Thursday, January 31, 2008

CFBA: A Passion Most Pure


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

A Passion Most Pure

(Revell January 1, 2008)

by

Julie Lessman

She's found the love of her life. Unfortunately, he loves her sister ...

As World War I rages across the Atlantic in 1916, a smaller war is brewing in Boston. Faith O’Connor finds herself drawn to an Irish rogue who is anything but right for her. Collin McGuire is brash, cocky, and from the wrong side of the tracks, not to mention forbidden by her father. And then there’s the small matter that he is secretly courting her younger sister. But when Collin’s affections suddenly shift her way, it threatens to tear Faith's proper Boston family apart.

Refusing to settle for anything less than a romantic relationship that pleases God, Faith O'Connor steels her heart against her desire for the roguish Collin McGuire. Collin is trying to win her sister Charity's hand, and Faith isn't sure she can handle the jealousy she feels. Full of passion, romance, rivalry, and betrayal, A Passion Most Pure is Book 1 of the Daughters of Boston series.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

A few questions for Carole Whang Schutter


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

Carole: I grew up in Honolulu, Hawaii where I was pretty much a couch potato because of an undiscovered heart defect which made me tired all the time. So, I read and watched movies a lot because I couldn’t do anything physical. At twenty-nine I had open heart surgery and became a born-again jockette. My favorite pastimes are hiking and skiing. I also scuba dive and ride horses. I still love reading and watching movies though.

Beth: Tell us about your writing journey. Did you always want to be a writer?

Carole: Always. Ever since I can remember. I “wrote” my first story at five and never stopped except for a twenty year hiatus starting in my twenties. I wrote for myself until recently. I found it cathartic. It took me away from “real” life.

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

Carole: Probably my mother who encouraged me and told me not to give up because she thought I was a fabulous writer. I told her that she was biased. But, it still encouraged me.

Beth: What is your favorite movie? Favorite book?

Carole: I really can’t say. Gone With the Wind, both book and movie, maybe. I love all the historical stuff, it really takes me to a different time, far away from where I am. I have so many other favorites, Pride and Prejudice, both the newest movie version and the book.

Beth: Tell us about September Dawn? What emotions did writing this spark in you?

Carole: Love at first sight, something that happened to me three times. Losing someone you love suddenly. I lost my husband suddenly. The absolute wisdom and necessity of forgiving even those who hurt you the most is something I have struggled with and am determined to do. Finally, on a world scale, it made me so convinced that we have to think for ourselves and not blindly follow any leader, religious or secular. We must examine the leaders we follow to see if they are worthy of following. In the end, like John D. Lee, we alone will be judged for what we did. John D. Lee was the sacrificial lamb and the church walked away denying blame. I am not going to get into the religious controversy, I just want people to see that they will stand alone for their deeds and that saying “I was just following orders” will not save them. We must develop our own moral compass and be strong enough to follow our conscience.

Beth- What is the message you hope to get across in this story?

Carole: I think I answered it above. I really hope that readers will understand that this is a story about a great love that crossed over at a time when this was frowned upon and a tale of morality, one that teaches people to think for themselves. I’m an evangelical Christian and I will tell you, even Jesus said to beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing. We were born with a mind and a heart. We need to use it and make our own life’s decisions.

Beth: What does your typical day look like?

Carole: I’m blessed in that I am able to hike, ski, or work out every day after I do all my emailing, phone calling, and all the stuff of the world that takes up so much of our time. I write at night. Sometimes until three or four in the morning sometimes. It is the most peaceful, quiet time for me. I think and create better at night.

Beth: 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?

Carole: It was hard for me to write the way publisher’s want you to write. I had to discipline myself to write the “right” way. Kathi Macias is my editor and her book “Train of Thought Writing Method” was the best thing I ever read. She helped me tremendously.

Beth: Any marketing tips?

Carole: Try to get a video! When I did an interview on Daystar and it appeared on Godtube, my sales sky rocketed. I’ve just started doing Internet blogs so I don’t know how it will work. My girlfriend created from nothing a hugely successful business marketing calenders which she has since sold. She told me, “You’re the only one who cares about how many books you sell so you’ve got to do it. No one else will do it for you.”

Beth: Closing thoughts you’d like to share?

Carole: I want to encourage people to never give up when they have a dream in their heart. I sold “September Dawn” and wrote it in my mid-fifties. God can change your life around on a dime. But you have to believe that it can happen and work towards it.

Thanks for the interview, Carole!

Blessings!
Beth

Monday, January 28, 2008

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance: Awaken My Heart

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing Awaken My Heart

Avon Inspire (February 5, 2008)

by

DiAnn Mills

Award-winning author, DiAnn Mills, launched her career in 1998 with the publication of her first book. She is the author of numerous titles including novels, novellas, and a nonfiction. In addition, she's written several short stories, articles, devotions, and has contributed to several nonfiction compilations.

DiAnn believes her readers should "Expect an Adventure." Her desire is to show characters solving real problems of today from a Christian perspective through a compelling story.

Several of her anthologies have appeared on the CBA Best Seller List. Three of her books have won the distinction of Best Historical of the Year by Heartsong Presents, and she remains a favorite author by Heartsong Present's readers. Two of her books have won short historical of the year by American Christian Fiction Writers both in 2003 and 2004. She was named Writer of the Year for 2004 at the 35th Annual Mount Hermon Christian Writer's Conference and is the recipient of Inspirational Reader's Choice Awards for 2005 in the long contemporary and novella categories.

DiAnn is a founding board member for American Christian Fiction Writers, a member of Inspirational Writers Alive, ChiLibris, Advanced Writers and Speakers Association and a mentor for the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops. DiAnn also belongs to Cy Fair Women's Networking, an exclusive professional women's networking organization.

She lives in sunny Houston, Texas, the home of heat, humidity, and Harleys. In fact she'd own one, but her legs are too short. DiAnn and her husband have four adult sons and are active members of Metropolitan Baptist Church.

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?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Interview with Amanda Young

Silent Prisoner synopsis: Silent Prisoner is based on a true story of how one woman, through faith, survived childhood abuse, and later, domestic violence. April follows life’s road as best she can without the benefit of having parents or siblings along the way. On this road of life she encounters a loving aunt, a spiritual mentor, a proper grandmother, and a stoic therapist. Even though these people are only in her life for a brief time, they have planted the seed within her that will sprout forth an inner strength and faith in God and the Angels.




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

Amanda: I was born in Atlanta, Georgia and grew up on a farm with my aunt and uncle and their children. I worked mighty hard to get rid of my southern drawl early on in my life. But then I have found it to become easy to become reacquainted with much like a familiar friend when I am around others from the south. The deeper into the south I go the more I let go and drawl, just like they do. It took some time to finally let go and sound like a country girl from the south when I want to. I don’t always, but I have begun to accept my accent as a part of me just as my birth parents are a part of me, even though they did not raise me and are no longer alive. Just like the country girl that is inside of me that comes out sometimes when I ask a stranger “What is your dawg’s name?”

I was born to two alcoholic parents. I use to try very hard to forget the abuse and abandonment I went though as a child. Being left alone sometimes for days at a time with no food or sheet or blankets on the bed to keep me warm are memories that will never leave me. I live mostly in warm climates and I have come to realize in recent years it is as I do not want to feel the cold. I have a closet full of jackets and coats even though I may never wear them, but I know I will at least not be cold. The days in the orphanage and foster home and living with relatives and not being wanted are a part of me and that little girl that was abandoned lives inside of me. I know she is there.

My life is constantly evolving. I have watched others on television and they seem to be detached from the awful events that happened to them when they speak of them. I want to stay a part of those events so that I can continue to review them and grow stronger.

I continue to buy jackets and blankets that I do not need to keep me warm and that little girl that is me inside, I send her love.

My interest is anything to do with nature. I enjoy hiking, fishing, sitting on a beach or staring out at a sunset or sunrise.

I enjoy painting with acrylic and drawing with charcoal. I have done all of the covers for my books and am very proud of them.

Beth: Tell us about your writing journey. Did you always want to be a writer?

Amanda: I thought for a brief time when I was in my teens and read books that created emotions within me that it would be wonderful to do such a thing. But I never thought I would even try to put my words or thoughts onto paper and put them into print. Until I began writing down words in my journal after dreams and they took on a life of their own.

Dreams began my journey to write. I began writing down my dreams and this began my journey of letting the words flow onto paper. My life journal became the book Silent Prisoner.

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

Amanda: The people who have read the manuscript. I have given the manuscript Silent Prisoner to many people over the years and they have been so supportive of me putting my story into a book for others to read.

Beth: What is your favorite movie? Favorite book?

Amanda: Favorite book: Grapes of Wrath - I enjoy reading books on the topic of alchemy when I have time.
Favorite Movie: House of Spirits

Beth: Tell us about your novel and the emotional journey you took while writing it.

Amanda: I could write another book about that. It has been a roller coaster ride. I have cried more than I thought possible. It has stirred memories that I wished that could have stayed buried. But then I feel freer now after bringing them up and looking at them and letting them go. I have gone through so much with this book. It has been a seven year journey and I have put Silent Prisoner on the shelf more than once. I even threw away the one and only hard copy and disk I had remaining and said that I never wanted to see it again. One year later a woman who had tracked me down mailed to me her copy of both the disk and hard copy that I had given to her to read. Inside was a short note that said, “Please put this into a book.” You can order the book today on amazon.com.

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

Amanda: You can overcome and be triumphant. That you must keep going and not give up and believe that you can be a wonderful person that deserves the very best that life has to offer.

Beth: What does your typical day look like?

Amanda: Watching the sun coming up. Meditation and prayer. Coffee. On the computer. Coffee. Watch news. Coffee. Work/writing. Later in the day, watching the sunset. Herbal tea. Computer/writing. Herbal tea. Meditation and prayer. Sleep. In the middle of the night awakened when the idea finally arrives. Up and writing. Two hours later, watching the sun coming up. Coffee…

Beth: 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?

Amanda: Letting go and letting the words flow. Patience. Finding that ‘place to go to,’ to let my mind and words flow. Patience, to go through another draft! Letting go of the fear of what others think of my writing or even of me. I have to work on that all of the time and I am better.

Beth: Any marketing tips?

Amanda: I have been very pleased with Pump Up Your Book Promotion. Also Booksurge.com has great marketing ideas. I hand out postcards that have my book cover and description on it. I talk my book up to anyone that will give me a minute. I even handed over one of my books to a motorcycle officer that was parked not far away from where I was parked one day. He thanked me and seemed very grateful that I wrote of how a police officer helped me in the book. I have been pleased with the response from people and how they say they are proud of me writing my story and projecting that life can be wonderful. If we believe we deserve wonderful.

Beth: Closing thoughts you’d like to share?

Amanda: Hold onto your dream and idea that your book will be the next book that everyone will want to read! And it just may even be on Oprah’s book of the month club.

Good luck to all of you and thank you for having me here today.

Thank you, Amanda.

Blessings!
Beth

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Heartsong Reviews!


I just discovered a blog that features Heartsong reviews. This month's club books are reviewed including mine so I'm thrilled about that. Here's a snippet from Jen's reviews:

I love reading a mystery novel that is engaging! This was a fun book that had me guessing and it was so hard not to peek at the end to find the bad guy.

You can read the rest at her blog:

http://heartsongreaderreviews.blogspot.com/2008/01/seasons-of-love.html

Check back for this Friday's interview!

Blessings!
Beth

Friday, January 18, 2008

A Few Questions for Jill Elizabeth Nelson

Be sure to post a comment below to be eligible to win a copy of Reluctant Smuggler. Or you can buy this book.

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

Jill: I was born in Minnesota and grew up in several small towns in Minnesota and South Dakota as a PK. That means Preacher’s Kid, if you didn’t know. My dad passed away suddenly when I was 18, though, and my mom moved back to her home area. Lo and behold, after I finished college, I stayed there temporarily (I thought) and met and married a wonderful guy. We’ve raised four kids in rural Minnesota and love it. No lines at the grocery store or post office and no traffic jams.

My main lifelong hobby has been reading, which along about sixth grade, morphed into the burning drive to write. I’ve been writing in one capacity or another ever since. Nowadays, I still read a lot, but not as much as I used to. Moving from hobby writer to professional writer, as well as continuing to hold down a day job, takes up a lot of time.

As a family, we love to go on camping trips in the great outdoors. I don’t fish, but I enjoy hiking in the woods. My husband and I have a passion for short-term mission trips. So far we’ve been to Jamaica, New Orleans during Mardi Gras (that’s one weird adventure), and Thailand.

Beth: Tell us about your writing journey. Did you always want to be a writer?

Jill: As I mentioned above, the writing bug bit me while I was in grade school. My sixth grade teacher, Mrs. Waltz, used to pull up a stool every day and read to us from the most wondrous books. J. R. R. Tolkein’s The Hobbit and Lloyd Alexander’s The Book of Three were among my favorites. Somewhere along the route of listening to these wonderful tales, I realized that I wanted not only to receive pleasure from good books, but to be the one to give that enjoyment to others.

That year, I penned—er, penciled my first book. It was a ludicrous mystery novel about a group of kid sleuths, but I did finish it. Not until later did I realize that completing a book is a huge milestone in the writing life. All too many unfinished manuscripts molder in desk drawers or on hard drives.

Since then I’ve worn the hats of journalist, columnist, poet, essayist, and book reviewer. My highest writing goal was always to become a published novelist. God has graciously brought that dream to fruition in His time and in His way. When I speak to groups, I like to share with them that if God can bring a dream to pass for this middle-aged nobody from nowhere special, He can do it for them too.

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

Jill: J. R. R. Tolkein and Lloyd Alexander (the authors of the books I mentioned above) were major sparks to my imagination in my youth, along with the Nancy Drew and Encyclopedia Brown books. I’m still enthralled by great fantasy, adventure, and mystery tales. More recently, Francine Rivers has inspired me with her deft handling of deep themes presented in rich and moving stories. I want to be like this prolific author when I grow up.

Beth: I feel the samew ay about Francine Rivers. In fact, I think I gave a similar answer in an interview. What is your favorite movie? Favorite book?

Jill: My tastes are pretty eclectic, so to designate one movie isn’t possible. I watch It’s a Wonderful Life—the Jimmy Stewart version—every year at Christmas time, so that’s one of my lifelong favorites. I also love The Wizard of Oz, The Frisco Kid, Quigley Down Under (Tom Selleck and Laura San Giacomo are marvelous together), The Shawshank Redemption, Holes, and believe it or not, a fairly new release, The Transformers. Not that I’m on board with whatever erroneous theology might have crept into any of these, but I’m delighted, and sometimes challenged, by the stories themselves. Oh, and I need to mention Facing the Giants. This one I have no reservations about in the theology department. It’s a must-see for Christian movie-lovers.

I also have an array of favorite books, but I’d have to name Redeeming Love as my top contender. I mentioned the author, Francine Rivers, as a major influence on my writing, and this book is a stellar example of her mastery of craft, theme, characterization, and riveting plot.

Beth: Loved The Frisco Kid and Transformers too! Now it's time for you to tell us about your novel.

Jill: Reluctant Smuggler is my most recent release from Multnomah Books, one of the Christian imprints of Random House. This is book three in the To Catch a Thief series of romantic suspense and my favorite so far. My heroine, museum security expert Desiree Jacobs, and her fiancĂ©, FBI agent Tony Lucano, are caught up in a spine-tingling duel with a vicious south-of-the-border gang of slaver traders. Unless they find the truth in a hurry, they’ll have no hope of saving themselves, much less many innocents caught in the snare of calculating evil.

The book transports readers to exotic locations in Mexico, such as the mysterious Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza (pronounced chee-chen eetza, emphasis on the last syllables, not like chicken pizza.) I had a lot of fun writing this book and did a lot of research, not just on setting, but I needed input from medical doctors, a dietician, law enforcement officials, and I even exchanged emails with a former naval intelligence operative.

Beth: I'm reading Reluctant Smuggler now and loving it! What is the message you hope to get across?

Jill: I’d like people to see how vital a strong sense of hope is to a healthy individual and a healthy society. The gang mentality is born from a social climate of despair and helplessness. Nobody can truly have a good future without hope, and the ultimate hope is found in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Beth: What does your typical day look like?

Jill: Up at 6:00 a.m., shower, get dressed, eat breakfast while watching The Believers Voice of Victory, then go to the day job at 7:00 a.m. and work until 3:30 p.m. When I get home, I can start my other work day, which generally consists of a mix of household chores, book marketing, and writing. I head for bed around 10 p.m. usually, unless deadline looms, and then I could be up all hours of the night and even take some vacation days to fulfill my commitment. I’m very serious about meeting deadlines.

Beth: 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?

Jill: Figuring out what works for me in putting together story plots was major. There are a lot of methods, but what works for one writer can be a bust for another.

I’m a middle-of-the-road plotter, as opposed to either a seat-of-the-pants plotter or a detailed plotter. I don’t do charts because they bog me down. But I don’t just start somewhere and see where the story takes me either. I know writers who live on both ends of that spectrum, and that’s where they flow best.

When I approach a story, I need to know my starting point and where I’m going to end up, as well as the high points along the way. However, the twists and turns to get there often surprise even me, and I’m supposedly the author. Mostly, my characters write the story. Everything that happens has to be true to their personalities, motivations, and goals. Sometimes this method paints me into plot corners that I don’t have a clue how to escape. Those are the times I hit my knees big-time, because only the Author of the universe can jumpstart my creativity to get the story moving again.

No one can tell another writer what kind of plotter they are. That’s something everyone has to figure out for themselves, and then run with it.

Beth: Any marketing tips?

Jill: First of all, write the best book you possibly can. If readers love your stories, they’ll tell others without being coaxed to speak up. Word of mouth is without dispute the best form of promotion, and it’s free. Be openhanded about giving away copies. The more people who read your books, the larger readership you will develop for future titles. Take advantage of whatever opportunities come your way to connect with potential readers and build name recognition.

Beth: Thats some of the best marketing advice I've heard! Closing thoughts you’d like to share?

Jill: Thanks for this opportunity to share a little bit of myself. Good questions, Beth. Storytelling is a time-honored. Jesus himself used stories as His main teaching tool. It’s a privilege to be a novelist and wrap Truth in a package that touches hearts with both pleasure and enlightenment.

Thanks for joining me Jill! Blessings to you and I wish you great success with your series.

You can find Jill at:

http://www.jillelizabethnelson.com


Beth

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Back from Texas!

We made it back from Texas today after grueling travel. Schew!

Flew into Sacramento on Friday the 4th, arriving at midnight. All six of us were loaded down with luggage even though we shipped most of the toys and Christmas gifts back. LOL We picked up our car at the long term parking lot finally driving out of the aiport at 1 AM. My husband booked us a hotel thirty minutes north of the airport, but when we exited off the freeway--it was VERY dark. We couldn't even tell there was a town. We discovered the electricity had been knocked out and a police officer showed us to our hotel--dark and dead! That's not something you want to find t 1:30 in the morning with four sleepy children. So we drove north and every town that had hotels we stopped only to discover they had no vacancies. We arrived at Redding at 4 AM wondering if we should just drive straight through since we only lived 3 hours away. Thankfully my husband decided against that because we knew it would be snowing over the pass. We found a room at the Red Lion Inn for 150$ which we vacated only five hours later to head home!!

Of course, with all the snow, chains were required. IT WAS AN ADVENTURE!

I’m glad to be at the place I now call my home. After three years in Southern Oregon, it really does feel like home.

The kewl news is that while I was at my folks over the holidays I received my first book and got to hold it in my hands. I signed my first copy to my grandmother:)

If you have a chance go check out my interview with Lena Nelson Dooley today—if you post a comment you could win a free copy:)

Her blog is at http://www.lenanelsondooley.blogspot.com

Also Jill Eileen Smith is spotlighting me this month at www.jilleileennsmith.com.

blessings!
Beth
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