Saturday, March 29, 2008

ACFW Chicago Northwest Spends an Evening With Author Travis Thrasher

Last night my local ACFW chapter, better known as ACFW Chicago NW, spent a great time getting to know author Travis Thrasher. Travis has the unique background of seeing publication life from both sides having spent 13 years in author relations at Tyndale before heading out on his own last fall as a full-time writer.

He brought a wealth of insight and information to all of us, and we definitely want to have him back again.

We were also surprised by a visit from our Zone Director, Patti Lacy, who drove up from her home in downstate Illinois.

Here's a slideshow of our time together.

I for one came home enthusiastic to get busy writing. In fact, this week I have been working on a story I'd outlined several years ago, but never wrote as it was the second book in the three-book series I'd proposed. When book one never got bought, I tucked this one away and forgot about it. Now, I'm giving it CPR and hope to put together a proposal. Since Murder for Breakfast is now out and being pitched by my agent, it's time to add another iron to the fire!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

CFBA Features Two Books This Week

For Pete's Sake

Book Two of the Piper Cove Chronicles

(Avon Inspire - April 1, 2008)


Linda Windsor


Maryland author Linda Windsor has written some twenty-nine historical and contemporary novels for both the secular and inspirational markets, but she is most noted for delivering “The Lift of Laughter and Spirit” in her modern inspirational romances.

A Christy finalist and winner of numerous industry awards, Linda has written for Multnomah Publishing (historical fiction and contemporary romances), Barbour Publishing (romcom novella), and Westbow Press (the Moonstruck romantic comedy trilogy). Wedding Bell Blues the first book in her new The Piper Cove Chronicles series, is featured on Avon Inspire's launch list.

In addition to writing and doing fiction-writing workshops at conferences across the country, Linda continues a music and lay speaking ministry started by her and her late husband, and she is a part-time financial analyst. She also works on “as desperately needed” home improvement projects on the 18th-century-plus house that she and her husband began restoring in 1986. Wallpaper and paint are definitely in her near future.


Saturday, April 5th, 2008
Jack's Religious Gift Shop
701 Snow Hill Road
Salisbury, MD 21804

Saturday, April 12, 2008
The Gospel Shop
800 South Salisbury Blvd
Salisbury, MD 21801
11:00 AM


For Pete's Sake is a remarkable story about the unlikely live between a grown-up tomboy and the millionaire next door.

Ellen Brittingham isn’t sure true live exists until she contracts to do the landscaping of the estate of the sophisticated widower next door, Adrian Sinclair. Adrian has it all—at least on the surface, He’s engaged to a beautiful woman who helped him build a successful business and he’ll soon have a mom for his troubled son Pete.

Yet, from the moment Ellen rescues a stranded Adrian on her Harley, his well-ordered world turns upside down, cracking his thin fa├žade of happiness and revealing the void of faith and love behind it. Even more, his son seems to have his own sites set on Ellen – as his new mom.

As Ellen’s friendship grows with Pete, she realizes that his father is about to marry the wrong woman for the right reasons. And despite her resolve to remain “neighbors only” with the dad, the precocious boy works his way into her heart, drawing Ellen and Adrian closer. Close enough for heartbreak, for Pete’s sake!

But how can her heart think that Adrian Sinclair is the one when he’s engaged to a sophisticated beauty who is everything Ellen isn’t. When Ellen’s three best friends see she’s been bitten by the love bug, they jump into action and submit her to a makeover that reveals the woman underneath her rough exterior and puts her in contention for Adrian’s love.

But Ellen must ask herself whether she’s ready to risk the heart that she’s always held close. Will Ellen be able to trust that God brought this family into her life for a reason? Or will her fear of getting hurt cause her to turn away from God’s plan and her one true chance at love?

Buy it at Amazon!


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing


Tyndale House Publishers (February 6, 2008)


Jeanette Windle


As the child of missionary parents, award-winning author and journalist Jeanette Windle grew up in the rural villages, jungles, and mountains of Colombia, now guerrilla hot zones. Her detailed research and writing is so realistic that it has prompted government agencies to question her to determine if she has received classified information. Currently based in Lancaster, PA, Jeanette has lived in six countries and traveled in more than twenty. She has more than a dozen books in print, including political/suspense best-seller CrossFire and the Parker Twins series.


Fires smolder endlessly below the dangerous surface of Guatemala City’s municipal dump.

Deadlier fires seethe beneath the tenuous calm of a nation recovering from brutal civil war. Anthropologist Vicki Andrews is researching Guatemala’s “garbage people” when she stumbles across a human body. Curiosity turns to horror as she uncovers no stranger, but an American environmentalist—Vicki’s only sister, Holly.

With authorities dismissing the death as another street crime, Vicki begins tracing Holly’s last steps, a pilgrimage leading from slum squalor to the breathtaking and endangered cloud forests of the Sierra de las Minas Biosphere. But every unraveled thread raises more questions. What betrayal connects Holly’s murder, the recent massacre of a Mayan village, and the long-ago deaths of Vicki’s own parents?

Nor is Vicki the only one demanding answers. Before her search reaches its startling end, the conflagration has spilled across international borders to threaten an American administration and the current war on terror. With no one turning out to be who they’d seemed, who can Vicki trust and who should she fear?

A politically relevant tale of international intrigue and God’s redemptive beauty and hope.

Buy it at Amazon!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Lessons from Easter

Easter usually brings to mind visions of sun, flowers, Easter egg hunts on a green lawn, and spring outfits. This year, as in much of the Midwest, I look out my window at snow clinging to tree branches. More a scene from Christmas than Easter.

Yesterday an early spring storm hit the Chicago area and points north, messing up flights out of O'Hare and other airports and preventing many from making their spring break destinations. Most likely places where the sun is shining and flowers are blooming.

Even so, God has used this not-so-appreciated reminder that this rough winter is not yet over to teach me some things.

Yesterday as I watched the brown grass disappear under the covering of white, I was reminded of a verse from Psalm 51:7 --

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

Isn't that what Christ's going to the cross has done for those who believe in Him? Just as the snow covered the brown grass yesterday, Christ's blood spilled on the cross has covered my sin for eternity. Eventually, the snow will melt in the warm sun and temperatures that are sure to come soon, but the covering of Christ lasts for eternity for all who believe. Only something as huge as that would be worth the cost He paid.

This morning another lesson hit me square between the eyes. The example of humility Christ gives us. In and of ourselves we are nothing at all, but IN Him we are everything.

For reasons unknown to me God has given me giftedness in areas of creativity. I have better-than-average drawing skills, a stronger sense of design and decoration than a lot of people, can put more than two words together in a pleasing way, and the ability to interpret music in sign language in a way that isn't stilted. I have acknowledged for years that these abilities are from God and not of myself, yet I have struggled often with pride. It's not easy to admit. There's that pride sneaking in again.

God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble.
God hates pride.

With my interpreting in sign, He's given me certain abilities in that area, but at the same time I struggle terribly with the ability to understand when someone signs back to me. It's a frustration to the deaf people I interpret for as well as to me. Yet, I know if I could understand sign as well as I can produce it, my head would swell to the point of explosion. God has used my inability to read sign language well to keep me humble.

In my writing, I've faced far more rejection than acceptance. I've sold a few non-fiction works, but am still trying to sell my fiction. Just two weeks ago I received yet another rejection from a major publisher. I don't know how many times I've sent off my writing to a critiquer and thought the work really shone, only to have it sent back filled with corrections and suggestions on how to improve it. My character is unlikable, the plot sags, etc. etc. Talk about being humbled in a matter of seconds.

As I visualize Christ on the cross, resting askew on his head is a perfect example of humility.

A crown of thorns.

The King of kings, Lord of lords who deserves a crown filled with priceless jewels wears a crown made from thorny, barren branches. The sharp needle-like thorns pierce through His skin, allowing blood to trail over his brow. Who am I to think I deserve a better crown than He?

He went to the cross to endure excruciating pain. (The word "excruciating" when broken down means from the cross. A word to describe the horrible pain of crucifixion.)He took on that terrible pain for you as well as for me. Pain and punishment that should be ours because of our sin. Why? That we would be seen by God as forgiven, our sins made white as snow by His shed blood.

On a long ago Good Friday I sat on a church pew and listened to the scriptural account of the crucifixion and suddenly realized Christ did that for me. For the first time I was able to personalize those long ago events. I was humbled beyond words. It wasn't until years later when I looked back on that moment that I realized that was the day I became a Christian in the true sense of the word.

This year's Good Friday is over for another year, but it's never too late for anyone to personalize what Christ did on the cross.

If you've never done so, why not make this Easter the most special one you've ever experienced. Add something extra to that Easter outfit.

The best accessory I can think to wear is a symbolic crown of thorns on my heart as I bow before the King of kings.

What about you?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

And The Winner of A Perfect Life is . . .

Kelly, known as Kalea-Kane.

The book will be mailed to Kelly as soon as she provides a mailing address. Congrats, Kelly!

Check back often for more book giveaways.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

A Taste of Minneapolis In View of September

Last week the ACFW operating board gathered in Minneapolis at the Sheraton-Bloomington where the 2008 national conference will take place in September. The temperature hardly made it out of the teens the three days we were there, but it didn't stop us from heading out to the Mall of America to check out the location for our huge book signing that will take place there during the conference.

Here's a great little video one of our board members took and put together that will give you a flavor of the place. It's just as high energy as it appears. The book signing will take place in the Rotunda, a short distance away from the indoor amusement park. We plan to have close to 100 authors signing during the event.

Imagine three levels of stores, restaurants, and entertainment, all circling an amusement park. To add to the draw, Minnesota has no sales tax. No wonder people fly into Minneapolis, head across the road to the mall, and spend their vacation days shopping. While I was waiting for my plane Sunday afternoon, I overheard two English girls saying they'd flown over to do just that! Now that really is shopping.

What did I buy there? Only a soft drink. That's a first! Can't promise I'll get away that cheap the next time.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Winner of Blessings is . . .

Cherry Blossom.

Congrats to the winner. I just sent an email to the address provided and as soon as I have a mailing address, the book will be off to its new owner.

If you signed up for this drawing, don't lose heart. Scroll down to my posting about Robin Lee Hatcher's A Perfect Life from this past Monday and leave a comment. I'll be drawing a new name a week from today for that book.

It's a Twofer Week at CFBA - Featuring Rachel Hauck's Sweet Caroline

When Rachel Hauck's Sweet Caroline was offered for review by CFBA, I jumped at the chance to get a copy. I can always trust Rachel to spin a good yarn.

This week CFBA is featuring two books and Sweet Caroline is the second featured book this week. Like I said, you can always trust Rachel to offer you a good read. This book is no exception!


I graduated from Ohio State University (Go Buckeyes!) with a degree in Journalism. As a member of Phi Mu sorority, I partied my way though the last few years of college.

But, the truth is, and always will be, I belong to Jesus. At the age of six, I knelt at the altar of a Tulsa Methodist church and gave my life to the One who loves me.

After graduation, hired on at Harris Publishing as a software trainer, determined to see the world. And I did it without a laptop, a cell phone, an IPod or portable DVD player. Those were hard times.

But, I traveled to Ireland, Spain, Venezuela, Mexico, Australia, Canada and the U.S. from California to Maine. But, life on the road is difficult. Working twelve to fourteen hour days, one doesn't get to see many of the sites. In Ireland, our company's distributor drove me around at night so I could see something of Dublin.

I met Tony, my husband, in '87, at church, of all places. We got married in '92. Tony has been a pastor for twenty years. I've worked with him in eighteen of those twenty. Our heart is to see teens and adults passionate, radical and whole hearted for Jesus.

Tony and I don't have any children of our own, lots of kids-in-the-Lord and we love them all. However, we do have a very spoiled dog, and an even more spoiled cat.

I've always wanted to be a writer. My dad used to tell me, "You're a writer." I have letters he wrote me post college, exhorting me to write. In this, I believe he had the heart of God.

In '93, I started an epic WW2 novel with two plots. It was well rejected. After that ordeal, I took a break and put efforts into my job as a software project manager. But, I missed writing and in late ' 99, I took up the craft again.

With a little help from my friends, my first book was published in ' 04, Lambert's Pride, a romance novel. I love writing chick lit and romance. I love writing. What an honor.

Rachel has several other books that have been received with great praise, including Diva Nash Vegas and Lost In Nash Vegas

You can purchase copies of Rachel's books, signed personally for you,
at this site: Signed by the


When a Southern waitress inherits the Lowcountry cafe where she works, she suddenly has to balance more than just her next food order.

Caroline Sweeney has always done the right thing--the responsible, dependable thing--unlike her mother who abandoned her family. But when her best friend challenges her to accept an exciting job adventure in Barcelona, Spain, Caroline says "yes" to destiny.

Then, without warning, ownership of the run-down cafe where she's been waitressing falls right into Caroline's lap. While she's trying to determine the cafe's future, handsome Deputy Sherriff J.D. Rand captures Caroline's heart.

But when her first love, Mitch O'Neal, comes back to town, fresh from the heat of his newly-found fame as a country music singer in Nashville, Caroline must make some hard choices about love and the pursuit of the sweet life.

You can pick it up at Amazon!

Monday, March 10, 2008

CFBA Book of the Week: The Perfect Life by Robin Lee Hatcher. Win Your Own Copy!

I just got back yesterday from Minneapolis where the ACFW boards met to finalize plans for the 2008 Conference in September. It was frigid outside most of the time we were there, but we enjoyed warm fellowship and hearts inside.

The one and only book I took along for reading was The Perfect Life by Robin Lee Hatcher. I finished it last night.

I have read a lot of Robin's book and I have to say I rank this one near the top as one of my favorites.


Robin Lee Hatcher discovered her vocation as a novelist after many years of reading everything she could put her hands on, including the backs of cereal boxes and ketchup bottles. The winner of the Christy Award for Excellence in Christian Fiction (Whispers from Yesterday), the RITA Award for Best Inspirational Romance (Patterns of Love and The Shepherd's Voice), two RT Career Achievement Awards (Americana Romance and Inspirational Fiction), and the RWA Lifetime Achievement Award, Robin is the author of over 50 novels, including Catching Katie, named one of the Best Books of 2004 by the Library Journal.

Robin enjoys being with her family, spending time in the beautiful Idaho outdoors, reading books that make her cry, and watching romantic movies. She is passionate about the theater, and several nights every summer, she can be found at the outdoor amphitheater of the Idaho Shakespeare Festival, enjoying Shakespeare under the stars. She makes her home outside of Boise, sharing it with Poppet the high-maintenance Papillon.

She also likes to blog. Go leave her a comment at Write Thinking!


Katherine Clarkson has the perfect life -- or at least she thought so. She has it all--until the day a reporter appears with shocking allegations. Splashed across the local news are accusations of her husband Brad's financial impropriety at his foundation and worse, an affair with a former employee. Without warning, Katherine's marriage is shattered and her family torn apart. The reassuring words she's spoken to many brokenhearted women over the years offer little comfort now.

She'd always seen herself as put-together and strong in her faith. Always able to counsel other women when they faced trials, she finds herself confused and unable to take her own advice and move past her disappointments. Sometimes God moves in slow, but deliberate ways, and this is so skillfully portrayed in A Perfect Life.

Although basically written in first-person POV from Katherine's perspective, Robin masterfully includes snippits of third-person POV's from the other characters in the story, allowing the reader a view of what's going on in their heads as well.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and highly recommend it! If you'd like a copy for yourself, please leave a comment on this posting and I will throw your name in the proverbial hat! The drawing will take place next Wednesday, March 19th.


If you don't win you can purchase the book at Amazon!

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

CFBA Book of the Week: Truffles by the Sea by Julie Carobini

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Truffles by the Sea

Bethany House (February 1, 2008)


Julie Carobini


Julie Carobini is an award-winning writer whose stories often spotlight her family, the sea, and God's timely work in the lives of those around her. She lives with her husband, Dan, and their three children in Ventura Beach, California.

She also likes to blog! Go leave her a comment at Waves of Grace.

Julie left you all a special message:

To celebrate my upcoming CFBA tour March 5-7, I'll be giving away a copy of Truffles by the Sea AND and a 1/2 lb. box of yummy truffles to three of your readers.

All they need to do is drop by my blog
during the tour and leave a comment and a way to contact them if they win!


If you read, Julie's first book, Chocolate Beach, then you might remember Gaby as Bri’s dramatic, lovesick best friend. Unfortunately, things get worse—much worse—for her before they get…well, best not to give it away.

Sometimes all a girl has left is chocolate...

Gaby Flores has a penchant for drama and an unfortunate knack for dating Mr. So Wrong. After breaking off yet another relationship, watching her apartment building burn to the ground, and discovering that her dippy delivery guy has run off with most of her business, Gaby decides it’s time to turn things around.

So she moves to a tiny waterfront loft and takes on a new motto: “Be gullible no more!” With help from her friends, she works to rebuild her flower shop—and her life. But when legal troubles and quirky neighbors and two surprising romances enter her beachy world, Gaby’s motto and fledgling faith are put to the test.

Can a young woman prone to disaster in both work and love finally find happily ever after?

"Truffles by the Sea is delightful! Julie Carobini has a new fan in this reader, and she's earned a spot on my keeper shelf." --Kay James,

"This book is a delight to read, and the author has us rooting for Gaby from page one. This girl's never-say-die attitude is incredible, and her life is filled with all kinds of foibles. This is chick lit with heart – about so much more than finding a man.... While keeping the light chick lit tone, this book satisfied while avoiding the tired old formulas. Just when I’m ready to give up on the genre, I stumble across an author who can write without relying on stereotypes." --Cara Putman,

"I liked Julie Carobini's first novel, Chocolate Beach, but her sophomore release, Truffles By The Sea, greatly surpasses it. I thoroughly enjoyed Carobini's second book and felt her writing was much stronger throughout. The characters are deeper and yet funnier – a great combination.... It's a great read for a cold winter day – you can curl up with the book, a nice fire and pretend you're the one by the sea." --Jill Hart,

Buy it at Amazon!

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Featuring "Blessings" by Kim Sawyer - Win a Free Copy!

Blessings is book three in Kim Sawyer's Sommerfield Trilogy. I waited patiently for this book to come out, anticipating a good read, and I wasn't disappointed.

Like Bygones and Beginnings, books one and two, the story centers on Sommerfield, KS, a fictional old-order Mennonite community where time seems to stand still. Unlike the Amish, most Mennoites will use electricity and drive cars, but only for utilitarian purposes. Most will not use computers and their cars are usually plain sedans. Mennonite dress is similar to the Amish. Women wear prayer caps and long dresses and men, trousers held up by suspenders and work boots. Formal education ends at 8th grade for most old-order Mennonites, and there-in lies the crux of the conflict in Blessings.

In Bygones and Beginnings, books one and two, we met Trina Muller, an upbeat young lady who has a very strong affinity for animals, but really didn't know more about her than that. Blessings is Trina's story. Because of her love of animals Trina doesn't want to turn down the opportunity of working in the local veterinarian's office, even if it means doing the grunt work. Although she dreams of becoming a veterinarian herself, she realizes to do that would go against the community as well as her parents and the young man who loves her.

Kim's weaves a story of love, determination and desire to be obedient to God even if it means possibly causing a rift between family members. The more I read, the more I couldn't put the book down. And then when I finished, I was sorry because I realized this would be my last visit to Sommerfield. Saying goodbye to characters you've come to know is hard. As I told Kim, I want to know what happens next in Trina's life, as well as the others.

You do not need to have read the previous two books to enjoy Blessings. Although characters from both books one and two do pop up in book three, a new reader to the series will not be lost.

If you'd like to read Blessings, I'm holding a drawing for the book. Leave a comment and your name will be thrown into the hat. The drawing won't take place until Wednesday, March 12th.

If I don't know how to reach you, I won't be able to include your name!

Sunday, March 02, 2008

My Roller Coaster Week

It was one of those weeks. Emotional highs and emotional lows. Last Sunday my friend's husband suddenly passed away, and the news of that took the wind right out of my sails. That was followed by some very good news involving one of the projects I've been working on for ACFW. News I can't yet disclose.

I began work on my next book, which brought on a good feeling. The working title is now The Secret at Journey's End. Oh, how I wish I could just sit down and start writing, but first comes characterization. I need to get to know my characters. Their backstories, what makes the tick, what they like and don't like. Even what kind of clothes they wear, foods they like and don't like. Then the plotting comes. Then, finally, comes the first rough draft, and I do mean rough. It's exciting to start a new story and I've been chomping at the bit to get started on the writing.

Thursday came and I headed up to Wisconsin to attend the burial service for my friend's husband. I saw some of the same people there whom I'd seen at the high school reunion I attended last fall. We all said never did we expect to meet up again so soon at such a place. But there we were. In spite of the bright sun reflecting off the snow, it was a somber afternoon.

One highlight of the day was the time I spent at the lake's edge while I ate my lunch. I'd forgotten how peaceful Lake Geneva is in winter. Frozen solid, covered by snow and a cluster of ice fishing shanties. Cars driving to and fro across the ice. If I'd gotten out of the car I'd have heard the ice cracking as the vehicles headed across the ice. Here in the city, we've not dealt with the heavy snow very well. It's a nuisance to our getting around with ease. In lake country, winter is a welcome time. Not something to be despised.

That same day I came home to receive an email from my agent. My manuscript had been rejected by the editor who had requested the full. Although her note was one of the nicest rejections I'd ever received, it still hurt. One thing I later learned that spelled trouble for the story was some catch-phrases I'd used, such as"a blast from the past." Too much of a cliche. So now I'm making yet another run through the story looking for other such phrases as well as oft-used words to describe things that could also be construed at cleche. Not a horrible chore, but it has caused me to put the new story to the side for a few days.

So now begins another week. I hope it's a little more calm. I've had enough of roller coasters for a while!