Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Falcon and the Sparrow by MaryLu Tyndall

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

The Falcon And The Sparrow

(Barbour Publishing, Inc - August 1, 2008)


M. L. Tyndall

M. L. (MARYLU) TYNDALL grew up on the beaches of South Florida loving the sea and the warm tropics. But despite the beauty around her, she always felt an ache in her soul—a longing for something more.

After college, she married and moved to California where she had two children and settled into a job at a local computer company. Although she had done everything the world expected, she was still miserable. She hated her job and her marriage was falling apart.

Still searching for purpose, adventure, and true love, she spent her late twenties and early thirties doing all the things the world told her would make her happy, and after years, her children suffered, her second marriage suffered, and she was still miserable.

One day, she picked up her old Bible, dusted it off, and began to read. Somewhere in the middle, God opened her hardened heart to see that He was real, that He still loved her, and that He had a purpose for her life, if she'd only give her heart to Him completely.

Her current releases in the Legacy of The Kings Pirates series include: The Restitution, The Reliance, and The Redemption.

When Mademoiselle Dominique Dawson sets foot on the soil of her beloved homeland, England, she feels neither the happiness nor the excitement she expected upon her return to the place of her birth. Alone for the first time in her life, without family, without friends, without protection, she now faces a far more frightening prospect, for she has come to the country she loves as an enemy—a spy for Napoleon.

Forced to betray England or never see her only brother alive again, Dominique has accepted a position as governess to the son of Admiral Chase Randal, a harsh man, still bitter over the loss of his wife. Will Dominique find the strength she needs through God to follow through with the plan to rescue her brother? Will Chase find comfort for his bitter heart in God's arms and be able to love again?

And what new deceptions will they both find in France when they arrive to carry out their plan?

If you would like to read an excerpt of The Falcon And The Sparrow, go HERE

Interview with MaryLu

MaryLu holds a special place in my heart, not only for the books she's written, but also for the dynamic writer she is. She truly has a heart for the Lord and it shows in her writing. Three years ago, when I was first going full-time with my editing service, I was a reader for Greg Johnson, WordServe Literary. One of the first manuscripts he sent me to read and review was The Redemption by M. L. Tyndall. As I read through her proposal, I wondered how on earth she was going to pull off a book about a Christian pirate. It seemed such an oxymoron. But very soon I was captivated, couldn't put the book down. Greg took her on, soon had a contract for her three books, and The Redemption was a 2007 Christy finalist in the historical category. When I finally met her in person at ICRS a couple years later, it was like meeting a good friend I hadn't seen for a while. God used this experience to confirm to me that going full-time into editing, reviewing, judging, and the many other things I've done as part of my job was exactly what He'd planned for me.

So with that introduction, I asked MaryLu some questions to help us get to know her and her work better.

How did you get started writing, and where has that journey taken you that you may not have expected starting out?
I’ve always written. As a young girl, I wrote stories, poems, and novels for entertainment. I excelled in my English classes but never considered writing as a career. Everyone told me I needed something more “substantial” to pay the bills! In my twenties I wrote a couple novels in my spare time and then again in my early 40s I picked up the pen again (or the computer keyboard) and decided to write an adventurous tale about Christian Pirates—a story that I’d had mulling about in my mind for some time and just had to get out! Still I had no hope of every seeing anything published. I was well aware of the slim chances of that in today’s competitive marketplace. But God had other plans! Miraculously, He opened door after door for my first published book, The Redemption. Since then I’ve had three more books published and six more under contract, so you definitely could say this journey has taken me by surprise.

How do you balance family life with writing?
Being a housewife, wife, and mother (cook, chauffeur, laundress, counselor, nurse, and all the other things we women do!) and managing a full time writing career has been challenging at best. But it’s always been important to me to keep my priorities in line. God first, family next, and then career. Each morning I set a word count goal for the day, or perhaps a goal to finish something for marketing, or work on my blog, or website or newsletter. I make it reasonable depending on what else I have on schedule for that day. And then I stick to it, even if it means I’m up late at night to finish. If I’m under a tight deadline, I’ll put off some of the things that don’t matter such as housework and cooking (ordering pizza is always a welcome event in my home!) and I will only answer my phone or the door to my office for family emergencies. All in all, if you place God first in everything, He will give you the time to complete the tasks He asks of you.

How does your walk with the Lord affect your writing? And how do you balance time with the Lord with your writing schedule?
Without the Lord, I wouldn’t have a writing career, nor would I have anything to write about, so my time alone with Him is the most important part of my day. That happens first thing in the morning before I get inundated with emails and other tasks pulling me in a million directions. If I didn’t spend time in the Bible and talking with Jesus, I doubt I could handle all the difficulties that come with being an author. My writing is a ministry through which I hope and pray that the words and stories God gives me can reach those people out there who need them the most, and hopefully draw them into the Savior’s loving arms.

Since my blog is geared to writers who want to improve their self-editing, could you briefly take us through your process of writing a novel—from conception to revision?
Idea: Unlike many writers, I don’t have an abundance of story ideas floating around in my head. When my publisher asks me for a new proposal, I immediately bend my knee and ask God what spiritual topics He wants me to address. So, I guess you could say that I usually start with a spiritual truth or theme that I want to get across. Once I have that, I choose a time period and location that excites me, then move to defining the main characters and plot. Depending on how much research I must do, I spend a couple weeks refining the idea and writing up a proposal.

Development: Once my publisher accepts the proposal, we sign a contract in which I am given a deadline to complete the novel. Though I consider myself more of a seat-of-the-pants writer, I do draw up a simple outline of the beginning of the novel, the 3 major crises the hero or heroine encounter, and the ending. As I’m working on this outline, ideas will come to me and I’ll jot them down on the appropriate place on the outline. I spend a great deal of time on character development. I keep a chart of each character that describes their role, physical attributes, goals, fears, weaknesses, strengths, ticks or quirks, and their spiritual journey. I decide how they will change both spiritually and in character throughout the story, and I list events that happen to aid them in that change. At this point, I also spend time doing research on the time period and place I’ve chosen. Sometimes this part of the writing process can take a couple of months, but it is extremely important.

Writing: I start at chapter 1 and dig in. On a good day, I can get 2000-4000 words written. I try and follow my outline as much as possible but sometimes the characters take off in a direction I wouldn’t have foreseen. For me, the first 30K words are the hardest part of any novel. I really struggle with these first chapters because I don’t know the characters as intimately as I’d like to at first. But once the characters begin to speak to me, the words fly onto the page. Each chapter gets sent to my critique group for analysis.

Self-revision: When I’m done with the novel, I print the whole thing off and then take a week off and do something else. When I come back to it, I read it word for word out loud and run each scene through a checklist I have for things I need to watch out for. Things such as character motivation, emotion, narrative, tension, dialogue beats, chapter endings, wording, character change. I make any changes I deem necessary and then turn it in to a freelance editor (Susan Lohrer) that I hire to polish it up. After that, it goes to my publisher.

Publisher: I’ll see the novel several more times after this because my publisher hires another editor to go over the novel with a fine-tooth comb and I’ll work with her back and forth to correct anything else. Then, I’ll see the galleys later on in the process and that will be my final chance to change any minor thing I see.

What kinds of things do you have to revise once the editor at a publishing house gets done with your manuscript?
Of course that depends on the novel, but in the four books I’ve had published, I’ve revised nearly everything you can think of! Making characters stronger or sometimes softening them a bit, bringing secondary characters more on stage, deleting scenes, adding new ones, clarifying confusing sections, deleting words or gestures not appropriate to my publisher’s standards :), changing words not appropriate for the time period, and of course the usual grammar and punctuation errors.

Would you tell us a little about your future projects?
I’m very excited about the series I’m working on now called, Charles Towne Belles. The three books are set in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1718 and revolve around three sisters, daughters of a British Admiral stationed there. Each sister represents a seed found in the parable of the sower in Matthew 13. In The Red Siren, the first book, the heroine becomes a secret pirate in order to procure enough money to protect her sisters from unwanted marriages, but her plans are thwarted when she falls in love with a Navy Captain hot on her trail.

Finally, would you discuss The Falcon and the Sparrow? The research, the idea, and the scope of the project?
The Falcon and the Sparrow takes place in London of 1803 during a time of great upheaval in Europe due to Napoleon’s rise to power. The story revolves around a young orphaned lady, Dominique, who is being forced to spy on her homeland Britain or her only brother will be executed by Napoleon. She is sent to the home of a British Admiral to procure secret naval documents for the French, but once there, she finds herself torn between her growing love for the admiral and his son and saving her only brother. What’s special about this story for me is that the heroine, Dominique, is not like most heroines you find in Romances. Dominique is shy, insecure, and nervous. She battles constant doubts about God, her faith, and whether she is pursing the right course. Yet, I wanted to show through her story that though we may feel unsure and frightened, God does not abandon us and He will give us the strength we need when we need it.

I had to do quite a bit of research for this book because I had very limited knowledge of this time period and place. I spent a month going through every book I could find on Regency London. I read online articles, subscribed to British magazines, and enlisted the aid of a Regency expert.

Thank you so much, MaryLu! We appreciate your time and the opportunity to spotlight your work.
Thank you Margie! It’s been my pleasure.

Interview with Patricia Hickman

Today, as promised, we have an interview with Patty Hickman about her newest release, Painted Dresses, and her writing life in general. Go here to see the post on Painted Dresses.

How did you get started writing, and where has that journey taken you that you may not have expected starting out?
Author Gilbert Morris invited me into a writer’s critique group back in 1992. We met weekly and Gilbert critiqued our manuscripts. It was an invaluable experience. I was published one year later with Bethany House.

How do you balance family life with writing?
My youngest is now going off to college, so it’s getting easier. But when I was writing my first novel, my husband came home with three displaced children for us to care for in addition to our own three. I had to get up at three in the morning and write until daybreak when it was time to get the kids up for school. They ranged in age from eighteen months old to eleven years old. An au pair moved in with us to help out, but still, it was very stressful. I learned that if I want to do something badly enough, I’ll make time to do it.

How does your walk with the Lord affect your writing? And how do you balance time with the Lord with your writing schedule?
My husband is a pastor, so you would think I would be saturated in Bible study. But I had to discipline myself to study the Bible and study it correctly. I joined a year long Bible study recommended by my friend Francine Rivers. After a year of application I could study on my own. That also helped me to study in preparation for a teaching platform.

But the temptation is to take what you learn and slap it onto the plot of a novel. A novel is a different vehicle for story and requires an exacting and also subtle application. The faith message comes through naturally and often in a surprising way. Just think about how you are surprised when someone tells you that they’ve noticed that you are a religious person and they want to ask your advice about a problem. You’re surprised because it was such a natural occurrence; if you had forced it, you might have blown it. I have to trust that God is both Super and Natural. So the application to story comes through a trust in Him to show me where he wants a truth applied.

Since my blog is geared to writers who want to improve their self-editing, could you briefly take us through your process of writing a novel—from conception to revision?
Haha! I’m laughing at the thought of me doing anything briefly:
• The concept comes over time; sure, sometimes a note scribbled on a napkin, but often through a story I hear from real life. I turn it over and over in my mind until I realize one day that it’s a viable amount of story that can translate into a sizable fictive piece.
• I’ve written every book a little differently. But in order to speed up the process, I have to allow the story to flow onto the page in short scenes. They are not finished because I have to get at least twenty-five or more chapters full of scenes to know what the story is really about. Then I go back to the beginning; things I didn’t know about the character are starting to be revealed. I know her better and we’re becoming comfortable in our dialogue—yes, I talk to my central character. I ask her questions in the morning, often scribbling my questions down on notes. Then the scenes I write that day will provide a piece of the answer to the questions I asked her that morning.
• I allow for the mysterious to arise. That means that I know at the start that many things I’m searching to unearth in the central character’s life are an unknown variable. That gives me permission to play with the story clay. Like a sculptor who feels that the artwork is telling the artist what it’s supposed to be, I sense that same awe very often as this mysterious clay takes on story form. I might be on the eighth revision before that one little element is revealed that I’ve searched to understand. So while the reader is discovering it in a matter of seconds, it took many, many drafts for me to find that mysterious part that either speaks to the story as a whole or reveals a character’s hidden motivation.
• When a novel is finished, I’ve amassed a mountain of notes and research. The notes from Painted Dresses fills six legal size manila envelopes and two legal file folders.

What kinds of things do you have to revise once your editor gets done with your manuscript?
It’s pretty clean when I turn it in. But I’m always hungry for the substantive edit, that’s the edit that covers the main ideas and themes in the story. The editor and I will discuss these elements and why they work or don’t work. We’re looking for a seamless story, no authorial intrusion or places that cause the reader to have to go back and re-read the text because it flows well. If we’ve done our job right, then the reader should say things like, “I couldn’t put it down.”

Would you tell us a little about your future projects?
My next novel takes place in the Outer Banks in a little town called Oriental. That’s a real town name. I love this town because it’s populated by imaginative people. Artists live in Oriental and they paint enormous dragon’s eggs in very fanciful ways and then place them around town in giant nests with signs that say “Natural Nesting Grounds For Oriental Dragons.” Living in North Carolina means I don’t have to go far to find the exotic.

In this story, a wealthy socialite from Lake Norman (my nesting ground) is about to move out to her second home in Oriental to escape a loveless marriage. But just as she’s about to leave, her philandering husband walks in and tells her that he is sick. He has a terminal illness. Now she has to take care of the husband she was about to leave. To make it worse, he wants her to move him to their beach house in Oriental where he can convalesce. Then their three grown children, spouses, and grandchildren converge on them with all of their sundry problems. So her plan to take off for that summer to find herself is invaded by the very people she sought to escape. The situation creates a great setting for calamity and all kinds of great havoc and also for redemption and love.

Finally, would you discuss Painted Dresses? The research, the idea, and the scope of the project?
Painted Dresses is described as a “Thelma and Louise” type of plot. Gaylen Syler-Boatwright has come home to Boiling Waters, North Carolina, to bury her father. Gaylen’s marriage is falling apart but she’s not forthcoming about why, at least not to her meddlesome relatives. But her adult sister Delia shoots a woman who is the sister of a drug dealer. Gaylen has very cleverly and artfully avoided crisis-addicted Delia and her problems by moving out of their hometown. Now she’s suddenly helping Delia run away from the man who seeks to kill her. Gaylen and Delia hide out in their dead aunt’s mountain cottage. While there, the sisters discover an odd collection of painted dresses. Aunt Amity had collected them over the years, dipping the dresses in paint and fastening them to canvas. Each painted dress is bequeathed to the woman who first owned the dress. So Gaylen decides that they have to deliver the dresses house-to-house. But as they continue to run from the drug dealer and deliver these dresses, each stopping-off point provides them with a bit more information about their painted over pasts. So the sister’s road trip becomes a metaphor for Gaylen’s internal landscape.

I live in North Carolina and visit the Outer Banks for research. The blending of the old South with the new commerce that has changed the culture is now called the New South. It’s this New South that creates the backdrop for Gaylen’s story.

I was already writing Painted Dresses at the same time that I was on my own journey to understand the pain in my family and the things covered over by my parents. At first I had trouble separating Gaylen’s story from mine. That slowed down progress. I had to separate my story from Gaylen’s in order to allow it to take on this heightened story concept: the story of two sister’s on the road and on the run, journeying to find out the truth about the family secrets covered over by their mother.

Then, after a time of spiritual recovery, I developed a platform message called “Stranger Than Fiction” that we’re currently publicizing to women’s conferences and broadcast media. The truth is that nothing is as strangely wonderful as God’s grace, and how he makes it available to us in extravagant measure. Just when I thought that I was at the end of madness with no sane place to go, God once again provided stability.

Thank you so much, Patty! We appreciate your time and the opportunity to spotlight your work.
My pleasure, Marjorie. You may visit my website which is under construction, http://www.patriciahickman.com; but if you visit my blog at Words to Go, you can find out many things, where I’ll be next, and also watch me on YouTube! Thank you for inviting me!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Quotations to Meditate On

Do you ever run across a quote when you're reading, listening to a sermon, singing a hymn, or any other place quotations are, that just won't leave you alone? I do, all the time. Here are three that I've run across in the past couple of weeks:

Any time truth involves a total commitment in which you will bring yourself to complete humility, to the surrender of your will, you will always have resistance. (Pastor Don Hall—don't know if he quoted from someone else or not. *Smile*)

To move from wishful thinking to reality, you need to be willing to make necessary sacrifices to make change possible. (E-Word Today)

In life, God sets the terms. We don't. (E-Word Today) The more I think on this one, I realize it's related to the other two. Many time my wishful thinking takes the form of daydreaming about doing what I know God wants me to do. And I always have an agenda for accomplishing those things. BUT in reality God overrules my plans with His much-better ones. And when I surrender to that, then comes the resistance from myself, the world, or Satan. Obedience requires sacrifice of our own selfish desires, a dying to self.

Much more to think about here! But I'm done "sermonizing" for today.

Daily Bible reading: Tuesday, July 29—Psalms 49–50; Acts 20:1–16
Wednesday, July 30—Psalms 51–53; Acts 20:17–38
Thursday, July 31—Psalms 54–56; Acts 21:1–17
Friday, August 1—Psalms 57–59; Acts 21:18–40
Saturday, August 2—Psalms 60–62; Acts 22
Sunday, August 3—Psalms 63–65; Acts 23:1–15
Monday, August 4—Psalms 66–67; Acts 23:16–35

Friday, July 25, 2008

Painted Dresses by Patricia Hickman

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Painted Dresses

(WaterBrook Press - July 15, 2008)


Patricia Hickman

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Margie's comments: With traveling and work this week, I've not had time to read Painted Dresses yet, but ever since Patty spoke of it CCWC and touched on the background behind the story, I've been looking forward to reading it. So a review and an interview with Patty is coming shortly.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Try Darkness by James Scott Bell

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Try Darkness

(Center Street - July 30, 2008)


James Scott Bell


JAMES SCOTT BELL is a former trial lawyer who now writes full time. He has also been the fiction columnist for Writers Digest magazine and adjunct professor of writing at Pepperdine University.

The national bestselling author of several novels of suspense, he grew up and still lives in Los Angeles. His first Buchanan thriller, Try Dying, was released to high critical praise, while his book on writing, Plot and Structure is one of the most popular writing books available today.


Ty Buchanan is living on the peaceful grounds of St. Monica’s, far away from the glamorous life he led as a rising trial lawyer for a big L.A. firm. Recovering from the death of his fiancée and a false accusation of murder, Buchanan has found his previous ambitions unrewarding. Now he prefers offering legal services to the poor and the underrepresented from his “office” at local coffee bar The Freudian Sip. With his new friends, the philosophizing Father Bob and basketball-playing Sister Mary Veritas, Buchanan has found a new family of sorts.

One of his first clients is a mysterious woman who arrives with her six-year-old daughter. They are being illegally evicted from a downtown transient hotel, an interest that Ty soon discovers is represented by his old law firm and his former best friend, Al Bradshaw. Buchanan won’t back down. He’s going to fight for the woman’s rights.

But then she ends up dead, and the case moves from the courtroom to the streets. Determined to find the killer and protect the little girl, who has no last name and no other family, Buchanan finds he must depend on skills he never needed in the employ of a civil law firm.
The trail leads Buchanan through the sordid underbelly of the city and to the mansions and yachts of the rich and famous. No one is anxious to talk.

But somebody wants Buchanan to shut up. For good.

Now he must use every legal and physical edge he knows to keep himself and the girl alive.
Once again evoking the neo-noir setting of contemporary Los Angeles, Bell delivers another thriller where darkness falls and the suspense never rests.

If you would like to read chapters 1 & 2, go HERE

“Bell has created in Buchanan an appealing and series-worthy protagonist, and the tale equally balances action and drama, motion and emotion. Readers who pride themselves on figuring out the answers before an author reveals them are in for a surprise, too: Bell is very good at keeping secrets. Fans of thrillers with lawyers as their central characters—Lescroart and Margolin, especially—will welcome this new addition to their must-read lists.”

“Engaging whodunit series kickoff . . . Readers will enjoy Bell's talent for description and character development.”
—Publishers Weekly

“James Scott Bell has written himself into a niche that traditionally has been reserved for the likes of Raymond Chandler.”
—Los Angeles Times

“A master of suspense.”
—Library Journal

“One of the best writers out there, bar none.”
—In the Library Review

Interview with Jim Bell:

Thank you, Jim, for joining us today on The Writer's Tool.

First, how did you get started writing, and where has that journey taken you that you may not have expected starting out?

I studied writing in college, even took a course from Raymond Carver. But I was told (and believed) that writing "can't be taught." And I couldn't plot to save my life. I thought that gift had been withheld from me. Years later, after a few twists and turns, I determined I had to write, no matter what. I set out to see if I could buck the odds and actually learn the craft. That was back in 1988 and I haven't stopped.

I did not expect to have so many books done in the last 10 years. I never felt rushed, though. I credit it to the best writing advice I ever got, which is to do a daily quota of words. I do it by the week now, and the discipline hasn't let me down.

How do you balance family life with writing?

I do most of my writing in the morning. When my kids were little, I'd always be up before the rest of the family, pounding away at the keyboard. It worked out nicely. There's never been a balance issue, except maybe when I have a killer deadline. Then I get cranky.

How does your walk with the Lord affect your writing? And how do you balance time with the Lord with your writing schedule?

The first thing I do in the morning is devotional. It has to be, or everything else gets thrown off. That's been a discipline for years. It helps to have a CD library on the computer, too. Right now I'm going through the works of A. W. Tozer, one of my all time favorite writers, a little bit each day.

Since my blog is geared to writers who want to improve their self-editing, could you briefly take us through your process of writing a novel—from conception to revision?

Wow. I've written two whole books on the subject . . . but I'll try to summarize.
[Margie: And they are very good! I highly recommend them: Plot and Structure and Revision and Self-Editing, both published by Writer’s Digest Books. I strongly encourage my clients to get their own copies and study them.]

I have a file of ideas that I keep adding to. What ifs, stories from the paper, odd things that occur to me, character sketches, and much more. Every now and then I go through this and take the ones that interest me and develop them a little. Some of those I put on what I call my "front burner." Eventually, I have to choose the ones I really want to turn into a novel.

I do a lot of free form conceptualizing, but eventually lay out a skeleton, using my LOCK System (Lead, Objective, Confrontation, Knock Out). That has to be solid or I'm not ready to write.

When I do write, I keep to a quota. I don't do extensive revisions as I write. I revise the previous day's work, then continue. At 20,000 words or so, I do what I call a "step back," to make sure the story is solid. Then I go on to finish.

After a cooling period, I read a hard copy of the book like a reader, and use just a few shorthand jottings on the pages. Basically I follow the "ultimate revision checklist" I have in my revision book. Then comes the digging in and revising the manuscript before I send it to my editor.

What kinds of things do you have to revise once the editor at a publishing house gets done with your manuscript?

Usually it's story logic. Have I justified everything? Are the characters making moves that are understandable? Does the plot make overall sense? Are the motivations right? That sort of thing.

Would you tell us a little about your future projects?

I am working on the next Ty Buchanan book, Try Fear. And developing a stand-alone thriller after that. I wrote a screenplay for hire last year, and that was so much fun (returning to my screenwriting roots) that I'm working on spec suspense screenplay in my "spare" time.

Finally, would you discuss Try Darkness? The research, the idea, and the scope of the project?

The research is pretty basic and simple: I drive around my city. I visit the locations and take pictures, and try to be as authentic as possible.

What gets Buchanan into this story is an indigent woman with a six-year-old daughter. She's been given the bum's rush at a downtown hotel, and Buchanan looks into it. Then she's murdered, leaving the daughter vulnerable. Buchanan takes her into his own protective custody, and with the help of the basketball playing nun, Sister Mary Veritas, tries to find out what happened. Leading, of course, to more trouble.

In Try Darkness we go from the lower depths of the transients near Skid Row, to the mansions and yachts of the uber wealthy. In L.A., you get this mix all over. By the way, if anyone's interested in why I write what I do, this essay appeared in the Los Angeles Daily News: http://www.dailynews.com/search/ci_9845055

Thank you so much, Jim! We appreciate your time and the opportunity to spotlight your work.

It's been my pleasure.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Kristy Dykes—With the Lord

I'm grieving today for the Dykes family who has lost a wife, mother, and grandmother, and for the Christian writing community, at the passing of a wonderful romance writer, Kristy Dykes.

I "met" Kristy several years ago when I was privileged to proofread or copy edit her books. The last one I copy edited was a part of Barbour's Kiss the Bride novella collection. I met her in person very briefly at one of the ACFW conferences. Eight months ago Kristy was diagnosed with a brain tumor and given six months to live. I've followed her story the last few months on her blog, Christian Love Stories. Lately, Milton, her husband, has been posting for her, and we've been able to follow this journey in detail. Kristy loved the Lord passionately and that love spilled over to Milton, their two daughters, Julie and Jennifer, and their grandchildren. Her passion for life and love for people fueled her ministries. We will miss Kristy, but she is now rejoicing with her Savior and other loved ones in heaven today.

If you haven't been following Kristy's story, do check out her blog. And if you haven't read her books, check out her page on Barbour's Web site. You can also find her books on sale here. You will be blessed by her testimony that always pointed others to Christ.

Monday, July 21, 2008

American Christian Fiction Writers September Conference 2008

It’s that time of year again to register for the American Christian Fiction Writers annual conference held in September. This year we are descending on Minneapolis and the Sheraton, Bloomington, for four days (if you count the early bird session) of great information, networking, and fellowshipping with other Christian fiction writers. Barnes & Noble is hosting our annual authors signing at the Mall of America, too. (I’m not a shopper, but even I want to visit this mall.)

This is my fifth ACFW conference, and I’m looking forward to once again seeing many of the friends I’ve made during my four years of being a member. While the first three years were invaluable in furthering my fiction writing abilities, last year’s conference was entirely different. There I experienced more emotional and spiritual healing than the nuts and bolts of writing. And it was exactly why I needed to be there. (To read more about that start here. There are four posts, I believe.)

I don’t know what the Lord has for me this year, but whatever it is, it will be good.

The keynote speaker is Angie Hunt. I’m excited, not only because I count her as one of my friends and mentors since I first got accepted into a fiction clinic she was leading at CCWC four or five years ago but also because she’s an excellent writer and speaker and is always striving to learn more of her craft and of her Lord.

I’ve also signed up for the early bird session again this year with Margie Lawson. She gives so much material out in each workshop I’ve attended (one in person, two online) that it’s well worth the time and money to take again.

This year my sister is joining me at the conference. She’s a new member of ACFW though she’s long been the better writer. We have plans to collaborate on several books, and I’m sure the conference will help get our creative juices flowing.

The workshops, late night chats, and general sessions are all saturated with the Lord’s presence. All are carefully chosen each year to provide the most training possible in the few days we are together.

I’m looking forward to another good conference, and I’d love to see many of my blog readers (those of you who are writers) there. For more information on the conference and ACFW go to www.acfw.com.

Daily Bible reading: Tuesday, July 22—Psalms 31–32; Acts 16:1–21
Wednesday, July 23—Psalms 33–34; Acts 16:22–40
Thursday, July 24—Psalms 35–36; Acts 17:1–15
Friday, July 25—Psalms 37–39; Acts 17:16–34
Saturday, July 26—Psalms 40–42; Acts 18
Sunday, July 27—Psalms 43–45; Acts 19:1–20
Monday, July 28—Psalms 46–48; Acts 19:21–41

Friday, July 18, 2008

Promises, Promises by Amber Miller

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Promises, Promises

Barbour - July, 2008


Amber Miller


Hi, I'm Amber, but my friends call me Tiff, short for Tiffany, my first name. Writing had always been a hobby, a way for me to express my innermost thoughts and feelings in a way I sometimes find difficult with the spoken word—although my friends will tell you "shy" is not in my vocabulary. Thanks to the gentle nudging of a fellow author—Tracie Peterson—in 2002, I took the next step in my writing career and joined the American Christian Fiction Writers. I owe all so many there a hearty hug of appreciation for their constant encouragement and unselfish assistance. I feel a lot more confident thanks to their support and love. For those of you who are also fiction writers looking for a wonderful support group, check them out!

I got involved with Web design in 1997, when I was asked to take over running the official Web site for the television series Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. That eventually led to a series of negotiations where I was offered the job of running world-renowned actress Jane Seymour's official fan site. That has branched into doing Web sites for a variety of clients, including: authors J.M. Hochstetler, Trish Perry, Kathy Pride, Louise M. Gouge, Susan Page Davis, and Jill Elizabeth Nelson, actor William Shockley (the voice of AT&T and Sony), and many others. With the help of a handful of other Web site "technos," Eagle Designs was born! Feel free to visit and see our other clients.

Books are a definite passion. Why else would I be writing and publishing them? I firmly believe that a good book can take you away from all of your problems, into a world you've never seen. My favorite food is Italian; I sing all the time, and I once worked with my church choir to do a professional recording for a music CD of our performances.

I am in my 30's, married the love of my life in July 2007, and live in beautiful Colorado, but I love to travel and visit new places. Ultimately, my dream is to own horses and live in a one-level rancher nestled in the mountains. For now, I will remain where I am and do what I love—design Web sites and write.


Raelene Strattford knows God has promised never to leave or forsake her. But after the catastrophic deaths of her parents, she doesn t believe it. What kind of God would take a girl's family and leave her alone in a wild land where women have no voice? Gustaf Hanssen has admired Raelene from afar for a while, but his poor attempt at courting her in the past has made him unwelcome in her life. When Gustaf promises Raelene's dying father that he will take care of her, he finds himself bound to her happiness, her success, and her well-being in ways he never imagined. To keep his word must Gustaf really oversee all of Raelene's affairs, find her a husband, and maintain her farm, while she does nothing but scorn him? Can God reach through Raelene's pain and self-centeredness and give her the love that awaits, if only she will accept His will?

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

At this time, Promises, Promises can only be purchased through the
Heartsong Book Club.

Margie's comments: Last evening, I took Promises, Promises with me to the Laundromat. (Here in Georgia we live in a very basic apartment out in the country. Smile. So we make a weekly trip into the closest "big" town to do laundry and grocery shopping.) In between washing and drying our clothes I got to read an excellent love story . . . and learn more about the early settlers to our country. That's why I love to read historicals—I love learning about how people lived, worked, and yes, loved in the times before us. And I'm not really picky about time periods or locations. Tiff made her characters come alive as they faced some unusual circumstances and worked through conflicts that we don't normally consider difficulties today. Like a woman alone trying to do business in a man's world. I enjoyed taking the journey to love with Raelene and Gustaf as they were forced by law and by a father's dying wish to work together to provide a home for Raelene in a rough, new world. As a proofreader for Barbour, I've read a lot of Heartsongs over the years, and Promises, Promises ranks pretty near the top of my favorites. I look forward to reading many more books by this author.

I'm glad I can count Tiff as one of my friends in the writing world. And over the past year since she married and moved to Colorado, I've gotten to know her better. This week she graciously allowed me to interview her. I think you'll enjoy reading this interview as much as I enjoyed it.

Thanks, Tiff, for joining us today on The Writer's Tool.

How did you get started writing, and where has that journey taken you that you may not have expected starting out?

My journey began many years ago. I wrote my first short story in 5th grade with several accolades from both my teacher and my fellow students. It was even entered into a “Young Writers of America” contest and placed but didn’t get selected for publication. Ever since I learned to read at age 3-1/2, I’ve been telling stories, and I could often easily keep a captive audience. Writing seemed to be a natural progression from the verbal. And in high school, my senior English teacher saw potential as well, encouraging me to pursue a career in writing. I chose an Education degree at the time, but that wasn’t a good fit for me.

In 1997, I wrote my first fan fiction and received a lot of encouragement and feedback that made me realize I might be able to make something of this ability. It took me another 5 years and encouragement from Tracie Peterson (one of my favorite authors) before I took the step professionally to begin a career by joining a national organization called ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers).

I did everything I could to improve my skills and develop my craft. I bought writing books, studied a wide variety of fiction, conversed with other writers and authors, attended conferences, purchased audio recordings of workshops and presentations, and soaked up as much information as I could handle. Four years later, I sold my first book and took the rather scary step into the world of authorship.

You’re still a newlywed, how do you balance family life with writing?

To be honest, since Stu and I married just after our 20’s, we had a lot of time to figure out who we are separate from each other and were able to share that with the other one. This has helped us tremendously with how we utilize our time and still make sure to be there when the other one needs us. We’re not the young married couple clinging to each other at every turn and impossible to separate.

Stu works outside the home, and I don’t. So that gives me a significant block of time during the day to take care of business related to my Web site clients, read and answer e-mails and get some writing done. He calls me when he leaves work, and I start dinner. When I’m not on a deadline, we enjoy a movie or TV or a card/board game in the evenings for about 2 hours after dinner.

How does your walk with the Lord affect your writing? And how do you balance time with the Lord with your writing schedule?

I turn each and every book over to Him first and foremost. I ask that He guide my fingers over the keyboard and write the story He wants written. Because my walk with the Lord is an ongoing, all-day dialogue, it’s closely intertwined with just about everything I do, including my writing. I often find lessons learned through the characters’ experiences in my books, or the editing process, or research as well.

I’ll admit it’s tempting to skip church when I’m on a deadline and the story isn’t coming, but I don’t. I realize I need that time to worship and fellowship and get a break from the book. Otherwise, I risk my writing not being refreshed or containing the underlying theme God wants me to have.

Since my blog is geared to writers who want to improve their self-editing, could you briefly take us through your process of writing a novel—from conception to revision?

Wow! This is a loaded question. But, since I wrote my very first complete book in 19 days and my second in 27 days, I’ll use those as the “brief” process. When I get an idea for a book, I usually sit down immediately and dump my thoughts on paper, then save it. That way, even if I can’t write immediately, I won’t lose the idea.

From the time the idea strikes, I begin planning what types of events and situations I’ll include. I start with my 2 primary characters and build upon them with friends, family and acquaintances. I put at least one of them (maybe two or three) in a situation to open the book by jumping right into the action, then let the story tell itself from there. I don’t often have an exact plan how the story will go, but I have a general guideline and outline to use as reference.

When I really get into a story, the words fly from my fingers. Because I am a bit of a perfectionist, I can’t often progress forward until I’m certain I have the primary bits of the story in place before moving to the next chapter. This means I might stop in the middle of a scene to do a little research or consult a writing book on how to “fix” a problem that’s bogging me down. If I can’t find it within 5–10 minutes, though, I skip it, make a notation, and move on. I also edit as I go, rather than dump and come back later to edit.

This process continues until I type the last word of the book. Then, I take a few days off from the story and come back to it with fresh eyes to make any necessary revisions. Since I am overly detailed in the initial draft, revisions for me don’t usually take too long. Even when I get the edits back from my editor after submission, most of the changes are minor compared to the overall flow and characterization and motivations throughout the story.

My own changes, the ones from my editors, and the suggestions from a couple of select readers who preview my work, all combine and take me a maximum of two weeks of work after the first draft is done. Altogether, it would probably take me 4–6 weeks to write a novel the size of Heartsong Presents books (mass-market). For trade-length, though, it would likely take me about 3–4 months, because there are so many more layers to weave into the story.

Oh, and I also have an online critique group of 2 other writers, plus an in-person critique group which meets weekly. They all point out the overuse of words, plot issues, character inconsistencies, and dialogue ID issues.

It’s definitely a team effort, and I’d be lost without those who help make my books shine in a way I could never do alone.

What kinds of things do you have to revise once the editor at a publishing house gets done with your manuscript?

From my experience, it hasn’t been a lot. Although, I will say there was a significant issue in my 3rd book where I had to do major revisions in the overall story. They wanted me to change the opening 2 chapters, which meant I had to go through every subsequent chapter to adjust the references back to the beginning.

Other than that, the minor fixes are made by my proofreaders and copyeditors at Barbour. The other corrections such as consistency, timeline issues, 2-dimensional character reactions, or plot issues, are all listed with chapters and page numbers and e-mailed to me with a proofed copy of the manuscript. I am given a deadline to get those changes back to my copyeditor. After that, I receive the galleys a couple months later.

So far, I haven’t had much to change. And that makes me feel good about the quality of the manuscripts I’m giving them.

Would you tell us a little about your future projects?

Book #3 is next up on the release schedule for December 2008. It’s the 3rd and final book in the Delaware Brides series and takes readers through the Revolutionary War, but from the perspective of Delaware’s significance in the events.

I have sold 4 books with the promise of 2 more and 2 repackages of those 6 novels into anthologies. By the end of 2009, I'll have 7 books in print. This year, I'm working on finding an agent so I can present my books to a variety of publishers and diversify a little more. I have 2 historical novels and 2 contemporary I’m trying to sell so I can break into trade-length fiction.

Right now, I’m working on book #5, which is the 2nd book in the Michigan Brides series. Book #1 was just submitted on July 15th. It releases in May 2009.

Finally, would you discuss Promises, Promises? The research, the idea, and the scope of the project?

About five years ago, I was driving by a house that I passed almost every day while running my usual errands. I spotted the historic marker at the edge of the driveway with a notation that said, “circa 1740.” I thought to myself, “If only those walls could speak.” What a story they would tell!

That started me on a research journey where I learned everything I could about the home. When I ran into a snag where historic details weren’t provided or were incomplete, I took a literary license and . . . made it up!

The “what if” moment came when I tried to develop the premise. Some excellent advice given to me said to take your character to a point that seems hopeless . . . and make it worse. So I asked, “What if a heroine with no siblings also loses her parents, then finds herself as the sole owner of land in a new world where women have no voice, feeling as if God has forsaken her?”

And thus, Promises, Promises was born!

The research required quite a bit. I had to dig into archives of letters and newspaper articles to get a feel for the voice and speech patterns. I also had to study the clothing and the everyday activities of the farming person along with the more elite members of society. Drawing the reader into the setting and making them feel lost in the past is important to me. It's what makes certain historical novels a part of my favorites list, so I try to do that for the ones I write as well.

When I began writing that first one, I knew it wouldn’t stop with just one book. So, I planned 2 others in the series, and they all became Delaware Brides.

Thank you so much, Tiff! We appreciate your time and the opportunity to spotlight your work.

Thank *you*, Margie, for hosting me and spotlighting my book. I appreciate the support. Looking forward to when I can return the favor!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Sisterchicks Go Brit by Robin Jones Gunn

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Sisterchicks Go Brit

Multnomah Publishers (May 20, 2008)


Robin Jones Gunn


Robin grew up in Orange County, California, and has lived in all kinds of interesting places, including Reno and Hawaii.

Robin’s first novel was published in 1988, and she has continued to write between two to five books a year. Her 63 published books include 47 novels, all of which are still in print. Sales of her popular Christy Miller Series, Glenbrooke Series, and Sisterchicks Series, including Sisterchicks in Gondolas, and the new Katie Weldon Series, including Peculiar Treasures, all of which are approaching four million copies sold, with translations in nine languages.

Robin’s passion for storytelling and travel are evident in all her books, especially the Sisterchicks novels, and she has received thousands of letters from readers around the world who have come to know Christ through her writing. She sees this as her dream come true. Her novels are traveling to foreign lands and her characters are doing what she always longed to do—telling people about God’s love.

She and her husband currently live near Portland, Oregon, and have been married for 30 years. They spent their first 22 years of marriage working together in youth ministry, and enjoying life with their son and daughter who are now both grown.

As a frequent speaker at local and international events, one of Robin’s favorite topics is how God is the Relentless Lover and we are His first love. She delights in telling stories of how God uses fiction to change lives.

Robin is the recipient of the Christy Award, the Mt. Hermon Pacesetter Award, the Sherwood E. Wirt Award, and she is a Gold Medallion Finalist. She also serves on the Board of Directors for Media Associates International and the Board of Directors for Jerry Jenkins’ Christian Writers’ Guild.

SISTERCHICK® n: a friend who shares the deepest wonders of your heart, loves you like a sister, and provides a reality check when you’re being a brat.

Two midlife mamas hop over to jolly ole England and encounter so much more than the usual tourist stops. Liz does have a bit of a childhood crush on Big Ben, and she has hoped to “meet” him ever since her fifteenth birthday. Kellie dreams of starting an interior design business and figures Liz needs to be a part of that equation—a calculation that hasn’t added up for Liz yet.

Nothing on the excursion goes the way these two friends had envisioned. They start with a village pancake race and end up being held for questioning on The Underground. Kellie and Liz take a wild tour through the land of C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien and then find themselves swept up, up, and away in a hot air balloon over the Cotswalds. London beckons with the Tower of London, Windsor Castle, shopping at Portabella Road in Knotting Hill, and of course, reservations at the Ritz for a posh high tea.

A few detours along the way and the possibility of being lost in a London fog of wonderment aren’t enough to stop these two Sisterchicks! Each step of their regal journey is lined with evidence of God’s gracious compassion, and both come to realize that God knows their every wish. He is the One who planted every dream in their hearts.

And, oh, what a surprise awaits them when they return home!

To read the first chapter, go HERE

“Robin has done it again! You and your Sisterchicks will love taking this new adventure together!”
- Karen Kingsbury, New York Times best-selling author of Between Sundays and Ever After

“My only complaint about Robin’s latest is that now I want to hop a plane to England! But combine a cup of Earl Grey tea and this charming story and you’re halfway there. Another delightful tale about women helping women to live their lives to the fullest.”
- Melody Carlson, author of These Boots Weren’t Made for Walking and A Mile in My Flip-Flops

Sisterchicks in Gondolas is a true delight. The characters shine, and evocative language will make any reader want to visit Venice. Biblical truths are portrayed simply, yet will touch hearts and lives with their realistic application.”
- Romantic Times magazine

Margie's comments: I'm looking forward to reading this newest installment in the Sisterchicks series. As I said yesterday, Roger and I are celebrating our 30th anniversary with a trip to England and Scotland in October. We plan to visit some of the same places Liz and Kellie visited, so it will be fun to have an added perspective. So stay tuned for a review (when I get caught up on my reading/review pile!), and quite possibly a rehash later, after we're back from exploring our family roots.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Searching for Spice by Megan DiMaria

Yesterday Roger and I celebrated our thirtieth wedding anniversary. Hard to believe that much time has passed since we committed our lives to one another and to God. God has truly blessed our marriage, and while neither one of us is perfect, we do love each other more than we did thirty years ago. God is good! We aren’t having a huge celebration now, but in October we’re going to England and Scotland to celebrate and to visit our daughter who lives and works in London.

When I first read our featured book for today, I identified strongly with the main character, in that she wanted to have a steamy affair . . . with her husband! Shortly after I did the requested assessment on this manuscript for Megan, she received a two-book contract from Tyndale for Searching for Spice and Out of Her Hands, due to be released this fall.

Megan joins us today to answer a few questions I asked her about her books and her writing in general.

How did you get started writing, and where has that journey taken you that you may not have expected starting out?
I started writing in grade school after my 6th grade teacher convinced me I was good at it. In high school I was on the staff of the school newspaper and did an internship at the local newspaper. I studied Communications and Mass Media in college, and after graduation I was a radio and television reporter. When I was a stay-at-home mom, I was a freelance writer for magazines and newspapers. I guess you can see a pattern here. Working with words and ideas has always been a pleasure for me. From the time I was a teen, I always dreamed of writing fiction. It was a dream that I postponed while my children were little and didn’t pursue until 1995. I wrote my first book from 1995 until 2000—and it was awful! After that I joined ACFW (then ACRW), got into a critique group, studied books on craft, and hung out with other writers. I began writing Searching for Spice in 2004 to enter it into a contest. I finished it in 2006, the year I met Jan Stob, the acquisitions editor for Tyndale House Publishers. She requested my proposal, and in the spring of 2007 I got my first contract. Both of the contracted books release this year. Out of Her Hands will be available in October. I think the unexpected place my journey has taken me is to being a published author. After studying and submitting for 12 years, and also being a part of local writers groups, I began to think that my part in the industry was as an encourager for other writers. I always believed (and still do) that I was not called to be a bestselling author, I was called to be an obedient child of God. The success I’ve attained is all about Him.

How do you balance family life with writing?
My kids are all young adults now, so they don’t need my attention as much as younger children would. Most of Searching for Spice was written in the evenings and on weekends while I held a full-time job. In 2006, I started to work less hours, and now I only work at my day job two days a week. I give priority to my family and will always take a break to spend time with them. I jump at any opportunity to spend time with my husband, even if it’s as simple as walking to the mailbox.

How does your walk with the Lord affect your writing? And how do you balance time with the Lord with your writing schedule?
I truly give all the credit for any success I enjoy to God. The close relationship I have with Him is what sustains me through my writing journey. Many years ago an older woman prayed that I would be blessed with words, and that’s a prayer I continue to pray for myself. I freely acknowledge that my words are from the Author of life. I start praying even before I open my eyes every morning. I keep my favorite devotional book near my comfy chair so it’s handy. In the winter, that’s my rocking chair in the living room, and in the summer I perch it on the computer desk by the back door so I can grab it on my way out the patio.

Since my blog is geared to writers who want to improve their self-editing, could you briefly take us through your process of writing a novel—from conception to revision?
I come up with an idea and write a first chapter to see how it works. Then I marinate the plot in my brain for a while before I start to write more. I’m an intuitive writer, which means I don’t write a point-by-point plotline before writing the book. I know who my characters will be and where I want the plot to go, but the details are worked out in progress. I always know what the deepest, darkest moment will be and how the story will end. After I finish writing a chapter, I put it on a separate word document, give it a quick edit, and send it on to my critique partners. After they send me the chapter back, I consider making any changes and move on. I don’t edit any more than that. However, after my manuscript is turned into the publisher, I will receive it again to go over the suggested edits. I trust the editor I’ve worked with from Tyndale, Lorie Popp, so I usually will tweak the story according to her guidelines.

What kinds of things do you have to revise once the editor at a publishing house gets done with your manuscript?
Most of the changes are to clarify a scene or a character’s motivation. In Searching for Spice, Lorie suggested that I switch around the placement of a couple of scenes. It made the story stronger, but it was if my story was a puzzle and all the pieces were thrown in the air, and I had to put it back together again. The ripple effect of changing the sequence of a few scenes is very involved. The timeline was disrupted and so many of the details needed to be changed. Out of Her Hands required a much more intense edit because the last third of my book dealt with issues covered in two books being released by other Tyndale authors just months before OOHH comes out. I had to rewrite my deepest, darkest moment. In the end, I think it’s still as good a story as the original one because I maintained the same emotional pressures that were involved in the first draft.

Would you tell us a little about your future projects?
Right now I have four novels summarized. That means I’ve outlined the basic plot, the characters, the obvious need and the hidden need, and how the story will end. I’ve begun to write the first of those novels, the wip is titled Many Happy Returns. It’s about a woman who is jazzed to enter the next phase of her life, that of the empty nest. She has dreams of renewing her marriage, traveling, and beginning new hobbies. But as usual, life doesn’t go according to plan. The story starts in a Mexican toilet stall where she’s trapped due to a rusted latch. (Margie here: Ha! This really happened to Megan not too long ago. You should hear her tell the whole story in person. Can't wait to see it in print. VBG) She and her husband are on their first vacation as a couple in 26 years. Unfortunately an approaching hurricane forces them to cut their vacation short. They return home to find that her mother’s moved into their house, and their college daughter has dropped out and come home from school.

Finally, would you discuss Searching for Spice? The research, the idea, and the scope of the project?
Searching for Spice was written as a response to a running joke with some girlfriends about desiring more romance in our lives. We all enjoy solid, satisfying marriages, but, well, a girl can dream. J The research was basically observing human nature and how men and women perceive love in different ways. There were a few places where I needed advice, and I relied on the expertise of friends, one is a nurse and the other a lawyer. I think I was unprepared for the emotional depth that I took that story to. I knew that I had to go in that direction, but I didn’t expect to live the emotions that I put my characters through. I lived, laughed, and cried with them.

Thank you so much, Megan! We appreciate your time and the opportunity to spotlight your work.
Thanks for hosting me, Margie. If anyone wants to take a peek into my crazy world, feel free to visit my website or my blog.

Daily Bible reading: Tuesday, July 15—Psalms 13–15; Acts 11
Wednesday, July 16—Psalms 16–17; Acts 12
Thursday, July 17—Psalms 18–19; Acts 13:1–25
Friday, July 18—Psalms 20–22; Acts 13:26–52
Saturday, July 19—Psalms 23–25; Acts 14
Sunday, July 20—Psalms 26–28; Acts 15:1–21
Monday, July 21—Psalms 29–30; Acts 15:22–41

Monday, July 14, 2008

2008 Christy Awards Press Release by Wynn-Wynn Media

The Christy Awards ceremony was Saturday evening in Orlando, Florida. Here is a list of the 2008 winners:

Contemporary stand alone: CHASING FIREFLIES by Charles Martin
Contemporary series: HOME TO HOLLY SPRINGS by Jan Karon
Historical: A PROPER PURSUIT by Lynn Austin
Lits: HALLIE'S HEART by Shelly Beach
Romance: REMEMBERED by Tammy Alexander
Suspense: THE CURE by Athol Diickson
Visionary: SCARLET by Stephen Lawhead
1st novel: THE STONES CRY OUT by Sibella Giorello

For more information, go here. Congratulations to all the winners!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Wind River by Tom Morrisey

I'm at the library using their free Internet, since it seems that after seven hours on the phone today, it was decided that someone is going to have to come out to the house tomorrow to find out what's wrong. Sigh. And I leave late morning for Georgia. So . . . I thought I'd better get this posted while I have access to the Internet. Hope you all have a great weekend!

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Wind River

(Bethany House July 1, 2008)


Tom Morrisey


Tom Morrisey is a mountaineer, aviator, shipwreck diver, and explorer, who holds a Full Cave certification from the National Speleological Society - Cave Diving Section.

He has launched, edited, or contributed to numerous national publications and is an award-winning adventure-travel writer. A popular speaker, he is also active in both evangelism and the arts. Morrisey earned an MFA in creative writing from Bowling Green State University, and his fiction has been featured in numerous anthologies and magazines.

His first novel, Yucatan Deep (Zondervan, 2002) was a finalist for the Christy award, and he is the author of four other novels: In High Places (Bethany House Publishers, 2007), Dark Fathom (Zondervan, 2005), Deep Blue, (Zondervan 2004), and Turn Four (Zondervan 2004). In addition Tom has also written two nonfiction books: 20 American Peaks & Crags (Contemporary Books, 1978) and Wild by Nature (Baker Books, 2001). He and his family live in Orlando, Florida.


You Can't Outrun the Sins of Your Past
Desperate to forget what happened to him in Iraq, Tyler Perkins flees to the emptiness of Wyoming. He's here to escape and also to fulfill a long-ago promise by accompanying his 86-year-old friend Soren Andeman on a fly-fishing trip—once more for old time's sake. But their trek to an idyllic trout lake soon becomes something more deeply harrowing—a journey that uncovers long-held lies, deadly crimes, and the buried secrets of the past. Ty barely has time to contemplate the question of what constitutes justice when nature unleashes her own revenge. Trapped in a race back to safety, he must face his own guilt-ridden past or risk being consumed.

Powerfully imagined by the acclaimed author of In High Places, Wind River is an engaging wilderness adventure that explores the power of confession, the beauty of forgiveness, and the freedom of truth unveiled.

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

Margie's comments: This is another book on my long (and ever getting longer) list of books to review. It's also going with me to Georgia. I'm being ever hopeful that I'll have time to read. (smile) So stay tuned. I have a feeling this is a book that the fishermen and outdoorsmen in my family will love to read!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Edge of Recall by Kristen Heitzmann

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

The Edge Of Recall

(Bethany House July 1, 2008)


Kristen Heitzmann


Of her three main interests, art, music and writing, she chose to study English at the University of Colorado and thrived on Creative Writing and Literature classes. She married her husband Jim, and turned her energy to building a family. They have four children whom they have home schooled for all or most of their education. Kristen is a music minister with the ecumenical covenant community People of Praise.

Once she realized the stories in her head were truly a calling from the Lord, she made writing not just a passion, but a ministry. She has written seven historical fiction novels as part of the The Rocky Mountain Legacy series, the Diamond of the Rockies series, and the Christy Award winner Secrets. Most recently, she has written several contemporary fiction novels, including Echoes, Freefall, and Unforgotten.

Kristen and her husband, Jim, and their family live in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where she serves as worship leader in their church.


Tessa Young, an up-and-coming landscape architect who specializes in the design and creation of labyrinths, has immersed herself in the mythological, spiritual, and healing aspects of the elaborate structures. She also is searching for God and hoping to make sense of the nightmares that have plagued her since childhood.

When Smith Chandler, an estranged colleague—with whom she'd half fallen in love a dozen times before catching herself every time—alls to propose a project he claims is the opportunity of a lifetime, she reluctantly agrees to check it out. Smith is reconstructing a pre-Revolutionary War abbey for wealthy clients. Among its remarkable features is an overgrown labyrinth.

Unable to resist, Tessa accepts his offer to work with him. Soon she is immersed in the project of a lifetime. But one evening, after weeks of work in the labyrinth, Tessa and Smith are attacked. While protecting Tessa, Smith is stabbed, and the nightmare begins . . . again.

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

Margie's comments: I've always enjoyed Kristen's books, and I'm sure The Edge of Recall will be no exception . . . when I get the chance to read it. With family visiting all last week, editing deadlines, and judging published books, I'm behind on my reviewing. However . . . stay tuned. I hope to have a review up by the end of next week.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Grace Builders

Today on the Edit Cafe is a great article by Cec Murphey on the grace builders in my life. I know I have them; I strongly suspect you do too. Go here to read Cec's article.

Daily Bible reading: Tuesday, July 8—Deuteronomy 32–34; Acts 7:44–60
Wednesday, July 9—Obadiah; Acts 8:1–25
Thursday, July 10—Ruth; Acts 8:26–40
Friday, July 11—Psalms 1–3; Acts 9:1–21
Saturday, July 12—Psalms 4–6; Acts 9:22–43
Sunday, July 13—Psalms 7–9; Acts 10:1–23
Monday, July 14—Psalms 10–12; Acts 10:24–48

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Love Starts with Elle by Rachel Hauck

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Love Starts With Elle

(Thomas Nelson - July 8, 2008)


Rachel Hauck


Rachel Hauck is a forty-something, a child of the '60's, '70's, '80's, '90's and '00's, who roller skated through the '70's into the '80's with Farrah Fawcet hair and a three-speed orange Camaro. She graduated from Ohio State University (Go Buckeyes!) with a degree in Journalism.

After graduation, she hired on at Harris Publishing as a software trainer, determined to see the world. She's traveled to Ireland, Spain, Venezuela, Mexico, Australia, Canada, and the U.S. from California to Maine.

Rachel met Tony, her husband, in '87, at church, of all places. They married in '92. They don't have any children of their own, just lots of kids-in-the-Lord and they love them all. However, they do have two very spoiled dogs, and a very demanding cat.

With a little help from my friends, my first book was published in '04, Lambert's Pride, a romance novel. My current release is Sweet Caroline from Thomas Nelson. Romantic Times Book Club gave both books their highest rank of 4.5 stars, with Love Starts With Elle being honored as Top Pick!


Elle's living the dream—but is it her dream or his?

Elle loves life in Beaufort, South Carolina—lazy summer days on the sand bar, coastal bonfires, and dinners with friends sharing a lifetime of memories. And she's found her niche as the owner of a successful art gallery too. Life is good.

Then the dynamic pastor of her small town church sweeps her off her feet. She's never known a man like Jeremiah—one who breathes in confidence and exhales all doubt. When he proposes in the setting sunlight, Elle hands him her heart on a silver platter.

But Jeremiah's just accepted a large pastorate in a different state. If she's serious about their relationship, Elle will take "the call," too, leaving behind the people and place she loves so dearly. Elle's friendship with her new tenant, widower Heath McCord, and his young daughter make things even more complicated.

Is love transferable across the miles? And can you take it with you when you go?

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