Saturday, December 27, 2008

It Was the Most Wonderful Day of the Year!


I thought I should bring an update as to how my Christmas alone with God turned out.

The day dawned very cold, but sunny, however, I was awake and drinking coffee before dawn. Without delay, I dove right into my time with the Lord. Since I had already listed the different areas of my life that I wanted to pray about and for, I divided the time up by those areas, beginning with relationships. I used a devotional type book a friend Julie Ieron wrote called Praying Like Jesus and read a variety of her writings that seemed to pertain to the topic which would lead into specific thoughts and prayers which I journaled back to God. It was awesome! In between the segments of prayer I would take a few minutes break and then come back.

The day flew by, and when I got to health, I decided to take a walk. What better way to pray about health then to get exercising. I got outside and quickly realized that the sun may be out but it was still very cold . . . and icy! So I sat in my car and warmed it up while I prayed there.

When I got the middle of the afternoon, I fought through sleepyness and and reviewed what I had prayed about. Since I journal most of my prayers, it was easy to remember what I'd taken to the Lord that day. I finished about an hour before I was to leave for my friend's house and it was enough time to transition back to Christmas celebration mode. When I arrived at my friend's house, I was ready for some company. We had a great time over a wonderful meal and some fun games that had me laughing harder than I had in a long while.

All in all, the day was perfect. After all, God planned it! :-)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Silent Night, Holy Night


This year God has called me to do something I never thought I would do. To choose to not drive north to Wisconsin to spend Christmas with friends, but instead stay home and spend it with Him. Being single with no immediate family in the area, for the past several years I've spent Christmas Day with my good friend, Andrea, who lives about two hours away.

It happened yesterday when I sat quiet enough to listen for God's still, small voice and I got the impression I was to stay home.

"Do you mean, here, all alone on Christmas God?"

"But, you won't be alone. You'll have Me like always. You and I have a lot to talk about."

But, it's Christmas."

"What better time to spend a day together. Just you and Me?"

"Okay, but You'll have to show me this is really what you want."

And God did show me. I asked two friends to pray for me and they affirmed it was a positive thing to do. And the idea grew on me. A day of solitude with Jesus on the day we celebrate as His birthday. But what would Andrea think? Won't she be disappointed? I'd pray a bit more about it. Then a long-time friend called and invited me to Christmas dinner tomorrow late in the afternoon. Was this God again, saying after a long time alone with him it would be nice to have a meal with good friends? I told her I'd let her know this morning because I had given it until this morning--Christmas Eve day--to decide for sure.

This morning I woke up to a gentle snow. The picture is the tree in front of my living room window. It was like being in the middle of a snow globe. With God's beauty in view, I opened the daily devotional, Streams in the Desert, to today's reading and here is what it said, "We would be better Christians if we spent more time alone, and we would actually accomplish more if we attempted less, and spent more time in isolation and quiet waiting upon God."

Well, there it was. Plain and simple. I got excited and began listing out the areas of my life that I need to be in prayer over. My writing of course. My volunteer work with ACFW and church and community. My relationships. My health. I don't mean to make it sound like it's all about me, because it isn't. It's about my relationship with Him. The One whose birthday we celebrate tomorrow. Every one of those things I listed: writing, volunteering, relationships, health. They all intertwine with Him and my relationship with Him. He provides everything I need for life as Peter states in one of his letters. He is my life source and all areas of my life must be bathed in prayer.

I called Andrea and she understood. In fact, in the middle of the night she had a sense she should tell me not to come tomorrow. That maybe the winter weather was too dicey. I don't think the weather was why she had that feeling. It was God.

So tonight I sit here excited to be up early tomorrow morning...probably before dawn and to begin my day in the presence of my Lord.

Happy Birthday Jesus!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

CFBA Blog Tour: Neta Jackson's "Where Do I Go?"


A story of seeking-and finding-God's will in unlikely places.

Woo hoo! I've been waiting so long to read this book. I'm a fan of Neta Jackson. Have been ever since the Yada Yada Prayer Group Book One came out. She didn't expect it to be more than a stand-alone book, and one book evolved into six. About this time last year, I read the last one which had a Christmas theme and felt as though I were saying farewell to many good friends, never to be seen again. I comforted myself by listening to the earlier books on audio while I walked, but even those came to an end because only the first four were ever recorded.

Then Neta and her husband Dave, who is an author in his own right, visited my local ACFW chapter last July and announced that she had a new series coming out that would be set in Manna House, the women's homeless shelter that had become so prominent in the Yada Yada stories. And, although the stories would have a new protagonist, the Yada Yada's would be making "cameo" appearances throughout. I was very stoked.

Last week I received my copy of Where Do I Go and dove right in. What fun to meet Gabby Fairbanks, this series' new heroine, and so delightful to reunite with many of the Yada Yada's. It felt like old homeweek to me. There was Josh and Edesa as newlyweds, and Estelle. and Avis. Of course, Jodie the protag in the Yada Yada books. popped up too. It did seem a little different to have her not be the storyteller (the books are in first person POV) and to see her from the perspective of someone who didn't know her backstory. But it was kind of fun to have that perspective that Jodie couldn't give herself in her own words.

The storyline brings Gabby, a newcomer to Chicago and well-to do living on Chicago's glorious lakefront in a highrise penthouse, down to earth when she encounters a bag lady. That leads to her being introduced to Manna House and, before she knows it, she finds herself applying to work there. You can imagine how this goes over with Philip her husband who comes down from proper Virgina stock and has always lived in high places, and I mean not just in penthouses mind you.

If you are a Yada Yada fan, I know you will love this book. But even if Neta's writing is new to you, you will love it. She gives us a inside look into life in a Christian women's shelter and into the clashing of the lives of the rich living among the have-nots in the big city. The story reminds me of what Jesus said in Revelation 3 to the Church at Laodicia. He quoted them as saying they were rich and needed nothing more. He told them that what he has is gold refined in fire that they can become truly rich and white garments that far out-dazzle their designer threads. That was my own version. In this story Gabby finds true wealth at a shelter of homeless women and the people who serve God through serving those women than she ever found marrying into a wealthy family.

You can imagine the tension between these two worlds as Gabby struggles to keep her marriage on even keel, keep the peace with her critical mother-in-law, deal with an aging mother who lives a distance away, and be a mom to her two boys. She finally finds the answer to the question, "Where do I go?" Of course there is only one answer.

You also need to check out Dave Jackson's book, Henry Bentley's Second Chance, which uniquely is a parallel book about the doorman in Gabby's highrise building. Henry figures strongly in Neta's book and has his own story in Dave's.

Romantic Times Book Reviews says, “Exquisite characters coupled with God's mercy and love emanate from each page.”

Publisher's Weekly adds,“Jackson's Yada Yada series has sold half a million copies, and this new offshoot series ... promises the same.... The book's dramatic ending ... leav[es] readers eager for the next installment in the series.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
As a husband/wife writing team, Dave and Neta Jackson are enthusiastic about books, kids, walking with God, gospel music, and each other! Together they are the authors or coauthors of over 100 books. In addition to writing several books about Christian community, the Jacksons have coauthored numerous books with expert resource people on a variety of topics from racial reconciliation to medical ethics to ministry to kids in gangs.

Dave and Neta live in Evanston, Illinois, where for twenty-seven years they were part of Reba Place Church, a Christian church community. They are now members of a multi-racial congregation in the Chicago area.

They're trying something new! Not just new for them, but something completely new in Christian fiction: “Parallel novels,” two stories taking place in the same time frame, same neighborhood, involving some of the same characters living through their own dramas and crises but interacting with and affecting one another … just the way it happens in real life.

It’s something that only a husband and wife writing team could pull off. While Neta has Where Do I Go?, her husband Dave has written Harry Bentley's Second Chance.

You can buy Where Do I Go at Amazon. Go now, do not delay. You won't be disappointed!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

CFBA Feature: Brandilyn Collins' Dark Pursuit

Have you ever wondered if fiction imitates life or life imitates fiction? Brandilyn Collins's newest release, DARK PURSUIT, fills the bill. Brandilyn is known for taglines like "Don't Forget to Breathe" or "Seatbelt Suspense®" to describe her stories and Dark Pursuit falls right into this description. I started the book just before Thanksgiving and with great reluctance had to put it down until now thanks to the holiday weekend. I cannot wait to pick it up again and finish it. I can't leave Kaitlan in her predicament or Darell still trying to help his grandaughter.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Brandilyn Collins is known for her trademark Seatbelt Suspense®. She is currently working on her 20th book. For chances to win free copies of her work, join her Fan Club on Facebook. Here’s what Brandilyn has to say about why she wrote Dark Pursuit:

In John Milton’s Paradise Lost Satan’s followers, kicked out of heaven, boast about storming the gates and reclaiming their territory. Beelzebub scoffs at their boasting as merely “hatching vain empires” and suggests a different revengeful scheme: seduce mankind away from God. So Satan visits the Garden of Eden to teach humans the very thing he and his cohorts have learned to be futile—the dark pursuit of hatching their own vain empires instead of following God. He presented man with this “gift” of death, disguised as life. And man fell for it.

Upon this theme of man’s fall and spiritual blindness, I created the characters and events in Dark Pursuit. The story clips along at a fast pace, with much symbolism running underneath.


ABOUT THE BOOK

Dark Pursuit—A twisting story of murder, betrayal, and eternal choices

Novelist Darell Brooke lived for his title as King of Suspense—until an auto accident left him unable to concentrate. Two years later, reclusive and bitter, he wants one thing: to plot a new novel and regain his reputation.

Kaitlan Sering, his twenty-two-year-old granddaughter, once lived for drugs. After she stole from Darell, he cut her off. Now she’s rebuilding her life. But in Kaitlan’s town two women have been murdered, and she’s about to discover a third. She’s even more shocked to realize the culprit—her boyfriend, Craig, the police chief’s son.

Desperate, Kaitlan flees to her estranged grandfather. For over forty years, Darell Brooke has lived suspense. Surely he’ll devise a plan to trap the cunning Craig.

But can Darell’s muddled mind do it? And—if he tries—with what motivation? For Kaitlan’s plight may be the stunning answer to the elusive plot he seeks...

Read the first chapter of Dark Pursuit, HERE.

You can order your very own copy at Amazon. You won't be sorry!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving


As I sit here before dawn on Thanksgiving Day 2008, I can honestly say that in spite of the state of our economy and the uncertainty of when or how this will all turn around, I am truly blessed and thankful.

Yes, I still have a roof over my head, food to eat, and clothes. I have my friends, my extended family, the gift of writing, and good health. But most of all I have God. He is my Healer (Ps. 103:3), Redeemer (Is. 59:20), Advocate (1 John 2: 1), Bread of Life (John 6: 35), Strong Tower (Prov. 18: 10), Refuge from the Storm (Is. 25:4) , Provider (Gen. 22:14), Everlasting Light (Is. 60:20, Strength (Ps. 43:2), and Husband (Is 54:5).

He is all those things and more to me and the Bible tells me He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. No matter what tomorrow holds He cannot be taken from me and for that I am in awe and so very thankful!

Happy Thanksgiving!

P.S. The list of names that I attributed to God is taken from "The Power of a Praying Woman" by Stormie Omartian. She lists many more. It's found in Chapter one of her book.

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Winner of Love Finds You in Miracle KY is . . .

JO!!

As soon as Jo contacts me with her snail mail address I'll get the book out to her.

Be watching for another book contest soon!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Win A Copy of Andrea Boeshaar's Love Finds You in Miracle KY!



We have a new publisher in the CBA market and they are hitting the bookshelves this fall with a couple great launch titles including Andrea Boeshaar's
Love Finds You in Miracle, KY.

I have been very intrigued with the concept of Summerside Press's Love Finds You line ever since I first learned of it. Over the coming months you will see a variety of titles coming out, all with the titles including the first words of "Love Finds You In . . ." The second part of the title will be the actual, real and existing small town somewhere in the United States. It's going to be fun to see what wonderful stories will be told through this unique idea. If they are anything like Andrea's Miracle KY story, we've got some great reading ahead of us!

Meg Jorganson leaves her inner-city teaching job and a relationship that is going nowhere behind in Chicago and heads for her family's roots in Miracle. There she accepts a third-grade teaching position and moves in with her grandmother. All she knows is she needs a change. What she doesn't know is that God has greater plans for her than she could ever hope for or imagine. Enter Vance Bayer and his rather precocious eight-year-old daughter Cammy. Cammy is wheelchair bound but that doesn't stop her from doing her best to bring her widowed dad and Meg together. Now don't think this is going to be another cliche'd Parent Trap kind of story, because it is told in a new and fresh way that will keep you turning pages.

Andrea has always been a great storyteller, but this time she has outshined herself in this romantic tale. Her characters are well-developed and I found myself feeling like I was right there in Kentucky. In fact, every time I put it down I couldn't wait to get back to the slow Kentucky way of life where I could sit on the front porch and sip some sweet tea :-).

Andrea has offered to send a free copy of Love Finds You In Miracle KY to the lucky person whose name is selected from the comments left on this posting. But before you leave a comment here is an interview with Andrea about her story:


1. Describe your journey to publication with Summerside Press and being one of the first authors to launch this new publisher’s “Love Finds You” line.
It’s been an incredible ride. Early last year, the publisher contacted my agent and asked to see some of my work for its new “Love Finds You” line. I did, the proposal was accepted; however, I never dreamed I’d be one of the launch authors. I’m so honored and thrilled about this opportunity. Talk about a writers dream come true!

2. How did you decide on Miracle, KY for the setting?
Actually, it was suggested to me by the publisher. But once I visited the area, my story came alive to me and I fell in love with the town. Everyone there has been so helpful and kind, answering my questions and even helping to promote my novel.

3. How much of the setting in the book is real and how much is fictional?
All of it is real. It’s just the characters that are fictional. There’s really a Depot Restaurant in Stanford...there’s really a Goodwill store (I bough$t some beautiful framed watercolor paintings there!). The high school is there, and Redemption Road a very real road (and church) in the Miracle area.

4. How much research went into the story? For example: Cammy, the disabled child in the story has an opportunity to be helped to walk again. Did you research this and did what you found out affect the storyline?
I really did a lot of research on this and had help from another writer-friend, Annie McDonald. We found testimonials online about SCIs (spinal cord injuries). In addition, I asked around at the hospital. I work part-time in the admitting department at Milwaukee’s regional medical center which is nationally known for its neurosciences. So I phoned the SCI floor and asked nurses some questions too.

5. Will you have another book coming out from Summerside in the future?
Yes, God willing. Two more books are in the works, to be released in 2010.

6. Where are you planning to hold book signings for Love Finds You in Miracle, KY?
I'm having an autograph party on Nov. 22nd at George Watts & Sons, located in downtown Milwaukee. There's a quaint teashop above the crystal and china shop and I'll be signing books upstairs. The public is invited. I'll also be back in Stanford, signing books at Kentucky Soaps and Such for the town's Christmas on Main Stree on Dec. 6th. There are additional booksignings in the works at Barnes & Noble and a local bookstore where I live, here in West Bend, WI

Thanks so much, Andrea, for stopping by. It was fun :-).

Don't forget to leave a comment for a chance to win your own copy of Andrea's book! Please be sure to leave your contact information so I can let you know if you win!

You can learn more about Andrea at her website. The drawing will take place on Monday, November 17.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

And the winner is . . .

The winner for Michelle Sutton's It's Not About Me is Reborn Butterfly. As soon as I hear from the winner I will send the book out to her.

Thanks to all who entered the contest. I'll be having more down the road so please check back.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Drawing for Michelle Sutton's Book Coming November 6th!

To clarify, I will be drawing for a winner of It's Not About Me by Michelle Sutton on Thursday, November 6th (tomorrow), not November 4th (yesterday). I made a boo boo on the date. Why I said that it would be election day's date I have no clue. I was working the polls from 5 a.m. until 9 p.m. and had no time to draw a name yesterday.

Today I'm recovering LOL. Check back tomorrow for the winner's name!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Win A Copy of Michelle Sutton's "It's Not About Me!"

I've known Michelle Sutton for a long while through ACFW and have gotten to know her better since we've served on the ACFW Operating Board together the past couple years. For almost all of those two years Michelle has talked about her YA (young adult) novel, It's Not About Me.

When Sheaf House, a new imprint, picked it up I knew that although I am never attracted to YA genre novels, I would read this one because Michelle is my friend. The novel came out about a month or so ago and it has hit the shelves like gangbusters. I don't know exactly what printing it is in now, but before it was even officially released, it was sold out! In fact, I had a hard time getting my hands on a copy.

Well, my copy finally arrived and I eagerly opened the book and started reading. I immediately saw how much the book is needed to help teens of today's culture deal with peer pressure in getting involved sexually outside of marriage. But it also addresses another important issue. Many teens who are raised in the church are raised with a sense that they are saved through family connections rather than personally placing their faith in Christ as an individual. The truth is that God has no grandchildren. In It's Not About Me, Sutton works through Annie's (her main character) struggle with this and her thinking process as she comes to understand that she really didn't have a personal relationship with Christ like she she thought she did.

Although I personally didn't always find the parents' characters to be believable in their reactions because they seem to accept some of the situations so quickly and without question, I realize that the main thrust of the story is what is important. How God uses adversity in the main characters' lives to bring them to a deeper relationship with Him and able to overcome the pressures of today's culture.

I would recommend this book to teens who can handle some of the more mature scenes. Michelle bills herself as the Edgy Christian Writer and that does come through in several scenes. I didn't find any of it over the top, but sensitive teens might not be able to deal with it. I would advise parents to read the book first to be certain it's right for your teen.

Michelle graciously agreed to an interview which follows. After you read it, don't forget to leave a comment. I will happily share my copy of It's Not About Me to the person whose name is picked from all who leave a comment. The name will be drawn a week from today, November 4th. Please be sure to leave contact info in case you are the winner!


Without further ado, here's the interview!

How did you come to set the story in Idaho?

Actually, this is the first time I've been asked this question. When I first wrote the series (which used to have two previous titles that I have since made stand alone novels, and one I relocated to Sierra Vista) I was concerned about locating the series in Arizona because I used to work for Child Protective Services. I didn't want former clients who may happen to read my book think that I was talking about their case, because I made sure I didn't do that with anything I wrote. To be on the safe side I changed the location to Idaho. I used to live in Idaho, too, but only for a year back in 1985. So that was a secondary reason.

I believe you said you didn’t start out the story to be a YA, how far into it did you get before you realized it was a YA?

It was actually book 3 in a series. The first two were women's fiction and I intended Annie's story to be the same and was told by a publisher that it seemed more YA to her than Women's fiction, so we relooked at that and decided to change it to YA. It's not about the age of the characters but more the content and topical matter that make it YA. There are a lot of Women's fiction titles with young characters but they have different themes.

Now that you have blazed a trail for yourself in YA will that be your genre from now on?

After this series (which has been written for 3 years) is all in print I hope to sell some of the Women's fiction titles I have circulating right now. I have one romantic suspense, five women's fiction titles and these three-plus other projects in the works. Everything I write has three things in common regardless of the genre. They all have edgy content, lots of romance, and tragedy turned to triumph themes.

I believe you’ve said before that you are a seat of the pants writer as opposed to a plotter. How much prep work do you do on characterization before starting a novel?

I just write. But like some people say, there is always a plot in your head. Before I write a story I think about it for months and let it simmer in my head. By the time I write the story I have the outline in my head and so the only thing that is seat of the pants is the details. Those come as I write. I am usually so mentally immersed in the characters when I write that I know exactly what they are going to say and do before I even write it.

How much did the story change from the original idea as it was being written.

Not a thing changed. What you've read is so close to my original manuscript that you would be amazed. A lot of people say they have editors hack at their novels or give them a long list of changes that the publisher/editor wants to be changed. Not so in my case. It's the same story with the same guts. The editor told me I could spice it up a hair, so I did (in the beginning) but the rest is exactly the same.

There’s a sequel in the works. How long until we can buy it and who is it about?

It's Not About Him is coming out in Sept 2009 and I'm very excited about this novel. My endorsers are really enjoying it, too, and that's a good sign. You always worry that people won't like your second book as much as your first. These stories are different but both are quite intense. The sequel is Susie's story. What does she do with her baby and what happens to Jeff? Will they get together or are the destined to remain just friends? That's the gist of it, but all the mucky muck you experience in the midst of the story will hold your attention and keep you reading. I love drama and the tension and I drag some characters through some pretty hard stuff. It's more fun to read than blah storylines. Plus, I don't have to do research as I write what I know. :) People should be able to get copies of INAM easier than before, now that online publishers are getting smarter and stocking more books. They can also be ordered at most Barnes and Noble and Borders book stores. Pre-orders for INAH (the sequel) should be available sometime this summer, like July or August.


Thanks for the chance to interview, Pam!

Thanks for visiting, Michelle!

Don't forget to leave a comment to win your own copy of It's Not About Me!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

My Concerns About the Election


Every presidential election I become a junkie. An election junkie that is. This year is different. I'm not only an election junkie, but an election warrior.

I have not usually used this platform for political purposes, but this year I feel I have no choice but to speak out. I have been shocked to learn how many people I know are so uninformed about the things Obama and McCain stand for and are relying on the media to tell them.And I'm very, very concerned for the direction this country appears to be going.

It used to be that we could turn on our nightly news to any of the big three, CBS, NBC, and ABC and receive an unbiased report about what was happening with the candidates. Not anymore. The secular media is so unabashedly for the Democratic ticket that they go so far as to quash anything negative about Obama and Biden and only report the positive. At the same time, they have no qualms about reporting anything they can find negative about McCain and Palin. In particular, Sarah Palin has received endless bashing.

I tell my friends to not depend on the network news for their information, but do their own research. Learn how to find the information on the Internet, watch news programs that give you both sides. And use your brain to discern the truth.

The guy I've come to like best in this election cycle is Joe the Plumber. Who knew that an ordinary Ohio guy could quite possibly turn this election around. One little conversation with Obama and he called it what it is. When I heard the phrase "We've got to spread the wealth around," my stomach went sour. Where is the encouragement to better your business through growth? Why bother when you'll only be taxed more and that money given down to someone who hasn't worked as hard as you? Call it what you will, that system scares me.

Then there is the abortion issue. We've had the pro-life, pro-choice views thrown out there for a lot of years now. I'm strongly in the pro-life camp, believing every life is sacred from conception, but Obama has added a new wrinkle. Here in Chicagoland we've been aware for a long time about a place in our Southern burbs called Christ Hospital. A number of years ago doctors were performing late term abortions there as is allowed by law. What most people didn't know was that sometimes the babies were born still alive. Did they quickly dash the child off to have him or her tended to? No. They left the baby laying there to die! This led to proposed legislation to protect these innocent lives against such acts and, while he was a state senator here in Illinois, Obama voted against this legislation. He has given excuses for these votes to appease the naysayers but, in my opinion, they don't add up. If you want to check this out for yourself, go to this site. Another place to educate yourself about this is at author Randy Alcorn's blog.

This has been so much on my heart the past couple weeks, that I've not even posted here, struggling with whether or not I should speak up. We still have a week and a few days to make a difference with how we vote.

All I ask is please, if you've not yet decided who to vote for, educate yourself and try to see beyond what the media is saying. There is substance out there for all of us to read and decide.

Next time I'll be back with chatter about books and writing. I promise.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Yikes! I've Been Tagged Again!

Fellow ACFW board member, Pamela (Pammer) James, tagged me last night. This time the exercise is to tell five random things about myself that people likely don't know. This may be harder than it sounds but I'll give it a go.

1. Like Pammer I graduated high school before I was 18 and still had a curfew (which rebel that I was, tried to break and was grounded!)

2. I once climbed a mountain. Years ago my cousins and I camped in the White Mountains of New Hampshire and my cousin, Dick, led us up a mountain, past the tree line to the top. Not exactly Long's Peak in Colorado, but it was a mountain. I have no idea what the elevation was.

3. When I was about five or six I won first place singing Jingle Bells in a talent contest put on at the local movie theatre where we went every Saturday afternoon to watch Roy Rogers movies. Only at that age could I win a singing contest. Probably because I was cute as all kids are at that age. It surely couldn't be for my voice! A singer I am not :-).

4. One of my ancestors in my extended family, George Bancroft, served as secretary of the Navy under President Van Buren. He also founded Annapolis and there's a building named for him there. There he is on the right!

5. A late-bloomer, I didn't graduate from college until age 49. I started college before I turned 18 (remember how I graduated high school at 17?) and my immaturity showed. By the next year I was home and looking for a job. Over time I got my act together and went back to school, getting A's.

Okay there's my little-know list of facts. Now I tag Michelle S., Deb Kinnard, and Winter Peck. Let me know when your info is up!

Monday, October 06, 2008

The Winner of My Sister Dilly is . . .

Ta da!!!
Drum roll, please!!!

Windycindy!!!!

As soon as Cindy sends me her snailmail address Maureen will be getting a copy of My Sister Dilly off to her.

Thanks to all for entering my contest!

Watch this blog for another contest coming up soon!

Saturday, October 04, 2008

ACFW Conference Picture Show

I finally got my pictures from the ACFW Conference uploaded. I often got so busy I forgot to pull out the camera, but I did manage to get quite a few pics and some of these were taken by others.

On Free Friday night my crit group, the Penwrights, went out to a great Italian Restaurant at the Mall of America. It's amazing how much fun a group can have with nothing stronger than Diet soda to drink. :-)

So here ya go! Enjoy!



ACFW Conference 2008 - Minneapolis MN

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Win a Free Copy of Maureen Lang's My Sister Dilly!


October is going to be a great month at Writer's Journey as I get caught up on my book reviews and interviews and contests.

We're starting out with a great read by Maureen Lang that is just out from Tyndale. Many of you are familiar with Maureen's historical novels, but this time you are in for a treat. "Dilly" is a contemporary novel that is all about relationships. Hannah Williams comes back from California to the small farm town in central Illinois where she grew up. She thinks she's coming to help her sister who has paid the price of a bad decision. A decision Dilly made because Hannah wasn't there to help her. She's driven to do this although she loves life in California and loves the man she left behind there.

I don't want to tell you more because you need to read it for yourself. The story begins in a slow, easy pace, much like life is in Downstate Illinois, which is what Chicagoans (where I live) call any place in Illinois that isn't near Chicago :-). But the action picks up quickly and before you know it you are turning the pages as fast as you can read!

Maureen is kind enough to offer a pristine copy of My Sister Dilly to the winner of a contest I'm running. Next Monday, on my birthday, October 6th, I will throw all the names of those who leave a comment to this post on the randomizer and see whose name comes out in first place.

Below is an interview with Maureen about the writing of My Sister Dilly. Enjoy and be sure to leave a comment to win your own free copy of this excellent book!

1. My Sister Dilly is a departure from the historical genre you usually write in. What prompted you to write the story?

I vividly recall the exact moment this story took shape. I was talking to my sister-in-law, who, like me, has a child with a disability. We often talk about how things are, and she told me of another mom to a disabled child who was serving time in prison. Even as my sister-in-law was telling me the story, I remember praying, “Oh, no, this story is too hard, Lord. I cannot possibly write it. Why are You nudging me to do this?”

But it just wouldn’t go away, even though I didn’t feel equipped. The circumstances seemed too serious, even though from the get-go I started telling myself that if I could insert some kind of romance I might be able to make it through the storyline.

So I started corresponding with my sister-in-law’s friend, who was so helpful to me even as she’s still serving time. Her input was invaluable, and the story really started to take shape.
Another thing that made this particular story more difficult was the setting. It had to be a small, rural town, similar to where my husband grew up. I knew it would be a delicate balance to create a character who wouldn’t like small town living, but I didn’t want to offend so many people I love who live in small towns!

2. Not only is this not an historical, but you also write the story in first person point of view. How did that come about? Did you find it easier to write in this format or harder than third person?

The first person POV was a definite surprise to me, since I tend to prefer 3rd person both for my own reading and for my writing. But when I sat down to experiment with this storyline, it just naturally came out from the first person POV of the older sister.

It wasn’t long before the story idea was contracted with Tyndale, and as I seriously proceeded with the book, the first person POV still seemed like it was the best fit—for the book, not necessarily for me. I sent a sample to my editor and asked her what she thought. Should I change it to 3rd person? I was almost hoping she’d say yes, change it, because that’s the format I’m more familiar with. But to my surprise she wrote back almost immediately and said to keep it in first. It was working.

So it stayed that way, and I’m really happy with it. It was one of those things that really served the story best, as if it couldn’t have been told any other way.

Later, it was my editor who suggested a few chapters in Dilly’s POV, also in first person. And I loved it! I wish I could say those chapters were my idea. ☺

3. Do you think you’ll write another first-person novel in the future?

I never say never, so who knows! 3rd person continues to be more in my comfort zone, but now that I know I CAN write in first, it’s not so scary. It would have to serve the story best, though.

4. Right after I read “Dilly” I went on a road trip through Central Illinois and kept thinking about your story as I drove along and looked at the farms dotting the landscape. How did you come to situate the story in that locale?

I really thought the small town setting served the story best because small towns are known for a closer-knit community. If people can isolate even amidst a tighter community, then maybe this isolation really is a factor more unique to families with disabled kids.

5. A funny thing I noticed that really reminded me of your story was the rows of yellow directional arrows on a side road warning drivers of the road narrowing. You describe a similar thing in your book that warned drivers of a turn the road. Is this something indicative to that part of Illinois or is it coincidental that I came upon a similar thing where I was?

I tend to think it’s not that much of a coincidence. If you’ve flown over rural areas, you might have noticed how absolutely square the acreage usually is. Roads tend to follow that pattern, so unless there is a natural reason (like a lake, hills, woods, etc) for a curve, here in flat farm country it really is divided into even squares. So changes in what the road is expected to be, from narrowing to curving, tend to be high lighted for safety reasons.

6. How important is it to have these kind of little details in a story to personalize the setting?

Oh my goodness, I love details! Whether I’m reading or writing, that’s the element that makes a book really come alive. The trick is not to get too detailed and bore the reader, or go off track from the story. If the details really reflect the story, they deepen the texture and can make the characters absolutely breathe.

7. How did you conceive the characters, i.e. the two sisters and Mac, the Los Angeles boyfriend of the older sister?

When I heard about the woman who inspired the story, I knew I didn’t want the serious challenges of her life to be the main POV character. I didn’t want to take my readers (or myself) to that dark place where she did what she did to land herself in jail to begin with. I knew I needed to start the story after the worst was behind her, at that point of hopeful healing, but I was also concerned about the sympathy factor. So the older sister, also flawed, was born. She was a step away from the really blackest part of the story. She seemed safer to me, both for my own comfort and for my readers who want an escape.

And Mac…well, I have to admit my husband plays a part in the inspiration behind all of my heroes. As I mentioned, he grew up in a small town, but after college he lived out in California for a few years before returning to the Midwest. So his experience played a part in the formation of my characters.

8. Did the storyline change by the time you finished the story or was it in place from the start? I guess this is another way to ask if you are a seat-of-the-pants writer or a plotter :-).

I’m definitely a seat-of-the-pants writer. I knew from the beginning that there would be a faction of the story representing the public’s abhorrence over the type of crime Dilly committed. But I didn’t know about her needing to help out another woman who committed the same crime until coming to that dreaded middle—knowing the end was too far away and something had to keep those pages turning. It worked out well, I thought!

9. What can readers look forward to next from Maureen Lang?

I’m going back to my safe historicals, at least for the time being. Although if my characters could come alive and you could interview them, I doubt they’d say there was anything “safe” about the circumstances I’ve put them in! The setting is rural again, but this time in Northern France, during the First World War. That setting continues to intrigue me, mainly because it’s on the cusp of modern living and yet (especially in rural areas) still so historical. And the backdrop of that war in particular, where the fighting was for reasons no one really understood, makes for great conflict on any scale.

I don’t have a final title for this book, in my mind it’s just Book One of a three book series, and it’ll be released from Tyndale in September of 2009.

I’ve actually been blogging about the process, from the sale through a research trip to Belgium and Northern France, and the topic will continue on through the editing process, cover design and marketing. You can check that out at: http://maureenlang.blogspot.com/

Thanks so much for having me, Pam! This was fun.

And it was having you here, Maureen.

Okay, folks, before you click out of here, be sure to leave a comment to win your own free copy of My Sister Dilly sent directly to you from the author, Maureen Lang, herself. I'll be she'll even sign it for you :-).

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

ACFW Conference --- Amazing!

I have been back from Minneapolis for two days and am just coming out of my brain fog that I've been in ever since I walked into my condo Sunday night at about seven p.m.

I flew up to the Twin Cities a week ago today and was met by a couple crazy ladies, better known as two of my fellow Penwrights, a crit group I belong to. They stood there in the baggage claim area holding an ACFW sign upside down. I should have taken a picture, but I didn't.

Wednesday was spent in board meetings most of the day and evening, then the next morning the conference began revving up with early bird sessions. Being on the ACFW Board I only made it to one workshop, but will be getting recordings of all the sessions which I look forward to getting because the workshops covered a gamut of different topics.

It was good to catch up with friends I haven't seen for a while like Winter Peck who is with me here. And Deb Raney and Rachel Hauck who are in the pic below.

My appointments with editors resulted in requests for proposals for my romance and my mystery both! I'm working on honing my mystery manuscript and getting ready to send it to an interested editor and, at the same time, will be working to finish the romance manuscript which is about half done. I have my work cut out for me! But it's fun work. God is good.

Saturday we held a massive book-signing at Mall of America. We had over 100 authors signing books. I joked I needed to contract a book so I could sit down! Almost three hours after I arrived to help, I finally sat down on the shuttle bus, hot and tired. Those several hours were frenzied and loud, but at the same time so satisfying to see Christian fiction being spotlighted. While the authors were signing, interviews of other authors like Angie Hunt (our keynote speaker), Brandilyn Collins, Terri Blackstock, etc. were taking place on the rotunda stage.

Then it was back to the hotel for more workshops before we cleaned up for the awards banquet. We all cleaned up good too! The Genesis writing contest winners and the Book of the Year winners were all announced in addition to the Mentor of the Year which I had the pleasure of announcing. This year's award was especially gratifying. Janice Thompson, the 2008 winner, had just come through Hurricane Ike, and for a while it didn't look like she and the other Houstonian members would make it to the conference. Here's a pic of me with Dineen Miller, the graphic artist who designed all our banners and the conference book cover.

I'm sure by tomorrow my brain will be a bit more alive than it is right now, but the memories will be as clear as ever. Next year it's Denver and I can't wait!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Book Review: Suspicious Minds by Christy Barritt


I am so happy to have a working computer back. I've been waiting a couple weeks to be able to post my review for a new mystery that's out for your reading pleasure.

About a year ago or so I came across Christy Barritt's Hazardous Duty and literally inhaled it. I've always loved mysteries, especially those with recurring sleuths, and was very happy to meet Gabby Sinclair, a crime scene cleaner. Gabby is sassy, at times insecure, and drawn to solving crimes, most notably murders. When Christy asked for reviewers for her second book in the series, Suspicious Minds, I jumped at the chance, excited to see what Gabby was up to now.

When the book arrived, I knew immediately I was going to enjoy the read. How could I not with the legs pictured belonging to none other than Elvis. Yep. This story is about Elvis whom Gabby finds dead in a crawl space. Well, not really Elvis. After all, he passed years ago. The victim is an Elvis impersonator, called a tribute artist. When the police seem to be lagging in their investigation, the dead man's widow asks Gabby to investigate. Well, what's a girl with a penchant for rooting out the truth supposed to do but accept?

Gabby faces ups and downs during her investigation, including facing the truth about her relationship with her boyfriend. What she finds harder is to face her real feelings for another man or her need for God.

Barritt writes a fast-paced story that manages to mix humor with the seriousness of murder in a way that works. You will love this sassy but emotionally-vulnerable heroine and find yourself rooting her on.

I don't know if Barritt has more stories up her sleeve in the Squeaky Clean Mystery series, but I sure hope so.

You can find your own copy of this great read at Amazon or Christianbook.com.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

My Trusty Laptop is Almost Dead R.I.P.


This past week has not been easy. I have been working hard on reducing the word count of Murder for Breakfast to submit to a publisher who has requested it. Working so hard that I even took my trusty laptop on my Labor Day vacation!

The day after Labor Day I started getting weird error messages that I didn't have enough RAM. I cleaned out my temporary files and I still got the same message. At times the system would crash because it couldn't support the software. I tried all sorts of things. Shut off the Spy Ware, shut off the virus protection, etc. etc., re-configured the RAM settings and still I was told I didn't have enough RAM. I spent the entire day up until late afternoon trying everything and nothing worked.

Under normal circumstances this may have been a job for the Geek Squad or some other computer guru, but problem is that I had this manuscript to work on and worst of all, the ACFW conference is coming up. I leave in about another week! I need a trustworthy working laptop. I'm secretary on the board and must take the minutes of two board meetings.

I've been saving for a Mac laptop so I finally caved and went to the Apple store and got the laptop I've had my eye on. I put the money saved down on it, but will be paying off the good old credit card instead of my savings account to pay for it.

I have to say I looooooove the MacBook! And I'll love it even better when I get the Office for Mac software I ordered. Until then I can still use the other laptop to work on Word docs, if that's all I do. No email, no anything else. Then I save to a flashdrive for transfer to the Mac once the software arrives. I've been tracking this package since Wednesday and it's taking the proverbial slow boat to China. For the past two days it's been in the Chicago area, but it has yet to get to my local post office. I'm praying for tomorrow!

I've had to put this all in the right perspective or I'd go nuts waiting. Things could be a whole lot worse. I had the means to get the new computer. I will still have a week before I leave for conference to get things loaded on the Mac and printed out, etc. I have my health, the weather is good, God is blessing me in hundreds of ways, and in a few days this will all be a memory!

September 12, 2008: I wrote the above last week, but gave up because of the problems I was having. But now I'm good to go. . . I think. And I discovered yesterday that the PC had three viruses on the thing!!! Did one person ever suggest I check that out? No. Yes. I had Virus protection, but they still got in. Go figure.

Anyway, I am so jazzed about this new MacBook so all is well.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

CFBA Book of the Week: A Passion Redeemed

Last year I about fell over gushing over Julie Lessman's A Passion Most Pure. That woman's book hooked me into liking historical reads again. Well now the long awaited sequel, A Passion Redeemed, is out. And I am so bummed because I've been too busy tweaking a requested manuscript (that's the good news!) that I haven't yet had a chance to finish reading it!!! (That's the bad news.)

I've started the book and love it just as much as I did the first book. If you read that one then you know what a "brat" Charity was in that story. Well, this book is starting out with much the same of Charity's less-than-scrupulous or virtuous ways, but I have a hunch that is about to change and I can't wait to see how it happens.

I will be back when I have finished this book and will feature either a review or interview with the author along with a drawing for a copy of the book. Meanwhile, below is a description of the story to whet your appetite.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:






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





ABOUT THE BOOK

No man can resist her charms. Or so she thought. Charity O'Connor is a woman who gets what she wants. Her stunning beauty and flirtatious ways have always succeeded with men. Until Mitch Dennehy, that is.

Brilliant and dangerously handsome, Mitch is a no-nonsense newspaperman who wants nothing to do with her. Charity burned him once, destroying his engagement to the only woman he ever truly loved. He won't play with matches again. But Charity has a plan to turn up the heat, hoping to ignite the heart of the man she loves. And she always gets what she wants--one way or another.

Or does she? Will her best-laid schemes win his love? Or will her seductive ways drive him away forever? Book 2 in the Daughters of Boston series, A Passion Redeemed will captivate your heart and stir your soul with a story of faith and redemption rising from the ashes of temptation, desire, and shame.

Praise for the first book in the series:

"Full of romance, humor, rivalry, and betrayal, A Passion Most Pure will captivate readers from the first page." --Historical Novels Review "Superb! Incredible!

"I loved Julie Lessman's A Passion Most Pure from the second I picked it up until the very last moment I stopped reading." --Armchair Interviews

"I devoured this book and loved every single page. . . . This is a thick, juicy read, and one I would pick up again in a heartbeat." --christianreviewofbooks.com


If you would like to read an excerpt from A Passion Redeemed, go HERE.

Buy it from Amazon!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Book Review: The Faith of Barack Obama


I've always been somewhat of a political junkie so when the election cycle includes the presidential election, I gear up. This year that cycle seems to have been around forever and we haven't even had the conventions yet!

Living in Illinois, I've been aware of Barack Obama a lot longer than much of the nation. I've seen him rise from local Chicago politics to becoming a state senator and finally a U.S. senator. And in all that time I haven't known much about the man except that his politics and mine don't exactly mesh.

A few weeks ago Thomas Nelson Publishers made an offer of their new book by Stephen Mansfield, The Faith of Barack Obama, to anyone who would agree to read it and post a review on their blog, favorable or unfavorable. How could I resist?

At the same time I was reading Mansfield's book, Senators Obama and McCain appeared in a forum at Saddleback Church in California in an informal like interview with Rick Warren of Purpose Driven Life fame. I found having the book and seeing Obama and McCain in that setting at the same time to be an invaluable experience.

Mansfield's book shows that the author did his homework. I'd heard spatterings of Obama's backstory before. We've all heard how as a child he spent several years in Indonesia and was enrolled in a Muslim school there. That his biological father was also muslim. But, what I didn't realize was that his spiritual formation began way before with his grandparents eshewing the fundamental Christan beliefs in which they were raised, and later his mom declaring that she was an athiest and adopting a rather detatched view of anything religious or spiritual.

Last year most Americans were shocked to hear the pastor Obama had been sitting under for many years verbally attack the United States from the pulpit. I, too, was appalled at what I heard. Having read this book, I have a far greater understanding of where the man is coming from and how his style is very much in line with many black preachers, especially from that generation. I still don't agree with their style, but I do have a different understanding of it.

Also included in the book is a snapshot view of the faith of John McCain, Hillary Clinton, and George Bush. It's easy to see that we cannot judge a person's faith by what they say publicly. Sometimes a faith is real, deep and personal, yet so personal it's difficult for someone, even one used to speaking in public about many things, to share. Yet another will so easily talk the talk and sound like a believer when they are not.

I highly recommend this book to anyone of voting age. Evangelicals in particular need to read this book and weigh what it reveals. In my humble opinion, the future of our country depends on it.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

August Bits of This and That


I have not fallen off the face of the earth. I am still here. The past few weeks have been a whirlwind of proposal writing and submitting, manuscript tightening, WIP writing, posting to the ACFW conference blog, and an allergic reaction that I never want to go through again!

Not allergic to busyness. But allergic to either my laundry soap or fabric softener. I don't want to know which one so I switched both to hypo-allergenic products. The kind that come in the white bottles.

In the flurry of proposal writing and sending last week, I broke out in a very itchy rash about an hour after I had put on newly washed clothing. By that time I was walking through Wal-Mart and could not scratch politely. Needless to say, it cut my shopping trip short and I made a beeline for home. By the time I arrived there I had a rash and hives wherever my clothing was touching me.

After two days of misery, thinking it would die down on it's own, I went to the doctor and got a cortisone shot, followed by a week's supply of Prednisone. Now you know it's bad when I agree to take Prednisone. My mom was on megadoses of that steroid a long time ago for the effects of emphysema and the side effects were awful. But when you're itching all over like I was, you'll try anything! At least my blood pressure was still good. That surprised me!

Now, five or six days later all is well. I take my last Prednisone tomorrow and I trust with everything washed and rewashed I will not go through that again.

But don't be surprised if my heroine ends up with something similar some day!

Meanwhile, keep an eye on this blog. In the days and weeks to come I'll be doing some giveaways like Julie Lessman's sequel to A Passion Most Pure and Christy Barrit's Suspicious Minds. That book is a hoot. So if you like mysteries and good humor, keep an eye out for that one in a few days.

And if you're in the Minneapolis area, be sure to mark your calendars for the ACFW Mega Book Signing at the Mall of America on September 20th from 1 to 3 in the Rotunda.

Now back to your regularly scheduled program!

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Woo Hoo! I Got Second Place!


This past Wednesday the Faith, Hope, and Love chapter of Romance Writers of America held their one-day mini conference in San Francisco and announced the winners of their Touched By Love writing contest for unpublished authors.

I received Second Place in the long contemporary category!!!

I've known for several months I was a finalist. All finalists had their entries judged by five published authors. Their scoresheets made the experience like getting five paid crits for the price of one entry fee. Wow!

The story I entered was Murder For Breakfast, the mystery-romance I have mentioned here countless times. The judges' comments were all very positive, but they also pointed out weaknesses they thought were there. Now I have to carefully consider their comments and where two or more point out similar things, decide what I can do to tweak and improve.

I'm currently working on my proposal for the Little Hope, Wisconsin story and need to wrap that up soon so my agent can send it off to the publisher. Then, before I get back to working on the Little Hope draft, I'll shift gears and work on MFB and doing those tweaks.

I am so grateful to God for this wonderful affirmation that I received. People keep saying I'm getting close to publishing, but the only one who knows that is God. If it is His will, it will happen. However, nothing will happen without me putting rubber to the road, nose to the grindstone, cowgirling it up, and whatever other cliche you can think of. You get the idea :-).

I've got a lot to do before the ACFW conference next month, but right now I just want to bask in the glow for just a minute.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Empty Store Fronts, Empty Pockets


I don't know how it is where you live, but in the past several months the commerical landscape around my neighborhood has changed a lot.

The Lone Star Restaurant was one of the first to go, followed quickly by Max and Erma's across the road. Then a couple weeks ago, Baker's Square hit the skids. Today I read in the paper that Bennigan's shut their doors yesterday without advanced notice to their employees. Those are just the restaurants. Bassett Furniture has been having a close-out sale for weeks now. I guess tomorrow is the last day before those doors shut for good. Standing in one of the neighborhood strip malls the other day, I looked around. Gone is the Country Sampler, Pier One, a discount beauty shop, a scrapbook store--and on and on it goes. The government may say we are not in a recession, but what I'm seeing says otherwise.

Aldi's, the low-cost grocer, is doing great as are Wal-Mart, Sam's and Costco. And I imagine the fast food restaurants are experiencing a surge. People still want to eat out but they will think twice before plunking down as much money as it takes to fill a tank with gas these days on a single meal. Gas has come down a little bit the past week or so, but I wonder how long that will last?It was a good ride these past years, but for now the economy has slowed to a crawl.

I'm still hoping for that elusive book contract and haven't given up. Even so, it's becoming harder to break into the market as publishers tighten their belts and are less willing to take a chance on an unproven author.

What keeps me going is that God never changes and he is the One who is in control no matter how much we try to manipulate things with tax incentive rebates, etc. He has authority over my life and this world. He promises to never leave me or forsake me. He promises to protect me. He promises me the greatest gift of all, far more valuable than a night out at a fancy restaurant or even a book contract.

He promises me eternity with him. I'll take that to the bank!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

CFBA Tour - Painted Dresses by Patricia Hickman

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Painted Dresses

(WaterBrook Press - July 15, 2008)

by

Patricia Hickman



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Patricia Hickman is an award-winning author of fiction and non-fiction, whose work has been praised by critics and readers alike.

Patricia Hickman began writing many years ago after an invitation to join a writer's critique group. It was headed up by best-selling author Dr. Gilbert Morris, a pioneer in Christian fiction who has written many best selling titles. The group eventually came to be called the "Nubbing Chits". All four members of the original "Chits" have gone on to become award-winning and best selling novelists (good fruit, Gil!).

Patty signed her first multi-book contract with Bethany House Publishers. After she wrote several novels "for the market", she assessed her writer's life and decided she would follow the leanings of her heart. She says, "It had to be God leading me into the next work which wound up being my first break-out book, Katrina's Wings. I had never read a southern mainstream novel, yet I knew that one lived in my head, begging to be brought out and developed." She wanted to create deeper stories that broke away from convention and formula. From her own journey in life, she created a world based upon her hometown in the 70's, including Earthly Vows and Whisper Town from the Millwood Hollow Series.

Patty and her husband, Randy, have planted two churches in North Carolina. Her husband pastors Family Christian Center, located in Huntersville. The Hickmans have three children, two on earth and one in heaven. Their daughter, Jessi, was involved in a fatal automobile accident in 2001. Through her writing and speaking, Patty seeks to offer help, hope and encouragement to those who walk the daily road of loss and grief.


ABOUT THE BOOK

In this story of sisterhood and unexpected paths, Gaylen Syler-Boatwright flees her unraveling marriage to take refuge in a mountain cottage owned by her deceased aunt. Burdened with looking after her adult sister, Delia, she is shocked to find a trail of family secrets hidden within her aunt’s odd collection of framed, painted dresses. With Delia, who attracts trouble as a daily occupation, Gaylen embarks on a road trip that throws the unlikely pair together on a journey to painful understanding and delightful revelations.

Steeped in Hickman’s trademark humor, her spare writing voice, and the bittersweet pathos of the South, Painted Dresses powerfully captures a woman’s desperate longing to uncover a hidden, broken life and discover the liberty of living authentically, even when the things exposed are shrouded in shame.

If you would like to read the first chapter, go HERE

Buy it at Amazon!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

ACFW 2008 Book of the Year Finalists Are Announced!


ACFW's Book of the Year awards have become a cherished honor for published authors. Today the finalists for this year's contest were announced. The winners will be announced at the awards banquet to be held the Saturday night of our conference in Minneapolis.

I've read some of these books, but not all. If you're looking for a good read you need to look no further than this list. There's something for everyone here.

Debut Author

  • Bayou Justice (Robin Miller writing as Robin Caroll)
  • In Between (Jenny B Jones)
  • Sushi for One? (Camy Tang)
  • My Soul Cries Out (Sherri Lewis)
  • Petticoat Ranch (Mary Connealy)

Contemporary Novella (*six finalists due to a tie)

  • A Cloud Mountain Christmas (Robin Lee Hatcher)
  • Finally Home (Deb Raney in Missouri Memories anthology)
  • Mississippi Mud (DiAnn Mills in Sugar And Grits Anthology)
  • Moonlight & Mistletoe (Carrie Turansky in Big Apple Christmas anthology)
  • Remaking of Moe McKenna (Gloria Clover in the Race to the Altar anthology)
  • Sweet Dreams Drive (Robin Lee Hatcher)

Historical Novella

  • Beyond the Memories (DiAnn Mills in Mississippi Memories anthology)
  • Finishing Touches (Kelly Hake in Missouri Memories anthology)
  • Love Notes (Mary Davis in Love Letters anthology)
  • The Spinster & The Cowboy (Lena Nelson Dooley in Spinster Brides of Cactus Corner anthology)
  • The Spinster & The Tycoon (Vickie McDonough in Spinster Brides of Cactus Corner anthology)

Lits (*six finalists due to a tie)

  • Around the World in 80 Dates (Christa Banister)
  • One Little Secret (Bottke, Allison)
  • Renovating Becky Miller (Sharon Hinck)
  • Splitting Harriet (Tamara Leigh)
  • Sushi for One? (Camy Tang)
  • The Book of Jane (Dayton/Vanderbilt)

Long contemporary

  • Autumn Blue (Karen Harter)
  • Like Always (Robert Elmer)
  • Taming Rafe (Susan May Warren)
  • When the Nile Runs Red (DiAnn Mills)
  • Within This Circle (Deb Raney)


Long Historical (*seven finalists due to TWO ties)

  • Courting Trouble (Deeanne Gist)
  • Fancy Pants (Cathy Hake)
  • Lady of Milkweed Manor (Julie Klassen)
  • Remember Me (Maureen Lang)
  • Then Came Hope (Louise Gouge)
  • Veil of Fire (Marlo Schalesky)
  • Where Willows Grow (Kim Vogel Sawyer)

Mystery

  • Days And Hours (Susan Meissner)
  • Death of a Garage Sale Newbie (Sharon Dunn)
  • Gone With The Groom (Janice Thompson)
  • Sticks And Stones (Susan Meissner)
  • Your Chariot Awaits (Lorena McCourtney)

Short Contemporary

  • Heart of the Family (Margaret Daley)
  • The Heart of Grace (Linda Goodnight)
  • The Perfect Blend (Allie Pleiter)
  • Wedded Bliss (Kathleen Y’Barbo)
  • When Love Comes Home (Arlene James)

Short Contemporary Suspense (*six finalists due to a tie)

  • Caught Redhanded (Gayle Roper)
  • Her Christmas Protector (Terri Reed)
  • Nowhere to Hide (Debby Giusti)
  • Pursuit of Justice (Pamela Tracy)
  • See No Evil (Gayle Roper)
  • Vanished (Margaret Daley)

Short Historical (*six due to a tie)

  • A Time to Keep (Kelly Hake)
  • A Wealth Beyond Riches (Vickie McDonough)
  • Canteen Dreams (Cara Putman)
  • Corduroy Road to Love (Lynn Coleman)
  • Golden Days (Mary Connealy)
  • To Trust An Outlaw (Rhonda Gibson

Speculative

  • Demon: A Memoir (Tosca Lee)
  • DragonFire (Donita Paul)
  • The Restorer (Sharon Hinck)
  • The Restorer’s Son (Sharon Hinck)
  • Isle of Swords (Wayne Thomas Batson)

Suspense

  • Abomination (Colleen Coble)
  • Black Ice (Linda Hall)
  • Coral Moon (Brandilyn Collins)
  • Crimson Eve (Brandilyn Collins)
  • Ransomed Dreams (Amy Wallace)

Women’s Fiction

  • A Promise To Remember (Katie Cushman)
  • Bygones (Kim Sawyer)
  • Remember to Forget (Deb Raney)
  • The Oak Leaves (Maureen Lang)
  • Watercolored Pearls (Stacy Adams)

Young Adult

  • In Between (Jenny B. Jones)
  • On The Loose (Jenny B. Jones)
  • Sara Jane: Liberty’s Torch (Eleanor Clark
  • Sarah’s Long Ride (Susan P Davis)
  • Saving Sailor (Renee Riva)

Friday, July 11, 2008

ACFW National Conference - 68 Days and Counting!


Yep, in exactly 68 days the American Christian Fiction Writers will invade the North. After two years in the Lone Star state we're setting up in Minneapolis and we can't wait to get there!

I've been fortunate enough to have attended all ACFW conferences since our very first one in Kansas City back in 2002 when 100 people attended and ACFW was just starting to grow into the 1600+ membership we have today. This year we expect 500-600 attendees and the conference is better than ever.

This year's keynoter is Angie Hunt. Angie is a prolific author and a great encourager to writers of all levels. I had the honor of sitting in a writing clinic that she taught at the Colorado writing conference I attended last year.

For any Christian who writes fiction, the ACFW conference is the one conference you should be attending this year. Continuing classes and workshops will be taught by the best professionals in the business. Nearly every CBA publisher intends to have representation there. Think Bethany House, Whitaker House, B&H, Zondervan, and Tyndale, just to name a few. Agents such as Chip MacGregor, Steve Laube, Alive Communications, Hartline, Browne & Miller, and a lot more. Awesome worship. Networking opportunitites. Massive 100-author book signing at the Mall of America coordinated by Barnes and Noble, and much, much more.

There is still time to sign up! Just go to the ACFW Conference Web Page and first study the offerings by clicking on the links in the sidebar menu. Then click on the registration link and get started.

It all takes place in the 5-star Sheraton Bloomington Hotel. I spent several days at this hotel last March and I can promise you a comfy bed in a well-appointed room. comfortable meeting space, an awesome dining experience with great food. All that along with a very splashy and exciting award banquet on Saturday night where we'll announce the winners of the Genesis writing contest, Book of the Year winners, Agent of the Year, Editor of the Year, and Mentor of the Year. ACFW has a block of rooms held at a special low price so don't wait too long to make your reservation!

Have I whetted your appetite yet? Good! See you in September in Minneapolis!