Thursday, December 16, 2010

A Really Clever Video

Got the link to this off Twitter, but I was able to embed it here. Imagine if there was Facebook back when Jesus came to earth as a baby.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Amy Inspired by Bethany Pierce

I picked up Amy Inspired by Bethany Pierce,  impressed by its beautiful cover, and anticipating a great read because the protag, Amy Gallagher, is a writer. I am a writer. I could relate. And relate I did, but not often enough. 

Try as I might, I had difficulty getting into the book and staying there. I’ve seen other reviews on this book where the reviewer said he/she didn’t know how to review the book. And I concur. There were moments I really enjoyed what I was reading and times when I struggled to get to the end of a chapter.

Amy, who is the one and only POV character in this first person tale, teaches English at a small Ohio college and is a struggler. She struggles with her fundamental Christian upbringing which leads to struggling when she doesn’t feel comfortable not ordering a beer in a tavern despite the fact she doesn’t  drink beer. She then struggles when she doesn’t have the courage to ask a visitor to not smoke in her own apartment. And she struggles when she and her platonic live-in male roommate, Eli, and she share a mattress one night without doing anything but sleep. The next day she berates herself for what she did, despite what they didn’t do, and carries the guilt over the bad decision for quite a while. Some readers will likely squirm at this scene, but I think what happened after that night was more effective than if Amy had stopped it before it happened. Pierce effectively used this to show consequences for doing something that is against God's moral code despite the fact that in the world's point of view, it would be much ado about nothing.

I think this entire story would have read better if it were tightened. Copious sections are taken up with excerpts from her students’ essays and short stories. I found it difficult to justify so much of this as there seemed to be no purpose to their being there. They did not move the plot along, nor did they do anything to deepen Amy’s characterization.

Having said all that, there are moments of humor that made me chuckle and smile. The reviews on line include quite a few who thoroughly enjoyed it and gave it a high score. Check it out and decide for yourself!

Note: I received this Book from Bethany House Publishers for purposes of review. The opinion expressed is strictly my own. I was not asked to give only a favorable review.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Some great new reads for December from ACFW authors! What a way to round out 2010. Take a break from the hustle and bustle of the Holidays and read a good book!

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW website.

1. Aloha, My Love by Deborah Kinnard -- A Romance from Desert Breeze. A second chance at love mixes with trade winds in a winter vacation.

2. An Amish Love by Beth Wiseman, Kathleen Fuller, and Kelly Long-- A Romance from Thomas Nelson. Two of today's most popular genres--Romance and Amish fiction--together in one volume.

3. Christmas Bodyguard; Gardians Series, Book 1 by Margaret Daley -- A Romance from Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense. Slade Caulder, a businessman, hires bodyguard, Elizabeth Walker, to protect his daughter,  but can  Elizabeth save both Slade and his daughter from a killer and keep herself from falling in love with him?

4. Cowboy Daddy by Carolyn Aarsen -- A Romance from Steeple Hill Love Inspired. When a woman calling herself the aunt of his nephews comes to try to take them away, Kip learns a lesson in love and letting go.

5. Driven by Shellie Neumeier -- A Suspense/Mystery/Thriller from Risen Books. Robyn can't help but notice the new guy at school, but what she misses could cost her dearly--a demon has been sent to destroy her.

6. Love Finds You in Sun Valley, Idaho by Angela Ruth -- A Romance from Summerside Press. Emily Van Arsdale returns home to film a movie and falls for the rafting consultant who has a grudge against celebrities ever since his fiancee left him for fame and fortune.

7. Maggie and the Maverick; Book 3, Idaho Brides by Erica Vetsch -- A Romance from Barbour Heartsong Presents. Maggie goes undercover to break up a ring of thieves, but finds herself falling for her prime suspect.

8. Michigan Brides by Amber Stockton -- A historical from Barbour. Relive Michigan's industrial boom alongside three women who must change their way of viewing the world before they can realize love.

9. Mail Order Cowboy; Simpson Creek Brides by Laurie Kingery -- A Romance from Steeple Hill Love Inspired. An enterprising miss in a bachelor-less post-Civil War Texas town organizes the unmarried ladies to bring mail-order grooms to town.

10. Praying for Rayne by Elizabeth Goddard -- A Romance from Barbour Heartsong Presents. Rayne Fleming loves her job designing water fountains, but when Jack Kostner joins the company all her plans for success struggle to survive, including the blossoming love between them.

11. Singing in Babylon by Ann Gaylia O'Barr-Breedlove -- General Fiction from Oak Tara. Life in the "enchanged kingdom" is nothing like she thought.

12. The Camera Never Lies; Hometown Mysteries by Elizabeth Goddard -- A Suspense/Mystery/Thriller from Barbour. When Polly Perkins’ camera finds a murder victim, her ability to read emotions through a camera lens could prevent another murder while giving her reason to hope in lasting love.

13. The Lawman’s Christmas Gift; Alaskan Bride Rush, Book 6 by Linda Goodnight -- A Romance from Steeple Hill Love Inspired. Love, faith, and a Christmas miracle come to a dying Alaskan town just in the "Nick" of time.

14. Touched by Mercy by Tina Pinson -- A Romance from Desert Breeze. The west seems to hold all the answers to Samantha Northam's dreams, but is it far enough away to protect her from her nightmares?

15. Wasatch Love by Lauralee Bliss -- A Romance from Barbour Heartsong Presents. The Wasatch Mountains of Utah holds the key to a young woman's unhappiness and a man's desperation.

16. Yuletide Defender by Sandra Robbins -- A Suspense/Mystery/Thriller from Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense. A determined reporter, a protective cop, and a threatening gang war are headed for a showdown, just in time for Christmas.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Hatteras Girl by Alice J. Wisler - A Great Read for a Cold Day

I've never been to the Carolinas, but I've always thought a beach vacation along the shore in either North or South Carolina would be wonderful. I'd take my laptop, plenty of suntan lotion, and rent one of those beach houses you see--the one's on stilts that always seem to survive the threat of hurricanes. I'd sleep on a screened in sleeping porch, and rise in time to brew coffee and watch the sun rise over the ocean. Then hunker down and write till noon before spending the afternoon on the beach. Evenings I'd go into town and have fresh seafood in one of the many hangouts. Ahhh. Sounds wonderful, doesn't it?

Well, right now I can't afford such a vacay, but what any of us can afford to do is buy a copy of Hatteras Girl by Alice J. Wisler and be transported instantly to the seaside community of Cape Hatteras NC. Each time I picked up the book to read, I was instantly sucked into life in the small community through the eyes of Jackie Donovan, the book's POV character.

All Jackie wants to do is own the Baily House, an old home situated on the ocean. The antique building holds a lot of wonderful childhood memories, mostly created by the elderly couple who lived there than the building. But, her job as a writer for a village paper can hardly pay her rent, let alone the gigantic mortgage she'd have to incur to own the now-empty structure. Then she meets Realtor Davis Erickson and it appears God is answering her prayers. As the heir apparent of the Baily House estate, he's willing to rent her the house, and all seems to be falling into place until she finds out he has a few skeletons in his proverbial closet.

Wisler's easy going story, written in first person present sucks the reader in so much you are sure you are sniffing the salt air and feeling the sand between your toes. I love this POV because you cannot get any closer to the character than this. You are Jackie as you go through her highs and lows, hitting the speed bumps of her life and doing cartwheels when she is joyous. As a single woman, I could relate to her watching the phone and willing it to ring while she waits for Davis's call. Yep. I've been there, done that in the past, and then, like Jackie, made my best attempt to act nonchalant when the phone finally rang.

I highly recommend this book. You can pick it up at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Christian Book on line, or at your favorite Christian book store down the road. Do it. You won't be disappointed.

Please note that I was provided with a free copy of Hatteras Girl in order to write this review, but I was not asked to write only a favorable review. All comments in this review are my own and they are my own personal opinions.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Just In Time for Christmas! Christmas at Harrington's by Melody Carlson

There's something about anticipating the coming of Christmas that remains in all of us long after we've grown to adulthood. For many, part of their anticipation is reading the bevy of Christmas-themed novella-length stories that come out this time of year. These stories have carved a way into many peoples' Christmas traditions the same as Christmas movies.

Christmas at Harrington's by Melody Carlson promises to be one of those feel-good kind of stories that will be around for a long, long time.

Just before Christmas Lena Markham has an opportunity to restart her life in a new place. The only problem is that she has little money and no friends. But when she lands a job playing Mrs. Santa at Harrington's, her new town's department store, she starts to really believe she is getting a second chance at life for real -- until her boss learns the dark secret she'd worked so hard to keep hidden.

This 167 page story is a perfect accompaniment to a cozy chair and a cup of hot coffee or cocoa on a chilly day. I read this in an afternoon and loved every minute of it. I think you will too!

Published by Revell you can find it at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and your favorite brick and morter store if that's what you prefer!

Melody Carlson is the award-winning author of over two hundred books, several of them Christmas novellas from Revell, including her much-loved and bestselling book, THE CHRISTMAS BUS. She also writes many teen books, including JUST ANOTHER GIRL, the Diary of a Teenage Girl series, the TrueColors series and the Carter House Girls series. Melody was nominated for a Romantic Times Career Achievement Award in the inspirational market for her books, including the Notes from a Spinning Planet series and Finding Alice, which is in production as a Lifetime Television movie. She and her husband serve on the Young Life adult committee in central Oregon. Visit Melody's website at

Note: Although this book was provided me by Revell for review purposes, I was not asked to make only favorable comments on the book. What I have written here is my own personal opinion and no one else's.

Monday, November 01, 2010

November New Releases from ACFW!

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW website.

1. A Daughter for Christmas; Helping Hands Homeschooling Series by Margaret Daley -- A Romance from Steeple Hill. Can Dr. Max Connors make his dream of a family come true when he must tell the widowed mother of the daughter he never knew he had who he really is?

2. A Suitor for Jenny; Rocky Creek #2 by Margaret Brownley -- A Historical from Thomas Nelson. Jenny Higgins is determined to find husband for her two younger sisters and nothing, not even a handsome marshal, will stand in her way.

3. Behind the Scenes; Tabor Heights, Ohio Series by Michelle Levigne -- A Romance from Desert Breeze. Surrounded by crises, best friends transition to life partners, to their own surprise and the amusement of those who love them most.

4. Betrayal in the Badlands by Dana Mentink -- A Suspense/Mystery/Thriller from Steeple Hill. Isabel Ling and Logan Price must battle an enemy more deadly than the mighty Badlands.

5. In All Things, Sequel to “No Other” by Shawna K. Williams -- A Historical from Desert Breeze. Jakob and Meri never imagined that the tragedies of their past would one day be transformed into something wondrous and beautiful.

6. Lassoed in Texas by Mary Connealy -- A Romance from Barbour. A three-in-one of romantic comedy with cowboys.

7. Long Time Coming by Vanessa Miller -- Women's Fiction from Abingdon. Two women from different worlds find hope together in this heart gripping story of faith, forgiveness and reconciliation.

8. Mail Order Cowboy; Simpson Creek Brides by Laurie Kingery -- A Historical from Steeple Hill. A small-town Texas spinster finds love with an unlikely mail order groom.

9. Masquerade Marriage by Anne Greene -- A Historical from White Rose. When Lady Megan MacMurry chooses a husband from a secret list, she opens her broken heart to a Highland warrior's fight for life.

10. Soaring Home by Christine Johnson -- A Romance from Steeple Hill. A small-town girl plans to be the first woman to fly across the Atlantic.

11. Tales of the Dim Knight by Adam Graham and Andrea Graham -- A Sci-fi/Fantasy/Futuristic from Splashdown Books. Mild-mannered janitor and superhero fanboy Dave Johnson gets all his wishes at once when an alien symbiot gives him supernatural powers.

12. The Blacksmith's Bravery; #3, Ladies' Shooting Club
by Susan Page Davis -- A Historical from Barbour. A former saloon girl proves she can drive a six-horse hitch--and drive her boss crazy.

13. The Silent Order by Melanie Dobson -- A Historical from Summerside Press. A Cleveland detective pursues the Mafia family responsible for murdering the woman he loved until he meets an Amish woman with a secret that changes his life.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Waiting -- An Exciting Place to Be

I think I've written about waiting on this blog before, but it's been a long while.

Last August on a very hot and humid day, a friend and I stepped into a very crowded doctor's waiting room. Since most everyone who comes to this doctor has to have eye drops, they come with a designated driver which, of course, means two seats for every patient.

The doctor had to cancel appointments a couple weeks earlier because of a trip to Haiti to assist earthquake victims. Now, it appeared they'd doubled up on that day's appointments to catch up. A "catch-22" in the making.

So there we were, squeezed into this warm, stuffy room for three hours. At least part of my time was spent doing a field test and being seen by the doctor, but my friend finally had to step out for some air.

God has had me in His waiting room for a long while as I await publication in fiction. But unlike the stuffy doctor's office I experienced last summer, His waiting room is exciting because I have learned that God doesn't waste time even while we are waiting. 

This past year,  He revealed to me through books by Henry Blackaby and Francis Chan that the Spirit of the living God is within in me in a profound way, ready to lead me through all of life's challenges. That those nudges I feel at times are more than just intuition, but God Himself guiding me to make good choices. Of course I've believed, ever since coming to Christ, that the Holy Spirit is within me, but this took my concept of that to a whole new level.

Then, over the summer, I went on a C.J. Mahaney binge, reading his books on humility, worldliness, and living the cross-centered life. I also read another book by Francis Chan called Crazy Love. And, from that, I've dealt with pride in a huge way.

I begin every morning now, as Mahaney, suggests, acknowledging that God is my Creator and He is the one on whom I depend for the very air that I breathe and for everything in my life. He is the one who equipped me with the desire and talent to write, and in His due time I will reap a harvest. That without Jesus going to the cross for me, I wouldn't even be able to stand before God and pray to Him and know that He hears me and that He loves me unconditionally. That my life in His hands is the best thing in the whole wide world.

So I'm still waiting in that place God has for me at this moment. While here I continue to do what He has called me to do--write! And learn to write better. I attend conferences, listen to teaching on MP3's, participate in on-line courses, and read a lot of fiction. Reading is for enjoyment and entertaining, but for a writer like me, it's also learning by the example of authors who have gone before me.

I think I ended my last blog about God's waiting room saying I wouldn't want to be anywhere else. I still feel the same way.

For more on C.J. Mahaney check out his website. To purchase books by C.J., you can get them here.
For more on Francis Chan, go to his website. To purchase books by him, you can get them here.

I have not been asked by either C.J. Mahaney or Francis Chan to promote their books or ministries.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Don't Look Back by Lynnette Eason -- A Real Page Turner!

This past week I had the pleasure of reading DON'T LOOK BACK by Lynette Eason. This book is the second in Lynette's Women of Justice series. I did not read the first book in the series, but that did not detract from my enjoyment of this fast-paced Romantic Suspense story.

Aside from one or two occurrences that seemed a bit too coincidental I found this story to be powerful and riveting. I'm looking forward to the next book in the series.

The tag for DON'T LOOK BACK aptly describes this story.

One man lives to see her dead -- The other is fighting to keep her alive.

From the Back Cover

Twelve years ago, forensic anthropologist Jamie Cash survived a brutal kidnapping. After years of therapy, she has made a life for herself--though one that is haunted by memories of her terrifying past. She finally lets herself believe that she can have a close relationship with a man, when signs start appearing that point to one frightening fact--her attacker is back and ready to finish the job he started all those years ago.

Can she escape his grasp a second time? And will she ever be able to let down her guard enough to find true love?

Filled with heart-stopping suspense, gritty realism, and a touch of romance, Don't Look Back pulls you into its twists and turns to hold you there until the very last page.

Praise for Lynette Eason and the Women of Justice series
"My friend Lynette has a hit on her hands with this romantic suspense. I enjoyed every minute."--Dee Henderson, bestselling author, the O'Malley series

"Nonstop action. No chance to catch your breath!"--Irene Hannon, bestselling author, the Heroes of Quantico series

"An exciting ride with characters you will care about."--Margaret Daley, award-winning Steeple Hill romantic suspense author

I will add my own rave review for this story. From the moment I picked it up I couldn't put it down. Just as I thought I had things figured out, a new twist caused my thinking to go another direction. Eason has woven an intricate plot and kept me on the edge of my seat through the entire read. You can purchase it on line and it is also available in Kindle format.

About Lynette Eason

Lynette Eason is the author of ten novels, including Too Close to Home, and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and Romance Writers of America (RWA). Lynette and her husband and their two children make their home in South Carolina.

Note: I received a free copy of Don't Look Back from Revell Publishing. I was not asked to report only positive things about the book and my thoughts expressed here are strictly my own.

Friday, October 01, 2010

ACFW New Releases for October - Some Great Fall Reading!

With October the nights start early and have a chill. It's a good time to cozy up with a cup of coffee or tea and read a great book. ACFW authors can provide you with some wonderful reading.

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW website.

1. A Simple Amish Christmas by Vannetta Chapman -- A Romance from Abingdon. Will Annie find acceptance in the Amish community she left behind?

2. Brides of Arkansas by Janet Lee Barton -- A Romance from Barbour. Thwarted by mystery and mayhem, three women in historic Arkansas are roused by love when and where they least expect it.

3. Embers of Love; Striking a Match Series by Tracie Peterson -- A Romance from Bethany House. Deborah Vandermark desperately wants to fit into God's plan and 1880's Texas, but can the two coexist?

4. Emily's Chance; The Callahans of Texas, Book 2 by Sharon Gillenwater -- A Romance from Revell. Will cowboy and builder Chance Callahan be able to convince Emily Rose Denny that she can have love and a career?

5. First Love; Tombstone Treasures, Book 2 by Michelle Sutton -- A Romance from Desert Breeze. Two former high school lovers play the roles of socialite and preacher as Tombstone actors and are reunited after four years of separation; but can they rebuild their love on a new foundation, this time around without falling into past behavior?

6. Legacy of Lies by Jill Elizabeth Nelson -- A Suspense/Mystery/Thriller from Steeple Hill. When a cop's widow discovers the bones of an infant buried in her grandparent's back yard, she teams up with the local police chief to help clear her family name.

7. Love Finds You in Silver City, Idaho by Janelle Mowery -- A Romance from Summerside Press. Whoever said trouble comes in threes has never been to Silver City, Idaho, where peace and acceptance face off against chaos and rejection, and the winner is not always clear.

8. Love is Grand; Walk in the Park, Book Three by Annalisa Daughety -- A Romance from Barbour. National Park Ranger Ainsley Davis returns to her job at the Grand Canyon, a widowed mother who has become fearful of everything, including love.

9. Mirrored Image by Alice K. Arenz -- A Suspense/Mystery/Thriller from Sheaf House. The uncanny resemblance of a murder victim to eccentric newspaper columnist Cassandra Chase gives Detective Jeff McMichaels the haunting suspicion there is a link between the two women . . . a link that may only exist in the murderer's mind.

10. Mistletoe Prayers by Betsy St. Amant and Marta Perry -- A Romance from Steeple Hill. Two heartwarming Christmas tales from your favorite authors.

11. Nipped in the Bud; Hometown Mysteries by Susan Sleeman -- A Suspense/Mystery/Thriller from Barbour. After Paige Turner finds a dead body on her construction site and the police think she killed him, can she prove her innocence and stay out of jail?

12. Pearl in the Sand by Tessa Afshar -- A Historical from Moody Publishers. Rahab vowed never again to trust a man. God had other plans. Salmone was a man of faith, honor, and an enemy. An impossible marriage: an unforgettable journey of healing.

13. Prairie Courtship by Dorothy Clark -- A Historical from Steeple Hill. Emma Allen never knew, until she joined Zachary Thatcher's wagon train to Oregon country, what being a doctor really meant---or how much it could cost.

14. Seek Me With All Your Heart; Land of Canaan Series by Beth Wiseman -- A Romance from Thomas Nelson. Emily and David each come to terms with a past that follows them, testing their faith and resolve.

15. Seeking His Love: Love Inspired Series 593 by Carrie Turansky -- A Romance from Steeple Hill. Haunted by false accusations, a former teacher tries to build a new relationship without revealing her troubled past.

16. The Preacher's Bride by Jody Hedlund -- A Romance from Bethany House. A young Puritan maiden determined to save a motherless baby... and a grieving preacher who doesn't want another woman in his life.

17. Whisper on the Wind; Great War Series, Independent Read by Maureen Lang -- A Romance from Tyndale. Isa Lassone sneaks into occupied Belgium to rescue the man she loves; when he refuses to go, she joins his secretive work˜praying it won't cost both of their lives.

18. Wrangler in Petticoats: Sophie's Daughters Book 2 by Mary Connealy -- A Romance from Barbour. When the two of them see an elk, she reaches for her rifle, he reaches for a sketchpad, the word DRAW means completely different things to them.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Strength in Adversity is Necessary for Life and Writing

I'm reading a chapter a day in Deuteronomy since that is the book of the Bible my pastor is preaching from right now. Today, it wasn't the scripture that contained a take-away for me, but the study note in my John MacArthur NASB Study Bible regarding Deut. 13:3 that says God was testing the Israelites to see how much they did love Him in the face of temptation. The study note states: "...while temptation was dangerous, the overcoming of that temptation would strengthen the people in their love for God and obedience to His commandments."

Temptations can be strength-builders when we overcome. I pondered this , but the lesson didn't hit full-force until I went to the gym and decided to increase the weights on some of the machines I use. The increase was only five pounds, but it made a huge difference in how easily I was able to do the reps. What had become fairly easy was suddenly more difficult. Yet I pushed on, straining at times, and accomplished my goals. Why? Because it's been proven that without increasing the resistance, my muscles will never strengthen. They need that extra weight in order to become stronger.

That got me thinking about adversity and trials beyond the temptations that I face every day. They provide increased weight to my inner soul, strengthening it like a muscle when I don't give up and stop resisting the temptation to climb on my pity pot. The harder I work at resisting and rising above the disappointments, the setbacks, the trials of life, the more I will depend on God to get me through. And the more my love for Him will increase as I realize He gives me EVERTHING I need for life.

How does that translate to my writing journey? Every rejection I receive (and there have been dozens over the years), every hard crit that points out flaws in my story, every time someone points out a typo that slipped past me before I posted my blog, or every bad interview I have at an editor appointment (and there have been very few), those times can benefit my strength and determination the same way increasing the weight on the leg press machine I use, similar to the one like the guy is using in the picture.

This morning I grimaced like him through most of the exercises, but I am now a bit stronger for having endured. And each disappointing experience I have with my writing will only make me stronger and more determined to grow from the experience, trusting God that He is in charge and is equipping me to better my craft. At the proper time I will reap a harvest if I don't give up. (See Galatians 6:9)

Bring on the weight!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

A Hope Undaunted By Julie Lessman - Blog Tour!

Ever since Julie Lessman's first book in her Daughters of Boston series, I have been a fan of hers. She actually first drafted A Passion Most Pure, the first book, when she was 12 years old! In that series she focused on each of the O'Connor daughters who belong to a comfortably well-to-do Irish-American family living in Boston at the beginning of the 20th Century.

What I love about Julie's writing is her way of conveying the authenticity of human emotions and passions, but keeping them within the boundaries of a life lived for God. That doesn't mean that every Christian in her story is perfect--none of us are. She portrays the weaknesses and strengths both, but always through a filter of a Redeemer God who is ready to forgive when we repent.

At the close of the third book in the first series, there was yet one daughter who had not had her story told. I was thrilled when I heard that Julie was writing a new series and the first book of that series would be Katie's story. Thus A HOPE UNDAUNTED was conceived.

Katie O'Connor comes of age in 1929, just before the big crash that led this country into the Depression. As the baby in the family, she is precocious, spoiled and cunning, while at the same time beautiful with a soft heart for women's needs. As a child, she often crossed paths with a scrappy, puny street kid who has now grown into a strapping, hunk of a lawyer named Luke McGee.

As punishment for not obeying her curfew, her father forces her to spend the summer before she is to enter law school working as a volunteer at the same agency where Luke works. She finds herself coming face-to-face with a choice. Does she follow her well-laid-out plans to marry Jack, the man who meets every criteria on her list as what would make a good husband, or will she follow the man who she swore to despise forever?

I picked up this rather thick book and wondered how I would ever finish it in time for the blog tour. I needn't have worried. Once I started reading, I couldn't put it down. You will love this book!


Although you can read this book out of sequence, if possible to start with Book One of the Daughters of Boston series, A PASSION MOST PURE,  it's recommended that you do so.


Julie Lessman is an award-winning author whose tagline of “Passion With a Purpose” underscores her white-hot passion for both God and romance. Winner of the 2009 ACFW Debut Author of the Year and 2009 Holt Medallion Awards of Merit for Best First Book and Long Inspirational, Julie is also the recipient of 13 Romance Writers of America awards. She resides in Missouri with her husband and their golden retriever and is the author of The Daughters of Boston series, which includes A Passion Most Pure, A Passion Redeemed, and A Passion Denied.

Available September 2010 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

This Crazy Love God Has for Me (And You!)

While at Sam's the other day I picked up a book I've been hearing a lot about called Crazy Love by Francis Chan. Last year while studying the Holy Spirit I'd used Chan's book on the subject called Forgotten God and thought him to be insightful and thought-provoking. So I bought Crazy Love.

Before I even got through the first chapter the author directs the reader to go to his website for the book and view a video called Stop and Think. I watched it this morning and was struck by a couple things. In the clip he is walking down an embankment to a cove on the California coast. Behind him the blue Pacific stretches out to the horizon.

A number of years ago before I surrendered my heart and life to Jesus, I lived in CA for about seven years. And the last several years I was there I lived within a mile of the Pacific, but I'd grown accustomed to that and hardly ever went there just to ponder creation and how a Master Creator had blessed us with such vast beauty. I was too busy living a self-centered life and knew not my Creator.

I'd grown up going to a mainline church and had quickly disposed of the God of my childhood for another god. Myself and the care and feeding of self was all that mattered. I made bad choices and that led to more bad choices. Toward the end of my seven years out there I felt a pull to return to the Midwest, not in particular to my small Wisconsin hometown.

At the same time I put in for a transfer at my office to the Chicago sales office in the Northwest burbs of Chicago, I was going through a personal crisis in my life. My roommate of the past four years and I had separated on not so pleasant terms and were embroiled in a small claims court action. It was then that a coworker shared with me a new Bible version she'd discovered called The Living Bible. I don't think either one of us realized that it was actually a paraphrase. I was drawn to it because amazingly all the thees and thous of the Bible I'd grown up on had disappeared and this one was written in a way I could relate to.

Long story short, I intended upon seeking out a church once I moved back to the Midwest, but almost as soon as I arrived between Thanksgiving and Christmas of that year I came down with a horrible flu that was going around and then right after the first of the year my mom was diagnosed with emphysema. We thought we were going to lose her and I found myself on my knees in tears, begging God to not let her die and promising to seek a church.

I still wasn't going the direction He wanted me to, but it was a start. Over time I came to know God in a personal way, but He first had to get me out of a part of this country where His creative beauty is so evident to the place where I grew up without a mountain or ocean in sight.

Then this past year I was compelled to write a story set in my hometown of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, just an hour or so north of where I live. How much my heroine is like me didn't immediately jump out at me until I was reviewing the ms. for final submission. It was then I realized that that this 21-mile-around lake in Southern Wisconsin contained just as much of God's creativity as a vast ocean or the highest mountain.

This little lake carved out by a receding glacier has charmed old and young, rich and poor, saved and unsaved, for many many years. And there it was ... God's testimony to me of His presence in my life. The very lake where I learned to swim at age three, learned to water ski at age 15, and still enjoy at age....nevermind LOL.

At the top of my one-sheet for the story is a quote from Margaret Sanger that says: There is nothing half so pleasant as coming home again.

This is so very true, and God has caused my lot to fall in pleasant places as a psalm says.

I am truly blessed!

Friday, September 10, 2010

CFBA Book Tour - The Bridge of Peace by Cindy Woodsmall

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

The Bridge of Peace
WaterBrook Press; Original edition (August 31, 2010)
Cindy Woodsmall

I have loved Cindy Woodsmall's stories ever since her first book was published. And, almost ever since her first book was published, she has been on the New York Times Best Seller List. Quite a feat!

There is a proliferation of Amish-centered novels on the market these days, but what makes Cindy's stand out is her direct connections to several people in the Amish community. She gains firsthand input from them that make her rendering of life in such a community very much as it is. As a result her readers are able to see these people not as a group of people, all possessing the same personalities and ways, but as individuals with quirks, personalities, and personal preferences. 

A Bridge to Peace is the second in a three-book series called Ada's House. I read the first book, Hope of Refuge, about a year ago and have been anxiously awaiting this book.

The story begins with a plot that starts out uncharacteristically slow-paced. I will admit that if I wasn't such a huge fan of Woodsmall's, I would have been tempted to put the book down, but I trusted this author to come through, so I kept on reading and wasn't disappointed. So, my advice is to not give up because a little past the middle of the book the pace picks up a lot, as more and more things seem to go wrong for Lena Kaufman no matter how hard she tries to rise above one crisis after the other.

I am definitely looking forward to Book Three.


Cindy Woodsmall is a New York Times best-selling author whose connection with the Amish community has been featured on ABC Nightline and on the front page of the Wall Street Journal.

She was also a homeschool mom. As her children progressed in age, her desire to write grew stronger. After working through reservations whether this desire was something she should pursue, she began her writing journey. Her husband was her staunchest supporter.

Her first novel released in 2006 to much acclaim and became a best seller. Cindy was a 2007 ECPA award finalist, along with Karen Kingsbury, Angela Hunt, and Charles Martin.

Her second book, When the Morning Comes, hit numerous best-sellers lists across the US, including edging into the extended list of the New York Times, coming in at number thirty-four.

Her third book, When the Soul Mends, hit the New York Times best-sellers list, coming in at number thirteen, as well as making the USA Today’s best-sellers list.

Cindy continues to write and release best-selling works of fiction, and she’s also written a nonfiction work with an Old Order Amish friend, Miriam Flaud. The book is titled Plain Wisdom: An Invitation into an Amish Home and the Hearts of Two Women. It will release March 11, 2011.

Her real-life connections with Amish Mennonite and Old Order Amish families enrich her novels with authenticity.

As an adult, Cindy became friends with a wonderful Old Order Amish family who opened their home to her. Although the two women, Miriam and Cindy, live seven hundred miles apart geographically, and a century apart by customs, when they come together they never lack for commonality, laughter, and dreams of what only God can accomplish through His children.

Cindy, her husband, their three sons and two daughters-in-law reside in Georgia.


Love alone isn’t enough to overcome some obstacles.

Lena Kauffman is a young Old Order Amish schoolteacher who has dealt all her life with attention raised by a noticeable birthmark on her cheek. Having learned to move past the stares and whispers, Lena channels her zest for living into her love of teaching. But tensions mount as she is challenged to work with a rebellious young man and deal with several crises at the schoolhouse that threaten her other students. Her lack of submission and use of ideas that don’t line up with the Old Ways strengthen the school board’s case as they begin to believe that Lena is behind all the trouble.

One member of the school board, Grey Graber, feels trapped by his own stifling circumstances. His wife, Elsie, has shut him out of her life, and he doesn’t know how long he can continue to live as if nothing is wrong. As the two finally come to a place of working toward a better marriage, tragedy befalls their family.

Lena and Grey have been life-long friends, but their relationship begins to crumble amidst unsettling deceptions, propelling each of them to finally face their own secrets. Can they both find a way past their losses and discover the strength to build a new bridge?

Win a "Trip To Amish Country"...contest opens August 31st -December 31st...go HERE to enter!

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

You can buy it at Amazon!

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Her Daughter's Dream by Francine Rivers - A Must Read!

Wow, this September is truly a month for new releases in Christian Fiction. Yesterday I released a list of 34 titles by ACFW and today I am honored to present the latest book by multi-published author, Francine Rivers.

Francine's books are autobuys for thousands of readers, but I'm sure every time a new book is published under her prolific pen, she captures new fans.

HER DAUGHTER'S DREAM is the second book in a two-book series that is a generational saga of four women. Although it is part of a series, you do not have to have read Book One, HER MOTHER'S HOPE, in order to enjoy this one. In fact, I did not read the first book and enough backstory from the first book was included that I never felt I had missed out on something.

The book begins in the 1950s when Carolyn Arundel's mom, Hildemara, is quarantined to her room with tuberculosis (TB), and during that time Carolyn forms a special bond with her oma (grandmother) Marta. Over the years,  tension builds between Carolyn's mom and grandmother and, feeling she was to blame, Carolyn escapes to college during the hippie years at Berkeley University. She is soon caught up in the anti-war movement, drugs and the embracement of free love, only to suffer the consequences of such a lifestyle. Pregnant with her daughter, May Flower Dawn, she returns home to her family and picks up the pieces of her life.

Without giving away too much, I must say that this sweeping saga that begins in the 1950s and ends in current times, kept me riveted during the twists and turns of the lives of these women. If you grew up in the 60s and 70s you will remember a lot of the days of Woodstock, Janis Joplin and the anti-war movement during the Vietnam War. But even if you are too young to remember those events you will gain much in learning about how life was back then for those just coming of age.

You can view a beautiful trailer about this book at this site.

Published by Tyndale House and on the shelves this month, this book is a keeper!

Francine Rivers began her literary career at the University of Nevada, Reno, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Journalism. From 1976 to 1985, she had a successful writing career in the general market and her books were awarded or nominated for numerous awards and prizes. Although raised in a religious home, Francine did not truly encounter Christ until later in life, when she was already a wife, mother of three, and an established romance novelist. Shortly after becoming a born-again Christian in 1986, Francine wrote Redeeming Love as her statement of faith. First published by Bantam Books, and then re-released by Multnomah Publishers in the mid- 1990s, this retelling of the biblical story of Gomer and Hosea set during the time of the California Gold Rush is now considered by many to be a classic work of Christian fiction. Redeeming Love continues to be one of the Christian Booksellers Association’s top-selling titles and it has held a spot on the Christian bestseller list for nearly a decade.
Since Redeeming Love, Francine has published numerous novels with Christian themes – all bestsellers-- and she has continued to win both industry acclaim and reader loyalty around the globe. Her Christian novels have been awarded or nominated for numerous awards including the Rita Award, the Christy Award, the ECPA Gold Medallion, and the Holt Medallion in Honor of Outstanding Literary Talent. In 1997, after winning her third Rita award for Inspirational Fiction, Francine was inducted into the Romance Writers’ of America Hall of Fame. Francine’s novels have been translated into over twenty different languages and she enjoys best-seller status in many foreign countries including Germany, The Netherlands, and South Africa.
Francine and her husband Rick live in Northern California and enjoy the time spent with their three grown children and every opportunity to spoil their five grandchildren. She uses her writing to draw closer to the Lord, and that through her work she might worship and praise Jesus for all He has done and is doing in her life.

Although an Advanced Reader Copy of this book was provided without cost to me by Tyndale House Publishers, I have been free to write my opinion of this book as I see it.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

ACFW Authors September New Releases - Gobs of Fantastic Reading!

 For pictures of the book covers and a more in-depth description of each book, visit the ACFW website

1. Across the Cotton Fields; Mississippi Brides, book 1 by Diane T. Ashley and Aaron McCarver-- Romance from Barbour. Alexandra Lewis must find a husband before a family scandal follows her to Mississippi, but where does God fit into her plans?

2. A Door County Christmas; The Heart's Harbor by Cynthia Ruchti, Ride With Me Into Christmas by Rachael Phillips, My Heart Still Beats by Eileen Key, and Christmas Crazy by Becky Melby, A collection of four Christmas-themed romance novellas from Barbour. A Door County innkeeper guarantees four single women that her Christmas cactus gifts˜and love˜will bloom by Christmas. As December nears, will barren plants and romances blossom into holiday joy?

3. A Hope Undaunted; Winds of Change series, book 1 by Julie Lessman -- An Romance from Revell. While on a summer law internship, a sassy and modern woman of the Roaring 20s butts heads with her lawyer boss, a stubborn pest from her past.

4. A Memory Between Us; Wings of Glory, Book 2 by Sarah Sundin -- An historical from Revell. During World War II, B-17 pilot Maj. Jack Novak has never failed to meet a challenge - until he meets Lt. Ruth Doherty, a striking nurse with a shameful secret.

5. A Prairie Christmas Collection by Deborah Raney, Tracie Peterson, Tracey V. Bateman, and six others -- A collection of nine Christmas-themed romance novellas from Barbour. An instant holiday treasure, this fiction collection is penned by nine multi-published authors. Each novella promises a sweet Christian romance on the historical American Great Plains.

6. A Riverwalk Christmas by Elizabeth Goddard, Martha Rogers, Lynette Sowell and Kathleen Y'Barbo-- A collection of Christmas-themed romance novellas from Barbour. Four young women find love in the most unexpected places at Christmas.

7. A Very Private Grave; #1 The Monastery Murders by Donna Fletcher Crow -- A Suspense/Mystery/Thriller from Kregel. Felicity thinks she knows everything, until a brutal murder teaches her she doesn't know anything.

8. A Woodland Christmas by Janelle Mowery, Tamela Hancock Murray, Darlene Franklin and Ramona Cecil-- A collection of Christmas-themed romance novellas from Barbour. Experience a nostalgic Christmas in the Piney Woods of East Texas where a traveling wood-carver dispenses wisdom that brings four couples to realize the gift of love.

9. Alpha Redemption by P.A. Baines -- A Science Fiction/Fantasy/Futuristic from Splashdown Books. In man's pursuit of knowledge, artificial intelligence was created. In the pursuit of love, artificial intelligence found God.

10. Baby Makes A Match; Love Inspired/Chatam House Series by Arlene James -- A Romance from Steeple Hill. A rodeo cowboy rescues a stranded pregnant girl and with the help of three matchmaking aunties….well what else do you need?

11. Christmas Mail Order Brides by Vickie McDonough, Susan Page Davis, Therese Stenzel and Carrie Turansky-- A collection of Christmas-themed romance novellas from Barbour. Ride the transcontinental railroad as marriage arrives by mail-order-and just in time for Christmas.

12. Finding Becky; Book 3 Winds Across the Prairie by Martha Rogers -- An Historical from Realms/Strang. Rebecca comes home with a new attitude, but Rob wants to find the Becky he's loved since their youth.

13. Formula for Danger by Camy Tang -- A Suspense/Mystery/Thriller from Love Inspired Suspense. Dermatologist researcher Rachel Grant is pursued by an enemy trying to take her latest research and her life.

14. Head in the Clouds by Karen Witemeyer -- A Romance from Bethany House. When a recovering romantic goes to work for a handsome ranch owner, her heart isn't the only thing in danger.

15. High-Stakes Inheritance by Susan Sleeman -- A Romance from Steeple Hill. Claiming an inheritance turns deadly when Mia Blackburn returns to her hometown.

16. In Every Heartbeat by Kim Vogel Sawyer -- An Historical from Bethany House. Three best friends, three cherished dreams, three searching hearts...

17. Judgement Day by Wanda Dyson -- A Suspense/Mystery/Thriller from Random House/Waterbrook. One reporter's love of sensationalism leads to a horrifying story and someone willing to kill her to keep her quiet.

18. Lily and the Lawman; Idaho Brides, Book Two by Erica Vetsch -- An Historical from Barbour. A wary woman has no choice but to join forces with a local lawman to rescue her kidnapped niece.

19. Love Finds You Under the Mistletoe by Anita Higman and Irene Brand-- A Romance from Summerside Press. Two heartwarming stories of Christmas past and present.

20. Lydia's Charm by Wanda Brunstetter -- A Romance from Barbour. Will the anonymous gifts left for Lydia bring her hope for a new life, and when tragedy befalls her yet again, will the mysterious gift giver be there to support her?

21. Making Waves; CHAIM series, Book Four by Lorna Seilstad -- An Historical from Revell. After Mr. Boring presses for an engagement, a witting debutante meets an intriguing sailing instructor who is everything her hum drum suitor is not.

22. McKenzie; Montana Skies Series by Penny Zeller -- An Historical from Whitaker House. She wanted to change him and mold him into the man she was supposed to marry. Instead, she was the one whose heart was changed.

23. Medical Error; Prescription For Trouble (book two) by Richard L. Mabry, M.D. -- A Suspense/Mystery/Thriller from Abingdon. Identity theft isn't normally fatal, but this time it was.

24. More Than Words; Daughters of Amana #2 by Judith Miller -- An Historical from Bethany House. Will Gretchen Kohler's one impulsive decision cause tragic consequences for the entire Amana Community and cost her everything, even the love of her life?

25. Second Chance Brides; Texas Boardinghouse Brides #2 by Vickie McDonough -- An Historical from Barbour. When the man they came to town to marry weds someone else, two mail order brides must find a way to survive in Texas--or find another man to marry.

26. Secret of the Shroud by Pamela Billings Ewen -- A Suspense/Mystery/Thriller from B&H Publishers. A powerful Bishop reaches for revenge when he's suddenly confronted with the secret of the Shroud and a choice that can destroy him.

27. Tender Vow by Sharlene MacLaren -- A Romance from Whitaker House. When John Evans is killed in a skiing accident, his brother, Jake, reaches out to his widowed sister-in-law, but Rachel will have nothing to do with his charity, particularly since they have a "history" she'd rather forget--but God has other plans.

28. The Columns of Cottonwood; The Alabama River Heritage Series by Sandra Robbins -- A Romance from Barbour. When a handsome stranger purchases a woman's plantation for back taxes, she vows to recover her land, but they discover God has a greater solution--a compromise to benefit both.

29. The Doctor's Blessing; #2 in The Brides of Amish Country by Patricia Davids -- A Romance from Steeple Hill. A nurse-midwife to the Amish and the new doctor clash over her home deliveries.

30. The Healer's Apprentice by Melanie Dickerson -- A Romance from Zondervan. The Sleeping Beauty fairy tale comes to life when Rose, the apprentice to the town healer, falls in love with Lord Hamlin, the betrothed son of a duke.

31. The Newcomer by Laurie Alice Eakes -- An Historical from Barbour. Marigold sacrifices things precious to her, for the sake of her young charges and isn't willing to let their uncle take over when danger follows in his wake.

32. The Perfect Blend; The Tea Shop Series by Trish Perry -- A Romance from Harvest House. A jilted bride encounters chaotic jobs, overbearing society matrons, and charming suitors in her quest for love, independence, and the occasional glimpse of God's will.

33. The Wolf of Tebron by C. S. Lakin -- An Science Fiction/Fantasy/Futuristic from AMG/Living Ink. A young blacksmith goes in search of his missing wife, journeying to the four ends of the world and solving riddles with a faithful wolf at his side.

34. Where Hearts Are Free; Darkness to Light Series, Book #3 by Golden Keyes Parsons -- An Historical from Thomas Nelson. In the freedom and promise of the New World, Bridget Barrington and Philippe Clavell fall in love, but nothing about their love seems possible, apart from God's intervention.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Choosing to SEE by Mary Beth Chapman with Ellen Vaughn

Every now and then a book comes along that is not only great--It's a gift. An extravagant gift. This is one of those books.
Beth Moore

I ordinarily do not review non-fiction on A Writer's Journey, but this book took an exception. When I had to opportunity to receive a preview copy of Choosing to See I grabbed it up because I remembered so well the tragedy that struck the family of Steven Curtis Chapman a couple years ago.

The day I heard that Steven and Mary Beth Chapman's daughter, Maria, was accidentally struck by a car driven by their son, Caleb, and died as a result, my heart wrenched. I felt deep pain for the parents and for Caleb. I couldn't imagine the pain he was feeling over and above the normal grieving for the passing of a sibling. What made it even more poignant was that Maria was one of three girls the Chapmans had adopted from China. Before I retired from my day job and started writing full time, my boss, a single woman, had adopted two Chinese girls, and I felt a sort of kinship to the Chapmans.

I prayed hard for that family over the months following and often wondered how they were coping in the aftermath.

Mary Beth describes herself as not the extrovert in the family. She leaves that to her outgoing famous singer husband whose song lyrics and music have blessed many, leading them to praise and worship of God. Now, in the wake of her daughter's untimely death, she finds herself thrust into a spotlight she never planned on--writing this book and currently speaking at Women of Faith events.

The back of the book says: "In Choosing to SEE, Mary Beth unveils her struggle to allow God to write the story of her life, both the happy chapters and the tragic ones. And as the story unfolds, she's been forced to wrestle with some of life's biggest questions: Where is God when things fall apart? Why does God allow terrible things to happen: How can I survive hard times?"

Even if you have been fortunate enough to not have endured a tragedy close to what Mary Beth has experienced, you will find this book relevant. We all have those moments, those days, when everything goes wrong and nothing seems right. Mary Beth shares what God has taught her through all of this. I'm sure that her testimony of God's faithfulness, even in her deepest, darkest moments, will be an encouragement to her readers.

What I appreciated the most was her transparency. Within the book's covers she reveals her weaknesses, her strengths, her insecurities and a wonderful and sometimes unexpected sense of humor.

I highly recommend this book. I came away from it encouraged in my own relationship with God and I expect you will too!

Available September 2010 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Note: I received a copy of this book at no charge from Revell, but in no way did that influence my review.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Masquerade by Nancy Moser - CFBA Blog Tour

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Bethany House (August 1, 2010)

Nancy Moser

When I first heard the title of Nancy Moser's new book, Masquerade, all I could think of was the song from Phantom of the Opera. Not a bad thing since Phantom is one of my all-time favorite musicals. Even now the song is running through my mind just mentioning it!

However, once I got into the story called Masquerade, Phantom was all but forgotten. Moser weaves a fun twist into a story that brings a rich girl and her maid to the reality of what is Truth.

How many times have we wondered what would happen if a haughty rich person were suddenly stripped of his or her stuff, or position, or had to really work for a day?

A rich girl trades places with her maid as they enter America, and for once in her life, Charlotte Gleason's best laid plans blow up in her face as she comes to learn what it is like to be in need, wondering where her next meal will come from.

I don't want to give away too much. You need to get the book for yourself and read it! This is the first of Moser's many books that I've read and I can guarantee, it won't be the last!


They risk it all for adventure and romance, but find that love only flourishes in truth...

1886, New York City: Charlotte Gleason, a rich heiress from England, escapes a family crisis by traveling to America in order to marry the even wealthier Conrad Tremaine.

She soon decides that an arranged marriage is not for her and persuades her maid, Dora, to take her place. She wants a chance at "real life," even if it means giving up financial security. For Charlotte, it's a risk she's willing to take. What begins as the whim of a spoiled rich girl wanting adventure becomes a test of survival amid poverty beyond Charlotte's blackest nightmares.

As for Dora, it's the chance of a lifetime. She lives a fairy tale complete with gowns, jewels, and lavish mansions--yet is tormented by guilt from the possibility of discovery and the presence of another love that will not die. Is this what her heart truly longs for?

Will their masquerade be discovered? Will one of them have second thoughts? There is no guarantee the switch will work. It's a risk. It's the chance of a lifetime.

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

View the book trailer:


Nancy Moser is the award-winning author of over twenty inspirational novels. Her genres include contemporary stories including John 3:16 and Time Lottery, and historical novels of real women-of-history including Just Jane(Jane Austen) and Washington's Lady (Martha Washington). Her newest historical novel is Masquerade. Nancy and her husband Mark live in the Midwest. She’s earned a degree in architecture, traveled extensively in Europe, and has performed in numerous theaters, symphonies, and choirs. She gives Sister Circle Seminars around the country, helping women identify their gifts as they celebrate their sisterhood. She is a fan of anything antique—humans included. Find out more at and

You can buy it at Amazon!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Deborah Raney's Almost Forever = Riviting Reading

Whenever Deborah Raney has a new release it is an auto-buy for me. Early this morning I finished her latest book, Almost Forever, which is part of her new series called Hanover Falls.

Bryn Hennesey, a volunteer at a homeless shelter, watched the building burn to the ground and collapse, taking five firefighters' lives, one of whom was her husband. Like all the surviving spouses, she had to cope with the sudden loss of her spouse, and also a nagging, terrible, horrific secret.

Garrett Edmonds's wife, Molly, was one of the firefighters who died. As a grade school teacher he had his fifth grade students to fill his days, but the loss of his young wife was difficult to take.

Not only were the men staying in the shelter suddenly without a home, but a pair of dogs belonging to two of the men were suddenly homeless too. Bryn came to take in Sparky, a lab mix, while Garrett ended up with Boss, a bulldog mix. Through these dogs Bryn and Garrett find a commonality beyond sharing the experience of losing their spouses that soon deepens their friendship.

But questions remain as to what caused the fire, and someone knows the answer ....

I thoroughly enjoyed this read. In true Raney style, the reader is taken deep into the characters until you feel every tug of grief, every fear, every joy that surprises. In spite of a storyline that could take the reader into deep pits of dispair along with the characters, Raney manages to create a story laced with hope and assurance. Last night just as I was about to turn off the light, the tension amped up and there I sat reading until my eyelids refused to stay open. I finished the book over breakfast this morning. The story had a very satisfying ending with a strong spiritual arc in both the hero and heroine.

I highly recommend this book because Deb Raney continues to be an auto-buy for me. Hands down.

Deborah Raney's 's first novel, A Vow to Cherish, was awarded a Silver Angel from Excellence in Media and inspired the acclaimed World Wide Pictures film of the same title. Since then her books have won the RITA Award, the HOLT Medallion, and the National Readers' Choice Award; Raney was also a finalist for the Christy Award. She and her husband, artist Ken Raney, make
their home in their native Kansas.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

ACFW Authors August New Releases - Good Reading!!!!

 Summer is waning, but there are still more great reads coming out for this month from ACFW Authors. Check these out and pick up some good reading for August!

1. Angel Song by Sheila Walsh and Kathryn Cushman-- General Fiction from Thomas Nelson. Angels eagerly watch over Anne Fletcher's every move. She just doesn't know it yet.

2. Assignment: Bodyguard; CHAIM series, Book Four by Lenora Worth -- A Suspense/Mystery/Thriller from Steeple Hill. Fast-paced romantic suspense.

3. Be Not Afraid; The Samantha Cain Series Book 1 by Deborah Lynne -- A Suspense/Mystery/Thriller from OakTara Publishing. Samantha Cain witnesses a serial killer in action and is now his next target.

4. Beautiful Bandit by Loree Lough -- An historical from Whitaker House. An old-fashioned "Wild West" tale that puts trust, faith, family loyalty, and love to the ultimate test.

5. Detours; Tabor Heights Series by Michelle L. Levigne -- A Romance from Desert Breeze. It's a long and winding road from "some enchanted evening" to the first date, let alone the promise of a lifetime.

6. Exposing Amber by Elizabeth Goddard -- A Romance from Barbour Heartsong. Amber McKinsey interns under museum director Brandon Selman and finds a kindred spirit who loves the science of God's creation, but they must confront their pasts to have a future.

7. Fear No Evil by Robin Caroll -- A Suspense/Mystery/Thriller from B&H. A new policeman must protect a young social worker from big-city gangs making their evil way down south.

8. Hometown Proposal; Book 2 in Kellerville Series by Merrillee Whren -- A Romance from Steeple Hill. Finding family, community and love in one small town.

9. Hope's Promise; The Sierra Chronicles, Book 2 by Tammy Barley -- A Romance from Whitaker House. While trying to prove their unconditional love for each other, the Bennetts must defend against attacks, deeply rooted doubts, and an unknown force that could destroy all they hold dear.

10. Killing Time by K. Dawn Byrd -- A Suspense/Mystery/Thriller from Desert Breeze. "I was framed!" Drew Stone has heard it before, so why is he tempted to believe Mindy when she tells him the same thing?

11. Lost Island Smugglers; The Sam Cooper Adventure Series - Book # 1 by Max Anderson -- A Suspense/Mystery/Thriller from Port Yonder Press. Three boys, a monster storm, Lost Island, and smugglers?

12. Love Remains; The Matchmakers, Book 1 by Kaye Dacus -- A Romance from Barbour. Circumstances pulled them apart fourteen years ago--will two young professionals allow themselves to discover if love remains?

13. Mission of Hope by Allie Pleiter -- Romance from Love Inspired Historical. The gallant, romantic sequel to Pleiter's San Francisco historical, "Masked by Moonlight," featuring an unlikely hero helping the city heal from it's massive earthquake.

14. Never Without Hope; Sacred Vows Book 1 by Michelle Sutton -- Women's Fiction from Sword of the Spirit Publishing. Succumbing to temptation often decimates marriages, but with God, restoration and healing is within reach.

15. Sarah's Christmas Miracle by Mary Ellis -- A Romance from Harvest House. A Plain and loving story of hope and redemption, one that will be a welcome addition to the joy of the Christmas season.

16. Surrender The Heart; Surrender to Destiny, Book 1 by MaryLu Tyndall -- An Historical from Barbour. A lady, desperate to save her family and a man, desperate to please his, are caught in the brink of a war that could change the course of history forever.

17. The Bridge of Peace; Ada's House Series by Cindy Woodsmall -- A Romance from Waterbrook. Love alone isn’t enough to overcome the obstacles between a man and a woman.

18. The Doctor's Blessing; #2 in The Brides of Amish Country by Patricia Davids -- A Romance from Steeple Hill. A nurse-midwife to the Amish and the new doctor clash over her home deliveries.

19. Twilight Seranade; Book 3 by Tracie Peterson -- An Historical from Bethany. Britta Lindquist must decide whether to settle for a peaceful future or fight for the love of her life.

20. Vanishing Act by Liz Johnson -- A Romance from Love Inspired. Eighteen months ago, Nora James vanished, but she's about to be discovered by a ruthless assassin ... and an FBI agent afraid of risking his heart.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Going Home Again for Scene Research - A Blessing!

Yesterday I traveled north about an hour to my hometown of Lake Geneva, WI for a research trip of a different kind than I'd done. I've been spending a great deal of time there over the past year doing research for my current Work in Progress (WIP), a 1933 novel set in Lake Geneva at the time the Riviera lakefront building was built.

Riviera Ballroom Orchestra Pit
Now that I have the manuscript completed and it is in the tweaking/editing stages I felt something was missing from pivotal scenes. The most important locale I wanted to revisit was the Riviera ballroom on the building's second floor. This ballroom at one time saw the likes of Tommy Dorsey, Louie Armstrong, Wayne King, and many other big bands entertain dancers.

I had been in the room as recently as two years ago for a high school reunion, but back then I had no idea I would be writing a story set there and I was too interested in seeing people and observing how good the ladies looked, while the men ... well, I'll leave it to your imagination!

Yesterday I met the Harbormaster and he let me inside to wander the room. Aside from a woman decorating table stations for a wedding to take place there this weekend and a college-age guy mopping floors, I had the room to myself. The mirror ball was turned on and it spun and spun, flashing tiny lights onto the original tile ceiling like tiny stars. If chairs weren't already set up for wedding guests, I'd have spun around like the dancers of 1933 at the grand opening dance with Wayne King and his orchestra. I refrained, but I could feel the atmosphere all the same.

I also went out onto the open terrace that overlooks the lake, another place a scene between my heroine and hero takes place, and imagined their conversation and where they stood.

View from intersection of Main & Broad Streets toward lake.
Later, my friend who was with me and I walked around town as I got a perspective of what my characters could see and couldn't see. I'd thought the Riviera could be seen from the main intersection, but I was wrong. I walked down the street to the point where the building could be seen and snapped a picture.

Lastly, we went to Flatiron Park where one of the most romantic scenes in my story takes place next to a statue called the Three Sisters or Friends. There, I acted out the scene, taking both roles LOL. My friend cracked up. She probably thought I was nuts, but she was kind. I didn't expect her to understand because she doesn't write stories.

I'm home now and about to go to those scenes and tweak them while the memories of my feelings are fresh.

We're not always able to step right into the actual settings of our stories, and even now, it isn't exactly the same as 2010 Lake Geneva is a whole lot different than 1933 Lake Geneva. Some of the buildings that were there then have been replaced with modern hotels and high rise condos, but my imagination and pictures of the past work well.

When I finish this story, I have a pack of new ideas to plot for other stories in this wonderful town I grew up in. Never have I appreciated it like I do now.

And one thing I learned ... in many ways you can go home again.

If you want to see more pictures of my research day in Lake Geneva go to my FaceBook page.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

CFBA Book Tour - Stars in the Night by Cara Putman

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Stars In The Night
Summerside Press (July 1, 2010)

Cara Putman

I am so excited to present my good friend Cara Putman's new trade Romantic Suspense from Summerside Press called STARS IN THE NIGHT.

Every book I've read from Cara has been a treat, especially her World War II homefront books. With Stars she has taken a different and fresh view that will appeal to many. We've all heard how the movie stars of Hollywood rallied around the troops, either by joining up themselves or, if they could not, by entertaining the troops.

Cara came across something I had not heard about before, a Hollywood Caravan Train packed with A-list stars that traveled across country, entertaining people at different stops and encouraging them to buy war bonds. Cara's creative writer brain went to work and thought what if there were a second train of B-list stars that went out a few weeks later, and what if there was someone bad on board who wanted someone dead. Well you get the idea.

The story will keep you turning pages until the end just to find out who done it. But you will also be enamoured by the Hollywood scene and what likely went on behind those movie sets back in the days before television and DVDs when movies were the main form of entertainment outside of radio.


A Word From Cara:

I graduated from high school at sixteen, college at 20, and completed my law degree when I was 27.

My writing journey started in 2005 when I decided to write my first novel. Now I have eleven books published with more on the way.

People say I've accomplished a lot and that I must have life by the proverbial tail. Hardly! I grew up as a home schooled kid when home schoolers were misunderstood and oddities.

I struggle with balancing my writing and law career, plus being a good mom and wife.

I often fear people won't like my books.

I've walked through the deep pain of miscarriage.

Really, I'm just like you – I don't have it all together and have gone through tough times. But in His strength, I've discovered a strength I never knew I had. A strength I want you to discover, too.

In the end I'm just an ordinary mom who has seen God do some wonderful things as I've been obedient to step into the calling He's led me into.

Stars in the Night Background

Stars in the Night was an idea that had begun to percolate in my mind. I’d written two World War II series and was actively looking for my next setting. My husband, a huge World War II history buff, and I were kicking ideas around, and I’d decided Hollywood was probably the next place for me. I’d gone to the library and gotten a stack of research books when I got the call. An editor I knew but had never worked with wanted to know if I might be interested in a new line they were starting. As we talked, I got so excited. And then she emailed me their guidelines, which listed that Hollywood was a location they were interested in setting books.

Only God could have known ahead of time. But because I followed His prompting I was ready to run with an idea. Stars in the Night is the result.


Hollywood 1942. When attorney Audra Schaeffer's sister disappears, Audra flies to Hollywood to find her.

Any day Audra might have been flattered by the friendly overtures of Robert Garfield, a real-life movie star. But on the flight from Indianapolis to Hollywood, Audra can think of little else than finding her missing sister. When Audra arrives in the city of glitz and glamour, and stars, and learns her rising starlet sister has been murdered, all thoughts of romance fly away.

Determined to bring the killer to justice, Audra takes a job with the second Hollywood Victory Caravan.

Together with Robert Garfield and other stars, she crisscrosses the southern United States in a campaign to sell war bonds. When two other women are found dead on the train, Audra knows the deaths are tied to that of her sister.

Could the killer be the man with whom she's falling in love?

If you'd like to read an excerpt of Chapter 1 of Stars In The Night, go HERE.

Contest: Lots of opportunities to win and great prizes, and the grand prize contains some of Cara's favorite classic movies as well as all of her WWII novels: Launch Contest!