Wednesday, December 17, 2008

New Book Coming in January



Romantic Times magazine gave the book 4 1/2 stars and said:

Living alone, with only the rescue dogs she trains for company, suits Melody Crawford perfectly. The locals think she's crazy, which is fine with her too -- it ensures her privacy unless she's needed for a search-and-rescue. That changes when ex-Army Ranger John North is hired as the team's management director. He enlists Melody's aid to improve the inadequate maps of the area and, in the process, befriends her. Trust is hard for Melody, due to her tragic family history, but somehow North gets to her, because intimacy isn't simple for him either. Goodnight offers a unique story with extra-special characters.....

Available January 13, 2009 Preorder now!

Order or read an excerpt at Amazon

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thanksgiving Recipes--yum


It's time to share some good eatin'! If you have a favorite recipe to share, please leave it for me in the comments. Here are a couple of my family favs.

Goodnight Sweet Potato Casserole

Casserole for a crowd:
3 big cans or 6 big, big sweet potatoess (baked/boiled and peeled and cut in hunks. You can also mash the potatoes if you like that consistency. )
¾ cup butter
1 ½ cups brown sugar
½ cup pineapple juice, opt.
1 tsp. cinnamon –can add a sprinkle more
Mash this all together and spread in a 9 X 13 baking dish.

Sprinkle with the following praline topping
½ cup brown sugar
3 T. butter cold
4 Tsp. flour
Mix with fork until it crumbles.
Add ½ cup finely chopped pecans
Sprinkle over 9x13 casserole and bake at 350 for 30-45 min.



This salad, which is more like a pie to me, was a big hit its first time out last year at Thanksgiving. We're making it again this year.



STRAWBERRY PRETZEL SALAD

ngredients:
2 cups crushed hard pretzels
3/4 cup melted butter or margarine
3 tablespoons sugar
1 package (8 oz) cream cheese
2 cups whipped cream or whipped topping
1 package (6 oz) strawberry gelatin
1 package (10 oz) frozen strawberries, thawed
2 cups boiling water
1 cup sugar (Splenda works fine, too. In fact this recipe can be made with all low-fat ingredients for a great dessert that doesn't feel )low fat.

Preparation:
Mix together the crushed pretzels, butter or margarine, and 3 tablespoons of sugar. Pat into a 9 x 13-inch baking dish; bake at 400° for 8 to 10 minutes. Beat the cream cheese, 1 cup sugar, and whipped topping and place over the cooled pretzel crust. Put this in the fridge while you make the next layer. Mix gelatin into boiling water, then add frozen strawberries. Put in fridge until it is 'jelly-like' but still spoonable. Spoon the gelatin mixture over the cream cheese mixture. Put in the fridge until it all sets up nicely. (This is one of those things you can make the day before. Yay!)

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veteran's Day








I received this as an email a week ago and thought it was incredible. Not only is the art work amazing, but the sentimenet expressed herein is also mine. Enjoy the amazing art of an Iowa teenager, 'Bubba' Sorenson. In case your wondering, the flag is part of the art work. It's not a real flag!

I can't let today pass without saying a heartfelt thank you to the brave men and women in the armed forces. To all those, around the world--American, Canadian, British, Aussie-whoever and where ever you are--who have served for the cause of freedom, THANK YOU! Without you, without your willingness, evil would long ago have had its way.

It is so good to live where freedom rings.

God Bless you!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

My Trip to New York City



Central Park is a surprisingly large oasis of beauty and peacefulness in the midst of the Manhattan madness. I loved it.



Lady Liberty still strands strong in NY Harbor. I got chills looking out at her and thinnking of how blessed I am to live in this land of the free.




My trip to NYC wouldn't be complete without lunch with my editor, Allison Lyons. She took me to Ecco, a fabulous Italian restaurant in Old New York. As you can see, I tried the luscious gellato, Allison had the fruit with real cream, and my beautiful daughter Sundy tried the Italian Cheesecake. Even though I got lost and was late, we had a fabulous time.

Monday, October 27, 2008

New Book on the Shelves



AVAILABLE NOW! For an excerpt or to order, visit Amazon or your favorite book store.

Also, check out the Wedding Planners blog for a chance to win a copy!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

ACFW WIN


What a joy! The third book in my Brothers' Bond trilogy, THE HEART OF GRACE, won series contemporary "Book of the Year" at the American Christan Fiction Writers' conference in Minneapolis. I am thrilled to pieces and very thankful. This series has been so well received. Thanks to all of you readers, 'my boys' have won two "Book of the Year" awards as well as the RITA.

Here I am cheesing to high heaven as my friend Janet Lee Barton presents the award at our local writers' meeting. (I didn't attend the award ceremony in Minnesota.)

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

FREE Books

Please come over to Tiffany Stockton's blog and read my interview with her. You can leave a comment for a chance at TWO free books. I hope you win!

Monday, September 22, 2008

NEW BOOK



I think I've forgotten to mention one of the two new books I have on the shelves right now. This one is mostly available at Christian bookstores or larger retail book stores that carry books from Christian publishers.

A BRIDE BY CHRISTMAS is a book of four novellas set on the American Prairie in the 1800's. I authored the story titled,"The Cossack Bride". For fun, we authors decided to make each heroine a particular ethnicity and toss in some Christmas traditions from their native cultures. We have a Cossack (Ukrainian-Russian), Dutch, English, and Irish. I hope you'll pick up a copy or order one and enjoy this taste of early American Christmas.


To order the Cossack bride from Christianbooks.com click the blue words.

To order from Amazon, click here.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

FREE! Online novella

If you'd like to read some of my work FREE of charge, eharlequin is posting a short novella of mine. Just follow this link and enjoy! (And let me know what you think.)

Family Ever After

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Life Lessons - Regrets

God's been trying to tell me something lately and I think my hard head is finally getting the message. I'm always saying, "One of these days I'm going to do this or that," and yet, I never get around to it. I'm talking about important things, not cleaning out my desk drawers. I mean spending time with people I love or people in need. Going places that I really, really want to see. Doing things I really, really want to do.

One day my dad and I were talking about my son who wanted to watch the NY Yankees play in Yankee Stadium before it closed, but decided he couldn't afford the expense. My dad said something that resonated loud and clear. He'd always wanted to do the same thing. He'd always wanted to go to a World Series, too. He'd always planned to travel and see Europe, etc. But he put it off, thinking he didn't want to spend the money or he didn't have time. And he never went. Now, at 81, he is severely hearing and visually impaired. He will never see or do or enjoy those things. He can't. The choice is no longer his to make. So he said to me, "Sis, you will never miss the money you spend on doing things you always wanted to do. You'll never miss the time it took. But someday, if you don't do those things, you'll look back and wish you had."

I've thought a lot about what my dad said. Then I turned on the radio and a country song was playing. I don't know the song or the singer, but the gist of the story was a man who'd reached his 102nd birthday telling people to love and do good and enjoy life because a hundred years goes by faster than you think.

We don't have the promise of a 100 years or even the promise of tomorrow. But we have today. So I'm starting today. I sent in my application for foster care. (It's been sitting on my desk for 3 months.) And I contacted an old friend that I've been wanting to get together with for YEARS. We email often and say things like, "We have to get together soon," but we never do. So now we are. For real.

So, that's my challenge to you today. Do something good that you've been putting off. And then let me know how it turned out.....

Peace and Grace!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Honoring 9-11 in America the Beautiful


Warning: This is a blatantly patriotic posting. I am so thankful to God that I was born in America and today I salute, not only the heroes of 9-11, but this nation as a whole.
Contrary to the gloom and doom media and all the self-serving political rhetoric, America is a fabulous land, full of opportunity and good people, and to me still the grandest, safest, most blessed land on the planet. We aren't going down the tubes. We aren't starving. We aren't going broke.
The media has perpetrated a great and negative lie about our situation, and too many people blindly listen. Look around--I mean, REALLY look around for yourself and see that we are so incredibly well off, so blessed, so fat and full and over-indulged. Maybe we're too spoiled and that's why we squeal so loudly when we have to tighten the belt a bit.

So today I fly Old Glory and remember the day America stood together, regardless of political and philosophical differences, unmindful of gas or grocery prices or the unemployment index, against the worst of enemies. We stood together and we prevailed together. And I pray that we can remember that powerful, powerful moment of unity and strive to always be one nation under God conceived in liberty.....

America is, indeed, beautiful.


Monday, September 08, 2008

GREAT NEIGHBORS and Good Party

When you live out in the country, your neighbors may live several miles away, but they're still neighbors. In fact, country folk make some of the best neighbors. They watch your place when you travel, help you fight grass fires, and are always ready to lend a helping hand or a shout of encouragement.

Yesterday, my neighbors gave me a shout of encouragement. Spider and Nadine, Julie and Dave, George and Mary, along with Nadine's Mom, Nelda put together a neighborhood gathering in my honor to celebrate my RITA Award. I don't know what I've done to deserve such a thing, but my heart was really touched. I was a little embarrassed, too, at the attention, but hey! who am I to spoil a terrific gathering of great friends.

We gathered at the old Fry Lake, a former church camp, now turned into a Christian marriage retreat by Dave and Julie. (Check out their website for photos and more information about the retreat.) It's a gorgeous area and I wish I'd taken some photos to share with you, but there are plenty on their website. Be sure and click on the 'more photos' button to see photos of our get-together. (I only wish I'd known there would be pictures--I would have dressed up!!)

Anyway, George and Mary have built a lovely new home, complete with a long back deck overlooking the lake. Talk about paradise in Oklahoma! Beautiful!

We had a delicious meal of Mary's roast beef and all the fixings, plus tasty desserts that included layered chocolate chip cookies that were to die for! I have to get that recipe from Nadine to share with you. Check out Nadine's art website. She's wonderful!!

All in all, it was a great afternoon of fellowship, tall tales, and lots of laughs. I am grateful for the blessing of good neighbors who aren't as backward and shy as I am and who drag me out of my writing cave once in a while!!

Thanks, good neighbors!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

I WON THE RITA!!!


Here I am with presenter and fabulous author, Judy Baer and my incredibly supportive editor, Allison Lyons, who also received an award for editing my book! (Photo credit: Dave Bush Photography)


Susan Mae Warren, me with the big smile and my baby girl, RITA, and Love Inspired editor, Melissa Endlich






Yes, I'm still running around the house with a big grin, a heart of gratitude, and a little disbelief that a book I wrote, A TOUCH OF GRACE, was awarded the romance industry's top award as the best inspirational romance of the year. It's crazy wonderful, let me tell you.



I'm sure I'm going to live on this moment for a long time to come, but my fellow finalists in the catagory decided to do one final interview. It appears below, along with a couple of photos. More of those to come as I gather them in, since I didn't have a camera with me that night.



Winning the Rita Interview
Linda Goodnight


Question 1: How did you feel waiting for the winner's name to be announced.

I had spent so much time praying not to covet the award that I was perfectly at peace and ready to shout my head off for the winner. So I was just sitting there thinking that my dress was too tight and had unbuttoned my jacket. When they began to read off the Inspy finalists, I thought, “Hmm, maybe I should button my jacket just in case.” Instantly, butterflies started dancing in my stomach. (They’d probably been there all along, but now they were crushed and fighting for their lives. )

At the moment the title of my book was announced as the winner, I went blank. I never heard my name called. Even though I don’t believe in out-of-body experiences, that’s the only way I can describe those few seconds. I remember looking at my editor and saying, “What? What did she say?” I still get chills just thinking about that amazing, exhilarating rush of disbelief and realization.

Question 2: How did 'you' really feel up there on stage?

Really, really embarrassed not to have written a speech. My mind was both numb and whirling at the same time, but no coherent thoughts would come. I didn’t want to talk. I just wanted to jump up and down and laugh! The lights were extremely bright so all I could see were shadows in the audience. My brain was yelling, “You only have two minutes! Stop blubbering.”

Even though I tried to remember to thank all the right people, I forgot so many. I wanted to honor the other finalists, whom I have come to admire, and like as women as well as wonderful, worthy writers. Believe me, to win in a category with those other authors means something very, very special.

Question 3: What happens after you step off the stage, both at RWA and then later on at home?

Wow! I couldn’t stop giggling during the rest of the ceremony –and shaking. I hadn’t been shaky before but I sure was then! My editor kept whispering, “I told you. I told you.” And then I’d squeeze Miss RITA and start giggling all over again.

After the ceremony, there was this rush of people-friends, other finalists, editors-toward me, and that continued for the next hour or so. Frankly, I loved it!!! I’ve said this over and over again, but it’s so true. Awards mean nothing if you have no one to share them with. The absolute best part of winning the RITA is that first hour after the program.

I have two very sweet memories that I will treasure in my heart forever. The other finalists, Pamela Tracy, Susan Mae Warren, and Irene Hannon were the first people to greet me. Looking so beautiful in their fancy duds, they hugged and smiled and congratulated me, though I know they had to be disappointed. That meant so very much and always will. See why I admire these women? They’re the real deal.

The second treasured moment was seeing my friend, Libby Banks. Libby and I have been friends and critique partners since before I sold that first book. Libby is a strong woman, an attorney who keeps her emotions in check. But there she was, coming at me through the crush, moving people out of the way like they were bowling pins, tears streaming down her face. We fell into each others arms, laughing and crying. Sweet, very, very sweet.

The next day, after two hours sleep, (Who needs sleep when you have adrenaline?) my family greeted me at the airport and took me out to dinner. Then, when I turned down the road toward home, I was met with a big congratulations sign erected by my neighbors.





Since getting back home, my email box has been full of congratulations. My chapter sent flowers. My phone has rung off the hook. My editors have emailed. Even some agents that I’ve never met have emailed! It’s truly been an exciting, amazing, and fulfilling ride.

Thank you for letting me re-live the excitement. Now, back to work. I have a book due!

Monday, July 21, 2008

RITA FINALIST - CINDY WOODSMALL



Cindy Woodsmall is the author of the best-selling novels WHEN THE HEART CRIES and WHEN THE MORNING COMES, the first two books in the Sisters of the Quilt series. Her real-life connections with the Plain Mennonite and Old Order Amish families enrich her novels with authenticity. Cindy lives in Georgia with her husband, three sons, and one daughter-in-law.

1. DESCRIBE YOUR RITA PHONE CALL.
What a busy and fun day that was! On Tuesday of each week I have an assistant, Barbara, who comes in and we juggle as much of the non-writing-related aspects of being an author as we can. The call came in during one of those days. Like other authors, I screen calls during work hours, so when I didn’t recognize the number I didn’t answer. I had a couple of radio interviews that day, so Barbara started fielding phone calls from the downstairs office. (Two of my children grew up and moved out, so I now have two offices! ;-)
When she shared the news that I was a RITA finalist, I stared at her for a long moment, then mumbled, "Is this a joke?"
She shook her head, smiling broadly.
I gaped at her. "Are you sure? The RITA?"
She laughed. "I’m sure."
Once I got over feeling stunned, excitement grew like a crescendo in a wonderful piece of music. Eventually, the song dissolved into two women in a home office, squealing in delight.
2. TELL US ABOUT THE RITA BOOK AND WHY YOU THINK IT STOOD OUT IN THE CROWD.
WHEN THE MORNING COMES is book two in a three-book series, each chronicling a different aspect of Hannah’s journey. At the beginning of book two we see her as a seventeen-year-old Amish girl who has been betrayed by her family, her fiancĂ©, and even her faith.
Broken, she steps off a train to search for a shunned aunt she hopes still exists. With only an eighth-grade education, she has little knowledge of how to survive in the outside world.
I think what sets this book apart is the parallel journeys of reaping devastation and the hope of building life anew.
A man, who has lost just as much as Hannah has but is nothing like her, becomes an unlikely champion who grows to love her like no other.
3. HOW MANY BOOKS HAVE YOU WRITTEN?
So far I have three novels completed, with the third coming out in September.
Book one in the series is WHEN THE HEART CRIES.
Book two and the RITA finalist is WHEN THE MORNING COMES.
Book three is WHEN THE SOUL MENDS, and it will be out September 16, 2008.
4. DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE?
Since all three of my books are part of the same journey, each one is a favorite for a different reason. Hannah’s Old Order Amish innocence, strength, and epiphanies work both for and against her in each book. I think those things will linger in my heart as I continue to write more books.
Book one, WHEN THE HEART CRIES, made the CBA best-seller list and was an ECPA Christian Book Award finalist, along with books by Karen Kingsbury, Angela Hunt, and Charles Martin. I didn't think it was possible to be more pleased with a work, but book two, WHEN THE MORNING COMES, made the New York Times best-sellers extended list (#34) and is a RITA finalist, so I’m just off-the-wall excited. Of course, those who know me best would tell you I didn’t need a set of books to be off the wall. ;-)
5. DESCRIBE YOUR WRITING PROCESS.
I’m a super plotter who starts by taking the time to discover who the characters are. That begins with who their parents were and the mood of the home throughout their childhood, and it includes any traumatic or ecstatic experiences they had while growing up.
I spend time inside an Old Order Amish home, living as my characters do, while interviewing those within the community and seeing firsthand the various trades in which they make their living. This ensures that my characters and plots have a solid foundation.
The next step is to spend a week plotting out each character’s goals, motivations, conflicts, as well as the events that distance each one from his or her goals. I don’t plan out the epiphanies but allow those to grow organically as I write. So far they’ve surprised me every time.
After all that prewriting, I let creativity take over, ignoring or changing the outline as needed. I extensively edit, edit, edit as I go. After that I send each chapter to my critique partner. Since she’s also part of the planning and plotting process, she knows the story inside and out. She critiques with great scrutiny, and I pay close attention to anything she has to say.
6. WHEN DID YOU DECIDE TO BECOME A WRITER AND WHY CHRISTIAN FICTION?
I decided to write when I had no other choice. The stories inside my head wouldn’t go away and refused to become quiet, so (long story short) I began writing.
The stories grow naturally from characters who may tremble in pain, fear, or confusion, but whose faith is never negotiable to them. Although the journeys are not about being or becoming a Christian, the characters have a God-centered world view, and the stories are about them dealing with the traumatic and ecstatic parts of life the best way they know how, and both the beauty and the distress of doing so.
7. TELL US ABOUT YOUR NEXT OR UPCOMING PROJECTS.
I’m about halfway finished with THE HOPE OF REFUGE, an Amish novel where the lead heroine, Cara, is a single mom living in Bronx, New York. Cara had been raised in foster care, and while trying to keep her own six-year-old daughter from the same fate, she begins following pieces of a memory that lead her to an Old Order Amish community. What she discovers inside this community seems more destructive than all her years of having no one.
8. DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR UNPUBLISHED WRITERS?
Pray. Not so much about God opening doors for you as much as seeking from Him your direction, your inner compass. Be willing to lay writing down. Be willing to revamp your entire lifestyle in order to write. Be ready to follow every rule concerning writing. Be ready to break every rule.

Be ready.

That’s what listening during the quiet hours can do for us—cause us to be ready to both hear and follow to the best of our ability.

But please, please remember that success is not about how many books we’ve written or sold—if any. Success is being His and walking in whatever that means from His perspective, not some preconceived idea of ours or those around us.


Thank you so much for such a wonderful interview! I’m deeply honored to be a RITA finalist with such a wonderful lineup of authors.

I welcome the readers of this blog to visit me at my Web site, where I have a couple of contests running. One offers a chance to win an autographed copy of all three books, and one is a year-long contest with a chance to win an Amish-made quilt.

http://www.cindywoodsmall.com/

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Susan Mae Warren Rita Interview!


1. Describe your RITA phone call.

The truth is, well, I had FORGOTTEN about the RITA. I’ve never finalled. Never even remotely thought I would final. So, there I am, reading my email, sipping coffee, sitting in my pajamas, and in comes a call. I see it’s RWA and think, uh oh, I forgot to pay my membership or something. Because WHY would they be calling me?


You could have pushed me over with a puff as the voice on the phone told me that Taming Rafe finalled in the RITA. In fact, I think I uttered an incredulous, “HUH? What?” Thankfully she repeated her news, slowly and clearly.

And then dancing started.

2. Tell us about the RITA book and why you think it stood out it the crowd.

Taming Rafe is about a bull-rider who finds himself at the bottom of his game, even his life. He’s lost everything and has made some pretty bad decisions. Into this mess walks Kat Breckenridge, a philanthropist who is trying to fill her deceased mother’s big, fashionable shoes. She’s got some mystery to her past that draws her to cowboys, but most of all, Rafe had decimated her latest charity event, and owes her big. As they sort out blame, and eventually come together with a game plan, they discover each one offers the other healing in ways they could never imagine. It’s a mulit-layered story, with a subplot romance, and a story within a story that illuminates the emotional plot of all the characters (and has it’s own plot). It was my most ambitious story to date, a challenge to write, and I loved it. I’m so thrilled that the RITA judges liked it!


3. How many books have you written?

Twenty-two, including novellas.

4. Do you have a favorite?

Oh boy – I love my first story, Happily Ever After – I wrote it from such a pure place, it’s still the story of my heart. And then there’s Everything’s Coming up Josey, my chick lit story – finally got to tell the truth about being a missionary. And then Rafe…well, who doesn’t like a cute Bull Rider?

5. Describe your writing process.

I’m a detailed plotter, plotting out the story, the subplots and even the epiphany. My character is pretty fleshed out when I start the first page. However, after that it gets really messy. I slap down the first draft without grammar or spell checking, just a download from my brain every day for a month or six weeks. At the end of the day, I simply save and crawl out of my mess of research books lying open around my writing chair. The next day, I crawl back in. I don’t cook. I don’t clean. I do shower. But my entire brain is on Book. My family calls it (kindly) being under my “Thought Blanket.” THEN, after the book is roughed out, I go back, chapter by chapter, adding in all the elements I’ve forgotten, as well as texture, and richer description. And then I go through again, smoothing it out and polishing it. THEN I print it, and read it, adding in final proofing or edits. By the time I turn it in, I’ve read it four times, at least.

6. When did you decide to become a writer and why Christian fiction?

I LOVE to write. I would rather write than eat (my children occasionally bring me food). And, I was a missionary for years, and I truly believe that the best stories engage the spiritual element in us. I love to stir up issues of the soul, and let the reader ponder them with the character, hopefully long after they put the book down. My hope is that my readers, regardless of their spiritual background, would see God at work in their lives, loving them, giving them grace, just as He works in the character’s life on the page.


7. Tell us about your next or upcoming projects.

I just finished a book called, “Here Comes Trouble.” It’s a novel about a girl who returns home after ten years to discover the mess she left behind. But she’s a different person now. Can a girl change her stripes in her own hometown? Or will she always be labeled Trouble? Funny, and romantic, with elements of mystery and suspense, it’s the first in the PJ Sugar series.

Do you have any advice for unpublished writers?

Yes – Read books in your genre, take notes, analyze, write, then continue the cycle….forever. *g*




Susan May Warren
award-winning author of...soul-stirring fiction
http://www.susanmaywarren.comsus/

Monday, June 30, 2008

Interview with Rita Finalist AMY WALLACE


Amy Wallace is a wife, homeschool mom of three, writer, speaker, Bible study leader, and avid chocoholic. She loves crafting high-action suspense that delves deep into heart issues, but who she really is can be summed up in a few short words: Amy is a daughter of the King learning to live and love with laughter. Amy is also the author of Ransomed Dreams and Healing Promises, books 1 and 2 of the Defenders of Hope series, a contributing author of God Answers Mom's Prayers, God Allows U-Turns for Teens, Chicken Soup for the Soul Healthy Living Series: Diabetes, and A Cup of Comfort for Expectant Moms.

Stop in for a taste of dark chocolate suspense at www.amywallace.com

1. Describe your RITA phone call.

Being a homeschool mom, I rarely answer the phone during school hours. So it was easy to ignore the first few times the same out-of-state area code popped up on Caller ID. After about five similar calls and no messages, I was sure the person calling was an annoying telemarketer. And I was ready to let them know what I thought about their pestering should they call again.

Well… they called again. And my terse greeting received a cheery answer from a very sweet lady with RWA. Once I realized this was no telemarketer, I was mortified. So I didn’t even hear what contest she was calling about.

Not too long after, I left for a writer’s meeting and shared my embarrassing phone call. A dear friend about fell out of her chair with excitement, “YOU are a RITA FINALIST! That is SO awesome!”

By that point, I was asking the Lord’s forgiveness for being rude on the phone and tearing up with thankfulness that even when I’m not listening or looking, God still finds ways to lavish His goodness on this undeserving child.

2. Tell us about the RITA book and why you think it stood out in the crowd.

To be a RITA finalist with my debut novel was a God kiss that my heart desperately needed. Physical challenges and painful circumstances of the previous two years had left me feeling broken and abandoned. But when I learned RANSOMED DREAMS was a finalist, I sensed God whisper to my heart that He sees. So for me, this honor was a gift God knew would encourage me to keep going. And it has.

RANSOMED DREAMS blurb:

Chained To Yesterday

When tragedy struck and Gracie Lang lost everything, her faith crumbled, and nothing but the drive for justice propelled her forward. But after two years of dead-end searching, the truth Gracie seeks is the very thing her stalker will stop at nothing to hide.

Forgiveness Unlocks the Future

An FBI agent in the Crimes Against Children Unit, Steven Kessler spends his days rescuing other people’s children and nights caring for his son. He’s through with God, embittered by his ex-wife who abandoned them both.

The Past Is the Key

A plot to kidnap a British ambassador’s daughter dangerously intersects Steven and Gracie’s worlds–a collision that demands a decision. But are they willing to pay the high ransom required to redeem dreams and reignite hope?

3. How many books have you written?

I’ve written three Defenders of Hope novels, and a fairytale for my kids which they think is “way cool.”

Stuffed into a file cabinet and a jump drive, I have two other novels and one novella which may someday see the light of day.

4. Do you have a favorite?

Tough question! If pressed to choose, I’d say RANSOMED DREAMS. Because in writing that story, I saw with my heart that God had indeed called me to write and would equip me for every step of this journey.

5. Describe your writing process.

My writing process has evolved from just sitting down to type in that blissful state of ignorance and excitement to doing fairly detailed chapter-by-chapter outlines and character sketches before I begin to write. Because the Defenders of Hope series is suspense focusing on Crimes Against Children FBI agents, I had tons of research to do before I began crafting the stories. Once my research helped me define the timeline, I set to work on the chapter-by-chapter and character details. I've found the outline and information about the characters incredibly helpful in keeping me on task with the story, not only the action plot, but also the development and depth of the characters.

6. When did you decide to become a writer and why Christian fiction?

I conceded to begin the writing journey when my husband and God teamed up and pushed me in that direction. I’ve always written and even won an award in fifth grade for a truly wretched first attempt at suspense. But the dream of writing for publication didn’t enter my mind until God plopped some novels in my lap and sent a dream that dogged my sleep. Then my husband took the initiative and scheduled an interview for me with a Secret Service agent he knew. After frenzied research, an amazing interview and watching these dream characters come to life, I was in it for the long haul because I'd found something I could put my whole heart into, something I'd been created to do.

Why Christian fiction? When I sat down to write the story that would become Ransomed Dreams, my heart’s desire was to portray real emotions and the struggles many believers face. It never crossed my mind not to write about God and His involvement in our lives through the vehicle of fiction. For that reason, I’m honored to be called a CBA author.

7. Tell us about your next or upcoming projects.

The second Defenders of Hope novel, HEALING PROMISES (April 2008), is about FBI Agent Clint Rollins who takes a bullet during a standoff, which might just save his life. But not even the ugly things he’s seen during his years working in the Crimes Against Children Unit could prepare him for the beast of cancer. As he continues to track down a serial kidnapper despite his illness, former investigations haunt his nightmares, pushing him beyond solving the case into risking his life and career. Clint struggles to believe God is still the God of miracles. Especially when he needs not one, but two. Everything in his life is reduced to one all-important question: Can God be trusted?

ENDURING JUSTICE is the third Defenders of Hope book releasing spring of 2009. Hanna Kessler’s childhood secret remained buried for decades. But when the shadows of her past threaten those she loves and the system fails FBI Agent Michael Parker—setting a white supremacist free—they must learn the difference between vengeance and justice is their choice to heal.

8. Do you have any advice for unpublished writers?

I’m a firm believer that God never wastes an experience or trial. So if we’re willing to be honest and open about where our lives have taken us—first with the Lord and then with others as He directs—there’s great potential for hope and healing and seeing the redemptive hand of God at work through us. In the writing realm, my mentor calls it “bleeding into your work.” A graphic but appropriate description. Oftentimes it feels exactly like it sounds.

Powerful words are born out of our willingness to embrace our experiences and allow God to use them for His good. And powerful words draw people into a place where they’re more open to hearing the Lord and letting Him heal their hearts. Those words give us an entrance into another’s soul.

So consider your story. Ask God to use it. He will.

There are people waiting to hear the words only you can uniquely share. And I pray that as you share, you’ll see that nothing in God’s loving and compassionate hands is ever, ever wasted.

Monday, June 23, 2008

RITA FINALIST - KAREN HARTER


Karen Harter’s books have been translated into eight foreign languages. Last year her novel, Where Mercy Flows won the Christy Award for Best First Novel. Her books have been featured in Reader’s Digest Select Editions alongside bestselling authors like Mary Higgins Clark and Lee Child. The Seattle Times featured her first novel as a recommended read. She is thrilled with the nomination of her second book for a coveted RITA award.

Karen and her husband live in Mount Vernon, Washington where they pastor The Valley Church. They love to fish the many streams and lakes surrounding their home. Karen has recently (after raising three boys) decided to learn to cook. Maybe that will bring them back home.


1. Describe your RITA phone call.

It was a busy morning; schedules to keep and a to-do list as long as a roll of toilet paper. The phone call telling me I was a RITA finalist stunned me momentarily, but then the next call came and I was off and running. It was not until much later that day that it sunk in. A finalist for a coveted RITA award! Little ol’ me? Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

2. Tell us about the RITA book and why you think it stood out in the crowd.

Sidney Walker is a single mom, raising her kids in the safe environment of Ham Bone, Washington, a small town tucked against the foothills of the mountains. But despite her efforts to protect them, her fifteen year old son, Ty, is broodingly angry and has run away into the woods. The handsome sheriff who appears with a warrant to search her home seems to have an anger problem himself, and a personal vendetta against Ty. His repeated visits leave Sidney shaken, and questioning her sweet son’s innocence. She prays that God will send a man to help her raise her children, and of course he answers in the strangest way.

Readers tell me they relish the way the layers of each character are slowly peeled away until they understand each one intimately. Everyone loves Millard Bradbury, the old man across the street, who has a problem with sulky teenagers and pesky moles. And of course, they cringe when the evil ex-husband/dad appears, suddenly wanting to become a family again. I believe people say “I couldn’t put it down!” because they care so much about each member of this evolving “family”.


3. How many books have you written?

I’ve written four complete novels. The first one is great for leveling table legs or starting a fire. Two are published, and the fourth is just about finished.

4. Do you have a favorite?

Yes, my first published novel, Where Mercy Flows, which won a Christy award last year. It’s told through the eyes of Samantha, a single mom carrying a load of guilt, who becomes destitute and has no choice but to return to her parent’s home on the river of her childhood, along with her illegitimate son, TJ. She was never been able to live up to the strict standards of her powerful father, Judge Blake Dodd and it seems nothing has changed. Her childhood friend, Donnie Duncan, runs his father’s ranch just up the road. He vies for her love, but she’s not free to give it. Sam still longs for forgiveness for what she did to her estranged husband, and for the child she threw away.

This story is really a parable. It’s about me and God; maybe you and God too. When my life was full of sin, I pushed my heavenly Father away. I couldn’t see my way out of the darkness. But he loved me all along, and it was through his amazing sacrifice that I no longer carry a load of guilt. Keep some tissues with you when you read this story of a struggle between father and daughter, and Samantha’s ultimate redemption.

5. Describe your writing process.

A story begins with a character who appears in my head and begins to walk around in there. I think about him/her or them for weeks, maybe months while their story unfolds. I may write little scenes that will occur somewhere in the book, which helps me develop their voice, their motivations, their past. I pray for the Lord’s message and write down the theme or what I want the reader to take away personally from this story. Eventually I use 3x5 cards to map out scenes, which can be rearranged until I know the order of the chapters. On each card I briefly write Intention, Conflict, and Collision. (I learned this from writing coach, Gloria Kempton at a conference). This keeps me on track and ensures that at the end of each chapter there is a collision, or dramatic point that pulls the curious reader into the next chapter.

Then I write and see what really happens, often surprised by the wonderful characters and events that weren’t even in the cards!

6. When did you decide to become a writer and why Christian fiction?

I dreamed occasionally about being a writer during high school and college when teachers told me I had a gift. It was a romantic concept at the time. I saw myself living in a little cottage by the sea where I sustained myself simply by writing, growing vegetables and harvesting crab and fish. That didn’t happen. It was not until I was sitting in church one morning with a husband, two young boys, and a mortgage career that I made the decision. Rather, God made the decision, and through the pastor’s teaching on the parable of the talents, dropped it into me. What transpired between the Lord and me that day is unforgettable! I’ve gone back to that in moments of discouragement and know beyond a shadow of doubt that this is His plan for me, and that he will use the words he gives me to draw people to the Truth.


7. Tell us about your next or upcoming projects.

I’ve just completed a story about a Jewish single dad, whose heart is broken when his daughter runs away. In his search for her, he becomes involved with the Human Services Director at a downtown Seattle church, a disorganized goy woman with blond hair the length of his grass between mowings. When she risks her life to save his daughter, the attraction that he’s denied is beginning to feel like love. But she is a Christian and he’s Jew. They are oil and water. How could they ever become the family that he craves?

I believe the next project is Annie and The Fisherman, a love story that’s been walking around in my head for at least two years. I’m also working on A Train to Somewhere, which is about an unlikely friendship that develops between a flighty art student and her mandatory college roommate, a beautiful, but bitter violinist. Oh, the trouble they get themselves into! But they survive into adulthood, and Kenzie (the artist) is still trying to crack the crust around Maggie’s heart, while Maggie attempts to break up her friend’s pending marriage. This is a best friend story with lots of romance woven in. Possibly a series.

8. Do you have any advice for unpublished writers?

If you are a Christian writer, then you are an ambassador for Christ. Your motivation, your passion should be to glorify Him. Be sure that you are gifted and called to serve him through the written word, because, believe me, there will be times of discouragement. I know that I would have quit if not for the knowledge that this is God’s assignment for me.

And of course, pursue excellence. Read quality writing and attend conferences. Pray each time you sit down to write. This is the real key to success. It’s almost like cheating but you never get busted because the words that come out of you are being whispered by the Spirit of God. Oh, and have fun. Words are fascinating, dazzling like crystal beads, and you get to string them together into unique stories like no one else can!

Thanks for having me!

Karen Harter
www.karenharter.com

Sunday, June 22, 2008

God Moments - a dream and an answer

I've decided to use my blog as journal of sorts to keep track of those wonderful little God moments that are sometimes forgotten. God is so awesome and amazing. When I have times that my faith is lower than usual, I want to be able to come to my blog and read about what the Lord has done. So, I'm now collecting God moments. Not just mine, but anyone's.

This morning while getting dressed for church, my husband Gene said to me, "God's going to show off at church this morning." I had no idea what he meant and he wouldn't tell me anything except that the Lord has whispered in his heart to do something. Here's what happened.

The Lord directed Gene to give a certain young woman in the church some money. We do not know this woman, do not know her situation, don't even know her name. But of coursre, our Father does. It was a little disconcerting for Gene, for obvious reasons but he wanted to be obedient and see what God had up his sleeve.

As we entered the church, the young woman was standing outside. Gene said he wasn't even sure if that was her, but later in church, he saw her with her kids and realized it was the right woman.

At the end of the service, he looked around and couldn't find her. Thinking he'd missed it, Gene started for the car. As he pushed open the church door to go outside, there she stood. Taking a deep breath and hoping she wouldn't think he was crazy, he walked up, told her the Lord had told him to -------As he started to tell her, all the while stuffing money into her dangling purse, she began to weep and finished his sentence, "the Lord came to me in a dream last night and told me someone at church today would walk up and hand me some money." The conversation, though short, revealed that she had been struggling and in the dream the Lord told her this was a sign from Him that He loved her and cared about her needs.

Isn't God so sweet?

Monday, June 16, 2008

INTERVIEW WITH RITA FINALIST, PAMELA TRACY


PAMELA TRACY started writing at age twelve (A very bad teen romance featuring David Cassidy from the Partridge Family). Later, she honed her writing skills while earning a BA in Journalism at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas (And wrote a very bad science fiction novel that didn’t feature David Cassidy.) Pamela sold her first romance It Only Takes A Spark to Barbour in 1999. Her next book Daddy for Keeps is out from Harlequin’s Steeple Hill Romance line in January of 2009. Since then she’s written a variety (sixteen made it to book shelves; Four are covered with cat hair and still hiding under the bed) of novels, novellas, and prayer books.







1. Describe your RITA phone call.

Of all my friends who entered, I think I expected it the least. Lisa Mondello mentioned to me that Tuesday morning that "Calls are going out." I promptly forgot. When my cell phone rang at 10:25, I was in my office five minutes away from teaching a comp class. When Jill St. John said, "I'm calling from RWA..." My first thought was, "Oh, the Desert Rose chapter is having a contest next weekend. They must have a question." Then, she said, "Your book, Pursuit of Justice, is a RITA® finalist." I about fell over. I did make a lot of noise (apparently, according to my coworkers, a lot of noise). And, promptly I made three quick phone calls: best friend, editor, and agent. Then I went off to teach a class to 24 students who'd never heard of the RITA®.

2. Tell us about the RITA book and why you think it stood out it the crowd.

Pursuit of Justice felt like a different book right from the beginning. I started writing it, oh, eight years ago. It was before baby, before marriage, I think I started it between anthologies. See, there was like a six book span where I wasn’t writing novels, instead I was writing – making that selling – novellas and prayer books. The 80 pages novellas kept having suspense elements and I kept muttering “Arg, if I could only have 200 more pages, I could ‘really’ make this a suspense.” Well, during that mind thought, Rosa’s (she’s the heroine) story tapped me on the shoulder. Rosa’s a wonderful gal. She tapped me, complete! I knew the beginning, middle, and end. That usually doesn’t happen. Of course, I got to about chapter two of her book, and I think I sold a prayer book. Once I finished the prayer book, I made it to chapter five of Rosa’s book, and then I sold another anthology. Every time I started to work on Rosa, I’d sell something else. Finally, I got an agent and he sold Rosa while she was only about 75% complete. Rosa finally got closure. What makes this book stands out is it was eight years in the making, and the whole time I was learning craft via the other sells. Boy, was Pursuit of Justice developed.

3. How many books have you written?

Four under the bed
Sixteen on the shelves
One in progress

4. Do you have a favorite?

Of course! Pursuit of Justice! First, it’s a RITA finalist (pinch, pinch) Plus, not only did the book and her characters keep me company for eight years, but Rosa then asked her friends if they’d like books too. Ruth and Mary both said yes. There were two more books published by Love Inspired Suspense: The Price of Redemption and Broken Lullaby.

5. Describe your writing process.

I have an old calendar and a spiral notebook by my computer. I usually roll out of bed about 5:30 a.m. Blurry eyed, I head to my computer. On the calendar, I keep track of the timeline. For example, Rosa was set in winter, so I decided on the month, and then in my calendar, I chose a day and wrote it down for her to get stopped for speeding by the cops. I tend to have my romances start and stop within days. Nope, don’t like that. Keeping the calendar helps me give the romance time to develop. The notebook has three columns and usually about fourteen rows. I keep track of every chapter – writing down what happens to her in column one, what happens to them in column two, and what happens to him in column three. Each row, of course, is a chapter. I’m a SOTPs writer. I’m working on a suspense called Lost Identity right now. I’m on chapter six. So, rows 1 – 5 are pretty filled. I kept track of names, happenings, etc. Rows 6-14 are sparse. I’ve jotted down ideas (in pencil so I can move them). I’ve also figured out that this will not be a 14 chapter book, so I’ve X’d out rows 13 and 14 and moved what few scribbles I have to other rows/ chapters. I have a toddler and a full time job, so I aim for three pages a day. In a current calendar, starting with Monday, I’ll write 103 – 106. On Tuesday, I’ll write 106 – 109. On Wednesday, I’ll write 109 – 112. You get the idea. Now, I ‘really’ aim to get those pages done. If I get more, I adjust my numbers. If I get less, then the next day I REALLY have to work. I don’t put number goals for the weekend. Anything I write on Saturday and Sunday is a gift.

6. When did you decide to become a writer and why Christian fiction?

I decided to become a writer as a toddler. I’d scribble and then take the scribbles to my dad and demand he tell me the story I just wrote. He’d make up a story. Um, he was an old army man, currently a lumberyard manager. I’m pretty sure his stories were scary (LOL! Which is probably why I write suspense and have dead bodies in my books). I think what happened next is I fell in love with David Cassidy (although it was Bobby Sherman who answered my fan letter) and wrote stories about him. Fast forward a few years and you have my girlfriends and I making up stories about the boys we’d met at Skateland (I still remember those boys’ names). Finally, I started writing stories in my notebook. I wrote a secret baby – about the time a fifteen year old friend had a baby. I wrote an historical – about the time I read my first romances (Hmmm, shall I admit I cut my teeth on Rosemary Rogers, Patricia Mathews, and Jennifer Wilde?)

I REALLY decided to become a writer in the weeks after my mother died. I’d told her I was going to be a writer. I purchased a computer from Montgomery Wards and set it up on a card table in my bedroom. I wrote a 300 page, single spaced, (not yet completed) Star Trek TNG. Then, I took a creative writing class at a local college and changed to romance and wrote four books (the before mentioned four that are under the bed). As to why Christian fiction… Well, I am a Christian and God pretty much nudged me in the right direction.

7. Tell us about your next or upcoming projects.

My first Love Inspired romance Daddy for Keeps comes out in January of 2009. I have a web master heroine and a bull rider hero. It’s a secret baby (I’ve come a long way since age 15 LOL) Then, I’m working on a three book suspense series called Seeking the Lost about three sisters. It hasn’t sold – yet.

8. Do you have any advice for unpublished writers?

Read, read, read. Write, write, write. Read in the genre you think you’ll write in. Don’t expect it to happen overnight. Never give up. If you write a page a day, you’ll have a novel in a year. Go to workshops, conferences, make writing friends.

Thanks for having me! http://www.pamelakayetracy.com/

Monday, June 09, 2008

RITA finalist - Irene Hannon




RITA Finalist Q&A
Irene Hannon—Rainbow’s End

Irene Hannon, who writes both romance and romantic suspense, is the author of more than 25 novels. Her books have been honored with a RITA Award, the Holt Medallion and a Reviewer’s Choice Award from Romantic Times BOOKreviews magazine. More than 1 million copies of her novels have been sold worldwide. A former corporate communications executive with a Fortune 500 company, she now writes full-time for both Steeple Hill and Revell. She and her husband live in Missouri.
1. Describe your RITA phone call. I got the call early in the morning, not long after I sat down at my computer to write. Needless to say, it was VERY difficult to concentrate after that! I did manage to stick with my work in progress all day—after calling a few friends and family members to share the news, of course. But the next morning I took a couple of hours off and treated myself to Starbucks!
2. Tell us about the RITA book and why you think it stood out in the crowd. There is a lyrical quality to Rainbow’s End that may have appealed to the judges. The beautiful but remote setting was also an integral element of the story, with the physical isolation acting as a metaphor for the emotional isolation of the three main characters. That may have helped make the book stand out, too. But bottom line, I think the deeply emotional story is what vaulted this book to the finalist list. The book is about two lonely people—a shattered man and a disfigured woman—who join forces to help a traumatized little boy. Along they way, they reconnect with life and find healing, hope and love. It’s a very uplifting, inspiring story, and based on the incredible reader response, it touched a lot of hearts.
3. How many books have you written? My 25th book was published in May 2008, and I’m under contract for eight more with two different publishers.
4. Do you have a favorite? That’s like asking a mother to pick her favorite child! I like all my books. I honestly can’t single any one out; they’re all special in their own way. I do have to say, though, that I’m extremely excited about my upcoming suspense debut, and I do think the three books in my suspense series are among the best I’ve written.
5. Describe your writing process. I’ve been very blessed for the past 4½ years to be able to write full-time after a long career in the corporate world, where I juggled my day job with my writing. Now, I spend every weekday (and some weekends) writing. I’m generally at my desk by eight or eight-thirty and I begin by polishing the pages I wrote the day before. Then it’s on to new writing. I aim for 10 good, new pages a day. I do work from an outline, though these have become less specific through the years. If I’m in the plotting stage of a book, I may spend a lot of time researching or simply sitting around in my office or garden staring into space. It’s sometimes hard during those phases to convince people I’m actually working!
6. When did you decide to become a writer and why Christian fiction? I can’t remember a time when I didn’t write. In fact, I was one of the winners in a complete-the-story-contest for a national children’s magazine when I was 10, so I’ve been in print for a long time! My first novel was published in 1985 with Thomas Nelson, which had just started a line of inspirational romances. However, they were about 10 years ahead of their time and the line folded. I then wrote six books for Avalon before I connected with Steeple Hill. Avalon isn’t a Christian publisher, but it does focus on books with very wholesome, traditional values. I write Christian fiction because it fits my world view and because I sincerely believe it’s possible to tell a compelling, entertaining story without explicit sex, profanity or gratuitous violence.
7. Tell us about your next or upcoming projects. I have a number of exciting projects in the works. First, I have a three-book FBI-based suspense series debuting with Revell in February 2009 called “Heroes of Quantico.” I have just received an absolutely glowing endorsement for the first book, AGAINST ALL ODDS, from the master of inspirational romantic suspense, Dee Henderson, so I’m VERY excited about this new venture. The first book revolves around a member of the FBI’s elite Hostage Rescue Team, who is assigned to protect the daughter of a diplomat engaged in a sensitive hostage situation in the Middle East. It’s very fast-paced and exciting! I also have a new book coming out from Steeple Love Inspired in February 2008. (That will be a first for me—two new books in one month!) APPRENTICE FATHER is about a man wary of commitments who finds himself responsible for two emotionally fragile children when his sister dies in a domestic violence incident. Help comes in the form of a physically handicapped woman whose deep, abiding faith turns off the anti-religion hero, but whose kind and loving ways begin to melt the ice around his heart.. Then, in May 2009, I’ll launch a new series with Steeple Hill called “Lighthouse Lane.” The books are all set on Nantucket, and I’m deep into writing those at the moment. You can find out more about my upcoming books at http://www.irenehannon.com/
8. Do you have any advice for unpublished writers? Read a lot. Learn the basics. Write, write, write. Join a group like Romance Writers of America. Submit to contests and read the feedback with an open mind. Attend conferences. Network. And never, ever give up! I had written three books before I sold my first novel. I’m glad I persisted!

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Coming this week!--RITA interviews


Who is RITA you ask? RITA is the 'academy award' of the romance writing industry. Each year, the enormous Romance Writers of America select the top books in each catagory and hand out the lovely lady on the left at the RWA conference. This year the conference is in San Fransisco during the last week of July. I'll be there along with a couple thousand other industry professionals.
It is an enormous honor for me to be nominated for the RITA this year in the inspiration catagory, along with seven other women of talent and character. Regardless of who walks away with the lady on the left, I will be cheering and delighted for the honor being paid to my Lord Jesus Christ. It's a win-win situation!
Each Monday I plan to post an interview with one of these amazing women so you can get to know them.
Here are this year's nominees:

2008 RITA for Best Inspirational Romance Finalists

A Touch of Grace by Linda Goodnight
Harlequin Enterprises, Steeple Hill Love Inspired (978-0-373-87426-2)
Allison Lyons, editor

Autumn Blue by Karen Harter
Center Street (1-931722-61-7)
Christina Boys, editor

Pursuit of Justice by Pamela Tracy
Harlequin Enterprises, Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense (978 0 373 44236)
Krista Stroever, editor

Rainbow's End by Irene Hannon
Harlequin Enterprises, Steeple Hill Love Inspired (0-373-87415-4)
Melissa Endlich, editor

Ransomed Dreams by Amy Wallace
Random House Publishing, WaterBrook Multnomah(9781590527474
)Julee Schwarzburg, editor

Splitting Harriet by Tamara LeighRandom House Publishing,
WaterBrook Multnomah (1590529286)
Julee Schwarzburg, editor

Taming Rafe by Susan May Warren
Tyndale House Publishers(1414310188)
Karen Watson, editor

When the Morning Comes by Cindy Woodsmall
Random House Publishing, WaterBrook Multnomah(9781400072934
Shannon Hill, editor
Join me tomorrow for more about one of these fabulous ladies!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

God Moments


If you read my blog much you know I'm a Christian who believes God is awesome! Sometimes though, He just amazes me. Two very cool things happened that are clearly God and His marvelous timing.


1. I often bargain shop and then ship a huge box to my favorite charity His Kids Too! that provides humanitarian aid for Ukrainian orphanages. My box is almost full but still had a space about the size of a large blanket. So off I go to Walmart, but they have nothing at all on sale. As I'm standing there, I said a tiny prayer in my heart. "Lord, help me find the right thing at the right price." At that very moment, my cell phone rings. It's my daughter. She's out shopping and has run onto to some great bargains for things we know the kids over there need so badly. She wants to know if I have any room left in my box!!!


2. A couple of nights ago a situation we're involved in needed prayer. An important meeting was taking place the next day across the ocean, but it was being held at 4 a.m. our time! My daughter is a prayer warrier too, so she prayed and then told God that if He wanted her to get up at 4 a.m. and pray again to please wake her. She went to sleep at peace, knowing God would take care of it. Guess what happened? At 4 a.am., her cell phone rang, awakening her. It was a text message from a friend in another country who knew nothing about the prayer request! Needless to say, my daughter rose, marveling at God's power, to pray.


God is so cool.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Great links, blogs


I am blessed to part of several on-line author groups. All of them give out prizes that require nothing but leaving a comment. So, please stop by for a visit, meet some authors, check out some books, and see what the ladies of writing have been up to.


1.. Six authors got together to write a great series called the Wedding Planners. Check out the blog, leave a comment for a chance to win a prize.


2..Another terrific blog with all kinds of interesting stuff going on is the Harlequin Romance Authors blog. You'll find a list of the latest books from thisi wonderful traditional line that is celebrating its 100th year of publication! Imagine, one hundred years of touching hearts and bringing enjoyment to millions of readers. There is always a contest going on so leave a comment.


3..Last but not least, check out the Love Inspired Authors website. Every quarter we give away a huge basket of books and seasonal goodies of all kinds. Our site is getting an overhaul soon, so be sure to check back and let us know what you think about the new look.


Saturday, May 10, 2008

Class reunion




Wedding Planners' Blog from Harlequin Romance (click)

Today I attended a class reunion, one of only two I've attended in (ahem) a whole lotta years. Being a from a small town, our class had only about 50 graduating seniors. At the time most of us were very close but distance and years and other things pulled us away and I had not seen most of the attendees in a very, very long

time. I was very surprised to have an absolute blast. All those people are even more fun and interesting today than they were in 1968. I guess by this age, the facades disappear as well as the need to impress or not to look stupid or whatever makes us do all that posturing when we're young. It was marvelous to just be who we are.

And the best part? I really like who these old friends have become. I hope we stay in better touch this time.

Someone said I should write a book about a class reunion. You know what? Maybe I will!

Have you ever 'gone back home' to a class reunion? What was it like?

Friday, May 09, 2008

Kung-fu Kitty, Win a Target Gift Card


No, this photo has nothing to do with anything except I think it's cute. Cat's do the cutest things. Even cat haters think so. I actually think this kitty is thinking, "Look, Mildred, I can balance on both legs. Can you top that?"
By the way, I sure hope you're checking out the Wedding Planner's blog over at http://harlequin-theweddingplanners.blogspot.com/ There's lots of fun and interesting stories going on plus big, big prizes. Great prizes including a gift card to Target (and who can't use that?!) , so don't miss out!

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Recipe for honey barbecued chicken




Wow, it is already Thursday? I just finished lunch and my rat terrier is bugging me to let him outside with 'daddy' but I wanted to share my noon recipe with you.


Honey Barbecued Chicken


2 chicken breasts

1/2 cup each honey and your favorite barbecue sauce mixed together.


Wrap chicken in foil and bake at 350 for 20 minutes until nearly done. Then slather both sides with the sauce. Leave uncovered and continue to bake until the glaze 'sets'. You can also put these on the grill if you'd rather.


It's easy and delish. You can use this sauce on any parts of chicken or you can slice the breasts into strips. I use the leftover sauce at the table for dipping because I love, love the flavor of honey-barbecue.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Plotting Circle

Yes, I'm chuckling right along with this cute kitty cat. Yesterday
I had the great fun of speaking to the Oklahoma City Metro Writers'. What a delightful group of ladies and men! --The kind of folks you like to hang out with who are so supportive and enthusiastic. Many of the attendees seemed to find the material really useful, so perhaps, if you're a writer, you would too.
My topic was using mythic story structure to create a plotting circle for a novel. Now, while that sounds all academic, it's not really. It's a technique I've devised to make my life simpler. Whenever I start a new book, I draw a circle and use the mythical 'hero's journey' to lay out the bare bones basics as a guideline. Then, as I write, this guide keeps me focused on the major points that have to be in the story.
If you're interested in an abbreviated version of the plotting circle, check out my website under "For Writers". I'm currently revising that article to include more detail and better explanation so stay tuned!!

And if you'd like to hear me teach this topic in person, I'll be speaking at the Red River Romance Writes in Wichtia Falls, Texas, June 5. So come on down!!


Friday, April 25, 2008

Pajama Gram

Ever heard of a pajama gram? I hadn't. Until today that is when one arrived on my doorstep via one of my favorite guys--the UPS driver. It seems my awesome, fabulous sister-in-law and brother decided I deserved to relax and get some rest. So they sent me a pajama gram, complete with ' mini vacation' door hanger, mini pillow, and a pair of the cutest 'coffee cup' pjs.. If I have time tomorrow, I'll snap a pix and share it with you. So cute!

I have a great family. Thanks, SIL!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Good Neighbors


For GREEN wedding tips visit The Wedding PLanners' Blog: http://harlequin-theweddingplanners.blogspot.com/

Now, back to our regularly scheduled program:

Robert Frost said 'good fences make good neighbors.'

I live in the country so we have fences everywhere, more for cows and horses than for people though. Last night, my incredible neighbors threw a party and guess who was the guest of honor? Me. They came together with a delicious potluck dinner to celebrate my RITA nomination. Now, mind you, these are not writers. These big-hearted folks don't have a clue what the RITA is, and I'm probably the most reclusive neighbor they have due to living in my office and in my head most of the time as well as being shy, but they did this for me anyway.

I cannot tell you how blessed I feel.

Mr. Frost was wrong. Good people make good neighbors. Forget the fences.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Tag, I'm it!!



I was just moseying along minding my own business when my friend, Shirley Jump (well, I thought she was my friend :-) tagged me. The idea is to post six random things about myself and then tag six friends to do the same. Random things? Or rambling? I ramble better than anything so maybe that will work, otherwise I’m as boring as oatmeal.


Tagging Rules:
a. Link to the person who tagged you. http://www.shirleyjump.com/

b. Post the rules on your blog.

c. Write six random things about yourself.

d. Tag six random people at the end of your post by linking to their blogs.

e. Let each person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment at their blog.

f. Let your tagger know when your entry is up.

1. This is going to sound completely anti-woman, anti-American, anti-everything, but I have to confess to a terrible shortcoming. I hate to shop. It’s true. I wish I liked shopping, but the shopping gene never developed in me. I’m so sorry. Please, women of the world, forgive me.

2. My last child was born at home with only my husband in attendance. Something in me (insanity connected with loss of the shopping gene), always wanted to be a pioneer woman, I think. I’m also a control freak and hospitals seem to take control away. So with my last son, I decided to have him at home. Everything went smoothly and other than being almost as nuts as his mom, Cody turned out to be the healthiest child I had.

3. When I was 10, my family and I were in a tornado. Really. We were sitting at the kitchen table having dinner while huge hail pelted the windows. In those days weather reporting in Oklahoma was not what it is today, so we had no idea a whirling monster was coming our way until Dad spotted it through the front window. I’ll never forget the spastic trembling in my bones or the appearance of that tornado—from sky to ground, an arrowhead shaped black monster, gobbling up everything in its path. When the neighboring dairy farm went up like confetti, we ran. Somehow, by God’s grace, we escaped with the tornado over our shoulder, the winds so unbelievable they blew me and my brother into a chain-link fence. Only Dad’s strong, adrenaline-pumped arms managed to get us into the cellar. Yes, we lost everything in that storm but each other, and for years after I fell apart every time it thundered - and I was terrified of “The Wizard of Oz”.

4. The movie I’ve watched more than any other is Tombstone. I can repeat Doc Holliday’s dialogue almost as well as Val Kilmer. Don’t ask me why a romance writer loves that movie so much. I have no idea. Must be that pioneer spirit again. But “I’ll be your huckleberry.”

5. Number three was too long. Sorry about that. This will be short. As I write this, I have ‘walking’ pneumonia. My mind’s eye envisions these little bacteria with big, heavy, hobnail boots tromping around in my left lung. The little buggers hurt too!

6. The most exciting thing in my life right now is not being a RITA finalist, although that ranks pretty high. It’s being a new grandma to son Cody’s baby. Yes, this is the same Cody that survived a pioneer birth at home. Life is good.

Now, that you’ve endured all that, my tags go to far more interesting folks: I'm still conjuring up the other one. If I had any friends before, they're gone now!

http://www.genashowalter.com/
http://www.margaretdaley.com/
http://www.debraclopton.com/
http://www.christinerimmer.com/

Friday, April 18, 2008

Finding my books




I get letters. Lovely, brilliant folks who like my writing often contact me to ask where to get my books. I love these people and I really want to make them happy. The problem is this: Both Love Inspired and Harlequin Romance, the two publishers I write for are known as 'category' or 'series' romance. That means, the books hit the shelves every month and are available everywhere books are sold for that month. Then, like the last spoon of ice cream, they disappear to be replaced by the next month's books. After that, the best and often only place to find them is at on-line bookstores that continue to carry them as long as they are in print.


My "Brothers' Bond" series has generated more mail (and awards!) than any books I've ever written and even though the last one was published last summer, I still get frantic (I love enthusiastic readers) emails from people who have read one or two and now want the rest. As hard as I have begged Steeple Hill to reprint those books, it hasn't happened yet. However, I did get a good bit of news. The first of the books is coming out in hardback from Thorndike Press very soon. Hopefully, the others will too. So, if you've missed the series the first go-round, stalk http://www.amazon.com/ or http://www.barnesandnoble.com/ for the hardback version.


Thanks so much for asking!!


P.S. Don't forget to visit the Wedding Planners' Blog for lots of fun and a chance to win a great prize. http://harlequin-theweddingplanners.blogspot.com/

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Aging Parents

It's funny how you never see it coming, and then one day you realize your only parent is getting old. Not just older, but old. To the point that suddenly, you become the parent of an adult who still thinks he can take care of himself, but who clearly can't.

I'm been incredibly sad about this for the past few weeks as I make decisions I never wanted to make. I want to have the grace and courage to do this right.

Ya'll pray for me, okay?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Shirley Hailstock

If you haven't read a Shirley Hailstock book, you're missing out. She's a hoot. Jump over the Wedding Planners' Blog and read about a hilariously clueless bride she once sold a dress to. You're gonna love it.

http://harlequin-theweddingplanners.blogspot.com/

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Great Contest Going On!

http://harlequin-theweddingplanners.blogspot.com/

Click over for a chance to win a tote bag filled with goodies, books, including a $25 gift certificate to Bed, Bath, and Beyond. Wow! Who couldn't use that?

Linda g

Friday, April 11, 2008

10-10 phone numbers

Any of you ever try to call internationally? I 'd never done it before today, but after "my" Ukranian orphan girls called me at 3 a.m., I had to make sure they were okay. After an hour of trying and searching, I finally figured out how to use a 10-10 number. They're a lot cheaper than ATT! But much more confusing to use. First you have to know the country code, which I didn't. I left this out or did something wrong anyway and ended up reaching a Spanish speaking country. No habla Espanol is the limit of my Spanish, so I hung up.

Finally, after many tries I reached Vika and Masha at their orphanage. They were fine. Someone had let them use a cell phone and they wanted to talk to me. Sweet girls. Even though my Russian is horrid and they don't speak English, we laughed and had fun for a few minutes. I didn't even mention the time difference.

Now, I'm afraid to get my phone bill! EEEK.

Anyone have any secrets for calling abroad? I'd love to know them.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Stormy Weather


The old song applies to Oklahoma today! Last night at 3 a.m. a huge thunderstorm moved through. We have one of those weather alert radios which wakes us up in bad weather, so we got up to check out the storm. Our dog, a rat terrier, is terrified of thunder so he was a nuisance and a total wreck. The vet gave us some anxiety tablets for him, but they don't seem to have much effect. When Mugsy is awake and scared, everyone is awake.

To add to the fun and excitement, our telephone rang, not once but several times. With lightning crashing and sizzling the lines, I wasn't too sure about answering. When we did, we were dismayed to find it was a child, calling from Ukraine, that we had hosted one Christmas. It was 11 a.m. in Ukraine. This was the first time ever she'd called, so I was very disappointed that the lightning cut us off.

Anyway, in all this fun, we received 5 inches of rain! We're going to appreciate that much better in August when the dry heat attacks.
How's the weather in your neighborhood????

Monday, April 07, 2008

Agent Research

I've been researching literary agents. Never having worked with agent, although I've had 29 book sales, I started to get interested in maybe, perhaps, someday hiring one. So I set out to find out as much as I could. I'm not done by any means, but a number of folks have asked to see my list. In a total act of self-interest, I decided to post the list here for your perusal. Please, please read my disclaimer. I'm researching and open to corrections and additions.



AGENTS LIST

Disclaimer: This is a personal list of info I’ve been gathering for my own use. Since I write both secular and Christian fiction, I wanted to find agents who not only are willing to work in both ABA and CBA, but who have shown a successful track record in both arenas. This list does pretend to be all inclusive and there could be errors. If you know for certain of a correction or an additional agent who works in both CBA and ABA, please let me know. I want to make this as correct as possible. Where possible I listed a website.



2008 - Agents who work in both CBA and ABA

Karen Solem – former editor, has been an agent a long time. Very successful and well respected. Colleen Coble’s agent. According to an article here, CBA authors make up 20% of her clientele with the rest being ABA. Could not find a website for her agency.
http://books.google.com/books?id=sHpBFqfSIr0C&pg=PA179&lpg=PA179&dq=spencerhill+associates+karen+solem+agent+CBA&source=web&ots=SAFw-ULCSk&sig=a2HGG4_a_PttbJxOm1xffErFwD4

Natasha Kern - Robin Hatcher’s agent. Comfortably sells in both ABA and CBA. Well respected and successful agent. Not specifically Christian. http://www.natashakern.com/

Browne/Miller Literary http://www.browneandmiller.com/ Formerly the late Jane Jordan Browne’s agency. Agents Angela Hunt. Probably not for category writers, but is respected in both ABA and CBA.

Claudia Cross – Sterling Lord literistics, Inc. was listed on the Thomas Nelson site as a recent sale (2-08) but a former author told me she is no longer taking CBA authors. She does have several CBA authors listed as well as many ABA authors. http://www.sll.com/

Deidre Knight & Pamela Harty (Knight Agency)– website shows she’s recently sold to a number of ABA AND CBA houses. An author who has used her told me Deidre had backed off CBA somewhat. An agent with a strong rep. Has a blog. www.knightagency.net

Janet Benrey www.benreyliterary.com, Mostly CBA but says she will work in ABA as well. Has several sales on her website to both.

Jennifer Jackson - Donald Maass Agency – agents Shelly Bates (Faithwords) Lots of ABA but Shelly was the only CBA author I found. http://www.maassagency.com/

Chip McGregor – mostly CBA sales, but a good number in ABA. Has had NYT bestsellers(Let’s Roll) and other very successful writers in the past. Several authors sang his praises. http://macgregorliterary.com/index.php

Mary Sue Seymour -- Takes only romance and Christian work. She has sales to big ABA houses and several CBA. Has sold to Steeple Hill. http://www.theseymouragency.com/titles.html

Wendy Lawson & Janet Kobobel Grant – Books and Such Agency. Primarily CBA. Agents Gayle Roper, plus a number of CBA authors (Robin Jones Guinn). Didn’t see any other ABA authors besides Gayle who sells to Steeple Hill. http://www.janetgrant.com/

Kelly Mortimer – small client list, a few sales in both arenas. Robin Miller’s agent (LIS) http://www.mortimerliterary.com/

Other agencies someone sent me:

Alive Communications – Major CBA Agency with many high-profile authors. Karen Kingsbury, Jerry Jenkins, etc. Found no ABA sales other than Love Inspired.
http://www.alivecommunications.com/aboutus.asp

Steve Laube - His website says his focus is the CBA. He does have a number of Steeple Hill (ABA) authors. Former editor, strong in CBA. http://www.stevelaube.com/authors.htm

Pattie Steele Perkins – can’t find a website so I have no info on her sales but she has several LI authors including LIH and HH author, Vicki Bylin. She does sell mostly in the ABA, I believe. No knowledge of sales into CBA houses.

Pam Hopkins – has some LI authors but isn’t that comfortable working with CBA publishers. She told me this herself. A great lady, honest and well respected in ABA.

Three Seas Agency –I checked her list of books sold for the last two years. Many ABA sales but none to a CBA house. Has sold to Steeple Hill LIS (Lisa Mondelllo) www.threeseaslit.com

Same with Pema Brown

Holly Root - The Waxman Agency - According to their website, this agency has many, many nonfiction sales and smattering of fiction, including two or three CBA sales of late. http://www.waxmanagency.com/

Meredith Bernstein – One Steeple Hill author I know of but no evidence of working with CBA houses. No website found. A well known and respected ABA agent with NYT bestselling authors. Tough negotiator.

Sha-Shana Chrichton – says she accepts insp. romance, but I cannot find any place where she’s sold to CBA.

Hartline agency – all agents seem interested in taking on both, but other than Love Inspired and Avalon, I didn’t find any ABA sales.. www.hartlineliterary.com

Marcy Posner-Sterling Lord Literistic, Inc. Can’t find any sales record on her or her interest list.

Elaine English – Website specifically says she does not take inspirational books http://www.elaineenglish.com/literary_services.html

Caren Johnson - Caren Johnson Literary Agency. No Christian authors on her website. No CBA sales http://cjla.squarespace.com/cjla-authors/