combines with a rogue experiment to create a horrific magnetic blast. There is no power, no water, no communication of any kind. A strange mist surrounds the area of the blast, effectively cutting off the affected area from the rest of the world. The highest ranking official is a cop on the beat and, with no access to medical facilities, a nurse-practitioner has to depend on her wits and skill to care for the injured.

Also affected are the business block and a gated community of expensive homes. As the survivors realize their displacement from the world is dire, the struggle for limited resources threatens to become survival of the fittest—and the most heavily armed.

And then there’s the question of what’s in the mist…and beyond the mist.

BG: What was the inspiration for this?

KM: I’m going to be totally honest about this. My fellow Speculative Fiction writers know how near impossible it is to place Christian fantasy and science fiction. My Birthright books, which are my favorite, were well-reviewed and received but had poor sales. I asked my agent to pray with me about taking my career in a more conventional path in CBA, or even turning to ABA (where I write kids’ fiction). He prayed for a week, came back to me and said that the only thing he could discern was that I should be writing fantasy.

I was furious—not with my agent, because he’s a faithful man. I was so angry at God because I saw Outriders die on the vine and now this was the guidance I was getting? To make matters worse, my dear friend finally got around to reading Outriders and called me the day after my agent told me this. You were born to write this, she said.

I became more furious, indulged in the spiritual equivalent stomping the floor and shaking my fists. I went to bed that night, in the recliner because I needed my hip replacement (it’s great, btw) and raged at the ceiling most of the night. Finally I said,

“Okay God, if you want me writing imaginative stuff, you’ve got to give me an idea that people will get.”

About an hour later, I sat upright in the recliner with the idea for Vanished almost fully formed. How good and merciful the Lord has been to me in this! I deserved a kick in the butt and got a boon for my imagination!

My husband, who isn’t into “weird” stuff except Lost and the 4400, warmed to the idea immediately. His support and interest really encouraged me in this difficult time.

BG: What is the message you hope to get across in Vanished?

KM: This isn’t a “message” book like The Departed (about a television medium) was. It’s more an imaginative exploration of life themes that we all face. Taking things for granted. Thinking we control our loves. Esteeming ourselves too much or too little. Obedience. Service. Fear. Family. And the most difficult, universal challenge of finding God when you’ve lost everything else.

BG: Is there anything you can share about Realms Fiction as a publishing house? Many speculative fiction writers are hoping they will succeed!

KM: Amen! I’m thrilled that they’ve continued to publish imaginative fiction and have told them many of us are rooting for their success. They’ve got quite a non-fiction presence as well as nine magazines. Their marketing model is different from what I’ve been used to and I welcome that. I’ve given them the best book I can, and I trust them to do their best with it.

BG: I’ve heard it said that Christians shouldn’t be writing in genres such as horror or even science fiction or fantasy. Or that a redemptive message, or the story of good versus evil, light versus dark, is inherent, and doesn’t require a Christian to tell it. Any thoughts on this? (seems like this was once your soap box? LOL)

KM: You know me well! This is definitely my soap box. And it’s a crowded one, because many talented writers are up here with me.

Without giving my full hour lecture on Speculative Fiction, let me just say that the prophets of the Old Testament and Jesus in the gospels engaged the imagination to teach and preach. People are inspired through different senses. Some are moved by music, others visually.

The challenge for any Christian writer—whether in romance or contemporary or hard science fiction—is to not blaspheme or mislead, but to understand the heart of the story they’re writing in the context of what the Lord puts in their own heart. My exhortation to readers is to understand a story is not a theological treatise but a picture of the human heart and, when we do our jobs faithfully, a touch of the divine heart.

Onto the second part of your question as to whether a writer needs to be a Christian to write a redemptive book. I might lose some readers with what I’m about to say. But promised to be honest and so I will.

This summer I taught a college course on Writing the Supernatural/Suspense Thriller. I assigned two books for the students to read—Dean Koontz’s The Taking and Stephen King’s The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon. I’ve been told Koontz is a Christian but King is often regarded as a ghoulish figure. I can’t guess at the state of his soul and it would be wrong to do so but Tom Gordon was a marvelous exploration of child-like faith in the face of cynical secularism. I was so moved that I picked up the uncut version of The Stand. It again was an uplifting (though scary and very long) book with a redemptive heart. And I was amazed at Stephen King’s grasp of scripture. So who’s to say whom God will work through?

Our ambition should be to go after Koontz and King readers with the truth and let the Holy Spirit do the rest.

BG: On your new website, and I love it by the way, you show new covers for Outriders and Trackers. Tell us about that.

KM: I’ve already mentioned my heartbreak at the lack of sales for the Birthright books. WestBow shared my pain but also recognized that teen readers love these kind of fantasies. It was their decision to re-release them for YA (13 and up) and provide new covers. What an unexpected blessing!

BG: What new projects are you working? Any new scripts or novels in the works?

KM: I finished a rewrite of The Hidden screenplay and turned it in to my producers. I’m working through the edits on Boost, my YA for Dial Books about girls and steroids. And I’m working on book 2 of Vanished (working title—Darkening). Interestingly. After writing Vanished, my 14-year-old protagonist in Boost sounded like a cop. I’m becoming more aware of cross-contamination.

BG: What do you believe is the most important thing an author can do to catch an editor’s eye?

KM: The obvious thing would be to write spectacularly. But the truth is, you need to persuade an editor to pick up your pages first. So here’s what I’d say:

Be absolutely professional in your initial contact. (And every contact after that!)

Understand the market you’re writing for and why your book is a good match for the market and the publisher. An editor needs to spark to a great pitch before they’ll be induced to read your first chapter. My favorite thing to do at writers’ conferences is my early-bird workshop on “Practice Your Pitch.” A polished presentation goes a long, long way persuading an editor that it would be safe to do business with you.

BG: What would you say was the toughest part of the writing craft for you to learn? Any tips for others who struggle with this same element?

KM: Like all writers, I am very good at some things and I’m weak at others. I’ve learned to key on my strengths and disguise my weaknesses. The hardest part of learning the craft may be honestly understanding what one’s weaknesses are. Consistent and trusted critique by trusted writers is a good gauge for where a writer needs to be hyper-vigilant. When you hear the same “type” of comment, this tells you that you’ve got a weak spot and need to either strengthen that or accommodate it.

For example, one of the things I still have a tendency to indulge in melodrama. Usually I don’t see those over-the-top moments until my second draft. It’s embarrassing when one gets through to my editor. My melodramatic moments usually are not action scenes nor relational but in interior reflection/monologue. This tells me that I’m turning my characters into the writer, rather than the living, breathing human being.

It’s tough to give writers this kind of advice because I don’t want someone learning the craft to become hyper-critical. Wisdom takes time and can be painfully acquired. I taught a college class this summer and watched students taking what I pray was gentle critique. They squinted and struggled and sighed for six or so classes. Suddenly, the light bulbs went on and they made great improvement. I know it was painful to get there, but a pain that had to be endured.

BG: Any marketing tips?

KM: I wish. Many of us are still trying to figure out how to promote our books effectively. I’ve tried so many things, from spending thousands on a publicity campaign, to running radio ads (more thousands), to doing internet promotion. I haven’t seen any specific return on anything I’ve done.

To me, the most effective tool is word-of-mouth. If a reader enjoys a book, please—please—tell someone about the book. Those of us below the best-selling ranks depend on our readers more than any other marketing we or our publishers can devise. And we are so grateful to hear from readers who have enjoyed our books.

Writing sometimes seems to happen in a vacuum. That my book has blessed someone is a true privilege and honor. And those emails keep me going on the days when I’m stomping and raging, or cowering and whining.

Great interview, Kathy! Thanks for joining us. You can visit Kathy's website at


Monday, September 17, 2007

CSFF Blog Tour: Austin Boyd

It's time for the CSFF Blog tour for The Return, book three of The Mars Hill Classified Trilogy (NavPress), by Austin Boyd. I'm still in the middle of reading this story and hope to have it finished by tonight. God willing. What I find interesting is that for a long while we (science fiction and fantasy readers and writers) have heard that science fiction is dead. Period. Then out comes The Return, a three book series based on Mars. Granted, this isn't true science fiction as pointed out by Austin Boyd himself on Deena Peterson's blog. (Her link is below)
Technically, what I write is not science fiction, per se. Every technology I write about exists today, and since I work in the technology business, I have lots of inspiration for new stuff that’s soon to come out. There are no laser guns and light speed travel in my books, or people beaming up from a planet.
Still I love reading science fiction and might try my hand at writing it one day. I'm in the process of working on a techno-thriller myself. But I have to ask what qualifies a person to write science fiction (or techno-thrillers). If Austin Boyd's resume is the answer, then I'm doomed.

His bio on the back of The Return reads like this:

A Navy pilot, nuclear weapons officer, and a spacecraft engineer, Austin Boyd flew three thousand hours in a war and peacetime operations, designed satellites, and built classified systems to track terrorists ( sounds like the techno thriller I'm working on). A world traveler, NASA Astronaut finalist, and inventor with multiple patents, he served on key Navy space assignments before retiring to Huntsville, Alabama, where he lives with Cindy, his wife of twenty-eight years, and their four children.

There's more, but I think you get the picture. You can read more at Austin Boyd's website.

I hope to have my review on this blog tour so check back and be sure to look at the other blog participants. The end of the week includes an interview with Kathryn Mackel about her newest release, the Vanished. (Realms)

Trish Anderson
Brandon Barr
Jim Black
Justin Boyer
Grace Bridges
Amy Browning
Jackie Castle
Valerie Comer
Karri Compton
Lisa Cromwell
CSFF Blog Tour
Gene Curtis
D. G. D. Davidson
Janey DeMeo
Merrie Destefano or Alien Dream
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Linda Gilmore
Beth Goddard
Marcus Goodyear
Jill Hart
Katie Hart
Sherrie Hibbs
Christopher Hopper
Becca Johnson
Jason Joyner
Dawn King
Tina Kulesa
Rachel Marks
Karen McSpadden
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Eve Nielsen
John W. Otte
Lyn Perry
Deena Peterson
Cheryl Russel
Chawna Schroeder
Mirtika Schultz
James Somers
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Laura Williams
Timothy Wise

Friday, September 14, 2007

Treasure Hunt This Saturday!

If you're a Shoutlife member, be sure to play the Treasure hunt. You can start here:

Roseanna M. White

Have a great weekend!


Thursday, September 13, 2007

Upcoming events

Please be sure to check back often. Next week begins our CSFF Blog tour featuring Austin Boyd's The Return, the first book in the Mars Hill Series. I'm currently reading that. Then you can look forward to an interview with Kathryn Mackel as she shares about her upcoming release, The Vanished. Look for a special Blog tour of A Big Apple Christmas--All coming up next week!!!


Book Winner!

Congratulations, Stormi! You've won a free book from MaryLu Tyndall. Thank you so much for participating in the contest. I hope you'll visit often.

Treasure Hunt!

First things first. I'll announce the winner of one of Marylu Tyndall's book tomorrow. So, if you haven't commented and are interested in possibly winning, please comment now:)

Interested in participating in a treasure hunt, and possibly winning valuable prizes?

A Treasure Hunt begins on Shout life on September 15, 2007 at Roseanna M. White’s blog site .
The first twelve winners will receive autographed copies of Sanctuary, a long historical novel about the Huguenots by Molly Noble Bull. Sanctuary will be published in trade paperback on September 15, 2007.

It’s easy to win. Here are the rules.
Visit all twelve blog sites listed below, beginning with Roseanna M. White’s site. At each site, you will find a question and an answer. Read both carefully. You will also see a star by the sentence in each answer where the main clue can be found. Copy or cut and paste the sentence with the main clue in it to your answer sheet. When you have collected all the answers found at the 12 blog sites, send your answers to the Christian Review of Books’ ShoutMail.

The Treasure Hunt begins on September 15, 2007 – the day Sanctuary will be published. From Rosanna White’s blog, you will be told where to go for the next clue. However all twelve blog sites will post all the blog addresses; so don’t worry about getting lost.

1. Roseanna M. White
2. Trish Perry
3. Delia Latham
4. Katy King
5. MaryLu Tyndall
6. Jill Elizabeth Nelson
7. Miralee Ferrell
8. Michelle Sutton
9. Elizabeth Goddard
10. Tricia Goyer
11. Teresa Slack
12. Molly Noble Bull

Monday, September 10, 2007

A Few questions for M.L. Tyndall

Thank you for visiting today. Be sure to comment below to be entered in a drawing to win one of MaryLu's pirate books!!!

BG: Tell us about your life, where you grew up, your interests and hobbies.

MLT: I grew up on the sunny shores of South Florida! I love the sea and spent my childhood on the beach dreaming of swashbuckling adventures upon its vast waters. My home life was rocky so I tended to live in another world inside my head, always creating adventures and heroes from another time and place to come and rescue me. Sometimes that world became more real to me than the world around me. But, I never had the confidence to write it down in stories. Besides writing, I love to oil paint and have several paintings hanging around my house.

BG: Tell us about your writing journey.

MLT: Because of my shaky childhood and because I wasn’t a Christian until my late 30’s, I spent many years going down the wrong path. Although I always had the urge to write, I never had the confidence. Like the prodigal son, I spent my time and money on worldly pleasures and just like him, I ended up in a pig pen. When the Lord lifted me out of the mud, He had a mighty work to do in me for the next six years before I was ready to write for Him. I was a mess, spiritually and emotionally! ☺ After that, He gave me the idea for a Christian Pirate, the time to write, and the rest is history.

BG: What is your favorite movie? Favorite book?

MLT: I have so many favorites, it’s hard to choose. Besides the pirate movies, I loved Titanic, Braveheart, Lord of the Rings, Last of the Mohicans, Pride and Prejudice (The one on A&E)
My favorite all time book is Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, but other favorites include Mark of the Lion series by Francine Rivers, and Captain Blood by Raphael Sabatini (don’t be dissuaded by the name, it’s a great book!)

BG: I love the pirate movies. (but I hated the ending of the last one. After all we’ve put into the romance, and they can only be together one day out of ten years. SCREAM) Can you share if they played a part in the inspiration for your books, and if so, how?

MLT: It was after I saw the first pirate movie that the Lord gave me the idea of a Christian pirate. So, I would say that film had a big part in inspiring me. Besides dear sweet Johnny Depp, the other pirates were so hideous and so depraved that I wondered how cool would it be to create a pirate who was a Christian? What a grand dichotomy between profession and beliefs.
By the way, if you ever rent or buy the last pirate movie, wait until all the credits are done at the end and you’ll be treated to a little scene that will make you feel better about the way the story ended. ☺

BG: I did see the ending--the very ending-- and I'm sorry to say that it didn't feel any happier! Can you share the process of selling these novels? Were you surprised when you received the call, or did you suspect the editor would buy them, and why?

MLT: Surprised? More like stunned into silence. Then after I found my voice, I started screaming. ☺ I couldn’t believe it. You see I had only just submitted the manuscript to an agent the month before. Within 2 weeks of sending it out, Barbour expressed interest, and 1 week after that, my agent called me from the ACFW conference and told me they were offering me a contract! I had heard it could take years to break into the publishing world, if ever, so I knew right away that God had preformed a miracle and I give Him all the glory!

BG: With that experience, do you have any tips or thoughts on catching an editor’s eye?

MLT: You must have a very unique idea. Something that hasn’t been done before. I really believe that’s why my books were picked up. It wasn’t my stellar writing, it was the idea of a Christian pirate. Of course you must be a decent writer as well, but the main thing is the idea. Does it pique their interest? The whole time they are reading your proposal, they aren’t drooling over your grand vocabulary or eloquent writing, they are wondering. “Can I sell this idea?”

BG: Tell us about the latest release in the series, The Restitution.

MLT: The Restitution is a story of a young mother, Isabel, who has been ostracized from society for choosing to keep her baby—a child born from the ravishment of a pirate, Kent. When the child is kidnapped, the only one who can help her is the boy’s father. But Kent has changed. His love for Isabel and his shame at what he did to her have begun to soften his pirate heart. As the couple search for their son, they encounter many obstacles, sea battles, mutinies and betrayals. Isabel finds her fledging faith tested over and over, while Kent begins to believe in the powerful God she prays to. It is a great story of forgiveness and of forsaking all to follow Jesus.

BG: What is the message you hope to get across in this story? In the series?

MLT: Nothing in this world will bring you the fulfillment and joy you desire except a relationship with Jesus. You must lay everything down at the foot of His cross and put nothing before Him. This is the true road to real joy.

BG: Of the three, which is your favorite?

MLT: Actually, though it didn’t do as well as the other two, I liked book 2, The Reliance, the best. The heroine, Charlisse takes on the role of pirate captain as she searches for her wayward husband. It is the most action packed of the three and really shows the consequences of either trusting God or turning your back on Him when tragedy strikes.

BG: So, what projects are you working on now?

MLT: The next title I’m currently writing is The Falcon and the Sparrow. Set in 1803 London, it is the story of a young girl who arrives in England as a governess for a young son of a British Admiral. But in reality she has been sent by Napoleon to spy for France or they will kill her brother. Look for this in stores, September 2008.

BG: What does your typical day look like?

MLT: First thing in the morning, Bible study and prayer. I’ve grown to love this time with the Lord and it gives me the strength and guidance I need for the day. Next, I spend some time exercising, walking, doing situps..etc. I have a nutritional shake, get dressed and I’m on my computer. I go through my emails and address anything I need to and then I start writing. I try and write 2000 words a day when I’m under contract. I break for a small lunch and may run some errands or do a few chores around the house. 5:00 is quitting time. I make dinner for hubby and the kids who all come piling in around 6:00. Evenings are spent with my family.
Pretty normal, huh?

BG: What writing tips do you believe are the most important?

MLT: If you are going to be a writer, you have to be disciplined. You have to consider your writing to be your job and set aside time to devote to it every day. Study your craft. Read great books on writing, go to conferences and take workshops, join a great critique group. One thing I believe has really helped me improve my writing is to read the best-sellers, the award winners and try to analyze why they worked so well.

BG: Any marketing tips?

MLT: Marketing is not my strong suit. I think the best thing to do is network as much as you can with other writers, reviewers, and people who own websites and blogs who can brag about your book. I believe word of mouth is the best way to sell books. But, you must have a great book that people are willing to tell others about. So first write a great book! And then send it to reviewers, and influencers who can spread the word. Give away free books wherever you can. Don’t be stingy because every book could produce more readers. You never know. And most of all, trust God. If He gets you published, He’ll get your book into the hands of those He wants.

BG: Closing thoughts you’d like to share?

MLT: Don’t compare yourself with others. Don’t try and achieve what others have achieved. Just do what God calls you to do. He has a special plan just for you and if you put Him first in all things, you’ll be astonished at what He will do in your life!


Friday, September 07, 2007

Fearless Review

Title: Fearless
Author: Robin Parrish
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
ISBN: 0-7642-0178-6
Genre: Suspense

Buy This Book

Robin Parrish’s sequel to Relentless, Fearless begins with the world in chaos and Grant Borrows, along with his motley crew of ring bearers, hiding from the government. With so much worldwide destruction, the authorities believe the new super humans are to blame. But the populace who witnesses the work the super humans do to save others, have a different theory—Grant is a super hero and Guardian is his name.

Grant and his gang are on a mission to discover who is causing the chaos, and why their lives have been Shifted. Who and what is the Secretum of Six? If you haven’t read the first book, it would be difficult to jump into this one.

Grant’s sister, Julie becomes increasingly ill as the group travels to London where they believe they will find more clues and where the Secretum is headquartered. They find a way through the barrier surrounding London and begin their search at the ancient library, which ultimately leads them to more trouble, secrets, and clues. Grant has been labeled the “Bringer” by the ancient organization, and those around him begin to worry that he may be the cause of the disasters devastating the earth.

But like so many prophecies and premonitions, future knowledge and the effort to stop what must come, seems to be the very catapult that brings about the prophecy. Grant Borrows, Guardian or Bringer, is no different and his insatiable need to know what is happening, drives him to walk the path the Secretum has chosen for him, despite his best efforts.

Robin Parrish has taken the super hero premise and weaved in an ancient prophetic mystery, giving the story an added spiritual dimension. If you enjoy action and adventure movies, you’ll enjoy the Dominion Trilogy. Be warned, the books are not complete of themselves and end with an enormous cliffhanger.


And the winner is. . .

Bonnie Engstrom! Congratulations. You've won a copy of Bonnie Leon's lastest release, to Love Anew!

Please visit me again to read upcoming interviews with MaryLu Tyndall, Sue Dent, Kathryn Mackel, and Tamera Alexander.


Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Interview with Bonnie Leon!

If you're joining me today for my interview with Bonnie Leon, please remember to post a comment to be entered in the drawing for her newest release, To Love Anew. Or you can buy this book.

BG: Tell us about your life, where you grew up, your interests and hobbies.

BL: I grew up in Washington State, outside of Seattle. It was a great place to spend my early years. Back then, the area where I lived was mostly country and farming was a big part of life. I worked in the fields during the summers to earn money for school clothes and such. I have fond memories of early morning dew on fields of strawberries, raspberries, and green beans. There were strawberry fights and hot sunny afternoons when a break in a shady place felt like heaven.
I’m the third of five children, so I guess you could say I’m a middle child. I was blessed to grow up in a solid home with a mother and father who loved each other. Sadly, my father passed away in his early fifties. I still miss him. I also lost my youngest sister several years ago due to complications from Lupus.
When Seattle grew into the country, my husband and I decided it was time to find a quiet place to raise our kids and we moved to southern Oregon. We’ve been here ever since.
As to hobbies, I must confess I don’t set aside enough time for such pleasures. I’ve always loved to read and usually have more than one book going at a time. My other favorite things to do outside of writing are photography and fishing. With the great photo programs available for computers, I can spend hours creating pictures of my favorite subjects—my kids, grandkids, and the countryside and panoramas I discover on the trips my husband and I love to take. I didn’t get any time to fish this summer, but it’s been moved to my priority list and will happen next year. I love to float quietly on a high mountain lake with a line in the water and the sun on my face.

BG: Tell us about your writing journey.

BL: My writing journey is not typical. When I was young, I didn’t dream of, one day, becoming a writer. I was nearly forty when the writing bug hit me. Suddenly compelled to put my thoughts down on paper, I wrote vignettes, personal experiences, short stories and poetry and filled legal pads with my thoughts.
In 1991 I had a close encounter with a log truck. It hit my van and left it tottering on the edge of a cliff. I survived (obviously) but not without injuries, most of which healed. However, I was left with a permanently damaged spine and the trauma set off the fibromyalgia, which I live with.
In the months following the accident, life was not pleasant—I lived with chronic pain and disability, which was not part of my plans for life . What I’d loved most—being a wife and mother was stripped away. I couldn’t do even the simple things like cooking a meal, shopping, or cleaning my house. My husband and children had to take over.
I was devastated. One day in the midst of a major pity party I asked God to give me something to do that mattered. He gave me writing. I’m so grateful for his mercy.
At that time, I could sit for about 30 minutes at a time and so I wrote a little every day. In 1992 I was offered a scholarship to the OCW Summer Conference so I gathered my courage and, trusting that God would take care of me, I went.
It was fabulous! I met some wonderful people and took as many classes as I could manage. Like a dry sponge dropped in the middle of a lake, I soaked up enough information to go home and write my first book. With the help of a critique group, I completed it in ten months.
The following summer I returned to the conference and met with Lonnie Hull DuPont who was the acquisitions editor for Thomas Nelson Publishing at that time. She liked my story and so did the publishing house. The Journey of Eleven Moons was released in 1995 and became a CBA bestseller.
I’ve been writing ever since. I just completed the last book in The Sydney Cove Series, my fifteenth novel.

BG: Who has influenced you most as a writer and why?

BL: I’ve been reading all my life—all kinds of genres, but to say there was one writer who influenced me is impossible. I learned from them all. And I appreciate every writer who took me on adventures, dragged me away from the realities of life and inspired me to greater things.
Friends in and out of the writing world have encouraged me and guided me. I appreciate each one.
The bottom line is there have been lots of influencers and encouragers through the years, but without God I couldn’t have done any of it. He’s the one who opened the doors for me to write. He allowed a truck to hit my van and yet spared my life. After the accident He picked me up when I was down. When I felt my life was over He gave me a new vision and a hunger to create something meaningful with words. He asked, and I couldn’t say, “No.” I write for Him.

BG: What is your favorite movie?

BL: That’s a really hard question. I have lots of favorites. But one I can watch over and over because of the beautiful story and the fabulous cinematography is Anna and the King. It’s a heart wrenchingly beautiful love story about real people. My favorite stories are always about real people.

BG: I absolutely LOVE your settings. How or why do you choose them?

BL: Some of the settings for my books came from my family history. My mother is a Native Alaskan. Alaska and its people are my roots. So the first stories I wrote came from my native home, although I’ve never lived there.
I do believe God pulled out all the stops when He created Alaska—there’s just no place on earth quite like it. It’s spectacularly harsh and beautiful.
Often times I choose a location because the culture or history or people interest me. When I begin a project I usually know very little about the backdrop. Indepth research is always required. By the time I finish a series, I’m usually well acquainted with the setting, culture, and time period. Writing for me is always a learning process, which I love.
I sometimes find a story while researching a present book. That’s how the Matanuska Series came to be. While writing my first series, The Northern Lights, I stumbled across a piece of history I found interesting and went back later and found the story.
The Queensland Chronicles and Sydney Cove series found me. My publisher asked if I could write a series that took place in Australia and I said, “Maybe,” then did some research and came back with a “Yes.”
I’m so glad I did. I learned so much. Australia and its people are the most interesting subject—the place is hostile and beautiful and the people stalwart and brave. I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to write about a place with such admirable qualities. It has been a great learning experience.

BG: Tell us about your latest book. What inspired you to write this particulate story?

BL: My publishing house, Revell, asked if I’d be interested in writing another story in Australia and gave me some suggestions for time periods. After doing a bit of research, I knew I had to begin with the early colonization of Australia and in London. I was startled by what I discovered about Britain and its greatest city. It was a place that tested the soul of its people and at the same time offered so much inventiveness and beauty.
As I researched, the characters and the story came to life. It’s the tale of two respectable people who find themselves betrayed by life and by those they trusted. The question had to be asked, “Where is God? Why would he allow such adversity? And can He love me just as I am?”
Hannah Talbot commits what she sees as an unforgivable sin and struggles to find forgiveness, not just from God but from herself. And John Bradshaw, a wealthy businessman, loses everything, including his wife and his freedom. Bitterness seems a fair response, but at what cost?
He and Hannah meet onboard a prison ship bound for New South Wales. All seems lost. What hope can there be when all that awaits them is imprisonment and servitude? They fight to live and to love.
I believe this story has been waiting . . . inside me. . . to be told. Like Hannah, I once lived with such self-loathing I didn’t believe anyone could love me, especially not God. Not until I met Christ did I realize He’d created me on purpose and that He loved me. Realizing that the Creator of the Universe fashioned me to be who I am, changed my whole perspective. I realized I was valuable and valued. My life has never been the same.

BG: What is the message you hope to get across in this story?

BL: There is no sorrow, no sin, no trouble too big for God. He sees every tear, every wrong done and he loves us. We can trust Him.

BG: Of your books, which is your favorite and why?

BL: I think it would be easier to ask me which is my least favorite. Each book has elements that I like and dislike. My first book holds a special place in my heart because it was the first. And it is a really good story. However, I was a novice writer and would love to have the opportunity to edit the book.
The Sowers Trilogy is a powerful story. As I wrote, the people and times swept me away. It was a dark time in Russia. Twenty million Russians perished under Stalin’s rule, but there were many who bravely stood and believed and survived. I was inspired by their courage and strength.
And of course the books that include my family history are special to me. A Sacred Place is fiction, but is based on a true story about my grandparents. And the last book in The Matanuska Series has a lot my parent’s lives in it.
Often my most recent book is my favorite. It’s my baby, so to speak. And so, my favorite is my most recent, To Love Anew. I love the gut-wrenching scenes and the characters who stand up to the tests thrown at them. The characters are very dear to me.

BG: What are your future writing plans?

BL: I’m jumping into my first contemporary. I don’t have a publishing home for it yet, but it is a story from my heart. It’s very different from anything I’ve done before, but the theme, that dreams are attainable if we’ll only believe enough to risk reaching for them, is something I’ve lived and was nearly too afraid to hope for.

BG: In addition to writing, you travel and speak, and teach at the Oregon Christian Writer’s Conference. How do you balance all of that with writing novels?

BL: I’m not really good at balancing my speaking and teaching schedule with my writing schedule. I sometimes feel overwhelmed by it all. Writing is my first love, but I truly enjoy speaking and teaching. And meeting with readers and other writers is great fun. All I need is another 24 hours in each day and I’ll be good to go. ☺
I’m presently re-evaluating my schedule. I think prioritizing commitments and self discipline are key ingredients to success when finding balance. God and I are working on a plan. My advice to all who have busy schedules is to make sure to spend quality time with the Lord and let Him lead. Rely on Him and not your own abilities.

BG: What does your typical day look like?

BL: Is there such a thing as typical? I wish.
I’m naturally a “night person”, but as I’ve grown older I’m not as clear thinking in the evening as I once was so the words that go down on a page aren’t always my best. Knowing this, I try to get out of bed by 7:00 and make it to my office by 9:00. Living with chronic pain can put a crink into the mornings so I always have to take time to unkink. For me that means grabbing a cup of coffee, getting into my recliner with a heating pad, and watching the morning news and then reading my Bible and spending time in prayer. After breakfast I do a quick clean up of the kitchen and head to my office.
I try to set aside time in the morning to take care of business tasks, such as paying bills, responding to emails, getting books and other items ready to mail, setting up meetings, and that sort of thing. If there’s still time before lunch, I try to free write a new chapter on my present project.
I save the afternoons for the tougher editing of chapters, the fleshing out and extra research. This is my favorite part of writing. I’m trying to take evenings off, but often work on upcoming classes, speeches and other things like this interview. When I’m on a deadline I usually work weekends, but otherwise I save weekends for fun stuff. I do love to watch a movie on Saturday mornings while still in my PJ’s. But I think garage-saling is great fun, too.

BG: You have many great writing tips on your website. What tips do you believe are the most important?

BL: Of course, it’s important to hone our craft, but aside from that I would say, “Have
fun.” Most writers begin writing because its fun. We love to create scenes and characters, and to watch a story unfold. I’m sill amazed at the process, but somewhere along the way, it becomes “a job”. There are deadlines and expectations, either ours or someone else’s and we forget our first love (of writing). So, as much as deadlines matter and so does great writing; don’t lose the wonder, enjoy the art and the gift of writing.

BG: Any marketing tips?

BL: Marketing is something I’ve just started learning the last several months. For years, I’ve been like a work horse—blinders on, head down and pushing through. If you want to introduce your books to lots of people, that’s not the way to do it. In order to be discovered by new readers you have to let them know you exist.
Marketing has lots of different faces. Everyone doesn’t have the same skills or gifts. We don’t all feel comfortable speaking in front of a group of people. So, study marketing and find your own “voice” so to speak. What fits your personality? What feels comfortable to you? Now, having said that, in the beginning it’s possible that none of it will “feel” comfortable. But take advantage of opportunities and allow yourself room to grow. Study what other writers are doing and get connected in the cyberspace world and the real world with other writers and readers.
I’m still in process on this one and I’m learning a lot. I’m beginning to get a glimpse of what’s right for me. And I’m trying to be flexible. One of the toughest issues for me is that marketing takes time and cuts into my writing. For me, writing has to be first. I don’t write fast; I write and rewrite and that takes time. I think most of us are that way. So, we’ve got to allow ourselves enough time to continue producing quality work. And remember we can’t do it all, so pick and choose wisely.

BG: Closing thoughts you’d like to share?

BL: In the end, it’s all up to God. He has a plan for each of us, and we can trust Him, truly. So work hard, but try not to stress over your writing to much and enjoy the journey.

Thank you, Bonnie, for sharing with us!

And the winner is. . .

Janice Olson! You have won a copy of Sanctuary by Molly Noble Bull!

Join me tomorrow for an interview with Bonnie Leon.

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